20+ Differences between Hinduism And Buddhism (Explained)

Asia has been an abode to many religions that define the morality and ethics of the people who follow them. The origin of both Hinduism and Buddhism can be delineated to ancient times.

Hinduism, the world’s 3rd largest religion, is largely based on the pre-Vedic and Vedic religious philosophies. On the other hand, Buddhism is said to be originated from the ‘Shramana school’-one of the religious movement parallel to the Vedic religion.

differences between hinduism and buddhism

Comparison between Hinduism and Buddhism

FounderNo specific founder can be traced back to the Vedic period (1500 BC-600 BC)
Siddharta Gautama came to be known as Gautama Buddha. At the age of29, he left his home to find the truth of life.
Concepts and PhilosophyAccording to Hindu traditions, one should seek dharma (righteousness) after the goals of kama(pleasure) and artha are achieved.The basic doctrine is explained by the 4 major truths:1. The truth of agony(dukkha)2. The truth of the dawn and agony (samudaya)3. The truth of getting rid of  suffering(nirodha)4. The truth of the path to the end of agony(marga)
Prevalence across the world3rd largest religion in the world4th largest religion in the world
Terminology for the followersRishis, Gurus, Yogis for male monks, and Sadhvi, Sanyasini for female monks are the most prevalent terminology for the followers. Male monks are called Bhikkus while female monks are referred to as Bhikkunis in Buddhism
Major branches/sects There are four major sects under Hinduism:Vaishnavism(followers of Vishnu)Shaivism( followers of Shiva)Shaktism(followers of Devi or goddess)Smartism( followers of five deities, all treated as equal: Shiva, Shakti, Ganesh, Vishnu, and Surya)There are four major schools under Buddhism:HinayanaMahayanaTheravadaVajrayana
Primary language used Sanskrit is the sacred language of HinduismSanskrit was the primary language in Hinayana and Mahayana schools, while Pali language was the most prevalent in Theravada schools.
Important scripturesVedas, Bhagavat Gita, Ramayana, Upanishads and PuranasGandhara and Tripitaka texts
Famous places of worshipJagannath temple in Puri,  Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh, etc.Mahabodhi temple in Bodh gaya  , Boudhanath stupa in Kathmandu, Borobudur in Indonesia etc

differences between Hinduism and Buddhism

What exactly is Hinduism?

Hinduism, with a variety of sects and cults within its purview, is one of the biggest religions in India and the 3rd largest all over the world. Its fundamentals are deduced from pre-Vedic and Vedic religious philosophies. In the Upanishads, four stages of life are specified:

  1. Brahmachari: A celibate student
  2. Grihastha: A householder
  3. Vanaprastha: A hermit
  4. Sannyasi: An ascetic  

After achieving asceticism, one should strive for the achievement of moksha or salvation.

What exactly is Buddhism?

The chronicle of Siddharta, who came to be known as Buddha, is regarded as the inception of Buddhism. Buddha had been ascribed with various traditions, beliefs, and practices. Buddhism recognizes the existence of a single god and stresses human ethics more.

According to Buddhism, life is full of agony and grievances(dukkha), our aspirations are the root cause of our agony, and we’re caught in a vicious cycle of samsara, that is, the endless cycle of repeated resurrection, dukkha, and dying again.

Buddhas’ teachings have been assembled together in the form of Pitakas (Vinaya, Sutta, Abhidhamma- when combined, were called Tripitaka). 

sects of hinduism and buddhism

The contrast between Hinduism and Buddhism

Textual Sources

  • Hinduism: The Vedas and The Upanishads are the oldest and the most sacred literary productions. There are four Vedas- the Rig Veda(collection of lyrics), the Sama Veda(book of chants), the Yajur Veda(book of sacrificial prayers), and the Atharva Veda(book of magical formulae). 
  • Buddhism: Early Buddhist literature is generally divided into canonical and non-canonical texts. Canonical texts are directly linked to Gautama Buddha, e.g.: Tripitaka. Non-canonical texts are the commentaries and observations on the canonical texts, e.g.: Milinda Panha, Nettipakarana.

Idols or images of worship

  • Hinduism: Shiva and Vishnu are the most preached almighty figures prevalent in modern-day Hinduism.
  • Buddhism: Sculptures of Gautam Buddha are preached under the Mahayana sect. 

