Hinduism is probably the oldest religion in the world. It began as a philosophy of the thinkers who sat by the banks of ancient river Indus, and chanted hymns to express their spiritual thoughts. Over a period of time, a number of Gods, Goddesses, rituals and worship got associated with Hinduism and it took the form of religion.
Buddhism emerged much later in the Indian subcontinent, when the Hindu prince Siddhartha took leave from material living, and began to meditate in seclusion about the meaning and values of life. His followers called him as the The Buddha (The enlightened One), and their religion came to be known as Buddhism.
Both Religious Beliefs in Asia share a lot of similarities because they both originate from the same cultural roots of ancient India, and believe in the central philosophy of peace and non-violence (Ahimsa).
We may list the similarities between these religions as follows:
1. Both religions believe in the transitory nature of life on earth, and assume that a man’s universal destiny is decided according to his conduct or “Karma” in this world.
2. Both religions profess that our natural, materialistic and biological desires must be kept under self-control, as otherwise greed becomes the chief root cause of all grief and suffering in this world.
3. Both religions propagate the message of peace and non-violence, and renunciation as the ultimate sacrifice for man.
4. Both give a lot of importance to meditation (or, dhyaan) as a critical means to attain control over one’s senses and desires.
5. One major school of thought in Hinduism is “Advaita”, which means oneness of God in the universe, and preaches tolerance for all other religions in the world. Buddhism is also based on the same philosophy of oneness of God.
To understand both religions better, let us also list some of the dissimilarities between Religious Beliefs in Asia as follows:
1. Hinduism originated as a thought process, and not like a typical religion, as it was not launched by the followers of any single saint or prophet. Whereas, Buddhism was entirely based upon the teachings of Lord Buddha.
2. The four Vedas (Rig, Sam, Yajur, Atharva) constitute the supreme religious scriptures under Hinduism. Whereas, Buddhism does not base itself on any scriptures except the teachings of Lord Buddha.
3. Hinduism believes in the concept of Atman (Soul) and Paramatman (The Supreme Soul, i.e., God), while Buddhism does not give much importance to the concept of the soul.
4. Buddhism believes that the central aim of life is to relieve humanity from material and spiritual suffering and pain. Whereas Hinduism pursues a much deeper philosophical goal of attaining Moksha (spiritual salvation) as the ultimate aim for all human beings on earth.
5. Buddhism is more structured and rigid in its core beliefs and lays the pre-condition of following the exact path laid out by the Buddha. Whereas Hinduism is a much more flexible and liberal philosophy which allows a man several paths to reach the final goal of achieving Nirvana or Moksha (liberation of the spirit.)
Historically, Hinduism is much older than Buddhism, but geographically, the popularity of Hinduism has remained confined largely to the Indian sub-continent. Whereas, in case of Buddhism, the followers of Buddha spread far and wide to other parts of Asia, and as a result, Buddhism is today more internationally recognized and accepted in different parts of Asia.