Religion in India: Hinduism and Buddhism

Hinduism and Buddhism are two religions predominantly practiced in the Indian sub-continent and Southern Asia. Although the two religions have some similarities in customs and beliefs, they significantly differ in various aspects. The most evident similarity between these two religions is their mode of worship, which is normally done in temples and includes prayers and meditation. However, they differ in relation to leadership in worship because the priests lead players in Hinduism.

Moreover, the way the rituals are held is not the same as well. One of the most outstanding features of Buddhism is the meditation practice, which is regarded as the royal road to salvation; in recent times, it has spread globally as many people from outside India have adopted it (Clothey 8). This paper will focus on rituals and divine worship associated with Hinduism and Buddhism as well as their importance in both religions. It will also give a brief discussion on the existence of both religions and the reason why many of the Indians opted for Buddhism teachings as opposed to Hinduism ones.

Buddhism rituals appear inclined to Indian tradition; this is evidenced when comparing Buddhism ordination and consecration rituals with Hinduism initiation and image preparations ceremonies. One of the major similarities of the practices is the use of yoga as a meditation practice (White 6). Another similarity is dharma or natural law, which relates to both religions by governing their religious and ceremonial duties (Gombrich 126).

Differences between these two religions make them unique in their practices. In relation to worship, Buddhists are not god-centered but focus on their personality; Hindus however have many deities that they worship. Another difference is witnessed in treatment of women in religious devotion; for instance, in Hinduism, women are excluded from certain rituals and they are only supposed to be dependent and subordinates to their husbands. However, in Buddhism, there is flexibility in relation to gender difference, with teachings calling for equality in spiritual matters. Buddhism followers worship many gods unlike those of Hinduism.

Their beliefs are built on faith in the greater good of the society. They believe that gods pay goodwill back through different ways and circumstances. Moreover, they focus on peace and non-violence and are compassionate to all the living beings and things. Finally, Buddhists believe in the existence of hells and heavens, as well as life after death.

The religious rituals used in both the religions are quite similar as they focus on the beliefs of the founders. Generally, both religions put their faith in doctrine of relics as a devotional practice aimed at purifying one’s mind. However, the simplicity and complexity of such practice are the ones that differentiate the two religions (Gombrich 125). In relation to this, Buddhism and Hinduism are practiced among Asian communities, including Chinese who also adhere different meditation practices.

It is believed that the Buddhism religion became popular in India due to the fact that it accommodated ideologies of many Indians by offering them teachings that uplifted their spirits and inspired them. It is opposed to Hinduism, which offered very little in terms of inspiration. Although Hinduism and Buddhism are closely related in regard to rituals practiced, they are different in their beliefs. History has shown that members of Hinduism religion are taken through a life journey that instills moral ethics and devotion to a prescribed way of life, with strict discipline setting the pace for the others from early life. In Buddhism, the life of Buddha was a long journey, and those who endured it were regarded as the ideal models that inspired followers to emulate. It involved taming the desires of the flesh and cutting contact with the superficial life as much as possible, which was made possible by living secluded lives and learning to be content with very little.

Hinduism religion is said to be very strict when it comes to its teachings, and many of its believers have moved to Buddhism, which, they say, has better teachings. In India, there is a bigger population of Buddhists than that of Hindus, as many of them relate better to Buddha teachings. In the past, the teachings of Hinduism used to undermine the existence of many things, and this led to the upsurge of different and more precise changes when it came to teachings. The beliefs and worship forms of Hinduism as opposed to Buddhism have faced resistance in the past. In the past, different religions portrayed the need to have exclusive and better existing knowledge in gods than any other person (Clothey 41).

Rituals performed from birth to death are one of the most important factors in these religions. The belief that those who die are reincarnated to different forms of beings is something that has kept them firm on the belief of doing well. The teachings in Buddhism have led to many accepting the fact that it is important to respect others regardless of their gender. Just like many changes in rituals and worship in Buddhism have been witnessed over the years, Hindus are now embracing some of the many modern ways of worship, mainly due to the influence of Buddhism on relation to temple, art, and theism (Clothey 47).

An interesting fact about these two religions is that they have managed to save their sacred status since their rise. This has revived a great interest from researchers who try to find out the reasons behind it. It has been seen in different European countries that many people are embracing meditation techniques to keep fit and find their inner self. The interest in these practices is believed to have been sparked exceedingly in the 21st century when diseases, such as cancer, have plagued many people from many nations alike (Clothey 8).

In conclusion, Hinduism and Buddhism have major similarities but differ in different aspects of rituals’ performance and devotion. In many ways, the ceremonies are a way of life with their demigods through which they ask for forgiveness and pray for goodwill. Hinduism is among the earliest forms of religion that are still in existence today. It has sacred rituals for birth that are used to welcome the new baby into the society and ask the spirits to make the baby a person of integrity. These ceremonies are believed to help souls of the dead to find piece as way of preventing them from disturbing the existence of community. Buddhism and Hinduism, though different in some areas, have brought many of the believers together by sharing a common interest. Both the religions have existed for many years, and their teachings have improved lives of many followers in Asian communities as well as all over the globe.

Works Cited

Clothey, Fred. Religion in India: A Historical Introduction. NY: Routledge, 2006. Web.

Gombrich, Richard. A Hiostory from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo. NY: Routledge, n.d. Web.

White, David. Yoga, Brief History of an Idea. n.d. Web.