World Religions Report 1
Check-Point: World Religions Report
Robert J. Nicol
RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD/ HUM/130
October 2, 2011
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In India, the traditional religion is Hinduism, it is also one of the worlds’ oldest and most organized religions it has an approximately seven hundred and fifty followers today and has been around for over five thousand years. Hinduism, like many indigenous; believe in many deities, each deity has a different meaning, they represent the different aspect of the paths of life. Like the deities in Odinism; the gods and goddesses at in their symbolic forms. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion; there are many god within their beliefs. It believes that God exists in the soul of all humans, plants, trees, and animals. Mullatti, L. (1995).
In many parts of India today, like in the past many of the people of India were poverty stricken, many died from sicknesses and lack of food. Hinduism gave them hope! Hinduism is a world recognized religion, but its followers consider it more of a way of life then a religion.
The traditions and lore of the Hindu’s has been past down from the elders and pasted on to their young for generations as in all indigenous religions.
Hinduism has been around for thousands of years, Christianity has also been around for thousands of years (Waspanish, (2006).There are many differences and similarities between Hinduism and Christianity, such as Hinduism is a pantheistic religion compared to Christianity being a theistic religion. Hinduism and Christianity have many beliefs and practices. “Hinduism accepts and embraces Christianity as a valid religion as Christianity believes that they are the one
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and only true religion.” (http://www.allaboutreligion.org/comparison-christianity-and-hinduism-faq.htm)
Hinduism is an evolutionary religion whereas Christianity is one of revelatory. Hinduism is constantly evolving, whereas Christianity follows the scriptures of the Bible. Jesus is considered the founder of Christianity, Hinduism has not particular person that is considered as its founder.
When C.S. Lewis converted to Hinduism, he investigated the different world’s religious and narrowed his choice down to Hinduism or Christianity. Religions are like soups, he said. Some, like consomme, are thin and clear (Unitarianism, Confucianism, modern Judaism); others, like minestrone, are thick and dark (paganism, “mystery religions”). Only Hinduism and Christianity are both “thin” (philosophical) and “thick” (sacramental and mysterious). But Hinduism is really two religions: “thick” for the masses, “thin” for the sages. Only Christianity is both. (Kreeft, P, (1987)
Hinduism is more than a religion; it is a way of life that concerns itself more with spirituality and enlightenment of the essence of life. One of the most important elements of these religions is their history. The Hindu religion disputably began around 2500 years before the Common Era (B.C.E.) in India. It was geographically based along the Indus River, which was called “Hindu” by the Persians who had migrated there. They also called the land Hindustan and it’s inhabitants, Hindus. After that, the religion that followed was called Hinduism. Today, almost 800 million people practice the Hindu religion.
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There are two ways in which People follow Hinduism; one, they are born into it and two, it is their choice to follow the Hindu belief. Hindu’s do not believe in trying to convert people to Hinduism whereas the Christians believe that it is their duty to bring people into Christianity in order to save them from damnation.
The Hindu’s believe in Karma which generally means; that if you do good deeds towards other then you will receive good in return. Another believe within the Hindu religion is reincarnation they believe that the body dies and is reborn over and over. As each soul is reborn the mind remains the same and the soul of each new body grows closer to divinity or God like. Hindus also believe in Moksha, which means that they can achieve freedom from the limitations of space, time, and matter through realization of the Immortal Absolute (Fisher, M. P., 2005).
Hindu’s practice meditation and different forms of yoga’s, they do this in order to obtain oneness with divinity, to become one with themselves and the cosmos. Many Hindu’s will follow a guru, such as; Paramahansa Yogananda, Muktananda and Sri Ramakrishna. A guru is a spiritual teacher or leader that assists in their devotee’s enlightenment.
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From the time they are born up until they die, a Hindu’s life is surrounded by the rituals of their religion. They have rituals for conception, birth, name-giving, starting education, , marriage, and death. Every event within a Hindu’s life has a ritual that is dedicated to that aspect of their life. The Hindu’s are very dedicated to the worship of their deities. So much that they look upon their images and statues as living beings. Their goal is to continually elevate the person above his or her basically animal nature. (Fisher, M. P., 2005).
Within the Hindu society there were five social groups, the priests were at the top level (Brahmins), under them were the nobles (kshatriyas) and then came the common man (Vaishyas) and then came the shudra, these were the laborers or handy men and the lowest person were the untouchables, these are the ones that nobody wished to be around because of their smell.
