Is Hinduism copied from Buddhism?


For example, as this answer says, and a lot of others in the same thread, "Hinduism" didn't exist in its present-manner around the time of Buddha. And that a lot of philosophical zeal, as well as the theories of its philosophical schools (Nyaya, Advait Vedanta {Sankara was regarded as a crypto-Buddhist as well}), is influenced by Buddhism. And thus, in a polemic manner, it can also be said that:

Hinduism is just Buddhism flavoured with some archaic elements (reverence of the Vedas) and stripped of anything too hard to understand for common people (like anātman) and anything that might offend a priestly elite (like "equality of men").

What does the historical chronology say in this regard? I don't want a Puranik chronology.

  • This post was likely made by Buddhists with faulty knowledge of the workings of Vedic systems. For starters, we can look at the far greater syncretism done in Buddhist works especially later works adopting Hindu deities. Secondly, all Vedic schools of thought are based upon Vedas and nothing more or less. The yoga school while similar to Buddhism was based on the pre-existing Samkhya faith.
    – Haridasa
    Jan 21 at 1:40
  • I also believe Buddha during the start of his asceticism had a Samkhya guru. The reason Adishankara was seen as a crypto-Buddhist is the fact that a lot of his teachings saw rituals as lesser of importance this was likely during a time when Minamsa who saw rituals as important ruled over the majority of the Vedic atmosphere not only the oldest school, but also one which Adishankara took some inspiration of.
    – Haridasa
    Jan 21 at 1:40

1 Answer 1


Advaita Vedanta is based on the Upanishads and the Bhagavad-Gita.

Famous Indologist and Buddhist, Patrick Olivelle says on the Upanishads,

The scholarly consensus, well founded I think, is that the Brhadaranyaka and the Chandogya are the two earliest Upanisads. We have seen, however, that they are edited texts, some of whose sources are much older than others. The two texts as we have them are, in all likelihood, pre-Buddhist; placing them in the seventh to sixth centuries BCE may be reasonable, give or take a century or so. The three other early prose Upanisads—Taittiriya, Aitareya, and Kausitaki—come next; all are probably pre-Buddhist and can be assigned to the sixth to fifth centuries BCE. The Kena is the oldest of the verse Upanisads and contains many of the themes, such as the search for the one god who is both the creator and the agent of liberation for humans, that recur in the four subsequent verse Upanisads. Of these, the oldest is probably the Katha, followed by Isa, Svetasvatara, and Mundaka. All exhibit strong theistic tendencies and are probably the earliest literary products of the theistic tradition, whose later literature includes the Bhagavad Gita and the Puranas. All these Upanisads were composed probably in the last few centuries BCE. (The Early Upanishads, pages 12-13)

We shall address the Bhagavad-Gita now.

Prof Max Muller writes, : ”Professor Wilson, indeed, thought that there was an allusion to Buddhism in the Gita. But his idea was based on a confusion between the Buddhists and the Carvakas or materialists. Failing that allusion, we have nothing very tangible but the unsatisfactory 'negative argument' based on mere non-mention of Buddhism in the Gita. Either the Gita and Buddhism were alike the outward manifestation of one and the same spiritual upheaval which shook to its centre the current religion, the Gita being the earlier and less thorough-going form of it; or Buddhism having already begun to tell on Brahmanism, the Gita was an attempt to bolster it up. I do not accept the latter alternative, because I cannot see any indication in the Gita of an attempt to compromise with a powerful attack on the old Hindu system; while the fact that, though strictly orthodox, the author of the Gita still undermines the authority, as unwisely venerated, of the Vedic revelation; and the further fact, that in doing this, he is doing what others also had done before him or about his time; go, in my opinion, a considerable way towards fortifying the results of the negative argument already set forth. To me Buddhism is perfectly intelligible as one outcome of that play of thought on high spiritual topics, which in its other, and as we may say, less thorough-going manifestations, we see in the Upanishads and the Gita. The Upanishads, with the Gita, and the precepts of Buddha appear to me to be the successive embodiments of the spiritual thought of the age, as it became more and more dissatisfied with the system of mere ceremonial then dominant.” (The Sacred Books of the East, Vol 8, Pages 43–44)

Prof Muller concludes,

To my mind having approached Buddhism after a study of the ancient religion of India, the religion of the Veda, Buddhism has always seemed to be, not a new religion, but a natural development of the Indian mind in its various manifestations”(Chips from a German Workshop, i, p. 434).

After proving Gita and the Upanishads are Pre-Buddhist, we shall now proceed to specific terms in Advaita which were inferred from Buddhism. I have written an entire answer on the terms used here 1. To conclude in short,

It is evident from the above explanation that Gaudapada's philosophy is. It Buddhist, but purely Upanishadic 'why, then, it may be asked, should he have adopted Buddhistic expression at all? The answer is that the exigencies of his time must have made him use Bauddha terminology, even as the Hindu monks who preach Vedanta in the countries of the west today feel the necessity of clothing their thoughts in Christian expressions.(Ashokan N, Mahayana Buddhism And Early Advaita Vedanta, Chapter 5.10)

  • And how do other schools (like Nyaya, Vaisheshik) fare in comparison? The answer in question says that the entire Nyaya school is based on Buddhist Logic.
    – user32030
    Dec 6, 2023 at 10:16
  • Does Hindu philosophy stand the test of time? Buddhist philosophers like Nagarjun and Vasubandhu are still studied today in the West. Are our Hindu texts too?
    – user32030
    Dec 6, 2023 at 10:17
  • You need to ask seperate questions as comments won't allow for long discussions. If above answer helps, kindly accept it. Regards your questions, yes, the Upanishads are widely studied and admired. If you understand Nagarjuna and Gaudapada properly , you will understand beauty of both as well as minute differences. You can hear Swami Sarvapriyananda lectures for more details. @ArghyaShubhshiv Dec 6, 2023 at 11:47
  • Buddhism is separate bro no orthodox Vedic follower would agree.
    – Haridasa
    Jan 21 at 1:36
  • Also keep in mind Nyaya was refuted by Buddhist leading to the Madhyaka school of logic, so how can they be copying Buddhists?
    – Haridasa
    Mar 16 at 17:03

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