Russian and longs for the day she can speak with these young people without an interpreter. In any other spare time she enjoys making quilts, reading and walking. – Introduction Christians and Hindus have vastly different worldviews. In fact, one is actually born a Hindu rather than becoming one by choice. People are not Christians by virtue of their birth, their family or their nationality. Herein lies some of the difficulty that Hindus have in understanding the Christian view of salvation. What does salvation mean for each, from what is each being saved, and to what are they being saved?
How does each group view sin and the after life? It is firstly important to discuss some of the differing viewpoints before one can begin to explain the Christian view of salvation to a Hindu. At first it seems that a huge gulf exists between the two groups. How can a Christian understand the Hindu viewpoint when Christians choose to make a decision to follow Jesus? We need to consider various aspects of the Hindu view of “salvation” as well as the Christian concept of salvation. In addition, the biographies of two former Hindus provide additional insights into these questions. Hindu view of Salvation
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Hindus view salvation differently to Christians. For Hindus the problem is attachment to the material aspects of this world. Within Hinduism, a person aims to be relieved of the endless cycle of reincarnations and be released into the great One, Brahmas, to become synonymous with this ultimate being. The body reincarnates from body to body until it achieves this final release which “is achieved when it is believed that no self exists in the body apart from the one universal self” (Burnett, 1992: 186). Burnett also informs us (1992:133) that attachment to the body is the issue that causes rebirth into the material world.
Knowledge and control are the prime means of winning release from the bonds of the body. Within the Hindu view of salvation this merging with the great one is really the ultimate achievement. Seen uses words and phrases such as “emancipation from the bondage of one’s body’ (Seen, 1991 : 81) and at “death his freedom from bondage is complete. Casting off the physical body, the Comparative Religion : Hinduism and Christianity By annuitant consumes much of a devout Hindus time and energy, creating the right karma in order to pass through into the next incarnation in a better position than the previous fife.
Early schools of Hindu thought claimed God used various elements to make the universe whilst not creating the basic elements. In this thinking, “liberation is attained by freeing the soul from the other elements” (Burnett, 1992: 178). Nicholls, who worked for many years in India with a missionary fellowship (in Anderson, 1985: 144) states: The aim of all Hindus is to escape from the wheel of samara and from karma itself. Mimosa, or musket, is variously translated as escape, release, liberation or emancipation. Salvation in these categories is a fundamental presupposition of all Hindu thinking.
Unless the chain of cause and effect is broken, the bondage of the soul to the process of birth, death and rebirth continues. The Hindu longs for release from life that never ends. Mimosa is release form both righteousness and unrighteousness. It is deliverance from the body-soul bondage and from the universe of time and space, for both are governed by the law of karma. The Hindu assumption is that this release is ultimately possible for all. Karma The Hindus view of sin is different to the Christian view in that “sin” is something done against oneself, not against God therefore the penalties for that “sin” are also against oneself.
This is why the Hindu has to endure repeated cycle of rebirths until they reach that desired state and escape to Nirvana or oblivion. This is why they must work to be better in their current life to improve their position for the future life and more closely gain their oneness with Brahmas. The doctrine of karma, in Hinduism, insists that sinful actions must reap their appropriate consequences (Dickson, 2005: 225). Hindus believe that you reap what you sow and that your past behavior “determines your fate in the present, and deeds in the present determine he future” (Winter and Hawthorne, 1999: 635).
In this way karma is a block to a Hindu understanding about Christian salvation. This is because grace – notably the forgiveness of sins by God’s pure mercy as demonstrated by Jesus – is an unknown concept. The “law of karma maintains that human life is locked into a web of causal relations determining both present conditions of life and future events” Monsoons, 1985: 79), therefore there is no need for repentance from guilt, sin and shame – one can simply, maybe, do better in the next reincarnation. Nothing can change anything n this life.
