Hinduism and Buddhism are two of the most followed religions around the world. Nearly a billion believe in Hinduism whereas around 600 million people in the world believe in Buddhism.
Many people believe that Buddhism stemmed from Hinduism. This, to an extent, is indeed true. However, that doesn’t mean that the two religions don’t have differences.
In fact, the Buddha preached to initiate a new religion only because he wasn’t happy with certain traditions that Hinduism believed in. So, in this article let’s take a look at how Hinduism is different from Buddhism.
Both the religions originated in India. Lord Buddha hailed from India itself. In fact, many Hindus believe that the Buddha is a part of the ‘dasavatar,’ i.e. he is one of the ten reincarnations of Lord Vishnu.
#2. Central Belief
While Buddhism is an offshoot of Hinduism, there are quite a few fundamental differences between the two, especially, in the way they look at rebirth, reincarnation, and the samsara. Both the religions believe in an endless cycle of birth. However, the Hindus believe in a soul that is everlasting (atman). They believe that the atman is reincarnated from birth to birth. They also believe that they can attain moksha (liberation from the world) through spiritual practice. The ultimate aim of Hinduism is for the soul to be reunited to the Universal Divine Force, also called Brahman.
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Buddhism, on the other hand, doesn’t believe that there is a constant soul. The Buddha taught that one’s soul is a collection of senses, perception, feelings and other intangibles that are central to all human beings. This belief is the lack of a constant soul in Buddhism, which is called anatta. For the Buddhists, the ultimate goal is to attain ‘Nirvana’- which means to escape the cycle of rebirths in order to be relieved from sufferings.
The basic meaning of Dharma also differs between the two religions. Buddhism believes that Dharma is the collective teachings of Buddha, who in turn preached that Dharma refers to the way the world works.
Hinduism, on the other hand, sees Dharma in a different light. Dharma, for Hindus, means the purpose of a human being in the world. A person’s Dharma is decided not only by his/her religious acts, but also by one’s societal and familial responsibilities. Also, in Hinduism, no two people have the same Dharma. One’s Dharma is decided by one’s cast.
Talking of casts brings us to the point where Buddhism and Hinduism differ the most. Hinduism has been widely known to believe in a caste system which has four hierarchies: Brahmana, Khattiya, Vessa, and Shudda. The Brahmins occupy the highest positions in a society and are revered, whereas the Sudras are generally slaves.
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Many people believe that while growing up, the Buddha had a strong abhorrence towards this casteism that the Hindus believed in. In fact, there is no mention of casts in the Rig Veda, which is the oldest scripture of Hinduism. Buddha never believed that a person’s societal status could be decided from his birth. Instead, he preached that a person is known with what he earns in the world. His birth, in no way, can have a say in his ultimate destiny.
#5. Devotion To God
Hindus believe that there is one ‘Supreme God.’ Although almost every Hindu family worships a different deity, it is always with the purpose of connecting with that one supreme soul that governs the universe.
(Image Courtesy: PBS)
Buddhism has no such accounts of idol worshipping or believing in something that humans have never seen. While Buddha never rejected the possibility of a ‘Supreme God,’ he never preached this belief. He believed that human beings are responsible for their own enlightenment. A Supreme God can be of no help.
So, these were the basic differences between Hinduism and Buddhism. If you want to add more to this, kindly use the comments’ section below to share your views and opinions.