TN History Textbook: Jainism and Buddhism Notes | Study History for UPSC CSE - UPSC

UPSC: TN History Textbook: Jainism and Buddhism Notes | Study History for UPSC CSE - UPSC

The document TN History Textbook: Jainism and Buddhism Notes | Study History for UPSC CSE - UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course History for UPSC CSE.
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 Page 1


37
The sixth century B.C. is considered a wonderful century in
history. Great thinkers like Buddha, Mahavira, Heraclitus, Zoroaster,
Confucius and Lao Tse lived and preached their ideas in this century.
In India, the republican institutions were strong in the 6
th
 century
B.C. This enabled rise of heterodox sects against the orthodox
religion dominated by rites and rituals. Among them the most
successful were Jainism and Buddhism whose impact on the Indian
society was remarkable.
Causes for the Rise of Jainism and Buddhism
The primary cause for the rise of Jainism and Buddhism was
the religious unrest in India in the 6
th
 century B.C. The complex
rituals and sacrifices advocated in the Later Vedic period were not
acceptable to the common people. The sacrificial ceremonies were
also found to be too expensive. The superstitious beliefs and mantras
confused the people. The teachings of Upanishads, an alternative
to the system of sacrifices, were highly philosophical in nature and
LESSON 4
JAINISM AND BUDDHISM
Learning Objectives
Students will acquire knowledge about
1. The causes for the rise of Buddhism and Jainism.
2. Early life of Mahavira and his teachings.
3. Early life of Buddha and his teachings.
4. The spread of Buddhism.
5. Causes for the decline of Buddhism in India,
Page 2


37
The sixth century B.C. is considered a wonderful century in
history. Great thinkers like Buddha, Mahavira, Heraclitus, Zoroaster,
Confucius and Lao Tse lived and preached their ideas in this century.
In India, the republican institutions were strong in the 6
th
 century
B.C. This enabled rise of heterodox sects against the orthodox
religion dominated by rites and rituals. Among them the most
successful were Jainism and Buddhism whose impact on the Indian
society was remarkable.
Causes for the Rise of Jainism and Buddhism
The primary cause for the rise of Jainism and Buddhism was
the religious unrest in India in the 6
th
 century B.C. The complex
rituals and sacrifices advocated in the Later Vedic period were not
acceptable to the common people. The sacrificial ceremonies were
also found to be too expensive. The superstitious beliefs and mantras
confused the people. The teachings of Upanishads, an alternative
to the system of sacrifices, were highly philosophical in nature and
LESSON 4
JAINISM AND BUDDHISM
Learning Objectives
Students will acquire knowledge about
1. The causes for the rise of Buddhism and Jainism.
2. Early life of Mahavira and his teachings.
3. Early life of Buddha and his teachings.
4. The spread of Buddhism.
5. Causes for the decline of Buddhism in India,
39 38
Teachings of Mahavira
The three principles of Jainism, also known as Triratnas (three
gems), are:
-right faith
-right knowledge
-right conduct.
Right faith is the belief in the teachings and wisdom of
Mahavira. Right Knowledge is the acceptance of the theory that
there is no God and that the world has been existing without a creator
and that all objects possess a soul.  Right conduct refers to the
observance of the five great vows:
-not to injure life
-not to lie
-not to steal
-not to acquire property
-not to lead immoral life.
Both the clergy and laymen had to strictly
follow the doctrine of ahimsa. Mahavira regarded all objects, both
animate and inanimate, have souls and various degrees of
consciousness. They possess life and feel pain when they are injured.
Mahavira rejected the authority of the Vedas and objected to the
Vedic rituals. He advocated a very holy and ethical code of life.
Even the practice of agriculture was considered sinful as it causes
injury to the earth, worms and animals. Similarly the doctrine of
asceticism and renunciation was also carried to extreme lengths by
the practice of starvation, nudity and other forms of self-torture.
therefore not easily understood by all. Therefore, what was needed
in the larger interests of the people was a simple, short and intelligible
way to salvation for all people. Such religious teaching should also
be in a language known to them. This need was fulfilled by the
teachings of Buddha and Mahavira.
