What has Jainism done

Jainism versus Buddhism, did Buddha actually borrow from Jainism?

There are very strong similarities between Buddhism and Jainism, but there are also a number of major differences.

It is very true that Buddhism and Jainism use many very similar terms, but these are mostly terms that have been floating around among the shramanas (ascetics) for some time. Karma, rebirth, the goal as an escape from rebirth. etc ... were ideas that were neither unique to Buddhism nor to Jainism, but were represented by many different groups of ascetics. For example, the Ajivaka school taught very similar things on these points too. The general terminology of rebirth and karma was a common part of the Indian ascetic tradition as a whole, and not just Jainism.

However, when you look at how these concepts are actually understood in Jainism and Buddhism, you find that there are huge differences. It seems that the Buddha borrowed the existing terminology but gave it radically new meanings. The best example I can think of is the Buddha's understanding of karma versus the Jain's understanding of karma.

The Jains (as far as I know) consider karma to be a kind of subtle substance attached to the jiva or soul. The jiva is bound to a physical body and thereby becomes laden with karma, which weighs down on it and interferes with spiritual understanding. When one dies, the type of karma attached to your jiva will determine your rebirth. By living ethically you can prevent more karma from building up, and through ascetic practice you can "burn off" the karma clinging to your soul. If you can get rid of it all, you will become enlightened and then you will be reborn into a karma. A special heaven with no physical body in which you are just a jiva and stay that way forever.

The Buddha rejected the idea that karma is any kind of substance and also rejected any kind of soul or self. For the Buddha, karma refers to an act of mental intent. The Buddha said this in many places and said, "Intention, I tell you, is kamma. Intention, one does kamma through body, speech and intellect." and in several suttas the Buddha spoke out against the understanding of the Nigantha (as the Jains were then called) of karma.


I actually got nervous and hoped that Siddhartha did not steal the teachings of Jainism and make them his own. But I remember, its time with the Akestics, I didn't know they were Jainists (is that right?) So these two answers help me, thank you very much


@Oswulf They might have been Jains, but we don't have any hard textual evidence that they were. They could have been part of any number of groups, but the texts do not record what they belonged to.


@Oswulf It would be interesting to ask yourself why you got nervous. Is your belief in Buddhism only valid if it is unique? Do you derive a sense of security from being a Buddhist? No Buddha arises in a vacuum.