Friday, November 11, 2011

Buddhism and Hinduism

Buddhism and Hinduism 
Buddhist Monks

In my research and running comparisons, my own Seminary had brought up an article that I thought had great merit. I included it here for you to read. This can give the reader a better understanding between the two.

There are many similarities between Buddhism and Hinduism so it is a good idea to ensure you understand the differences and similarities between them. Hinduism (commonly called Sanatana Dharma, roughly translated as "Perennial Faith") is characterized by a diverse array of belief systems, practices and scriptures.

To the Hindu, the active force in defining the 'Eternal Dharma.' It has been for Hinduism what the infinite Divine Self of Advaita is to existence, remaining forever unchanged and self-luminous, central and pervasive, in spite of all the chaos and flux around it. In general, Hindu views are broad and range from monism, dualism, qualified non-dualism, pantheism, panentheism (alternatively called monistic theism by some scholars), strict monotheism, polytheism, and atheism.

Hindu monists, i.e., Smartas, who follow Advaita philsosophy, see one unity, with the personal Gods, different aspects of only One Supreme Being, like a single beam of light separated into colours by a prism, and are valid to worship. Some of the Hindu aspects of God include Devi, Vishnu, Ganesh, and Shiva. One of the most prominent Hindu monists is the saint Ramakrishna, whose preferred form of God is Devi and who reiterated traditional Hindu beliefs that aver devotees can invoke God in whatever form a devotee prefers (termed Ishta Devata, i.e., the preferred form of God) and ask for God's grace in order to attain Moksha, the end of the cycle of rebirth and death.

Although Hinduism is very diverse, one of the possible things that unite all hindus is the quest for enlightenment and to free oneself from the cycle of rebirth. Another major concept is the concept of Ahimsa, which means "non-violence." Through this concept, strict movements of vegetarianism and tolerance grew. Hindus believe that everything in the world is part of the universal spirit, and therefore everything needs to be respected, preserved and protected.

Similarities and Differences Between Hinduism and Buddhism

Gautama was born and brought up and lived and died technically a Hindu...There was not much in the metaphysics and principles of Gautama which cannot be found in one or other of the orthodox systems, and a great deal of his morality could be matched from earlier or later Hindu books. "Buddhism, in its origin at least is an offshoot of Hinduism." (S.Rahdhakrishnan)


1. Both emphasize the illusory nature of the world and the role of karma in keeping men bound to this world and the cycle of births and deaths.

2. Both believe in the transmigration of souls and the cycle of births and deaths for each soul.

3. Both emphasize compassion and non violence towards all living beings.

4. Both believe in the existence of several hells and heavens or higher and lower worlds.

5. Both believe in the existence of gods or deities on different planes.

6. Both believe in certain spiritual practices like meditation, concentration, cultivation of certain bhavas or states of mind.

7. Both believe in detachment, renunciation of worldly life as a precondition to enter to spiritual life. Both consider desire as the chief cause of suffering.

8. The Advaita philosophy of Hinduism is closer to Buddhism in many respects.

9. Buddhism and Hinduism have their own versions of Tantra.

10. Both originated and evolved on the Indian soil. The founder of Buddhism was a Hindu who became the Buddha. Buddhism is the greatest gift of India to mankind.


1. Hinduism is not founded by any particular prophet. Buddhism was founded by the Buddha.

2. Hinduism believes in the efficacy and supremacy of the Vedas. The Buddhist do not believe in the Vedas.

3. Buddhism does not believe in the existence of souls as well in the first cause, whom we generally call God. Hinduism believe in the existence of Atman, that is the individual soul and Brahman, the Supreme Creator.

4. Hinduism accepts the Buddha as an incarnation of Mahavishnu, one of the gods of Hindu trinity. The Buddhist do not accept this.

5. The original Buddhism as taught by the Buddha is known as Theravada Buddhism or Hinayana Buddhism. Followers of this do not worship images of the Buddha nor believe in the Bodhisattvas. The Mahayana sect considers the Buddha as the Supreme Soul or the Highest Being, akin to the Brahman of Hinduism and worship him in the form of images and icons.

6. The Buddhists consider the world to be full of sorrow and regard ending the sorrow as the chief aim of human life. The Hindus consider that there are four chief aims (arthas) in life which every being should pursue. They are dharma (religious duty), artha (wealth or material possessions), kama (desires and passions) and moksha (salvation.)

7. Hindus also believe in the four ashramas or stages in life. This is not followed in Buddhism. People can join the Order any time depending upon their spiritual preparedness.

8. Buddhists organize themselves into Order (Sangha) and the monks live in groups. Hinduism is basically a religion of the individual.

9. Buddhism believes in the concept of Bodhisattvas. Hinduism does not believe in it.

Some of the blending of both religions brings a strong spirituality to the individual. That is part of my own spiritual doctrines.

With Love,

Dr Gale Candice