XVII. Diversity among Religions: Hinduism

Hinduism is another religion which, in its extreme diversity, fails to meet the test of monotheistic criteria of religion that is to be found in various western countries. In its classical form, Hinduism may be represented as a form of non-dualistic pantheism, in which Brahman is the absolute but impersonal godhead, spirit, which is inherent in all being. Brahman is seen as transcending good and evil. He is presented not so much as a creator, as a pervasive force from whom all things emanate and to whom all things return. Not only is he omnipresent in all things but he is all things. The liberated soul becomes one with him and realizes that nothing else exists. However, this form of deity is remote from the conceptions of godhead as found in Christian monotheism. Furthermore, it is found alongside other representations of plural deities, which, changing and transforming themselves from one to another, represent the polytheistic aspects of Hinduism. Given the tolerance within Hinduism for propositions and assertions which, according to western logic, are internally contradictory, it would be impossible to affirm that Hinduism is specifically pantheistic or polytheistic: it is clearly both. In either case, it fails the test of being a monotheistic system which postulates a creator god, a dualistic cosmology, and the need for explicit worship of that god, such as are the preconceptions of what a religion should be like that might be advanced from those familiar only with the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic traditions.

XVIII. Hinduism: The Sankhya School