Commonalities in Hinduism and Judaism

Article excerpt

Introduction

The message of peace by great men like Buddha, Mahavira, Jesus, or Mahatma Gandhi of our times is like a lighthouse to show the way to humanity. Religions preach nonviolence and unity of humanity. Some followers however, behave as though humanity is divided in religion, race, color etc. Apparently the hold of religion on human mind in general is slackening. Of the major religions of today Hinduism and Judaism are the two most ancient religions. In this article an attempt is made to draw attention to the commonalties in religions, as evidence of inherent unity of humanity. It is suggested that emphasis on commonalties would lead to introducing the concept of religious coexistence and consequently, survival of religion as the true spiritual entity guiding humanity in the era of fast moving materialistic world.

Religion has been present all-along in the history of humanity. Religion has since produced great systems of morality and law. It has been an important factor to mold individual and collective attitude linking philosophy and life and forms part of culture and civilized life. Religion implies a system of faith and worship based on human recognition of superhuman controlling power. Only a free unconditioned mind could view the history of religions in a true perspective. In this view well before Christianity, prominent marks are Judaism and Buddhism. Before that Vedic culture completely pervaded across Central Asia, Egypt and Greece. It is now in Hinduism. It may be noticed that major religions, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam have come up with a time separation of approximately 500 to 600 years each, after Judaism. A near or close-up view of that period shows more features.

Rising of a new religion is a slow process. During the process foundational commonalties tend to remain behind. May it be lighting of an auspicious lamp symbolically removing darkness or worshipping fire, or sun or idol. Some converted Christian families are said to have retained idols for centuries. As these rituals are practiced in the social matrix of the family, their communal practices pass on from generation to generation. The deity Yahava may be an eloquent example both of sentiment and faith. Seven thousand years ago, the god of sailors in Egypt, was Yahava. The same is the original word for Jewish god, `Yehovah or Jehovah'. Monotheist Aryan races too addressed their god as Yavha in the hymns of Rigveda. The same Vedic god Yahava is god Yahoba of Christian and Islamic religions. (YVH are common). This commonalty linked to faith could only be due to the inherent emotional unity of humanity over the past 7000 years.

By the latter half of the last millennium religions were being propagated and a social system appeared to have stabilized. By then a new factor of growth of scientific knowledge that triggered industrial revolution emerged. The industrial and technological development no doubt lead to improvement of the human living conditions but also initiated the decline of religions. Today, the conditions are more complex and turbid. The advancement of science and technology appears to be only materialistic. The need for religion to prevail is felt all the more for the reigns of development to remain in good hands. All over the globe, intolerance and human propensity towards violence, crime and immoral acts is on the rise. Pressures of modern living are increasing. People, independent of religion, run after livelihood and material enjoyment and have no time for their spiritual requirements or of their children. The situation is worse in the metropolitan complexes of the world. Attractions loom large with powerful individual appeal. Religions tend to become institutionalized in place of dedication or service. It is a matter of concern that religion appears to be loosing the grip, giving rise to fear that the very existence of religion may be challenged. This is applicable to all religions alike, not a particular one. …