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Notes on Buddhism and Jainism

Buddhism and Jainism are two branches of the Samana tradition that still exists today. Buddhism and Jainism originated from the prevailing pessimism of the time and both creeds had some common points.

Jainism and Buddhism had the largest number of followers among the mercantile class. Both Mahavira and Buddha preached their doctrines in the language of the people.

➤Buddhism :

• Buddhism was started by Gautam Buddha who was also known as Sakyamuni and Tathagata

• Gautam Buddha was born in the year 563 B.C at Lumbini near Kapilvastu district of Nepal on the day of the Poornima (full moon day)

• His childhood name was Siddhartha

•  His father’s name was king Suddhodhana who was the ruler of the Saka dynasty and the mother’s name was Mahamaya who was the princess of the Kosalan dynasty

• 7 days after the birth of Gautam Buddha, her mother died and he was brought up by his stepmother Mahaprajapati Gautami  who gave him the  title of Gautam

• In his childhood Gautam Buddha use to play with his horse named Kanthak

• At the age of 16 years Gautam Buddha was married with extremely beautiful Yasodhara and had a son named Rahula

• After seeing the sorrow of the world Gautam Buddha decided to leave the pleasures of the life and start living the life of the wanderer

• At the age of 29 years he left home in search of salvation or Nirvana and reached Vaishali where he became the disciple of Alara Klama but he was not convinced by the teachings of Alara Klama and he moved from there and became the disciple of Udraka Ramputra

• He wondered for 6 years and one day at Bodh Gaya under the Peepal tree (bodhi tree) he attained the Nirvana or Enlightenment at the age of 35 years

• Tapasso and Mallic became the first disciple of Gautam Buddha whereas Ananda was the most favorite disciple of Gautam Budddha

• Gautam Buddha delivered his first sermon at Sarnath on the topic “Dharmachakrapravartan” or Turning of the Wheel of Law

• In his last days of life he reached Vaishali where his disciple named Kunda fed him pork due to which he died at the age of 80 years in the year 483 B.C at Kushinagar district Deoria in the Malla republic. His death is known as Mahaparinirvana

➤Important events in the life of Buddha :






Lotus and Bull





Bodh Gaya

Bodhi Tree

Dharmachakra Pravartana






➤Doctrines of Buddhism :

• Four noble truths

1. Dukha – life is full of sorrow

2. Samyuda – there are causes for the sorrow

3. Nirodha – they can be stopped

4. Nirodha Gamini Pratipada – Path leading towards cessation of sorrow

• Eight-Fold Paths of Buddhism

1. Right observation

2. Right determination

3. Right exercise

4. Right action

5. Right speech

6. Right memory

7. Right meditation

8. Right livelihood

• Madhya Marga – to avoid the excess of both luxury and austerity

• Triratnas – Buddha, Dharma and Sangha

➤ Buddhist Literature :

The Buddhist literatures were written in the Pali language

• Vinay Pitaka

It deals with the laws of the Buddhist monasteries. It was recited by Uppali in the first Buddhist council in the year 483 B.C

• Sutta Pitaka

It is the collection of the Buddha’s sermons and it is divided in 5 parts

• Abhidhamma Pitaka

It deals with the life and the philosophy of the Buddha’s teachings

• Milindapanho

It deals with the conversation with the Greek king Menander and the Buddhist Monk Nagasena

• Tripitaka

It is the sacred book of the Buddhism

➤Buddhist Councils :

1. First Council

The first council was held in the year 483 B.C at Saptaparni caves near Rajgriha in Bihar under the chairmanship of king Ajatshatru, during the first council two Buddhist literatures were compiled Vinaya and Sutta Pitaka by Upali

2. Second Council

The second council was held in the year 383 B.C at Vaishali under the chairmanship of king Kalashoka

3. Third Council

The third council was held in the year 250 B.C at Patliputra under the chairmanship of king Ashoka the Great, during the third council Abhidhamma Pitaka was added and Buddhist holy book Tripitaka was compiled.

