The history of religion provides the clue to an understanding of past values and traditions within a given geographical location. This essay aims at providing a brief history of Judaism as well as Hinduism in an attempt to provide a better understanding of the similarities and differences of the two religions from their places of origin.
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Judaism refers to a religion which contains the customs, beliefs and values of the Jewish people. It is among the oldest recorded monotheistic faiths with a history of approximately 4000 years. It started around 3,500 years ago and is the center of both Islam as well as Christian religions (Ginzberg 41). Judaism is characterized by the principle of adherence of rules that control human conduct, rituals as well as diet.
The Jewish laws are inscribed in Torah. Abraham who resided in the present-day Iraq around 1800 B.C is believed to be source of this religion (Fernandez 66). It is said that the people who mostly adhere to this religion increased as a result of God’s covenant with Abraham, when he said that in case Abraham’s descendants worshipped and obeyed God, they would get to the Promised Land from where they would multiply.
It is also believed that many centuries prior to the birth of Mohammed the Jews had elected a significant number of settlements within Arabia, and attained a substantial influence upon the Arabs as the years progressed. As a matter of fact, it is said that, at a certain period, there was a an Arab-Jewish kingdom situated in Southern Arabia (Yemen), which ceased to exist in 530 as a result of the influence of a Christian king who ruled in Abyssinia.
However, even though the Arabian Jews dropped their royal domain, a large number of them still remained in Hedjaz, north of Yemen and remained relatively dominant. On the other hand, there was a minute Jewish population in Mecca, where Mohammed was born.
Nevertheless, it is also likely that the originator of Islam became familiar with Judaism, its values, and its Patriarchs when he associated himself with the Jews of Mecca. This relationship progressed following the Hegira Flight of Mohammed to Medina, which was the main centre of the Arabian Jews.
On the other hand, Hinduism is a term that is used to refer to an extensive variety of interrelated religious customs that originated from India. In the past, Hinduism embraced the advancement of Religion in India ever since the Iron Age way of life, which can be traced back to the primeval religions which include the Bronze Age Indus, Valley Civilization as well as the Iron Age Vedic religions (Stietencron 67).
During the olden days, the Indian values were divided into two groups; Astika (orthodox) and Nastika (heterodox). This was mainly influenced by the question of whether the authority of the Vedas was acknowledged.
Astika was then sub-divided into six groups which evolved between the 2nd and the 6th century. These groups comprised of Yoga, Samkhya, Vaisheshika, Nyaya, Vedanta and Mimamsa. On the other hand, Nastika comprised of Carvaka, Jain, Buddhist, among others. Even as they tried to win supporters, these groups influenced one another. At the same time, the Tantra and tantric customs surfaced in Nastika and Astika.
On the other hand, Monotheistic religions such as Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism emerged in the course of the Bhakti movement. On the onset of the eighth century, Classical Hinduism developed as a means of resurgence of Vedic customs which were combined with local folk customs. This witnessed a steady weakening of Buddhism. Under the influence of Islamic Rulers, the Bhakti movement became more prominent in Hinduism and still continues to dominant to date.
During the colonial period, there emerged several Hindu transformation movements which were partially stimulated by the western culture. These movements lead to beliefs such as spiritism. In 1947, India was divided along religious differences which led to the emergence of the Republic of India which has a Hindu majority.
From the above histories, it is clear that the Hinduism and Judaism religions have both similarities and differences. In view of the similarities, both religions are ancient and monotheistic religions. In addition, the two religions have sacred writings; Vedas in Hinduism and tanakh in Judaism.
On the other hand, these religions have some differences. For instance, While Hinduism originated from India, Judaism originated from Israel. Moreover, Hinduism is a monistic religion while Judaism is Monotheistic. In addition, Hinduism has no single founder whereas Abraham was the founder of Judaism.
Fernandez, Felipe, World: Brief History, New York: Prentice Hall, Inc. 2011, print
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Ginzberg, Louis, The legends of The Jews, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2010, print
Stietencron, Heinrich, Hindu Myth, Hindu History, New York, Prentice Hall, 2005, Print