Difference Between Eastern and Western Religions (With Table)

Religion has been around perhaps since the very beginning of human existence. There are various religions throughout the world with different ideas, believes, and faith. However, it can be divided into two groups one is Eastern religion and the other is the Western religion. 

Eastern vs Western Religions

The difference between Eastern and Western Religions is that Western Religions are monotheistic, wherein the followers of this religious belief believe in only one God and Eastern Religions are polytheistic where the belief is in the presence of more than one God or Supreme power.

The Eastern religion as the name suggests originated in East and Southeast Asia and broadly classified into two major parts, which are the East Asian religions consisting of Confucianism, Taoism, Sindoism, and Shintoism. The other part consists of the Indian religions which are Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.

The Western religion also referred to as Abrahamic religions consist of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. These are practiced mostly in the West and are Western culture is influenced by these.

Comparison Between Eastern and Western Religions

Parameters of ComparisonEastern ReligionsWestern Religions
BeliefsThough the various different Eastern religions have their own version of beliefs, most of them have a core belief of Karma and Dharma.These are mostly based on day to day good deeds and the concept of judgment day.
GeographyEast and Southeast Asia mostly, though no religion is ever geographically bound.Mostly in the Western world, but again no religion is based on boundaries.
Existence of Supreme PowerThe Eastern religions have a varying degree of polytheists( like Hinduism) to monotheists(like Buddhism)  They are mostly Monotheists where they believe in only one God.
Consists ofBuddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Confucianism. Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are the major ones. There are few minor ones which include  Evangelicalism and Catholicism.
Outlook on society Most eastern religions believe that all living creatures are created equal.In Christianity, there is a belief that God is above all followed by humans and then animals.

What are Eastern Religions?

Originated in parts of Asia, this archetype of religious beliefs consists of worshipping multiple Gods and following the teachings of religious leaders. One of the most well-known Eastern religion is Hinduism and it is one of the oldest religion in the world. Some even say the origins of this religion is the Indus valley civilization, the teachings of Hinduism is based around the cycle of Dharma, Karma, and Moksha.

The Vedas and the Upanishads are sacred religious texts and most importantly is The Bhagavad Gita which is supposed to have answers to all life’s questions. Another closely related religion to Hindusim is Buddhism, in which Lord Buddha has taught his followers how to attain Moksha, that is enlightenment and get free from the cycle of birth and death. Jainism, the followers of Mahavir too follow a similar approach to life. 

Religions more predominant in other Asian countries include Taoism or Daoism and they are based on three jewels of Tao which are love, moderation, and humility. Shintoism practiced in Japan is closely related to Buddhism as well. Confucianism is more than just about religious teachings, it is like a guideline on moral, social, and even political ways of existence and how to live a moral and just life.

What are Western Religions?

Like their counterparts in the East, Western religions have originated from older civilizations. Christianity, for example, is based on Roman Catholicism and the belief is in one God who will redeem every one of their sins. Jesus, son of God is the redeemer, and if one follows his teachings as given in the sacred book, The Bible, which include being compassionate towards others, forgive others those who wrong you and repent your sins and finally, when Judgment day comes.

These every day good and bad will amount to the attainment of Heaven or be damned to Hell. Judaism is supposed to have originated from the Middle East during the Bronze Age. The main teaching of Judaism is that there is only one God and He wants his followers to be compassionate, just, and show kindness to others.

Islam too has its roots in the Middle East, the followers of this religion believe in Muhammad who is the messenger of God. Their religious book, The Quran teaches Muslims that there is only one God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-forgiving. They also believe in prophets and the concept of Judgement day much like in Christianity.

Main Differences Between Eastern and Western Religions

  1. The geographical prosperity of both types of religion is an obvious point of difference, though no area is all exclusive to any religion.
  2. The belief system, the eastern religions are polytheist while the western religions believe in the existence of only one God.
  3. There is no concept of “Judgment Day” in the Eastern religion while their counterpart does believe in that concept and redeeming thereafter.
  4. The Western Religions believe in the fact that their savior or prophet as the case may be is descended from God to help humanity, while the Eastern Religions believe that God Himself is the One who will help and save them.
  5. Worship is a daily process for the Eastern religions while in the West it is more of a periodical happening.  

Conclusion

At its very core, any religion and its beliefs are about finding strength within and doing right to oneself and others. It is about doing the just and right thing even when there is another easy way out, living a moral life is a fulfilling one. Karma exists and so does Judgment day and even if they do not, it is about living life according to certain principles that are indoctrinated by wise leaders for good of one and all, individual and society at large.

References

  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0037768606064338
  2. https://philarchive.org/rec/REEDOP
  3. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1958-02826-000
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