Manson (in Nurse, 1967: 137) notes that “the Hindu is intolerant and allergic to the idea of an Absolute truth, of an Absolute Power, coming from outside and above, as a grace asked for, as an event that Judges man and the world. ” Mimosa The ideal of mimosa is “a state of completeness, a fullness of being, free from the bondage of karma (actions) and is a freedom from endless reincarnations” (Seen, 1991 : 22-23). So from what does the Hindu need liberation? The root problem that humanity therefore faces is the inability to see the oneness of the divine self.
This essential ignorance, called avidly, binds one to everyday life with its endless cycle of birth and rebirth. However, this does have the positive benefit of allowing the worship of divinity that should culminate in true knowledge. It is true knowledge, or Joana, that brings liberation and identity with the absolute (Burnett, 1992: 183). In the Baghdad-Gait, a Hindu Textron morality, Krishna says: “The man an l, comes unto peace. This is the state of abiding in Brahmas, O son of Pariah” (Second Lesson, verses 71-2 in Seen, 1991: 24).
This was the example with which Arbitration Maharaja lived his early years. His father had been in a statue- like trance for years. Yoga had been the means through which he reached this ultimate state; a state for which the young Rabbi was being groomed and trained. He asked his mother why his father was that way and she answered: He is someone very special – the greatest man you could have for a father … He is seeking the true Self that lies within us all, the One Being, of which there is no other”(Maharaja, 2004: 14).
In response, Rabbi believed with “little understanding at first, nevertheless I soon came to believe that he had made the noblest of all choices” and others: considered IM to be in direct communication with the Brahmas. So completely had he turned within to realize the true Self that he never acknowledged any human presence, although admirers came from miles around to worship him and to lay before him their offerings of fruit and flowers, cotton cloth, and money (Maharaja, 2004: 14). This is ultimately how a Hindu seeks peace.
In a very moving way, Maharaja further describes this state from his point of view regarding his father. How often I stood in front of this extraordinary man… I knew that he had found the Bliss that Lord Krishna offered to Aragua…. T such times I felt myself to be in the presence of a god…. My father had followed Lord Krishna instructions about giving up all attachments to position, to desires, to the physical realm. No wonder people marveled and came from far and near to worship him.
It was often said … That surely he had already achieved mimosa, escaping the wheel of reincarnation. There would be no more births into this world of death for him, only the eternal Bliss of nirvana. He had entered that Highest Path… (Maharaja, 2004: 16). Importance of Yoga According to a Hindu, yoga is the path or discipline through which salvation is cached. By using certain breathing techniques and exercises, control of the mind is achieved by a peaceful and quiet spirit.
Four yoga are described on the Hoffmann Lounge website: (1) Joana yoga, the way of knowledge, employs philosophy and the mind to comprehend the unreal nature of the universe; (2) backbit yoga, the way of devotion or love, reaches salvation through ecstatic worship of a divine being; (3) karma yoga, the way of action, strives toward salvation by performing works without regard for personal gain; and (4) raja yoga, “the royal road,” makes use of meditative yoga techniques. Raja yoga is usually viewed as the highest way, but for the majority of people, who cannot become wandering monks, the other ways are considered valid.
Some practitioners of yoga take this to the extent that there is no distinction between the mind and its thoughts, everything being blurred to such a degree that they are completely unified with the Ultimate One. It was through intense practicing of yoga techniques that Arbitration Maharajah’s father entered his admired, permanent trance-like state. Maharaja imitated these techniques to achieve similar states in order to move towards that state of mimosa. He describes how he would: . Practice the Yoga of breath control, then invoke the deity I was worshipping …. Felt a mystical union with each god I worshipped. Seated before the altar, I would spend an hour in deep meditation, concentrating all attention upon the tip of my nose, until I had lost contact with the world around me and would begin to realize my essential of Sundae Sings, an Indian holy man and Christian, told her young son that peace of heart was spiritual, and his carefully chosen teachers also told him that the peace he sought would be obtained by knowledge so that “the problems he had in his mind bout it would gradually disappear” (Thompson, 1994: 15).
