TABLE OF CONTENTS
to the Study
and Objectives of Study
of Related Literature
NOTES AND REFERENCES
A HISTORICAL SURVEY OF CHRISTIANITY
The Development of Christianity
The Concept of Trinity in
3.0 AN ACCOUNT OF HINDUISM
3.1 A Historical Survey of Hinduism
3.2 The Phases of Hinduism
Early Nature Worship: The four
Vedas (Before 100BCE)
Hinduism: The Brahmas (1000-800CE)
Hinduism The Upanished (800-600CE)
Hinduism: The Laws of Manu (250BCE).
Hinduism: The Bhagavad Gita (Circa ICE)
Popular Hinduism: The
Epics and Puranas (ICE – 250CE).
Concept of Trinity in Hinduism.
Notes and References
IN CHRISTIANITY AND HINDUISM: A COMPARATIVE STUDY.
between the Trinity in Hinduism and Christianity
between the Trinity in Hinduism and Christianity.
Notes and References
Notes and References
identification of the points of similarity or common interest and points of
difference or departure occupy the comparative study of religions, themes,
objects, traditions, ideas and cultures. Within the mind of comparative
religion, comparism, comparative study or comparative analysis is not for value
judgement1. Again, this is not done with the heart of placing one
religion, over another. Each religion has it own value in the lives of it
adherents. Hence, there is ultimate need to respect one another religion. This
are called not for compromising of one’s faith. But, to show that there are
similarities and differences in the world living religions (African religion,
Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam, and Sikhism).
Some of their religions exist in the same territory or region.
essence of comparative study of religions is to show that there are
similarities and differences in world living religion and to foster peaceful
co-existence among these religions against claims that religion is a tool for
divisiveness in the world. In other words, the points of agreement should
establish the fact that we have things in common. Hence, there is no need for
religious conflict. All we need to be aware of our differences in order to
understand other religions. This will enhance us to tolerate other adherents
since we are familiar with their religious tenets. This argument is tenable on
the ground that he or she who knows one religion, knows non2. The
similarities in these world religious may be due to the close place of origin.
For instance, most of these religious originated from the Near East. Does it
mean that they adopted each other’s tradition and later developed? This may be
true of course. Now, what of the differences that exist among these religious?
In all facet of life, including human beings, there is a natural tendency for similarities
is against this view that this research work shall study the similarities and
differences in the doctrine of trinity in Christianity and Hinduism. This
doctrine is more pronounced about the Christian faith that many people do not
know of its existence in Hinduism. Trinity is the union of group of three
persons; God heads. In Christianity, they are God the father, God the son, and
God the Holy Spirit. They are referred to as one, not three. In identification,
they are three, but in essence, they are believed to be one. Therefore, it is
the unification of the God’s head. They have the same attributes. Mainly, what
we know of the other Godheads were supplied by God the son (Jesus) who has once
lived as human race sin. This aspect has been part of criticism on the doctrine
of trinity in Christianity. Many argued that how possible is it for the most
power or all –powerful God (Jesus) to be killed by human that he created.
Consequently, many doubt the monotheistic nature of the religion. This made
scholars to get involve in the study of Christology; the humanity and divinity
of Jesus Christ. We shall discuss this later. The common attributes of these
Godheads are Omnipotent, All- powerful, Almighty, All kind, All rightoueous,
Omnipresence, Omniscient, All loving, All faithful, Spirit and many other
features. The God heads are one and have equal power. None is superior to
another, or at the expense of another.
doctrine of trinity also exist in Hinduism though with differences. This is
called Trimurti in Hinduism. The Godheads are Brahma, who is the creator and
functions in the area of creating, Vishnu, who is the preserver or conserver of
nature everything in the world, and Siva, who is in charge of destruction and
death. Siva is the destroyer3. Also, these Godheads are considered
equal to one another. Hinduism is a religion with millions of gods and also
considered as a monotheistic religion because of the unification of the
Godheads in Trimurti4. On this note we shall examine. Comparatively
the doctrine of Trinity in Christianity and Hinduism.
to the Study
of the India population are Hindu. Hinduism, as we had listed the world living
religions order of how they originated, is the second oldest religion of the
world after African religion5. The religion originated back in
2500BC6. The religion developed through its encounters and
interactions with other cultures. Presently, Hinduism is the third most popular
religion in the world. Also, 13% of the world’s population is Hindu, and 83% of
the population of India is Hindu7. Hinduism is a collection of
beliefs that is free from absolutism in worship of gods. Here Hindu can worship
a god or several gods. How and why did Hinduism become concentrated in India?
