All divine revelations are incomplete and only give partial information that is appropriate for the time and state of spiritual development of the humans in incarnation. Consequently, Theosophy being the latest revelation, has the most amount of truth in it. However, even Theosophy is incomplete and there are major points of contention between different branches of Theosophists. These disputes and differences will be resolved only when the Christ and his Masters return to the everyday world and explain to us what we can not agree upon. This event is scheduled to happen quite soon, hopefully within the next 2-3 years.
|Aspect||Christianity (Mainly Catholicism)||Islam||Hinduism||Theosophy|
|Date of Origin||33 AD||622 AD ||6000 BC if you date by the birth of Rama.|
Probably older if you date by composition of the Vedas
|Founder||Jesus, St. Peter/Paul||Muhammad||None||Helena Blavatsky|
Christianity is based on the Gospel as preached by Jesus. The central message from Jesus was of forgiveness and love - love your fellow human beings including your enemies, take care of the poor and unfortunate, if someone strikes you turn the other cheek,forgive those who harm you. This message was indeed truly extraordinary, unique and radical. 'love your enemies' - nobody had ever said that before. The Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount are especially wonderful. However. Christianity as preached and practiced today has mostly degenerated into a dogmatic religion where it is very important what people believe about God and what he apparently demands (the strangest of the beliefs is that contraception is forbidden and also that there is something called 'original sin'). The loving, forgiving God that Jesus preached has now morphed into the strict, unyielding, mean-spirited God of the Old Testament with an added prudishness obsessed with the sexual practices of humans. In spite of this obsession with sexual conduct, Christianity still remains an excellent religion for all humanity and is the main dominant religion for the Age of Pisces.
Islam is based on the teachings of the prophet Muhammad as revealed to him by the angel Grabriel. Islam means 'surrender' or 'submission' and the religion asks its followers to surrender everything to Allah, the one and only God and follow strictly His teachings as given in the Koran which was dictated to His last and final Prophet, Muhammad. Islam is said to be the religion of peace and brotherhood - it does not discriminate against any one based on color, race, language or wealth. However, for a religion of peace, Muslims have been responsible for a lot of wars and killings which continue to this day. These killings are not just of infidels, but also of each other - Sunnis kill Shia, Shia kill Sunni and they both kill the Ahmadis and all this killing is apparently sanctioned and approved by the religion. In spite of the willingness to mete out harsh punishment including death for anyone who Muslims believe violates their religious beliefs, Islam remains an ideal religion for simple people especially the uneducated. Its strict beliefs and practices give simple people structure and discipline in their lives without complicated theology or philosophy to understand. Christian ideas of 'love your enemies' or 'turn the other cheek' were too deep and profound for the uncultured, illiterate nomads of the Arabian peninsula, so Islam was inspired by the Masters specially for such people. But as people get more educated and sophisticated, the attraction of this religion will diminish - it may not last much beyond the Age of Pisces and leading into Aquarius.
Hinduism is based on the ancient revealed texts called the Vedas and Upanishads, so does not have a single founder or source. The central theme of the religion is the divinity of all beings and that God is present in all things - animate as well as inanimate. This is the belief in panentheism (not to be confused with pantheism) - that God is beyond human comprehension and that He contains everything within Himself as well as stands beyond and apart from it all - that God is both male, female as well as undifferentiated. However, even though basic Hinduism has these lofty concepts, most Hindus do not know or even understand this philosophical background. The philosophy is usually lost in rituals or habitual practices or no practices at all. If you get a hundred Hindus at random and ask them what Hinduism teaches, you will get hundred different answers and all of them may leave out the most basic and important teachings. In spite of believing that all life is sacred or that we are all One, Hindu organizations, in general, are not very involved in charity, philanthropy or social work. However, Hinduism is the most ancient religion being practiced on Earth today. Almost all esoteric knowledge about God and the fundamental realities of life are preserved within it (you just need to know where to look and what to ignore). In a very short time, basic Hindu beliefs of reincarnation, karma, the sacredness of all life will be well accepted facts by almost all of the people on Earth. Hinduism, also know as Sanatana Dharma (the Eternal Way) will probably last for ever, but it is still appropriate mainly for people of Indian origin, it is too uniquely Indian to be a universal religion (like either Christianity or Islam).
The Theosophical Society and similar organizations (Agni Yoga, Arcane School, Share International) are an experiment by the Masters to reveal esoteric teachings to humanity through their advanced disciples. The books published by these organizations are complex and not easy to understand for the average person and are not intended as religious texts. They have no dogmas to follow or rituals to perform. They are just a source of knowledge - very much like books of science. This experiment by the Masters will end soon, when the Masters themselves together with their Leader - the Christ Maitreya, come openly into the everyday world - this is scheduled to happen soon, perhaps in two or three years.
|Impersonal God||No such concept||No such concept||Brahman.|
There is only one entity or being that underlies all existence. This entity pervades all of creation but it also stands apart from creation. It is totally impersonal and beyond human comprehension.
|The Absolute, Parabrahman|
||The Trinity - Three Persons in One God:
is the Almighty, the Creator of Heaven and Earth. However, he seems to have originally been (according to the Old Testament which Christians still follow) a nasty piece of work. He was a mean, vicious, violent, jealous, unjust, racist God who went around killing people or ordering someone else to do the dirty work. But since the incarnation of Jesus, He has become a merciful, loving God.
- the Son (incarnated as Jesus). The Son redeems humanity from original sin and makes us eligible for the kingdom of heaven. He begotten by the Father, but he seems to have stayed hidden until the incarnation of Jesus. Christians don't see the Son apart from Jesus - the Son is Jesus and Jesus is the Son.
