With the passing of the centuries in India, the populace returned in measure to the ancient rituals of the Vedas as they had been modified by the teachings of the Melchizedek missionaries and crystallized by the later Brahman priesthood. This, the oldest and most cosmopolitan of the world’s religions, has undergone further changes in response to Buddhism and Jainism and to the later appearing influences of Mohammedanism and Christianity. But by the time the teachings of Jesus arrived, they had already become so Occidentalized as to be a “white man’s religion,” hence strange and foreign to the Hindu mind.
Hindu theology, at present, depicts four descending levels of deity and divinity:
1. The Brahman, the Absolute, the Infinite One, the IT IS.
2. The Trimurti, the supreme trinity of Hinduism. In this association Brahma, the first member, is conceived as being self-created out of the Brahman—infinity. Were it not for close identification with the pantheistic Infinite One, Brahma could constitute the foundation for a concept of the Universal Father. Brahma is also identified with fate.
The worship of the second and third members, Siva and Vishnu, arose in the first millennium after Christ. Siva is lord of life and death, god of fertility, and master of destruction. Vishnu is extremely popular due to the belief that he periodically incarnates in human form. In this way, Vishnu becomes real and living in the imaginations of the Indians. Siva and Vishnu are each regarded by some as supreme over all.
3. Vedic and post-Vedic deities. Many of the ancient gods of the Aryans, such as Agni, Indra, and Soma, have persisted as secondary to the three members of the Trimurti. Numerous additional gods have arisen since the early days of Vedic India, and these have also been incorporated into the Hindu pantheon.
4. The demigods: supermen, semigods, heroes, demons, ghosts, evil spirits, sprites, monsters, goblins, and saints of the later-day cults.
While Hinduism has long failed to vivify the Indian people, at the same time it has usually been a tolerant religion. Its great strength lies in the fact that it has proved to be the most adaptive, amorphic religion to appear on Urantia. It is capable of almost unlimited change and possesses an unusual range of flexible adjustment from the high and semimonotheistic speculations of the intellectual Brahman to the arrant fetishism and primitive cult practices of the debased and depressed classes of ignorant believers.
Hinduism has survived because it is essentially an integral part of the basic social fabric of India. It has no great hierarchy which can be disturbed or destroyed; it is interwoven into the life pattern of the people. It has an adaptability to changing conditions that excels all other cults, and it displays a tolerant attitude of adoption toward many other religions, Gautama Buddha and even Christ himself being claimed as incarnations of Vishnu.
Today, in India, the great need is for the portrayal of the Jesusonian gospel—the Fatherhood of God and the sonship and consequent brotherhood of all men, which is personally realized in loving ministry and social service. In India the philosophical framework is existent, the cult structure is present; all that is needed is the vitalizing spark of the dynamic love portrayed in the original gospel of the Son of Man, divested of the Occidental dogmas and doctrines which have tended to make Michael’s life bestowal a white man’s religion.