Religious Beliefs

Do Hindus believe in the concept of salvation?

Most Hindus prefer the way of devotion because it is so concrete and personal. Bhakti offers the assurance of divine aid in all of life’s difficulties, as well as cause for rejoicing in better times. Seekers who choose any of the classical spiritual paths are aware that human beings are ever in need of help from sources beyond themselves. But the notion of salvation assisted by divine grace is especially strong in popular theistic or devotional Hinduism. Even in the denominations that teach a modified form of predestination, such as those of Madhva and Vallabha, grace is a central feature of bhakti. Since the human soul is, so to speak, naturally divine, grace is the power that refreshes and renews the soul in its original state. Hindus, like members of various other major traditions, have held differing views as to how divine grace works. A particularly vivid pair of images characterizes one view as that of the “Cat School,” another that of the “Monkey School.” According to the Cat School, divine grace is all sufficient and does not depend at all on human action. Mother cats carry their kittens around by picking them up with their teeth. According to the Monkey School, human beings must cooperate in the saving action of divine grace. Mother monkeys rescue their babies from danger, but the baby first climbs aboard and holds tight. The two schools therefore represent different views as to the relationship between divine power and human action.


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