Religions in India and Their Comparative Theology

by Swami Chidananda

My comments

My class notes

Summary from the Program

India is the land that gave to the world two great religions: Hinduism and Buddhism. While the former is the majority religion of the country today, the latter has gained great popularity in many countries in the world.

In addition, Jainism and Sikhism which were born in India, are thriving on the Indian soil. This largest democracy on the earth, with more than a billion population, has been a generous host to Christianity, Islam and the Parsi religion. Except for some recent waves of violence, the land has been most tolerant and accommodative. People here live in friendship and peace, while subscribing to different faiths. Religions that came to India have adapted to their host country and we can find at places a unique fragrance in the practice of the faiths. If handled well, the multi-religious scenario here can become a good model for the implementation of a global ethic, promoting unity in diversity.

My Notes

Indian Religions - Swami Chidananda chidananda@chinmaya.org

- Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism all born here
- last three off-shoots of the first
- Islam, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Bahai have all come here
- Islam the largest group of imports
- Christianity is the third largest religion, imported by Portugese, 
  French, and British
- Zoroastrianism is of the Parsis
- Bahai Lotus temple in Delhi very beautiful
- Hindu Vedas originated before 1000 B.C.
- Vedic chants very common
- "Veda" means "all knowledge"
- "Bhagavid Ghita" best known Hindu work
- common practice suggests Hinduism is polytheistic
- but the gurus teach "one god, many forms."
- non-dual philosophy - one god, whole world, people all one expression 
  in many forms
- 20% of Hindus are in various sects
- Hare Krishna an example - they are definitely polytheistic
- Buddhism started 6th century B.C.
- no longer very popular here
- several Buddhist sites in India, including where he was enlightened
- Hindus regard the Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu
	- Buddha came to denounce the misuse of the Vedas - inappropriate 
	  ceremonies, etc.
- Buddha - neither denial nor indulgence - a social reformer
- Jainism - Mahavira, 6th century B.C.
	- like Buddhism, no mention (negative or positive!) of God
	- shares theory of karma with Hinduism and Buddhism
	- enlightenment through austerity
	- harm no creatures
	- there are certain powerful beings, call them "gods" or "angels"
	- don't accept the Vedas
- Sikhism, founded by Guru Nanak 1469-1538
	- didn't like fighting between Hindus and Muslims
	- traveled widely in India
	- Tenth guru after Nanak created the Khalsa, declared end of gurus, 
	  Khalsa is guru
	- does have "God"
- Islam/Muslim
	- Moghuls were Muslim - 10% of India is Muslim
	- the common men - brothers to each other
- Christianity - 3% of population
	- Service Activities and Education have helped Christianity
	- Mother Teresa was well received by Hindus
	- Roman Catholic commonest
	- Protestant next
	- Hindu swamis don't marry, Catholic priests don't, Protestant priests do

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Last modified 2006-05-18 by giles