Sikhi and Jain Dharam

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Both Jainism and Sikhism are faiths native to the Indian subcontinent. Jainism, like Sikhism, rejected the authority of the Vedas and created independent textual traditions based on the words and examples of their early teachers, eventually evolving entirely new ways for interacting with the lay community.


Jainism is the oldest living Shramana tradition in India. In its current form, the Jain tradition is traced to Vardhamana Mahavira (The Great Hero; ca. 599-527 B.C.), the twenty-fourth and last of the Tirthankaras (Sanskrit for fordmakers). Mahavira was born to a ruling family in the town of Vaishali, located in the modern state of Bihar. The first Tirthankara was Lord Rishabha, who lived long before Mahavira. That makes Jainism one of the oldest religions.

Next to the Baha'i Faith, Sikhism is the youngest of the world's major monotheistic religions. Sikhism was established in 15th century in the state of Punjab in North India. Guru Nanak, although born into a Hindu household in 1469 in the Punjab region, he challenged the existing practices and is considered the founder of the new faith. The Guru loved to travel and observe concepts and ideas regarding spiritual practices of various faiths. At the heart of his message was a philosophy of universal love, devotion to God. By the time he had left this world he had founded a new religion of "disciples" (shiksha or sikh) that followed his example. [edit] Lineage of teachers

The 24th Tirthankara of the Jain community was Vardhamana, the last in a series of 24 who lived in East India. Jains have 24 Tirthankaras, the Sikhs have 10 Gurus with the final Sovereign Authority of living Guru conferred upon Guru Granth Sahib by the tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh.

Mutual cooperation

Famous author Khushwant Singh notes that many eminent Jains admired the Sikh Gurus and came to their help in difficult times. When the ninth Sikh Guru, Tegh Bahadur, was on his preaching mission in east India, he and his family were invited by Salis Rai Johri to stay in his haveli in Patna. In his hukamnamas sent from Assam, the Guru Sahib referred to Patna as guru-ka-ghar, meaning, home of the Guru. Salis Rai donated half of his haveli to build a gurdwara, Janam Asthaan, because Guru Gobind Singh was born there.

On the other half, he built a Svetambara Jain Temple — both have a common wall. Diwan Todar Mal was an Oswal Jain who rose to become the diwan in the court of Nawab Wazir Khan of Sirhind. When the Nawab had Guru Gobind Singh’s two younger sons put to death, Todar Mal conveyed the sad news to their grand mother — who died of shock — and had the three bodies cremated. He had built Gurdwara Jyoti Sarup on the site of the cremation at Fatehgarh Sahib. A large hall of this gurdwara honours the builder by being named after him — Diwan Todar Mal Jain Yadagiri Hall.

Practices and Differences


Diwali is celebrated by both. Although Sikhs celebrate the day as Bandhi Chhor Diwas, the homecoming to Amritsar of the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru HarGobind Sahib from Gwalior. The release of 52 Rajas from the fort of Gwalior is attributed to this Guru.

For Jains, Diwali is the celebrarion of the 24th Thirthankar, Mahavir, reaching Nirvana or Moksha on this day at Pavapuri on Oct. 15, 527 BC, on Chaturdashi of Karti.

Ahimsa and vegetarianism

The Jains are strictly vegetarian. Sikhs are not vegetarian.[2] There are, however,some group/sects/cults of Sikhism (Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, Namdhari's, Damdami Taksal etc) who encourage vegetarianism. The majority of Sikhs believe, eating meat is left up to the individual's conscience in Sikhism, as it will not affect spirituality.Khushwant Singh also notes that most Sikhs are meat-eaters and decry vegetarians as daal khorey (lentil-eaters).[1] The food served in the Sikh temples (Gurudwaras) is invariably vegetarian in order to accommodate all sections of society.

On the views that eating vegetation would be eating flesh, first Sikh Guru Nanak states:

First Mehl:
ਪਾਂਡੇ ਤੂ ਜਾਣੈ ਹੀ ਨਾਹੀ ਕਿਥਹ੝ ਮਾਸ੝ ਉਪੰਨਾ ॥ ਤੋਇਅਹ੝ ਅੰਨ੝ ਕਮਾਦ੝ ਕਪਾਹਾਂ ਤੋਇਅਹ੝ ਤ੝ਰਿਭਵਣ੝ ਗੰਨਾ ॥

O Pandit, you do not know where did flesh originate! It is water where life originated and it is water that sustains all life.
It is water that produces grains, sugarcane, cotton and all forms of life.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji p 1290.[1]

On Vegetation, the Guru described it as living and experiencing pain:

First Mehl:
Look, and see how the sugar-cane is cut down. After cutting away its branches, its feet are bound together into bundles,
and then, it is placed between the wooden rollers and crushed.
What punishment is inflicted upon it! Its juice is extracted and placed in the cauldron; as it is heated, it groans and cries out.
And then, the crushed cane is collected and burnt in the fire below.
Nanak: come, people, and see how the sweet sugar-cane is treated!

