Hinduism and other religions
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There has been some debate on historical connections between Christianity and Indian religion, it has focused on both Buddhism (via Greco-Buddhism) as well as Hinduism. While it is evident that a number of Indian sages visited Constantinople in Classical Antiquity, claims of significant influence in either direction have failed to gain wide acceptance. Christianity revolves heavily around the life of Jesus Christ as detailed in the Bible, whereas Hinduism is not based on any one personality or one book, but rather on the philosophy that there is god. Nevertheless, some scholars have studied whether there are links between the story of Jesus and that of Krishna; "Krishnology" is a term coined to express these claimed theological parallels between Krishnaism and the Christological dogmas of Christianity.
Although little is known of the immediate growth of the church, Bar-Daisan (AD 154–223) reports that in his time there were Christian tribes in North India which claimed to have been converted by Thomas and to have books and relics to prove it.
Contemporary Christian-Hindu relations are a mixed affair. Hinduism's historical tendency has been to recognize the divine basis of various other religions, and to revere their founders and saintly practitioners; this continues today. The declaration Nostra Aetate by the Second Vatican Council officially established inter-religious dialogue between Catholics and Hindus, promoting common values between the two religions (among others). There are over 17.3 million Catholics in India, which represents less than 2% of the total population, still making it the largest Christian church in India. (See also: Dalit theology).
Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity differ on fundamental beliefs on heaven, hell and reincarnation, to name a few. From the Hindu perspective, heaven (Sanskrit: swarga) and hell (naraka) are temporary places, where every soul has to live, either for the good deeds done or for their sins committed. After a soul suffers its due punishment in hell, or after a soul has enjoyed enough in heaven, it again enters the life-death cycle. There is no concept in Hinduism of a permanent hell like that in Christianity; rather, the cycle of "karma" takes over. Permanent heaven or bliss is "moksha".
The Holy Trinity of Christianity, consisting of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is sometimes seen as roughly analogous to the Trimurti of Hinduism, whose members -- Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva -- are seen as the three principal manifestations of Brahman, or Godhead. The specific formulation of this trinitarian relationship is not identical between the two religions; for example, in Hinduism there is a Parabrahma, or an ultimate creator who created the Trimurti, for which there exists no parallel in Christianity. Some consider Brahma to be more similar to the demiurge of Christian gnosticism, in that he (at least initially) wrongly thought himself as the "Creator" and also as the highest or even the only god. In this case, the Hindu version of the Trinity could be seen as Brahma (Father), Sankarshan or Shiva (Holy spirit), and Vishnu (Son; analogous to Christ).
A Father is claimed to be the initiator or generator of the Universe, or living beings at least. In accordance with the definition of G.O.D given in Hinduism as the Generator, Organizer and Destroyer, Brahma appears to be the Generator; respectfully a 'male' form of energy, thus a Father. Vishnu, or better sought in His 8th avatar, Krishna, was also the Son of God. He appeared unexpectedly in the womb of His mother, impregnated by no one. Undeniably, He was also from a family of a shepherd like Jesus. Both, or maybe the Individual, spread truthfulness and nobleness with divinity in the heart. For Lord Shiva, He is believed to have no form. He proves the power of nothingness like in Christianity. And the God mentioned in the Trinity is also the God of Muslims, honoured as Allah. It is generally accepted that Allah should never be depicted in any forms of object. It is considered similar to the belief of Hinduism.
There have been Christian writers such as the 17th century mystic Jane Leade and the 19th-20th century theologian Sergei Bulgakov, who have described the feminine Sophia (wisdom) as an aspect of the Godhead. This may serve as a rough analogue to Hinduism's description of Sita in the Ramayana, who is saved by Hanuman (an incarnation of Shiva) from the demon king Ravana to be reunited with her husband Rama, representing God. Nevertheless, although the concept that we can come to know God through sophia has played a role in Christian thought, no major Christian denominations profess Sophia as an independent aspect of God.
In Hinduism (also in Jainism and Sikhism), the concept of moksha is akin to that of Buddhism's nirvana, but some scholars further claim that it is akin as well to Christianity's doctrine of salvation. Hindu sannyasi Swami Tripurari states:
... in theory the sinners of the world are the beneficiaries of Christ’s sacrifice, but it is God the father for whose pleasure Christ underwent the crucifixion, even when the father’s joy in this scenario lies in the salvation of sinners. Christ represents the intermediary between God and humanity, and his life aptly illustrates the fact that it is sacrifice by which we come to meet our maker. Thus in Christ the Divine teaches us “the way” more than he does the goal. The Christ conception represents “the way” in the sense that the way is sacrifice, out of which love arises. The Krishna conception represents that for which we not only should, but must sacrifice, compelled by the Godhead’s irresistible attributes, etc. depicted therein.
