Introduction to Hinduism and Buddhism Traditions and Their Effect on the World

Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・Philosophy ・MLA ・5 Sources

Religion is inextricably tied to culture. It is the originator and promoter of fundamental values and beliefs. Faith enables people to comprehend critical concepts such as the distinction between good and evil. It aids in the formation of societies and the integration of nations. Indeed, in some parts of the world, such as Asia, there is a strong link between religious differences and economic growth. There are many different cultures and religions globally, and people and countries have adopted other religions based on their cultures and interests. Hinduism and Buddhism are two religions that are particularly important in this article. These two religions have been in existence since the ancient times and are prominent in the Asian continent. The paper shall look into the differences in the traditions of these two religions using the Seven Dimensions of Religion by Ninian Smart and their impact around the world.
Hinduism is a compilation of religious convictions that developed over a long time. Some of its attributes are traced to primeval times. In Hindu matrimonial union today, it is done in the presence of a sacred fire just like many centuries ago. The followers rehearse verses from Vedas on daily basis. Additionally, gods like Krishna of the Mahabharata is still worshiped today. Scholars despite many studies, they have not been able to tie the origin of Hinduism to any particular person (Fuller 18). Buddhism, on the other hand, was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, commonly referred to as the Buddha, who was from a wealthy family in Himalayas, Nepal. This is a religion that entails numerous traditions, ideals and spiritual practices founded on the teachings of Buddha. For many people, Buddhism is seen as a way of life rather than a religion. It is a philosophy since Buddhist ideals are to live a moral life, to be attentive and aware of acts and thoughts as well as to have wisdom and understanding. It elucidates the purpose of life and also offers a code of ideals that leads to true fulfillment and happiness.
Ninian Smart a renowned scholar developed the Seven Dimensions of Religion which shall be referred to as differences between Hinduism and Buddhism is explored. The seven dimensions as mentioned by the scholar are ritual, narrative and mythic, experiential and emotional, social and institutional, ethical and legal, doctrinal and philosophical and material dimension. Ritual refers to the forms of ceremonies whereas narrative and mythic means to stories that are seen on different stages. At times such stories combined forms an inclusive and logical explanation of the universe and the place of human being. Experiential and emotional talks of emotions and feelings (Barnes 325). Social and institutional dimension implies a belief structure that group shares and its ideals practiced. A perfect example is enlightenment in Buddhism. Ethical and legal dimension refers to regulations on human conduct which is shown from the supernatural realm. Doctrinal and philosophical dimension is the methodical invention of religious teachings in a rational manner. Material dimension implies normal objects or places which signify sacred or supernatural things (Barnes 327). A case is Hinduism where a follower has to attend a Mandir to see the statues of the gods and goddess. Such images have spiritual symbolism.
Hindus perceive religion as a way of freeing the souls from delusions, dissatisfactions, and mistakes of daily lives. Hinduism has changed over time. World soul is seen to have many personalities of 3 gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Vis mother goddess has grown in relevance. Modern Hindus have the liberty to choose the deity they wish to worship. Others choose the paths of realizing moksha that is the path of right thinking, action and religious loyalty. Hinduism principles on karma along with reincarnation reinforced the caste structure. If an individual was born as a strong bodied male- a fighter or businessman, his excellent affluence was thought to be from good karma achieved in a previous life (Lipner 16). Nonetheless, someone born female, a casual worker is reaping the results of bad things done in a previous life. With few exceptions, just men on top three Varna’s would realize moksha in their current life. Rules of karma functioned with same surety as other universe’s natural rules. Excellent fortune is a result of good karma while a bad one is from bad karma. The convictions of Hinduism and its caste system governed each facet of one’s life (Lipner 20). The beliefs established what a person would eat, personal cleanliness, one’s social class, the dressing and so forth. Even in the present modern Hindus refer to the religion for direction.
