Ancient History: Buddhism and Jainism for SSC CGL, UPSC

Buddhism and Jainism in  Ancient India for SSC CGL, UPSC

Ancient History is the common and most important topic for competitive examinations. The topic of Buddhism and Jainism covers significant importance in the Ancient History of India. Here we are providing the most useful Buddhism and Jainism notes for SSC CGL, UPSC. You can also download Jainism and Buddhism notes for UPSC pdf at the end of the article. Besides Buddhism and Jainism Quiz will be provided along for a profound preparation for the upcoming government job examination.

Ancient History Buddhism and Jainism for SSC CGL, UPSC
Ancient History Buddhism and Jainism for SSC CGL, UPSC

Buddhism and Jainism notes for SSC CGL, UPSC

The sixth century BCE was significant as the world was experiencing religious upheaval in various parts. Great leaders like Confucius in China, Parmenides in Greece questioned the traditional socio-
religious norms and emphasized more on simple ethical and moral values. India was no exclusion. India witnessed the rise of two great alternative religions: Buddhism and Jainism. These religions emphasised non-violence and good social conduct.

Causes of Origin of Buddhism and Jainism

There are several multi-faced causes responsible for the rise of Buddhism and Jainism.

  • Kshatriyas opposed the ritualistic dominations of the Brahmanas.
Do you Know?
Some Pali texts were found to innate the superiority of Kshatriyas over Brahmanas.
  • The rise of the new agricultural economy and animal husbandry established the importance of animals like bullocks and cattle. This was simply was against animal sacrifice rituals practised by Brahmanas.
  • Vaishyas and other mercantile groups wanted better social status and a reign of peace. With the economic progress of Vaishyas and other mercantile groups, they became empowered and embraced non-Vedic religions.
  • Peace-centred principles, non-violence, frugality of Buddhism and Jainism attracted more people.
  • The stringent and punishable caste system causes a rise of tensions among all the varnas in society.
Gautam Buddha and Buddhism

The various concept of Buddhism is obtained mainly from Milindapanho and Tripitaka.

Know about Milindapanho

Milindapanho is a collection of non-canonical texts written in Pali, it consists of a dialogue on various philosophical issues between the Indo-Greek king Milinda/Menander and the monk Nagasena.

The Tipitaka (in Pali) and Tripitaka (in Sanskrit) means “The Three Baskets/Collections‘ is one of the earliest compilations of Buddhist teachings written on long, narrow leaves. The Buddhist monks transcribed and categorised the Buddha’s teachings in three baskets, which comprises three books

  • The Sutta Pitaka (Sutra/Basket of Discourses)
  • The Vinaya Pitaka (Discipline Basket)
  • The Abhidhamma Pitaka (Basket of Higher Teachings)

Life of Buddha

  • Goutam Buddha was born as Siddhartha in 563 BC at Lumbini, Nepal.
  • He belongs to the Sakya Kshatriya clan.
  • He is also known as Sakyamuni and Tathagata.
  • His father was Suddhodhan and his mother was Mahamaya. Gautam Buddha was raised by his stepmother Gautami after the death of Mahamaya.
  • He married Yashodhara at the age of 16.
  • He left his family at the age of 29 with Channa, the charioteer and his loving horse named Kanthaka.
  • He attained Nirvana at 35 years of age under a peepal tree at Gaya on the bank of river Niranjana.
Life of Buddha
Life of Buddha

Summary of Buddha’s Life story

        Age                Place            EventNameSymbol
0LumbiniBirthJanmaLotus and Bull
29LumbiniThe great departureMahavinishkramanHorse
35GayaEnlightenmentNirvanaBodhi Tree
35SarnathFirst SermonDharmachakraprabartanWheel

Doctrines of Buddhism

The core idea of Doctrines of Buddhism is obtained from Ariya-Sachchani (Four Noble Truth) and Astangika-Marga (Eight-Fold Path)

Gautam Buddha’s teachings contain three important pillars:

  • Buddha – Founder/ Teacher
  • Dhamma – Teachings
  • Sangha– Order of Buddhist monks/nuns (who act as torchbearers of Dhamma worshippers or Upasakas and are a major factor in the dissemination of the Buddha’s doctrine)

While struggling for Enlightenment, Buddha had discovered Dhamma/Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths are:

Four Noble Truth
Four Noble Truth
The Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path

Buddhist Council

1st483 BCRajgrihaMahakasappaAjathsatru
2nd383 BCVaisaliSabbakamiKalashoka
3rd250 BCPataliputraMogaliputtaAshoka
4th98 ADKundalvan(Kashmir)VasumitraKanishka

Famous Buddhist Writer

  • Asvaghosha was the writer of ‘Buddhacharita‘. He was the contemporary of Kaniska.
  • Nagarjuna established Mahayana Buddhism
  • Asanga and Vasubandhu, are two brothers from Punjab, wrote Abhidharmakosa, considered an encyclopaedia of Buddhism.
  • Buddhaghosa was a great Pali scholar.
  • Dinnaga is considered the founder of Buddhist logic.
  • Dharmakriti was another Buddhist logician.


