Jainism and Hinduism

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Jainism and Hinduism are two ancient Indian religions. The Jain Universal history seems to have been built around the Hindu epics and traditions.[1] The concept of yaksha and yakshini "guardian gods" in Jainism is influenced by Shaivism.[2][3] Vaishnavism incorporated the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabha, as a minor incarnation of Vishnu.[4][5]

The Vedas[edit]

Authority of the Vedas[edit]

The scriptures known as Vedas are regarded by Hindus as one of the foundations of Hinduism. Those who rejected the Vedas as the prime source of religious knowledge were labeled "nāstika".[6] As a consequence, Jainism and Buddhism were categorized as nāstika darśana.[6]

The orthodox schools of Hinduism, such as Vedanta, Mimamsa and Samkhya, claim the Sruti do not have any author and hence are supreme to other religious scriptures.This position was countered by Jains who said that saying Vedas as authorless was equivalent to saying that anonymous poems are written by nobody. Jain scriptures, on the contrary, were believed by them to be of human origin, brought through omniscient teachers, and hence claimed greater worth.[7] According to Jain doctrine the origin of Vedas lies with the Jain Chakravarti Bharata, who was the son of the first Tirthankara, Rishabha. Jains maintain that these scriptures were later corrupted by Brahmins.[1][8] Jains pointed that Hindus do not know their own scriptures since they were unaware of the names of tirthankara present in Vedas.[7]

Jains had a long-standing debate with Mimamsa school of Hinduism. Kumarila Bhatta, a proponent of Mimamsa school, argued that Vedas are the source of all knowledge and it is through them that humans can differentiate between right and wrong. Jain monks, such as Haribhadra, held that humans are already in possession of all the knowledge, which only needs to be illuminated or uncovered in order to gain the status of omniscience.[9]

Vedic sacrifices[edit]

The practice of Vedic animal sacrifices was opposed by Jains. Hemachandra, a jain monk, cites passages from Manusmriti, one of the law book of Hindus, to demonstrate how, in light of false scriptures, Hindus have resorted to violence. Akalanka, another jain monk, sarcastically said that if killing can result in enlightenment, one should become a hunter or fisherman.[7]

Jain attitudes towards Hindu Gods[edit]

Within the doctrine of Jainism, the tirthankara holds the highest status. Hemachandra says that a deva (roughly god) is the one who has conquered his internal desires and passions. This requirement, according to him, was fulfilled only by the tirthankara. The gods of Hindus were attached to worldly pleasures such as women and weapon and hence could not be regarded as necessary for spiritual upliftment.[10][11]

To demonstrate the authority of Jainism over Hinduism, jain monks such as Haribhadra wrote satires in which he says that cheats, thieves and other low tricksters gathered and created various stories which were then ascribed to various gods. This is how the Hindu pantheon of gods came to be. He made a point that humans would imitate gods, if gods behaved badly in the stories, so will the humans.

Hindu deities, such as Shiva, are generally viewed in purely negative terms within Jainism.[12] Yogindu, a digambara monk, says that Vishnu and Shiva were ignorant of their own supreme soul within their body. Jinadasa, a svetambara monk, narrates a story in which Shiva was a son of a Jain nun who was magically impregnated by a wizard. He was seeking a place to store his power and came across a spell which created a hole between his forehead. This became the third eye of Shiva mythology. He was killed by a prostitute named Uma as a result of his violent behavior. Uma is another name of the Hindu goddess parvati.[12]

Harisena, another digambara monk, writes that a Jain monk and nun broke their vow of chastity and gave birth to a boy who was named Rudra. Rudra is one of the epithets of Shiva. Rudra became a monk and meditated on Mount Kailasa which is a sacred place associated with Shiva. At Kailasa, he was attracted to a group of girls who came there to bath. Their father was a king whose throne was taken by his evil brother. Rudra restored their father to the throne and consequently married those girls. The magical heat of his semen and his massive penis killed most of the girls.[12] Uma was not destroyed by this because she knew him from previous lives. Shiva then declared himself as the creator of the world when he experienced tremendous sexual pleasure with Uma. He then spread the Shiva doctrine. The kings were afraid that they might lose their kingdom to Shiva, hence they tricked Uma to reveal the secret of how he may be killed. They then killed them while they were sleeping together. Harisena says that linga, the emblem of Shiva, is situated all around country to counter the effect of murdered Shiva's magic. This is credited to a Jain monk who advised the kings to do so.[13]

Jain attitude towards Vishnu (another god of Hindus) is mixed. This was probably because Jains have been in close proximity with Vishnuism. One of Vishnu's incarnation, Krishna, was seen as cousin of 22nd Tirthankara Neminatha since very early times. Jains often made fun of Vishnu's omnipresent nature on the grounds that if he is present everywhere, then we basically drink and wash with him.[13] Some works mention him as a Jain monk who overthrew a minister who wanted to expel Jain monks from the kingdom. Vaishnav works, in part, also tried to incorporate Jain tirthankara into their system. The first tirthankara, Rishabha, is sometimes seen as an avatar of Vishnu.

