Discussions on Jainism & Brahminism

– Inputs from different people


In our monthly web poll for the month of March 2004 we had asked the question about the relation between Jainism and Brahminism. The question was:

Jainism is a:

  • a. Revolt against Brahminism

  • b. Reform against Brahminism

  • c. Revolt and Reform against Brahminism

Below are given the replies, explanation and interpretations to this question given by some of our visitors and Jain friends.







The debate of Jainism/ Brahminism is indeed an interesting one. I would like to present some observations as follows.

The theory of ‘Aryan invasion’ is widely disputed now by many scholars in India.. I have seen many arguments which makes one think about the whole notion of Aryan invasion. But this is neither here nor there as far as two ideologies are concerned.

It is true that Shraman tradition was based on the principle of Ahimsa and they practiced austerities but the word Shraman has not been derived from SHRAM (hard work). Shram is a sanskrit language word and if we accept that the language was brought by the Aryans and the Shraman philosophy existed before Aryan’s arrival then there is no reason to belive that the word Sharaman has been derived from Shram. But the stronger argument is some what different. Shramans did not belive in Arambh-samarabh (Acharanga Sootra). When ALL activities were ‘forbidden’ there was no need for Shram (hard labour).  The fact as I have read is that the word is Shaman (not Shraman). Sham means calming down and peace/equanimity (not Shram = hard labour). Please see Prakrit/ Ardha-magadhi dictionaries.

In the past 100 or so years  many a times we have been guided by some scholars whose knowledge of Sanskrit , Prakrit is very limited. When they interpret certain words in certain ways people tend to belive them.

There is also an interesting point:-  Many verses in Uttaradhyayan Sootra (Jain) and Dhamma-pada (Buddhist) text are same as Shanti Parva of Mahabharata (great Hindu epic). This can lead to another argument as to who was influenced by whom. If Mahabharata was written long before Jain and Buddhist texts , (as all most all historians believe), does it mean We have copied from Hindu text Mahabharata??

The arguments can never be settled… BUT then that does not lead us to Moksha..Does it?


Vinod Kapashi (vkapashi@ntlworld.com )

(In his reply to the group JainNet@yahoogroups.com on 9-4-2004)



Thanks Mr. Shah for provide such a good list of comments from the people of different geographies. And you are, we should not have any doubt about existence of Jain religion. Jain dharm is logical & practical as compared to Hindu or any other religion. So there should not be a question whether it is a reform or revolt from Hinduism.

Piyush Jain (piyushjain@hotmail.com)

(In his reply to the group JainNet@yahoogroups.com on 6-4-2004)



Have uploaded excerpts from the last chapter of the book Jaina Darsana in Gujarati by learned by Munisri Nyayavijayayji translated into English as Jaina Philosophy and Dharma by Nagin Shah, a Sanskrit scholar. The piece has eight paras covering Jaina views on God being the creator of the word, the doctrine of momenatriness, Vedanta monism, idol-worship, non-attachment must be the goal of every man, Different teachings yet common thread – a brief comparison of Jaina and 6 systems of Indian philosophy, Jaina Dharma is a way of living etc. The link is http://www.esamskriti.com/html/new_inside.asp?cat_name=health&cid=812&sid=10002

Extracts from the piece are –

Acarya Haribhadra’s thought related to the verse referred to above is worth studying.

When we acquaint ourselves with the essence of Jaina dharma, we find that is not a factional religious sect, but that it is a way of living. Of course, tirthankara Mahavira has established the fourfold Order (of monks, nun, layman, laywomen) and has formulated a code of conduct. In order to lay down a practical path for the good of the people and guide them properly, he gave them a constitution of the Order as also the code of conduct. Even a person who has not entered the Order but observes the code of conduct is called a Jaina. He too can attain Ultimate Release, if he follows the path of truth and non-violence.

Idol Worship The verse in point throws light on the question by which name one should worship the ideal. One can worship an idol by muttering any name. Said Upadhyaya Yashovijayaji in his Paramatma Paccisi: Though Buddha, Jina, Hrsikesa, Sambhu, Brahma, Adipurusa etc are different names; the meaning for which they stand is identical. All these different names denote the same Supreme Soul.

A verse from the author’s book Anekantavibhuti-Dvatrimsika meaning: O Lord! You are Jina because you have conquered the passions like attachment, aversion, you are Buddha because you have attained the supreme knowledge, you are Visnu because you are all pervasive by your all-comprehensive omniscience, and you are Siva because are the embodiment of perfect of spiritual good.

Another verse by Jayasekharasuri in Sambohasattari: If a person is equanimous he attains liberation without fail no matter whether he is vetambara or a Digambara or a Bauddha or a follower of any other religious sect.