Other than the religious factor, social and economic factors
also contributed to the rise of these two religions. The rigid caste
system prevalent in India generated tensions in the society. Higher
classes enjoyed certain privileges which were denied to the lower
classes. Also, the Kshatriyas had resented the domination of the
priestly class. It should also to be noted that both Buddha and
Mahavira belonged to Kshatriya origin. The growth of trade led to
the improvement in the economic conditions of the Vaisyas. As a
result, they wanted to enhance their social status but the orthodox
Varna system did not allow this. Therefore, they began to extend
support to Buddhism and Jainism. It was this merchant class that
extended the chief support to these new religions.
Jainism
Life of Vardhamana Mahavira (539- 467 B.C.)
Vardhamana Mahavira was the 24th Tirthankara of the Jain
tradition. He was born at Kundagrama near Vaisali to Kshatriya
parents Siddhartha and Trisala. He married Yasoda and gave birth
to a daughter. At the age of thirty he became an ascetic and wandered
for twelve years. In the 13
th
 year of his penance, he attained the
highest spiritual knowledge called Kevala Gnana. Thereafter, he was
called Mahavira and Jina. His followers were called Jains and his
religion Jainism. He preached his doctrines for 30 years and died at
the age of 72 at Pava near Rajagriha.
MAHAVIRA
Page 3


37
The sixth century B.C. is considered a wonderful century in
history. Great thinkers like Buddha, Mahavira, Heraclitus, Zoroaster,
Confucius and Lao Tse lived and preached their ideas in this century.
In India, the republican institutions were strong in the 6
th
 century
B.C. This enabled rise of heterodox sects against the orthodox
religion dominated by rites and rituals. Among them the most
successful were Jainism and Buddhism whose impact on the Indian
society was remarkable.
Causes for the Rise of Jainism and Buddhism
The primary cause for the rise of Jainism and Buddhism was
the religious unrest in India in the 6
th
 century B.C. The complex
rituals and sacrifices advocated in the Later Vedic period were not
acceptable to the common people. The sacrificial ceremonies were
also found to be too expensive. The superstitious beliefs and mantras
confused the people. The teachings of Upanishads, an alternative
to the system of sacrifices, were highly philosophical in nature and
LESSON 4
JAINISM AND BUDDHISM
Learning Objectives
Students will acquire knowledge about
1. The causes for the rise of Buddhism and Jainism.
2. Early life of Mahavira and his teachings.
3. Early life of Buddha and his teachings.
4. The spread of Buddhism.
5. Causes for the decline of Buddhism in India,
39 38
Teachings of Mahavira
The three principles of Jainism, also known as Triratnas (three
gems), are:
-right faith
-right knowledge
-right conduct.
Right faith is the belief in the teachings and wisdom of
Mahavira. Right Knowledge is the acceptance of the theory that
there is no God and that the world has been existing without a creator
and that all objects possess a soul.  Right conduct refers to the
observance of the five great vows:
-not to injure life
-not to lie
-not to steal
-not to acquire property
-not to lead immoral life.
Both the clergy and laymen had to strictly
follow the doctrine of ahimsa. Mahavira regarded all objects, both
animate and inanimate, have souls and various degrees of
consciousness. They possess life and feel pain when they are injured.
Mahavira rejected the authority of the Vedas and objected to the
Vedic rituals. He advocated a very holy and ethical code of life.
Even the practice of agriculture was considered sinful as it causes
injury to the earth, worms and animals. Similarly the doctrine of
asceticism and renunciation was also carried to extreme lengths by
the practice of starvation, nudity and other forms of self-torture.
therefore not easily understood by all. Therefore, what was needed
in the larger interests of the people was a simple, short and intelligible
way to salvation for all people. Such religious teaching should also
be in a language known to them. This need was fulfilled by the
teachings of Buddha and Mahavira.
Other than the religious factor, social and economic factors
also contributed to the rise of these two religions. The rigid caste
system prevalent in India generated tensions in the society. Higher
classes enjoyed certain privileges which were denied to the lower
classes. Also, the Kshatriyas had resented the domination of the
priestly class. It should also to be noted that both Buddha and
Mahavira belonged to Kshatriya origin. The growth of trade led to
the improvement in the economic conditions of the Vaisyas. As a
result, they wanted to enhance their social status but the orthodox
Varna system did not allow this. Therefore, they began to extend
support to Buddhism and Jainism. It was this merchant class that
extended the chief support to these new religions.
Jainism
Life of Vardhamana Mahavira (539- 467 B.C.)
