The Beliefs and Relations of Hinduism & Buddhism Mr. Valor Pickett Robert Truett 5/1/13 The Beliefs and Relations of Hinduism and Buddhism The two major religions that have dominated the country of India are known as Hinduism and Buddhism. Unlike the majority of religions known to man, these two religions are more followed as a way to live rather to gain enlightenment than a dualistic battle between deities trying to claim the souls of the world before the apocalypse as scribed in the scriptures of the Christianity, Judaism, Islam and the Zoroastrian beliefs only to name a few.
Hinduism and Buddhism more or less describe the pursuit of enlightenment. I initially thought that Buddhism would be nearly identical in the belief structure seeing how it is stemmed from Hinduism. There are actually many differences in the two religions and how each individual theistic system of gaining enlightenment varies. First we must cover the basics of both Hinduism and Buddhism and then we will compare and contrast with one another. “Truth is one, though the wise refer to it by various names. ” This phrase written in the Sanskrit’s Rig Veda 1. 164. 6 pretty much summarizes my perception of Hinduism in a nutshell. Even though Hinduism is considered Monotheistic, there are over 330 million individual deities. This is described by Indic religious expert Graham M. Schweig as a “polymorphic bi-monotheism. ” This is because even though there are millions of deities in Hinduism, they are considered many forms of the one dual-gendered divinity. The Vishnu is the primordial being, which is the source of Lord Brahma. The teachings of Hinduism have not been prescribed a date or origin of beginning but researchers have traced back as far as the 15th century or 1500 BCE.
The origins of the teachings have been traced even farther than before scripture was invented and prior to the Aryan invasion. This would conclude that Hinduism is not native to India and has migrated and evolved along with population no inhabiting the country. The term Hindu was prescribed due to the villages located in the Indus valley. Hinduism is merely a collection of religious traditions. The Sacred texts known as the Vedas and Vedanta of the Vedic religion are the bases of the Hindu beliefs. The Vedas are believed to be not human compositions but eternal truth revealed to the world through rishis, “those who see. It is understood that there is no unified belief system but Hinduism is an umbrella term based on the complexities and number of Gods and traditions based on each avatar or manifestation. Hinduism is a congregation of religions such as Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism and that is just to name a few. Hinduism can be seen as having a freedom to believe and worship as you see fit. Although there is not a strict belief system of worship, there are four beliefs that I recognized because they are more dominant throughout the Hindu religion.
The first is the concept of god. There is one supreme deity but in three forms called Brahman, Vishnu and Shiva but there are many manifestations of these deities. Which manifestation the follower worships and how they worship is based on their traditions. Brahman represents creation, Vishnu represents maintenance and Shiva destruction. These manifestations can be symbolic towards the elements of the environment, wealth, happiness and even anger and war. The second belief is that if Karma. Karma comes from the Sanskrit root kri, meaning “action. Normally when I hear someone state Karma into a phrase, it is normally in terms that they wish a negative situation on to a person of interest. We may see Karma then as a punishment when it is more of a consequence. If we were to do something bad, then we would suffer a negative consequence, but if we were to commit to a positive act, therefore we will have a positive consequence displaying positive Karma. Another belief of Hinduism is the Samsara. Samsara is described as the everlasting circle of life. Samsara teaches that, immediately after death, the soul is reincarnated in the material world and this cycle repeats after death.
Karma is directly linked to Samsara. The individual’s soul retains the Karma of the past life and takes with it as it is reborn into the world. There are 8. 4 million forms or levels of life until you get to the human form in which is considered the final gateway to being an angelic being in Brahma’s world. It is believed to take multiple reincarnations before the soul or atman escapes Samsara through moksha and is at unity with the spirit of Brahma. The final belief in Hinduism that I will cover is the Dharma of Hinduism. The Dharma is the laws, harmony and truth.
Dharma can also be the bases of succeeding to spiritual enlightenment. These could be seen as a lens to view the way to execute your actions. The lens would symbolize the four Yogas. Bhakti Yoga (the path of love and devotion,) Karma Yoga (the path of right action. ) Raja Yoga (the path of meditation and Jnana Yoga (the path of wisdom. ) There is a Yoga Ladder that consists of the steps to conquer the obstacles in each of the four Yogas. First there is study (Abhyasas-yoga), understanding (Gyana-yoga), and meditation (Dhayana-yoga).
