Questioning your faith

wall in the shape of a question mark

Big Questions

Hinduism allows you to question your religion and beliefs. In fact there are a variety of different answers to questions like “what is the nature of God”, and “how did the world originate” to which different Hindu lineages gives different answers. All are accepted as Hindu beliefs though.

This contrasts with the teachings of exclusivist faiths, where to question your belief is seen as endangering your soul, and anyone with a different answer to the official doctrine is a heretic. To the Christian or Muslim, questioning can lead to doubt, which leads to damnation.

I recently read a very interesting post by Myownashram, where she talks about being asked the question “what if you are being deceived?”. Needless to say this question came from an evangelical Christian who would not be prepared to answer it himself (after all if he started to doubt it could lead to hell-fire!). Even so, I found this an interesting question.

I will look at these questions from a purely logical point of view, without considering faith and spiritual insight.

Though I had not considered this before, I had considered a similar question “what if you are wrong?”. The answer to this is that being a Hindu adds a spiritual richness to my life, and encourages me to treat others better. Even if I am wrong then my religion is a benefit in this way. If God is good then he would not punish anyone making genuine efforts to seek the divine. If God is not good, or doesn’t exist, then nobody can be sure of any benefit whatever they do.

The question “what if I am being deceived?”. Again a good God would not allow anyone to be deceived and be lost forever. It is possible that there are “benign deceptions”, keeping things from us until we are ready for the full picture, but if we are deceived in this way then it is not a problem.

Zoroastrianism believes in equal good and evil forces

The only time that “being deceived” becomes a real possibility is if there is no ultimate  God, either because there is no God or because there are equally powerful opposing “good” and “evil” Gods (such as the belief of Zoroastrianism). With equally powerful “good” and “evil” forces it is possible for someone to be deceived without the “good” God being able to do anything about it.   However, this is not the same as the deception that Christians talk about, with eternal consequences. It would but more like taking a job with someone who tells you that they are offering a great career, but it turning out that they just want to exploit you.

So, from a purely logical point of view it is not possible that we are being deceived in the way that people from exclusivist religions imply. Of course from a spiritual view Hinduism allows us to feel the ultimate goodness of the paramatman, and know for certain that we are following truth.


Image of the  wall kike a question mark, copyright Peter Trimming and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. Image Faravahar (seal of Zoroastrian guardian spirit) from Wikimedia  and released under the Gnu free documentation license.

24 responses to “Questioning your faith

  1. I often still question how we can have so many answers as to the origin of our current universe. I know what I believe so it doesnt bother me too much.
    I have come up against this very debate with Christian friends. They tell me that one’s attempts at what we call Mahasamadhi will not be honored because being merely a “good person” does not cut it.
    Your idea of benign deceptions is very well stated. If we are all climbing a ladder, shedding off layers and layers of this mortal being as we go, then certainly there are certain things we need to know at certain stages/things we don’t need to know until a certain stage. Things that in fact would be damaging to our progress. So indeed these deceptions are for our own good.

  2. Hari Om
    Namaste and hello Tandava, think you have succinctly covered most challenging topics in way that resonates as logical to this one, and speaks to my heart as well. At the end of the day at very worst, know treat others better with this path and find peace and strength with Darshan, even in this present age.
    Thanks for this offering.
    Om Namah Shivaya
    FFTW

  3. hear bbc asian network show about paralympics n hindu degrading view of disabled people including pakistani n bangladeshi views
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/b01m2840

  4. Hinduism is the only religion in the world which permits questioning. Several religious Books contain conversation. For an example in Bhagavad Gita Arjunan keeps on questioning and Lord Krishna answers all question happily.This sprit of innovation is the foundation for the growth of knowledge. One cannot question what is said in the Gospel or Koran.
    Swami Vivekananda says ” God is infinite hence a Book of infinite pages alone explain him. So one book does not hold supreme in Hinduism like science.

