To my non-Hindu friends I'd like to share what I've learned about "Scientific Hindus" and why I'm sharing the empirical aspect of Christianity with them.
We should do everything in our power to understand their thoughts, their heart, and the background in Indian culture that has produced many honest seekers. We should pray for them and be a blessing to them.
India has been thrust into the modern era with traditions that seem to many to fly in the face of all logic and reason. The Islamic population of India - though relatively tolerant and considerate - delights in tormenting the Hindus regarding their idolatry and traditions. The forces of "westernization" are rampant. Many Hindus feel that Islamic people, Christians, and others are constantly mocking and attacking their faith.
To be fair, they feel that their gods are merely expressions of God. They do not feel that they are worshipping an image. But that has been generally true of all idolatry all through history. But there is the idea that they are expressions of ONE God - manifested in many forms. So it's a little different than the Greek and Roman Gods - which were seperate deities.
That said, I was actually embarassed when a Hindu priest explained how they feed the god, dress the god, give the god a time for a nap, etc. To a westerner it seems closer to what we do with barbie dolls than an expression of one great God. The clash of these cultures - no matter how open minded we may be - causes some degree of turmoil.
Scientific Hindus reject all of that which they - with an empirical mindset - view as simply obviously false. They allow the possibility of the existance of God. No sane person can rule out the possibility. But they are fairly agnostic - sometimes atheistic.
They are very interested in ending religious fighting, bloodshed and persecution. They know that if there is a God He would certainly have no part in such things.
What is "westernization"? I must give a simple answer to a complex issue. Solomon was king of the mightiest empire of his time - at the cross-roads of trade and commerce - and in alliance with the Phoenician merchants. He was a great scientiest and very empirical - as the bible records. His wisdom was reknowned thoughout the ancient world. Greek empirical thought and philosophy came, in part, from these influences. The Romans were forced to stop having any real belief in their gods. The apostle Paul caused a riot because people stopped buying idols. Judeo-Christianity attacked the ancient world religions - without even trying. But Jews and Christians openly sought to end idolatry and superstition. The Greeks respected other religions, but tried to destroy Judaism in a fierce persecution - torturing them mercilessly. Rome was no friendlier. Both Greece and Rome fell. Jesus overcomes evil with good.
So though it would surprise most modern atheists - Jews and Christians were often called "atheists".
When Greeks and Romans - rejected the reality of a creator God they were left with a vacuum - a vacuum that resulted in great depravity, a quest for power, and a destructive emptiness.
It's no coincidence that the so called "enlightenment" was followed, immediately, by the barbaric and bloody French Revolution and the "reign of terror". The Nazis and Communists followed. Rampant sexual immorality fills modern media - as "westernization" has become a demonic force spreading mayhem and ruin wherever it spreads.
Judeo-Christianity started the process - but it has morphed into something truly horrific. Christians have answers. They also often carry this lethal cultural virus.
One only needs to meet a few Hindus to feel the beauty of their culture, their honor of their parents, their fundamental decency, their hospitality, politeness and courtesy. This culture is under assault - and they have so little with which to protect themselves.
The vulnerability of Hindu culture is resulting in a rise in Hindu fanaticism. Christians are often persecuted or banished. Violent clashes with Pakistan and with Islamic people in India have broken out.
The very scriptures the Hindus revere have become a problem. The ancient religion of India actualy forbade creating images or idols. It's even a touchier subject, strangely enough, that they ate beef. This is such a red-hot subject that the Indian scholar who wrote a book on the topic, "The Myth Of The Holy Cow", has had many death threats. That book is as offensive to many Hindus as Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" is to Islamic people. Other devout Hindus actually reject the scriptures which support the caste system.
In the old days only the Brahmin priests read the sacred scriptures - often in Sanskrit as mantras. But now these topics are creating an atmosphere of turmoil.
Many Hindus desire to honor their customs while pursuing technical careers as engineers and computer software developers. This often brings them into close contact with people like myself - and we often become very good friends. I often wish Christians I knew were as polite, respectful and hard working.
