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May 01, 2013


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Mahavira was the last of the 24 ford makers / Jina / Tirthankars.
Likely no two Jinas existed as contemporaries, and were probably at least born a few centuries apart.

Unfortunately Jain history and hagiography are unreliable, much as most of pre Mauryan Indian records. This makes it difficult to identify Mahavira's period, let alone the preceding 23 Jinas.

Thus, logically the continuum of Jina Dharma probably predates Pauranic, Vedic, Sanatan and Brahminical 'Hindu' 'Religion' by a good millennium or less.

The gradual softening of Brahminical ritualism and aggressivism, can be directly attributed to the success of Shraman philosophy across India.

This break is visible too between Old Testament and the New. The change of Angry God into a Loving God.

It is said that a group of ascetics called Essenes were the likely influence on Jesus of Nazareth to effect that change. Evidence isn't conclusive yet, but Tibetan records of Jesus's eight of twelve missing years, spent in India, in spiritual earning, suggest Sraman influence to be extensive to the west of South Asia due to trade routes and connections.

A study of Essenes beliefs and routine show a marked Sraman similarity.

All in all, Sraman systems seem to have travelled well into the pre-Islamic Middle East.

Sraman gymnosophists (the naked sophists) are mentioned by the invading Macedonian and Greek armies and are known to have accompanied the returning army. The Greek and Roman writings of BCE mention of them in detail.

All in all, the Sraman contribution to philosophy and humanity is poorly studied and acknowledged, largely due to Jain Dharma being insular, fissiparous and limited geographically to India.

The present practitioner of Jain Dharma actually follow a highly ritualized and syncretic corruption, diluted and intermixed with Brahminical Hindu customs and beliefs.

The lack of interest in the preservation of genuine faith and the general apathy towards the history of Jains, by Jains themselves, has created a very poor foundation on which to base strong research.

This has proven detrimental not just to Jain Dharma, but to the formation of a strong Sraman narrative, including Bauddha Dharma.
Clearly, there is a commonality of sources and traditions, but Sramana Dharmas have a rather vainglorious fissiparous streak running through them. What an irony for systems claiming to end the ego!

Muni Mudit:'

You may have something there. I sense some ancient, common core/thread that made the Samaṇas unique. On this same score I would argue that the early and mid Upanishads were influenced by the Samanas, perhaps going as far back as Pârshvanatha.

There are significant divergences between Jain Dharma and Bauddha Dharma.

The terms Jain-ism and Buddh-ism is misleading and are plainly, incorrect.
Gautam Tathagata and Vardhaman Mahavir,
were both pioneers of the Shraman / protestant philosophical drive in 500 BCE India, against the dominant Brahman culture.

To understand Bauddha and Jain philosophy,
the emphasis has to be on Dharma, which is a holistic compendium of individual and collective rights and responsibilities, as well as that of secular and spiritual ethos and ethics. Westerners tend to confuse Dharma with the narrow prism of religion, itself a limited and exclusivist Abrahamic notion.

Jain Dharma and Bauddha Dharma share commonalities and divergences. It is a matter of weight and emphasis.

JD : Absolute non violence. Strict vegetarianism.
BD : Permit meat eating if not killed by self ... implied.

JD : Be an example. Let others seek out the Dharma.
BC : Recruit for the Dharma and Sangha. Implied proselytization and missionary activity.

JD : Extreme austerity and self control.
BD : The middle way. Avoid extremes.

JD : The three jewels of Right Action, Right Attitude and Right Knowledge.
BD : The eightfold path.

JD : The doctrine of Karma (to be eradicated)
BD : The doctrine of existential sorrow (to be overcome)

JD : The belief in a series of ford makers
BD : The primary belief in the prophethood of Sakyamuni.

These are but very few, amongst others.
Mahayana Buddhism, especially the esoterism, are a latter accretion on the original Bauddha Dharma. Ditto for the Mandirmargi Jainism with respect to the original Jain Dharma.

The least deviant heritage of Bauddha Dharma is Burmese Theravada.
The least deviant heritage of Jain Dharma is likely Digambar Sthanakvasi.

However, certain traditions, such as Rinzai Zen (BD) and Shwetambar Terapanth (JD), provide practical updates and balanced adaptation to modern needs and issues facing humanity.

The task ahead for the SHRAMANS, that is, both Bauddha Dharmi and Jain Dharmi, is to work towards a synthesis of core SHRAMANS principles, so that an ethical framework for daily living, consumption, production and environmental protection may evolve.

This is a huge undertaking and likely only a true SHRAMAN dharma can satisfactorily undertake.

Would like to point out, Jainism was not founded by Mahavira, but by Tirthankar RishabDev. Mahavira the 24th Tirthankar and Budhha existed around the same time but Mahavira wasnt the founder of Jainism.

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