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Page 143 [2]

Ahimsa for the Jains is a code of practice to always be kind and compassionate and prevent hurt to oneself and others. Sikhs reject Ahimsa. There are occasional references to Jainism in the Guru Granth Sahib and other Sikh texts.


Sikhism rejects asceticism - The Gurus lived as householders. On asceticism Guru Nanak stated:

Asceticism doesn't lie in ascetic robes, or in walking staff, nor in the ashes. Asceticism doesn't lie in the earring, nor in the shaven head, nor blowing a conch. Asceticism lies in remaining pure amidst impurities. Asceticism doesn't lie in mere words; He is an ascetic who treats everyone alike. Asceticism doesn't lie in visiting burial places, It lies not in wandering about, nor in bathing at places of pilgrimage. Asceticism is to remain pure amidst impurities. (Suhi)

Jains have an organised ascetic order of monks and nuns. The lay people are householders.

Other practices

A Sikh is bound to the Truth at all times and practices god Consciousness through Nam Simran and selfless service (Sewa). Jains too place high regard in prayers and meditation.

Sikhs reject the caste system and promote social and gender equality as the soul is the same for both men and women. All are equal in the eyes of God. God is accessible without priests or a middle person. Sikhs and Jains, like Hindus, are expected to be tolerant of all faiths and do not believe that any one path has a monopoly on the Truth. There are many paths to seek out the Love of God and incur Divine Grace. In fact to call another's path inferior is sign of ignorance and intolerance. Both, personal devotion and communal prayers are a part of Sikh's way of life.

Concept of God

Jains do not believe in the concept of a Godhead responsible for the manifestation of the Creation. They believe the universe is eternal, without beginning or end, and that all happens in an autonomous fashion with no necessity of a co-ordinator/God.

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion, believing in the singular power of the Formless Creator God, Ik Onkaar, without a parallel. In the Guru Granth Sahib, God is called by all the Hindu names and as Allah as well.


During the 18th century, there were a number of attempts to prepare an accurate portrayal of Sikh customs. Sikh scholars and theologians started in 1931 to prepare the Reht Maryada—the Sikh code of conduct and conventions. This has successfully achieved a high level of uniformity in the religious and social practices of Sikhism throughout the world. It contains 27 articles. Article 1 defines who is a Sikh:

Any human being who faithfully believes in:

One Immortal Being,
Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Dev to Guru Gobind Singh,
The Guru Granth Sahib,
The utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus and the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru, and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion, is a Sikh.

Fasting is an accepted practice for the Jains. A Sikh will eat to partially satisfy the hunger at all times.

Where the Guru Granth Sahib is present, that place becomes a Gurdwara. The focal point of worship in a Gurdwara (the gateway to God) is the eternal teachings of Guru Granth Sahib -the Shabad (Word) Guru.

Jains exhibit the statues of their Tirathankars in their temples. Special shrines in residences or in public temples include images of the Tirthankaras, who are not worshiped but remembered and revered; other shrines house images of deities who are more properly invoked to intercede with worldly problems. Daily rituals may include meditation and bathing; bathing the images; offering food, flowers, and lighted lamps for the images; and reciting mantras in Ardhamagadhi, an ancient language of northeast India related to Sanskrit.

Jainism express non violence in thought, word and action. Sikhism seeks peace; when all other means have been exhausted then they find it justifiable to draw the sword against oppression and injustice. Jains believe a peaceful way can always be found, perhaps sometimes after tremendous effort. War or violence against humans or animals is never justified.

Karma and salvation

Both Jains and Sikhs believe in the Karma Theory and re-incarnation of the soul. Salvation for a Sikh is attained through the Divine Grace and Will of Waheguru (God) and through good deeds in one's life and the selfless service of Sewa and charity. Jains too believe in personal effort and aims and do not depend on a heavenly being for assistance. Both believe in the conquest of the mind through control of the passions through the five senses as the path to ending the cycle of sufferance of birth and death.


  1. ^ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Sri Granth Retrieved 2009-08-09
  2. ^ Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Retrieved 25 November 2009