Comparison of Hinduism and Buddhism
Professor Eric Speir
May 6, 2014
Hinduism and Buddhism are two religions that I have found to be very interesting to me since I’ve started this course. In the following paragraphs I will explain the cultural and geographical origins of each. I will explain in detail, a few of their religious practices and an example of how they are practiced in our world today.
Hinduism originated on the Indian subcontinent. The name “Hinduism” is relatively new. British writers in the first decades of the 19th century thought of the name itself. Many sacred texts and languages served as a vehicle in spreading the religion to other parts of the world. From the 4th century C.E. Hinduism had a dominant presence in Southeast Asia, and lasted for more than 1,000 years.
Three specific religious practices of Hinduism are rites, festivals, and meditation. Milestones in the individual’s life are observed by rites. At birth the father or nearest male relative rubs the newborns tongue with butter and honey. Prayers are then offered. The initiation is the most important ceremony because it is the ceremony of entry into the Hindu religion. This is performed only on adolescent boys; females occupy a lowly place in the Hindu religion. The marriage ceremony involves the worship of the bridegroom by the father of the bride. The most important part of the ceremony is the Seven Steps, where the bride and groom take seven steps around the fire. Festivals are held at least once a year. General days of festival ceremony are many, but only the more devout Hindus celebrate all of them. The most common festivals occur in the autumn. For nine days, the mother goddess is worshiped. Some Hindu sects sacrifice animals to her on the ninth day. Meditation is mainly practiced at home. Every home has at least one image, idol, or picture where prayers, hymns, the offering of flowers, and the burning of incense are performed. They this three times a day: in the morning before dawn, any time after sunrise, and in the evening. All of these rituals are always preceded by bathing. An example of how Hinduism is practiced today is “Yoga”. Many people in the United States in in other parts of the world practice this as a form of exercise and meditation.
Buddhism originated in Northern India in the 5th century B.C.E. Siddartha Gautama, who is referred to as Buddha (the “Awakened” one) observed the suffering in the world and set out to find an antidote. Through meditation and analysis, he attained and enlightened state of being. Over the course of its 2500 year history Buddhism has experienced many modifications. Buddhism has spread from its roots in India to every corner of the world. Three specific religious practices of Buddhism are meditation, mudras, and mantras. Meditation in Buddhism refers to mental concentration and mindfulness. This leads to enlightenment and spiritual freedom. There are two main types of Buddhist meditation: insight and tranquility. These are often combined or used one after the other. Mudras are symbolic hand gestures used to evoke certain ideas. Just like symbols held by saints in Christian art, Buddhist mudras indicate the identity of a particular scene being depicted. Mantras are sacred sounds that are believed to possess supernatural powers. They are believed to embody the power and attributes of particular deities. They are also often used as protection from evil and misfortune. One example of how Buddhism is practiced in the world today is by believing in Karma. Karma means action. Good intent and good deeds result in good Karma and future happiness. This has definitely impacted my life directly.
Hinduism and Buddhism are two major religions across the world. They have impacted thousands upon thousands of people and continue to recruit new members every day.
Bonin, Angela (2012) Buddhism vs Hinduism The Differences and Similarities Retrieved May 6, 2014, from http://www.examiner.com/article/buddhism-vs-hinduism-the-differences-and-similarities/html Viswanathan, Priva Buddhism vs Hinduism Complementary or Contrary Retrieved May 6, 2014, from http://www.dollsofindia.com/library/hinduism-buddhism/html McGovern, Nathan (2014) Intersections Between Buddhism and Hinduism in Thailand Retrieved May 6, 2014, from http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195393521/obo-9780195393521-0128.xml.