Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world, with a rich history and diverse beliefs. Christianity, on the other hand, is a relatively new religion that has spread across the globe. With such different backgrounds, it’s natural to wonder if there is any overlap between the two religions. One question that often arises is whether Hindus believe in Jesus. In this article, we will explore the relationship between Hinduism and Christianity and examine the beliefs of Hindus and Christians.
Do Hindus Believe in Jesus? Exploring the Relationship Between Hinduism and Christianity
Do Hindus believe in Jesus? The belief of Hindus in Jesus varies and is not uniform across the religion. Here are some key points.
- Some Hindus regard Jesus as an incarnation of the god Vishnu1.
- In Hindu thought, Jesus is seen as a Sadhu, a holy man, who preached a universal message of love and brotherhood.
- Hinduism has a spectrum of interpretations of Jesus, influenced by historical factors and reinterpretations by Hindu missionaries3.
- Hinduism is a diverse religion with a complex set of beliefs, making it difficult to isolate a unified view on Jesus.
- Hinduism and Christianity have significant differences in their beliefs and practices, including the concept of salvation and the role of Jesus as a mediator.
In summary, while some Hindus may believe in Jesus as an incarnation or a holy man, the belief in Jesus varies among individuals and is not universally accepted within Hinduism.
What is the Hindu view of Jesus?
Hindus view Jesus as a holy man, spiritual teacher, and incarnation of the Divine, but not as the only way to salvation. Hindus believe that there are many paths to reach God, so while Jesus is respected and his teachings are seen as wise, he is not viewed as superior to other enlightened beings like Krishna or the Buddha.
Many Hindus also see parallels between the life and teachings of Jesus and those of Hindu saviors like Krishna. Overall, Jesus is seen as a manifestation of the Divine, not the one and only savior.
2. How do Hindus interpret the reality of Jesus?
Hindus consider Jesus to be a real historical figure, not just a mythical creation. However, they interpret his divinity in different ways. Some consider him an avatar or incarnation of God, in the same way that Krishna or Rama were avatars of Vishnu. Others see him as a saintly person or enlightened teacher empowered by the Divine.
Most Hindus do not take all the supernatural claims about Jesus literally but focus on his spiritual message and presence. His resurrection may be viewed symbolically rather than historically. Hindus also connect the idea of Christ consciousness with the universal Self or Brahman. Overall, Hindus accept the reality of Jesus but understand his divinity in their own terms.
3. What are the different hermeneutic frames within which Jesus is understood in Hinduism?
Jesus is interpreted through various lenses in Hinduism:
Jesus as an avatar or incarnation of God, parallel to Krishna or Rama. His life events conform to mythic archetypes.
Spiritual Master Christology
Jesus as a guru, swami or enlightened teacher, emphasizing his ethical teachings and spiritual wisdom.
Divine Embodiment Christology
Jesus as embodying the Divine Self or Brahman within all. His “I and the Father are one” points to nondual unity of Atman and Brahman.
Jesus as a yogi or mystic, who attained higher states of consciousness and mystical union with the Divine through meditation and tapas (austerities). His “miracles” are yogic siddhis.
Ishta Devata Christology
Jesus as a symbolic manifestation of the personal Divine beloved, or ishta devata. His life and image evokes devotion to the Divine Mother or Father.
4. What are the classical orthodox schools of thought in Hinduism and how do they interpret Jesus?
The six classical orthodox schools of Hindu thought have varying perspectives on Jesus:
Sees Jesus as an enlightened guru manifesting Brahman, the Absolute Reality. His teachings reflect nondual wisdom.
Regards Jesus as a great yogi, who achieved spiritual states through meditation and tapas. His miracles are expressions of yogic power.
Applies principles of logic to analyze claims about Jesus. Seeks historical evidence and rational inquiry.
Examines Jesus using categories of metaphysics. Interprets him as a divine being relating to the world.
Studies teachings of Jesus like karma yoga philosophically. Relates his ethical principles to Vedic injunctions.
