5 Things to Know about Hinduism after Pixar's New Short
- Liz Kanoy Editor, Crosswalk.com
- 2015 10 Dec
If you went to see the new Pixar film, The Good Dinosaur, chances are you saw the new Pixar short, Sanjay’s Super Team, as well. This short is vastly different from Pixar's other shorts in that it addresses aspects of a world religion, Hinduism.
The most important aspect to understand about Hinduism is that it is, what my late professor referred to as, a “tent religion”—many different ideas and beliefs under one tent.
Here are 5 main points about Hinduism:
1. Hinduism is Considered to be an Ancient Religion
Hinduism is the third largest religion worldwide, though some say it is slightly outnumbered by the “non-religious” (those who do not claim a religion, or agnostics and atheists) now. Hinduism has followers all over the world, but the largest concentration is in India. However, there are certainly Indian Muslims, Indian Christians, Indian Buddhists, Indian Jains, and Indian Baha’i followers in India as well.
But the terms Hindu and Indian are synonymous in the minds of many Indians. Unless you are born into an Indian family that follows a different faith, you are born into Hinduism. Scholars have estimated the historical start date of Hinduism to approximately 2000 BC. But some people liken Hinduism to the pagan worship back in Abraham’s day.
2. Time is Cyclical Not Linear
When communicating with and trying to understand the beliefs of someone who is Hindu, this is a very important thing to understand. Time is not linear in Hinduism; it is cyclical, meaning there was no beginning and there is no end. Not only is time cyclical in Hinduism, time has it’s own formula and format.
It is far too complex to go into every detail, but there are measurements of time that equate to cycles in Hinduism. After all the cycles are complete, everything is destroyed and time passes before everything is created again. Then it is sustained for the next measurement of time. These measurements are equivalent to millions and billions of years.
Because time is cyclical in Hinduism, no one ever really dies; they either continue reincarnating or they break free from reincarnation and join the great oneness or OM. This is what every Hindu theoretically wants to accomplish, to break the cycle of rebirth or reincarnation and be one with their divine entity.
3. Not All Hindus are Polytheists
This may seem surprising since Hinduism is categorized as a polytheistic religion. However, there are many different types of Hindu believers:
The Monotheistic Hindu- believes that there is only one god and no other gods exist, this one god could be any one of the many Hindu gods.
The Henotheistic Hindu- believes in one god out of many, the other gods exist but this god is the only one they worship.
The Monistic Hindu- believes that there is only one god, but there are many manifestations of that one god.
The Polytheistic Hindu- believes in and worships more than one or many different gods.
4. Hindu Devas
Most Hindus would agree that there are three main gods or devas: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Most Hindus would also believe that these three gods have many different manifestations or avatars.
Brahma- is considered to be the creator god in Hinduism.
Vishnu- is considered to be the sustainer god.
Shiva- is considered to be the destroyer god.
In Sanjay's Super Team, the gods mentioned are Ravana, Vishnu, Durga, and Hanuman.
Ravana- is considered to be an evil Asura (demon) in Hinduism. He is the villain in a famous Hindu story, the Ramayana (shown in the movie The Little Princess), and he plays a villain in Sanjay's Super Team as well.
Durga- is considered by some to be the wife of Shiva. She is usually depicted as a warrior, and is also revered as a mother earth type figure by many Hindus. She is even considered by some to be the “divine power” behind Braham, Vishnu, and Shiva.
Hanuman- is a god known by Hindus for his protection of people. He is also in the Hindu story, the Ramayana, with Ravana. He has the appearance of a monkey, but Hindus would never refer to him as a “monkey god.” He is also considered to be an avatar of the god Shiva.
5. Salvation in Hinduism
In the Pixar short, the little boy’s father is shown ringing a bell. You may not have wondered about this, but when I saw it I immediately remembered my time in a Hindu temple when I was on a mission trip. Part of the mission trip was learning about other religions since we frequently encountered people of different faiths where we were.
When I walked into the Hindu temple, there were bells hanging from the ceiling and various Hindu god statues around the room with food in front of them. We asked the Hindu priest about the bells because each time someone walked in, they would ring one. Some would walk right out afterwards and others would stay. The priest told us that the bells were a signal to the god they were worshipping, as if to say I am here—see that I am here worshipping you.
How can Hindus achieve “salvation” in Hinduism? There are three main paths to “salvation” (breaking the cycle of rebirth) in Hinduism.
Karma- is the path of action (rituals).
Jnana- is the path of knowledge (meditation).
Bahkti- is the path of devotion (worship of a god).
Hindus can follow one path or any combination of paths. Bahkti is as close as Hindus come to a personal relationship with their god(s).
So if you saw the Pixar short and your child had questions or maybe you had questions, you can now explain what Hindus generally believe. By understanding what a Hindu believes, you can communicate effectively with someone from that background.
When sharing the gospel, people don't want to hear a lecture or have a one-sided conversation. They want people to learn about them too and to ask questions of them, including what they believe and where they came from. When people feel like you genuinely care about them, they will genuinely want to hear what you have to say.
Image courtesy of Google
Liz Kanoy is an editor for Crosswalk.com
Publication date: December 10, 2015