Buddha and Christ, the two personalities that have rerouted the course of human history; Both were born in the Asian continent, both destined to instill light and love to this world. One influenced the eastern hemisphere and the other the western hemisphere of earth. The simple human mind sees only the differences in their teachings without realizing that they were dealing with entirely different religious belief and cultural settings. This post is not meant to find the similarities but only plan to compare these two personalities on several aspects. Some aspects of them seems similar and others totally different. But in a bigger picture their purpose was the same; to instill love and light to this world.

 

Several years back as I was reading the story of Buddha. As I came across the part where Buddha attained enlighten. I saw striking similarity between this and the story of the ‘temptation of Christ’. That was one incident that sparked interest in me to know more about my own religion; Christianity. This post will compare and contrast the two most influential personalities in the known human history; Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha.

Lived During

Buddha Christ
563 BCE to 483 BCE (approximate) 1 AD/CE – 33 AD/CE (approximate)

Prophesies About

Buddha Christ
As seers and spiritual masters of the land came to pay homage to the new born prince, the hermit seer Asita announced that the child would either become a great king (chakravartin) or a great holy man. Kaundinya the youngest, and later to be the first arahant other than the Buddha, was reputed to be the only one who unequivocally predicted that Siddhartha would become a Buddha (The enlightened one). Jewish prophets prophesied the birth of Messiah, the king of the Jews, who will liberate them from their enemies.

Bible talks about 3 wise men from the east who came to pay homage to Jesus. They refer to Jesus as the King of the Jews. Jesus must have been between 1 and 2 years old then as King Herod after carefully inquiring about the child to the 3 wise men ordered his soldiers to kill all children under 2 years of age in Bethlehem.

Buddha during his last hours tells his disciple Annanta that neither is he the first Buddha on earth nor will he be the last. In due time another supremely enlightened Buddha will arise. He will be known as Metteyya, which means ‘he whose name is kindness’.

Parents

Buddha Christ
Father: King Suddhodana
Mother: Queen Maha Maya
NB: They did not have children for twenty years into their marriage.
Father: Joseph (Carpenter)
Mother : Mary

NB: Mary became pregnant while she was engaged to Joseph. Jesus birth is believed by Christians to be a virgin birth. In Greek  ’a virgin’, also implies “a young woman in her mid to late teens.” The Gospel of James give a totally different account. Marry is said to be a temple girl given to Joseph for safe keeping at the age of 12. Read Early Life of Virgin Mary Till The Birth of Jesus Christ for more information

Conception

Buddha Christ
One full moon night, sleeping in the palace, the queen had a vivid dream. She felt herself being carried away by four devas (spirits) to Lake Anotatta in the Himalayas. After bathing her in the lake, the devas clothed her in heavenly cloths, anointed her with perfumes, and bedecked her with divine flowers. Soon after a white elephant, holding a white lotus flower in its trunk, appeared and went round her three times, entering her womb through her right side. Finally the elephant disappeared and the queen awoke, knowing she had been delivered an important message, as the elephant is a symbol of greatness in Nepal. The next day, early in the morning, the queen told the king about the dream. The king was puzzled and sent for some wise men to discover the meaning of the dream.
The wise men said, “Your Majesty, you are very lucky. The devas have chosen our queen as the mother of the Purest-One and the child will become a very great being.” The king and queen were very happy when they heard this.
The angel appeared to Mary and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jammanuel (god is with us). He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

Birth

Buddha Christ
City/Town: Lumbini, in modern day Nepal
Place: In a garden beneath a sala tree
City/Town: Bethlehem, a Palestinian city in the central West Bank, approximately 8 kilometers (5 mi) south of Jerusalem
Place: Manger (A Cave according to the gospel of James)

Siblings

Buddha Christ
None as Queen Maya died shortly after giving birth to Siddhartha. Not much information in the bible. Some gospels mention Thomas as Jesus half brother (elder).

In the gospel of Mathew Jesus is informed by his disciples about his Mother and Brothers waiting to meet him. Its as follows:

Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.” But he said in reply to the one who told him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” [Matthew 12:47-50]

Names Given

Buddha Christ
Given name: Siddhartha Gautama (he who achieves his aim)
Common Name: Gautama Buddha
Other: Shakyamuni Buddha
Given name: Jammanuel (The god is with us)
Common Name: Jesus Christ (Christ = Messiah in Greek)
Other: Messiah (The anointed one)

Childhood & Education

Buddha Christ
Enjoyed the life of a Prince. Excelled in all Science and Art Bible mentions the childhood of Jesus only at the age of 12. Here they talk of a wise Jesus who engages in debate with the elderly in the temple. Life of Jesus from 13 till 29 is missing in the bible. Other historical records claimed that Jesus had travelled as far as India and did his education there.

Spouse & Children

Buddha Christ
Siddhattha choose Yasodhara who was his cousin as his wife; daughter of King of Koli. Yasodhara bore Siddhartha a Son and they named him Rahula.

NB: Its still a practice among many Hindus to marry their younger cousin sister.

According to the popular belief Jesus was single. But some claim Mary Maglane is the wife of Jesus and that the wedding of kanna was Jesus own wedding. Mary Maglane accompanied Jesus almost everywhere even at his death and was the first to witness that Jesus had resurrected.

