Hinduism on Yahweh and Abrahamic Religions

Discussion in 'Hinduism' started by Silverbackman, Aug 18, 2005.

  1. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Ekam Sat, Vipra Bahudha Vadanti!

    One Truth, Many Paths!

    Or so that is how they say it is translated.

    How does hinduism and hindus view the God Yahweh of the Abrahamic Religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam)? Do they view Yahweh like they view Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva, a form of the ultimate reality one God called the the Bhraman? Or do they reject them as following a false God? Also how do hindus view Jesus? Do they view him as Krishna, a man who became a God or messenger of the Bhraman?

    If so can't any religious man be a hindu? A Christian for example is no different than a Shivite, who follows their messenger of the Bhraman, right?

    Please explain.
     
  2. satay

    satay New Member

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    Namaste Silver,

    Indeed you ask a lot of good questions. I will give you my opinion as Hindu. This opinion is based on general observation and in no way is the "official hindu" view whatever that may mean to you.

    Ekam Sat Vipra...indeed means that there is Only ONE Truth...that's truth with a capital T. But the second part tells us that there are "many" ways to get to this Truth or to realize this truth.

    Sanatan Dharma adherents believe that whatever path leads one closer to GOD is a valid path. That’s the basic philosophy of Sanatan Dharma.

    As early as the time of Rig-Veda the rishis recognized the eternal unity of Existence which holds in its embrace all that has come to be. This seamless unity pervades the universe yet remains beyond it. All Gods, men and subhuman beings are part of it. This unchanging reality behind the universe is called Brahman by the vedic philosophers. The same indestructible spirit in man is called Atman. This Brahman and Atman are identical in nature is the first principle to digest.

    There is no official view on the concept of God in abrahamic religions. This reason is simply because at the core of Sanatan Dharma it’s saying that whatever path leads one closer to GOD that path is a valid path as I said earlier.

    Yahweh is not viewed as Brahman and rightfully so. GOD as viewed by Christians and muslims has a lot of “human” like qualities e.g. anger, jealousy etc. Most hindus simply don’t know about the concept of GOD of abrahamic religions. I will probably get hit over the head for saying this but those who know about it including myself think that it is a childish concept. The abrahamic concept of GOD has nothing special to offer to Hindus or other dharma adherents including Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains.

    Hindus can not and will not say that Yahweh is a false god. In fact, the description of Yahweh fits nicely with some other hindu gods like Yamraj and Indra who display qualities of anger, jealousy etc.

    Krishna is not a prophet or a man God or a messenger of Brahman. Krishna is Brahman himself with attributes. Basically, the Vedas and Upanishads describe Brahman as having two aspects; the one without any qualifying characteristics and the other endowed with qualities. The former is called Nirguna and the later is known as Saguna. But they are both Brahman.

    Jesus has no special place and official place in the Hindu God system. Most Indians don’t even know about him. To others he is a figure no more powerful than His Holiness Dalai Lama or other realized yogis that are abundant in India. The miracles that Jesus seem to have done are nothing special to Hindus or for the eastern population for that matter.

    Indeed, the answer to your last question is summed up in this hindu saying, “All men are born Hindus!” meaning that we are all Dharma adherents the only difference is that some are aware of it and some are not. This is due to our spiritual capacity which in turn depends on Karma.

    To sum this up, Sanatan dharma adherents do not deny any person or religion or path or cult or whatever group or organization that helps one’s spiritual growth. Ultimately, we are all going towards Brahman; if it’s happening with our knowledge or without that is irrelevant…it’s all a matter of number of lives.

    Satay
     
  3. Devadatta

    Devadatta New Member

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    Hi Satay. I'd like to thank you for this clear summary of Sanatan dharma, both for its contribution to this forum, which could use much more input from Asian traditions, and because it allows me to express my own debt to the tradition.

