A Comparison of World Religions: Buddhism and Hinduism

The purpose of religion is to create comfort and solace for its adherents, providing answers and enlightenment that would otherwise remain elusive. Religion serves to provide companionship and unity among people who believe similar concepts. As such, many religions share elements that are known to other belief systems; a prime example of this is the comparison between Buddhism and Hinduism. Both religions seem interwoven in many aspects, yet retain a strong sense of individuality and distinctness. One of the reasons why early Buddhism and Hinduism are so similar can be attributed to the fact that Buddhism rose out of Hinduism, and that they both originated in India, While it is important to acknowledge the many sects that have arisen since their origins, it is undeniable that many tenants and beliefs of either religion are shared.

They are both more of a way of living or philosophy rather than a strict religion; one could practice aspects of either while retaining to another religion, such as Christianity, Both Buddhism and Hinduism believe in karma and samsara, or reincarnation.

Karma is best defined as “..,the notion of moral consequences that are carried along with every act”.

One’s actions in life determines his or her karma, and the status of his or her future life will be reflected in the continuous cycle of rebirth that is samsara. Eventually one will be released from the endless cycle through moksha or nirvana, for Hinduism and Buddhism respectively, It is the same concept with a different name; this stage of being is the ultimate human goal.

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It is a liberation from reincarnation, granting one with a complete understanding of life and “,..existence beyond limitation” (Molloy 137). Both Buddhism and Hinduism believe in a lifestyle of nonviolence to other people and animals. Without delving into the specifics of the religions, it is easy to see how adherents of Hinduism and Buddhism lead similar lifestyles. There are aspects that are unique to each religion; the most obvious being that Hinduism includes a number of gods.

Mahayana Buddhism, however, is an ascetic lifestyle that knows no divine figure. One of the most crucial differences to the two religions is the concept of a soul—where it‘s vital to Hinduism, the idea is absent from Buddhism In Hinduism, the word atman defines the soul and is what departs from a current physical body and moves on during samsara. At this level, Hinduism believes that each self is God; each soul is divine and sacred within nature; atman is equal to Brahman, or divinityi, Buddhism acts as a foil to this belief; there is no permanent identity within Buddhism The term unatman literally translates to “no Atman“, rejecting the Hindu belief automatically, The Buddha believed that a person was ever-changing, and thus, didn’t have a singular identity like a soul (Molloy 131) Buddhism also stems from the idea that to live is to suffer, and suffering stems from desiret To end this suffering, we must vanquish all desire Conversely, Hinduism dares to suggest that we can have what we desire; the caveat in this belief is that we will always desire something more (McGowan) Early Hinduism and Vedic religion followed a strict caste system, which divided the social classes of India Each caste, or class, represented a place in the social hierarchy It was divided five ways; the priest (Brahmin), the warrior noble (Kshalriyu), the merchant (Vaishya), the peasant (shudra), and finally, the untouchable (dalit).

The priest was the highest class that one could attain, for they could devote their entire lives to understanding atman as Brahman (McGowan) In contrast, Buddhism is a religion that any person can adhere to Anyone, regardless of status, can achieve nirvana through practice and by following the Eight Fold Path. Each religion is succinct in their beliefs and practices, therefore separating them and giving them unique characteristics Religion is a personal preference; each person’s perspective varies greatly, Religion can help reflect reality as one sees it; for me, Buddhism provides an explanation that is more tailored to my ideologies than Hinduismi I do not believe that one’s importance is defined by their birthright or status; it is what one chooses to do with their life that defines them, This automatically knocks out the caste system, which although is now fading out of practice, still subsists in modern India. Mahayana Buddhism is a sect that is centered on compassion and wisdom In my opinion, these are ideal foundations for a religion; as history has shown, ignorance only breeds hate and war. If a religion strives to eradicate these trends, then I believe that it represents an idyllic goal, While traditional Buddhism hadn‘t acknowledged a divine figure, Mahayana Buddhism has adopted the original cosmic Buddha nature as supreme beings.

I am not a firm believer of a “God” so to speak, but I do believe that there is a higher being, or beings, that are orchestrating life as we know it; it‘s terrifying to think that there isn‘t something watching out for us, Mahayana Buddhism also suggests that anyone can attain nirvana, that the opportunity isn’t restricted to just monks. I agree with this wholeheartedly; everyone is equal and should have an equal opportunity to reach enlightenment. Molloy states that within Mahayana Buddhism, “the Mahayana tradition maintains that a person must save himself by saving others” This quote summarizes values that I support most: charitability and generosity, There is no comparison between helping others and helping yourself; volunteering to help those in need is quite possibly the most valuable and rewarding thing you can do with your time. Between Buddhism and Hinduism, I believe Mahayana Buddhism to reflect my own perception of reality, for it stands for the same ideologies that I do; selflessness, generosity, and compassion.

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A Comparison of World Religions: Buddhism and Hinduism. (2022, Oct 07). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/a-comparison-of-world-religions-buddhism-and-hinduism/

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