India is a unique country in religious terms. We cannot meet such a wide quantity and diversity of religions in any other state that we can find in India. It is important to mention that almost all the inhabitants of India are deeply religious. Religion and spirituality pervade with new emotions their daily lives, and they are also an integral part of everyday life. In such a way Indian religion is a set of beliefs, formed under the Indian cultural tradition – Vedic religion, Hinduism (which includes the Brahmanism, Vishnuism and Shaivism), Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Thus, we are going to discuss two of them, and dwell on differences and similarities between Hinduism and Buddhism with more details.
Let us explore the fact that Buddhism developed in India in the overall context of Indian philosophy and religion, which included both Hinduism and Jainism. Although Buddhism has some features in common with these religions, however, there are fundamental differences. The first and the principal difference between Buddhism and Hinduism is the essence of their main ideas. For instance, the main idea of Buddhism is that it is impossible to get rid of suffering remaining in the cycle of samsara, while Hinduism is based on the idea of an infinite cycle of life, which is controlled by the law of karma. Even the term samsara has different meanings in both religions, because in Buddhism samsara means the transmigration or rebirth of a person, while Hinduism understands it as the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
The next point of our comparison of two religions is suffering. The representatives of Buddhism believe that the life is suffering, and everything in life (even joy and pleasure, and above all any desire) only leads to a multiplication of suffering. And the person must abandon the desire for the purpose to break this vicious circle. In addition, as it becomes understandable, to abandon any desire is the only way to embark on the path of nirvana, which means the blissful oblivion (Coomaraswamy, 1986). On the contrary, even taking into account the law of karma and suffering, according to Hinduism, the man has a chance to break out of the cycle and achieve liberation from the fetters of bodily life, from relationships that span the creature’s hands and feet. The Hindu always tries to achieve harmony with the universe, and exactly harmony is considered the highest aim and meaning of human life in Hinduism.