Jainism refers to an Indian religion formed by Mahavira (540-468 B.C.E.), a senior contemporary of Siddhartha Gautama (the founder of Buddhism. Mahavira preached the values of living an ascetic and severely austere existence. He rejected certain aspects of Hinduism and the caste system. Jainism revolves around the basic tenet that all life forms are to be respected and protected because everything possesses its separate soul. As customary to the practice of Jainism, most Jains adhere to vegetarian diets. Yet, some extremely orthodox Jains will refuse to eat even vegetables because they see the process of uprooting vegetables out of the ground as potentially damaging to the living) organisms in the soil.
A prominent number of India’s economically successful elite today derive from Jains who became bankers and merchants.
Buddhism was established by the prince of a small kingdom in what is now recognized as southern Nepal, Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 B.C.E). Siddhartha was born into an upper-class family, but rather famously he would ultimately abandon the trappings of his social status and materialistic lifestyle for a simple and rather bare existence.
While Siddhartha in life never wrote his thoughts down or recorded his particular beliefs, his followers would do just that, and they closely followed his quest for the truth about life and attaining peace. It was his followers who first called him Buddha, which translates to “the Enlightened one,” or “the awakened one.”
At the core of Buddhism are principles emphasizing that materialism and desiring after things, one doesn’t have, only lead to sorrow and suffering.
The truly enlightened will give up their pursuits in this physical world for true peace and contentment. Buddhism also purports the notion of the cycle of life, and most practicing Buddhists are vegetarians so as not to take animal life. Within this religion, is great appreciat n for the monastic way of being: a life rooted in daily prayer, penance, and meditation among others of the same mindset.