My cousin has been a TM teacher for many years. He recently wrote to me that he believes that we both have essentially the same God and religion. Brahma = The Father, Vishnu = Jesus, and Siva = The Holy Spirit. He also gave many other parallel for Mary Micheal the archangel etc. Anyone know if there is any truth to this? How can it be refuted intelligently?
[quote=pjansen5]My cousin has been a TM teacher for many years. He recently wrote to me that he believes that we both have essentially the same God and religion. Brahma = The Father, Vishnu = Jesus, and Siva = The Holy Spirit. He also gave many other parallel for Mary Micheal the archangel etc. Anyone know if there is any truth to this? How can it be refuted intelligently?
I’m not Catholic; in fact, I’m more like your cousin. But for the sake of religious discrimination and inquiry, I would answer your cousin in several ways.
First, I would ask your cousin to describe what particular Vedic tradition he follows – is he an Advaitin (all is God, and matter is ultimately unreal when compared to God); or a Vishishta-Advaitin (there is God, man, and nature, but they are all essentially God); or a Dvaitin (God, man, nature are totally separate). Once you know where he stands on this issue, then you can know his position’s weak points.
As far as Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are concerned, different Hindus have different perspectives. If a Hindu is a Vaishnava Hindu, then Vishnu is the supreme Deity. If Shaiva Hindu, then Shiva is the supreme Deity. Then you have Hindus who see Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva as differet manifestations of the One Reality (Brahman). Your cousin seems to hold this latter view. I would suggest saying that this latter view is a hint that points towards the truth of the Christian Trinity, and thus is an element of truth that exists in Hinduism.
It’s true that you can find parallels to Mary, St. Michael, etc., within many different religions. However, these are just parallels; they are not exactly (or even nearly) the same, or identical. For instance, there are Goddesses in Hinduism, which might function in a similar way Mary functions in Catholicism – both are feminine, both tend to express compassion and other tender virtues, both are described as “Mother”, “Queen”, etc. But they are not identical: e.g., Mary is not divine, but a non-divine creature, whereas the Goddess Durga (to take one example) is divine.
One major difference you might want to point out is that the goal of the Vedic tradition and the Christian tradition are very different. The goal of the first is to go beyond matter and the world, into the state of pure bliss; or, perhaps, to go beyond matter and the world, into a spiritual heaven. Whereas the goal of the second is to live with God with a resurrected and physical (though transformed) body. Your cousin might mention Hindu saints and sages who have been resurrected in a physical body, but you could counter that by mentioning that the goal of Hinduism is to transcend the body entirely, not to remain in the body. In Christianity, the body is seen as worthy enough to be resurrected and forever lived.