It is of great importance when comparing religions to take a careful consideration on fundamental beliefs and rituals each religion engages in. this gives and aids in understanding each religion quite clearly. A comparison enables analysis of disparity among different aspects of a religion as it relates to another religion. In this paper, a comparison of Hinduism and Judaism will be analyzed where a comparison of the beliefs of life after death and prayer/worship will be looked at.
Judaism is a monotheistic religion and one of the first religions. The faith sorely believes in the reality of one God, who made a covenant, agreement between Him and the Jews. They were promised to be given provision so long as they obeyed the rules and did not deviate from the rules. The rules were originally written in two stone tablets and are known as The Ten Commandments, this rules and regulations are supposed to govern the interactions between man and man, and man with God. Jews do not try to convert other members of other religions as they regard themselves as specially and purposely chosen by God. Unlike the Judaism, it is extremely difficult to categorize Hinduism as either polytheistic or monotheistic because of the fundamental faith in the Universal spirit. Hindus believe in several gods and goddesses; but they are all reflections and dimensions of one Supreme Being – Brahman or the Universal Spirit. Hinduism holds true that all in the universe is cyclic. The world has been created, sustained, and destroyed many times. The god presents himself in three forms: Brahma, who created the world, Vishnu, who sustains and Shiva, who destroys the universe and begins the cycle again. Hindu people generally worship Vishnu and Shiva. Vishnu is said to have a kindly nature and is thought to try to protect the wellbeing of humanity. The god descends from heavens to earth in a physical form on every occasion a cataclysm faces the cosmos or if humankind needs consolation and guidance (Linda, 189). On the other hand Vishnu is exceptionally drawn in with humanity, Shiva is detached from people. He is from time to time reflected meditating alone. He has immense supremacy and is further than the parameters of good and evil. He saves man by removing man’s sins. Judaism as well as Hinduism has faith that God is omnipresent and omnipotent; He is the creator, the protector and the destroyer. The Sustenance of the humanity on the earth simply relies heavily on the will of God and nothing ever moves without His doing.
Prayer/worship is intertwined in the Hinduism and Judaism lifestyle. Prayer is the way of communication and worship (devotion) with God. Prayer is seen as an essential and innate act of relating with the gods. Judaism and Hinduism prayers are usually said in the morning, afternoon and evening. Prayers are basically used to call upon gods or diverse supernatural powers, for the interests of the people as individuals and as a community. Hindus use prayer books. Perhaps the most powerful Hindu prayer books are the Vedic hymns. During the utterance and recitation of the prayers the sounds and content of the prayer must be observed and a great stress is laid on the mode and process in which they are recited. It’s believed that when a prayer is not properly chanted or the syllables aren’t pronounced correctly it could bring harm and may not lead to the intended purpose. Provided the Vedic mantras are chanted in the appropriate way and in accordance to a specific rhythm it’s believed they contain alluring mystical command to summon supernatural beings. The prayers praise the virtues and potencies of various gods and goddesses in order to seek favors from them. During public ceremonies the mantras are chanted loudly whereas there are some mantras, principally the private mantras which are meant to be kept undisclosed. The rules of Hinduism also stipulate that mantras should not be disclosed to those that are religiously lame and therefore unqualified. Deep devotional songs and dances accompany the prayers. In the spiritual realm of a Hindu worshipper a prayer has a greater implication. Incessant recitation of god’s name is believed to lead to cleansing of the mind and internal transformation. It is seen as the most effective way of developing a close association with God and realizes the inner self. Puja is a daily ritual done in a sacred corner in a worship room of the home it keeps the Hindus aware of their family gods and mindful of their duties as individuals. Puja involves three steps: The first is seeing the family deity (darshana). A small statue or picture of the god is placed in the sacred spot. The second step is the worship of the god, or puja. The worshiper offers the god flowers, fruits, and cooked food (bhog). The third step is retrieving the blessed food (prasada) and consuming it (Van, 11).
Prayer in the Judaism consists: Shacharit in the morning, Minchah and Maariv, in late afternoon and evening. On the Sabbath, there is an additional service, Mussaf, added on to the morning. One prayer is essential to each devotion service, morning and night, weekday, Shabbat, and holiday: the Amidah the “Standing” Prayer, which is also known as the Shmoneh Esrai, the “Eighteen” blessings, or the Silent Devotion, it’s a key prayer in many services, and it is the declaration of faith, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God! The Lord is One!” (Van, 21). Its generally accepted that prayers should be recited privately and in solitude but sometimes Judaism encourages prayer in the company of others and for this basis Jews often try to come together to pray in public. Prayer is just like a second part of a person life, a daily diet. In that way, one comes to be peaceful speaking terms with God, who, in turn, becomes accessible, almost a dialogue partner. It is the peak experience of the prayer service, emphasized by taking three steps backward to withdraw symbolically from your surroundings and three steps forward to symbolically enter the presence of Almighty God. It is recited silently, standing, and occasionally bowing (Linda, 190). Unlike the Hinduism where prayers are directed to gods, supernatural spirits and goddesses Judaism prayers are directed to God alone. Worship in both religions involves a strong observance of rules and guidelines in dressing, diet and general lifestyle as a way of maintaining external purity. The outer purity is perceived to be important in inculcating purity.
Afterlife entails those beliefs held about life after an individual has died (Fisher, 156). Judaism and Hinduism believe in life after death. Jews have the suggestion of Heaven as their afterlife, they hold that if they have done right in the life they lived on Earth, and then they shall spend eternity in Heaven with their God. The Hindus accept as true that you are reincarnated until you reach the Brahma. Hindus believe in Karma which is the belief that if you do good things, then good things shall happen to you and vice versa (Selwyn, 19). When you die your final death in Hinduism, you reach the Brahma where the excruciating sequence of regeneration is finally ruined. Hinduism assumes the eternal reality of a universal spirit that guides all life on earth. A piece of the spirit called the atman is trapped inside humans and other living creatures. The most important desire of the atman is to be reunited with the universal spirit, and every aspect of an individual’s life is governed by it. When someone dies, their atman may be reunited, but most usually is reborn in a new body. A person’s caste membership is a clear indication of how close he or she is to the desired reunion.
While many differences are found among the doctrine and beliefs of life after death between these two religions some similarities also do exist, like how they have certain rules that their followers must obey to make it to heaven for the Judaism and Niverna for the Hinduism (Selwyn, 26). Each of the religions has guild lines and regulations that tell you what you should do to be a good person and appease their God or gods. They teach people how to live a correct life, and how to be kind to others while they are living on the Earth. Both religions believe in a final quiescent position for the spirit and both faiths hold high moral demeanor for their members such as benevolence to the underprivileged and altruistic sense of duty. Both religions also have sacred texts that are fundamental to their religions and provide instructions pertaining to relationship between people and God, and amongst people themselves. Also instructions pertaining to lifestyle, worship and performance of rituals are found in the sacred books. The religions have sacred locations where pilgrimages are undertaken by the faithful.
Van Voorst, Robert. Anthology of World Scriptures. 7th Ed. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage, 2010: 11-25.
Fisher, Mary Pat. Living Religions. New York: Prentice Hall, 2007: 151-159.
Linda Woodhead, Paul Heelas. Religion in Modern Times: An Interpretive Anthology. New York: Willey Blackwell, 2007: 188-191.
Selwyn Gurney. The World’s Great Religions: An Anthology of Sacred Texts. Phoenix: Dover Publishers, 2009: 10-31.