Hinduism and Buddhism are related traditions that evolved in the same spiritual culture of ancient India. Buddhism believes that the One is the absolute Non-Being that underlies the manifested being. Absolute Being coincides with absolute non-existence. These are two sides of the same coin, and it can be said that Buddhism is the other side of Hinduism. The achievement of the Absolute in Hinduism is called samadhi, whereas the attaining of the Emptiness is called nirvana in Buddhism. Both Hinduism and Buddhism share the similar views on the essential concepts of karma, moksha and reincarnation. However, Buddhism pays little attention to the ritual side and priests, whereas Hinduism cannot be imagined without necessary rituals. Unlike Hindus who live according to the strict caste system, Buddhist rely on themselves seeking enlightenment in this life. Most importantly, Hindus believe in numerous gods, whereas Buddhists have no concept of God as a separate being.

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Comparison and Contrast of Hindu and Buddhist Ethical Traditions

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One of the main goals of Buddhism is achieving the state of nirvana, or a state of awareness of one’s soul that can be achieved through self-denial and abandonment of the comfortable environmental conditions. At the heart of Buddhism, there is the concept of dukkha (the truth of suffering), by which everyone is influenced to a greater or lesser extent. Dukkha always has a cause that contributes to the emergence of different kinds of addiction. Finally, one can get rid of addictions and the suffering they cause through to the path leading to nirvana. There is no idea in Buddhism about an eternal soul atoning for sins. However, according to Buddhist worldview, everything that a person does in this life will find its imprint and will definitely return to the person somehow. Buddhists consider it not a divine retribution, but the consequences of all actions and thoughts that influence one’s karma.

As far as Hindu ethics is concerned, the doctrine of dharma, or the totality of the duties of each being plays a highly important role in this religion. Performing one’s dharma guarantees future embodiment in a better body after the destruction of the previous one. Life, according to the teachings of Hinduism, is suffering, and only merging with Brahma relieves suffering.

Mergence with Brahma is the privilege of the Brahmins, and others must conscientiously fulfill their duty and wait for the incarnation of the Brahman in one of the following lives. Hinduism recognizes the existence of an individual soul that is reborn. Buddhism, however, denies the existence of such a soul and says that rebirth is only a continuation of the flow of karma yet is not a real entity. In contrast to Hinduism, Buddhism is freed from the mythological shell and has developed in the direction from ritualism to morality. In Hinduism, external physical aspects and techniques are usually emphasized, whereas in Buddhism great importance is attached not to external, but to internal techniques that affect the mind and heart. Therefore, Buddhism affirms the authority of morality over karma and social position.

In such a way, both religions use the same terms and follow similar principles and practices. However, unlike in Hinduism, Buddhism does not need God as creator, savior, or an unconditionally supreme being. Buddhism is most consistent in asserting the ideas of reincarnation and karma that are major concepts of Hinduism. Both emphasize the need to dissolve the ego, the sense of self and its property, and return to the original reality that is not limited to the individual “I.” Both traditions emphasize the realization of enlightenment or inner illumination through meditation and recognize the principle of dharma as the basic law of the universe. Nevertheless, Hinduism and Buddhism are similar traditions designed to help their followers to transcend the limits of karma and rebirth in order to realize the truth of awareness.