  5. Every One in the world should read http://www.alisina and http://www.anwar sheik
    to know the true face and heart of Arabian religion, questioning is considered satanic

  6. what do you think about import of american milk where cows are fed with meat & cheese made by calf rennet to india link is below
    http://bit.ly/OBb81Q

    & how do hindus manage this issue in uk

    • It’s a non-event.

      Majority of hindus still buy milk produced in the local markets(going to the dairy farm with a pot) because india is yet to progress in retail logistics and food preservation. Due to the elimination of the costs of warehousing and transportation to distant areas, prices are kept low.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dairy_farming
      India is the largest producer of milk in the world. It’s highly unlikely for india to allow foreign markets to sell milk in india. Packaged milk is generally considered low quality in india. That and its not affordable.

  7. Good post, Tandavaji. I think it’s important to remember that logic and reasoning can play an important role in religion. Faith should not necessarily be based only on doctrine.

    But I (naturally) prefer Sri Ramakrishna’s view on this subject. He said that, if one practices one’s faith sincerely, trying to love God, then God Himself corrects any errors in one’s religion. And if there are errors in the religions of others, that should not concern one.

    • Art,
      I agree fully with Ramakrishna’s view on God correcting errors in our religion. Logical questioning can only tell us if something makes logical sense. Many things make logical sense, but only the spiritual realisation through the paramatman within us that tells us that we are on the right path.

      As for errors in the religion of others, that is only a concern to us when people try to push their beliefs on to us.

      • That’s Srila Prabhupada’s view as well – that our faith is reciprocated by the mercy of Lord Krishna so that it will be kept strong in Him (or as the Bhagavad Gita says, to whomever one places one’s faith in, He keeps their faith steady) and any errors corrected.

  8. I should have said that I think Sri Ramakrishna’s words apply not only to Hindus, but also, of course, to those of any or no religion who are inclined to question the validity of our faith.

  9. If more people read Ramakrishna…the world would have less folks converting. Maybe we could start a trend…place one of his books beside the KJV bible at hotels:P

  10. It may not actually be about religion. It probably is about god(does it exist or not).

    I’ve always believed that “the concept of god” is a nice idea as long as it is not taken too seriously. It we take it seriously(against objectivity), then we get a person with an “allegiance”. Needless to say, an “allegiance” without “objectivity” is dangerous.

    wrt spirituality(aka being a better person?), the hindu schools of thoughts may have agreed on the consensus that the existence of god cannot be proved or disproved. This is the only explanation why several opposing schools could have flourished aside each other.

    wrt god, I myself get moody. Sometimes I think it exists(my instinct) and sometimes I don’t(objectivity). I prefer the former because of the “known evil even is better than the unknown evil” argument.

  11. Every believer on earth is probably making an “assumption”. I think if these believers consciously knew that they were making an “assumption” then they wouldn’t have taken up “allegiance” in the first place.

    So in short, having consciousness of conscious is essential.

    • Non-believers/atheists are also making ‘assumptions’.

      • Arguably, they aren’t.

        The atheists argument is to prove the existence of god. Whereas the believers counter argument is to prove the non-existence of god; and since the atheist cannot prove the non-existence of god, it is argued that god exists.

        Practically, the believer makes a very ridiculous argument. It’s similar to proving a sixth finger on my hand; since I cannot prove that it does not exist, the believers argument makes its existence possible.

  12. amazing way of describing.by the way i want to write a article debunking myths about shiva linga.can you give me any reference or sites address where i can know more about it.thank you…

  13. Supremegodrealization :- Link for you describing Shiv Lingam [Tandava: Inline video replaced by this link]

  14. Happy Ganesh Chaturthi Tandava 🙂 Ganpati Bappa Moriya

  15. Pingback: An interesting blog – A Modern Hindu Reveals | Western Hindu

  16. Thanks for sharing this useful information with us. Hinduism is the only religion in the world which permits questioning. [tandava: link removed as requested by the owner of the linked site]

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