How Does Hinduism Differ From Buddhism? [Google Questions Answered]

Curious to know what people were wondering about Hindus and Hinduism, I went to Google and entered some prompts. For example, I typed “How Does Hinduism” and then paused to see what questions would come up. Today’s question is…

How Does Hinduism Differ From Buddhism?

This is a great question and I’m glad people are asking it. I’m glad people are trying to understand the differences between religions and not just lumping them all together as the same thing.

Hinduism and Buddhism are closely related. Buddha was a Hindu prince before founding his own path to enlightenment. For westerners I’ll often say that the relationship between the two is like the relationship between Judaism and Christianity in some ways. Christianity was inspired by the life of a Jew and Buddhism was inspired by the life of a Hindu (though the Buddha rejected Hinduism and did not find it to be the right path for himself).

One of the really stark differences is between Everything or Nothing.

–> Hinduism sees the ultimate reality as being all things united as one glorious divinity. Buddhism sees the ultimate reality as nothingness. While Hindus gain Moksha and become one with everything in the universe; Buddhists gain Nirvana by detaching from everything until nothingness remains.

–> Another big difference related to this is that one of Buddha’s fundamental principles is that life is suffering. When we accept that, we want to escape from the world, and so we dedicate ourselves to meditation and breaking the cycle to achieve the nothingness of Nirvana.

Hinduism, on the other hand, believes that life is actually full of joy. Yes, as Buddhism says, suffering arises when we feel attachment to things and to people, but suffering is part of the physical body and the physical plane. There is a bigger reality into which we can step and in that True reality, the world is perfect and everything is bliss.

–> While Hindus turn to the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Gita, and the Ramayana to understand life, Buddhism does not accept any of the Hindu scriptures.

–> Buddhism does not worship or follow the Gods. Some don’t believe Gods exist and others believe they exist but are not beings worthy of worship, as they are also stuck in the illusion of the world and cannot guide anyone out. It could be said that Buddhism has no Gods while Hinduism has all the Gods!

–> In day to day practice the most noticeable difference is in ritual. Hinduism has a lot of ritual about it and proper ways to arrange an altar, proper offerings to make, proper compass directions to face. Buddhism’s original forms had none of that.

It gets more complicated, though, as both religions have continued to grow. There are sects of Buddhism now that differ dramatically from the original stark teachings.

My knowledge of Buddhism is not profound, as it is not my religion. It is, however, the religion of my husband, so I’ve learned about it from him.

Though on the one hand Buddhism has tended to be more welcoming of outsiders, American Buddhism has really developed into its own sect. I highly recommend American Buddhist Perspective on Patheos. The writer is very intelligent and really knows how to distill and explain Buddhism and in particular, American Buddhism. Here is an article he linked to recently with common misconceptions about Buddhism: (Number ten makes me laugh because I feel the same way about Hinduism!)

There are those who do not believe Buddhism to be a separate religion and would categorize it as a form of Hinduism. In fact, in many counts of Vishnu’s avatars, the Buddha is one.  I’ve thought about that and I don’t know that I can agree. I find Buddhism’s emphasis on nothingness to be fundamentally at odds with Hinduism’s beliefs. My sect of Hinduism (Advaita Vedanta) and my husband’s form of Buddhism are quite similar in many ways and we have plenty of common ground, but there are distinct differences that we stumble across occasionally in philosophical debate.

The Buddha found his own way to understand the world and it’s a good path for many, many people. But it is a different take than that of Hinduism.

Learn more:

Comparison chart:



A related question on Google is How Does Hinduism Differ From Other Religions? I think a great resource for answering that question is the book How To Become a Hindu by Subramuniyaswami. There is a large section detailing Hindu beliefs and the beliefs of many other world religions and belief systems. You can read the book for free by clicking the links here:


Other Google Questions Answered

Why Do Hindus Pierce Their Nose?

What Does Hinduism Say About Homosexuality?

Why Do Hindus Wear Turbans?

Why Do Hindus Not Eat Beef?

How Does Hinduism Differ From Buddhism?

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About Ambaa Choate

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Danny Heinricht

    Buddhism is not seeing ultimate reality as “nothingness”. Nothingness is not a
    Buddhist word. Shunyata, usually translated as “Emptiness” does not mean

    Nirvana is not attained by detaching from everything, but due to the
    inseparable union of great compassion (bodhicitta) and wisdom (seeing reality
    as it is, realizing emptiness).

