How is Abrahamanic concept of MONOTHEISM of one GOD different than Dharmic concept of ISHWAR of more accurately BBRAHMAN/VISHNU ?
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Hindus of the “old-school” never cared about any form of “theism” which is an Abrahamic obsession. Theism is not relevant to one’s life, nor is any argument about which type of theism is the correct one - either conclusive or useful.
Theism is just a troublesome label which provides the unenlightened folks with an excuse to argue and fight, unfortunately with tragic consequences as can be witnessed from history.
Abrahamic categories do not apply to the Dharma religions and cannot be used to gain insight into the depth of Indian philosophy.
Hindus from the beginning of time were more interested in the nature of ĀTMAN than theism. “Know thyself — and be Free” was their spiritual quest and their goal.
Hindu sages employed themselves in the pursuit of empirical LIBERATION (mukti) not slavery to a conceptual Theos.
Take for eg - ISLAM
Islam is extreme monotheism on steroids! Obsessed with monotheism in fact. It’s like being focussed on yourself, your own home and family in a world of 7.594 billion people.
Monotheism is a limited view - an ideological construct placed on THAT which is beyond limit, defies conceptualisation and for which there are no words to describe.
Monotheism is a geo-centric world view. And its concept of “formless” is also conditioned to exclude certain names and forms. Whereas the Hindu concept of formless - nirākāra - includes every conceivable form in one total organic whole. The Ever changing, impermanent Universe is comprised of name & form (nāma-rūpa) - so one cannot exclude some names & forms and include others according to one’s whims and fancies and still maintain logical coherence of the proposition.
Hinduism has a pan-en-theistic vision of the vast cosmos of time-space - A vision of the Unified Field of all existence, including the billions of galaxies and their content and encompassing time stretching back 18 billion years and forwards into countless trillions of years – ALL of this is encompassed in the Vedic view of “GOD”.
We and our planet are one single cell in the “body” of God.
What is a scary fact about our universe?
The Veda declares - aṇoraṇiyān mahato-mahīyān - from the smallest particle of matter to the vastness of space - all of this is BRAHMAN inclusive.
There is a beautiful story in the Upanishads which illustrates this profound dictum. A young Vedic graduate named Shwetaketu was grappling with the concept of Brahman and approached his father Uddalaka with his conundrum. Uddalaka instructed him to fetch a fruit of the banyan tree and told him to break it, he then told him to break a seed and asked him what he saw - nothing was the reply. Uddalaka responded that from that singular nothingness (formlessness) emerged this huge banyan tree with all its multiple interconnected parts, forms and names.
He then asked him to bring salt and to place it in a bowl of water. In the morning he requested Shwetaketu to bring him the salt - he obviously could not. Uddalaka then asked him to taste the water from various parts of the bowl - it is salty said the son.
Uddalaka said just like that the formless Brahman cannot be grasped and seen but it can be tasted - through meditative experience.
Banyan tree and its tiny seed.
For Detailed Understanding -
The single most important intersection between religion and science is the issue of TIME-SPACE.
Christianity and Islam, which are the two other major contenders for this award, only make sense in a geocentric universe. This means that the earth is the centre of the universe and the Sun and Moon revolve around the earth and their sole function is to produce illumination for God’s favourite creatures - humans. All theology, divine laws, concepts of sin and salvation are grounded in a geocentric world view.
In a Cosmic “Hubble” world view (from the Hubble telescope) they make no sense whatsoever. So for example - the worst sin in both Christianity and Islam is calling God by the wrong name or failing to attend to his emotional needs for recognition, acknowledgment and constant worship.
Now apply a scientific time-space perspective - the Universe is 14 billion years old (as far as we know - it could be older) - planet earth is a tiny insignificant grain of sand on all the combined beaches of the world. A human life span of 100 years is insignificant, and the entire human species is not even a blip on scale of infinite time-space continuum.
So if there is a creator God who has created this enormous expanding Universe why would he be concerned about the ideas in the minds of paltry humans or what they were doing to pass their time, and who they were worshiping or games they were playing when? That’s like us being emotionally disturbed by the intellectual activities of ants.
The Indian sages (rishis) on the other hand intuited the nature of Time-space and the vastness of the universe and the ephemeral nature of all existence - not only of humans, and the existence of parallel universes and multiverses.
