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Common Indian Comparative Religions

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Many religions are organized under geographic location because of the similar beliefs and practices common within a region. Comparative Religion studies the similar aspects of doctrines and practices of the world’s religion. India is recognized as a geographical location with many religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Hinduism is believed to be the oldest religion and Buddhism was developed shortly thereafter. While Buddhism and Hinduism originate from the same area they can be distinguished by their deities and beliefs, path to enlightenment, and doctrines.

The majority of Indian religion can be considered polytheistic, nondualist’s, or nontheistic. A common misconception about Hinduism is a polytheistic belief. Hinduism has many gods such as Shiva, Vishnu, and the Mother Goddess Shakti but they are not worshipped simultaneously or share equal status with each other. Rather, Hindus believe the gods and goddesses all descend from the one Ultimate Brahman/Bhagvan. Hinduism can be broadly classified as nondualists because of the belief the gods manifested from a higher being. Hindus focus on the relationship between the human soul and the physical world, Brahman is considered the creator of all things and human actions effects each one of his creations. While on the other hand, Buddhism is not polytheistic or nondualist because no gods are worshipped therefore it is non-theistic. BBC UK simply explains this concept by stating “there is no belief in a personal god. Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent and that change is always possible”….. the religion is not centered on humanity’s connection with god. Instead Buddhists focus on the teachings of Siddharta Guatama to reach enlightenment.

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Enlightenment can be explained as self-actualization and living selflessly in order to achieve eternal peace and ultimately be reborn. Samsara in Hinduism is defined as an endless cycle where the soul leaves the human body after death and reincarnates itself into another physical being. “Samsara leads one to act in ways that generate karma and thus perpetuate the cycle of action and rebirth” (berkely center citation). The caste system, also known as Jati, is based off of karma and is a social order of reincarnation. The lowest class is the untouchables, then commoners called Sudra, next in the order is the Viasya which are merchants and landowners, above the Viasya is warriors known as Kshatryia, and finally at the top is the Bhramin more commonly known as priests. Position the order can be changed as individuals improve socially and financially. Buddhism does not use the caste system as a ranking for reincarnation, in fact, Buddha teaches the Eight-Fold Path and the Four Noble Truths in order to achieve a state of nirvana or selflessness. The Eight-Fold Path is a set of steps in order to live life correctly and is as follows stated by Bhikkhu Bodhi, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and lastly, right concentration.

While both Hinduism and Buddhism believe in achieving a pure and centered soul, the doctrines learned and to reach purity differ slightly. Britannica discusses the various languages written for Hinduisms sacred texts “its many sacred texts in Sanskrit and vernacular languages served as a vehicle for spreading the religion to other parts of the world”(…..) the sacred texts are known as Vedas and there are four, Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, and Atharva Veda. These texts greatly influenced Buddhism and other Indian religions. They contain hymns, incantations, and rituals from ancient India. The rituals and rites of passage are through meditation, pilgrimage, and studying the practices. Each Hindu goes through these four stages throughout their life, studying at a young age and developing character is the first phase called Brahmacharga, the next stage is Grastha which encompasses marriage, building a family, and a career, the third is Vanaprastha when an individuals children grow up to be adults and that individual focuses more spiritually, and the last stage is Sanngasu where a Hindu might abandon the world in order to lead a life of contemplation. Similar to the Hinduism practices, Buddhism uses meditation as a way to reach eternal peace. There is no true written text for Buddhists as the Buddha’s teachings were passed down orally which was not unusual at the time of the religion’s creation around the sixth century. An effect of that is the openness for interpretation of Buddha’s teachings. Sutras were developed in order to record some of the lessons such as the Lotus, Heart, Diamond, and the Vimalakirti Sutras. As stated prior, Buddhism focuses on leading a pure and noble by actively Practicing the Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path. Buddhists use rituals like mantras, mudras, prayer wheels, pilgrimage, and meditation as ways of completing those paths and steps.

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Common Indian Comparative Religions. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
“Common Indian Comparative Religions.” Edubirdie, 24 Feb. 2022,
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Common Indian Comparative Religions [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 24 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from:
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