    (From a Mahayana Buddhist point of view. A white Buddhist? :) )

  • gee vine

    let’s wonder why our natures as predators, people with ‘predatory’ impulses—are neglected in the writing and teachings. I wonder who could survive, let alone have personal growth without some following through on those actions and activities we call predatory. i am a vegetarian and i prey upon those big beefsteak tomatoes and have stolen olives from my local grocer.

  • Sri

    Nothingness (Nirvana: Blankness; Deep sleep; Emptiness)
    Enlightenment (Sat-chid-ananda: Infinite Existence, Knowledge, and Infinite Bliss; Absolute)

    It looks exactly opposite to each other. How to reconcile Hindu and Buddhist thoughts?
    Let us consider the life of Buddha. Buddha had attained wisdom through meditation. The real difference between both the religions is whether Buddha had reached a state of Enlightenment (Satchidananda) or a state of Nothingness. If Buddha had reached the state of nothingness then how could he get the knowledge of karma from such blankness and how can he teach people to get rid of sufferings through meditation. So, it is certainly not nothingness.
    The word Nirvana means shedding the limiting factor, the ego “I” and all its attachment to the worldly desires to reach the state of Infinite (Absolute). We can only conclude that the teachings of Buddha have been misinterpreted by those people who have transferred his teachings to text. Those followers may not have reached the state of mind which Buddha had attained. Hence, they would have restricted his teachings to nothingness.

    • Abhinav Kumar

      Oh you Hindu..Buddha came to know about Nibbana through direct contact with the nature. Read Paticca-Samupadda. .(Cause and Effect)

      Buddha rejected the Hinduism and the Creator God and also said to not to worry about Gods.
      Buddha teaches about Nibbana not about meeting with Brahma ..It is just misinterpreted by so called Hindus.

      • Sri

        Karma, cause and effect are already a Hindu concept. Buddhism utilizes a part of Hinduism i.e., karma and meditation. Karma, cause and effect are those things within nature. The concept of Hinduism is to go beyond nature. Just because Buddha said not to worry about God, it doesn’t mean that there is no God. Buddha would not have used the word God, because to avoid fights in the name if God. First of all don’t think God is human being. Just because you have not visited place you cannot ignore its existence. The same way you cannot question the existence of God (what you do not know).

        So, don’t deviate the topic. Come on… Explain what Nirvana is. Let us identify the difference between Enlightenment of Hinduism and Nirvana of Buddhism.

        • Theresa Hayden Redwood

          If there is a god then it has alot of explaining to do, if this god is meant to be self absorbed and self sufficient then it should have no need for the jive atmas running around everywhere causing chaos. If this is the case your god is the origin of all good/bad ugly etc…. so it does have alot of questions to answer for. It should of just keep to itself then none of this shit would be happening, God must of got bored so made jiva to entertain itself lol….this is why the Buddha question the Vedas and this it thing called Krsna.

          • Lightman

            Actually first please lets have basic respect towards other people and their religions so phrases like” this thing Krishna” are totally unacceptable and uncalled for…Secondly Krishan did exist and is not someone’s imagination.

            Siddharta Gautam IMO was not able to comprehend the Vedic viewpoint and thats why he asked such questions. The god of the vedas is not the creator god you see in abrahamical religions…Jeevas are eternal part and parcel of the supreme just like everything else is . Jeevatmas are not created by Brahmn but are part of the natural expression of the consciousness permiading the world . Jeevatmas have an added layer of Ahankar or the notion of “i” being a seperate individual which also leads to the formation of an ego….. It is because of this why we see a mess or chaos around us and NOT BECAUSE BRAHMN CREATED IT . Hence it must be the duty of all jeevatmas to release the false ” I ” of Dehatmabhava and become established in their true nature , a mess exist because we are not aware of the monoist reality of things and our true nature….Brahmn is not some external being who someday got ,as you put it ” bored” its the very nature of and the basis of everything . Unlike the popular belief Adwait Hinduism is not monotheistic but very rigorous monism is advised .

          • Theresa Hayden Redwood

            Does not matter if it is “natural expression” it still comes from the primeval consciousness so it still has explaining to do. by my own experience we would not be able to discern and distinguish reality’s ways if everything was colour white then how would we ever know discern what other colours would be if we have only experience color white, Once again if this consciousness is “permeating the world” then it is the root cause of all discernment’s no wonder we are set lose like tornado, Once again the consciousness properly needed to add more layers in order to know its self more because if we have existed for eternity then we need reference.s within time frames etc. Once again without Discerment of time how would you ever know discern/experience what eternity is? Its all part of the messed up game once again Krishna/god has more questions than answers…and maybe it meant to be like that because if you know all there was to know then life would lose it Mystery. Once again God has more questions than answers…lucky we have science know and not go by old nature worshipping ignorant societys that had ignorant caste system etc.

