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Religious beliefs, which have to do with the nature, causation, and purpose of the cosmos, rule people everywhere. Religion involves devotional observances and rituals that incorporate moral principles that control and direct human affairs. Numerous religions have been around for a very long time; some have disappeared, while others are actively observed today. The various practices that distinguish the religions from one another include doctrine, the adoration and acknowledgement of holy beings, and how they view supernatural creatures. A lot of religions exist today due to the varying responses that people have on God, the religions are estimated to be 10,000 in the whole world, and however, the religions which have a large following in the world include Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. In this paper, a comparative analysis of Christianity and Hinduism will be analyzed.
Christianity and Hinduism
Christianity is a religion that is based on the teachings and life of Jesus Christ. The religion is the world’s largest religion with an estimated following of 2.4 billion followers in the world (Beyers, 2016). Followers of the religion are referred to as Christians; they hold the belief that Jesus is the son of God who was prophesized in the Old Testament and is the savior of all humanity. Christianity has been significant in shaping western civilization. The religion originated in Judea and grew out of Judaism. Over the years Christianity has gone through disputes and schisms which have resulted in different denominations and churches, the most extensive denominations include the Catholic Church, oriental orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodox Church and the Protestant churches.
Hinduism is an Indian religion and a way of life; the religion is widely practiced in South East Asia, Hinduism is popularly referred as the oldest religion in the world with some scholars referring to it as the eternal tradition or way that is beyond human history. The doctrine is regarded as a fusion of various Indian traditions and cultures that has diverse roots and lacks a founder. Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world, those who practice the religion are referred to as Hindus, and they are mainly located in India, Mauritius, and Nepal and other parts of the world.
Comparison of the Two Religions
Hinduism and Christianity most pronounced difference is that Hinduism monostatic view and Christianity’s monotheistic view. Hindus believe that everything is ultimately one. Everything is in its essence Brahman; it is the reality in which everything is a manifestation (Brockington, springer). Hindus believe in many gods and that all are a manifestation of one God who possesses power that is omnipotent. Christians, on the other hand, recognize one God that manifests himself in three forms, the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. They believe that God is the creator of everything and that there is only one God while Hindus believe that there is the one and the all.
Christians rely on scriptures to seek moral guidance; they also rely on the works of Jesus to guide them. Hindus also rely on divine revelation which is usually found in their scriptures. Christians transfer their teachings from one generation to the next, a practice that is also carried out by Hindus. Both religions have sacred tools which include incense, ornamental decorations that are used to decorate buildings which have a similarity. The similarities that exist between Jesus Christ and Krishna are very many. Some of the similarities include being born by mothers who were virgins, both of them are of the holy trinity, angles warned their parents that a spirit would kill them and other similarities.
The system of belief among Hindus is centered on yoga, Hindus believe that there are various paths that one can take to reach God. Hindus also believe in karma; they believe that people need to be accountable for the actions that they carry out. They also think that a person experiences the effects of their actions, phrases like what goes around comes around have been coined from this belief.
In Christianity, the followers are given a detailed account of the creation of man and the world. Christians believe that God created everything in the beginning. The creation story continues and has an end where a man was created on the last day. As time runs along, the Christians believe that God’s purpose for creation will be reached and the time we experience now will come to an end (Knott, 2016). Hindus depict the world as going through continuous cycles of creation and destruction where there is no beginning or end with strong mystery elements. Mystery in Christianity is contained within the will of God.
Christians believe that the moral laws were given directly by God in the ten commandments, the laws were first presented to Hebrew people from where it was passed on to Christianity in the old testament. In the New Testament, Jesus interprets and augments these laws. Hindus believe in dharma that is a natural law which is found in the universe. Hindus do not, however, speculate on why it is the way it is, they only mention that it is one of the aspects of the order of reality that is divine. Hinduism carries a belief that the moral law is usually a part of reality.
Hinduism is an evolving religion; this means that the rituals that are carried out progress. The founder of Hinduism is not known making it challenging to identify a point in time when the religion first began. Jesus Christ is a central figure for Christians; they believe that he is the one who founded the faith and that their religion is not as evolving as that of the Hindus.
The marriage ceremony is an important ceremony for the Hindus; prospective matches are looked for within the community or caste. Parents invite a holy priest to assist them in looking for matches; the priest compares the bride and the groom’s jathakam, this is a booklet in which peoples characters are written depending on where the nine planets were located during the person’s birth. Modern couples are however approving themselves before they gain approval from their parents. Hindus carry out pre-wedding rituals which include Barni bandwana, Mayara, Sangeet Sandhya, and during the marriage ceremonies rituals such as Aarti, Kanya Daan Saptapadi (Monier-Williams, 2014).
Christians believe that God predestines marriage between two people. Christians believe in souls, and therefore marriage is seen as a union between two souls where they become one flesh. Jesus teaches that marriage is a union where two people become one flesh. Weddings are usually conducted in churches in the presence friends and family members.
