JAINISM AND OTHER RELIGIONS
As Jainism, in all respects, is a religion of India, it has very close
relations with other main religions of India like Hinduism and Buddhism.
Formerly, it was thought that Jainism was a branch either of Buddhism or
of Hinduism. But now it is an established fact that Jainism is a distinct
religion of India and not a branch of any other religion: Similarly, it is
also accepted that Jainism is an ancient religion of India and that it is
older not only than Buddhism but also older than Vedic religion of the
Since Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism, the three important ancient
religions of India, have been living side by side for the last so many
centuries, it is natural that they have influenced one another in many
respects. It is also a fact that with the advent of Islam in India during
the medieval period, Jainism and Islam came in contact and began to
influence each other. In this way, intimate relations were established
between Jainism and other major religions of India like Hinduism, Buddhism
and Islam. It is, therefore, worthwhile to see the nature of these
relations so that our understanding of these religions will be more clear
and our conception of Jaina religion will be more perfect.
1. JAINISM AND HINDUISM
In matters like theories of rebirth and salvation, descriptions of heaven,
earth and hell, and belief in the fact that the prophets of religion -take
birth according to prescribed rules. we 9nd similarities between Jainism
and Hinduism. Since the disappearance of Buddhism from India; the Jainas
and Hindus came closer to each other and that is why in social and
religious life the Jainas on the ~ whole do not appear to be much
different from the Hindus. In matters like dress and ornaments,
occupations and professions, games and amusements, language and
literature, outlook on life and behaviour, superstitions, beliefs and
practices, religious festivals and fasts, sacraments and rituals, there
are various common things between Jainas and Hindus, and especially the
vegetarian Hindus, in various geographical regions of India. In fact there
are certain castes whose members are found in both the Hindus and the
Jainas and to some extent marital relations are still maintained between
the Jaina and Hindu sections of the same caste.
From these similarities between the Jainas and the Hindus, it should not
be considered that the Jainas are a part of the Hindus or Jainism is a
branch of Hinduism. On the contrary, if we compare Jainism and Hinduism,
we find that the differences between them are very great and that their
agreement is in respect of a few particulars only concerning the ordinary
mode of living: Even the ceremonies which appear to be similar are in
reality different in respect of their purport if carefully studied.
Hence the significant differences between Jainism and Hinduism can be
briefly noted as follows:
The sacred books of the Hindus like Vedas, Smrtis, Puranas etc. are not
accepted by the Jainas and the Hindus also do not recognise even a single
scripture of the Jainas.
(2) Origin of the world
While the Jainas regard the world as eternal, the Hindus hold it to have
been made by a creator.
(3) Objects of worship
In Jainism worship is not offered to an eternal and eternally pure God,
but to those great ones who have realised their high ideal and attained
Godhood to themselves; in Hinduism worship is performed of many forms of
one God who is the creator and the ruler of the world.
(4) Purpose of worship
The significance of worship in Hinduism is also not the same as that in
Jainism. In Jainism, there is no offering of food and the like, nor is a
prayer made to the deity for boons. On the other hand, in Hinduism the
attainment of the desired object is by the will of certain divine beings
who are to be propitiated.
(5) Practice of sacrifices
As Hinduism is a sacrificial religion, the performance of several
sacrifices for a variety of reasons and for different duration�s has got
an important place in it. This is not the case with Jainism and especially
the animal sacrifices practised by the Hindus have absolutely no place in
(6) Attainment of Salvation
While the Hindus believe that Gods alone can attain salvation, the Jainas
consider that it is the right of human -beings only.
(7) Path of salvation
The path of salvation prescribed by Jainism is only one and it is known as
Ratnatraya-marga, i.e., the threefold path of Right Belief, Right
Knowledge and Right Conduct, which is to be simultaneously pursued by all
persons. But in Hinudism. there is no prescription of one single, definite
and clear path of salvation. Instead. In Hinduism different ways have been
laid down for the attainment of salvation by various religious preachers
in different periods of time.
(8) Idea about karma
The Hindus regard Karma as in invisible power but the Jainas think it as a
form of matter which can stick to the soul.
(9) Religious concepts
In Jainism there are various concepts like dharma, adharma, lesya,
gunasthana etc., which are not found in Hindu spiritual ideology.
(l0) Principles in Logic
In the systems of Jaina logic there are distinctive principles like
Syadvada, Nayavada, Niksepa etc., which are not found in the Hindu system.
(11) The liberated soul
According to Hinduism, the liberated soul enjoys eternal happiness in
heaven or gets merged with Brahman i.e., the Primeval Being, the
originator of the world. But as per Jainism, the soul after liberation
remains for ever at the top of the loka, i.e., universe.
(12) Religious objects
The Jaina deities, temples, places of pilgrimage, holy days, fasts.
festivals, rituals and ceremonies are quite different from those of the
(13) Religious Practices
The peculiar Hindu practices like niyoga, i.e., levirate and sati, i.e.,
ascending the funeral pyre of the husband, are not approved by the Jainas.
Further, a large number of Hindu religious practices. which are repugnant
to Jainism, have been termed as mudhatas or stupid customs and �beliefs
and the true Jainas are required to be absolutely free from them. They are
sun-worship, bath during eclipses. giving away money at the end of
eclipses, fire-worship, the worship of edifices, ceremonial bathing in
rivers and the ocean, adoration of trees, sacred offerings of boiled rice,
religious suicide by falling from a precipice, bowing at the tail of a cow
and taking cow�s urine etc.
From the facts mentioned above, it is evident that there are several items
of religion on which there are basic differences between Jainism and
Hinduism. It is also pertinent to note that these differences are
persisting even upto the present day.