Friday, April 22, 2016
Is Hinduism Older than Judaism and Christianity?
In a sense, I was tempted to say, yes.
Judaism and Christianity are both New Testament era religions. The New Testament and the Fathers on the one hand and the Mishna and Gemara on the other hand are rival and pretty contemporary claimants to being true heir of the Old Testament Temple religion. Judaism claims to be its heir and continuation "on the backburner", but this time for about 2000 years since latest destruction of temple, unlike the only 70 between one destruction and the rebuilding through Ezra. Christianity claims to be its eternal true meaning, and the Body of Christ is the true temple of which the old one was only a symbol. Christianity does not claim to be "on the backburner" in that sense.
Samarian religion is older, it became a rival of Old Testament Temple religion a thousand years earlier.
But if that is so, so is Hinduism, right?
Well, that is as superficial as to exactitude of historic knowledge as saying Judaism is older than Christianity.
Buddhism and Hinduism had separated half a millennium earlier, but a few centuries in between, Emperor Ashoka makes Buddhism official and imposes ahimsa on Hindoos, thereby ending their major temple sacrifice - before Ashoka, Hindoos had been sacrificing animals, like horses, much like what was being done centuries later up to Christianity in Scandinavia. Ashoka forbade it and Hindooism adapted.
Another adaptation might have been the reverse, Hindooism being generally more optimistic than Buddhism and more optimistic versions OF Buddhism (usually more Theistic as well) might have been the Hindoo impact on Buddhism - which influenced China and Tibet. His equal treatment of Jainist, Buddhist and Hindoo "clergy" (monks vs brahmins) may have started a cultural merger between them, much like the one between Buddhism and Confucianism in China or Zen Buddhism and Shintoism in Japan. These mergers may be roughly contemporary.
And that means Christ came with the sword which divided the Hebrews (but on the Christian side of the divide united Jewish and Samarian such with Galilaean such) around the same time that the world came with its peace.
All our religions, such as are still openly practised in civilised countries, are roughly speaking two thousand years old.
Hans Georg Lundahl
St Soter, Pope and Martyr