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Hinduism and Christianity are different religions, but they share some religious doctrines and beliefs, which are evident in the manner their respective followers worship. Apparently, Hindus and Christians have different worldviews of worship and the concept of God. While Hindus believe in polytheism, Christians believe in monotheism. The polytheism belief allows Hindus to worship many gods according to their cultural traditions. In contrast, monotheism allows Christians to believe in the trinity, which comprises God, Jesus, and Holy Ghost. Robinson (2004) asserts that the difference in the concept of God between Hinduism and Christianity is a factor that has made it difficult for the two religions to dialogue and share common beliefs.
Hence, the nature of theism differentiates Christians from Hindus. Moreover, while Hindus believe in reincarnation of soul, Christians believe in the resurrection of the soul. Therefore, owing to fundamental differences that Hindus and Christians hold, there is a need to highlight doctrines that have some similarities. In this case, the essay compares and contrasts moksha and salvation, the two doctrines that are present in Hinduism and Christianity respectively.
Moksha and salvation are similar doctrines that are present in Hinduism and Christianity respectively. According to (Panneerselvam, 2005), in Hinduism, moksha is the liberation of a person from endless reincarnation through rebirth (samsara) and actions (karma). The fundamental doctrines of Hinduism dictate that one must undergo series reincarnations before attaining liberation of the soul. In this view, endless reincarnation and struggles for a better life are bondages that prevent humans from attaining the highest state of reality and spirituality. At the state of moksha, one escapes bondages of samsara and karma. Hence, Hindus achieve freedom of the soul from the bondages by aiming to reach a state of moksha. Similarly, Christian doctrines state that one can attain liberation through the process of salvation.
The process of salvation entails liberation of the soul from the bondage of sin, which brings eternal death of the soul. Radmacher (2000) argues that salvation is the delivery of humans from the bondage of sin and provision of eternal life. Through salvation, humans are able to liberate their souls from the eternal condemnation due to sins. Thus, moksha and salvation are similar because they entail eternal liberation of human souls from different forms of bondage that prevent them from attaining reality and spirituality of life.
Some similarities exist in the manner of attaining moksha and salvation. Both in Hinduism and Christianity, moksha and salvation have a component of good works. Hindus believe that one can achieve moksha through karma. Karma comprises actions that one performs to attain moksha. Panneerselvam (2005) states that “good actions take a person to salvation, whereas bad or evil actions prevent one from attaining liberation” (p. 182). In essence, every action that a person does determine whether one moves towards moksha or away from it. Therefore, Hindus achieve liberation of their souls through karma. Comparatively, Christians also achieve salvation by performing good works that pleases God and uplift humanity. Across the Bible, the gospel reiterates the essence of good works in salvation of a person. According to the Bible, God will judge people according to the nature of their works and decide whether to reward eternal life or eternal condemnation (Radmacher, 2000). From this perspective, both Hindus and Christians can attain liberation of their souls by performing good works.
Another similarity that exists between moksha and salvation is knowledge. Both Hindu and Christian doctrines regard ignorance as a factor that prevents souls from attaining freedom. Spiritual ignorance makes people to grope in the world because they do not have the essential knowledge to achieve reality and free themselves from various bondages. “Ignorance is the cause of bondage and suffering, and hence liberation cannot be achieved without knowledge of the reality” (Panneerselvam, 2005, p. 183). Thus, Hindus must gain spiritual knowledge so that they can attain moksha. Likewise, Christian doctrines show that the devil is a deceiver who is seeking to confuse the whole world from realizing the way of salvation. In this view, Christians must equip themselves with the spiritual knowledge to discern subtle deceptions of the devil. Radmacher (2000) warns Christians that the devil uses all powers to perform wonders and deceive people who have no knowledge about the truth. Hence, knowledge is integral for one to attain moksha and salvation.
Moksha and salvation have some differences. While a Hindu attains liberation of the soul after undergoing a series of reincarnations, which entail physical and spiritual process, a Christian attains liberation after undergoing a spiritual rebirth. Reincarnation is a central doctrine of Hinduism because it illustrates stages that humans undergo in response to their actions. Bregman (2010) describes that the process of reincarnation aims at releasing the soul from the physical body and entering into another body, and it happens until one attains moksha. In this view, the process of reincarnation acts as stages of life that one undergoes and receives different rewards according to the form of reincarnation. Comparatively, while reincarnation is both a physical and spiritual process, salvation is purely a spiritual process. Warden (2009) highlights that for Christians to attain their salvation they must undergo spiritual rebirth by believing in Jesus Christ who provides salvation to all humanity. Thus, the nature of rebirth differentiates moksha and salvation.
Another difference that exists between moksha and salvation is the nature of liberation. Moksha is the liberation that enables the soul to leave the body and unite with the Brahman. Brahman is a being with the highest reality that provides life to humanity. A person who attains moksha unites with Brahman and becomes one (Bregman, 2010). Thus, moksha is a process of uniting the soul with Brahman. In contrast, salvation is the reunion humans with God following their fall in the Garden of Eden. Warden (2009) asserts that salvation aims at liberating humans from the bondages of sin and restoring their relationships with God. Hence, while moksha liberates souls to unite with Brahman, salvation restores divine relationships of humans.
How to Approach a Hindu
Since moksha and salvation have integral similarities, it is easy to approach a Hindu and convince about the need of salvation. By explaining that the salvation is a form of moksha, a Hindu can easily get a glimpse of the salvation. Given that Hindus are struggling to overcome reincarnations and free themselves from bondages that trap human souls, salvation is an appropriate way. From the Christian perspective, for one to attain moksha, there is no need to worry about reincarnation because it does not exist. One just needs to have good works, as in the case of karma, and believe in Jesus Christ, who provides free salvation to whoever seeks.
Hinduism and Christianity are the major religions of the world, which have common doctrines in the aspect of liberation of the soul, moksha, and salvation. The similarities that exist between moksha and salvation are in the aspects of liberation of the soul by use of both good works and knowledge. The difference exists in aspect such as the process of liberation and nature of liberation. Therefore, owing to the significant similarities between Moksha and salvation, one can easily explain the essence of salvation to a Hindu.
Bregman, L. (2010). Religion, death, and dying. London: ABC-CLIO.
Panneerselvam, S. (2005). The philosophy of liberation. Integral Liberation, 9(3), 182-187.
Radmacher, E. (2000). Salvation. New York: Thomas Nelson.
Robinson, B. (2004). Christians meeting Hindus: An analysis and theological critique of the Hindu-Christian encounter in India. London: Oxford Center for Mission Studies.
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Warden, J. (2009). One hundred reasons why born again believers cannot lose their salvation. New York: AuthorHouse.