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There is no Buddhism without Hinduism and Vice Versa

Howdy.

So, there was a thread recently on Hinduism vs Buddhism. I personally thought it was a fun thread but what had occurred to me as I read it was that a lot of people seem to divorce these two traditions from each other. It’s true that there is an abundance of differences that have emerged over the last 2,500 years but something that is important to remember is that there is no Buddhism without Hinduism and there is no modern Hinduism without Buddhism.

Hinduism before Buddhism

Vedic religion, sometimes know as Brahmanism, was the first thing we might call Hinduism that was on the scene. Before that we had a wide variety of Indo-European and a variety of Asian religions which formed semi-distinct groups.

Eventually we get something called Brahmanism along with the Vedas. Brahmanism was very devoted to the rituals prescribed in the Vedas. During this time things like rebirth and things like Moksha were not really a part of the Vedic religion.



The Sramana Movement

After the Upanishads get on the scene about the 6th century BCE we start to see the development of the Sramana movement. This was a movement which focused on religious exertion and was often separated into small communities called sanghas.

There were a variety of movement that existed before Buddhism came about. Some of these movements out and out denied the authority of the Vedas, some believed that once you die there is no rebirth and some claimed that you lived forever.

Though there is some distinction in this movement the most common features are discussions of Moksha ( liberation) rebirth and karma. Interestingly enough, some of the only references we have to what these groups believed that is written down are in the Buddhist sutras.

Here is the sutra which elaborates on some of the positions these sanghas held according to the Buddhists.

Samaññaphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Contemplative Life



Buddhism

Buddhism is in many respects a response to the various sramana groups which existed at the same time as Buddhism. The Buddha and Buddhism form in the lush philosophical landscape of northern India. Many of the ideas which form the very core of Buddhist thought emerge specifically in response to one school or another.

Something that might grab your attention when you read early Buddhist scripture is that the Buddha mentions various gods. Indra is mentioned in the Dhamapada for instance.

Dhamapada Chapter 2 verse 30 By Heedfulness did Indra become the overlord of the gods. Heedfulness is ever praised, and heedlessness ever despised.

The Dhammapada: The Buddha's Path of Wisdom



For those familiar with the Vedas or Vedic religion Indra is a familiar figure. Of course the Buddha having been an educated elite would have been at least passingly familiar with the Vedas. The Buddha also engaged in various ascetic practices common among sramana holy men at the time. He said that he spent years engaging in these practices before he became enlightened.

He supposedly talked to devas both before and after he was enlightened as well.

"Devas, on seeing me, said, 'Gotama the contemplative is dead.' Other devas said, 'He isn't dead, he's dying.' Others said, 'He's neither dead nor dying, he's an arahant, for this is the way arahants live.'

Maha-Saccaka Sutta: The Longer Discourse to Saccaka

A Sketch of the Buddha's Life: Readings from the Pali Canon

The Buddha’s ultimate message, at least as far as I can tell, is the dissatisfaction of life and the end of clinging. It should be noted that it’s not so much desire which is the bad part of life as it is the clinging to things. Everything is subject to change and therefore clinging to anything and react to those changes in a negative way. The best path therefore is to be detached from such things.

I put all this together to demonstrate that Buddhism didn’t just rise up out of the blue. It is one in a long chain of events that started with the formation of ancient religious traditions. Buddhism is in many ways a byproduct of the earliest vestigeges of Hinduism. It is not separate from Hinduism but is in some sense a part of it.

Buddhism would eventually develop into something unique and as it spread further east and west we would get some very interesting forms taking shape.

(Here is something I’ll share before moving on just cause I think it’s neat to see how Buddhism would end up influencing certain Greek colonies. Greco-Buddhism - Wikipedia)



How Buddhism influenced Hinduism

For awhile Buddhism maintained considerable influence over India. Ashoka is famous as the first Buddhist monarch though we could have some quibbles about that.

There would be ups and downs in Buddhism’s influence over Indian thought. The other sramana movements would continue to exist though over time what would actually happen is that many of these movements were absorbed into what we would call today Hinduism.

Brahmanism and the importance of the Vedas never truly disappeared but we see over time that interpretations of the Vedas would change. Rather than strictly adhering to rituals and rules a new movement would start to take shape know as the Bhakti movement.

Though devotion and worship had been a central part of Brahmanism the idea that love and devotion to the devas or Brahma was the highest calling was somewhat new.

In the first century BCE we have the Shvetashvatara Upanishad giving us lines like

Mantra 23

yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau /
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ // 6.23 //

If these truths have been told to a high-minded person who feels the highest devotion for God and for his guru as for God, and then they will surely shine forth as inner experiences - then, indeed, they will shine forth.

https://www.esamskriti.com/e/Spirit...p-6-The-One-God-and-the-Cosmic-Process-1.aspx

The Bhakti movement wouldn’t start properly until the 6th century CE but we can see here the roots of it going back much further.