Hindu epics and Jain counter epics[edit]

The rejection of Hindu epics and scriptures were dominant in Jainism since very early times. The central Hindu scriptures and epics like Vedas, Mahabharata and Ramayana are categorized as false scriptures in Nandi-sutra,[14][verification needed][15] one of the svetambara's canonical literature. Later, Jains adapted various Hindu epics in accordance with their own system.[16][17][8] There were disputes between Jains and Hindus in form of these epics.

According to Hindu epic Shiva Purana, Vishnu created a tirthankara who converted demons into Jainism. Thus Gods were, then, able to easily defeat them. During the 16th century, Jain writers produced Mahabharata which mocked Vishnu. Jains also attacked Krishna within these Mahabharata. Krishna, who was shown as pious Jain in earlier svetambara cannon came to be an immoral person with these new Mahabharata. Draupadi is shown as pious but flawed Jain in the earlier svetambara scriptures. The war in Mahabharata is shown as a result of foolishness of Draupadi, who poisoned a Jain monk by mistake.

First Jain Ramayana was written by Vimal Suri in Prakrit. Another influential Ramayana is Padam-Purana, in which Ravisena writes that King Srenika was troubled by the nonsense present in the Hindu Ramayana. Gautama, one of the disciples of Mahavira then narrates the story to him. Within this story, the supremacy of Jainism over Hinduism is displayed. The forest in which Rama exiles is shown to be full of Jain monks and temples. Brahmanas are shown to be mean. Ravana is shown to be pious Jain who ruled over a kingdom of Jains. He prays to Shantinatha before the fight. He fights and is killed by Lakshmana because of his ego, despite his remorse of kidnapping Sita. Sita is shown to have converted to a Jain nun, following the fire test. A jain medicant then tells that Rama and Ravana have been competing through earlier births for Sita and the events in Ramayana happened because Sita insulted a Jain monk. Lakshmana and Ravana goes to hell, Rama becomes monk after the death of Lakshmana where as Sita becomes a god in heaven. She comes back on earth to lure Rama back to their previous relationship, which he refuses. She visits Lakshmana and Ravana in Hell. Rama predicts that Sita will be a chakravarti and Lakshmana and Ravana would be her sons.

Similarities and differences in the philosophy[edit]

Jainism and Hinduism have many similar characteristic features, including the concepts of samsara, karma and moksha. However, they differ in the precise nature and meaning of these concepts. Karma is an invisible force in Hinduism, whereas it is fine particles of matter in Jainism. In Hinduism, salvation can be gained through divine grace. In Jainism, salvation can be achieved only through self-effort. In Hinduism, there is no limit on salvation, In Jainism, there is bhavya and abhavya souls, which will obtain salvation and which will not. In Hinduism, salvation means merging of soul with universal soul or eternal stay in paradise, in Jainism, it is action-less and peaceful existence. The doctrine of Jainism has minor similarities with Nyaya-Vaisheshika and samkhya school. The Jain doctrine teaches atomism which is also found in Vaisheshika system and atheism which is found in Samkhya.[18] Within the doctrine of Jainism, there exist many metaphysical concepts which are not known in Hinduism, some of which are dharma and Adharma tattva (which are seen as substances within the Jain metaphysical system), Gunasthanas and Lesyas.[18] The epistemological concepts of Anekantavada and Syadvada are not to be found in the Hindu system. There were, in the past, attempts made to merge the concepts of Hindu gods and Tirthankara of Jainism. The cosmography of Jains resembles that of Hindus and there are similar names of heavenly gods within both these system.[19]


The religion of Jains included women in their fourfold sangha; the religious order of Jain laymen, laywomen, monks and nuns.[20] There was a disagreement between early Hinduism, and ascetic movements such as Jainism with the scriptural access to women.[20] However, the early svetambara scriptures prevented pregnant women, young women or those who have a small child, to enter to the ranks of nun.[21] Regardless, the number of nuns given in those texts were always the double of the number of monks. Parsva and Mahavira, two historical teachers of Jainism has huge numbers of female devotees and ascetics.[21]

Integration in Hindu society[edit]

Successful integration[edit]

Over the years, Jains have tried to mix with its surrounding Hindu society, partly due to the fear of persecution and partly out of sheer influence. Jain scholars and monks in general allowed a sort of cautious integration with the Hindu society.[22] Somadeva, a Jain philosopher monk, said that Jains could perform the local rituals and customs if they did not infringe the basic principles of Jainism. In today's date, there are a lot of common aspects in social and cultural life of Hindus and Jains. It is quite difficult to differentiate a lay Jain from a lay Hindu.[23] The Jain code of conduct is quite similar to that which is found in Hindu Dharmasashtra, Manusmriti and other Law books of Brahmans.[24] Many Jains now worship Hindu gods and celebrate Hindu festivals.[24][25] The difference in the rituals of practitioners of the two religions would be that the Jains do not give any importance to bathing in holy water, cremating or burying ascetics.[24] According to religious scholar M. Whitney Kelting, some of the "names and narratives" in the Hindu's list of satis are also found in the Jain tradition.[26] In the Hindu context, a sati is a virtuous wife who protects her husband and his family and has the "intention to die before, or with," her husband.[26] Kelting notes that those satis who die on the funeral pyre of their husband, or whom "intended to die" but were prevented from death, may attain a status called satimata.[26][27] Kelting says that the Jain tradition, due to their traditions of non-violence and equanimity, any notions of self-immolation or death.[28][26] They, instead, see renunciation rather than self-sacrifice as the highest ideal for a Jain sati.[26] Hindus consider Jains to be simply another sect of Hinduism. Jains do not consider Hindus to be a different faith.[24] Jain philosophers, like Champat Rai Jain, even today holds that Hinduism is an offshoot of Jainism.[19] However, such claims are not supported by historical facts.[19]

