Hinduism and Buddhism: History and Modern Appeal

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  • Topic: Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, Hinduism
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  • Published : July 30, 2011
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As two of the world’s oldest and most established religions, Hinduism and Buddhism have their similarities, as well as differences. Both religions are practiced in Southeast Asia, starting in India and have influenced each other. Hinduism dates back to 5,000 years ago, while Buddhism was created three centuries ago. I will explore what the two religions share and what separates the two from one another covering the origins, number of followers, the texts used, and the belief system followed.

Origin of Hinduism

Hinduism is one of the oldest religions still practiced in modern times. Hinduism originated in India, by several civilizations. The civilizations of the Indus Valley and Harappan present the first elements of early Hinduism. Hinduism is also known by the name, Sanatana Dharma, which means the eternal tradition or religion (Knott, 2000, p. 6). Hinduism dates back to as early as 1500 BC. Hinduism does not have a known founder. Hinduism has an estimated 900+ million followers. Hinduism is not limited to the India, but has migrated and emigrated throughout the world.

Hinduism’s Sacred Texts

Hinduism has been kept alive through it’s sacred writings. These sacred writings are: Shruti and Smriti. Shruti means the truths have been divinely revealed. (Knott, 2000). Shruti explains how Hindu saints or sages lived in the woods and were able to obtain consciousness with the universe. The sages remained anonymous, as they realized that these truths pre-existed and were not their own, but from the Almighty God. The Shruti is compiled of two parts: the Upanishads and the Vedas. The Vedas consists of four parts: Royal Knowledge, Knowledge of Sacrificial Rituals, Knowledge of Chants, and Knowledge of Incarnations. Known to be most important are the Bhagavad-Gita and the Sutras. Oral and written tradition through stories, poems and writings has kept Hinduism alive through a wide span of time.

Modern Appeal Of Hinduism

There are several reasons why Hinduism has modern appeal, that are linked with the basic beliefs found in the religion. Hinduism does not regard a Heaven or Hell. There is not an ultimate destination. It is believed that how an individual treats others determines one’s current status and future status. Even though there is a “Supreme Being”, Hindus do not subscribe to the predestination at the hand of the “Supreme Being”. Hindus believe that once one’s current life ends, then one’s soul transcends, which is known as transmigration. The soul passes into is born into either an animal or human form. This endless cycle of births and rebirths is called reincarnation. (Balasubramaniam, Unknown)

The enjoyment of one life to the next is based on how an individual leads there life. If one’s life was full of generosity and little sin, then each life will be one of goodness and only get better. On the other hand, if one’s life is full of sin and maltreatment of others, lacking discipline, then this individual will be held accountable in this life and the lives to follow, with a life of sorrow. This concept is known as “karma”. The concept of “karma” ensures that each individual is held accountable for one’s own actions and provides for punishment for wrongdoings that will continue through reincarnations. Each individual decides one’s future based on the life led. The past determines what the future will bring. The concepts of “karma” and “reincarnation” are part of the modern appeal, as one is in control of the future, whereas, most religions carry the premise of God, dictating if one will be poor, rich, sick or healthy.

Hinduism follows a non-violent life style. This lends to even the dietary practice of being vegetarian. There is no harm or killing involved through consumption of vegetables, unlike the slaughter of animals for consumption. Hindus see God in every form of life. This is another aspect of modern appeal to Hinduism (Balasubramaniam,...
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