Views Jesus as exemplifying the realized Purusha, or enlightened consciousness, free from bonds of Prakriti or matter.
5. What are the differences between the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith?
The historical Jesus refers to the actual person who lived 2,000 years ago, based on scholarly analysis of gospel texts, archeological findings, and other sources. The Christ of faith is the exalted Jesus worshipped by Christians as the divine Son of God and savior. Key differences:
- Itinerant Jewish preacher living under Roman rule
- Taught about the Kingdom of God using parables
- Had disciples and sparked a spiritual movement
- Died by crucifixion around 30 CE
Christ of Faith
- Fully divine Son of God, 2nd person of the Trinity
- Performed supernatural miracles like healing and resurrection
- Died to atone for humanity’s sins
- Rose again and ascended into heaven
- Will return again ushering resurrection and final judgment
There are debates over which portrait is more accurate. Most scholars concur the historical Jesus was not as supernatural as the Christ of faith worshipped today. But for Christians, the Christ of faith is the living spiritual reality.
6. Who are some of the Hindu missionaries in the West who have reinterpreted Jesus?
Some Hindu spiritual teachers who have offered Hindu perspectives on Jesus to Western audiences include:
- Paramahansa Yogananda – Wrote “The Second Coming of Christ” interpreting Jesus’ sayings through Vedanta and yoga. Founded Self-Realization Fellowship.
- Swami Prabhavananda – Wrote “The Sermon on the Mount According to Vedanta” comparing Jesus’ teachings to the Upanishads. Led Vedanta Society of Southern California.
- Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan – Former President of India and scholar who saw Jesus as a spiritual exemplar in line with Hindu and Buddhist enlightened masters.
- Swami Vivekananda – Regarded Jesus as a holy person and reformer who suffered for taking a stand against established religion. Helped introduce Hinduism to the West.
- Mahatma Gandhi – Greatly admired Jesus’ message of love and the Sermon on the Mount. Saw much alignment between his teachings and Hindu-Jain ahimsa.
- Paramahansa Yogananda – Wrote “The Second Coming of Christ” interpreting Jesus’ sayings through Vedanta and yoga. Founded Self-Realization Fellowship.
7. Why is the childhood of Christ removed from the Bible?
The canonical Gospels have very little information about Jesus’ childhood years. There are several theories as to why:
- The Gospel writers were more interested in Jesus’ ministry and message than his childhood.
- Traditions about Jesus’ early life were not widely circulated or authenticated.
- Miracle stories of the child Jesus may have seemed fanciful or legendary.
- Jesus’ divinity and miraculous signs were revealed at his baptism, so earlier years seemed less theologically significant.
- The Gospels were written decades after Jesus’ death, so accurate biographical details were scarce.
- Passing down oral history, the focus was on Jesus’ teachings and deeds as an adult rather than childhood anecdotes.
- Accounts of Jesus’ youth could have invited comparisons with divine child stories of pagan gods and heroes that early Christians sought to avoid.
Overall, Jesus’ childhood was likely excluded from the Gospels because it did not serve the evangelistic aims of establishing his divinity as the Son of God and redemptive purpose. The sparse details invite mystery and theological reflection.
8. What are the main doctrines of Hinduism?
Some of the key philosophical concepts and doctrines found across Hinduism’s diverse traditions include:
- Brahman – the supreme unchanging reality or Absolute. The eternal origin and essence of all.
- Atman – the eternal and innate self or soul. Provides identity to all beings.
- Karma – the law of cause and effect whereIntentional actions determine future destinies.
- Samsara – the cycle of rebirth and reincarnation of souls until liberation.
- Maya – the illusion or appearance of the phenomenal world which conceals the true reality of Brahman.
- Moksha – liberation from samsara and realization of the Self’s unity with Brahman as the ultimate spiritual goal.
- Dharma – one’s ethical duty and virtuous path in accordance with cosmic order and law.