    To me the irony of the Indian tradition in general (and here I'm including the heterodox systems such as Buddhsim) is that what looks superficially so dauntingly complex and hydra-headed is in essence as clear and straightforward as you here describe it. The irony of the Judeo-Christian religious sphere in which I grew up is exactly opposite: the supposed clarity of monotheism is vastly complicated by enforced creeds, beliefs, and the unsustainable notion of scriptural inerrancy. The result is a vast & forbidding edifice more resembling competing systems of power than gateways to the effable. Particularly puzzling to me as a young person was this potent mix of the intellectual heritage of the Greeks with the purest of irrationalities. Whereas in Sanatan dharma it's fairly generally understood that there are various levels of expression for the same reality, from simple devotionalism to more philosophic notions, in the Judeo-Christian world these distinctions were much less clear to me. I could easily find what I considered primitive or superstitious notions embedded in the most sophisticated of settings.

    Now, I don't want to overstate the case, and certainly this is only my personal take on things. Nor do I want to get into all the political & social ramifications of the two traditions and their relative merits. Here I'm talking narrowly about core religious ideas. And when as a teenager I came across a copy of the Bhagavad Gita in the library I felt I had finally came across a text that spoke directly about the whole phenomenon of religion. My impression of the Indian tradition was that it had sorted out all the possible variants of religious life while maintaining the coherence of a few simple over-arching ideas. In the years since, this first impression has only solidfied. To paraphrase the Buddha, here was an open-handed not closed-fist way of teaching.

    One final irony: my readings in the Indian tradition have provided the perspective to help me be more sympathetic to the Western, Judeo-Chrisian tradition and to better understand its core truths, especially the gospel of Jesus. It's the kind of perspective that's very difficult to achieve within the tradition itself, whose competing sects effectively thwart a comprehensive view. (In this sense, the Pope might be better off sending Catholics to India for comparative religion training. He would lose some, but probably gain many back. After all, religious practice is ultimately much more efficient based on inherited cultural forms than on borrowed ones. In the end, off-the-wall as this sounds, such a move would probably be more effective than the current siege-like mentality found sometimes among Catholics.)

    Anyway, thanks again for your fine summary. Maybe the resemblance of "Sanatan" and "sanity" is more than chance.

    Shanti
     
  4. Abogado del Diablo

    Abogado del Diablo Ferally Decent

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    Shanti,

    Oustanding post. It was like reading an account of my own journey (except substitute Taoism, Anthropology and Mythology for "Indian tradition" as the vehicles that allowed me to come back and finding the meaning in Christianity)

    Thanks.
     
  5. Devadatta

    Devadatta New Member

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    Much appreciated.

    BTW, I've just had a read through of some of your posts re gnosticism & the early history of Christianity. Excellent & informative stuff. Like you I'm a fan of the Gospel of Thomas and share your perspectives on institutions and on where authentic spiritual experience is to be found (mostly in unofficial sources).

    Viva las herejias creativas! If that's proper Spanish.

    Cheers.
     
  6. satay

    satay New Member

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    Hello Devadatta,
    Thank you for your kind words. I am however, not qualified to speak about Sanatana Dharma. I just give my opinion from time to time if someone asks. You are right though. I have many friends who were christians but never found the 'peace' of mind that they were looking for. It wasn't until they learnt how to meditate and looked at the message of Dharma religions that they finally understood the message of Christ! My wife is one such person!!
    She is a more devout Christian now than ever!

    satay
     
  7. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Just came back from vacation. Satay are you from the Hindu Universe Forum;).

    Thanks all of you for the wonderful replies. Interesting concepts some of you braught up, it seems that hinduism made some of you or friends more understanding of the teachings of the monotheistic religions such as Christianity.

    So basicly hindus neither confirm nor deny Christ, but accept Christianity as another path to the Brahman.

    Can someone eleborate a bit more on how it helps people find the role of Christ? Is it because it shows the deeper meaning in Christianity as well as Yahweh faiths?
     
  8. satay

    satay New Member

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    yes, I am! Have we talked there before? Sorry, my memory is full of holes! :)

    Yes, that's basically it. In fact, it doesn't matter if it is christianity or buddhism (where no God exists)....the idea is based on natural laws. E.g. does gravity care if we believe in it or not, neither does Brahman! :)

    We are all here due to our past karma and the only way to get out of the cycle is to surrender all actions to the God, Truth or whatever you want to call it.

    satay
     
  9. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Yes we have, your the one who gave me the "Ekam Sat, Vipra Bahudha Vadanti!" quote on that forum;).