          • HARRY

            And you know about all that do you? Therefore you must have all the answers to all the questions in this universe.

          • Theresa Hayden Redwood

            Without the other realitys that exist then jeeva atma would not be able to experience/discern the Monism reality that exist’s. Its all part of it lol

          • Theresa Hayden Redwood

            Krishna is just the Vedic term for this consciousness, other cultures call it by many differnt names, i still have the same question for these other religious belief do, its not just Hindhu and abrahamic faiths that i question this GOD THING

          • Sri

            Just experience is needed; there is no need for any explanation once you attain realization.

    • aam

      Nothingness can also be understood and explained like this. It is merely the absence of thinking or using the memory. Then what is left is mere alertness or pure consciousness. It is also called as childlike state or meditation. Child has no memory and hence, when awake, it is able to be fully in senses. Since adults have memory, the only way is to unplug the memory, even if for a while. Later, thinking or the memory usage becomes voluntary and optional.

      That is why Buddha said that thinking (activity in memory) is sustaining the misery. Misery is the experience of instability of Intelligence, caused by retention of effect of experience of childhood physical hurt. Pampering a crying or hurt child causes diversion to its intelligence and facilitates to retain the sorrow, which would have vanished on its own, if child was left alone. This retained sorrow prompts thinking or usage of memory for searching a solution. This searching for solution digresses or relieves the intelligence from the feeling of misery or sorrow temporarily.

      Thus thinking becomes an involuntary habit, while retaining misery, which prompts thinking often and frequently throughout life. If one stops thinking, then misery-ridden Intelligence is separated or isolated and deprived from escape or pleasure of thinking. If it remains so for a complete moment, the process of liberation from sorrow begins..Once the aberration of retained effect of childhood physical hurt is removed, thereafter, there can’t be misery throughout life.

  • Kumar

    Buddha was a Hindu.If I established a religion,I would copy everything from former religions.He just copied everything.The scripts were written in Sanskrit.Why did he not invent his own language?He is “GOD”after all.
    He was born to a king and was married.How on this planet was he an ascetic?

    It is a copy of Vedic Dharama(present day Hinduism)

  • Vidyadhara Buddhiraju

    Buddha did not “reject” the sanatana dharma. He established a very popular dynamic and widely propagated branch of it. Movements such as the Buddha’s were neither strange or even unusual among the Hindus either in his day or for that matter today. Buddha’s “rejection” if at all of “hinduism” was in the idea that he did not acknowledge the automatic, divine “authority” of the veda. He did not particularly “reject” or even dispute the tradition itself.

    Buddha’s contribution was the emphasis on the discipline of examining one’s own self and all traditions with a cold, dry and merciless inquiry. He instructed his own followers to subject his own (the buddha’s own) teachings to the most merciless verification before acceptance.

    While this was definitely a known method among the hindus, the buddha emphasised this idea to an extreme limit. A “spiritual” version of socrates though in a far more evolved society of the Hindus.

  • David Murali Cowan

    Sorry I disagree. Buddhism is the same as Hindu marg and only differs on the vada (theories). Emptiness is only 1 of 3 means to moksha (nirvana). Forget Tibetan buddhism (actually shiva yoga lol ). No self means non duality. Jai Ram

    • Hit Ku

      What are the other two?

      • David Murali Cowan

        Sorry this is an old discussion now. You can get a in depth description of the technicalities from Wikipedia. Hope that is helpful.

  • Stephanie Ellison

    Everything is nothing, and nothing is everything… It sounds like my native way, Mízúgárehvó. I am a part of it, and yet it is a part of me. However, even that is not accurate for me because I’m already dividing up it and me, as though we are two things, when in fact we are not. Maybe we are one and the same, melded together in many ways? It’s impossible to say how so, because it is language-less.

  • karthik

    I was about to reply something similar but yours is far sophisticated than what I can write.

  • karthik

    Interesting read! though, I have always considered Buddha as Hindu God. If you look close enough, I am sure you will find Buddha’s teachings in Hinduism too.

    And Hinduism is not at odds with any other religion. It is simply a culture that flourished over thousands of years. One can be practicing a different religion but consider themselves Hindu. I doubt any other religion entertains such thinking…

  • FreeSpeech101

    Both are stupid religion. There is no nothingness when you believe in Buddhism. Its contradictory. Hinduism is a good conman religion.

