The Hindu religion is a very complex subject that combines standard beliefs and mythology. This religion has undergone through many changes but certain areas of Hinduism remains the same. Hinduism has produced popular concepts, such as karma, yoga, and reincarnation, that state this religion can help thousands of people to discover harmony and reach enlightenment. The religion also has been known to have the caste system and a low view on women. Hinduism attracted my attention due to its views and mythology although there here are many, distinct differences between the religion that I practice and this religion. Hindus teach that god is everywhere and exists in all things, but Christians explains that we are separate from God but can get to know him through Jesus Christ. Hindus have various scriptures but none have the final authority. Although they have these books, they rely mostly on priests to interpret the writings. Christianity has a total of sixty-six books but are united as one. The Bible has final authority since it is God’s word which was inspired by the Holy Spirt. The Bible focuses on the spiritual need of men for God. Compared to Christianity, Hinduism is vastly different with its beliefs, gods, and views. Throughout this paper, philosophical beliefs and practices of Hinduism will be explained and compared to Christian answers.
Christianity teaches that the nature of God is monotheistic, infinite, and personal. The creation of the world came from a direct act of God. Our personhood is a first-person experience of reality. Christianity views the afterlife with grace and eternal life in heaven. All humans have an inherent moral worth since Christ took all the sin onto himself and died for all people. Although people are separated from God, Christians can come to know him through one mediator who is the Lord Jesus Christ. Women are viewed highly as image-bearers of God. Animals are in our stewardship since we should take care of creations of God. The problem of evil is humanity’s problem because all have sinned.
Hinduism is an intriguing religion that is filled with mythology, philosophical beliefs, and absorption. Hinduism is a pantheistic religion that consists of millions of gods and defines their nature of gods to be infinite and impersonal. This religion views the creation of the world as a cyclical creation since creation occurs and reoccurs forever and came from preexisting materials. Hinduism also views our personhood to be an illusion, called maya. It states that everyone is actually only expressions of the Brahman which is made of souls called atman. Hinduism also views the afterlife in karmic law and reincarnation. Another interesting aspect that Hinduism teaches is that all human persons have different value due to their previous lives which resulted in the infamous caste system that states some deserve human aid while others did not. This religion also teaches that animal life is sacred, and some animals such as cows are considered sacred and are treated with more value than human life. Hinduism also teaches that evil is God’s problem since creation is inherently askew.
Hinduism gains attention because it offers many similarities to Western evolutionary humanism. According to the book Fast Facts on False Teachings by authors Ron Carlson and Ed Decker, Hinduism offers a subjective intuitive experience of “reality”, offers a continuum of evolution, and gives a rationale to people for the ecology movement. This religion uses the methods of yoga and Hindu forms of meditation to suppress desires. Hinduism offers a continuum of evolution through the idea of cycles of rebirth, or reincarnation. The base philosophy is monism which is a Hindu Vedanta philosophy that promotes the idea of “all for one.” Yoga, reincarnation, and the Hindu Vedanta philosophy are three reasons why many are attracted to this broad religion.
Hinduism also offers a continuum of evolution which is known as reincarnation and is caused by karma. History and time are views as cyclical in which man is caught in a cycle of birth and rebirth and seeks to leave the illusion of this world and rid himself of karma. According to the law of karma, every deed whether good or bad determines on how one will reincarnate in the next life. This could result in coming back as a human or in a lower form such as a cow or rat which are considered sacred because they might be a reincarnated family member. By transcending to the state of impersonal nothingness can Hindus be released from the cycle of reincarnation.
However, reincarnation can become invalidated due to the facts of God being personal, of the atonement of Jesus Christ, of the resurrection of Jesus, and of the resurrection of the believer. Carlson and Decker states “the facts that God is personal, that He created us as personal beings and has personally revealed Himself to us, and that we can have a personal relationship with Him, totally does away with the idea of need for something like reincarnation” (98). The facts of the atonement invalidates reincarnation because Jesus paid the ultimate price when he took our sins and took our place on the cross. Jesus Christ’s resurrection shows that He defeated death and is our living Savior. The fourth reason is the resurrection of the believer. If a person puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, they will eternal life with Him. Hebrews 9:27-28 says “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” This verse reveals that everyone is destined to die once and to face judgement not reincarnation.
