Source: Mumbai Mirror
By Devdutt Pattanaik
Once you believe in the popular misconception that ‘all religions are the same’, you stop noticing that there is a unique idea that separates the Dharmic or Karmic faiths based on rebirth, such as Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, faiths based on one life, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. You see all religious difference being cosmetic and ignore the systemic differences at the core.
One can detect at least seven Abrahamic influences in reshaping contemporary Hinduism.
First: The idea of one true god, source of all creation and rejection of false gods and idols is central to Christian and Islamic faiths. Hinduism thrives on polytheism: many truths, and polygenesis the thought that ideas can emerge simultaneously in different times. Truth is not seen as a singular entity, but as a quantitativly infinite entity. So there are no ‘false’ gods to be smashed or idols to be broken. The point is to increase our understanding of infinite God (ananta) by finding connections between everything. It is about expanding the mind – knowing fully well that infinity is going to be out of reach.
Second: Text is central to Christian and Islamic faiths. There is no obsession with referring to texts as source of wisdom, but rather rituals, symbols and stories. There is a family of beliefs that loosely binds Hindus, not dogma. Anybody who keeps refering to texts is following the Abrahamic template. Hindu sects that cling to single source fo knowledge or to a single guru as the source of their interpretation, and inspiration, are following the Abrahamic model.
Third: Under Islamic influence, justice became an important concept. We assume that justice is a universal concept, but it is not. Justice, as an idea, is strongly Islamic, where God is seen as a judge who will send you to heaven or hell based on your morals.