In the words of Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, “Buddhism, in it’s origin at least, is an offshoot of Hinduism.” But how exactly do the two religions intertwine?
The practise of meditation is at the forefront of both, with the view of bringing peace within ones self. This merges with the overall aim of Buddhism perfectly which is: “To attain enlightenment and be released from the cycle of rebirth and death, thus attaining Nirvana” and Hinduisms, being: “To break the cycle of birth, death and reincarnation, and attain salvation.” Essentially, preservation or deliverance from harm is the final goal of a practising Buddhist or Hindu. They refrain from inflicting harm on others and believe in doing so, they will reach salvation on a personal level.
The two religions are viewed in society as the most peaceful. Unsurprisingly, considering they teach compassion and non violence, most practising Hindus and Buddhists follow either a vegan or vegetarian diet. Hindus see cows as sacred beings and in India they are allowed to roam unharmed. Homeless and stray cows are supported by temples, particularly in Southern India where Tamil Nadu is almost exclusively vegetarian.
In contrast, traditionally, Buddhism has no set prayer rituals whereas Hindus worship in both temples and at home. Most Hindu centralised households will have a shrine which families will use to make personal offerings to the deity (God or Goddess) such as flowers, water, fruit and incense. The worshippers repeat the names of their favourite Gods and Goddesses whilst reciting mantras. These daily rituals are referred to as Nitya rites.
To see examples of Hindu mantras go to: http://www.freemeditationinfo.com/meditation-instructions/hindu-mantras.html
The most popular is: “The Gayatri Mantra” which directly translates to: “O Divine mother, our hearts are filled with darkness. Please make this darkness distant from us and promote illumination within us.”
There are countless variations of Gods and Goddesses in the Hindu religion. In fact, many Hindus believe that Buddha is an incarnation of Vishnu. Buddhists do not follow this view and see Buddha as a teacher rather than a God.
Hinduism has been around for 3,500 years in comparison to 2,800 years for Buddhism. Naturally, the two religions share their similarities as they both sprung from Indian culture. At the time of it’s invention, many people saw Buddhism as an answer to the injustices that they believed were being done in the name of religion, which is how it originally gained followers. Although the differences are minimal, I think the main one to note is that Buddhism is more of a lifestyle, whereas Hinduism is a structured religion with worship at the centre.