Hinduism and Buddhism


Introduction-

Hinduism and Buddhism are two of the five major religions in our world
today. They are widely practiced, and have survived for centuries. Both have
similarities and differences, as do all forms of religion. Hopefully, in this
paper I will show you the basic structure of each religion. I would also like to
show how they compare and contrast.

Hinduism: Foundation

No one is completely sure of where Hinduism was started and by whom.
Their oldest written documents, the Vedas, were written down in 1000 B.C. but
they had existed orally long before. The Vedas are where Hinduism originated.
Today, Hinduism is the world\'s third largest religion. Many changes have come
upon Hinduism since they practiced it first. Hinduism includes many different
sects, or denominations, and beliefs that have arisen. Though, there are many
things in common with all of the Hindu sects. Their basic beliefs are what ties
them together.

Basic Beliefs-

The religion of Hinduism teaches us that each living body, including
animals, is filled with an eternal soul. Hindus say that the individual soul was
a part of the creator spirit, Brahma. It is each soul\'s job and wish eventually
to return to Brahma. It is not possible though because by a soul\'s sins, and
impurities from the world, they are no longer pure and holy to return. Instead,
a soul must become pure before returning to Brahma, who is absolutely pure.
The process of becoming pure is so hard that no soul can become pure in
only one lifetime. The soul is forced to live life after life until it is pure
enough to return to Brahma. The cycles of rebirths are called samsara, or the
Wheel of Life, by the Hindus. When a soul is finally cleansed enough to break
free of samsara it is called moksha. The soul returns to Brahma for an eternity
of contentment and ecstasy.
There is no one incorporating creed in Hinduism. A follower may choose
any god as their personal god, or may worship several of them. Though to be a
Hindu there are certain things that a follower must believe in and live by.
Their main beliefs are:
1. A belief in karma, the result of one\'s good and bad deeds in a
lifetime.
2. A belief in dharma, Hindu traditions.
3. A belief in the three main gods: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
4. A belief in reincarnation after death.
5. Honor for the sacred Vedas.
6. A belief that, if lived a religious life, the Wheel of Life can end
and achieve moksha.
7. An honor for an ascetic religious life, to be an orthodox Hindu.
Hindus worship many gods, but they are truly monotheistic by believing
in a single god. The reason behind this is that everything comes from Brahman.
It does not matter who the worship is for because it is ultimately Brahman.
Brahman does not reward or punish those for their deeds in life. Every soul
creates their own rewards and punishments through karma. Karma rules what each
soul will be in its next life, and it is formed from a soul\'s good and bad deeds
in each life. If a soul has had more good deeds than bad deeds, then they have
good karma. Or vice versa if they have had more bad deeds than good.
Dharma is the ultimate meritorious balance of all things living. It
belongs to everything, including the universe. Every soul is responsible for
balancing their dharma. The areas to balance in dharma are religious, social,
and within the family. They must keep promises, and remain faithful to religious
rituals, while also taking care of their family. If a soul loses this balance,
then it will affect their karma. Dharma has been called tradition, duty, and a
custom, but to a Hindu it is spiritually more than that. Hindus also follow a
caste system, resulted from dharma, which I will discuss later.

Gods-

There are three main gods in Hinduism. Many others exist in the religion,
but these are the most noteworthy. Brahma is the creator of life. Vishnu is
known as the preserver of life. You might pray to Vishnu if someone you knew was
going in for surgery so that they\'ll come through it with no problems. Finally,
Siva, or Shiva is the destroyer of life. All three of these gods are portrayed
as female and male. Vishnu is more often a male, and Shiva is more often a
female.

The Caste System-

The society of Hinduism is strictly divided. The different levels,
called castes, do not mingle. The division is largely due to the practices of
dharma and karma. Both practices express