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
Practices Meditation, the Eightfold Path; right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration 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
Place of origin Indian subcontinent India.
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.
Use of statues and pictures Common. Statues are used as meditation objects, and revered as they reflect the qualities of the Buddha. Common.
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.
Founder The Buddha (born as Prince Siddhartha) Rishabhdev- 1st Tirthankar in this era, Further revived by Vardhaman Mahavir- 24th and final Tirthankar of this era
Literal Meaning Buddhists are those who follow the teachings of the Buddha. To become a Jina (liberated soul) by following the teachings of 24 Tirthankars (ford-makers/teachers)
Clergy The Buddhist Sangha, composed of bhikkhus (male monks) and bhikkhunis (female nuns). The sangha is supported by lay Buddhists. Monks, nuns.
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.
View of the Buddha The highest teacher and the founder of Buddhism, the all-transcending sage. Buddha is considered as contemporary of Mahavir
Original Language(s) Pali(Theravada tradition) and Sanskrit(Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition) Ancient texts were written in various languages, predominantly in Magadhi, language prevalent at time of Mahavir and Buddha.
Followers Buddhists Jains.
Means of salvation Reaching Enlightenment or Nirvana, 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
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.
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.
Status of women No distinctions between men and women. Women are equal to men, and men are equal to women in the Sangha. The Buddha gave Men and Women equal rights and a major part in the Sangha. Women can become nuns.
Holy days/Official Holidays Vesak day in which the birth, the awakening, and the parinirvana of the Buddha is celebrated. Paryushan festival
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.
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.
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.
Population 500-600 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.
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.
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.
Can atheists partake in this religion's practices? Yes. Yes
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.
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).
Concept of Deity n/a. According to some interpretations, there are beings in heaven realms but they are also bound by "samsara". They may have less suffering but have not yet achieved salvation (nibbana) 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.
Geographical distribution and predominance (Majority or strong influence) Mainly in Thailand, Cambodia, Sri lanka, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Japan, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Other small minorities exist in other countries. Mainly in India, lower Asian subcontinent throughout, and America. Small groups exist in most countries.
Place and Time of origin The origin of Buddhism points to one man, Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, who was born in Lumbini (in present-day Nepal). He became enlightened at Bodhgaya, India and delivered his first set of teachings at a deer park in Sarnath, India. Unending and un-beginning...it has always existed and will continue to do so. Revived in every time cycle. Very ancient, origin obscure dating many millenia
Confessing sins Sin is not a Buddhist concept. Sin is defined as harm to another.
What They Believe The principle of equality: that all living entities are equal The teachings of the Buddha come from Mahavira. Therefore, are similar.
Teachings about General Conduct Abstain from evil, strive for nirvana, constantly cleanse the mind. All actions must strive to be non-violent.
Clothing Bhikkhus (monks) and bhikkhunis (nuns) are supposed to wear the Buddhist robe. There is no such rule for lay followers. One of two of the predominant sects wears white clothes. The other predominant sect is unclothed.
Animal Rights The Buddha taught that animals have equal rights as humans. They are still bound in samsara, and suffer as humans do. Although he urged vegetarianism, he didn't restrict monks from eating meat when it was offered. As eating the flesh of another is considered harm, it is strictly forbidden.
Moral Obligations The Buddha taught that karma is the reason that we exist. According to the teaching, all our actions of body, speech and mind, will yield results, either in this state of existence, or in a later one. The teachings of the Buddha come from Mahavira. Therefore, are similar.
Sexual Conduct The Buddha taught that a lay follower should subdue sexual misconduct, which includes consciously cheating on one's spouse, sexual intercourse with another's wife or husband, a minor, or an animal. Monks and nuns are celibate. The concepts from the Buddha come from Mahavira. Therefore, are similar.
Compatibility with Science Aside from the concepts of karma and rebirth, Buddhism is said to be compatible with many scientific findings. Most Buddhist practices can also be labeled as cognitive science. The teachings of the Buddha come from Mahavira. Therefore, are similar.
Homosexuality The Buddha accepted both homosexuals and asexuals into the Sangha. In the Buddhist understanding, it is a natural phenomenon, and not different than heterosexualiy. Does not accept sexual activity as necessary for anything other than reproduction. Therefore, it is not acceptable.
Sources of Teachings Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha), and later masters, such as Nagarjuna, Bodhidharma, and Dogen. All 24 tirthankars of this time cycle.
Offshoot Sects None. Although Buddhism is divided into many sects in itself. Mahayana and Vajrayana are the two big yanas, while Theravada is closer to earlier Buddhism. Svetambara and Digambara. There are many offshooting sects.

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