(Not actively worshipped) proceeds from the Father and the Son. But its role is not that clear: apparently it enters into people like the Prophets and inspires them.
"He is Father of the poor, of the orphaned and the widowed, who are under his loving protection. He is the first origin of everything and transcendent authority; and that he is at the same time goodness and loving care for all his children. God's parental tenderness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood, which emphasizes God's immanence, the intimacy between Creator and creature. He is Father not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father in relation to his only Son, who is eternally Son only in relation to his Father: No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."
The Holy Spirit is the principle author of Scripture
"The Church, a communion living in the faith of the apostles which she transmits, is the place where we know the Holy Spirit:
- in the Scriptures he inspired;
- in the Tradition, to which the Church Fathers are always timely witnesses;
- in the Church's Magisterium, which he assists;
- in the sacramental liturgy, through its words and symbols, in which the Holy Spirit puts us into communion with Christ;
- in prayer, wherein he intercedes for us;
- in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up;
- in the signs of apostolic and missionary life;
- in the witness of saints through whom he manifests his holiness and continues the work of salvation."
|Allah (pbuh) - One and only God
Muslims believe that Allah is the all-powerful Creator of a perfect, ordered universe. He is transcendent and not a part of his creation, and is most often referred to in terms and with names that emphasize his majesty and superiority. Among the 99 Beautiful Names of God (Asma al-Husna) in the Quran are: the Creator, the Fashioner, the Life-Giver, the Provider, the Opener, the Bestower, the Prevailer, the Reckoner, and the Recorder.
Other Gods/Goddesses (For a detailed analysis of Hindu Gods, how those below are related to the main three above see this):
- Shiva the Destroyer/Transformer,
- Vishnu the Sustainer/Preserver (periodically incarnates on Earth, the two most important incarnations are: Rama and Krishna),
- Brahma the Creator (Not actively worshipped)
There is some misconception that Hindus worship animals like snakes or monkeys or elephants or cows. This is completely untrue - there are no known temples to snakes or monkeys or elephants or cows anywhere in the world (the myths of Ganesh and Hanuman are explained elsewhere). There is a natural enmity between the human and snake species that Hinduism tries to resolve or ameliorate by dedicating one day of the year to the snake (snake bite is a major problem in India). Cows, however, are indeed considered sacred because, just like our mothers, they provide us with milk (but they still do not have temples and are not worshipped)
- Ganesh Remover of Obstacles - presides over rituals and mantras,
- Saraswati Speech, Knowledge, Learning, Music
- Laxmi Wealth, Prosperity, Abundance, Provider
- Parvati Devotion, Austerity, Idealism, Sexuality
- Durga Protector, Nuturer, the Mother
- Kali Purifier, Liberator
- Hanuman Strength and Support/Comfort,
- Surya the Sun God - manages our Solar System
- Navagraha Gods that manage each planet in our Solar System,
- Kartikeya (Sanat Kumara) Commander of angelic forces, manages planet Earth
|The three Logoi:
These are then reflected in the Solar Logos and the Planetary Logoi.
- First Logos, the One, the Ever Unmanifest, represented by Mulaprakrti, the Plotinic
and Orphic Hen, Hyparxis, Shiva, the Christian Father-aspect, Divine Will.
- Second Logos, the manifested Logos, Fohat, the Logos proper, the Verbum, the Plotinic
Nous, the Demiurge, HPB's Anima Mundi, Universal Soul, Divine Wisdom, the Son-aspect, the
Christ, Vishnu, Avalokitesvara (manifested).
- Third Logos, the Light of the Logos, Daiviprakrti, the Plotinic Psuche, Creative Intelligence, Mahat, Universal
Mind, Universal Intelligence, Brahma, the Nous of Anaxagoras, Divine Activity,
the Holy Ghost.
This means that every planet (like Earth) or a star (like the Sun) or other major celestial body has a Logos or personal God that takes care of the well being and evolution of that celestial body and all its inhabitants
|Divine Incarnations||The Only Begotten Son of God:
||None - God can never incarnate as human
||Hinduism states that whenever Dharma (righteousness) declines in the world to a considerable extent, and Adharma (evil) prevails, Vishnu (the second of the Hindu Trinity) incarnates as a mortal to uphold the Dharma. The ten Avatars of Vishnu are as folows:
- Shri Rama
- Shri Krishna
- Seven previous ones that are not actively worshipped
- The next Avatar, Kalki, yet to come.
|An Avatar of the Age appears every 2160 years according to the precession of the equinoxes. The known Avatars:|
10000-8000 BC Age of Leo - Hermes Trismegistus (Egypt)
- 8000-6000 BC Age of Cancer- Hercules (Greece)
- 6000-4000 BC Age of Gemini - Rama (India)
- 4000-2000 BC Age of Taurus - Mithra (Europe)
- 2000 - 0 BC Age of Aries - Krishna (India)
- 0 - 2000 AD Age of Pisces - Jesus (Middle-east)
- 2000-4000 AD Age of Aquarius - ? (Yet to come)
|Denominations (Main ones)||
- Eastern Orthodox
- Oriental Orthodox
- Latter Day Saints
- Unitarianism and Universalism
Although each sect worships the corresponding deity as their main chosen God, all Hindus celebrate and worship the other Gods on their respective festival days and Ganesh is worshipped by all at the beginning of each puja/ritual.