A telling verse is found in the Brihad-aranyaka Upanishad 3:8:11 where the sage Yajñavalkya tells Gargi, a famous female theologian:–
etasmin khalu akṣare gārgi ākāśa otaś ca protaś ca |
By this Imperishable, O Gargi, is space woven like warp and woof.
This is also echoed in the Atharva veda where the rishi proclaims:–
jālam idam sarvam indrasya mahato mahān̍ |
All of this (Universe) is a vast net of Indra!
The net-of Indra has multifaceted gems at each juncture of the net and each facet reflects the entire net.
The climax of the popular sacred text of Hinduism - the Bhagavad Gita is when Krishna displays his Cosmic Form in which Arjuna sees him as pervading the entire universe. With all the galaxies entering into and emerging from him.
In the Puranas we have descriptions of Vishnu lying upon the serpent of infinity (Ananta) - every time he blinks his eyes, an entire universe emerges and dissolves.
So my contention is, of the major world religions, only Hinduism has the cosmic perspective of time-space which can happily co-exist with science without compromising any of its core beliefs. Carl Sagan was very appreciative of The Hindu cosmological perspective.
In Hindu teaching the Absolute Reality is comprehended in 3 levels.
Brahman — which comes from the word “immensity” or “expansiveness” refers to the Totality of Being, the Ground of existence it is the universal “Field” from which everything (matter/space/time) arises. It is energy (shakti) which transmogrifies into everything that exists. IT consists of Being (sat), consciousness (chit) and bliss (ānanda). This doctrine is known as panentheism.
Īśvara— is that same Being thought of in a “personal” form as the projector, conservator and transformer of the entire universe. A Personal God who is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient and omni-benevolent. This is closer to the Abrahamic concept of God.
Hiranyagarbha — is the mass of individual “selves” or ātmans which are sparks of Brahman and are incarnating through the various species on the different planets.
One way of understanding this tripartite view of reality is to think of Brahman as all-pervading water vapour, Iśvara is the cloud, and the rain is the individual selves — all comprise of H2O only. Separate but essentially the same (known technically as visiṣṭhādvaita). In other words Brahman becomes the universe and everything in it.
In the Abrahamic religions God/Allah/Jehovah is always Personal and deeply and passionately concerned with human beings, intervening and manipulating their lives with an ultimate agenda of salvation or eternal damnation (except Judaism which doesn’t teach about hell!)
There are also two perspectives of God in the Abrahamic religions -
There are many internal philosophical contradictions between these two perspectives.
In HINDUISM , God is both Personal n Impersonal
it depends on the perspective.
The devotees (bhaktas) want a personal God upon which to focus their love and devotion.
The philosophers (jñānis) realise that the Totality of Being is far beyond our ability to either conceive or articulate.
The best exposition of the relationship of form vs formless is from the Garuda Purana 3.3.48 — 54.
Hindus worship snakes, cows, monkeys, car, human guru etc. Every Muslim believes that creator (the one true Allah) only should be worshipped and not creation. How are Muslims to make sense of Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma?
I think the problem in this question is how one defines “worship”.
Does “worship” means slavish adoration of a tyrannical Sky-guy, asking some imaginary God for favours and preferment or does it mean “offering respect”.
Pūjā means an act of making offerings to demonstrate gratitude. This is mistranslated or inadequately translated as “worship”.
We should embrace cultural diversity and appreciate the way different cultures do things.
In Advaita Vedanta, a pot example is given, pots reality is clay, but its reality should be the brahman. How can this be proved?
There are hundreds of examples or maxims like this given in Vedānta literature - they are called “nyāyas” and are homely examples used to illustrate abstruse metaphysical concepts.
There are two similar nyāyas -
kaṇaka kuṇḍala nyāya — Golden earrings and Clay pot example mṛttika-ghaṭa-nyāya
All the ornaments are made of gold, but they are of diverse forms. They are all gold only in reality made into different shapes.
There are various kinds of jars, pots and vessels, big and small, round and narrow, and of all shapes and forms, but all of them are only mud in reality.
The names (nāma) of those various formations and their forms (rūpa) are all impermanent, unreal and insubstantial, since they are modifications of the original source, the gold or clay
This is to illustrate that the various names and forms (nāma-rūpa) of this world and its contents are simply false, for all are in essence Brahman (consciousness) only. Brahman alone is appearing in many names and forms
Another nyāya used to express the same concept is samudra-taraṅga nyāya — Waves on the ocean.
