There is a popular misconception about Buddhism that it is not an individual religion, but a philosophy, an offshoot, or part of Hinduism. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Buddhism is an ancient religion, dating back to over 2500 years. Both the religions were founded in India, and hence, there are some unmistakable cultural similarities in the ways and words. But there are distinct differences in the path and philosophies they preach. A little understanding of the similarities and differences can help one understand the essence of these religions.
Similarities Between Hinduism And Buddhism
Concepts of Samsara, Karma, And Dharma
The concepts of Samsara, or worldliness, Karma, or actions and Dharma, or nature/conduct tie both Hindusim and Buddhism together. The religions do see Samsara as the cycle of birth and death, While Hinduism preaches oneness with God, or Moksha as freedom from this cycle, Buddhism aims to break this cycle by achieving enlightenment or Nirvana. The ideas of Karma and Dharma are less of a spiritual or ritualistic, and more of a concept of rightful conduct in Buddhism.
In both religions, there is a concept of Dharmachakra or the wheel of law. While in Buddhism the eight spokes of the wheel refer to the revered Eightfold Path, in Hinduism it is the symbol representing the Sun god or Surya. Another common feature of both religions is the depiction of mudras, or hand postures, in paintings and statues. The positions and their meanings vary greatly.
Meditation and the chanting of mantras as parts of worship are followed by both Hinduism and Buddhism. Mantras or prayers in Hinduism are primarily chanted during rituals and are different for different gods. On the other hand, mantras in Buddhism go hand in hand with meditation for focus and self-actualization.
Differences Between Hinduism And Buddhism
Concept Of God
Hinduism is a religion, that believes in various forms and incarnations of gods, which are worshipped by different sects. The concept of God is pivotal in this religion. Buddhism negates the entity of any divine entity. They follow the path of righteousness and good conduct as shown by the Buddha, towards Nirvana.
There is a major difference in both religions and their perception of pain. In Hindusim pain is deeply linked with karma or our actions. Often the pains of the present life are explained as a consequence of poor karma accrued from the past life and by performing good acts, one protects their future life from pain. Buddhism sees pain as the inevitability of life and preaches detachment from worldly attachments as a way to avoid pain.
Understanding Of Buddha
The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautam, was a historical figure from the 4th century BC. After finding enlightenment, he called The Buddha. Buddhism regards him as a mortal human being. The religion is founded on the path to enlightenment that he followed in his journey and preached to his disciples. On the other hand, in Hinduism Buddha is recognized as the 9th avatar of Lord Vishnu. This concept is not shared or endorsed in the Buddhist faith.
Conclusion: Hinduism and Buddhism are both ancient, beautiful religions with their own festivals, ways, and philosophies. While there are cultural similarities and overlapping ideas, the paths are entirely different and unique.