4. Fourth Council

The fourth council was held in the year 78 A.D at Kundalvan in Kashmir under the chairmanship of king Kanishka, during this council Hinayana and Mahayana were divided.

➤Types of Buddhist :

The Buddhism after the death of Gautam Buddha was divided into 3 parts

1. Hinayan

They believe in the real teachings of Gautam Buddha of attaining Nirvana. They do not believe in idol worship and Pali language was used in the Hinayana text

2. Mahayana

They believe that Nirvana is attained by the grace of Gautam Buddha and not by following his teachings. They believe in idol worship and Sanskrit was used in Mahayana text

3. Vajrayana

They believe that Nirvana is attained by the help of magical tricks or black magic.

➤Famous Monks at the time of Buddha :

• Ananda – constant companion of Buddha and most devoted disciple

• Anurddha – master of right mindfulness

• Mahakassapa – president of Buddhist council held at Rajagriha

• Moggallana – he had greatest super natural powers

• Sariputta – possessed the profound insight into the dhamma

• Upali – master of Vinaya

➤Famous Buddhist Scholars :

• Ashvagosha – contemporary of Kanishka, poet, dramatist, musician who wrote famous book Buddhacharita

• Nagarjuna – friend and contemporary  of Satavahana kings wrote the famous book Madhyamik Shastra

• Buddhagosha – pali scholar  who wrote “Visuddhimaga”

• Dinnaga – founder of Buddhist logic

➤Important Buddhist Gods and Goddess :

1. Buddha Shakyamuni – the historical Buddha

2. Buddha Maitreya – the future Buddha.

3. Avalokiteshavara – the Bodhisattva of Compassion

4. Manjushri – the bodhisattva of wisdom and literature.

5. Tara – a female Bodhisattva. She is considered a great protector that guards people against the eight major dangers in life

6. Padmasambhava – also called Guru Rinpoche, is the historically tangible founder of Tibetan Buddhism

➤Jainism :

• According to Jain tradition, there were 24 Tirthankaras. Rishabha was the first Tirthankara and Vardhaman Mahavira was the 24th Tirthankara.

• Mahavira was born in 540 BC Kundagrama near Vaishali, and left his home at the age of 30.

• At the age of 42, he attained the highest spiritual knowledge called Kevala-Jnana.

• As per Jainism way to Nirvana is also known as Three Ratnatraya involves Right faith, Right knowledge and Right conduct.

• Five carinal principles of Jainism are Ahimsa, Non-Lying, Non-Stealing, Non-Possession, and Brahmacharya. 

• Later divided into two sects: Swethembaras and Digambaras.

➤Five vows of Jainism :

• Ahimsa – non-violence

• Satya – do not speak a lie

• Asteya – do not steal

• Aparigraha – do not acquire property

• Brahmacharya – celibacy

➤Three main principles :

• Ahimsa

• Anekantavada

• Aparigraha

➤Triratna’s of Jainism :

• Right faith – Samayak Shradha

• Right Knowledge – Samayak Jnan

• Right Conduct – Samayak karma

➤Five types of knowledge :

• Mati jnana

• Shruta jnana

• Avadhi jnana

• Manahparayaya Jnana

• Keval Jnana

➤Jain council :

• 1st Council at Patliputra under the Patron of Chandragupta Maurya in 300 BC during which the 12 angas were compiled

• 2nd Council at Vallabhi in 512 AD during which the final compilation of 12 angas and 12 upangas was done

➤Sects :

• Shwetambars – Sthulabhadra – People who put on white robes. Those who stayed back in the North during the times of famine

• Digambars – Bhadrabahu – Exodus of monks to Deccan and South during the times of Magadhan famine. They have a naked attire

➤Jain Literature :

Jain literature used Prakrit, which is a common language of people than using Sanskrit. In this way, Jainism reached far and wide through people. The important literary works are

• 12 Angas

• 12 Upangas

• 10 Parikramas

• 6 Chhedsutras

• 4 Mulasutras

2 Sutra Grantas

• Part of Sangam literature is also attributed to Jain scholars.


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