Saturday, December 6, 2008

Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Buddhism Comparison - How God is viewed

Hinduism Islam Christianity Buddhism religions coexist
In this post I will begin with briefly explaining the very concept of God as explained in different religions followed by comparison of how God is viewed in different religions with how God is viewed in Hinduism.

I'll be including the major religions of the world - Islam, Christianity and Buddhism for this comparison. I was wondering if I should add Jewism as well but seems like there is not some fundamentally radical differences between Christianity and Jewism as the root or the source remains the same. (Same applies to Islam as well but I added it because it is a bit more radical than Christianity and Jewism). So the final comparison will be among Hinduism, Islam, Christianity & Buddhism. I can add Jewism and more if requested by the reader. Also, please remember that this comparison is just about how God is perceived among different religions so there is a lot more that is left out.

Islam :

Hinduism Islam Symbol Allah"Say: He is Allah, The One and Only."
"Allah, the Eternal, Absolute."
"He begets not, nor is He begotten.And there is none like unto Him."

So, basically God is some unique omnipotent type of entity. Some kind of being external to the universe that just persists, has consciousness and can do stuff. It seems to be siting up there somewhere and watching us all, maintaining records of our daily lives. Allah in no situation will do evil/wrong stuff, create demons and things and will always side with Humanity.
Also, he's bestowed humans with a book about how to live the right way. Thinking of god in some physical form is blasphemy and such a thing can't be God. Moreover, seems that converting others will add to your points gained for heavens.

Christianity :Hinduism Christianity Symbol
Almost the same as the Allah in Islam. Check out the link - http://www.submission.org/god-bible.html

Christianity also seems to have the concept of Satan which is some sort of Dark or Evil God. As powerful as the "good" God and causes evil in the world and all demons creatures are created by him as God always do good stuff.
God favors Humans and has created rest of the world for us and just us. Only humans are entitled with souls, all other lifeforms are soul less. Again it has "the" book.

Buddhism :
Hinduism Buddhism SymbolIt basically says that there is some higher power beyond doubt but its difficult for us mortals to understand it and believing or not believing in it won't change anything; what really matters to us is living our life in the right way (right way means the way in which all are happy).
It originated from Hinduism and can be thought of as the basic philosophy of all religions minus impractical idiologies.

Hinduism :
Hinduism Religion Symbol AumConception of God started in Vedic Hinduism as nature gods, like Sun God, Moon God, Wind God and so on. That was just the start of hinduism and later by the time of upanishads, philosophers removed the "nature-gods" establishing him/her/it as an all pervasive entity.

This philosophy says that God is not some entity external to the world watching us all, its basically everything and more. A possible analogy would be energy that can manifest itself in countless ways.We are free to think of it the way we want to. It can be static/unconscious and/or dynamic/conscious (jad/chetan) and it can be with or without attributes(color/shape etc saguna/nirguna) and it can be conscious or unconscious.

God is what we think He is and basically Hinduism says that God or rather this whole universe is nothing more then our perception of it (Maya). So, some invisible being sitting somewhere at the edge of universe maintaining your life history is as much God as your dog or the snow falling before me. In Hinduism, you can even start worshiping your chair! So statues are fine too if they help in any way to conceptualize God.

Infact, the Hindu Gods like Shiva, Vishnu, Hanuman etc are not considered the supreme, one and only entities as Allah or the Christian version of It......rather, they represent some very specific aspect of the supreme all pervasive being. So, everyone is free to choose gods to worship (or should I say a philosophy of life) based on his her values and interest.

Concept of Satan or Anti-God is non-existent in Hinduism and demons etc (if any) are also created and taken care of by God and the evilness of demons is also just our perceptions (for eg we can be demons for the animals/plants we eat). So, all living beings are entitled to have souls (if there are souls).

Also, lesser gods are possible and they are different from regular humans and oak trees in that they might be of different shapes/sizes/powers etc. You are free to believe what you want and even if you become atheist, still it will be all the same (no wrath of god for the blasphemy as in Islam and possibly christianity).

Since God is everything, incarnating is no big deal. There seem to be some standard incarnations, depicting various philosophies or ways to live our lives.

For eg, Rama's way - stick with your values and right and wrongs, create examples for others, this is what will create a still better society; and Krishna's way of life - what matters is your and your social circle's happiness and satisfaction, "right" is what keeps u and your loved ones alive and healthy, create your own rules, what matters is you, but do keep tab on what you do or don't do as what goes around, comes around and don't run away from what you must do (Law of karma in nutshell)......But these holy books, ideas etc are not created by God, these are all written by human beings, so you don't have to follow anything....its all upto you..... So, your being atheist or theist doesn't matter an iota to your salvation or life or anything else....its just your perception of what IS.