Architectural significance

  • Hinduism: Different styles of temple architecture emerged during the Gupta period, namely, Nagara style, Dravidian style, Nayaka style, Vesara style, Hoysala style, Vijaynagara style, and Pala and Sena style.
  • Buddhism: Mauryan period saw the development of Buddist architecture mainly in the form of pillars and stupas. The official emblem of India is inspired by the Sarnath Pillar (India, Asia). Buddha’s demise led to the construction of nine stupas, out of which eight of them had the actual antiques, while the ninth had the pot in which the antiques were originally kept.

Spiritual Leaders

  • Hinduism: The concept of the supreme religious leader has no place in Hinduism.
  • Buddhism: Dalai Lama is the title given to the supreme religious leader in Tibetan Buddhism. 

Important festivals

Hinduism: Every festival has some relation to a specific God, and there are numerous festivals of Hindus; these include Diwali, Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Janmashtami, etc.

Buddhism: There are plenty of Buddhist festivals too, namely Vesak (Buddha’s birthday), Buddha Purnima, Losar( mostly celebrated by Tibetan Buddhists), Parinirvana Day, etc.

Important Symbols

  • Hinduism: Om and Swastika are one of the most prevalent symbols in Hinduism.
  • Buddhism: Dharma chakra(wheel of dharma), fish, lotus, and conch are some of the important symbols in Buddhism.

Perception of the Vedas

  • Hinduism: Vedas are also called Apaurasheya, I .e, not created by man God-gifted and Nitya, I .e, existing in all eternity. The Brahmans explain the hymns of the Vedas as it has elaborately discussed the various sacrifices and rituals of Hinduism.
  • Buddhism: Buddism rejects the authenticity of the Vedas. It also denounces the concept of the existence of the soul(atman).

Global percentage of followers

  • Hinduism: It is the 3rd largest religion in the world, with an approximate 16-17% world population as its followers. 
  • Buddhism: It is the 4th largest religion in the world, with an approximate 7-8% world population as its followers.

Prevalence across the countries

  • Hinduism: The largest population is found in India, though a large number of countries like Nepal, Bhutan, North America, Bali in Indonesia, etc., are also the abode of Hindus.
  • Buddhism: The largest population is found in China. Asia has the largest population of Buddhists in the countries like India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Myanmar, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q.1 What are stupas, and explain their construction?

Stupas had acquired center stage in Indian architecture since the Mauryan empire. It is an orthodox representation of a cremation lodgement in which relics and ashes of the deceased were kept.

King Ashoka is regarded as the admirer and patron of stupas, constructing almost 84000 stupas during his span.

The stupa’s core was composed of unburnt brick, while unburnt bricks were used to construct the outer surface, covered with a thick layer of plaster.

Examples: Sanchi Stupa in India, Asia, is a place of tourist attraction in India.

Q.2 What are the causes of the origin of Buddhism?

Buddhism is alleged to have been a consequence of Kshatriyas against Brahmanical supremacy.

It was patronized by the Vaishyas and other mercantile groups who wanted a better social status and peace regime.

Moreover, Buddhism’s simple, ascetic, peace-centered principles attracted the general people.

Q.3 What does Hinduism preach?

According to Hindu traditions, kama (pleasure) and artha are goals to be aimed at, but once they are achieved, one has to look towards attaining dharma(righteousness).

The ultimate goal of Hinduism is to break free from the clutches of the vicious cycle of birth and rebirth and attain moksha.

Q.4 Why do some Hindu Gods have animal features?

Hinduism has been endowed with a rich culture, tradition, and a wide range of beliefs.

Each god is associated with a distinct personality and appearance, which is largely based on its depiction in stories and epics.

Ganesha, Hanuman, Varuna, Kamadhenu, and the Nagas are some of the Hindu deities that have animal features.

Q.5 Apart from the differences, are there any similarities between Hinduism and Buddhism?

Hinduism and Buddhism do share some similarities; they are:

1. Both religions have their roots in Asia, the Indian subcontinent.
2. Idol worship is prevalent in both Hinduism and Buddhism (Mahayana).

Both religions condemn discrimination of any kind, and both men and women enjoy equal rights. 

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