ALL ANSWERS PERTAINING CONCEPT/DESCRIPTION OF GOD IN HINDUISM Hindu philosophy

2 points | Post submitted by suyash95 6 days ago | 11 comments | viewed 48 times

Description of God


Add your comment

Please Login or Signup to leave a comment
  • suyash95 6 days ago | +0 points

    According to Hinduism, what's the purpose of life?

    There are four purposes to human life.

    Dharma – to be a benevolent and beneficial presence in the world, to live an ethical life aimed at service to others and to the planet.

    Artha – in oder to practice the first goal one has to have finance - so the accumulation of money is important but the professional and means that one adopts must be in accordance with Dharma - i.e. ethical, free of deception and beneficial for other and the planet.

    Kāma – the pursuit of pleasure is natural and enjoyable, having relationship, children, holidays, art, music, entertainment etc are all good so long as they too are done according to Dharma - ethically with harm-minimisation primary.

    Mokṣa – the short term goal is to liberate oneself from mental anxiety and existential suffering here and now. This is done by studying philosophy and psychology and by practicing Yoga and meditation.

    The long term goal (Final Mokṣa or Nirvāṇa) which is not really a goal we can pursue but a worthy hope, is that at some stage we will be liberated from the cycle of rebirth - but this is not in our hands - that depends upon the grace of Mahā-lakṣmī.


    Can Hindus pray anywhere at any time according to Hindu scriptures?

    It depends on what you mean by “pray”. There are many concepts in Hinduism which are all translated as “pray”.

    1. pūjā — a formal ceremony in which offerings are made to the devatas. This is done only at specific times in specific places with physical and spatial preparation and stuff.
    2. mānasika-pūjā — mental worship in which one does the making of offerings but mentally in a contemplative state. Can be done anywhere and at any time – no restriction.
    3. prārthana — a specific hymn of praise and supplication which is usually recited at the completion of puja, but can be recited anywhere at any time.
    4. stotra — a hymn of praise which can be recited on its own anywhere at any time and place. But chanting a stotra in a shopping mall or on public transport may bring on very curious stares.
    5. japa — the silent repetition of a mantra. This can be done 24/7 and is a centering device for your wandering thoughts. It is often done with the aid of a rosary – japa-māla - it is recommended only to use the japa-māla while sitting in one place and not to use it on public transport or while walking around.
    6. sandhya-vandana — a formal prayer sequence done in the morning, midday and evening. I have only once ever seen a guy doing it in an airport – it was really bizarre. Normally it is done in private at home or on a river bank.



    How did Hinduism come to have so many deities? Did it absorb other religions?


    In Hinduism the entire Universe is the corporeal manifestation of God.

    So everything is comprised of energy (shakti) and everything thus reflects Divinity.

    An individual can worship whatever focusses his/her mind on the transcendent and raises one’s consciousness. Each and every one is free to choose a form or name of that Ultimate reality which pleases them.

    Over 5000 years Hinduism has adopted and adapted different forms of deities recognising them all as aspects of the same BRAHMAN. Hinduism is the only true “Monotheistic” religion accepting all forms of God as being aspects of the ONE and not excluding any.

    Welcome to complete the religion of diversity and total inclusivity and freedom of thought and choice.

    ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते तांस्तथैव भजाम्यहम् ।

    मम वर्त्मानुवर्तन्ते मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः ॥ ११ ॥

    ye yathā māṁ prapadyante tāṁs-tathaiva bhajāmy-aham |

    mama vartmānuvartante manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ || 11 ||

    Gita 4:11. Whosoever takes refuge in Me in any manner whatsoever, in the same manner do I favour them; beings experience Me alone in different ways, O Arjuna. yo yo yāṁ yāṁ tanuṁ bhaktaḥ śraddhayārcitum icchati |

    tasya tasyācalāṁ śraddhāṁ tām-eva vidadhāmy-ahaṁ || 21 ||

    Gita 7:21. Whichever manifestation (of the Divine) any devotee desires to worship with faith – that faith I make unshakeable and firm.








    [reply]
  • suyash95 3 days ago | +0 points

    Who is the main god of Hindus?

