At the time of Tathagat Buddha, Hindu religion in its current form did not exist. However, there were Vedic teachings. These teachings were based on blind belief in the authority of the Vedas. There were many different schools of philosophy opposing Vedic teaching, e.g. Akriyavada, Niyativada (determinism), Ucchedavada etc.

As far as I know, the Buddha opposed Vedic religion. He opened a strong camp against it and freed people from the exploitative teachings of Veda. He expounded equality as opposed to the Vedic teachings which discriminated between different classes.

Is it true that Buddhism (since time of Buddha) opposed Vedic (and later Brahminical) religion?

7 Answers 7


In his Great Minds of the Eastern tradition lecture series Grant Hardy identifies 6 orthodox schools of Indian philosophy (Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshik, Mimāṃsā, Vedanta). He also identified 3 heterodox schools

  • Cārvāka (materialist)
  • Jainism
  • Buddhism

The heterodox schools are those who reject the authority of the Vedas. So based on this then Buddhism was opposed to the Vedic religion.Interestingly the Buddha came to be seen as an avatar of the god Vishnu in some forms Hinduism. I guess that it's better to have the Buddha inside the tent chanting out then outside the tent chanting in (or words to that effect).

  • very nice. but forgive me for not understanding the last sentence. Would you please explain or rewrite in more simplistic way?
    – sangharsh
    Sep 1, 2014 at 16:58
  • 1
    @sangharsh i was just being a bit frivolous. It's a play on this quote from Lyndon Johnson izquotes.com/quote/241192. It means that it was better to have Buddhism inside Hinduism than outside of it causing trouble. The quote might not work in this sense so you are absolutely right to pick me up on it Sep 1, 2014 at 18:10
  • 1
    Just one thing I think I should note. The teachings relating to Karma and Moksha actually have nothing to do with the Vedic religion, but were derived from the Shramanic tradition of asceticism. Buddhism is one example of a religion derived from this tradition, and Jainism is another. It was Hinduism that borrowed these ideas.
    – Bakmoon
    Sep 1, 2014 at 19:21
  • 1
    @Bakmoon That's actually different to what Grant Hardy said. It's possible that I've misunderstood, misheard or he is simplifying but I've asked the specific question here buddhism.stackexchange.com/q/3120/157 about the origins of this term. I'll happily correct my answer in the light of the answers there (hint, hint, please post) Sep 1, 2014 at 20:32
  • 1
    @Bakmoon great answer for above question. I don't think Grant Hardy is wrong. I think I misunderstood/misremembered. I've amended my answer accordingly Sep 2, 2014 at 8:11

From my reading it appears he didn't oppose Vedic religion though he dismissed the Brahmins of his times as being false Brahmins.

In the brāhmaṇavagga of the aṅguttara nikāya 5. 20, and the Dhp. 26 the Buddha reframes what it means to be a Brahmin, to one who is pious, celibate, free of mental defilements etc. - namely all the qualities of an arhat or other members of the Ariyas.

In the AN brāhmaṇavagga he debates several Brahmins, and shows a superior understanding of Brahminical history, and teaches that the present fallen state of Brahmins was not always so. In old times, per the teachings of the ten Rishis (Aññhaka, Vàmaka, Vàmadeva, Vessàmitta, Yamtaggi, Angãrasa, Bhàradvàja, Vàseññha, Kassapa and Bhagu) the meaning of Brahmin was equal to what the Buddha teaches, but over the years it had decayed to the point of being riddled with flaws.

I don't want to quote lengthy sections of the chapter on Brahmins here, but suffice to say, he wasn't opposed to the Vedas.

In AN 5.20 he mentions mastery of the Vedas as a notable feature of a good Brahmin, but by reading other suttas in the vagga we see it not the only criteria. If anything, he emphasises pious conduct and freedom from mental defilements a lot more.


The Buddha disagreed with Vedic teaching in certain respects, but he wasn't opposed to everything. He rejected the idea that there was any sort of intrinsic value to people's Varna, or caste, and he rejected many of the teachings which had some Brahmins of the time had understood from the Vedas (For example, at the time of the Buddha, some Brahmins taught that the creator God Brahma was eternal and all powerful) but that doesn't mean that the Buddha opposed himself to absolutely everything related to the Vedic religion of the time.

For example, although he rejected the idea that the Vedic rituals had any bearing on obtaining enlightenment, he never said that it is somehow wrong to preform the Vedic rituals. In fact, the Buddha had lay disciples who were Brahmins, and it seems reasonable to assume that at least some of them were functioning as priests.

In other words, the Buddha opposed the aspects of Vedic religion which were bad, but didn't really have much of an issue with the more neutral matters of Vedic religion.


The Buddha taught a different doctrine to the Vedas but did not "oppose" the Vedas. MN 95 says:

Sirs, the recluse Gotama holds the doctrine of the moral efficacy of action, the doctrine of the moral efficacy of deeds; he does not seek any harm for the line of brahmins.

MN 95


Check out the link : Why did Lord Buddha reject the Vedas?

Excerpt from the above answer :

In Sutta Nipat 192, Mahatma Buddha says that:

Vidwa Cha Vedehi Samechcha Dhammam Na Uchchavacham Gachhati Bhooripanjo.

People allow sense-organs to dominate and keep shuffling between high and low positions. But the scholar who understands Vedas understands Dharma and does not waver.

Sutta Nipat 503:

Yo Vedagu Gyanarato Sateema …….

One should support a person who is master of Vedas, contemplative, intelligent, helpful if you desire to inculcate similar traits.

