Truth That Matters

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ

Hinduism is the oldest religion, and thus the truest. Christianity is only 2000 years old.

Hinduism teaches that the god Brahma created humans and other creatures about 2 billion years ago. Thus, Hinduism is supposedly 2 billion years old. There is absolutely no evidence for this claim. Humans lived in the Indian subcontinent even before 2000 BC, but there is no evidence that their religion was the same as modern Hinduism. 
Based on the earliest written records and historical evidence, the Vedic period (the earliest phase of Hinduism) was from 1500 to 500 BC. This is later than the first few books of the Bible. Hinduism developed as people began settling in India. From where did these people come? The Bible has the answer! When human population was small, everyone lived in Babel, in the Middle East (Genesis 11:1 onwards). In about 2200 BC, they rebelled against God and God dispersed them in different directions. One group of people came to India and founded Hinduism. Thus, Hinduism is an offshoot of the fiasco at Babel. Like the other offshoots, it is characterized by the worship of sex, idols and the forces of nature, which the true God detests.
In contrast, Biblical faith is as old as humanity itself. Thus, the Bible predates Hinduism. Thus, the real "Sanatan Dharma" is the Bible, not Hinduism or any other religion associated with the many ancient civilizations all over the world.

In India, Christian missionaries lure the poor with freebies and coax/coerce them to convert to Christianity.

I'd like to respond with the following points:
  • Jesus Christ said that one of the greatest commandments is to love one's neighbor [fellow human being] as one's self. What do you recommend? Should we leave them in their poverty and misery? And if they ask us what motivates us to show compassion, should we lie and mention something other than the love of Jesus that we have experienced?
  • Jesus Christ only asked his disciples to tell everyone the good news that He (and only he) can forgive their sins and give them eternal life (Mark 16:15). True Christians who have experienced God's wonderful grace cannot but share it with others in this dying, sin-stained world. Would you keep quiet if you stumbled upon a cure for a deadly disease? The Lord Jesus never asked his disciples to use coaxing/cajoling with others, nor did he ever express interest in suckers who would call themselves His followers in return for freebies. Jesus made it explicitly clear that he has no use for suckers (Matthew 16:24, Matthew 10:37).
  • Therefore, those who cajole and coax people to "convert" in return for freebies are false Christians. The suckers who take their bait are also not true Christians, because becoming a true Christian involves a change of heart, as described in The Main Message. The existence of such "missionaries" does not invalidate the Bible or true Christian evangelism (see the previous point) any more than quacks invalidate the field of medicine.
  • Why don't you work for the eradication of poverty? Then the question of conversion for monetary benefits will not arise.
  • Hindu missionaries in the West package Hinduism in a form attractive to Westerners. Are you equally concerned about this?
  • Have you actually met tribal people who have converted to Christianity, or have you merely read the above in the media? If you take the trouble to become familiar with rural India, you will find two things. Firstly: the real Hindu concern here is economic, not religious. When indigenous people meet missionaries, they get emancipated - they learn how they are being paid a pittance for their produce by upper caste middle men who sell the same produce to wholesale dealers at a much higher price. They therefore try to market their produce themselves. Naturally, the upper caste middlemen are now "extremely concerned" about "conversions"! Secondly: the very people denounced as "rice Christians" choose torture, harassment, rape, and destruction of property to renouncing their faith. Several examples are documented in the book Kandhamal waits for justice by Anto Accara.
  • The same book documents extensive forced "reconversion" ceremonies - Christians from Odisha dragged to temples and forced to swear allegiance to Hinduism. Where is your concern for this?

The Bible advocates the brutal practice of non-vegetarianism. How can it be right?