- Shaivites - worshippers of Shiva
- Vaishnavites - worshippers of Vishnu
- Shaktas - worshippers of Shakti/Goddess
- Smarthas - worshippers of PanchDevata (Five Main Gods)
- Blavatsky (Theosophy)
- Annie Besant & Charles Leadbeater (Neotheosophy)
- Helena Roerich (Agni Yoga)
- Alice Bailey (Arcane School)
- Benjamin Creme (Share International)
|Scriptures||The Holy Bible consisting of :
- the Old Testament (Jewish Scripture). This is a book full of hate and violence. Not only does it contain stories of massacres and ethnic cleansing (bordering on genocide), apparently these killings were all sanctioned or approved by 'God'. It is surprising that in this day and age, there are more than a billion people who still consider this cruel, hateful, barbaric book to be a book of 'scripture'.
- the New Testament. As mentioned before the portions of this book that directly quote Jesus are truly extraordinary. If you just extract the quotes and stories told by Jesus, that material would be sufficient for anyone to live by.
- The Holy Koran. The Koran is a fairly decent religious book, but for a text claiming to be a final revelation to mankind, it does not contain any really new revelation or some unique message (nothing very extraordinary like the New Testament). The total submission to the will of Allah that it asks of its believers is an excellent message, but there is not much more depth beyond that. Muslims often look upon others who use symbols and objects of veneration/worship with disdain or even hatred as idolators. However, the veneration of the Koran by most Muslims and the status that the physical book is given by them, is really a form of idolatory.
- Hadith - These are collections of teachings or sayings or stories of the Prophet Muhammad. Not all Hadiths are accepted by all Muslims Sunnnis generally accept Bukharis hadiths as authoritative - Shias have their own version while some Muslims reject the authority of the Hadiths.
- Vedas (Sruti - revealed). These are ancient Sanskrit texts, probably the oldest sacred texts in the world. These are divided into four Vedas and portions of them reveal a deep questioning and commentary on the nature of reality, God and the human condition. However much of the rest of the texts is rather unintelligible. They are still considered divine revelations and are extensively used in rituals.
- Upanishads (Sruti - revealed). These are philosophical texts (also known as the Vedanta) which contain the essence of Hindu philosophies (from multiple points of view) about the ultimate reality - Brahman, karma, reincarnation, ethics, the purpose of life and the means of liberation for man.
- Mahabharata (Smriti - remembered(not revealed)) The Mahabharata and Ramayana are epic stories (in verse), but beyond the stories, they are (especially the Mahabharata) allegories containing hidden meaning, particularly relevant to the human condition.
- Ramayana (Smriti)
- Bhagavat Gita (Smriti). Besides the Vedas and Upanishads, this is the main Hindu religious text and is said to be delivered by Shri Krishna in the Mahabharata. Similar to the Upanishads, it is a synthesis of Hindu philosophy - dharma, selfless karma, bhakti, yoga and means of attaining moksha.
- Puranas (Smriti)
- Dharmashatras (Smriti)
- The Trinity always existed and is eternal.
- Creation is the common work of the Holy Trinity (all three), but mainly of the Son (the Word) and somewhat of the Holy Spirit (the giver of life).
- God creates the Universe out of nothing, but he is still immanent in it.
- Everyone knows the story from Genesis in the Bible - creation in 6 days. Adam and Eve in the garden, eating the apple of knowledge etc etc, so we won't repeat it here.
|Islam is also a Abrahamic religion and shares the creation story of the Old Testament.
- Before Creation only Brahman exists in a state of rest.
- Then the Trinity appears out of Brahman.
- The third person of the Trinity (Brahma) creates the Universe and all creatures in it out of the substance of Brahman.
- The second person of the Trinity (Vishnu) then preserves/sunstains the Universe. One of the way is to incarnate periodically as a mortal being and act as a Savior.
- At the end, the first person of the Trinity (Shiva) destroys the Universe. (There are many creation/destruction cycles in between)
- After the final end, the Trinity dissolves back into Brahman.
The Creation Story according to Theosophy is from an ancient Tibetan text called the 'Book of Dyzan'. Blavatsky has decoded and explained this esoteric text in the 'Secret Doctrine'. However, the story is far too complex for me to understand and I am not sure if it is that important. Far more relevant to us ordinary humans, is the description by Leadbeater of how a Solar System is created.|
"Leadbeater identified three 'outpourings' of the divine essence. They occur in reverse order. The first outpouring, from the Third Aspect of the Logos, penetrates and vitalizes the 'virgin matter' of seven planes of creation. The second outpouring, from the Second Aspect of the trinity, builds forms from the vitalized matter of the planes. It descends to the physical plane and then begins an upward-sweeping arc, ensouling lives on successive planes and urging them forward on their evolutionary paths. The third outpouring, emanating from the First Aspect, remains at a high level. In Leadbeater's words: The third outpouring provides human entities with the potential for unlimited expansion of consciousness."
- Original Sin: The first man Adam disobeyed God by eating "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" - he preferred himself to God and by that very act scorned him. He chose himself over and against God! This sin of Adam has been passed to all his descendants so that a newly born baby is already implicated in this sin! This sin is removed only by Baptism and redemption through the Christ.
- Jesus by dying on the cross redeems humanity and believers from this sin. Through his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, the Christ atoned for our sins (the Atonement of Jesus). It is only possible for those who have been redeemed through Jesus, to be ultimately saved (sent to heaven) after death.
- Immaculate Conception/Virgin Birth - Jesus was born of a virgin and conceived through the Holy Spirit
- Resurrection and Ascension - On the third day after crucifixion, Jesus's physical body was resurrected and ascended to heaven physically.
