Jainism and Hinduism

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Jainism and Hinduism are two ancient Indian religions. There are some similarities and differences between the two religions.[1] Temples, gods, rituals, fasts and other religious objects of Jains are different from that of Hindus.[2]

Jain is derived from the word Jina, referring to a human being who has conquered all inner passions (like anger, attachment, greed and pride) and possess Kevala Jnana (pure infinite knowledge). Followers of the path shown by the Jinas are called Jains.[3][4] Followers of Hinduism are called Hindus.[5]

Philosophical similarities and differences[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. 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.[6] 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.[6] 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.[7]


In Hinduism, salvation means merging of soul with universal soul or eternal stay in paradise, in Jainism, it is action-less and peaceful existence. In Vedic philosophy or Sanatana Dharma, salvation is giving up the sense of doer ship and realizing Self to be the same as Universe and God.[citation needed] In Jainism, salvation can be achieved only through self-effort and is considered to be the right of human beings.[8]

In Jainism, one definite path to attain liberation (moksha) is prescribed. The prescribed three fold path consists of the three jewels of Jainism (Right belief, Right knowledge, Right conduct). In Hinduism, no one definite path to salvation is prescribed.[8]


Further information: Jainism and non-creationism

According to Jain cosmology, the universe is eternal. In Hinduism, it is believed to be made by a creator.[8]


Further information: Karma in Jainism and Karma in Hinduism

Karma is an invisible force in Hinduism, whereas it is a form of matter which can stick to soul in Jainism.[8]


In Hinduism, Gods are worshipped for minor boons and are offered food etc.[8][9] In Jainism, the Tirthankaras represent the true goal of all human beings.[10] Their qualities are worshipped by the Jains.


The religion of Jains included women in their fourfold sangha; the religious order of Jain laymen, laywomen, monks and nuns.[11] There was a disagreement between early Hinduism, and ascetic movements such as Jainism with the scriptural access to women.[11] However, the early svetambara scriptures prevented pregnant women, young women or those who have a small child, to enter to the ranks of nun.[12] Regardless, the number of nuns given in those texts were always the double of the number of monks. Parshvanatha and Mahavira, the two historical teachers of Jainism, had large numbers of female devotees and ascetics.[12] Tirthankara Mahavira and Jain monks are credited with raising the status of women.[13]

Religious texts[edit]

Hindus do not accept any Jain text and Jains do not recognise any Hindu scripture.[14]

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".[15] As a consequence, Jainism and Buddhism were categorized as nāstika darśana.[15]

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 are 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.[16] According to Jains, the origin of Vedas lies with Marichi, the son of Bharata Chakravarti, who was the son of the first Tirthankara Rishabha. Jains maintain that these scriptures were later corrupted by Brahmins.[17][18] Jains pointed that Hindus do not know their own scriptures since they were unaware of the names of tirthankaras present in Vedas.[16]

Jains had a long-standing debate with Mimamsa school of Hinduism. Kumarila Bhatta, a proponent of Mimamsa school, argued that the 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.[19]

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.[16]

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,[20][verification needed][21] one of the svetambara's canonical literature. Later, Jains adapted various Hindu epics in accordance with their own system.[22][23][18] There were disputes between Jains and Hindus in form of these epics.

Jains and 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.[24][25]

Hindu deities, such as Shiva, are generally viewed in purely negative terms within Jainism.[26] Jinadasa, a svetambara monk and Harisena, a digambara monk wrote satires on Shiva mythology.[26][27]

Jain attitude towards Vishnu (another god of Hindus) is mixed. This was probably because Jains have been in close proximity with Vaishnism. 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.[27] 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.[27]

Same personages[edit]

Some personage mentioned in the Vedas and Jain scriptures are same. There is mention of the first tirthankara, Rishabha in Rig Veda and Vishnu Purana. Rig Veda, X. 12. 166 states[28]-

Vishnu Purāna mentions:

ऋषभो मरुदेव्याश्च ऋषभात भरतो भवेत्
भरताद भारतं वर्षं, भरतात सुमतिस्त्वभूत्
Rishabha was born to Marudevi, Bharata was born to Rishabh,
Bharatavarsha (India) arose from Bharata, and Sumati arose from Bharata.
—Vishnu Purana (2,1,31)

In the Skanda Purana (chapter 37) it is stated that "Rishabha was the son of Nabhiraja, and Rishabha had a son named Bharata, and after the name of this Bharata, this country is known as Bharata-varsha."[29]

Decline of Jainism[edit]

Around the 8th century CE, Hindu philosopher Ādi Śaṅkarācārya tried to restore the Vedic religion. Śaṅkarācārya brought forward the doctrine of Advaita. The Vaishnavism and Shaivism also began to rise. This was particularly in the southern Indian states.[30]

According to a Saivite legend, the Pandya king Koon Pandiyan ordered a massacre of 8,000 Jain monks. This event is depicted graphically in walls of Tivatur in North Arcot.[31] However, this legend is not found in any Jain text, is believed to be a fabrication made up by the Saivites to prove their dominance.[32][33]

Conversion of Jain temples[edit]

Tirupati temple corridor

In due course of time, some Jain temples have been converted into Hindu temples in India, particularly in South India.[34]

Jains and the Hindu society[edit]