There are two set of scriptures that the Hindus’ follow, one is the Epics and the other is Puranas. There are two major epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata; the Ramayana is in poetic form, it is believed to be based on old ballads, myths and ancient lore. The Ramayana depicts stories of good and evil, teaches values and the responsibility one has towards others. The Mahabharata is in the form of verses. The story teaches the importance of sons, the duties of kingship, the benefits of ascetic practice and righteous action, and the qualities of the gods. Fisher, M. P. (2005)
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The Puranas, are in poetic form like the Ramayana, the Puranas are about the myths and deeds of the three gods Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva.
The following interview was conducted in order to gain insight of the Hindu religion from a person who follows and lives the Hindu Way of life.
I have known Mary for over five years now; I first met her when she moved next door to me here in Jensen Beach Florida. In the beginning we would sit outside and talk about different movies and/ or different things that we had done during our lives. One day I had gotten a peek into her apartment and noticed some of the strange statutes that she had, when I asked her about them, she stated that she was into the Hindu religion. We ended up dating and then moved in with each other.
When this assignment was presented I went to Mary and asked if she would be willing to allow me to interview her, about her religious believes; and these are the questions that I presented to her at that time.
Bobby: How do you get into Hinduism?
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Mary: I have been in it most of my life. My mother is into the Hindu religion and she raised me and my brothers under this philosophy
Bobby: Do you believe in any god other than those of your faith?
Mary: Even though I prefer to follow the Hindu faith, after living with you I have found that faith in any religion and the existence of God or gods is a matter of preference and I do believe that there are other Gods out there.
Bobby: Do you think that pagan gods are any less real then the Christian god?
Mary: If a person believes that their gods do exist then how can I say that they do not exist. My gods are very real to me, and your gods are real to you. Whether it is the Christian God or pagan gods, they are real to the people who believe in them.
Bobby: How did you choose your guru?
Mary: I followed the same guru that my mother did for years, but I never did feel any kind of a bond with his teaching, so I started reading books by other gurus until I found Paramahansa Yogananda.
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Bobby: Do you think that your religion is the only true path.?
Mary: There is no such thing as one true path, if there was then there would not be so many religions in the world. Look at Christianity, even a religion that believes in the same God, are divided into many different sects.
Bobby: If there are some many different religions then how do you know that what you believe is truth?
Mary: I may be wrong, but it what I believe and it feels right to me.
Bobby: Why do you feel that you have to believe in any form of religion?
Mary: It helps me to feel good about myself, and to keep my mind and soul in sync.
Bobby: How can we be sure that there is actually a divine being?
Mary: Just about every religion proclaims a divine being or beings, but we can never honestly be sure that there is actually one. In the religious sense, it is the divine being that gives us hope that there is something bigger than us out there.
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Bobby: Are you following the religion of your parents or the religion the dwells within your heart?
Mary: My mother believes in the Hindu belief, but I follow it because it is my heart and it feels right for me
Bobby: Would you be willing to study and follow another indigenous religion for one year without bias towards that belief?
Mary: I know about Odinism and some aspects of the Christian religion. I would study other religions as long as I am not required to give up my Hinduic beliefs.
Bobby: What are the important holidays and traditions of this religion?
Mary: There are just too many to name and to describe them all, but to name a few that are important to me are; Krishna Janmashtammi, this is the day of Krishna’s birth, then; we have the Spring Festive of Holly and the Diwalli; the festival of the lights and many, many more.
Bobby; How has religion shaped your life?
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Mary: I do not believe that it has shaped my life as much as it has given me a more solid ground and perspective in dealing with life.
Bobby; What are the challenges, if any, to practicing this particular religion?
Mary: There are not any challenges to practicing Hinduism, the only challenges that I deal with is when talking to other people, they look at me like I am weird or something. Most people do not understand it, so when I try to tell them about it they usually just walk away from me.
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Comparison Christianity and Hinduism – What are the differences?
Fisher, M. P. (2005), Living religions (6th ed.), New Jersey: Prentice Hall Inc.
Kreeft, P, (1987), “Comparing Christianity & Hinduism.” National Catholic Register
Mullatti, L. (1995). Families in India: Beliefs and realities, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 26(1), 11; Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Waspanish, (2006), Compare and contrast Hinduism and Christainity.