9 minute read


All Religions are not Same


Long ago, when I completed the study of Prasthantrai (comprising the ten cardinal Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and Brahma Sutra), it opened my eyes to world religions and diverse philosophical concepts. I delved into it under the Advaita Vedanta school of Philosophy (Darshana), and it took a significant amount of time to align with the ideas presented in Advaita Vedanta. Contemplating on this, I felt the urge to write and reflect upon my thoughts. In the meantime, I explored other world religions, delving into their histories and geographies where they rise and grown. Based on my understanding, I compiled the following tables to illustrate the unique characteristics of each religion. It became evident to me that all religions are distinct. In this article I am emphasizing the need to comprehend the various parameters and belief systems of each religion. I hope this will help all people including religious, secular and atheist. To facilitate comparison and avoid confusion, I’ve outlined the major belief systems of the five main religions/faith/systems.

Comparison of Vedanta, Hinduism, Ancient Greek, Christianity and Islam

Aspect Vedanta Philosophy Hinduism Ancient Greek Religion Christianity Islam
Nature of Ultimate Reality Brahman, as in Hinduism, but Vedanta emphasizes the non-dualistic understanding of the individual soul (Atman) being identical to Brahman. Brahman, an ultimate, formless, and transcendent reality. Manifests in various forms (deities) for accessibility. Varied beliefs; no singular concept of an ultimate, transcendent reality. Emphasis on individual gods and goddesses. Trinitarian belief in one God—Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit. Monotheistic belief in one God (Allah) without any partners or associates.
Concept of Deity Acknowledges the diverse deities of Hinduism but emphasizes the formless aspect of Brahman. Personal deities may be worshiped as manifestations of the ultimate reality. Polytheistic with a vast pantheon of gods and goddesses, including Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Lakshmi, Saraswati, etc. Each of these are for specific domain of life. Polytheistic with a pantheon of gods and goddesses, each associated with specific domains and aspects of life. Trinitarian theology, emphasizing the Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit as distinct yet co-equal aspects of the divine. Strict monotheism, with Allah being the sole deity without any partners or intermediaries.
Creation and Cosmology Maya (illusion) plays a role in the creation, and the cosmos is considered an extension of Brahman’s power. Emphasis on the non-dual nature of reality. Diverse creation myths; cosmos cyclically created and destroyed. Some emphasize the role of deities like Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Varied creation myths; gods and goddesses involved in the creation and ordering of the cosmos. God created the world ex nihilo (out of nothing) as per Christian theology. God created the universe; details of the creation are outlined in the Quran.
Purpose of Life Attaining self-realization and liberation (moksha) from the cycle of birth and death. Focus on knowledge and understanding one’s true nature. Pursuit of Dharma (righteous duty), Artha (wealth), Kama (pleasure), and Moksha (liberation from the cycle of reincarnation). Varied; emphasis on fulfilling one’s role in society and pleasing the gods. No singular purpose. To love and serve God, follow the teachings of Jesus, and prepare for an eternal afterlife. Submission to the will of Allah, worship, and adherence to ethical conduct for a favorable afterlife.
Ethical Framework Emphasis on Dharma, including ethical living and virtuous conduct. Vedanta provides a philosophical framework for ethical inquiry. Dharma, encompassing moral and social duties. Moral teachings from scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita and epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Guided by cultural norms, civic virtues, and adherence to rituals. Ethics varied across city-states. Moral teachings derived from the Bible, including the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. Ethical guidelines from the Quran and Hadith, emphasizing justice, compassion, and social responsibility.
Scriptures Primarily Upanishads, Brahma Sutras, and Bhagavad Gita. Vedanta draws heavily from the Upanishads. Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas, and others. No single authoritative scripture; various myths and oral traditions. The Bible, including the Old Testament and the New Testament (Christianity includes the teachings of Jesus). The Quran (recitations revealed to Prophet Muhammad), Hadith (sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad), and Sunnah.
Afterlife (Hell/Heaven) Reincarnation based on karma. Moksha is the ultimate goal, signifying liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Reincarnation based on karma. Attaining Moksha leads to liberation from the cycle of rebirth. Varied beliefs; some regions emphasized an underworld (Hades) or an eternal existence in Elysium for virtuous souls. Central concepts in Christianity; Heaven is a reward for the righteous, while hell is a punishment for sinners. A righteous person is one who is a believer and a sinner is one who is a non-believer. Permanent hell and heaven are based on one’s deeds in a single life. Concepts of paradise (Jannah) and hell (Jahannam); Here individuals are judged based on their deeds and faith in a single life.
Worship and Rituals Emphasis on meditation, self-inquiry, and philosophical contemplation. Rituals may be performed, but the focus is on knowledge and understanding. Varied rituals, ceremonies, and festivals dedicated to different deities. Worship can be personal or through community rituals. Rituals, sacrifices, and festivals dedicated to specific gods and goddesses. Varied forms of worship, including communal prayers, sacraments, and rituals. Five Pillars of Islam, including the declaration of faith (Shahada), prayer (Salah), charity (Zakat), fasting (Sawm), and pilgrimage (Hajj).
Views on Material World The material world is considered an extension of Brahman, with an emphasis on recognizing the underlying unity in diversity. Seen as transient and illusory (maya), a veil that obscures the ultimate reality. Seen as real; gods often intervened in human affairs. Material world considered a creation of God. Material world considered real, with God’s creation viewed as good. Material world considered a temporary abode; emphasis on the spiritual and moral aspects of life.