    Whoever God is.Whatever you consider to be the Source of the Universe is the same for everyone. There can only be ONE Big Bang - not several - like one for each bunch of believers.

    One of the terms for the SOURCE, or GOD - or whatever you want to call it - in the Vedas is KA. KA is simply an interrogative - WHO?

    WHO is what-ever you want it to be, you can call IT by whatever name you want or give it whatever form you want - IT is the ONE and the same.

    हिरण्यगर्भः समवर्तताग्रे भूतस्य जातः पतिरेकासीत ।

    स दाधार पृथ्वीं ध्यामुतेमां कस्मै देवायहविषा विधेम ॥

    hi̱ra̱ṇya̱-ga̱rbhas-sama̍varta̱tāgre̍ bhū̱tasya̍ jā̱taḥ pati̱reka̍ āsīt |

    sa dā̍dhāra pṛthi̱vīṃ dyām u̱temāṃ kasmai̎ de̱vāya̍ ha̱viṣā̎ vidhema ||

    1. IN the beginning arose Hiranyagarbha (the Golden Seed), the One Lord of all created beings. He established and supports this earth and heaven. What God shall we adore with our oblation? (Rig Veda 10:121)

    According to Hindu philosophy name and form (nāma-rūpa) are inseparable. And the entire universe consists of name & form.

    So what is formless is also nameless. So if you propose that God is “formless” then He/She/It is also “nameless” and can thus be indicated by whatever name, pronoun that you choose.

    One cannot logically say:- “God is formless but he’s a sky-guy and his name is Tom, Dick or Harry.”

    So we take the position that all names and forms in the Universe ultimately refer to the ONE = KA.


    Which Vedic verses describe Brahman as stated by Adi Shankara?

    Brahman is clearly define by the Sage Varuṇa in Taittiriya Upanishad when he teaches his son Bhrigu.

    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 these beings are born, that by which, when born, they live, that into which they enter at their death, try to discover that. That is Brahman.” “He (Bhrigu went away to meditate…….)

    This is the description of Brahman from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

    sa hovaca, etad vai tad aksaram, gargi, brahmana abhivadanti, asthutam ananu, ahrasvam, adirgham, alohitam, asneham acchayam, atamaḥ, avayv anakasam, asangam, arasam, agandham, acaksuskam asrotram, avak, amanaḥ, atejaskam, aprāṇam, amukham, amatram, anantaram, abahyam; na tad asnati kim cana, na tad asnati kas cana.

    Yajñavālkya said: "That, O Gargi, the knowers of Brahman call it the Imperishable. It is neither gross nor subtle, neither short nor long, neither coloured nor associated with anything; It is light without shadow free from darkness, neither air nor space; It is unattached; It is without taste or smell, without eyes or ears, without tongue or mind; It is non-effulgent, without vital breath or mouth, without measure and without exterior or interior. It does not consume anything, nor is It consumed by anyone.

    And this is from Chandogya Upanishad.

    yad vai tad brahmetīdaṁ vāva tad yoyaṁ bahirdhā puruṣādākāśo yo vai sa bahirdhā puruṣādākāśaḥ || 3.12.7|| ayaṁ vāva sa yo’yamantaḥ puruṣa akāśo yo vai so’ntaḥ puruṣa ākāśaḥ || 3.12.8|| ayaṁ vāva sa yo’yamantarhṛdaya ākāśastad etat pūrṇamapravarti pūrṇam apravartinīṁ śriyaṁ labhate ya evaṁ veda || 3.12.9||

    3:12:7-9: That which is (designated as) Brahman, even that is this ākāśa (space) outside the body. That which is the ākāśa outside the body, even that is the ākāśa inside the body. That which is the ākāśa inside the body, even that is this ākāśa within the (lotus of the) heart. This Brahman is all-filling and unchanging. He who knows (Brahman) thus, gets all-filling and unchanging glory.

    What makes Hinduism superior to other religions in India?

    Hinduism as a fellowship of different religions and theologies cannot be superior to any other religion - it’s like asking which is superior Google or Facebook or Twitter?

    IMO the metaphysics, philosophical methodology and epistemology of Vedanta, the heart of Hinduism is superior to the theology of monotheistic religions of India.

