Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism Compare and Contrast

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Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism are Eastern religions that share similar philosophical ideologies. While Western religions are used to strict creeds and precise statements of faith, Hinduism’s diverse beliefs may be bewildering. Nevertheless, within Hinduism exists space for different perspectives on God and the universe.

Within Hinduism, there exist several core principles that are widely acknowledged. These encompass the acknowledgment of the Vedas and Brahmans as authoritative figures, faith in reincarnation of the soul after death, and the significance of karma in molding one’s present existence and future.

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Contrary to Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Sikhism, Hinduism does not mandate a particular belief in God or gods. Although certain Hindus opt to worship main deities like Shiva, Vishnu, or Shakti, they view them as various manifestations of a single Ultimate Reality. The ultimate objective for Hindus is to attain “moksha,” which signifies liberation from the continual cycle of rebirth known as “samsara.”

Both Hindus and Buddhists share a devotional nature and seek to be in the presence of God or unite with Him, symbolized by a raindrop merging into a lake. Buddhism encompasses different traditions that have common fundamental beliefs. One such belief is the concept of reincarnation, where individuals go through cycles of birth, life, death, and rebirth. However, Buddhists make a distinction between the concepts of rebirth and reincarnation.

According to Buddhism, individuals can experience multiple rebirths in various forms, akin to a leaf’s cycle on a tree. Similar to how a dying leaf drops and is replaced by a new leaf that may bear resemblance but not be identical, individuals can achieve Nirvana by releasing desire and ego through repeated cycles of death and rebirth.

Nirvana, also referred to as “Enlightenment” in Buddhism, is the ultimate state where suffering and individual existence come to an end. It signifies Buddhists’ highest aspiration and achieving it puts an end to the cycle of rebirth. Liberation from worldly desires such as greed, hatred, and ignorance is strongly connected with nirvana. Its true essence cannot be conveyed through words but can only be personally experienced. (Ian, Andy, Royce 2012) Buddhism encompasses three essential practices that all followers adhere to: Sila, Samadhi, and Prajua.

In Sila, the emphasis is on virtue, good conduct, and morality based on two core principles. The initial principle is equality, acknowledging that all living beings are equal. The second principle is reciprocity, which Christianity also emphasizes as “treat others as you would like to be treated.” This idea exists in numerous major religions. Samadhi primarily entails the practice of concentration, meditation, and mental development. Buddhism firmly holds that nurturing one’s mind is the path to gaining wisdom and ultimately attaining personal liberation.

Having a strong and controlled mind is essential for maintaining good behavior throughout life. Prajua, which is achieved when a Buddhist mind is pure and calm, encompasses discernment, insight, wisdom, and enlightenment. Practitioners of Buddhism are also familiar with the four noble truths: Dukkha, Samudaya, Niodah, and Magga. These truths acknowledge the existence of suffering, the recognition of its cause, the possibility of its cessation, and the necessity of following the Eightfold Path to end suffering. The first step in this path is Samma ditthi, which involves having a right understanding of the Four Noble Truths.

The second path is known as Sammas sankappa, which involves thinking and following the right path in life. The third path, called Samma vaca, focuses on practicing right speech, meaning no lying, criticism, condemning, gossiping, or using harsh language. Samma kammanta, the fourth path, emphasizes practicing right conduct by following the Five Precepts. Samma ajiva involves living a right livelihood that supports oneself without harming others. Samma vayama promotes the right effort to cultivate good thoughts and overcome evil thoughts. Finally, Samma sati is the path of right mindfulness, which involves being aware of one’s body, mind, and feelings.

The eighth path in Jainism, called Samma Samadhi, centers on attaining higher consciousness via meditation. This faith shares strong ties with Hinduism and Buddhism and was previously thought to be a division of either. However, it is now acknowledged as an independent and ancient religion of India that predates both Buddhism and Hinduism.

Over the course of centuries, Jainism has peacefully coexisted with other Indian religions, mutually influencing each other. These religions all embrace common beliefs related to rebirth, salvation, heaven, earth, hell, and the birth of religious prophets based on specific principles. Buddhism’s departure from India brought Jains and Hindus closer together and consequently led to similarities in various aspects of Jain and Hindu social life. This includes similarities in attire, accessories, language, and literature.

