Buddhism is centered upon the life and teachings of Gautama Buddha, whereas Jainism is centered on the life and teachings of Mahavira. Buddhism is a polytheistic religion and it's main goal is to gain enlightenment. Jainism is also a polytheistic religion and it's goals are based on non-violence and liberation the soul.

Comparison chart

Buddhism versus Jainism comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartBuddhismJainism
Place of origin Indian Subcontinent India.
Place of worship Buddhist monasteries, temples, shrines. Temple
Practices Practices of the Threefold Training: Virtue, Concentration, and Wisdom, a.k.a the Noble Eightfold Path. Five vows of Truth, Non-violence, Non-stealing, Non-attachment, control over desires and senses. Greater emphasis on non-violence and truth. Also follow 3 jewels of Right Perception, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct
Use of statues and pictures Common Common.
Clergy The Buddhist Sangha, composed of bhikkhus (male monks) and bhikkhunis (female monks). The sangha is supported by lay Buddhists. Monks, nuns.
Life after death Rebirth is one of the central beliefs of Buddhism. We are in an endless cycle of birth, death and re-birth, which can only be broken by attaining nirvana. Attaining nirvana is the only way to escape suffering permanently. Until liberation is achieved, circle of rebirths and deaths continue due to Karma via incarnations in any life form on earth, as also heavenly and hellish life forms.
Belief of God The idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent creator is rejected by Buddhists. The Buddha himself refuted the theistic argument that the universe was created by a self-conscious, personal God. Jainism does not believe in a Creator God.
Founder Gautama Buddha (born as Prince Siddhartha) Rishabhdev- 1st Tirthankar in this era, Further revived by Vardhaman Mahavir- 24th and final Tirthankar of this era
Goal of religion To attain enlightenment and be released from the cycle of rebirth and death, thus attaining Nirvana. To gain liberation and be released from cycle of rebirths, adopt a path of non-violence towards all living beings.
Means of Salvation Following the Noble Eightfold Path. Goal is to unshackle the soul from bondages of karma which results in misery due to many rebirths and deaths. Once soul is freed from these bondages, it achieves Nirvana and becomes perfect soul free from all attachments, in an eternal blissful state
Scriptures Tripitaka - a vast canon composed of 3 sections: the Discourses, the Discipline and the Commentaries, and some early scriptures, such as the Gandhara texts. Religious scriptures called Agamas. Many other canonical texts.
View of the Buddha The highest teacher and the founder of Buddhism, the all-transcending sage. Buddha is considered as contemporary of Mahavir
Literal Meaning Buddhists are those who follow the teachings of the Buddha in order to become like the Buddha. To become a Jina (liberated soul) by following the teachings of 24 Tirthankars (ford-makers/teachers)
Followers Buddhists Jains.
Goal of Philosophy To eliminate mental suffering. Jainism is a way of life, adhere to teachings of Tirthankars, respect all life forms and end goal is to achieve Nirvana.
Original Language(s) Magadhiprakrit Ancient texts were written in various languages, predominantly in Magadhi, language prevalent at time of Mahavir and Buddha.
Use of Statues Used as meditation objects, and revered as they reflect the qualities of the Buddha. Used often.
Authority of Dalai Lama Dalai Lamas are tulkus of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. They are cultural figures and are independent of the doctrinal basis of Buddhism. N/A.
Human Nature Ignorance, as all sentient beings. In the Buddhist texts, it is seen that when Gautama, after his awakening, was asked whether he was a normal human being, he replied, "No". Human suffering is due to negative effects of bad karma and excessive attachment to material aspects of world.
Status of women No distinctions between men and women. Women are equal to men, and men are equal to women in the Sangha. Women can become nuns.
Principle This life is suffering, and the only way to escape from this suffering is to dispel one's cravings and ignorance by realizing the Four Noble Truths and practicing the Eightfold Path. Respect all living things. Attain liberation by avoiding and shedding of bad karma which is the cause of rebirths and all sufferings. Five vows and three jewels.
Marriage It is not a religious duty to marry. Monks and nuns do not marry and are celibate. Advice in the Discourses on how to maintain a happy and harmonious marriage. Marriage is a social convention and not linked to religion. But followers must strictly follow monogamy. Monks, though have renounced material world, hence strictly follow celibacy.
Concept of Deity Gods are seen as higher life forms, still bound in samsara. Numerous deities known as Tirthenkaras. But Jains do not worship them in literal sense of idol worship to ask favors. Rather, these Tirthankars are venerated as ideal Men and teachers whose teachings should be followed.
Time of origin 2,500 years ago, circa 563 B.C.E. (Before Common Era) Very ancient. One of the oldest religions as origin of 1st Tirthankar is too ancient and obscure. Mahavir (24th Tirthankar) born in 599 B.C.E.
Holy days/Official Holidays Vesak day in which the birth, the awakening, and the parinirvana of the Buddha is celebrated. Paryushan festival
Symbols The conch, endless knot, fish, lotus, parasol, vase, dharmachakra (Wheel of Dharma), and victory banner. Swastika(used it long before it became a symbol for antisemitism).
View of other Dharmic religions Since the word Dharma means doctrine, law, way, teaching, or discipline, other Dharmas are rejected. Comradeship with other Dharmic religions.
Can atheists partake in this religion's practices? Yes. Yes
Views on Other Religions Being a practical philosophy, Buddhism is neutral against other religions. Belief in pluralism and respect other religious view points and try to accomodate them.
Population 300-350 million. 50-60 million
Religion which atheists may still be adherents of Yes. Yes. Jains do not believe in the idea of a Creator God. The laws revolve around Karma. Good Karma lead to spiritual elevation and bad Karma and bad deeds to decline.

Further Reading

For further reading, there are several books available on Amazon.com on Buddhism and Jainism:

Share this comparison:

If you read this far, you should follow us:

"Buddhism vs Jainism." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 28 Oct 2016. < >