15 comments:

  1. Hi,
    Your little paragraph on Christianity was funny.
    The Truth is full of grace and is intelligent too, while this paragraph is far from both.

    Feel free to write to me on ffilling at ya-h00 dot com.
    God bless you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Anonymous: Thank you for the comment. Please feel free to explain (if you can) exactly why the paragraph on Christianity (or Islam for that matter) was incorrect? I'd like to know! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't think your paragraph is so wrong in essence. But it doesn't describe the Trinity. Christianity was the first spiritually micromanaging religion and it sees God as a Tri-Head i.e. The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. Christians believe there is only one way to what they call salvation, thru God's son Jesus. They interpret the creation story to mean all humans are sullied with "original sin" and invented a firey hell for unrepentant sinners, creating a desperate need to be "saved." Also in Christianity "faith" is more important that "acts' or "good works." Islam also teaches that the only one path to salvation which is their way, which is through their God which that they call Allah.

    Judaism seems to have more in common with Hinduism. However in Judaism a spiritually healthy life on earth is the emphasis. Solomon also acknowledges the spiritual life of animals. There also seems to be a strain that believe in reincarnation. Also that people must rarely go directly to "life hereafter' but most first review their lives in a place called Sheol, to see their lives as they lived it, and as they might have lived it-- to cleanse, atone, acquire wisdom (or become more conscious) and are then admitted to life hereafter (a communion with God which is ambigupus in Judaism.) What I get from this is that they believe a person is not static, that they are meant to grow and learn-- as Buddhist might see it, to become more conscious. I don't say it is the same as eastern religions, but the focus is less on the dogma and more on learning and growing. Like all religions love is at the core, "Love thy neighbor as thyself," etc...

    Well I'm no theologian but that's what I get so far. Hope it helps.

    Parker

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the very informative and excellent comment Parker! You've inspired me to write a post on Judaism vs Hinduism next, I think I'll study Judaism in more details and compare it's timelines, evolution and themes with elements in Hinduism and see if one could've been derived from the other. Thanks again for pointing the interesting conceptual similarities with Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism out.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My pleasure Ambi. When I started to research a bit I looked to see if there was any discussion about the similarities. Since Christianity and Islam are evangelical, they grew in numbers, and because of that and all the bloodshed and drama, that's where the emphasis is.

    But I did indeed find discussions of the similarities between Hinduism and Judaism.

    Another one is that neither believe in hell or that other people will be deprived of whatever afterlife exists. There is a character called Satan in Judaism however he's a servant of God not a demon. It's basically to address the, "Why me?" question. He supposedly puts obstacles in a person's path to test how well they handle life under duress.

    Another similarity I discovered was they both interpret texts and ideas philosophically. Hindu sages or priests took on bright students to discuss matters of life and likely things in the Vedic literature in depth.

    There is something similar in Judaism which has commentary on the Torah-- one such book is called the Midrash and people are encouraged in both religions to ask many questions and ponder the meaning of a subject in depth. There is also room for a divergence of opinions in both religions. No one is punished for thinking or asking a question. Although Hindus are mindblowing.

    I think that's why Hindus were so advanced in their discoveries of almost everything on the planet and perhaps why Jews lead in nobel prizes today. Mind, body and metaphysics were ALL part of a persons spiritual life.

    Good luck in your exploration.

    Parker

    Anyway good luck in your

    ReplyDelete
  6. Karma is a nice concept, but the lack of evidence indicates that it, too, is nothing more than wishful thinking.
    Plzz tell me how you will explain Hinduism to an atheist?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hello Friends,

    I think there is a bit of thing I need to say. I believe in Christ and nothing is gonna change that by whatever means you describe any religion. Coz, there are few things that are taken by root and some by experience. I should tell you that the blog post or the comments should be based on the most experienced with God (or the kind of God). I totally forbid my life with Hinduism coz, their is someone greater than the other in the throne. Throne, Kingdoms are lost stories these cannot continue this way. I am very confused as to which God to pray in Hiduism as, many (gurus) suggest if you have been affected by Shani (the punisher) then you need to pray and do the rituals to Hanuman. What non-sense? If one God (so be called) can know he has affected (first place God's make no harm but, give right things) then, why to pray to someone who needs to investigate and convince him as if he was your advocate. Sorry! Doesn't go with me! I believe the debate here should be. How best can anyone be GOOD in this world. Let's talk that. That is what GOD expects not this stupidous arguement. Anybody has any issue, then can contact me directly on my email. Not spamming around on the web. John here, john@myblogtimes.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. can you plese talk about judaism

    ReplyDelete
  9. It really doesn't matter which religion you follow. You have no right to criticize other religions. All religions preach God is one, so it doesn't matter

    ReplyDelete