    The metaphysical problem with monotheists is that they are like earth-bound peacocks - shackled by their Books.

    Philosophers are like the Garuda - eagle soaring into the sublime heights like Lord Vishnu -surveying everything from the highest heaven - seeing everything in perspective.


    Why does advaita vedanta feel like an incomplete philosophy? How am I the supreme self if the upanishads describe the supreme brahman as devoid of ego, above maya and free from avidya? Surely, we are just a separated spark of the supreme self?

    Indeed you are a separated spark of the Supreme Self - but separated by AVIDYĀ - ignorance of who you really are and misidentified with the mind/body complex.

    Know yourself and be free.

    Some sweet verses from the Amrita-bindu (The drop of Immortality) Upanishad:–

    mano hi dvividhaṃ proktam, śuddhaṃ cāśuddham eva ca | aśuddhaṃ kāma saṅkalpam, śuddham kāma vivarjitam || 1 ||

    The mind they say is twofold; either pure or impure, Impure when associated with desire and craving, Pure when it is free from desire.

    mana eva manuṣyāṇāṃ, kāraṇaṃ bandha-mokṣayoḥ | bandhāya viṣayāsaktaṃ, muktyai nirvisayaṃ smṛtam || 2 ||

    The mind (manas) therefore is the cause of bondage and liberation to us, of bondage when attached to material objects; of liberation when free from therefrom.

    tad eva niṣkalaṃ brahma, nirvikalpaṃ nirañjanam | tad brahmāham iti jñatvā, brahma saṃpadyate dhruvam || 8 ||

    That is Brahman, the partless, changeless, immaculate, “I am that Brahman”, so knowing, one surely reaches the Brahman.

    nirvikalpam anantaṃ ca, hetu dṛṣṭānta varjitam | aprameyam anādiṃ ca, jñatvā ca paramaṃ śivam || 9 ||

    The (Brahman is) changeless, limitless, causeless, incomparable, without bounds and devoid of beginning, one who knows this attains the highest bliss.

    na nirodho na cotpattiḥ, na baddho na ca sādhakaḥ | na mumukṣur na vai mukta, ityeṣā param arthatā || 10 ||

    There’s no cessation, no becoming, none bound, none aspirant, No liberated existence, no desire for it, that is the highest reality.


    How do Hindus justify gods in the form of animals such as a monkey, cow, and elephant, and do they actually believe this?

    Well if you accept that God is omnipresent and all-pervading, and that every manifestation of life is animated by the Divine Presence and that every soul (which even animals possess is a scintilla or mode of God), then anything can become a source of spiritual joy and ecstasy and the repository of devotional sentiments.

    Flora and fauna, mountains, valleys and rivers - all natural beauty evokes a sense of the numinous, all life is illustrative of God - God is everything, including the 100 billion galaxies in which we have a very tenuous existence on this tiny grain of sand called planet earth.

    You can believe and venerate and reverence and adore anything that “floats your boat”

    Does Lord Ganesha really help us?

    If you buy a TV and place it in the most prominent place in your lounge room and then invite all the neighbours to a festival, and you garland the TV and wave ārati and offer food which you all share - will you obtain any benefit from the TV?

    All the Icons of the Gods and Goddesses are like TV sets sitting on your altar being honoured and adored but no one is actually turning them on and tuning in! And then people are blaming the TV for not showing its programs!

    In order to connect with Ganesha and all the other Gods and Goddesses and to get with the program, you need to read the manual and learn how to turn them on, here’s the God-manual — Hindu Iconography

    Is idolatry immoral in the eyes of God?

    A very good question. What is the connection between idolatry and morality and what are God’s ideas about morality as revealed to his chosen people?

    The first of all sacred texts which unequivocally condemns idolatry is the Torah.

    Let’s have a look at Yahweh’s views on idolatry.

    Ex 20:3-5 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.

    You will notice that he says he is jealous God, and promises to punish the children and grandchildren of idolators - which seems quite immoral and unjust. Jealousy one would also assume is an unsuitable emotion for an omnipotent Being.