Some of us may be familiar with Adi Shankara. A Vedic scholar and an adherent of Advaita Vedanta and someone I have heard called a ‘crypto-Buddhist’ he is sometimes used as an example of Buddhism’s influence over Hindu thought.

Adi Shankara - Wikipedia

https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=rs_theses

I could continue further but I think this post is already long enough. There is a lot to consider when we are talking about the relationship of Hinduism and Buddhism. Two forces which for the longest time have had an intense influence on each other.

All I am saying is without Brahmanism/Hinduism we never would of gotten the great philosophy of Buddhism and without Buddhism we would not of had this nearly 2,500 years of Hindu development.
 

Starlight

Spiritual but not religious, new age and omnist
You have a lot of knowledge about Buddhism and Hinduism. Thank you for writing what you did. I learned something new today
 

Secret Chief

nirvana is samsara
Howdy.

So, there was a thread recently on Hinduism vs Buddhism. I personally thought it was a fun thread but what had occurred to me as I read it was that a lot of people seem to divorce these two traditions from each other. It’s true that there is an abundance of differences that have emerged over the last 2,500 years but something that is important to remember is that there is no Buddhism without Hinduism and there is no modern Hinduism without Buddhism.

Hinduism before Buddhism

Vedic religion, sometimes know as Brahmanism, was the first thing we might call Hinduism that was on the scene. Before that we had a wide variety of Indo-European and a variety of Asian religions which formed semi-distinct groups.

Eventually we get something called Brahmanism along with the Vedas. Brahmanism was very devoted to the rituals prescribed in the Vedas. During this time things like rebirth and things like Moksha were not really a part of the Vedic religion.



The Sramana Movement

After the Upanishads get on the scene about the 6th century BCE we start to see the development of the Sramana movement. This was a movement which focused on religious exertion and was often separated into small communities called sanghas.

There were a variety of movement that existed before Buddhism came about. Some of these movements out and out denied the authority of the Vedas, some believed that once you die there is no rebirth and some claimed that you lived forever.

Though there is some distinction in this movement the most common features are discussions of Moksha ( liberation) rebirth and karma. Interestingly enough, some of the only references we have to what these groups believed that is written down are in the Buddhist sutras.

Here is the sutra which elaborates on some of the positions these sanghas held according to the Buddhists.

Samaññaphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Contemplative Life



Buddhism

Buddhism is in many respects a response to the various sramana groups which existed at the same time as Buddhism. The Buddha and Buddhism form in the lush philosophical landscape of northern India. Many of the ideas which form the very core of Buddhist thought emerge specifically in response to one school or another.

Something that might grab your attention when you read early Buddhist scripture is that the Buddha mentions various gods. Indra is mentioned in the Dhamapada for instance.

Dhamapada Chapter 2 verse 30 By Heedfulness did Indra become the overlord of the gods. Heedfulness is ever praised, and heedlessness ever despised.

The Dhammapada: The Buddha's Path of Wisdom



For those familiar with the Vedas or Vedic religion Indra is a familiar figure. Of course the Buddha having been an educated elite would have been at least passingly familiar with the Vedas. The Buddha also engaged in various ascetic practices common among sramana holy men at the time. He said that he spent years engaging in these practices before he became enlightened.

He supposedly talked to devas both before and after he was enlightened as well.

"Devas, on seeing me, said, 'Gotama the contemplative is dead.' Other devas said, 'He isn't dead, he's dying.' Others said, 'He's neither dead nor dying, he's an arahant, for this is the way arahants live.'

Maha-Saccaka Sutta: The Longer Discourse to Saccaka

A Sketch of the Buddha's Life: Readings from the Pali Canon

The Buddha’s ultimate message, at least as far as I can tell, is the dissatisfaction of life and the end of clinging. It should be noted that it’s not so much desire which is the bad part of life as it is the clinging to things. Everything is subject to change and therefore clinging to anything and react to those changes in a negative way. The best path therefore is to be detached from such things.

I put all this together to demonstrate that Buddhism didn’t just rise up out of the blue. It is one in a long chain of events that started with the formation of ancient religious traditions. Buddhism is in many ways a byproduct of the earliest vestigeges of Hinduism. It is not separate from Hinduism but is in some sense a part of it.

Buddhism would eventually develop into something unique and as it spread further east and west we would get some very interesting forms taking shape.

(Here is something I’ll share before moving on just cause I think it’s neat to see how Buddhism would end up influencing certain Greek colonies. Greco-Buddhism - Wikipedia)



How Buddhism influenced Hinduism

For awhile Buddhism maintained considerable influence over India. Ashoka is famous as the first Buddhist monarch though we could have some quibbles about that.

There would be ups and downs in Buddhism’s influence over Indian thought. The other sramana movements would continue to exist though over time what would actually happen is that many of these movements were absorbed into what we would call today Hinduism.