Sutta Nipat 1059:

Yam Brahmanam Vedagum Abhijanjya Akinchanam Kamabhave Asattam……

One gets free from worldly pains if he is able to understand a Vedic Scholar who has no wealth and free from attraction towards worldly things.

Sutta Nipat 1060:

Vidwa Cha So Vedagu Naro Idha Bhavabhave Sangam Imam Visajja…..

I state that one who understands the Vedas rejects attraction towards the world and becomes free from sins.

Sutta Nipat 846:

Na Vedagu Diththia Na Mutiya Sa Manameti Nahi Tanmayoso….

One who knows Vedas does not acquire false ego. He is not affected by hearsay and delusions.

Sutta Nipat 458:

Yadantagu Vedagu Yanjakaale Yassahuti Labhe Taras Ijjeti Broomi

I state that one who acquires Ahuti in Havan of a Vedic scholar gets success.

  • 2
    I can't confirm these quotes and translations. For example I found the first quote at around Sutta Nipata 796 (not 192) ... and the English translation of that given here is quite different (contradictory really), saying, "A person undertaking (holy) vows goes high and low— they waver, fettered by conditional perceptions. But one who has learnt well and the Dharma penetrated goes not up and down— that one of wisdom profound."
    – ChrisW
    Jun 29, 2017 at 16:53
  • 1
    I know little bit Sanskrit. I see couple of words like "Vedehi", "Vedagu" in most of the above stanzas. Those words refer to The Veda. I also see words like "Brahmanam".
    – sudip
    Jun 30, 2017 at 9:46

In the MN 95, the Buddha hints that even the learned brahmans themselves are unsure whether the Vedas are true, by their own empirical validation:

"And among the brahman seers of the past, the creators of the hymns, the composers of the hymns — those ancient hymns, sung, repeated, & collected, which brahmans at present still sing, still chant, repeating what was said, repeating what was spoken — i.e., Atthaka, Vamaka, Vamadeva, Vessamitta, Yamataggi, Angirasa, Bharadvaja, Vasettha, Kassapa & Bhagu: was there even one of these who said, 'This we know; this we see; only this is true; anything else is worthless?'"

"No, Master Gotama."

"So then, Bharadvaja, it seems that there isn't among the brahmans even one brahman who says, 'This I know; this I see; only this is true; anything else is worthless.' And there hasn't been among the brahmans even one teacher or teacher's teacher back through seven generations who said, 'This I know; this I see; only this is true; anything else is worthless.' And there hasn't been among the brahman seers of the past, the creators of the hymns, the composers of the hymns... even one who said, 'This we know; this we see; only this is true; anything else is worthless.' Suppose there were a row of blind men, each holding on to the one in front of him: the first one doesn't see, the middle one doesn't see, the last one doesn't see. In the same way, the statement of the brahmans turns out to be a row of blind men, as it were: the first one doesn't see, the middle one doesn't see, the last one doesn't see. So what do you think, Bharadvaja: this being the case, doesn't the conviction of the brahmans turn out to be groundless?"
MN 95

In MN 95 and DN 13, the Buddha did not accept the authority of the Vedas. This makes Buddhism a heterodox (nāstika) school.

In Dhp 279 and many other suttas, the Buddha taught all phenomena is not self. This also makes Buddhism a heterodox (nāstika) school.

In MN 38, he taught six types of consciousness which dependently arise based on the six media of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind i.e. eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, mind-consciousness etc. He taught that consciousness does not occur independently of these six media. This disagrees with the concept of Cosmic Consciousness (Aparokshanubhuti 58) in Advaita Vedanta.

In SN 7.9, he rejected the notion of varna/ caste by birth, stating "don’t ask about birth, ask about conduct," when someone asked him about his (Buddha's) varna/ caste at birth. That contradicts Chandogya Upanishad 5.10.7 and BG 9.32.

In SN 7.7, he said that austerities does not make one pure and chanting mantras do not make one a brahmin, stating instead that accomplishment in conduct or virtue, and knowledge determines a brahmin.

In SN 7.21, he rejected the view that purification rites using water can wash away sins, stating instead to dip oneself in the shores of the lake of virtue, to purify oneself.

In DN 31, he rejected the ritualism behind the Vedic bath prayer ceremony practised by a young householder by the name of Sigala and put a new spin on it.

In MN 92, the Buddha stated that feeding the Sangha generates more merit than the Vedic fire sacrifice (yajna), while AN 9.20 states that undertaking the five precepts generate more merit than feeding the Sangha.

In SN 42.6, he rejected the use of funeral rites to help the deceased go to heaven, stating instead that it is a person's deeds during their lifetime which determines their outcome, and not rituals performed after death.

In SN 42.3, he rejected the view that a warrior performing his duty to fight in war, will allow him to go to heaven after death, if he gets killed in battle. This contradicts BG 2.38.

In AN 8.39, he forbade taking of a life and in AN 4.39, he denounced animal sacrifices. This may have conflicted with animal sacrifices that may have been practised in his time.

In DN 2, he forbade his monks from doing fire oblations or fire sacrifices, practising astrology, reading omens, interpreting dreams, calculating auspicious dates for marriages, consecrating sites for construction and worshipping the Sun etc.

  • Good answer about the Buddha having a different doctrine than the Vedas but MN 95 shows the Buddha did not "oppose" the Vedas. Mar 20 at 2:19

Buddhism does not oppose any relations like psychiatry or psychology does not have anything to do with other organised religions. Buddhism in a way is a treatment for stress and misery like psychiatry or psychology. Applying Buddhism you realize the root cause and cure yourself of misery. Unlike psychiatry or psychology the final solution your get is stable and permanent.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .