Comparative study of Hinduism and Judaism

02/07/2018

Cosmology

According to the Hindu culture, the sound Aum is believed to be starting point of creation. The Veda contains many creation stories and beliefs regarding creation. The chandogya in then Upanishad describes creation as the breaking of an egg . The creator is depicted by the Vedas as one who built the universe using timber in the same way a carpenter uses wood to build a house. The first scripture (Rig Veda) says that the world traces its origins from the body of a single cosmic man (Purusha) after he was sacrificed. It is through him that the four classes in the Indian society emerged. The servant (shudra) emerged from his legs, the warrior (kshrtitya) came from his arms, the priest (Brahmin) came from his mouth and the peasant (vaishya) came from his thighs.

Judaism, on the other hand, has a single story of creation. The Hebrew Bible is the sole source of the story of creation. The Hebrew Bible states that in the beginning God created the heaven and earth. God, later on, went ahead and created the sea and the land. He also created the trees and shrubs. The book of Genesis states that God created all the animals that roam the earth. On the sixth day, he created man and gave power to him to rule over the beasts of the world. God rested on the seventh day.


Theology

Brahma is believed to be the source of all creation and is represented by three gods who have different functions. The gods include brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu. Brahma is the Supreme Being and source of all knowledge on which the other gods depend. Vishnu is tasked with protecting everything good on earth and is also known to be a preserver. Shiva, on the other hand, is synonymous with destruction. Shiva destroys the harmful things on earth so that change can happen and that new things can be created again.

Judaism acknowledges the presence of only one God. The book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible states that "in the begging there was the word and the word was with God." Judaism does not permit nor recognize the worship of other gods and regards it as blasphemy.


Anthropology

Judaism categorically states the human nature is sinful and should be liberated from that state. The Hebrew Bible asserts that man is born sinful because of the sins committed by our ancestors in the Eden. Adam and Eve angered god and were ejected from the garden and also stripped of many privileges.  As a result, both were to toil endlessly on earth to feed them. Also, women were to bear the pain of childbirth. The gift of eternal life was taken away from them and that they would die when they became old. The banishment from the Garden of Eden was to serve as a reminder of the consequences of sin. God hates sin.

In Hinduism, the actual self is termed as indestructible. Adherents are expected to fight a righteous battle which they must not falter. They must also not sin against man or God. The self cannot be divided by weapons nor can it be moistened by water. In this battle of righteousness, preparation is essential so that one can avoid sin. Fear should be discouraged as your enemies will mock you.The revered scriptures continue to say that infamy is a greater evil than death.


Soteriology

Judaism teachings on salvation, redemption and deliverance are well elaborated. The path to salvation involves the confessing of one sin towards God and man. It is closely followed by the solemn promise never to repeat the sin again. After this has been done there is the offering of a sacrifice if it was a sin against a man. For sins against God, one has to confess the sins to God and pray for forgiveness.

The ultimate goal of life in the Hindu religion is liberation or salvation of one's self. Freedom involves entering into the realm of God. The souls that achieve this are regarded as free from worldly impurities hence considered to be liberated. For one to be completely liberated, one has to conquer vices such as lust, anger, and greed. To realize salvation, the soul has to merge with God. The soul is likened to a drop of water while God is represented by the vast ocean. In essence salvation in Hinduism is not that simple. Thus, the attainment of oneness with God is an uphill task.


Morality and Ritual

Hinduism directs its adherents to conduct themselves in a manner that does not prove the anger of the gods or the anger of man. Hinduism is strongly against abortion as it considers it immoral. In some scriptures, abortion is considered as worse that killing one's parents. Hinduism exhibits numerous rituals from birth till adulthood. The rituals are performed before and after birth. For instance, the first haircut signifies the cleansing of impurities.

Judaism advocates for the Jewish community to conduct themselves in a way that is both acceptable to God and society. Sin is sharply rebuked and is considered as immoral and ungodly. The Hebrew Bible states that sin is a direct provocation of god's anger.


Eschatology

According to Hinduism, death is not the end of everything. Rather death is considered to be part of life. Hinduism views death in the context of a long process that involves birth, death, and re-birth. Reincarnation is one of the most notable aspects of the Hindu religion. Death is as a natural occurence so that the spirit can inch nearer to the final release from reincarnation. The pace at which the self can be released from reincarnation is dependent on karma, the law governing it. According to the Bhagavad Gita, the soul passes through a cycle of successive lives all of which are dependent on how one lived the past life.

The Jewish doctrine concerning death is not clear. There is no clear connection between the body and the soul. According to Judaism, the rabbis acknowledge that the soul can leave the body while the person is asleep. Sheol is a place full of darkness where people went when they died and can also be referred to as a place of waiting. The doctrine continues to say that judgment will be held after the coming of the Messiah. When the verdict is delivered the body and soul are reunited. Wicked people will go to hell while the righteous will go to heaven.


Ecclesiology

Hinduism has no founder and in most cases believed to be a way of life rather than a religion. There exists no set of agreed-upon teachings. Many Hindu faithful believe in the existence of many gods though they are regarded as being personal. The Veda is the sacred scriptures and the most revered of the holy texts. Hinduism involves the belief in the Dharma, which is a system of values or a code of conduct. Hinduism includes the faith in birth, death and rebirth through reincarnation that is governed by karma. In Hinduism prayer is regarded as a personal act through the making of individual offerings to an individuals' deity. The puja involves the use of images of the gods and goddesses (murtis), diagrams of the universe (yantras) and prayers (mantras).

Judaism involves the worship of a single god who is the creator of the universe. Every person can have a personal relationship with God. Judaism can be said to be a communal religion because of the existence of universal laws of God that guide each and every Jew. The relationship between God and the Jewish community is base on a covenant . This is largely because of the good deeds that God continues to provide each and every day. The Jewish community believes that God is omnipresent, omniscient and that he is the one that affects everything in the world.