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This is not a duplicate of Is Buddha an avatar of Lord Vishnu? I am posting totally different question below.

From www.sanatansociety.org:

In Hinduism, Buddha is regarded as the ninth incarnation of Vishnu following Rama and Krishna.

Why is there a separate religion (Buddhism) for Buddha if Buddha is a Hindu god?

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    of course this is common in human history that whenever explains the Truth in a way different from what is commonly believed at that time then the followers of different saints clash with each other, sometimes violently (this is not unique to Indian history, it is common worldwide). Thus followers of the Buddha and followers of other saints had a clash about the authority of the Vedas and the presence of God, which the Buddha neither accepted nor denied. Thus followers of the Buddha denied that they were Hindu's (although it probably was called something else)! Thus the reason for branch off. – Sai Dec 17 '14 at 15:05
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    as for him being mentioned in scriptures, not only scriptures but even many great saints believe that Buddha is an incarnation of God, such as Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Paramahansa Yoganand Swami. Upon analysis of Buddha's teachings it is evident that they are of the same quintessence of finding liberation as most Hindu teachings. But also there are many who also do not believe so. Thus some Hindus believe and some Hindus do not believe in Buddha whereas none of the Buddhists like to be called Hinduists – Sai Dec 17 '14 at 15:09
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    So true what Sai has said! Those who really know the essence can see the similarity. I am not saying much about this to avoid unnecessary arguments, but there are enough proofs. People who really know the truth do not make the discrimination. – Be Happy Dec 17 '14 at 15:50
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It is because the discrimination of religions as it has come to be is mostly based upon the primary scripture or teachings of the prophet or god rather than who the god is or who the proponent is.

So irrespective of whether Buddha is a Hindu god or not, the message he preached and spread is different than that of Hindu/Vedic beliefs. For example while Hindus, who accept the authority of the Vedas, believe in the existence of individual souls and a Supreme God, the Buddhists do not. Buddha did not accept the authority of the Vedas and spread a tenant opposite to it shunning yajna, animal sacrifice, etc. So due to the difference in the core beliefs it has come to be known as a separate religion having its own sub-sects over the course of time.

However, having said that I would also like to say Buddhism, Jainism, etc. were considered as different philosophies and schools of thought rather than separate religions. They belong to the nastika (atheist) school of thought in Hindu Philosophy. These schools of thought came to flourish in India where there were no such thing as religion as that term means today. Even there is no word for religion in Indian languages and it is commonly translated as dharma which can mean many different things depending upon the context. Only in course of time as other religions started to flourish in different parts of the world that the distinction became more. So even if Buddhism is considered and categorised as a separate religion, many would agree (and of course some wouldn't) that it is just a different darshana (philosophy) and way of life.

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    Buddha was not an atheist. He was silent when asked the question. Buddha stressed to find out for yourself. His followers interpreted his silence in different ways. The Hinayana (Theravedic) school became atheists. Theravedists schools predominate in Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia. The Mahayana school became positivists saying there is an Ultimate Reality (Nirvana = Brahman). Mahayana schools include Tibetians, Chinese, and Japanese). As is often the case, Buddha was a Hindu sannyasin and presented his teachings as a reform, not as a new religion. – Swami Vishwananda Dec 18 '14 at 12:16
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    Most Hindus consider Buddhism a sect of Hinduism, although most Buddhists consider themselves differently. It is an interesting to note that many temples where the Brahmin priests will not allow Western Hindus in, will allow Asian Buddhists. – Swami Vishwananda Dec 18 '14 at 12:19
  • Swami Vivekananda noted that when he passed through Japan, he noticed prayers written in Bengali in old Japanese Buddhist temples. – Swami Vishwananda Dec 18 '14 at 12:21
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    @SwamiVishwananda Exactly Swamiji. I posted an answer stating Buddha's silence about this sometime ago in the Buddhism.SE site and users started down voting and stating He was not silent :D People only have differing opinions about this, but those who know the truth know the truth. – Be Happy Dec 18 '14 at 12:55
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    @JavaTechnical Yes, it does. Zen is a school of the Mahayana. David Loy (a teacher of Zen) says in his book "Non-Duality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy" that D.T. Suzuki repeatedly stressed in his writings about Zen that Satori (Samadhi) was the realization of non-duality. – Swami Vishwananda Dec 27 '14 at 8:13
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I should start out by saying that there are some people who believe that Buddha is not an incarnation of Vishnu, and that any scriptural references to Buddha are a later interpolation. Now among the people who do believe that Buddha is an incarnation, the reason that Buddhists and Hindus have different beliefs is because of the fundamental purpose of Vishnu's incarnation as Buddha: to lead people astray from following the Vedas.

Buddha's incarnation is described in this chapter of the Vishnu Purana. The Asuras (demons) decide to engage in Tapasya (deep meditation) in accordance with Vedic principles, and as a result the gods unable to harm them, so they turn to Vishnu to help. Vishnu incarnates as Buddha in order to lead the Asuras astray from the teachings of the Vedas, so that the gods could defeat them in battle:

After this, the great delusion, having proceeded to earth, beheld the Daityas engaged in ascetic penances upon the banks of the Narmadá river; and approaching them in the semblance of a naked mendicant, with his head shaven, and carrying a bunch of peacock's feathers 2, he thus addressed them[.]... By such persuasions, and by many specious arguments, did this delusive being mislead the Daityas from the tenets of the Vedas; teaching that the same thing might be for the sake of virtue and of vice; might be, and might not be; might or might not contribute to liberation; might be the supreme object, and not the supreme object; might be effect, and not be effect; might be manifest, or not be manifest; might be the duty of those who go naked, or who go clothed in much raiment[.]...

