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A-Levels April 2013

Moral Studies
Analyse The Similarities And Differences Between Hinduism And Buddhism

Hinduism and Buddhism are two of the most influential and profound religions around the
world. Both religions have similar roots and philosophies and originated in India before the Common
Both of these religions started in India. Both believe desire is the root cause of suffering.
Buddhism and Hinduism share some differences and similarities in beliefs and the practice of
mediation. Hinduism is believed to have no known founder, no central authority, no universal texts
and no widely known creed but it has a caste system. Hindus believe that everyone has their place in
the world and they cannot overstep their roles. On the other hand, Buddhism is viewed more like or
philosophy and not a religion. The caste system is one of the core beliefs of Hinduism. It is viewed as
a type of social structure that divides individuals in classes on the basis of an inherited social status.
It divides individuals into five major classes, the Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra, and
"untouchables," also referred to as Dalits. The individual in each class has a religious duty or dharma
to contribute in, to maintain an orderly society. In contrast, Buddha strongly disagreed with the
Hindu caste system because he believed it was unjust and that there should not be a difference in
the classes of people and due to this it gave everybody an equal chance. Similarly, both religions
practice mediation which they believe it will bring them closer to nirvana. In Hinduism, the
worshipper chants repeatedly the syllable "OM" to concentrate and to reach another level of
consciousness while mediating. Hinduism believes that by chanting this sacred syllable it will bring
them closer to the Ultimate Reality and within proximity of the essence of true knowledge. Similarly,
Buddha was enlightened thorough deep mediation. It was while he was in deep mediation that
Buddha reached enlightenment and understood the existence of Dharma. He preached that in order
to reach nirvana was through the inward reflection and insight that is associated with mediation.
Both believe in multiple gods. Both believe in Samsara and Karma. Buddhism and Hinduism
share some common territory on the concept of rebirths but differ greatly over what they believe to
be the importance of each other's sacred texts. The Vedas are Hinduism scriptures found in the
Smriti writings. The Vedas are divided into 4 distinct collections which are The Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda,
Sama-Veda, and Atharva-Veda and contain over 1000 hymns. Lord Buddha did not follow the Vedas
at all as Buddhism had their own scriptures called the Tripitaka meaning "three baskets" which
highlighted Buddha's teachings. Both Hinduism and Buddhism believe in the concept of Samsara that
life is an endless cycle of births, deaths, and rebirths. Hindus believe that life is cyclical, with no
beginning and no end. They believe once we die in this world, we become reborn into another life in
a different physical form. This could be in a form of a plant, human, or animal. Hinduism believes
that the purpose of successive rebirths is to permit an individual to learn without divine
interference, about how an individual should live, according to their personal dharma. Similarly,
Buddhists believe in this concept of rebirths as well. They believe that unless an individual is
enlightened, one would be reborn again and again through many cycles and the only way to escape
from this cycle of rebirths/Samsara is to reach nirvana.
Buddhism does not believe in the existence of souls as well in the first cause, whom we generally
call God. Hinduism believes in the existence of 'Atman', that is the individual soul and Brahman, the
Supreme Creator. Hinduism accepts the Buddha as an incarnation of Mahavishnu, one of the gods of
Hindu trinity. The Buddhist does not accept any Hindu god either as equivalent or superior to the
Buddha. Buddhism acknowledges the existence of some gods and goddesses of Hindu pantheon, but
give them a rather subordinate status. 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 worships him in the form of images and
icons. People can join the Order any time depending upon their spiritual preparedness. Buddhists
organize themselves into a monastic Order (Sangha) and the monks live in groups. Hinduism is
basically a religion of the individual. Buddhism believes in the concept of Bodhisattvas. Hinduism
does not believe in it. Buddha, the Sangha and Dhamma are the three cardinal requirements on the
eight-fold path. Hinduism offers many choices to its followers on the path of self-realization.
Although both religions believe in Karma and rebirth, they differ in the manner in which they
operate and impact the existence of individual beings.