10 NonTheistic-Hinduism

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Hinduism
सनातन धर्म
A worldwide tradition that encompasses many
different religions and other ideologies. The
exact date of origin of Hinduism is unknown,
with dates varying from 3102 BC to 1300 BC.
However, it is generally regarded as the world's
oldest major religion. It is the third largest
religion
850 million Hindus in 1660 people groups
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Hinduism: Indian
Pantheism/Polytheism
Hindu Mandir
(temple) in Atlanta
Pantheistic religion of 1 Billion (98%) of India’s 1.3
billion people with approximately 1.2 Billion followers
worldwide.
 Not a unified religion, but a congress of religions
(Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhims, etc.) called dharmic
religions (“the way of the higher Truths,” a lifestyle that
leads to the least accumulation of karma, thus the
fastest path to personal liberation, moksha)
 Hindu ideas have spread to Western world through
Hindu sects, gurus and New Age movement

850 million Hindus in 1660 people groups
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Hindu view of “God”

Brahman is the one impersonal, ultimate, but
unknowable, spiritual reality.
– Sects of Hinduism personalizes Brahman
as Brahma (creator, with four heads
symbolizing creative energy)
 Most worship two of Vishnu’s (or Narayana)
10 mythical incarnations: Krishna and Rama.
 On special occasions Hindus may worship
other gods.
 There is a strong belief in astrology, evil
spirits and curses
850 million Hindus in 1660 people groups
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Hindu view of “God”

Christian Response: If God is impersonal, then the
impersonal must be more important than any personal.
But our life experience is that the personal is more
important than any impersonal (we treat our children
different from a rock in a field!)
– The Bible presents God as a Personal Being with
whom we can relate. The Bible teaches that God
has personal attributes: He talks, rebukes, feels,
becomes angry, is jealous, laughs, loves, and even
has a personal name. (Gen 1:3; 6:6, 12; Ex 3:15)
– The Bible warns Christians to avoid all forms of
idolatry (Gen 35:2; Ex 23:13)
– No idol or pagan deity is a representation of the true
God. They are all false deities and must be rejected!
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Hindu Origin: world’s oldest
existing major religion
Thirumala: rich
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
vaishnavite temple
Also known as Sanatana Dharma origin is between 31001300 BC
Dharma, “manner of being,” that teaches the value of pure
and right actions, to give up bad and wrongful actions, to
meditate on God, or your own self, in order to escape the
endless cycle of life and death (reincarnation) and obtain
moksha.
The Rig Veda, dating from 1500-1300 BC, are books of
spiritual philosophy
– Codified around 600 BC, but the oldest text is 200 BC
– Hinduism is more of a philosophy than a holy book, thus difficult to
date.

It is difficult to date since it is not an organized religion
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Hindu Attitude towards organized
religions as expressed by
Swami Vivekananda:

If you want to be religious, enter not the gate of any
organized religion. They do a hundred times more
evil than good, because they stop the growth of each
one's individual development... Religion is only
between you and your God, and no third person must
come between you. Think what these organized
religions have done! What Napoleon was more
terrible than those religious persecutions? If you and I
organize, we begin to hate every person. It is better
not to love, if loving only means hating others. That is
no love. That is hell! If loving your own people means
hating everybody else, it is the quintessence of
selfishness and brutality, and the effect is that it will
make you brutes.
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Four Major Divisions
of Hinduism
2. Shaktism, who worship Shakt or Devi, the
3.
1.Vaishnavism
Saivism or Shaivites
up(“the
80-85%
purewho
one”)
make up
personification
ofmake
primordial
energy
andworship
source
of
20-25%
(“the
preserver”)
monotheistic
4.Vishnu
Smarthism
is monist
inistheology
all
divine
and cosmic
evolution.
Her female side is
• Believe
Shiva there
is
the is
third
God
asis
the
Destroyer,
one
of
•divinity
onlyform
one of
God,
simultaneously
permeates
Smartha
philosophy
believes
inwho
the
essential
sameness
ofthe
all all
and
masculine
side
energy
(which
is
trimurti
(popularly
calledit,the
"Hindu
trinity").
creation
and
existsofbeyond
being
both
immanent and of the
deities,
the
unity
Godhead,
and
its
conceptualization
powerless
without the female side)
transcendent
myriad deities of India as various manifestations of the one
Lord Shiva. Locks of
hair
represent
the
Vishnu,
“Preserver”
who River
Devi
as
manifested
himself
as
Krishna to
Ganga
considered
Vaishnodevi,
be Mother,
a goddess in
Divine
• In the trimurti, Shiva is the destroyer, while Brahma and Vishnu
Hinduism.
goddess
of In Hindu
divine
power.and
Smartas
(followers
of Smarthism)
accept
and
are
Creator
Preserver,
respectively.
However,
even
though
They acknowledge
the existence
of many
lower
Gods
under the
mythology,
• Nowhere
in religious
history
isShiva,
there
a more
strength,
female when
he represents
he
is viewed
as
a positive
force (The Ganga
worship
the six destruction,
forms of God,
(Ganesh,
Sakti, Vishnu,
descended
from
Supreme
One.ofThese
Gods areisencompassed
by
Him, seen
as
aspect
of
divinity
With
all
Hindus,
there
a
strong
belief
in
all
Destroyer
Evil),
completely
female-oriented
system
Surva and Skanda)
and the choice of
the form of God is up to
the heavens, the Earth
either as manifestations of the Supreme Being or as powerful
could not bear her flow
the individual worshipper
since different
aspectsto
of God are
paths
religions
lead
entitiesbeing
who aretrue
permeated
by Him,that
as is all
Creation.one God
so Lord Shiva agreed
held to be equivalent.
to bear it. Lord Shiva's
or
source, whatever one chooses to call the
• Other denomination of Hinduism, believes that Vishnu incarnates skin turned bluish as he
ultimate
truth.
is theand
major
problem
in
periodically
for theThis
establishment
protection
of righteousness,
drank the Halahala
poison that came out of
good and destruction
of evil
evangelism:
Christ
is the only way, the Truth
the Churning of the
ocean of milk.
and the Life – not just another one to add!
850 million Hindus in 1660 people groups
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Four Goals in the Hindu life

