Buddhism and classical Hinduism are the oldest religions in the world. It is worth to note that both religions originated from India (Kaewchaiya, Photisan & Purisuttamo, 2011). This has made many scholars debate whether they have major differences. Buddhism is believed to split from classical Hinduism, something Buddhists have denied. Surprisingly, Buddha is believed to come from a Hinduism family (Kaewchaiya et al., 2011). This paper concentrates on comparing and contrasting the fundamental concepts and values of Buddhism and classical Hinduism.
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The two religions are closely connected as aforementioned. First, they share some vocabularies, for example, Samaññaphala Sutta, a term used to describe the true three knowledges, which are composed by the process of enlightenment (Cauquelin, Lim, & Mayer-König, 2014). Another common word is karma, which means the cycle of cause and effects. In Hinduism, the title for the religion is Sanātana Dharma that means the everlasting Dharma (Cauquelin et al., 2014). The vocabulary Buddha is used in both religions. It is found in Vayu Purana, sage Daksha, and Lord Shiva (Cauquelin et al., 2014). Second, the two religions have comparable symbols.
For example, Mudra, Dharma Chakra, Rudraksha, Tilak, and Swastika. Finally, they have similar practices. For instance, Mantra, a sacred poem that exists in historical Vedic religion, Zoroastrianism. Yoga practice is evident in both beliefs, but differs in the manner it is performed (Cauquelin et al., 2014). In Hinduism, it connotes eight limbs of yoga, which have been defined in the yoga Sutras of Patanjali. However, in Vajrayana Buddhism, it defines a sacred custom among different types of tantra, such as Kriyayoga and Charyayoga. Another parallel tradition is meditation that is found in their yoga.
Buddhism and Hinduism have differences, although they originated from the same subcontinent. It would be important to note that Buddhism is not a philosophy, but a collection of the teachings of Buddha, while Hinduism is a philosophy that is based on salvation and freedom from the cycle of cause and effects (Carmody & Brink, 2013). Moreover, Aryan Brahmanism is different from classical Hinduism because it emerged after Veda. Nonetheless, the mainstream Indian Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism are different for the reason that early Buddhism was the first to split from Hinduism and its practices are closely associated with those of Hinduism. On the other hand, Mahayana Buddhism is the modern one that has different practices from Hinduism (Carmody & Brink, 2013).
One of the main differences is the belief in the existence of a creator deity, which Gautama Buddha rejected. He argued that belief in an eternal deity was not important in the prevention of suffering (Tomasino, Chiesa & Fabbro, 2014). However, Buddha believed in the existence other gods. The belief is contrary to classical Hinduism that holds that there is an omnipotent God that is indicated in devas Sanskrit. Buddhists believe in different levels of gods, but do not consider any of them as the creator. Shunyata denies the Hindu belief in Brahman as the ultimate reality (Tomasino et al., 2014).
To Karun, Buddha has compassion for all beings, but according to Shunyata, there is no compassion in Buddha. Another major difference is conversion. Classical Hinduism does not have solid concepts about conversion. It does not emphasize on evangelizing. Most of its followers come from Hindu, making the religion viewed as a form ethnicity (Tomasino et al., 2014). This is contrary to Buddhism where the religion spread through evangelism.
Buddhists affirm their support to Buddha and his teachings. For instance, followers believe in the protection of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Buddhists emphasize on Anatta or Anatman (Tomasino et al., 2014). This means that they reject the Hindus’ belief in Atman. Classical Hinduism has strong beliefs in reincarnation, which they call Samsara, while Buddhism revises it and incorporates other aspects, such as being born as a god (Keown, 2013). Dukkha denotes sufferings that result from craving, desire, passion, and ignorance that are present in Buddhism, but to Hinduism, sufferings serve the purpose of Kama and Artha. According to Hinduism, desire and passion do not result in Dukkha.
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Nonetheless, Buddhism has one goal of overcoming of Dukkha, i.e., nirvana, while classical Hinduism has more goals. For example, Moksha, karma, and Dharma, which are vital in Varnasramadharma (Keown, 2013). Hinduism has a caste system, where people are categorized according to their social status and closeness to Buddha. Buddhism is anti- caste-system. Its followers hold that everyone is equal before the deity, and wealth should not be used to classify believers (Keown, 2013).
In conclusion, it is evident that there are slight differences and similarities in the two religions. Arguably, Buddhism originated from Hinduism. Thus, most of the practices that are found in Hinduism are also found in Buddhism. The differences in the aspects are as a result of many things. For example, change of Hindus’ lifestyle, immigrations, and many people joining the religion. The dissimilarities are theoretical. This is because there is no evidence that demonstrates that those who violate the values of their sect are punished. Additionally, most features are common, only their meanings and applications differ. Thus, it is correct to state that the two religions are relatively the same.
Cauquelin, J., Lim, P., & Mayer-König, B. (2014). Asian values: Encounter with diversity. London, United Kingdom: Routledge.
Keown, D. (2013). Buddhism: A very short introduction (Vol. 3). Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Carmody, D., & Brink, T. (2013). Cengage Advantage Books: Ways to the Center: An Introduction to World Religions. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Kaewchaiya, P. M., Photisan, S., & Purisuttamo, M. (2011). Suitable Assimilation Model of Culture, Beliefs and Rites Concerning Deities of Buddhism and Hindu-Brahmanism for Peace of Thai Society in Bangkok and Circumferences. Journal of Social Sciences, 7(2), 186-190.
Tomasino, B., Chiesa, A., & Fabbro, F. (2014). Disentangling the neural mechanisms involved in Hinduism-and Buddhism-related meditations. Brain and cognition, 90(2), 32-40.