The death and resurrection of Jesus makes possible the reconciliation between God and humanity.
- Angels - Besides the physical world with all its creatures (including humans), God has created non-corporeal beings known as Angels through and for the Son. "From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Angels are spiritual creatures who glorify God without ceasing and who serve his saving plans for other creatures."
- Devil/Satan - the Fallen Angels - Satan was the 'first good Angel' created by God, but he and his friends rejected God and have become evil. He is the one who encouraged Adam to sin and continues to do this to humanity ever since. It seems that Satan's name before his fall from grace was Lucifer.
- Allah - There is only One God - no Trinity, no Son, no Goddess, no Other being
- Judgment day - The day will come when all people will stand before Allah's judgment. On that day the deeds of each person will be weighed against the bad ones. Those whose good deeds outweigh the bad ones will be sent to paradise, others will be sent to hell.
- Angels - Below God there are angels the main one among these is Jabrail. Angels have no free-will and are always good.
- Jinns - Below the angels are jinns. Jinns have free-will like men and maybe good, bad or neutral.
- Shaytan - The main evil Jinn is Shaytan or Iblis who refused to bow down to Adam. He and his minions constantly whisper evil thoughts to human beings.
- Prophets - God sent a prophet to each nation to teach them. There are 124,000 prophets, the main ones are Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Jonah, John the Baptist, Jesus and the last and final Prophet, Muhammad.
- Absurd beliefs:
- Dogs are impure or unclean. This is not specifically mentioned in the Koran, but Muhammad had some personal antipathy towards dogs and ordered them killed, especially black ones. It is sad and shameful that such a loving, loyal animal should be shunned or persecuted.
- Playing games like chess is 'haram'
- Music and dance, if not totally forbidden, are highly discouraged.
- Forbidding the depiction of God or Prophets can be understood, but Islam considers the drawing or depiction of any living being, even animals, as haram.
- Tat Tvam Asi - translates as 'thou art that'. Hinduism postulates that the Universal Soul (Paramatma) is identical to the individual soul (Atma), meaning that the Self - in its original, pure, primordial state - is wholly or partially identifiable or identical with the Ultimate Reality that is the ground and origin of all phenomena.
- Reincarnation - this states that your current life is just one in a series of lives as a human being. After your death you will be reborn as a human being at some point in the future and this cycle will continue until you have achieved enlightenment or moksha (liberation) from the cycle of death and rebirth.
- Karma - This law states that each thought, word and action of a human being puts into motion a cause that results in an equivalent effect either in this life or in subsequent lives. So if you hurt somebody, you will be hurt equally sometime in the future. If you perform a good deed for someone, an equal reward will be yours in the future (in this or a subsequent life).
- Devas/Danavas/Daityas/Asuras - There are three types of beings in Creation:
Devas live in heaven (Swarga/Svar-loka), humans on Earth (Bhur-loka) and Danavas/Asuras in lower worlds (Atala-loka,Vitala-loka,Sutala-loka,Talatala-loka,Mahatala-loka,Rasatala-loka,Patala-loka). There are many different types of Devas as well as Danavas. Devas can be helpful to humans while Danavas can be dangerous, but usually the three do not interfere with each other as long as humans leave them alone. There is no supreme evil being, like Satan, tempting mankind constantly. Evil on Earth is our own fault.
- Devas - gods with a small 'g' (equivalent to angels),
- Danavas/Daityas/Asuras - anti-gods (equivalent to demons)
- Manavas (human beings).
- Many Hindus are vegetarians because all life is considered sacred. They especially do not eat beef because cows are considered specially sacred (for reasons given above).
- Consciousness, Universal and Individual
- Immortality of Man
- Universal Brotherhood
- God's Plan Which is Evolution. There are two parts to God's plan for any planet:
- The process of involution where spirit enters matter and gets 'wrapped' in it."Its purpose is to slowly carry life lower and deeper into denser and denser matter for the building of forms, till the nadir of materiality is reached." This is the 'fall' which is facilitated by the so-called 'fallen angels'. Asuras during this period are 'good'.
- The process of evolution where spirit hidden and 'wrapped' in matter now rises out of it, becoming more perfect and spiritual (but with experience and knowledge). The 'fallen angels' are now considered evil in this process which they attempt to thwart. The same Asuras during this period are now 'evil'.
- Earthly humans at the current time are at the mid-point of these two processes - hence the tension and struggle. Most of the other planets in our Solar System are past this point and are well advanced in the process of spiritual evolution.
- Devas/Asuras - Similar beliefs as Hinduism. There is no such being as Satan, but there are evil beings who have progressed thru the left-hand path and have now become powerful black magicians who constantly attempt to stop humans from becoming more spiritual. Lucifer is not really a fallen angel, in fact he is the angel that ensouls the entire human species.
- Theosophy advocates vegetarianism for all who have entered the Path as disciples or probationers. Eating meat for the rest of humanity is fine, but kosher meat is preferable (drained of blood).
- Eucharist (See below)
- Holy Orders (Ordination)
- Anointing of the Sick
The five pillars of Islam can be considered as sacraments:
- Shahadah: Testimony of faith - declaring there is no god except Allah, and Muhammad is God's Messenger
- Salat: ritual prayer five times a day
- Zakat: giving 2.5% of one's annual savings to the poor and needy
- Sawm: fasting and self-control during the blessed month of Ramadan
- Hajj: pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime
- Namakarana (Naming the child)
- Chudakarma (First time cutting of hair)
- Karnavedha (Piercing the ears)
- Upanayana - Sacred Thread Ceremony (Performed after 7 years, considered Second birth, Beginning of Education)
- Samavartana (Completion of Education)
- Vivaha Samskara (Marriage ceremony)
- Grihasthashrama (Entry into life of a house-holder.)