1.
2.
3.
4.
kama, artha, dharma and moksha.
Kama: all humans seek kama (pleasure,
physical or emotional) and
Artha (power, fame and wealth), but soon,
with maturity, learn to govern these legitimate
desires within a higher,
Dharma: a pragmatic framework or moral
harmony in all.
Moksha: the only goal that is truly infinite,
whose attainment results in absolute
happiness, is moksha or liberation, (also
Mukti, Samadhi and Nirvana in different sects)
from Samsara or reincarnation, the cycle of
life, death, and existential duality.
550 million Hindus in 1660 people groups
Sadhus (Hindu ascetic) are often
seen meditating in padmasana
(lotus pose) having given up the
first three life goals to pursue
moksha.
8
Dharma: the nature of being




Dharma is conformity to a Divine or Creative Principle at
work in an individual and in nature.
The individual’s internal law to which obedience of life is
to be lived in accordance with a Divine will – the primary
purpose of one’s life
Evidence is seen in all nature which conforms to the
nature of their being, thus dharma is aligning of the
human body, mind and soul in harmony with nature
Foundation principle of the caste system: one must obey
an “internal decree” from which they cannot stray
850 million Hindus in 1660 people groups
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Four Levels of the Hindu Life

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

The human life is also seen as four Ashramas ("phases" or
"stages"). They are Brahmacharya, Grihasthya, Vanaprastha,
and Sanvas.
Brahmacharya, the first quarter of one's life, (literally "grazing
in Brahma") is spent in celibate, sober and pure contemplation
of life's secrets under a Guru, building up body and mind for
the responsibilities of life. This is the phase where a human
obtains knowledge of God and the world, while learning to
keep strict control of his mind, senses and body.
Grihastya is the householder's stage, alternatively known as
samsara, in which one marries and satisfies karma and artha
within a married life and professional career.
Vanaprastha is gradual detachment from the material world,
ostensibly giving over duties to one's sons and daughters,
spending more time in contemplation of the truth, and making
holy pilgrimages.
Sanyasa, the individual goes off into seclusion, often
envisioned as the forest, to find God through Yogic meditation
and peacefully shed the body for the next life.
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The Caste System
Caste is varna meaning “color.” Castes originally had equal standing
in the society and were based upon the duties to society and
everyone working together towards the welfare of the society.
According to this understanding, discrimination by caste is a
perversion of dharma's true meaning.
 Four major groupings
– Brahmins – Priestly cast
– Kshatriyas – Warriors
– Visyas, Merchants and artisans
– Shudras, serfs
– “Outcastes” 100 million are Closely bound with idea of Karma
– Status of rebirth is determined by thoughts, words, or deeds
during this life
– Poverty, riches, health and disease are ascribed to karma
 Caste based discrimination is so deeply planted in the Indian
consciousness that even Christian converts have been known to
separate church meetings for different castes. A number of Muslim
communities have retained caste practices as well.

