The confluence of Buddhism and Hinduism in India

Introduction

Buddhism was established in India by one man on a journey to find enlightenment. His name was Siddhartha Gautama (Huston, 40). He was brought up in a wealthy family. One day, he was exposed to poverty outside his home and his life changed. He then began to find a solution to pain and anguish.

His teaching became popular, and he made disciples. Originally Buddhism commenced as a branch of Hinduism. However, the followers of this religion then turned their backs on the mother religion. The basis of Buddhism is found in the answers to two questions that Gautama attempted to answer. The answers were classified under in to the “Four Noble Truths” and the ‘Eightfold Path” (Huston, 40). This paper describes the fundamentals of Buddhism and how it later embraced other doctrines contrary to the original message.

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Buddhism had various beliefs. The first principle Gautama believed was that pain was not part of the plan. His thought was that selfishness was the source of pain and suffering (Huston, 49). He taught that the solution could be found by training the human mind, soul and body to do right. If human beings would stop being greedy, then there would be no anguish or pain.

According to Buddha, understanding the cause of human pain was the first step to victory. This was followed by real intentions, right communication, selfless behavior, integrity, sincere efforts and focus (Huston, 52). These steps are described as the eightfold paths of Buddhism.

Although the answers to the questions posed by Gautama were precise, the followers held different views over three questions. These questions related to human independence, the intention of the universe and the finest part of the human body (Huston, 58). This division birthed out two branches Theravada and Mahayana (Huston 60).

Unity existed among the Theravada followers. On the other hand, Mahayana followers were once again divided amongst themselves. As a result, Tibetan and Zen Buddhism were established (Karkkainen, 103). Buddhism was spread to other parts of the world with different doctrines and beliefs.

Initially, there was not mention of a deity. Nevertheless, as the religion grew many people began to look at Gautama as a god and started worshiping him. Others believe there is no deity or a supreme power. Consequently, they hold no worship service or believe in redemption. In essence, reflection and understanding the four truths and the eight fold path is their goal in life.

This concept differs from Hinduism which believes in several gods concerning the different areas of their lives. Additionally, Hinduism supports the pursuit of objectives like wealth, happiness and Nirvana. In Buddhism, equality among all human beings is essential. However, the caste organization is forbidden. In contrast, Hinduism advocates for the caste structure and holds that women are inferior beings.

Currently, Buddhism is more prevalent in other nations in Asia except India where it was birthed. Even though its popularity has declined, there are several Buddhist doctrines or truths that have been adopted into Hinduism (Huston, 120). Most importantly is the elimination of the caste organization as a way of life.

Several Hinduism supporters have accepted that men are equal. Moreover, Hinduism has embraced some of the steps in the eightfold path such as tolerance, right effort, honest livelihood, selflessness and peace (Karkkainen, 171). These steps have enriched Hinduism and made it a more compassionate religion.

Buddhism began because one person desired a world full of happiness. Gautama lived his life wanting nothing but he still had sympathy when he saw the pain of a homeless person and an old man. He sacrificed his life to seek answers about the problems of life. He did not attempt to make himself a god, although he was later worshipped by his followers. His answers to pain have been embraced by other religions such as Hinduism.

Works Cited

Huston, Smith. The World’s Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1991.

Karkkainen, Veli-Matti. An Introduction to the Theology of Religions: Biblical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives, Madison, WI: InterVarsity Press, 2003

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