Classical Religions: Hinduism and Buddhism

Published: 2021-09-12 13:40:09
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Throughout world history, religion has been at the center of human civilization; social and political life has been dictated by religion at the heart of people groups all around the world. In India, the beliefs of Hinduism and Buddhism have been the two main religions that have shaped and molded daily life and social order over hundreds of years. Today, Hinduism and Buddhism are the 3rd and 4th largest religions, respectively. These two religions make up roughly 21% of the world's population, adhering to 1.3 billion people around the globe. Like all other beliefs, Hinduism and Buddhism have their separate beliefs, ideas, and practices while still sharing certain aspects of morality and orthopraxy. Hinduism, while divergent from its Buddhist counterpart in its doctrine, numerous deities and promotion of a strict, harsh social order, finds common ground with Buddhism in its beliefs of reincarnation, mystical experiences, and hope of reaching a spiritual escape.

Out of all of the classical civilizations, Classical India was the only one to produce two major world religions. Both Hinduism and Buddhism originated, evolved, and spread out from indigenous and Indo-European beliefs centered in Northern India. It is no surprise, then, that these two beliefs share certain similar aspects. Hinduism and Buddhism both aspire to reach a certain point in which their physical life ceases to exist and spiritual bliss is experienced. In Buddhism, this spiritual bliss is known as nirvana, and it is by way of enlightenment of the mind. Hinduism's destination is to be united as one with the Brahman creator life force, and in doing so experiencing eternal spiritual paradise. In addition, both these faiths reach this euphoria by means of good living and works as well as experiencing reincarnation after death. The fact that these religions coincide in overall goals and the means by which to reach them can be attributed to the fact that the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, was born and raised a Hindu. After letting go of all his worldly pleasures and experiencing enlightenment, Gautama created the teachings of Buddhism and in the process took ideas and practices from subconscious experiences with the Hindu faith. Overall, both Hinduism and Buddhism provide a mystical experience of meditation and "salvation by works" that has appealed to people all throughout history.

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