Diffusion of Buddhism and Christianity

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Siddhartha Gautama, better known simply as Buddha, first followed the Hindu religion but then later realized that the caste system from Hindu was immoral and decided to leave his earthly possessions to find what he believed to be nirvana, which resulted in the creation of Buddhism. Christianity originated from the teachings of Jesus Christ, who created a religion that came from Judaism which attracted all women and minorities and was later spread mainly by the apostle Paul who journeyed restlessly and build churches in order to disperse Christianity all throughout the Roman Empire. These two religions became extremely large during their origin in the 6th century and were able to spread rapidly in different and similar ways. Both monastic religions appealed to minorities by giving them salvation or nirvana which was one of the major reasons for their popularity. Trade routes and merchants were also another great factor in the spreading of Christianity and Buddhism, such as the well-known Silk Road. Buddhism spread from India through South East Asia and China while Christianity spread through the Mediterranean and southwest Asia. As Buddhism spread throughout all of India and South East Asia it reached an incredible size which was definitely larger than Christianity. Even though Christianity was smaller it remained prominent in its place of origin while Buddhism lost prestige in its homeland throughout the spreading period. Christianity and Buddhism shared three very identifiable similarities.

To start off, both of these religions were Monastic meaning that they had monks, nuns, and others living under religious vows. These two religions also applied to all minorities and women by promising salvation or nirvana, which can be reached by living an ethical life and practicing religious exercises, not mattering if you are wealthy or belong to a specific level in the cast system. Because of this appeal to all people Buddhism and Christianity were able to rapidly spread – Christianity in the Mediterranean and Buddhism in South East Asia. Both religions also thrived with the use of merchants and trade routes, it could be said that Buddhism prospered more from this than Christianity but it did play an important role in both Religions. One of the biggest land and sea trade routes during this time that had a great impact on cultural diffusion was the Silk Road which connected almost all of Eurasia, extending from China to the Mediterranean Sea. Even with all these similarities in the diffusion of the religions, there are some important differences that cannot be left out. One of the biggest differences is the place where they originated and spread to. Buddhism mainly expanded all throughout South East Asia and India while Christianity mainly reached all of the Mediterranean and some of South West Asia.

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Even though both religions did use trade routes to their advantage, Buddhism was more closely related to the use of these routes while Christianity was mostly spread by a single man – Paul the apostle, which was to a certain extent the backbone to the large scale diffusion of Christianity. While Buddhism spread it reached an enormous size, certainly larger than Christianity, but during this spreading time Buddhism’s place of origin lost prestige due to innovations of Hinduism and invasions of Muslims, but Christianity was able to remain prosperous in its homeland. Despite the fact that these religions had some similarities and other differences, they were both able to greatly evolve and grow impressively from their origins to the 6th century. By appealing to all minorities these two major religions were able to rapidly mushroom and gain reputation through major trade routes. Though Buddhism diffused all throughout India and SE Asia, it did lose status in its place of origin, while Christianity was able to reach all of the Mediterranean and some parts of Asia it also kept stature in its homeland. It could now be said that Jesus Christ and Siddhartha Gautama created some of the largest and most prosperous religions by the 6th century.

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Diffusion of Buddhism and Christianity. (2016, Nov 07). Retrieved from


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