Difference Between Taoism and Jainism

Around 7.9 billion people are living in the world. This population is divided by diverse language, climate, tradition, culture, and religion. Taoism and Jainism have unique origins, yet share the belief in divinity. While Taoism states the presence of multiple deities, Jainism firmly maintains that there are Jinas.

Taoism vs Jainism

The main difference between Taoism and Jainism is that the belief in the deity varies. The former is polytheistic, while the latter worships Tirthankaras. Taoism is the oldest religion that followed in China. Jainism is considered one of the ancient Indian religions and shares similarities with Buddhism. This religion originated in the Ganges basin.

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Taoism is also known as Daoism. In Chinese, the word, “Tao” means route or way. It refers to the essence of the universe or the path that one chooses. It states that all living creatures must exist in consonance with nature. Under the Tang dynasty, this religion enjoyed an official status.

Jainism is otherwise known as the Jain dharma. There are two sects under this religion. They are Digambara and the Svetambara sects .This religion believes in the cycle of birth-death-rebirth. Jainism supports the idea of reincarnation and karma. History states that Jainism was developed by the twenty-four Tirthankaras (spiritual teachers).

Comparison Table Between Taoism and Jainism

Parameters of ComparisonTaoismJainism
OriginOriginated from ancient China.Originated from eastern India.
Religious SitesHeng Shan Bei, Tai Shen are prominent places. Dilwara Temples and  Shikharji are famous sites.
BeliefBelieves in simplicity, patience, and compassion. Emphasizes nonviolence.
SymbolsThe Yin and yang symbol is well known.Jainism has eight key symbols.
FounderLao Tzu was the founder.Tirthankars are believed to be the founders.

What is Taoism?

The ideal of Taoism is the balance of life and harmony between living beings and the universe. It explains the concept of Chi. It means that the flow of energy(Chi) is the fundamental basis for any living being.

This flow is responsible for the balance in the universe.Chi is otherwise known as the breath of nature.

An important concept of Taoism is the Yin yang which stresses the importance of balance. Yin is the darker part of the symbol representing femininity, earth, and darkness. The yang symbolizes masculine nature, light, and heaven. The yin yang swirls together form a complete circle.

They are interdependent and blend to form a single unit on the whole.This portrays that the opposing and contrasting characters are needed for existence. Neither one can sustain without the other.

The philosophy of Taoism states that the spirit is immortal and merges with the universe upon death.Taoism believes that harmony already exists in nature. If a man does not follow the set path and goes astray causing discord, there would be severe consequences.

Countries like Korea and Vietnam have the influence of Taoism on their cultures. Mount Laojun, located in the Henan Province is an important pilgrimage destination for Taoists.

What is Jainism?

Jainism strongly advocates the belief in karma. Right faith, knowledge, and conduct are the three jewels of Jainism.

Five vows are preached in Jainism. These vows describe adherence to principles of non-violence, truth,non-stealing, faithfulness, and non-attachment.

It states that a man is in a constant loop of birth and death. If one followed the five vows they would be released from this cycle and attain salvation. The cycle of life(rebirth) and death is called samsara. The liberation is known as attaining moksha.

The Nirvana upon salvation is considered a place free of sorrow, disease, death, pain, and old age. It is an immortal domain attained only by true faith, worship, and discipline.

Among the two sects in this religion, Digambaras were monks. They considered the ownership of material and any possession as an obstacle in the path of attaining salvation.

This religion is represented by a combination of five colors: red, green, yellow, white, and black. They are an allusion to the five vows.

The twenty-four Jinas are revered as prominent role models in Jainism. It is a term used to address an enlightened human being. The identity of a Jina is distinguished by the unique chest mark called Shrivatsa.

Main Differences Between Taoism and Jainism

  1. Taoism has its roots in ancient China in 142C.E. Jainism originated in India in the 5th-7th century.
  2. The mountains of Qingcheng, Wudang, Longhu, and Qiyun are sacred places for Taoism. Tirthas are pilgrimage locations in Jainism. It includes the Ellora Caves, Mount Abu, and Khajuraho.
  3. Taoism emphasizes the balance in the Universe. Jainism emphasizes its faith in karma.
  4. Taoism is represented by the Yin yang symbol. The eight symbols of Jainism include a swastika, Shrivastava, an elaborate Swastik, a mirror, a throne, a hand fan, a water vessel, and a pair of fish.
  5. Lao Tzu, a philosopher founded Taoism. Mahavira, the last Tirthankara is the founder of Jainism.

Conclusion

The regard for Taoism continued through the Tang and Song dynasties. With the inception of Confucianism, the popularity of Taoism started declining. During the communist takeover, this religion was banned. It slowly came into practice after the cultural revolution.

In India, the Jain community in Gujarat and Rajasthan is less than 2% of the global Jain community. The influence of Jainism was at its peak during the late 12th century. It was accepted by the people as Jainism did not believe in the caste system. This appealed to the common public and the religion was easy to practice.

Taoism states that harmony in nature is because all living beings are interconnected. In this process, man is considered the variable entity. The resistance to natural flow disrupts the balance.

Jainism relies on the cause and effect of a particular action that impacts the spiritual journey to Nirvana. Good action and intent lead to good rebirths. Ill intent and malice lead to bad rebirths. The similarity in the ideologies of the two religions lies in the fact that the deciding factor is human actions and choices.

References

  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=5ame4Rl1RXMC&oi=fnd&pg=PA6&dq=taoism&ots=-oOVRUfI3r&sig=TsaHBTRW9LDzYXkTDivVGTyV7IA
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=J_himynIk68C&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=taoism&ots=hNJlj_wU9w&sig=SePiwEhi–IC-Lt0bEumAAutIwM
  3. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=WzEzXDk0v6sC&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=jainism&ots=1sXvFdIkil&sig=CZjJ2LbsNyP-3VzSob4i5oYngN4
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