Spread and Influence A philosophical school within Hinduism; significant influence on Advaita Vedanta, which has influenced Hindu thought and beyond. One of the oldest and most diverse religions, with various sects and traditions. Major influence in South Asia. Varied city-state traditions; influence on later Western philosophy and thought. Widespread global influence, with various denominations and sects. Global presence, significant impact on various cultures and societies. Major sects include Sunni and Shia.
Prophets and Messengers No specific messengers; emphasis on the teachings of ancient sages and philosophers. No singular prophets; various rishis (sages) are revered. No singular prophets; various myths and legends about heroes and figures with divine connections. Prophets include figures from the Old Testament, with Jesus considered the central figure in Christianity. Prophet Muhammad is the final messenger; numerous other prophets, including Moses and Jesus, are acknowledged.
Views on Jesus Not explicitly mentioned; focus is on non-dualistic philosophy and self-realization. Recognized as a spiritual teacher or revered as an enlightened being by some Hindus. Not part of ancient Greek religion. Central figure, considered the Son of God and the savior in Christian theology. A prophet and messenger, not divine, but highly revered.
Law of Karma Central concept; actions (karma) impact the cycle of birth and death (reincaration), emphasizing the importance of ethical conduct. Central concept; actions (karma) impact the cycle of birth and death (reincaration), emphasizing the importance of ethical conduct. Absent; no concept of a moral law governing actions and consequences. Absent; instead, emphasis on divine judgment based on deeds and grace Absent; instead, emphasis on divine judgment based on deeds and grace
Reincarnation Fundamental belief; cycle of birth, death, and rebirth until liberation (moksha) is attained. Fundamental belief; cycle of birth, death, and rebirth until liberation (moksha) is attained. Not a central belief; various views on the afterlife. Not a central belief; emphasis on resurrection and eternal life. Not a belief; instead, emphasis on a single life followed by judgment and afterlife.
Idol Worship Varied practices; some emphasize formless worship, while others use symbols or images for concentration. Common practice; idols represent the divine and aid in personal connection with deities. Common practice; idols represented deities and served as focal points for worship. Varied practices; some Christian denominations use religious art, but others reject idol worship. Strictly forbidden; emphasis on the worship of the formless God without intermediaries.
Yajnya Rituals May be performed, but the emphasis in Vedanta is on knowledge and understanding over ritualistic practices. Rituals involving fire and offerings; symbolic representation of cosmic order. Not present in ancient Greek religion. Varied rituals, ceremonies, and sacraments, depending on Christian denomination. Not present; emphasis on prayer and adherence to religious obligations.
Concept of Prayers Emphasis on contemplative prayer, seeking self-realization, and understanding the non-dual nature of reality. No prayer to God for fulfilling any desire. Varied forms of prayer, including mantras, bhajans, and devotional hymns. Varied forms of prayer, including supplication, hymns, and rituals. Varied forms of prayer, including personal and communal prayers, hymns, and liturgical rites. Central to worship; involves recitation of prescribed prayers and physical postures.
Religious Brotherhood Emphasis on the oneness of all existence (including insects, animals, and non-living), with the recognition that all beings share the same divine essence (Brahman). Diverse beliefs within Hinduism; some sects emphasize universal brotherhood, while others may have exclusivist tendencies. Varied beliefs; city-state traditions did not necessarily promote a universal brotherhood, focusing more on civic identity. Emphasis on love and brotherhood; Jesus’ teachings emphasize compassion and love for one’s neighbor who is a believer in Jesus. If neighbor is not Christian then convert him first. Concept of Ummah (community); Muslims are considered brothers and sisters, promoting a sense of unity among believers. Those who are non-believers are Kafir. They are doing “Kufr” or “disbelief.” And this is a serious crime. And it is “Farz” (religious duty commanded by Allah) on the Muslim to convince non-believers.
Tolerance and Respect to Other Faith Inclusive, recognizing the divine essence in all beings. Encourages tolerance and respect for diverse paths to truth. Hinduism, in its essence, promotes tolerance and respect for diverse beliefs. However, some historical and social factors have led to periods of intolerance. Nowadays that is not a problem. Tolerance varied among city-states; some were more inclusive, while others were exclusive in their religious beliefs. Teachings of tolerance and forgiveness within various Christian denominations. or believers. But no concept of mutual respect and tolerance for other faiths. Tolerance is encouraged, acknowledging the diversity of Islam followers all over the world. But there is no place for respect and tolerance for Kafir and non-believer. Non-believers are those who do not believe in that one God called Allah. No respect for those who worship Murti.
Status of Non-believer Focus on the oneness of existence, implying that everyone is part of the divine regardless of their beliefs. Diverse views within Hinduism; some emphasize the universality of divinity, while others may have exclusivist perspectives. Varied views; no clear doctrine on the status of non-believers, as beliefs varied among city-states. Emphasis on evangelism and conversion; non-believers are considered in need of salvation. A true Christian needs to have compassion upon non-christian and chase him till he is not converted. Non-believers are seen as outside the community of believers; the Quran encourages missionary efforts to spread Islam. In the process of conversion even if you kill Kafir that is good work for those who died and those who killed.