Last Updated 20 Jun 2022

Buddhism vs. Hinduism

Category Buddhism, Hinduism
Words 1254 (5 pages)

Both Buddhism and Hinduism are widely practiced religions of the world. No one is completely certain of where Hinduism was started and by whom it was led. However, today Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world. And with the passage of time many changes and alterations have been made in this religion. Most importantly, Hinduism includes many different beliefs and dominations that have arisen. Even though there are many common things exist in different Hinduism sects and their beliefs are tied to some extents.

The “Vedas” is considered the oldest written document of Hinduism and it was being written in 1000 B. C but had existed orally long before. On the other hand, Buddhism is a transformed version of Hinduism. Buddhism was founded by Gautama the Buddha. Buddhism is known for its Middle Path that which neither promotes extreme asceticism nor absolute hedonism yet still leads to nirvana. In addition, the Buddha promoted the 8 fold path, that of right thinking, right effort, right speech, right of understanding, right of livelihood, right of concentration and right of mindfulness.

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Though the Buddhism or the middle path discouraged the concept of and external God waiting to mete honour or punishment, besides, it strongly believed in the cycle of reincarnation finishing which a seeker could achieve nirvana, the ultimate enlightenment. Both Hinduism and Buddhism arose in South Asia, and thus stem from a similar culture and philosophy. Difference between Buddhism and Hinduism Buddhism believes in soul and matter and there is no place for God, besides this Hinduism considers God as the creator of the universe.

In contrast, Buddhism denies the Vedas authority and dislikes animal sacrifice, while Hinduism believes in the authority of Vedas and attaches special significance to the Vedic rituals. “Buddhism does not believe in the superiority of the Brahmans or any caste distinctions, while Hinduism puts emphasis on the caste system and considers the same bed rock of the whole social system. Buddhism is missionary religion which aims at converting entire mankind to the doctrines of Buddha; while Hinduism never seeks converts and it has no definite organization like the Buddhist sangha.

A personal element is introduced by Buddhism in the form of Buddha as the saviours, while there are no such personal elements in Hinduism”. (Nerox, pg, 1) On matters of social structure Hinduism and Buddhism differ greatly. The two religions also distinguish because Buddhism emphasizes and Hinduism omits individual freedom to progress socially and spiritually in the current life. In comparing the two religions, one can easily find why it is that Hinduism has showed the more stable and Buddhism the more humanitarian philosophy.

The caste system is the outstanding instance of Hinduism's establishment tendencies. If casting among Hindus sects they can be divided into four major classes, Shudra, Brahman, Vaishya and Kshatriya, or people outside of all the classes. However members belong to different castes have different duties. In Hinduism usually the Caste is determined by birth, and it does not allowing individual freedom, social advancement and career choice. Moreover, the castes are socially ranked, forming an upper as well as lower social division.

Caste, then, determines one's potential education, one's profession, one's social position, even defining these limitations for your children. These social restrictions are reinforced by the idea that caste is determined by sins or virtues in a previous life: how well one satisfied his dharma in the past. In addition, the responsibilities of one's current caste also constitute the dharma which will further punish or advance one in your next life. Put differently, exceeding one's dharma in not only unnecessary, but likely will hurt your dharma, causing you to fall into a lower caste in your next life.

“This intertwining of social strata with religion creates a fatalism derived from inevitable destiny, guilt complexes of past life caste determination, a philosophy of acceptance, and fear of punishment for transcending one's dharma. In this light, Hinduism becomes a tremendous force for stagnation, eliminating the initiative for progress in a philosophy of acceptance which breeds apathy for social justice. Such a pervasive philosophy becomes an asset to the status quo and ruling stratum, stabilizing the social structure at the expense of individuals”.

(Hinduism and Buddhism” a comparison) In contrast, in the social or political structure of a society Buddhism plays little role. Buddhism in reality began as a reaction to the violence of Hindu society, including the viciousness of the caste system. Buddhism focuses not on the society, but on every single person, hence divorcing religion from the interests of the ruling stratum. Even though the Buddhism does see life as pain and suffering and renascence as a renewal of this suffering, there is a possible escape.

If one resigns his attachment to hope and self, Nirvana, or escape from the cycles of suffering, is not impossible. The most significant aspect of Nirvana, nevertheless, is its unobstructed access to people of any social background. Put differently, although a Hindu "untouchable" cannot perhaps advance in this life through any extraordinary attempt of his own. In this regard, any Buddhist can attain Nirvana through the 4 Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, realizations essential of suffering and the methods to remove all suffering.

A significant indicator of the contrast between Buddhism and Hinduism arises in their historical relationship. Buddhism, naturally, arose as a reform movement out of Hinduism. This in itself inclines to put Buddhism in a more convinced light as the religion that incorporated Hindu beliefs while excluding the negative aspects of Hinduism. Certainly, this turns out to be the case when the caste system can be studied thoroughly. While Hinduism not only perpetuates, but is itself the caste system, Buddhism absolutely rejects any system of caste.

During the rule of Ashoka Buddhism in reality reached high levels of support, which followed the Buddhist concept of ahimsa, or non violence, and its tendency toward greater equality. The good looks of a philosophy/religion of peace and general freedom, including a refusal of the social stigmas of caste for "untouchables" and lower caste members, brought thousands of converts. Again, nevertheless, the historical relationship of Buddhism and Hinduism depicts the inherent malleability and intensity of Hinduism.

Furthermore, the Buddha was made an avatar of Vishnu in order to incorporate the Buddhist movement into Hinduism. “The Buddhists consider the world to be full of sorrow and regard ending the sorrow as the chief aim of human life. The Hindus consider that there are four chief aims (arthas) in life which every being should pursue. They are dharma (religious duty), artha (wealth or material possessions), kama (desires and passions) and moksha (salvation. )” (Hinduism vs Buddhism: Hinduism and Buddhism Compared) Conclusion

The two Buddhism and Hinduism religions are very alike, and yet very different. They strive for an inner peace and at last to reach heaven through either moksha or nirvana. Culture plays a tremendous role in determining your beliefs. Both Hinduism and Buddhism religions seem to have components which would do the West good to learn, but only Buddhism religion lacks any large scale negative repercussions for its followers. Furthermore, Hinduism and Buddhism are two major religions, firmly planted in their cultures, and It looks that they will remain for a long time to come.

Works Cited Hinduism and Buddhism” a comparison http://sc. essortment. com/hinduismandbud_rtqs. htm Accessed, June 15, 2007 Hinduism vs Buddhism: Hinduism and Buddhism Compared http://www. experiencefestival. com/a/Hinduism_vs_Buddhism/id/54137 Accessed, June 15, 2007 Nerox (11 May 2007), Journal Article What are the similarities and differences between Buddhism and Hinduism, (page, 1) White, Sharon. (n. d. ), Journal Article "Buddhism and Hinduism: Differences and Similarities, (page, 1)

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