- Vanprasthashrama (Retirement. Renouncing the house-holder's life)
- Sanyasashrama. (Renunciation of the world. Leading the life of a monk)
- Antyeshti (Funeral: last rites of the dead)
|Not a religion.|
|Rituals||Ceremony of the Eucharist
- Communion of consecrated bread (body of the Christ)
- Consecrated Wine (blood of the Christ)
|The five pillars of Islam given above, can also be considered as rituals
- Partcipants receive energies from the flame which has been waved clockwise before the deity during the singing of the Aarti,
- Communion of consecrated sweet/solid food (Prasad)
- Spoonful of consecrated Water/milk (Tirth)
- Puja/Abhishek - followed by similar communion
- Yagna (Sacred Fire Ceremony) - Sacrifice of food,coconut etc, production of Holy Ash (Vibhuti), followed by holy communion which may also include a meal
|Not a religion.|
|Goal of Life and How to Attain It
||Goals: To know, love, and serve God in this life, so as to attain salvation and be happy with Him in heaven
Methods: Obey Jesus's teachings about love and service to mankind. However, today the emphasis is on Old Testament laws and Paul's admonishments
|Goals: Total surrender, submission, obedience, worship of Allah by accepting Allah's Will over ones own.
Methods: Following the five pillars of Islam (see above).
- Dharma - Performance of duty and fulfilling obligations per ones station in life
- Artha - Persuit of prosperity or worldly success
- Kama - Persuit of pleasure or material/sensual desires
- Moksha - Persuit of Enlightenment - liberation from rebirth, self-realization, union with God
- Karma Yoga - the path of action or selfless service
- Bhakti Yoga - the path of devotion
- Jnana Yoga - the path of knowledge (about the self or God)
- Raja Yoga - the path of meditation/contemplation
Goal: The purpose all life is Evolution. The "progressive unfoldment of consciousness by evolutionary development, the attainment of self-consciousness, and self-determinism through will, the multiplication of such self-conscious entities and their gradual perfecting, is what we can call the Plan, for our Earth". Hence, each of us living play a part in this Plan of Evolution.|
|Life After Death
So Catholic hells are full of unrepentant male masturbators, female contraceptive users, adulterers, divorced people who marry outside the church or those who don't believe in Jesus (unless they have not heard of him). The rest are murderers, thieves etc, but all are there for eternity with no chance of release.
- If you have not repented all your mortal sins and sought absolution before death, you will go straight to eternal hell. (So if you get hit by a bus while running away after shop-lifting, you are doomed).
Examples of mortal sins which deserve eternal punishment in hell (other than obvious ones): using contraceptives, masturbation, extra-marital sex, gay sex etc.
- Those who have repented their mortal sins go to purgatory for a while to be purified/cleansed
- After purgatory, you go to eternal heaven where time does not exist
- At the end of the world, you will be joined by your resurrected 'glorified physical' body!
After death, the soul separates from the body (in case of Muslims the soul is taken out with ease and is then taken with respect by the Angels of Mercy, in case of Kafirs with great pain by Angels of Punishment) and then the soul remains in 'Barzakh', a sort of waiting place, till the Day of Judgment. On the day of Judgment, you are sent to heaven or hell according to your deeds. Islam is kinder than Christianity, there are no deeds which automatically send you to hell (although being a Kafir may qualify). However, there is some confusion, maybe the judgment of heaven or hell as destination, happens right after burial and you don't have to wait for the Day of Judgment?
Heaven in Islam is a place of worldly pleasures, such as living in palaces, drinking wine, eating delicious food and having sex, but apparently that is only metaphorical.
This cycle continues until you become enlightened i.e. achieve moksha or liberation
- After death you may go to hell to pay for your misdeeds on earth for a temporary period (proportional to your deeds)
- Then to heaven for a while as a reward for your good deeds
- Then you reincarnate again on earth (so there is no eternal hell or eternal heaven).
- A person does not remember his previous lives, but the soul remembers and learns/grows from each life
- The circumstances of your birth are determined by your karma
This cycle continues until you achieve relative perfection and become a Master. See Heaven, Hell and the AfterLife. After that you do not need to reincarnate on Earth, but your spiritual development continues in other places or planes.
- After death, you first go the Astral planes for a short while (Kamaloka/Purgatory). The plane on which you arrive depends on your current spiritual development - evil people will be on the lowest plane, more developed humans will be at a higher plane.
- Then to the Mental planes for a extended period(Devachan/Heaven) - some extremely evil humans will not make it to here at all.
- After that some highly developed humans among you may go to the Soul planes for a short time.
- Then you reincarnate again on earth (so there is no eternal hell or eternal heaven)
- The circumstances of your birth are determined by your karma, your state of spiritual development and your life plan
|Schools of Philosophy
Thomism, Calvinism, Molinism, Arminianism - TBD.
Islamism, Salafism, Wahhabism
||Also known as Darshanas - Points of View
- Samkhya, almost atheistic and dualist, divides the existense into two Purusha and Prakriti - consciousness and matter.
- Yoga, a school emphasising meditation, contemplation and liberation.
- Nyaya or logic, explores sources of knowledge. Nyaya Sutras.
