Christianity and Hinduism - Trinity
Christianity and Hinduism are very different religions, however, they do have similarities. For instance, they both are considered monotheistic, meaning they worship one God, and both have the concept of a trinity. The trinity for both of these religions is different, but the concept of a trinity can reconcile with the monotheistic claim of both religions.
The most popular of the world religions, Christianity is the worship of one God, the creator of the universe - Christianity and Hinduism - Trinity introduction. His son, Jesus Christ, became man and died for mankind’s sins. He was truly the son of God, therefore both human and divine. (Rice, 150) Christians believe in an afterlife; that once an individual dies, their spirit goes either to Heaven, to live with God, or to Hell, to be one with the Devil. The Devil, or Satan, is God’s opposite, the master of sin. Christians also believe the Bible, texts ranging from the creation of the universe to the life and death of God’s son, Jesus Christ, to the end of the world, to be divine and sacred.
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The Christian trinity consists of three beings: the Father, the creator of the universe, the Son, the creator’s son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, an all-powerful and all-knowing entity. The council of Nicea first came up with the concept of the trinity when people believed that Jesus was a supernatural being that was above man, but below God. (“More About Christian Beliefs: The Trinity”) According to Christian doctrine, the Father, or God, is made of no one, the Son, or Jesus Christ, is made up of the Father, and the Holy Spirit is made up of the Father and the Son. Because of this doctrine, all of these being are considered to be one. (“Christian Distinctives: The Trinity”)
There are clear definitions of who the Father and the Son are, but what is the Holy Spirit exactly? Because reference of the Holy Spirit in religious texts is extremely vague, many individuals ask this question. Some consider the Holy Spirit the life force within human beings. Others consider the Holy Spirit to be the spirit of God. According to scripture, the Holy Spirit gave power to man. Christian doctrine dictates that the Holy Spirit used to be identified with Jesus Christ, that the Holy Spirit was God’s wisdom. However, from the fourth century on, the Holy Spirit was, and is, considered to be God in the fullest sense, therefore, an important part of the Christian trinity. (“What is the Holy Spirit?”)
Hinduism is also a monotheistic religion, however, unlike Christianity, Hindus worship a divine being of their choosing. The key concept in Hinduism is dharma, which refers to an individual’s proper station in life. Although different Hindus believe in different things, there are key characteristics that stretch across the spectrum. Three key characteristics make up the Hindu religion, including the Vedas, reincarnation and karma, and the caste system. The Vedas are the earliest Hindu texts which Hindus regard as divine. The doctrine of reincarnation and karma dictates that after death, individuals are reborn into different bodies and that an individual’s actions in the present life impact future lives. The caste system is a social class system that dictates a rank in which an individual is born into that cannot be changed in the present life. (Robinson, 3-4)
The Hindu trinity consists of three beings: Brahma, the creator of the world, Vishnu, the world’s preserver, and Shiva, the world’s destroyer. Like in Christianity, Hindus believe that Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are one entity. These three beings are the one, true God, that they are all manifestations of the “One Divine” who can reveal itself in several ways. (Robinson, 58) It is possible that the concept of the Hindu trinity does not originate from the Vedas, but from a native Indian concept that was assimilated into the Hindu religion due to name transference and minor modifications. (Jayaram)
The similarities of both the Christian trinity and Hindu trinity are striking. Both trinities consist of three beings and both religions believe that their respective trinities encompass the different facets of the one, true God. However, while the Hindu trinity consists of the creator and the destroyer, the good and the bad, the Christian trinity consists of only the good, it does not represent the bad. If one were to compare each being of each trinity, Brahma would be likened to the Father and Vishnu would be likened to the Son, however, Shiva and the Holy Spirit seem to exist on their own. Neither Shiva nor the Holy Spirit seem to be a part of their other, more obvious, counterparts.
Both religions are considered monotheistic. The Christian trinity clearly conveys this, because the Son and the Holy Spirit are a part of the Father. The Hindu trinity, however, seems more separated than this. Just like in Christianity God and the Devil are separate beings, Brahma the creator and Shiva the destroyer seem like these separate beings. When considering this notion, one forgets that the good and the bad must exist in harmony, therefore, one is a part of the other. Shiva would not exist without Brahma.
In conclusion, the Christian trinity and Hindu trinity illustrate the monotheistic nature of the Christian and Hindu religions. In Christianity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one entity, as is Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva in Hinduism. Both Christianity and Hinduism believe that only one God is the supreme divine being, even though their views on who that supreme divine being is differ.
– “Christian Distinctives: The Trinity.” Christian Think Tank. 15 Jan. 2002. 10 May 2009. http://www.christian-thinktank.com/trin01.html
– Jayaram, V. “Introduction to Hindu Trinity.” Hinduwebsite. 2007. 10 May 2009. http://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/hindutrinity.asp
– “More About Christian Beliefs: The Trinity.” Soc.Religion.Christian. 10 May 2009. http://geneva.rutgers.edu/src/christianity/trinity.html
– Rice, Edward. The Five Great Religions. New York: Four Winds Press. 1973.
– Robinson, James B. Religions of the World: Hinduism. Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House Publishers. 2004.
– “What is the Holy Spirit?” GodWeb. 10 May 2009. http://www.godweb.org/holyspirit.htm