Hinduism And Christianity

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Hinduism and Christianity


Hinduism is arguably one of the most difficult of the major world religious traditions to accurately define and explain in any concise manner, especially using Western models and modes of understanding. Unlike the Judeo-Christian approach to religion, in which a specific text, a unique prophet or set of prophets, and the teachings attributed to these prophets establish the main parameters of the faith, Hinduism cannot be contained or defined in this way. What has come to be called “Hinduism” has had multiple influences in its origins and evolution, and it has myriad different manifestations. Yet amidst all these differences, there are certain basic concepts, beliefs, and approaches to life that, in one form or another, provide a continuum and a thread to link present to past. These will be discussed herein.

Hinduism, like most of Asian-based traditions, is difficult to understand when viewed and analyzed through Western religious paradigms. Moreover, many of the methodologies for understanding religion in the academic environment today were developed by Europeans using Christian patterns and preconceptions. Thus, while these tools may be valid for dissecting and analyzing those traditions that originated in the Middle East, they are far less valid, and sometimes even distracting, when using them to look at indigenous or Asian traditions.

For many practitioners, Hinduism is not a religion in the Western sense, but more a philosophy, value system, and set of guidelines by which they lead their lives. Hinduism has no founder, no specific doctrine to which all followers must adhere, and no one leader. Membership is not dependent on faith in a specific text or prophet. For the most part, it is not viewed by its adherents as the only way everyone must live. Instead, many Hindus compare the various religious traditions to differing paths up a mountain. Each one follows a different route, but they all eventually end up at the top. This does not mean that Hindus see their tradition as no different as any other. It is that they tend to accept others and their traditions at face value and feel no need to convince them to follow the Hindu path. In fact, more orthodox Hindus feel that one must be born into the tradition.


Christianity, the religion based on the teaching of Jesus Christ, is the largest world religion with more than 1.7 billion adherents. In its modern form, Christianity is divided into three main branches—Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism, with numerous divisions within each as well as other churches separate from these three branches. Thus, Christianity is not of a single voice in all matters of belief and practice and, as with other matters, there is variation as regards beliefs and practices about crime and punishment.

Christianity is no different from other faith traditions in having a history defined by both good and evil. However, because Christians have held great political and military power, the extremes seem to have been exaggerated. All too often, power has corrupted, either in the form of religious imperialism or in ...
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