- Puja – rituals, offerings and prayers to the manifest divine.
- Guru – the spiritual teacher who enlightens disciples with knowledge and grace.
- Yoga – psychophysical techniques for attaining moksha through meditation, ethics, breath control, postures, etc.
9. How does Hinduism compare to Christianity and the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Hinduism and Christianity have some similarities but also crucial doctrinal differences:
- Hinduism sees God manifest in multifarious forms, Christianity worships a singular God revealed uniquely in Christ.
- Hinduism presents diverse paths to God, Christianity proclaims faith in Christ as the singular path to salvation.
- Karma and rebirth are fundamental to Hinduism, Christianity advocates moral living but for eternal afterlife in heaven or hell.
- Hinduism emphasizes mystical enlightenment leading to moksha, Christianity stresses salvation through Christ paying for sins.
- Hinduism endorses practices like meditation, Christianity encourages prayer, worship and biblical study.
- Hinduism accepts the Vedas as revealed truth, Christianity regards the Bible as God’s definitive revelation.
- Hinduism has an iconographic tradition, Christianity forbids graven images and idolatry.
- Hinduism appreciates Jesus as an enlightened master, but denies his sole claim over truth or divinity.
So while sharing ethical values, Hinduism and Christianity diverge on essential doctrines about God, salvation, and the status of Christ.
10. What is the relationship between Hinduism and Christianity?
Hinduism and Christianity have a complex, interconnected relationship spanning centuries:
- As proselytizing faiths, both have aimed to spread their message and convert followers, leading to tensions.
- Christianity views Hindu polytheism, idolatry, and reincarnation as contrary to biblical truths.
- Hinduism sees Christianity’s claim to exclusive truth and divinity of Christ as intolerant.
- Yet Hindu teachings influenced Christian thinkers from Clement of Alexandria to Schleiermacher.
- Hindu-Christian dialogue began in the 18th century, leading to reforms in both communities.
- Key figures like Ram Mohan Roy, Gandhi, and Vivekananda helped improve mutual understanding.
- In contemporary times both faiths share ethical values like non-violence and service.
- Translation efforts made Hindu classics like the Gita available alongside the Bible.
- Figures like Bede Griffiths synthesized Hindu-Christian spirituality.
- Interfaith movements have fostered greater Hindu-Christian collaboration. Conflict remains but so does dialogue.
11. What are the converging points between Hinduism and Christianity?
Despite different doctrines, Hinduism and Christianity share some theological and ethical converging points:
- God as personal and loving rather than indifferent, inviting devotional worship.
- The existence of sin, moral evil and suffering requiring spiritual redemption.
- Embrace of ahimsa or non-violence, and teachings about compassion.
- Belief in both a transcendent and immanent Divine that is omnipotent and omnipresent.
- Affirmation of the supernatural and miraculous workings of the Divine.
- Acceptance of prayer and meditation as spiritual practices.
- Value placed on spiritual community, service, sacraments and rites.
- Regard for sacred texts as conveyers of revealed truth.
- Concept of eternal life – in heaven for Christians, in moksha for Hindus.
- Belief in righteousness and following God’s law as the right path.
- Appreciation for saints, mystics, and holy persons as paradigms.
12. What are the differences between Hinduism and Christianity?
While sharing some beliefs, Hinduism and Christianity diverge significantly on core tenets:
- Hinduism believes in one Supreme Reality (Brahman) manifest as many gods, Christianity worships only the God revealed in Christ.
- Hinduism emphasizes enlightenment and liberation from rebirth, Christianity stresses salvation through faith in Christ.
- Hinduism embraces the Vedas and other texts as holy, Christianity reveres the Bible as God’s revelation.
- Hinduism highlights karma and duties based on caste and stage of life, Christianity offers salvation not dependent on works.
- Hinduism holds to reincarnation until unity with the Divine, Christianity teaches an eternal afterlife of heaven or hell.
