World religions. Comparing and contrasting Hinduism and Christianity. Introduction

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1 World religions Comparing and contrasting Hinduism and Christianity Introduction The topic of world s faiths and religions brings to mind a lot to be spoken about. The World today is characterized by people of different religions and faith and their belief of supernatural power. There are also people who live with the believes they have and proclaim while others are preoccupied by propagandas which are against religions religion is a systems which influences human thought which embodies as set of beliefs, symbols, practices and narratives which provides meaning to the believers life experiences through their identification with an ultimate truth, deities or deity and a higher power (Britannica 2002). This paper will present a summary of an interview on the Christian religion and later I will compare and contrast this religion with the Hinduism religion. Summary on Christianity Christianity is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and is a monotheist religion shown in the writings of the New Testament and in the canonical gospels. The followers of the Christian faith are known as the Christians. The teachings of Christianity indicates that Jesus is the savior of mankind, is a representation of God in the Human form and he is I the Son of God. Christians 1 / 9

2 therefore refer to Jesus as the Messiah or Christ. Christianity is a religion which comprises of other denominations and the three main categories are the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Roman Catholics and a number of Protestant churches. In the 1054 AD s East-West Schism, the patriarchates of the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholics broke the bond they had leading to the formation of Protectionism. This split happened in the 16 th century during g the Protestant Reformation which saw the Roman Catholic Church being divided into two. The history of Christianity traces back during the mid first century which was commonly practiced by a sect of the Jewish people. These are the people who lived in the coastal region of the Eastern Mediterranean of the Middle East which is modern day Palestine and Israel. The religion later spread to other parts such as Egypt, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and Syria. By the 4 th century, the religion had spread wide and large and had mainly influenced the earlier empires. In the Roman Empire Christianity was the dominant religion. During the middle Ages, the Christianity was still the common religion in countries like Ethiopia, Middle East and in North Africa as well as some regions in India. Through missionary work in the period of Colonial and the Age of Discovery, Christianity spread to regions in the Sub Saharan, Australasia and in the Americas and various other regions in the world. Christian faith is the belief of Jesus Christ who was prophesized as the messiah with a mission to save the world. This is written in the old testaments in the Hebrew Bible. The theology of Christianity was established in the early ecumenical creeds of Christianity which expresses the claims which are accepted by the followers of Jesus Christ. the writers of the Creed indicate that Jesus underwent suffering, died and resurrected on the third day as significance of his mission to save the sinners from sin and to open for them a way to Gods Kingdom where they can enjoy eternal life. This is only possible when the person believes in Jesus Christ and be baptized. After the resurrection Jesus ascended back to heaven where he reigns and rules with God the Father. 2 / 9

3 In various Christian denominations, the teachings is that Jesus will one day come back during the judgment day where all humans, both the dead and alive will be judged and the non sinners will be granted with eternal life Jesus Christ is seen as the Virtuous life model and also the physical incarnation of God the father and his revealer (Katz, 2006). The message of Jesus Christ to his followers is known as the gospel or the Good News. Currently there is about 2, 2 billion followers of Christian religion which a population representing one third of the total world s population which makes the religion to be largest in the world. Several countries see Christianity as the state religion (Britannica 2002). Comparing and contrasting Hinduism and Christianity Differences There are a number of differences between Christianity and Hinduism these differences range from the Gods, Goddesses and deities to the actual belief system which the religious followers believe in. The main points of differences are based on the belief of the world s nature, the presence or the non presence of God, and the systems a religion runs by and follows. The main difference between Christianity and Hinduism is the perception on how the Universe functions. Hindu is a religion which believes in reincarnation or a circular system which makes the followers to believe that a person is never actually dead but will reincarnate into a better or worse form than what the person was previously known to be depending on his good or evil deeds. This universe cyclical view among the followers indicates the continuous flow of the human soul with no end. This soul follows a specific life pattern which first starts from it being born and then the soul follows a process of growth until when it has matured. After maturity it reaches a point of decline making the soul dead. The soul according to the Hindu religion does not depart from the body to go to hell or heaven as seen in the Christian perspective of the world. The Soul according to Hindu is then reborn a new form and the process start once again 3 / 9

4 from birth, death and rebirth again. This in other words means that the soul is a continuous process of evolving towards the search for liberation and gaining of the spiritual knowledge seen in the rebirth cycle. It also means that every human soul is destined into this eternal process. The Christians believe that the Universe was created the divine wish of god which only occurred once and despite the world being defiled by human sin, God still provides tike four sinners to represents and to make the world a perfect place to be. Christians believe that through the sin committed by Adam the human race was cursed and man was alienated from God and it is through repentance that we will only gain entrance into eternal life while whose who are rebellious to God s will perish in eternal suffering. According to the law of karma of effect and cause, it indicates that each person has the power to create a personal destiny through his deeds, words and thought. While for Christianity the follower s belief that through the grace of God and his favor the sinners are redeemed from their sins, evil power, and guilt from their words, deeds and thoughts. Unlike the Hindu belief, Christians beef that the human soul dies only once and during the day of judgment the soul will be judged. The separate beliefs systems are another point of difference between Christianity and Hinduism. Hindu religion is based on the belief of a class system which is very complex and signifies the status of a person in the society. this is known as the Caste system. in many Indian nations, the caste system is still practiced but in some this system has been done away with in 4 / 9

5 most parts of the world. The Indians believe that every individual is born in a particular social class of the already existing classes in the society. On the top of the hierarchy there are the Brahmins who are seen as the priest. the second on the ladder are the royalty and the military known as the Kshatriyas. The third are the entrepreneurs and the merchants who form the Vaishyas class. The forth category are the Shudras who are those practicing fine art like the craftsmen. The last category is referred to as the untouchables who are the economically disadvantaged or underprivileged in both the social and economical aspects. They are called the Dalujt in Hindu language (White, 2004). This class is not desired by anyone in the society. Among the societies which truly belief in this system, it is very difficult to shift from one class to another because there is little interaction among classes and marriage of people belonging to different classes is forbidden. This system is not practiced in Christianity. The religion allows people of different class to interact and even marry. This makes them be able to change both their social and economic classes. The presence and the amount of deities in both the religions is another point of difference. Christian religion is monotheist in which the followers only believe in one God and after God there are the archangels, the angels, the cherubs, the devil, demons and human beings in that order. Hindu religion is different. The followers believe in many Gods and Goddess which means that Hindus is polytheist religion. despite the Christian religion believe in the holly trinity which is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy spirit, it still the believe in God and the powers which make up the almighty. This believe in the Holy trinity is also similar to the Hindu religion where by the followers perceive the supernatural power of God as comprising of Brahma, Krishna or Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma is seen as the God who creates reality and is similar to god the father in Christianity. The preserver of all the creations is Vishnu or Krishna which is a role similar to that of God the Son. The God Shiva is the creation destroyer which can be likened to the Holy Spirit. The point of commonality of these two religions is that they have the sort of trinity in the perception of God. In Hinduism there is the belief that there is no a specific religion which has the guidelines or truth of salvation as compared to other religions of the world. Instead, the world religions are the 5 / 9

6 authentic religion paths which have been given by God through his light and love which deserves understanding and tolerance. The Christians on the other hand believe that Jesus is an Incarnate of God who shows the genuine and truthful path towards salvation. The Christians say that many of the world religions may offer both the spiritual and ethical insights but Jesus remains to be the one to show mankind the way, the truth and life. From this argument we can say the Hinduism followers tolerate the views of Christianity in terms of attitudes but Hinduism is totally opposed by Christianity because the Bible does not acknowledge any other form of worship. The Hindus believe that each individual is judged and punished by his own deeds known as the karma while Christians know that there will be the final judgments when every mankind will be answerable to God. Hindus also believe God posses both the evil and good characteristics while but Christians believe that God is not the creator of evil but gave man the ability to choose and differentiate what is good from what is evil Similarities Historians have found out there is a possibility that Christianity originated from India and the religion has had a strong influence from Hinduism. Some critics have pointed out that the rites practiced in Christian religion could have been directly borrowed from the Hindus and the Vedic in particular. Alain Danielou (1950) a French historian points out that the various events which are associated with the birth of Jesus Christ is likened to the legends of Krishna and Buddha. One example which Danielou provides is that of the Buddhist Chaitya which is like the Christian Church and the early Christian sects and their rigorous asceticism is also like the asceticism showed by the Buddhist and Jain saints. Other similarities of these two religion is the use of the Christian word Amen which was borrowed from the Sanskrit name OM. The practice of using the holy water is common to Hinduism and Christianity mainly in the Catholic churches and baptism by other protestant churches. There is also the veneration of relics in both religions of the world (Clemmons, 1999, p ). 6 / 9

7 Another historian by they name of Konraad Elst from Belgium indicates that the early Christian saints like the Rome s Hippolytus had the innate knowledge of Brahmanism. the historian also noted one of the quotation written by the famous Saint Augustine that, We never cease to look towards India, where many things are proposed to our admiration." (Jayaram, 2004). These early forms of similarities between Hindu and Christianity were not enhanced because the Christian leaders during the second century began to set themselves a way from the Hindu practices and beliefs. some critics like David Frawley, from America indicate that in fact the true Christianity started in the world when Jesus was born. Sri Ravi Shankar and Sri Aurobindu who are considered to be the great Indian sages have given accounts of stories about the coming of Jesus to India wearing an Orange robe which showed the renunciation of the world. the sages also go ahead in catholic practice of worshiping the Virgin Mary is an act which is most likely to have been borrowed from the cult of Devi in Hindu (White, 2004). Other similarities between Hinduism and Christianity is the use of the sacred bread, incense, reciting of prayers, using the Vedic japamal and rosary in Christian catholic church, the different alters in Churches reminds of the Hindus temples with deities placed in their niches. The Christian trinity is similar to the trinity of the ancient Vedic of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Others are the signs of Jesus on the cross which is similar to the Hindus anganyasa and Christian processions among others. The root motive of cleansing ritual s practiced in Christianity and in Hinduism is to be purified from evil and sins as a way of preparing God s love to one s soul. In both religions, they use 7 / 9

8 water as a sign of purification from evil. Such a cleansing practice is very important to these religions. the Hindus cleansing is done in Ganges river because this water is considered as the holy water and according to Hindu mythology, the water of this river comes from heaven to clean man from sin(jayaram, 2004). Conclusion Caring out a comparative study of world religions helps in the understanding and appreciation and respect of one another. This is because as a Hindu, I have learned the beliefs which influence Christianity and how they are different and similar to may religion. A Christian is also able to learn much about the Hindu religion in terms of values, beliefs and, practices which are similar and different and how they have influenced one another. This creates peace and harmony in modern day societies of the world which are becoming increasingly diverse. Reference: Britannica 2002 Deluxe Edition CDROM. Encyclopdia Britannica, Inc. Christianity Clemmons, N (1999). Exploring the Religions of our World. Ed. Michael Amodei. United Stated of America: Ave Maria Press, Inc., Jayaram, V.(2004) Hinduwebsite.com. History of Hinduism. retrieved from 8 / 9

9 nduism/h_antiquity.htm On April 26, 2011 White, C (2004) Hinduism. World Book Online Reference Center. World Book, Inc. retrieved from /wb/article?id=ar257300on April 26, 2011 Katz, Gregory ( ). "Is Christianity dying in the birthplace of Jesus?". Chron.com. htt p:// Retrieved / 9

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