Available in Hindi too
Our additional pages concerning the other Religions are a contribution to better understanding and to the interreligious dialogue.Here we deal with the similarities and differences between Hindu schools and those in Christianity that are conscious of their own spiritual depth. It is not an attempt to extensively describe the Hindu Religion. But essential points will be discussed precisely.
In teachings of Hindu origin one finds the term "Avatar(s)" at
different stages: i.e. people that are not on earth for their own progress, but
voluntarily, to contribute to the progress of a nation or mankind; as a drop
"of divine completeness". However, the differences between consecutive
"Avatars" in their opinion often melt into one another; while the
Jewish and Christian opinion stresses the "God of history", the aspect
of development and the special role of the Messiah in this connection (excerpt
from the chapter "In the beginning was the word..." in our main text).
Nevertheless, this is a permissible approach to understand the task of Jesus Christ, in the light of the Indian mentality and vocabulary. Therefore Hindu yogis (masters) often recognize a greater role of Jesus than those of the modern Christian theologians, who look at Jesus as a simple man and social reformer. But there are also Hindus who think that Jesus was simply a teacher. One should consider that the spiritual depths of Christianity were partially lost and need to be made understandable again to make a fruitful dialogue with other Religions (at all) possible. (This website works on it in its full texts * ).
Yoga** and Christianity.
Considering the saying "Be (become) perfect, as Your heavenly father is
perfect" (Matthew 5,48) the most interesting question of each
religion is, where its practical paths lead to. In the context of Hinduism these
paths are the many kinds of Yoga, which seek to lead to the divine perfection of
the soul by mastering the outer and inner nature of man.
In this context there are European paths of spiritual learning which may include nervous or consciousness centres known in Yoga as "chakras" (...). One cannot automatically describe these tendencies as being non-Christian, as churches supposed. Ideas like these were already known to the Christian theosophists of the medieval age (Johann Georg Gichtel), and can now be experienced as really existing - just as the acupuncture points are not automatically "Taoist", because this points and lines can now be measured electrically and viewed histologically. (Excerpt from "The holy Zeal" in the main text). There is a book in German: Albrecht Frenz "Christlicher Yoga" (Christian Yoga), assuming that Christianity and Yoga are compatible.
However, for Christians the attitude is decisive: are exercises looked at as a preparation of oneself for God's influences, or does one falsely think, the perfection in God can be enforced by techniques (exercises for body and breath, singing Mantras = the power of sounds, concentration, meditation, ...)?
Another distinction for Christians: e.g. if concepts like "Christ power" occur in Yoga, does one look at the healing power of Christ as a part of him, over and above influencing the whole human being - or is it only experienced as an isolated cosmic force? If someone does not attune himself to Christ directly, how can he know that his experiences really relate to Christ? (Partially from the chapter "The question of the miracles " from our main text). *
There are also original Christian Ways instead of methods adapted from other sources; but they are still being worked out to suit our modern times. E.g. the old practice of the Orthodox monks of Mount Athos/Greece ("kyrie-eleison", "Lord have mercy") would be a Christian breathing and mantra method, if defined in Indian terms (see "The silence in the desert" in the main text)*. There is also a specific Christian Method of meditating on the Gospels, as it is a basis of our main text and as it is described in an extra page "...Christian Meditation" *.
**) The Indian word Yoga means connection - with the origin, similar to the literal meaning of the word re-ligion: hinduist methods of training für body, mind and spirit. Outside of India, mainly Hatha Yoga is practised; it consists of body positions and breathing. Indian Yoga schools, for instance of Sivananda, teach a classical way, including the centres of nerves and glands. The complete eight steps of Patanjali are 1. Yama and 2. Niyama (see below paragraph "Ethical values"), 3. Asana - body positions, 4. Pranayama - breathing -, 5. Pratjahara - drawing the senses back into the interior, 6. Dharana - concentration, 7. Dhyana - meditation, 8. Samadhi - a resulting consciousness of mystical unity. This way, named often Raja-Yoga exists besides the Bhakti Yoga - the loving dedication to God, and Karma-Yoga - selfless activities, and Inana-Yoga - Yoga of recognition, and the combined Integral Yoga of Aurobindo. For instance the Krija-Yoga-Master Swami Sri Yukteswar did some research on bridges between Yoga teachings and the Bible from his Indian background in "The Holy Science" (for instance Off. 3.21). His disciple Yogananda brought an impression of this path to the western countries. This path consists of combined activations with body positions, breath, the centres and mantras. However, his practice usually needs to receive a personal initiation. Kirpal Singh, master of the Surat Shabd Yoga - yoga of the inner light and -sound -, described from the Indian background his view of the inner unity of the religions, and was among the founders of the World Parliament of Religions. His school starts from the front centre, and purifies indirectly the lower centres of the nerves and glands, it needs to receive a personal introduction. Especially in Europe und America Yoga is taught often without needing to take over a specific hinduist believe. The website Ways of Christ works from an own Christian viewpoint on how the different teachings relate to each other.
Christian and Hindu types of mysticism.