- Hinduism encourages practices like yoga, meditation, and tapas to attain higher states of consciousness, Christianity propagated prayer, worship services, and missionary work.
- Hinduism appreciates Jesus as an enlightened teacher, Christianity worships him as the one and only Son of God and path to the Father.
- Hinduism is pluralistic with divergent beliefs, Christianity makes definitive doctrinal claims with set scriptures.
13. What is polytheism and how does it relate to Hinduism?
Polytheism is the belief in multiple divine beings or gods. This contrasts with monotheism which is the belief in a single God. Hinduism embraces polytheism, with individuals free to choose and worship from among a pantheon of gods and goddesses.
- Hinduism encompasses belief in one Supreme Reality (Brahman) that manifests in many divine forms such as Vishnu, Shiva, Devi, Ganesha, Surya, etc.
- Hindus can choose a preferred deity (ishta devata) and worship that personal god through rites, mantras, festivals, pilgrimages.
- The Hindu trinity (trimurti) of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the transformer, further exemplifies its polytheistic spectrum.
- Devotional bhakti movements focused on relationships between devotees and deities flourished in Hinduism’s polytheistic milieu.
- Polytheism nurtured diversity and flexibility to incorporate new gods, unlike a fixed single deity.
So Hinduism can be seen as a form of soft polytheism, with individuals free to worship the Divine in many personal forms.
14. What is pantheism and how does it relate to Hinduism?
Pantheism is the view that God and the universe are equivalent and one. This differs from theism which separates God from creation. Hinduism has pantheistic themes:
- The Upanishads state the individual soul (Atman) is identical to the universal Soul (Brahman), a pantheistic nondualism.
- The popular greeting “Namaste” recognizes the divine in all beings, reflecting pantheism.
- Philosophers like Adi Shankara advocated monistic pantheism – the universe is only Brahman, denying dualism.
- Seeing nature as sacred since God pervades it. Rivers like the Ganges are embodied as goddesses.
- Practices like puja worship panentheistically treat divine presence in objects.
However, there are also theistic traditions in Hinduism where God has attributes and rules over creation. So Hinduism cannot be strictly called pantheistic, but has pantheistic tendencies alongside theism, panentheism and other views. The panentheistic concept of God as both immanent in and transcending the world may be most dominant.
15. What is idolatry and how does it relate to Hinduism?
Idolatry means worshiping physical objects and images as God. Hinduism’s use of murtis and icons may seem to involve idolatry, but has a different theological basis:
- Hindus invoke the divine presence into murtis through ritual practices like prana prathista. The image is not itself God but makes the formless accessible.
- Murtis are considered manifestations of spiritual realities beyond the physical form, not replacements for God. They are symbols, not idols.
- Worshipers follow the injunctions of yogis and scriptures discouraging material attachments. Idolatry violates Hindu teachings.
- The ancient Vedic traditions criticized idol worship. When it emerged, learned Brahmins justified the practice as visualization aids supporting meditation on divine qualities.
- Temple rituals involve awakening, clothing and bathing murtis in a way treating them as living entities infused with divine presence.
- Giving offerings to murtis is meant to foster devotional love for God, not worship inert matter.
So while seemingly similar to other faiths’ idolatry, Hindus see spiritualized images as vehicles to connect with the Divine, not as profane created things to replace God.
16. What is reincarnation and how does it relate to Hinduism?
Reincarnation is the belief that individual souls are repeatedly reborn into new material forms and bodies after biological death. This contrasts with the Christian belief in a single afterlife. Reincarnation is central in Hinduism:
- Reincarnation is associated with the law of karma – souls carry karma from one life to the next on the wheel of samsara.
- Birth into a new form depends on the merits or faults accrued in previous lives. Higher rebirths can be attained through righteous deeds.
- Reincarnation of a soul continues until final liberation (moksha) breaks the cycle and brings release.
- Some Hindus believe in an immortal eternal soul that retains identity across reincarnations before achieving moksha.