    It seems more realistic to me that the most high God (like the Brahman) wouldn't care what the heck goes on Earth. Why would the most high care?

    Anyways, does that mean there are no consequences for our actions? If the Brahman doesn't care what we do where does law come into this.

    BTW, is that what Shiva and Vishnu are used for? Also what exactly happens when you die in Hinduism? I heard that you reincarnate into a different organism, depending on how good your life is. Also does karma have effect after you have been reincarnated?

    Also, does that mean that Christians actually die and go to heaven or hell? I mean if hindus are correct in their concepts doesn't that mean when we die we all go through the same rebirths, not any heaven or hell? Ot does Yahweh, an agent of the Brahman twist the law of natures to his own liking?
     
  10. I am free

    I am free And anything is possible

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    Hello Silverbackman,

    I am not an expert in Hindu philosophy, but I would like to answer your questions to the best of my understanding.

    You ask:
    One of the basic tenets of hinduism is the "law of karma". The literal translation of *karma* would be *action*. Simply put it means *All that happens to us in our life, is a result of our actions* You could call this the 'law of natural consequences'. Newton very simply captured this fundamental natural law in his third law which states "Every Action has an equal and opposite reaction".

    Stephen Covey in his book 'The 7 Habits of highly effective people' states his first habit as 'Be proactive'. Summarising what he says "We are responsible for everything that happens in our life. We and we alone are responsible for our happiness."

    I see the "karma" being preached everywhere, although in different forms.

    You also ask:
    Sometimes our karma has immediate results. If we study, we pass our exams, for example. Sometimes it seems that people even get away with murder literally speaking. What happens to our good and bad karma which do not seem to show any immediate effect? I believe they get accumulated.

    Sometimes we receive an unexpected windfall or reward. Sometimes we have to undergo very great pain/suffering for no apparent fault of ours. I believe all this is due to our accumulated karma.

    The soul travels from one living body to another (re-incarnation) till it can free itself of its karma and become one with the supreme. I believe that accumulated karma most definitely is *carried over* to our next life and even to lives after that until it is 'spent'. It is also quite possible that throughout it's journey the soul enters many different kinds of life forms on this planet or on others.

    I have been a half-hearted believer of the re-incarnation theory. However over the past couple of years, as I studied karma and how it works, re-incarnation makes a lot of sense to me. How do we explain the inequalities that we see today? Some are born rich, some poor, some are born with physical or mental challenges? Surely I feel this is a result of past karma. How do we explain the deaths of infants? What happens to their souls? How do we explain natural disasters, human suffering, poverty, disease and accidents? For me the explanations lie in karma and re-incarnation.

    My idea of God is all forgiving and full of love. I cannot reconcile this with the idea that God would banish me to an eternity in hell for a lifetime of errors in judgement.

    I do not wish to offend your beliefs, so please forgive me. I cannot say with absolute certainty that re-incarnation is what happens after life but this is what 'works' for me.
     
  11. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Hi Silver,



    I am new to this group, but I will try to answer your questions from my understanding of traditional Hinduism.



    In the traditional understanding of Hinduism (Shaivite, Shakta and Vaishnavite schools), Brahman is only one aspect of the Supreme Lord. Brahman is the impersonal, inscrutable aspect beyond all creation and manifestation. In addition, the Lord also has two other perfections: the all-pervasive Paramatman or Sacchidananda, and the Supreme Personality, Parameshwara or Bhagavan. The accepted form of Parameshwara in Saivism is Siva, Vishnu in Vaishnavism, and Shakti is Shaktism. The three perfections are considered eternal. Vaishnavite doctrine also accepts a fourth, incarnational form of Parameshwara (Krishna or Rama). Hindu worship is always directed toward the Parameshwara form. So Vishnu and Siva are used as the personal aspects of God in Vaishnavism and Saivism respectively.