I can similarly argue that plucking a fruit from a tree is also brutal (also think of boiling water, consuming antibiotics, etc). If you really value all life, you should make yourself as unhealthy as possible because the immune systems of healthy people murder microorganisms by the millions. The key lies in asking: What is the true value of the life of a plant or an animal? This value can only be assigned by the Creator. According to the Bible, God has placed infinitely more value on the life of a human (who is made in the image of God) than on the life of a cow. So God does not mind if you kill a cow (don’t be unnecessarily cruel – there are ways to kill animals minimizing the pain) and eat the flesh. However, it is a heinous crime to kill a human baby (born or unborn) – a practice that many Hindus advocate. According to the Bible, carnivorous behavior among animals is a symptom of the fact that we are living in a fallen, sin-stained, cursed world. God is going to fix things up - there will be no carnivorous behavior, non-vegetarianism, or need for antibiotics, disinfectants, etc. then, but you'll be part of that wonderful world only if you avail of the solution that God has provided.

The superior moral values of Hindus prove that Hinduism is true.

Indians tend to believe that they are morally much better than others. Let's look at some areas of morality:-
Sex: Westerners and Africans tend to be open about their sexual promiscuity. Indians, on the other hand, are far more conservative, and this may make it look like Indians have superior moral values. But scratch beneath the surface, and the picture changes. Indians do exactly the same things that others do, only behind the scenes. We have one of the fastest growth rates of AIDS, thousands of girls forced into prostitution every year, and widespread sex before or outside marriage. The divorce rate in India is much lower than that in the West, but the difference is small in affluent circles. This shows that India's lower divorce rate is a consequence of our poor economic condition rather than strong sexual morality or the willingness to adjust with someone else.

Finances: India is among the most corrupt nations on the planet. If you are a visitor to an Indian city, you can be sure of being cheated by cab drivers and shop keepers. In 2011, the Comptroller Auditor General of India estimated that politicians and their cronies rob about 84% of tax money. It is impossible to get any work done with any government office without paying a bribe. Indian money to the tune of trillions of rupees has been siphoned off to Swiss bank accounts.

Law Enforcement: Most crime in India is unreported. Most of it that is reported goes unpunished because the police are unwilling or unable to catch the guilty. Our judiciary is clogged with millions of pending cases.

Oppression: It would be unthinkable for members of a religious or ethnic minority in an American village to be driven out and illegally forbidden from returning to the village. However, this often happens in India. Hindus rightly condemn Western racism, but often fail to realize that the Indian caste system and occasional persecution of Christians are no less brutal. And while Westerners have largely abandoned racism, caste based oppression in India continues unabated. Bonded labour and child labour are two other Indian phenomena that are absent in western countries. Imagine an organized racket in New Zealand that chops off the limbs of children and makes them beg on the streets. Most of the money these kids obtain is confiscated and the kids are brutalized if they don't make enough money. Further, imagine that the police and politicians turn a blind eye to it. Unthinkable in Christian-influenced New Zealand?! Commonplace in India! I don't mean to be offensive here - I'm just telling it like it is. 
Social initiatives: Most philanthropy in India consists of tax funded schemes, projects by comfortable NGOs, and Christian hospitals and schools.
Discipline among youth: Although Indian youth don't have the money or opportunity to buy guns and shoot their school mates, all the symptoms of moral decay among youth - bullying, substance abuse, teen sex, etc. are widespread.

Freedoms and rights: In India, freedom and human rights are not considered inalienable but a favor bestowed on individuals by  "the state". Freedoms are severely qualified. For instance, you have the freedom to speak only so long as the hooligans approve. If they create a ruckus, you will be accused of "disturbing communal harmony" and denied the right to speak.
Thus, the morality argument backfires on Hinduism. A close examination shows that Hindu India is morally bankrupt, and this reflects poorly on Hinduism. [The only saving grace is that Hinduism makes its adherents tolerant of those who disagree, compared to Islam. Thus, the status of religious minorities in India is much better than that in Islamic or atheist countries]

Isn't changing one's religion an act of treason towards one's gods and community? Why should I accept something new?

This belief assumes that one's gods are real gods. But what if your gods are not real gods? It is certainly not an act of treason to leave impostors and false gods and turn to the true God. Who are these community gods? When, how and on what basis did they assume that role? If there are no satisfactory answers to these questions, there is nothing treacherous in leaving these gods! Since you have a mind to think for yourself, your community has no business forcing you to live against your conscience!