The great virtue of Hinduism has been its open mindedness and inclusiveness. Gandhi and the author of the Indian Constitution honored Jesus and His teachings. Hindus often revere Jesus. Their movies often honor and respect devotion to Jesus. They are often the most open minded people on earth.
But you can see that they feel attacked, ridiculed, misunderstood, and disrespected. So a dogmatic, somewhat paranoid, and close minded group of fanatics are trying to protect they beauty of their own culture from the destructive forces of westernization.
This is understandable.
Scientific Hindus go the other direction. They defend their culture by honoring their stories and traditions - without trying to believe the unbelievable. They are a powerful force in the Indian Political reform movement and they are a powerful force for tolerance. It seems impossible, however, that they can protect their culture from westernization.
I believe Christians can do two things to counteract the destructive impact of westernization.
First of all they can honor that which is honorable in Hindu culture. They should not bring the west with them. Bakht Singh and others offer non-western Hindustani (ie Indian. India is Hindustan) Christianity. Non-westernized Christianity can be truly apostolic in nature. Mixture with western culture has perverted our faith. India has embraced free markets and the English language. They are more than likely to show us our own faith in a refreshing and apostolic form.
Secondly they can help Indians profit from their willingness to embrace Jesus. Indians will eventually make Jesus "their own" to a much greater degree. India has been one of Israel's truest friends. The empirical and historical aspects of Judeo-Christianity can bring stability and preserve that which is commendable in Indian culture.
In short Christianity can have the opposite impact that it has historically had. Rather than destroying Hindustani culture it can be the single most powerful force to preserve it. The Islamists love to gloat over and torment Hindus using their own scriptures. Rather than fighting back with violence and fanaticism, Indians should fortify themselves so that they are more secure.
In the next post we will offer the best we have to these dear people - not to attack and undermine their culture - but to give them an opportunity to capitalize on their greatest strength - their ability to grab ahold of that which is good - while rejecting the destructive forces of westernization. This will make them the most powerful force for positive change in the world. They are the world's most populous democracy.
Pray fervently that the Love of Jesus - which was such a huge factor in their Independance movement - would be an even greater force as this amazing nation directly confronts the modern world.
Hi Kip, Really some thought provoking thoughts and a great hands on study. I have often wondered if there was a thread between the golden calf in the story in Exodus and the sanctification of the holy cow. Thanks, God bless you .
Peace, The Regifter
Very interesting blog ~ quite educational.
I read the Bhagavad Gita in college and wrote a paper on the similarities between Christianity and Hinduism. I haven't given it a thought since.
I've not read much of the Bhagavad Gita. Everything I have read so far has direct correlation with scripture.
Sadily, however, it strongly supports the caste system. Modern Hindus are strongly rejecting that aspect. This is part of the "tussle" Hindus are having with their own scriptures. - some calling for the absolute rejection of such scriptures.
The warrior is told to fulfill his duty as a warrior. What sense of self importance would cause someone to fail in the fulfillment of their duty.
The famous modern Bollywood movie, "The Three Idiots", takes a comedic approach to the suffering of modern Indians how are crammed into a role they did not choose - or marriages they did not desire - as a fulfillemnt of "duty". Is truly fulfilling one's duty GOOD? Of course it is. But this is like the Mosaic Law, in a sense. Though it's good - it will kill you.
The suicide rate is very high among young Indians. If they fail in the fulfillment of their duty the consequences can be horrific - for a variety of reasons. If you sing the song from that movie, "Give me some sunshine. Give me some rain. Give me the chance to live again". It's a cry for freedom and cuts deep into their souls. You'll see a tear in their eye if you sing it.
We all need to be BORN AGAIN - born anew - in complete freedom.
They call that "mukti" - complete spiritual freedom.
If you want a beautiful experience, listen to the Hindi Christian song "Mukti Dileye Yesu Naam" (Complete spiritual freedom - salvation - comes in Jesus' name")
Mukti Dileye Yesu Naam
Shanti Dileye Yesu Naam (peace comes in Jesus' name)
If you watch the best YOUTUBE video of this you'll rapidly FALL IN LOVE with India and the Indian people.