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Hindu philosophy: achieving
oneness with the World-Force







Hindu thought is monistic or pantheistic –Ultimate reality is one
principle, Brahman
– Not a personal God but the impersonal “Force”,
indistinguishable from universe, “world-soul”
Since only one principle to reality, our individual existence is only
a temporary illusion (maya), as is the physical world
Our individual soul or self (atman) is temporarily separated from
the universal “World-soul” (Brahman)
Time is viewed as endless cycle of reincarnations, symbolized in
the wheel of life (samsara) leading to eventual reunion with
Brahman
Life in the physical world is only an evil illusion which obscures
our real unity with Brahman
So life’s goal is to be liberated from these cycles
“Liberation” is called
Moksha, or the Buddhist term Nirvana12
850 million Hindus in 1660 people groups
Liberation paths

No forgiveness nor escape from karma, so path
to Liberation is difficult and rigorous
 No agreement as to how oneness with the
infinite (yoga= “yoking”) is attained:
 Illustrates with use of jar – glass jar hinders
union of air within from being one with universal
air without. (Jar = body)
 Through yoga we are liberated from the illusion
of our individual physical self and we merge with
the Infinite. The one who knows this can say, “I
am Brahman” and becomes the “All”
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Four major Paths of Yoga
1.
2.
3.
4.



Path of Meditation (Raja Yoga) – 8 branches
Path of works of selfless service to the Divine
(Karma Yoga)
Path of intellectual analysis or the discrimination of
truth and reality (Jnana Yoga)
Path of devotion or ritual (Bhakti Yoga)
Hath Yoga are various physical and breathing
exercises and purification techniques
A proficient in yoga is called a yogi
One who attains a high measure of world-denial is
called a sadhu (“simple”)
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Hindu Scriptures:
Vedas and
Upanishads

Sanskrit texts on palm-leaf
Four Vedas are a complex of Sanskrit literature written
over centuries beginning at 1200 BC, considered
inspired
 Upanishads about 600 BC—giving the first indications
of karma and reincarnation for meditation and
philosophy. These are commentaries on the Vedas. See
http://www.indianest.com/hinduism/037.htm for more.
– Consist of hymns, prayers, formulas, incantations,
myths and legends
 Bhagavad Gita, an epic conversation between Arjuna, a
warrior, and Lord Krishna prior to battle. It emphasizes
Karma Yoga and the 10 incarnations of Vishnu,
especially Lord Krishna
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Characteristics of Hinduism
1.
Vegetarianism is practiced by about 30% of India, especially in
the south and Brahmin enclaves in the exterior.
1. Though not a dogma, it is recommended as a sattwick (purifying)
lifestyle
2.
Sacred Cow: Those who do eat meat predominantly abstain
from beef, some even going so far as to avoid leather products.
– This is most likely because the largely pastoral Vedic people relied
so heavily on the cow for all sorts of dairy products, tilling of fields
and fuel for fertilizer that its status as a willing 'caretaker' of
humanity grew to identifying it as an almost maternal figure (so
the term gau mata).
– Thus, while most Hindus do not worship the cow, and scriptural
injunctions against eating beef arose long after the Vedas had been
written, it still holds an honored place in Hindu society.
3.
Multiple Acceptance of Gods: Hindus understand that the one
truth may be seen as different to different people. Hinduism
encourages devotees to describe and develop a personal
relationship with their chosen deity (ishta devata) in the form of a
God or Goddess.
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Popular Hinduism







Average Hindu probably understands little of
this complex philosophy
Life is governed by customs (dastur), the
Bindis are worn
caste system and the veneration of the cow by Hindu women
on their forehead
Most Hindus are devoted to one of their
to symbolize the
many deities
opening of their
India is filled with temples and shrines with spiritual third eye
ancient and a few obscene sexual carvings for enlightenment
Temples are the abodes of the gods, not
places of worship
Brahmin temple priests serve the gods, while
worshipers bring offerings
Place of women is especially bad (at one
time killed when husband died, willingly burnt
together in funeral fire)
850 million Hindus in 1660 people groups
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International Hinduism

Complexities of Hinduism demands gurus to explain
it to inquirers
 Modified recently in sects (Hari Krishna and “Divine
Light Mission”)
 Buddhism and Jain religion split off from Hinduism
about 2000 years ago
 About 500 years ago an attempt to reform Hinduism
with Islamic ideas resulted in Sikh religion (from
shishya, “disciple”) of Guru Nanak, Sikh’s first guru
– Nanak said, “Let no man in the world live in delusion.
Without a Guru none can cross over to the other shore” (or
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reach moksha) 850 million Hindus in 1660 people groups
Witnessing to Hindus

Pray and trust the Holy Spirit to use the gospel message
to reach the hearts and minds of your Hindu friends
 Show the failure of everyone to obey God’s basic laws
 Show the love of God in sending Christ to pay for our sins
 Stress the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as God’s
revelation of Himself – the only one God sent to die for us
 Stress the necessity of following Jesus to the exclusion of
all other deities.
 Keep the gospel presentation Christ-centered
 Share the assurance of salvation that God’s grace gives
you and about your hope in the resurrection. Make sure
you communicate that your assurance is derived from
God’s grace and not from your good works or your ability
to be spiritual (1 Jn 5:13)
 Give a copy of the NT or the gospel of John. Mark out
key passages that explain salvation.
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