There are countless waves rolling in the vast ocean. Each wave is distinguished from the other and each wave can be perceived separately, one by one. But all are water only, and are not separate from the great ocean. All are ONE only in reality – the difference is only apparent.
This illustrates that all the innumerable Jivas that appear in this universe, though apparently they are perceived to be separate from one another, are in reality that ONE Ocean of Sacchidananda and are all identical with it. There is no difference or diversity.
How can Brahman/consciousness be all pervading including living and nonliving things (Vedanta, Advaita, Upanishads, Brahman, Atma, Hinduism)?
Everything depends upon one’s perspective.
When you dream your subconscious mind creates all sorts of things; worlds, trees, mountains, valleys, forests, cities, people, friends, enemies and lovers etc. and even melodramas and other activities and stories in which you become totally immersed - what are those dream-things created from?
They arise from your consciousness - exist in consciousness and again are absorbed back into your consciousness when you awake.
Likewise the entire Universe of 100 billion Galaxies is all existing in the Divine Consciousness of Brahman.
We are all living in the dream of Lord Vishnu lying upon the couch of eternity - Ananta-sesha.
What is a short summary of Hindu theology?
WOW! Everything about India is extremely complex so attempting a summary is a challenge indeed.
To understand the answer it is important to understand that the concept of theology is inseparable from philosophy and psychology and they are all known as DARŚANAS which means a “perception” or “view”. So from the outset there is not one view under the umbrella of “Hinduism” but rather many views. So please don’t be expecting a homogenous conclusion.
I shall address the subject from the major school of Hindu philosophy which is Vedānta.
God - which is the subject of theology, is not the central theme of Vedānta, it is ātma-bodha or SELF-REALIZATION. A personal God is the central concern of the monotheistic religions which is not the case in Hinduism.
The questions which the sages of the Upanishads were seeking answers were:–
The origin or creator-ship of the Universe was of little interest to them.
The Upaṇiṣads frequently speak of BRAHMAN - which means the “immensity” and frequently mistakenly translated as “God” or more correctly as “Godhead”.
sarvam khalv idam brahma — All this is Brahman (Muṇḍaka 2.2.11 & Chand. 3.14.1)
So in the Taittiriya Upanishad Bhrigu goes to his father Varuna and asks him to teach him about Brahman. Varuna defines Brahman as follows:–
taguṁ ho̍vāca | yato̱ vā i̱māni̱ bhūtā̍ni̱ jāya̍nte | yena̱ jātā̍ni̱ jīva̍nti | yat praya̍nty-a̱bhisaṁvi̍śanti | tad viji̍jñāsasva | tad brahmeti̍ | sa tapo̍’tapyata | sa tapa̍s ta̱ptvā ||
Then he said again to him: 'That from whence all these beings are born, that by which, when born, they live, that into which they enter at their death, try to know that (through meditation). That is Brahman.' (Tattiriya Up. Bhriguvali)
Bhrigu goes off and meditates. After a long period of practice he comes to the realisation that the answer to the riddle is FOOD since that alone fulfils the definition. He returns to Varuna to get clarification. Varuna declines to affirm or deny and tells him to go back and mediate. He repeats the practice and sequentially going pithing himself he proposes:–
What Bhrigu had realised was tadātmya oneness with the Supreme Universal Consciousness. Encapsulated in the mahāvākyas (great statements):–
So the ātman is identified with the Brahman. Discussion about what exactly this identity is, has given rise to different schools of Vedānta with differing views.
They can be summed up under two headings Ākāra (with form i.e. Personalism) and Nirākāra (formless i.e Impersonalism).
Both of these divisions are still grounded in PAN-EN-THEISM identification of the Universe with Brahman.
neha nānāsti kiñcana — There is nothing (other than Brahman) anywhere. (Chāṇḍogya 3.14.1)
Shankaracharya suggested that the worship of a Personal God with form (īśvara) is a concession to those of less-developed intellect and that the ultimate goal is ātma-bodha - SELF-REALIZATION. Since the abstract, philosophical concepts are incomprehensible to the majority of people, the sages provided alternatives in the worship of deities and the cultivation of Bhakti (devotion).
