Why are there so many similarities between the story of Jesus and the Buddha story?

Poster: STANCOBRIDGE | Date: 1:28am, 7th Mar 2018. | Views: 73 | 1 Replies
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STANCOBRIDGE. Jalingo, Taraba
1:28am, 7th Mar 2018.

Neil Russo provides a good synopsis of the historical implications (although the doctrinal differences he brings up are slightly biased) but you can see in my comments some of my objections to "Buddhism copying Christianity", especially since Buddhism is much older.

I want to mention here also that these two stories and people, in my opinion, are in no way better than another (this is why I asked What can Buddhism learn from Christianity? and What can Christianity learn from Buddhism?). I think such thinking is unfair and frankly close-minded. They are from vastly different traditions and cultures, with vastly different histories, coming from vastly different parts of the globe. To suppose that one could sum up the other one in a nutshell or suppose to completely understand the intellectual framework that makes up the other is just hubris. As a Buddhist, it has taken me years and will continue to take me a lifetime to even begin to comprehend every neat thing there is to learn and experience within Buddhism, and I think the same is true of Christians and their Christianity.

Gautama Buddha and Jesus Christ's lives were markedly different, not similar. Here's a quick list off the top of my head:

Jesus was a carpenter, Buddha was a prince.

Jesus was born of a virgin, Buddha was born of a queen.

Jesus passed away at 33 years old, Buddha passed away at 80 years old.

Jesus taught for about 3.5 years, Buddha taught for over 40 years.

Jesus produced 12 apostles, Buddha produced 500 arhats.

Jesus had a relationship with God, Buddha did not mention God (per se, it must be noted that the concept of God was very different in the Hindu tradition and maybe Christians would view the Hindu tradition as pagan, and Buddhism a response to that).

Jesus did not, in his lifetime, produce a monastic tradition, Buddha did (Buddha, having lived as long as he did, had the advantage of managing his community of followers for quite some time after having taught them, thus guiding their behavior in society).

Jesus was the "son of God", Buddha was "awakened".

Jesus was tried and executed by the authority's of the day, Buddha converted the authority's of the day.

Jesus' teaching came in a largely Abrahamic religious region with a concept of a anthropomorphic God, Buddha's teaching came in a largely Hindu (Upanishadic) religious region with a concept of a pantheistic God.

Jesus never married, Buddha married and then renounced his marriage (his wife and son also became arhats).

Jesus resurrected, Buddha entered parinirvana.

Right after birth Jesus "the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him" whereas when Buddha was born he immediately "took seven steps, and proclaimed 'I alone am the World-Honored One!'" - I'm sure someone has a better quote about Jesus as a child here.

After birth, Jesus was visited by 3 sages, Buddha was visited by one.

Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights in the forest, Buddha meditated under a tree for 49 days. (I think Neil Russo can agree that both these sages did withdrew from society for a period)

Jesus was tempted by the Devil, Buddha was tempted by Mara ( also called 'maya' in hindi/sanskrit / prakrit / pali / nepali and various other Indian / South Asian languages).

Jesus did not have teachers, Buddha had meditation teachers which he then bested.

Jesus taught prayer, Buddha taught meditation.

Similarities off the top of my head include (I think it also falls upon the OP to provide further similarities in the Question Details):

Prophecy before birth (although the prophecies themselves are very different).

Public miracles.

They both arrived after and in contradiction to major religious institutions of the time and gave birth totally new religious institutions.

Supposedly had a visible aura about them.

Had disciples.


If I think of more, I'll add them, but I think this is sufficient for now.

Neil Russo

a constant friend is He

The earliest written documents about the life of Buddha (563–483 b.c.) come about five hundred years after his death, and the Buddhist sources of his birth are dated long after the gospels of Luke and Matthew. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel It comes from a fifth-century text and is absent from the most ancient Pali canon of Buddhism.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C... Any similarity of stories, if the Buddha story is just a story, would be because the Buddhists borrowed from the Gospels.

The teachings of Buddha and Jesus did not parallel each other.