- Vaisheshika, an empiricist school of atomism
- Mimasa, an anti-ascetic and anti-mysticist school of conduct/right action or dharma
- Vedanta, the final section in the Vedas. Considered by many the most important - students of the Upanishads and the Gita.
Actually Jesus has described the process of Judgement Day quite well in Matthew 25, but many Christian would rather read about it in the Revelations or Daniels nightmares.
- The Rise of the Anti-Christ and his deception
- At the end of the world (which is same as the end of the Universe), Jesus will come again in power and glory--the Parousia.
- At this time the bodies of all the dead will be resurrected!
- Those still living will be taken up into the air to meet Jesus. General judgment of all people will then be made!
- The blessed will possess heaven for all eternity; the damned will suffer hell for all eternity.
Muslim eschatology is very similar to the Christian one, except that there is also the Return of the Imam Mahdi. Muslims expect (with some variations) the following events to occur:
- Return of the Imam Mahdi
- The false messiah, Masih ad-Dajjal appears to deceive humanity.
- Medina will be deserted, with true believers going to follow Mahdi and sinners following Dajjal
- The return of Isa (Jesus) to kill Dajjal and wipe out all falsehood and religions other than Islam.
- Ya'jooj and Ma'jooj (Gog/Magog, two tribes of vicious beings will break out, but will be destroyed by the intervention of Isa and Imam Al-Mahdi.
- Mecca will be attacked and the Kaaba will be destroyed
- The first trumpet blow will be sounded by Israfil, and all that is in heavens and earth will be stunned and die except what God wills.
- The second trumpet blow will be sounded, the dead will be resurrected from their graves and a fire will start that shall gather all to Mahshar Al Qiy'amah - the Day of Judgment and Resurrection - this also the end of the world/universe.
|The Universe is continuously going through a process of Creation, Destruction and Rebirth. A specific Universe lasts as long as the Life of its Brahma (equivalent to about 311.04 trillion years). During this period, the Universe goes through multiple deaths and rebirths that correspond to the days in Brahmas life - the dead period being during the night of Brahma's full day(a Brahma day is about 4.32 billion human years). So the universe is not about to end anytime soon - probably has many millions of years to go. However, that does not mean the Earth will last as long - but there is no prediction as to how long.
The earth itself goes through ages that repeat cyclically. There are four yugas or ages:
One Mahayuga = 4800*360 Satya yuga, 3600*360 Treta yuga, 2400*360 Dwapara yuga, 1200*360 Kali yuga - 4,320,000 years.
- Satya Yuga - the Age of Truth and perfect morality
- Treta Yuga - three fourth perfect
- Dwapara Yuga - half perfect
- Kali Yuga - our own age of imperfection.
Kali yuga probably started - 3102 BCE. At the end of this current age, the next Avatar Kalki will appear to destroy evil and save the righteous.
The cycles of the Universe are described as similar to Hindu beliefs - so no end of the world is anticipated any time soon. However, Theosophist do expect a World Teacher to come (Return) to the world some time in the future or near future:
- Blavatsky - She proclaimed that "the coming of Christ," means the presence of CHRISTOS in a regenerated world, and not at all the actual coming in body of "Christ" Jesus
- Leadbeater/Besant - The two expected a advanced human being would be over-shadowed by Maitreya the Christ. They chose Jiddu Krishnamurti as the vehicle for the Christ, but this experiment was unsuccessful.
- Alice Bailey/Arcane School - She predicted that the Christ Maitreya would indeed return in the flesh as a person - her group (Lucis Trust) currently expects the event to occur around 2025.
- Benjamin Creme/Share International - They claim that the reappearance of the World Teacher has already occurred. That the Christ has already returned to the world and is only waiting to declare himself openly when the world is ready to accept him. They expect this event to happen in the next 2 or 3 years.
|Egalitarianism, Racism, Casteism, Sexism
||Christianity as preached by Jesus is a truly egalitarian religion which makes no distinction between human beings on the basis of religion, race, skin color, gender or material wealth - in fact according to Jesus, the poor and wretched are especially blessed.
However, once Paul gets into the act, he makes it clear that women are definitely not equal to men and should be submissive, subservient and obedient to their husbands.
The Church, of course, finds it easier to follow Paul rather than Jesus and denies women the same rights as men to become priests and conduct mass etc.
The Church also states that non-Christians are condemned to eternal hell except if they are 'invincibly ignorant' of Jesus and Gospel
Most Christians also still believe that Jews are a 'Chosen' people - clearly a racist dogma
For a religion that believes in equality among men, the Church tolerated slavery for quite a long time before unequivocally rejecting it in the 20th century.
Islam also claims to be an egalitarian religion - all men are equal. except that Arabs are more equal than all others. According to many hadiths, 'Allah has chosen the Arabs over other nations' - very much like the Jewish claim of being 'chosen'. Even among Arabs, certain tribes are claimed to be superior to others. Many Hadiths speak disparagingly of people of color (mainly blacks).
Women are clearly considered inferior to men in Islam (a position which goes far beyond the patriarchal attitudes of other religions). In my opinion, Muhammad had serious doubts whether women had a soul or not. In laws and rights women are treated as inferior and unequal to men - somewhat like their property. The Koran when it describes life after death in heaven, only mentions the presence of men from earth. The women in heaven are apparently virgins from somewhere else, their main purpose being to serve the men.
However, Islamic treatment of women was far better than what existed at the time of Muhammad who improved their lot considerably.
Just like Christianity, Islam claims that non-Muslims are doomed to eternal hell after death.
