With reference to the ancient India, consider the following statements about Shramana tradition:
1. The Shramana tradition gave rise to both Buddhism and Jainism
2. Concept of Samsara (cycle of birth and death) and moksha (liberation from that cycle) came from Shramana tradition
Which among the above is / are correct statements?

Answer: [C] Both 1 & 2

The Shramana movement was a Non-Vedic movement parallel to Vedic Hinduism in ancient India. The Shramana tradition gave rise to Jainism, Buddhism, and Yoga, and was responsible for the related concepts of saṃsāra (cycle of birth and death) and moksha (liberation from that cycle).

Sramanism, emphasizing thought, hard work and discipline, was one of the three strands of Hindu philosophy. The other two included

Brahmanism, which drew its philosophical essence from Mimamsa. The third and most popular strand of Indian philosophical thought revolves around the concept of Bhakti or Theism, based on the idea of God, as understood in most parts of the world.

Shramans held a view of samsara as full of suffering (Dukka). They practiced Ahimsa and rigorous ascetism. They believed in Karma and Moksa and viewed rebirth as undesirable. Vedics, on the contrary believe in the efficacy of rituals and sacrifices, performed by a privileged group of people, who could improve their life by pleasing certain Gods. Key beliefs of Shramana:

  • Denial of creator and omnipotent Gods
  • Rejection of the Vedas as revealed texts
  • Affirmation of Karma and rebirth, Samsara and transmigration of Soul
  • Affirmation of the attainment of moksa through Ahimsa, renunciation and austerities
  • Denial of the efficacy of sacrifices and rituals for purification.
  • Rejection of the caste system

This question is a part of GKToday's Integrated IAS General Studies Module