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Journal for the Study of Religion

On-line version ISSN 2413-3027
Print version ISSN 1011-7601


CLASQUIN-JOHNSON, Michel. Will the real Nigantha Nātaputta please stand up? Reflections on the Buddha and his contemporaries. J. Study Relig. [online]. 2015, vol.28, n.1, pp.100-114. ISSN 2413-3027.

It is a venerable academic tradition that Mahāvīra, the founder of Jainism known in the Pāli literature as Nigantha Nātaputta , was a somewhat older contemporary of the Buddha. This article describes the role of Nigantha Nātaputta in Buddhist literature and how this identification of Nigantha Nātaputta and Mahávïra has become accepted in both Buddhist and Jain scholarship. The article then proceeds to demonstrate that there are reasons to doubt this identification - while it is not possible to state categorically that they were different people, the evidence for their identicality is quite meagre and there are textual references that show very different people going under the names of these two Indian religious figures. If we cannot simplistically assume that the figure named Nigantha Nátaputta in Buddhist sources was Mahávïra, then this has chronological consequences for Buddhist studies, but even more so in Jain studies.

Keywords : Gotama Buddha; Nigantha Nátaputta; Mahávïra; Early Buddhism; Jainism.

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