Hindu revivalism and Indian identities[edit]

With the onset of British colonialism, select groups of Indians developed responses to the British dominance and the British critique of Hinduism.[29] The Brahmo Samaj strived towards mono-theism, while no longer regarding the Vedas as sole religious authority.[30] The Brahmo Samaj had a strong influence on the Neo-Vedanta of Vivekananda,[30] Aurobindo, Radhakrishnan and Gandhi.[29] They strived toward a modernized, humanistic Hinduism with an open eye for societal problems and needs.[29] Other groups, like the Arya Samaj, strived toward a revival of Vedic authority.[31] In this context, various responses toward Jainism developed.

Hindu exclusive - Dayanand Saraswati and the Arya Samaj[edit]

The Arya Samaj "teaches that the Vedic religion is the only true religion revealed by God for all."[32] The Arya Samaj was founded by Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883), who "was the solitary champion of Vedic authority and infallibility".[31] His "magnus upos"[33] contains the basic teachings of Dayanand and the Arya Samaj.[34] It contains "Dayananda's bitter criticisms of the major non-Vedic religions of Indian origins."[32] In the Satyarth Prakash he writes that he regarded Jainism as "the most dreadful religion",[35] and that Jains are "possessed of defective and childish understanding."[35][note 1]

Hindu inclusive - Ideology with "Dharmic religions"[edit]

In modern times, the orthodox measure of the primacy of the Vedas has been has been joint with the 'grand narrative' of Vedic origins of Hinduism. The exclusion of Jainism and Buddhism excludes a substantial part of India's cultural and religious history from the assertion of a strong and positive Hindu identity. Indian-ideology solves this problem by taking recourse to the notion of "Hinduness", which includes Jainism and Buddhism. A recent strategy, exemplified by Rajiv Malhotra, is the use of the term dharma as a common denominator, which also includes Jainism and Buddhism.[37]

Communal Harmony[edit]

Main article: Dharmasthala Temple

Dharmasthala Temple shows the communal harmony between Jains and Hindus, as the priests of the temple are Shivalli Brahmins, who are Vaishnava, and the administration is run by a Jain Bunt family.[38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Daniels cites Dayanand in his investigation of the claim that "Hinduism is the most tolerant of all religions and Hindu tolerance is the best answer in fostering peace and harmony in a multi-religious society",[36] taking Swami Vivekananda, Swami Dayananda and Mahatama Gandhi as cases.[36] He asks the question "Why was Dayananda so aggressive and negative in his response to other religions?".[36] Panicker also mentions that Dayanand's views are "strongly condemnatory, predominantly negative and positively intolerant and aggressive."[32]


  1. ^ a b Feynes, p. xxiv.
  2. ^ Schubring, p. 16.
  3. ^ Jaini, p. 194.
  4. ^ Jaini, p. 32.
  5. ^ Glasenapp, p. 498.
  6. ^ a b Nicholson 2010.
  7. ^ a b c Dundas, p. 234.
  8. ^ a b Glasenapp, p. 497.
  9. ^ Olle 2006, p. 91.
  10. ^ Dundas 234-235.
  11. ^ Cort 2001, p. 93.
  12. ^ a b c Dundas, p. 235.
  13. ^ a b Dundas, p. 236.
  14. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 237.
  15. ^ Iyengar, p. 62.
  16. ^ Schubring, p. 17.
  17. ^ Jaini, p. 305.
  18. ^ a b Glasenapp 1999, p. 496.
  19. ^ a b c Glasenapp 1999, p. 497.
  20. ^ a b Balbir, p. 121.
  21. ^ a b Balbir, p. 122.
  22. ^ Jaini, p. 287.
  23. ^ Glasenapp 1999, p. 493.
  24. ^ a b c d Glasenapp 1999, p. 494.
  25. ^ Babb, pp. 3-4.
  26. ^ a b c d e Keilting 2006, p. 183.
  27. ^ Keilting 2009, p. 22.
  28. ^ Keilting 2009, p. 21.
  29. ^ a b c King 2001.
  30. ^ a b Rambachan 1994.
  31. ^ a b Rambachan 1994, p. 38.
  32. ^ a b c Panicker 2006, p. 39.
  33. ^ Panicker 2006, p. 38.
  34. ^ Panicker 2006, p. 38-39.
  35. ^ a b Daniel 2000, p. 92.
  36. ^ a b c Eastern Book Company, About the Book: , Hindu Response to Religious Pluralism (P.S. Daniels (2000))
  37. ^ Springer 2012.
  38. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dharmasthala_Temple