The prevalent Brahmanical system was based on hierarchical relations. Much importance was given to sacrifices and rituals. A desire for a simple religion which could be practiced without much difficulties in their daily life aroused in the minds of the common people.

Between the fourth and sixth centuries B.C. trade expanded and towns developed. There was economic prosperity. Along with traders and merchants, artisanal classes also grew up in the society. These developments contributed to the growth of unorthodox religious sects. Jainism and Buddhism were two such. These religions were patronized by the mercantile classes in opposition to Brahmanism. The oppressed classes also found in these religions a way out of their social situation. 


Jainism was a revolt against existing Hinduism. Jainism started with lord Mahavira. But according to the jain traditions Jainism is as old as the Rig Vedic Civilization. Rihaba was their first Thirthankara and Lord Mahavira was last of the twenty fourth Thirthankaras. Lord Mahavira or Vardhamana was born in about 599 BC at Kurda grama near Vaishali in Bihar to a wealthy family. He married Yasodaand had a daughter by her. He become a monk at the age of 30 after death of his parents.

Main Teaching of Jainism 

Parasnath, the 23rd Thirthankara developed some ideas of Jainism. He opposed the worship of many gods and goddesses. He was against Yajnas and animal sacrifices. He wanted to see women occupy a place of honor in society. He laid emphasis on ahimsa, truthfulness and non-attachment.

Lord Mahavir collaborated the teaching and philosophy of Jainism and that is way he is called the real founder of Jainism.

Parasnath put forward the basic doctrines of truth, non-violence, non-possession and not to receive anything which was not voluntarily given. Lord Mahavir added bramachariya or celibacy to it. He believed that soul and matter are the two basic elements. Through continuous efforts the soul can get final liberation or moksha. He suggested the triratna- the right belief,right knowledge and right action. In his belief all objects had a soul. He rejected the authority of the Vedas and the supremacy of Brahmins.

Effects of Jainism

Jainism had its effects and influence on social, political and religious life of people. It give a serious set back to caste system. The Jains rendered many public utility services and with this the society was greatly benefited by their activities. Jains avoided eating at night and undistilled water and eating potato, onions ets. In the religious field it freed religion from becoming costly and ritualistic. The teaching of Jainism were simple and readily acceptable to the people. At the same time Jainism killed the militant spirit of the Kshatriyas.

Disappearance of Jainism

In the beginning it got much support from the common people. But gradually it begin to disappear. Many causes led to the decline of Jainism. It was not a missionary religion. Mahavira did not propagate it like Buddha. It was a type of extremist religion involving extreme type of sacrifices. In the actual life, the principles like ahimsa could not be followed and the new religion lost royal patronage. Bimbisara, Ajatasatru, King Kharavada and so on patronized Jainism but their patronage was limited to a small period of history and hence was not so effective.


Origin and teaching of Buddhism

Buddhism was also founded by an illustrious kshatriya, Gautama. He was born as the son of Maya in Lumbini garden near Kapilavastu in Nepal. His father, Suddhodana was the ruler of Sakya class. Gautami, Gautam's step mother, brought up the child. He married a beautiful princess Yashodara. But seeing many disheartening scenes of sufferings, he decided to leave the world in order to find out the truth. At the age 29 he left his wife and his sol Rahul and the luxurious life in the royal palace.

After leaving his place he wandered through many places. At last, once night when he sat under a pipal tree, the light dawned on him and he become the Buddha, the enlightened one, at the age of thirty five; He decided to propagate his message to the masses. He preached to the people in the regional language. He won their heart and mind. He passed away at the age of 80 at Kusinagar in Gorakhpur District.



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