This post looks at how we can reconcile extremist destructive religions with the instruction to respect all people who believe in God. Interestingly a fellow Saivite has just published a post looking at the issues at the other end of the spectrum, In “Devas on the head of a pin?” he asks how can we give enough credit to the beliefs of other religions where the teachings appear to be different but the truth behind must be the same.
I have been prompted to think about this by an interesting comment by Kodanda, where he talks about sattvic and non-sattvic religions. He asserted that the Hindu proclamation “Ekam sat, viprah bahudhaa vadanti” or “There is one truth (God), but sages describe it differently” could only be applied to sattvic religions. Religions that promote violence, conversion by force, threats, bribes or deceit, that subjugate unbelievers should not be included in this. It is certainly possible that the sages who first wrote this had only come across Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism and not the exclusive religions who would like to see an end to all other beliefs.
At first I was worried that this would contradict the teachings of my sampradaya (Hindu schdenominationool) as Gurudeva says:
How Do Saivites Regard Other Faiths?
Religious beliefs are manifold and different. Saivites, understanding the strength of this diversity, wholeheartedly respect and encourage all who believe in God. They honor the fact that Truth is one, paths are many. Aum.
His Nandinatha Sutras also say:
SUTRA 231: INTERACTING WITH OTHER FAITHS
Siva’s devotees properly respect and address virtuous persons of all religious traditions. They may support and participate in interfaith gatherings from time to time with leaders and members of all religions. Aum.
SUTRA 232: NOT DEMEANING OTHER SECTS OR RELIGIONS
Siva’s devotees do not speak disrespectfully about other Hindu lineages, their beliefs, Gods, sacred sites, scriptures, or holy men and women. Nor do they disparage other religions. They refuse to listen to such talk. Aum. Continue reading
Islamic group launched "Christmas is Evil" poster campaign
Just before Christmas an Islamic group in the UK launched a poster campaign. Mr Rumaysah, a spokesman for the group, told the Mail that he was unconcerned about offending Christians. He said: “Christmas is a lie and as Muslims it is our duty to attack it”.
This sort of attitude is seen in fundamentalists followers of all exclusive religions, not just Islam. Showing equal disregard for other faiths, the Christian fundamentalist Pat Robertson said “Siva [is] the God of Destruction, and his consort, the Goddess of death [Kali] — that black, ugly statue there with all those fierce eyes”. [This is wrong in almost every way, Saivite Hindus Immanent love and transcendent reality]. He also said that Islam is “…motivated by demonic power. It is Satanic and it’s time we recognize what we’re dealing with”. Not all Christians and Muslims are extreme like this; I have written previously about Muslims and Christians who acted with friendship towards Hindus. The attitude that it is acceptable to insult other faiths is one of the dangers of exclusive religions though, the religions that teach that they have the only right way.
Celebration of Lord Krishna's birthday
This contrasts with those who follow inclusive religions: Hindus, Sikhs, Taoists, Buddhists, and many more. I am a Saivite Hindu and attend a temple in the UK where most of the other attendees are Vishnavas. I see Shiva as the ultimate God, whereas Vishnavas see Vishnu or one of his avatars as the ultimate God. Vishnavas believe that Shiva is a created demigod, and I believe that Vishnu is just one of the five actions of Shiva, which are creation, preservation, destruction, veiling and revealing. Many Vishnavas see Krishna as the ultimate God, but as a Saivite I don’t believe in full avatars. To people following exclusive religions these might seem like unsurmountable differences, but I and many other Saivites worship next to Vishnavas regularly. Continue reading
Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Locomotive 780
I can’t remember where I heard it, but I had read somewhere and believed that despite the obvious exploitation of India under the British Raj, there were two lasting positive legacies; the education system and the railways.
A couple of days ago someone on facebook someone mentioned Thomas Babington Macaulay as responsible for severely damaging the Indian education system. I had not heard of him, and I was told about an article in Hinduism today that described his attitudes towards Indian culture and the changes he implemented in India. This totally changed my opinion of the effect that the British Empire had on education in India.
