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: http://www.tricycle.com/blog/10-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:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_and_Hinduism

http://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/h_buddhism.asp

http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/difference-between-buddhism-and-hinduism/

Comparison chart: http://www.diffen.com/difference/Buddhism_vs_Hinduism

 

***

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: http://www.himalayanacademy.com/view/how-to-become-a-hindu

From aapchutiyehain.blogspot.com

Other Google Questions Answered

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What Does Hinduism Say About Homosexuality?

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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
    nothingness.

    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)
    vs
    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.

          • Lightman

            The caste system is not a Dharmic idea. Its a social evil . The Dharmic Idea was that of Varna and Jati . There is not one single line in entire Vedic liturature that says varna is permanent and birth based….As far as GOD is concerned we dont have a god .

            Let us look at what Hinduism holds to be the Absolute. The ultimate goal and Absolute of Hinduism is termed “Brahman” in Sanskrit. The word comes from the Sanskrit verb root brh, meaning “to grow”. Etymologically, the term means “that which grows” (brhati) and “which causes to grow” (brhmayati).

            Brahman is not “God”.Brahman, as understood by the scriptures of Hinduism, a is a very specific conception of the Absolute. This unique conception has not been replicated by any other religion on earth, and is exclusive to Hinduism. Thus to even call this conception of Brahman “God” is, imprecise. This is the case because Brahman does not refer to the anthropomorphic concept of God of the Abrahamic religions. When we speak of Brahman, we are referring neither to the “old man in the sky” concept, nor to the idea of the Absolute as even capable of being vengeful, fearful or engaging in choosing a favorite people from among His creatures.

            For that matter, Brahman is not a “He” at all, but rather transcends all empirically discernible categories, limitations and dualities.

            What is Brahman?
            In the ‘Taittariya Upanishad’ II.1, Brahman is described in the following manner: “satyam jnanam anantam brahma”, “Brahman is of the nature of truth, knowledge and infinity.” Infinite positive qualities and states have their existence secured solely by virtue of Brahman’s very reality. Brahman is a necessary reality, eternal (i.e., beyond the purview of temporality), fully independent, non-contingent, and the source and ground of all things. Brahman is both immanently present in the realm of materiality, interpenetrating the whole of reality as the sustaining essence that gives it structure, meaning and existential being, yet Brahman is simultaneously the transcendent origin of all things (thus, pantheistic).

            The Nature of Brahman
            As the primary causal substance of material reality (jagat-karana), Brahman does not arbitrarily will the coming into being of the non-Brahman metaphysical principles of matter and jivas (individuated consciousness), but rather they are manifest into being as a natural result of the overflowing of Brahman’s grandeur, beauty, bliss and love. Brahman cannot but create abundant good in a similar manner to how Brahman cannot but exist. Both existence and overflowing abundance are as much necessary properties of Brahman as love and nurturing are necessary qualities of any virtuous and loving mother.

            Brahman is the Source
            One can say that Brahman Itself constitutes the essential building material of all reality, being the antecedent primeval ontological substance from whence all things proceed. There is no ex nihilo creation in Hinduism. Brahman does not create from nothing, but from the reality of Its own being. Thus Brahman is, in Aristotelian terms, both the Material Cause as well as the Efficient Cause of creation.

            The Final Goal & the Final Cause
            As the source of Dharma, the metaphysical ordering principles inherent in the design of the cosmos, Brahman can be viewed as the Formal Cause. And as the final goal of all reality, Brahman is also the Final Cause. Being the ontological source of all reality, Brahman is the only substantial real that truly exists, all other metaphysical categories being either a) contingent transformations of Brahman, having their very being subsisting in attributive dependence upon Brahman, or else b) illusory in nature. These views about the nature of Brahman are in general keeping with the philosophical teachings of both the Advaita and the Vishishta-Advaita schools of Vedic Dharma.

            Brahman is the Ultimate Reality
            All reality has its source in Brahman. All reality has its grounding sustenance in Brahman. It is in Brahman that all reality has its ultimate repose. Hinduism, specifically, is consciously and exclusively aiming toward this reality termed Brahman.