Although Hinduism and Jainism have similarities, especially among vegetarian Hindus, they also have significant differences. These differences encompass various aspects such as scriptures, the origin of the world, worship purpose, sacrifices practice, attainment of salvation, path to salvation, karma concept, religious ideas and principles in logic. Additionally, distinctions can be found in the liberated soul, religious objects and religious practices.

One particular distinction that stands out to me is Jainism’s Ratnatraya-marga as a path to salvation. This pathway consists of three essential elements: Right Belief (Shraddha), Right Knowledge (Gyan), and Right Conduct (Dharma). It is imperative for every individual to adhere to these principles on their journey towards salvation.

Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism have distinct paths to attaining salvation. Hinduism encompasses various approaches to achieving salvation as explained by different religious leaders. Jainism and Buddhism, being Indian religions, also exhibit similarities with Hinduism and both uphold the Sramana culture. Both Jainism and Buddhism reject the Vedas as authoritative or obligatory, deny the existence of a permanent God who created the world, vehemently oppose violent rituals such as animal sacrifices, and recognize the importance of ascetic males (sadhus) and females (sadhvis).

In the 16th century, religious conflicts between Hinduism and Islam emerged in India. Guru Nanak Dev, who was born into a Hindu family in 1469, established Sikhism. He is renowned for his statement, “There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim, so whose path shall I follow? I shall follow the path of God.” Currently, Sikhism has around 23 million followers worldwide and is considered the fifth largest religion globally. Additionally, Sikhism resembles Eastern religions such as Hinduism in its belief in reincarnation and the transmigration of the soul.

According to their beliefs, individuals go through multiple cycles of births and deaths. The only way to break this cycle is by achieving mukhti, which means merging with God. They also follow the concept of Karma, which governs the process of reincarnation and transmigration of the soul.

Guru Nanak explains that humans obtain a human body through good deeds but reaching salvation requires God’s grace. Another idea presented is Maya, suggesting that the world is an illusion. Some people become enchanted by this illusion and forget about God.

Sikhism focuses on pure love for God and was founded by God through the Ten Sikh Gurus as a distinct faith.

According to Sikhism, it is distinct from Islam and Hinduism. The main difference lies in Sikhism’s rejection of polytheism and acceptance of monotheism. Sikhism believes in one God, who is then universalized. Guru Gobind Singh expressed this belief by saying that he does not consider Genesha or meditate on Krishna or Vishnu, but rather focuses on the Lotus feet of God, whom he sees as his protector and the Supreme Lord. Sikhism also rejects any class of priest, as Kabir pointed out that while a Brahman may be the Guru for the world, they are not considered the Guru for the saints.

“The prepexities of the four Vedas lead him to his death” (Bhagat Kabir, Salok, pg. 1377). In Sikhism, there is no belief in Ashrama Dharma, which divided a person’s life into four stages. The Gurus emphasized the importance of living a householder’s life. “There are four castes: the literates, warriors, cultivators, and minals, as well as the four stages of life. The most distinguished amongst men is he who meditates on the Lord” (Guru Nanak, Parbhait pg 1330). One interesting difference is their worship of idols and images. “The blind ignorant ones are led astray by doubt and are deluded. They pluck flowers for worship” (Unknown source).

The quote by Guru Ram Das highlights the futility of worshiping lifeless objects and tomb worship. Sikhism shares the Hindu belief in the universe and the concept of reincarnation based on karma. The opportunity to escape this cycle and achieve salvation occurs during human birth.

Works Cited:
Hinduism: Beliefs, religion & spirituality. (2008). (). Silver Spring, United States, Silver Spring: Cook Ross, Inc. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/190674006?accountid=37862
Riess, J. (2001). Essential buddhism: A complete guide to beliefs and practices.

The texts provide information from various sources. The first source is Publishers Weekly, volume 248, issue 20, pages 75-75. It can be retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/197046987?accountid=37862.

The second source is an article titled “Jainism and society” in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, volume 69, issue 1, pages 91-112. It can be retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/214047286?accountid=37862.

The third source is an article about Sikhism/Buddhism in the School Library Journal, volume 50, issue 5, page 161. It can be retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/211741997?accountid=37862.

Lastly, there is information on Buddhism’s Nirvana that was obtained from a website called ThinkQuest Library. The specific page where this information can be found is http://library.thinkquest.org/28505/buddhism/nirva.htm.

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Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism Compare and Contrast. (2016, Aug 27). Retrieved from


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