When is conversion Ethical?
To what extent should a religion welcome converts, and should a religion actively seek converts? There are many schools within Hinduism, and many different answers to this question.
I have previously written about Hinduism’s attitude towards newcomers, and how most typical Hindus don’t actively attempt to proselytise. This was illustrated in our mandir recently. We often have visits from school groups learning about religions practised in the city, and occasionally we have adult groups visiting. One day when I came to the mandir for arti there was a group from a nearby church. When the arti had finished some of the visitors came over and talked to us, and one of them asked if I was a convert. One of the other Hindus present said that he wanted the visitors to be clear that Hindus do not try to convert people. If people come and are interested they will welcome and help them, but they don’t actively seek converts. I have heard it said that Hinduism should be offered like sweets on a plate. If someone wants to take them then they are welcome, but they are equally welcome to decline the offer and move on. This is certainly far more restrained than the practice of religions which actively proselytise, but is it sufficient to ensure that people who convert have really accepted the faith and have positive reasons for joining? To answer this question I will take a side-step and look at the acceptance of converts in Judaism.
Amba was getting her things together ready to go in the car with her family to the seaside town of Seaport, when her friend John called. He said that he was going to Seaport with his family, and would she like to see them off at the station.
“Sure”, said Amba, “I’ve got time. I’ll probably see you in Seaport”. John didn’t answer but looked glum. Amba wondered what could be wrong.
When she got to the station her friend John looked at her seriously.
“Look”, he said, “I know that your parents said that you were going to the seaside, but they were lying. Can you see the sign there”.
Someone recently commented that my blog was anti-Christian. It was certainly not my intention to be anti-Christian, though my condemnation of the fundamentalist, evangelical Christian Right may have given that impression.
A while ago I wrote an article “Muslims, friends of Hindus“. I had not written a post about the friendship between Christians and Hindus, perhaps because I take for granted the fact that there are many Christians who want friendly, supportive relations with other religions. In fact in Britain probably a majority of Christians would be against aggressive conversion tactics. Continue reading
I have been thinking about fundamentalists’ claims that everyone apart from “true Christians” will go to hell and be eternally tortured. They often try to reconcile this with a good, merciful and loving God by saying “it is written, it is the Law, and God cannot disobey the Law”. Unlike Christianity Hinduism does not have a definitive book. There are the Vedas of course, but these are more works of praise to God than Law or rules, and these are supplemented by agamas from each school. Christians, like Hindus, believe that God is omnipotent. It seems to me that if God writes the Bible as a definitive book that he must follow from that point until eternity then this is limiting his omnipotence. Metaphorically speaking God has created a rock so heavy that he can’t lift it; the Bible.
That is fair enough, but if God creates this rock which is so heavy that even he cannot lift it so that it will crush most of humanity forever then this cannot be an all-loving and good God. The God who would do this is not the God that I worship.
I have written previously about how it is almost ironic that Christian Fundamentalists go out of their way to distort science to make it fit their creation story, whereas science tends to agree with the Hindu view of the Universe. This is despite Hinduism not predicting a correspondence between Maya and spiritual truths, which Christian Fundamentalists see as essential.
I read an interesting article in New Scientist “Did our cosmos exist before the big bang?“, which shows that the latest advances in quantum loop cosmology predict an endless series of universes, a new one being created after the destruction of the previous. Again science confirms what Hinduism predicts, while the Abrahamic 6,000 year old Universe is now discounted by all serious main-stream scientists.
Posted in christian right, hinduism, other religions, religion
Tagged Add new tag, christianity, creation, creationism, hindu, quantum loop cosmology, quantum physics, science
Can't see the wood for the trees?