          • 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.

  • http://www.deafdrummer.org 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
    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..

    • 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. ( gmybird.blogspot.in )

  • 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

  • sree

    Buddhism and Vedas

    Buddhism is often considered to be an anti-Vedic atheist philosophy. While today there are huge number of schools and sects within Buddhism (exceeded perhaps only by Islam in terms of number of divisions, sects, sub-sects within), if we review the original teachings of Gautam Buddha, we find that he was only trying to teach the concepts of Vedas to best of his understanding.

    Vocabulary of Buddhism

    1. The vocabulary of Buddhism is adopted from prevailing literature.

    The word Buddha comes in Mahabharat Shantiparva 193/6 to mean ‘intelligent’.

    Bodhisatva has been used for Sri Krishna in Shishupal Vadh 15/58 and its commentary by Vallabhdeva.

    Bhikshu again is a word denoting certain sage in Mahabharat Shantiparva 325/24 and Gautam Dharmasutra 3/2.

    Shraman comes in Brihadaranyak Upanishad and Gautam Dharmasutra

    Nirvana comes from Deval Dharmasutra

    and so on.

    2. The famous Buddhist chant of Om Mani Padme Hum speaks for itself on glory of Om – that originates from Vedas and is integral part of Hinduism.

    Vedas in teachings of Mahatma Buddha

    3. In Sutta Nipat 192, Mahatma Buddha says that:

    Vidwa Cha Vedehi Samechcha Dhammam Na Uchchavacham Gachhati Bhooripanjo.

    People allow sense-organs to dominate and keep shuffling between high and low positions. But the scholar who understands Vedas understands Dharma and does not waver.

    4. Sutta Nipat 503:

    Yo Vedagu Gyanarato Sateema …….

    One should support a person who is master of Vedas, contemplative, intelligent, helpful if you desire to inculcate similar traits.

    5. Sutta Nipat 1059:

    Yam Brahmanam Vedagum Abhijanjya Akinchanam Kamabhave Asattam……

    One gets free from worldly pains if he is able to understand a Vedic Scholar who has no wealth and free from attraction towards worldly things.

    6. Sutta Nipat 1060:

    Vidwa Cha So Vedagu Naro Idha Bhavabhave Sangam Imam Visajja…..

    I state that one who understands the Vedas rejects attraction towards the world and becomes free from sins.

    7. Sutta Nipat 846:

    Na Vedagu Diththia Na Mutiya Sa Manameti Nahi Tanmayoso….

    One who knows Vedas does not acquire false ego. He is not affected by hearsay and delusions.

    8. Sutta Nipat 458:

    Yadantagu Vedagu Yanjakaale Yassahuti Labhe Taras Ijjeti Broomi

    I state that one who acquires Ahuti in Havan of a Vedic scholar gets success.

    These are just a few examples from works of Mahatma Buddha.

    Why Mahatma Buddha rejected Vedas

    9. Mahatma Buddha did not reject Vedas per se, but the malpractices happening in name of Vedas. For example, if you call someone – He is a Neta of India – today, he may get offended and feel as if you have called him corrupt and manipulative. This is not because Neta word in itself means ‘corrupt’, but because this is what we see of the so-called Netas today.

    Similarly, when Mahatma Buddha questioned birth-based casteism, animal sacrifice and other nonsense practices, he was answered that Vedas sanction so. Thus, like any sane morally upright person would do, Mahatma Buddha stated that: “If Vedas sanction these evil practices, then I reject Vedas.”

    Had Gautam Buddha obtained an opportunity to study the actual Vedas and not go by the false notions prevailing, he could no way have issued such a statement.

    And the country + entire world would have been strong enough to counter barbaric attacks of West/ Central Asian tribals that has resulted in the greatest problem of last 1000 years – terrorism.

    10. If you review the basic precepts of Buddhism, they are simply Vedic teachings reworded.

    – For example, the 4 cardinal truths on life, suffering, desire, cessation is straight from Yoga and Nyaya Darshan. In fact Nyaya Darshan 1.2 echoes almost the same essence in as many words.

