Buddhism and Christianity: Two Emerging Religions

893 Words4 Pages
Due to the emergence of universal religions, a new idea known as syncretism started to emerge. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the idea of syncretism as “the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.” (Merriam-Webster) However, in historical term, syncretism is defined as the accepted idea that was believed to enhance people’s willingness to adapt or adopt to a certain religion because of the appealing ideas. During the first millennium C.E, two universal religions, Buddhism and Christianity, primarily spread through the idea of syncretism, although, a secondary factor contributed to the spread of these religions, which were political rulers and religious representatives such as monks and priests.
Buddhism, a religion established by Siddhãrtha Gautama and based on the fundamentals of reaching nirvana was initially spread by the activities of political rulers, monks, and monasteries and later on through syncretism. Syncretism did play a role in the spread of Buddhism, but later in the millennium. King Ashoka of the Mauryan Empire played an important role in the spread of Buddhism. He supported Buddhism and he used it to strengthen his authority. He encouraged Buddhist missionaries to carry the faith to Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, from where these missionaries went to North Africa. Other rulers helped in the spread of Buddhism because they found ways to add status and a sense of legitimacy in their rule and as a result two types of Buddhism began to emerge.
There were two types of Buddhism known as Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism was the accepted type of Buddhism, which was the part that made Buddhism a universal religion. Mahayana Buddhism...

... middle of paper ...

...on where the religions spread through different parts of nations. Buddhism spread in Southeast Asia where else Christianity spread in the Western Europe. They both however shared a place in which many of their ideas came from, India, which was the key to syncretism as India incorporated its tradition and values in these religions. Both religions functioned as a result of political rulers using the religion to strengthen their power, but also as a result these religions came to spread. King Ashoka used Buddhism for power, which brought Buddhism to spread and likewise, the church used Christianity to strengthen themselves as well a promote the religion. As the first millennium came to an end, Buddhism and Christianity established themselves as universal religions due to the fact of syncretism and the activities of political rulers and representatives of the religion.
Open Document