Buddhism and Hinduism: A Comparative Study


Added on  2023-06-04

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Running head: Buddhism and Interreligious studies
Buddhism and Interreligious studies
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Buddhism and Hinduism: A Comparative Study_1

The term Hinduism is a derivative of the word ‘Hindu’ that is a Persian distortion of
‘Sindhu’, which was the ancient name of the Indus river that charts its course through Northern
India, the place where the Vedic religion is believed to have originated (Kumar 2017). Hinduism
does not have any founder and is a conglomeration of a plethora of traditions and beliefs
(Jackson 2016). Hinduism is the world’s third largest religion in the world and Hinduism dates
back to over four thousand years. Although there are Hindus all over the world, yet Hinduism is
followed primarily in India and Nepal (Kumar 2017).
Modern Hinduism, which evolved from the Vedas, which are the ancient texts of
Hinduism, is akin to Zoroastrianism in their worship of nature gods (Jackson 2016). By fourth
century BC, Vedic Hinduism had spread throughout the Indian subcontinent incorporating
elements of all religious practices and beliefs. Over the next decade Hinduism further evolved
and absorbed the tenets of Jainism and Buddhism which laid an emphasis on non violence and
preached vegetarianism (Jackson 2016).
The major thoughts in Hinduism include the concept of Dharma, which refers to the code
of conduct that is ethical in nature. The other concept is Samsara, or reincarnation which refers to
the eternal cycle of life, birth and death; Karma which refers to an action being committed by a
person and its resultant reaction, Moksha which implies freedom from Samsara and the plethora
of Yogas i.e. the call to imbibe the righteous path, the various paths to attain Moksha and engage
in spiritual practices ( Lucia 2017). The majority of Hindus has faith in and believes in Brahma,
the omnipresent and supreme spirit that encompasses the universe and that the human soul or
atman is everlasting and an indistinct part of Brahma. According to Hinduism, the human soul
passes through a series of lives and deaths and the present life of a person was determined on
how the person lived his past life (Lucia 2017).
Buddhism and Hinduism: A Comparative Study_2

According to Hinduism, the goal of life is the realization of non-duality and leading a life
that would help a person to attain Moksha (Wood 2017). Other schools worship Brahman as
Vishnu , Shiva, Shakti Brahma depending on the sect. The Hindu mythology or scriptures refer
to divine entities as Devas who are a personification of divinity and divine qualities. Human
manifestations of God that are corporeal in nature are called Avatars (Wood 2017).
Pilgrimage is not obligatory to Hinduism though there is a plethora of sacred and holy
centres for worship. The important places of Hindu pilgrimage include Allahabad, Haridwar,
Varanasi, Tirumala-Tirupati, home to the temple of Vaishno Devi as well as other centres of
pilgrimage and sites of worship.
One of the most significant impacts of Hinduism includes having an impact on the
evolution of society. According to Hinduism, human life comprises of four stages, which are
known as the Ashramas. The first stage is the stage of a student who follows celibacy and stays
under the guidance of a teacher, the second stage is the stage of ‘householder’, the third stage is
the stage of retirement wherein a person gradually detached himself from the material world and
the fourth stage is the asceticism in order to find Moksha (Lucia 2014).
Earlier Hindu society was categorized under four classes which was called the Varnas.
They included Brahmins who were teachers and priests of society, the Kshatriyas, which
comprised of farmers, businesspersons and merchants, and the Shudras where were considered
the lower classes of society and included labourers and servants. Modern Hinduism is liberal,
though some people still believe and hold on the principles of class and class in society (Lucia
Buddhism and Hinduism: A Comparative Study_3

The Hindu scriptures , which are together known as the Shastras, are a compilation of religious
laws that was revealed by sages and saints during the course of its history (Kumar 2014). The
Hindu scriptures comprises of two types of sacred writing: Shruti, which implies heard and
Smriti, which means memorized. They were passed down orally from generation to generation
primarily in the language of Sanskrit. Gita is the holy book of Hinduism and the main Hindu
scriptures include the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Puranas and the epics Mahabharata and
Ramayana (Kumar 2014).
Hinduism teaches four Purusarthas or the goals of human life. They include Dharma,
which refers to duty and ethics, Artha which refers to work and prosperity, Kama which implies
desires and passion and Moksha which implies the freedom from the cycle of Samsara (Lucia
Followers of the Hindu religion consider that there is only highest Absolute known as
Brahman. However, the Hindu religion does not preach the veneration of any one God. There are
various Gods and Goddesses in Hinduism but they all represent the various aspects of Brahma.
Thus multiplicity of deities characterizes Hinduism. The fundamental deity of Hinduism includes
the divine trinity which comprises of Brahma, who is the creator, Vishnu who is the preserver
and Shiva the destroyer. The Hindu religion also promotes the worship of the natural world
(Lucia 2014).
The Hindu calendar is based on the cycles of the moon and the sun and is lunisolar in
nature. The Hindu year comprises of twelve months and a plethora of festivals take place right
through the year.
Buddhism and Hinduism: A Comparative Study_4

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