“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
Hinduism, or “Sanatana Dharma”, is arguably the oldest religion to date. It’s over 4,000 years old and predates all Abrahamic religions. Hinduism has no founder and is currently the third largest religion in the world. According to The Vedas, the core Hindu holy books, Hinduism has been around for all of eternity. While that is up for speculation and is a primary religious perspective claim, I can understand why that would be said with it being the oldest religion known to humankind.
A misclaim that people say about Hinduism is that it’s polytheistic. That’s actually a false claim. Hinduism is structured just like Judaism is in it’s approach to naming God. In Hinduism, there is one God and many names. When you go into a temple, you will see several images of “gods”. While they are called “gods”, they do not see them as separate beings. There is one God manifested in different ways. When you look at the Old Testament in the Bible, God is called various different names with different meanings behind them. The different names of God in the Old Testament are Elohim, El Shaddai, Adonai, El Olam, Jehovah, and so many more. Similarly, Hinduism has 33 Million different versions of God that all mean different things.
What’s most fascinating about Hinduism is that it has a trinity just like Christianity. The Hindu Trinity consists of Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahman. Like stated above, it’s different roles all in one God. In Christianity, we find that there is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each act and function as separate roles, but they are all one God. I often wonder that if Paul had been to India if he would have seen Yahweh, Christ, and Pneuma as Brahman, Shiva, and Vishnu.
In Hinduism, there’s beautiful imagery of baptism. Submerging yourself in rivers is considered to be a way to clean all of your sins away. Rivers are considered to be a physical representation of the feminine aspect of God. Hindus travel to holy rivers to wash away their sins in the same way that Christians seek baptism for the same reasons. It changes you inwardly and speaks as a symbolic liturgy about something that’s manifesting in your soul.
Holy water is evident in more than just baptisms. If you’ve ever been in a Catholic Mass, you’ll have experienced a priest sprinkling holy water on people in the congregation. In Hinduism, the priest does the same thing during certain rituals. There are other ways to use the water as well. A priest may pour some of this water into your hand, where you then take a sip of it and sprinkle it on the top of your head. This is seen as a blessing just like a Catholic priest blessing you with holy water.
There are a lot of similarities between the two religions, but I experience this esoteric sort of God in both practices. It’s hard to describe an experience, but I feel like within Hinduism I am freer to worship Christ than when I was attending a church. If you didn’t know, I was once a Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian. I left the church and dropped the label “Christian” in pursuit of God. You can find more info on this by reading “Why I Left My Church” and “Where Am I Now“. I find more solitude in Hinduism than I did while trying so hard to be “Christian”. In fact, the Hindus at the temple that I go to know me as two things: a Christian and a devotee of Hanumanji.
There’s a Guru who I follow named Neem Karoli Baba, who I talked about in my Ram Dass article. He once told his devotees, “Sub Ek”, meaning, “all one”. He spoke often of oneness and interconnectedness of everything, which reflects the teachings in the Upanishads. Once, Neem Karoli Baba told his disciples, “Hanuman, Krishna, and Christ are all one”. I know from a majority of Christians, this is complete heresy and probably pushes the edges of blasphemy, but it resonates with me. In my devotion to Hanumanji, I see and experience Christ in ways that I never have before. There is one God with many forms, and Jesus, Krishna, and Hanuman are all the same God in different forms.
I’ve once heard it taught that Jesus was a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. That would tie him in the same line of incarnations as Krishna and Buddha who are both thought to be incarnations of Lord Vishnu. It’s all the spirit of the preserver who Lord Vishnu is supposed to symbolize. This also opens up an interesting point with consciousness. There’s an idea in the line of Vishnu where one can attain Krishna or Christ Consciousness. This is a view of total oneness, where the truth is fully realized in a being, and where enlightenment takes place. You are no longer the self, but rather you are The Self. God must realize that while in the flesh he or she is God. Upon this Christ consciousness, you see the fullness of God within yourself.
I’m not a fully realized being. I’m not a Guru. I’m not enlightened. I’m still very full of Ego. What I know for sure that I am is a seeker and a pursuer of God. Through Christ in Hinduism, I learn more about how to love others. This is a path, and I’m still on it.
I’d like to conclude this by explaining something that Neem Karoli Baba said. He told one of his devotees, Ram Dass, to love everyone, serve everyone, and remember God. This simple command is very important to me. In all of my pursuits, I seek to love, serve, and remember. I reflect on the words of Jesus when I hear this. “Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Christ is more evident in Hinduism than Christians would like to admit. Systemic teachings of it being devil worship and worship of false gods have shut off the worlds largest religion from experiencing something that’s nearly identical to itself at its core. My hope is that through further knowledge on this topic, people will open up to learning and exploring God to fuller depths than what they are taught out of ignorance.