What form of religion was practiced in the Indus Valley before the Aryans
arrived? What is Hinduism?
is a different way of understanding life. In Christianity, the world is viewed
in a linear form, while Hinduism see life as a settle importance. The world
view of the Hindu is Cylic in Nature. This bring belief in reincarnation after
death. It is not easy to define the religion because it has no definite the
religion because it has no definite creed, priestly hierarchy and governing
agency. What we know in Hinduism are the Swamis (Teachers) and guru (spiritual
guides)8. Hinduism can be define as:
“The whole complex of beliefs and
institutions that have appeared from the time when their ancient (and most
sacred) scriptures, the Vedas, were composed until now”9.
definition is based on the phases of Hinduism. Hinduism passed through
different stages of developments. In the same way, Christianity also passed
through stages Church till now.
is a claim that Hinduism has 330 million of gods10. But, it is often
believed that the religion is monotheistic, not polytheistic. How possible is
this? Christianity has just three, not 330 million, and doubts are cast on the
validity of the doctrine of trinity. What will need to know at this level; is
that the two religions (Christianity and Hinduism) have this in common.
According to parthasarathy “the different gods and goddess of the Hindu
pantheon are mere representatives of the powers and functions of the one supreme
God in the manifested world”. This speaks of the freedom in worship of any of
the gods or goddesses.
word trinity cannot be found in the Bible. The Bible, which is the scriptural
manual of the Christians never mentioned or used the word Trinity to refer to
the three Godheads. But, the New Testament mentioned the three Godheads as one:
authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make
disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the
son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19).
the above scripture the ‘me’ refers to the oneness of the combination of the
three Godheads ends. If does not necessarily refer to Jesus. Even if the word
refer to Jesus alone, Jesus and the other Godheads are one. The doctrine of
trinity is also evident in the Pauline Epistle to the Corinthians:
the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ; and the love of God, and the fellowship of
the Holy Spirit be with you all: (2 Corinthians 13:14).
is apparent that the above verse of the Bible shows that Trinity also speak of
how God manifested himself at each point of human existence. Christians
believed that Jesus brings about is called grace: unmerited favour as against
the capital punishment in the Old Testament. It was God’s love that made him to
send Jesus to the planet earth (John 3:16). And, God manifest himself in a long
relationship or bond through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit it.
also noted the doctrine of trinity in his writing:
God’s elect… who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the
father, through sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ
and sprinkling by his blood.” (1 Peter 1.1-2)
passages of the Bible never mentioned or used the word trinity. What is the
origin of the doctrine of trinity in Christianity? What are the essences of the
doctrine in the two religious? What are the similarities and differences in the
doctrine of trinity in the similarities and differences in the doctrine of
trinity in the two religious? It is against this background that this long esay
shall do a comparative study of the doctrine of trinity in Hinduism and
and Objectives of Study
aims and objectives of this study are:
do historical survey of Christianity and Hinduism.
examine the present state of the two the religions.
critically study the doctrine of trinity in the two religions as a way of
promoting religious peaceful co-existence and corporation in the world.
is important to show that these religions have similarities. These similarities
should for in part of the reasons why we should not be points of conflict or to
judge other religion in the attitude of claiming absolute superiority of one’s
religion. Also, this research work is germane because it shows that God can be
view from various directions or perspectives, but God is still God. He might be
called in different forms as we have different gods that represent the Supreme
Being in Hinduism. In lucid terms, this work shows the oneness of God, who is
viewed by different people of different colour or race in different ways.
any study, the object of study is the object of the study is the data. Here,
data speaks of that things a researcher intends to finding of something, but
more important to develop the means, methods or ways of retrieving the data to
be used for the work. Here, our data for this study are retrieved using the
primary and secondary sources involve the use of oral interviews and
observations of what pertains to the study. Observation in this sense can be
non-participatory; that is the research is not involve actively and physically
in the event being observed at a particular time and place, and can be
participatory observation, which is the opposite of non-participatory
observation. The secondary sources include the use of textbooks, articles,
magazines, journals, dictionary, internet and unpublished works.
this study, two research methods shall be used. The methods are hermeneutical
and historical research methods. Hermeneutical methods is a research methods
that interprets what a speaker means at each instances. The interpretations
will be based on the background, context from which the speaker speaks, and cultural
background of the speaker12. Historical research methods is
important to this study because it involves historical facts to establish the
doctrine of trinity in the two religions. This method will avail is opportunity
to get these historical facts about the religious as we shall retrieved them
the University of Ilorin library, United Missionary Theological College library
and personal books.
of Related Literature
chronological order of the topic of this work, we shall review related
literature under two divisions. The divisions are trinity in Christianity, and
trinity in Hinduism.
and Jantz are of the opinion that Jesus is not only the cornerstone of
Christianity, but the person of Jesus is also the centerpiece of human history13.
