Saturday, August 17, 2019

Hinduism and Buddhism Essay

Hinduism and Buddhism are two of the renowned religions world widely. Hinduism is the religion of the great majority of the people of India. The word comes from the Sanskrit sindhu, â€Å"river,† and originally referred to the Indus. Hinduism is actually a collection of many native Indian religions, past and present. It is responsible for the social structure of India, especially for the caste system (a hereditary class system). Hinduism has about 20 sects, with beliefs that range from primitive forms of animism to the highest reaches of mysticism and philosophy. Many of the sects and cults seem to be separate religions. Yet all have a family relationship since they spring from common traditions and thrive. Hindus believe in rebirth, or reincarnation, and in what they call the law of karma. Under this law the conditions of each new lifetime are determined by the actions of the preceding life. To the Hindu, salvation consists of liberating the soul from attachment to worldly desires in order to gain union with Brahman. If a Hindu dies liberated he must be born again into this world and again endure its suffering (Stutley, 2004). The Vedas describe four main castes. 1. The Brahmins exercise spiritual power. (Brahmin is also spelled Brahman). 2. The Kshatriyas are warriors who exercise secular power. 3. The Vaisyas are merchants and cultivators. 4. The Sudras are artisans and laborers. Hindu worship for most part takes place in the home. A Hindu temple or shrine is considered an abode of deity and is not used for communal worship. There are kinds of Hindu clergy. Temple priests collect offerings and care for the temples and shrines. Domestic priests perform rites involving births, marriages, and deaths. Gurus are spiritual teachers. Sadhus are monks; most live in monasteries, but many live as wandering mendicants (beggars) (Chaudhuri, 1999). While Buddhism is a religion founded by Siddhartha Gautama (â€Å"Buddha,† or â€Å"The Enlightened One†) in India about 500 B. C. Buddhism is the chief religion of Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Kampuchea, Laos, and China. It has been estimated that about one-fifth of the world’s people are Buddhists. Because many Buddhists also practice Confucianism or Taoism, however, some authorities estimate world membership to be much smaller. In the United States, there are a number of organized Buddhist congregations (Carrithers, 2003). Buddhism consists of numerous sects with varying practices and beliefs. Some of these sects are so different from the others that they appear to be separate religions. But all sects have in common the belief that they are following the principles laid down by Gautama. Early Buddhism, the religion as taught by Gautama, developed into two branches—Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism (Mizuno, 2001). Although Buddhism was originally a reform movement that rejected certain beliefs and practices of Hinduism, the two religions have several important beliefs in common. Among them are reincarnation, the ideas that a living thing can be reborn in a new body; the law of karma, which holds that events in life are effects whose cause lies in previous lives and acts; and liberation, or salvation, the state of being free of the law of karma and rebirth (Conze, 2002). According to Buddhism, liberation is attained through understanding and practice of the Four Noble Truths: 1. There is suffering in life. 2. Suffering is caused by desire for pleasure, existence, and prosperity. 3. Suffering and rebirth cease when one ceases such desires, leading to enlightenment, or Nirvana, a blessed state in which peace, harmony, and joy are attained. The Eightfold Path is also called the Middle Way—because of its emphasis on avoiding such extremes as following sensuous pleasures on the one hand, and self-punishment on the other. The Buddhists must at all times observe in the high moral principles described in the Eightfold path, which emphasizes nonviolence and the brotherhood of all. Reference: 1. Carrithers, Michael. The Buddha (Oxford University 2003). 2. Chaudhuri, N. C. Hinduism: A Religion to Live by (Oxford University, 1999). 3. Conze, Edward. A Short History of Buddhism (Allen & Unwin, 2002). 4. Mizuno, Kogen. Basic Buddhist Concepts (Tuttle, 2001). 5. Stutley, Margaret & James. Harper’s Dictionary of Hinduism: Its Mythology, Folklore, Philosophy, Literature, and History (Harper & Row, 2004).

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