I have recently written two posts that were intended mainly to show non-Hindus what the Hindu religion is like, and convey the world’s reactions to Hindus. I have had some very positive comments and some that make me think that some people are not reading them the way that I intended. I am therefore writing a brief explanation of each post.
This post was intended to convey the Hindu attitude of inclusivity. I also wanted to show that there is a long history of inclusivity and tolerance, that Hinduism has never been hostile to those of other faiths just because of their beliefs. Continue reading
This post is a follow on from the previous post If Christianity were like Hinduism. It will make more sense if you read that post first.
If Christianity were like Hinduism people would criticise protestants for the pronouncements of the Pope. They would criticise Catholics for the practices of the early Mormons and Mormons for the beliefs of the ancient Mithras cult.
If Christianity were like Hinduism peope would point to the Nazis as an example of Christian culture. Some would say that the cross should be banned, because Hitler gave out iron crosses. They would look at gang violence in inner cities and say “that’s what happens when you have Christianity”.
If Christianity were like Hinduism people would say that they knew about Christianity because they had read about Rasputin. They would ask you how a religion could claim that it was good to sin because then you could be forgiven, because forgiveness was divine. Continue reading
If Christianity were like Hinduism there would have been no Inquisition. The Cathars would have been accepted as non-Orthodox Christians and not exterminated. People would have been free to publish books saying that the earth went round the sun. The response to Heretics would be to argue against them rather than execute them. Even the extreme who reversed the rules of faith and held black mass would only be fought with words.
If Christianity were like Hinduism then everyone would accept that Mormons and Jehovas Witnesses were fellow Christians. The response to Waco would have been what had made someone’s Christian belief go so wrong, not to deny that they were Christians.
If Christianity were like Hinduism then Christians would see continuity with the Jewish faith, Kabbalists and Jews would be seen as traditional and mystic branches of the religion. Christians would acknowledge the link with Mithras and with Greep philosophy and feel pride in their long heritage and how their faith evolved.
If Christianity were like Hinduism and Islam were like the beliefs that sprung from Hinduism, then the only conflicts with Muslims would be over land and politics. Religion would be a healing rather than a dividing factor. The biggest religious disagreement would be that some Christians would say they were an unorthodox branch of Christianity whereas they would prefer to think of themselves as a separate religion.
If Christians were like Hindus they would celebrate the different faiths in the world, not demonise them. They would hold their faith firm but take interest in other beliefs. They would be concerned about their own spiritual progress, rather than thinking that they were saved and it was a done deal. They would offer their teachings to those who wanted to learn, but not force them on those who took no interest.
Many Christians are extremely insulting about Hinduism and other religions. They call us ignorant, dumb, followers of Satan and mock our beliefs and practices. They tell converts that they should not associate with non-Christians, and sometimes even incite violence, trickery, deception, and destruction of shrines. You only have to look at some of the comments by Christians on this blog to see the degrees of hatred. These Christians honestly believe that this is what their religion teaches.
In contrast, many Hindus believe that Jesus was a guru, and that his teachings do not incite this type of behaviour. I have looked at the teachings of Jesus and I have come to the conclusion that many Christians have misunderstood the real meaning of the teachings of Jesus. In short, what the many missionaries teach is not in accord with the true teachings of Jesus.
Jesus as a Guru
If Jesus is seen as a guru, and the gospels as the teachings of Jesus become clear. When Jesus says to Thomas In John 14:6-7
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.
This is an explanation of the Guru student relationship. Many gurus would say the same thing to their students, but this would not exclude the possibility of other gurus. Many sayings that are taken as instructions to be exclusive and divisive by the Christian Right are in reality simply instructions to keep firm to the guru-shishya relationship.
Jesus’s words on Other Faiths
From the way that many modern Christians behave you would expect Jesus to be full of condemnation, insults, and irreverence for the Roman and Greek gods. In fact, Jesus never said anything negative about these beliefs. Having queried this on a Christian board someone eventually came up with two passages from Jesus: Continue reading