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Author Topic: Hindu interpretations of Christianity  (Read 911 times) Average Rating: 0
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Andrew Crook
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« on: June 29, 2011, 12:50:32 PM »

Dear all,

What do you guys think about people like Paramahansa Yogananda, and others who seemed to reinterpret Christianity?  They say that Christ was born in Palestine, and therefore the only proper way to understand him is in a Judaic or Oriental light.  If any of you guys have ever read his (or other Eastern gurus books) then I'd like your comments.  I'm thinking perhaps it would be best to stay away from all of this Eastern philosophy..?  Even if, many of them had profound ideas about God long before Christ was incarnated.
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2011, 01:02:54 PM »

PLEASE NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2011, 01:08:00 PM »

Lol, I don't want to bring Dattaswami into this.  Please forgive me, but I suppose "steer clear away from it" is the answer.  Many of you are quite knowledgeable on this forum, so I take your advice/answers very seriously -- as I am still young in my Orthodox faith.
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Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith; Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2011, 01:10:28 PM »

I haven't done the required reading. But I have read the Gospel according to St John where in the first chapter we read these portions:
Quote
4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
.... 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
(NKJV)

That's plenty of light for me.
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2011, 02:45:10 PM »

First of all, I hate the term "oriental." A word that is used to describe anything from Morocco to Japan is not very useful. Discussions about an "oriental" mindset or "oriental" philosophy are typically clueless.

We don't understand Christ in the light of some other philosophy- we understand the various philosophies and myths of the world in the light of Christ. In that way, it is very useful to take a critical study of many of the non-Christian philosophers, poets, and other writers. The ancient Fathers did this with Plato, Aristotle, and Homer. Recently, Fr. Seraphim of Platina did something similar with Laozi, which is shown in the book Christ the Eternal Tao. Likewise profitable study can surely be made of many of the Indian philosophers. But reinterpreting the Gospel to make it conform to these other philosophies is folly and that is what is attempted by many of the gurus.
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2011, 03:52:56 PM »

I think its a silly idea. Jesus is best understod in light of his own culture, scripture and the church, not by placing an alien religion or different cultural standards on it.
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« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2011, 12:10:42 AM »

I wonder how far Palestine is from India?  Some 2,700 miles.  Palestine was in the Roman Empire, and filled with Jews.  India was (IIRC) beyond the Persian Empire, and filled with Hindus, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians.  When there are some striking differences in the Jerusalem Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud, I doubt that Hindus would have some great insight into the culture of Christ. 

What do I think is the best group to interpret the teachings of Christ?  Do I think it is a group that is thousands of miles (and always has been) and countless countries from Christ?  No.  Rather, the best group to interpret Christ's teachings would be a group that has existed continuously since the time of Christ Himself, and has taught their successors the proper interpretation of Christ's teachings.  The only such group is the Orthodox Church (and the only other groups that can even remotely claim to be, that is those that can trace themselves back to Christ, are the Anglicans, Catholics in communion with Pope Benedict XVI, Old Catholics, Oriental Orthodox, and the Nestorians).  That is who I think is best to interpret Christ's teachings: the people who can say "My bishop is Bishop Z, and he was consecrated by Bishop Y, who was consecrated by Bishop X, who was consecrated by Bishop W" and so on. 
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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2011, 10:38:25 AM »

Hey James,

I think what Yogananda was trying to say, was that there are many things in common with Eastern philosophies.  This can even be seen with Holy Orthodoxy flirting with Platonism (which Plato himself got several of these ideas, from the East).  I also understand what you're saying, but something got lost in translation with the Nestorians as they didn't seem to get it passed down correctly to them.

Iconodule,

So what you're saying is that we should interpret Hindu and Buddhist texts as pointing towards Christ?  I see where you're coming from, and it could have very well been a foreshadowing of Christ.  A lot of people have found similarities between the life and teachings of Krishna, Gautama Buddha, and Christ.  I suppose we could also say that where people claim there are too many similarities to Mithra-ism, and other Pagan philosophies -- that too was pointing the way to Christ.  But we should never let any of these Eastern teachings contradict the ecumenical councils.  As per the refutation of reincarnation, and many of the teachings of Origen covered in the Council of Constantinople II (553 A.D.) which were directly derived from the East.

This makes sense, as to why a Christian can look at the Jewish Tanakh and see Jesus written in between the lines everywhere.  While your average Jew will be like "No it's not saying Jesus, just read the verse in context.."  and of course they could see another interpretation -- because the Rabbis of the Talmud never spoke authoritatively enough, they could always change their mind about what Scripture meant  (or so it would seem).
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Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith; Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity
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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2011, 10:41:18 AM »

Another question though,  how do you all feel about the more mystic/esoteric approach to religion?  Where the world religions seem to contradict each other at first glance, a more mystic/esoteric approach seems to reconcile them all.  This could probably best be seen with Kabbalah, Sufism, and others (of various religions) who are very similar.
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2011, 11:04:28 AM »

Another question though,  how do you all feel about the more mystic/esoteric approach to religion?  Where the world religions seem to contradict each other at first glance, a more mystic/esoteric approach seems to reconcile them all.  This could probably best be seen with Kabbalah, Sufism, and others (of various religions) who are very similar.