Jesus affirmed the existence and unity of a personal and moral G-d, who is both sovereign over history and involved with it. Buddha, however, did not deem theological matters worthy of consideration. He regarded them as metaphysical speculations, irrelevant to attaining spiritual liberation.

Man, according to Jesus, was created by G-d and ought to worship and obey Him with their whole beings, as well as to love their neighbors as themselves. Jesus taught that humans possess immaterial souls that persist after death. Buddha did not speculate about human origins but focused on the human condition as suffused with suffering brought about through unfulfilled desires. He taught that people cannot satisfy their souls with anything because they do not have souls*.

Jesus viewed Himself as the only way to restore fellowship with the heavenly Father. Buddha taught that spiritual deliverance was found by letting go of desire and the quest to satisfy the nonexistent soul, and by detaching oneself from impermanent things and that salvation is achieved through effort. It requires wisdom, ethical conduct and mental discipline. Buddha did not claim to bestow this state upon others, he simply pointed toward it.

Jesus came into the world as a supernatural agent of redemption, who accepted suffering and dying at the hands of sinful humans. Buddha is not depicted as a supernatural figure, but as an illuminated sage.

Images of Buddha worldwide show a man sitting in tranquil contemplation with his eyes shut to a world he wants to transcend. How different from this posture is the defining act of Jesus, who, though nailed to a cross, bruised and bloodied, gazed in love on the world He came to redeem.

*Buddhism stands unique in the history of human thought in denying the existence of such a Soul, Self, or Ātman. According to the teaching of the Buddha, the idea of self is an imaginary, false belief which has no corresponding reality, and it produces harmful thoughts of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, selfish desire, craving, attachment, hatred, ill-will, conceit, pride, egoism, and other defilements, impurities and problems. It is the source of all the troubles in the world from personal conflicts to wars between nations. In short, to this false view can be traced all the evil in the worldhttp://sites.google.com/site/rah...

Saurio Pérez

I am an atheist because I know a lot about religions.

Why are there so many similarities between the story of Jesus and the Buddha story?

Could they have been the same person? Or, is this just great storytelling?

The second one, but without the great. Just plain storytelling.

According to Joseph Campbell, both “biographies” follow the narrative structure of the biography of the World Savior, which (Campbell’s words with minor edits from me) is about :

the scion of a royal line

miraculously born

amid supernatural phenomena

of whom an aged holy man, shortly following the birth, prophesies a world-saving message,

whose childhood deeds proclaim his divine character

marries and begets an heir

is awakened to his proper task

departs, either with the consent of his elders or else secretly

to engage in arduous forest disciplines

which confront him, finally, with a supernatural adversary, over whom

victory is achieved.

Performs miracles

becomes a wandering teacher

preaching a doctrine of salvation

to a company of disciples and

a smaller, elite circle of initiates

one of whom, less quick to learn than the rest is given charge and becomes the model of the lay community while

another, dark and treacherous, is bent on the Master’s death.

But these are the lines, the structure around which the particular events of the actual life (real or imaginary, it doesn’t matter) are laid upon.

For instance, items 6 to 8 are missing in Jesus’s story (although Campbell immediately after says that 6 could be present symbolically in the slaughter of innocents / flight to Egypt story, comparing with the story of Buddha’s father confining his son to his palace —in one case it is a malevolent king, in the other a benevolent king, the responsible of trying to frustrate the destiny of the World Savior).

I can’t recall other World Savior’s stories right now but I am pretty confident that Krishna’s story and even Herakle’s more or less follow this structure.

Allow me a digression: I am sure you are more or less familiar with the biopic genre. All of them are movies telling the story of the life (all or a part of it) of actual real persons, each one an individual with particular events, circunstances and historical contexts. Nevertheless, if you analize the biopic genre in its narrative structure, keeping apart all the particular components of the persons involved, you’ll see that all the movies more or less follow the same steps.
And, since I am sure you are an intelligent person, I am sure you don’t believe that each biopic ever made is about the same person. Or, to change the example, every buddy cop movie is about the same couple of policemen.

Well, the same here. There might or might not have been two actual living persons called Yeshua and Sidharta that might or might not preached in their respective societies and caused some impact among the people around them to the point that, when people had the need to tell others the stories of these guys, resorted to the World Savior narrative structure since it was the right structure to tell these stories.