Vardhamana Mahavira was the 24th Tirthankara of the Jain
tradition. He was born at Kundagrama near Vaisali to Kshatriya
parents Siddhartha and Trisala. He married Yasoda and gave birth
to a daughter. At the age of thirty he became an ascetic and wandered
for twelve years. In the 13
th
 year of his penance, he attained the
highest spiritual knowledge called Kevala Gnana. Thereafter, he was
called Mahavira and Jina. His followers were called Jains and his
religion Jainism. He preached his doctrines for 30 years and died at
the age of 72 at Pava near Rajagriha.
MAHAVIRA
41 40
Yasodhara and gave birth to a son, Rahula. The sight of an old man,
a diseased man, a corpse and an ascetic turned him away from
worldly life. He left home at the age of twenty nine in search of
Truth. He wandered for seven years and met several teachers but
could not get enlightenment. At last, he sat under a bodhi tree at
Bodh Gaya and did intense penance, after which he got
Enlightenment (Nirvana) at the age of thirty five. Since then he
became known as the Buddha or ‘the Enlightened One’.  He
delivered his first sermon at Sarnath near Benares and for the next
forty five years he led the life of a preacher. He died at the age of
eighty at Kusinagara.
The most important disciples of Buddha were Sariputta,
Moggallanna, Ananda, Kassapa and Upali. Kings like Prasenajit of
Kosala and Bimbisara and Ajatasatru of Magadha accepted his
doctrines and became his disciples. Buddha in his lifetime spread
his message far and wide in north India and visited places like
Benares, Rajagriha, Sravasti, Vaisali, Nalanda and Pataligrama. It
should be noted that he did not involve himself in fruitless
controversies regarding metaphysical questions like god, soul, karma,
rebirth, etc., and concerned himself with the practical problems
confronting man.
Teachings of Buddha
The Four Noble Truths of Buddha are:
-The world is full of suffering.
-The cause of suffering is desire.
-If desires are get rid off, suffering can be removed.
-This can be done by following the Eightfold Path.
The Eightfold Path consists of right view, right resolve, right
speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness
Spread of Jainism
Mahavira organised the Sangha to spread his teachings. He
admitted both men and women in the Sangha, which consisted of
both monks and lay followers.  The rapid spread of Jainism was
due to the dedicated work of the members of the Sangha.  It spread
rapidly in Western India and Karnataka. Chandragupta Maurya,
Kharavela of Kalinga and the royal dynasties of south India such as
the Gangas, the Kadambas, the Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas
patronized Jainism.
By the end of the fourth century B.C., there was a serious
famine in the Ganges valley. Many Jain monks led by Bhadrabagu
and Chandragupta Maurya came to Sravana Belgola in Karnataka.
Those who stayed back in north India were led by a monk named
Sthulabahu who changed the code of conduct for the monks. This
led to the division of Jainism into two sects Svetambaras (white-
clad) and Digambaras (Sky-clad or Naked).
The first Jain Council was convened at Pataliputra by
Sthulabahu, the leader of the Digambaras, in the beginning of the 3
rd
century B.C. The second Jain Council was held at Valabhi in 5
th
century A.D. The final compilation of Jain literature called Twelve
Angas was completed in this council.
Buddhism
Life of Gautama Buddha (567- 487 B.C.)
Gautama or Siddhartha, the founder
of Buddhism, was born in 567 B.C. in
Lumbini Garden near Kapilavastu. His father
was Suddodhana of the Sakya clan and
mother Mayadevi. As his mother died at child
birth, he was brought up by his aunt Prajapati
Gautami. At the age of sixteen he married
GAUTAMA BUDDHA 
Page 4


37
The sixth century B.C. is considered a wonderful century in
history. Great thinkers like Buddha, Mahavira, Heraclitus, Zoroaster,
Confucius and Lao Tse lived and preached their ideas in this century.
In India, the republican institutions were strong in the 6
th
 century
B.C. This enabled rise of heterodox sects against the orthodox
religion dominated by rites and rituals. Among them the most
successful were Jainism and Buddhism whose impact on the Indian
society was remarkable.