- The process of rebirth is overseen by Yama, the god of death, and explained in texts like the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita.
- Reincarnation provides the opportunity for souls to learn, evolve and attain self-realization across lifetimes.
So reincarnation is an essential doctrine within Hinduism shaping its distinctive worldview, unlike Abrahamic religions where a single earthly life leads to eternal afterlife.
17. What is karma and how does it relate to Hinduism?
Karma is the universal law of cause and effect applied to moral acts and intentions. Karma is a core concept in Hinduism:
- Karma links actions in the present to future outcomes and destinies. Good deeds bring good karma and higher rebirths, bad deeds lead to suffering and lower rebirths.
- Accumulated karma determines the conditions and form of an individual’s reincarnation in samsara. Liberation comes by resolving past karma.
- Performing dharmic duties and adhering to one’s svadharma generates good karma. Actions violating dharma incur bad karma.
- Not only physical acts, but also thoughts and words shape karma positively or negatively. Intention matters in karma.
- Karma is carried over in the mental body into the next incarnation until liberation frees one from its effects.
- The law of karma maintains cosmic balance, order and justice through reciprocal actions. Karma applies to all beings, including gods.
- The Bhagavad Gita offers teachings on acting according to dharma while unattached to karma’s consequences.
- So karma is a key theological concept governing reincarnation and ethical behavior for Hindus, unlike Abrahamic faiths’ emphasis on sins judged during a single lifetime.
18. What is nirvana and how does it relate to Hinduism?
Nirvana is a concept associated with Buddhism – the extinction of suffering, ego, and release from samsara achieved after enlightenment. Hinduism has related concepts:
- Moksha – the liberation or freedom obtained when a soul realizes its essential nature is identical to Brahman. Like nirvana, it ends samsara.
- Kaivalya – isolation or absoluteness gained when purusha realizes its distinction from prakriti. Used in Samkhya and Yoga.
- Nirvikalpa samadhi – highest nondual realization of the Self where distinctions vanish. Experience of mystical oneness.
- Jivanmukti – “living liberation” – becoming enlightened while still in the body by fully knowing the Self.
- Videhamukti – final release at death by merging into Brahman when all karmic residues are gone.
So while Hinduism does not use the term nirvana, comparable concepts indicate complete spiritual freedom through realization of the Divine Self beyond ego and phenomena.
19. What is meditation and how does it relate to Hinduism?
Meditation refers to focused mental and spiritual practices promoting inner stillness and unity with the divine. Meditation is integral to Hindu practice:
- Hinduism developed meditation techniques like Raja Yoga for attaining Samadhi states of consciousness.
- Scriptures like the Upanishads exalt meditation’s role in seeking the ultimate reality.
- Key Hindu meditation practices include pranayama breathwork, mantra repetition, visualization of deities and sacred diagrams.
- Meditation creates inner detachment from material preoccupations in order to unite with God.
- Gurus and yogis transmit initiation and guidance in meditation through established lineages and ashrams.
- Directions for practice emphasize proper posture, relaxation, withdrawal of senses and concentration.
- Devotional meditation cultivates intense, loving absorption in the attributes of deities like Kali or Krishna.
So while taking many forms, meditation has endured in Hinduism as an essential pathway to transcendent truths and self-realization.
20. What is the evidence for Jesus according to other religions?
The evidence for the existence and life of Jesus comes primarily from Christian scriptures and traditions. Other religions acknowledge Jesus, but interpret the evidence differently:
Islam sees Jesus (Isa) as a major prophet preceding Muhammad. The Quran affirms his virgin birth, miracles, and role as Messiah, but not his divinity.
Hinduism recognizes Jesus as a divine incarnation, great guru, or enlightened yogi but in different forms like avatar and swami traditions. His integration into Hinduism shows broad acceptance of his historical reality.
Buddhism does not reject Jesus’ existence but casts him as a bodhisattva – an enlightened being motivated by compassion. Some Buddhist texts reference Jesus and disciples like Thomas.
