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Buddha and Jesus

Bashir Ahmad Orchard
The Review of Religions, June 1990

Buddha and Jesus were both holy prophets of God who appeared in their own times for the spiritual rejuvenation of the people to whom they were sent. Buddha appeared in India about six hundred years before Jesus. In both were found a purity of life, sanctity of character and patient endurance under fierce persecution. It appears that they were both very near in resemblance as suggested by the following analogies.

  1. Jesus was born of a virgin without carnal intercourse. (Matth. Chapter 1)

    Buddha was born of a virgin without carnal intercourse. (Hinduism by Williams, pp. 82 and 108)

  2. When Jesus was an infant in his cradle, he spoke to his mother and said: I am Jesus, the son of God. (Gospel of Infancy)

    When Buddha was an infant, just born, he spoke to his mother and said: I am the greatest among men. (Hardy's Manual of Buddhism, pp. 145-6)

  3. The life of Jesus was threatened by King Herod. (Matth. 2:1)

    The life of Buddha was threatened by King Bimbarasa. (History of Buddha by Beal pp. 103-104)

  4. When Jesus was a young boy we are told that the learned religious teachers were astonished at his understanding and answers. (Luke 2:47)

    When sent to school, the young Buddha surprised his masters. (Hardy's Manual of Buddhism)

  5. Jesus fasted for forty days and nights. (Matth. 4:2)

    Buddha fasted for a long period. (Science of Religion by Muller, p 28)

  6. It is believed that Jesus will return to this world. (Acts 1:11)

    It is believed that Buddha will return to this world. (Angel-Messiah by Bunsen, Ch. 14)

  7. Jesus said: Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not to destroy but to fulfill. (Matth. 5:17)

    Buddha came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it. (Science of Religion by Muller, p 140)

  8. Jesus taught: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you. (Matth. 5:44)

    According to Buddha, the motive of all our actions should be pity, or love for our neighbour. (Science of Religion by Muller, p 249)

  9. It is recorded certain of the scribes and pharisees answered, saying, Master we would see a sign from thee. (Matth. 12:38)

    It is recorded in the Sacred Canon of the Buddhists that the multitude required a sign from Buddha that they might believe. (Science of Religion by Muller, p 27)

  10. It is written in the New Testament that Jesus said: If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and caste it from thee. (Matth. 5:29)

    A story is related of a Buddhist ascetic whose eye offended him so he plucked it out and threw it away. (Science of Religion by Muller, p 245)

The basic teachings of Buddha are very similar to those taught by Jesus most of which are contained in his Sermon on the Mount. (Matth. ch 5)

The essence of Buddha's teachings are:

Gautama Buddha taught that all men are brothers, that charity ought to be extended to all, even to enemies; that men ought to love truth and hate the lie; that good work ought not to be done openly; but rather in secret; that the dangers of riches are to be avoided; that man's highest aim ought to be purity in thought, word and deed, since the higher things are pure, whose nature is akin to that of man.

(The Angel-Messiah by Benson)

There are, indeed, also points of resemblance in the history of Buddha and Jesus. It has been declared that history of Jesus, as portrayed in the New Testament, is a copy of the history of Buddha:

The most ancient of the Buddhistic records known to us contain statements about the life and the doctrines of Gautama Buddha which correspond in a resemblance manner, and impossibly by mere chance, with the traditions recorded in the Gospels about the life and teachings of Jesus.

(The Angel-Messiah by Benson, p 50)

The view has been advanced that the similarities found in the lives and teachings of Gautama Buddha and Jesus could not happen by chance and that as Buddha is the older than Christianity then the former is the parent of the latter. This, of course, is speculation as there are many teachings and points similar and common to all religions.



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