The Differences and Similarities in Buddhism and Hinduism

Published: 22nd February 2010
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Both Hinduism and Buddhism began in India. For centuries they have grown side by side, like a brother and a sister, sharing a history. But, there have been some periods of strife between these two religions.

One of the interesting things to note about these two religions is that Buddha was born, and raised as a Hindu. Hinduism is a much older religion. It dates back to 2,000 B.C.. The first Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, was born to a princely life as a member of a Hindu family. He later discovered Buddhism and reached enlightenment in 500 B.C..

In spite of the difference that existed between Hindus and Buddhists, the two religions have greatly influenced each other. The Buddhist idea of compassion and respect for all living beings is also a Hindu idea, while meditation and pranayama (breath work) was taken from Buddhism. Both Hindus and Buddhists believe in the idea of karma.

Though these religions share some tenets, they have differences as well. For example, Buddha taught his followers that life is equal to suffering. Buddhism places an emphasis on suffering and urges followers to find their way down the pathway to the place where suffering ends. On the other hand, Hindu teaching recognizes suffering as part of the human condition, but emphasizes the state of Bliss as a reward that is worth working toward.

Both Buddhism and Hinduism teach the principle of compassion and non-violence to all sentient forms of life. Followers of both religions have been known to carry insects outside and release them rather than to destroy them.

In Buddhism, meditation is the way to enlightenment. But in Hinduism, meditation is one of the ways to enlightenment, but some other ways are compassion, doing good works, etc.

One of the biggest differences between the two sister religions is adaptability. The Hindu religion is tied to the culture, the language, the people and the land of India. Because the package includes so many aspects, it is nearly impossible to export this religion to other parts of the world. On the other hand, Buddhism began in India, but quickly spread throughout the rest of Asia and is even now spreading into the west.

But although Hinduism has not spread with the same speed as Buddhism, one of its practices has spread incredibly fast, yoga. Yoga is not a type of religion, although many of the yogic principals are also tenants of Hinduism.

Other differences include the fact that in the Hindu religion there is not a prophetic leader, but of course Siddhartha Gautama or Buddha is the prophetic founder of the Buddhist religion. The Hindu religion has several sacred texts that act as guides. The principle text is called the Vedas, although the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita are two other important texts.

Buddhists do not follow texts, but instead refer to the oral teachings of Buddha. Also, those who follow the Hindu faith tend to worship individually, whereas the followers of Buddha tend to group together in monasteries, therefore Buddhism is more of a group worship.

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