CONCEPT OF GOD
Buddha was silent about the existence or non-existence of God. It may be that since India was drowned in idol worship and anthropomorphism that a sudden step to monotheism would have been drastic and hence Buddha may have chosen to remain silent on the issue of God. He did not deny the existence of God. Buddha was once asked by a disciple whether God exists? He refused to reply. When pressed, he said that if you are suffering from a stomach ache would you concentrate on relieving the pain or studying the prescription of the physician. “It is not my business or yours to find out whether there is God — our business is to remove the sufferings of the world”.
Buddhism provided Dhamma or the ‘impersonal law’ in place of God. However this could not satisfy the craving of human beings and the religion of self-help had to be converted into a religion of promise and hope. The Hinayana sect could not hold out any promise of external help to the people. The Mahayana sect taught that Buddha’s watchful and compassionate eyes are on all miserable beings, thus making a God out of Buddha. Many scholars consider the evolution of God within Buddhism as an effect of Hinduism.
Many Buddhists adopted the local god and thus the religion of ‘No-God’ was transformed into the religion of ‘Many-Gods’ — big and small, strong and weak and male and female. The ‘Man-God’ appears on earth in human form and incarnates from time to time. Buddha was against the caste-system prevalent in the Hindu society.