Causes for the Rise of Jainism and Buddhism
The primary cause for the rise of Jainism and Buddhism was
the religious unrest in India in the 6
th
 century B.C. The complex
rituals and sacrifices advocated in the Later Vedic period were not
acceptable to the common people. The sacrificial ceremonies were
also found to be too expensive. The superstitious beliefs and mantras
confused the people. The teachings of Upanishads, an alternative
to the system of sacrifices, were highly philosophical in nature and
LESSON 4
JAINISM AND BUDDHISM
Learning Objectives
Students will acquire knowledge about
1. The causes for the rise of Buddhism and Jainism.
2. Early life of Mahavira and his teachings.
3. Early life of Buddha and his teachings.
4. The spread of Buddhism.
5. Causes for the decline of Buddhism in India,
39 38
Teachings of Mahavira
The three principles of Jainism, also known as Triratnas (three
gems), are:
-right faith
-right knowledge
-right conduct.
Right faith is the belief in the teachings and wisdom of
Mahavira. Right Knowledge is the acceptance of the theory that
there is no God and that the world has been existing without a creator
and that all objects possess a soul.  Right conduct refers to the
observance of the five great vows:
-not to injure life
-not to lie
-not to steal
-not to acquire property
-not to lead immoral life.
Both the clergy and laymen had to strictly
follow the doctrine of ahimsa. Mahavira regarded all objects, both
animate and inanimate, have souls and various degrees of
consciousness. They possess life and feel pain when they are injured.
Mahavira rejected the authority of the Vedas and objected to the
Vedic rituals. He advocated a very holy and ethical code of life.
Even the practice of agriculture was considered sinful as it causes
injury to the earth, worms and animals. Similarly the doctrine of
asceticism and renunciation was also carried to extreme lengths by
the practice of starvation, nudity and other forms of self-torture.
therefore not easily understood by all. Therefore, what was needed
in the larger interests of the people was a simple, short and intelligible
way to salvation for all people. Such religious teaching should also
be in a language known to them. This need was fulfilled by the
teachings of Buddha and Mahavira.
Other than the religious factor, social and economic factors
also contributed to the rise of these two religions. The rigid caste
system prevalent in India generated tensions in the society. Higher
classes enjoyed certain privileges which were denied to the lower
classes. Also, the Kshatriyas had resented the domination of the
priestly class. It should also to be noted that both Buddha and
Mahavira belonged to Kshatriya origin. The growth of trade led to
the improvement in the economic conditions of the Vaisyas. As a
result, they wanted to enhance their social status but the orthodox
Varna system did not allow this. Therefore, they began to extend
support to Buddhism and Jainism. It was this merchant class that
extended the chief support to these new religions.
Jainism
Life of Vardhamana Mahavira (539- 467 B.C.)
Vardhamana Mahavira was the 24th Tirthankara of the Jain
tradition. He was born at Kundagrama near Vaisali to Kshatriya
parents Siddhartha and Trisala. He married Yasoda and gave birth
to a daughter. At the age of thirty he became an ascetic and wandered
for twelve years. In the 13
th
 year of his penance, he attained the
highest spiritual knowledge called Kevala Gnana. Thereafter, he was
called Mahavira and Jina. His followers were called Jains and his
religion Jainism. He preached his doctrines for 30 years and died at
the age of 72 at Pava near Rajagriha.
MAHAVIRA
41 40
Yasodhara and gave birth to a son, Rahula. The sight of an old man,
a diseased man, a corpse and an ascetic turned him away from
worldly life. He left home at the age of twenty nine in search of
Truth. He wandered for seven years and met several teachers but
could not get enlightenment. At last, he sat under a bodhi tree at
Bodh Gaya and did intense penance, after which he got
Enlightenment (Nirvana) at the age of thirty five. Since then he
became known as the Buddha or ‘the Enlightened One’.  He
delivered his first sermon at Sarnath near Benares and for the next
forty five years he led the life of a preacher. He died at the age of
eighty at Kusinagara.
The most important disciples of Buddha were Sariputta,
Moggallanna, Ananda, Kassapa and Upali. Kings like Prasenajit of
Kosala and Bimbisara and Ajatasatru of Magadha accepted his
doctrines and became his disciples. Buddha in his lifetime spread
his message far and wide in north India and visited places like
Benares, Rajagriha, Sravasti, Vaisali, Nalanda and Pataligrama. It
should be noted that he did not involve himself in fruitless
controversies regarding metaphysical questions like god, soul, karma,
rebirth, etc., and concerned himself with the practical problems
confronting man.
