RELI 448N Week 3 Assignment: Buddhist and Hindu Beliefs Comparison Essay

RELI 448N Week 3 Assignment: Buddhist and Hindu Beliefs Comparison Essay

RELI 448N Week 3 Assignment: Buddhist and Hindu Beliefs Comparison Essay

 Topic : Karma and Rebirth.

Although most people who come from the West and globally  have heard of Karma and Rebirth, many are still confused by what it actually means. For instance, a lot of people have thoughts  about karma  being about punishment or reward in the next life which is not entirely true. Well it may be fathomed like that in other religions or spiritual traditions in Asia, but that is not how it is fathomed the tradition/religion of Buddhism. For clarification, it can be found that Buddhist teachers who can let you know that karma, which in Pali is known as  kamma,  is entirely from bad or good rebirth, but if you go deeper in this subject, a contrasting picture shows up.

Buddha and Hindu are spiritual beliefs that  have existed since beginning of time with Hinduism being a religion that is older than Judaism and Christianity goes back to recorded history. Buddhism the- offshoot of Hinduism – molded and shaped the advancements of Tibet, Japan, China and the whole of Asia. The Hindu civilization comes from Indus valleys and Gangetic valleys of which it expanded over the entire parts  of Southeast Asia(pp 4, Hinduism for Beginners). The term “Hinduism” was a term that was made up by invaders of foreign lands that invaded India to delegate the traditional socio-religious systems of Indian people or “Hind”. This religion has over time evolved for more than 7000 years. Within the sanctified literature of India the term(Hindu) does not show at all. The Hindu people refer to their beliefs as “Sanatana Dharma” of which when translated it means “The Eternal Path”. Sanatana means sustained, eternal or perpetual. Dharma according to P. R. Sivan means “any method by which one see’s reality for what it is, and that by which one is drawn closer to the Absolute Truth and Ultimate Reality- it is the Philosophia Perenis.”

Buddhism is an old tradition based on the guidances of the Buddha, “The Awakened One”, of which this given title  to Siddhartha Guatama, a southern Asian spiritual seeker,  after he had gained insight for more than 2,600 years . The Buddha’s guidances which are known to be the best, the Eightfold path and Four Noble truths, narrate  the character of suffering of humans and a way for one to free yourself from existing  sufferings of this  life and reach nirvana. These guidances were spread from the country of India throughout the continent of Asia and then globally. According to the article Tricycle: Buddhism for Beginners, it mentions that “the Buddhist family includes many different schools with their own beliefs and practices, the various traditions share a conviction that one come to understand the truth of existence by living an ethical life dedicated to spiritual development.”

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Karma, the Sanskrit word, means “deed” or “volitional act”. “The law of karma is law of cause and effect or an understanding that every deed produces fruit.” According to Barbara O’Brien. In Buddha tradition,  a relief of all misfortune is not karma.. There is no wisdom backing it up  that it is punishing or rewarding. It’s more of a natural law. Karma is created by the deliberate acts of speech, mind and body. Only acts of delusion, greed and hate do not produce karmic effects. Be mindful that intention (deliberate) may be subconscious. In most schools of Buddhism, it is understood that karma with its effects begin at once; cause and effect that act as one. It is also the instance  that karma tends to carry on in multiple directions. So whether one believes in rebirth or not, karma is still of the essence. What you do in your life at this moment impacts the life you are currently living.

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In Hinduism, there are seven basic tenets which are the support system  upon which the whole religion is built. Karma- the moral law of cause and effect is the fourth tenet. According to Hinduism, karma is when we have generated energy ourselves through every fortunate opportunity that was received or luck that was apparent, of which the same goes for every misfortune and loss, that we have generated negative energy ourselves. We do not have have control over the circumstances we are born in or have control to what happens to us but we do have the liberation to control every situation we face that comes our way meaning we can either progress from that situation or regress. Karma is the law whereby we create and experience our own agendas. We have the capabilities to think, plan and put into action our own dreams and visions of our futures.

Rebirth in a basic form, is caused when the effects of karma carry on across lifetimes. But in the light of belief I f no-self, who has been born again? In Hindu perceptions of reincarnation is that an atman, or a soul is reborn a lot of times. But the Buddha educated that belief of anatman- no soul, no self. Meaning that there is no enduring importance of individual “self” that takes a body, which is something that the Buddha explained a lot. So who is reborn? In Buddhism it is approached in many ways but it is realizing that one is close to insight itself.

The Buddha educated that there is a natural connection between one’s  life and another. This natural connection is karma, which orders  new birth. The person who is now newly born is neither a different person or the same person from the one who died. The energy of karma that is created by us survives us and rebirth is caused. This activity has been seen as “the way a vibration reaches the ear, is experienced as sound.”


Humphreys, C.(2005). Karma and Rebirth Applied.  Karma And Rebirth (pp 88). Curzon Press Ltd.

Sivan, P. R.(January,2005). Hinduism For Beginners: A concise introduction to the Eternal Path to Liberation (pp 5-9) Simha Publications.

O’Brien, Barbara. (2020, August 26). Karma and Rebirth. Retrieved from

Burley, Mikel. (October, 2014) Philosophy East and West  Vol. 64, No. 4, SPECIAL ISSUE: TENTH EAST-WEST PHILOSOPHERS’ CONFERENCE, “VALUE AND VALUES: ECONOMICS AND JUSTICE IN AN AGE OF GLOBAL INTERDEPENDENCE” (pp. 965-982) University of Hawai’i Press

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