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Ancient History: Buddhism and Jainism

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Buddhism is the middle way of wisdom and compassion. It stands for three pillars: a) Buddha – its founder; b) Dhamma – his teachings and c) Sangha – order of Buddhist monks and nuns.

Five Great Events of Buddha’s Life and  their Symbols:

  • Birth – Lotus and bull
  • Great renunciation – Horse
  • Nirvana – Bodhi tree
  • First Sermon – Dharmachakra or wheel
  • Parinirvana or death – Stupa

About Budha:


  • Also known as Sakyamuni (the Sage of the Sakyas), Jina (the Victorious) or Tathagata (one who has reached the truth).
  • Born in 563 B.C. on the Vaishakha Poornima Day at Lumbini (near Kapilavastu) in Nepal.
  • His father Suddhodana was the Saka ruler.
  • His mother was Mahamaya but he was brought up by his stepmother Gautami.
  • Buddha was married at 16 to Yashodhara and enjoyed married life for 13 years and had a son named Rahula.
  • After seeing an old man, a sick man, a corpse and an ascetic, he decided to become a wanderer.
  • First guru was Alarakalama, next was Udraka Ramputra. He later joined five ascetics- Kandana, Vappa, Bhadiya, Mohanama and Assagi.
  • Attained Nirvana at Gaya, age 35.
  • Delivered the fi rst sermon at Sarnath at Deer Parkwhere his five disciples had settled. His first sermon is called ‘Dharmachakrapravartan’ or ‘Turning of the Wheel of Law’.
  • Attained Mahapurinirvana at Kushinagar(U.P).

Eight Fold Path:

  • Right Faith
  • Right Thought
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Effort
  • Right Speech
  • Right Remembrance
  • Right Concentration


  • Jainism was founded by Rishabhanath, the first Tirthankara.
  • There were 24 Tirthankara (Prophets or Gurus) and all of them were Kshatriyas. Rishabhanath’s
  • reference is also there in the Rigveda. But there is no historical basis for the fi rst 22 Tirthankaras. Onlythe last two are historical personalities.
  • The 23rd TirthankaraParshwanath (symbol: snake) was the son of King Ashvasena of Benaras. His
  • main teachings were: Non-injury, Non-lying, Nonstealing, Non-possession.
  • The 24th and the last Tirthankara was Vardhman Mahavira (symbol: lion). He added celibacy to his main teachings.

About Vardhman Mahavira:

  • He was born in Kundagram (district Muzaffarpur, Bihar) in 599 B.C.
  • His father Siddhartha was the head of Jnatrika clan.His mother was Trishla, sister of Lichchhavi PrinceChetak of Vaishali.
  • Mahavira was related to Bimbisara.
  • Married to Yashoda and had a daughter named
  • Priyadarsena, whose husband Jamali became hisfi rst discipline.
  • In the 13th year of his asceticism, outside the townof Jrimbhikgrama, he attained supreme knowledge
  • At the age of 72, he attained death at Pava, nearPatna in 527 B.C.

Division in Jainism:

1) Bhadrabhan( Rule of Nudity)——Digambaras

2) Sthulbhadra( Wear a white garment)—–Svetambaras

Teachings of Mahavira:

  • Rejected the authority of Vedas and sacrifice.
  • Refused to deny the importance of God. God was placed lower than Jina.
  • Three ratnas are given: 1) Right Faith 2) Right Knowledge  3)  Right Conduct.