Christianity and Hinduism are two religions with famous religious figures each championing the causes of their respective religion. Through the course of religious history, however, it is hard to ignore Constantine’s influence and contribution to Christianity and Arjuna’s to Hinduism. Both Constantine and Arjuna lived lives that reflected their faith in their religion and attributed their success to their religion. While seemingly having similarities like God appearing to them in battles, Constantine and Arjuna followed different paths and practiced their religions differently.
The major similarity between Constantine and Arjuna is God appeared to them. They had different God, but Arjuna and Constantine both were in the same situation. They met God before the battle. First, Arjuna was on the battlefield and before the start of a war between his Pandavas clan and the Kauravas clan, which Arjuna’s family and friends. But, Arjuna didn’t want to fight with their family and friends. When Arjuna just decide to killed by them, Krishna came to Arjuna and said “Don’t yield to impotence! It is unnatural for you! Banish this petty weakness from your heart. Rise to the fight, Arjuna!” (Bhagavad-Gita).
On the other hands, Constantine was on Tiber River to battle with Maxentius. Before the battle begins Constantine worry about battle because Maxentius had a strong army. Before the battle with Maxentius, “God appeared to him with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded him to make a likeness of the sign which he had seen in the heaven.”
“he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, CONQUER BY THIS.”
Furthermore, the other difference between God message from Constantine and Arjuna is monotheistic belief and polytheistic belief. Constantine was emperor who outlaws polytheism to create a strong Christianity and close relation between Christianity and his Roman Empire.
Eusebius describes “Constantine abolished the error of polytheism utterly, and discountenanced idolatry in every form” (Eusebius). Constantine was strict about belief in one supreme God. He outlaws pagan symbolism and encourages the Christian to pray on behalf of the empire to their one supreme God. On the other hands, because due to various interpretation for the concept of God, Hinduism is generous about whether it is polytheistic, pantheistic, or monotheistic, etc.
“I am Vishnu striding among sun gods…I am Indra, the king of the Gods…bright gods…storm gods” (Bhagavad-Gita). Krishna teaches to Arjuna there are multiple of gods exist.
In “Bhagavad-Gita,” Arjuna’s duty was to follow dharma, which is a sacred duty. Arjuna wished to avoid a battle with his family and friends, but Arjuna’s Kshatriya was warrior class. Therefore, his duty was to fight in the war. In Bhagavad-Gita, Khritria tells “Look to your own duty; do not tremble before it; nothing is better for a warrior than a battle of sacred duty” (Gita).
Constantine’s duty was to fight with Maxentius with the cross of light in the heaven.
Constantine chose Christianity after he was convinced that his military forces and the idols could not afford him the assistance and protection he required (Ernest, Chapter XXVII). He engaged in prayer and supplications with the aim of receiving a revelation on who God was, and indeed God sent him a marvelous sign in the form of vision (Ernest, Chapter XXVII)
He gave testimony that he saw a cross of light in the heavens at noon, a sign that meant that he was to use a standard made a form of a cross to conquer his enemies in war (Ernest, Chapter XXIV). He engaged his workers into making a representation of the sign he had seen
In conclusion, Constantine and Arjuna showcase their paths to reflect their religion. Both Constantine and Arjuna went to battles; however, each attributed their success to the God of their religion. Constantine used his emperor status to champion Christian beliefs like worshipping one God and going to battle with the Christian Cross. On the other hand, Arjuna believed and championed the worship of many gods, and with by following dharma went to war with his enemies. However different both figures were, they demonstrated the status of the two religions, Christianity and Hinduism, at during their existence and with that, they are remembered to this day.
Miller, Barbara. The Bhagavad-Gita. 1st ed., New York, Random House Publishing Group, 2004,.
“Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life Of Constantine, Oration In Praise Of Constantine – Christian Classics Ethereal Library”. Ccel.Org, 2005, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.i.html.