He lived 2000 years ago, but his life and teachings are still in existence till
date. In population, according to these scholars, Christianity commands the
population of 1,955,229 in the world14. This means that Christianity
has the highest population in the world followed by Islam with the population
of 1,126,325 adherents15. Biblically, the attribute of God are that
God is self –existent (Genesis 1:1), God is eternal (Psalm 90:2) God is holy
(Isaiah 6:3), God is unchangeable (Malachi 3:6), God is just (Revelation 15:3),
God is omniscient (Proverbs 5:21), god is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-12), God is
love (John 3:16), God is personal (Psalm 139:1-4).
them, trinity does not mean there are three gods who exist together to make up
one God16. God is one, but within that unity are three eternal and
coequal persons (God the father, God the son, God the Holy Spirit). These
persons share the same essence and substance, but each has a distinct existence
God is one, but often manifest himself in divine ways:
many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets but in
these last days he has spoken to us by a son, whom he appointed the heir of all
things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects, the glory of God
and bears the very stamp of his word of power…….”
son is not an angel, but God himself who shown humans how he loves us.
to Tiwari, the origin of Christianity is embedded in the life and teachings of
Jesus who came to reform the Jews religion (Judaism)17. Jesus act of
reformation was not to form another religion. But, Fatokun noted that though he
did not have the intention, but it had been in the master plan of Jesus that
his followers will later metamorphosed into a Church based on his words in
I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the
powers of death shall not prevail against it.”
Jesus was speaking more than the literacy level. Jesus did not speak of
building a Kuriakon (a house of worship). He was talking of Ekklesra (a called
out people of God)19. These people are liberated from sin to holy
living. In other words they can be called ‘a redeemed community’. But, since we
have Churches, it may not wrong to accept the opinion of Fatokun.
consequence of the act of Jesus reforming Judaism, Fatokun described the
Christian Church as the off-shot of Judaism20. Tiwari noted further
that what exist presently in Christianity is not only the handwork of Jesus,
but there are host of other saints, mystics and thinkers who have added much to
the religion21. Notable among them is St. Paul he states that:
to many it is Paul, and not Jesus, who should be regarded as the real founder
of Christianity. Although Christianity, without doubt, originated in the
teachings of Jesus, it took definite shape as a religion at the hands of St.
Paul. St. Paul not only propagated the teachings of Jesus with full sense of
devotion and honesty, but also added important ideas from his own side. And
thus Christianity of Jesus teachings combined with Paul’s22.
spreading of the gospel of Jesus by Paul is not enough to only missionary who
God used. He was called by Jesus. What are we to talk about Peter who was the
first leader of the Church at Jerusalem? What of James who later became the
leader of the Church at Jerusalem. According to Ogutu, the role of Christianity
a universal religion without any form of discrimination23. He also
affirmed that Christianity was a renewal movements in Judaism which existed in
Syria and Palestine between AD30 and AD7024. Ogutu25 and
Fatokun26 are in agreement that the agents of the spread of
Christianity are the travelling apostles, prophets, elders and disciples who
moved from one locality to another to preach the gospel of Jesus.
the missionary journeys of Paul speaks volumes of his great impact to the
spread of Christianity. He went on three missionary journey. His first
missionary journey start from AD45-49 at Seleucia, Salma, Paphos, Perga,
Leonium, Derbe, back to Perga, Selaucia and Antioch. The second journey started
in AD50-53 from Tarsus, Derbe, Iconium, Troas, Philipppi, Thessalonica, Berea,
Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Jerusalem and back at Antioch (Acts 15:36-18:22). The
third journey was a revisits to places he had visited before27
Rhodes ascribed the wide spread of the religion to the fulfillment of Act 1:828.