Slavery appears to be sanctioned by the religion and is still practiced in certain Muslim countries to this day.
|Hinduism does not claim to be egalitarian at all. It divides society into four levels or castes in the following order:
The first three castes were the 'twice-born' whose sons where eligible for the sacred thread and some form of education.
The Kshatriyas often claim that they are the highest caste while sometimes Brahmins claim superiority (when they feel it is safe to do so, because Kshtriyas are usually more powerful and richer).
- Kshatriyas - rulers and warriors (these are not foot soldiers, this is the aristocracy)
- Brahmins - priests and teachers
- Vaishyas - merchants, trades people, artists, craftsmen, doctors, engineers
- Shudras - unskilled laborers and field workers
The fifth group are the outcastes, the untouchables who are the lowest of all. They do the dirtiest of jobs (like working with leather or corpses or cleaning toilets or sewers).
This division of society appears to be based on profession, and a person's caste is passed from father to son with inter-marriage between unequal castes strictly forbidden.
The caste system has been the cause of much suffering and oppression, with lower caste people, especially the untouchables, subjected to unspeakably horrendous atrocities.
There is a belief that in ancients days the caste system was not hereditary but was based on merit and that it was possible to escape the caste situation you were born into, but in due course of time, this stratification of society became rigid and impossible to change. The caste system is officially banned in India since independence, but it has become so entrenched in the society that even Budddhist and Christians in India maintain their caste from generation to generation.
There are multiple theories about how the caste system came into being. I have my own theory based on the teachings of Theosophy regarding the Seven Rays and the Ray Structure of a human being (see the next column).
As in any patriarchal society, in Hinduism, women are often treated as inferior and subservient to their husbands and male relatives. In extreme cases, they were once even expected to throw themselves willingly on a husband's funeral pyre. However, according to Hindu beliefs, a woman may return as a man in the next life (and a man may return as a woman) according to their karma from past lives.
Slavery as an institution was unheard of in India before the invasion of the Muslims, since the concept of ownership of another human being or being able to buy/sell another human was not acceptable. However, indentured servants or bonded-labor have always existed in India and is a wide-spread problem even today with the world's largest population of such indentured workers (including many children).
Hindus do not believe that salvation (or mokhsha) depends on your religion or whom you worship or your specific belief system. Anyone can attain enlightenment or moksha, including non-believers like atheists or communists.
Theosophy teaches the absolute equality of all human beings regardless of their religion, race, color or gender. In fact, the founder of the Theosophical Society, Blavatsky and several of those who followed were women.
One of the revelations given to men through Bailey as well as Leadbeater was the knowledge of the Seven Rays and the Ray Structure of a human being. This theory of the Ray Structure has been expanded further by Benjamin Creme, with information from his Master that each of the bodies of a human has its own Ray Structure, although the Rays of the Soul of the human are the most important.
According to this theory, there are three major Rays of Aspect and four Rays of Attribute making seven in all. Each human has for his Soul a dominant Ray which determines the nature and temperament of the human through out his many incarnations on Earth as well as his life beyond Earth.
The Seven Rays are:
- Ray 1 - Will and Power
- Ray 2 - Love and Wisdom
- Ray 3 - Active, Creative Intelligence
- Ray 4 - Harmony through Conflict, or Beauty, or Art
- Ray 5 - Concrete Science or Knowledge
- Ray 6 - Abstract Idealism or Devotion
- Ray 7 - Ceremonial Order or Magic or Ritual or Organization
A person's Ray Structure does not make him superior or inferior to anyone else, but it may determine the direction of his life.
In addition to the Ray Structure of the Soul and the various other bodies, the human also has his level of spiritual development that can be measured by the number of Planetary Initiations he has received.
So although all humans have equal rights, they are all intrinsically different depending on their Ray Structure as well as their level of development.
In due course of time, these two aspects of a human being will be taken into account in designing a educational, vocational and development life plan for each person.
- Advent - Preparation for Christmas and perhaps the Return of the Christ
- Christmas - Celebration of the birth of Jesus
- Lent - 40-day preparation for Easter
- Easter - Celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus
- Ascension - 40 days after Easter, celebration of Ascension of Jesus
- Pentecost - 10 days after Ascension, descent of the Holy Spirit on the followers of Jesus
- Muharram - Islamic New Year
- Mawlid an-Nabī - Birthday of Prophet Muhammad
- Birthday of Alī
- Laylat al-Miraj - Commemorates the Prophets journey and ascent to heaven
- First day of Ramadan - holy month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet
- Eid al-Fitr - Breaking the Fast Feast after Ramadan
- Eid al-Adha - Festival of the Sacrifice - commemorates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son.
Hindu festivals are too numerous to list all and each region may have its own special ones. The ones below are those celebrated by most Hindus. Diwali or Deepavali - 'the festival of lights' is the most important.
- Makar Sakranti - end of winter, harvest festival, start of annual auspicious period
- Maha Shivratri - Night of Shiva - celebrated with fasting and austerity
- Holi - Spring festival
- Ram Navami - Birth of Rama
- Gudi Padwa/Ugadi - New Year
- Hanuman Jayanti - Birth of Hanuman
- Guru Purnima - Full moon dedicated to the Guru
- Raksha Bandhan - A sister's bond with her brother
- Krishna Janmaashtami - Birth of Krishna
- Ganesh Chaturthi - Day dedicated to Ganesha
- Navarathri - Nine nights of the worship of the three Goddesses
- Vijayadashami/Dashahara - Celebration of victory of good over evil - the Goddess slaying the demonic forces
- Deepavali - the festival of lights celebrating multiple events - Rama's return from exile, Krishna's slaying of the demon Narakasur
- Dhanteras - worship of means of earning a living/tools of the trade/wealth
- Narak Chaturdashi - Celebration of the slaying of demon, Narakasur
- Laxmi Puja - worship of Laxmi
- Varshapratipada/ Pratipad Padwa - Start of financial year, Celebration of the bond between husband and wife
- Bhai dooj - Celebration of the bond between brother between sister
The Three Full Moon Festivals (these will soon be recognized and celebrated the world over)
- The Festival of Easter - the Aries full moon. This is the Festival of the risen, living Christ, the Teacher of all men and the Head of the Spiritual Hierarchy. The Christ is the expression of the love of God.