    – The 8 fold path is adequately covered in a variety of ways in all ancient texts – Vedas, Manusmriti, Mahabharat and Yoga Darshan for example.

    – The emphasis on Ahimsa is adapted from Yoga Darshan that puts Ahimsa as the first essential discipline for progress in Yoga- the process of realizing self and God.

    – Theory of rebirth and Law of Karma that Buddhism is built upon finds its foundation in mantras of Vedas.

    – Rejection of birth-based caste-system is also in lines with Vedas.

    – Emphasis on meditation is straight adopted from the Yoga Darshan that itself is based on Vedas.

    – The 5 commandments for Buddhists and especially monks are from Yoga Darshan 1.2.3

    In summary, one can state that Buddhism, as preached by Gautam Buddha, was a system of morality based on Vedas.

    11. Mahatma Buddha was not atheist. Atheism developed later. At best, Gautam Buddha can be said to be agnostic. He believed that first and foremost duty is to raise one’s intellect level through practice of moral code of conduct and mind control.
    Why was Mahatma Buddha atheist?

    12. Mahatma Buddha did not believe in arguments or debates. He had a very practical approach. He thus refused to either deny or acknowledge presence of God or a supreme entity. He was content with teaching self-control and self-constraint and did not take trouble of attempting a solution of the great problems of Universe: How it began? Is it everlasting? Have I existed in past? Will I exist forever? etc.

    Later philosophers of Buddhism did attempt to solve these mysteries through their own analysis and that is how Buddhism developed so many branches and sects.

    In Kula Mayukyaovad Majjhama Nikaya there is a reference where someone asked Gautam Buddha whether the world is everlasting. He replied, “Did I ever promise that I shall teach you whether the world is everlasting or not? If not, then do not press the inquiry.”

    In Sabbasava Sutta, he suggests that such inquiries into self and universe are meaningless.

    Thus Mahatma Buddha focused on practical aspects and neglected the theoretical or metaphysical aspects. This was perhaps because he wanted to ensure that ritualistic malpractices do not overshadow the core essence of his teachings.

    However these are natural questions in any human being and thus later Buddhists had to make up for this deficiency in a variety of ways.

    But if we review the original philosophy of Mahatma Buddha, there is no evidence of he being atheist or anti-Vedic.

    His attitude towards Vedas and Theism was that of indifference rather than rejection. In this indifference lied his Vedic foundation. Because he eventually adopted only from the Vedas to form his ideology and strived to be an honest practitioner of “Accept truth, reject the rest.” to best of his capability and intent.

    Impact of Buddhism

    13. Buddhism had a great impact during its times. It paved way for rejection of distortions and external symbols towards nurture of morality. Since Buddhism did not challenge any of the key philosophical foundations of existing way of life – rebirth, law of karma, emphasis on morality – it became popular not only in India and across Asia. But soon it declined especially in India.

    14. As Mahatma Buddha himself said, “The body contains within itself the power to renew its strength but also the causes that lead to its destruction.”

    In case of Buddhism, the cause lied in its incompleteness. While it adopted the moral precepts of Vedas, it ignored the metaphysical foundations. Thus while a whole generation of Buddhist philosophers did spring up later, they could not address the key metaphysical questions convincingly and cohesively – On Self, Universe and Unchangeable Laws. This may work for pragmatics but not for the truly philosophical minds.

    A mind tired with illogical ways of life may find great reprieve in focusing purely on moral precepts and meditation. But for someone who hails for a culture having a vast legacy of philosophical richness in every mundane and not-so-mundane aspect of life, there are more questions needed to be explored to quench the intellectual thirst.

    Acharya Shankar debated with Buddhists of his era and proved that whatever Buddhism (of that era) argues by denying existence of God can also be explained by Adwait (One singular entity everywhere). Thus for centuries the debate between atheists and Vedics continued giving rise to a vast number of philosophical texts in India.

    15. Later Buddhism tried to deny more clearly the existence of God and even that of soul but could not give a satisfactory substitute. They believed in eternal immutable law and never ending chain of cause and effect. But in absence of an entity ensuring that the laws work smartly and for our benefit, it was a blind alley: A religion without a deity! A worshipper without an object of worship!

    This forced Buddhists to evolve their own elaborate set of ceremonies, rituals, idols, chants and practices, but this only brought them in rift with the original concepts. Some historians state that idol-worship began with Buddhism. All this kept splitting it into so many branches that are startlingly different at times. The religion supposed to be based on logic, intellect and mind-control, developed loads of superstitions, blind beliefs, tantra practices, witchcraft and myths of miracles. Today the divine Dalai Lama superstition has become foundation of popular Buddhism.

    16. The rift widened so much that the religion, which is said to have been based on foundation of Non-Violence or Ahimsa, and which is said to have rejected Vedas because Vedas were perceived to sanction animal-sacrifice, is one of the largest consumers of meat-products today! In many Buddhist places, they hang a board outside meat-shop that says: “Believe Us, This meat is not for you.” Now the monks are guilt-free in eating meat in these shops!!

    When someone asked Dalai Lama while he was helping himself with a serving of meat, he said, ” I am Buddhist. I am not vegetarian!”

    Ironically, what is taught today across world is that Mahatma Buddha got perturbed when he saw people carrying animals for sacrifice and hence rebelled! Very few people perhaps know that the cult that had its very origin in Animal Rights is the largest killer of animals today! All for taste!

    And followers of Vedas – which were alleged to endorse animal killing – are today the greatest proponents of Animal Rights!

    In fact, many sects of Buddhism believe that Mahatma Buddha died due to indigestion from consumption of pork offered as charity. (as per these sects whatever provided in charity must be consumed.)

    Similarly, while Buddhism (which started with rejecting man-made caste system) is now divided into so many sects/ sub-sects with its own sectoral practices that are necessary to adopt to be one of them, it is followers of Vedas who reject all man-made divisions and appeal for oneness of entire humankind regardless of man-made rituals and beliefs.

    The roles are completely reversed today.

    Coming back to the roots – Vedas – seems to be the best way to emulate Gautam Buddha today!!

    17. While Buddhism could create appeal among other regions and can impress Christians today (Christianity derives its philosophical foundation in Buddhism and hence it is the next logical bridge for Christians to an evolved and more matured view of life), but for India – that has been home to a whole chain of eminent thinkers, the vagueness of Buddhism could not hold its appeal for long.

    Today, whatever Buddhism prevails in India is primarily a reaction to the birth-based caste system and related rituals which are wrongly attributed to Vedas.

    18. The final blow to Buddhism came from Islamic invasion in medieval era. The Bamiyan Buddhas of Afghanistan are mute spectators of that gory period of history. Buddhism, by its very rejection of other aspects of life except moral precepts, became most vulnerable to Muslim attacks. This has been the greatest damaging gift of Buddhist ideology to present era. The escapist Buddhist view that preferred to be neutral to all that happens with us in world, coupled with a damaging caste-system among Hindus, made sure that barbaric uncivilized tribals could decimate us and establish their dominance. Hinduism could still survive due to its inherent emphasis on realism, but Buddhism perished. And this untimely perish had further adverse outcomes on future of India in the form of philosophical downtime.

    19. Ask any weight-trainer and he would tell you that if you need to build big biceps, you need to focus on leg-squats as well. Lop-sided development does not work. It only causes injuries. Similarly mere focus on moral precepts do not work for society. One has to dwell into other aspects – society, politics, science, philosophy, metaphysics, etc – for things to work out. That is why Vedas emphasize and train on a vast variety of subjects.

    While Buddhism adopted the moral precepts from Vedas, it made a blunder by ignoring the fuller picture. And that changed the path of history forever.

    In fact Buddhism was not supposed to be a distinct sect in first place. It was merely supposed to be a philosophy focusing on moral aspects of life. Mahatma Buddha did not gave any preachings on other aspects at all. The blunder was that his followers took his narrow specific focus as a complete recipe of life.