Judaism has extra-biblical references to Jesus like the Talmud, which criticize him as a false messiah but confirm his existence.
Native Traditions often incorporate Jesus as a spiritual figure who showed compassion. The Cord Keepers of the Andes integrate Jesus in their belief system.
So major world religions validate basic facts about Jesus’ life, while reinterpreting him based on their own doctrines. This affirms his historical reality apart from Christian scriptural sources.
21. What is the diversity of religious faith in Hinduism?
Hinduism encompasses enormously rich diversity in religious beliefs and practices:
- It moved from Vedic sacrificial religion to ascetic world-renouncing traditions to bhakti devotional cults.
- Hindus may be monists, pantheists, monotheists, polytheists, or selectively participate in rituals and festivals.
- Practices range from temple ceremonies to yoga and meditation to home altar worship and pilgrimages.
- Major deities with elaborate theologies exist, but so do folk rural traditions honoring millions of village gods.
- Ancient agamic sects like Shaivism and Vaishnavism coexist alongside contemporary gurus and movements.
- Orthodoxy and heterodoxy blur, with Hindus rejecting rigid dogmas and embracing openness.
- Tantra radically transformed Hindu outlooks on the body and materiality.
- Vedanta, Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa, and other philosophies critically examined metaphysical questions without a fixed canon.
- Modern Hinduism engages modernity on multiple fronts, while preserving tradition.
This diversity arises from Hinduism’s origins in indigenous Indian faiths, its encounters with other religions, its assimilative character, and its resistance to centralized authority over belief. For these reasons, sweeping generalizations about Hinduism should be avoided. It escapes tidy definitions.
22. Who are some of the Hindu believers and what are their views on Jesus?
Prominent Hindu religious figures have interpreted Jesus in various ways:
- Mahatma Gandhi – Regarded Jesus as a man who embodied the Sermon on the Mount ethic of love, sacrifice, and seeking the Divine Kingdom within. He irrigated deserts with compassion.
- Paramahansa Yogananda – Saw Christ as the divine Cosmic Master living in every heart. Believed the “second coming” means awakening to this omnipresent universal Self.
- Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan – Respected Jesus as a spiritual exemplar close to the Hindu-Buddhist ideal of understanding human nature’s identity with ultimate reality.
- Swami Vivekananda – Considered Jesus an embodiment of purity, renunciation, compassion. But rejected his divinity and Christianity’s dogmatic claims.
- Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati – Follows Christ-centered teachings in her Kashi ashram, seeing Christ Consciousness as the inner light in all. She equates this presence with the avatar Krishna.
- Mata Amritanandamayi – Regards Jesus as a messenger of light and embodiment of compassion and self-sacrifice, whose teachings align with Sanatana Dharma.
So contemporary Hindu teachers admire Jesus’ wisdom and character, interpreting him flexibly according to their doctrines rather than adopting Christianity’s beliefs.
23. What is the teaching of Jesus according to Hinduism?
Hinduism sees the ethical teachings of Jesus as aligned with its own traditions of dharma, ahimsa, compassion and selfless service. Key Hindu readings of Jesus’ message include:
- Upholding dharma, the righteous moral and spiritual path, rather than rigid formalism and dogma.
- Embodying ahimsa through non-violence, sacrifice, and refusal to return harm.
- Showing universal compassion and unconditional love to the poor, sinners and outcasts.
- Teaching service as the highest duty, like washing the feet of disciples.
- Advocating spiritual regeneration over rituals, like purity coming from within.
- Seeking the God within over outer ostentation and legalism.
- Attaining moksha by realizing one’s true divine identity like Jesus stating “I and the Father are one.”
- Detachment from materialism expressed by his poverty and minimalism.
- Power over maya (illusion) manifest in his walking on water and miracles.
- Treating devotees as friends and children of God, breaking social divisions.
