Comparison of Buddhism and Hinduism

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Comparison of Buddhism and Hinduism

In the present society, people profess their religious beliefs openly. Nearly all the religions stated existing in the early centuries. The beliefs of a given religion distinguish one religion from the other. For instance, the beliefs of Buddhists tend to differ from the beliefs of Hinduism. However, the two religions tend to share some universal values about humanity. The history and practices of every religion tend to dictate the behavior of the believers.

Buddhism is a religion that traces its origin from the teachings, practices, and beliefs of Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as Buddha. According to Coomaraswamy (2011) Nothern India is the probable origin of Buddhism and the movement began in 5th B.C. The founder, Siddhartha, sought enlightment as solution to suffering in the world. Unlike Buddhism, Hinduism has neither specific origin nor founder. Hinduism is a collective word applied to a number of religious traditions and philosophical views native to India. Sanatana Dharma is a collection of sacred texts of Hinduism beliefs. (Moore & Bruder, 2005). The tradition is complex, intertwined with various interrelated religious traditions with similar characteristics, but it lacks a common doctrine.

Buddhists observe four fundamental teachings, commonly referred as the four noble truths, whereas Hindus believe in the doctrine of Samsara (cycle of rebirth) and observes the law of cause and effect (karma); the Hindus fundamentally believe that a person’s actions, including thought, dictates both present and future life. Some authors argue that Buddha delivered the four noble truths in his first first sermon (Moore & Bruder, 2005). Both Buddhism and Hinduism share the belief that life is full of suffering. The desires of a human being contribute to suffering and they define the afterlife. Buddhists observe that believing otherwise is to believe an illusion. Fools tend to think that life is full of happiness, but happiness cannot compensate the suffering in one’s lifetime. Buddhism teaches that one can escape Samsara by following the four noble truths contained in dharma, whereas Hinduism holds that Samsara is necessary for every believer.

Both Buddhism and Hinduism believe in afterlife; however, each religion tends to hold a distinct view regarding the same. The Buddhists profess the rebirth cycle and death in thirty one realms, which depend on karma (Elliot, 2007). According to this belief, good karma would lead a believer to be reborn into 26 realms of happiness. On the other hand, evil karma would lead a believer to be reborn in any of the four realms of suffering. Contrasting Buddhists’ view of afterlife, Hindus believe in a a consistent reincarnation cycle until one acquires enlightenment followed by moksha.

Hinduism holds four basic principles (ashramas): religious duty (dharma), artha (material possessions), karma, and moksha (salvation), whereas Buddhism holds the view that human life in the world it is to end all sorrow. The contrasting beliefs tend to explain the quest for wealth as practiced by Hindus, and the struggle to end sorrow as portrayed by Buddhists. The second fundamental belief of Buddhism, tanha (attachment) tends to contrast Hinduism’s fundamental belief, artha (material possession). Buddhists claim that everything in life is temporary (Elliot, 2007). Thus, one’s attachment to material possession would only lead to pain and suffering. Largely, Buddhists do not focus on acquisition of wealth because this is considered vanity.

Whereas Buddhists believe on the four noble truths taught by Buddha, Hindus do not have distinct beliefs; instead, each sect has its own practices. Thus, the beliefs of Hinduism stem from traditional religions and philosophy, which do not have distinct values. By contrast, Buddhists would strive to uphold the doctrine of four noble truths as a means of reaching nirvana, whereas the Hindus would hold varied views regarding attainment of moksha as taught in the various sects of Hinduism.

Hinduism profess that the universe is full of spiritual beings and deities whereas Buddhism does not. (Coomaraswamy, 2011). These gods and goddesses influence the world and the human beings. Hindus would sacrifice to their gods depending on their petitions. Additionally, Hinduism sects tend to show devotion to various gods often worshipped in temple. Some critics have suggested that Buddhism is a philosophical teaching as opposed to religion (Coomaraswamy, 2011). Proponents of the above view cite Buddhism’s non-devotion to gods as a fact behind such arguments. Presently, the followers of these religions practice in the temples.

In conclusion, Buddhism and Hinduism are religions that trace their origin in India. Some of the beliefs held by the two religions tend to be similar, whereas others are not. Buddhism holds the four fundamentals truths, namely dukka, tanha, nirotha and eightfold path, whereas Hinduism holds four basic principles, namely dharma, artha, karma, and moksha. The two religions share the view that human desires and actions contribute to human suffering. Finally, whereas the ultimate goal of Buddhism is to end suffering and sorrow as a means of reaching nirvana, Hinduism settle on Samsara (cycle or rebirth) as means of attaining moksha.

 

References

Coomaraswamy, K. A. (2011). Hinduism and Buddhism. pp 57-70. New York: Golden Elixir Press.

Elliot, C. (2007). Hinduism and Buddhism, Vol 1. (of 3). pp 9-26. New York: Echo Library.

Moore, B. N. & Bruder, K. (2005). Philosophy: The power of ideas (6th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.