To improve his abilities to move towards this peace, he: started to practice yoga, mastering to some extent the technique by which he became oblivious of external things, sitting immobile that he might meditate, and even attaining, for brief spells, the peace of soul for which he yearned (Thompson, 1994: 20). Christian view of Salvation Unlike Hindu thinking, Christianity view of salvation is rooted in the Bible and is about relationship with God.
The Bible is full of statements and promises about God’s eve for his people and the plan of salvation he had put in place since the beginning of time. In fact he has planted within all of us, anywhere the desire and longing to know him and worship him (Ecclesiastic 1; Acts 17:26-28). Christians believe history is linear, not the cyclical as in the Hindu religion, and that God has brought into operation a plan and purpose for humankind that began with creation and will conclude when Jesus comes again to claim all those who chose to follow him in their earthly life.
The Old Testament records the history of the Jewish people before the amazing event that changed history for the world – the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians believe in Jesus Christ. They believe he lived to model God’s love for all humankind and that he came into the world to save sinners Noon 3:16). He saves people from their sin. Sin is anything that keeps us from a full, rich relationship with him. Sin is really our natural tendency to behave in ungodly ways usually motivated by our desire to do things independently and not co- operating in God’s plan for us.
In essence, sin is really a selfish attitude to God. Thus Christians have a concept of sin and what they are being saved from and saved to. Sotto (1971: 9) describes the situation in this way: Jesus is the heaven sent Savior we sinners need. We need to be forgiven and restored to fellowship with the all-holy God, from whom our sins have separated us. We need to be set free from our selfishness and given strength to live up to our ideals. We need to learn to love one another, friend and foe alike.
This is the meaning of salvation. This is what Christ came to win for us by his death and resurrection. One major difference between Christianity and Hinduism is the concept of grace. Grace is a freely given expression of God’s love and mercy to us, his people, sinners nevertheless, who can experience his pardon for our sins as an act of his enormous love for us despite our sinful tendencies that separate us from his holiness and create a rift in our relationship with him.
We don’t deserve this gift but he is merciful. We don’t earn this as a reward for our good, humane efforts but as an example of his love for us. Though it is easy to say, Christians need to be stunning examples of this grace and mercy particularly to our non-Christian neighbors and friends, including Hindus, who often live in fear ND reprobation from their many gods that need appeasing through sacrifices of offerings, rituals and other practices and exercises such as yoga and meditations.
For those wishing to restore their fellowship with God, to enjoy the riches of his above mentioned grace and mercy and to enter into the reward and anticipation of eternal life with him, the Holy Spirit working in their life stimulates a realization of their them from enjoying a satisfying relationship with God, confession of that guilt needs to occur. Hughes (1983: 167) states: “l define repentance, therefore, as telling God one s sorry for having displaced Him from one’s life, and that now He is to be allowed into one’s life to rule and reign as one’s rightful Lord”.
Christians believe that it is Jesus who is the one who bridges the gap between us and God and that God’s Holy Spirit works within us to draw us closer to God and to support us in our Christian lives. For the Christian, sin must be dealt with because it has serious consequences. Romans 3:23 tells us “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. ” But for the Hindu, as Rideau (1979: 82) notes: Good and evil are relative terms. Whatever alps is good; whatever hinders is vice.
Man cannot help “stumbling” over these obstacles as he strives to know himself. If he cannot succeed in this life, he may try again in reincarnated form. When we try to live independently of God, our own efforts to reconcile our situation and the consequences it brings are often to difficult to bear despite the instructions of many thinkers and the philosophies of the Hindu and other religions. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life Noon 14:6) and salvation in this way is the good news that Hindus need to hear.
No other name saves us (Acts :12) and there is no other way to God except through Jesus Cohn 14:6). No laws can be followed which enable us to be saved (Galatians 3:21-22) and our salvation cannot be worked for, though good works should accompany a decision to follow Jesus (Ephesians 2:8,9). Overall, the Hindu way of salvation means detachment from the world. Problems for a Hindu in understanding the Christian way of salvation A Hindu comes to salvation, realization, freedom, release in a different manner to the Christian.
