Both Buddhism and Christianity are majorly followed by the population belonging to a race and linguistic group different from those of their founders.
By Sanjoo Thangjam
Buddhism is a philosophy of life, based on the teachings of Lord Buddha. The concept of Buddhism evolved around 563 BCE, much before the birth of Jesus Christ, the central figure of Christianity.
For two millennia after their emergence in the east and west of the Indus Valley, both Buddhism & Christianity witnessed several alterations and additions. The first and most noticeable was the fact that both were expanding and establishing their roots in the nations of the Far East and western hemisphere respectively, while quietly getting wiped out from the places of their origin.
It is also significant that both Buddhism and Christianity are majorly followed by the population belonging to a race and linguistic group different from those of their founders. Also to mention is, both religions had numerous developments in their religious theories and principles, long after their founders had left this materialistic world.
Considered to be the two great distinctive religions of the world, both Buddhism & Christianity today cover a large section of the world population with numerous similarities and differences.
The similarity between Buddhism and Christianity
Buddhism: Lord Buddha based His ethics on the ‘golden rule’, which was for the welfare of human beings.
Christianity: Jesus Christ also preached His ethics as per the ‘golden rule’, which was for the welfare of His people and easily approachable.
Buddhism: Buddha, the founder of Buddhism rejected extreme asceticism and gave an emphasis on self-liberation through knowledge.
Christianity: Jesus Christ also rejected extreme asceticism.
Forms of Worship
Buddhism: The worship in Buddhism includes monasticism, ringing of bells, bowing, use of incense and rosary, erection of towers or stupas, prayers and meditation.
Christianity: Similarly, the Christians also follow almost the same form of worship – Monasticism, Confession, the cult of images, ringing of bells, use of rosary and incense and the erection of towers.
Love And Compassion
Buddhism: The Buddhist doctrine gives an emphasis on love for the entire mankind and every other beings as well, no matter whether the being is a friend or an enemy! Christianity: The Christian doctrine is also based on the principle of ‘Love thy neighbour like unto yourself’, which means that love should be showered upon not only your friends, but the entire beings.
Difference between Buddhism and Christianity
Buddhism: The original Buddhist doctrine does not entail any Godly figures. However, the later Buddhist sects introduced some godly figures.
Christianity: There is only one God, Jesus, who is loving and approachable.
Buddhism: According to the Buddhist concept, one has to work for one’s own salvation, and therefore, cannot blame or depend on others for salvation.
Christianity: Salvation is not based on one’s work, but instead, is a free gift to all those who would accept Jesus Christ as their savior.
Buddhism: According to the Buddhist doctrine, there is an eternal life, which depends on the karma of one’s present life.
Christianity: There is eternal life in Heaven, which has nothing to do with karma and comes as a free gift of salvation.
Love and Compassion
Buddhism: The concept of Buddhism does not mention a God who showers love and takes care of His people.
Christianity: Bible, the holy book of the Christians, mentions God’s love for His folks or devotees.
The Concept of World
Buddhism: Buddhism neither deals with the beginning nor a definite end of the world.
Christianity: According to the Christian doctrine, God has created the world from nothing, and rules it according to His own definite plan.
Buddhism: The Buddhist canons include only those insights which the Buddha won by His own strength and will after comprehending the nature of truth.
Christianity: The Bible, holy text for the Christians, is regarded as the ‘Words of God’ and includes those realities, which are unknown to mankind.
Buddhism & Islam
Buddhism and Islam are two major religions of the world today, which traces back to the 6th century BCE and the 6th century CE respectively. Based on the teachings of Lord Buddha (Northern India) and Prophet Mohammed (Arabia), Buddhism and Islam deal with a new way of life, which gives a being freedom from confusion and disillusionment. Both religions require practice and faith in self. Both of them have different methods of worship but on the whole talk about similar facts.
Similarities between Buddhism and Islam
Buddhism: The eternal life depends upon the karma or the deeds of the present life.
Islam: The eternal life depends on the works of the present life and is only applicable for those who follow the Islamic path wholeheartedly.
The Concept of Universe
Buddhism: The universe is separate from God and has been created by Him.
Islam: Islam is also creationist. The universe is a creation of God and so, separate from Him.
Buddhism: Buddhism believes in humanity and love for all beings.
Islam: Similarly, the most important aspect in Islam is humanity.
Idol – Worship
Buddhism: The Buddhist doctrine exhorts the Buddhists to follow the essence of Dhamma and condemn idol worship.
Islam: Likewise, Islam also imposes a taboo on idol worship.
Buddhism: Buddhism opposes the evils of caste and creed and asserts the equality of all beings.
Islam: Islam also stresses the equality of individuals, thereby, abhorring caste and creed.
Differences Between Buddhism And Islam
Buddhism: The earlier Buddhist doctrine does not mention any God, although the concept of Godly figures was introduced later.
Islam: The Muslims believe in one God, known as ‘Allah’.
Buddhism: According to the Buddhist doctrine, the works are done by a person decide upon his salvation, and therefore, the person cannot blame others for it.
Islam: Islam does not believe in salvation, even though it focuses on life after death. According to the principles of Islam, the aim of an individual’s life is to attain an afterlife within one of the heavens as described in the holy Quran and to avoid one of the numerous hells.
The Concept of World
Buddhism: Buddhism neither stresses the aspects of the natural world nor gives an emphasis on the role of God in goods and evils.
Islam: Islam stresses on the aspects of the natural world and considers Allah to be the creator of the universe and the source of all goods and evils.
For its followers, Buddhism is more than a religion; it is a way of life. While Buddhists take vows that are similar to those taken in other religions, including the vows not to kill, lie or steal, Buddhism does not prohibit its practitioners from following other religions. Additionally, it gives its followers autonomy in choosing the depth of practice.
Buddhists may individually make certain commitments — like reciting a mantra a certain number of times or fulfilling the requests of a teacher — but they are not required; instead, they are self-imposed. Unlike many religions, a Buddhist nun or monk may return to their vows after choosing to marry and have children without negative backlashes or bitter judgment.
Unlike monotheistic religions, Buddhism does not deify its founder, Gautama Siddhartha, but teaches the history of his life and how he came to enlightenment. Buddhism is a practical set of beliefs based on observation of the human condition. Parts of Asia, far eastern countries, and parts of North America and Europe as well, whereas Jainism, on the other hand, remained confined to India, the land of its origin.
(The writer is a columnist based in Imphal)