Last Updated 16 Jun 2020

Comparison Between Hinduism and Budhism

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Comparison of Two types of Pagan Religion i. e. Hinduism and Buddhism South Asian people have a well-defined amalgam of Abrahamic and Pagan religions. Two of the Pagan religions of this region are well-known in this region because their birth place South Asia. These two religions are “Hinduism” and “Buddhism”. Hinduism refers to the principal and most ancient religious tradition of India: in it the lives of the believers are governed by the doctrines of “Dharma” or universal law, “Karma” or the cumulative effects of personal actions, and “Samsara” or the cycle of rebirth, liberation from which is the first goal of life; [similarly] Buddhism is a religion and philosophic system, founded in India in the 6th cent. By Buddha: it teaches the right thinking and self-denial will enable the soul to reach Nirvana, a divine state of release from misdirected desire” (“Dictionary definitions you can understand-”).

Although the birth place of both religions is South Asia and thus they stem from a similar Philosophy and culture, as S. Radhakrishnan says “Buddhism, in its origin at least is an offshoot of Hinduism” (qtd. In "Buddhism & Hinduism, Comparative Study of Buddhism & Hinduism, Compare Contrast Buddhism & Hinduism. "); yet there is also a prominent difference in the major ideational elements of Doctrine of both; which includes “Concept of God”, “Reincarnation” and “Caste system”. In each and every religion of the World, the word “God” generally refers to designate a supreme power, who is the ultimate creator of the entire universe.

In Hinduism there is also such definition for God. “Neither the multitude of gods nor great sages know my origin, for I am the source of all the gods and great sages. A mortal who knows me as the unborn, beginning-less great lord of the world is freed from all delusion and all evils” ("Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2 - Verses 9 & 10. ”). But the thorough study of Hinduism reveals it a polytheistic religion; indeed most of Hindus attest it by their worship of God. As they consider the many of living and non-living things to be divine and sacred.

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For example they consider the trees, the sun, the moon, the monkey, the snake and the human beings as manifestations of God. While in Buddhism, the designation of God is same as in Hinduism. As Gospel of Buddha says “There is, O monks, an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, and unformed. Were there not, O monks, this unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, and unformed, there would be no escape from the world of the born, originated, created, formed. Since, O monks, there is an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, and unformed, therefore is there an escape from the world of the born, originated, created, formed” (“The Gospel of Buddha”).

But there appears difference in the belief in gods and godly manifestations of both religions; because in Buddhism there is no such entailment of godly figures in the original Buddhist doctrine, except in few sects. “Buddha was once asked by a disciple whether God exists. He refused to reply. When pressed, he said that if you are suffering from a stomach ache would you concentrate on relieving the pain or studying the prescription of the physician. "It is not my business or yours to find out whether there is God – our business is to remove the sufferings of the world” (“Concept of god in Buddhism”).

Doctrine of Buddhism says that all these are the ways, by which people soothe themselves. “Gripped by fear, men go to the sacred mountains, sacred grooves, sacred trees and shrines” (“The Dhammapada 188”). But also Buddhists do not condemn the concept of gods and also they do not regard the believers of gods as sinners. Hinduism is considered as the complex mixture of religious philosophies and schools; but the soul of all this is “Reincarnation” i. e. the journey of the “soul” (atman) from one body to another body(cycle of birth and death).

This cycle of birth and death (also known as “Samsara”) is summarized in the following verse of The Bhagavad Gita: “Just as a man discards worn out clothes and puts on new clothes, the soul discards worn out bodies and wears new ones. ” (Chapter 2-Verse 22). As we profoundly glance over both the religions: “Buddhism shares some concepts of Reincarnation with Hinduism but on the major there appear differences. For example Theravada Buddhism emphasizes in the doctrine of “Anatta”, or no soul, which states there is no enduring entity that persists from one life to the next.

