A Religion Profile from International Students, Inc.
Hinduism: An Overview
after the revolt emphasized the importance of internal
Number of Adherents
meditation as opposed to external practice.
It is estimated that there are over 850 million Hindus world-
wide, accounting for more than 13 percent of the earth’s pop-
Between 800 and 300 B.C. the Upanishads were written. The
ulation (Barret). There are more than one million Hindus in
Upanishads, also called Vedanta (“the end or conclusion of
North America. Globally, Hindus outnumber protestant Chris-
the Vedas”), are the Hindu equivalent of the New Testament.
tians (Christudas, p. 18).
The Upanishads exposed the idea that behind the many gods
stands one Reality, which is called Brahman. Brahman is an
impersonal, monistic (“all is one”) force. The highest force of
Hinduism Among the Nations
Brahman is called nirguna, which means “without attributes.”
The vast majority of Hindus live in India, where they account
for 81.3 percent of the population (2000 est.). Hindus also
Even after the Upanishads were written, the Hindu concept of
comprise a significant portion of the population in seven other
God continued to develop, and it developed in the direction
countries: Bangladesh (16 percent), Bhutan (25 percent), Fiji
of seeing God as personal. Nirguna Brahman became saguna
(38 percent), Mauritius (52 percent), Nepal (86.2 percent), Sri
Brahman, which is Brahman “with attributes.” This
Lanka (15 percent), Suriname (27.4 percent), and Trinidad
personified Brahman is called Ishvara.
(23.8 percent) (CIA World Factbook). Nepal is the only nation
where Hinduism is the state religion.
According to Hindu tradition, Ishvara became known as
humanity through the Trimurti (literally, “three
manifestations”) of Brahman. Those manifestations include
Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver), and Siva (the
The origins of Hinduism can be traced back to around 1500
Destroyer). Each of the three deities has at least one devi, or
B.C. in what is now India. It began as a polytheistic and
ritualistic religion. The rituals were at first simple enough that
they could be performed by the head of the household. As the
Ishvara became personified even further through the ten
centuries passed though, the rituals became increasingly
mythical incarnations of Vishnu, called avatars. The forms of
complex. As a result, it became necessary to create a priestly
these incarnations include that of animals (e.g., a fish, a
class and to train those individuals to perform the rituals
tortoise, and boar) and of persons (e.g., Rama, Krishna, and
correctly. During this time, the Vedas were written to give the
Buddha). Epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata,
priests instructions as to how to perform the rituals.
which includes the Bagavad-Gita, tell the stories of these
myths. Beyond the principal deities of the Trimurti, it is
As a result of the emphasis on the rituals, the priests became
estimated that there are 330 million other gods in Hinduism.
the sole means by which the people could approach and
appease the gods. Because of their position as mediators with
Besides the religion’s various concepts of God, Hinduism can
the gods, the priests gained an increasing amount of power
also be divided along the lines of whether the physical
and control over the lives of the people. Finally, around 600
universe is considered to be real or illusory (maya). The
B.C., the people revolted. The form of Hinduism that emerged
non-dualists (advaiti) see Brahman alone as being real and
the world as illusory. The qualified non-dualists
(vishishtadvaita) affirm the reality of both Brahman and the
we are ignorant of our divine nature. We have forgotten that
universe in that the universe is extended from the Being of
we are extended from Brahman and have mistakenly attached
Brahman. And the dualists (dvaita) see Brahman and the uni-
ourselves to the desires of our separate selves, or egos, and
verse as being two distinct realities.
thereby to the consequences of the resultant actions.
In the course of its history, Hinduism has spawned three other
Because of the ego’s attachment to its desires and
religious movements that have since become world religions:
individualistic existence, we have become subject to the law
Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.
of karma. The law of karma says that we reap what we sow. It
is the moral equivalent of the natural law of cause and effect.
Although Hinduism is tremendously diverse, most Hindus
The effects of our actions, moreover, follow us not only in the
hold to the beliefs listed below.
present lifetime but from lifetime to lifetime (reincarnation).