    Since no school of Hinduism specifically discusses the fate of non-Hindus after death, the default opinion is that the fate of non-Hindus is the same as that of Hindus. Depending on one’s karmas, one goes to the “next world” which is either heavenly or hellish. Hindu texts describe seven hellish worlds below and six heavenly worlds above the plane of the physical world (above and below in the spiritual sense). Once we reap the fruits of the karmas, we incarnate back on the Earth into a physical body. So neither heaven nor hell is permanent. You may incarnate into a body of a different organism depending on your karmas, but no karma is incurred in heaven or hell. Karmas continue to affect us until they are resolved.



    The acts of worship of God and the Mahadevas (such as Ganesha, who reside in the highest heaven) only work to inspire us to do better deeds, resolve our karmas, and be more spiritually oriented. Worship, devotion, meditation, etc. are all supposed to guide us to the eventual goal of God-realization leading to liberation. In traditional Hinduism (as opposed to liberal branches), liberation is not just earned by the individual soul, but also bestowed by the grace of God.

    I am not an expert, but this is my understanding.

    Agnideva.


     
  12. I am free

    I am free And anything is possible

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    Hi Agniveda,

    Thankyou so much for your very informative post.The concept of heaven and hell in Hinduism was something I was not aware of.

    So if we reap the fruits of the karmas in heaven or hell, do they affect us on earth? Are our circumstances the events that occur in our lives due to karma at all?
     
  13. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Yes, our past karmas continue to affect us in future lives. In “Ask the Advaitin” thread there was a nice explanation of karma by Indogenes (post #7). Only part of our sanchita karma is resolved in the heavenly or hellish worlds. The rest of our sanchita karma is to be experienced here on earth. The part of sanchita karma we are to experience in an individual lifetime is known as prarabda karma. But in each lifetime, we keep incurring more karma (positive and negative) known as kriyamana karma, which will partly determine the future events in this lifetime and others to come.



    Agnideva.

     
  14. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Hey Agnideva, thanks for the explanation.

    So there is a heaven and hell in hinduism? I did not know that, always thought it just had reincarnation. Which hindu texts say this? And how long is heaven and hell?
     
  15. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Hi Silver,



    You're welcome!

    The concept of heaven (svarga) and hell (naraka) is definitely there in Hinduism. However, these concepts are rarely discussed because going to these transient worlds is not the goal. One should neither work to attain heaven, nor fear hell. It is expected though that the period between death and the successive birth will be spent in one of these transient worlds. Heaven and hell are mentioned in many different texts. Heaven is mentioned in the Vedas for sure. Some of the Upanishads also speak of heaven and hell. The Bhagavad-Gita definitely speaks of heaven and hell, and so do the Agama texts. But the most detailed classification of the heavens and hells is found in the epics and the puranas, which are of course secondary texts.


    Reality (creation) is generally divided into three planes: physical, astral and causal. The three planes are further divided into fourteen worlds (seven hells, physical world, six heavens). The seven hells and three lower heavens are in the astral plane, and the upper three heavens are in the causal plane. All these worlds are populated by different beings. In the Agama texts, the fourteen worlds of existence are also associated with the fourteen chakras (energy centers) of the body.



    How long one spends in a heaven or hell depends on what karma you are there to work off. Some Hindu mystics have said that the period between death and the next birth may be a few months or hundreds of earth years. According to the puranic cosmology, the concept of time is also different in other worlds. For example, every unit of time for the Devas is said to be 360 times longer than ours.



    Agnideva.

     
  16. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    Agnideva interesting info! I always did believe that heaven and hell did exsist, but not for eternity considering after so many years we might get too boared and stuff. It definatley makes sense to reincarnate.

    So does any text describe how heaven and hell will be like? Will we be able to see our dead parents or dead loved ones when we die? I hope so;).

    BTW, perhaps I will just ask all my hinduism questions here.

    Another question I gave which was not completly answered in the other thread, is the Brahmin like the pantheist view of God which is that "God is All" and "All is God". It is the view that everything is of an all-encompassing immanent God; or that the universe, or nature, and God are equivalent. More detailed definitions tend to emphasize the idea that natural law, existence and/or the universe (the sum total of all that is was and shall be) is represented or personified in the theological principle of 'God', like it says in this article;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheism



    Or is the Brahman more like the panentheism, which believes that God maintains a [font=&quot]transcendent [/font]character, and is viewed as both the creator and the original source of universal morality, like it says in this article;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panentheism



    Or is the Brahman both Pantheistic and Panentheistic :).
     
