Compare and Contrast Essay: Hinduism and Buddhism

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Both Hinduism and Buddhism originated in the Indian subcontinent and share a very long relationship, which in many ways is comparable to that of Judaism and Christianity. The Buddha was born in a Hindu family, just as Christ was born in a Jewish family. Some people still argue that Buddhism was an offshoot of Hinduism and the Buddha was a part of the Hindu pantheon, a view which is not acceptable to many Buddhists. It is however widely accepted that Buddhism gained popularity in India because it released the people from the oppression of tradition and orthodoxy. The teachings of the Buddha created hope and aspiration for those who had otherwise no hope of salvation and freedom of choice in a society that was dominated by caste system, predominance of ritual form of worship and the exclusive status of the privileged classes which the Vedic religion upheld as inviolable and indisputable. Long ago, over 1500 years ago, Hindu tradition accepted the Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu. However, strong rivalry existed between both traditions in the subcontinent for a very long time. The followers of Siva and the Buddha could hardly stand each other in the earlier times. There were instances of Buddhist persecution by Hindu rulers, though a great majority followed a policy of religious toleration. Sasank, a ruler from Bengal and contemporary of Harshavardhana vandalized Buddhist monuments and burnt the pipal tree under which the Buddha got enlightenment. Despite the differences between both the religions, Hinduism and Buddhism influenced each other in many ways. The Buddhist notion of non-injury and compassion toward all living beings took deep roots in the Indian soil, while Mahayana Buddhism took cue from the traditional Indian methods of devotional worship. Buddhism influenced the growth and development of Indian art and architecture and contributed richly to the practice of breathing and meditation in attaining mindfulness and higher states of consciousness. The...
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