The Christian Ashram Movement, a movement within Christianity in India, embraces Vedanta and the teachings of the East, attempting to combine the Christian faith with the Hindu ashram model, and Christian monasticism with the Hindu sannyasa tradition. In Western countries, Vedanta has influenced some Christian thinkers,(See also: Pierre Johanns, Abhishiktananda, Bede Griffiths). While others in the anti-cult movement have reacted against the activities of immigrant gurus and their followers.
Hindu – Islamic relations began when Islamic influence first came to be found in the Indian subcontinent during the early 7th century. Hinduism and Islam are two of the world’s three largest religions. Hinduism is the socio-religious way of life of the Hindu people of the Indian subcontinent, their diaspora, and some other regions which had Hindu influence in the ancient and medieval times. Islam is a strictly monotheistic religion in which the supreme deity is Allah (Arabic: الله "the God": see God in Islam), the last Islamic prophet being Muhammad ibn Abdullah, whom Muslims believe delivered the Islamic scripture, the Qur'an. Hinduism mostly shares common terms with the Indian religions, including Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Islam shares common terms with the Abrahamic religions–those religions claiming descent from the prophet Abraham–being, from oldest to youngest, Judaism, Christianity, Islam.
The Qur'an is the primary Islamic scripture. Muslims believe it to be the verbatim, uncreated word of Allah. Second to this in religious authority, and whence many practices of Islam derive, especially for Sunnis, are the Sunni six major collections of hadīth, which are traditional records of the sayings and acts of Muhammad. The scriptures of Hinduism are the Shrutis (the four Vedas, which comprise the original Vedic Hymns, or Samhitas, and three tiers of commentaries upon the Samhitas, namely the Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads); these are considered authentic, authoritative divine revelation. Furthermore, Hinduism is also based on the Smritis (including the Rāmāyana, the Bhagavad Gītā [part of the Mahabharata cycle], and the Purānas), which are considered to be of secondary authority and of human creation.The Bhagavad Gita however enjoys a special status in that, it is considered on par with the Vedas by most Hindus. The below article briefly describes some of the many differences and some similarities between Hinduism and Islam.
Ayyavazhi and Hinduism are two belief systems in India. Though Ayyavazhi continues to officially exist within Hinduism and is considered by some observers to be a Hindu denomination, members of the religion claim that it is independent. The most notable distinction from Hindu are the Ayyavazhi religion's concepts of good, evil and dharma.
Hindus view Vedas, Gita, and other texts from the Shastra as canonical scriptures, instead of the Akilam. The Ayyavazhi believe that the Hindu scriptures were once canonical, but now have lost their Substance because of the advent of Akilam. Kaliyan bought the Vedas as a Boon and so all the previous religious books including Agamas and Puranas lost their Substances, leaving Akilattirattu Ammanai as the only book of perfection. Several dubious claims state that the present day Vedas are not accepted by Ayyavazhi as books of Perfection, because there is a quote in Akilam about Venneesan "Avan pilathaal vedamondruntakki" (He created a Veda of his own intention). All previous religious texts have lost their Substance in the vision of Ayyavazhi at the very moment Kaliyan came to the world.
Though Ayyavazhi has many differences from popular Hinduism, it has many beliefs and practices in common. As Hinduism is really a tree of many branches, Ayyavazhi is closest to Smartism and its Advaita beliefs in thought.
Hinduism is recognized in the Bahá'í Faith as one of nine known religions and its scriptures are regarded as predicting the coming of Bahá'u'lláh (Kalki avatar). Krishna is included in the succession of Manifestations of God. The authenticity of the Hindu scriptures is seen as uncertain.
- A. E. Medlycott, India and The Apostle Thomas, pp.18–71; M. R. James, Apocryphal New Testament, pp.364–436; A. E. Medlycott, India and The Apostle Thomas, pp.1–17, 213–97; Eusebius, History, chapter 4:30; J. N. Farquhar, The Apostle Thomas in North India, chapter 4:30; V. A. Smith, Early History of India, p.235; L. W. Brown, The Indian Christians of St. Thomas, p.49-59.
- Tripurari, Swami, Christ, Krishna, Caitanya, The Harmonist, May 31, 2009.
- Klostermaier, Klaus K. (2007). A Survey of Hinduism. (3. ed. ed.). Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press. pp. 46–49. ISBN 0-7914-7082-2.
- "Ayyavazhi Religion" (Web page). religious-information.com. SBI. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
- Smith, Peter (2000). "Indian religions". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. p. 195. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.