Yes, I know, it would be nicer that Jesus and Buddha were the same person, that coincidence would give a new life to the dying cultural invention of religion —all religions talk about the same Ultimate Truth, blah blah blah— but, unfortunately, the Occam Razor’s answer is (as always) the truth: human brains thrive on narratives and narratives follow a limited repertoire of structures (there are a lot of books written by Russian scholars that say so).

Thanks for the A2A, btw.

Tony Anstatt

Creative Industries; Edu; Arch. & Circle Group

After recently viewing an some ABC & SBS Series in Australia on the overlapping-natures of many recent Religous or Deity beliefs, it must be said that these beliefs mirror cultural norms. Prior to introduction of Jesus, most other Religions were based around multi levels of leaders (gods). Even in the Christian Old Testament, the single God was in competition with other gods.  It must also be noted that although Buddha was not introduced as a God/Religion, rather a 'belief' (accepting of most other bodies).

Buddhism has developed its practices around 'ways to achieve Enlightenment' (what Buddha achieved under Boddhi tree. Jesus/Christian practices are similar in wanting followers/believers to 'ask for forgiveness/repent' from Sins/wrongdoings. Each have similarities & differences, which may interest or deter believers/followers (akin to Business Ad's?!).

From this brief summary of each of your queries (Buddha & Jesus), I also hope my perspective has been understood. Feel free to ask any of us to discuss our responses.

Bruce Mubayiwa


Indeed there are quite a few similarities between Jesus Christ and Buddha. Here are a few. In pointing out the similarities I focused on the theme not so much the numbers.

The type of lives they lead of which fasting was a big part as well as meditation, reflection or prayer. Both men lead the simplest of lives. They did not really have possessions. They move around like nomads and made do with what they found.

They started their work around the same time. 29 for Siddharta Gautama and 30 for Jesus.

Overcoming of temptations and worldly pleasures. 4. Jesus had 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. Siddharta wondered in the wilderness and travelled for many years.

When Siddharta achieved enlightenment as the Buddha, he was free of all attachment. He had no interest whatsoever in worldly pleasures. When Jesus discovered his purpose he was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. His life was one of ministry. Both were servant leaders, leaders who served their people.

They both had disciples throughout their lives. Jesus said he would make his disciples fishers of men. Buddha's

Buddha distilled his teachings or commands into 5 which are remarkably like the 3 commandments that Jesus gave including (i. You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul. ii) Love your neighbour as you love yourself.

Siddharta was born into royalty, son of a King. Jesus was a descendant of King David.

Siddharta's father, the King consulted 5 wise men about Siddharta's future. His future as a monk was predicted. Jesus's birth was foretold by the 3 wise men.

There are fundamental differences in the stories of Buddha and Jesus as well but for me the similarities far outweigh the differences.

The character and personality of Buddha and Jesus are in my humble opinion essentially the same.

Getting back to the actual question, I doubt Jesus and Buddha are the same person given the period separating the two men of at least 500 years. Fully agree though  their similarities are remarkable.

Loren Petrich

Lord' Raglan's Hero Pattern and List of Lord Raglan evaluations -- their biographies have broad similarities, and they share features that several other legendary heroes share. Features like prophecy fulfillment, divine and royal origin, and having tombs despite not being buried or at least staying buried. Tombs like the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.

Phil Jones

Still trying to figure it out

What they have in common seems to be largely what generic hermits and "holy men" have always had : distancing themselves from everyday society and physical concerns, fasting, preaching the greater importance of a spiritual realm, a few stories of miraculous predictions and events.

It's a pretty poor understanding of both Christ and Buddha to think that the similarities are more important than the big differences in what they actually stood for and "meant".


Christianity is often infiltrated by the devil. Don't just accept what they say.

Buddha never claimed to be the Creator. Jesus did.

However, Buddha’s compassion for the poor and his change of lifestyle after seeing their suffering shows that he was a man made in the image of His Creator, who likewise has a heart for the poor and suffering.

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