Nearly 1 billion Hindus strive for perfectly good lives to achieve a spiritual existence. Following a personal guru (leader/teacher) helps one be freed from darkness and the evils of life. Many Hindus are looking for true peace, so all life decisions (food, friends, clothes, body) are weighed for their spiritual impact. Key ways to pursue higher spiritual life include personal purity, mystic disembodiment, and specific devotion to a chosen god or goddess.
“Brahman” is the supreme being expressed in many gods and goddesses, each of which have unique virtues and vices. Jesus and Mary are acceptable to some modern Hindus as part of the pan-Indian pantheon. There are three major Hindu paths (Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Shaktism) based on three different primary gods.
Many Hindus value race-based or caste-based hierarchies, believing that certain types of people are naturally more holy. Some are also highly superstitious or skilled at interacting with the spirit world; many also put heavy stock in dreams and divination. For many Hindus, spirituality is connected to social and class standing. Personal agency and positive life direction is extremely important, as is maintaining social respect. Most Hindus are born into their religious system and often both family threats and spiritual fear hold them to it.
ACCORDING TO HINDUS
Some Hindus will see Christianity as the West’s colonizing missionary religion. For many, Jesus could be a good example of a guru who leads to one of many spiritual paths to transcendence. Parts of the Bible contain meaningful teachings, but other parts are too violent and manifest the evil things of the world. Christians cannot be on the path to light while soaking in darkness.
Hindus believe Christians don’t take seriously enough the need for good deeds and a pure life, so their devotion to Jesus as a guru or a god is weak. Some Hindus see Christians as lower-caste people who have sold out on their long, rich heritage for money or hand-outs.
CONNECT WITH HINDUS
Respect their long tradition of spirituality, and agree if necessary about the colonizing, divisive nature of Christianity’s history. Work to isolate conversations about Jesus rather than engaging in religious discussions, and focus on your shared need for peace (spiritual, personal, etc). Jesus has the power to overcome all evil in the world; He made clear the way to eternal life. So, when your Hindu friends are open, you can share how your life is being transformed by God’s Spirit.
- You’re not the one who converts, but someone who has found the true light and wants to share
- Find ways to share how Jesus identifies Himself: “Did you know that Jesus calls Himself the ‘light of the world’?”
- Refer often to Jesus’ way: “Jesus’ way has important teachings about , too!“ or “Jesus’ way gave me hope for spiritual life when I was desperate.”
Remember not to make assumptions about your new friends. Try to understand their personal and spiritual stories. Ask questions like:
- How do you know when you find a path, guru, or teaching worth following?
- What’s your deepest hope in life right now? Your biggest fear?
- Who is the most perfect person you’ve personally known? What are/were they like?
- How does one transform themselves? May I share how following Jesus has changed me?