Christianity and Hinduism are two of the world’s most loved (and sometimes hated) religions. I have personally had so many experiences where I heard derogatory statements from Christian leaders (and some of them were my own family) like “Hindus worship the Devil”, “Hindus have so many Gods, they must be confused”, “Hindus pray to idols and stone”, and personally that I can’t seem to erase from my mind, was when my very own aunt told a very young Yashik (me a few years ago): “You pray to the cow, so you can still eat that. That’s a bull. Don’t you know the bull is not the cow you people pray to” …and then a sniggering laugh. I have also heard some Hindus say things about Christianity out of anger like “Christians want to rule the world”, “Christians are actually controlled by leaders that worship the devil” etc. In most orthodox homes, this is the type of dialoged there is.
This is why I decided to write this blog: To express my own personal truth of what I understand Hinduism and Christianity is. As I explained in a previous blog, Christ was a Nath guru, called Isha Natha, so surely the teaching should be similar………… But I only hear divide and disharmony when I look at social media.
The word “Hinduism” is a word coined by the Persian and then British when they occupied India.
First, before we go any further just a point of clarification. The word “Hinduism” is a word coined by the Persian and then British when they occupied India. They coined this term, when the stared calling the people living around the Sindu river ‘Hindus’ (According to Swami Vivekananda, Persians at that time pronounced “s” and “h”). They added ‘ism’ to it, grouping the practices of the Sindus river people into a single organized religion. “ism” an is vegetarianism, veganism, secularism, materialism etc all represent a single truth. This is not the case when you think of the religion of Bharat Mata (India). There are a multitude of paths and many truths. So there is no such thing as ”Hinduism” that describes the religion of India. The religion of India, is based on the eternal principles of being one with nature, the permanent nature of the soul, the residentiary nature of everything around you, and the ultimate goal of existence is merging with the Supreme Divine Power. This is called Sanatan Dharma. It is the correct term to describe the ‘religion’ expounded by the vedas, Upanishads, sages and saints of India.
So, back to the topic – Sanatan Dharma vs Christianity: are they different. I can only speak from the path I follow and teaching of my Guru, Mohanji. So for the rest of the blog, I will speak from the view point of Dattatreya Sampradaya (An ancient tradition named after the great saint Dattatreya).
Christ and Krishna
This is fun. Lets look at the birth and life of the son of God, Lord Jesus Christ. Have you ever noticed the similarities with Lord Krishna. The similarities are actually insane:
- Lets start with the most basic similarity. The name ‘Christ’ and ‘Krishna’ sounds similar and infact Krishna means “of darker color”. Christ comes from the Greek word ‘Christos’, which means “the anointed one” (some people go one to say anointed in dark olive oil, i.e. both Krishna and Christ are associated with dark colorings). Again, the word ‘Krishna’ in Greek is the same as ‘Christos’. A colloquial Bengali rendering of Krishna is ‘Kristo’, which is the same as the Spanish for Christ — ‘Cristo’.
- Both saved their people against tyranny and evil and both are said to come from the divine
- They were conceived through Divine intervention
- Both were born away from home and in unusual places. Krishna was born in a prison cell. Christ was also born in a barn.
- Rays of light illuminated the area after they had taken birth and Angels in both cases issued a warning before their births.
- Both Christ and Krishna were known to be threatened by the local ruler when they were young. King Kansa wanted to kill Krishna and King Herod wanted to kill Christ.
- Innocent children were killed to ensure that Lord would also die — Kansa killed all children of Krishans step-mom, Devaki, thereby trying to ensure that Lord Krishna would also die as one of the children. The Bible depicts Herod Antipas who tried to kill baby Jesusand, when he couldn’t find him, killed every infant in Bethlehem
- Both died of wounds caused by sharp weapons — Christ by nails and Krishna by an arrow
- Krishna’s parents stayed in Mathura. Mary and Joseph stayed in Muturea; (similar names again)
- The birth of both Jesus of Nazareth and Krishna of Dwarka and their God designed missions were foretold.
- Krishna was often shown as having a dark blue complexion, a colour close to that of Christ Consciousness.
- Both Krishna and Jesus Christ were of royal descent but lived their childhood as an ordinary boy
- Krishna was a cowherd. Christ is often depicted as a shepherd.
- Both grew somewhere else hiding from ruler
- Both were nurtured to adulthood by foster parents. Joseph was the foster father of Christ, and Nanda was the foster father of Christ.
- Krishna is reported as having uprooted a small mountain. Jesus is recorded as saying: “if you had faith as a mustard seed you would say to the mountain uproot yourself and be cast into the ocean”.
