It is up to people how they think. Here in India, Buddhism is considered a part of Hindu tradition because Buddha never said I am starting a new religion – he only reformed what was already existed.
Buddha became a monk in the Hindu tradition and then he gave monkhood for everybody. He never discarded the Gods or Goddess. He put the Buddha (the enlightened) first, that was already here.
The Guru Comes First
In Hinduism, we chant, Guru Brahma Gurur Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshwaraha, Guru Saakshat Para Brahma, Tasmai Sree Gurave Namaha.
Which means, first is the Guru – Buddha reestablished this same thing. Instead of Guru, he said Buddha. Buddha means a totally blossomed enlightened person.
Here in Karnataka, all Gurus were called Buddhi. If you go to any ashram and say Buddhi, it is addressed to Guru. Buddhi also means heightened intellect or the great enlightened. So at that time, enlightened people were called Buddha. And he gave renunciation (Sanyasa) and how it was being followed.
May All People Be Happy
The next thing which is said in Buddhism is, “Rakhantu sabba devta, bhavtu sabba Mangalam.” This means, let auspiciousness and peace happen to everybody.
In the Vedas it is said, “Sarve jana sukhino Bhavantu”, which means, let all the people of the world be happy.
Whatever is said in Upanishad, the same thing Buddha spoke! Buddha never said that all the Rishis or saints were wrong. He said there will be so many Buddhas before me and many after me. Take refuge in Buddha. And there is a Buddha hiding inside of you. Take refuge in the Buddha nature inside you.
Hinduism is the Mother of Buddhism
Virtually there is no difference. Even his Holiness Dalai Lama, he always says, Hinduism is our mother. Hinduism is the mother of Buddhism.
In earlier days, people would do animal sacrifices, and Buddha condemned all that. He said you should not do this sacrifice. In any religion, there is always some such interpolation. Though it was not the original practice of the religion, later on, these things get into the religion. And then people think this is the religion. They leave the philosophy and hold on to the practices. That is the cause of contention and then sects develop.
Even in Buddhism, there are Hinayana and Mahayana. Buddha never created Hinayana and Mahayana. There are 32 sects of Buddhism, all mushroomed later on. Which is the one Buddha created? He did not create them at all. He just reformed what was already in practice. Monks were wearing saffron in this country, he wore the same thing. Monks were shaving their head, he asked all his monks to shave their head. So everything in Hinduism like going for alms and asking for food, to letting go of the ego, Buddha followed the same thing.
Note – Its an excerpt of Sri Sri Ravishankar Guruji’s Art of Living Satsang.