While in Hinduism, “Karma” determines the circumstances of subsequent lives, so there is continuity between personalities but not persistence of identity. For this reason, Thervada Buddhist prefer the term “Rebirth” to “Reincarnation”. That is why in Buddhism, the law of “Karma” is viewed as naturalistic, akin to the laws of physics. Thus Buddhists do not consider the circumstances of “Rebirth” as rewards or punishment handed out by a controlling God, they simply regard it the natural result of various good and bad deeds.

Thus contrary to the infinite cycle of “Reincarnation”: “Rebirth” inevitably involves suffering and ends when all carvings are lost and “Nirvana” is achieved” ("Does Hinduism Believe In Reincarnation. "). So Buddhists lead their lives in a way (negating the concept of infinite cycle of births and deaths), which leads them to their ultimate destination i. e. Nirvana Some of the teachings of every religion of the world provide the guidelines in order to secure the basic social rights of the people.

But the there are some religion in which “Caste system” has deprived the people from their basic social rights. “During the Buddha’s time “Brahmanism” was the predominant religion in India, in which all humans were divided into four castes i. e priests, warriors, traders and laborers. Later on this “Caste system” was absorbed into “Hinduism”, given religious legitimacy and sanction and has continued to function right up till the present. This has made the Social contact between each cast minimal and has provided the lower ones with the less opportunities, the less freedom and the less rights.

Outside the caste system there are the outcast’s people, who are considered so impure that they are hardly counted as humans. On the other hand Buddha himself was born into the warrior caste, but he severely criticized the caste system. He ridiculed the priests’ claims to be superior, he criticized the theological basis of the system and he welcomed into the Sangha people of all castes, including outcasts. His most famous saying on the subject is: "Birth does not make one a priest or an outcaste. Behavior makes one either a priest or an outcaste"” ("Buddhist Studies: Caste System. ").

In summary to the religious beliefs, philosophies and social teachings; Buddhism provides an ultimate concept for an ultimate Power, similarly it gives the fascinating hope for ultimate destination “Nirvana” and also it maps a just society on the golden rules of equity. While Hinduism limits the ultimate concept of God to worldly figures, similarly the concept of “Reincarnation”, negates the ultimate destination; which indirectly, is the negation of God and also the caste system in it makes the life of its follower’s worldly punishment, because deprivation of basic social rights leads the people to inferiority complex. Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2 - Verses 9,10 &22" Bamboo Wisdom. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. <http://bamboowisdom. blogspot. com>  "Buddhism & Hinduism, Comparative Study of Buddhism & Hinduism,Compare Contrast Buddhism & Hinduism. " Buddhist Tourism,Travel Buddhist Sites,Buddhist Tourism in India, Japan, Tibet, China. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. http://www. buddhist-tourism. com/buddhism/religion/buddhism-hinduism. html "Buddhist Studies: Caste System. " BuddhaNet - Worldwide Buddhist Information and Education Network. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. <http://www. buddhanet. net/e-learning/dharmadata/fdd53. htm>. Does Hinduism Believe In Reincarnation? " Personal Development on a Deeper Level - Tyler Hardy. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. <http://www. tylerjhardy. com/tag/does-hinduism-believe-in-reincarnation>. "Reincarnation - World, Body, Life, History, Beliefs, Time, Person, Human, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shiite Muslims, Judaism and Christianity, Ancient Greece, West Africa. "Encyclopedia of Death and Dying. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. <http://www. deathreference. com/Py-Se/Reincarnation. html>. "South Asia - Definition | WordIQ. com. " Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus - WordIQ Dictionary. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. "The Dhammapada: Verses and Stories.  Tipitaka Network: Bringing Dhamma Studies to You. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. <http://www. tipitaka. net/tipitaka/dhp/>. "The Gospel of Buddha. " The Reluctant Messenger of Science and Religion: Science and the World's Religions Are Pieces to a Puzzle That Need Each Other to Form a Complete Picture. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. ;http://reluctant-messenger. com/gospel_buddha/chapter_20. htm;. “ Concept of god in Buddhism-by Dr. Zakir Naik” Dictionary Definitions You Can Understand - YourDictionary. Web. 19 Oct. 2011. ;http://www. yourdictionary. com;. http://saif_w. tripod. com/interfaith/general/god/inbuddhism. htm

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