This entry is part 17 of 19 in the series Understanding Buddhism

What are the Differences between Buddhism and Hinduism? Many people think Buddhism and Hinduism are the same religion. Hinduism refers to understanding Brahma or existence from within their Atman, soul. On the other hand, Buddhism relates to searching the Anatman or not soul. Hinduism is the oldest surviving religion of the world, with a billion believers, making it the third largest religion of the world. It originated circa 3000 BC.

Differences between Buddhism and Hinduism

In Hinduism, obtaining the highest life is the process of eliminating human disturbances from life and helping an individual finally understand the Brahma nature within. Buddhism originated 2,500 years ago circa 563 B.C.E (Before Common Era) and has about 300-450 million followers. A follower of Buddhism leads a disciplined life to move through and understands that there isn’t anything as ‘me’ inside us.

The origin of Hinduism is not credited to any particular individual. Buddhism scripture is known as Tripitaka. It is a vast volume of 3 major sections – the Discourses, the Discipline and the Absolute Doctrine. The scripture was found after the death of Gautama Buddha. It was created by monks who collected the teachings of the Buddha. Scriptures of Hinduism include Upanishad, Gita, Vedas and Puranas. These scriptures are widely read in areas of the Indian subcontinent.

While Buddhism originates from India and Nepal, Hinduism has evolved majorly in the Indian subcontinent. The practices of both the religions vary. The founder of Buddhism is Gautama Buddha (born as Prince Siddhartha). Buddhism followers practice Threefold Training – Morality, Wisdom and Concentration. Hinduism followers practice Meditation, Yoga, contemplation, offerings in the temple and yagna.

Buddhism can be worshiped in monasteries, pagodas, nunneries and temples. Hinduism is generally seen to be worshipped in Temples. India is a hub of temples with idols of various gods and goddesses. Buddhists refer to people who are followers of the teachings of Lord Buddha. On the contrary, followers of Vedas are known as Arya, noble person. Arya does not refer to an ethnicity, dynasty or race. Any individual following the teachings of Vedas will be called as Arya.

Buddhism does not have any association with salvation. Its concentration is only on the attainment of Nirvana. To do this, followers are asked to let go of their desires, attachments and cravings and try to drive out the ignorance. Hinduism seeks to reach the level of enlightenment through the Path of Knowledge, the Path of devotion or the Path of Good Deeds.

The final goal of Buddhism is to obtain enlightenment and get out of the cycle of rebirth and death, thereby reaching the stage of Nirvana. In contrast, the goal of Hinduism is to break the cycle of birth, death and reincarnation to achieve salvation.

An interesting bit of information about Buddhism is marriage is considered to be a social convention and mostly a personal and individual choice, not a duty of religion. The Discourses advise on maintaining a happy and pleasant marriage. Remaining faithful with the partner and monogamy, which means having a single spouse is encouraged. Similar is the thought of Hinduism with regard to marriage. Man can marry a single woman even though mythological kings often married more than one woman.

Best Buddhism and Hinduism Books

Here are my favorite books about both Buddhism and Hinduism. Through reading these spiritual books, you’ll gain a better understanding of both spiritual practices. Continued study will help you understand the differences between Buddhism and Hinduism.

The Essentials of HinduismHinduism Made EasyThe Illustrated Encyclopedia of HinduismThe Illustrated Encyclopedia of Buddhism

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