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Friday, June 19, 2009

Buddha as viewed by other religions

Hinduism Buddhism is a dharmic religion. The systems of Buddhism and Hinduism, some say, must not be considered to be either contradictory to one another or completely self contained. Coomaraswamy wrote: "The more superficially one studies Buddhism, the more it seems to differ from Brahmanism in which it originated; the more profound our study, the more difficult it becomes to distinguish Buddhism from Brahmanism, or to say in what respects, if any, Buddhism is really unorthodox." Buddhist scholar Rahula Vipola wrote that the Buddha was trying to shed the true meaning of the Vedas. Buddha is said to be a knower of the Veda (vedajña) or of the Vedanta (vedântajña) (Sa.myutta, i. 168) and (Sutta Nipâta, 463). Hinduism and Buddhism share many common features including Sanskrit, yoga, karma and dharma. Taoism, Confucianism and Shintoism The arrival of Buddhism caused Taoism to renew and restructure itself and address existential questions raised by Buddhism. Buddhism was seen as a kind of foreign Taoism and its scriptures were translated into Chinese with Taoist vocabulary. Chan (Seon, Thien, or Zen) Buddhism in particular holds many beliefs in common with philosophical Taoism. Some early Chinese Taoist-Buddhists thought Buddha to be a reincarnation of Lao Tzu born in the land of barbarians. Buddhism shares many commonalities with Neo-Confucianism , which is Confucianism with more religious elements. In fact, the ritual of ancestor worship normally practiced by Confucianists, has been adapted to Chinese Buddhist beliefs. In the Japanese religion of Shinto, the long coexistence of Buddhism and Shintoism resulted in the merging of Shintoism and Buddhism. Gods in Shintoism were given a position similar to the Hindu gods in Buddhism. Moreover, because one of Mahayana Buddha's (Dainichi Nyorai) symbols was the sun, many equated Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, as the previous reincarnation (bodhisattva) of Dainichi Nyorai. However, the Tokugawa Shogunate era saw a revival movement within Shinto. Some Shinto scholars started to argue that Buddhas were previous incarnations of Shinto gods, thus turning the position of Shintoism and Buddhism upside down. Shinto and Buddhism were officially separated after the Meiji Restoration. Islam If you desire to see the most noble of mankind, look at the king in beggar's clothing; it is he whose sanctity is great among men. —Abdul Atahiya, Arab Poet. The Buddhist monastic class flowed into what came to be called Islamic monasticism — Sufism — which has given many poets and scientists to both Islam and the world. The Qalandariyah Sufi Order, a Muslim mystical movement, attracted many Buddhist monks. This order arose in 9th century as a result of the Malamatiyya, and became established in Khorasan (Eastern Persia) as early in the 11th century. Ascetic practices within the Sufi philosophy are associated with Buddhism. The notion of purification (cleaning one' s soul from all evil things and trying to reach Nirvana and to become immortal in Nirvana) plays an important role in Buddhism. The same idea shows itself in the belief of vuslat (communion with God) in Sufi philosophy. The mission of the Buddha was quite unique in its character, and therefore it stands quite apart from the many other religions of the world. His mission was to bring the birds of idealism flying in the air nearer to the earth, because the food for their bodies belonged to the earth. —Hazrat Inayat Khan. The Indian scholar Maulana Abul Kalam Azad proposed in a commentary on the Qur'an that Siddhartha Gautama is the prophet of Islam Dhū'l-Kifl referred to in Sura 21 and Sura 38 of the Qur'an together with the Biblical characters Ishmael, Idris (Enoch), and Elisha. Azad suggested that the Kifl in Dhū'l-Kifl (Ar: "possessor of a double portion") is an Arabic pronunciation of Kapilavastu, where the Buddha spent his early life.[15] Azad did not, however, provide direct historical evidence to support his speculation. According to other ancient Muslim scholars Dhū'l-Kifl was either a righteous man and not a prophet, or he was the prophet called Ezekiel in the Bible. Christianity and Judaism The Greek legend of "Barlaam and Ioasaph", sometimes mistakenly attributed to the 7th century John of Damascus but actually written by the Georgian monk Euthymios in the 11th century, was ultimately derived, through a variety of intermediate versions (Arabic and Georgian) from the life story of the Buddha. The king-turned-monk Ioasaph (Georgian Iodasaph, Arabic Yūdhasaf or Būdhasaf) ultimately derives his name from the Sanskrit Bodhisattva, the name used in Buddhist accounts for Gautama before he became a Buddha. Barlaam and Ioasaph were placed in the Greek calendar of saints on 26 August, and in the West they were canonized (as "Barlaam and Josaphat") in the Roman Martyrology on the date of 27 November. The story was translated into Hebrew in the Middle Ages as "Ben-Hamelekh Vehanazir" ("The Prince and the Nazirite"), and is widely read by Jews to this day.

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