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Benjamin McEwen

Religions 2300
Wijitha Bandara
T/TH 11:30-12:50
South Asian religious traditions(Fisher, chapter 3 and 5)
In southern religions, there are two main religions amongst the people. They are

Buddhism, and Hinduism. Within these religions, the main form of beliefs is called Dharma,

Hindus use the word Dharma and Buddhists sometimes use the word Dhamma, in response to

Hindus disapproving the Buddhists use of the word Dharma. Early Hinduism can be traced back

to about 2500 BCE from the Indus Valley civilizations (Fisher chapter 3.1). Buddhism started

about 500 BCE with the birth of Buddha, who was called Siddhartha before he became the

buddha. Buddhism was created in response to the practices of Hinduism and was trying to solve

some of the things that Siddhartha did not like about Hinduism.

Hinduism (Fisher, Chapter 3)

The religion Hinduism was not originally called Hinduism, if asked Hindus would tell

you that what they believe is called Dharma. Dharma is how everything works and how

everybody interacts with it. The word Hindu is a geographical word that derives from the river

Indus when outsiders came they decided to call the people Hindus. In Hinduism it is believed

that the cosmic man was Sacrificed to bring about everything that exists. The sacrifice created

the caste system which is the social order that everybody is born into. From the cosmic mans

mouth came the 1st class which is the priest class or Brahmins. From the cosmic mans arms

came the second caste which are the Rulers or Rajnya. From the cosmic mans legs came the

Merchant class and common people or Vaisya. From the cosmic mans feet came the servant

class or Sudra. Amongst the Hindus there is also one other classification of people and this is the
Untouchables. There are also the Untouchables who are not considered in any class within the

caste system they are those who take part in any dirty jobs that those within the caste system do

not do.

Hinduism believes that once you have found your eternal self and the source of that self

you will experience the ultimate reality of peace and blissfulness which is Brahman. The most

common rituals that Hindus practice today is the rituals of the God Agni. Agni is the god of fire

and the rituals involving Agni are the only way to communicate with the gods. Through making

sacrifices to Agni they are able to communicate and worship their gods. There are three main

gods within Hinduism, they are Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva they are the gods that are in charge

of creating, destroying, and taking care of everything within the world. Shiva is the Destroyer

god who destroys the world in order for it to be recreated. Brahma is the creator god who created

everything within the world, and Vishnu is the who is in charge of preserving everything. Most

of the gods within Hinduism have had several avatars, meaning earthly manifestations of the

god. Vishnu has had many manifestations which include, a fish, a turtle, a boar, a half lion-half

man, and even as Buddha. Hinduism uses his manifestation as a Buddha to try to convince

Buddhists that the Hindu gods are reincarnations of Buddha and better than the Buddhists in an

attempt to gain more followers. Hindu karma are all of your actions and the outcome of those

actions that you take. No matter what you do in this world whether it is an accident or not it will

affect your karma.

Buddhism (Fisher, chapter 5)

Buddhism came about several thousand years after Hinduism to deny several of the

teachings that Siddhartha, who became the buddha, did not agree with at the time. Siddhartha

was a prince who was born with everything that he could have wanted at the time, lots of money,

plenty of women, the nicest of everything. However, after coming into contact with the

displeasures of life, including death, poverty, and the unjust world he decided to become an

ascetic to find a way to live life in a peaceful way. After many years of trying many different

things Siddhartha became an enlightened one and founded Buddhism upon several principles.

Dharma within Buddhism are the laws that Buddha made and the actions of every person

according to their level of awareness to the laws. Within Buddhism, there are 3 marks of

existence that prove your existence. The first one is Anitya or impermanence, it means that

everything will come into existence then turn back into nothing once it is done existing so you

shouldnt cling onto anything. The second mark is Dukkha which basically means anything

unsatisfactory. With Dukkha you should realize everybody has to deal with stuff that is

unpleasant, so instead of trying to avoid suffering you should accept it and become better at

dealing with it. The last mark is Anatta which means no self, or not having a soul. It means you

are made up of a bunch of stuff and everything around you is made up of other stuff, everybody

is a collection of what is around them and when people die they turn back into those elements.

Buddhism explains that humans are made up of the 5 aggregates. These aggregates are

matter, sensation, perception, mental activities, and consciousness. There are also the twelve

links or steps for everything that happens in life. These are ignorance and with ignorance you

then have mental reaction, consciousness, mind and body, the senses, contact, sensation, craving,
attachment, becoming, birth, and death and the 5 aggregates and 12 links Buddhism fully denies

a permanent self or anatman.

Buddhism denies Hinduisms idea that everybody is born into a caste. Their beliefs about

karma means that everybody is responsible for their own actions, and those actions determine

what the person is to be considered. They believe that the intentions behind the actions are the

only thing that is counted, if you accidently kill an animal you arent considered a bad person

however if your intention is to go out and murder those animals then those actions are taken into

account in your karma. Buddha also denied sacrifices because you dont need to make sacrifices

to a god because you are trying to reach Nirvana. Nirvana is the end goal of Buddhism it is

where you have no attachments to the world, you are absent of all desires, and is where you

achieve full enlightenment and bliss. Finally the word Buddha means anybody that has gained

full enlightenment within the principles that were founded by Siddhartha.


(I have used the e-book for this assignment and it only gives me the chapter numbers)

Fisher, Mary Pat, and Robin Rinehart. Living religions. 10th ed. N.p.: Pearson, 2016. E-

Print. (Chapter 3)

Fisher, Mary Pat, and Robin Rinehart. Living religions. 10th ed. N.p.: Pearson, 2016. E-

Print. (Chapter 5)