Comparing and Contrasting Islam and Hinduism to Christianity
Just as the apostle Paul witnessed to the Greeks, Christians are called to witness to their culture in the same way. The Greeks had an unknown god that they worshipped and Paul taught that Jesus was this unknown god (Acts 17:23). In today's culture, in order for Christians to witness successfully they must understand the two religions that are rapidly growing in popularity; Hinduism and Islam. Christians must understand what god(s) these religions worship and be able to witness to them without destroying their faith entirely. It is not necessary to destroy their faith entirely because Hinduism and Islam have truths that are similar to Christianity. Being able to point out these similarities between their religions and explaining it is all it takes to witness successfully.
The origins of Hinduism make it the oldest religion in the world. It has two founding civilizations. The earliest civilization dates back to 3000 B.C. and was called the Indus civilization. They were a sophisticated culture and an agricultural society. Since the economy of the Indus relied on the land they would pray to goddesses of fertility to bless the land with good harvest. Bale-stamping and clay art forms showed that the Indus were a religious civilization. One bale-stamping seal previewed the god Shiva (Younger and Younger 14). The second civilization that founded Hinduism was the Rig Vedic civilization dating back to 1500 B.C. The Rig Vedic's composed a hymn book called the Rig Veda, and its language is still recited today by Hindu's even though most do not understand it. Texts written by the Rig Vedic civilization are called "The Veda," and are considered sacred by Hindu society. Both the Indus and Rig Vedic civilizations founded the early Hindu religion by providing art forms which predated gods, and through writing texts that are now sacred.
There are hundreds of gods in Hinduism, but it is widely accepted that there is a Hindu Triad; one supreme being in the form of three gods. Brahman is believed to be the supreme being, a three-in-one god (McDowell and Stewart 283). Brahma is the first god of the triad and is the creator. Vishnu is second in the triad and is the preserver. Shiva is the final god in the triad and is the destroyer. Many of the other gods that Hindu's believe in tend to be consorts, or gods in the triad in other forms that come to assist the earth in times of crisis.
Brahman is not viewed as a god by Hindu's but a "hidden essence underlying the cosmic forces"(Younger and Younger 38). Hindu teachers argue that Brahman exists in and is the very deepest consciousness a person can reach. However the mind cannot reach it alone, but with atman. Atman is the soul or true self. Only by unerstanding ones atman can they enter this deep consciousness.
In the Hindu triad or trinity, the first god is Brahma and is known as the creator. Brahma himself was first born when Brahman, "wishing to create the universe, created water in which he placed his seed. This seed transformed into a golden egg, from which Brahma appeared" (Cristescu 1). With the help of Brahma's wife, Saraswati, the earth was created because she is the "embodiment of nature" (Cristescu 2). Brahma also created the inner creativeness of human nature. He is not as commonly worshiped as the other two gods, Vishnu and Shiva; however statues of him are in Hindu temples.
Vishnu is the second god in the Hindu Triad and known as the preserver or sustainer. Whenever a crisis arises in the universe, Vishnu aids in solving the problem in the form of a consort or avatar. An avatar is a creature or form that is best suited to solve a problem. For example, Vishnu came to earth as Christ to show the earth brotherly love. Vishnu has also been a fish, a tortoise, boar, or man/lion, a dwarf and even Buddha. Many Hindu's worship different consorts of Vishnu...
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Holy Bible. Trans. New Living Translation. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 2004.
McDowell, Josh, and Steward, Don. Handbook of Today 's Religions. United States of America: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983.
Lindemans, Micha F. Shiva. [Online] Available http://www.pantheon.org/articles/s/shiva.html, June 15, 2006.
Vucinich, Wayne S. "Islam." Collier 's Encyclopedia. 1991 ed., Vol. 13, pp. 310-314.
Younger, Paul, and Younger, Susanna Oommen. Hinduism. Illinois: Argus Communications, 1978.
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