Then the same deluder, putting on garments of a red colour, assuming a benevolent aspect, and speaking in soft and agreeable tones, addressed others of the same family, and said to them, "If; mighty demons, you cherish a desire either for heaven or for final repose, desist from the iniquitous massacre of animals (for sacrifice), and hear from me what you should do. Know that all that exists is composed of discriminative knowledge. Understand my words, for they have been uttered by the wise. This world subsists without support, and engaged in the pursuit of error, which it mistakes for knowledge, as well as vitiated by passion and the rest, revolves in the straits of existence." In this manner, exclaiming to them, "Know!" (Budhyadwam), and they replying, "It is known" (Budhyate), these Daityas were induced by the arch deceiver to deviate from their religious duties (and become Bauddhas), by his repeated arguments and variously urged persuasions, When they had abandoned their own faith, they persuaded others to do the same, and the heresy spread, and many deserted the practices enjoined by the Vedas and the laws.

So the reason the followers of an incarnation of a Vedic god like Vishnu could deny the Vedas would be that Vishnu intentionally spread doctrines that were contrary to the Vedas. And insofar as Hindus believe that the truths embodied in the Vedas are of divine origin, there is naturally a divergence in the beliefs of Hindus and Buddhists.

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both are not same !

tatah kalau sampravritte sammohaya sura-dvisham

buddho namnanjana-sutaha kikateshu bhavishyati

(Srimad Bhagavatam, 1.3.24)

"Then, in the beginning of Kali-yuga the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Anjana, in the province of Gaya2 (Bihar) just for the purpose of infatuating those who are envious of the faithful demigods."

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This page attributed to ISKCON founder Srila Prabhupada, explains the purpose of a separate religion of Buddhism in the case that Buddha is a Hindu god (the incarnation of Krsna), based on the Srimad Bhagavatham.

I summarize the arguments of ISKCON below:

  • The Buddha invented a religious system that rejected the Vedas and God, while promoting morality and non-violence
  • His religion rejected the Vedas, because the Vedas were misinterpreted and misused, to unnecessarily kill animals in a sinful manner
  • His religion rejected God because he knew that the atheists would not accept God, but he still wanted to save them somehow, because he was compassionate to them
  • His religion had arguments to convince atheists to live a moral life, without the need for God
  • He tricked the atheists into obeying and serving him, who is actually God, without being called God. Srila Prabhupada called this "transcendental cheating"
  • True devotees of Krsna would respect the Buddha because he is an incarnation of God but would ignore the Buddha's teachings, because they knew that it was a false teaching since it rejected God and Vedas

In the Srimad-Bhagvatam, Lord Buddha is accepted as a saktyavesa avatara, a specially empowered incarnation of the Supreme Lord. Srimad-Bhagvatam, which was compiled by Vyasadeva five thousand years ago, foretold the incarnation of Lord Buddha who appeared just 2,600 years ago, saying Buddha will appear in Gaya Pradesh, in the province of Gaya. "In the beginning of Kali-yuga, the Lord will appear as Lord Buddha, the son of Anjana, in the province of Gaya, just for the purpose of deluding those who are envious of the faithful theist." (Srimad-Bhagavatam 1:3:24). Kesava dhrta buddha sarira - Krsna has accepted the body of Buddha. That is the Vaisnava conception of Lord Buddha.

Lord Buddha appeared at a time when the so-called religionists were falsely using the Vedas to justify violent acts like meat-eating and animal sacrifice. It was the desire of the Supreme Personality of Godhead to end violence being committed in the name of the Vedas. Taking compassion on the poor animals, he appeared as Lord Buddha to preach ahimsa, non-violence, leading the fallen people away from such false interpretations.

At the time of Lord Buddha's appearance, many people had become atheistic, and Srimad-Bhagvatam states that Lord Buddha appeared in order to bewilder this atheistic class of men. Due to their ignorance, the people were being implicated in innumerable sinful activities by unnecessary animal killing in the name of religion. In his preaching, Lord Buddha declined to accept the Vedic principles because the animal-killers would have simply pointed to evidences that in the Vedas there is mention of animal-killing for sacrifice. Therefore, Lord Buddha established a system of religion on the platform of non-violence to stop the nonsense they were engaging in due to a lack of knowledge.

Lord Buddha preached atheism so that the atheists would follow him and thus be tricked into devotional service to Lord Buddha (Krsna). By obeying Lord Buddha, they were actually following God. In order to take the bewildered atheists under his control, he collaborated and said, "Yes, there is no God, but you hear me." Being an actual incarnation of God, this was a kind of transcendental cheating. Those who were followers of Vedic religion, however, did not accept Lord Buddha's religion because it was against the Vedas. In other words, this philosophy is actually meant for bewildering the atheists and should not be accepted by devotees.

Lord Buddha was criticized by the Vedic brahmanas for stopping animal sacrifice, which is recommended in the Vedas as a means of creating new life under very special circumstances. But because the brahmanas had become corrupted and were taking this injunction as a very general thing, Lord Buddha refused to accept the Vedic principles and instead criticized them. Consequently, strict followers of the Vedas would not accept him. The devotee understands why Lord Buddha took this position, however, and while a devotee does not accept the philosophy of Buddhism, he accepts Lord Buddha as incarnation of Lord Krsna and offers obeisances to him. This is the Vaisnava position.

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