Understanding the human experience through the eyes of God and His word has always been a passion of mine - even since I was a young girl. I would always ask really challenging questions to my pastors and even debate them if what I was told things that didn't sit right - not because I disrespected them - it's just that I have always had a passion to pursue truth and learn and understand people, life, and the world better through God's eyes.
Maybe you have noticed that as we have been going through the world religions so far that there are some similarities between the Christian faith and other religions. Islam and Christianity both believe in an eternal Creator God and a judgment to come after death. Judaism and Christianity both worship the same God - yet Judaism rejects Jesus as God's Son and Savior to all mankind. Both Jesus and Confucius (we have not yet covered Confucius - but are getting there) taught a version of the Golden Rule, and both Christianity and Confucianism teach respect for one’s parents. Many today will say since they are all so similar– that must mean we all have the same god – but as we have been reading and learning - that’s not the case –
What is true is that all humans have been created by the one true God in his image (Gen. 1:26–27; 5:1–2) and that God has revealed himself in a general manner to all peoples through His Creation
As we continue to take a look at more religions you will find that the differences between Christian faith and other religions are greater and more significant than any of their similarities.
It can be somewhat difficult to break down the religion of Hinduism since Hinduism contain beliefs and teachings of almost every theological religious system. There is no founder of Hinduism and it is one of the oldest religions and as I just said - very complex and very broad.
Hindus all believe in one Supreme God who is known as Brahman, who created the universe. He is considered to be omnipresent (in all things and is everywhere). This supreme god created many others gods - 330 million gods - and spiritual beings to be his helpers. Because Hindus have so many gods they are very tolerant and open to other religions, believing that each has its own pathway to the "One God."
Since Hindus believe that god is omnipresent - that means God is not far away, but is instead living inside each and every soul, in the heart and consciousness, waiting to be discovered.
Hinduism is both monotheistic (belief that there is only one god) and henotheistic (the worship of a single, supreme god while not denying the existence of other gods.) They are not polytheistic (belief in multiple deities,) in the sense that there are many equal Gods. From this, we can gather that they worship one God - without denying the existence of other lesser gods.
The Hindu soul is believed to be immortal and is rebirthed time and time again which is known as "reincarnation." Through this process, they grow through life learned experiences and evolve spiritually until they "graduate" so to speak. Once they have evolved to the level where all life lessons have been learned, they attain what is know as "enlightenment and moksha, liberation." Meaning the person has been freed from the physical body's cycle of life and death and rebirth and now the "person/being" will still exist, but will no longer be pulled back to be born because they have finally found one's true self.
Hindus also believe in Karma - which is a cause and effect life cycle. Their actions, both good and bad, come back to them in the future, helping them to learn from these life’s lessons to become better people.
They believe it is a divine system of justice that is controlled by oneself and perfectly fair.
Meaning when something happens to a Hindu that is bad, sad or hurtful or simply unjust, it is not their god punishing them, it is simply the result of their own past actions that automatically creates the appropriate future experience in response to the current action.
The Veda, which means “wisdom" is their “Bible," which they believe to be the revealed word of God. The Veda has four Hindu sacred texts which contain hymns, incantations, philosophies, rituals, poems, and religious mythology stories which interweave myths, theology, and history to achieve a story-form religion deeply rooted to their culture.
Some other basic teachings of Hinduism are:
-Brahma - Is the impersonal and unknowable god who exists in three separate forms:
Brahma—Creator; Vishnu—Preserver; and Shiva—Destroyer.
-Hinduism views mankind as divine and because Brahma is everything, Hinduism asserts that everyone is divine.
-Atman, is one's true self, who becomes one with Brahma. The atman is eternal and is itself the core essence of each individual, the personality. The atman provides humans with their consciousness and gives them divine qualities. According to Hinduism, “The Supreme God is situated in everyone’s heart . . . and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy” (Bhagavad Gita, 18.61).
-The spiritual goal of a Hindu is to become one with Brahma, thus being released from it's "unreal self" to find their version of “individual self.” This freedom is referred to as “moksha.” Until moksha is achieved, they will go through a lifetime of reincarnations in order that he/she may work towards self-realization of the truth. To a Hindu, sin is a serious matter as they believe in reincarnation of the soul so that the debt of sin can be paid back. In the Puranas (Hindu religious books) states that a Hindu person can be re-born millions of times to pay back the negative karmas of one life and even then there is no guarantee that in the next birth there is no sin at all. So, to a Hindu, moksha (salvation) is almost unattainable, even though one works very hard for it.
- Yoga – is a discipline which enables individuals to connect with the god within to control the body and emotions to help reach nirvana. “Om” pronounced “Aum,” is similar to “Amen.” This is an approach that will initiate to the path of wholeness and higher states of consciousness.
- Nirvana – is the final stage of one's life cycle attained only when they are broken free from the chains of their rebirths.
- There is no sense of self or one’s own identity – Hindu's believe all are one.
- Hindus live within a Caste System - which are social classes based on heredity. The caste system was developed by dividing up society into a hierarchy according to professions and trades. Individuals are basically assigned to a caste at birth based on the caste of their parents. This life style is handed down from generation to generation and marriages occur within castes. One can identify ones caste by their skin color, manner of dress, surname, occupation and village or neighborhood. The caste system is technically illegal but widely practiced.
The main difference I would like to close with is that in Christianity God has made it very clear that He cares about what happens to each of us and is personally involved in our lives and loves us with a perfect flawless Father’s Love. God showed us His love by sending His Son Jesus to live with and amongst us and to die on the cross on our behalf so that He could be the bridge for us to have a relationship with His Father. Christianity is based on humans being created in the image of their Creator God – with great worth and value and purpose, whereas in Hinduism there is not individual worth or purpose as all are one in pursuit of emptying themselves to become Brahman.
Finally - salvation to a Hindu person is attained in one of 3 ways:
knowing one is a part of the ultimate Brahman and not a separate entity, (all are fully one) devotion, love and obedience to a particular deity, works & ceremonial rituals – with the continual cycle of rebirths until you get it right.
Christianity salvation is a gift of grace offered from a Holy and perfect God to humans who cannot ever attain perfection on their own but through the power of God’s gift of His Son who came to die and pay for our sin so that we can have a right and united relationship with our Creator Father God