The Goals of Hinduism and Buddhism Essay

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2. Hinduism and Buddhism are traditions that originated from the Vedic sacrifice practice, and they share a common foundation in their view of existence. What are the similarities, and very importantly, the differences in their respective focuses and goals? Also included in this topic: For a time, Buddhism became a dominant tradition in much of India, but then Hinduism rose to become the dominant tradition. There are relatively few Buddhists in India today, especially in comparison to the number of Hindus. Why did Buddhism "lose favor", and Hinduism become dominant? Discuss this historically (what happened and when did it happen) and analytically (why did most Indian people find Hinudism more attractive).

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The castes are socially ranked, forming an upper social division as well as lower ones. Caste, then, determines one's profession, one's potential education, one's social position, even defining these limitations for your children. These social limitations are reinforced by the concept that caste is determined by sins or virtues in a previous life: how well one fulfilled his dharma in the past. The responsibilities of one's current caste also constitute the dharma which will further advance or punish one in your next life. In other words, exceeding one's dharma in not only unnecessary, but in all probability will hurt your dharma, causing you to fall into a lower caste in your next life. This intertwining of social strata with religion creates a fatalism derived from inevitable destiny, guilt complexes of past life caste determination, a philosophy of acceptance, and fear of punishment for transcending one's dharma. In this light, Hinduism becomes a tremendous force for stagnation, eliminating the initiative for progress in a philosophy of acceptance which breeds an apathy for social justice. Such a pervasive philosophy becomes an asset to the status quo and ruling stratum, stabilizing the social structure at the expense of individuals.

Buddhism, on the other hand, plays little role in the social or political structure of a society. Buddhism actually began as a reaction to the violence of Hindu society,