Today we really do live in a global village.
In our neighborhoods, in the stores, in public transportation, we meet people who come from
different religious backgrounds. How should we, who come from Christian backgrounds, even
begin to relate to these people? What should we know? How can we build bridges? I’d like
you to watch this segment, which shows how we can begin building bridges with Hindus. In
North America alone, there are about as many Hindu’s as Episcopalians, but many of us don’t
even know how to start. Let’s watch this clip. Hinduism – knowledge, duty and devotion.
Of the 900 million Hindus worldwide, more than 800 million live in the country of India.
No one is sure of the exact number of divinities Hindus worship, but the most well know are
Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Hindus believe that the soul is trapped in a cycle – birth,
death and re-birth, which can only be escaped through knowledge, devotion for discipline.
Hinduism is the most eclectic and synchronistic, all most accepting and inclusive of all the
major world religions. Dr. Victor Sam, Hindus are everywhere in the
world. There’s barely anywhere you can go without really meeting a Hindu. Could
you help our viewers when they meet a Hindu, how would they greet them? How to connect
with them? When you meet a Hindu, you show the respect
to him. Respect. So that is a very important value
in Hinduism. Yes. In general understanding when you meet
the person of the other religion you might think that religion is inferior or that man
is inferior. And to break down that, you respect the person no matter what religion
he follows. Now, for a Hindu how do you show respect? To show respect I say Namaste to him. Namaste! What does it mean? Namaste means I’m respecting you. Oh. So then respect is really a core value
then, therefore, in Hinduism. But do you only say Namaste to human beings or you say
to God? What is the connection? Could you help us? It has a dual meaning. When you say Namaste…I’m
respecting God in you. Oh, I see. So when you say Namaste to a
person, you’re saying I respect the God in you.
V.S: And the second meaning in Namaste is used to God also in worshipping him. So
to worship God you say Namaste – to respect human beings you say Namaste. Now, I guess this must be connected to the
belief in Hinduism that the soul, ataman, is connected to Brahman, that is divinity. Now,
what else would you tell us that helps to really connect with these people? Hindus value married life, family life.
And they have greater connections in their families. Once they’re married, they’re
married forever. So will I just go to a Hindu home? How does
it function? V.S: When you go to a Hindu home as a Christian
you have to explain to them through your behavior and through your approach that you respect
their family life. Now, what is it that really Hindu will abhor
or avoid? What should I or your viewers avoid in connecting with Hindus so that they
will not be shocked or repulse? What would you say? One word I would like to use here is –
exclusivism. Generally they think that Christians are exclusivists and they think God belongs
to them, religion belongs to them. And all other religions don’t come under their wings.
So that point we have to make it very clear to them. We are not exclusivists. We want
to follow the inclusivism ideas and want everybody to understand. We want everybody is created
by God and we are one family. Of course, it is possible to respect people
without necessarily validating their religion. So probably by respecting Hindus as people
you respect the person who is a Hindu. Then, of course, there are some connections. What
is it then that I should avoid doing practically. Practically…. I meet a Hindu. There’s something if I
do it may be shocking to him. What is that? When you meet any Hindu, if you want to enter
into his home, first you have to leave your shoes outside. Shoes outside. Oh, so it will be shocking
if I enter a home without taking off my shoes, right? And they do not like it. They feel that
you’re disrespecting their custom. Now, it is a custom. And Hinduism is associated
with customs. Customs and traditions of Hinduism are inseparable from their spiritual
life. So this is part of it. So this is one thing when you visit a Hindu’s home
you leave your shoes outside and walk inside. Then immediately he thinks he’s following
our custom. I see. So Hinduism is really a way of life.
Where there’s an integration of the spiritual, religious aspect to also the family, local,
cultural aspect also. Now, is this connected also to the idea of respect still? Why would
I have to take off my shoes? What does it mean? You are entering into somebody’s home to
respect him and that tells that you really respect that person by doing this. Is it also a gesture of humility, like the
Namaste that you mentioned earlier? It is part of worship. It is part of worship. OK. So it is a sign
of humility then also. Yes. So basically humility then is really one of
the core values of Hinduism. When you greet someone you’re bowing to that person, saying
you’re above me. Right? Is that so? Yes. OK. I see. And then the same thing for
shoes. V.S: Yes. You taking them off as if you’re in a sacred
space. Yes. What else would you tell us that could be
helpful as we connect with Hindus? Hindus will always respect somebody who goes
to them with wisdom. With wisdom! Ya. A practical knowledge. What you have experienced
in your life. Practical knowledge. Yes. What you have experienced in your life.
Not a superficial knowledge. So Gandhi said once, don’t preach Jesus Christ of history.
Teach people that you are reflection of His character. Oh, I see. So character is really important
what they see. That counts very much. Well, thank you very much for those introductory
words that can help us at least relate, remembering the idea of respect, remembering the idea
of humility. Then, of course, character, then wisdom, as you mentioned.
Thank you very much Dr. Victor Sam. And thank you for your leadership also in the
center for Hindu study, the Global Mission Hindu Study Centers.
The clip we just watched came from the Understanding Religions DVD. It is my prayer that each one
of us will feel called to share our faith with people who come from different backgrounds,
from different religions, and that God will give us the wisdom to do it in a way that
will attract people to Jesus.