The Beliefs of Hinduism
The Impersonal Nature of Brahman
Samsara refers to the ever-revolving wheel of life, death, and
rebirth (Rice, page 10). A person’s karma determines the kind
Hindus see ultimate Reality, Brahman, as being an impersonal
of body, whether human, animal, or insect, into which he or
oneness that is beyond all distinctions, including personal and
she will be reincarnated in the next life. We are reaping the
moral distinctions. Since Hindus also consider Brahman to be
consequences in this lifetime for deeds done in previous ones.
an impersonal force of existence, most see the universe as
being continuous with and extended from Being of Brahman.
The Brahman/Atman Unity
The solution in Hinduism is to be liberated (moksha) from the
wheel of life, death, and rebirth. Such liberation attained
Most adherents of Hinduism believe that they are, in their true
through realizing that only the undifferentiated oneness of
selves (atman), extended from and one with Brahman. Just as
Brahman is real. With that realization one must strive to
the air inside an open jar is identical to the air surrounding
detach oneself from the desires of the ego. Hinduism offers at
that jar, so our essence is identical to that of Brahman. This is
least three paths by which to attain enlightenment, including
expressed through the phrase Tat tvam asi, “That thou art.”
that of karma marga (the way of action and ritual, jnana
marga (the way of knowledge and meditation), and bhakti
The Law of Karma
marga (the way of devotion).
Humanity’s primary problem, according to Hinduism, is that
Karma and Sin Compared and Contrasted
• Both involve moral issues.
• Both affirm the existence of cause-and-effect relationships between our actions and the results they produce in
our present lives (c.f., Prov. 11:18; 22:8).
Karma (Hindu Concept)
Sin (Christian Concept)
Karma does not affect one’s relationship with
Sin does not affect our relationship with God in that
Brahman, which is beyond moral distinctions.
we become alienated from Him. One of the
Whether one’s karma is good or bad makes no
attributes of God is absolute moral holiness, and our
difference to the fact that we are unconditionally
sin reveals an attitude of rebellion against His moral
extended from the oneness of Brahman.
The law of karma does not allow for the possibility of
Because God is personal, and because persons can
forgiveness. Its consequences are inevitable and
forgive, sin can be forgiven.
The direction of the Hindu way to enlightenment is from man
during the rituals, also called Samhitas), the Brahmanas
to God. It is something to be attained in that it is based on
(explanations of the verses), the Aranyakas (reflections on
man’s own effort. The direction of the biblical way of salva-
their meaning), and the Upanishads (mystical interpretations
tion, however, is from God’s grace, and it is a gift to be
of the verses). These scriptures are called shruti, which
received through faith (Eph. 2:8-9, I John 4:10).
means “that which is heard.” Shruti literature is the Hindu
equivalent to scripture that is revealed.
Also, according to the Upanishads, the goal of enlightenment
is for the individual self to lose its separate identity in the
Besides these primary scriptures, there are also secondary
universal Self. The end result of biblical salvation, however,
ones that are considered smriti, or “remembered.” Included in
is to have an everlasting relationship with God. Eternal life
the smriti scriptures are the popular Ramayana (Rama’s
means to be in communion with a personal God, not in a
way”), and Mahabharata (“the great story”) epics. Within the
union with an impersonal oneness.
Mahabharata epic is the most popular of all Hindu
scriptures—the Bagavad-Gita, the main character of which is
The Hindu Scriptures
Krishna. While the smriti scriptures are not as authoritative
as the shruti scriptures, they have nevertheless exerted much
The earliest of the Hindu scriptures are the Vedas. Veda
more influence on the culture of India.
means “knowledge,” and it has the same root as the English
word “wisdom” and the Greek oida (“to know”) (Noss, page
Other shruti scriptures include the Vedangas (codes of law,
such as the Laws of Manu), the Puranas (the genealogies and
legends of the gods), the Darshanas (philosophical writings),
There are four Vedas: the Rig Veda, the Sama Veda, the Yajur
Sutras (rules of ritual and social contact), and the Tantras
Veda, and the Atharva Veda. Each Veda, moreover, is divided
(writings on attaining cultic power) (Organ, page 180).
into four parts: the Mantras (the basic verses or hymns sung
Hinduism and Christianity Contrasted
Continuous in the sense of being extended from the being
Discontinuous in the sense of being separate from the
Being of God; continuous in the sense of being made in
Liberation from illusion and ignorance.
Forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with the personal
Detachment from desire and awareness of unity with the
Repentance from sin and trusting in the completed and
divine through self effort.
substitutionary work of Jesus Christ.
Merge into the Oneness; the individual disappears.
Eternal fellowship with God; the person is fulfilled in a
loving relationship with God.
Suggestions for Evangelism
offensive to Hindus, who consider the cow to be sacred. Be
careful to point out that the main theme is not the killing of
Offer Jesus’ Forgiveness
the calf, but the alienation and then reconciliation of the son
to the father and the joy of the father, who represents God, at
Bakht Singh, a convert from Islam and an Indian evangelist,
the return of his son.
once said, “I have never failed to get a hearing if I talk to
them about forgiveness of sins and peace and rest in your
Second, the fact that God is personal will help you find ways
heart” (Hesselgrave, p. 169). Forgiveness is a real need for
to provoke your friend’s thinking. For example, if God is
Hindus, because it is not available in their system, which is
personal by nature, then He is able to be aware of and
based on the law of karma. This fact, moreover, troubles
empathize with our suffering (Exod. 3:7; Heb. 4:15). Is their
many Hindus. They are aware that the actions that bind them
god as concerned for them?
to this illusory realm keep accumulating, and the prospect of
escape is hopelessly remote.
Another example of using the fact that God is personal has to
do with the destiny of the individual after death. What it
One passage that you might use is Matthew 11:28-30, “Come
means to “know” the impersonal Brahman of Hinduism is to
to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give
lose your identity as a distinct and separate person. There is
you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I
something within each of us, though, that makes us want to
am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for
cling with all our might to our existence as personal beings.
your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The
Is such a drive nothing more than the ignorance of our
kind of people that Jesus had in mind when He spoke those
separatistic egos? Are not people most fulfilled when they
words were those who felt burdened by the effort that it took
are in a relationship of friendship or love? How much more
to attain salvation.
fulfilled would we be if we were to be in fellowship with a
personal, holy, and loving God? Such a fulfilling relationship
What does Jesus offer in place of feeling weary and
is exactly what the God of the Bible offers for eternity (see
burdened? Rest. How does Jesus say we can find rest? By
John 17:3; 14:2-3; Rev. 21:3).
coming to Him, which means believing in Him (c.f., John
6:35). Why could Jesus say that His yoke is easy and His
Ask and Listen
burden is light (v. 30)? The yoke of trusting in Jesus is easy
because He has accomplished the work of salvation on our
Hinduism is a vastly diverse religion with some unifying
behalf. The load is light because Jesus has taken the burden
beliefs but no specific creed. As such, it is a very tolerant
of our sin upon His own shoulders. As His disciples, we
religion, allowing each person to choose his or her own set of
follow One who is not a taskmaster but who is “gentle and
beliefs. Don’t assume, then, that you know what your Hindu
humble in heart” (v. 29).
friend believes. Ask questions about his or her beliefs
concerning God, man, sin, and salvation, and listen carefully
Keep God’s Personhood in Mind
to the answers.
When discussing your beliefs and those of your Hindu
Listen closely to the words that your Hindu friend uses to
friend, keep God’s personhood in mind at all times. This has
describe the way to enlightenment. He or she might very well
several benefits. First, it will help you find ways to illustrate
use words such as “achieve,” “attain,” “overcome,” and
the Christian perspective on spiritual issues by using familiar
“strive.” Such language reveals how enlightenment, the
images of interpersonal relationships. Through such images
Hindu equivalent of salvation, is based on human effort, not
you can illustrate the meaning of sin (sin is the rejection of
on God’s grace. You might discuss with your friend such
God’s moral authority), the consequences of sin
passages as Romans 3:19-24 and Ephesians 2:8-9, which
(interpersonal alienation), the resolution of sin (confession
speak of the futility of attempting to earn one’s salvation and
and forgiveness), and the hope of eternal life (everlasting
of how salvation is a gift from God to be received by faith.
fellowship with a personal and loving God). These examples
of illustrating sin through interpersonal relationships were
Have a Humble Spirit
taken from the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15).
Obviously, then, this parable can be useful in illustrating the
Don’t approach a Hindu with a spirit of superiority. In many
Christian understanding of sin and forgiveness.
respects, such as the eating of meat and our attachment to
materialism, Hindus see Christians as spiritually inferior.
One drawback of that parable, however, is the killing of the
Live your life as an open book. Let them see the peace of
fattened calf to celebrate the son’s return. Such an image is
mind you have being assured of your forgiveness in Jesus
“conversion must not mean denationalization” (Hingorani,
Christ and of your destiny after death.
p.15). While Christianity certainly speaks to the polytheistic
aspects of the Indian culture, it does not require, for instance,
Focus on Jesus
that a believer eat meat. Indians can be Christians, moreover,
and still be proud of their national heritage.
Present your Hindu friend with a New Testament and ask him
or her to discover who Jesus is for himself or herself. Let
The price for accepting Christ might indeed be high, but Jesus
your friend know that even Gandhi said, “I shall say to the
has promised that those who pay such a price “will receive a
Hindus that your lives will be incomplete unless you rever-
hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life” (Matt.
ently study the teachings of Jesus” (Hingorani, p. 23).
Encourage your friend to read either Luke or John.
“There Are Many Paths to God”
Be Aware of Differing Definitions
Probably the most common Hindu objection to Christianity is
Be aware of terminology or concepts that could be misunder-
the belief that there are many ways to God. Each person can
stood by followers of Hinduism. For example, Hindus would
choose whichever way is best suited for him or her. The
understand being “born again” as referring to reincarnation,
Hindu sees ultimate Reality, Brahman, as being an
which is something from which they want to be liberated. In
undifferentiated oneness. If that view of God is accurate, then
Christian terminology, however, being “born again” is to be
it would indeed be true that there are many ways to God,
made new or regenerated by the transforming power of the
because God is contained within each person. This idea was
reflected in Hinduism Today when it printed a chart of the
major world religions entitled, “Truth Is One, Paths Are
Hindrances and Objections
In response, you must continually set before your Hindu
friend the image of God being personal. If God is by nature
There are several cultural factors that might prevent Hindus
personal, then the issues of how to know God are different
from considering Christianity. The first stems from the fact
from those of knowing an impersonal, undifferentiated force.
that Hinduism is intertwined with the culture of India, the
With a personal God, the issues are similar to those of
home of most Hindus. Radhakrishnan, a renowned Indian
relating to a friend or parent. To be more specific, there are
scholar and statesman, once said, “Hinduism is more a culture
issues of morality, obedience, and trust. Also, if God is
than a creed” (Beaver, p. 170). Thus, many Hindus think they
personal, then sin is not a matter of ignorance but of moral
must reject their culture before they can accept Christianity.
rejection and the breaking of a relationship.
Second, there is a cultural/religious pride among educated
Hindus that prevents them from considering other religions.
If our primary problem is that we have broken our relation-
The third reason arises from the association that Christianity
ship with the Person of God, then it is understandable why
has had, at least in the Indian’s mind, with “materialistic”
there is only one way to God. You can illustrate this for your
civilization and imperialistic exploitation (Hingorani, p. 32).
Hindu friend by asking him or her: How many ways are there
to restore a relationship that you are responsible for having
Fourth, the Indian family is very close. The actions of one
broken? The answer, of course, is that there’s only one way:
member of the family affect the rest of the family. Mahendra
through confessing your guilt and requesting forgiveness.
