The Dissimilarities Between Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism


Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism are four major religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. While they share some similarities, each of these religions has its distinct beliefs, practices, and philosophies. In this article, we will explore the dissimilarities between Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.


Hinduism is the oldest of the four religions and is considered one of the world’s most complex religions. It is a diverse religion with no single founder or central authority. Hinduism encompasses a wide range of beliefs and practices, but some key aspects include the belief in karma (the law of cause and effect), dharma (moral and ethical duties), and the concept of reincarnation.


Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, also known as the Buddha, in the 6th century BCE. Buddhism emphasizes the importance of achieving enlightenment and liberation from the cycle of rebirth and suffering. Unlike Hinduism, Buddhism rejects the caste system and the authority of the Vedas. It promotes the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path as a means to attain enlightenment.


Jainism was founded by Mahavira in the 6th century BCE. Jainism places a strong emphasis on non-violence (ahimsa) and the principle of non-possession (aparigraha). Jains believe in the existence of countless souls and advocate for the liberation of these souls from the cycle of birth and death. They follow a strict vegetarian diet and practice asceticism.


Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak in the 15th century CE. Sikhs believe in the concept of one God and reject the caste system. Sikhism promotes equality, social justice, and the importance of honest work. The Sikh holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, is considered the eternal Guru and serves as a guide for Sikhs. Sikh men are easily identifiable by their turbans and uncut hair.

Key Dissimilarities

While Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism share some common cultural and philosophical roots, there are several significant differences between them:

1. Concept of  God

Hinduism believes in a multitude of gods and goddesses, with different sects worshiping various deities. Buddhism, on the other hand, does not emphasize the existence of a supreme being and focuses more on individual enlightenment. Jainism and Sikhism believe in one God but have different interpretations and beliefs about the nature of God.

2. Reincarnation

Hinduism and Jainism both believe in the concept of reincarnation, where the soul is reborn after death. Buddhism, however, rejects the idea of an eternal soul and teaches the concept of rebirth based on karma. Sikhism also believes in the cycle of birth and death but emphasizes the importance of breaking this cycle through devotion to God.

3. Approach to Salvation/Liberation:

In Hinduism, the ultimate goal is moksha, liberation from the cycle of reincarnation, achieved through self-realization and union with the divine. Buddhism seeks Nirvana, a state of liberation from suffering and the cycle of rebirth. Jainism aims for moksha, the liberation of the soul from the cycle of birth and death. Sikhism emphasizes union with God, breaking the cycle of rebirth through devotion and righteous living.

4. Path to Liberation:

Hinduism recognizes multiple paths to liberation, including the paths of knowledge (Jnana Yoga), devotion (Bhakti Yoga), and selfless action (Karma Yoga). Buddhism advocates the Eightfold Path, a set of ethical and mental guidelines. Jainism emphasizes the Three Jewels: right faith, right knowledge, and right conduct. Sikhism prescribes devotion to God, truthful living, and selfless service.

5. Caste System :

Hinduism is strongly associated with the caste system, which categorizes individuals into different social classes based on birth. Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism reject the caste system and promote equality and social justice.

6. Sacred Texts :

Hinduism has a vast collection of sacred texts, including the Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita. Buddhism follows the teachings of the Buddha, as recorded in various sutras. Jainism has its own set of scriptures called the Agamas. Sikhism’s holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, is considered the final and eternal Guru.

7. Rituals and Practices :

Each of these religions has its unique rituals and practices. Hinduism has elaborate rituals, ceremonies, and festivals associated with various deities. Buddhism focuses on meditation and mindfulness practices. Jainism emphasizes asceticism, non-violence, and strict vegetarianism. Sikhism places importance on daily prayer, community service, and the wearing of the Five Ks.

8. Priesthood:

Hinduism has a hierarchical priesthood system, with Brahmins traditionally occupying the priestly role. Buddhism and Jainism do not have a priesthood hierarchy, and their religious practices are often led by monks and nuns. Sikhism rejects a priestly class, and religious authority is vested in the Guru Granth Sahib.

9. Concept of Ahimsa (Non-Violence):

Ahimsa is a significant principle in Jainism, emphasizing non-violence towards all living beings. While Buddhism also advocates non-violence, it does not emphasize it as exclusively as Jainism. Hinduism and Sikhism also promote non-violence but with variations in emphasis and application.

10. Attitude Toward the Material World:

Hinduism recognizes the material world as an aspect of divine creation and provides a framework for engaging with it. Buddhism sees the material world as marked by impermanence and suffering, encouraging detachment. Jainism views the material world as inherently non-eternal and advocates asceticism. Sikhism acknowledges the material world but emphasizes ethical living and devotion to God within it.

In conclusion, while Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism may have some commonalities due to their geographical origins, they are distinct religions with their own beliefs, practices, and philosophies. Understanding the dissimilarities between these religions can foster a greater appreciation for the diversity and richness of religious traditions in the world.

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