Light has come into the world …
“With the hope that every person transform their darkness into happiness.” (Times of India, 2022)
This is one of the things Hindus may wish each other during the festival of Diwali beginning this month. Millions of Hindu people across the world celebrate during the ten days of the Festival of Lights with candles, fireworks, stories and food. For many, it represents the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness. It grieves me, however, that so many of our Hindu neighbours are still living in darkness.
While attending a Diwali festival a few years ago, I spoke with a Hindu priest and asked him what Diwali meant for him. He related his hope that one day light will defeat the darkness. I then asked if I could share a story about a man who was stuck in darkness but was transformed by God’s light. I told him the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). In reflecting on the forgiveness of the father in this story, he agreed that God forgives. However, he related this to the idea of reincarnation – that even though we are not perfect, God does not reject us. He allows people to be reincarnated to have another chance to improve themselves and get closer to him. So eventually, everyone will be reunited with God.
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Hindus do not have confidence that they will reach union with God in the next or even several lifetimes.
But this is not forgiveness. It is simply patience to allow people more time to work off their bad karma by doing their duty. Sadly, Hindus do not have confidence that they will reach union with God in the next or even several lifetimes. In a recent biography, a Hindu believer recalls his upbringing in a strict Brahmin family (Brahmin Reborn by Bhaskar Sreerangam). From a young age, he was taught to recite the scriptures and perform offerings and rituals every day. His great-uncle was the most devoted worshipper he knew. Yet when nearing the end of his life, his great-uncle told him he was not sure what would happen to him when he died. In fact, he saw a vision of demons telling him he would surely suffer in hell. He went to the grave weeping and in fear of the future. If the most strict devotees have no assurance of salvation, what hope have the rest of us?
As followers of Jesus, we celebrate the coming of the true light, God’s own son Jesus, who transforms our lives once and for all. It is Jesus who has brought the ultimate and lasting victory over evil. He has brought us eternal forgiveness through his perfect life, death and resurrection. But many of our Hindu friends and neighbours do not see Jesus as relevant to their lives, and some may not have even heard of him!
Are you ready to welcome and get to know our new Indian neighbours?
In the coming years, celebrations of Diwali in Australia will become even more significant with the surge of Indian immigration, which has overtaken that of China, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021 Census. Are you ready to welcome and get to know our new Indian neighbours?
Will you pray with us that Hindus here and across the globe will come to know and be transformed by the true Light of the world? We can ask our loving and merciful Father to give them eternal peace, love and light through a relationship with him. Our prayer guide will help you to understand the Hindu worldview, culture and festivals. You can pray as individuals and households, in growth groups and as church families.
Won’t you join us in “15 days of prayer for the Hindu world” (16-30 October)? To order your prayer guide, click here.
Clive is Assistant Minister at Merrylands Anglican Church in Sydney.