There is a fashion, for a long time, encouraged by even some Gurus, and followed by many people who really don´t know “the others´religion or tradition”, and jump into false conclusions of sameness, as if sameness was the most desirable thing. This is caused by what Shri Rajiv Malhotra calls “difference anxiety” and it consists of the fear of being different, on one hand, and on the other hand, the shallow knowledge of the other which we are comparing to.
I want to state clear that my intention with this post is not dismissing anybody. I encourage each one to follow their own conscience and beliefs, and I am perfectly happy in a world full of differences. But as much as I give value and defend the right to the differences, I criticise the need of imposition of themselves that certain religions feel.
Main religions and traditions could be divided into two groups:
– Abrahamic religions: coming from Abraham lineage: Judaism, Christianism and Islam
– Dharmic traditions: based on Dharma with their own peculiarities each of them. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikkhism, mostly. All of them stem from Hinduism as the Mother.
The main outlines of Abrahamic faiths are:
– Existence of a Messiah or Prophet historically crucial for the existence of the religion. This is what Mr. Malhotra calls “history-centrism”: the historical existence of the Messiah or of the Prophet is so essential that the religion would not be understood without him
– A single sacred book that has to be believed and followed
– Their claims of exclusivity (“only my religion is true”)
The main outlines of Dharmic traditions:
– There is no Prophet or Messiah or for that matter, anyone so important that even if his existence would be questioned, the tradition would shake
– There are many sacred scriptures
– There is no injunction of proselytizm
Abrahamic traditions, for historical and political reasons, and for beliefs, fight among each other the supremacy of each of them and for the imposition and spread of their doctrines over the rest of the world because of their claims of exclusivity.
Dharmic traditions share a common viewpoint in the substantial questions and respect each other and the abrahamic religions.
Be it clear that I am stating facts.
So now I will enter a little bit in the main differences between Christianity and Hinduism, provided each of them belong to a different realm and they are the two that I know more deeply:
|Dogmatic statements that have to be believed without experiencing. Questioning and investigating is not encouraged.||Encourages one´s own investigation and experiencing of the Truth.|
|One sacred book only||Many sacred books and scriptures|
|God is a far away being that remains apart from us. Believing in Him is a matter of faith||Bhagavan is Omnipresent. It pervades everywhere and everyone, living and non-living things. Bhagavan is to be experienced.|
|There is ONE God only||The western concepts of “Monotheism” or “Politheism” DO NOT FIT in the hindu worldview. There are many Gods at the same time that there is only one God. Because THERE IS ONLY GOD.|
|God is male||Bhagavan is male, female, both of them and even neither of them when perceived as Nirguna Brahman (formless and attributeless)|
|The historical existence of Jesus is essential for the existence of the religion.||Historicity of the facts occurred in the tradition is not that important, and even if questioned, Dharma would not be affected|
|One life only||As many lives as there are required till the jiva realizes the divinity in him and enjoys the Oneness with the Divine.|
|Heaven and hell are eternal||Swarga and Naraka are only temporary states that help the jiva to progress till it gets a new life|
|There exists originally sin in us just when being born, and only Jesus can save us. Only in the Church or within that specific Christian denomination there is salvation.||We are originally divine so there is nothing to be saved from. The ultimate aim is liberation from the cycle of births and deaths by the realization of the Unity with the Divine. http://www.hindugoodnews.com/|
|The christian concept of humans as individuals souls is deeply imbibed in western mentality, being it the root of separatedness and feelings of isolation and disconnection as a result of it. (“synthetic unity” in Mr. Malhotra´s words when they want to gather whatever in the western world, it results an addition of individual entities)||Brahman pervading everything and everyone in the form of One Unique Atman brings a natural unity among all in the hindu mind (“integral unity” in Mr. Malhotra´s words, the unity among all is real as an underlying factor). Feelings of connection come naturally.|
|The rest of the mankind are considered to be wrong, so there is a need to convert them to the “only Truth of Jesus as the only savior”. It is an injunction from the Bible to proselytize and convert||Live and let live. It doesn´t proselytize. It embraces every approach to the Divine.***|
|It gives the responsibility of one´s life to God, blaming him sometimes when the fate is not so good.||It takes the responsibility on oneself: karma created by us is the answer to whatever happens to our life.|
***Unfortunately, this strength of Sanathan Dharma has become its weakness, because it has been used and abused by the abrahamic religions to force conversions in gullible hindus. Christianity and Islam DO NOT offer the same respect. Hindus should ask for mutual respect, as Shri Rajiv Malhotra says. Otherwise, it is not being a fair play at all.
And the list could go on…So…no, not at all. All religions are NOT the same. The only commonality is the belief in some superior being. That is all. And why it had to be all alike? Is there only one dish to eat? Only one type of flower in Nature? The real problem is not the differences. It is the imposition of ones´beliefs over the others. By hook or by crook (the need of spreading the Gospels as a Christian duty, deep in the core of all the christian denominations. And for that matter, also a duty in Islam.)
Why sameness is NOT good?
Sameness is a belief of many people who want to dilute differences that finally go in the benefit of the dominating religion. Sameness to whom? “All paths leads to the same goal” is not true, because the goal itself IS NOT THE SAME:
– Jesus is NOT Krishna
– The God of the Bible is NOT the Divine in the Hindu scriptures
– Salvation only by Jesus because we are sinners by the original sin is NOT liberation or moksha by the realization of our divinity.
– There is no reincarnation in the Christian doctrine.
– There is no understanding of karma as such in the Christian belief. “As you sow, so shall you reap” contained in the Bible, it is limited to one life only, and it doesn´t have the nuances existing in the Dharmic traditions.
No matter how many Gurus have tried to equate them for the benefit of understanding, or for whatever other reason, but definetily, tracking each path will take to a different destiny relatively. At the end, every jiva will realise the Truth, but reaching heaven after one life only is not the ultimate truth for Hindus.
If we force sameness, we are disrespecting each one´s freedom to follow what they believe in, both Christians and Hindus. No matter if the proponent of the sameness understanding is in this case a Hindu or a Christian, that the result will benefit only the ones who aim the spreading of their ideas and will harm the ones that are satisfied with their own worldview without needing to convert anyone to their viewpoint.
No, we are not the same, but we need MUTUAL RESPECT as a must. Mutual respect is regarding the other´s faith or tradition without wanting to make him as I am. This is a requirement for PEACE. And till the respect is not maintained mutually, it will have to be demanded.
This post is the outcome of my own experience and investigation for many years, and I also have to acknowledge the influence of certain readings that have helped me to give shape to my thoughts, result of my own experience. A helping book has been “Being Different”, by Shri Rajiv Malhotra.