Hinduism is about understanding Brahma, existence, from within the Atman, which roughly means "self" or "soul," whereas Buddhism is about finding the Anatman — "not soul" or "not self." In Hinduism, attaining the highest life is a process of removing the bodily distractions from life, allowing one to eventually understand the Brahma nature within. In Buddhism, one follows a disciplined life to move through and understand that nothing in oneself is "me," such that one dispels the very illusion of existence. In so doing, one realizes Nirvana.

In Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan's words,"Buddhism, in its origin at least, is an offshoot of Hinduism."

Comparison chart

Buddhism versus Hinduism comparison chart
Place of origin Indian Subcontinent Indian Subcontinent
Place of worship Buddhist monasteries, temples, shrines. Temple (Mandir)
Practices Practices of the Threefold Training: Virtue, Concentration, and Wisdom, a.k.a the Noble Eightfold Path. Meditation, yoga, contemplation, yagna (communal worship), offerings in the temple.
Use of statues and pictures Common Common
Clergy The Buddhist Sangha, composed of bhikkhus (male monks) and bhikkhunis (female monks). The sangha is supported by lay Buddhists. No official clergy. Gurus, Yogis, Rishis, Brahmins, Pundits, priests, priestesses, monks, and nuns.
Founder Gautama Buddha (born as Prince Siddhartha) Not credited to a particular founder.
Belief of God The idea of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent creator is rejected by Buddhists. The Buddha himself refuted the theistic argument that the universe was created by a self-conscious, personal God. Many gods, but realize that they all come from Atman.
Life after death Rebirth is one of the central beliefs of Buddhism. We are in an endless cycle of birth, death and re-birth, which can only be broken by attaining nirvana. Attaining nirvana is the only way to escape suffering permanently. A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached.
Goal of religion To attain enlightenment and be released from the cycle of rebirth and death, thus attaining Nirvana. To break the cycle of birth, death and reincarnation, and attain salvation.
Means of Salvation Following the Noble Eightfold Path. Reaching enlightenment by the Path of Knowledge, the Path of devotion, or the Path of Good Deeds.
Literal Meaning Buddhists are those who follow the teachings of the Buddha in order to become like the Buddha. The followers of Vedas are called as Arya, noble person. Arya is not a dynasty, ethnicity or race. Anyone who follows the teachings of Vedas is considered Arya.
View of the Buddha The highest teacher and the founder of Buddhism, the all-transcending sage. Some Hindu sects claim Buddha was an avatar of Vishnu. Others believe he was a holy man.
Followers Buddhists Hindus.
Human Nature Ignorance, as all sentient beings. In the Buddhist texts, it is seen that when Gautama, after his awakening, was asked whether he was a normal human being, he replied, "No". Depends on sects.
Original Language(s) Magadhiprakrit Sanskrit
Authority of Dalai Lama Dalai Lamas are tulkus of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. They are cultural figures and are independent of the doctrinal basis of Buddhism. N/A.
Marriage It is not a religious duty to marry. Monks and nuns do not marry and are celibate. Advice in the Discourses on how to maintain a happy and harmonious marriage. Man may marry one woman. However, kings in mythology often married more than one woman.
Use of Statues Used as meditation objects, and revered as they reflect the qualities of the Buddha. Allowed
Scriptures Tripitaka - a vast canon composed of 3 sections: the Discourses, the Discipline and the Commentaries, and some early scriptures, such as the Gandhara texts. Vedas, Upanishad, Puranas, Gita. Smrti and Sruti are oral scriptures.
Religious Law The Dharma. Dharma shastras
View of other Dharmic religions Since the word Dharma means doctrine, law, way, teaching, or discipline, other Dharmas are rejected. They believe that Buddhists, Jains, & Sikhs should reunite with Hinduism(which is the original Dharmic religion).
Confessing sins Sin is not a Buddhist concept. Repentance for unintentional sins are prescribed, but intentional sins have to be repaid through karmic consequences.
Goal of Philosophy To eliminate mental suffering. Salvation, freedom from the cycle of birth and reincarnation.
Population 300-350 million. 1 Billion.
Religion which atheists may still be adherents of Yes. Charvakas and Sankyas are atheistic groups in Hinduism.
Geographical distribution and predominance Theradava Buddhist countries, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka are the places of predominance of Buddhism. The Noble Truths are presently best heard in Myanmar only. Mainly in India and Nepal.
Status of Vedas The Buddha rejected the 5 Vedas, according to the dialogues seen in the nikayas. Vedas are generally regarded as sacred in Hinduism. Post-Vedic texts like the Gita are also revered.
Holy days/Official Holidays Vesak day in which the birth, the awakening, and the parinirvana of the Buddha is celebrated. Diwali, Holi, Janmashtami, Ganesh Chaturthi, etc.
Symbols The conch, endless knot, fish, lotus, parasol, vase, dharmachakra (Wheel of Dharma), and victory banner. Om, Swastika, etc.
Status of women No distinctions between men and women. Women are equal to men, and men are equal to women in the Sangha. Women can become priestesses or nuns.
Principle This life is suffering, and the only way to escape from this suffering is to dispel one's cravings and ignorance by realizing the Four Noble Truths and practicing the Eightfold Path. To follow dharma, i.e. eternal laws
Time of origin 2,500 years ago, circa 563 B.C.E. (Before Common Era) circa 3000 B.C.E
Can atheists partake in this religion's practices? Yes. Yes.
Views on Other Religions Being a practical philosophy, Buddhism is neutral against other religions. Some scriptures say the path they describe is the only path to God and salvation. Other scriptures are more philosophical than religious. Beliefs vary. Some believe that all spiritual paths lead to the same God.

Video explaining the differences

Further Reading

For further reading, there are several books available on Amazon.com on Buddhism and Hinduism:


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