Short Essay on Buddhism and Jainism

Based on the teachings of Gautam Buddha, Buddhism is one of the great religions of the world. It is generally believed that Buddhism was a reaction against the pretensions of Brahmins and the authority of the Vedas. A few prefer to call early Buddhism a system of morality or ethics rather than a religion.

Primarily it is concerned with moral precepts by which it urges humans to care little for the soul or human relationship with God. Buddha's moral code does not rest upon divine sanctions and he has nothing to say about heaven and hell.

He was keenly aware of the shallowness of intellectualism and verbal 'profundity,' of the immense stupidity of the clever, and often warned his disciples against 'the thick­ets of theorizing the wilderness of theorizing, the tangle bondage and shackless of theorizing'.

According to Buddhism, salvation lies in life in accordance with the precepts formulated by Buddha. For a proper appre­ciation of these doctrines certain basic truths have to be understood. These truths, called the four noble truths, relate to suffering, its cause and the method of release from suffering.

The chart, to guide man along this path, is embodied in a series of pre­cepts called the eight-fold path which leads to wisdom, calmness, knowl­edge, enlightenment and release. The eight rules to be adhered to are: (a) Right views, (b) Right aspiration, (c) Right speech, (d) Right conduct, (e) Right livelihood, (f) Right effort, (g) Right mindfulness, (h) Right meditation

The true pilgrim of the eight-fold path leads to sainthood and salvation. Buddhism later developed two forms: Mahayana and Hinayana. Jainism: Jains claim that their religion is the most ancient of all reli­gions, anterior to Aryan Hinduism and some of the scholars have pro­duced evidence in support of the existence of Jainism in the Indus Val­ley.

Jains hold that it is not necessary to pos it a creator or First Cause. The matter is eternal. The infinite changes in the world are due to forces inherent in nature and not to any divine interference. Jainism carries the doctrine of Ahimsa to the extreme limit, Jains are only permitted to eat things having 2 jivas, and hence they will drink water and milk and eat fruits, nuts and vegetables.

To eat a thin with jivas is forbidden as it involves the breach of the basic law of Ahimsa or non-injury. Jain is very often caricatured as one who, 'denies God, worships man, and nourishes ver­min.' The fear of rebirth haunts Jains as much as the Hindus, the aim of existence according to Jainism are to attain through the Tri Ratna, three Jewels of:

(a) Right intenstion, (b) Right knowledge and (c) Right conduct, an ab­solutely stainless life and so escape the curse of samsara (transmigration).