Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism, and Mahayana Buddhism: A Comparative Analysis

Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism, and Mahayana Buddhism: A Comparative Analysis

©  by Jens Micah De Guzman

The first traceable roots of Hinduism lie with the conquering Aryans, who moved into the northwest of the Indian subcontinent from about 1500 BC. The Aryans’ priestly caste, the Brahmans, was responsible for the sacrificial rites. The ritual hymns which they chanted, passed down orally for many centuries, were compiled in the Rigveda, believed to be the earliest of all religious texts.

It is held that the arrival of the Aryan people in India represented a significant moment in the history of Hinduism. The Aryans supplanted the earlier Harappan culture in the Indus valley, and they are thus the people described in the Vedas, the earliest sacred literature of Hinduism.

On the other hand, Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, was born in the sixth century B.C. in what is now modern Nepal--which was part of India before. His father, Suddhodana, was the ruler of the Sakya people, and Siddhartha grew up living the extravagant life of a young prince.

Theravada, the ‘Doctrine of the Elders,’ is the name for the school of Buddhism that takes its scriptural inspiration from the Pali Canon, or Tipitaka, which is generally acknowledged as the oldest record of the teachings of that man from India--Siddharta Gautama or Buddha.

Also known as the Great Vehicle, Mahayana Buddhism is the branch of Buddhism prominent in North Asia, such as in China, Mongolia, Tibet, Korea, and Japan.

Technically, it also traces its roots from India. Arising out of schisms, basically about both doctrine and monastic rules, within Indian Buddhism in the first century C.E., the Great Vehicle (naturally) considers itself a more genuine version of the Buddhism.

Many more similiraties can be discerned from these "Indian" religions. Some find their differences minimal, if not unessential. (©  by Jens Micah De Guzman)


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