Sanjeev Nayyar (exploreindia@vsnl.net)

(In his reply to the group jainlist@yahoogroups.com on 3-4-2004)



Thanx for the mail. It is a good discussion. U have rightly described the things but one to the best of my knowledge.
marichi did not revolt against adinatha, his grandfather. But because of his seekness Marichi needed a disciple to take care as no monk of adinatha was serving him.He preached prince kapila to go to Adinatha but he came back from there & asked mariachi to preach him. Marichi thought him apropriate to be his disciple and he preached him for that.
Source: The Kalpasutra commentry

Jyoti Kothari
(In the reply to the group jainlist@yahoogroups.com on 2-4-2004)



Interesting indeed the discussion on `Jainism and Brahminism’.

Three cheers to the efforts of Shri.Naresh Shah for his Himalayan effort to place on board the discussion table various views on the unfathomable age of Jain Dharma and its originality, its superior quality expressed by both learned scholars of the west and illustrious sons of India of the bygone century.

His rendition could be the final stamp on the issue as there is no angle or perception left out as could be seen from what all hves been said of Jain Dharma.

So doubtless it should be and no question of Jain Dharma being a revolting or a reformist eligion against Brahminism as it is not a religion at all in the narrow sense but it is universal Dharma never failing and ever existing, come what may to the universe.

“Vipareedha vridhow maadhyastha bhaav” – Samaadhi Sathak(if I am right)

Contain in silence when unnatural thoughts / views crop up (as soul’s very essential quality is independance and is free to roam around.)

Only Marichi the grandson of Baghavaan Adinath who revolted and preached against HIM became the 24th Thirthankar – Baghavaan Mahavir.Baghavaan Adinatha when reported to HIM about Marichi’s  behaviour, HE advised the reporters to pay obeisance to Marichi’s soul too as it is to be the 24th Thirthankar.But it had consumed thousands and thousands of years untold sufferinsgs for him to learn and realise the truth and was the very cause for postponing the attainment of Keval Gynaan.

Sreepalan (sreepal5058@yahoo.com)

(In his reply to the group jainlist@yahoogroups.com on 2-4-2004)



The basic purpose of ALL religious philosophies is to achieve happiness in present as well as afterlife.  Ancient India had two religious philosophies.  (1) One which was based on purification of soul to achieve permanent happiness and (2) other based on pleasing super-powers to win happiness.  The first system required self-discipline cultivated throughausterities and penances and hard work (SHRAMA) and therefore became known as “SHRAMAN” religion.  This was the ORIGINAL system in India as proven by Harrappan excavations (about 6500 years old civilization).  The other system was developed by Aryans who arrived in India in 1500 BCE (about 3500 years ago)  They developed vedas to please their Gods and thus to acquire happiness.  This system became known as Vedic or Brhamanic Religion. (Note -niether Hinduism nor Jainism existed)

The spread of the Vedic philosophy along the Indus river pushed Shraman aboriginals of India (Dravidians?)

Vastupal Parikh(vastup@hotmail.com)

(In His reply to the group JainNet@yahoogroups.com on 01-04-2004)



First we should note that:

1. Jainism is the dharma as established by the Tirthankaras and kevalis.

2. Brahmanism, also often referred to as Hinduism, represents a combination of the Vedic and later Puranic traditions, as generally led by Brahmin scholars. It should be noted that both

terms “Brahmanism” and “Hinduism” are relatively new terms. Brahmanism actually includes several different philosophical and sectarian traditions.

The Tirthankars preach the dharma becuse it is the nature of Tirthankars ro establish a Tirtha. They do not do it as a revolt or reform.

Jainism represents the Shramana tradition with emphasis on vratas. Brahmanism practiced today is largely puranic, (involving worship of Ram, Krishna, Shiva etc), the Vedic rites and gods (like Indra, Agni etc)today are of minor significance.

Modern Hinduism has been significantly influenced by the Shraman traditions. Vegetarianism is because of the Jain influence. The karma- siddhanta, the tradition of celibate ascetics  too is a Shraman contribution. Some Hindu sects such as Saiva Siddhanta and Swaminarayan sampradaya have been specially influenced by Jainism.

Some elements of both the traditions are common, for example recognition of shalaka-purushas like Ram and Krishnas, goddeses Lakshmi and Sarasvati etc. The practive of making statues (pratimas)

was first practived in the Shramans tradition, in the Vedic tradition the gods were/are invoked without the use of statues.

The brahmin community, historically has been divided into many groups with distinctive philosophies. Some are largely vedic, some mostly vaishnava, some shaivite etc. Some of them have followed Buddhism or Jainism in the past. Even now we can find some Jain and Buddhist


Yashwant (ymalayia@yahoo.com)

(In His reply to the group jainfriends@yahoogroups.com on 01-04-2004)

Post Author: JHC