Yoga, a spiritual technique, is a way to attain transcendence from this world of illusion. In Sanskrit, yoga is defined to yoke or to have union with god. In the Western culture, yoga is known as a series of exercises and positions, and the true meaning and purpose of yoga can be misinterpreted. Yoga is an eight-step process which helps a person achieve transcendence or liberation from this physical world and gain enlightenment. The first five steps, Hatha Yoga, are external, physical disciplines which trains a person for the transcendence to the enlightenment. These steps are to detach the mind from the senses to lose awareness of the illusion of the world. The last three steps, Raja Yoga, are internal meditative techniques that include dharma, dhyana, and samadhi. Dharma is concentration which to fix the mind on an internal or external divine form. The dhyana is meditation which is a continual and unbroken thought directed towards a mantra or object of concentration. Dhyana is when one achieves oneness with the universe yet has remaining sense of personal existence. The last step is the samadhi, or absorption. This stage is when one gains unity with the universe without any sense of personal existence. After completing all steps is where a person transcends the physical, personal, intellectual, and tactile level of life, and the individual erases every aspect of his personality to become one with the Impersonal Universe, “Brahman-Atman”. Authors Carlson and Decker quotes A. W. Tozer who states in his classic work The Knowledge of the Holy, “The history of mankind will probably show that no one has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God.” (Carlson and Decker, 95).
Hinduism promotes the philosophy that states “we are One with nature, One with the universe, One with all living things” (Carlson and Decker, 92), but believing that philosophy leads to loss of personality. Hindu philosophy states that “all is God’ and “all are impersonal”, but that philosophy takes away individual personality because if “the dirt is God and you are God, so what do you become equal with?” (Carlson and Decker, 94). Hindu history has proven that this religion was never able to raise the level of nature to the level of humanity and devalues men and women to the lowest level of nature. The religion states that since the universe is impersonal and we are part of the universe, we are impersonal and loose our individual personality.
The caste system was a subject that is well known in India. The system was divided into four classes which included the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras. The system also had another caste, called the Dalits which were the untouchables. The Brahmins were the highly regarded priests, and the Kshatriyas were the chieftains and warriors, The commoners and merchants were known as the Vaishyas, and the last group were the Shudras, who were considered full members of the society and were usually slaves or servants. The Dalits were the people who had direct physical contact with “polluting” jobs. In Lewis M. Hopfe’s fourth edition of Religions of the World, he states “One entered a caste by being born to parents of that caste. One’s caste dictated deity, vocation, place of residence, and choice of mate. Rigid rules forbade much social intercourse between members of differing castes. Most pitiful were those at the lowest end of the social scale. Those possessing no caste were called ‘outcastes,’ and because the higher castes could have nothing to do with them, this group was often called ‘untouchable.’ To them fell the lowest occupations. They were the street sweepers, the latrine cleaners, the handlers of the dead, and the tanners of leather. With these vocations came the lowest wages, the worst living conditions, and little hope of improvement. The religion of Hinduism seemed to justify the status of the outcastes. Since the untouchables were in this situation in life, it must be because their karma from a previous life had dictated it. If the outcastes accepted the dharma of this life and did not rebel against it, they might have hope for a better caste in the next life.” (Hopfe, 117). This subject was one that I did not enjoy reading about due to the fact that this is morally outrageous. People are not punished for a past life in life. All humans should have dignity and worth because Christ died for everyone and we are made in his image.
Another subject I disagree with is the view on women. Hinduism lacks the foundation for equality for humans, especially women. The basic rules in the Laws of Manu states how a woman or wife should behave in the household and towards her husband. Women’s roles declined as the age for marriage was reduced from teenage years to ten or five years old. They were also denied the possibility of education and were placed into the role of being a wife and mother. Prior to a marriage, the woman is regulated by her father and is then controlled by her husband after she is married. In her article “Women and Hindu Tradition”, author Susan Wadley states that “the male controls the female; that Nature is controlled by Culture”(Wadley 115-116). Hinduism has a low view on women since women are inherently inferior to men. In Christianity, Jesus places a high value on women which is shown by recognizing their intrinsic value as a person, by ministering to women, and by according them dignity in his ministry. Compared to Hinduism, Christianity has a better view and is shown to treat women better.
Hinduism has many attractive ideas, but the practices that are supported by this religion can be abhorrent and degrading. Hinduism supports the idea of another life through reincarnation, the idea of using yoga to gain enlightenment, the idea that everything including humans are part of an impersonal god, the practice of the degrading caste system, and the practice of discriminating women.