Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Breaking News

February 16, 2013

GLOBAL FAITHS: Hinduism grew from worship of many gods

Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world after Christianity and Islam. It is the faith of most of the people of India, about 900 million people worldwide, says Wikipedia. Some observers call it an encyclopedia of religions. Unlike Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, Hinduism can’t point to any individual founder. Its various expressions simply grew out of the polytheism of India’s aboriginals and of Aryan immigrants into India several thousand years before the time of Jesus.

The Aryan invaders or immigrants used a language called Sanskrit, and their early writings in that language show what kind of religion they practiced — sacrifices, libations of a sacred drink to their gods, and prayers to these gods for health, long life, and happiness.

The relationship of the lighter-skinned Aryans  to the darker-skinned aborigines, usually called Dravidians, led to both intermarriage and prejudice. As a consequence, Hindus developed a caste system with priests (Brahmans) on top, warriors and rulers (Kshatriyas) next, farmers and merchants (Vaishyas) third, and laborers (Shudras) fourth. The original word for caste was “varna,” a cognate of our word “varnish,” but in Hinduism denoting color. Between the four major castes many people got classified into sub-castes and, below the Shudras, outcastes. These outcastes were formerly called “untouchables” but today are called Dalits.

Modern India has passed legislation to abolish caste discrimination, but caste consciousness does not disappear easily in Indian society. Prejudice tends to persist longer if it is rooted in religious belief, as Americans have seen in race prejudice in this country.

The religious justification or rationalization of caste rests in two long-standing Hindu doctrines or teachings — karma and reincarnation. Some Hindu apologists say the idea of karma is caught by the words of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians (6:7) “You reap whatever you sow.” Karma reflects the truth that what people think, say, or do inescapably shapes their personality and character.

Related to karma is Hindu’s other teaching, reincarnation, or rebirth. This is the view that people’s karma in a past life gives them their present lot, and that their karma in this life determines their future birth into a higher or lower caste.

Behind karma and reincarnation stands another basic and long-standing Hindu belief, pantheism. It was first articulated in some writings called the Upanishads. In these writings appear the practice of yoga meditation and the pronouncement of some of these meditators, or gurus — that there is only one underlying life force in the universe, and that individuals are one with this universal life force, like a drop of water is one with the ocean.

Pantheism is what gives Hinduism its tolerance. Since it holds that everything is God, Hinduism can see everything as an expression of God. Therefore Hindus are free to worship God through whatever appeals to them, whether that is the loving god Krishna or the violent god Shiva. Shiva’s temples usually have sexual symbols, as I saw in a Hindu temple in California.

Pantheism is also what stands behind Hindu reverence for life, although it usually focuses upon select forms of life such as the cow or the rat, which can create problems because of the havoc an unchecked rat population can cause.

Hinduism’s tolerance does not seem to extend to Christianity. It could if Christians would see Jesus Christ as just another expression of the universal life force. But the claim that Jesus is a true revelation of God’s nature and purpose makes it objectionable to Hindus. Christianity has therefore not had easy going in India, though it has had considerable success among its “outcastes.”

Marlin Jeschke is professor emeritus of religion and philosophy at Goshen College.

1
Text Only
Breaking News
  • Clinton Frame leaving IN-MI Mennonite Conference over same-sex marriage

    After nearly 100 years of being in the Indiana-Michigan Mennonite Conference, Clinton Frame Mennonite Church officials announced it will be leaving because of the controversy related to same-sex marriage.

    July 24, 2014

  • Red D Mart armed robbery New Paris Police ask for public's help in identifying would-be robber

    Elkhart County police have released still photos captured from video of the man who attempted to hold up Red D Mart gas station, 68310 Ind. 15, New Paris, on Saturday, July 19.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Red Cross in urgent need of donors

    The American Red Cross is facing a blood shortage, leading to an urgent need for donors of all blood types to roll up a sleeve and give.

    July 23, 2014

  • Huron Street residents under boil order

    Tuesday morning, Goshen water crews shut down the water main on Huron Street to replace a broken fire hydrant.
    The Indiana Department of Environmental Management requires the Water Utility to issue a boil water order for the affected area, which is Huron Street from West Lincoln to Pike Street.

    July 23, 2014

  • GN140723 CR34-Ind. 13 Crash 1 LaGrange man airlifted from scene of crash A motorcyclist was seriously injured in a crash at Ind. 13 and C.R. 34 at 1:48 p.m. Tuesday. Terry Fry, 44, LaGrange, was airlifted by MedFlight from the scene. Elkhart County police said he was taken to South Bend Memorial Hospital with fractures to

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Suspicious blinking package with battery pack causes police to evacuate business area

    A package with a battery pack and a blinking red light found on the desk of an employee at MSC, 28551 Laura Court, Elkhart, caused police and firefighters to evacuate the area this morning.
    The package turned out to be a GPS tracking device and not a bomb.

    July 22, 2014

  • Cat beaten to death in burglary

    A house cat was found beaten to death following a burglary at a home in Howe Sunday.

    July 21, 2014

  • GN140721 Kosciusko Fatal Photo #2.jpg Fiery crash kills one, critically injures two in North Webster

    A fiery crash in North Webster left a Pennsylvania man dead and two others critically injured at 3:21 p.m. Sunday on Ind. 13, near Esterbrook Drive.

    July 21, 2014 4 Photos

  • GN140719 obit mcdaniel Jeanine M. McDaniel OSCEOLA — Jeanine M. McDaniel, 61, died Thursday afternoon at Elkhart Hospice House. She was born Feb. 16, 1953 in Noble County, to Everett and Nyra Lucille (Reynolds) McDaniel. Surviving are two sisters, Patty (William) Wray, Paducah, Ky. and Bever

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140718 Rosalie Bontrager senior fair queen.jpg Bontrager wins senior queen title

    Rosalie Bontrager was crowned senior fair queen at the grandstand at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Friday morning, July 18, 2014.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
Poll

Last weekend (July 12) the Goshen Parks Department held its Kid’s Try-athlon to promote childhood fitness and this week (July 18) the new bicycle trail is open to the fairgrounds in Goshen, offering residents a healthy way to get to the annual agriculture exposition. Have you joined the local fitness movement?

Yes, I work at eating healthy and exercising
No, I am happy with my fitness level
Changing my diet and exercise frequency is a work in progress
     View Results