Hinduism and Buddhism share a lot of the same terminology and principles, but these shared terms and concepts have some very distinct meanings. In both Hinduism and Buddhism, the basic concept is that there is a continuing life, pain, death, and rebirth cycle called samsara and that this cycle is centered on karma, i.e., actions and subsequent reactions.

Difference Between Hinduism and Buddhism

Differences Between Hinduism and Buddhism

Hinduism and Buddhism both share the conviction that liberation from samsara can be accomplished, but to accomplish this, each follows a different direction. This liberation from samsara is called moksha in Hinduism, although it is known as nirvana in Buddhism.

Here are some differences between Hinduism and Buddhism. Have a look: 

Particulars  Buddhism  Hinduism 
Origin Indian subcontinent Indian subcontinent
Founder The Buddha (born as Prince Siddhartha) Not credited to a particular founder.
Followers  Buddhists  Hindus 
Place of worship  Buddhist monasteries, temples, shrines Temple/ Mandir 
Language  Pali (tradition of Theravada) and Sanskrit (Mahayana and Vajrayana tradition) Sanskrit 
Population    500-600 million  1 Billion 
Religious Law  The dharma   Dharmashastras 
Time of origin  2,500 years ago, circa 563 B.C.E. (Before Common Era) circa 3000 B.C. E
Goal of philosophy  To stop mental misery  Salvation, liberty from the birth and reincarnation cycle.
Symbols  The conch, the infinite knot, the fish, the lotus, the parasol, the vase, the dharma chakra (Dharma Wheel), and the banner of victory.  Om, Swastika and so on.

 

Hinduism

According to many researchers, Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion, with origins and customs going back over 4,000 years. Today, Hinduism is the third-largest religion behind Christianity and Islam, with around 900 million followers. About 95 percent of the Hindus in the world live in India. Because the religion has no single creator, its roots and history are hard to track. Hinduism is unique in that it is a collection of multiple traditions and philosophies rather than a single faith.

  • Symbols

There are two main symbols, the om, and the swastika, connected with Hinduism. In Sanskrit, the word swastika means’ good fortune’ or’ being happy’ and the symbol reflects good luck. (When they made it their emblem in 1920, a diagonal variant of the swastika was later aligned with Germany’s Nazi Party.)

Composed of three Sanskrit letters, the om symbol represents three sounds (a, u and m), which are considered a sacred sound when combined. The Om symbol is also found in family shrines and Hindu temples. 

  • Holy Books

As contrasted to one holy book, Hindus value several sacred writings. Around 1500 B.C., the key sacred texts, known as the Vedas, were written. This series of verses and hymns, which includes revelations obtained by ancient saints and sages, was written in Sanskrit. 

The Vedas include The Rig Veda, the Samaveda, the Yajurveda, the Atharvaveda. Hindus believe that all time, the Vedas transcend and have no beginning or end. In Hinduism, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, 18 Puranas, Ramayana, and Mahabharata are all considered to be valuable texts.

  • Origins

Most scholars agree that between 2300 B.C., and 1500 B.C., Hinduism began near modern-day Pakistan, in the Indus Valley. But many Hindus claim that their religion has always existed and is eternal.

Hinduism has no one creator, unlike other religions, but is instead a synthesis of different beliefs. The Indo-Aryan people came to the Indus Valley about 1500 B.C., and their language and culture blended with that of the indigenous people living in the region. There is some controversy about who affected who most during this period.

The era of the composition of the Vedas became known as the “Vedic Period” and lasted from around 1500 B.C. Towards 500 B.C. In the Vedic Period, rituals were common, such as sacrifices and chanting. Around 500 B.C. and 500 A.D., the Epic, Puranic, and Classic periods took place. 

The worship of deities, especially Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi, began to be emphasized by Hindus. In new writings, the notion of dharma was introduced, and other religions, such as Buddhism and Jainism, spread quickly.

  • Sects

Hinduism has many sects and is divided into the following at times: Shaivism (Shiva’s followers), Vaishnava (Vishnu’s followers), Shaktism (Devi’s followers), Smarta (Brahman’s followers and all major deities). The Hindu trinity, which consists of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, is exalted by some Hindus. Others assume all the gods are a representation of one.

  • Places of Worship

Usually, Hindu worship, known as “puja,” takes place in the Mandir (temple). Adherents of Hinduism can visit the Mandir anytime they like.  Hindus can worship at home as well, and many have a separate sanctuary dedicated to those deities and goddesses. A significant aspect of Hindu worship is the giving of offerings. Presenting gifts, including flowers or oils, to a god or goddess is a common practice. Moreover, in India, many Hindus take pilgrimages to temples and other holy sites.

Buddhism

Buddhism is a faith established more than 2,500 years ago in India by Siddhartha Gautama (“the Buddha”). Scholars consider Buddhism one of the main world religions with around 470 million adherents. Historically, its practice was most common in East and Southeast Asia, but its presence in the West is increasing. Many thoughts and philosophies of Buddhism contrast with those of other religions.

  • Founder 

Siddhartha Gautama, the creator of Buddhism who later became known as “the Buddha,” lived during the 5th century B.C. Gautama was born into a wealthy family as a prince in Nepal. Though he had a simple life, Gautama was moved by the world’s misery.

He decided to give up his luxurious style of life and endure poverty. When this did not satisfy him, Buddha promoted the idea of the “Middle Way,” which means existing between two extremes.  Thus, he pursued life without social indulgences but also without deprivation. Buddhists believe Gautama discovered enlightenment when meditating under a Bodhi tree after six years of searching. He devoted the rest of his life to teaching others how this spiritual state could be attained.

  • Types

Today, many types of Buddhism exist around the world. 

Theravada Buddhism: Prevalent in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos and Burma, Mahayana Buddhism: Prevalent in China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and Vietnam, Tibetan Buddhism: Prevalent in Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, Bhutan, and parts of Russia and northern India are the three major forms that reflect specific geographical areas.

Some texts are revered by each of these types and have slightly different interpretations of the teachings of Buddha. There are also many Buddhist sub-sects, including Zen Buddhism and Buddhism of Nirvana. Some forms of Buddhism, such as Taoism and Bon, combine the thoughts of other religions and philosophies.

  • Dharma

The teachings of Buddha are known as “dharma.” He taught that important virtues were wisdom, kindness, patience, generosity, and compassion. All Buddhists, in particular, abide by five moral precepts, which prohibit: 

  • Killing living things 
  • Taking what is not offered 
  • Sexual misbehavior 
  • Lying 
  • Using drugs or alcohol
  • Holy Books

Many holy texts and scriptures are valued by Buddhists. Some of the most famous are: 

  • Tipitaka: These texts are believed to be the earliest set of Buddhist writings, known as the “three baskets.” 
  • Sutras: There are more than 2,000 sutras, which are religious teachings accepted primarily by Mahayana Buddhists. 
  • The Book of the Dead: In-depth, this Tibetan text explains the phases of death.
  • Eightfold Path

The Buddha taught his followers that the end of suffering could be accomplished by following the Eightfold Path.  The Eightfold Path of Buddhism teach the following principles for ethical conduct, mental discipleship and wisdom attainment in no particular order:

  • Right understanding (Samma ditthi)
  • Right Thought (Samma sankappa)
  • Right livelihood (Samma ajiva)
  • Right effort (Samma Vayama)
  • Right Speech (Samma vaca)
  • Right action (Samma kammanta)
  • Right mindfulness (Samma Sati)
  • Right concentration (Samma samadhi)

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(Last Updated On: April 4, 2021)