Does anyone have some good info on the suttas and Jainism?

I’m working on the Devadaha sutta, which is one of the places where the Buddha encounters Jain practitioners.

I’m trying to find good discussions on these passages, specifically comparing them to actual Jain texts and practices. I’m finding it hard to get good scholarly sources, and searching Jain primary texts is not easy!

For example, the suttas say that the Jains claim bodily actions are most important, while the Buddha says it is mental actions. One of my sources from a Jain writer, however, says that this is not quite true. It is true that the Jains say physical actions are the most important, but they also say that all actions are intentional. So what that means is intention expressed through physical actions.

Obviously it’s easy to misunderstand such nuances. But also, my source doesn’t give references, so I can’t verify this.

Anyway, if anyone knows good sources on Jainism, especially reliable guides to their earliest texts, please let me know!


I have a few versions of Tattvārtha Sutra or Tattvārthasāra. Most are Sanskrit/Hindi combinations (all are from Internet Archive). One is Sanskrit/English. Is it an “early” Jain text? It is about “Nature of Reality” and seems to be their philosophical text.


Thanks! There’s actually a nice edition of the Tattvarthasutra on the amazing Wisdomlib:

It has both text and commentary. So I have a few of the canonical texts, and yes, that is one of the early Jain texts, more or less (dating Jain texts is even harder than Buddhist!)

I was mainly interested to find good modern studies.

I know that although Alexis Sanderson (Oxford) usually focuses on Saiva/Tantra traditions, he has written some on Jaina traditions. That’s all I got.

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Cool, I’ll follow that up.

oh, also Dr. James Mallinson who primarily writes on hatha yoga uses the suttas as reference, and includes some passages he considers to be early Jain practices, iirc.
this might be useful as well:


Oh wow, how have I missed this? Thanks!

Not a source for Jain texts, but a passage related to the question of Jain views of intention in relation to bodily action. This quote somewhat contradicts the common Buddhist example given about accidentally stepping on a bug. Here, it is said that the Jain leader did not find it very blameworthy if it was unintentional. But, still not a primary source!

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The depiction of Jains in the Canon is probably not the most unbiased or accurate…

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Have you consulted P.S. Jaini’s Jaina Path of Purification yet?

In chapter IV, The Mechanism of Bondage, there’s an account of Jain karma theory that’s more lucid than any other I’ve seen. He explains the subject in his own words but with most statements backed up by footnoted quotations from the Jaina sūtras.

The chapter starts on page 107.

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I can’t speak to overall it’s quality, because I haven’t read it all. But I’ve consulted a few passages from:

The Story of Paesi: Soul and Body in Ancient India, A Dialogue on Materialism by Willem Bolleé may be of interest too. It is a translation of a Jain version of the Payasi Sutta, with comments. “The story of the materialist prince Paesi is the only larger legend common to Jain and Buddhist canonical literature”.

I was only able to find a Google Books preview (below), but it had what I was looking for. Particularly of note is the phrase anno jīvaṃ annaṃ sarīraṃ, which in the Pali canon is never explicitly ascribed to the Jains if I recall, in this text is.

Awesome, thanks, these are both useful.

In Grzegorz Polak’s Reexamining Jhana there is some very interesting discussion related to Jainism & Buddhism comparison as well.

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I just came across this study, it’s well done.

It cites W.B. Bollée “Anmerkungen zum buddhistischer Hiretikerbild”, ZDMG, 121,1 (1971), pp. 70-92.

Information about the daily routine of the Jain monk has been
collected from Pali sources by W.B. Bollée, who lists significant stereotyped phrases describing food-habits and other behaviour, and shows how they are corroborated by comparable data in Jain texts.

I also got a list of publications from Mark Allon, it’s only a raw and incomplete set, but it has some things to look into.

See articles by Bronkhorst, e.g.

———. 1995. “The Buddha and the Jainas Reconsidered.” Asiatische Studien/Études Asiatiques 49.2: 333–50.

———. 2000. “Abhidharma and Jainism.” In Abhidharma and Indian Thought. Essays in Honor of Professor Doctor Junsho Kato on His Sixtieth Birthday, pp. 598–81. Tokyo: Shunju-sha.

———. 2004. “Early Buddhism.” In Shoun Hino and Toshihiro Wada, eds., Three Mountains and Seven Rivers: Prof. Musashi Tachikawa’s Felicitation Volume, pp. 27–42. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

– Jain converts to Buddhism; interactions; differences of views, esp. of karma

See articles by K.R. Norman and Padmanābh Jaini found in their collected papers:

Jaini, Padmanabh S.