We need to disconnect PERSONAL BELIEFS from ETHNICITY. The latter is not a matter of choice. You cannot choose to be born as an Indian or anyone else. But you can choose your PERSONAL BELIEFS. I was (involuntarily) born an Indian, but I am a Christian because of the external evidence and my personal experience. It is irrational to say that I should believe something or follow some rituals because I was born in a certain community. We do things because they are right and true, not because those around us are doing them! Whether something is old or new does not matter; whether it is true matters!
According to the Bible, the various clans of humanity rejected God around 2200 BC and invented false gods. One of those clans became the Aryans who developed Hinduism. Thus, if you become a Christian, you are returning to the true God your ancestors rejected; they were traitors, not you! 

What you're criticizing is the false Hinduism practiced by the masses. True Hinduism is found in the Vedas [or some other text], and it is sublime.

I will look into this argument when I find people studying and practising the Vedas (yes, the actual samhitas, not what some popular guru says about them) and devoting their resources to spreading them. So far, the only people I have encountered making this claim are arm-chair critics. There is no point arguing about hypothetical non-existent things. 

Could Jesus be an avatar of Krishna, Buddha or someone else?

Let's consider Krishna first. Krishna tells Arjun in the Bhagvad Gita:

    "Whenever evildoers increase in the world, I come down to annihilate them”

On the other hand, Jesus said that he came to save sinners (Mark 10: 45). He even rebuked his disciples for wanting to annihilate sinners (Luke 9:53-56). Jesus also made it clear that he’s come only once and is going to come only once again. This shows that he is not the same person as Krishna.

Similarly, Jesus and Buddha are markedly different. Buddha was disillusioned with the world; he went to a forest, and then felt enlightened. Jesus knew who he was and what his mission was even as a child. Once when his parents expressed their surprise at his behavior which was very unusual for a 12 year old, he responded: “Didn’t you know that I was about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49). Buddha’s birth, life and death were not heralded by any prophecies, but Jesus’ were. Buddha’s followers did not stand by his teachings to death, but Jesus’ did. Buddha taught that liberation can be attained by following his eight fold path and avoiding desire. Jesus taught that personal salvation can be obtained by believing in him as the Son of God, and trusting in him and his work alone. Essentially, Buddha said, “follow this path”. Jesus said, “Follow Me”. They just cannot be the same person.
The claim that Jesus is the same as Krishna or Buddha betrays ignorance, political correctness or both. Get to reality instead.

The caste system is scientific! People are different!

It is true that people are different. East Africans tend to be good marathon runners. People of West African and Carribean origin tend to be good sprinters. Indians tend to be good at math but not in sports demanding high physical fitness. South Americans are good at football; Chinese at manufacturing, Germans in mechanical engineering, Japanese at electronics and Jews are in a class of their own.

It is good to recognize (and celebrate) this diversity. However, the caste system is something completely different.

  • It involves straitjacketing people into jobs forcibly based on their family of birth. Just imagine if all Japanese kids were forced to study electronics!
  • The caste system involves the license to commit atrocity.
  • It is highly inaccurate, in that there are many lower caste people (supposedly fit only for menial jobs) who are accomplished professionally and intellectually.
  • It involves false ideas about purity (example: the shadow of a person is neither pure or impure, but Hinduism teaches that the shadow of lower caste people is impure). 
  • It impedes technological progress. (If machines do menial jobs, what will the lower castes do?) 

The insistence of the Bible that it, and it alone is the right way leads to conflict

There are two things that I’d like to say in response.
  1. Ground realities refute you. Hindus in countries strongly influenced by Christianity are far safer than Christians in Hindu-majority countries! Where is the American equivalent of Dangs-2000 or Orissa-2008?!
  2. The fact that the Bible claims that Hinduism is false does not lead to conflict because Jehovah, the God of the Bible, gives freedom to people to make their own choice. If He wanted forced worship, He could have forced Adam and Eve at the start itself! He gave them the freedom of choice, despite knowing that their wrong choice would bring in such great evil and suffering on earth. Also see Joshua 24:15 and Revelation 3:20.

So, as a follower of Jehovah and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, my job is to tell you about him and leave you to make your choice.