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Differences between Buddhism and Hinduism l


Difference between Buddhism and Hinduism is explained here in detail. Buddhism has a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices based on teachings of Buddha. Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, many practitioners refer to it as “the eternal way”. The differences between Buddhism vs Hinduism given here can help in understanding the basics better, and know their comparisons and similarities thoroughly.

Aspirants would find this article helpful while preparing for the IAS Exam.

Differences between Buddhism and Hinduism

The major differences between Buddhism and Hinduism are:

As per Buddhism, one can reach Nirvana or enlightenment by following the Noble eightfold path.As per Hinduism, one can reach enlightenment by following the path of good deeds, path of devotion and path of knowledge.

Buddhism Hinduism
Followers of Buddhism are known as Buddhists Followers of Hinduism are known as Hindus
Buddhism is the world’s fourth largest religion. There are approximately 520 million people following Buddhism or approximately 7% of the global population. Hinduism is the World’s third largest religion having approximately 16% of the global population or 1.25 billion people followers.
The places of worship of Buddhists are known as Buddhist monasteries, shrines, temples. The places of worship of Hindus are known as Temples.
Buddha is the founder of Buddhism. Buddhists consider Buddha as the all transcending sage and highest teacher. Among some sections of Hindus, they consider Buddha as the 9th avatar of Vishnu.
Tibetan Buddhism has a foremost Spiritual Leader. The title given to the foremost spiritual leader is the Dalai Lama. Dalai Lama is the title given by Tibetan people to the supreme spiritual leader of  Yellow Hat or Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism.  Hinduism does not have a concept of having the foremost Spiritual Leader.
In Buddhism Male Monks are known as Bhikkhus and Female Monks are known as Bhikkhunis. The Monastic Communities in Buddhism are known as Sangha. In Hinduism male monks are known as Yogis, Sages, Rishis, Gurus, Priests, and female monks are known as Sanyasini, sadhvi, swamini.
The 2 major branches of Buddhism are Hinayana (Theravada) and Mahayana. The 4 largest denominations of Hinduism are Shaktism, Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Smartism.
The primary language used by Theravada tradition was the Pali language. The primary language used by Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions is Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the primary sacred language of Hinduism. Most of the works of Hindu Philosophy were written in Sanskrit language.
Some of the most important festivals of Buddhists are Vesak (Buddha’s birthday), Parinirvana Day (also known as Nirvana day), Buddha Purnima, Ullambana, Uposatha, Losar (celebrated by Tibetan Buddhists) etc. Holy Days in Hinduism are plenty. There are many important days for worshipping different Gods, some of the most important holy days are Ganesh Chaturthi, Mahashivaratri, Ram Navami, Krishna Janmashtami, Navaratri, Durga Puja etc.
Some of the most important scriptures are Tripitaka and Gandhara Texts. Tripitaka are composed of 3 sections: Commentaries, Discipline and Discourses. Some of the most important scriptures of Hinduism are Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayan, Upanishads, Puranas.
Some of the most important symbols in Buddhism are Conch, Dharmachakra – it is a wheel of dharma, fish, lotus, vase, victory banner, parasol etc. Some of the most important symbols of Hinduism are Om, Swastika etc.
Buddhism does impart advice on how to maintain a cordial and happy married life. However, Buddhism does not treat marriage as a religious duty. Buddhists monks and nuns follow celibacy all their lives. As per Hinduism, man can marry once. However, in ancient India and in Mythologies there are cases of a man having multiple wives.
Buddhism does not have a concept of sin.  In Hinduism, sins committed deliberately will have to be repaid through Karmic consequences. However repentance for unintentional sins have been prescribed
Buddhism originates from Buddha. Buddha achieved enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, at Gaya district located in Bihar, India. The first teachings of Buddha were delivered at a Deer Park in Sarnath. Origins can be traced to 563 B.C.E.  Hinduism began in Indian subcontinent, even before 3000 B.C.E.
Vedas were rejected by Buddha as per the dialogues given in Nikayas. In Hinduism, Vedas are considered as very important.
The Goal of Buddhism is to bring lasting, unconditional happiness. The Goal of Hinduism is freedom from the cycle of birth and rebirth; and ultimately attain moksha or liberation from birth and rebirth.
Followers of Buddhism can be found in many Asian countries like India, Nepal, Japan, Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Laos, Thailand, Bhutan etc. Hinduism is mainly followed by people in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Mauritius, Carribean, North America, Bali in Indonesia etc.

After learning about the major differences between Buddhism and Hinduism, also learn about some of the similarities between Buddhism and Hinduism.

The major Similarities between Buddhism and Hinduism are:

  1. There is idol worship in both Buddhism (Mahayana) and Hinduism.
  2. Both Buddhism and Hinduism give equal rights to men and women. There is no discrimination against women in either religion.
  3. Atheists can take part in religious activities, there will be no restrictions.
  4. Both the religions originated from Indian Subcontinent.

These are the main similarities and differences between Buddhism and Hinduism. The differences given in the above table can help the UPSC Civil Service Exam aspirants to answer any related questions easily in the exams.

After learning about the Buddhism and Hinduism differences, as well their similarities, it is better to know the details of Teachings of Buddha: Noble 8 fold paths, 3 jewels and 4 noble truths of Buddhism; refer the list of Buddhist Councils, Buddhists Texts, and the history of Buddha and Buddhism. Also refer the below given links for NCERT Notes on Ancient, Medieval and Modern  Indian History. Visit the below given link for comprehensive information on NCERT Notes for Art, Culture, Literature and Architecture. The below given links will also help in better understanding the differences between History and Prehistory; and differences between History and Mythology.

Difference between Buddhism and Hinduism – UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

Frequently Asked Questions on Differences and Similarities between Hinduism and Buddhism


Q 1. What is the key similarity between Buddhism and Hinduism?

Ans. The main similarity between Buddhism (Mahayana) and Hinduism is that both believe in the ideology of idol worship. They also believe in the philosophy of karma and reincarnation.


Q 2. What are the places of worship of Hindus and Buddhists called?

Ans. The places of worship of Buddhists are known as Buddhist monasteries, shrines, temples. While, the place of worship of Hindus is known as Temples.

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