So Hindus emphasize Jesus’ role as a world teacher of moral and spiritual wisdom, rather than seeing him exclusively in terms of Christian doctrine.
24. What is the view of Jesus as a holy man in Hinduism?
Many Hindus see Jesus as a holy man and self-realized master, similar to enlightened gurus in their own tradition:
- His ability to heal, communicate deep truths, and transform lives indicates yogic spiritual attainment.
- He embodied the state of jivanmukta – liberated while living, free from material bonds.
- He exemplified perfect self-mastery, calmness, discernment and oneness with Divine will like the Bhagavad Gita’s sthitaprajna.
- Accounts of Jesus’ mystical experiences, like his baptism and transfiguration, match Hindu descriptions of samadhi.
- He exemplified sadhana, intense spiritual practice and tapas (austerity) aimed at God-realization.
- His teachings reflect jnana yoga’s wisdom path to nondual Self-awareness.
- His relationship with disciples was like a satguru guiding devotees with grace.
- He renounced material and family bonds to seek spiritual truths, like sannyasin monks.
So from a Hindu perspective, Christ lived out the ideal of the enlightened yogi. His presence and teachings reflect self-realization in the Hindu sense more than being a unique savior.
25. What is the view of Jesus as a God in Hinduism?
Hindus view Jesus as a divine incarnation and manifestation of the ultimate reality, though not the only way to the Divine:
- Some regard him as an avatar, a full incarnation of God similar to Krishna, Rama, Buddha. Christhood reflects this conception.
- Others see him as an amsa-avatara – a partial incarnation embodying a particular aspect of the Divine, like love or wisdom.
- Many interpret him as a saktyavesa-avatara, a person imbued or empowered by divine power to work for God’s purpose on earth.
- He is equated with ishta-devatas, a symbolic expression of the personal Divine beloved, like viewing Christ as personification of Divine Mother.
- His teachings embody the Vedantic message of nondual oneness of atman and Brahman – “I and the Father are one.”
- As Lord of the universe, his presence fills all things, so he is worshipped as the indwelling Self.
So while accepting Christ’s divinity, most Hindus see him as one of many manifestations or embodiments of God rather than the one Supreme Being.
26. What are the similarities between Hinduism and Christianity?
Despite differences in doctrine, Hinduism and Christianity share certain beliefs:
- There is one Supreme God even though called by different names (Brahman/Yahweh).
- God can incarnate on earth in human-divine form.
- The goal of human life is liberation/salvation from worldly bonds.
- The world is flawed and filled with moral imperfections like greed, hatred, delusion.
- Compassion for the suffering and poor is service to God.
- Altruism and the golden rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
- Prayer, devotion and surrender to the Highest brings grace.
- Truth is eternal. God is infinite Being, Goodness and Love.
- The human condition requires divine guidance and help.
- Love, faith, righteous deeds lead to everlasting peace in God’s presence.
- Spiritual practice should transcend rigid outer forms.
So there are shared values and concerns, despite divergent doctrines of God, salvation, and spiritual practices between Hinduism and Christianity.
27. What is the concept of the Trinity in Hinduism and Christianity?
The Trinity is the Christian doctrine describing God as three co-equal persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit united in one being. Hinduism has its own Trinitarian concepts:
- Trimurti – Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver), Shiva (destroyer/transformer) as the triple manifestation of saguna Brahman, the Divine with attributes.
- Tridevi – Goddesses Saraswati (wisdom), Lakshmi (wealth/love), and Parvati/Kali (power) as the triple feminine embodiment of shakti, divine creative energy.
- Omkara as the triple utterance of AUM representing Being, Consciousness and Bliss.
- Triple paths of bhakti (devotion), karma (action), and jnana (wisdom) to realize Brahman.
- The atman (soul), jivatman (individual soul), and Paramatman (Supreme Soul)
- The three bodies: gross (physical), subtle (mental), and causal.
- The three states of consciousness – waking, dreaming, dreamless sleep.
