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Jainism and Buddhism

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  • Category: Buddhism

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Throughout history, man had been known to experience a quest towards the spiritual path. From the archaic to contemporary times, religion had been one of the issues and conceptions that had colored the lives of the people. Numerous religions had been reported to have sprung from different areas of the world. The popularity of a religion then could be seen through the number of believers of such religions as well as the aesthetic contributions that it had over time. This paper then would be devoted upon scrutinizing the aesthetic structures of two of the oldest religions in India as well as scrutinizing the similarities and the rituals that could be found between the two. It could then be asserted that Jainism and Buddhism have a certain link aside from the antiquity of the religions’ origins.

Buddhism and its Religious Architecture

Buddhism had been one of the oldest religions that could be found in practice in India. In fact, Buddhism has spread out over the course of time and stretched as far as China. Buddhism has also stretched to the Japanese scene as well as the other neighboring countries of India like Tibet, etc. Numerous people were influenced by the teachings that Siddhartha Gautama had started.

(Mahabodhi Temple)

In this event the architectural structure that had been chosen in this aspect is the Mahabodhi Temple which was built 2500 years ago (William). It was said that the temple was resurrected in the place where Siddhartha had sat under the Bodhi Tree and that there was a path where he had walked. It could be seen here in the temple the numerous monks who were meditating. The practice of meditation is a well known activity that followers of Buddhism usually do especially when Siddhartha himself had done this to achieve the enlightenment that he had achieved. This would then be the usual observation that a person might have upon entering a temple. Other than that would the numerous monks and pilgrims who could be found within the walls of the temple. It was said that these pilgrims had also paved the way for enlightening the leaders the importance of the spot since most of them had offered some restorative participation of the temple (William). The temple had been many years in the making especially when there were historical circumstances that had left the temple into a dilapidated state. In any case, the spot would be memorable since this was the place where Siddhartha had visited and this is where the famous Bodhi tree had been situated (William). The markings and statues that could be found around the temple premises then could have been additions by the people who were devoted on improving the historic site (Nandagopal).

Jainism and its Religious Architecture

Jainism is a religious belief that was also in practice before. It was said that Jains believed that there where liberated souls called Jinas who had achieved the highest attainment in the cycle of rebirth. Jains then had other gods and goddesses that are servants of the Jinas. When people would here of Jainism, some of them would think of the particular teaching of the said religion. This teaching then is the belief in non-violence or ahimsa. It was said the Mahavira had one of the most recent jinas who had roamed around the Earth. It could be seen that his final rebirth had taken him to become enlightened and attain the highest peak of his life.

(Vimala Temple)

The architectural structure that is of great importance for the Jains then is the Vimala Temple where it was said that Mahivara had been reported to have visited. In any event, it should be noted that Jain had a way of creating Temple cities and in this aspect, some of the building could have been carved out from hills or mountains (John C. Huntington). Other than Mahavira, it was said that other Jinas had also attained certain enlightenment in the said place.

The ritual teachings then that the Jains would practice will be the practices that the Jinas had done before. They would the practice non-violence at the same time renounce the world of material things. Some had said that few Jain priests or nuns had practiced a plucking of the hair, which was also done by Mahavira during his path of enlightenment.

Similarities and Difference

There is a certain connection that the four oldest religion in India. It could be emphasized then that both Jainism and Buddhism has had similarities regarding the conception of Karma and reincarnation. Nonetheless, it should be noted that constituents and the Indian Constitution recognizes that the religions are independent of each other (“Jainism and Other Indian Religious Traditions,”). It seems that structurally speaking, Jainism had chosen to have a much simpler approach upon which the statues that they use are less complicate than that of the Buddhist. The religious similarities may be there but aesthetic values of both religions were already scrutinized to be relatively different from each other. Karmic teachings then could be seen to be where there is a certain system that governs the people. This natural force has a definitive effect upon the people where it is the “spiritual cause and effect (“Buddhism & The Radiant Buddha: The Wheel of Rebirth,”).”

The wheel of rebirth, on the other hand, is the force that is where Karmic conceptions could be applied since Karma would be the driving force where a person would try to attain a much higher position in the life that they have led before. In a way, living in a bad way would make a person go down the wheel to a much lower position whereas living in a good way would mean that a person could have the possibility of attaining the highest peak where a person could have receive in the course of death and rebirth.

Aside from these beliefs there is also a certain similarity when it comes to the practices that the people of each religion would do as was preached in their own teachings. This would be the belief in revoking the material world. It seems that Buddha and Mahavira had been two of the proponents who had revoked the teachings of the Brahmins. It seems that both of them had not approved of the practices of the Indians were Brahmans would be known to be in the highest rank of society. It could then be seen that both of them then had renounced such teachings by walking towards their own respective paths of enlightenment.

Another difference is that Mahavira was just one of the jinas that had roamed the Earth whereas Siddhartha had been the major proponent of the founding of the religion. Another difference between the two is that the distinctive architectural prowess that the Jains had displayed along with the notion that the Jain Temples were built to resemble a city.


It could then be realized that most of the oldest religion in India has a certain similarities. The difference between the two would not be seen to be that wide; maybe the main proponents would be the distinct difference. In fact it could be seen that the religions somewhat complement each other. It could do so through the teachings and some of the practices of each religion.


Buddhism & The Radiant Buddha: The Wheel of Rebirth.   Retrieved September 30, 2007, from http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/asia/buddhism/rebirth/index.html

Jainism and Other Indian Religious Traditions.   Retrieved September 30, 2007, from http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/asia/jainism/faith/other_religions/index.html

John C. Huntington, S. L. H. Excerpt from The Art of Ancient India: North-Central and Northwestern India: The Art of the Rajput Clans.   Retrieved September 30, 2007, from http://www.shambhala.com/html/catalog/items/isbn/0-8348-0183-3.cfm?selectedText=EXCERPT_CHAPTER

Mahabodhi Temple [Photograph].

Nandagopal, C. Medieval Indian Temple Architecture — Synthesis and Digression (Publication. Retrieved September 30, 2007: http://www.unesco.org/archi2000/pdf/nandagopal.pdf

Vimala Temple [Photograph].

William. Mahabodhi Temple.   Retrieved September 30, 2007, from http://www.stupa.org.nz/stupa/mahabodhi/mahabodhi.htm

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