The beginning of this class consists of two sections, Hinduism and Buddhism, both of which we have learned a lot about. Within these religions we see some differences and some similarities that one could relate the two with, and one of those is the term Dharma. When examining Dharma in both Hinduism and Buddhism, people may notice that they are somewhat similar, but they will also see that there even more differences within this term.
To better understand this term, we must first define it within the religion and then see what they have in common with one another, if nything at all, and finally notice where the big differences are between them. Dharma is a powerful word, but some may see it differently then others depending on their religion, or their understanding of the religion at hand. So to better understand this term we must first define the term specific to each religion.
First we look at Hinduism, here Dharma is defined as, “the most basic concept of Hinduism. It is a wide-ranging term for righteousness, law, duty, moral teachings, religion itself, or the order in the universe. “(Voorst, 72). It goes on to say that, “Dharma is also the god ho embodies and promotes right order and living”(Voorst, 72). This in itself is not especially self-explanatory, but we will go into further detail after learning the meaning of the word in the Buddhist religion.
The meaning for Dharma for Buddhists is quite different, “this world view the dharma, “law, teaching” about the universe and the release from it. “(Voorst, 1 19), so Just looking at the definitions we can see that they can relate but we need to look further to see the differences. First we look at how these two religions use the term Dharma in the same way. We an start with the laws and teachings within the religions, and how they can go hand in hand with one another.
The purpose is to guide the followers in a way of living, to provide for a better reincarnation. In Hinduism the teachings are passed down year after year for centuries in order for people to follow, so that at the end of life, they can come back as a better (or worse depending on the way in which they lived) living creature. Then in Buddhism it follows the same guidelines, to teach the ways in which to live the best life. Which brings us to the next commonality between the religions, which is the art of reincarnation.
Both the Hindus and Buddhists follow a cycle of reincarnation (samsara), to follow the religious recommendations in hope that the next life they live is better then the one this time around, and ever moving forward toward one day finding their way out of rebirth called: moksha in Hindu terms and nirvana in Buddhist terms. After learning the basic ways of the religions and how they can go hand in hand, we have to look at what makes them a religion apart.
While we can for sure see these religions can relate to one another, we need to look further to get the difference. The main difference is the way in which the eachings are learned and understood. In Hinduism the teachings come from being passed on over time, and having specific duties; as to where and who you are in life, “specific to one’s place in the world; one’s social position or caste membership, stage of life or gender”(Voorst, 72).
This is showing that Dharma of a wife is very different from that of her husband or child, and a worrier’s dharma is very different of that of a teachings of Buddha himself, to believe that, ” he taught his followers to think for themselves and carefully examine the teachings of the religion to determine what is ight for them”(Voorst, 106). So we can see that in one religion we have life set out the way it should be lived and in the other people are free to live the way that they see fit within their religion.
The next main difference is the actual being of the dharma. In Hinduism Dharma is not only seen as the way in which people should live, but also as the god Vishnu or Rama. Here we see the term dharma as, “the preserver of dharma who takes worldly form (avatara) to combat threats to dharma,”(lecture, 9/16). It was also said that, “Rama, was a heroic king who, along with his spouse exemplifies harma,”(lecture, 9/16).
This is very different then that of the Buddhists, because they believe that, “what Buddha discovered, is that which makes him the awakened one,”(lecture, 9/23) So we see that it is somewhat of the reverse from Hinduism, because it is not represented or upheld through gods, but that which brought them their god to worship. So again we see clearly that these two religions are not as closely related as people may think. After spending a good amount of time, it is easy to see that the two meanings of dharma are different within the same context outline.
They both deal with the rights nd wrongs of the people within the religion, and they both have, in one aspect, the same meaning; law and teachings. But when we gape deeper into the word, the way of life in Hinduism is dharma, but the Buddhist Just follow certain aspects of dharma in their religion. In both religions the word dharma is very important to understand and follow, but even more important is the understanding of all the things that fall within its meanings and the other words that are connected to it. So to say it bluntly, these religions may follow a similar path, but have very different directions of that path to be followed.