Hinduism and Buddhism

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Elizabeth Waxter
Daniel Rickett
REL 107
28 April 2012
Hinduism and Buddhism
Each being an Eastern religion, Hinduism and Buddhism both share some similarities as well as differences. The same goes when it comes to god. In Hinduism the belief about god can vary. Some Hindus believe in one god, while others believe in multiple, and others still believe in no god. They can also be Monist, Pantheists, or Panentheistis. Hindus also have the trinity, which is comprised of Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the sustainer), and Shiva (the destroyer). Buddhists however are traditionally non-theistic. Where Hinduism has the trinity, Buddhism has the three jewels. However, unlike Hinduism, the three jewels are not treated as gods. The three jewels consist of Buddha, his teachings, and the community that follows those teachings. When it comes to sacred texts Hinduism has a few. The most important would have to be the Bhagavad Gita, also known as “The Song of God”. It has been called the Bible of Hinduism and contains discussion of things like Vedic cult sacrifice, Upanishadic teaching of Brahman, dualism and Yoga meditation. Other texts consist of the Veda, which includes the Rg, Yajur, Sama, and Arthava, and the Purana, which is Ancient Lore (“Introduction” 177). Another one would be the Dharma or legal texts, ritual or kalpasutras, including Crhya- and Srautasutras (“Introduction” 177). Buddhists however, don’t have a set sacred text that they use. Buddha never actually wrote down his teaching. What were practices by Buddhists were given to people by word of mouth. Over the years however there have been a variety of texts that have been created by writing down come of these teachings. However, there is no universal Buddhist sacred text. Hinduism and Buddhism share most of the same views when it comes to its teachings on humanity. In general, both religions mainly deal with reaching some sort of enlightenment and liberation from Samsara. Samsara, which is the cycle of birth and rebirth, is a major part of both religions. Accompanied with Samsara is Dharma, which is what governs and maintains the natural and social world. They both also believe in Karma, which for both means “action.” Each individual action that is made by a person determines the following one, and the next one, etc. During this process you build up Karma. Related to Karma is another aspect of their belief that is similar in concept but different in name and specific definition. Hinduism has Moksha, while Buddhism had Nirvana. Each of those represents liberation from Samsara. However, Moksha is defined as using up the Karma that is built up throughout one’s life, while Nirvana is a concept that does not a have set definition. Both traditional Hinduism and Buddhism believe that women are equal to men. Just like any other separation of religion, there are going to be big differences that between the two. One of the more minor differences is that Hinduism believes that humans have an undying soul or atman. However, in Buddhism believes in a non-self doctrine or anatman, which is that they reject the concept of having a physical soul. The big differences between Hinduism and Buddhism deal with the structure of the religion. Hinduism has a hierarchical universe that creates four separate castes or varnas of people. The highest part of the caste is Brahmin, and then there are the warriors, kings, princes, and leaders. After them it continues with commoners, such as farmers, merchants, and other people of that nature. Peasants are the last of the castes. What is important to remember about this caste system is that it is unchangeable. If one is born into a caste there should be nothing done by that individual to change what caste they are in. It is a part of their dharma or duty to only perform the functions of one’s given caste and occupation rather than try to get to a higher caste. Buddhism has a little more structure in what they must do rather than the structure in the...
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