Buddhism and Jainism

Buddhism And Jainism

Buddhism and Jainism

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Buddhism and Jainism are two branches of the Shramana tradition that still exist today. Jainism has historically been largely confined to India, whereas Buddhism flourished beyond the borders of its country of origin where it declined during the middle ages. Mahavira and Gautama Buddha were contemporaries and according to the Pali scriptures Gautama Buddha was aware of Mahavira's existence as well as his community of monks. Jainism and Buddhism share many features including much of the same terminology. There is no doubt that there was a mutual influence and reception of both religions although Jainism does appear to be an older spiritual tradition out of which Buddhadharma may have grown.

Buddhism separates itself from the Jain tradition by teaching an alternative to "extreme asceticism". Buddhist scriptures record that during Prince Siddhartha's ascetic life (before the great enlightenment) he undertook many fasts, penances and austerities, the descriptions of which are elsewhere found only in the Jain tradition (for example, the penance by five fires, plucking of hair, and the consumption of food using only one's cupped hands). Ultimately, the Buddha abandoned reliance upon these methods on his discovery of the Middle Way (Majjhima-Magga in Pali; Madhyamaka in Sanskrit). However, it is interesting to note that even under the Jain tradition, there exists a non-extreme pathway, which is the path of the laymen with minor vows. Some Buddhist teachings, principles,...
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