Buddhism formed in India in the general context of Indian philosophy and religion. Since the appearance of Buddhism, both Buddhism and Hinduism developed in parallel, while disputes between these two religions were the main driving force of their development. Thus, the Hindu school has formed under the influence of Buddhist logic, and Buddhism has absorbed many elements of Hinduism’s figurative and conceptual system.
First of all, the goal of Buddhism and Hinduism reflects the understanding and experience of the unconditional or marginal reality of each tradition. Though it is impossible to formulate perfect definitions of Hinduism and Buddhism in general (because of the evidence of different schools) and a common doctrine for all the schools, there are practices and believes, which occupy central place of both religions, and which can be regarded as typical. They include the following notions: dharma (moral duty and ethical obligation), samsara (the cycle of birth and death, belief in reincarnation of the soul after death into the bodies of animals, people, Gods), karma (the belief that the order of rebirth is determined by the deeds committed during life course and by their consequences), moksha (liberation from the cycle of samsara), and yoga in its various directions.
Buddhism borrows the doctrine of karma from Hinduism, which preceded it with the Indian religious-philosophical traditions, i.e. the law of fair retribution, carried out in each subsequent life for each of the previous ones. The force of this law is based on ideas about the transmigration of souls, according to which a living person (or an illusion of a living person) does not die with the death of some concrete body, but is infused into a new body, which is defined by merits and crimes of a past life.
In Buddhism and Hinduism reincarnations (samsara) can last endlessly, if the creature is not aware of the four noble truths and is not going to step on the path of salvation. In order to make such recognition possible, the Dharma law appeared, bearing the light of true doctrine to people mired in darkness and suffering from ignorance.
In order to break the chain of rebirth, one should get out of obedience to the law of karma; in order to get out of obedience to the law of karma, it is necessary to stop any efforts which might be followed by the karmic retribution; in order to stop all efforts, one has to abandon from any aspirations that may cause these efforts. Since the slightest movement of consciousness or even subconsciousness in Buddhism and Hinduism is already causing the act of karma and supports the existence of the illusory world of suffering, man’s task is the most complete and rigorous purification from any aspirations.
Thus, both religions contain the notion of liberation. There are many methods to achieve this goal (reading mantras, meditation, yoga, etc).
However, some of the existing methods can divert from the path of justice. Many Hindu and Buddhist sadhanas warn that it is easy to get mesmerized with obtaining siddhi and other supernatural forces.
Both Hindus and Buddhists have 8 siddhi, the similarities between which are obvious. They include the main interest in the superiority or subordination, in changing form, in control over elements, or at least the ability to withdraw from the power of their impact, and, in general, in management of animate and inanimate objects. Although these siddhi shouldn’t be aimed at gaining power, they can be used to attract people to Buddhism or Hinduism.
These similarities show the deep connection between two religions and prove that in some way Hinduism cannot exist without Buddhism, as well as Buddhism without Hinduism. Buddhism cannot exist without the wisdom and philosophy of Hinduism it roots from, as well as Hinduism is now inseparable from the Great Heart of Buddha. However, we should also understand what consequences were demonstrated by the division of these religions.