The world has many different religions. Asia has had many religions spring up.
Out of these, Buddhism and Hinduism are the most popular beliefs in the general
population. Hinduism is the oldest known religion and is very rich with literally
hundreds of gods, symbolistic rituals and beliefs. It is believed to have been
established around 1500 B.C. but one person never founded Hinduism, as it
evolved over a long period of time. Buddhism on the other hand has a definite
founder, Siddhartha Gautama who is otherwise known as the Buddha or
Enlightened One who lived from 565 to 483 B.C. Both these religions originated
in India. Siddhartha Gautama was a Hindu who found Hindu theology lacking and
after years of searching for truth created a religion now known as Buddhism.
Because of these basic similarities, the two religions have much in common, but
in the same light they differ immensely.
Hinduism and Buddhism both have numerous gods and both follow the same
paths to ultimately achieve Nirvana (a place where all the enlightened beings
reside). "He set himself forty-eight vows to fulfill, which, he proclaimed, would
allow him to reach Nirvana." (Encarta 98, "Amitabha,") This is about one man
who makes rules for himself so that he can get into Nirvana. The concept of a
god or gods in Buddhism is almost void and therefore in the eyes of some not
even a religion. Hindus have many gods governing different aspects of Hindu life.
The three main gods in Hinduism are Vishnu who is the sustainer; Brahma is the
creator and Shiva the destroyer. They are referred as Trimuti. Most Hindu gods
are associated with animals and therefore Hindus feel that being a vegetarian is
vital. Cows are sacred in Hinduism and are worshipped as the divine mother,
making eating beef taboo. Buddhism involves meditation and prayer. In
Buddhism, one must understand the four noble truths which are the truth of
suffering, the truth of the origin of suffering, the truth of cessation, and the truth of
the path. These all follow the Eightfold Path, which describes the ways in which
one must live. Hindu scriptures advocate the pursuit of many goals in ones life
including righteous living, wealth, prosperity, love and happiness. The ultimate
goal is to achieve Nirvana. Following these steps and pleasing all these gods
ensures ones ticket to achieving Nirvana.
Both religions believe that during life nonviolence is essential to reaching
Nirvana. Buddhists preach compassion, charity and nonviolence and while
Hindus profess pacifism and ahimsa, which is the avoidance of harm to people
and animals, they still believe war is justifiable in certain cases. They see it as
their duty to fight in a just war. Harming others is wrong but if the war will cause
undo suffering to others, then violent acts are justifiable. "There is no greater
good for a warrior than to fight in a righteous war." (Bhagavad-Gita, Gita, 2:31)
Many Buddhist beliefs and goals are similar if not the same as Hindu beliefs and
goals. The concept in life that you should not act violently towards others is
common to both religions, although they have some slight differences.
The concept of suffering and reincarnation is common in both religions. In
Buddhism there is the concept of two extremes, one devoted to pleasure and lust
and one devoted to mortification. Both are considered profitless and therefore
one should take the middle path, which leads to insight. This means that people
should not seek Nirvana too hard but should not seek it too little either. Hindus
believe that life has no ultimate significance and is but a small part in a vast
unending, and essentially meaningless cycle of life and death, and that
everything has a soul or atman. Hindus believe in reincarnation and the...