HINDUISM’S QUESTION: “What sounds fruitful and beneficial and edifying?”
Another very popular option, less precise than many other religions and often even deliberately subjective, might be the views of Hinduism and Buddhism. Here we will just focus on the former. Hinduism pays much more attention to Christ’s moral and ethical teachings than to the historical events of his life. They say that whether he was a god (though not the one and only God as the Bible teaches) or a prophet (as Islam teaches) is less important than the deep spiritual insight he brought. What actually happened 2000 years ago is almost irrelevant for contemporary Hindus, whose religion reaches back into the second millennium B.C.; the more appropriate question to ask is, “What can we learn?”
“Hinduism does not believe in conversion of people,” writes Jayaram V at hinduwebsite.com. “In the Bhagavad gita Lord Krishna preaches not to follow another’s dharma however superior it may be for it would hamper ones spiritual progress.”
The father of the Krishna Consciousness Movement (a.k.a. the Hare Krishna Movement), AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, said that Krishna and Christ are the same.
‘Christ’ is another way of saying Krsta and Krsta is another way of pronouncing Krishna, the name of God…the general name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose specific name is Krishna. Therefore whether you call God ‘Christ’, ‘Krsta’, or ‘Krishna’, ultimately you are addressing the same Supreme Personality of Godhead…Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu said: namnam akari bahu-dha nija-sarva-saktis. (God has millions of names, and because there is no difference between God’s name and Himself, each one of these names has the same potency as God.)” (http://hinduism.about.com/od/lordkrishna/a/christ_krishna.htm)
Hinduism can be hard to define, however, and there are alternative versions of the history of Jesus Christ. One popular belief holds that Jesus actually came to India and died in
Kashmir. This is purely speculation, with no evidence to support it. But again, even with their own Scriptures, Hindu’s do not need the affirmation of history, for it is the messages and teachings that really matter. Listen to Mohandas Gahndhi, who claimed to be a Christian, talk about the Bhagavad Gita:
Even in 1888-89, when I first became acquainted with the Gita, I felt that it was not a historical work, but that, under the guise of physical warfare, it described the duel that perpetually went on in the hearts of mankind, and that physical warfare was brought in merely to make the description of the internal duel more alluring. This preliminary intuition became more confirmed on a closer study of religion and the Gita. A study of the Mahabharata gave it added confirmation. I do not regard the Mahabharata as a historical work in the accepted sense. The Adiparva contains powerful evidence in support of my opinion. By ascribing to the chief actors superhuman or subhuman origins, the great Vyasa made short work of the history of kings and their peoples. The persons therein described may be historical, but the author of the Mahabharata has used them merely to drive home his religious theme. (“The Message of the Gita” by Mohandas K. Gahndhi, as quoted in Mohandas K Gandhi: Thoughts, Words, Deeds, by Ramnarine Sahadeo p. 31)
Again we ask, upon what are such beliefs about Jesus based—upon the New Testament gospels? Which parts of them? Obviously it could not be all parts, such as when Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:6-7) What are we placing faith in?
Some of these questions may not seem appropriate, for comparing orthodox Christianity with Hinduism might be like comparing apples and guitars. But this is certainly a fair question: What do we believe about Jesus? Do we believe what a Hindu teacher tells us about him? Why? Objectively, there is no more reason to take such a teacher’s word for what events took place 2000 years ago than to take Mohammed’s word for it, than to take Joseph Smith’s word for it (see on Mormonism below), than to take anyone’s word for it…unless we are again confronted with a supernatural revelation that we simply know that we know, by faith, to be true.
Let us look at Buddhism’s question.