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Hinduism And Buddhism Essay, Research Paper

Buddhism versus Hinduism

Hinduism, originating in India in the year 1500B.C., is the oldest living religion. Because of this, many sociologists refer to Hinduism as been archaic. It is the most complex, diverse, and most tolerant of all world religions. The reason for it s tolerance is that it meets the challenge of other religions, not by creating war and conflict, but by absorbing them and their practices and beliefs into the mainstream of Hinduism. One can find within Hinduism almost any form of religion from simple animism to elaborate philosophical systems.

Within Hinduism one can find 1158 deities. One of those divinities is Ganesh, the God of knowledge and the remover of obstacles. He is worshipped, or at least remembered, in the beginning of any ceremony for blessing. If given the choice, Ganesh would certainly be my primary pick of the Gods to be worshipped. He has many positive characteristics and one of those is the rope he carries to help lead his devotees to the truth. He also carries an ax to help cut away attachments in his believers. He has an elephant s head, four hands, a big belly and a hand always extended out to grant people blessings. He is one of the most desirable Gods to worship because he represents tremendous wisdom and if there is just one thing that anyone should obtain from life it should be wisdom. No one can have too much of it.

Hinduism holds a very strong future because it has something that Christianity lacks. It is the foothold for many peoples culture in India making it a very hard religion for believers to turn away from. Unlike Christianity, its social ladder is carved from it and to take it away would create a state of havoc where the people, so used to being categorized into classes, would be fraught with trying to find a new social structure.

One of the things that the Hindus hold is their belief in reincarnation, that everything is a constant cycle. When one dies, their soul carries the Karma of that life into their next one, giving one s soul eternal life but a multitude of bodies. This idea is shown in The Parade of Ants. In this story the character Indra is obsessed with trying to build a palace to commemorate himself and his heroism with the dragon that he killed. Every single time that the new palace is built he comes up with new visions to make the new palace more marvelous that before. Towards the end the point is made by a Brahmin child that it doesn t matter how the beautiful the palace will look. There will be many Indras after him, and nobody will count the predecessors nor really remember them. Everything perishes in the end and is refreshed again and again. Who will count the number of passing of ages, as they follow each other endlessly? Overall, the idea of reincarnation is on of the footholds of the Hindu belief.

In Hinduism, one must try to live their life through Dharma. According to the Indic religion, Dharma is the law of being, the orderly fulfillment of an inherent nature and destiny. Dharma is of four main divisions, which are God’s law at work on four levels of our existence: universal, human, social and personal…it is piety and ethical practice, duty and obligation. The tale Abu Kasem’s Slippers shows this Dharmic law. In the story Abu Kasem was a rich man that was too greedy to buy new slippers to replace his raggedy ones. With his greed he disrupted Dharma and in the end the moral lesson to the Hindus was to not be stingy with what they have. The four stages in life that the Hindus believe in make a great deal of sense because in order for a person to grow as a human being he/she must have some kind of transition in his/her life. For example one must grow out of the immaturity that occurs in the student stage and move on to become and adult with family responsibilities. If one does not do this then he/she cannot truly progress as a person.

Another religion in India, Buddhism, has had great deal of effect on Hinduism. Buddha changed the Hindu idea of the atman. The Hindus believe that the atman is the individual soul. Buddha, however, believed that there is no such thing as the self. Buddha does not deny that each person has a personality, mentality, and a soul. He however does deny the metaphysical agent that is supposed to serve as the soul.

During the many years that the Buddha has taught he has sought to teach just one message: how to end suffering. With this teaching, two schools of Buddhism emerged, the Hinayana and the Mahayana. The Hinayana leaning more towards the renunciation of life while the Mahayana is more towards hedonism. If given the choice, I would have to say that I would choose the Hinayana way of thinking. They believed that life is a suffering all in it s own and that the only way to rid of this suffering is to rid oneself of selfish desire. Everything evil that we do is based on vanity and selfish desire. We go to war so that we will have other peoples will fear and so that we can take what is not ours. We kill each other and so much more because we sense a constant need to necessitate our perpetual desires. If we were to rid of this, then there would be no reason hurt others or to commit any other evil because we would not have the selfish desire to do so.

A.J. Bahm talks about the Mahayana view of Buddhism. He said that the only way to Nirvana is to find the Middle way between craving and desire. While desiring the unattainable is absurd, it is not necessary that one should stop wanting. Craving, however, is the act of desiring without moderation and should not be done. For example, in the fourth step in the eight-fold path of Buddhism, Right acts are to abstain from taking life, from stealing. Demanding of the present more justice or more love of or by others than one gets is stealing–stealing from the irreplaceable enjoyment of the present…. It is o.k. for one to desire to have more love in life but to crave it would be to demand it; a stealing of the moment. This would a breaking of the fourth step.

The eight step to nirvana is not a single step but a whole new set of steps. These new sets of steps have four in number with the fifth one being the final one. Would one be in Nirvana while writing this paper? The answer would have to depend on the person that is writing the paper, but I would have to say that the average college student has not yet come even close to finding themselves much less finding the last step of the eight-fold path. By writing this paper, though, I would have to say that the finding of Nirvana is taking place because an opening of the mind is occurring. New ideas are coming to place. This is one of the events that must take place before one can even think of entering Nirvana.

Hinduism and Buddhism have been apart of India s culture for a long time and have had a great deal of effect on each other. Hinduism is India s archaic religion and Buddhism is the religion armed with just one message: end suffering. Both religions and cultures being very established in the eastern world are very respectable and should be as much as any other.

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