Teachings of Buddha
The Four Noble Truths of Buddha are:
-The world is full of suffering.
-The cause of suffering is desire.
-If desires are get rid off, suffering can be removed.
-This can be done by following the Eightfold Path.
The Eightfold Path consists of right view, right resolve, right
speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness
Spread of Jainism
Mahavira organised the Sangha to spread his teachings. He
admitted both men and women in the Sangha, which consisted of
both monks and lay followers.  The rapid spread of Jainism was
due to the dedicated work of the members of the Sangha.  It spread
rapidly in Western India and Karnataka. Chandragupta Maurya,
Kharavela of Kalinga and the royal dynasties of south India such as
the Gangas, the Kadambas, the Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas
patronized Jainism.
By the end of the fourth century B.C., there was a serious
famine in the Ganges valley. Many Jain monks led by Bhadrabagu
and Chandragupta Maurya came to Sravana Belgola in Karnataka.
Those who stayed back in north India were led by a monk named
Sthulabahu who changed the code of conduct for the monks. This
led to the division of Jainism into two sects Svetambaras (white-
clad) and Digambaras (Sky-clad or Naked).
The first Jain Council was convened at Pataliputra by
Sthulabahu, the leader of the Digambaras, in the beginning of the 3
rd
century B.C. The second Jain Council was held at Valabhi in 5
th
century A.D. The final compilation of Jain literature called Twelve
Angas was completed in this council.
Buddhism
Life of Gautama Buddha (567- 487 B.C.)
Gautama or Siddhartha, the founder
of Buddhism, was born in 567 B.C. in
Lumbini Garden near Kapilavastu. His father
was Suddodhana of the Sakya clan and
mother Mayadevi. As his mother died at child
birth, he was brought up by his aunt Prajapati
Gautami. At the age of sixteen he married
GAUTAMA BUDDHA 
43 42
Buddhist Councils
The first Buddhist Council was held at Rajagraha under the
chairmanship of Mahakasapa immediately after the death of Buddha.
Its purpose was to maintain the purity of the teachings of the Buddha.
The second Buddhist Council was convened at Vaisali around 383
B.C. The third Buddhist Council was held at Pataliputra under the
patronage of Asoka. Moggaliputta Tissa presided over it. The final
version of Tripitakas was completed in this council. The fourth
Buddhist Council was convened in Kashmir by Kanishka under the
chairmanship of Vasumitra. Asvagosha participated in this council.
The new school of Buddhism called Mahayana Buddhism came into
existence during this council. The Buddhism preached by the Buddha
and propagated by Asoka was known as Hinayana.
The Buddhist texts were collected and compiled some five
hundred years after the death of the Buddha. They are known as
the Tripitakas, namely the Sutta, the Vinaya and the Abhidhamma
Pitakas. They are written in the Pali language.
Causes for the Decline of Buddhism in India
The revival of Brahmanism and the rise of Bhagavatism led to
the fall of popularity of Buddhism. The use of Pali, the language of
the masses as the language of Buddhism was given up from the 1
st
century A.D. The Buddhists began to adopt Sanskrit, the language
of the elite. After the birth of Mahayana Buddhism, the practice of
idol worship and making offerings led to the deterioration of moral
standards. Moreover, the attack of the Huns in 5
th
 and 6
th
 centuries
and the Turkish invaders in 12
th
 century destroyed the monasteries.
All these factors contributed to the decline of Buddhism in India.
Contribution of Buddhism to Indian Culture
Buddhism has made a remarkable contribution to the
development of Indian culture.
and right concentration. Buddha neither accepts god nor rejects the
existence of god. He laid great emphasis on the law of karma. He
argued that the condition of man in this life depends upon his own
deeds. He taught that the soul does not exist. However, he
emphasized Ahimsa. By his love for human beings and all living
creatures, he endeared himself to all.  Even under the gravest
provocation he did not show the least anger or hatred and instead
conquered everyone by his love and compassion. His religion was
identical with morality and it emphasized purity of thought, word
and deed.  He was a rationalist who tried to explain things in the
light of reason and not on the basis of blind faith. Though he did not
make a direct attack on the caste system, he was against any social
distinctions and threw open his order to all. Therefore, Buddhism
was more a social than religious revolution. It taught the code of
practical ethics and laid down the principle of social equality.
