Summary: All things are not equal. All roads do not lead to the same destination. Our experience bears this out. Who among us would trust our own guesses when traveling on a long road trip of many hundreds of miles rather than trusting a compass and a map? Let
What About Hinduism? Revelation 5:11-13
A Hindu said to a native missionary, “I am sure if I lead a good life and do what is right, giving up my bad habits, God will be pleased with me and receive me into heaven.” “That is the way most people reason today,” replied the missionary. “You know the babul tree (a tree with long, sharp thorns). Now, suppose you break off from its branches a hundred or more of the nasty thorns, then will the tree cease to be a babool tree?” “Certainly not.”
“Suppose you should apparently stop one or another or even many of your evil ways and habits, you would still remain the same like the babool tree. You must have an entirely new nature, must become a new man, in order to please God. Only Christ can give you a new heart.” The missionary’s reply was sound and scriptural. The message of Christ, His first and only message to sinful man, is his need, not of works, no matter how good they may be, but his need of repentance, and acceptance of the Truth; Jesus Christ.
Now, we will take the second part of our trip through the three largest religions in the world, outside of Christianity. Hinduism will be our focus in what is to follow. As we travel through the subcontinent of India, passing over the landscape to gain a sense of its most prominent religion, we will discover that religion without foundation is not a means of transcending this reality in favor of some great spiritual enlightenment, but a means of transcending both reason and revelation.
While Hinduism seeks to aide its adherent in transcending this fleshly world in favor of a higher, more complete, spiritual understanding, it does not so much liberate a person from worldly human social and ethical constructs; it enslaves people to vain philosophies, superstition, and baseless beliefs.
The age of the Hindu religion is not easy to ascertain. Hinduism arose over a period of several thousand years and is indigenous to the subcontinent of India, with various influences coming into it from outside cultures, helping to shape it.
Hinduism, in its present and constantly changing form, evolved, and is evolving from the end of that ancient period right up until today. Hinduism has no dogmas, rigid structures, or even a set of commonly held beliefs. It is Foundationless.
As a religion Hinduism is largely defined by its practitioners, not by its holy books or by any organized church structures. Rather than calling Hinduism a unified religion, its is much more appropriately to say that Hinduism is a set of religious practices which are connected primarily in that they are practiced by one people group; the variances in religious practice and belief within Hinduism would otherwise easily constitute a collection of many religions.
The primary thing that binds them together under one umbrella is that it is one people group, the Indian people, which practice them. In the Religions of Mankind, the author states, “The word Hindu originated, not as the name of a religion, but as a geographical marker. Hindu derives from the Sanskrit word for river, sindhu, from which the Indus River received its name. Sometime in the first millennium B.C., the Persians, who were then South Asia’s closest neighbors, mispronounced sindhu, and designated the land around the Indus River as hindu. Over a thousand years later, in A.D. 712, the Muslims invaded the Indus Valley. To distinguish themselves, they called all non-Muslims hindus; the name of the land became, by default, the name of the people and their religion (Schoeps, 1966, p. 148; referenced from http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2579)
So, as you can see, the term Hinduism does not refer specifically to a set standard of religious practices so much as it identifies a people group. Among Hindu belief and practice there is wide diversity. According to Edward Rice, in Eastern Definitions, “The Way of the majority of the people of India, a Way that is a combination of religious belief, rites, customs, and daily practices, many of which appear overtly secular but in most cases have religious origins and sanctions. Hinduism is noted as being the only one of the major beliefs that cannot be defined, for any definition is inadequate, contradictory, and incomplete.” (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978. p.166-167)
So, I will not here attempt to define the indefinable but rather examine briefly and learn from the central tenants of this ever changing and nonspecific belief system. Hinduism is essentially a collection of cults and religious practices from the various regions of India. The only defining motif is a lack of definition.
The only thing that binds this religion together is that each of the various cults who worship its own god, gods, or conception of eternal reality, identify with one another culturally and ethnically and geographically. It is a polytheistic religion, (many gods). There is one predominant theme in Hinduism which pervades much of the variations and practices of the people of the Indian subcontinent. Because it is a polytheistic religion, by definition, their can be no standards.