on indian and western religion

One difference between indian and western religious celebrations is that the former take place everywhere and everyone is involved, whereas the later are restricted to religious venues and to the religious; the former are public, whereas the latter are necessarily private. Inside the temples, however, indians behave just as pentecostals would: singing, chanting, raising their arms, lying on the ground, dancing and acting more or less crazy – except for the two golden calves on pedestals in the back, that is.

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Everywhere i’ve been in india so far, the brahmin (ie priest) has treated me just like any other devotee, always insisting that i come forward to receive my bit of prashad (food offered to the gods, or as the pentecostals would say, sacrificed to idols) and get a dollop of red or pink paint on my forehead. Some christian groups will not even let other christians participate in their communions! I take this to mean that the indian religion is, in some sense, more universal than the self-proclaimed monotheisms; specifically, that sense seems to be that hindu or indian religion claims universal validity for its practices, thereby allowing anyone to participate. Monotheisms claim universal validity for their doctrines, and thereby restrict their practices to believers (this is more valid for catholicism than for loose forms of evangelicalism).

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One Comment to “on indian and western religion”

  1. indian, and in general, eastern religions have a cyclic element, whereas the tradtional western (jewish, christian, islamic) faiths are very much linear – they have a distinct end point.

    The beauty of Hinduism and Buddhism is the chance to make good on things, to be able to rectify mistakes made. It is a cycle of constant improvement, a journey through the various lives of man – in all manner of situations and places.

    ggw

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