Comparison Between Buddhism and Hinduism
Buddhism and Hinduism have been two of the oldest and most traditional religion that is being practiced by most South Asians today. These two religions are most influential in their own way of influencing their followers because of their philosophical notions about life. They have a great deal of similarities most probably because both religions originated in Asia and Asian people are much well connected with each other and their culture than any other race. However, despite their similarities, they also have set of differences which ultimately distinguish each religion from each other.
Similarities and Differences of Buddhism and Hinduism
One of the most common points of Hinduism and Buddhism is the fact that their teachings are both philosophical in nature. They both give emphasis on the role of a person’s life in a society. A person’s existence and life purpose in the society is one of the primary issues that both religions tackle and wish to develop. For example, “dharma” or the so-called Hindu belief refers to the belief that a person has his/her own responsibility to play in the society. He or she must fulfill this role to be considered a person who is living the proper way of life. This person is considered moral and decent if he or she can perform his or her obligations in terms of caste duties and responsibilities.
Like Hinduism’s “dharma”, Buddhism has its own concept similar in nature which is called “dhamma”. Similarly, it refers to a concept on which a person must follow or maintain a certain way of life to be called moral. In Buddhism, this way of life refers to the “Four Noble Truths” or “The Eightfold Path”. Briefly, these Buddhist ways of life state that a person must take life into moderation wherein all things less and excessive are not moral. Buddhism teaches that a moderate life is a good life therefore; it is a way to avoid the sufferings of life. To take out one’s desire is the most principal concept that Buddhism aims to inculcate to its followers. The religion claims that desires are the primary root of evil actions. However, if one learns how to control the balance of their lives, they can live with peace and happiness.
The difference between the two with regard to their ways of life is that Hinduism emphasizes and encourages the concept of the social class system or the caste system. Hinduism divides the social class into four strata namely: Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra, and the “untouchables”. Each class’ role in the society is determined by birth; therefore, there are no possibilities for advancement and no freedom to choose life partners from the upper classes. These classes are the “roles” in which people are supposed to perform in accordance to the class’ assigned responsibilities.
On the other hand, Buddhism strongly believes in the individuality of a person and one’s freedom to live his or her life without the restrictions of a social class system. Buddhism promotes fairness in all aspects of life that it does not discriminate a group of people in a particular social stratum.
Another similarity is the idea that both Hinduism and Buddhism believes in reincarnation. Both claim that there is indeed life after death but the contrast comes in between the religion’s individual concept of it. Hinduism believes that a person suffering must have been an immoral one in his or her past life. This is what they call “karma”. “The boundary of individuality . . . is not a real boundary in Hinduism, but an illusory one that is ultimately responsible for human error and suffering” (Ackermann, 1985, p.49). The present is determined by the action we have performed in our past lives the same way that the future is determined by means of our present actions and decisions. On the contrary, Buddhism believes that despite the sufferings and grievances that people experience in the present time, there is still a way to escape them—and that is to follow the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. By living in accordance to the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, a person can overcome all the sufferings and maintain a happy and contented life.
Apparently, there is a fine line that differentiates Hinduism and Buddhism as a religion. However, in my findings, I can view Buddhism in a much lighter and more practical way of living one’s life. Hinduism promotes social class system which is a primary problem in dealing with the world’s social problem in terms of social inequality. Corruption usually originates from the development of social classes and the lower classes are considered less than human. There is a certain repression in the concept of Hinduism which is free in Buddhism. The notion that a person’s life and role in the society is already determined by his or her birth brings forth an immense promotion of social inequality which is quite evil in its own sense. In addition, the worshipping of fabricated gods is spiritually uncomfortable if one is truthful in having faith in an immortal god.
Hinduism and Buddhism clearly have a great deal of similarities and differences which are quite relative at some point. However, if one would deeply analyze, Buddhism rooted from the concept of Hinduism. In fact, Buddhism also originated in India. According to history,
“the main cause was the gradual, almost insensible, assimilation of Buddhism to Hinduism, which attained to such a point that often it is nearly impossible to draw a line between the mythology and images of the Buddhists and those of the Hindus” (Smith, 1999, p.368). It is actually just a lighter version of Hinduism which aims to eradicate the flaws of the religion. Nonetheless, regardless of their differences and similarities, these two religions are still considered the most powerful among other religions because of its primary role of promoting selflessness and propriety.
Ackermann, R. J. (1985). Religion as Critique. Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press.
Smith, V. A. (1999). The early history of India. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors.