1 Comparative Religion Overview Hindus The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4 Prepared by Ross Wakeley
2 Comparative Religion: page 45 Study 6: Hindus Introduction and History: Hinduism is the oldest of the major religions in the world going back at least 5,000 years. It evolved gradually, originally in the area that is now northern India. In the course of its development it was influenced by the various groups of people who migrated to India and also by Buddhism and Islam. Although Hinduism is today the world's third largest religion and many of its 900 million followers live in many countries, most still live in India. The 2001 Census indicated there are around 95,000 Hindus in Australia (67,000 in 1996). Within Hinduism there are many variations in both the beliefs and ways of life. Hindus call their religion Sanatana dharma which means the "immemorial way of right living". Hindus trace their beliefs to ancient scriptures called the Vedas which they believe are the revelations of God. Though there are many gods in Hinduism, Hindus believe there is one Supreme Being, Brahman, who is the source of all existence. There is some difference within Hinduism, however, about the nature of that Supreme Being. Most Hindus say that god is beyond name and form, but that god can be worshipped through a variety of forms. They see all the numerous gods and goddesses of Hinduism as many different manifestations of the one god. Other Hindus believe that the one god is really Lord Shiva and that other gods are lesser divinities. Still others believe that Lord Vishnu is the one true god and all others are demigods. Hindus do not see themselves as worshipping idols. They believe that god can be worshipped with or without form. It is left to the choice of the devotee. Those who worship god through form believe that god is present within consecrated images. They do not worship a mere stone, they worship god whom they believe to be especially present within the consecrated image. Source: The Essentials of Hinduism: Hinduism is over 5000 years old, although elements of the faith are much older; No founder, single teacher, nor prophets; Not a single unified religion; Originated near the river Indus; Hindus believe in a universal soul or god called Brahman; There are many other deities such as Krishna, Shiva, Rama and Durga; and Hindus believe that existence is a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, governed by Karma. Hindu beliefs: Contrary to popular understanding, Hindus recognise one god, Brahman, the eternal origin who is the cause and foundation of all existence. The gods of the Hindu faith represent different expressions of Brahman. Different Hindu communities may have their own divinities whom they worship, but these are simply different ways of approaching the Ultimate. Hindus recognise three principal gods: Brahma, who creates the universe, Vishnu, who preserves the universe and Shiva, who destroys the universe. Karma is central to the Hindu faith. Hindus believe that the soul passes through a cycle of successive lives and its next incarnation is always dependent on how the previous life was lived. Bad behaviour in this life means that your next incarnation is likely to be more unpleasant than your current incarnation you reap what you sow.
3 Hindu beliefs: Hindus recognise three principal gods: Brahma, who created the universe Vishnu, who preserves the universe Shiva who destroys the universe. Brahma Brahma is the Creator. However, Brahma is not worshipped in the same way as other gods because it is believed that his work that of creation has been done. Hindus worship other expressions of Brahman (not Brahma), which take a variety of forms. Hindus are often classified into three groups according to which form of Brahman they worship: Those who worship Vishnu (the preserver) and Vishnu s important incarnations Rama, Krishna and Narasimha; Those who worship Shiva (the destroyer); Those who worship the Mother Goddess, Shakti, also called Parvati, Mahalakshmi, Durga or Kali. Comparative Religion: page 46 Vishnu Vishnu, the preserver, is believed to be linked to a very early sun god and is considered by his worshippers to be the greatest among the gods. He is also referred to as Narayana. Vishnu preserves and protects the universe and has appeared on the earth through his avatars (incarnations) to save humankind from natural disasters or from tyranny. The most well-known avatars are Rama (see Ramayana), Krishna, who destroyed the wicked and established a new order, Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, and Kalki. Vishnu is represented in sculpture and painting in human form, often painted blue. Lakshmi is the consort of Vishnu who has appeared as the wife of each of Vishnu s incarnations including Sita, wife of Prince Rama, and Rukmini, wife of Krishna. She is the goddess of wealth and good fortune who is offered special worship during the Divali festival. Shiva The god Shiva is part of the Hindu Trinity, along with Vishnu and Brahma. He is considered to be everything by those who worship him: creator, preserver and destroyer. In Shiva, the opposites meet. Shiva the destroyer is a necessary part of the trinity because, without destruction, there can be no recreation. His city is Varanasi, and any Hindu who dies there is believed to go straight to heaven. Shiva is the source of both good and evil who combines many contradictory elements. In pictures and sculptures, Shiva is represented as Lord of the Dance who controls the movement of the universe. He is also associated with fertility. Shiva has many consorts including Kali, often portrayed as wild and violent, Parvati, reknowned for her gentleness, and Durga, a powerful goddess created from the combined forces of the anger of several gods. The Great Goddess (Mahadevi) The great Goddess appears as a consort of the principal male gods and encompasses the thousands of local goddesses or matas. These can be both beautiful and benign, like Lakshmi, or all-powerful destructive forces like Kali. Great Goddess shrines are associated with agriculture and fertility and the female energy, or shakti, is important in ancient texts known collectively as the Tantras. Shakti is contrasted with Shiva, whose masculine consciousness is powerless without the creative female energy. Hinduism divides society into four varnas or groups: the Brahmins who were priests; the Kshatriyas who were soldiers and rulers; the Vaishyas who were shopkeepers, traders and farmers; and the Shudras who were servants of the other three. There are also people who are outside the varnas called the Dalit, outcasts who performed the lowest tasks. A varna is a person born as the result of good and bad deeds or karma in previous lives. This caste system was outlawed in India in 1949 but it remains a significant force.
4 Hindu beliefs: Hindus believe in samsara or reincarnation. When a person dies they believe the soul or atman moves on to another being. Hindus believe that the souls of plants, animals and people are all the same, hence their respect for all life. Many Hindus are vegetarian. Cows are sacred to Hindus because they represent the earth which is said to be a goddess and, like the earth, the cow takes little, just grass, and gives much in return. Hindus believe that every person has their own dharma or duty according to their background and varna, which includes worshipping God, working hard and not hurting other people and animals. Hindus have four aims in life: Do their dharma or duty to the best of their ability; Artha, provide for their family; Kama, being able to enjoy life in a moderate way; and Comparative Religion: page 47 When these three aims are achieved the fourth aim is moksha which allows a person's soul to break out of the cycle of rebirth and join with Brahman. There are four yogas or paths people may take to achieve moksha. They are the paths of knowledge, meditation, devotion and good works. Hindus worship in temples but because they believe God is in everything every part of life can be part of worship. Most Hindu homes have a shrine where the family worships at least once a day. Hindu worship: Hindu worship, or puja, involves images (murtis), prayers (mantras) and diagrams of the universe (yantras). Central to Hindu worship is the image, or icon which can be worshipped either at home or in the temple. Hindu worship is primarily an individual action rather than a communal one, as it involves making personal offerings to the deity. Worshippers repeat the names of their favourite gods and goddesses, and repeat mantras. Water, fruit, flowers and incense are offered to god. The majority of Hindu homes have a shrine where offerings are made and prayers are said. A shrine can be anything from a room, a small altar or simply pictures or statues of the deity. Family members at times worship together. Rituals should, strictly speaking be performed three times a day. Some Hindus, but not all, worship wearing a sacred thread (over the left shoulder and hanging to the right hip). This is cotton for the Brahmin (priest), hemp for the Kshatriya (ruler) and wool for the Vaishya (merchants). Temple Worship At a Hindu temple, different parts of the building have a different spiritual or symbolic meaning. The central shrine is the heart for the worshipper. The tower represents the flight of the spirit to heaven. A priest may read, or more usually recite, the Vedas to the assembled worshippers, but any "twice-born" Hindu can perform the reading of prayers and mantras. Religious Rites Hindu religious rites are classified into three categories: Nitya rituals are performed daily and consist in offerings made at the home shrine or performing puja to the family deities.; Naimittika rituals are important but only occur at certain times during the year, such as celebrations of the festivals, thanksgiving and so on; and Kamya are rituals which are "optional" but highly desirable. Pilgrimage is one such. Sources:
5 Hindu worship: Pilgrimage is an important aspect of Hinduism. It's an undertaking to see and be seen by the deity. Popular pilgrimage places are rivers, but temples, mountains, and other sacred sites in India are also destinations for pilgrimages, as sites where the gods may have appeared or become manifest in the world. Kumbh Mela Once every 12 years, up to 10 million people share in ritual bathing at the Kumbh Mela festival at Allahabad where the waters of the Ganges and Jumna combine. Hindus from all walks of life gather there for ritual bathing, believing that their sins will be washed away. The bathing is followed by spiritual purification and a ceremony which secures the blessings of the deity. Varanasi This city, also known as Benares, is one of the most important pilgrimage centres. It is said to be the home of Lord Shiva where legend has it that his fiery light broke through the earth to reach the heavens. A Hindu who dies at Varanasi and has their ashes scattered on the Ganges is said to have experienced the best death possible. The river Ganges is the holiest river for Hindus and Varanasi is situated on its banks. Festivals: Hindu festivals are largely linked with the movements of the sun and moon and with seasonal changes, and are linked to the myths of the Ramayana, and Krishna s activities. Divali (Deepvali) A festival of lights which celebrates the New Year, occurs between late October and mid-november. Small earthenware lamps are lit inside/outside houses and in India lamps are floated along rivers. Presents are given. Lakshmi, the goddess of good fortune, visits every house which is lit by a lamp. Dasara (Dassehra) Ten days of celebration in honour of Durga or Kali. It is held between late September and mid-october and lasts nine days to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Holi The spring festival (February-March) associated with Krishna when people throw coloured powder and water at each other. Holi also celebrates creation and renewal. During Holi some of the normal caste rules are relaxed, as are the strict rules governing behaviour of the genders. There is a certain amount of good-natured rivalry between sexes and castes which often involves mud and dye throwing. Hindu scriptures: Comparative Religion: page 48 The Vedas These are the most ancient religious texts which define truth for Hindus. They were introduced to India by the Aryans between BC. Hindus believe that the texts were received by scholars direct from god and passed on to the next generations by word of mouth. Vedic texts are sometimes called "shruti", which means "hearing" and for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years, the texts were passed on orally. They were written down around 1400 AD. Contents of the Vedas The Vedas are made up of four compositions, and each veda in turn has four parts which are arranged chronologically: The Samhitas are the most ancient part of the Vedas, consisting of hymns of praise to god; The Brahmanas are rituals and prayers to guide the priests in their duties; The Aranyakas concern worship and meditation; and The Upanishads consist of the mystical and philosophical teachings of Hinduism.
6 Comparative Religion: page 49 Hindu scriptures: The Samhitas Rig-Veda Samhita (c BC) is the oldest of the four vedas and consists of 1028 hymns praising the ancient gods; Yajur-Veda Samhita is as a handbook by priests performing the vedic sacrifices; Sama-Veda Samhita consists of chants and tunes for singing at the sacrifices; & Atharva-Veda Samhita (c. 900 BC) preserves many traditions which pre-date the Aryan influence and consists of spells, charms and magical formulae. The Upanishads The Upanishads were so called because they were taught to those who sat down beside their teachers. (upa=near, ni=down, shad=sit). These texts developed from the Vedic tradition, but largely reshaped Hinduism by providing believers with philosophical knowledge. The major Upanishads were largely composed between BC and are partly prose, partly verse. Later Upanishads continued to be composed right down to the 16th century. Originally they were in oral form. Early Upanishads are concerned with understanding the sacrificial rites. Central to the Upanishads is the concept of brahman; the sacred power which informs reality. The priests (brahmins) had previously been the ones who, through ritual and sacrifice, had restricted access to the divine, now the knowledge of the universe was open to those of the high and middle castes willing to learn from a teacher. General Most Hindu holy books are written in Sanskrit, an ancient language which is only spoken by scholars. Instructions about how Hindus should live their lives are contained in 2685 verses in the books of the Laws of Manu which were written down before 300AD. The symbol used for Hinduism is the Sanskrit letters for the sound Aum (pronounced Ah-oo-m) which represents God. Aum begins and ends all prayers, chants and hymns. Man and the Universe: The material universe is not the creation of a personal God but is rather a sort of unconscious emanation from the divine. As such it is has no beginning, and some would say is endless. Secondly, it is unreal, an illusion because the only true reality is Brahman. Hindus believe that the universe "pulsates," recurrently being destroyed and recreated over periods lasting about 4 billion years. The world is seen as a huge series of repeated cycles, each cycle being nearly a copy of the last. Man is compelled to play a part in this gigantic, illusory, and wearisome universe. Each human soul also has no beginning and has gone through a series of reincarnations. Hinduism "solves" the problem of the existence of suffering and evil in a fairly neat manner: all present suffering, it says, is exactly deserved, being the paying back of one's karma, the accumulation of deeds done in past lives--and all present evil will be exactly repaid in the form of suffering in future lives. As a result traditional Hinduism often has not paid much attention to relieving the suffering of people, although social reform movements have arisen in the last century. Life is seen as basically painful, full of distress that is only temporarily masked by earthly pleasures. Underlying the unreality and misery, the human soul is identical with supreme Brahman, who has no part of this sorry universe. Salvation and the Afterlife The final goal of salvation in Hinduism is escape from the endless round of birth, death, and rebirth. That can mean an eternal resting place for the individual personality in the arms of a loving, personal God, but it usually means the dissolving of all personality into the unimaginable abyss of Brahman.
7 Salvation and the Afterlife: Four yogas, or ways of reaching such salvation, are Most Hindus consider that they have many incarnations ahead of them before they can find final salvation, although some sects believe that a gracious divinity will carry them along the way more quickly. Morals: Because of the vast number of reincarnations of any given individual, Hinduism recognizes that most people's lack of spiritual development means they must lead normal lives. However, it is thought that as a person matures he can grow closer to the ideal of full renunciation of the personality. Thus, pursuit of wealth and love of the opposite sex are considered proper to certain stages of life, but when people grow old they often leave behind their worldly possessions to pursue the life of a wandering monk. Yet no matter what stage of life one is in, "renouncing the fruits of your labours" is the supreme law of morality. Hindus seek to remain conscious of the illusory nature of this world and so progressively deny themselves, at least in thought, all forms of material, emotional, and even spiritual rewards and property. For centuries the notions of reincarnation and karma have been used to support the cruelties of the Indian caste system, which relegates the majority of people to poverty and subservience. Probably as a result of Western influence the caste system has been substantially dismantled, although the idea that all human suffering is deserved is still responsible for a great deal of injustice. Source: International Society for Krishna Consciousness More often known as the Hare Krishnas, the movement is often recognised as the western face of Hinduism. Its origins can be traced back to Chaitanya, a fifteenth century devotee of Krishna, who chanted devotional songs to Krishna. His teachings were promoted in the 20th century by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, who had a vision of taking the message of Chaitanya to the west shortly before his death in This work was taken up by Prabhupada who took that message to the United States and eventually established bases around the world to promote those teachings. This group have effectively reached westerners with an acceptable form of Hinduism. Transcendental Meditation (TM) Comparative Religion: page 50 Jnana yoga, the way of knowledge, employs philosophy and the mind to comprehend the unreal nature of the universe; Bhakti yoga, the way of devotion or love, reaches salvation through ecstatic worship of a divine being; Karma yogo, the way of action, strives toward salvation by performing works without regard for personal gain; Raja yoga, "the royal road," makes use of meditative yoga techniques. Raja yoga is usually viewed as the highest way, but for the majority of people, who cannot become wandering monks, the other ways are considered valid. TM says it is a simple way to relax and relieve stress. Followers are given their own mantra a secret phrase at a puja ceremony [Indian ceremony of gratitude] and people meditate on the mantra for twenty minutes three times a day. The Beatles support of TM accelerated its growth millions of people now follow TM. In reality, TM is part of Hinduism. The puja ceremony is a call to Hindu gods for help, while there are only 16 mantras, which are all names of Hindu gods. Its teaching is parallel to Hindu beliefs such as God is impersonal, life is a cycle of rebirths and devotees move through stages reaching to Brahma consciousness. People often pay up to $5000 for weekend TM courses
8 Comparative Religion: page 51 A Biblical response to Hinduism: God A Hindu believes that Brahman is a formless, abstract, eternal being without attributes. Takes form in a trinity, as well as millions of lesser gods. A Christian believes that God is an eternal, personal, spiritual being in three persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who initiated a rescue mission to all mankind Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased (Matthew 3:13-17). Jesus said, Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14). Jesus said, No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:27-30). Jesus Christ Hindus believe that Christ is just one of many incarnations, or sons of God. Christ was not "the" Son of God. He was no more divine than any other man and he did not die for our sins. Christians believe Christ to be the only Son of God the Father. He is God as well as man; sinless, and he died for our redemption and salvation In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-4,14). Jesus said, I and the Father are one" (John 10:30). Since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Jesus himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). It is not one religion, but a family of religions Hinduism is fluid and changing, a whole complex of beliefs and institutions that have appeared from ancient times until now Hindus have a selection of beliefs to choose from: they can be pantheists, polytheists, monotheists, agnostics or even atheists. John Noss Man s Religions
9 Comparative Religion: page 52 A Biblical response to Hinduism: Sin Hindus believe that good and evil are relative terms. Whatever helps is good; whatever hinders is vice. People cannot help "stumbling" over these obstacles as they strive to know themselves. If they cannot succeed in this life, they may try again in reincarnated form. Christians believe that sin is a proud, independent rebellion that separates all humanity from God. It is falling short of the standards God has established in his Word. Sin must be punished, and its consequence is death and eternal separation from God. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge (Psalm 51:4). For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear (Isaiah 59:1,2). Salvation Hindus believe that a person is justified through devotion (bhakti marga), knowledge, meditation, good works (karma marga) and self-control. Christians know that God s Word says each person is created by God, with body, soul and spirit. Every person is in need of God s forgiveness and the righteousness of Christ through new birth. Christians believe that a person is justified through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who died in our place So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27). He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour (Titus 3:5,6). The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23,24). For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3). Dr Mahendra Singhal, a former Hindu says, Hindus believe in going to extremes to demonstrate their love for someone. A father would deprive himself of everything so his children could go to school. The image of Jesus Christ that made the strongest appeal on me was the limit to which He was willing to go to show His love towards me, and I did not even know Him at that time. I have discovered that Hindus are moved by the depiction of Jesus on the cross to validate His love towards us. The Compact Guide to World Religions, p.100 Source:
10 Comparative Religion: page 53 Although Hindus are trapped by their belief in reincarnation and karma, God s Word is clear Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him (Hebrews 9:27). I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books (Revelation 20:12). Comparison chart Hindu teaching on the god Vishnu and Jesus Christ: Vishnu At least ten incarnations (some claim more) in both animal and human form. While the stories of the avatars, or incarnations, of Vishnu might have some remote historical basis, their historicity is not essential. They are primarily mythical in nature. Even if it were shown that there is absolutely no historical truth to the stories, it would have no affect on their meaning and influence. One of the purposes of Vishnu s incarnations was for destruction of evildoers (Bhagavad Gita 4:8; Edgerton, 23) We can attain enlightenment over a period of many lifetimes: But striving zealously, with sins cleansed, the disciplined man, perfected through many rebirths, then [finally] goes to the highest goal (Bhagavad Gita 6:45) Vishnu incarnates periodically as an avatar when the need arises, and then the avatar dies and is reabsorbed back into Brahman. Hinduism makes no claims concerning the bodily resurrection of the avatars. Jesus The only incarnation of the Son of God in human form. The historicity of Jesus life is extremely important to the veracity of Jesus claims and to the salvation that He accomplished on our behalf (1 Cor. 15:14, 17; 1 John 1:1-3). If Christ did not actually live, die, and rise from the dead, then Christianity is built on a lie and the gospel is without foundation. The purpose of Jesus incarnation was, to seek and to save what was lost (Luke 19:10). For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:17; see also John 10:10). Jesus pointed to Himself as the way by which to receive eternal life immediately (John 6:29, 40; 10:9-10; 11:25-26): Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). Jesus incarnation was a unique event. His sacrifice was once for all (Heb. 9:26); He died and rose from the dead; and His individual identity is maintained before, as well as after, the Incarnation. A Bible position on TM: What kind of meditation does the Bible recommend? The LORD said, Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? (Joshua 1:8). Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:1, 2). O Lord, I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done (Psalm 143:5, see also Psalm 119:15).
11 A Bible position on TM: Is TM a bad thing and if so, should Christians avoid it? The beliefs of TM's Hindu gurus and swamis are contrary to those of Christianity. In dealing with man's greatest need, Christianity says that this for each person to be rightly related to God: Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:36,37). TM says that our greatest need is to be happy and that happiness comes as we learns to relax and improve ourself. Christianity rejoices in happiness, however the best course is to allow God s Spirit to develop joy within us. TM is a system that emphasizes happiness without dealing with the sin problem and so builds a superstructure on a shaky foundation. True happiness is the result of knowing that one is in right relationship with God [knowing that you are on this earth to glorify God and are prepared to spend eternity with Him]. As the real cause of unhappiness is sin, to be effective in helping ourself and others to be happy then it is necessary to deal with the cause, not the effect. Source: Comparative Religion: page 54 Sharing Jesus with Hindus: When discussing our beliefs and those of our Hindu friend, always keep God s personal nature in mind. Here are three examples that show how this is relevant. The image of a personal God will help us find ways to communicate the Christian perspective on spiritual issues. Consider, for instance, illustrating the various aspects of sin through the image of a personal God: What is the meaning of sin? Sin is the breaking of a moral law: ultimately it is rejecting and rebelling against a personal God. Why? Because only persons not impersonal forces such as Brahman are able to make moral distinctions. Only a God who is by nature personal is sufficient to sustain the foundation necessary for moral law to have validity. What are the consequences of sin? Even on the human level, we are aware that sin breaks relationships. How can sin be resolved? Through confession and forgiveness. Forgiveness is possible only in the context of God being personal, for only persons are capable of forgiving. Brahman, an impersonal oneness, is incapable of forgiving. Jesus parable of the prodigal son, where the son turned his back on his father and severed their relationship (Luke 15:11-32), is an excellent illustration of the personal nature of God. Furthermore, this parable is certainly useful in explaining the meaning of sin and forgiveness to Hindus. The fact that God is personal has implications for the destiny of the individual after death. To know the impersonal Brahman of Hinduism is to merge into the oneness of Brahman and to lose one s identity as a distinct and separate individual. There is a drive within each of us, however, that makes us want to cling to our existence as personal beings with all our might. Is our Hindu friend really willing to stand by his or her belief that such a drive is nothing more than the ignorance of our individual egos? Moreover, is it not that we are most fulfilled as persons when we are in a friendship or love relationship? Since that is where we are most fulfilled, think of how much greater our fulfillment is when we are in fellowship with a personal, holy, and loving God! Such a fulfilling relationship is precisely what the God of the Bible offers, and it s a relationship that will last for eternity Jesus said, Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:2, 3, see also John 17:3; Revelation 21:3).
12 Comparative Religion: page 55 Sharing Jesus with Hindus: If our primary problem is that we have broken our relationship with the Person of God, we can understand why there is only one way to God. Consider this question: How many ways are there to restore a relationship that you are responsible for having broken? There is only one way, and it involves confessing our guilt and receiving forgiveness. Salvation is a matter of reconciliation, and this reconciliation was historically made possible through the death of Christ on the cross. It is the restoration of a previously broken relationship: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them (2 Corinthians 5:18-19, see also Ephesians 2:12-16). Stress to Hindus how that Jesus is both unique and inclusive toward others. Jesus calls, all you who are weary and burdened, to come to Him (Matthew 11:28). The inclusive Jesus Christ associated with the most unlikely of people, even the social outcast (Luke 19:1-10) and the sinner (Luke 15:1-7). The gospel of Jesus Christ is intended for the whole world. As John wrote: I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb (Revelation 7:9). Such an all-embracing Christ will naturally appeal to the Hindu person. Source: Comparison of Hindu beliefs and Jesus Christ: The virtue of self-denial according to Jesus is not merely something of knowledge. It is not an enlightenment or realization of being universal Self. It is the individual choosing to deny his real personal desires and to live instead for what God has said is good. Hindu selflessness is actually an affirmation and strengthening of self in the greater Self, while Jesus teaching is that the self has become corrupt and is living based upon that orientation to corrupted (sinful) self; selflessness is to turn from that self life and to live for God. Hinduism seeks for selflessness through a turning from the self to find the Self. Christianity teach selflessness through denying the self. This chart show the differences The nature of selflessness Why self desires are evil The solution The role of self in selflessness JESUS Jesus selflessness = actual selfless living by individuals Self desires are evil because they are sinful rebellious to God s ways repentance, denial of selfish desires and living for God s ways to deny the self and to live for God HINDUISM Hindu selflessness = realization that we are all self Self desires (individual) are evil because they are not self-universal (Brahman) desires Realization and enlightenment that you are self to turn in to the self to find the self Source:
13 Summary chart Differences between Hindus and Christianity Comparative Religion: page 56 Hindus believe... Christians believe... GOD Braham is a formless, abstract, eternal being without attributes. He takes form and is worshipped by Hindus in millions of lesser gods Believe in an eternal, personal spiritual Being who exists in three persons Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet is one: [Matthew 3:13-17; 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14] JESUS CHRIST Jesus is just one of many incarnations, or sons of God. Christ was not the Son of God. He was no more divine than any other man and He did not die for people s sins. Christians affirm Jesus is the only Son of God, the Father. He is fully God as well as fully human and sinless. He died for our salvation: [see John 1:13,14, 10:30, 8:46; Hebrews 4:15; Mark 10:45; 1 Peter 2:24]. SIN Good and evil are relative terms. Whatever helps is good and whatever hiders us is vice. People cannot help stumbling over these obstacles as we strive to know our self. If we cannot succeed in life, we may try in our reincarnated self. Sin is proud, independent rebellion that separates all mankind from God. It is falling short of the standards He has established in His Word to all people. Sin must be punished and its consequence is death and eternal separation from God: [see Romans 3: 23, 6:23]. SALVATION Man is justified through devotion, meditation, good works and selfcontrol. Man is justified through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who died for our sins. God s Spirit enables character transformation: [see Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 5:18-25]. Source: So What s the Difference Fritz Ridenour, Regal Books. 1967
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Page 1 of 7 Page 2 of 7 Page 3 of 7 Page 4 of 7 Page 5 of 7 Page 6 of 7 Page 7 of 7 Page 1 of 6 Page 2 of 6 Page 3 of 6 Aryan Migrations into India, 1500 250 B.C. The Aryan Migrations In about A SI A River
Hinduism Practiced by the various cultures of the Indian subcontinent since 1500 BCE. Began in India with the Aryan invaders. Believe in one supreme force called Brahma, the creator, who is in all things.