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Difference Between Hinduism and Buddhism

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There are many different religions in the world and each has its own beliefs and practices. Hinduism and Buddhism are two of the most popular religions in Asia, and while they have some similarities, there are also many differences between them. 

The main difference between Hinduism and Buddhism is their attitude towards the caste system. Buddhism does not believe in caste distinctions, while Hinduism does. Another difference is that Buddhism emphasizes individual salvation, while Hinduism emphasizes salvation for all beings.

Here's a look at some of the key ways in which Hinduism and Buddhism differ.

What is Hinduism?

According to many scholars, Hinduism is the world's oldest religion, with roots and customs dating back more than 4,000 years. With about 1.161 billion followers, Hinduism is the third-largest religion behind Christianity and Islam.

hinduism

There is no single founder or central text of Hinduism. Instead, it comprises diverse beliefs and traditions that have evolved over centuries. What Hindus do believe in — generally speaking — is the Vedas (a collection of ancient sacred texts), karma (the law of cause and effect), Dharma ( duty or righteous living), and moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth and death). Hindus also practice yoga and meditation as spiritual disciplines.

What makes Hinduism unique is its tolerance for different interpretations of scripture and reverence for multiple deities. 

There are an estimated 330 million gods in the Hindu pantheon, including popular deities such as Vishnu (the preserver), Shiva (the destroyer) and Lakshmi (goddess of wealth). However, Hindus can choose to worship any god they please or multiple gods at once — a freedom that can often lead to intense debates among scholars about who or what qualifies as a "Hindu god."

What is Buddhism?

Buddhism is a religion and philosophy founded by Siddhartha Gautama in the 5th century BCE. Buddhism spread throughout Asia and became one of the largest religions in the world.

Buddhism

Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths:

  1. suffering exists
  2. suffering has a cause
  3. suffering can be ended
  4. there is a path to ending suffering.

Buddhists follow the Eightfold Path:

  1. right understanding
  2. right thought
  3. right speech
  4. right action
  5. right livelihood
  6. right effort
  7. right mindfulness
  8. right concentration.

Buddhism teaches that all beings have Buddha nature and can become Buddhas. Therefore, Buddhists strive to end rebirth by following the Noble Eightfold Path and achieving Nirvana.

Difference between Hinduism and Buddhism

There are many key differences between Hinduism and Buddhism, including their beliefs in karma, Dharma, moksha/nirvana, reincarnation, and more.

Beliefs

  • Hinduism is based on the belief in reincarnation and Dharma, while Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. 
  • Buddhism rejects the authority of the Vedas, a key text in Hinduism.
  • Buddhists focus more on personal spiritual development than social caste or ritual worship. 
  • While Hindus believe in a single God with many forms, Buddhists typically see no need for a supreme being.

Popularity

In the modern era, Hinduism and Buddhism are both popular religions with many followers in Asia. In fact, there are in the top five religions with the most adherents in the world. Hinduism is the third most popular religion with 1.161 billion adherents while Buddhism has 506 million.

Religion

Hinduism is a polytheistic religion, while Buddhism is a nontheistic religion. The word “polytheism”, which comes from the Greek word “polu”, meaning many and “theoi” meaning gods, is used to describe a belief system where multiple deities are recognized and worshipped. The opposite of polytheism is monotheism, where a single deity is worshipped.

Soul

Hinduism and Buddhism differ in their belief in the concept of a soul. In Hinduism, the soul is considered permanent, and it is believed that the same soul is reincarnated repeatedly. In Buddhism, on the other hand, there is no belief in a soul or self-called atman.

Rituals

Although some Buddhists choose to engage in practices such as chanting, these are purely personal expressions of faith and, unlike in Hinduism, do not serve to seek awareness or blessings from a deity.

Yoga and meditation

Finally, both Hinduism and Buddhism practice yoga. Yoga is regarded as a form of worship in Hinduism, with the ultimate goal of uniting the individual self or soul with Brahman. On the other hand, Buddhism emphasises mindfulness meditation to gain wisdom and insight.

Comparison chart

CharacteristicHinduismBuddhism
CreatorNo founderSiddhartha Gautama
OriginIndian PlateIndian Plate
Adherents1.161 billion506 million
Believe in several godsYesNo
EqualityCaste systemRecognizes the equality of all humans
Places of worshipTemplesMonasteries, shrines, temples
Concept of sinSins committed on purpose must be repaid through Karmic consequences.No
GoalTo achieve salvation by ending the cycle of birth, death, and reincarnation.To achieve enlightenment and be free of the cycle of rebirth and death to achieve Nirvana.
Followers locationMainly in IndiaMainly in Southeast and East Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka…)

FAQ

Do Buddhist worship Hindu gods?

Only Buddha and Buddhist deities are worshipped by Buddhists. Buddhism forbids the worship of any other gods not expressly named in its texts.

What are the similarities between Buddhism and Hinduism?

They both believe that there is a life force that changes forms and goes through a cycle of birth, aging, and death. Both religions believe that the highest goal in life is to break this cycle and achieve a state of inner peace. The way to achieve this goal is to follow the Eightfold path and the Four Noble Truths.

Is yoga a Hindu or a Buddhist practice?

Yoga is not a Hindu or Buddhist practice. Yoga was invented in India around 5,000 years ago by an Indian sage named Patanjali, who wrote down a series of exercises in a book called "Yoga Sutra". These exercises were designed to help people reach enlightenment. Patanjali was not focused on religion, but Hindu and Buddhist followers quickly adopted his teachings.

Conclusion

There are many similarities and differences between Hinduism and Buddhism. Some similarities are that they are both Dharma religions, have beliefs in karma and reincarnation, and live according to the Four Noble Truths. However, the main difference between Hinduism and Buddhism is that Hindus believe in the existence of a soul whereas Buddhists do not. Additionally, Hinduism has a caste system while Buddhism does not, and Hindus worship many gods while Buddhists only worship one.

Feel free to comment and discuss about the article in the comment space below if you have any information or remarks to add. If you think we made a mistake, you can also report it there.

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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
All Posts Written By Tom Vincent

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