Q. In my native India, we Hindus talk about Jesus, but we don't call the day he was crucified Good Friday--even though to us it's a "good" day because his death probably led to another reincarnation. But what do I say about it to Christians who don't accept reincarnation? --R.K., Los Angeles

Because Christians and Hindus have different ideas about who Jesus was, the Friday before Easter doesn't have the same meaning for them. Hindus say the teenage Jesus traveled across Southeast Asia, learning yogic traditions and returning home to be a guru to the Jews. To Hindus, Jesus' proclamation "The Father and I are one" confirmed the Hindu idea that everyone, through rigorous spiritual practice, can realize his own universal "god-consciousness." Christian teachings leave room for the Hindu version of Jesus' life. The Gospels say nothing about Jesus between his boyhood visit to the temple in Jerusalem and the beginning of his public ministry at age 30, leaving two decades unaccounted for.

For Christians, this Friday is "good" because Jesus' death endowed the day with eternal hope and redemption. He became God's right hand in heaven, and his death symbolized the eventual resurrection of all humanity. But Christians don't believe--as Hindus do--that, upon his death, he became enlightened and merged with the Godhead, which is the Hindu idea of the force from which all creation springs.

You might enjoy discussing with your Christian friends what Jesus means to each of you--and especially how each of you interprets his death. Recently, Deepak Chopra said, "Christ-consciousness, God-consciousness, Krishna-consciousness, Buddha-consciousness--it's all the same thing. Rather than 'Love thy neighbor,' this consciousness says, 'You and I are the same beings.'"

There's little ground for reconciling Hindu-Christian differences about Jesus, but as you talk with Christians about him, remember what Chopra said. The oneness he alludes to--the oneness you might feel toward your non-Hindu friends--might dissipate any tensions that arise during your interfaith talk about what happened to Jesus after he was on the cross.

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