Difference Between Buddhism and Jainism

Buddhism vs Jainism

Buddhism and Jainism are two important religions of India that came into existence at around the same time (6th century BC) and surprisingly also in the same part of India (Eastern India). While Jainism remained confined to India only, Buddhism spread to many other parts of the world with China, Japan and Korea being especially influenced by this religion. There are many similarities between the two faiths as they arose because of friction between different sections of the society in the post Vedic period. However, there are also differences that will be enumerated in this article for the benefit of readers who are not aware of them.


During the Vedic age that is said to have lasted from 1500BC to 600BC, the Hindu society was divided among castes of which the Shudras were at the lowest rung. These people were exploited and deprived of even fundamental rights by Kshatriyas, Brahmins, and Vaishyas who considered themselves superior to Shudras. Shudras were called untouchables and their continued oppression by the upper castes led to an uprising. Gautama Buddha was a Kshatriya Prince, and he resented the dominance of Brahmins over Kshatriyas. He is said to be the enlightened one and his followers practice the path shown by him.

Buddhism is a religion that rejects the authorities of the Vedas and rituals, and practices recommended by the Vedas. The religion is based upon the tent of non violence and suffering. It believes that once one has taken birth as a human being he has to suffer from diseases and sorrows as existence is nothing but suffering. The root cause of all suffering is our desires. Once we stop desiring, we are liberated from the cycle of rebirths and attain Nirvana or salvation. We need purity of thought, action, and belief to get rid of desires. In later period, there was a schism in Buddhism that led to sects called Mahayana and Hinayana.


Jainism is another important religion of India that arose at the same time in Eastern part of India as Buddhism (550BC). Not much is known about the founder of the religion that has many similarities with Buddhism. The religion does not believe in God but believes in Tirthankars of which Mahavira is believed to be the last (10th). Mahavira was a contemporary of Gautama Buddha, and many believe that the two great leaders had a great respect for each other as the name of Mahavira is mentioned in sacred texts of Buddhism as an enlightened one.

Like Buddhism, Jainism preaches nonviolence as the method to achieve salvation, but the conditions that led to rise of Jainism were the same that led to the rise of Buddhism and thus Jainism also rejected Vedic superiority. Jainism believes in life being in all plants and animals and preaches its followers never to hurt other beings. Attainment of salvation or Nirvana is the aim of life according to Jainism, and it could be achieved with the Tri-Ratnas which are right intention, right knowledge and right behavior or code.

In later period, Jainism also got divided into Digambar and Shewtambar sects.

What is the difference between Buddhism and Jainism?

• Buddhism was founded by Gautama Buddha while Jainism has ten Godly figures called Tirthankars of which Mahavira is the last one.

• Both Budha and Mahavira are said to be contemporaries with Mahavira being slightly senior.

• Buddhism does not believe in soul being present in non-living things, but Jainism believes it is present in even inanimate objects.

• There is no soul after enlightenment in Buddhism, but soul remains in the highest state of purity even after nirvana in Jainism.

• Jainism remained confined to India but took strong roots whereas Buddhism all but disappeared from India but spread to other nearby countries.

• There is only one Godly figure in Buddhism and that is Lord Buddha himself. On the other hand, there is a tradition of Tirthankars and other prophets in Jainism. Buddha wanted everyone to choose the right path himself.

• Moksha can be attained while still alive according to Buddhism while it is not possible until death according to Jainism.

• Jainism preaches stricter ahimsa than in Buddhism.

• Buddhist religious texts are in Pali language while Jain texts are in Sanskrit and Prakrit.

• Buddhism attracted royal patronage from emperors like Asoka and Kanishka, but Jainism failed to get royal patronage.

  • Saurabh Shah

    There are 24 tirthankars in Jainism and not 10 as mentioned. But yes Mahavira was the last tirthankar.