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Ancient Religions Of India Essay

1078 words - 4 pages

Dating back to the period around 500 B.C.E., three religions spread throughout India. Jainism, Hinduism, and Buddhism prospered in this philosophical time. These religions shared several of the same concepts. However, each maintained individuality by branching off and putting emphasis on what they believed to be the key to liberation or enlightenment.
Hinduism is the easiest to distinguish from the group for several reasons. One is that they believe in the idea of a creator/God. This God is called Brahman. Hindus worship deities, along with spirits, trees, and animals. Hinduism has no known founder and no prophets, unlike both Buddhism and Jainism. Another main contrast between the 3 is that the Hindus had a caste system, while the others did not. This meant that they had a social structure in which classes were determined by heredity. Believers in Hinduism believe that there are four stages in life. The first one is dharma, the moral law. Not everyone’s dharma is the same, and duties are individual. Ultimately, you are to follow your own dharma in order to stop the rebirth cycle even if it seems to contradictory. Second is artha, which is focused on wealth, or material possessions. Everyone should enjoy these things. The third stage is kama, where you are supposed to delight in desires and passions. The fourth stage is the supreme accomplishment, moksha, which is unity with Brahman. This final stage puts an end to reincarnation. Hindus also believed in something that neither the Buddhists nor Jains would consider: animal sacrifice. Jains and many Buddhists don’t even eat meat, and some extremists would go as far as starvation as to not harm another for self-gain. Although, it was never written that Buddhists had to abstain from meat, Jains do. Where all 3 religions maintain the idea of peace, Hinduism is the only one of the group that would consider making an exception to violence, and did so for the sake of dharma.
Buddhism, founded by Siddhartha Gautama, came into existence when he was able to achieve “enlightenment” while on a quest to have a better understanding of life. This gave him the ability to have a perfect insight into what he thought were the processes of the Universe. His discovery prompted the teachings of the Four Noble Truths. They are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering. Both Buddhists and Jains agreed with the need to detach themselves from possessions, when Hinduism teaches that we should embrace them. Unlike Hindus, according to Buddhists, anyone can achieve liberation. Jainism also denies a caste system. It matters not what social scale you are on. In turn, like with Jainism, Buddhists don’t credit a creator for existence. Though, both believe in a type of higher beings. Buddhists refer to them as Bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas mastered enlightenment, yet stayed back to assist others...

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