  • FreeSpeech101

    Humans can not be anything other than conman. Its nature of it all. Buddha was conman. Buddism is small part of hinduism. Its basically fools religion just like hinduism. It will never die. Especialy hinduism. Because anything that offer more will be accepted by many even if it do not. Its human tendency to get trapped make him victim of his own needs

  • Amar

    Bush was escapist and had a negative narrow mindset.

  • Saheb Rishab

    Actually.. Hinduism n Buddhism are two sides of the same coin.. the “Nothingness” in Buddhism n “Everything” in Hinduism are interrelated.. just giving a day to day example- ZERO (which was incidently discovered by India).. ZERO is not a number.. 1-9 are numbers in order of ascendence…But ZERO is “NOTHING” (like in Buddhism).. yet we cannot count without ZERO and EVERY ZERO added multiplies tenfold the number it is placed to… plus it has other functions depending upon its placement in the number itself…so here, ZERO is “EVERYTHING” (like in Hinduism).. these r two concepts to teach ppl the SAME thing..depends upon the mental state of recipient on which concept he/she understands…
    Again it proves the theory that Lord Buddha was indeed Incarnation of Lord Vishnu bcoz Lord Vishnu in Geeta (as Krishna) says that HE will come 2 earth whenever TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS is in danger… Hinduism during the days of Buddha was infested with malpractices and corruption of faith.. Buddhism gave a NEW direction 2 ppl, teaching same thing albeit in slightly diffrnt way…that gave Hindus a chance 2 reflect and CORRECT malpractices and emerge a purified form…
    Hinduism n Buddhism r NOT DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSITE BELIEFS.. they r manifestations of SAME CONSCIOUSNESS..

  • Saheb Rishab

    Actually.. Hinduism n Buddhism are two sides of the same coin.. the
    “Nothingness” in Buddhism n “Everything” in Hinduism are interrelated..
    just giving a day to day example- ZERO (which was incidently discovered
    by India).. ZERO is not a number.. 1-9 are numbers in order of
    ascendence…But ZERO is “NOTHING” (like in Buddhism).. yet we cannot
    count without ZERO and EVERY ZERO added multiplies tenfold the number it
    is placed to… plus it has other functions depending upon its
    placement in the number itself…so here, ZERO is “EVERYTHING” (like in
    Hinduism).. these r two concepts to teach ppl the SAME thing..depends
    upon the mental state of recipient on which concept he/she
    Again it proves the theory that Lord Buddha was
    indeed Incarnation of Lord Vishnu bcoz Lord Vishnu in Geeta (as Krishna)
    says that HE will come 2 earth whenever TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS is in
    danger… Hinduism during the days of Buddha was infested with
    malpractices and corruption of faith.. Buddhism gave a NEW direction 2
    ppl, teaching same thing albeit in slightly diffrnt way…that gave
    Hindus a chance 2 reflect and CORRECT malpractices and emerge a purified
    Hinduism n Buddhism r NOT DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSITE BELIEFS.. they r manifestations of SAME CONSCIOUSNESS..

    • Ambaa

      That explains how my Buddhist husband and I get along so well! :)

  • Shashikala Kannan

    Whatever be the differences, one Great Thing is They both get along Surprisingly well. Both are peace-loving/

    • Ambaa

      Yes! I have found that to be the case.

  • Shashikala Kannan

    One Great thing About HINDUISM is You do not have to do anything to prove that you are Hindu. Anyone can call himself as Hindu and become Hindu any time. (basically this is my own thinking, correct me if I am wrong).

  • aam

    If one wants to analyze the source, nature and aspirations of religions, one may read the great Indian researcher Rajiv Malhotra, who has extensively worked. Hinduism is a non-abrahamic religion and is the oldest. Unbelievably, other religions of this region can be termed as off shoots of Hinduism. Mere intellectual exercises and analyses can’t glorify or demean any religion, because they are nothing but bundles of knowledge.
    The lamps light up when electrical energy passes through them. If any or some lamps begins to claim that it is higher or bigger than other lamps, then it is only due to an aberration like voltage fluctuation. Instead if each lamp realizes that it can’t survive without the fundamental energy, then the fluctuation will cease and all of them become even brighter and stable. ( )

  • David

    this deserves a better reply. The problem of continuity has been around from the Buddha’s original teaching, Dependent Origination. What continues from “nidana” to “nidana” or from moment to moment if Dependent Origination is viewed as simultaneous. The answer viewed from the Zen perspective takes you through the Indian schools of Madhyamaka and Yogachara. There are three books available by the great teachers of our time:

    Wapola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught,
    HH the Dalai Lama, The Essence of the Heart Sutra,
    Thich Nhat Hanh, Understanding Our Mind

    • Ambaa

      Thanks for your insight! You know a great deal more about Buddhism than I!

