Although Buddhism and Hinduism share similar beliefs, their approaches to the self, or the ‘soul’ are very different. Explain the metaphysical and practical distinctions between anatmanand atman, and how these concepts tie into each religion’s unique approach to the sacred (god/gods) and the path to salvation. Make sure you specify which branches of Buddhism and Hinduism your analysis is tackling.

Length: 1500-2000 words, in addition to a bibliography/works cited page
Formatting: Double –spaced, 12-pt font, Arial or Times New Roman Font
Bibliography: a minimum of 3 academic sources; preferably peer-reviewed publications and books. One of these must be a book reference. These academic sources are in addition to your textbook/weekly readings/lectures. Do not use Wikipedia as an Internet source.
The textbook and required readings will not have enough information about any of the topic questions above to formulate substantial responses. To succeed in this assignment, set aside sufficient time to research the chosen topic thoroughly.


Sample Answer

Sample Answer



The Metaphysical and Practical Differences Between Anatman and Atman in Buddhism and Hinduism: A Comparative Analysis

Buddhism and Hinduism, two of the most prominent religions in the world, share certain beliefs but diverge significantly in their approaches to the concept of the self or soul. The fundamental distinction lies in the concepts of Anatman (no-self) in Buddhism and Atman (self) in Hinduism. This essay will explore the metaphysical and practical implications of Anatman and Atman in Theravada Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhism, and Hinduism, and how these concepts shape each religion’s unique approach to the sacred and the path to salvation.

Anatman in Buddhism

Theravada Buddhism

In Theravada Buddhism, Anatman is a core concept that asserts the absence of a permanent, unchanging self or soul. According to this school of thought, the belief in a substantial self leads to attachment, suffering, and rebirth. The doctrine of Anatman emphasizes the impermanent and interconnected nature of all phenomena, including the self. By realizing the non-existence of a self, practitioners can attain liberation from the cycle of samsara.

Mahayana Buddhism

Mahayana Buddhism further elaborates on the concept of Anatman by introducing the notion of sunyata (emptiness). In Mahayana philosophy, Anatman reflects the emptiness of inherent existence of all phenomena, including the self. The emphasis is on transcending dualistic views of self and other, ultimately leading to enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. The practice of compassion and wisdom is central to Mahayana teachings on Anatman.

Atman in Hinduism

Advaita Vedanta

In Advaita Vedanta, a major school of Hindu philosophy, Atman is considered the true self or essence of an individual. Atman is believed to be identical with Brahman, the ultimate reality or cosmic consciousness. The goal of life in Advaita Vedanta is to realize this identity between individual self (Atman) and universal self (Brahman) through spiritual practice and self-inquiry. This realization leads to moksha, liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

Bhakti Hinduism

In contrast to Advaita Vedanta, Bhakti Hinduism emphasizes devotion to a personal deity as a means of realizing the true self (Atman) and achieving union with God. Bhakti practitioners cultivate love, surrender, and service to their chosen deity, viewing Atman as a spark of divine consciousness that seeks reunion with its source. Through devotion and worship, individuals aim to purify their hearts and minds, ultimately attaining spiritual liberation.

Comparative Analysis

The concept of Anatman in Buddhism challenges the notion of a permanent, independent self, emphasizing the interconnectedness and impermanence of all phenomena. By recognizing the absence of a fixed self, practitioners can overcome attachment and ignorance, leading to liberation from suffering. In contrast, Hinduism’s belief in Atman as the eternal self or essence highlights the unity between individual consciousness and universal consciousness. Through practices like meditation, self-inquiry, and devotion, adherents seek to realize this unity and attain spiritual liberation.


In conclusion, the metaphysical differences between Anatman in Buddhism and Atman in Hinduism reflect each religion’s unique perspective on the nature of the self and its relation to the sacred. While Buddhism emphasizes non-self as a path to liberation from suffering, Hinduism celebrates the eternal essence of the self as a means to union with the divine. Understanding these concepts and their practical implications can deepen our appreciation for the diverse ways in which individuals seek enlightenment and salvation in their spiritual journeys.


This question has been answered.

Get Answer