Hindus do not see Brahmas as a separate creator God but everything is one and it is oneness with that ultimate reality that is sought. Christians acknowledge God as separate from his creation and able to relate to it, including humankind, in a personal loving and caring manner. They understand they are “made in His image” (Genesis 1 and this makes a unique relationship between man and God. Human dignity and equality are not affirmed in Hindu society as is seen in the caste system.
God sent himself to live with us in the person of Jesus Christ, the sacrifice of whose death and shed blood ultimately, once for everyone, once for all time created the bridge, the price, the necessary payment for our sin which prevents s from successfully and deeply knowing God whom we all desire and need in our lives. Whilst Hindus may have heard of Jesus, they do not relate to him in the same way as Christians. They expend a lot of time and energy appeasing the many gods yet may still lack inner peace and harmony that Jesus brings.
Many Hindus live in torment and terror from the devilish nature of these gods. They do not experience the same concept of confession, repentance and forgiveness from their gods. Since Hinduism gives unlimited freedom to decide which way one to find God there is no deed to go outside the Hindu religion because there are plenty of ways to choose from. In the end all ways lead to God. “Hinduism is like an exotic plant with many and varied blooms.
It is not one system of beliefs, but a series of interrelated ideas” (Burnett, 1992: 70). Many Hindus believe that Just being born a Hindu and following the various practices will be sufficient along with renewed and extended effort as one progresses through possibly repeated incarnations towards mimosa and cut off from their families, damage to family reputation, termination of marital respects and physical assault and persecution (Winter and Hawthorn, 1999: 636).
Sundae Sing’s family even tried to poison his food (Thompson, 1994: 38). Other socio-cultural issues include the problem of Christians eating beef, excessive mingling of boys and girls and economic issues such as the misunderstanding that Christians are middle-class people and therefore, low-caste people hesitate to mingle with Christians even socially. Jesus Hindus believe “that God became incarnate (that is, took on human form) time and time again throughout history.
The Bible teaches that God became incarnate only once in human history. ” In addition to that, the biblical teaching and reality for Christians concerning Jesus’ death and resurrection and its powerful implications, “refutes the Hindu teaching of continuous reincarnation and the Hindu belief that Christ is Just another teacher-avatar (super-savior)” (Rideau, 1979: 80).
If Jesus understood in this way as Just another avatar (incarnation of Brahmas), a Hindu will have a great deal of difficulty separating his need of salvation from sin, as compared to salvation or release from the rigorous of daily life and then having faith in one arsenal, caring, loving God who is interested in the smallest of details of a person’s life. Caste System The social system in India and therefore the Hindu philosophy of life, has caused “discrimination based on class and caste” and “been an all-pervasive feature of Hindu life for millenniums” and “remains a powerful force in Hindu life. There are four classes and each of the classes is divided into castes. People are born into these groupings and there are rules and duties for each that cause sharp divisions between the groups that cannot be crossed (Burke, 2004: 32-37). There are four basic sates each with its own rules and obligations for living. One of the major reasons that Hindus do not convert to Christianity is that some people of the lowest castes, the untouchables, do become Christians and people of higher castes are forbidden to associate with such lower classes.
The caste system continues to exert a strong, acceptable influence in Hinduism and: imprisons millions of people in spiritual and economic poverty. This insurmountable force of fate supposedly determines the caste you were born into, and if you were born into a poor caste, there is little chance o can better your life people who are imprisoned by fatalistic world views are convinced that nothing will ever change (Winter and Hawthorn, 1999: 147).
Overall, the Hindu way of salvation means detachment from the world. Explaining the Christian view of salvation to a Hindu Let’s consider some points from an article from the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelistic in Perspectives of the World Christian Movement, (Winters and Hawthorne, 1999: 632-638). Though Hindus generally relate to Jesus as Just another avatar, there are number of ways they may be encouraged to think about Jesus and insider his interaction in their lives.