“But you shall receive power when
Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and
in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth”.
fulfillment came on the day of Pentecost when the disciples were empowered by
the Holy Spirit.
is of the opinion that Christianity begun after the crucifixion and
resurrection of Jesus29. This view tallies with other scholars
views. Hill also stressed the importance of the enormous success of Paul’s
missionary activities to the wide spread of Christianity. This has made the
religion a world-wide religion. Pirouet cited that about a quarter of the world’s
population are Christians31. The early apostles evangelized with
much zeal since they believed that the second coming of Jesus as he promised is
closed. Hence, the gospel needs reach everywhere in the world. The gospel reached
even Nigeria through the opinion that Christianity begun after the crucifixion
and resurrection of Jesus29. This view tallies with other scholars
views. Hill also stressed the importance of the enormous success of Paul’s
missionary activities to the wide spread of Christianity. This has made the
religion a world-wide religion. Pirouette cited that about a quarter of the
world’s population are christians31. The early apostles evangelized
with much zeal since they believed that the second coming of Jesus as he
promised is closed. Hence, the gospel needs reach everywhere in the world. The
gospel needs to reach everywhere in the world. The gospel reached even Nigeria
through the Roman Catholic Mission, and protestant missionary bodies like the
Anglican Mission called Church Missionary Society (CMS), Baptist Mission,
Methodologist Mission and other missionary bodies.
in line with the Christian teachers declared that the doctrine of trinity is a
mystery beyond human comprehension32. But, if is in human will
understand everything. This holds in this age of science and technology. John
Calvin asserted that unless we think of the unity of God as Trinitarian we have
no true knowledge of God at all33. This is because the doctrine of
trinity is a revealed doctrine in Christianity. T. St. Thomas Aquinas, it is a
doctrine that can only be made known to human by divine. Revelation34.
Calvin refers to this revelation as biblical revelation. What we know as the
doctrine, not the name is revealed to us through the bible. It can be consider
as a matter of revelation and as a matter of philosophy. This revelation and
reason or theology and philosophy. We shall build our study more on the
revelation aspect of trinity than philosophy. It is important to know that the
two above scholars differ in their views of the relationship between revelation
and reason. St. Thomas acknowledged the power of human reason apart from
revelation to discover truth in the field of natural knowledge and regarded the
Church as the authoritative interpreter of the Bible, while Calvin rejected
they were agreed in hold that the divine revelation, acceptance of which by
faith was necessary to salvation was given in the form of propositions
contained in the Bible36. This means that the Bible is the standard
for all doctrines in Christianity. Also, any doctrine not from the Bible is out
of Christianity. Billy Graham affirmed this view that God in his word has revealed
all we should know37. This connotes that God have revealed himself
to human race through his word. He further noted that to explain and illustrate
the trinity is one of the most difficult assignments to a Christian38.
It is a difficult assignment because it is a mystery accepted as a revelation
of God. He narrated the conversations of Dr Dand Mckenna on this:
David Mckenna once told me that he was asked by his small son, Doug, “is God
the father God?” He answered, “Yes”. Is Jesus Christ God?” “Yes”. Is the Holy
Spirit God? “Yes”. Then how can Jesus be his own father?” …………… Listen, son”,
he replied, under the hood is one battery. Yet I can use if to turn on the
lights, below the horn, and start the car”. He said, “How this happens is a
mystery but it happens!”39.
may suggest from above that there are many mysterious in the world. But, the
mystery of trinity is a divine mystery. Being a mystery does not mean it can be
known. To know this mystery is the essence of the Bible. But, this may not
satisfy human visual sense of reasoning: seeing is believing. God already knew
that difficulty and controversy may arise on this matter. Hence, he made
decrees. Arthur Pink defined the decrees of God as this purpose or
determination with respect to future things39. The future was
settled before hand by God.
to Darrell Bock in his account of the life of Jesus, he asserted that Jesus was a human being, a Jew
in Galilee with a name and a family, he was like everyone else, but was also
different than anyone who ever lived on
earth before40. This talks of the humanity and dimness of Jesus. He
once lived like human being and he also had his divine nature. The
juxtaposition of these two is hard to the point that it took the Church five centuries
of active debate to agree on some sort of epistemological balance between “just
like everyone else” (human nature of Jesus) and “something different” (divine
nature of God)41. The divine nature speaks of his classification is
the second person of the trinity. In this direction, the statement of Henry and
Richard that God works according to his nature rise more suspiciousness to this
argument42. Is there any human nature in God, since he works
according to his nature? The act of manifesting in human nature in God, since
he works according to his nature? The act of manifesting in human flesh to show
his love and retaining his divineness is a proof that his nature is divine, but
only manifested in human form for the purpose of salvation of humans.
