31 October 2000
Hindu and Christian Approaches to War and Peace
As international views on peace differ, so do opinions of different religions. Every culture has its own view on peace and how to attain it. Religious ties in most cases determine these values and laws. Two such opposing views on peace would be ancient Christian views and Hindu beliefs. Christianity believes in justice and love as the central focus of peace while Hindus learn to manage their own Self and create good karma to achieve peace.
Early Christians believed that peace is a result from justice. If a commandment was broken, justice was the only solution. Kings became famous according to how just and wise they were. Feuds and trials were constantly brought before the biblical kings and they were forced to pass judgment. The modern equivalent of peace was not always attained in the early Christian times. Peace meant that justice had been carried out. Wars were fought to seek justice. The means achieved an end of peace after obtaining justice. Another kind of peace also existed in the Christian time, shalom. This type of peace means wholeness. Shalom is based on the idea that men and women are brothers and sisters under God as the Father. It involved a more positive feeling of love and kindness no experienced with justice peace. Christians view peace now as a solution to most problems and strive for it in everything they do. A Christian wishes to achieve personal peace with in their lives and with their God. Love is a very important part of Christian peace. A Christian strives to be content, satisfied, and to know total love. Christians respect and love each other in shalom peace. The kind of peace that Christians believe that Jesus brings is different. Christians now believe that everyone was made in the image of God. Because of this we should all love each other because God loves us and wishes us to be peaceful. Christians now respect and fear God because of the love they feel for human kind and for Jesus. Christian peace involves love and kindness while Hindu peace involves a different kind belief and structure.
Hindus believe that their inner Self never dies and their life force moves from body to body as each new body lives and dies. Hindus believe that each person has a Self that exists within someone. This Self is like a spirit that is passed from body to body when they die. Because of this, according to the Hindu religion, the killing the body of a man does not matter; the spirit still survives. This means that wars are justified in this manner. Every person killed in battle will just enter a new body in a different life. At times, Hindus may believe that a certain war is one’s duty or responsibility to fight. The only way for these people to justify this is because they do no feel that they are actually killing people. This view completely differs from the Christian perspective. Christians believe that people are only created once and that their lives are individual and separate from other lives. Hindus also believe in the concept of karma. The law of karma says that an actions man does generates consequences that impact the universe and come back as karma. This means that one should always strive to achieve good karma. World Peace does come from the world or from the leaders of the world. According to the Hindu belief, it comes from the individuals of the world. When an individual is at peace it spreads to his family, his neighbors, his city, his country and finally to the world. The life pattern of man, his Self, all over the world is intertwined as individuals and in the relationships between cities and nations. That is the notion of karma. When one achieves good karma it effects his whole world. Everything becomes different and better for a man if he has good karma. Hindus also believe that if someone is at peace with the world and has learned to create positive karma, his children and friends will also benefit. The feeling of karma is that the whole world feels and breathes as one. Doing something that is negative in one country effects the security and peace of another. A correlation can be drawn from Christianity and Hinduism. Both believe that the people of this planet are brothers and sisters. That humanity is all part of the same thing, each man is linking in some way to the next. Each religion feels that men and women should love each other and strive to show love and respect for others and oneself.
Christianity believes in justice and love as the central focus of peace while Hindus learn to manage their Self and create good karma. The fundamental difference between the two religions is that one believes that man is created only once and his body dies only once. While the Hindus believe that man lives through his Self and never leaves the earth but is reincarnated many times into different people and forms. Although each religion has a very different set of rules, laws and organization, they still believe in some common goals. Both Hindus and Christians search for peace between people, communities and nations. When Hindu world peace advocate Swamiji Bala Shiva visited America he summed up both modern Christian and Hindu feelings towards world peace, “It is the bond of love which is the motivating force in life. Life is love.”