Place Christianity and Hinduism side-by-side, and you might think that the adherents of these two faiths don’t have a thing in common.

For example, Christianity is strictly monotheistic, while Hinduism embraces a number of possibilities regarding divinity. Christianity also teaches that all humans who have been delivered from sin experience one death and one resurrection in a glorified and immortal body, whereas in the Hindu tradition, people are reincarnated in various forms until they reach enlightenment. For the Christian, his or her theology is objective truth. For the Hindu, truth is relative to experience.

And these are just the beginning of the major theological differences.

But today, we live in a world that is simultaneously more closely-knit and more sharply divided than ever. We’re brought together through social media and international news coverage, and yet this spotlight seems only to highlight our differences, sparking conflict, anguish, and misunderstanding.

The key to solving religious culture clash lies in actively searching for commonalities rather than focusing on our differences, and so instead of focusing on what divides Hinduism from Christianity, we’re going to look at a few important things these two belief systems—and their adherents—have in common.

Love and Kindness First

To be kind is to act for the good of others, regardless of how useful, or not useful, they are to you. This doesn’t mean that you’re a pushover, but rather that you act for the welfare of those around you.

Both Christianity and Hinduism are ethical systems—they purport to teach human beings how to live well. And one of the most important parts of living well is learning to love others, and to show that love through acts of kindness.

The ministry of Jesus was marked by these acts of kindness. He spent His ministry healing the sick, teaching charity, and saving people from the bonds of legalistic dogma. When asked what the two most important commands of God are in Mark 12:31, He says that “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Christ places our love for one another in the same category as our love for God, making a powerful case for love and kindness.

Hinduism places a similar emphasis on love and kindness. The Hindu concept of Ahimsa, which means “not to injure” or “compassion,” refers to one of the key virtues for Hindus. It is a form of loving kindness quite similar to that of Christianity.

The idea of Ahimsa includes refraining from causing injury through action, words, or even thoughts, and is an important ethical concept in the Vedic texts—the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. Ahimsa, along with truthfulness, sincerity, charity, and meditation are some of the essential virtues of the Hindu faith.

Kindness is a value that is strongly shared by Christianity and Hinduism, and we would be well served to remember this as we strive to work together for the betterment of humanity.

Humility in All Things

Humility, in the ethical sense, is freedom from pride or arrogance. To be humble isn’t to debase yourself—it is, as C.S. Lewis once wrote, “not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

It is also a value shared by both Christianity and Hinduism.

In the Christian tradition, Christ gives the ultimate example of humility. Scripture portrays Jesus as divine, and yet He chose to serve humanity rather than revel in glory. It is from this example that Christians derive their sense of moral humility, interacting with others without any sense of superiority or loftily condemning nature.

Hindus are similarly taught to be morally humble. Hinduism, as a belief system, is quite humble, and doesn’t claim to be the one and only holder of universal truth—this is why there are so many varying beliefs within Hinduism, ranging from a pantheistic belief in many gods to a wholly secular worldview.

Within many Hindu traditions, though, the ultimate goal is to renounce all selfish desires and become free from the idea of “I” and “me”—it is only in this that a Hindu practitioner will achieve enlightenment and rise to the highest level of existence.

Both faiths place great emphasis on being humble—remembering this can be a great starting point for interfaith discussion that builds bridges across these two vastly different religious cultures.

The Power of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a powerful tool—so powerful, in fact, that it can stop age-old cycles of violence that have been raging since humankind could hold aloft a sharpened stick and direct it at his neighbor. To forgive isn’t to simply forget a wrong, or to naively allow others to hurt you repeatedly. Rather, forgiveness is the act of letting go of the possibility of revenge.

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