    Often we get so enamored by personalities that we lose the big picture. We consider fullness in whatever attracts our attention for long. For example, we witnessed the cricket drama for a month and now there seems nothing more patriotic than winning a World Cup and recommending Bharat Ratna for a cricketer! Similarly, most cults sprang up because the followers failed to consider the deeds and views of their role models as a critical PART of a bigger picture and instead considered completeness in that SMALL PART.

    Mahatma Buddha considered eradication of misery as the Mission. While this is true, he took it to a narrow extreme and hence created a philosophy that wastoo pessimistic for common man to be motivated enough for worthwhile actions. This coupled with absence of any discussions on the key questions that initiate spiritual thinking – who am I, will I die forever, will this world end etc – left no incentive for a layman to extend his efforts beyond sitting in an isolated place trying to control the mind. Why would then one make sacrifice for nation, fight the enemies and work for smiles on face of his fellow-beings when he does not know clearly why he is doing so?

    Today, psychologists would tell you that running away from miseries cannot bring the same level of motivation for worthwhile actions than desire for greater happiness.

    Avoidance of miseries because world is full of miseries implies that one would naturally escape from worldly duties because even these performance of these duties would cause indulgence and hence miseries.

    After all, Buddhist philosophy asserted that our misery began the moment we were born. To deny even the Self (Anatma) to become indifferent to pain becomes goal of life. How can then indifference generate actions when there is even no vaguely clear end-goal to be reached and denial is the best recipe?

    Mahatma Buddha talked of 4 right beliefs: Knowledge of misery, Knowledge of origin of misery, Knowledge of cessation of misery and knowledge of path leading to cessation of misery.

    But when even ‘I’ does not exist, who will work for getting these right beliefs? And what would be obtained? This incompleteness led to rank pessimism. The philosophies that emerged to counter this blinded belief system of Mahatma Buddha also suffered from the same pessimism and inherent inertia against vigorous actions.

    Buddhism was doing bicep curls but not squatting sufficiently. It took only one part of Vedic message but ignored the rest.

    Thus nationalism and reformist zeal could not co-exist prominently with Buddhism (even though Mahatma Buddha himself was an extremely dynamic man). It left Buddhism defenseless against savage attacks and created ‘Parable of Boiled Frog‘. If you put a frog in hot water, it would jump out immediately. But if you put it in a beaker and gradually increase the temperature of water from cold to warm to hot to boiling, the frog does not jump out. It dies instead. This is because the nervous system of frog is unable to detect gradual changes in temperature.

    Lack of focus on proactive action plus view of life being a misery in either case – action or no action plus belief in everything being futile because everything is temporary plus refusal to look into bigger picture and focussing only on a narrow set of precepts, turned Buddhism into a frog. It offered little resistance to invaders and virtually opened the doors for savages to India.

    And whatever Buddhism survived is far from original thoughts of the founder – a countless number of sects/ subsects with extremely diverse view and having only image of Gautam Buddha in common.

    It is true that there is suffering in world. But to say that it is unalloyed pure suffering, with no iota of pleasure is a dangerous generalization. Absolute unalloyed pessimism cannot goad man to action. The world is not an abode of misery. The Benevolent God could not have made such a nasty world where suffering reigns. Even the most miserable in the world has some sort of joy which keeps him up. Even stoics had to summon up exceptional resolve when they prepared themselves for suicide. No sane being wishes to die because behind all miseries there is a hope that the all-blissful God will not leave us in lurch. Whether one believes in God or not, in this hope for a better future lies the bliss and acceptance of Supreme power. To deny this is to deny reality. And a philosophy that denies realism cannot face the challenges of real world.

    Kapila states in Sankhya 5.113 that at least during Sushupti (deep slumber), Samadhi (deep meditation) and Moksha (Salvation) soul gets an experience of Supreme bliss.

    Swami Dayanand succinctly explained the flaw in lines of Vedas: “If you compare the pleasure and pain of the world, pleasures many times exceed the pain. And many pure souls earn the bliss of salvation by constant practice of virtuous actions.”

    This makes the Vedic philosophy distinctly optimistic and invigorating. It assuages the rigor of present life and makes the future hopeful. It illumines our present as well as future.

