What is Hinduism?

Question
What is Hinduism?
Answer

Hinduism, ("way of life"), is not a biblical religion. There is no founder of Hinduism. Three other religious movements have grown out of Hinduism: namely, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. It is presently the third largest religion in the world (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism). Polytheism is practiced by some Hindus (33 main gods but the count went to 330 million in an attempt to poetically express the infinitude of the universe). However, Hindus, depending upon their sect, have also been described by such terms as henotheism, monotheism, panentheism, pantheism, pandeism, monism, atheistic, and nontheism, etc.

The main texts of Hinduism are the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Agamas. There are four Vedas - Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda. These texts contain mantras, benedictions, text on rituals, ceremonies, sacrifices and symbolic-sacrifices, commentaries on rituals, ceremonies and sacrifices, and text discussing meditation, philosophy and spiritual knowledge. [1] [2] There are other texts as well including, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Brahmanas, the Sutras, and the Aranyakas.

It is somewhat associated with Buddhism in that both teach: (1) Karma (the actions of an individual [cause] influence a person's future [effect]), (2) Samsara (karmic cycle or reincarnation, essentially a cycle of aimless drifting; also popular in Jainism), and (3) Maya (the illusory nature of the world; the basis of the emphasis of yoga and meditation in Indian thought). See "What is Buddhism?" below.

The teachings within Hinduism are rather vast and varied in scope depending which version of Hinduism one follows. The table below compares and contrasts a few of the teachings of Buddhism with Christianity.

Christianity Scripture Hinduism
There is one God, in three persons Deut 6:4; Jas 2:19; see Trinity below. Many gods. Man is divine. Brahma is everything.
God-centered: Goal to worship God and enjoy him forever. 1 Cor 10:31; Rom 11:36; Psa 73:24-26 Self-centered: Goal to become one with Brahma, therefore ceasing to exist in its illusory form of "individual self."
Rebirth is through Christ alone, not works. John 3:1-8; Eph 2:8-10 Reaching enlightenment by the paths of knowledge, devotion, or good deeds.
The Bible is the inspired Word of God. 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20-21 Many texts, See above.
Everyone, except Jesus, has a sin nature. Christ atoned for the sins of his people. Psa 51:5; Rom 3:23; 1 Cor 15:3-4 Repentance for unintentional sins are prescribed. However intentional sins have to be repaid through karmic consequences.
Salvation is thru Christ by grace alone. John 3:16; Eph 2:8-10; Rom 5:8 Constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached.

Those in Hinduism need Christ. See "Is Jesus the ONLY WAY to Heaven?" below.

References

[1] Gavin Flood, "An Introduction to Hinduism," (Cambridge University Press, 1996).
[2] George M. Williams, "Handbook of Hindu Mythology," (Oxford University Press, 2003).
[3] Fritz Ridenour, So What's the Difference? A Look at 20 Worldviews, Faiths and Religions and How They Compare to Christianity (Regal, 2001).
[4] Swami Achuthananda, Many Many Many Gods of Hinduism: Turning believers into non-believers and non-believers into believers, (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013).

Related Topics

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What is the Oldest Religion in the World?
What is the Trinity?
What is Buddhism?
What is Chrislam?
What is Christian Science?
What is Deism?
What is Freemasonry?
What is Islam?
What is Jehovah's Witnesses?
What is Mormonism?
What is Polytheism?
What is Satanism?
What is Scientology (Dianetics)?
What is Sikhism?
What is the Unification Movement?
What is the Word of Faith Movement?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).