Today, inwardly experiencing the crucifixion, the "midnight of the
soul", the "mystical death", the transition through a
"wilderness", without anything a human being could cling to– (that
all known Christian mystics, e.g. Master Ekkehart have felt in one way or the
other) - also has a certain similarity to the peak experience of Yoga, the
Nirvikalpa Samadhi or the experience of the emptiness of "Nirvana".
However, Christian mysticism supplied the experience that in or behind this
emptiness there is "something" more, indeed Christ or God. Aurobindo
showed that it is possible to exceed "Nirvana" –into that which is
behind it - also from an Indian point of view. On the Christian way, however,
something of the abundance behind everything may remain from the first moment of
the religious path because the being Christ, having passed through the earth,
represents a bridge.
When somebody like Aurobindo is confronted with powers that seem to have connections to the development of Christ but the background is not there, it gives the impression of a difficult balancing act. It is not impossible by any means, however. One may remember the case of the Hindu boy Sadhu Sundar Singh, who did not know anything about Christianity; but who, after intensively asking inwardly for God, suddenly had an experience of the living Christ, later written down in books. Also during Hindu Tantric practices, people who were expecting Indian gods suddenly had a vision of Christ. "The spirit moves, where it wants to".
For a theology determined to Christianity as a religious community hardly relevant, but the more interesting for other cultural areas might be the hint of R. Steiner to try to see Christ as a sun-like being known to higher sages before his coming down to earth. (Excerpt from the chapter "The crucifixion..." in the main text). *
Concerning the many Gods of the Hindus, one may consider that there is some later research suggesting that the "Gods" of many old cultures - as far as they have not been "special Gods of a tribe" or human heroes, were aspects of the one divine being, later adored as independent idols. So, the old theoretical descriptions like "polytheism" (Religion with several Gods) are not very meaningful. The Jews had - in the original Hebrew text - many different names for God and his qualities too. But they didn't go as far as to adore them as different Gods. E.g. the Zoroastrians (Parsees) also had a monotheistic (one god) belief. Among the schools of Hinduism, the "Vaishnavites" can be looked upon as a monotheist one. Brahman (not Brahma as one of the three main Hindu Gods besides Vishnu and Shiva) is in the hinduist teachings of the Vedanta the eternal, absolute reality behind everything that is manifested, "the One without a second one".
In this context it is interesting to note that there are new schools of thought that do not agree with the general assumption of the natural, compulsory mortality of the body anymore, like Christ: (...) E.g. the Indian philosopher and Yogi Aurobindo and his spiritual partner, "Mother" Mira Alfassa searched in a similar direction.... (Excerpt from the chapter "The resurrection" from the main text). *
Teachings about "Karma" and God.
Hindus would call the Christian ways of social deeds and of charity
"Karma Yoga" (Yoga of cleaning fate/destiny) or "Bhakti
Yoga" (Yoga of love). Ways of recognition (including meditative work) could
be compared with " Jnana Yoga".
One can really experience that life can become more of an organic whole if one adopts the attitude of getting a guided tour of life by God as conveyed by Christ. If one has an attitude of mechanically effective laws of destiny - in Hindu concepts: of the balance of "Karma" - life can continue more along these principles. Christ speaks of the working things out "down to the last penny" too; but he does not say that this has still to happen in the sense of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" (as written in the Old Testament of the Bible). The new task of the individual is given the highest priority - God takes up only those possibilities, which may become fruitful for the person and his/her environment, when it becomes worked out.. Coping with the past is no longer an end in itself and it is no longer motivation for development. Assistance "from above" concerning the combination of man’s various possibilities can be observed today. (Excerpt from the chapter "The crucifixion" from the main text; there is also an extra page related to "teachings about karma and reincarnation") *
The world religions are the most similar in their ethical principles and that is the area in which the dialogue has made most progress . E.g. the first prerequisite for success in the classical Yoga of Patanjali is "Yama": not to harm any living being in thoughts, words and deeds; not to be greedy; truthfulness; sexual purity; not simply accepting donations (being independent). The second stage is "Niyama": inner and outer purification, modesty, being unassuming, asceticism; generosity, readiness to sacrifice; study and adoration of the deity, fervour and faith. The Yogis teach that even the "battle field", in the book Bhagavad Gita, is the purifying battle within one's self. Obviously, there are parallels to the 10 Commandments and the teachings of Jesus. Hindus, Christians, and many other religions supported the project "World Ethos".
The oldest religious basis is the Vedas, ascribed to the "Rishis" of the "Golden Age". Later, for instance, the epic of the Mahabharata was added, with its description of prehistoric occurrences - often looked on as myths - including wars, and therefore from a not so "golden" era. The wisdom literature of the Upanishads followed. The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most important sacred texts of the Hindus, the traditions of which combine the earlier Vedas with the philosophy of the Upanishads and yoga wisdom, and is part of the Mahabharata. Krishna, the hero of this didactic poem, is considered to be the Supreme Being manifesting himself in human form – an avatar (see above).
topics and main text.