While deep breathing and meditation sure seem like a good idea. There are people of other faiths who have issues or at least questions regarding yoga’s origins in Hinduism. So what exactly is Hinduism? Hinduism is the dominant culture of India which is descended from the ancient tradition of the Brahmins, the people of God. Arguably the most varied of the world religions its common aspects consist of shared beliefs in Dharma which encompasses duty, nature, social, welfare, ethics, health, and transcendental realization. The experiences of Hindu spirituality range from extreme asceticism to extreme sensuality. From the heights of personal devotion to a deity to the heights of abstract philosophy; from metaphysical proclamations of the Oneness behind the material world to worship of images representing a multiplicity of deities. The great spectrum of belief is due to the age of this tradition. In fact it is so varied that scholars argue that there is no central tradition called Hinduism proper. There is a strong belief in karma, the universal law of cause and effect, which governs actions toward others with the reciprocity that your own self will be effected. As far as metaphysics are concerned while there are by some accounts millions of deities there is a resounding belief that all of these representations are the one God appearing as the many. This one God, Brahman, corresponds to a structure of: the Creator (Brahma), the Preserver (Vishnu), and the destroyer, (Shiva). All aspects of the Godhead are at work keeping the world in balance. Krishna is the eighth incarnation of Vishnu the Preserver who is said to incarnate physically on Earth as a man to help people more fully understand God and our purpose here. This multitude of traditions advocates that spiritual living is the way to God by leading a life of compassion, peace, and devotion. My knowledge of Hinduism is that it is a very humanity-oriented religion. That is a religion which is very much oriented toward service to others, love for humanity, of harmony between human beings — harmony between all races and all religions. I had the opportunity to travel to India in the year 2000 and spend some time with many obviously who are from the Hindu faith. What I found is that they were very amenable to the fact that I worship God the One True God. I find my hope in Jesus Christ. They acknowledge Jesus Christ. The aversion would be that they had many gods and mine was just one. Obviously where we drew the line and we did not agree is they would say that’s just one of many gods and so we weren’t going to agree that those were the same. It doesn’t mean like the bumper sticker says that we cannot coexist and be cordial and live in the same neighborhood. But it is also actually intellectually lazy to assume that I believe the same thing. I’ve been to India and that’s one thing I really noticed that, they have respect and love for your version of God. Maybe not their version. Maybe they’re worshiping Vishnu or Lord Shiva or Ganesh or whatever, but Jesus? Wonderful. Baba Hariharananda used to say, “Religions are many, God is One. So you have this name, you have this name, it’s all God. It’s really interesting that you ask the question that way “what are my views on yoga and Hinduism?” Because the connection that you’re making between the physical and the religious is exactly the problem with it. Hinduism is a pretty eclectic religious system that has been very adaptive in incorporating different religious views and spiritualities. I’m not even sure that you can clearly define it. There are Hindus that are at odds with each other over what they believe. So well I guess being fair there are Christians that are at odds with each other over what they believe. There is One Divine Being who becomes the many individual gods they are the One’s Faces. And so they’re supposed to be some kind of built-in harmony among the various divine forms in that they’re all animated by the One. The scholar Max Mueller in Germany coined the term “henotheism”, something in between monotheism and polytheism. God is undescribable. It is very hard to categorize God as this or that. But the simplest way to describe God is that He is omnipresent. He is present within us, He is present all around us and everywhere. There is no place anywhere that God isn’t. Hinduism is God, you are God. And as you being God, then God is in everything. There’s never sort of straight out pantheism where the Divine Being Brahman is just the same as the universe. There is always transcendence. The universe comes out of Brahman so there is a, a philosopher named Charles Hartshorne who coined the term “panentheism” and that little “en” after “pan” gives this sense as Hartshorne of there being a transcendent Being whose body is the universe. But just as we transcend our bodies are able to move them around and so on. So God transcends the universe. If you are following another religion, we serve a jealous god. He’s jealous of somebody who would go astray and who would follow another religion or follow another god. So my advice to them is if you want exercise, why choose yoga? If you don’t have that heartfelt love for Jesus Christ and who he is. And if you don’t appreciate what Jesus Christ has done for you.. are you willing to give something up for him? Are you willing to do something different? There’s nothing wrong with exercise and there’s nothing wrong for a Christian to go out and do yoga. But what’s your purpose? What’s your love and where is your heart? The fear surrounding that might stem from a lack of understanding of the Hindu religion and all of the different faces of God that they recognize. I imagine somebody who is not familiar with Christianity and the symbols that we use that would walk in and see Jesus nailed to a cross and think that that’s really gruesome and terrifying or what is that supposed to symbolize. You know we’re so used to it we don’t see that. Christianity is the largest most popular religion in the world today consisting of nearly two and a half billion followers. It is descended from Judaism of the ancient Israelites in that its central figure, Jesus of Nazareth, considered the Son of God by believers was a practicing Jew in the first century Roman Empire. The faith itself is based on the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The doctrine is fully expressed in the Christian Bible comprised of the Old Testament, of ancient Hebrew origin, and the New Testament, a collection of four Gospels (or “Good News”), a narrative about the apostles after Jesus’s death, several letters by various authors (mostly St. Paul of Tarsus), and a resounding finale in the Book of Revelation, a book of prophecy. While Jesus had many teachings, the primary doctrine of the church is that his death on the cross by the Roman authority signified his paying the price for the sins of the world. While he professes an unbridled love for God and one’s neighbor, the message transcribed by biblical authors highlights our need for salvation and consequently our need for a personal relationship with Christ. Traditionally the Bible has been viewed as the divinely-inspired word of God with certain denominations of believers holding it as completely infallible. Since the eighteenth century however New Testament scholars have embarked on a quest for the historical Jesus to discover more about the man who has had such a massive influence on our contemporary civilization. We are able to trace the theological evolution throughout the ages due to many disparities between gospel accounts, although many maintain that the original message of Christ shines piercingly through. It’s amazing that so many people in the world today view Christ as someone who came just to take stuff away. To make people miserable. To say you can’t do this and can’t do this and can’t do this. That’s the most gross misinterpretation of a man that could ever be given because Jesus came that we could have life — abundant life. We have I think a kind of misunderstanding about the gospels today that they were somehow written for global audiences or much larger audiences in the Mediterranean world, the truth is that all of our research suggests that these gospels were written for very small communities who had very kind of specific needs and the gospels reflect that sort of aim on the part of the writer. Even when we messed up as sinners he said listen I’m going to pay the penalty for your sin. There is no other faith on earth in which God Himself, the central figure of our faith, said I am going to pay the penalty for your sin rather than saying you’re going to have to earn my favor. It really turns religion on its head. We do know from the Synoptic Gospels that the Jesus of Matthew, Mark, and Luke does share qualities of challenging his audience being subversive in the way that he deals with conventions of the times, challenging those conventions, telling stories that require a reconsideration of age-old and sacred religious traditions and codes and regulations and so on. His fundamental mission was to change the notion of God. From the kind of vengeful Jehovah to a God who is ceaselessly compassionate and loving and forgiving.