Spread of Buddhism
Buddha had two kinds of disciples – monks (bhikshus) and
lay worshippers (upasikas). The monks were organized into the
Sangha for the purpose of spreading his teachings. The membership
was open to all persons, male or female and without any caste
restrictions. There was a special code for nuns restricting their
residence and movement. Sariputta, Moggallana and Ananda were
some of the famous monks. The Sangha was governed on
democratic lines and was empowered to enforce discipline among
its members. Owing to the organised efforts made by the Sangha,
Buddhism made rapid progress in North India even during Buddha’s
life time.  Magadha, Kosala, Kausambi and several republican states
of North India embraced this religion. About two hundred years
after the death of Buddha, the famous Mauryan Emperor Asoka
embraced Buddhism. Through his missionary effort Asoka spread
Buddhism into West Asia and Ceylon. Thus a local religious sect
was transformed into a world religion.
Page 5


37
The sixth century B.C. is considered a wonderful century in
history. Great thinkers like Buddha, Mahavira, Heraclitus, Zoroaster,
Confucius and Lao Tse lived and preached their ideas in this century.
In India, the republican institutions were strong in the 6
th
 century
B.C. This enabled rise of heterodox sects against the orthodox
religion dominated by rites and rituals. Among them the most
successful were Jainism and Buddhism whose impact on the Indian
society was remarkable.
Causes for the Rise of Jainism and Buddhism
The primary cause for the rise of Jainism and Buddhism was
the religious unrest in India in the 6
th
 century B.C. The complex
rituals and sacrifices advocated in the Later Vedic period were not
acceptable to the common people. The sacrificial ceremonies were
also found to be too expensive. The superstitious beliefs and mantras
confused the people. The teachings of Upanishads, an alternative
to the system of sacrifices, were highly philosophical in nature and
LESSON 4
JAINISM AND BUDDHISM
Learning Objectives
Students will acquire knowledge about
1. The causes for the rise of Buddhism and Jainism.
2. Early life of Mahavira and his teachings.
3. Early life of Buddha and his teachings.
4. The spread of Buddhism.
5. Causes for the decline of Buddhism in India,
39 38
Teachings of Mahavira
The three principles of Jainism, also known as Triratnas (three
gems), are:
-right faith
-right knowledge
-right conduct.
Right faith is the belief in the teachings and wisdom of
Mahavira. Right Knowledge is the acceptance of the theory that
there is no God and that the world has been existing without a creator
and that all objects possess a soul.  Right conduct refers to the
observance of the five great vows:
-not to injure life
-not to lie
-not to steal
-not to acquire property
-not to lead immoral life.
Both the clergy and laymen had to strictly
follow the doctrine of ahimsa. Mahavira regarded all objects, both
animate and inanimate, have souls and various degrees of
consciousness. They possess life and feel pain when they are injured.
Mahavira rejected the authority of the Vedas and objected to the
Vedic rituals. He advocated a very holy and ethical code of life.
Even the practice of agriculture was considered sinful as it causes
injury to the earth, worms and animals. Similarly the doctrine of
asceticism and renunciation was also carried to extreme lengths by
the practice of starvation, nudity and other forms of self-torture.
therefore not easily understood by all. Therefore, what was needed
in the larger interests of the people was a simple, short and intelligible
way to salvation for all people. Such religious teaching should also
be in a language known to them. This need was fulfilled by the
teachings of Buddha and Mahavira.
Other than the religious factor, social and economic factors
also contributed to the rise of these two religions. The rigid caste
system prevalent in India generated tensions in the society. Higher
classes enjoyed certain privileges which were denied to the lower
classes. Also, the Kshatriyas had resented the domination of the
priestly class. It should also to be noted that both Buddha and
Mahavira belonged to Kshatriya origin. The growth of trade led to
the improvement in the economic conditions of the Vaisyas. As a
result, they wanted to enhance their social status but the orthodox
Varna system did not allow this. Therefore, they began to extend
support to Buddhism and Jainism. It was this merchant class that
extended the chief support to these new religions.
Jainism
Life of Vardhamana Mahavira (539- 467 B.C.)
