Hinduism is one of the oldest living religions of the world, whose teachings have inspired a great civilisation. It is part of our common human heritage and as such should be studied and appreciated by all. Many Hindus have embraced the Bahá’í Faith, recognising it as the revelation from God for this day, and as such, the fulfilment of their own spiritual heritage.
Many of Hinduism’s sacred writings attest to the unity of God and to the inability of human perception or language to fully comprehend or describe God. "The Spirit Supreme is immeasurable, inapprehensible, beyond conception, never-born, beyond reasoning, beyond thought. His vastness is the vastness of space" (Maitri Upanishad 6.17). Similarly, the Bahá’í Faith teaches that the divine Ultimate Reality, the Creator, is both singular and unknowable in essence. "Exalted, immeasurably exalted, art Thou above the strivings of mortal man to unravel Thy mystery, to describe Thy Glory, or even to hint at the nature of Thine Essence".
At the same time, Hinduism has taught that knowledge of God (or Brahman) may come through knowledge of the inner reality of man (the atman, self or soul). Likewise, the Bahá’í writings say: "Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting."
The Hindu concept of avatar or the "descent" of God in human form, articulated most elaborately in Vaishnavite theology, expresses the idea of divine intervention in human history, an intervention whose purpose is to restore order, truth and righteous behaviour (dharma). As Krishna, the manifestation of Vishnu, says in the text, the Bhagavad Gita (4.7-8): "Whenever there is a decline of dharma (righteousness or religion) and a rise of adharma (unrighteousness), O Bharata, then I send forth Myself. For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked and for the establishment of righteousness, I come into being from age to age." Hindu literature looks towards the return of an avatar of God called Kalki. Bahá’ís believe that Bahá’u’lláh is that return, come to humanity to restore dharma and to unify humankind as one family.
Bahá’u’lláh has brought a new dharma, a new set of duties, for this age. The hallmark of this dharma is the recognition of the unity of humankind. “O Children of Men!" Bahá’u’lláh wrote, "Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is my counsel to you, O concourse of light! ”
The teachings of Bahá’u’lláh cover all aspects of personal, community and institutional development and organisation. They are designed to bring together the peoples of the world in unity, and to create a civilisation based on peace, justice and prosperity.
In each Bahá’í temple or House of Worship, people of all faiths are free to enter to pray or meditate. The lotus-shaped Bahá’í House of Worship in New Delhi, India, is a visible symbol of Bahá’u’lláh’s proclamation that we are all "the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch" created by the one God.
Published by the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Warwick. Approved by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom, 27 Rutland Gate, LONDON SW7 1PD (0207 584 2566). All quotations are from the Bahá'í writings unless otherwise stated. International website: www.bahai.org