During the time of the Buddha, brahmanism was rampant. Brahmins regarded themselves as the highest caste of the caste system. They believed and studied the Rig Veda which believed Brahma as the supreme creator god. They said that Brahma created the brahmins (priests) from the mouth, Ksatriya (warriors and royals) from his arm, Vaisya (traders/merchants) from his thigh and the lowest sudra (outcasts) from his feet.
The Brahmins occupied the highest position in society with privileges to conduct sacrifices, chanting, instructing the kings, preserve, study, teach and recite the Vedas. Brahmins carried out many rite and rituals and animal sacrifices to “purify” themselves and to appease the creator god so that they could go to heaven after death to be reunited with Brahma. They practice Monotheism believing in only one creator god, brahma.
By 7th to 6th century, people get dissatisfied with Brahmanism and they saw wastefulness in sacrifices and uselessness of rituals and mantra with no lasting happiness. The samanna/ sramanas were people who rejected the vedas , renounced the world , live a homeless life in search of the truth and attain happiness and peace of mind. Buddha belonged to the sramanas. These contemporary teachers have different views on creator, soul and kamma.
Buddha rejected the existence of a creator. He mentioned that nobody has seen the creator before, no one has spoken to creator before and no one knows how he looks like. If it is so, there is no proof that a creator exists. If a creator exists, then he should answer people’s prayers and stop sufferings but there is still sufferings.
He rejected the theory of creation of human beings from the body of brahma. Instead he was scientific and like any biologist he explained that fertilisation of the woman’s egg by a male partner's sperm will result in an embryo that will develop into a fetus in the mother’s womb just like anyone else. The baby will then be delivered after 9 months of pregnancy. It's the mother that gave birth to a baby not Brahma.
Buddha instead used dependent origination to explain how things are linked, basically "if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist." Only by breaking this vicious cycle, then liberation from this endless cycles of rebirth and dukha (suffering) can be attained.
He mentioned in the first discourse Dhammacakkappavattana-Sutta (Setting in Motion the Wheel of Truth): The 4 Noble Truths . There is suffering. There is a cause of suffering. There is an end to suffering. There is a noble eightfold path which lead to the end of suffering.
He also mentions the 3 characteristics of existence which is Anica (impermanence), Dukha (suffering) and anatta (non-self). Firstly, nothing is permanent, everything is subjected to decay and death one day. Because of impermanence, there arises suffering due to attachments and clinging. Lastly, we cannot control anything with our will, nothing belongs to us hence non-self.
Buddha is also a believer of kamma (volition) and described it as cause and effect. What we do (actions), think (thoughts) and speak (speech) plays a part in our kamma. Doing good deeds result in good kamma and bad deeds result in bad kamma. But not every single happening is due to kamma there are still other conditions for certain event to happen.
Read more: http://www.suttas.com/buddha-and-contemporary-teachers.html
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