Vardhamana Mahavira was the 24th Tirthankara of the Jain
tradition. He was born at Kundagrama near Vaisali to Kshatriya
parents Siddhartha and Trisala. He married Yasoda and gave birth
to a daughter. At the age of thirty he became an ascetic and wandered
for twelve years. In the 13
th
 year of his penance, he attained the
highest spiritual knowledge called Kevala Gnana. Thereafter, he was
called Mahavira and Jina. His followers were called Jains and his
religion Jainism. He preached his doctrines for 30 years and died at
the age of 72 at Pava near Rajagriha.
MAHAVIRA
41 40
Yasodhara and gave birth to a son, Rahula. The sight of an old man,
a diseased man, a corpse and an ascetic turned him away from
worldly life. He left home at the age of twenty nine in search of
Truth. He wandered for seven years and met several teachers but
could not get enlightenment. At last, he sat under a bodhi tree at
Bodh Gaya and did intense penance, after which he got
Enlightenment (Nirvana) at the age of thirty five. Since then he
became known as the Buddha or ‘the Enlightened One’.  He
delivered his first sermon at Sarnath near Benares and for the next
forty five years he led the life of a preacher. He died at the age of
eighty at Kusinagara.
The most important disciples of Buddha were Sariputta,
Moggallanna, Ananda, Kassapa and Upali. Kings like Prasenajit of
Kosala and Bimbisara and Ajatasatru of Magadha accepted his
doctrines and became his disciples. Buddha in his lifetime spread
his message far and wide in north India and visited places like
Benares, Rajagriha, Sravasti, Vaisali, Nalanda and Pataligrama. It
should be noted that he did not involve himself in fruitless
controversies regarding metaphysical questions like god, soul, karma,
rebirth, etc., and concerned himself with the practical problems
confronting man.
Teachings of Buddha
The Four Noble Truths of Buddha are:
-The world is full of suffering.
-The cause of suffering is desire.
-If desires are get rid off, suffering can be removed.
-This can be done by following the Eightfold Path.
The Eightfold Path consists of right view, right resolve, right
speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness
Spread of Jainism
Mahavira organised the Sangha to spread his teachings. He
admitted both men and women in the Sangha, which consisted of
both monks and lay followers.  The rapid spread of Jainism was
due to the dedicated work of the members of the Sangha.  It spread
rapidly in Western India and Karnataka. Chandragupta Maurya,
Kharavela of Kalinga and the royal dynasties of south India such as
the Gangas, the Kadambas, the Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas
patronized Jainism.
By the end of the fourth century B.C., there was a serious
famine in the Ganges valley. Many Jain monks led by Bhadrabagu
and Chandragupta Maurya came to Sravana Belgola in Karnataka.
Those who stayed back in north India were led by a monk named
Sthulabahu who changed the code of conduct for the monks. This
led to the division of Jainism into two sects Svetambaras (white-
clad) and Digambaras (Sky-clad or Naked).
The first Jain Council was convened at Pataliputra by
Sthulabahu, the leader of the Digambaras, in the beginning of the 3
rd
century B.C. The second Jain Council was held at Valabhi in 5
th
century A.D. The final compilation of Jain literature called Twelve
Angas was completed in this council.
Buddhism
Life of Gautama Buddha (567- 487 B.C.)
Gautama or Siddhartha, the founder
of Buddhism, was born in 567 B.C. in
Lumbini Garden near Kapilavastu. His father
was Suddodhana of the Sakya clan and
mother Mayadevi. As his mother died at child
birth, he was brought up by his aunt Prajapati
Gautami. At the age of sixteen he married
GAUTAMA BUDDHA 
43 42
Buddhist Councils
The first Buddhist Council was held at Rajagraha under the
chairmanship of Mahakasapa immediately after the death of Buddha.
Its purpose was to maintain the purity of the teachings of the Buddha.
The second Buddhist Council was convened at Vaisali around 383
B.C. The third Buddhist Council was held at Pataliputra under the
patronage of Asoka. Moggaliputta Tissa presided over it. The final
version of Tripitakas was completed in this council. The fourth
Buddhist Council was convened in Kashmir by Kanishka under the
chairmanship of Vasumitra. Asvagosha participated in this council.
The new school of Buddhism called Mahayana Buddhism came into
existence during this council. The Buddhism preached by the Buddha
and propagated by Asoka was known as Hinayana.
The Buddhist texts were collected and compiled some five
hundred years after the death of the Buddha. They are known as
the Tripitakas, namely the Sutta, the Vinaya and the Abhidhamma
Pitakas. They are written in the Pali language.
Causes for the Decline of Buddhism in India
The revival of Brahmanism and the rise of Bhagavatism led to
the fall of popularity of Buddhism. The use of Pali, the language of
the masses as the language of Buddhism was given up from the 1
st
century A.D. The Buddhists began to adopt Sanskrit, the language
of the elite. After the birth of Mahayana Buddhism, the practice of
idol worship and making offerings led to the deterioration of moral
standards. Moreover, the attack of the Huns in 5
th
 and 6
th
 centuries
and the Turkish invaders in 12
th
 century destroyed the monasteries.
All these factors contributed to the decline of Buddhism in India.
Contribution of Buddhism to Indian Culture
Buddhism has made a remarkable contribution to the
development of Indian culture.
and right concentration. Buddha neither accepts god nor rejects the
existence of god. He laid great emphasis on the law of karma. He
argued that the condition of man in this life depends upon his own
deeds. He taught that the soul does not exist. However, he
emphasized Ahimsa. By his love for human beings and all living
creatures, he endeared himself to all.  Even under the gravest
provocation he did not show the least anger or hatred and instead
conquered everyone by his love and compassion. His religion was
identical with morality and it emphasized purity of thought, word
and deed.  He was a rationalist who tried to explain things in the
light of reason and not on the basis of blind faith. Though he did not
make a direct attack on the caste system, he was against any social
distinctions and threw open his order to all. Therefore, Buddhism
was more a social than religious revolution. It taught the code of
practical ethics and laid down the principle of social equality.
Spread of Buddhism
Buddha had two kinds of disciples – monks (bhikshus) and
lay worshippers (upasikas). The monks were organized into the
Sangha for the purpose of spreading his teachings. The membership
was open to all persons, male or female and without any caste
restrictions. There was a special code for nuns restricting their
residence and movement. Sariputta, Moggallana and Ananda were
some of the famous monks. The Sangha was governed on
democratic lines and was empowered to enforce discipline among
its members. Owing to the organised efforts made by the Sangha,
Buddhism made rapid progress in North India even during Buddha’s
life time.  Magadha, Kosala, Kausambi and several republican states
of North India embraced this religion. About two hundred years
after the death of Buddha, the famous Mauryan Emperor Asoka
embraced Buddhism. Through his missionary effort Asoka spread
Buddhism into West Asia and Ceylon. Thus a local religious sect
was transformed into a world religion.
45 44
MODEL QUESTIONS
I. Choose the correct answer.
1. Vardhamana Mahavira was born at
(a) Kapilavastu (b) Pataliputra
(c) Kundagrama (d) Kusumapura
2. The Tripitakas  are written in the language of
(a) Sanskrit (b) Prakrit
(c) Pali (d) Hindi
II. Fill in the blanks.
1. The first Jain Council was convened at …… by …….
2. The final compilation of Jain literature was called ……
3. The Buddhism preached by Asoka was known as …….
III. Match the following.
1. First Buddhist Council a) V aisali
2. Second Buddhist Council b) Kashmir
3. Third Buddhist Council c) Rajagriha
4. Fourth Buddhist Council d) Pataliputra
IV. Find out the correct statement. One statement alone is
right.
1. The Four Noble Truths were the teachings of Mahavira.
2. The adoption of Pali language led to the decline of Buddhism.
3. Idol worship was followed by the followers of Mahayana
Buddhism.
-The concept of ahimsa was its chief contribution. Later, it
became one of the cherished values of our nation.
-Its contribution to the art and architecture of India was
notable. The stupas at Sanchi, Bharhut and Gaya are wonderful
pieces of architecture. Buddhism takes the credit for the chaityas
and viharas in different parts of India.
-It promoted education through residential universities like
those at Taxila, Nalanda and Vikramasila.
-The language of Pali and other local languages developed
through the teachings of Buddhism.
-It had also promoted the spread of Indian culture to other
parts of Asia.
Learning Outcome
After learning this lesson the students will be to explain
1. The religious and other causes for the rise of Buddhism
and Jainism.
2. Early life of Mahavira and his principles of Triratna.
3. Early life of Gautama Buddha and his important
principles like the four truths and eightfold path.
4. The patrons of Buddhism and the formation of the Sangha
as well as the spread of Buddhism.
5. Causes for the decline of Buddhism in India and its
contribution to Indian culture.
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