Hinduism and buddhism

The notion of human self differs in Hinduism and Buddhism. According to Hinduism, the individual soul or atman is separate from the body and the intellect. This Atman is indestructible, eternal, and unaffected by the changes in life. Individual actions (karma) are governed by the caste, but the soul is independent of caste and action. The ultimate goal of this atman is to end the cycle of births by merging with the all-pervasive Brahman (Mundaka Upanishad, in The Upanishads cited in Hinduism 66). Buddhist teachings on the other hand claim that there is no such thing as the eternal self. According to Buddhism, each individual is formed by combining the form, feelings, perceptions, volition, and consciousness. The law of karma (action) binds these five forces (The Theravada Buddhist Worldview). Individual actions are results of desires, which lead to suffering and rebirth. To break away from the cycle of births, one must give up desires. As with the Buddhist perspective of the human soul, their views on God are quite different from those of Hindus. Buddhism is an atheist religion. Buddhists believe that individuals have to strive for enlightenment and that God does not help the man in this struggle. Even Buddha is not considered a God, but a venerated leader who showed the path to enlightenment (Means: The Four Noble Truth – The Eight-fold Path of the Middle Way). On the other hand, Hinduism is a religion with many gods, the most venerated being Brahma the creator of the universe, Vishnu the preserver, and Siva the destroyer, along with their respective divine consorts Sarasvati the goddess of knowledge, Lakshmi the goddess of wealth, and Parvati the universal mother. Buddha is considered an incarnation of Vishnu and hence a God (Devotional and Literature Movements: The Puranas). A Hindu could be devoted to any particular God of his/her choice. This Hindu tolerance towards many gods caused Buddhism in India to fade into Hinduism over time (Introduction, Theravada Buddhism – the Middle Way).

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