The numerically largest Bahá’í community in the world resides in India, and most of those Bahá’ís come from a Hindu background. Bahá’ís readily acknowledge Hinduism as one of the great religions, and identify Krishna as one of the “Manifestations of God”. Yet, generally speaking, Bahá’ís outside of India know little about this religion, and very little about Krishna. They are not alone. Most non-Hindus may be able to evoke a few common perceptions, such as: Hindus believe in many gods; cows are sacred for Hindus; and they believe in reincarnation and are vegetarians, right? Yet, otherwise, they have little knowledge of this religion.
This talk aims to “decode” elements of what constitutes “Hinduism,” an ancient and vastly complex religion, to address these perceptions and to examine points of convergence and divergence between Hinduism and the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith. More specifically, I will examine the following questions:
- What do Bahá’í authoritative texts say about Hinduism and Krishna?
- Who was Krishna and how is He understood in the history of Hinduism?
- What are some of the areas of doctrinal difference and convergence between Hinduism and the Bahá’í Faith?
- What are the basics of Hindu ethics and practice, including ritual and worship, and what might be some fruitful points of interfaith discussion from a Bahá’í perspective?
The talk will end with an overview of the history of the Bahá’í Faith in South Asia, including the Bahá’í House of Worship in New Delhi, now one of the most visited sites in India.