hinduisim and budhaisim: a comparative study

Topics: Buddhism, Hinduism, Gautama Buddha Pages: 6 (2139 words) Published: February 10, 2014
Hinduism and Buddhism: A Comparative Study
Written By: Abdul Samad - May• 11•11
Hinduism and Buddhism, two contrasting religions born on the Indian soil, have for centuries grown side by side, like a brother and a sister. As Buddhism was carved out of its elder sister, the two share central elements while being radically different on some. This paper will seek to provide a comparative analysis of these religions, showing at once how they are parallel and yet disjointed. It bears telling that both Hinduism and Buddhism have different terminologies for the perfect state of being that man only achieves when he reaches a state of supreme consciousness. Hindus call it Moksha, which marks a break from the inexorable cycle of life, death and reincarnation (Samsara), and Buddhists identify it as Nirvana, the indescribable state of total transcendence that ends human suffering. The two religions have the same end point, but that does not mean that the path they follow is the same. This paper will seek to uncover how these two religious traditions, are inextricably linked in their identification of suffering as the chief cause of human suffering and yet different in the methods they advocate to achieve liberation from Samsara. Of the two religions, Buddhism has the more pragmatic approach in that it clearly outlines the pervasive suffering that characterizes human life and stresses on the need to achieve salvation through Nirvana. Evidence for this comes in the form of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold path, which are an instructional guide on how to escape a life of great suffering. The gaining of salvation through Nirvana is the central tenant on which Buddhism rests, and this goal of human existence is of such profound significance, that the Buddha discouraged any philosophical questions pertaining to the nature of the Universe and of God himself. This “Noble Silence” is an affirmation of the Buddha’s teaching that such pursuits are a deviation from the true path, one whose primary goal is to alleviate human suffering. In stark contrast, not only does Hinduism encourage its followers to inquire about the nature of the Universe, but Hindu scriptures also contain detailed narratives of the nature of Brahmin and the experience of Oneness with God. Buddha himself was born in a traditional Hindu family and in his search for the truth followed Hindu gurus and yogis, before he came to disregard the extreme asceticism that they enjoined. Instead, he called upon his followers to adopt the ‘Middle Path’, which was a break from the extreme form of self denial that Hinduism encouraged. The Middle Path, as the name indicates, endorses a balanced way of life that shuns both extreme asceticism and extreme worldliness. This Way was explained by the venerable Ashin Thittila when he noted,” The Eightfold Path which the Buddha preached in his first sermon is known as the Middle Path because it is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. Optimism tends to over-estimate the conditions of life, whereas pessimism tends to under-estimate them. To plunge on the one hand into the sensual excesses and pleasures of the ordinary worldly life is mean, degrading and useless. On the other hand, extravagant asceticism is also evil and useless. Self-indulgence tends to retard one’s spiritual progress and self-mortification to weaken one’s intellect.” Buddhism actually began as a protest against the egregious elements of the Hindu society, including the brutality of the caste system. In essence, it was a reform movement that grew out of the corruption and restrictive power structure of Hinduism. The relationship between the two can be likened to that between Catholicism and Protestantism. Therefore, Buddhism was the refined form of Hinduism, not only because it emerged and was shaped by Hindu thought, but also because Buddha structured it in a way that could counteract the rigid caste system of Hinduism. Buddhism, unlike Hinduism, focuses not on the society, but...

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Buddhist Tourist, “Buddhism and Hinduism”, (2007), http://www.buddhist-tourism.com/buddhism/religion/buddhism-hinduism.html
Hindu website,” Hinduism and Buddhism”, (2011), http://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/h_buddhism.asp
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Essortment,” Hinduism and Buddhism: A Comparison”, (2010), http://www.essortment.com/hinduism-buddhisma-comparison-42610.html
Wikipedia, “Buddhism and Hinduism”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_and_Hinduism
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