    Then these are his commands regarding idols and idolators - no place here for multiculturalism, Yahweh doesn’t tolerate diversity & inclusivity in any way or form!

    Deut 7:16 You must destroy all the peoples the LORD your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.

    Mass murder of idolators and lack of compassion is apparently moral but not idolatry itself.

    Deut 7:25 The images of their gods you are to burn in the fire. Do not covet the silver and gold on them, and do not take it for yourselves, or you will be ensnared by it, for it is detestable to the LORD your God.

    Deut 12:2 Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods.

    Deut 12:3 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places.

    These injunctions are repeated ad nauseum throughout the Bible. So you get the idea of how much the jealous Yahweh hates idolatry.

    BUT Yahweh approves of other activities of which we would severely disapprove.

    Buying and selling of other humans as property has divine sanction.

    Lev. 25; 44 "`Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    God commands the murder of babies

    Num. 31;18. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones,

    The LORD directs the total massacre of the population of 60 cities

    Deut. 3;3 - 7 — So the LORD our God also gave into our hands Og king of Bashan and all his army. We struck them down, leaving no survivors. At that time we took all his cities. There was not one of the sixty cities that we did not take from them — the whole region of Argob, Og's kingdom in Bashan...... We completely destroyed them, as we had done with Sihon king of Heshbon, destroying every city — men, women and children. But all the livestock and the plunder from their cities we carried off for ourselves.

    SUMMARY.

    So idolatry is wicked and immoral but not slavery, stoning to death, genocide, looting and pillaging - that’s approved of behaviour - in fact commanded by God. I have given only a tiny sample of Biblical verses - there are hundreds like these.

    An identical comparison and conclusion can be made with the other world famous monotheistic religion and its revealed Scriptures which also endorse slavery, stoning, amputation of limbs, FGM, decapitation, honour killing etc. — all far worse atrocities than the worship of idols

    [reply]
  • suyash95 3 days ago | +0 points

    Does Hindu mythology permit worship of one god or multiple gods?

    Mythology is one thing, Theology another and Philosophy a third.

    The core of a religion is its Theology or Philosophy and mythology is it’s illustration and example and ritual is the enactment of the core belief system i.e. the Theology.

    Hindu Philosophy says that the universe is the body of God (Brahman). Nothing exists apart from Brahman. The highest spiritual practice is MEDITATION upon the Self and its relationship to the Impersonal Absolute Totality of Being.

    Hindu Theology says that the Brahman manifests in several Personal forms - Śiva, Viṣṇu, Brahmā, Dūrgā etc. They are all different aspects of the same Supreme Impersonal Multifaceted Absolute, not different gods.

    Hindu Ritual Theory permits every one to make offerings to, meditate upon, commune with, adore or praise God or Goddess in whatever way they want - The Personal God in his great wisdom and compassion accepts the devotee in whatever why she or he wants - without judgement, knowing in omniscience that whatever we worship is indicative of the Absolute only.

    yo yo yāṃ yāṃ tanuṃ bhaktaḥ śraddhayārcitum icchati | tasya tasyācalāṃ śraddhāṃ tām-eva vidadhāmy-ahaṃ || Gita 7:21 ||

    Krishna said:– Whichever manifestation (of the Divine) any devotee desires to worship with faith — that faith I make unshakeable and firm.

    • If God doesn’t know that we are worshiping him alone through the icon then he is obviously not omniscient and unworthy to be called God.
    • If he demands that everyone worship him in one single form then he is a jealous, tyrannical control freak and also unworthy of our adoration.
    • If he eternally punishes those who think of him in any other way than what he approves of, then he is a selfish, egotistical, psychopath and should also be booted out of heaven!


    Why do Indians worship a thousand gods?

    Why not? Why limit yourself to one when you can have a thousand? Isn’t variety better than monotony?

    We have an ascending hierarchy of gods.

    The very first and most important gods are our mothers and fathers who gave us birth and nurtured us.

    The second is our teachers who nurture us through knowledge and guidance

    The third tier of gods are all the strangers that we encounter on our journey of life - that assist us and enrich our lives

    The fourth level are all the animals and trees and mountain and rivers that constitute our life support systems and companions on this beautiful blue planet.