Jain scholars and some monks in general allowed a sort of cautious integration with the Hindu society.[35] 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.[36] The Jain code of conduct is quite similar to that which is found in Hindu Dharmasashtra, Manusmriti and other Law books of Brahmans.[37] Many Jains now worship Hindu gods and celebrate Hindu festivals.[37][38] 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.[37] 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.[39] 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.[39] Kelting notes that those satis who die on the funeral pyre of their husband, or who "intended to die" but were prevented from death, may attain a status called satimata.[39][40] Kelting says that the Jain tradition, due to principle of non-violence and equanimity, doesn't allow self-immolation.[41][39] They, instead, see renunciation rather than self-sacrifice as the highest ideal for a Jain sati.[39] Hindus think Jainism is simply another branch of Hinduism.[37] Jain philosophers, like Champat Rai Jain, even today hold that Hinduism is an offshoot of Jainism.[7] However, such claims are not supported by historical facts.[7]

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.[42] The Brahmo Samaj strived towards mono-theism, while no longer regarding the Vedas as sole religious authority.[43] The Brahmo Samaj had a strong influence on the Neo-Vedanta of Vivekananda,[43] Aurobindo, Radhakrishnan and Gandhi.[42] They strived toward a modernized, humanistic Hinduism with an open eye for societal problems and needs.[42] Other groups, like the Arya Samaj, strived toward a revival of Vedic authority.[44] In this context, various responses toward Jainism developed.

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."[45] The Arya Samaj was founded by Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883), who "was the solitary champion of Vedic authority and infallibility".[44] Swami Dayanand Saraswati authored Satyarth Prakash,[46] a book containing the basic teachings of Saraswati and the Arya Samaj.[47] It contains "Dayananda's bitter criticisms of the major non-Vedic religions of Indian origins."[45] In the Satyarth Prakash, he writes that he regarded Jainism as "the most dreadful religion",[48] and that Jains are "possessed of defective and childish understanding."[48][note 1]

A recent strategy, exemplified by Rajiv Malhotra, is the use of the term dharma as a common denominator, which also includes Jainism and Buddhism.[50]

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.[51]

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",[49] taking Swami Vivekananda, Swami Dayananda and Mahatama Gandhi as cases.[49] He asks the question "Why was Dayananda so aggressive and negative in his response to other religions?".[49] Panicker also mentions that Dayanand's views are "strongly condemnatory, predominantly negative and positively intolerant and aggressive."[45]


  1. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 135-136.
  2. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 138.
  3. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 15.
  4. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 164.
  5. ^ "Hinduism". Encyclopedia Britannica. 
  6. ^ a b Glasenapp 1999, p. 496.
  7. ^ a b c Glasenapp 1999, p. 497.
  8. ^ a b c d e Sangave 2001, p. 137.
  9. ^ Zimmer 1953, p. 181.
  10. ^ Zimmer 1953, p. 182.
  11. ^ a b Balbir, p. 121.
  12. ^ a b Balbir, p. 122.
  13. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 147-148.
  14. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 136.
  15. ^ a b Nicholson 2010.
  16. ^ a b c Dundas, p. 234.
  17. ^ Feynes, p. xxiv.
  18. ^ a b Glasenapp, p. 497.
  19. ^ Olle 2006, p. 91.
  20. ^ Dundas 2002, p. 237.
  21. ^ Iyengar, p. 62.
  22. ^ Schubring, p. 17.
  23. ^ Jaini, p. 305.
  24. ^ Dundas 234-235.
  25. ^ Cort 2001, p. 93.
  26. ^ a b Dundas, p. 235.
  27. ^ a b c Dundas, p. 236.
  28. ^ Jain, Champat Rai (1929). Risabha Deva - The Founder of Jainism. Allahabad: The Indian Press Limited. p. 74. Not in Copyright 
  29. ^ Sangave 2001, p. 106.
  30. ^ Glasenapp 1999, p. 70.
  31. ^ Glasenapp 1999, pp. 70–71.
  32. ^ Ashim Kumar Roy (1984). "9. History of the Digambaras". A history of the Jainas. Gitanjali. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  33. ^ K. A. Nilakanta Sastri (1976). A history of South India from prehistoric times to the fall of Vijayanagar. Oxford University Press. p. 424. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  34. ^ "Metamorphosis of a Mahavira image". The Hindu. 
  35. ^ Jaini, p. 287.
  36. ^ Glasenapp 1999, p. 493.
  37. ^ a b c d Glasenapp 1999, p. 494.
  38. ^ Babb, pp. 3-4.
  39. ^ a b c d e Keilting 2006, p. 183.
  40. ^ Keilting 2009, p. 22.
  41. ^ Keilting 2009, p. 21.
  42. ^ a b c King 2001.
  43. ^ a b Rambachan 1994.
  44. ^ a b Rambachan 1994, p. 38.
  45. ^ a b c Panicker 2006, p. 39.
  46. ^ Panicker 2006, p. 38.
  47. ^ Panicker 2006, p. 38-39.
  48. ^ a b Daniel 2000, p. 92.
  49. ^ a b c Eastern Book Company, About the Book: , Hindu Response to Religious Pluralism (P.S. Daniels (2000))
  50. ^ Springer 2012.
  51. ^ "Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala". shridharmasthala.org.