Impact of Jainism and Buddhism

The Aryan society was divided into four castes. While Brahmins and Kshatriyas occupied the top position in society, Shudras were considered outcasts. Mobility within the caste system was not allowed.

Many people considered the caste system oppressive. They were fascinated by Jainism and Buddhism which totally renounced the caste system and believed in the equality of all human beings.

Impact of Jainism and Buddhism

Impact of Jainism and Buddhism


The Impact of Jainism and Buddhism is discussed below

Impact of Jainism

  • Jains did not build any political empire of their own.
  • It encouraged equality among the people as the Jains rejected the caste system and rituals.
  • Important contributions were made in literature by the Jain monks. Jain literature included 12 upangas, 10 prakiranas, sutras and mulasutras. Purves contained the teachings of Mahavira. These texts are also important sources of the period from the 6th to the 4th century BC.
  • Many monasteries and temples were constructed by the Jains. They had constructed many dharamshalas, homes for orphans and supported charitable organizations. The structures of the Bahubali at Shravanabelagola, Dilwara temples at Mt Abu and Jain Tower at Chittor are some fine specimens of Jain architecture.

Impact of Buddhism

  • The doctrine of ahimsa or non-violence impacted the people and society deeply. Stress was given to animal protection.
  • Buddhism challenged Hindu practices such as yajnas, sacrifices, and rituals. It outrightly rejected these practices and the caste system.
  • Buddhists influenced emperors such as Ashoka and Chandragupta who later became non-violent. Thus, it affected Indian politics.
  • As Buddhism spread to many parts of the world, such as China, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia, close cultural contacts emerged between these countries and India.
  • Buddhism contributed immensely to language and literature. Many Buddhist texts were written during the period. Tripitakas-Vinaypitaka, Suttapitakas and Abhidhammapitaka were composed. The Vinaypitaka lays down rules for the Buddhist monks living in the sanghas. Suttapitakas contained various teachings of Lord Buddha and Abhidhammapitaka deals with Buddhist philosophy. The Jataka tales tell us about the life of Buddha.
  • Stupas, chaityas, viharas, and rock-cut cave temples were constructed by the Buddhists. The stupas were semi-spherical dome-like structures that contained the relics of Buddha. The Stupas at Sanchi, Amravati, and Bharhut have survived till today.
  • Chaityas were rectangular halls with semi-circular roofs supported by a number of columns.

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