Singhal, a Hindu who came to Christ, wrote, “My dilemma
[with respect to his conversion] had another dimension. My
Also, share with your Hindu friend the inclusiveness of Jesus
acceptance of Jesus Christ would make my parents lose
Christ toward others. Christ beckons “all who are weary and
respect and position in the community. My brothers and
heavy laden” (Matt. 11:28, emphasis added) to come to Him.
sisters would suffer disgrace. Even though I was working
He commends the faith of the Roman centurion (Matt. 8:5-
away from home in a different environment, I was not really
13), the kindness of the Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), and the
free to make my own decisions (Singhal, p. 3).
repentance of the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14) and the sinful
woman (Luke 7:36-50). The inclusive Christ associates with
Each of these issues is difficult to deal with. Still, with God,
the social outcast (Luke 19:1-10) and the sinner (Luke 15:1-
they are not insurmountable. We must always keep the focus
7). The Gospels portray Jesus as the provider for the
on Jesus Christ and His salvation, and separate that message
physically hungry (Matt. 14:13-21) and the spiritually hungry
as much as possible from Western culture. After all,
(John 6:35); the healer of the leper, the lame, the blind, the
Christianity has its roots in Asia, not in the West.
deaf, and the mute; the seeker of the lost (Matt. 18:10-14;
Luke 19:10); the lover of the children (Matt. 19:14); “a light
Also, as Christians, we must affirm with Gandhi that
for revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32; John 8:12); the
Vishnu and Jesus: Differences Between Their Incarnations
At least ten incarnations (some claim more) in both animal
One incarnation in human form.
and human form.
While the stories of the avatars, or incarnations, of Vishnu
History is very important to the veracity of Jesus’ claims
might have a core of truth, history is not essential to them.
and to the salvation that He accomplished on our behalf
They are mythical in nature. If it were shown that there
(1 Cor. 15:14, 17; 1 John 1:1-3). If Christ did not actually
were no historical basis to the stories, it would have no
live, die, and rise from the dead in history, then
effect on their meaning and influence. A Hindu tradition
Christianity is built on a lie and the Gospel is without
even asserts that when the avatars walked, they left no
The purpose of Vishnu’s incarnations was “for destruction
The purpose of Jesus’ incarnation was to “seek and save
of evildoers” (Bhagavad-Gita 4:8; Edgerton, p.23).
what was lost” (Luke 19:10). “For God did not send his
Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the
world through him” (John 3:17; also see John 10:10).
The avatars pointed to a way by which we can attain
Jesus points to Himself as the way by which to receive
enlightenment over a period of many lifetimes: “But striv-
eternal life immediately (John 6:29, 40; 10:9-10; 14:16;
ing zealously, with sins cleansed, the disciplined man,
perfected through many rebirths, then (finally) goes to the
highest goal” (Bhagavad-Gita 6:45; Edgerton, p.37,
Vishnu incarnates periodically as an avatar when the need
Jesus’ incarnation was a unique event. His sacrifice was
arises, and then the avatar dies and is reabsorbed back into
“once for all” (Heb. 9:26-28); He died and rose from the
Brahman. Hinduism makes no claims concerning the bodi-
dead; and His individual identity is manifested before, as
ly resurrection of the avatars.
well as after, the incarnation.
physician of the spiritually sick through whom one passes to
Krishna or Rama or Mohammed or Zoroaster (Hingorani, p.
receive eternal life (John 10:9).
The Gospel of Jesus Christ, moreover, is intended for the
But was the incarnation of Jesus really the same as Vishnu’s
whole world. As John wrote concerning the end, “I looked
incarnations, which included Krishna and Rama? No, for
and there before me was a great multitude that no one could
there were distinct differences.
count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, stand-
ing before the throne and in front of the Lamb” (Rev.7:9,
If the objection of Jesus’ uniqueness comes up, encourage
emphasis added). This all-embracing Christ will naturally
your Hindu friend to read through the Gospel of John and
appeal to the Hindu (Sudhakar, p. 3).
judge the issue for himself or herself. One former Hindu
wrote, “At the urging of my classmate...I began to read the
“Jesus Christ Is Not Unique”
New Testament to learn more about Jesus. He totally
captivated me. Here was someone who struck me as different
The Hindu sees the gods and avatars (incarnations) as
from anyone else who ever lived” (Sairsingh, pp. 5-6).
manifestations of the impersonal Brahman. They view Jesus
as one of those avatars. Your Hindu friend might be willing to
“I Must Pay for My Own Karmic Debt”
incorporate Jesus into his or her pantheon, but yet unwilling
to accept Jesus as the exclusive incarnation of God.
