Compare and Contrast Hinduism and Christianity

The development, spread, and impact of Hinduism on India politically and idealistically is similar to the development, spread and on Western Europe because politically, both religions were supported by their rulers and emperors; and idealistically because both Hinduism and Christianity share similar philosophies and beginnings which influenced major religious ideas and understandings.

However, Hinduism in India and Christianity in Western Europe differed greatly on a social aspect because while India recognized and upheld the importance of an organized caste system in achieving religious salvation, Christianity viewed social classes as insignificant to core religious principals. This leads to the observation that societies are more often than not very similar, with few differences. The spread of Hinduism in India can be most attributed to the Gupta Dynasty and their successors.

The Gupta Dynasty spread Hinduism by making it the official religion of India, and zealously encouraged the practice of Hinduism to the people of India. Eventually, Hindu kingdoms began to independently rule Southern India under loosely administered states; Hinduism brought a sense of stability to Southern India by escaping from Islamic invasions, chronic war, and civil turmoil. Two of these regional states include the kingdom of Vijayanager and the kingdom of Chola.

Both kingdoms spread Hinduism through political means such as building temples with authorities and land administrators that directly worked with guilds and invested in commercial and economic ventures. Similarly during the middle ages, Western Europe was run by Christian authorities and patriarchs called the Papacy. Pope Gregory I, also known as Gregory the Great, emphasized the importance of sacraments, which are a central belief in Christianity; this served as a major political influence of the spread of Christianity on Western Europe.

The popes acted independently and devoted much of their efforts to strengthen and construct a large Christian cultural zone which lay a foundation for a prosperous society, similar to that of the Hindu regional states. During Medieval Europe for example, no single regime controlled Italy, but rather, a series of ecclesiastical city-states competed for power. Like Hindu temples in Southern India, missionaries and monasteries were also implemented to spread Christianity to Europe on a more local level. Hinduism in India and Christianity in Western Europe was very similar in governing, politically speaking.

The core principals of the Hindu religion come primarily out of the direct teachings of the Upanishads. The Upanishads explain the belief of reincarnation as well as karma and moksha. The Upanishads thoroughly explained how to live a pure and virtuous life, and how to be permanently liberated from the painful cycle of reincarnation, known as moksha. The Upanishads not only had a lasting impact on Indian thought about the nature of the world, but also on the observance of high and moral ethical standards. Likewise, the teachings of Judaism had a lasting influence on the spread and development of Christian ideas of Western Europe.

Judaism similarly uses the Hebrew Scriptures which are believed to be the true words of God as inspiration to the way individuals are expected to live their lives fully. Both the Upanishads and the Hebrew Scriptures calls for a life without greed and hatred. The Hebrew Scriptures of Judaism is significant in Christianity because Christian roots begin with the Jewish teachings. Hindu teachings also recognize Krishna, a Vishnu incarnate that spread his word to all humans. This can be easily compared to Jesus of Nazareth who was a prophet of God that spoke to humans about Christian values.

Both Krishna and Jesus can be compared to Zarathustra, a prophet who spoke on behalf of Ahura Mazda, a god of the Persian religion Zoroastrianism, which served as a major influence on Hindu and Christian values. Hindu teachings and ideas had a significant impact on India because it was ruled primarily by Hindu regional states, until Muslim forces began to interfere in northern India. Likewise, Christian ideas had a monumental impact on Western Europe and were the center of all decisions and ways of thinking until the Protestant-Reformation and the Enlightenment in the 16th century C. E. , when ideas regarding the world’s existence veered away from traditional Christian teachings. The development of the social classes in India began when the Aryans moved into north-west India, and imposed an organized social hierarchy made up of four Varna’s. This social class that was implemented plays a vital role in Hindu ethics because an individual was expected to follow their Dharma; an individual’s virtue according to cosmic order, which specifically refers to the caste in which an individual is born into.

The core belief of Hinduism also states that special honor is given to the Brahmins and Kshatryas, the upper class in the Caste System made up of primarily priests, because they lived worthy lives. This made the spread of Hinduism much less popular within the Shudra and the Untouchables, the lowest classes in the Caste System, as well as women. On the contrary, Christianity experienced the most monumental spread within the lower classes of Western Europe, primarily with women. Many individuals were drawn to Christianity because of the promise for salvation as long as they demonstrate good morals and put their faith in God.

Christianity also taught the underlying importance of the idea of equality within all people, which gave women and lower class individuals a sense of purpose, especially because the roots of Christianity begin with Jesus of Nazareth, who was born into a family of poor carpenters. The impact of Christianity and Hinduism differed socially because while Hinduism further emphasized the recognition of social classes, Christianity worked to cast aside social distinction within society.

The ways in which Hinduism and Christianity influenced their societies were similar in that they had political as well as local administration support, and shared many of the same philosophies regarding life and morality. In any case however, Hinduism and Christianity differed in the belief of an organized social class. In conclusion, Hinduism in India and Christianity in Western Europe both nonetheless had very similar contributions to society as a whole.

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