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Hinduism and Judaism are two major religions it the contemporary world. They are also most ancient ones and have coexisted for thousand years. They have different roots and the cultures that exist around them are very different. There are many similarities; however, differences in the religions are great as well. Both of the religions provide a set of moral rules for adherents to follow; they provide a backbone and a purpose of their followers’ existence.
Both religions provide answers to the fundamental questions of every human being: the origin of life, identity of God, human relationship with God, other human beings as well as nature and future.
The primary difference between two religions is that Judaism is a monotheistic religion, while Hinduism has many deities with the three major Gods: Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma.
Hinduism does not have an organizational structure. There are no set rules, and no mediator between God and a human being. There are some external rituals to follow, but the steps towards enlightenment are of a personal nature.
Just like there is a variety of gods in Hinduism, there is also no a particular scripture. Before the written language existed, revealed scriptures in Vedas were memorized and passed on verbally. Besides Vedas, there are other major books of Hinduism, such as Piranhas, Ramayana and others. The way to enlightenment and ultimate knowledge is the meditation and yoga. Only due to this way the new level of existence may be achieved in the next life. The quality of life depends on karma, which is the cause and effect of a personal destiny creation. Karma is the basis for the caste system. Moving up this system in the next reincarnation is possible only by living a proper moral and social life. Hinduism’s central principle is reincarnation and free thinking. The emphasis is put on making personal decisions based on thinking about an issue and meditating on it. Therefore, everyone and everything should be respected. Hinduism professes openness to other views, philosophies, literature, etc. Additionally, everyone has their own good and bad qualities. Bad behavior could be improved by good deeds.
There are many symbols in Hinduism and should understand them as this is of great importance to every human being.
Just like in Judaism, every human being has an immortal soul. In each of the respected religions a soul is striving to be reunited with God. However, the path to God is different. In Hinduism, it should be found through meditation, good unselfish deeds and attaining a perfect state of peace. The soul perfects itself due to the cycles of deaths and rebirths until it reaches Brahma; and there are several ways of release, such as a path of love, path of mental and physical discipline, etc.
Jews, on the contrary, worship the only God, the creator of the Universe and humanity, and, therefore, the Ruler of it. Their God has many names, but the same identity. A man can be reunited with the Creator in the afterlife, which is either heaven or hell. Heaven is the ultimate place every human being is striving for. To reach it one needs to live a decent life following rules specified in Torah, and to be kind to others. There are prophets and mediators in Judaism. There are places of worship and rituals. This religion is more institutionalized and rigid. But, if the follower is faithful to keep God’s commandments and act accordingly, he can be redeemed and reunited with his heavenly Father. There are written accounts of miracles performed by God’s prophets and God Himself.
Judaism does not support the idea of reincarnation or rebirth. The immortal soul is born only once, and a man is created in the image of God. The purpose of human life is not self-discovery and enlightenment; it is to serve God and others. The emphasis is put on repentance, prayer, forgiveness, love, and studies of the Holy Scripture. The death in Judaism is followed by resurrection of the body, and the soul never dies.
There are many traditions in Judaism, such as Sabbath, Passover, Yom Kippur, etc. The Torah is the book of not only moral norms and values; it also provides guidelines for the code of conduct, worship, and rituals. The proof of beliefs is found in deeds, and participation in rituals with the unique symbolism is important religious practice in Judaism. There are many laws to be followed; cleanliness and fasting laws, for example. This religion extends love to people of other beliefs, but it esteems them as “lost” and followers of Judaism as “chosen people.” The life on Earth is a learning ground to love God and your neighbors.
The two religions have some similarities, but ultimately, the differences are too great. Followers of both religions have many reasons for their beliefs and practices. There are several issues that I fins fascinating about both religions. One striking, though not a surprising similarity is the adherence to so called “Golden Rule” to treat others the same way you want to be treated. This seems to be the universal law, common in many religions besides Hinduism and Judaism.
Hinduism focuses on attaining the state of perfection by meditating and doing benevolent deeds, and avoiding mistakes, while Judaism admits that humans cannot be perfect, and therefore, they can only confess their sins and ask for forgiveness. Many rules and rituals help man to stay right with God in Judaism, though it is left to the individual’s judgment in Hinduism. However, the uncertainty of the afterlife in Hinduism is very unsettling. The person can never be sure how many times he will be incarnated before reuniting with God. In addition to certainty of one’s afterlife, Judaism also gives assurance of meeting one’s deceased loved ones, because after the resurrection heaven is the ultimate place to be for the faithful ones.
Even though the existence of caste system can be explained from the religious point of view, the moral tenets for its existence are unsupported. In the case of this system, the religion is used as a reason for discrimination and deprivation. Even though the respect for all humans is prophesied, the very existence of castes proves otherwise. Also, the existence of many gods makes it difficult to have clear standards. This matter concerns Hinduism as well. It is easier to follow rigid rules rather than making personal judgments about everything, because a man cannot perceive and understand everything perfectly or always make sounds decisions without making mistakes.
According to Hinduism, everyone should think and chose for themselves which religion, if any, one prefers to follow. Both Judaism and Hinduism have many followers over the world and provide comfort, hope, and give the meaning for living for all the adherents.