- Both performed many miracles, including the healing of disease.
And the list goes on. At some stage we will try to write a blog about the similarities between Christ and Krishna in more detail.
The essence of Dattatreya Sampradaya and Christianity
Philosophically, there are amazing similarities in the teaching of Christ and Dattatreya Sampradaya. The essence of Dattatreya Sampradaya is integration with the Guru, who represents the Divine Reality. The point is to drop your ego and grow the consciousness of the tradition inside you. In other words, the whole point of the Dattatreya smapradaya is to become one with the Guru (Divine). Mohanji explains “You are what you worship, what you believe in. Deep connection with consistency becomes integration” and Mohanji also goes on to say “Transformation happens through integration into the consciousness of the master. Imagine the master is stabilised in a certain level of freedom from mind; you integrate yourself into the master; through integration, you also attain that level. That means your wire is connected to the plug point, you get electricity and the machine gets operated. So integration leads to transformation and that is your benchmark, not the mannerisms, character, constitution, the words they use, appearance of the guru.”
When he said he and the father are one, he meant he fully integrated with the Divine and like Dattatreya sampradaya teaches, he become one with God
This is exactly the same teachings that Christ gave. Christ himself said in John 10:30 “I and the Father are one”. When he said he and the father are one, he meant he fully integrated with the Divine and like Dattatreya sampradaya teaches, he become one with God. This is further emphased in John 17:21 which says “that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me”. Colossians 2:9 says “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”. The integration of Christ is further shown in John 12:49 When Christ says : I have not spoken on My own, but the Father who sent Me has commanded Me what to say and how to say it.”
Christ destroyed all his ego and attributed everything to God, as is taught in the Dattatreya path. John 5:19 says “Truly, truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself, unless He sees the Father doing it.” And John 14:10 says “it is the Father dwelling in Me, performing His works”. Saint Francis of Asisi was a great Saint and is truly a man of Christ. Who better to explain the meaning of Christianity. He said that the essence of Christianity is to kill yourself so that Christ can live through you. This is a perfect explanation of the Dattatreya sampradaya.
So it is completely evident that Christ lived and taught the essence of the Dattatreya Sampradaya. Just as one reaches God through Christ, in Dattatreya sampraday one reaches God through your Guru.
Importance of Surrender
Surrender is the cornerstone of the Dattatreya Sampradaya. Mohanji says “surrender nullifies our ego and then the Godhood within us starts to shine”. It is only through surrender that Grace begins to flow. When grace flows your life becomes a string of miracles. It is faith that leads to surrender. Mohanji describes the teachings of Dattareya as a house with the foundation being unconditional love, and the pillars of faith and purity which hold up the roof which is our goal of liberation (kingdom of God). So this path consistently emphases surrender, faith, purity and love.
This is exactly the core teachings of Christ. James 4:6 and 4:7 says “But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. Christ consistently spoke about submitting to the will of God and living life with love. He himself is an example of this. In spite of being tortured and eventually crucified, in all that pain and blood and torn limbs and ripped out muscles, he asked God to forgive the people that did this to him. If that is not love, what is?
In the Bhagavad-Gita, it is explained that one pointed surrender to Lord Krishna will allow the devotee to achieve eternal life and never know death again. Bhagawat Gita chapter 8 verse 66 says “Abandon all varieties of religion, and just surrender unto me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” In the New Testament we learn that Christ is the only way. ‘…that whosoever believeth in Christ should not perish, but have everlasting life.’
In Bhagavad-gita Chapter 7 verse 6 and 7, Krishna said, “I am the cause of the whole universe, through Me it is created and dissolved, all things are dependant on Me as pearls are strung on a thread.” Jesus said, “Of Him and through Him, and unto Him, are all things. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1.3).
Lord Krishna had said in Bhagavat Gita chapter 4 verse 7, “For the establishment of righteousness I am born from time to time.” This compares to Jesus in John 18:37, wherein he says, “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”
“He is” is not limited to Christ and his teachings. The Upanishads also use the exact same term “he is”.
