Jainism And Hinduism

Jainism and Hinduism are two ancient Indian religions. There are some similarities and differences between the two religions. Temples, gods, rituals, fasts and other religious components of Jainism are different from those of Hinduism.

“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 possesses Kevala Jnana (pure infinite knowledge). Followers of the path shown by the Jinas are called Jains. Followers of Hinduism are called Hindus.

Philosophical similarities and differences

Jainism and Hinduism have many similar characteristic features, including the concepts of samsara, karma and moksha. However, they differ over the precise nature and meaning of these concepts. The doctrine of Jainism has minor similarities with the Nyaya-Vaisheshika and samkhya school. The Jain doctrine teaches atomism which is also found in the Vaisheshika system and atheism which is found in Samkhya. 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. The epistemological concepts of Anekantavada and Syadvada are not found in the Hindu system. There were, in the past, attempts made to merge the concepts of Hindu gods and the Tirthankara of Jainism. The cosmography of Hindus resembles that of the Jains and there are similar names of heavenly gods within these systems.

In the Upanishads, there also occur the first statements of the view, dominant in Jainist teachings and elsewhere, that rebirth is undesirable and that it is possible by controlling or stopping one’s actions to put an end to it and attain a state of deliverance (moksha) which lies beyond action.

Lord Vishnu

Lord Vishnu

Moksha (liberation)

In Hinduism, moksha means merging of soul with universal soul or eternal being and escaping the cycle of births and deaths; in Jainism, it is action-less and peaceful existence. In Vedic philosophy or Sanatana Dharma, salvation is giving up the sense of being a doer and realizing Self to be the same as Universe and God. In Jainism, salvation can be achieved only through self-effort and is considered to be the right of human beings.

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


According to Jain cosmology, the universe is eternal, it is neither created nor it can be destroyed. In Hinduism, it is believed to by a creator, and destroyed by God, to be created again.


Further information: Karma in Jainism and Karma in Hinduism

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


In Hinduism, Gods are worshiped in several ways and for several reasons such as knowledge, peace, wisdom, health, and it also believed to be one’s duty to pray god as God is considered as our maker (as we originated from them and we are staying in them and at last will merge with them), for moksham (by attaining moksham we can join him and escape this Maya or dualistic nature which makes us think that we are different from the universal soul) and are also offered food as a respect, etc. In Jainism, the siddhas represent the true goal of all human beings, their qualities are worshiped by the Jains.

Self-defence and soldiering

Jains agree with Hindus that violence in self-defence can be justified, and they agree that a soldier who kills enemies in combat is performing a legitimate duty. Jain communities accepted the use of military power for their defence, there were Jain monarchs, military commanders, and soldiers.


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

Religious texts

Hindus do not accept any Jain text and Jains do not recognize any Hindu scripture.

The Vedas


Manuscripts of the Vedas are in the Sanskrit language, but in many regional scripts in addition to the Devanagari. Grantha script (Tamil Nadu),

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”. As a consequence, Jainism and Buddhism were categorized as nāstika darśana.

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. 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 modified. Jains pointed that Hindus do not know their own scriptures since they were unaware of the names of tirthankaras present in Vedas.

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.

Vedic sacrifices

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.

Hindu epics and Jain counter epics

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,one of the svetambara’s canonical literature. Later, Jains adapted various Hindu epics in accordance with their own system. There were disputes between Jains and Hindus in form of these epics.

Jains and Hindu Gods

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 are considered worldly having desires for women and weapons. Hence their path for spiritual upliftment and salvation is rejected by the Jains.

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

0 Rudra-like Divinity ! do thou produce amongst us, of high descent, a Great God, like Rishabha Deva, by becoming Arhan, which is the epithet of the first World Teacher; let Him become the destroyer of the enemies!

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.”

In the “Brahmottara-candam” section of the Brahma Purana, the narrator Suta describes many matters relating to Shaivism and in the 16th portion, there is a story about Bhadrabahu receiving instructions in a mantra from Rishabha yogi.

The Linga Purana mentions that in every kali yuga, Lord Shiva has incarnated, and that in one kali yuga he was a Yogeshwara (one of His 28 incarnations) named Rishabha.


Jainism is considered by some to be distinct from Vedic religion and from a pre-Aryan tradition viz. Sramana or Aarahata tradition.


Jains and Hindus have coexisted in Tamil country since at least the second century BCE.


Competition between Jains and Brahmans, between Jains and Shaivas, is a frequent motif of all medieval western Indian narratives, but the two communities for the most part coexisted and coprospered. Shaiva kings patronised Jain mendicants, and Jain officials patronised Brahmana poets.

Decline of Jainism

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.

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. However, this legend is not found in any Jain text, and is believed to be a fabrication made up by the Saivites to prove their dominance.

Jains and the Hindu society

Jain scholars and some monks in general allowed a sort of cautious integration with the Hindu society. 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. The Jain code of conduct is quite similar to that which is found in Hindu Dharmasashtra, Manusmriti and other Law books of Brahmans. Many Jains now worship Hindu gods and celebrate Hindu festivals. 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. 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. 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. 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. Kelting says that the Jain tradition, due to principle of non-violence and equanimity, doesn’t allow self-immolation. They, instead, see renunciation rather than self-sacrifice as the highest ideal for a Jain sati. Hindus think Jainism is simply another branch of Hinduism. Jain apologist like Champat Rai Jain, held that Hindus are Jaina allegorists who have allegorised the Jain teachings. However, such claims are not supported by historical facts.

Hindu revivalism and Indian identities

With the onset of British colonialism, select groups of Indians developed responses to the British dominance and the British critique of Hinduism. In this context, various responses toward Jainism developed.

Dayanand Saraswati and the Arya Samaj

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

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

Communal harmony

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.

See also

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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