Hindus are deeply influenced in their thinking by the law of
karma. Their tendency, then, is to believe that actions have
Gandhi represented typical Hindu thinking when he said,
consequences both now and in subsequent lives, and that each
“I...do not take as literally true the text that Jesus is the only
person bears the consequences of his or her own actions
begotten son of God. God cannot be the exclusive Father and
alone. Typically, therefore, Hindus have difficulty understand-
I cannot ascribe exclusive divinity to Jesus. He is as divine as
ing the concept of Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice. How could
Jesus suffer in our place and pay for our debt, while we
Then, one tragic day, they find their daughter dead as the
receive forgiveness and salvation as a free gift?
result of a drug overdose.
In one sense the law of karma is true in that one who sins will
Now ask: As the parent of this daughter, what would your
personally reap the consequences of that sin, such as shame,
attitude be toward the drugs? Would you be upset only with
the loss of a friend’s trust, ill health, a jail sentence, or a failed
the death of your daughter and have no conviction concerning
marriage. Even Paul wrote, “A man reaps what he sows”
the effects of the drugs? Or, would you be motivated to warn
others about the dangers of doing drugs?
But, again, one must put this issue in the context of God being
Explain that God feels even more strongly than they do about
personal. If God is personal, then our sin is ultimately an
the death of a person. It grieves him; he abhors death. But that
affront to the moral authority of a holy God. While the bad
is precisely why He hates sin—because sin, like drugs,
news is that such sin results in our alienation from God, the
destroys people. And that is why He was motivated to give
good news is that, with a personal God, forgiveness is
His only Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Christ’s death does
possible, just as it is possible for any person to forgive another
not uphold killing; instead, it demonstrates the extent to
for a wrong.
which God loved us (Rom. 5:8). It shows how much He
desires for us to have life (John 3:16-17; 10:10) and to make a
If God is an impersonal force, though, then moral law
way for us to have a relationship with Him (John 17:3).
becomes more like the laws of nature. As such, it is inevitable
that we will suffer the consequences of our actions, whether
Dr. Mahendra Singhal, a former Hindu, said, “Hindus believe
good or bad. Also, forgiveness would not be possible, just as
in going to the extremes to demonstrate their love for
it is not possible for nature to offer forgiveness when we
someone. A mother, for example, would go hungry to feed her
break its laws.
children. A father would deprive himself of everything so that
his children could go to school. The image of Jesus Christ that
Carrying the image of a personal God further, forgiveness has
made the strongest appeal to me was the limit to which He
its price. When we forgive the one who has wronged us, we
was willing to go to show His love toward me, and I did not
bear on ourselves the hurt and the consequences caused by the
even know Him at the time. I have discovered in my witness-
ing to Hindus that they are generally moved by the depiction
of Jesus on the cross to validate His love toward us.”
That is precisely what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Being
God, He was sinless and represented the One who had been
Bibliography and Resources
sinned against. Being man, He was qualified to bear on our
behalf the consequences of our sin, which was death.
Barret, David, et. al. World Christian Encyclopedia. New
York: NY, Oxford University Press, 2001.
“The Crucifixion Goes Against Nonviolence to All Life”
Beaver, R. Pierce, et. Al. (eds.) Eerdman’s Handbook to the
Some Hindus have difficulty understanding the significance
World’s Religions. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B.
of Christ’s crucifixion because of their conviction that one
Eerdman’s Publishing Co. 1982.
must act with nonviolence toward all life, which is the Hindu
doctrine of ahimsa. It needs to be explained to them, though,
Christudas, Bhanu. “Reaching the Hindu World.” Mission
that the crucifixion of Christ was the graphic consequence of
Frontiers. Pasadena, Calif.: U.S. Center for World Mission,
“the wages of sin” (Rom. 6:23) and the direct result of Christ
having taken our sins upon Himself.