After each initial step is completed in the ladder, the individual graduates to the next yoga. The Yoga ladder must be applied to the four Yogas either directly or indirectly in order to reach moksha. Between the 6th and 4th century, before Common Era, Buddhism was born and was taught in India. A mass variety of beliefs and traditions can be blamed for the contribution into what is considered the modern Buddhism teachings. Like most teachings of the BCE time, very few if any were scribed until around 300 years after his death. Buddhism was started by Siddhartha Gautama, a Hindu prince.
Shortly after the birth of young prince Gautama, an astrologer visited the young prince’s father, King Suddhodana and prophesied that Siddhartha would either become a great king or renounce the material world to become a holy man, depending on whether he saw what life was like outside the palace walls. Suddhodana banned Siddhartha to the palace grounds to never go outside the palace walls. One day when Siddhartha decided to go out and look at his own country, he realized how much the people were suffering because of Hindu Priests abusing their power like many Priests of most religions did.
Many Hindu Indians were already questioning Hindu Ideas. Siddhartha decided to leave all his riches to find a resolution for suffering. Soon he decided to meditate. It was said that Siddhartha meditated for 49 days under a fig tree. It was then that he found the answer. Siddhartha never reached Nirvana but at the request of the Hindu Gods, Indra and Brahma, Buddha decided to remain in the material world and guide others to teach them the true dharma. He spent the rest of his life telling people about what he had found. Followers of the new religion started to call him “The Buddha” or “Enlightened One”.
The followers of this new religion became known as Buddhists and the religion Buddhism. Buddha’s dharmas or teachings to become enlightened contained The Four Noble Truths and The Eight Fold Path. By following these teachings, Buddhist believed that they would not have to be reincarnated multiple times like in traditional Hindu beliefs but can prestige after their human form and can reach Nirvana. This is by overcoming the dukkhas which are the sufferings in the material world in countless lifetimes. The Four Noble Truths are as followed; the first being Dukkha. The second noble truth being Samudaya.
The third Noble Truth being Nirodha. The Magga concludes as the fourth Noble Truth. First Noble Truth of Dukkha, Buddha teaches that there is a dualism of both happiness and suffering in everything. Dukkha contains five aggregates of individual suffering. Matter which entitles to our physical body and our five senses. Feelings and sensations such as the tingling down your spine or the happiness that occurs in the sunlight. Perception which is how our mind interprets our senses. Mental formations, because karma only pertains to the actions that were executed intentionally.
There are fifty-two volitional activities including hate, wisdom, love and greed. The last being the aggregate of consciousness. This consists completely of the four previous aggregates combined but is not considered the same as the atman. Once you understand the First Noble Truth, you have to realize that all an individual consists of is the five skandhas, and since they are in a constant change, suffering must arise therefore making the skandhas into dukkhas. The Second Noble Truth is the origin of dukkha. Buddha teaches that dukkha is based from cause and effect rather than just random circumstance.
Samudaya is saying that in order to get rid of the negative karma (dukkha), we must rid ourselves of the negative factors which cause suffering. This concept is known as the “Wheel of Becoming”, or Bhavacakra. Buddha did not teach nihilism which would mean that the only way to rid of suffering would be by the annihilation of life. This goes back to the five skandhas. Ignorance is on the top of the list in the Wheel of Becoming. This is because ignorance is described as the recognition of atman (self) passed the five skandhas. This would lead into the need to feel the desires of the self thus starting the cycle of suffering.
The Third Noble Truth known as Nirodha, is when the cessation of dukkha is achieved. When we realize that the atman’s desires will lead to suffering and we eliminate those desires and craving of atman, we are no longer affected and stay unaffected is when Nirvana is reached. The Fourth Noble Truth known as Magga is the final truth. After reaching enlightenment the Buddha set out to teach the way to nirvana. He created Noble Eightfold path that would be sectioned into three categories. The First of the three sections, wisdom or “panna” contained the right understanding and right thought.
Right understanding is scribed as three doctrines of Buddhism; dukkha, anatta and anicca. We have already discussed dukkha. Anatta teaches that there is no such permanent, never changing essence in sentient beings. There is no self or soul that continues to live on after the physical body has deceased. Anicca teaches there is no permanence; this is to mean that everything is constantly changing including the five skandhas. Ethical conduct or “sila” is the second of the three categories in the eight fold path and contains right speech, right action or morality and conduct, and right livelihood.
To have the right speech or “samma vaca” means to teach the Buddhist ways and to maintain from speaking anything you do not know to be truth and that includes gossip. Right action or “samma kammanta” is the expectation of correct moral behavior. As we read, Buddha made it clear that it is the good or bad intentions behind the action that count. Doing something good or bad happening on accident doesn’t relate to your karma. Right livelihood or “samma ajiva” means to not contribute to the any action that may be morally wrong or considered a percept.
