Hinduism: Monotheistic or Polytheistic?

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Is Hinduism monotheistic, or polytheistic? Polytheism is the belief in, and worship of more than one god. In monotheism, there is belief in and worship of only one god that is a separate entity. I have come to the conclusion that Hinduism is neither, but monistic. On a lower level of truth, there are many different gods and goddesses that are distinct in Hinduism. However, on a higher level of truth, Hindu’s believe “you and I and God [are] all one-and-the-same in the end” (Course Reader, p. 17). Therefore, in the highest level of truth, Hinduism is monistic—believing that All is One. Over time, Hinduism has evolved from a polytheistic religion to one that is widely monistic. Jews and Muslims would surely say that Hinduism is polytheistic—for them, worship of anything that is not the Supreme Being is a sin. They believe that God cannot manifest into physical form, and certainly cannot be personified. For a Christian, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is not a form or force of God, but is God. Hindus, they argue, commenced to personify the various forces of nature (e.g., the stars, moon, sun, water, fire, etc.) and worship them. In the Bible, Paul says “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” (New International Version, Gen. 3.15), clearly condemning the worship of his creation. It may appear that Hindus worship many separate gods and entities, but it is more complicated than this. They believe that All is One, and therefore worship of anything is ultimately worship of God. In the Rig Veda, every force of nature was personified and worshipped as separate entities—clearly indicative of polytheism (Course Reader 1, p. 25). There is no concept of a Supreme Being, only separate Gods that have separate roles. There is no god that is greater than another. In the Rig Veda, it states that “Not one of you, gods, is small, not one a little child; all of you are truly great. Therefore you are worthy of praise...
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