The Buddha also acknowledged the concept of reincarnation. He rebuffed the many gods of Hinduism; rather he taught the ideal of enlightenment. Buddhism does not acknowledge the caste system (Coomaraswamy 25). Due to his objection of the caste structure, a majority of the Buddha’s early adherents were laborers and artisans.
Hinduism believes in an endless soul (Atman) which is reawakened intact from one birth to another. They look for liberation in order for the soul to join with Universal Divine Force Brahman. Buddha, conversely, teaches that there is no particular soul, rather a compilation of emotions, views, sensations and different indescribables that make up living creatures. The idea of absence of a continuous soul is called Anatta. Therefore for Buddhist, the key objective is something conceptual; eliminating affliction by fleeing the sequence of rebirths and going into a state of Nirvana. There is the misapprehension of translating Nirvana to mean paradise; however, Nirvana is a something of abstract impression (Coomaraswamy 31). In numerous factions of Hinduism, it is thought that intense asceticism is the ultimate spiritual life. For Buddhists, the middle path is the most excellent, extreme poverty or wealth is not regarded as perfect.
Hinduism has many variations of gods and goddesses, although it is perceived as a monotheistic religion. Every god signifies the appearance of one God. Every family is committed to a certain deity. A majority of Hindus carry out devotion to a form of Lord Vishnu or Lord Shiva. This is perceived as an important facet of religious tradition. The Buddha, in contrast, teaches that people should be concerned with worshipping or devoting to one specific God (Moyers, Huston and Pamela 18). Buddha never denied the presence of a supreme God; however, he only stated that humans are accountable for their own enlightenment and not to trust a supreme being to assist them.
The Buddha decried the traditions of animal sacrifices during worship actions to the gods and goddesses. Finally, this belief in the sanctity of all lives become widespread among the Hindus and animal sacrifice were changed to be done in a few instances rather hen the norm as it used to be. Actually, the Buddha’s influence on Hinduism was extremely huge to the extent that adherents of Vishnu thought that the Buddha was Vishnu’s avatars- a person that aids mankind in during distress. Buddhist, however, does not acknowledge this belief.
Looking at Dharma- the way of life, it is prevalent among the two religions but has different inferences. Buddhism utilizes the phrase Dharma to imply to the entire teachings of the Buddha while Buddha said dharma is the way universe functions. The Hindu idea of dharma is in line with a person’s role in the world. This idea entails human’s performance of religious activities and how they conduct themselves in the community and how they behave towards the family obligations (Moyers, Huston and Pamela 34). In Hindu community, a person’s dharma might be different depending on their caste and their life stage at the time. An elderly man in a higher caste might have dissimilar caste from a teenager in a low caste.
When it comes to meditation and yoga, both religions acknowledge the importance of developing consciousness and intellectual attentiveness in spiritual pursuit. With Buddhists, meditation is almost omnipresent, and imminent meditation- Vipassana is the most stressed type of meditation. The monks are anticipated that they set a time daily to meditate whereas the regular persons ought to practice constantly and may go to meditations sittings at the temples. The Mahayana Schools of Buddhism additionally gave emphasis to Metta -meaning compassion meditation. Most Buddhists regard meditation as path leading to Nirvana (Coomaraswamy 31). Buddha seems to have identified two key mental attributes that come about from meditating. They are: serenity that composes and focuses the mind which allows the person to explore the 5 facets that comprise the sentient being, i.e. matter, senses, perception, mental formation, and awareness.
In Hinduism, meditation is also important. Its key aim is to achieve oneness of the practitioner’s spirit- Atman with the ever-present and non-dual Supreme Being Brahman. This state is known as Moksha. Additionally, Hindu monks are believed to have realized phenomenal power by practicing meditation. Hindu sacred texts lay down some specific postures to realize the state in which the mind is in meditation. The postures are known as yoga. Precise references to yoga can be seen in old Indian sacred writings such as Vedas, and Upanishads ( Fuller 18). Yoga which plainly implies yoke meaning to be yoked with God, is not just a sequence of postures but rather it comprises of different practices such as abstinence from sins like burglary, sexual relations, deceitfulness, adherence of self and endurance.
