I am so impressed at how devout the Hindus are. They believe in reincarnation and multiple lives. They believe strongly that what you do in “this” life will determine what your next life will be like. For example, an “evil” person may come back as a snake, as depicted on the wall of the Hindu temples. Unfortunate realities, like disabilities and poverty are also thought to be the result of living improperly. A person will cycle through these lives countless times until they finaly get it right or until they are “liberated”. Vaikuntha is what Christians would call Heaven. The liberated souls or “Jivas” will reside here for eternity in paradise.
As a result of these noble thoughts, most Indians are very peaceful and have a generalized decent and non-confrontational way of dealing with other humans. Political arenas, however, do not seem to always uphold these righteous standards ( but that would be the case in America too).
Let’s squeeze in a few words about Islam, which is the only major Indian religion we haven’t dedicated a piece to yet.
Islam makes up 13.4% (approximately 138 million) of the Indian population, second only to Hinduism. It came to India in the 12th century with trade and conquerors. Many converted to Islam and it grew to be the influential faith that it is today. It even affects the laws in India as “Sharia” or Muslim law takes precedence for Muslims in some matters over Indian civil law.
Many people are familiar with the particulars of Islam due to the high profile it has been given in the media in recent years. Although Muslim people have gotten a bad rap, most Muslims want to live and let live. Their practices are guided by the Quran, and they believe strongly in Karma, which simply stated means, “what goes around, comes around”.
Since India’s Independence, 3 of the 12 presidents have been Muslim. Many prominent actors and film makers of Bollywood are Muslim and India’s 5th richest man (worth $17.1 billion) is also Muslim. Some of the biggest visual influences left behind by historic Muslims would be the awesome architecture. Mosque, tombs and forts built with Muslim architecture litter the landscape. One such structure is the Taj Mahal, built by Muslim emperor Shah Jahan, as a monument to his wife.
The take away from the religions that we explored in India is that all of them have one thing in common. The moral treatment of humanity is paramount. How one treats another person could mean the difference between his life actualization and liberation or damnation. That translates to my Christian mind that, the “Golden Rule” that was demonstrated by Jesus Christ is apparent in some way in all Indian faiths.