Monday, September 2, 2013

Part 4: The Uniqueness of Jesus in Contrast to the "God-men" of Hinduism

We move now to the gurus of the Hindu religion. The Hindu religion had its earliest stages about 2000 B.C.  The tribes living in the Indus Valley of northern India had a polytheistic religion that was primarily rooted in the occult. 

These tribes were later conquered by armies from central Asia who combined their Vedic religion, which emphasized nature more than gods, with that of the Indus Valley tribes.  This made a complete chain of over 300 million gods and goddesses.  The final period became more philosophical as writings called the Unipanishads began to focus on one single principle to bring all of reality together.  This pantheistic principle is called Brahman.  This period in the religion's history also introduced the idea of reincarnation. 

The religion of Hinduism as it is actually practiced consists largely of superstition, legendary stories about the gods, occult practices, and demon worship. With the plethora of gods, practices and demonic entities there comes a great number of sects and differences of opinion, so that no one generalization applies to all Hindus.  Despite these differences there still are doctrines that are foundational to Hinduism.  More on this in just a moment.

A World of Gurus

Hinduism is a world of gods and godmen, known as gurus. A guru in Hinduism is a teacher and is a key figure in the Hindu religion, because the Hindu scriptures (the Vedas) cannot be understood by simply just reading them.  They can only be understood by the guru who communicates their teachings.  

The gurus are considered holy and are worshipped even after they have died. The gurus main teaching is toward the liberation from the endless cycle of reincarnation called samsara.  This cycle is brought on by the law of karma, which is the moral law of Hinduism which comprises the effects of all words, deeds, and actions of the present and the former lives.

Liberation or moksha is earned when the individual expands his being and consciousness to an infinite level and attains a new realization called atman (the self) which is the same as Brahman.  Brahman is the one absolute being from which everything else proceeds.  In order to attain Brahman, each Hindu must realize that they are "God."  Such a realization can only be achieved by following one the following disciplines of yoga.

(1) Jnana Yoga – salvation by knowledge of the ancient writings and inward meditation, 

(2) Bhakti Yoga – salvation by devotion to one of the many deities in the pantheon of Hindu deities, 

(3) Karma Yoga – salvation by works, such as ceremonies, sacrifices, fasting, and pilgrimages, which must be done without thought of the rewards.  

Each of these methods will to some extent include another form of yoga known as Raja Yoga, a meditation technique involving control over the body, breathing, and thoughts.  This is what Hinduism is ideally, a pursuit to realizing one is Brahman.

Before I move to the reasons why Jesus is superior, let me summarize one key problem. If Brahman is the ultimate absolute of Hinduism; and if man is pursuing Brahman through the practices of yoga attain some realization that they are Brahman (the ultimate absolute), what kind of God has to realize that they are god?  

Jesus v. the "Godmen"

Jesus, is God in human flesh and not a guru (John 1:1, 14; 8:58). Because He is God in human flesh, Jesus and His teachings are far superior to the teachings of the Hindu gurus in several significant ways:  

Jesus teaches a superior worldview: If we were to a study on the existence of God and examine what kind of God exists, we would find problems with the atheistic worldview. The Hindu religions is rooted in the worldview of pantheism, which states that all is God. If we were to do a full assessment of the pantheistic worldview, and we would find that theism is a superior worldview as well on the basis that in the pantheistic worldview one has to come to realize that they are God, even though God being all knowing knows that He is God.  

 Jesus is morally superior to the gurus:  Classical Hinduism insists that suffering people be left to suffer because it is their destiny as determined by the law of karma.  Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” (see Matthew 22:36-40). Jesus also defined our neighbors as anyone who is in need of help. The Apostle John said, “But whoever has the world’s goods , and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17)  Also, many, if not most, gurus use their esteemed position to exploit their followers financially and sexually.  The Bagwan Sri Rajneesh accumulated dozens of Rolls Royces as gifts from his followers.  The Beatles became disenchanted with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi when they learned that he was much more interested in the body of one of the women in their party than with the spirits of any of them, and they admitted, “We made a mistake.”

Jesus gives a superior method for spiritual enlightenment:  While the gurus are necessary to understand the Vedas, the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads, the Bible can be read and understood by anyone.  There is no esoteric or hidden truth that must be explained apart from ordinary reasoning.  Furthermore, unlike Eastern meditation, Christian meditation is not an effort to empty the mind, but rather to fill it with the truth of scriptural principles (Psalm 1).  Eastern or inward meditation (cynically called "navel gazing") is like peeling an onion; you keep tearing off layer after layer until, when you reach the middle, you find that there is nothing there (atma siddhi).  Meditation on God’s Word begins with the contentful sayings and opens up the meaning until it yields contentment of the soul.

Jesus teaches a better way of salvation:  The Hindu is lost in the vicious karmic cycle of reincarnation until he reaches moksha, and he is left alone to work his own way out.  Jesus promised that we would be saved by faith and that we could know that our salvation is guaranteed (Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 John 5:13).

Jesus Christ ultimately showed that reincarnation is unnecessary by proving His resurrection. No burning. No transmigration of the soul. Time in the Christian faith is linear, so there is no need for samsara or karma.  Thank the Lord for the resurrection and His glorious redemption.

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