Thursday, November 15, 2012

You Live Like a Dog, Die Like a Dog and Then You Come Back As a Dog

The title is a line used by the missionary I met Sunday to describe Hinduism. Though it's not favorable, I must say it sums up the religion in some ways. This post is not meant to be a religious debate though so I'll save that for another day.

I really enjoyed watching and learning as this Gujrati missionary worked his magic during the sermons. It was an eye-opening experience. I had heard horror stories of some of the things Christians do in India to try and convert people but I never got to go to a church. I simply don't understand Punjabi well enough to attend the services. I wanted to and thought about going anyway but I never did. I always wanted to know just how Christianity was preached to Indians inside of India.

As I watched this man preach I noticed several things. I call this his sales pitch.
  1. He was more vivid and lively than most preachers. 
  2. He revealed Jesus as a path to peace and rest in life - the 2 things many Indians  say they want in life. 
  3. He said Jesus offered freedom from Gods who fight each other. 
  4. Jesus offers you an end to the cycle of rebirth. You get one life and then an eternity in heaven where everything is beautiful and peaceful. 
  5. You get freedom from chaos and uncertainty. 
And his biggest selling point - the love you will experience in the Christian church. I think he struck a nerve (in me) with this one. Some of his points here I agree with and some I don't. He is right that in Hindu temples you don't see the fellowship and togetherness you see in Christian churches. But he was wrong in that no one prays for you in a Hindu temple. Maybe in some parts of Hinduism or under some deities this could be true but it was not true in my Indian family. 

My in-laws went to the temple specifically to pray for each other many times. The concept of prayer may not be the same, but that is what was going on. The whole family went to ask God directly for blessings in certain aspects of their lives. In a Christian church we would ask for prayer like this:
(Standing up in the church) Please pray for sister Mary to be healed of her cancer.

In my Indian family, no one asked. They would all just gather and go to the temple, telling each other, they were going for the specific purpose of asking God for favor in granting a visa for one of the family members.

Both concepts are similar yet not identical. There is, in theory, more love inside the Christian church for each other outside of family members. But, this is a concept that is not always practiced. Yes, people in the church will pray for you and do things to help you out of a sense of community. They do care about you in the general sense that people care for each other. Regardless of where you are, without a personal relationship, the care doesn't go past the formality of social obligation.

Another thing he mentioned occurred more in Christianity than in Hinduism is hugging. Christians do tend to hug A LOT. They hug when they see each other, they hug good-bye and they hug when they think you're having a rough day. They even hug you just because they think you need one. You don't need a reason to hug if you're a Christian. In India hug were much more rare. We hugged upon meeting each other but that was generally it and then it was only the women hugging each other.

Love is simply not the same concept in India or Hinduism as it is in the west or Christianity.

Do you have experience with the Christian church within India?
Did you convert from Hinduism to Christianity? 
Tell me your thoughts.


  1. None of the preachers I have experienced here have been remotely charismatic. They also tend to be more 'all fire and brimstone' where the Christian churches at home are 'all Jesus loves us...' As for the hugging I am really wondering if that is more a demonstrative American thing versus a Christian thing.

  2. I am from a Area where we have one christian Church...What I observed they are doing is kind of crime...they fool people cheat poor people..I know few tribal people whom the missionary in my area converted by giving 6000 INR Each religion to a hungry person is a crime worst then murder..these Missionaries then generate hate in between these people against their own culture....The difference between the Dharmic Religions and Abharhmic Religion is in Dharmic Religion people convert only after reading and understanding it Those people who propogate Dharmic Religions they never felt to torn apart other religion to gain convert however The Abhrahmic faiths on other side many time Misquotes about the other faiths..Not to tell I have seen many website of these Missionary who misquotes Hindu Texts. .often you will find Hindu converts are actually very intellectual kind of people ..however these Missionaries distribute Religion in exchange of food to these poor people...Which is actually a crime.....However good part is that people are getting aware of these evils of Missionaries....However Hugging/kissing is a cultural thing...we Hindus do Namaste that means to bow in front of divine present in other person...Hindus also do touch the feet of elders to have their blessings...However comparing Abhrahmic faith with Hinduism is like comparing Apples with Oranges...

  3. While there are vast differences between Hinduism and Christianity, there are also many similarities. Christianity teaches many of the same stories as Hinduism but they teach them as all being Christian based. They do misquote Hinduism a lot. They make people believe Hinduism is a dangerous and demonic religion. They act like Hindus are crazy. It's wrong. What missionaries do in India to get people to convert is wrong. I greatly appreciate you sharing this story. It's always good to hear real life examples. It angers me what people do in the name of religion and I know they're doing it to people who either don't know better or only want to provide more for their families. It's just wrong to do this.

  4. I do know that when a Hindu converted to being Catholic (for marriage reasons.. husband to be was Catholic) they made her change her name to a more "Catholic" name. I'd say it was a more "western" name. The family had names like Kate, Kathy etc. I thought it was a bit odd but held my tongue.

    I do know that unless one is a christian or converts to christian they will not help them out (monetarily or even food wise). While I understand the "need" for Christians to convert people (they are taught that people will go to hell if they are of other religions and it's their mission to convert as many people as possible), I'd hate to see India turn into a country where all the Hindu gods are gone, the Sikhs are no longer there, the Muslims are gone. India is in part India because of their diversity of religion.

    I was actually talking to someone about this yesterday from India. While America is alluring to many, I mentioned how "boring" many of our buildings are (take New York City for example). India has depth, temples, monasteries, Buddha, Catholics etc They are not afraid to paint stuff pink and purple, stick their gods on the walls, place lemons and peppers in businesses. It's their color, depth and ancient religion I really like.

    No offense towards Hindus, but their is one of the last standing polytheistic religions. I actually enjoy learning about all the gods and goddesses and seeing them on display.

    From what I've seen, I don't think the Hindus, Jains, Sikhs etc are going away anytime soon and for that I am thankful.

  5. I couldn't imagine India being less diverse either. It's fascinating how minorities in India make up so much of the culture as well. It's like there's a place for everyone to fit in and live happily overall.

    US architecture is very different. I've seen NY and you're right, a lot of buildings seem simple in design. I've also traveled to a lot of rural areas though and the architecture there is much different. Maybe not as colorful but I've seem some intriguing buildings. I'm thinking on posting a whole album on my Facebook page soon with some of the old architecture that I see around me. Those buildings are much more interesting than most NY sky scrapers and simple box design buildings.