Jainism came about as a result of efforts to transform Hindu religion 2000 years ago. This religion was established almost same time as Buddhism. It was founded by Vardhamana, a prominent person who live in East India. The founder became very famous in 420 BCE when he was around 14 years old after committing the act of salekhana. It is imperative to note that there are some common features between this religion and others such as Hinduism and Buddhism (Jain, 2003). Jain community strongly believed in karma which resembled ideologies of Hinduism. They also believed in reincarnation and that asceticism was the way out to achieving liberation and enlightenment. The Jain community strongly rejected any form of violence as part of their principles in everyday life. They believed that any acts of violence could negate the ideas of karma which would adverse impacts on one’s life in the future. This believed was strongly held by the fact that they practiced ahimsa. In addition, they followed fruitarianism which holds that they should source food from killing animals and plants (Sarvepalli, 1990).
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Sikhism was founded in Punjab area which is currently known as Pakistan by Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. His work came after his enlightenment and willingness to preach how the society could be enlightened. He was dedicated to ensuring that society in the Punjab area gets to know more about God. He had a vision of making the members in the society enlightened and this was the major driving factor to spreading of the gospel. He unfortunately died in 1700 which gave rise to series of Gurus who led the movement that aimed at ensuring that the work of Guru continued and that people around the Punjab area continue to be enlightened. The series of Gurus led the movement of preaching the Gospel until 1708 when their duties were passed to Panth and the holy text. The tenth Guru compiled the Shri Guru Granth Sahib which comprises of hymns and the writings of the first 10 Gurus. These writings also encompass other texts from the Muslim and the Hindu saints. The tenth Guru was known as Gobind Singh while the holy text was considered to be the eleventh and the final Guru (Rutherford, 2000)
The religious believes and the way Sikh conducted their religious deeds were more less the same as the Jainism. According to Sikhism, praying as many times as possible a day was very important. They believed in one God who is formless. This God whom they believed in had many various names and people could him through mediation. Worshipping of idols was highly prohibited by Sikh community. The also believed in karma and reincarnation as the Jain community. In addition to this, Sikhism believed in samsara and did not accommodate caste system which was accepted by the Hindus. The social behavior of Sikh community is highly appreciated due to the fact that they strongly believed that everyone was equal before God hence no one could be seen as more superior than the others which fosters respect (Sarvepalli, 1990).
The religions of Sikhism and Jainism had similar paths but do have contrasting features that make each one of them very unique. Some of the similarities between the two religions are:
- Both religions believed in transmigration of the soul. This was known as reincarnation. Under this principle of reincarnation, they both strongly believed that there exist countless circles of births and deaths and one could only break these cycles when he or she mergers with God (Jain, 2003).
- Both religions believed in karma that was concern with regulation of reincarnation process and transmigration of the soul. They linked karma with doctrine of Grace. Both religions believed that, “Mortals obtain a human body as a result of good deeds but he reaches the gate of salvation with God’s kind grace.”
- Both religions follow the concept that world is just but an illusion and some might get attracted so much to world illusion to the extent of forgetting God. They strongly affirm the fact that there is disillusionment in the world and people could avoid this by purely believing in God.
- Both religions strongly believed and acknowledged the presences of superior beings who are in another plane or world different from the normal human beings (Redington, 2002)
- Sikhism believed in supreme divine creator which contrast with concept of Jainism religion which stand on the fact that there is no divine creator
- Sikhism follow monotheism as opposed to Jain community which is for polytheist
- Jain believes that the universe is eternal with no beginning or end and that God has no control over what happens in the universe. This belief sharply contrasts with beliefs of Sikhism which stand by the fact the concept of god is the head and he is responsible for the manifestation of creation.
- Asceticism is encouraged by Jain community whereas Sikhism does not promote the same (Sarvepalli, 1990)
- Sikhs are not strict vegetarians as opposed to Jains who are strict vegetarians. Jains believed that abstaining from meat enhances spirituality.
Sarvepalli, G. (1990). Jainism and Sikhism. Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 100, No. 4, p.200
Rutherford, N. (2000). Introducing Jainism. University of Alberta Press, p. 150-189.
Redington, A. (2002). Sikhism: Their beliefs and Practices. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 120-150.
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Jain, P. (2003). Religious Practices. Puja Publishers: Distributors, Classical Pub. Co. 100-136.