COMPARATIVE RELIGION: HINDUISM & BUDDHISM
Ninth Incarnation of Vishnu
The Siddharta Gautama Buddah first appeared during the day of a full moon night in May of 563 B.C. Maya Devi birthed him in the Lumbini Garden. The feminine aspect of the Buddah is Mother Tara, a female nun who became the Buddah through her own actions. The men who surrounded her thought she could not become a buddah, but she certainly showed them that she had what is takes to become a buddah. She later became a Tibetan goddess who is considered to be the protectress of all. She helps us overcome our fears and phobias.
At one time Gautama Buddah was a Hindu in practice who had a lot of respect for the Brahmins. Many Hindus call the Buddah the Ninth Incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The Buddhists do not view him as an incarnation of Vishnu. I think he was a reformer, refining some practices which needed refinement and change. Krishna, the 8th incarnation of Vishnu, questioned the superiority of Indra when he was a child, debating with his father on the issue. The miracle of the lifting of the mountain showed that nature should be worshipped over the heavens. Krishna, like the Buddah, really understood the essence of this respect for Mother Earth.
Both traditions have Sanskrit as their chanted sacred language. Some monks wanted to get rid of chant, but the Buddah thought it was okay if not overdone. Monks and nuns do the chanting in the temple, which is the sacred space in both traditions. Both traditions have many statues or mutis in their temples. In both traditions robes are worn by monks and nuns. Meditation, contemplation and offerings happen in the temples of Hindus and Buddhists.
The Buddah was born in Lumbini, Nepal but went on a journey where he became enlightened under a Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, India. The origin of Hinduism centers in the Indus Valley of India. The original name for the Indus Valley was the Sindhu Valley, which is the origin of the name Hindu. Both traditions became popular worldwide and flourished in North America. Many immigrants came to the Americas and established Hinduism and Buddhism in major cities in the Western Hemisphere.
Both traditions see men and women as equals, despite the attitudes of some individuals in both traditions. In Hinduism the feminine is worshipped as Divine Mother or Shakti. There were women gurus, priests, nuns, yoginis, swamis and sages (Rishikas) in ancient and modern times. Women even chose their own husbands in a special ceremony in ancient times. Arranged marriages are not part of the Hindu tradition, which is a matriarchy. Arranged marriages came later as a social custom in some places. The ancient philosophy is very pro-woman. Krishna always upheld the rights of women as depicted in many of his stories in Hindu scripture and texts. In Buddhism you see nuns and female teachers. In Minneapolis we even have one female Buddhist priest. Of course, the female Buddah was a nun called Mother Tara. The Dalai Lama is very pro-woman and believes women will save humanity. Both traditions have some form of tantric philosophy, where the divine feminine is honored.
Both traditions honor the concepts of karma (action), rebirth (reincarnation) and samsara (impressions which lurk in the mind from previous experiences). Common ethical values are "moderation, charity, non-attachment and non-violence." Both traditions want to liberate the mind in this world and the next. They both believe desire brings attachment which can bring suffering in the world.
Compassion is also emphasized in both traditions. The Dalai Lama is a big proponent of compassion and often speaks about putting this idea into practice in every day life. Lord Krishna was called the Lord of Compassion and Love and he accepted everyone who lived in their hearts. Dalai Lama fled to India and where he found a home in exile when oppressed by the Chinese government who destroyed temples and murdered many nuns and monks in Tibet. Love is the way we will overcome many acts of violence in our world. If all could love others just like our mothers love us, we could do so much in the way of making the world a better place. Respecting womankind will make the world a truly great place. The Dalai Lama gets it. Krishna gets it. Now it's time we all get it.
JAI SHRI KRISHNA! JAI SHRI TARA! JAI SHRI BUDDAH!
More by this Author
Last week I was waiting for the bus when two young men on bikes pedalled towards me and stopped to talk to me. They were Mormon missionaries trying to convert me to their religion. If you know anything about the Mormon...