India’s society has a set of norms and rules that people are to follow and live by. Most societies derive their norms for people to follow by using religion as the official laws of some cultures. In order, to understand India one has to look at how religion impacts the lives of people on a daily basis. Due to India being a land of diversity a large majority of the people practice some type of religious ritual on a daily basis that shows that religion is an important facet in their lives. Hinduism and Buddhism are both religions that originated out of the Indian subcontinent and considered to be major world religions. The reason that religion is so important to India is that four major religions emerged out of this country but this paper will provide an overview of compare and contrast of Hinduism and Buddhism and a major role in Indian society.
Hinduism is considered to be one of the oldest religions on Earth and is ranked third with populations on several continents. This religion was developed by a group of people living in the Indus Valley who lived under a very strict social system. Hinduism as well has deeply influenced the culture and way of life for the Indians because it allows and even encourages individuals to choose a religious path that best suits their social and emotional needs as stated by an article in Newsela. According to The Assam Tribune. Mahatma Gandhi defined Hinduism as the Religion of Truth, Truth is God. Ironically Hinduism has no one founder or prophet but the origin of Hinduism can be traced back to the Vedas that details the philosophies of Hinduism.
The Vedas teach that there is one Supreme Being and is called Brahman, who created and controls the universe. The ultimate goal of life is to achieve moksha or union with Brahman. Hindus believe it often takes several cycles of death and rebirth before people achieve moksha and are freed from the cycle of rebirth . This constant cycle of birth and rebirth is known as samsara . What body the new soul enters is determined by karma . Karma is defined as the accumulated result of one’s actions in various lives and can be good or bad according to Newsela. Righteous and moral conduct, known as dharma, leads to good karma . Lastly, the Hindus believe in the caste system which divided Indian society based on one’s status and occupation. Even though the caste system is illegal today it is still used in some parts of India’s subcontinent.
Buddhism evolved from Hinduism and is considered to be the fourth religion in terms of numbers. The origin of Buddhism traces back to Siddhartha Gautama who wanted to know how to end suffering and his teachings were very simple. Under Buddhism, it did not matter if you worship one god or a host of gods or even if you chose to worship a god. Buddhists were taught that it is up to each individual person to be responsible for his or her own actions. Each individual can decide whether or not to follow the teachings of Buddhism. You do not have to rely on the Gods you have to do it for yourself.
Buddhists believed that all people were equal and if you worked hard you could be reincarnated and be born into a better life. The ultimate goal of the Buddhists was to escape the cycle of reincarnation and rise above it. The Buddhists also believed in the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path but not the caste system. Under the teachings of Buddha came the Four Noble Truths which states that all life is suffering, the cause of suffering is desire and attachment, and the cure for suffering is detachment, or ending desire. The way to overcome these desires is to follow the Eightfold Path according to Buddha which says that you should avoid all your desires.
Once Siddhartha Gautama died, the Buddhists slowly begin to follow his teachings and became the basis of Buddhism. Buddhism was the leading religion in India for a number of years and was able to expand under the Maurya emperor Ashoka who converted to Buddhism. Due to Emperor Ashoka adopting Buddhism it allowed Buddhism to extend beyond the India subcontinent.