Hinduism vs. Buddhism
In the world today there are many different world religions and also smaller divisions of belief which are based on certain philosophies. There are three major religious beliefs in the world today. The largest two of these three are Christianity and Judism. Hinduism is the third largest world religion which is mainly practiced in India. Within this third main religion, we can find almost any form of religion from simple animism to elaborate philosophical systems. Derived from Hinduism, Buddhism is one of the most intensely studied beliefs. Buddhism is considered another world religion, but it is mainly a form of philosophy. Hinduism and Buddhism are two world religions with extensive differences and similarities.
Hinduism, to some extent, can be called the melting pot of religions. It has met the challenge of other religions by absorbing them and their practices and beliefs into the mainstream of Hindu religious expression. Hinduism is the most complex, diverse, and tolerant of the world’s religions. Its history is long and diverse and has evolved over the centuries.
The sacred scriptures of Hinduism are the Vedas. There are four basic Vedic books named the Rig-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sama-Veda, and the Atharva-Veda. Each of these books is divided into four parts which contains the hymns to the gods (Mantras), a section of ritual materials (Brahmanas), a section of guidance for hermits (Aranyakas), and a fourth section of philosophical treatises (Upanishads). The Mantra and Brahmana sections are the oldest materials with the Aranyakas and Upanishads added later. The Vedic literature further evolved during the classical period of Hinduism. The fourth book, the Upanishads, forms the basis of Hindu philosophy.
Classical Hinduism also produced the ethical Code of Manu which teaches that the caste system is divinely ordained. The first three castes the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, and the Vaishayas are “twice born” people while the Shudras are “once born” manual laborers. The only way to move upward in the caste system would be by repeated incarnations. Although the caste system is outlawed in contemporary India, the social influences are still strong. The Code of Manu also teaches the various stages through which a man is expected to pass in a successful life: student, householder, hermit, and wandering beggar. These stages of living are only meant solely for “twice born” men. Women should stay in the home under the protection and control of the chief male in the household. The code also requires the cultivation of pleasantness, knowledge, truthfulness, and non-irritability. The killing of a cow is considered among the greatest of sins.
The majority of the people of India seek salvation through devotion to the gods while many of the wealthy and educated seek salvation through knowledge. The intellectual Hinduism centers around six systems of philosophy which are Samkhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, Vedanta, Vaiseshika, and Nyana. All six of these philosophies base their claim around the Vedas and all have common themes. The only difference between them is their view of ultimate reality. Jainism and Buddhism later began as reform movements in Hinduism and it has absorbed much of their thinking.
Buddhism adapted part of its beliefs from Hinduism. Siddhartha Gautama, or the Enlightened one in Sanskrit, founded Buddhism in India. Although the earliest accounts of his life were not recorded until about three hundred years after his death, the history that is now written is accepted by most Buddhists as being true and forms the model for all Buddhists today. Buddha in itself means “the enlightened one.” When Siddhartha was an infant, a sage visited the King’s court and made a prophecy that Siddhartha would become either a great ruler like his father if he remained in the palace or if he went out into the world, he would become a Buddha. The King believed that if Siddhartha was exposed to any human misery…