The Buddha : Not a Godsend

buddhaI once heard a fellow Buddhist comment that because some Hindus consider the Buddha a “godsent” avatar of Vishnu (one of their chief gods), Hindus will never go to war with Buddhists – as it would be like fighting with family. Is this religious tolerance? Yes, but maybe this was all along a potential time-bomb of delusion waiting to explode? Something considered intolerable to both sides happened recently.

So says this news report, Buddhist monks are seriously considering to expose a Hindu organisation’s hidden agenda of turning the Mahabodhi Temple (where the Buddha attained Enlightenment) into a Hindu temple – when they tried to force-enter to make offerings particular to their faith to Shiva (another one of their chief gods). The amazing thing is, the Buddha clearly said He is not a god (one of His ‘official titles’ in Buddhism is ‘Teacher of men and gods’) or a messenger of any god. And it seems, the Hindu scriptures never said the Buddha is an avatar too. It’s sad that something that was the basis of harmony became the basis of conflict. It is afterall one thing to have one’s personal religious view of another religion’s founder, and another thing altogether to forcefeed this perception down the throat of that religion’s followers. Can you imagine the possibility of fellow Buddhists jostling to make offerings at a major church, claiming that Christ was a misunderstood Bodhisattva of sorts? (Is it possible?) While we appreciate the greatness of diverse world religions’ certain similarities in having teachings conducive to world peace and the spiritual betterment of humankind, we must not forget that there are radical differences in core teachings too. If not, then, for example, Buddhism would not be Buddhism, and Hinduism not Hinduism – there would had been only one single world religion throughout history. It might be noteworthy that the Buddha taught that His teachings are marked by the three seals of the law of Dharma (or Three Universal Characteristics) – Anicca (constant change of mind and matter), Dukkha (existential dissatisfaction from not realising these characteristics) and Anatta (non-self of mind and matter). If one looks deeper beyond some surface similarities, one will realise that the Hindu teachings are not marked by any of these three seals.

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