  17. Agnideva

    Agnideva Member

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    Hey Silver,


    It makes a lot of sense to me also that heaven and hell are temporary and then you reincarnate into a new body. I think some of the purana texts do give descriptions of the heaven and hell, but I don’t know which ones and where exactly. I also hope that we get to see our dead relatives and friends … many Hindus expect to see their family members after death and some even say that their dead relatives/gurus guide them from heaven. :)


    The question of pantheism and panentheism you ask is kinda tough to answer but here’s my view on it.


    If pantheism is the belief that the sum of all (creation) is God or that nature=God, then the idea of Brahman is not pantheism. In the monist theory, Brahman is all that is manifest, but is also beyond manifestation. So Brahman has a transcendent aspect that is always there. Brahman is more than the sum of all of creation. So, this would be panentheism. Monist Hindu scholars today widely use the term panentheism to define their religion, but never pantheism.


    Now a type of pantheism known as acosmic pantheism was put forth by the 8th century philosopher, Shankara. Acosmic pantheism is the belief that Brahman makes up the total reality and the world (and the soul’s individuality) is an appearance and ultimately unreal. Since in this philosophy, the only real existence is Brahman and nature is ultimately unreal, it is labeled pantheism. However, most modern teachers of monism even in Shankara’s lineage are really teaching panentheism.


    If you want to give yourself a small headache looking up different types of pantheisms and panentheisms go to this website: :confused:
    http://cyberspacei.com/jesusi/inlight/religion/belief/pantheism.htm


    Agnideva.


     
  18. _Z_

    _Z_ from far far away

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    Reincarnation is fine but:

    What happens when the universe comes to an end? Where would you get re-born to when the sun goes supa nova?

    Life is not that great – I would rather not come back here!

    Eternity could be like Elysium as the ancient Egyptians believed – an earthly paradise or continuance of life as we know it without the suffering [I know the arguments about the bad making the good so etc.].

    Eternity could be whatever one wants it to be!

    We wont necessarily see our dead relatives as some may be reincarnated!

    ‘Like attracts like’ thus a soul is connected to its relative human form & may only be born once?!



    Is god and nature one? Even the vilest of existences?



    Dharma: is there ‘a right way’ who says what it is & would god want everyone to act/be the same? If so, why create us as different?

    Karma: do we really deserve all the sh*t we get? Is evil our fault – are we not born innocent? If someone dies a long horrible death from disease what must they have done that is so bad, esp. considering all the illness in the world, must be a lot of evil around yet I cannot see the equation as equal.



    Z
     
  19. Silverbackman

    Silverbackman Prince Of Truth

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    In other words the Brahman cannot be considered pantheistic because he is not limited to nature. He is nature and everything above nature, right? So in a sense he is still pentheistic, but also panantheistic. He is everything natural AND supernatural, right?
     
  20. InChristAlways

    InChristAlways New Member

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    I have a question. Do the Hindus read or study the OT in the Bible at all or do they feel the OT/NT is corrupted and false?

    The reason I ask is because of these 2 passages in Isaiah in the OT. Is this a "literal" heaven and earth or a change of "nature" resulting from mankind seeking the One True God and Creator. Any views on this? Thanks.
    Thanks.

    (Young) Isaiah 65:17 For, lo, I am creating new heavens, and a new earth, And the former things are not remembered, Nor do they ascend on the heart.

    (Young) Isaiah 66:22 For, as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making, Are standing before Me, An affirmation of Jehovah! So remain doth your seed and your name.

    (Young) Isaiah 28:16 Therefore, thus said the Lord Jehovah: `Lo, I am laying a foundation in Zion, A stone--a tried stone, a corner stone precious, a settled foundation, He who is believing doth not make haste. 17 And I have put judgment for a line, And righteousness for a plummet, And sweep away doth hail the refuge of lies,
     

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