Ask a Hindu: How do Hindus View the Buddha?
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Commentary by Himani Agrawal
I’ve learned that in Hinduism many gods are all different aspects of the ultimate. I know Hindus have differing opinions on other religions, but one in specific that I was wondering about is Buddhism. How do Hindus view the Buddha? Is Buddhism something that can be accepted into Hinduism, or is it something Hinduism views as false?
Thank you for your question. Yes, in Hinduism, many gods are all different aspects of ultimate. In Vedanta philosophy, we believe that Truth is one and there are different ways to reach it. Here, truth means the ultimate divine energy.
Buddhism has originated from India. It has many similar aspects as Hinduism, the most important being the Dharma (cosmic laws).
According to some Hindu scholars, Buddha is considered as an incarnation of Bhagwan Vishnu. Vishnu along with Shiva and Brahma forms trinity. Shree Vishnu is responsible for taking care of this earth and whenever dharma falls to its lowest, he incarnates in one of his avatars.
So, to answer your question all Hindus respect Buddha. Some worship him as an avatar of Vishnu. There are several old temples where alongside Hindu deities Buddha is also worshipped. In traditional Hindu traditions, there is no conflict.
Unfortunately, now some Buddhist as well as Hindus see the two as different.
These are the personal views of the writer.
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Himani Agrawal is the president of the Spokane Hindu Temple and Cultural Center. She has a master’s degree in Business Administration from India. She is well traveled and has lived on three different continents. Through her travels and personal experiences, she has developed understanding and respect for different faiths. She believes that communities strengthen when they share each other’s culture.