Buddhism in India today

(Burnell Wenger) #1

In my history textbook, the publisher states that "today, Buddhism has largely died out in India. " Can you confirm the accuacy of that statement?

(Matt Western) #2

Hi @bjwenger,
Ravi Zacharius speaks on Buddhism, Hinduism and Eastern thought in lecture 9.2 of the Core module series. The course is well worth doing if you haven’t already - I’d recommend it to anybody, and you get access to the videos to watch again after which is very helpful.

A quick google search will suggest there are 470 million followers of Buddhism worldwide - a huge mission field to share about the love of Jesus Christ. Certainly not dying out i think. :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

You may be interested to know that in Adelaide where I’m from, there is a huge statue of Buddha that is less than 5 years old.

All the best as you learn about Buddhism - which textbook are you referring to in your original post?
kind regards

(Burnell Wenger) #3

The textbook is Understanding the Old World published by Rod & Staff Publishers in 2002 (ISBN 978-07399-0686-6). Misinformation I suppose.

(Kathleen) #4

Could be misinformation…or it could just be outdated information? I was hoping some of our folks in India could give a better perspective, as, beyond a Google search, I do not know how accurate that statement is.

Though, I suppose it depends on what the authors mean by ‘dying out’. It could very well be true. According to this information from 2011, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, and Sikhism make up almost 98% of the population. Buddhism comes in at a paltry .8%, so, depending on where it was in 2002, that statement could be true. :slight_smile:

(Matt Western) #5

thanks @KMac, a much better answer. I mis-read the original question, apologies. :slight_smile:

(Burnell Wenger) #6

I’ll be headed into prison again shortly, and one of the statements that I hear often is that inmates are “researching all the different religions to choose which seems best to me.” How would you recommend countering that type of thinking?

(Burnell Wenger) #7

Sorry, that sounded a little ambiguous; I’ll be participating in the Light of Hope prison crusade.

(Matt Western) #8

Hi @bjwenger
that’s awesome, and sounds like an excellent opportunity to share with others - thanks for clarifying. Do you have any reading or outreach material that you’ll be leaving with the inmates after you share with them?

Your question is a good question: How do we know that Christianity is true? Ravi Zacharius puts forward 4 questions that a person needs to consider as their worldview (belief system), and this helps to open up the conversation. Asking questions is the best way to talk to people so you learn more about them. Don’t try and do all the questions at once, maybe pick one area, and ask questions to learn more about a person. The 4 questions are:
How do you think the universe came into existence?
How do you think human life began?

What is the purpose of human life?

How do you determine good and bad?

What will happen at the end (at death)?

In prison, an inmate is there for breaking the law, so your starting point might be the ‘Morality’ question above. You could ask questions relating to laws, ask them why we all have a sense of right and wrong inbuilt into us (our conscience) and where that comes from, and ask them why we all want justice.

and if wanted to read up more, an atheist needs to answer the question: Can there be a ‘moral law’ without a law giver?

If an inmate already acknowledges that God exists, then you might be able to move to sharing the Gospel, and the fact that Jesus is God, who lived a perfect life, and died in our place, and rose again to prove his claims to be God. You might discuss paying for a crime and the fact that we are all sinners before God and have rebelled and that Jesus paid for our crimes, and the good news is that we can accept that by faith. Just share some verses like the Romans Road if there is the opportunity (and keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is the one that convicts of sin, we are just the messengers).

If an inmate is ‘shopping around’ for a religion that suites them, you might ask if they believe in one God (Christianity or Muslim worldview), or many gods (Buddhism, Hinduism) or similar, then you might like to talk about truth. Obviously Christianity and atheism can’t both be true at once. There is the idea of a ‘truth claim’, where when Jesus said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me’ He is making a claim, that excludes all other religions. The notion that there are many ways to God is false.
Ravi Zacharius talks about this here:

Also, don’t be afraid of saying ‘I don’t know sorry’ because it shows you are humble and learning too (like all of us!!), but if you are able you might come back in a followup visit or be able to send something in the post via your team leader or similar?

anyway, be encouraged in your outreach ministry, it sounds like a really exciting opportunity to share your faith and make your own faith stronger. Will be thinking of you and praying…
if my post is not helpful, or you want more information, please ask, there a lot of other people on here with much more experience, knowledge and discernment than me to answer any questions you might have. :slight_smile: :slight_smile:
kind regards and have a great day ahead

(Burnell Wenger) #9

We do have a few resources to hand out to inmates, albeit very limited (all materials must be screened and authorized by PA DOC). I am somewhat familiar with the “four questions.” Having been raised in a conservative Mennonite culture, I sometimes feel somewhat intimidated by a lack of knowledge of the particulars of the religions they are discussing. I appreciate your input, and I will research the links you provided.

(Matt Western) #10

ok cool, thanks for sharing further. Yes I’ve grown up in Baptist circles which are quite conservative as well, and really only been looking at apologetics the last couple of years as I wanted to learn more about how to share Christ with the mostly secular atheists in Australia. It’s been an interesting journey, and a real challenge to my own faith as well. When I listen to someone like Ravi Zacharius speak, or read books by someone like John Lennox I also feel way out of my depth a lot of the time.

I love the verses in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 that says God will destroy the wisdom of this world, and use the weak things of the world to spread the Gospel, so that God is glorified. It’s encouraging to me to know that I can make a difference in some other individual’s life and share more of the Gospel. I might not see fruit right away, or I might not see any fruit at all of my efforts, but can rest in the fact that it’s God that gives the increase. 1 Corinthians 3:6-8

Ravi and other RZIM speakers has spoken on relative or absolute truth available on youtube, and a video that might be related to your question is this one “How do we know that Christianity is true?”

A further resource directly related to your question is book by Ravi Zacharius: ‘Jesus among other gods’. It’s a heavy read, and it took me about 4 months to get through it. I had to do one chapter then put it down and ponder what he had said for a while. He compares Jesus Christ to other world religions. It’s very good.

The next one on my reading list is a followup book by Ravi Zacharius and Vince Vitalie : Jesus among secular gods. I’m having rest from reading heavy books for the moment and just enjoying Scripture. You might eventually consider the intro course as well as it’s a great starting point for further reflection and further founding of ones own faith.

another resource that you might is theBibleProject.com, which has videos about each of the books of the Bible and also great theme videos…

again, I’m sincerely sorry if I did not communicate clearly in previous posts.
kind regards

(Lakshmi Mehta) #11

@KMac, that diagram does seem to depict a realistic representation of the different religions and matches my experience growing up in India. Buddhism is practiced in the neighboring countries of Nepal and Sri Lanka but we see a minimal presence in India. It’s fall in India is attributed to Muslim invasions and the adoption of Buddha into the pantheon of Hindu gods.