The Origins of Faith: India
By Pastor Richard Beobide
We are in the search of the doctrine eternal life!
The Caste System
The land of India, is a land of beauty, mystery and enchantments. India's strong social caste regimentation, is proven to be a system of ancient tradition. The caste system is a social system where by the society is divided into classes and sub classes. People from one class could not interact with members of another class according to set codes of ancient laws. An example of the caste system is: a Brahman (a person of the highest class in the social caste would not be allowed to marry a member of the Shudras (unclean) lower class.
The Ancient Caste System
This ancient code started and developed many hundreds of years before it was actually written down. It is suspected that the actual writing of the law was performed perhaps twelve to thirteen hundred years before the arrival of Christ. This order influenced the people spoke, spent their money, their social recreation and mingling. This ancient systems defined boundaries and terms that were set as though laid in stone. Furthermore, they are still in existence today. Today according to an ABC News Radio Brief India is one of the fastest growing democracies in the world and is developed into a very successful nation.
The Religions of India
Interestingly, three religious belief systems would emerge from this land. Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. These three belief systems would take their rightful place in being noted as a few of histories greatest religions. However, even here among these great religions, we must ask ourselves: do these three great religions offer a defined plan for "Eternal Life?" Let's see!
According to historians, Hinduism may have taken shape as far back as a thousand years before the Christ arrived. This is the oldest of all belief systems in India: and gave masses of people hope in dealing with the rigged caste system. The Hindu belief is one that teaches the discipline of being faithful to your station in life. Therefore if you live a good life and faithful to your station in life you would be re-incarnated to a higher station in the caste system. Moreover, the Hindu belief systems also teaches the soul of the believer will trans migrate between the human and animal experience. The better your life style based on the Hindu laws the higher your station in life. If you were of the less disciplined about your worship the lower in caste or even be brought down into the animal's system of life.
Hinduism's Many Gods
Hinduism is a religion of many god's. The gods Shiva, Vishnu and the Bull are just a few among many. These and hundreds of other gods and goddess are still worshipped today in this great historic religion.
Hinduism like Buddhism offers great peace to someone in the caste system who may have otherwise felt trapped with his or her lot in life. The hope is to live a good life, by doing this, ones soul should transmigrate or be re-incarnated into a higher form of life. Hinduism takes its place as one the worlds greatest religions, offering transmigration or re-incarnation. Unfortunately, the doctrine of "Eternal Life" is not found in its doctrine. It's also important to note that the Hindu doctrine doesn't offer divine prophecy, word of knowledge, historic markers of any kind or a divine plan needed to show mankind that a divine creator has a grand plan for us. Therefore, Mystery and Logic will have to continue its search for the master plan of "Eternal Life."
Buddha, The Enlightened One
This story begins about six hundred years before the arrival of the Christ. Early in the sixth century a man named Siddhartha Gautama, a worrier prince in India's caste system, set out on a journey. His goal was to be set free, by finding complete spiritual freedom of the soul. This spiritual freedom was called "Nirvana." Through the practice of "Yoga" (translated means "method or technique") one meditates to shed the cares of the flesh. Using this technique a person would ultimately find nirvana, a place of inner peace and spiritual blessedness. This simple belief system did not believe in any god or gods and didn't perform any rituals to please the gods. The Buddha's belief system caught on quickly, especially with the people of the lower caste.
When you learn about Buddha you find that the caste system was meaningless to him. The goal was to gain nothing more than inner peace and greater moral and spiritual awareness. The belief system offered an escape to people in the caste, but like the others before it, it didn't offer "Eternal Life." Interestingly, in these current days Buddha has evolved into a belief system that has a belief in god and a soul that lives forever through re-incarnation such as in Hinduism. This extended doctrine has only emerged recently and offers no prophecy, word of knowledge, divine plan, or historic guide marks. It is simply a belief. Therefore, Mystery & Logic can move past Buddhism with a confident understanding that the required divine plan of "Eternal Life" is not found in this doctrine.
Jainism, like Buddhism is an atheistic belief system and didn't believe in any god or gods. Jainsism spoke out vigorously against India's regimented caste system and because of this: it too became very popular. However, this belief system had its political side. Jainism would go on to prevent India's people from cultivating and harvesting animals for food, clothing and medicine. Jains themselves would not partake of animal husbandry and denounced it. The Jains beliefs had impact on the economics of animal husbandry and perhaps gave Jainism a political clout. Jains were usually traders and merchadisers. Thery were more concerned about the here and now, determanism and materialism had allowed them to gain great wealth. In modern times Jains are among the wealthiest in India. Interestingly enough, the Jain concepts are being revitalized and popularized today. Like the days of old the Jain beliefs are gaining political muster. If you look in the American culture, we can see it in the laws of the American society. Animal rights activists groups lobbying the law makers of the land to give animals their rights. However, here too, we find that this belief system doesn't offer "Eternal Life." The doctrine is an atheist belief. As we examine the doctrine, we find no divine plan or a divinely inspired doctrine containing "Eternal Life." Therefore, non of these three great faiths of India; Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism offers the doctrine of "Eternal Life." So, Mystery and Logic continues to search as we travel to China and her beliefs.