Prophets and Gods the Roots of Christianity and Ancient India Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Religion

On the surface, Hinduism and Christianity could not be much more different. Ancient Hinduism offers a colorful pantheon of playful deities, some of which assume animal characteristics such as Hanuman and Ganesh. Stemming from its Jewish roots, Christianity presents a much different view of the origin and structure of the universe. Christian cosmology is more tightly ordered than that of Hinduism. Strictly monotheistic, Judaism imparted a mistrust of pagan polytheism to Christianity. Christian deity is unitary but also triune, in the worship of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Herein lies the strongest connection between worship in ancient India and worship in early Christianity. Hinduism, like Christianity, has a triune God concept. The Hindu God Brahma is the Supreme God, but God has three manifestations as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Each of these gods has its own expression and role in the Hindu cosmology. Whereas Brahma is the absolute God and rarely personified, Vishnu is known as the preserver god. Hindu god Shiva is also part of the trinity. Shiva is the god of destruction and death, related to natural evolutionary change, and not in a morbid way. Therefore, there are some core similarities between the ancient religions of the Middle East and the ancient religions of India.

The differences between Indian and Middle Eastern religions are more obvious than the similarities, though. For example, the Hindu gods have human qualities. There are both male and female gods, gods and goddesses, and they consort sexually with one another. Such a phenomenon is completely absent from Christianity, in which the pleasures of the body are to be limited or denied. Whereas Hinduism is replete with female gods, or goddesses, Christianity has no goddess. The closest thing to a goddess in Christianity is the Virgin Mary. Because the Virgin Mary had baby Jesus via immaculate conception, according to Christian doctrine, there is no sexuality involved. This is completely contrary to Hinduism, which allows gods to have a sexual nature. In addition to their sexuality, Hindu gods also engage in warfare. The Hindu text the Bhagavad Gita, as well as the Mahabharata are tales filled with conquest, lust, and glory that are not present in the Christian Bible. The Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, does include tales of war, kings, and sexuality. However, these tales are not as lively as the Hindu ones and also do not refer to gods and goddesses at all.

Christianity is monotheistic in spite of the trinity; whereas Hinduism is polytheistic in spite of having a belief in one supreme God. This difference is critical to a respectful understanding of both religions. For Christians, there is only one God but He gave His only Son so that human beings can achieve salvation from sin and eternal life in the hereafter. The incarnation of Christ on Earth is a central concept to Christianity, and most Christians worship Jesus as Lord. The worship of Jesus as Lord does not conflict with the concept of monism or monotheism, because Jesus is not considered metaphysically…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Bhagavad Gita

Bible: Old and New Testament

Das, Subhamoy. "Top 10 Hindu Deities." About.com. Retrieved online: http://hinduism.about.com/od/godsgoddesses/tp/deities.htm

"The Origins of the Universe." BBC. Retrieved online: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/rs/environment/hinduismbeliefsrev1.shtml

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