CIA World Factbook. www.cia.gov/publications/factbook/
The following word picture might help them understand the
meaning of the cross. Have them imagine a loved one—say
Edgerton, Franklin (trans.). The Bhagavad Gita. Cambridge,
it’s a daughter—becoming involved with drugs. At first the
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1975.
daughter experiments with marijuana. She does it for the
enjoyment of the experience, and she’s able control it. But
Heim, S. Mark. Is Christ the Only Way?: Christian Faith in a
within a few weeks she gets involved with heavier drugs such
Pluralistic World. Valley Forge, Penn.: Judson Press, 1985.
as cocaine. The highs and lows become more intense, and she
develops a craving for the drugs. They begin to control her;
Hesselgrave, David. Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally.
she become addicted. Her parents see what the drugs are
Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1978.
doing to their daughter: her grades have plummeted; she
hangs out with the wrong crowd; she gets in trouble with the
Hingorani, Anand (ed.). The Message of Jesus Christ by M.K.
law; she has become distant in her relationship with them.
Gandhi. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, 1964.
Johnstone, Patrick. Operation World. Pasadena, Calif.:
Glossary of Common Hindu Terms
William Carey Library, 1986.
Ahimsa: The doctrine of nonviolence to all life, which is
Lewis, James and William Travis. Religious Traditions of the
the basis for Hindus being vegetarian.
World. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1991.
Asanas: The physical postures or ways of sitting in order
Maharaj, Rabindranath with Dave Hunt. Death of Guru. New
to do yoga.
York: A.J. Holman Co., 1977.
Avatar: The incarnation of a deity.
McDowell, Josh and Don Stewart. Understanding Non-
Christian Religions. San Bernadino, Calif.: Here’s Life
Bhakti: A form of yoga where a person loses one’s self
through selfless devotion to a personal concept of God,
usually either Krishna or Rama.
Noss, John B. Man’s Religions (fifth edition). New York:
Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1974.
Brahmin: The priestly caste of Hinduism, which is to be
differentiated from Brahman—Hinduism’s word for
Organ, Troy Wilson. Hinduism: Its Historical Development.
New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 1974.
Dharma: The Hindu word for religion. It is the way a
Rice, Edward. Eastern Definitions. Garden City, N.Y.:
Hindu should live, especially with respect to performing
Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1980.
the duties of one’s caste. To live according to dharma is
to live in harmony with the universe.
Seamands, John. Tell It Well: Communicating the Gospel
Across Cultures. Kansas City, Mo.: Beacon Hill Press,
Karma: The law of cause and effect active in the
Singhal, Mahendra. “The Choice and the Price.” SCP
Mantra: “Thought form.” A single or multi-syllabic
Newsletter. Berkeley, Calif.: Spiritual Counterfeits Project,
phrase (usually in Sanskrit) on which one meditates.
1987, Vol. 12, No. 3.
Each mantra is identified with a particular deity to the
extent that the correctly pronounced mantra embodies
Stott, John. The Cross of Christ. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-
that deity. The point of repeating the mantra is to invoke
Varsity Press, 1986.
the powers of that deity and to invite it to enter you
Sudhakar, Paul. “Mission to the Average Hindu” (unpublished
paper, no date).
Maya: The doctrine that the invisible world is an illusion
that clouds the reality of absolute oneness. Maya may
An Organization that Ministers to Hindus
also be considered to be the divine play of the gods.
Nirvana: Refers to the individual self merging into the
East/West Gospel Ministries
impersonal and undifferentiated oneness of the Ultimate
2351 N. Catherine Rd.
Self. Nirvana is the goal of enlightenment.
Altadena, CA 91001
(626) 798-9922; (626) 676-6766
OM: The mantra that contains all the primal vibrations
of the universe. It is considered to be the queen of the
mantras (Rice, p. 279).
Puja: The term for the worship of deities at an altar.
PO Box C
Colorado Springs, CO 80901
Samadhi: Absorption into the ultimate oneness. Also
Toll Free: 1-800-ISI-TEAM
used in the sense of dying with respect.
Phone: (719) 576-2700; Fax: (719) 576-5363
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.isionline.org
Yoga: A physical and mental discipline that is practiced
For International Students: www.internationalstudents.org
for the purpose of spiritual liberation or empowerment.
Written by Dean Halverson, Director of Apologetics for
International Students, Inc. Copyright © 1992, 2004
International Students, Inc.