Hinduism and Buddhism

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Soule Drake
February 18, 2012
Buddhism and Hinduism Comparison
There are many religions that dominate the world today, two specific ones, Hinduism and Buddhism, are similar in many ways, while still having their own defined uniqueness. Hinduism and Buddhism are both world religions, whose impact and influence can be seen in many places. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion consisting of several systems of philosophy, rituals, and beliefs. This complex religion is now the third largest world religion. Buddhism is a path to spiritual discovery it’s ultimate goal it to break through the cycle of rebirth and achieve nirvana. Hinduism’s and Buddhism’s beliefs, practices, origination, and expansion share similar roots, however the two powerful religions have grown in separate directions. Many of the strong world religions today have evolved from the foundational teaching of one person, the founder of the religion. Christianity’s founder is Jesus, the father of Judaism is Abraham, Islam is based off of Muhammad's teachings, and Buddhism's founder is Buddha. Hinduism is the odd one out, for it does not have a single founder. Instead, Hinduism is a result of an integration of many religious beliefs and philosophical schools (wangu). Hinduism has expanded into the complex religion it is today by the merging of beliefs and practices of the people of the Indus Valley and the Aryans of Persia. Also the Rigveda, a collection or writing and hymns have played a part in the evolution of Hinduism (Hinduism). The Indus Valley Civilization is the earliest known place where practice of the rudiments of Hinduism took place (Hinduism). Therefore Hinduism originated in the Indian subcontinent.

The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, later known as Buddha, was originally Hindu. This is a major factor contributing to how Buddhism and Hinduism are similar in some aspects, including beliefs. However, Siddhartha Gautama branched off from his Hindu roots and went on the journey in which he became Buddha and realized the lessons that he later taught. These lessons turned into the teachings and beliefs of Buddhism. Buddhism originated in northern India because that is where the Buddha lived during his lifetime.

Hinduism is a complex religion filled with many beliefs and teachings compromising the Hindu religion. Hindus believe in what is called the caste system. The caste system is a social division in which one is born into that they cannot escape. The religious aspect of the caste system is that the higher up in the caste system you are born, the closer you are to achieving moksha. From its origination, Hinduism has been a polytheistic religion, believing in many gods. Although the number of Hindu gods ranges in the thousands, there is one god at the root of it all, Brahman, the creator (Wangu). Two other major Hindu gods are emphasized, Vishnu, the preserver, and Shiva, the destroyer. Brahman is believed to be in all things, and is essential self, or atman, of a being. All these complex ideas of Hinduism are recorded in the Vedas, Hindus sacred text. However, Hinduism does not have only one single sacred text, but instead many. Two epic poems are also apart of the Hindu religion. These poems, the Mahabharata and Ramayana, both contain many morals taught throughout the long epics. Although Hinduism is such a complex religion, woven into one of many gods and teaching, there is a root goal at the source of it all. This goal is the achievement of moksha. Moksha translated into Sanskrit means “release”, and that is what Hindus believe it to be, a release from the cycle of rebirth and the hardships of living through union with Brahman.

Because of the Buddha’s background in Hinduism, some of the beliefs and teachings are similar, however Buddha did create many of his own ideas that evolved into Buddhism. During Buddha’s journey to seek enlightenment he realized that if one wants to achieve enlightenment, one must live in the middle way. This...
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