Talking with a Hindu about “Human Problem”

From S. R., 2003: A Hindu is constantly striving to be released from samsara, or the cycle of death and rebirth.  It is the teaching of the religion that this will be reached when a Hindu finally achieves union with Brahman.  Brahman is the ultimate source of reality in the Hindu faith.  Brahman is everything and is in everything.  Once a Hindu is in union with Brahman they have achieved moksha and their cycle of life, death, and rebirth is finished. When this happens a person is finally released from the suffering of the world.

Hinduism has a distinct teaching that all humans should lead a moral life in their quest for reaching moksha.   A Hindu cannot reach moksha unless they live a moral life. Therefore, actions are very important in the life of a Hindu.   It is the teaching of classical Hinduism that a Hindu should maintain a “basic sense of morality, refrain from killing, stealing, sexual impurity, lying, or the consumption of intoxicants. Unless they observe these prohibitions they can not attain the basic purity required to take them further on the path of moksha” (Hammer 190).  A Christian is also striving to be released from the suffering of this world. This is the bridge that a Christian can start from when trying to explain the concept of sin to a Hindu.  In Christianity the law requires humans to lead a moral and sinless life.  According to the law, salvation cannot be reached if this perfect life is not being led.

This bridge is a place to start for a Christian to talk about how no matter how hard they try they cannot lead this perfectly moral life.  Begin by getting a grasp of what sin means to the Hindu.  Because a Hindu is not really accountable to anyone when they do things that are wrong it may be hard for he/she to grasp the fact that you feel guilty when you do things wrong.  This is when it is important to establish if they have ever felt guilty or not.  It is crucial to do this because if you do not, the Hindu that you are witnessing to might become confused or not be able to comprehend why this guilt you are talking about is so bad.  If they have not experienced the guilt of doing something wrong ask them if they have ever felt symptoms such as; “lack of meaning, purpose, fulfillment; lack of peace; a feeling of “not being right with God” or physical consequences of past sins” (Found).

From this point you can establish the Biblical teachings on why it is impossible to lead a perfectly moral life.  First you must explain to your Hindu friend your view on who God is because a Hindu does not see God as necessarily a personal being who created humans in his own image.  Read from Genesis 2 the account of God creating man by breathing his own breath into him.  Talk about how God created the world perfectly and how everything was in harmony with everything else.  Express that man was in perfect harmony with God. However, so there are no miscommunications stress that humans themselves were not God. When a Hindu hears that man and God were in harmony he/she will most likely envision moksha.  Stress that this was not moksha but something completely different.   This view of life being perfect is something that a Hindu can relate to because one of the goals of the Hindu religion is to “pass beyond imperfection altogether” (Smith 22).  Explain that everything began perfect; there was no imperfection.  Explain that leading a perfectly moral life was something that was possible because that is how we were created to be.  Then explain that humans were also given free will to think and act on their own.  God was not going to make decisions for them.  Explain that Adam and Eve wanted something more then the harmony that they had with God so they disobeyed him.  State that because they disobeyed God the perfect harmony was broken. Suffering and sin had entered the world.

Once you have established that there is sin, or something that is keeping all humans from living a perfectly moral life, this opens the door for you to explain that suffering stems from this inability to be perfect.  Read verses from the Bible that clearly state this is the predicament everyone is in, “for all have sinned an fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).  Explain that because of what happen when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, no one can lead a perfectly moral life and no one can escape the suffering of life. To the Hindu mind this suffering will lead to death and then rebirth.  To a Christian this suffering will only lead to death.  Stress that point.  Read passages that talk about sin and death, “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23) and “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned” (Rom 5:12-13).

From KB 2/01: Since the Hindu isn’t answerable to a personal God, he would not speak of sin. He cannot repent of sin, and there is no forgiveness. He is responsible for his actions because of an inexorable law of the universe. I think I would approach him in the following manner.  I would say something like,” You believe that you are responsible for your actions, both good and bad. If you do good, good will result, and if you do something bad, bad will result. All of us do both good and bad. Isn’t that so? Well, we also believe that if we do bad things the results will be bad. But all of us have done bad things — would you like to know of a person who did only good in his life?”

I think I would approach the Hindu on the basis of the fact that he believes that his actions are ruled by the Law of Karma. He can and does do things which he judges as wrong. He identifies those actions as wrong and they have bad consequences in his life, both now and in future existences.

 I might begin talking about the fact that I sometimes have done something that I think is wrong. I might ask if he also sometimes feels that he  (or someone else he knows) has done something wrong. Then I might say ”I , also, know that I experience a wrongness in my life. I am not happy about that. Could I tell you how I am freely given a way out , a way in which I am set free of that wrong that I do?

I would not say that the wrong in my life is the result of  my being separated from God. That might be a premature cut off, since he believes that he is a manifestation of god, so he would think that what I said was nonsense. How could he be separated from god? He is god.  ( From KB 2/01)


To World Religion Links