Not So Different After All
In the modern world, there is a plethora of different religions a person could choose to follow.
Some of which are very well known and popular like Christianity or Islam, while others like Scientology and Confucianism, are not as prevalent. In the book Life of Pi, the protagonist experiences the religions of Hinduism and Christianity differently. But in reality, how are Hinduism and Christianity alike and different? Most people know Hinduism and Christianity to be really rather dissimilar. They differ in history, beliefs, and practices. But beneath all of those differences, they actually share some traits.
Sensibly, the proper place to start would be the beginning. Some people assume the beginning to Christianity starts with Jesus Christ and the miracles, etc., but they would be wrong. Christianity begins with Judaism. Before Jesus appeared, most people in Israel were Jewish and followed the teachings of the Torah.
Jesus of Nazareth was born in 4 B.C. Nothing really significant happened to Jesus until he was around 30 and baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus then began his ministry in 27 A.D. Then come the miracles, healings, and teachings, which became the base for Christianity.
He was crucified in 30 A.D. But he was not dead for long, because in three days he was back to life appearing before his disciples. The accounts of Jesus’ life, called the Gospels, were the opening of the New Testament, which combined with the Old Testament, makes the Bible, or the sacred Christian scripture. Hinduism had a very different beginning. Instead of one man starting a new religion, Hinduism just gradually evolved over time as the religion of India.
It can not be traced back to a specific man or date, but based on archeological discoveries; it seems to date back as far as 2000 B.C. Both Hinduism and Christianity are relatively old religions. They were not recently created like Mormonism; they have been around for quite a long time. Two thousand years is not a long time in relation to the history of the Earth, but for me, two thousand years really is ancient.
Travel onwards through the sea of time until the 20th century, our time. Both religions have been established and practiced for at least two thousand years. But what are their beliefs? Christianity is a monotheistic religion. Their sacred text is the Bible, and Christians follow the teachings of it. In Christianity, creation is portrayed in the first book of the Old Testament: Genesis. Genesis depicts God creating the Earth and man in six days and resting on the seventh.
He created the Earth and wants to have a personal relationship with the inhabitants: us. When we die Christians believe we either go to heaven or hell. They claim we all sin and the only way to make it to heaven and salvation is through faith and worship of God. Hinduism beliefs are different. Hindus believe in the Ultimate Reality.
It has many different names, but it is most commonly referred to as Brahman. Brahman created everything and is in everything. Humans can not get to know Brahman, unlike the Christian God, but we can know it by many other gods and goddesses that are expressions of Brahman. Hinduism does not have a specific sacred text, but Hindus believe in the teachings in the Upanishads and Vedas. Hindus believe that there are four purposes of life, rather than the one Christian purpose of serving God. The first is Dharma, which is fulfilling one’s purpose in life and repaying the debts they are born with to the gods and to others.
The second is Artha, which is basically prospering with wealth through out their life. The third is Kama, which refers to sexual and romantic pleasures. But the ultimate goal of life is to achieve Moksha, or enlightenment. Hindus also believe in rebirth, so until they achieve Moksha, they will keep living and living. Moksha can be viewed as the end of the rebirthing chain or as a perfect union with God. Once Moksha is achieved, they are free to rest, or they can choose to be reincarnated again in order to teach others.
They do not go to a paradise or heaven like in Christianity, they just….understand. Although those lists of beliefs sounded very different, they do have similarities. Although in Hinduism, Brahman is portrayed by many different gods, he is still the one Supreme being and creator, like God for the Christians. Although the purposes of life are different for the two religions, they followers of these religions still have things they have to achieve to reach paradise, whether it is a state of perfect understanding, or literally paradise.
So you know what you are working to achieve in both religions, but how do accomplish Moksha or heaven? In Christianity, it is fairly straightforward. In Catholicism, when a baby is born, he is baptized. Baptizing literally is just being placed in water, but it represents the beginning of the infant’s life and journey to salvation. As Catholics they will attend mass, and attend church every Sunday. When they reach a certain age they start doing your communions and confessions. When they achieve rank of devoted catholic, it is proper to pray before every meal and before bed.
It is also common for Christians to do Bible studies. They will get married to the love of your life, and then when they die they will have a funeral and hopefully, if they did everything right, they will go to heaven. With Catholicism, the rituals are arranged in a list, and they pray and confess throughout their lives. Hinduism is a little different about its practices. Like Catholicism, it has a list of things they should accomplish in their life and they are broken up into phases. The first phase is brahmacharga, this is when they are in school as children.
They are to learn. The second is grastha, which is when they focus on living an adult life that consists of family and work. The third is vanaprastha, this is when their babies are now adults and they have time to focus on their spiritual life. The last phase is sanngasu, when they are old and they can give up on living and just think and try to achieve Moksha. Throughout the phases, Hindus practice yoga, meditation, and worship of the gods. Although the phases are different, both religions have a list of things to do.
Both start with ignorance and the goal is to end with some form of enlightenment or realization. Although Hinduism and Christianity are very different religions practiced in very different places, they do have their similarities and shared beliefs. The share some beliefs like a sole creator and they both state that we are here to accomplish something. But they differ in their specific beliefs, history, and practices. Even though two things can be very different, they can always have some shared attributes.
Works Cited “Big Religion Chart.” Religion Facts. N.p., n.d.
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” Religion Facts. N.p., n.d. Web.
29 Aug. 2012.