The techniques of meditation as illustrated in Hindu texts are complex, and it is very difficult to master them even the lowest levels of meditations. Buddhist meditation styles, in contrast, are simple, easy and take short time master, although old Buddhist monks are believed to have utilized meditation to enhance their fighting skills and methods (Moyers, Huston and Pamela 34). Again the context of objectives and techniques of meditation for Hindus is broader unlike in Buddhism. Each three facets of mankind that is; physical, mental and spiritual is tackled in the model of meditation while in Buddhism, meditation is just a part of religious practices.
Creation in Hinduism implies that Gods created the earth in the early times; however, Buddhists believe that earth was created with human’s need to produces more beings and hence from his deliberation created the world and all that is in it. The concept of equality in these religions varies as well. In Hinduism, a woman may only realize spiritual salvation via the actions of her spouse and her dedication to him. Buddhism, on the other hand, teaches that everybody can achieve enlightenment. It places value of equality amongst all people, saying that the concept of self is the origin of all evils in the earth.
Hinduism and Buddhism as had impacted the cultures of the world in many ways. Buddhism encouraged educations and motivated literature, art, architecture and transformations in the Indian community. It rebuffed ritualism and the domination of priests and promoted equality among all people. Some of the towns became places of Buddhist learning. Numerous temples and painting are present today and are sights to behold and attract global tourists. When missionaries brought Buddhism to other parts of the Asian continent, it helped in spreading the Indian culture which in turn brought about economic benefits. Buddhism is prevalent in Europe and the United States. The meditation sessions have aided numerous individuals to relax and lessen the stress. In fact, meditation is highly recommended by doctors as a form of relaxation from those suffering from anxiety and mental disorders.
Buddhism also influenced Hinduism in many ways. Although Hinduism is a lot older than Buddhism, it fully developed following the teaching of the Buddha especially the concepts regarding the release of mind from its dualistic viewpoint and liberty from the process of rebirth. Buddha teachings aided in developing Hindu principles on karma and reincarnation. Sikhism also borrowed a lot from the ideals of Hinduism through rejection of caste structure and embracing brotherhood and practicing an ethical living. Taoism in China as well incorporated Buddhist beliefs and practices like the creation of monasteries and element of rebirth. Shinto religion in Japan merged Buddhist principles in their Shinto religions (Coomaraswamy 39).Buddhism also encouraged civilization as it taught that one’s destiny lies in their hands, so it is up to them to work hard to achieve their life goals.
The caste system which was adopted in kingdoms in the olden times borrows heavily on the Hinduism religion. When this religion spread across the South East Asia, it influenced the languages, scripts, artistic attributes of the people and the whole nation. Due to the inequality that is present in Hinduism, it caused denigration of women where it perceived them as unequal to men, and therefore these women become subjects to abuses, domestic abuses and have high rates of illiteracy (Fuller 24). The caste system also increases the rates of poverty amongst the people that is why India is among the poorest countries in the world in spite of having leading technology. The positive aspects of Hinduism are that it helped in promoting the India country as such brought about some economic benefits. Hinduism also greatly influenced Sikhism.
In conclusion, both Hinduism and Buddhism have some similarities and differences as they borrow heavily from each other. The two religions are prevalent in the Asian continent, however over time, it has spread to other parts of the world. Buddhism seems to have a huge positive influence on the society as well as other religions. Its principles on meditation are greatly practiced in the world as well as its stand against the caste system, and equality has helped in enhancing lives of many followers and the general world population. Hinduism as well has had huge impacts though most of it negative due to its customs. All in all these old religions have had a mark in the world.

Works Cited

Barnes, L. Philip. "Ninian Smart and the phenomenological approach to religious education." Religion 30.4 (2000): 315-332.
Coomaraswamy, Ananda Kentish. Hinduism and Buddhism. Golden Elixir Press, 2011.
Fuller, Christopher John. The camphor flame: Popular Hinduism and society in India. Princeton University Press, 2004.
Lipner, Julius. Hindus: Their religious beliefs and practices. Routledge, 2012.
Moyers, Bill D., Huston Smith, and Pamela Mason Wagner. "Hinduism & Buddhism." (2001).

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