So there are many different paths and options in the cooperative of Hinduism. There are those who prefer to worship a personal God with form, others worship a formless God, others worship God within the hearts of all beings and some meditate upon the Self within.
It is up to the individual to choose her path, there is no right or wrong as long as the path leads to compassion, love and generosity.
There are three paths taught in the Gītā.
The choice of path depends on the wish, inclination and capacity of the individual and there is not a single path for all.
A cartoon summary of Hindu Theology is this:-
Why is there a seemingly experienced separation when oneness is eventually the truth?
Because of conditioning by various factors.
Our rude awakening to separation occurs when mum’s milk stops flowing.
Our default state is a sense of individuality and separation from others and the environment and indeed from our very selves at times - leading to neurosis and psychosis.
The spiritual journey is one of integration and wholeness.
FAILURE TO COMPREHEND THE ESSENTIAL UNITY OF BEING IS THE CAUSE OF RE-BIRTH
yad e̍veha tad amutra ya̱d amu̍tra ta̱d anvi̍ha | mṛ̱tyos sa̱ mṛtyu̍m āpno̱ti̱ ya̱ iha nāne̍va paśyati || 10 ||
Katha Upanishad 4:10. Whatever is here, that is there. Whatever is there, that too, is here. Whoever perceives anything like seperativeness here goes from death to death.
A fundamental principle in Hindu metaphysics is “as above – so below” (yathā brahmāṇḍa tathā piṇḍāṇḍa). The human entity is nothing but a corelation of the universe. All powers in the human body and mind have their corelation in devas which rule the cosmos. All the chakras, the internal psychic centres have their corelative centres in the external universe. The Sun which is the source of light and energy for the external universe has it's corelation as the ātman within the individual.
Even when examined from the atomic level we know that everything is inter-connected by space, all objects being merely differing densities of energy. From a metaphysical perspective the interconnecting “space” is called Brahman, the differences that we perceive in the objective world are all temporary conformations of Karmic conditioning, when they, being conditioned by time, space and cause, dissolve what remains is the timeless, eternal, inscrutable Brahman alone - advitiyam.
Is consciousness temporary? How can Brahman exist eternally (Vedanta, Upanishads, Brahman, Hinduism)?
Brahman is Being-Consciousness-Bliss (sacchidānanda) IT is beyond existence (sat) and non-existence (asat) since both existence and non-existence are polarities which are mutually constitutive of each other.
According to Vedānta, consciousness is substantive and is the matrix or Unified Field in which all existence and non-existence is. Eternal means ‘here and now’ = the current point of awareness.
Here’s a video which explains the matter.
What is the difference between God with attributes and God Attributeless?
God without attributes is the transcendent unknowable and ineffable source and substrate of the Universe i.e. God as she IS.
The attributes are what we humans superimpose upon the her, based on our cultural notions of perfection and goodness - God as we think she should be.
In Hinduism we begin the investigation from introspection, and we discover that we humans have three dominant attributes - we are aware of our own existence (Asti) we are consciousness and we can think and know that we think (bhāti) and we form relationships of affection, trust and cooperation with others - we love our selves and are capable of loving others (priyam).
Based on the metaphysical dictum “as below so above” - or the theory that the properties of the whole are available in the properties of the parts, we then project these three universal attributes onto the Totality of Being (Brahman) in the superlative and limitless degree and so the Ultimate reality is characterised by Absolute Being (sat), all-pervading and expansive consciousness (cit) and immeasurable and perfect Bliss/Love (ānanda). These are technical known as the svarūpa-dharmas.
All the other superimposed attributes of personality, compassion, accessibility, tolerance, loving kindness etc. all based on our notions of human perfection are known as svabhāva-dharmas.
Do you think Krishna was God? If yes, why?
For Hindus Krishna is most certainly God - the Supreme Being in human form.
The Ground-of-Being is incomprehensible and impossible to describe, therefore we superimpose our own images and representations on that which is formless & nameless.
I personally am attracted to the form of Vishnu/Krishna and so He is the lens through which I see the Divine.
This is the beauty of Hinduism - we have a whole selection of lenses one can freely choose from - one is not better than another - welcome to true freedom of choice.
N.B. Philosophy in Sanskrit is darśana - which means a particular view of Reality, there are as many views as there are philosophers.