The third category of the Noble Eightfold Path is Mental Discipline or Samadhi and pertains to right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration or state of mind. Right efford or “samma vayama” refers to how much you actually want something and efforts towards practice and elimination of sinister thoughts. Right mindfulness or “samma sati” is how situationaly aware you are over your thought process and how well you can control these sensations or feelings and how you maintain your body functions. The Yoga could contain to the mental process of self-control.
Finally right concentration or “samma Samadhi” is where the mind uses mediation as a vehicle to transport unclean and unwanted thoughts away in order to discipline the mind and catch glimpse of the truth until the individual reaches nirvana. The Pancha Sila which contains the five ethical precepts or disciplines can be related to the right action and right livelihood folds. First precept is to abstain from taking life. This has been argued to sway only when it is for food purposes. Second is to abstain from taking what is not given, or theft.
Third is to abstain from sensuous misconduct. This accounts for homosexuality, incest and sexual relations with a prostitute or slave. Fourth is to abstain from false speech, mislead someone intentionally or misrepresent something that is morally wrong. Fifth is to abstain from intoxicants such as alcohol and drugs that harm the body. There are currently five others that came to be known later on. These precepts and abstention can happen on three levels. The first is the intuitive level, then there is the formal commitment and finally where all inclinations and temptations are lost.
The Dhammapada gives many other moral principles to be observed by Buddhists. So far we have covered the main beliefs of both Hinduism and Buddhism. Many beliefs ran linear to each other but in several ways did Buddhism stray from the traditional Hindu teachings. Now I will cover a few of the similarities that relate to both belief systems. First is origin of beliefs. This covers who founded and where. Hinduism grew out of religious customs of many peoples beliefs over thousands of years with the migration and clashes of the Aryans. Brahman is based on the universal spirit of the Harapans.
Buddhism started in India by Siddhartha Gautama as he became aware of the local populous and their sufferings in 6th or 5th BCE. Siddhartha then spread his way of enlightenment. Hinduism has one supreme deity named Brahman that has about 4 forms and hundreds of manifestations but being Brahman. Buddhism has two belief systems. The Threvada see Buddha as a teacher and not a deity. Mahayana section sees Buddha as a god and you can reach nirvana by worshiping Buddha and following the Eightfold path. Hindus and Buddhists both believe in physical representation of deities to aid in meditation and yoga.
Both beliefs have sacred texts. Hinduisms have the Upanishads and verdics that instruct that every living thing has a soul and wants to unite with Brahman. Buddhism has the Tripitaka or “three baskets of wisdom. ” Buddha’s teachings, including the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, were recorded through word of mouth until about 400 years after his death. They both also have disciplines as called in Hindu and precepts as called in Buddhism and are very similar in content. Hinduism and Buddhism both believe in natural law or Dharma and also believed in the cycle of rebirth or samsara.
Hindus believe that you must accept your caste system and perform the duties in your caste by fulfilling dharma for good karma and be reincarnated into higher caste and try to achieve moksha and be union with Brahman and be released from samsara. Buddhism didn’t believe in the caste system and that everyone’s place in life depended on that person. Buddhist believe that the way to truth and nirvana is to give up all worldly desires and gain wisdom to reach nirvana and be released from samsara. Both Hindus and Buddhist believe in non-violence. Hindus idolize elephants and cows but Buddhist believe that all animals are the same.
While covering the basics of Hinduism and Buddhism and to find relativity, I have realized that they are very similar while very different depending on which Buddhist belief sect you choose to follow. I favor Buddhism between all other religions because it can be interpreted as a individual’s journey to a better self. Bibliography BibliographyBowker, John Westerdale (pg. 72. ) A brief history of God,( DK Publishing INC, New York, NY, 2002) ISBN 0-7894-8050-6 Fowler, Merv. (pg. 56-60) Zen Buddhism; Beliefs and Practices. Sussex Academic Press. (Portland, OR. 2005) Rosen, Steven J. (2006), (pg. 13) Essential Hinduism, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0-275-99006-0 Schweig’s essay “Krishna, the Intimate Deity” in Edwin F. Bryant and Maria L. Ekstrand, Eds. , The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), p. 19 Sivers, P. V. ;amp; Desnoyers, C. A ;amp; Stow, G. B. , Patterns of World History: volume 1; to 1600, (Oxford University Press. New York, NY, 2012) ——————————————– [ 1 ]. Rosen, Steven J. (2006), (pg. xii) Essential Hinduism, Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 0-275-99006-0 [ 2 ].
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