Bowman in reaction to the belief of the Jehovah Witnesses on trinity cited the
And yet they are not three Gods, but
one God………. So we are forbidden by the Catholic (universal) faith to say, there
are three Gods or three Lords. The God worshipped by Trinitarians is the one
and only God; they recognize no other gods at all. Jesus is not another god
alongside God; he is God, together with the father and the Holy Spirit43.
the Jehovah Witnesses claimed that the trinity doctrine is false, that Almighty
God stands alone as a separate eternal, and all-powerful being. However if it
is contradictory for the Jehovah Witnesses to believe that in addition to the
“only true God” (John 17:3), and besides the many false gods, there are many
creatures who are rightly honoured as “gods” under Jehovah God44.
Then, who are these gods?
well noted that the gospels, the other worldly dimension in Jesus, that which
is transcendent and supernatural, is often concealed; in the epistles, it is
the human figure which recedes and the other-worldly dimensions which is
magnified and explored45. The gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and
John) stressed more on the human nature of Jesus, while the epistles of Paul
stressed the divine nature of Jesus, who is the second person in the trinity.
The epistles speaks of Jesus of Being a
spirit, not a bare spiritual substance, but an understanding, willing spirit,
holy, wise, good and just46, he possesses the attributes of God the
father and God the Holy Spirit. Jurgen Moltmann advanced that the incarnation
of the son of God was made necessary by man’s sin; it was necessary for his
reconciliation47. The manifestation of God in this sense, was as a
result of human disobedient which made humans to be slave to sin. God intended
the incarnation of the Son of God from eternity. It is in God’s intention to reveal
himself in this way.
and Zuck48 declared that the first revelation of the apostle John
(John 1:1) shows the eternal attribute of Jesus:
“In the beginning was the word, and
the word was with God and the word was God” (John 1:1).
statement is a reminder of the two first word in Genesis 1:1: “in the beginning……….”. This is why
Lewis Sperrry Chater refers to the book of John as the theological beginning of
the New Testament49. The statement: “The word was God” speak of the
equality of Jesus with God the father and God the Holy Spirit.
is often refer to as Sanatana Dharma by the adherents (Hindus) of the religion.
Sanatana Dharma means eternal law or order. The name of the religion is viewed
as a loose term for a host of religion and sects (Sampradayas) that have
developed and flourished over many years under the influence of the complex
ancient Hindu mythology50. Alamu recorded that there are 330millions
gods in Hinduism51. These different gods and goddesses are representatives
and vicegerents of the powers and functions of the supreme God. His definition
of Hinduism consists of the beliefs and teachings of the religion:
A complex body of social, cultural
and religious beliefs and practices evolved and largely confined to the Indian
sub-continent and marked by a caste system, an outlook tending to view all
forms and theories of aspects of one eternal being and truth, a belief in
Alimsa , Karma, Dharma, Samsara, and Moksha, and the practice of the way of
works, the way of knowledge; or the way of devotion as a means of release from
the rounds of births and rebirth51”.
caste system is the social stratification in India into which the people are
grouped. There is the Braham caste- the priestly and highest level of the caste
system, Kshatriya- the professional, governing and warrior class and the second
level of the caste system, Hariyan member of the untouchable caste; means
people of God, Sudra-labourer, the lowest of the four main castes, Vaisyans-
the artisans and peasants, people of the mercantile status52. Karma
is the principle that every action has its positive or negative consequences
for the next life of the transfrigrated soul. The term ahimsa means
non-violence; not hurting or killing anything. Moksha is the release from the
cycle of rebirth; the end of soul’s journey53. This is also known as
Nirvana which is the union of the individual with the supreme entity (Brahman).
the caste system, each group maintains its membership of it caste. There is no trans-movement
from one caste to another. This aspect is attached to Karma of the person on
earth. The trinity in Hinduism is a consequence of the fact that the Hindus
have certain favourite gods that have become the local point. Various sects
within Hinduism. Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Siva the
destroyer and with each at least one wife or consort, are included in the
trinity or the triad of gods54. They are considered equal, but
people still have favourite among these three.
Click “DOWNLOAD NOW” below to get the complete Projects
FOR QUICK HELP CHAT WITH US NOW!
+(234) 0814 780 1594