    We wish if someone could have made this statement during times of Mahatma Buddha! History would have been different. But alas!

    In absence of this, Buddhism turned to escapism (even though Mahatma Buddha himself was a man of action). When the savages attacked, we were occupied with our meditations to ignore the self and cause of misery through indifference. We neglected built up of strong armies, regular training, and R&D on defense. We were indifferent to need for reformist zeal to break the very roots of caste-system and gender discrimination, we refused to look into the Vedas to discover what the original teachings were. We were simply practicing indifference to real challenges around.

    And today, while Buddhism does not prominently exist in India (except in Dharmashala where Dalai Lama is forced to have asylum after Chinese aggression), the philosophy and the myriad of other philosophies that emerged to amend or counter it, turns us into a fatalistic society. We have developed high inertia, resist the urge to face challenges, attempt to use philosophy as a tool to justify our escapism and have gradually moved towards becoming indifferent to whatever does not pinch us too strongly. Ahimsa has become just an alibi for laziness and cowardice.

    Conclusion

    No, we don’t mean that Buddhism is to be blamed for all this. Not at all. Buddhism was a natural reaction to the prevailing ironies in the society of those times. And an essential one. We believe that people have different needs and level of evolution and hence for many including Mahatma Buddha this was the most optimal view of life. For a society that was focusing too much on blind rituals and irrational social practices, Buddhism gave the right shock to spur up more rational and logical thinking. The roots of the problem lay much earlier and Buddhism was merely a logical and necessary outcome.

    Teachings of Mahatma Buddha are based purely on moral aspects of Vedas. His teachings also showcase his respect for Vedas. His vocabulary and usages were derived from Vedic texts. Thus he was in summary a Vedic preacher to best of his abilities.

    Thus there is NO WAY that Buddhism of Gautam Buddha can be termed as separate from Vedic Dharma. It is as much an offshoot attempting to reach the source – Vedic wisdom – as other sects.

    However the defection of the narrow incomplete focus of Buddhism into a complete philosophy in its own right (which it never meant to be in first place) was detrimental to national interests.

    Had Buddhism been a more informed and complete philosophy based on a more thorough and rigorous study of Vedas instead of its paradoxical apparent rejection based on extremely superficial grounds, history would have been different.

    Had Buddhists spent efforts to reform the society the way Raja Ram Mohun Roy and Swami Dayanand attempted, instead of attempting to split into a separate sect (which it never was), history would have been different.

    Similarly, if all other sects and cults would have not been based on bounded rationality of a few well-intentioned men and had instead attempted to grab the complete picture of the concepts in their original source, the Vedas, world would have been a much more sensible place today. Much more tolerant, broader in outlook and rational.

    Whatever good that we see in any cult or sect is already existing in Vedas though elaborated through works and teachings of great legends from time to time. However because most of these founders were addressing their imminent short-term needs and the followers believed in exclusivity of their sect, the holistic view got missing.

    The key lesson is that any incomplete or temporary solution for today would eventually become a problem tomorrow.

    The only way is to adopt the complete solution.

    Swami Dayanand suggested a way to approach this issue of so many sects and cults and religions touching one part of the elephant each. Let all the common points in all these sects be brought together that are acceptable to all. For example, non-violence, morality, nationalism, truthfulness, non-stealing etc. Then eliminate all assumptions, beliefs and practices unique to each sect that is not otherwise explainable. This becomes the Universal Dharma for all human beings and this is exactly what Vedas teach.

    Respects all the great men of history who attempted to bring society closer to Vedic living. And aspires that we evolve to reach the original source that all these great legends were attempting to reach – The wisdom of Vedas. Instead of viewing completeness in our own silo, let us attempt to integrate all the silos together into One. Lets get back to the roots instead of holding on to each tiny branch as the source. No we don’t mean that all branches be cut-off and only root of the tree should remain. We only desire that each branch knows that we form a tree only when all the branches are together and supported by the root.A branch detached from rest of the branches and root would only be a dry piece of wood. So lets all be One Tree and strengthen the roots of the Tree that would then strengthen us all