Differences in Religion Essay Example

It is important to study the practical as well as the doctrinal dimensions of religion. We do this in an attempt to gain knowledge and understanding of why other religions practice the cultural traditions that they do. By knowing differences in religion, it helps us to not offend people with our outsider assumptions. Oftentimes Buddhism and Hinduism are considered very similar religions, however, some of their practices and doctrines are quite different.

A big difference between Buddhism and Hinduism is how they were formed. Although both religions are based in Southern Asia, Buddhism was formed specifically by the teachings of Buddha. During his life, Buddha taught about the four noble truths and the eightfold path. Completing these steps can help an individual reach nirvana, which is the state where one separates himself from the world in order to reach liberation. It is the goal of all Buddhists to reach nirvana. Both religions practice this meditation. Buddha taught that yoga is a vital practice where an individual “tries to control his mind, and is eventually able to climb through the stages of dhyāna” (Smart 63). They can reach the greatest stage of relaxation. Hindus have their own version of nirvana called Moksha, which all Hindus want to reach. It is hard to know for sure exactly how Hinduism was formed. There is no specific founder, no primary revelation, and no unified belief system. Hinduism is often related to a Banyan Tree because there are so many roots, it is impossible to tell where it started growing. They’ve taken many traditions from other religions and made it their own, so there is no way to tell exactly where it started. Since there is not a specific belief system, it is often referred to as a way of life instead of a religion. What we do know about the formation of Hinduism is that is the oldest organized religion.

Both Buddhism and Hinduism accept karma as part of their religion. All deeds and actions good or evil will be counted for when being reincarnated in the afterlife. It is also called Samsara. Both religions are taught to give to the less fortunate. Both religions are against violence. Their religions are all about peace and love. Both religions worship their ancestors at shrines. Buddhist doctrine says that part of the deceased soul goes to heaven, part goes to the grave and a part of the soul stays in the ancestral tablet at the family's shrine. Both religions believe that the children of the deceased still have an obligation to their parents after they die and the shrines need to be consecrated by clergy. Buddhists worship Buddha, and Hindus worship several gods and goddesses. However, they both worship in temples. They both have sacred prayers and chants that they recite each day. Hindu pilgrimage is very important to the Hindu religion because it shows the gods that the individual is dedicated to the religion and to the gods. Often pilgrimage spots are said to be where the gods lived and walked and that is why they are considered holy.

Buddhism and Hinduism, although very different have some of the same traditions. The doctrinal and practical dimensions make them what they are and it is important to understand the differences so we can be knowledgeable about the world around us.


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