    The fifth level is Mother Earth herself - one of the greatest of all the goddesses - then there is the creator Sun and sister moon, the life giving rain and cool breeze.

    And so on and so forth ascending the hierarchy until we reach the outermost limits of the cosmos - the entire universe with its 100 billion Galaxies and time-space continuum - is nothing but God.

    Ultimately only God exists.


    Do polytheists end up favoring one god above another?

    Polytheism is much misunderstood by monotheists. I can’t speak for the Romans and Greeks or the Canaanites I can only speak for Hinduism.

    Hinduism has been termed “henotheism” - meaning elevating one god above the others and “monolatry” - worshipping one god among several.

    Monolatry is the theological position of Deuteronomy - the first of the Decalogue - says - “thou shalt have no other gods before ME!” He does not state like Islam, there is only ONE god and that is Yahweh. And historically we also know that Judaism was an evolution from rank polytheism to absolute monotheism. (Christians seem to have backslid into a kind of modified polytheism!)

    The mainstream Hindu philosophical position is MONISM which means only God exists - in other words all plurality of the manifest universe is nothing but manifestations of the ONE. Which is technically termed as pan-en-theism. Strands of which are even found in the Bible.

    So coming back to your question - Hindus regard all the different gods and goddesses as various manifestations of the ONE Supreme Being who is both transcendent and immanent and is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent in the creation and in the souls of humankind and is omni-benevolent.

    A Hindu has complete freedom of belief and worship and can choose any manifestation he/she wishes for the purpose of cultivating devotion - even Jesus. The bond of the devotee with God is an intensely personal one which no one has the right to question or to control and direct.

    I hope that clarifies your doubt.


    Are the different Gods of Hinduism actual beings, or are they just concepts that point toward the one God?

    This is a huge question because Hindu theology is extremely complex.

    The devas of Hinduism are personifications of psychological and natural forces in the world and Hindu mythology is a graphic description of the interplay of these forces. And iconography is the graphical user interface.

    Nature gods - Agni = fire, Vayu = wind, parjanya = rain, dyaus = sky, varuna = ocean etc.

    Planetary gods - surya = sun, chandra = moon, budha = mercury etc.

    Psychological gods - kama-deva = desire, manyu = anger, indra = mind etc.

    The high Gods are the trinity - Brahma = creative energy, Visnu = preservative energy and Shiva = transformative energy — these are three aspects of the ONE energy force in the Universe. They each have consorts. Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Parvati — since the world is binary - male and female and there is the manifest (feminine) and the unmanifest (masculine).

    Ultimately in Hindu philosophy all names and forms are both real from a relative point of view but unreal from an ultimate point of view. So at the end of the cosmic cycle all the gods, humans and other beings are ALL resolved back into the absolute ground of being known as NARAYANA/Brahman.

    [reply]
  • suyash95 3 days ago | +0 points

    Is the concept of God in Christianity superior to that of Hinduism (A friend of mine converted on this assumption and I have been unable to refute him.)?

    The short answer is NO. The concept of God is very similar in ALL the major world religions. Since God is essentially inconceivable, all concepts of Him/Her/It are naturally mediated through the human mind and conditioned by all the usual social and cultural factors and filters. But I would submit that the Hindu concept is the broadest and most inclusive of all.

    The first proviso is there is a huge difference between the theology of the scholars and the God of mythology i.e. Bible and Purāṇas.

    The two God concepts are often contradictory to each other. But when comparing two religions we tend to be biased and compare our theology with the mythology of the other. Seeing we are discussing this topic from a Hindu perspective I will do some comparing which some people will condemn – but I shall try to be as objective as possible.

    Hinduism has two streams — Philosophy and Theology. The Christians have only Theology.

    In Vedānta philosophy the Godhead is comprehended in four phases:

    1. As the absolute impersonal Divine Consciousness (Brahman)
    2. As the ruling God of the universe (Iśvara)
    3. As the indweller of every sentient being (antaryāmi/hiranya-garbha)
    4. As the material universe itself — pantheism (virāṭ)

    In the Bhakti schools of Hinduism a devotion to a Personal Deity is enjoined, who is considered to be a manifestation of the One Brahman. i.e. Shiva, Vishnu, Krishna, Ganesha, Skanda, Shakti et al. They are all identified by their devotees as Iśvara – the Lord of the Universe.