This paper has used some of the practical suggestions from this report, which talks about building bridges and identifying ways to present the Christian way of salvation too Hindu. It is important to note, as does Mall (McClure and Mall, 1989: 85), that though “Hindus are rarely won by argumentation, they are deeply impressed with love and friendship” Franken (in such a complex and many sided reality as Hinduism? ” The article continues and in regard to poverty, Hindus should be able to identify with Jesus because he was materially poor like so many Hindus.
He strongly identified with the poor and has a special message for them (Proverbs 14:31). The inequality and poverty in Hinduism because of the caste system is a cause for concern and one of the issues of disquiet for Maharaja with his inner struggle and his expected beliefs as a Hindu. The testimony of converted Hindus is a powerful way to explain the Christian way of salvation. They are religious people and identify with the outward appearances of a holy life.
Manson (in Nurse, 1967: 118) says In this case I see no other solution than the witness of converts themselves. Whenever we meet a convert, who was before a inciter member of his religion and afterwards has accepted our Christian faith, we should study the evolution of his spiritual and religious experience. Both Sundae Sings and Arbitration Maharaja traveled widely to tell others about their conversions, a powerful testament to other Hindus from people who were deeply involved in the entrapments of the Hindu religion.
The following points need to be explained with great care and respect in order not to offend and to gently lead a Hindu to make changes to their worldview, (not a generally encouraged concept). The sole authority of the Bible must be stressed without any compromise and the many loyalties of Chrism’s life will appeal to the Hindu once they are made known especially when the Hindu seeks freedom from the cycle of re-birth which his sin causes.
He must be told of the Savior Jesus Christ, who by His vicarious suffering and death on the cross triumphed over sin and has taken upon Himself the penalty of the sins of mankind” (Winter and Hawthorn, 1999: 636). The differences in views on history can be used to stress “the purposes of God in time, creation, the historical resurrection, and the coming Judgment” (Winter and Hawthorn, 1999: 636). Christians must explain salvation with clarity and respect (Winter and Hawthorn, 1999: 635).
It is sensible and sensitive to know about Hindu culture so that Hindu contexts for conversation, explanation, creative presentations and being able to answer problems, questions and needs may be addressed. The whole person, mind and heart needs to be spoken to and in such a way as to convey respect, love and concern not Just for the individual Hindu but also the community in which the person lives, remembering that an individual has an impact on that community especially when thinking or behavior changes (Winter and Hawthorn, 1999: 637).
If one is living within a Hindu society, one’s lifestyle needs to be reflective of the Christian’s commitment to that community. This last point is also important: Recognize what Hindus consider essential qualities in a spiritual leader (guru) that authenticate a person to be: willing to wait, willing to mortify his body and desires, willing to suffer pain, and willing to fast. Christian leaders with this type of spiritual qualification are a powerful means of communication (Winter and Hawthorn, 1999: 637).
Conclusion Thus, as the Hindu comes to salvation, realization, freedom, release in a completely efferent manner to the Christian, and because Jesus is seen as Just another avatar (incarnation of Brahmas) a Hindu will have a great deal of difficulty separating his need of salvation from sin as compared to salvation/ release from daily rigorous and indeed having faith in one personal, caring, loving God who is interested in the Brahmas as formless, without attributes and impersonal. Together with the many gods, Brahmas is to be appeased rather than related to.
In the end, when argument or discussion about issues of faith may not work successfully, then my attitude and lifestyle will have to be what makes a difference. Many generations of missionaries in India have struggled to penetrate the Hindu mindset but have nevertheless related to daily Hindu life. Their lives have spoken volumes about the Christian God who desires a relationship with the people he has created. Finding a point of sharing in a Hindu life and step into their lives is a valuable experience.
This is not a hopeless quest neither is it an easy one, but a commitment to prayer and actions into the lives of the Hindu folk with whom one is in relationship. As with Sundae Sings and Arbitration Maharaja, loving Christians were nearby when they were searching for answers to inconsistencies and doubts, and release and peace from the torment of many spirits associated with the Hindu religion. The peace and love that was evident in these lives was what ultimately made a difference for these men and helped secure their salvation.