- The Wesak Festival - the Taurus full moon. This is the Festival of the Buddha, the spiritual Intermediary between the highest spiritual center, Shamballa, and the Hierarchy. The Buddha is the expression of the wisdom of God, the Embodiment of Light and the Indicator of the divine purpose.
- World Invocation Day or the Festival of Humanity or the Christ Festival - the Gemini full moon. This will be the Festival of the spirit of humanity aspiring towards God, seeking conformity with the will of God and dedicated to the expression of right human relations.
There are several theological questions about life on earth that still have not been answered satisfactorily. The followers of most religions often try to answer them with a lot of hand waving or obfuscation, still claiming that their own religion is the final revelation and there is no more truth to be discovered. Here are some of the questions and how each religion tries to answer them.
|Why did God create the world? An infinite, all-powerful God complete within himself, should not need to create anything.
||'The world was made for the glory of God. ...he creates the world in order to manifest his perfection through the benefits which he bestows on creatures.' (It sure sounds like he is not complete without the act of creation.)
||'the act of creation is a consequence of the divine attribute of being the Creator' (Sounds circular). 'He created us for the purpose of worshiping Him, Alone and without any partners.' (Sounds needy) 'He created us in order to test us by giving us free will'. (Silly reason)
||Creation is God's 'leela' (divine play). He creates and destroys endlessly as a form of play (not as a form of amusement, but as something interesting to engage in). Whether this is true or not, it is a direct answer and fits quite well with an almighty God complete in himself - thus, Creation is not out of need or for a specific purpose but as a form of play.
||There is not a separate Creator and a Creation. The Universe is just part of the nature of God and emanates from Him in periodic cycles of creation and destruction. So it always exists as part of his substance. There is no act of Creation at all.
|Why are some people born with disabilities?
||'happened so that the works of God might be displayed in his life'(huh? Not ok!). 'because we live in a sinful world' 'because Adam disobeyed God' (pretty lame and unacceptable reasons)
||'All thanks and praise are due to Allah and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger. This is the nature of life, according to the great Divine Wisdom of Allah. ...tribulations and afflictions are a test from Almighty Allah'
||This is because of the person's karma - a result of his own actions in his past life. Whether true or not, this is a direct, logical answer which fits with the concept of a just God.
||This is a result of the person's karma from past lives. It may also be the case that the person may have voluntarily chosen before birth, to have this disability in order to fulfill some mission in this life.
|Why are some people born in poverty while others in wealth?
||'there is inequality in this world because it is a broken world, caused by humanity’s rebellion against God’s rule' 'Humanity is fallen and sinful' 'It is all Adam's fault' (basically, they are saying that God is definitely not just or even-handed and we are all already guilty, but apparently some more than others)
||Allah does this out of knowledge and wisdom ...there is absolutely perfect wisdom in Him doing so;... poverty may be for some people better than richness, and richness is better for some others...it is all a test..
||Same as above
||Same as above
|What happens to children who die in infancy or at birth?
||If they have been baptized they go to heaven. If not, we don't really know. We used to think they went into 'limbo' but now we prefer to say we don't know and leave it to the infinite mercy of God.(If they have been baptized, they are the luckiest people in the world. If not baptized, it all depends on 'infinite' mercy which possibly may not be sufficient)
||They go to heaven immediately (so luckiest people in the world)
||They will be reborn again as a different person.
||They will be reborn soon as a different person.
|Mr. Zakir Naik
||A webpage on comparative religion does not seem complete without at least a mention of Mr. Naik. Mr. Naik is a fast talking Muslim (Salafist/Wahabi) cleric/doctor from India who has made a name for himself as an "authority on comparative religion". He claims to have studied all religions, memorizing numerous passages from the holy books of each religion (along with their chapter/verse numbers which he likes to quote often) and after comparing the different religions, he has concluded that Islam is the only perfect, complete and true religion. However his understanding of each religion is rather shallow and superficial. He is not a learned or academic scholar and takes every word of each book literally (at least when it suits his purpose), but at other times he reads all sorts of meanings in the holy books that could possibly have foretold the coming of Muhammad. At times he seems quite unable to distinguish myth from history or idiom from metaphor, but then has no difficulty finding the word Muhammad (or its equivalent) in the most obscure passages. In spite of his firm belief that Islam is the truth and nothing but the truth, all that Mr Naik has succeeded in doing is convincing non-muslims that Islam, as viewed by him, still lives in the twelth century if not earlier, still needs to enter the 20th century and become civilized. Here is a very illuminating collection of excerpts from his talks. Some terrorists have said that his talks have inspired them to carry out their actions. The Indian government has accused him of spreading hate towards other religions. (I personally don't think he intended to do either). Canada and the UK refuse to grant him a visa. In spite of all this, many muslims seem to be quite enamored by his lectures since he appears to be able to answer or deflect all questions/criticisms about Islam from non-muslims.