———. 2000. Collected Papers on Jaina Studies. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers.

———. 2001. Collected Papers on Buddhist Studies. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

Norman, K.R. 1990–2007. 8 vols*. Collected Papers*. PTS.

See articles by Kenji Watanabe, e.g.

———. 1987. “Some Notes on the Expression sabba-vār-/savva-vāraṃ.” BEI 5: 375–86.

———. 1993–4. “Avoiding all Sinful Acts by both Buddha and Mahāvīra (Dhammapada 183 and Āyāraṅgasutta II.15).” BEI 11–2: 229–32.

Other references are:

Aklujkar, Ashok

———.2003. “A Different Sociolinguistics for Brahmins, Buddhists and Jains.” In Bhu Dev Sharma, ed., Contemporary Views on Indian Civilization, pp. 54–69. ???: World Association for Vedic Studies, USA.

Bruhn, K. and A. Wezler, eds. 1981. Studien zum Jainismus und Buddhismus (Gedenkschrift für Ludwig Alsdorf). Wiesbaden.

Caillat, Collette

———.2003. “Gleanings from a Comparative Reading of Early Canonical Buddhist and Jaina Texts.” JIABS 26.1: 25–50.

Glasenapp, Helmuth von. 1957. “Jaina-Buddhist Parallels as an Auxiliary to the Elucidation of Early Buddhism.” In S. Radhakrishnan et. al., eds., Felicitation Volume Presented to Prof. S.K. Belvalkar, pp. 196–201. Banaras: Motilal Banarasidass.

Jain, Brahmachari Sital Prasad. 2010. Jainism and Buddhism: A Comparative Study. Delhi: Sri Jee Pub. House.

Nagasaki, Hojun

———.1988. “Transcendent Perception in Jaina Logic with Special Reference to Buddhist Logic.” Appendix I of A Study of Jaina Epistemology, pp. 343–48. Kyoto: Heirakuji-Shoten.

Norman, K.R. (see his Collected Papers)

———.*2003. “The Aṭṭhakavagga and Early Buddhism.” In O. Qvarnstrom, ed., Jainism and Early Buddhism: Essays in Honor of Padmanabh S. Jaini, pp. 511–22. California: Asian Humanities Press. Reprinted Collected Papers vol. 8, 2007, pp. 167–82.

Prasad, Sital. 1982. 2nd ed. A Comparative Study of Jainism and Buddhism. Bibliotheca Indo-Buddhica 7. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications.

Qvarnstrom, O., ed. 2003. Jainism and Early Buddhism: Essays in Honor of Padmanabh S. Jaini. California: Asian Humanities Press.

Schmithausen, Lambert. 1981. “On Some Aspects of Descriptions or Theories of ‘liberating insight’ and ‘enlightenment’ in Early Buddhism.” Studien zum Jainismus und Buddhismus (Gedenkschrift für Ludwig Alsdorf), eds. K. Bruhn and A. Wezler, Wiesbaden, pp. 199–250.

Tatia, Nathmal, 1980. “The interaction of Jainism and Buddhism.” In A.K. Narain, ed., Studies in the History of Buddhism. Delhi: B.R. Publishing, pp. 321–338.


Wow, you are taking commenting on the suttas to a new level! :slightly_smiling_face:


Lol, not saying I’ll actually read them all! Mostly really just noting points where it can be illustrated.

One classic example is the sabbavāri phrase in DN 2, which IIRC for a long time was not recognized as having Jain parallels. But it does, and they clarify the meaning.

Not only that, but in the Isibhasiyam, the phrase is specifically attributed to Vardhamana (i.e. Mahavira), as it is in DN 2.


A couple more, both from Buddhist Studies in Honour of Isaline Blew Horner.

W. B. Bollée, Buddhists and Buddhism in the Earlier Literature of the Svetambara Jains. pp. 27-40

P. S. Jaini, On the Sarvajñatva (Omniscience) of Mahāvīra and the Buddha. pp. 71-90

Also, Haiyan Hu-von Hinüber has some papers of interest, mostly relating to comparative Buddhist/Jaina Vinaya studies.


Great, thanks so much. Buddhist/Jain Vinaya is a whole interesting field in itself.