What do they say about Jesus?
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"Aum"Hinduism is by far the oldest religion in the "world" group. Its origins are lost in the mists of time, but may extend as far back as 3,000 B.C. For reasons of its antiquity, Hinduism, with a large following in India, is sometimes called an Eternal Religion. And because it accommodates a wide range of beliefs and practices, it is also called an Umbrella Religion. right: the sanskrit symbol for "Aum" (or "Om")

The New Testament is silent about the life of Jesus from his boyhood visit to the Jerusalem Temple with his parents until he began his public ministry at the age of 30. In India, however, there is a strong tradition that the teenage Jesus slipped away from his parents, journeyed across Southeast Asia, learned yogic meditation and returned home to become a guru among the Jews. This legend reveals how easily Hinduism absorbs any figure honored by other religions. To Hindus, India is the Holy Land; its sacred mountains and rivers are enlivened by more than 300,000 local deities. It is only natural, then, that Jesus would come to India to learn the secrets of unlocking the divine within him.

Like Gandhi, many Hindus are drawn to the figure of Jesus by his compassion and non-violence -- virtues taught in their own sacred scriptures. But also like Gandhi, Hindus find the notion of a single God unnecessarily restrictive. In their view, all human beings are children of God with the innate ability to become divine.


Dharma WheelBuddhism was founded by a Hindu named Siddhartha Gautama (or Guatamma) who was born and raised in the area known today as Nepal. Guatama's life spanned approximately the years 563-483 B.C. In his early years, he set out in search of answers to his many questions and ultimately attained enlightenment while sitting beneath a Bo Tree (Tree of Wisdom). From that time, he was seen as Buddha (the Enlightened One). right: Dharma wheel

The lives of Jesus and the Buddha are strikingly similar; each created a movement that bears the founder's name. A Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, sees Jesus and Buddha as "brothers" who taught that the highest form of human understanding is "universal love."

There is one great difference in the two religions however: a Christian never becomes Christ, while the aim of every serious Buddhist is to achieve Buddhahood for himself. When Buddhists encounter Christianity, therefore, they depersonalize Jesus who walked this earth and transform him into a figure more like Buddha. However, to see Jesus as a Buddhist is to see him as someone he was not. Jesus, indeed, believed in God, the creator and sustainer of the universe; Buddhists do not. Jesus believed in sin, which is not a Buddhist concept. Nor did Jesus see compassion as a way of removing bad karma, or life as a cycle of death and rebirth as Buddha did.

Nothing reveals the difference between Jesus and Buddha better than the way in which each died. The Buddha's death was serene and controlled -- a calm passing out of his final rebirth, like the extinction of a flame. Jesus, on the other hand, suffers an agonizing death on the cross, seemingly abandoned by God, but obedient to his will.

Judaism and Islam


What do they say about Jesus? Variations on the theme of Psalm 22
New hope for Jewish-Christian dialogCompassion in art
Editor's Note

Sign of the Passion

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