Hinduism and Christianity are religions that have existed in the world for a very long time now. Each of the religions have many followers depending on the area of presence Hinduism is a religion that is commonly known as Sanatana Dharma meaning eternal religion and Varnasramadharma which emphasizes the fulfillment of duties and responsibilities that are prescribed by both the class and the stage that one is in. It is the perennial faith for the Hindus. It is one of the oldest among the religions that are practiced in the world and still is today amidst the dharma faith. This paper discusses the distinctive aspects, similarities and differences of the two religions.
Hinduism is characterized and comprised of a diverse array of beliefs, scriptures and practice system. It originated from the ancient Vedic culture back in 2000 BC. It is estimated to be the third world largest religion in the world having about 940 million people. 96 percent of these people reside in Indian subcontinent. If the yoga followers are included the religion carries about 1.05 billion people in the whole world (Dogra and Dogra, 2003).
It has neither traceable founder nor a date when it originated. The authors and the dates of the sacred texts of the Hinduism religion are unknown. Hinduism is not a homogenous organized religion. Most of its followers are committed followers of Shiva whom they look at as the only true God. Others refer in ward to the divine self that is called atman. Most of its followers identify the existence of Brahman as the unifying factor and the reality responsible for all that lives.
Hinduism religion is thought to have its name originating from the Persian word Hindu which means river. It was used by outsiders to refer to people of the Indus river valley. Hindu practice distinguishes itself from other religions by encouraging its followers to be tolerant to other people with different beliefs. This is because the religion posits that temporal systems cannot assert solitary understanding of one transcendental truth (Hawley and Narayanan, 2006).
The followers respect the Brahmans and the Vedas while some others consider only one of the two authorities. The religious life of its followers is devoted to God or gods, meditation and duties of the family life.
The first sacred writings of Hinduism were mostly about the ritual sacrifices to numerous gods who acted as representatives of the forces of nature. After the development of the Vedanta philosophy, new belief and custom systems came up from Hinduism forming Buddhism and Jainism.
The Hinduism tolerance to diversity in belief made it acceptable to many persons in the west as an alternative to most the religion in the west. Although Hinduism got a relatively few converts from the west, its thought and practice influenced the west indirectly as seen in the development of new religions such as the hare Krishna and new age. Indian beliefs and practices such as the chakra and the yoga system were incorporated in books that covered health and spiritual issues. The Hindu followers worship in the temple.
Christianity has been defined as a monotheistic set of values and practices that are primarily based on the Old Testament and the wisdom of Jesus Christ as brought out in the New Testament.The Christian religion is monotheistic in nature. It has its belief in one God who created the entire earth and all that is in it. Different groups of people that support Christianity place different weight on the three issues but they all put their beliefs in them. The Christian religion is divided into two groups; the Catholics and the Protestants.
Christians believe in the holy trinity that is comprised of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The followers of the Christian faith believe that the three are contained in one God almighty.
Followers of the Christian religion worship in the church. Christians consider that man was created in the likeness of God. Those human beings are both physical and spiritual beings who are rational, are able to establish relationships with one another and are capable of making wise decisions (Bainton, 2000).
Christianity bases its belief on Jesus Christ. That he is the son of God who was sent to the world to come and save the human kind from sin and their inequities to the righteousness and love of God. That he descended died, resurrected and ascended in to heaven where God is.
It emphasizes on the free conscience of a free person in a free community. Christianity is not just bout morality. It is about repentance and the relationship with Jesus Christ as man`s savior. The three most significant features of Christianity encompass the axial role of human freedom of serving their God. People are allowed to make willingly their choices about servitude.
Secondly, that man should devout things that belong to God to Him. This is clearly shown in Ceaser`s story in the bible. That all things that belong to God Should be given unto Him.
Thirdly, the recognition that man often does what he is not supposed to do and do not do the things that he is supposed to do. This is manifested as sins that are supposed to be repented for so that God may have mercy and forgive the sinners.
What should be clear is the unity of humanity as reality and persistence of differences without which permanent and deep unity and affection could not be there.
Hinduism and Christianity share some form of similarity. The goals that are brought out from the two religions are alike. This touches more on issues of after life, heaven, and the goodness that people should display. Both the two religions encourage people to do good while on earth so that after their death they may go to heaven. It however they engage in bad deeds they will go to hell where there is suffering. The believers of the two religions are supposed to be perfect on their spiritual lives. This is seen in Hinduism Moksha and Christianity`s heaven.
Christianity teaches about the teachings of Jesus Christ regarding the goodness as a means of measuring right and wrong. This is the same with Hinduism teachings on karma. The two religions both teach about soul and sin cleansing with emphasis on water.
Christianity has its belief in the holy trinity that is encompass of God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit. Hinduism has a similar belief in the role and responsibility of its many gods. Hinduism has three primary gods that some Hindus believe work as one in Brahman. Most Hindus believe that all gods and goddesses work as absolute reality referred to as Clemmons.
In Christian churches there is always water at every entrance to bless persons with the love of God and to be cleansed before getting into the church. In Hinduism worshippers cleanse in communal baths before getting to the temples for prayer.
Hinduism talks about Maya and atman which corresponds to Christianity concepts of grace and sin. These aspects are linked to the relationship of Christians with the coming of Jesus Christ to the world and Brahman on the part of Hindus.
Despite having similarities, Hinduism and Christianity have differences. Hinduism recognizes Christianity as a valid religion with the same goal like its own. Hinduism considers all other religions as different ways that lead to the same end unlike Christianity that does not consider any other religion as valid. This is brought clearly through the teachings of Jesus Christ that state that no one will enter in heaven except through him, the way, truth and life.
The eventual Hinduism ideal is mysticism which is basically a matter of intellect, consciousness and intuitiveness. Christianity on the other hand encourages sanctity which has to do with God`s will and love (Caldwell, 2010).
Eastern religions Hinduism being one of them are understandable from within only by the few people who share the understanding which makes Hinduism esoteric. It has many levels of truth comprising of sacred cows, reincarnation and monism. Western religions, Christianity being a party are exoteric, democratic and open to everyone.
Hinduism is a religion that is evolving. It has no known founder unlike Christianity that has Jesus Christ as its central entity. Hinduism has no exact time that it started or was founded. Hindus believe that everything is part of God whether right or wrong and thus to them God is manifested in both good and evil. Christians on their side consider that God did not create evil but instead gave man a free will to exercise what he feels good for himself but with a price to pay.
Hinduism as an eastern religion and Christianity as a western religion have distinctive features that make them stands out from each other. The two religions have some similarities that link them together as well as differences that clearly separate them. Even though they have differences and similarities, Hinduism exists in the west just like Christianity exists in the east. It is only that they are minimally established in those areas. The two religions have existed in the world for over two thousand years and will still be there in the coming years.
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Hawley, S. J. & Narayanan, V. (2006). The Life of Hinduism. California: University of California Press.
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Caldwell, R. (2010). Christianity and Hinduism. New York: BiblioLife.