“I am” and “He is”
“I am” and the description of that which is “He is” is everywhere in the bible. When Moses spoke to God in the form of the burning bush, God identified himself as “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14) or alternatively translated as “I am he who is”. John 8:58 says “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am”. Exodus also describes that God instructed Moses to tell the Israelites: “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am’ has sent me to you”
Even the name of God is related to this. The jewish name of God is Yahweh. Yahweh actually means “He is”. This idea of “I am” and “He is” is not limited to Christ and his teachings. The Upanishads also use the exact same term “he is”. The Upanishads are Sanatan Dharma scriptures which are a commentary on the eternal truths of the Vedas. Khata Upanishad verse 12 and 23 says “He cannot be attained by speech, by mind, or by the eye. How can That be realized except by him who says “He is”. He should be realized as “He is” and also as the reality of both (visible and invisible). He who knows Him as “He is,” to him alone His real nature is revealed.” Both the Bible and Jesus describe God as “he Is” and so too does the Upanishads written way before the birth of Christ. They use the term “He is”!!! How amazing is that!!
Father, son and Holy Ghost
Even the idea of the Holy trinity that Sanatan Dharma believe in, is emulated in Christianity. Christianity calls the trinity “father, son and holy Spirit”. Father is seen as the supreme God. Christ is the God born into flesh and is called the son. And the Holy Ghost is that force that links father and Son. Sanatan Dharma has the trinity concept of Aum Tat Sat. Sat refers to the holy unmanifested God which is the same as Father. Tat refers to the manifested God which is akin to Son. And Aum is the subtle power that ushered in the creation of duality, moving the supreme unmanifested into a manifested subtle form.
Also just like how it is said that Christ will be born again to judge the world, so too in Sanatan Dharma will God reincarnate to guide man and punish evil.
Some specific striking similarities in Scripture
Goerge Wolfe has spoken about a few specific examples of similarities in scriptures between Sanantan Dharma and Christanity. Here are some examples:
“Divine Lord, the personal God, endowed with manifold glories,” who “holds dominion over all the worlds” and is “one without a second” (Svetasvatara Upanishad; Prabhavananda, 1948:121).
“The whole universe came forth from Brahman and moves in Brahman…In Brahman it lives and has its being” (Katha Upanishad).
“Yet [God] is not far from each of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’…” (Acts 17:27, 28).
“Living in the abyss of ignorance, yet wise in their own conceit, the deluded go round and round, like the blind led by the blind” (Mundaka Upanishad).
“…they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matt. 15:14).
“I destroy the darkness born of ignorance with the shining light of wisdom” (Lord Krishna, the leading Hindu incarnation of God; Bhagavad Gita, Ch. 10, vs. 11).
“I am the light of the world: he who follows me will not walk in darkness but have the light of life” (Jesus, the Christian incarnation of God; John, Ch. 8, vs. 12).
“…I am the origin of the whole world and also its dissolution…l am the beginning, the middle, and the end of all things” (Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, Ch. 7 Vs. 6, Ch. 10 vs. 20)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (Jesus in the book of Revelation, ch. 22 vs. 13).
The Chandogya Upanishad also speaks of the “knowledge of Brahman having drunk of which one never thirsts….”
Jesus said “…do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matt. 6:25)…”Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst” (John 4:13).
” …What is it that impels a man to commit sin, even involuntarily, as if driven by force…?” “It is desire, it is anger …all consuming and most evil. Know this to be the enemy here on earth” (Bhagavad Gita III:36,37).
“…but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin…” (James 1:14,15).
“He who dwells in the sky and makes lightning his home,” and as “Mighty and awful…like to a thunderbolt crashing throughout the heavens” (Chandogya Upanishad; Katha Upanishad).
“For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of man be in his day” (Luke 17:24; see also Matt. 24:27).
“…for the world of Brahman is light itself” (Chandogya Upanishad).
“…God is light and in him is no darkness at all” (I John 1:5).
Over time, people began to only worship Christ and not actually pay attention to his teachings. This has happened to Christianity, Hinduism and a whole host of paths.
There is more that I will like to say, but this is enough for round one. So what’s the outcome – Who wins the boxing match —–its a draw. The pure essence of the path taught by Christ is exactly Dattareya Sampradaya. So why is there so much of conflict and so much of perceived differences? The answer is in the human mind. Over time, people began to only worship Christ and not actually pay attention to his teachings. The physical form of Christ became more important than the teachings of Christ. This has happened to so many saints and teachers. Devotees worshiped them, rather than contemplate on their teachings. And then they compared!! My teacher is better than yours, forgetting the essence of the teachings. This has happened to Christianity, Hinduism and a whole host of paths. Sometimes they even killed the Saint (crucified Christ, Poisoned Adi Shakara) to make them fit into society’s rules and once dead they make them whatever they want to.
I hope you found this interesting. Now, let’s talk differences between Sanatan Dharma and Christianity. Unfortunately you need to wait for Round 2 of this boxing match