Religion

Buddha Christ
Gautama was born as a Hindu as it was the dominant culture of Indian subcontinent at that time. Jesus was born a Jew, as descendant of King David.

Initiation to Spiritual life

Buddha Christ
Siddhartha was brought up like a prince and was kept ignorant about the prophesizes about him so as to not let him become a holy man but rather a great king.
But as Siddhartha realized the hidden harsh realities of life the desire to know the truth lit bright within him. He left his pleasures, his wife and child to find an end to human sufferings.
Jesus knew who he was and what he was to accomplish right from childhood. Many historical records claims that he had set out to the far east traveling and learning from the then spiritually advanced eastern civilization.

Enlightenment

Buddha Christ
Siddhattha had mastered meditation better than anyone else, even his teachers but failed to attain his goal of Supreme enlightment. The ascetic ways of the Shramana teachers had failed to work. Finally he told himself that he would not get up until he had found enlightenment. He meditated under the bodhi tree for 49 (some claim 40) days.
Six years after he began his path, Siddhattha found Enlightenment, and became a Buddha.At Bodh Gaya, on the full moon day of the fourth month of the lunar calendar, Siddhartha seated himself beneath the Bodhi Tree in the meditation posture and vowed not to rise from meditation until he had attained perfect enlightenment. With this determination he entered the space-like concentration on the Dharmakaya in which he focused single-pointedly on the ultimate nature of all phenomena.

As dusk fell, Devaputra Mara, the chief of all the demons, or maras, in this world, tried to disturb Siddhartha’s concentration by conjuring up many fearful apparitions. He manifested hosts of terrifying demons, some throwing spears, some firing arrows, some trying to burn him with fire, and some hurling boulders and even mountains at him. Through the force of his concentration, the weapons, rocks, and mountains appeared to him as a rain of fragrant flowers, and the raging fires became like offerings of rainbow lights.

Seeing that Siddhartha could not be frightened into abandoning his meditation, Devaputra Mara tried instead to distract him by manifesting countless beautiful women, but Siddhartha responded by developing even deeper concentration. In this way he triumphed over all the demons of this world, which is why he subsequently became known as a “Conqueror Buddha.”

Siddhartha then continued with his meditation until dawn, when he attained the varja-like concentration. With this concentration, which is the very last mind of a limited being, he removed the final veils of ignorance from his mind and in the next moment became a Buddha, a fully enlightened being.

NB: In some higher teachings Mara represents ones-won delusions and wining Mara as overcoming and concuring ones-own delusion.

At the age of 30 Christ get baptized by John the Baptist. From there Christ sets out straight for the Wilderness to pray (meditate) for 40 days. Sometime in between he is tempted by the devil and at last emerges victorious.

This is what is said in the Bible (Matthew 4:1-11).

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

NB: The above account can only be considered a layman’s explanation. To understand what really happened we have to compare this to Buddha’s enlightenment.

 

Major Teachings

Buddha Christ
Cause and Effect (Karma)
He was against the Hindu idea that some cast or races are superior than others especially the Brahmins. He taught that all are equal and that life is to be valued and honored.

He provided the five precepts for the layman
1. I observe the precept of abstaining from the destruction of life.
2. I observe the precept of abstaining from taking that which is not given.
3. I observe the precept of abstaining from sexual misconduct.
4. I observe the precept of abstaining from falsehood.
5. I observe the precept of abstaining from intoxicants that cloud the mind and cause carelessness.

If the teachings of Christ is summarized into one word then its “LOVE”.
Jesus talked against the fallacies of the Jewish priests and Strengthened the 10 Commandments of the Jews by saying that not only have one committed a sin when engage in the act but also by harboring the thought to do so.
Christ added what could be called the 11th commandment “Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself”

Death

Buddha Christ
Buddha died at the age of 80. When Buddha announced his death to his disciples, they were sad and depressed. When the time came Buddha along with his most trusted disciple went to Pava. Chunda, a metal worker on hearing that Buddha was in his mangrove came to invite him for meal. Chunda prepared rice-cake and a dish of dried boar’s meat. After finishing the meal Buddha was struck with a dire sickness and sharp pain that eventually resulted in his death.

Before death Buddha instructed Ananda no to hold Chunda responsible for his death as it was not Chunda’s fault.

NB: Buddha was not a vegetarian. He ate any food that he was offered. He only preached not to kill or torture living thinks.

Christ Died at the age of 33. Jesus announced his suffering and death to his disciples and they couldn’t understand it till the last minute. Jesus was charged with false claim to be the messiah of the Jews and for misleading the people. Christ’s crucifixion is seen by Christians as a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sins man had committed. Jesuses disciples deserted him during the trial and crucifixion.

On the cross Christ prayed for those who tortured and crucified him. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Every details had been made as brief as possible so as not to make the post to big at the same time I have tried to cover the maximum points. If you have any comments, suggestions or criticism please be free to make it.

Sources

  • The Holly Bible
  • The Gospel of Buddha by Paul Carus
  • bible.cc
  • biblegateway.com
  • aboutbuddha.org
  • www.buddhamind.info