Similarities between Mahavira and The Buddha

There are many similarities between the life of Mahavira and the Buddha.

  • Both were born in the northeast of the Indian subcontinent in the 6th Century BC.
  • They both were born to royal families living an early life of material comfort.
  • They both married and a had a child.
  • In their 20s, they both renounced worldly possessions and left their families and kingdoms to pursue spiritual enlightenment as ascetics.
  • After a period of intense spiritual discipline and asceticism, both attained spiritual liberation and after began to teach and preach on a practical spirituality which emphasised a path to spiritual liberation.
  • There were many similarities in their teachings – ending caste distinctions, teaching ahimsa, meditation, reincarnation and compassion to living beings.
  • They both spoke in the common language and taught in simple parables, downplaying Sanskrit texts.
  • They are both pictured sitting in the lotus posture.
  • Both overcame religious convention to accept women as disciples and initiate them into a new monastic order for women.
  • Both teachers experienced hostility from those who wished to injure them because they were jealous of their spiritual popularity.
  • Both died in their 70s, leaving behind disciples to continue their religion.

Differences between Jainism and Buddhism

Despite many similarities between Jainism and Buddhism, there are also important differences betwen the life of Mahavira and the Buddha and as a consquence difference between Jainism and Buddhism.

  • The Jains place greater emphasis on the concept of the soul and its importance.
  • Jains are more strict in their observance of ahimsa
  • Jains place greater importance on the existence of God, whilst
  • Buddhist place greater emphasis on personal liberation and often don’t mention God.
  • After a long fast, where the Buddha became emaciated, he forsook the path of extremes but advocated the middle path of avoiding either extremes. Mahavira veered towards the advocation of austerity.
  • Jains believe that Jainism did not start with Mahavira, but that he was the 24th Tirthankara (or spiritual teacher) – and there were 23 before him. The Buddha was seen as a new religious teachings, though there are some parallels between Buddhism and Hinduism.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Differences and similarities between Mahavira and Lord Buddha”, Oxford, UK –  5 July 2019.


Related pages


MahaviraMahavira biography

buddhabuddhaLord Buddha Biography


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