Vardhaman Mahavira and Jainism

Life of Vardhamana Mahavira

  • Vardhamana is considered the 24th and last Tirthankara or Jina.

The meaning of Jina is a victor, one who has attained infinite knowledge and now can help others to attain liberation from the cycle of rebirth, i.e., Moksha.

  • He was known as Mahavira or the great hero.
  • He was also known as Jitendriya (one who has conquered his inner desires) and Arihant (worthy).
  • He possessed avadhijnana (superhuman insight and cognition).
  • Mahavira was a contemporary of the Buddha and was born in 599 BCE in a village named Kundagrama near Vaishali (capital of Videha). 
  • He was born in a Kshatriya clan. His father Siddhartha was the chief of the Jnatjriya clan and his mother Trishala was Lichchavi’s King Chetaka’s sister.
  • He married Yashoda and had a daughter called Priyadarshana.
  • He attained kevalajnana (omniscience or infinite knowledge) on the banks of the Rijupalika river at 42 years of age.
  • He passed away and became a Siddha at the age of 72 years in 527 BCE at Pavapuri near Patna.
Life of Mahavira
Life of Mahavira

Doctrines of Jainism

A Jaina must follow the three jewels of Jaina ethics, popularly called Triratna to achieve the liberation of the soul

  • Right faith (Samyag Darshana)
  • Right knowledge (Samyag jnana)
  • Right conduct (Samyag Charitra)

Digambar and Shwetambar Sect in Jainism

Jainism gradually spread to western India where the Brahmanical domination was weak. The early Jainas adopted the Prakrit language and discarded the Sanskrit language which was patronised by the Brahmanas. This greatly helped in the spread of Jainism. King Chandragupta Maurya became a Jain, spent his last years in South India (Karnataka).

The great famine that occurred in Magadha and lasted for about 12 years. To protect themselves, many Jaina followers under the leadership of Bhadrabahu went South and spread Jainism there. The followers of  Bhadrabahu later came to be known as Digambaras. Some Jains decided not to follow Bhadrabahu’s Jainism, instead, they followed Shtalabahu and stayed in Magadha, came out as Shwetambar with some changes in their principle. 

What are the differences between Digambar Jains and Shwetambar Jains?

Digambara literally means ‘sky clad’.Shwetambar literally means ‘white clad’.
Practice of nudity is acceptedPractice of nudity is denied
Followers of BhadrabahuFollowers of Shtalabahu
Jina-hood of women is deniedJina-hood of women is acknowledged
Hunger, thirst, sleep, fear are not accepted in the path of enlightenmentFood is allowed in pursuit of enlightenment
Digambara Jains believe that Mahavir never marriedShvetambara believe that Mahavira married Yashoda
The word ‘Purana’ is used for the hagiographyThe word ‘Charita’ is used for the hagiography

Comparison between Buddhism and Jainism

Difference between Buddhism and Jainism

The Eightfold Path is followedTriratna is followed
It was spread in Indian subcontinent during originIt was spread in India during origin
The Buddha or Siddhartha is the founderRishabhdev is considered1st Tirthankar, Mahavira gave Jainism its popularity
Places of worship is known as Buddhist monasteries, shrines.Places of worship is known as Temples.
Ancient buddhist literature were found in Pali languageAncient Jain literature were found in Magadhi language
The Buddha accepted homosexuals and asexuality and heterosexualiy.Does not accept sexual activity other than reproduction. Therefore, it is not acceptable.
Mahayana and Vajrayana are the offshoot sectsSvetambara and Digambara are the offshoot sects
Buddhists follow the teachings of the Buddha.Jains follow the teachings of all 24 Tirthankar

Similarities of Buddhism and Jainism

The concept of Creator God is rejected hereCreator God is denied
Statues are used as meditation objectsStatues are used as meditation objects
No distinctions between men and womenNo distinctions between men and women
Atheists are allowed to take part in the religious practicesAtheists are allowed to take part in the religious practices


The Kings/Rulers who adopted Buddhism and Jainism

Several kings/rulers became a follower of Buddhism and Jainism by getting influenced by the simple ethical and moral values, the religions pioneered.

  • The emperor Aśoka adopted Buddhism after the Battle of Kaliṅga.
  • Menander was the most famous Bactrian king who rebuilt Taxila, became Buddhist.
  • The Kushan emperor Kaniṣka adopted and promoted the Buddhism religion. During his period, the Gandhāra art blossom and became popular in northern India, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Many Pāla and Sena rulers also adopted and patronized Buddhism.
  • The great king Chandragupta Maurya of the Mauryan Empire became a monk and disciple of Jain ascetic Bhadrabahu during the latter part of his life and spent in South India. He also promoted Jainism in South India.
  • Indo-Scythians King Salivahana patronised Jainism.
  • King Kharbela promoted Jainism in Kalinga.
  • King Harshavardhana followed multiple religion Jainism, Buddhism and all traditions of Hinduism.
  • Rulers from the Rashtrakuta dynasty and Yadava dynasty patronised Jainism and established many temples and Ellora caves.
  • Solanki king Bhima and his minister Vimal Shah built many Jain temples including Mount Abu.

Question and Answer on Buddhism and Jainism for SSC CGL UPSC

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