Brahmanism and the importance of the Vedas never truly disappeared but we see over time that interpretations of the Vedas would change. Rather than strictly adhering to rituals and rules a new movement would start to take shape know as the Bhakti movement.

Though devotion and worship had been a central part of Brahmanism the idea that love and devotion to the devas or Brahma was the highest calling was somewhat new.

In the first century BCE we have the Shvetashvatara Upanishad giving us lines like

Mantra 23

yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau /
tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ // 6.23 //


If these truths have been told to a high-minded person who feels the highest devotion for God and for his guru as for God, and then they will surely shine forth as inner experiences - then, indeed, they will shine forth.

https://www.esamskriti.com/e/Spirit...p-6-The-One-God-and-the-Cosmic-Process-1.aspx

The Bhakti movement wouldn’t start properly until the 6th century CE but we can see here the roots of it going back much further.

Some of us may be familiar with Adi Shankara. A Vedic scholar and an adherent of Advaita Vedanta and someone I have heard called a ‘crypto-Buddhist’ he is sometimes used as an example of Buddhism’s influence over Hindu thought.

Adi Shankara - Wikipedia

https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=rs_theses

I could continue further but I think this post is already long enough. There is a lot to consider when we are talking about the relationship of Hinduism and Buddhism. Two forces which for the longest time have had an intense influence on each other.

All I am saying is without Brahmanism/Hinduism we never would of gotten the great philosophy of Buddhism and without Buddhism we would not of had this nearly 2,500 years of Hindu development.
Obviously Brahmanism gave birth to Buddhism, but I wasn't aware that Buddhism had then "gone back" and influenced Hinduism in any way. :thumbsup:
 
Obviously Brahmanism gave birth to Buddhism, but I wasn't aware that Buddhism had then "gone back" and influenced Hinduism in any way. :thumbsup:
It's a very interesting history. There is influence back and forth pretty much up the invasion of the Mughals / Turkic people in India.
 

crossfire

LHP Mercuræn Feminist Heretic ☿
Premium Member
Brahmanism was the prevailing right hand path/persona system of the area, while Sramana was the left hand path of the area:
 

crossfire

LHP Mercuræn Feminist Heretic ☿
Premium Member
Obviously Brahmanism gave birth to Buddhism, but I wasn't aware that Buddhism had then "gone back" and influenced Hinduism in any way. :thumbsup:
Hero's Journey: The hero leaves society and embarks on a journey in search of unknown treasure. In the process, the hero defeats/overcomes some sort of opposing force, finds the treasure, and then returns to society to share the treasure that has been learned/acquired. ;) This might be running in the background of some declaring Buddha to be an avatar of Vishnu.
 
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I would like to see Buddhism considered a subset under the umbrella Hinduism.
I think that is reasonable enough depending on how you define Hinduism. The term is so loose and applied to so many traditions that there isn't much of a reason you couldn't if you wanted to. The biggest reason that is difficult to do is that most Buddhists wouldn't consider themselves Hindu. People try to say a belief in things like Moksha and the Vedas make one a Hindu but that denies the Nirsvaravada schools which reject both those concepts typically but are usually considered Hindu.
 
Hero's Journey: The hero leaves society and embarks on a journey in search of unknown treasure. In the process, the hero defeats/overcomes some sort of opposing force, finds the treasure, and then returns to society to share the treasure that has been learned/acquired. ;)

Although I am generally against the idea of the Joseph Campbell explanation of stories and the Hero's journey it is interesting to apply here. The most common story told about the Buddha's early life fits this sort of narrative but was likely made up or added later. As the stories of the Buddha spread they became more and more mythological to the point where they were borderline unrecognizable from a strictly early Buddhist standpoint.
 

George-ananda

Advaita Vedanta, Theosophy, Spiritualism
Premium Member
I think that is reasonable enough depending on how you define Hinduism. The term is so loose and applied to so many traditions that there isn't much of a reason you couldn't if you wanted to. The biggest reason that is difficult to do is that most Buddhists wouldn't consider themselves Hindu. People try to say a belief in things like Moksha and the Vedas make one a Hindu but that denies the Nirsvaravada schools which reject both those concepts typically but are usually considered Hindu.
Yes, I was looking at Hinduism as schools originating from the vast spiritual traditions of India that share a common ancestry.
 

crossfire

LHP Mercuræn Feminist Heretic ☿
Premium Member
Although I am generally against the idea of the Joseph Campbell explanation of stories and the Hero's journey it is interesting to apply here. The most common story told about the Buddha's early life fits this sort of narrative but was likely made up or added later. As the stories of the Buddha spread they became more and more mythological to the point where they were borderline unrecognizable from a strictly early Buddhist standpoint.
Indeed. One must search and find the treasure for oneself.
 
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