Hindus believe that their souls never die the only thing that dies is their body. Death is neither feared but it is revered as an experience that is most exalted. They refer to death as the great journey where when a person finishes the life lessons, and karma reaches the level of intensity, the soul leaves the body returning to the elements on earth. Hindus believe that there is no external hell or Satan. They, however, believe in hellish mind states and births that are woeful, they are nevertheless not eternal and can be changed through karma that is positive.
The last samskara is death in Hinduism (Knott, 2016). When a person dies, they are washed and clothed in a white cloth; a white fabric is chosen since white symbolizes purity with the soul being regarded as pure since it has left the body. The body of a person is usually cremated, and during the funeral, people are supposed to wear white which is the color that is preferred during mourning. A priest sprinkles holy water on the body to purify it while singing and chanting religious hymns. A ritual is then performed where the eldest male child or the closest male relative of the deceased person sets the body ablaze. Cremation is usually carried out on open grounds using wooden pyres but due to the current scarcity of wood cremation is carried out in cremation chambers. The ashes of the person are collected into a pot, the ashes should also be immersed in holy rivers, and in scenarios where the ashes cannot be immersed in the holy river and the ashes are immersed in any river that connects itself to the ocean. The cremation ceremony is performed within three and a half days of death and the ashes must also be immersed within three days. Cremation is however not carried out by all Hindus but the most preferred form of burial.
Hindus believe that the jiva is made up of five elements of nature which are required to be returned to their source once the person dies. The elements include air, water, fire and earth which come from the world and belong to the body. The fifth element is ether which belongs to the subtle body domain originating from the higher realms (Sebestény, 2017). Upon the death of a person, Hindus believe that the elements go back to the spheres that they belong. They also think that the soul and the body return to the world beyond so that they may continue the afterlife.
The funeral rites in Hinduism are performed to make sure that a soul migrates happily to the other world saving the family after effects of pollution that accompany the death of a person. The Hindu believe that the end of a person pollutes the family of the deceased regardless of whether they are close or far away, they believe that the family remains polluted until the soul of that person completes its journey to the afterworld.
The religion believes in rebirth and reincarnation of souls. Reincarnation is referred to as samsara, representing a cycle of life death and rebirth. The individual life cycles present opportunities for balance. Therefore a person is capable of relieving experiences from the past lives that they lived. A lot of Hindus believe that a person’s status in the world is as a result of the individual’s previous actions.
Christians believe in heaven while Hindus believe in a state referred to as moksha, all Hindus want to achieve this state. The state is reached when an individual lives a life that is devoted to religion and moral integrity. The person is also not interested in material things that are found in the world. The state is reached when an individual goes through many life cycles the final reward is when the person is released from the samsara entering a union with God.
Death in Christians
Christians prefer burying a dead body. During a Christians funeral rites, the body is first conveyed to the church. In some denominations, the coffin is sprayed with holy water, and the procession goes to the church with the priest leading and the family members behind. Inside the church, a funeral mass and prayers are carried out (Banton, 2013). Candles are lit while the funeral is taking place this symbolize baptism where children are referred to as the children of light.
Absolution is then carried out, where prayers for pardon are said about the deceased, Absolution is not carried out for the sins to be forgiven, but it seeks to ask God not to punish the soul of the person due to sins that were forgiven while the person was alive. In some cases, the priest or the lead clergy incenses the coffin and sprays holy water on the coffin as songs and hymns are performed. The body is then carried to the graveside.
At the graveside, the burial plot is first blessed, after some few words have been said, the coffin is lowered into the ground, people then say the Lord’s Prayer and the coffin inside the grave is blessed again, the grave is filled marking the end of the ceremony.
Christians believe in eternal life, which is life after death, this is clearly stated in the apostle’s creed where they believe in the body’s resurrection. Eternal life to them will commence when Jesus comes for the second time, and the bodies have resurrected (Brockington, springer). Death rituals are practiced in both religions so that the souls might be comforted reducing the pain that they go through. Hindus do not forget the dead, and they often carry out sacrifices for the souls to be pitied.
The analyses of both religions has highlighted the way in which the religions differ from each other and their similarities. The religions both serve as a way in which people who practice them communicate to God, it helps and guides people during their daily practices and interactions with one another. Religion tries to answer the question of what happens after a person dies.
Banton, M. (2013). Anthropological approaches to the study of religion. Routledge.
Beyers, J. (2016). Dissent on Core Beliefs: Religious and Secular Perspectives. Journal for the Study of Religion 29, no. 1, 192-195.
Brockington, J. L. (springer). Hinduism and Christianity. 2016.
Knott, K. (2016). Hinduism: a very short introduction. Vol. 5. Oxford University Press.
Monier-Williams, M. (2014). Buddhism, in its Connexion with Brahmanism and Hinduism, and in its Contrast with Christianity. Vol. 45. New York: MACMILLAN AND CO.
Sebestény, A. a. (2017). Balinese Hindus’ Afterlife Beliefs as Stable Constructs: An Effect of High Frequency Domestic Rituals. Journal of Cognition and Culture 17, no. 5, 437-462.
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