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According to Jaina tradition, there were 24 Tirthankara (literally Ford maker, across the stream of existence), the first being Rishavadeva, who perhaps got a mention in the Rigveda. We have historical proof of only the last two viz Parshvanath (23 rd) and Mahavira (24th), former belonged to a royal family of Banaras and the Mahavira was the founder of Jainism.

Mahavira was born in 540 B. C. in a village Kundgrama near Vaishali, which is identical with  Basrah His name was Vardhaman

His father Siddhartha was the chef of the Jantrika tribe of Kshatriya under Vajji of Vaishali and his mother were a Lichchavi princess named Trishala. His wife’s name was Yasoda.

He left home at the age of 30 and became an ascetic: kept wandering for 12 years; followed practices of nirgrantha (free from fetters) of extreme penance and austerity. He was accompanied by Makkhali Gosala, but later due to quarrels Gosala left to found the Ajivika sect.

He got kaivalya (omniscience or enlightenment )at the age of 42 under a 531 tree on the bank of the river rijupalika near village Jimbhikagrama (not identified so far) and conquered misery and happiness.

Because of this conquest, he is known as ‘Mahavira’ or the ‘Great hero or Jaina’ or the conqueror and his followers are known as ‘Jainas’.

For the rest 30 years of his life, he preached in the Gangetic basins and even went to western India; he passed away at the age of 72 in 468 BC. at Pavapuri near modern Rajgir.   
Doctrine of Jainism

Jainism taught five doctrines (i) Satya do not speak lies (ii) Ahimsa do not commit violence (iii) Aparigraha do not own property (iv) Asteya not to steal and (v) Bmhmacharya celibacy.

Three Jewels of Jainism mainly aim at attaining of emancipation or liberation from this worldly bonds through Right knowledge, Right faith and Right action, and these three are considered to be the three jewels or ‘Triratna ’of Jainism.

Jainism like Buddhism is fundamentally atheistic, though not denying the existence of gods it refuses to give them any importance in the universal scheme of things and place them lower than Jaina (the conqueror).

The world for the .lainas is not created, maintained or destroyed by any deity, but functions only according to the universal scheme of law and it is eternal. Truth, therefore, can be affirmed only with a degree of probability which is called ‘Syadvada ’ Jainism.  

Digamber and Shvetamber: During Magadh famine in the reign of Chandragupta Maurya some Jaina Monks under Bhadribahu migrated to Kamataka where they have lived in the old traditional way strictly observing the religious rules, whereas they alleged, the ascetics living in MagadKa had violated those miles and taken the white dress, besides editing religious texts in their absence. From now onwards, the southerners began to be called Digamber (the sky-clad) and the Magadhans Shuetatnbers (the white-clad).

According to Shvetambaras the original the doctrine taught by Mahavira contained in 14 old texts called ‘Purvas ’ which was passed orally for 200 years.

After first Jaina council held at Pataliputra (3| 0 B.C.) these were finally compiled into 12 ‘Angas’ by Shvetambers but were not accepted by the Digambers.

The second council held at’ Vallabhi in Gujarat (453 AD.) finally codified the scriptures and reduced them to writing.

Jaina’s monastic establishments were called ‘Basis’. Two Jaina parishads were held.

1st at Pataliputa President-Stulabhahu  VicePresident- Bhadrabhahu Jainism divided into Swetambaras and Digambaras.    

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2nd held at Vallabhi. President-Damardi Ksama Srapana.

Comparison  between Jainism and Buddhism

(l) Both considered world is full of sorrow and misery and salvation is the aim of life (2) both preached in the language of common people and decried Brahmanical rituals and cults (3) both founded their monastic organization, believed in the theory of Karma and almost atheist. 

Differences: ( l )Non-violence was an obsession with Jainas but not with Buddhists, who were allowed to non -vegetarian diet with certain restrictions imposed (2) the Buddhists wore an only yellow robe while Jainas (Shvetambers) white (3) Mahavira led stress on quality but Buddha did not (4) Buddha preached in pali while Mahavira in Prakrit (5) Buddha rejected soul but Mahavira accepted it like 1 a sort of material substance present in everything (6) though with some reservation Jainism recognized god. But Buddhism did not (7) Jainism was more accommodative to Verna system than Buddhism (8) Jainism believed that salvation could be attained through rigorous penance and purification of the soul (Jiva) but Buddhism followed the middle path (Majjhim marg) (9) to Buddhism the world is transient but for Jaina it is eternal. (l 0) Buddhism has faith in true knowledge but Jainism considered it only relative (l 1) full salvation is not possible to the laity in Jainism but it is possible in Buddhism (12) Jainism remained in India only but Buddhism became a world religion in subsequent times. 

Ajivikas: Founded by Makkhali Gosala, it was popular between 5th-3rd century BC. preached the doctrine of ‘Nt'yati ’ (predeterminism) and decried the theory of Karma; everything in the world is predetermined; destiny control everything and man is helpless.

Lokayatism: Also known as ‘ Charvakism ‘Nastic Simmani 'etc. preached total materialism and did not believe in God"; or any other supreme deity.

Uchhedvada: It was a materialist philosophy of extreme nature propagated by ‘Ajit. "kesakamblin‘. Might have influenced the Lokayat or Charaka philosophy.

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