Orthodoxy is full of mysticism. Just read "The Mountain of Silence" by Kyriacos Markides, visit any Orthodox monastery, read anything about St. Seraphim of Sarov, and you'll see what I'm talking about.
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« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2011, 11:32:25 AM »

^ Very true.

And all religions have some elements of truth as far as they are good. But there is no way to "mystically reconcile" them all. Jesus Christ is truth incarnate, and Baptism makes us part of His Body. Anything outside of that reality cannot be reconciled, except in God's sheer mercy on the Last Day.
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« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2011, 11:38:50 AM »

Agreed, Orthodoxy is filled with mysticism.  Yet esoteric idealist seem to be able to find a connection between Gnosticism, Islam, Judaism, some forms of Christianity, and other religions.  Usually this is done by interpreting things allegorically, or beyond the literal exoteric approach. 
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« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2011, 11:51:54 AM »

I wonder how far Palestine is from India?  Some 2,700 miles.
Jews have been in India for more than 2000 years, perhaps even dating from the time of King Solomon.
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« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2011, 12:16:33 PM »

Right Jeta, but when people meant India back in the day -- they could've been thinking about East of the Persian empire, or even Ethiopia.  They probably weren't always talking about India in it's political boundaries, as it is defined now.
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« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2011, 12:26:39 PM »

Another question though,  how do you all feel about the more mystic/esoteric approach to religion?  Where the world religions seem to contradict each other at first glance, a more mystic/esoteric approach seems to reconcile them all.  This could probably best be seen with Kabbalah, Sufism, and others (of various religions) who are very similar.

Are you familiar with Prof. James Cutsinger, or the The Traditionalists (aka Perennialists)? He has a wonderful blog that may be of interest to you:  http://www.cutsinger.net/wordpress2/?page_id=2. Traditionalists also have an esoteric approach to religion, and espouse the idea of a Transcendent Unity of religions. Frithjof Schuon, considered by many as the most important Traditionalist thinker, said that while we may recognize or sense a Transcendent Unity at the metaphysical level, we should still be exclusivists in practice. I think this is wise, no matter your view. I personally came to Orthodoxy via the perennialist view, as did Fr. Seraphim Rose, who came to Orthodoxy in no small part because of his encounter with the writings of Rene Guenon (an early Traditionalist). Anyway, I believe that Fr. Seraphim Rose said somewhere that once you find Orthodoxy, you must begin to enter more deeply into it on its own terms (which is what he did). Although I've at times struggled with this, I think that is the best view regardless of whether or not you are predisposed towards a more esoteric approach to religion. Orthodoxy has everything one needs.
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« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2011, 01:14:54 PM »

Right Jeta, but when people meant India back in the day -- they could've been thinking about East of the Persian empire, or even Ethiopia.  They probably weren't always talking about India in it's political boundaries, as it is defined now.
True. I'm defining "India" to mean areas around what is now Mumbai (Bombay) and the state of Kerala. Jews were in these places, at the earliest around King Solomon's time, and at the latest, by 100 BCE.
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« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2011, 10:04:20 PM »

That would certainly be evidence of the fact that Hinduism may have been influenced by Judaism and that the Indian Jews may have been influenced by Hinduism (for some reason I am always forgetting about the Jews in India), this is not necessarily evidence that Hinduism had anything to do with the Jews of Palestine. 
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« Reply #17 on: July 11, 2011, 12:43:40 PM »

That would certainly be evidence of the fact that Hinduism may have been influenced by Judaism and that the Indian Jews may have been influenced by Hinduism (for some reason I am always forgetting about the Jews in India), this is not necessarily evidence that Hinduism had anything to do with the Jews of Palestine.  
Right, but it shows that travel between India and the Middle East was neither impossible nor rare. The Greeks used land and sea routes to trade with India, and the Romans, by the first century AD, were expanding the sea trade once the Red Sea ports were opened.

But Hinduism was not a heavily missionary tradition. The Buddhists were the ones who did the most missionary activity in the Mediterranean area (Libya, Balkans, Greece, Egypt, especially).
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« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2011, 06:24:30 PM »

I knew Buddhists had done missionary activity, had no idea they got to Libya though.
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I know a secret about a former Supreme Court Justice.  Can you guess what it is?

The greatest tragedy in the world is when a cigarette ends.

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