During Later Vedic period, the society was divided into 4 Varnas namely, Brahmins, Kshatriya, Vaishyas and Shudras and it was decided on the basis on birth. Brahmins and Kshatriyas, who were the two dominated Varnas at that time, competed for supremacy. Kshatriyas were the rulers who disliked the domination of the Brhamin priests. Both Gautam Buddha and Mahavira Jain challenged the hegemony of Brahmins. Moreover, the importance of Vaishyas grew as the importance of trade increased.
The Vaishyas were placed at third position after the Brahmins and Kshatriyas. And they looked for new religions to advance their status and position in the society. That’s why they gave support to both Jainism and Buddhism.
Jainism vs. Buddhism: A Comparative Study:
Buddhism is centered upon the life and teachings of Gautama Buddha, whereas Jainism is centered on the life and teachings of Mahavira. Buddhism is a polytheistic religion and its main goal is to gain enlightenment. Jainism is also a polytheistic religion and its goals are based on non-violence and liberation the soul.
Principles of Both Religions:
Buddhism Says: This life is suffering, and the only way to escape from this suffering is to dispel one's cravings and ignorance by practising the Eightfold Path, while
Jainism Says: Respect all living things. Attain liberation by avoiding and shedding of bad karma which is the cause of rebirths and all sufferings.
Goal of Philosophy: Buddhism is not a philosophy. It is the practical teachings of the Buddha and its goal is 'Nirvana'. Jainism is a way of life, adhere to teachings of Tirthankars, respect all life forms and end goal is to achieve Nirvana.
Why New Religions?
The society was angry over the ritualistic practices of the post Vedic period which were based upon superstition and exaggeration and held Brahminical dominance accountable for the mayhem.
The languages spoken by the masses such as Prakrit and Pali started getting prominence over Sanskrit, a language which was limited to priestly and aristocratic class.
In fact, Buddhism and Jainism movements were started to reform the Hinduism.