Hari the Hindu
Hari's worldview called Hinduism is a religion that actually originated in Europe over 3000 years ago with a group of people called Aryans who migrated to India and spread their religion there. Since then, it has grown to over 800 million worldwide, with over one million in the United States. While there is no 'official' statement of beliefs in Hinduism, Hari and other Hindus have a core of common beliefs that revolve around the impersonal nature of the universe and what impact that should have on our lives. Basically, Hari believes in a supreme but impersonal god called Brahmam, and all the other gods in Hinduism are extensions of the god Brahma. Hari also believes that the universe and all things in it (including all people) are extensions of Brahmam, which is why he also calls the universe Brahman. Because of this, the goal of existence is to eventually get to the point where you lose your 'self' (because that is just an illusion) and become one with Brahman.
Questions You Can Ask
- What’s your spiritual background?
- Do you ever feel stereotyped in America because you are a Hindu? How does that make you feel?
- Would you tell me what you love about Hinduism and why you are excited to be a Hindu?
- What parts of Hinduism are the most difficult for you to accept or practice?
- What do you base your view of God on?
- Do you believe all religions/paths lead to God? Why or why not?
- What purpose does good and evil serve based on Hindu beliefs?
- What do you think happens after we die?
- What do you believe about Jesus Christ?
- Do you think there’s a difference between a “religion” and the “relationship” with God that Jesus talked about?
Areas You Can Admire
- Hari’s belief that the spiritual realm is important.
- Hari’s belief that Jesus Christ existed.
- Hari’s desire to seek salvation in the afterlife.
- Hari’s desire to please God.
What Hari Believes
Hari believes Hinduism is the only true religion, and his beliefs affect every part of his life from how he spends his time, what he eats, and even the types of friends he chooses. Hari is also motivated to share his 'faith' with others because he firmly believes Hinduism is the only true path to peace. Hari believes all people are trapped in a cycle of reincarnation and karma, which means once you die, you are born again as a plant, animal, or person, depending on how good or evil you were in the previous life. Hari believes there are three ways to break this cycle:
The first 'way of works' is the attempt to purify one's soul by the careful devotion/obedience to all the laws and obligations of the Hindu scriptures (called "Vedas").
The second way is called the 'way of knowledge'. It is the opposite of the way of works and teaches the total rejection and denial of one's individual life and instead seeks salvation in a mystical realization of identity with Brahman.
The third way is by far the most popular; it is the 'way of devotion'. According to this point of view, if one commits oneself totally to the worship of a particular god or goddess, that deity will then take care of all the details as far as releasing you from the reincarnation/karma cycle. The way that works is if I devote myself completely to Krishna, then Krishna will take care of my karma problems and usher me into oneness with him when I die.
So Hari believes one is saved from karma and reincarnation by following one of the three ways, and the result will be a state of bliss in union with 'god'.
Hari does not believe in the God of the universe revealed in the Bible as Yahweh.
About the Trinity:
Hari does not believe in the Trinity revealed in the Bible, although Brahman is a 'three in one' type of god.
Hari believes that Jesus was just one manifestation or 'appearance' of his supreme god of the universe.
About the Bible:
Hari does not believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, especially since he believes the Vedas (basically the equivalent of a Hindu Bible) are the only sacred scriptures.
About the Afterlife:
Hari believes in reincarnation through the cycles of Karma, which is an afterlife driven by the law of cause and effect. This means what Hari does in this lifetime, either good or bad, determines what will happen to him in the next lifetime, on and on through time, until he successfully completes one of the three 'ways of salvation' and loses his individual identity to Brahman.
To Hari, 'salvation' is breaking free of the reincarnation/Karma cycle and becoming one with Brahman.
What the Bible Teaches
God identified Himself as "I Am" (Exodus 20:2) - meaning He is the self-existent (never had a beginning or end) eternal Creator of the universe.
About the Trinity:
There is one God and yet three Persons (Isaiah 45:5; Deuteronomy 6:4; James 2:19), and He is not the same as the god of the Hindus.
Jesus is fully God and fully man, and not a manifestation or appearance of the Hindu god Brahman. He is the God of the universe (John 1:1, 14, 18; 8:58 ; 10:30 . Compare Titus 2:13 and Isaiah 45:21), and He is equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
About the Bible:
The Bible alone is the word of God. It is without error. It cannot and should not be added to or subtracted from (2 Timothy 3:16-4:4; Revelation 22:18-20). The Vedas are not sacred scripture because their 'inspiration' comes from a false god.
About the Afterlife:
Those who trust in Christ alone as their only hope of salvation spend eternity in heaven; those who reject Christ spend an eternity in hell. (John 5:24-30; Revelation 20:11-15). The Bible denies the concept of reincarnation (Hebrews 9:27-28).
Salvation is by faith in Christ on the basis of His death on the cross. Good works or self-denial have nothing to do with being saved (John 3:16 -17, 36; 6:29 ,47; Romans 4:1-5; Galatians 2:16 ; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5), nor can a false deity get you into heaven.
Things to Remember
- Hari is coming from a radically different way of looking at the world, so your early witnessing efforts should consist of mainly listening and getting a feel for where he is coming from. Don't assume all Hindus believe the same thing, because they don't. Also, it is key that you figure out which 'way of salvation' they have chosen, because this will help you customize your witnessing efforts.
- Focus on Jesus being the only way to heaven, and be sure you define your terms clearly so Hari doesn't just think of a Hindu equivalent to what you are saying (like 'salvation', 'God', etc.)
- One thing that Hari has in common with all other Hindus is a need for peace. Since Hari believes he is stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of death and rebirth, peace seems almost impossible. A good verse to use in this area is Matthew 11:28 where Jesus makes this promise: " Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Use your own salvation story as a way to show how it is possible to have a personal relationship with the personal God of the universe.