- The three gunas – sattva, rajas, tamas (pure, passionate, ignorant) which constitute prakriti (matter principle).
So Hinduism has its own Trinity motifs distinct from Christian doctrine – triadic rather than trinitarian – but aiming to describe the relation between the One and the many.
28. What is the role of Jesus in Hinduism and Christianity?
Jesus occupies central but differing roles in Christianity and Hinduism:
- Jesus is the only incarnate Son of God, part of the Trinity, and savior of humanity through his sacrifice on the cross.
- He was sinless and served as the perfect exemplar of God’s love.
- Salvation comes through faith in Christ alone, not by human effort or works.
- He was resurrected, reigns in heaven, and will return as eschatological judge.
- The gospels and Christian scriptures and creeds establish his unique status.
- Jesus is regarded as an avatar, guru, or enlightened yogi, one of many paths to the Divine.
- He embodies divine love, wisdom and mystical realization of nondual oneness.
- He is not the exclusive or supreme way to God, but one of many spiritual masters.
- He serves more as a spiritual model than an eschatological savior figure.
- Hindu teachings interpret his life and sayings according to their philosophy, not doctrines of Christianity.
So while recognizing Jesus’ role, Hinduism does not place the same definitive importance on his life and work as does Christian theology.
29. What are the different names of Lord Vishnu from Vishnu Sahasranama?
Some of the prominent names of Lord Vishnu from the Vishnu Sahasranama text are:
- Narayana – the one who resides on water; the primeval source of all.
- Hrishikesha – the master and lord of the senses
- Shankha-chakra-gada-dhara – bearer of the conch shell, discus and mace
- Janardana – liberator and protector of people
- Madhava – husband of the goddess Lakshmi
- Govinda – protector of the earth
- Pundarikaksha – the lotus-eyed one
- Vishwamurti – the embodiment of the universe
- Trivikrama – the three strides covered the earth, sky and entire universe
- Purushottama – the Supreme Purusha, transcending all material qualities
- Vasudeva – son of Vasudeva, referring to Krishna’s incarnation
- Hari – remover of sins
- Padmanabha – from whose navel sprouted the lotus, where Brahma appeared
- Damodara – who was tied with a rope around his waist by his mother
- Sridhara – sustainer of the goddess Lakshmi
30. What are the differences between the beliefs and practices of most Hindus and modern Hinduism?
Traditional popular Hinduism of the masses differs from modern reformist Hinduism in some key ways:
Popular folk Hinduism:
- Worships numerous local cults and village gods through offerings, rites.
- Rituals and sacrifices are primary spiritual activity rather than meditation.
- Belief in magic, minor deities, spirits, astrology.
- Follows festivals, pilgrimages, and sectarian worship.
- Importance of temples, shrines, idols.
- Priestly Brahmin authority on rites, texts.
- Discrimination based on caste, more patriarchal.
Modern reformist Hinduism:
- Advocates more abstract, philosophical understanding of Vedanta.
- Emphasizes individual meditation, consciousness expansion.
- Rejects superstitions, rituals, vain outward acts.
- Sees all Hindu deities as aspects of Universal Divinity.
- Values introspection, self-inquiry as path to truth.
- Promotes Hindu universality and equality beyond caste and gender.
- Engages with social reforms, modernity.
So while modern Hinduism aims to reform popular practices, tensions remain between traditionalists and modernists.
In conclusion, the relationship between Hinduism and Christianity is complex and multifaceted. While there are some similarities between the two religions, such as the importance of love and compassion, there are also significant differences in their beliefs and practices. As for the question of whether Hindus believe in Jesus, the answer is not straightforward.
Some Hindus may view Jesus as a great teacher or prophet, while others may reject him entirely. Ultimately, the relationship between Hinduism and Christianity is one of dialogue and exploration, as people from both religions seek to understand and respect each other’s beliefs. Consider reading >>>>> What do Hindus Say When They Pray? to learn more about the Hindu Culture.
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