By Thomas Mowery (AVfirstname.lastname@example.org)
The word "Hindu"
is of Persian origin and means "Indian." Hinduism claims nearly
1 billion followers worldwide. Approximately 80% of India's population
is Hindu. There are approximately 1.3 million Hindus in North America according
to a 1993 census in Encyclopedia Britannica 1999. There are approximately
200 Hindu temples or Hindu centers in the U.S. (www.probe.org/docs/hindu.html).
Hinduism is the root of Buddhism as Buddha (Gautama) was raised in Hinduism
and drew heavily from its philosophies. Hinduism by its nature is eclectic,
as it has no definable beginning or founder. Hindus have a saying: "Ekam Sataha
Vipraha Bahudha Vadanti," which may be translated: "The truth is One, but
different Sages call it by Different Names" Hinduism like all other non-Christian
religions accept various ideas of "God" and cannot define a true saving
relationship with the God of heaven and creator of us all.
I). History and Roots of Hinduism:
Hinduism's Roots Are From 2 Systems:
Its Roots Are Vedic.
- 3rd Century B.C. ancient
civilization in the Indus River Valley
- The Aryan people (a group
of wandering nomads from Persia of Indo-European language) who came to the
Indus Valley around 1500 B.C.
"The religion of the Aryans is described in the writings of "holy men" contained
in the Vedas (meaning "knowledge" or "wisdom"). The Vedas are four collections
of writings composed between about 1500 and 500 B.C., which form the basis for
Hindu beliefs, and which reveal a gradual development of religious ideas. The
later sections of the Vedas are known as the Upanishads. These Vedic writings
are considered inspired. Later Hindu writings, including the renowned Bhagavad
II). Philosophy and Teachings:
Hinduism is marked by the worship
and belief in many forms of "God." There are nearly 330 million
deities in the Hindu belief structure making it difficult to define a major
While Hinduism has a diversity
of beliefs, some common beliefs can be found:
The Hindu concept of God is best
described by the series "Star Wars" and its idea of "The Force."
It is this idea of an undefined "higher power" that has influenced
much of Western culture from Alcoholics Anonymous' "God who you perceive
Him to be" and Masonry's "great architect." All of these
are a generic "God" that can be anything one chooses Him to be rather
than the clearly defined God of Scripture.
Karma, Samsara & Moksha:
- The Upanishads define God
as "Brahman" which is the culmination of their many gods
into one "Reality" beyond comprehension.
- Brahman became known as
"Isvara" through the "Trimurti" (three manifestations)
of Brahman. These three manifestations are: Brahma- the creator, Vishnu-
the preserver, and Shiva- the destroyer.
- Ishvara became personified
later by 10 mythical incarnations of Vishnu called "Avatars."
Bhagavad Gita says, "When goodness grows weak, When evil increases, I
make myself a body. In every age I come back To deliver the holy, To destroy
the sin of the sinner To establish righteousness"Some of these Avatars
have been said to have been Krishna, Rama, Buddha and Jesus Christ, however
they must be born in India to be a full Avatar. Hinduism says that Christ
was more a "messenger of God" than an Avatar.
- According to www.religioustolerance.org
Hinduism can be separated in 2 major groups: Vaishnavaism- which regards
Vishnu as the ultimate deity (making up 80% of Hinduism) and Shivaism
which regards Shiva as the ultimate deity.
- "Atman is Brahman"
a decree of Hinduism that says your true self (Atman) is, as are all living
things, Brahman ("God"). Hinduism teaches that we are ignorant of
our divine nature and therefore we live with personal desires and egos which
cause our pain. This is the same idea that is taught in Buddhism through
the "4 Noble Truths" and much like Scientology's "thetan"
concept. This is also the reason that many Hindus are vegetarians not
wanting to kill any life ("Ahimsa"- non-injury to living
things) that might be "God."
- Karma is "cause
and effect" much like Buddha taught in Buddhism. It is the idea
that everything one does will affect him in a later life. For some it
breeds fatalism in that you are doomed because of the past and so you simply
- Samsara is reincarnation
or transmigration. This also was transferred into Buddhism with some
changes. In Hinduism, the soul (atman) is reborn in another body (human
or animal). Along with Samsara is the "Caste" system
where people are in 4 basic castes or social classes. These castes are
Brahmins (priests), Kshatriyas (warriors), Vaisyas (merchants,
farmers), Shudras (laboring class). One's caste is determined
at birth or by personal karma and cannot be improved upon.
Salvation (Moksha) 3 Paths
- Moksha is liberation,
like the Buddhist idea of Nirvana. Moksha is the solution to karma and
attachment to personal goals and desires. "This can only occur
when we truly realize that our separate self is actually an illusion and that
only the undifferentiated oneness of Brahman is real. We must therefore strive
to detach ourselves from the desires and actions of our ego in order to attain
true enlightenment." (www.equip.org/free/DH-122.htm)
- Through Karma Yoga
a system of works guided by the "Code of Manu" with strict rituals
and duties throughout life.
- Through Jnana Yoga
a way of knowledge. Through deep meditation (yoga) one realizes their
oneness with the divine Brahman overcoming ignorance (Avidya).
- Through Bhakti Yoga
that is devotion to one of the many gods and goddesses of Hinduism.
This is self-surrender, worship (Puja), participation in the many religious
festivals, and pilgrimages to one of the numerous holy sites in India.
III). A Biblical Response to Hinduism.
there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods
many, and lords many,) 6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are
all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things,
and we by him."
(1 Corinthians 8:5-6 KJV)
serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that
in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as
gods, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:4-5 KJV)
- For man to be
God is Satan's original lie!
by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved
us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"
- Man CANNOT earn or "realize"
salvation through any works, meditation, or worship of created images.
(Titus 3:5 KJV)