  • ajpackastan02

    Excactly! You are already what you seek, you just need to realize it for yourself.

  • Singham

    OK yours is very old reply, but still….

    “The Persians pronounced the syllable ‘S’ as ‘H’ and hence these were called ‘H’indu- the people”

    Well, isn’t ‘perSian’ contain the word ‘S’ ?

  • Mila

    Hinduism also preaches non-attachment, and that desires are the cause of pain and sorrow in the world. Hindus also created meditation, which calls for the erasure of thoughts and blankness of mind – trying to be nothing. This nothingness is claimed as a state of joy in Hinduism, perhaps that is where the difference lies.

  • Rob34

    Advaita Vedanta doesn’t accept eternal individuality in relationship, form and variety. They simply lack jnana. Jnana culminates in para bhakti. Advaita Vedantists are just like Buddhists, fully ignorant of Parabrahman, Krishna. And therefore they’re also fully ignorant of there true, eternal self.

  • David

    At the Parliment of World’s Religions in Chicago in
    1893, Zen Buddhism was introduced to the US by Soyen Shaku. In 1905-06, he wrote a book, Zen for Americans, which included an essay, “The God Conception of
    Buddhism.” In that essay, is the following statement:

    At the outset, let me state that Buddhism is
    not atheistic as the term is ordinarily understood. It has certainly a God, the highest reality and truth, through which and in which this universe exists. However, the followers of Buddhism usually avoid the term God, for it savors so much of Christianity, whose spirit is not always exactly in accord with the Buddhist interpretation of religious experience. Again, Buddhism is not pantheistic in the sense that it identifies the universe with God. On the other hand, the Buddhist God is absolute and transcendent; this world, being merely its manifestation, is necessarily fragmental and imperfect. To define more
    exactly the Buddhist notion of the highest being, it may be convenient to borrow the term very happily coined by a modern German scholar, “panentheism,” according to which God is πᾶν καὶ ἕν (all and one) and more than the totality of existence.

    We paraphrase this in Zen language and say, “I am it but it is not me.” If we take the above statement then we get, I am God but God is not me. As a training, we progress along bench-marked by the five ranks. This is not necessarily sequential and definitely not meant to be
    understood only intellectually. If the training is done well, you only understand intellectually after you have experienced it. The five ranks briefly are: emptiness, differentiation, coming from the absolute, merging and union. Without going into detail, it is interesting to
    look at the last rank.

    I used this prayer when I did the chaplain work. It was given anonymously to me.

    And the deepest level of communication
    Is not communication, but communion.
    It is wordless. It is beyond words,
    And it is beyond actions,
    And it is beyond thoughts.
    Not that we discover a new unity,
    We discover an older unity.
    We are already one,
    But we imagine that we are not.
    And what we have to recover is our original unity.
    What we have to be, is what we are.

    What I want to convey is the essence of this prayer with the “all and one” from the above statement by Soyen Shaku to express this “union.” Note that it makes the
    characteristics of God, i.e. omniscient (all-knowing), omnipotent (all-powerful), omnificent (unlimited in creative power) and omnipresent (all-present), understandable in a different and literal way. For me, this
    resolves Christianity and Buddhism in a highly compatible way on a very fundamental level.

  • Luv Suneja

    The term nothingness is rather confusing. There is a Jhana state called the realm of nothingness which differs from Nirvana. Emptiness or Sunyata is a better term.

  • kashyapa

    first of all thank you for this article, you have beautifully differentiate both religion from each others , but we must not forget that both branches are purely nourished by human intelligence, both religions talk about relationship between Prakrit and Purusha and deal with the ultimate truth. vedic society took refuge in brmha( the luminous self) while buddha dhamma in the enlightened one (Buddha). i do not want to say any thing against or for any religion , because the soul of the being is free to wander with the luminious self. apprently we believe we are the only creature with the perfect intellect so we care about humanity and create religions on false beliefs.

    its only matter of time,with time everything changes, Buddha Dhamma is the need of this time , but its sad that how rapidly the great dhamma is changing, facing same problem which was faced vadic dharma.

    om shanti