World Religions - Buddhism Illustration


Today, both Hinduism and Buddhism are major world religions. Both religions began in ancient India. Although these two major world religions have some beliefs in common, they are different in many ways. Let's take a quick look at some of the similarities and differences between Hinduism and Buddhism.


No Central Figure/Central Figure:

Hinduism has no central figure. Hinduism combines the religious ideas of many people from many eras in history.  These ideas are written down in many religious texts, myths, and stories, including the Vedas, the Ramayana, and the Mahabharata. It took over 2,000 years to create the ritual of Hinduism as it is practiced today.

Buddhism has one central figure. Buddhism is based on the teachings of one man, the Buddha. The Buddha was born around 500 BCE. All Buddhists teachings were created in one lifetime - that of the Buddha.

Locked into the caste system/All people are equal  

Hinduism is built on the caste system, a lifestyle created by the Aryans, which says you must do the job you were born to do. If your father was a woodcutter, so were you. That was your duty.

Buddhists do not believe in the caste system. They believe that all people are equal. Although Buddhists believe in reincarnation, that life is a repeating cycle of birth-death, they also believe that everyone should work hard to be the best they can be. God(s):

One Supreme God or Many Gods

Hinduism has one supreme god, Brahman, along with a great many lesser gods, perhaps millions of gods. Everything is part of Brahman. The goal in life is to unite your soul with Brahman. But there are many gods that you can worship every day. People can choose the gods they would like to worship. Hindus believe that gods guide the faithful away from evil and have many ways of reminding people of their duties. There are two popular gods that most Hindu families include in their daily worship Ė Shiva and Vishnu.

Buddhism, on the other hand, does not care if you worship one god or many. If you choose to worship a god, thatís up to you. Buddhists believe that each person is responsible for their own actions. Itís up to the individual to follow the teachings of Buddhism. The gods cannot help you. You must do it yourself.

Yes to violence/ No to violence

Although Hindus believe that all life is sacred, Hindus will fight to protect their people and their way of life.

Buddhists believe it is wrong to take a life or to lift a fist in anger. Buddhists are non-violent.


As different as these two major religions are, Buddhism and Hinduism share many beliefs, including a belief in Dharma and in Karma. 

  • (Dharma) Both believe in Dharma, which means sacred duty. They both believe that people should be guided by duty, rather than pleasure. Both believe people should act in an unselfish manner.
  • (Karma)  Both believe in Karma. Karma is the sum of all your actions, good and bad, that add up to determine your next life.  
  • They both believe you take your Karma with you, into the next life. If you have been bad, you cannot escape punishment. Your Karma goes with you.

Hindus and Buddhists are both strict vegetarians. Hindus do not eat meat because they believe people can be reincarnated and come back as an animal. Buddhists also believe that people can be reincarnated as animals.

Hinduism and Buddhism both have a goal to reach. Their methods may be different, but their goal is the same. That goal is to escape from the perpetual cycle of reincarnation. Both of these major religions have millions of followers around the world who are seeking religiously to achieve that goal every day.

Comparison Chart
Hinduism and Buddhism




No Central figure

Religious Texts: Vedas, Ramayana, Mahabharata

Founded over hundreds of years; based on teachings of many people

Began by Aryans (1500 BCE)

Believe in caste system

Pray to gods for guidance and help; millions of gods

Violence is acceptable if you are protecting your people or way of life

Goal: To be one with Brahman and escape the cycle of reincarnation 


Major World Religion

Began in ancient India


Believe in Reincarnation

Believe in Karma

Believe in Dharma

Believe you take Karma with you into the next life

Have a goal to reach



Central figure: the Buddha

Religion Text: Tripitiki

Founded over a few decades; based on teachings of one man, the Buddha 

Began after Aryans (500 BCE)

Do not believe in caste system; believe all people are equal

Belief in gods a personal decision, but gods cannot help you. Responsible for your own actions 


Goal: To escape the cycle of reincarnation and rise above

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