Archive for the ‘Hindu’ Category

"We Don’t Worship Statues"

August 6, 2009

How many times have I heard the line, “We don’t worship statues”! It seems that whenever one brings up the subject of idolatry with a Roman Catholic, they invariably think it is a defense that they are not venerating the statue itself, but the thing it represents. My intuitive response has typically been: do you think the pagans think that the statue is actually the god itself?

Just in case they think that, I happen to have found an interesting article that makes the following claim:

P. Sivaraman, the chairman of the temple’s board of trustees, explained to the 80 [Roman] Catholics that Hindus do not worship the images — they are only there to help devotees focus their minds on an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient God.


Now, where have we heard that before?

Recall what Augustine said:

Why have I said this? Please consider carefully the chief point I’m making. We had started to deal with the apparently better educated pagans — because the less educated are the ones who do the things about which these do not wish to be taken to task — so with the better educated ones, since they say to us, “You people also have your adorers of columns, and sometimes even of pictures.” And would to God that we didn’t have them, and may the Lord grant that we don’t go on having them! But all the same, this is not what the Church teaches you. I mean, which priest of theirs ever climbed into a pulpit and from there commanded the people not to adore idols, in the way that we, in Christ, publicly preach against the adoration of columns or of the stones of buildings in holy places, or even of pictures? On the contrary indeed, it was their very priests who used to turn to the idols and offer them victims for their congregations, and would still like to do so now.

“We,” they say, “don’t adore images, but what is signified by the image.” I ask what images signify, I ask what the image of the sun signifies; nothing else but the sun, surely? For yes, perhaps the explanation of other images convey deeper, more hidden meanings. For the time being let’s leave these, and put them on one side to come back to shortly. The image of the sun, certainly, can only signify the sun, and that of the moon the moon, and that of Tellus the earth. So if they don’t adore what they see in the image, but what the image signifies, why, when they have the things signified by these images so familiarly before their very eyes, do they offer adoration to their images in stead of directly to them?

Augustine, Sermon 198, Sections 16-17

Of course, the Hindu claims must be taken with a very large grain of salt. For example, the same folks are trying to suggest that Hinduism is somehow analogous to monotheistic Trinitarianism:

In Hinduism, Dhoraisingam explained, “The universe manifested from Brahman, is sustained by him and will return to him.” She added that Hindus believe in a trinitarian God personified by Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Sustainer, and Shiva the Transformer.

That title “transformer,” aside from making one chuckle about there being more to Shiva than meets the eye, appears to be an attempt to downplay the more traditional title of Shiva as “the destroyer.”

Nevertheless, despite the obvious propaganda nature of the piece, it is simply intuitive. When a Hindu looks at a statue of Brahma, or Vishnu, or Shiva, the Hindu doesn’t think that the statue is the god, any more than the Greeks thought that the statue of their gods were the gods themselves. But the true and living God is not worshiped with the works of man’s hands, as though he needed anything, as Scriptures teach. Therefore, whether your idolatry is Roman Catholic or Hindu, flee it. Keep yourselves from idols.


Plunder the Philistines or Join them?

April 14, 2009

Benedict XVI used (N.B. Benedict XVI was the one whose meditations these were, yet he did not write them, nor did he actually read the aloud – for more details about this situation – see the letter from the Vatican, explaining – link) the following line in his “Good Friday” meditations: “Lead me from the unreal to the real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality.” That line is apparently taken from Brahadaranyakopanishad an Hindu writing. He also used a line from Tagore’s Gitanjali: “Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.” Furthermore, he made reference to Mahatma Ghandi. (source) None of this is wrong in itself, as long as we are plundering the Philistines, not joining them.

But the Hindu leaders praised Benedict XVI for this, rather than criticizing him for taking their scriptures in another sense than they were intended. Will we see clarification from the Vatican? I am guessing not. The zeitgeist of Vatican II is of meta-ecumenicism, which would avoid noting the fact that Catholicism must take these lines in a different sense, while promoting a semblance of unity.

I should note that Paul the Apostle plundered from the Greek poets, but when he did so he made clear that he was using these things either in the same or a different sense, depending on the context. He was not promoting ecumenicism with the Greek pagans, he was trying to convert them.

The reader can decide for themselves whether Benedict XVI was following in Paul’s footsteps or departing from them.


UPDATE: Reginald di Piperno (Roman Catholic) has provided some factual corrections to the article linked above. (link to RdP’s post) The basic point remains, as apparently it is not disputed that the various lines were spoken and that the references were welcomed by the Hindus. I’m also not sure whether RdP got the idea that plundering the Philistines is a good thing, whereas joining them is a bad thing.

UPDATE: In view of an amusing post at Ichabod, I’ve updated the post above a bit further (link).

Death of a Non-Martyr

October 12, 2008

There is some very deplorable and evil violence taking place in India. Non-Christians are attacking and killing people and institutions that they believe are Christian. Some time ago I had mentioned that simply being a nun didn’t make one a Christian, and that consequently I would not automatically consider a nun who was apparently killed simply because she was wearing a habit to be a martyr without further investigation. I think some people who read what I wrote had trouble wrapping their heads around the concept.

Perhaps this further sad story of the wicked actions of evil men will help those who had trouble with the nun non-martyrdom issue to see the bigger picture (link) (warning – somewhat graphic description of the persecution). In this case, the woman degraded and killed was actually a Hindu woman who simply happened to work at a Roman Catholic institution.

There is a sense in which she was killed for the faith (since she was killed by Hindus trying to oppose Christianity), but she certainly wasn’t killed for her faith.

For reference, my earlier post in which the nun issue was raised in the comment box can be found here (link) and an earlier post I wrote providing evidence of the lack of faith of one of the most famous Roman Catholics in India is here (link).


Worshipping the Creature

April 8, 2008

Recently, a baby was born in India. The baby has two faces, both of which are “functional,” i.e. the baby can apparently drink from both mouths and blinks all four eyes simultaneously. It is a very sad sight. What is far more sad, however, is the reaction of the pagans living around this baby. They regard the baby as a reincarnation of a goddess.

How sad. A poor, deformed child mistaken for something divine.

God – who created all things very good – mistaken for a child who will face great challenges in life, both physically and – one would expect – mentally.

Let us pray that the light of the Gospel will illuminate north India, so that these people will glorify the God who gave this young child two faces, and not the child.


For the overly-curious, here’s a link to the article.

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