Since there are already so many religions inthis world, why is it necessary for us to haveanother religion called Buddhism? Is there anyextraordinary characteristic or contribution orsignificant feature that Buddhism has which otherreligions do not have? There is a school of thoughtwhich says that all religions are essentially thesame. There are no significant differences. The onlydifference is in the interpretation and practice. Afterall, in the final analysis, all of us end in one place,either heaven or hell. That is the common belief of most religions. Does Buddhism share thisviewpoint? To answer this question we have toexamine what is meant by religion.
In the academic study of religion as aphenomenon in history the term ‘
’ can beconsidered in its different aspects: as an innerexperience, as theology, or intellectual formulationof doctrine, as a basis or source of ethics and as anelement in culture.Different scholars have given different viewsand opinions of its nature and meaning. Accordingto Aldous Huxley, religion is, among other things, asystem of education, by means of which humanbeings may train themselves, first to make desirablechanges in their own personalities and in society,and second, to heighten consciousness and so estab-lish more adequate relations between themselvesand the universe of which they are parts. ModernIndian philosophers like Dr. Radhakrishnan, haveexpounded the theme that religion is not a set of doctrines but that it is experience. And religiousexperience is based on the realisation of the‘
presence of the divine in man .
‘H.G. Wells says‘
religion is the central part of our education that determines our moral conduct’
. The Germanphilosopher, Kant, stated that ‘
religion is therecognition of our moral principles as laws that must not be transgressed.
’The Buddha’s message as a religious way of life: “
Keeping away from all evil deeds, cultivationof life by doing good deeds and purification of mind from mental impurities.
” For our purposes, religionmay be defined in a very broad sense as a body of moral and philosophical teachings and theacceptance with confidence of such teachings. Inthis sense, Buddhism is a religion.