    Accordingly numerous attributes are conceived of, in relation to the dynamic between God and the Universe and individual Selves (jīvātmans).

    Many of these attributes are common to the three Abrahamic religions as well, some are questionable (like compassion – juxtaposed with eternal punishment) and some are definitely not (like descent into an icon.) Here is a table of comparison - some “Hindu” qualities may appertain to Yahweh - but I have yet to be convinced of those I have not ticked. Input from Christians, Jews and Muslims will be welcome.

    BUT there is also the God of mythology – Yahweh of the Bible - who is one of the most nasty characters ever cast in a leading role — a vindictive control freak who orders wholesale massacres of men, women and children!

    I shall give only a very few examples from hundreds – the gentle reader can look up the actual verses on line:–

    Descriptions of God.

    And [his] brightness was as the light: he had horns coming out of his hand: …….. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove away the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting. (Habakkuk 3:4)

    Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind...... He shot arrows and scattered the enemies, bolts of lightning and routed them. (2 Samuel 22: 9 -15)

    God has a rumbling, flashing, thundering throne.

    From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. (Rev. 4:5 )

    God enjoys the smell of roast meat.

    Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma (Gen. 8:20)

    God shoots out fire to eat the offering

    Fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell face down. (Lev 9:24 )

    God stands on the Altar

    I saw the Lord standing upon the altar. (Amos 9:1)

    GOD'S COMPANIONS

    Bizarre heavenly beasts around God's throne praise him tirelessly

    Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and behind. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." (Rev. 4:6-9 )

    GOD'S CHARACTER

    Yahweh the god of war.

    "See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no-one can deliver out of my hand. I lift my hand to heaven and declare: As surely as I live forever, when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me. I will make my arrows drunk with blood, while my sword devours flesh: the blood of the slain and the captives, the heads of the enemy leaders." (Deut. 39 - 42)

    Yahweh comes accompanied by epidemics.

    Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed. (Hab. 3:5-6 )

    Yahweh as a wild beast

    So I will come upon them like a lion, like a leopard I will lurk by the path. Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open. Like a lion I will devour them; a wild animal will tear them apart. (Hosea 13: 7-8)

    GOD'S EMOTIONAL COMPOSITION

    Yahweh — an jealous, revengeful, indignant god.

    The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies. ….. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it. Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him. (Nahum 1:1– 6)

    Yahweh's uncontrollable rage

    “For a fire has been kindled by my rage, one that burns to the realm of death below. It will devour the earth and its harvests and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap calamities upon them and expend my arrows against them. I will send wasting famine against them, consuming pestilence and deadly plague; I will send against them the fangs of wild beasts, the venom of vipers that glide in the dust. In the street the sword will make them childless; in their homes terror will reign. Young men and young women will perish, infants and grey-haired men.” (Deut 32:22 – 25 Isaiah 34:2 – 10)

    The Lord God remains unmoved by pleas for mercy

    See, the day of the LORD is coming — a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger — to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. Whoever is captured will be thrust through; all who are caught will fall by the sword. Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses will be looted and their wives ravished. Their bows will strike down the young men; they will have no mercy on infants nor will they look with compassion on children. (Isaiah 13:6 - 18)

    God regrets his mistakes and feels sorry for himself

    The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. (Gen:6:6)

    And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel. (I Sam. 15: 3)

    So the LORD relented. "This will not happen," the LORD said. (Amos. 7:3 and many other passages indicating that he is not omniscient and has no idea of what will happen in the future!)

    GOD'S SOCIAL LIFE

    Yahweh is tired of living in a tent and demands a house

    That night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying: "Go and tell my servant David, “Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, "Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” (2 Sam:7:4 )

    Satan pays a visit on his mate God

    Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said to Satan, Where have you come from? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. (Job 1:6)

    God holds a dinner party for 74 guests on a paved mountain

    Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank. (Exo 24:9-11)

    GOD'S COMMUNICATIVE SKILLS

    God roars like a lion and yells like grape-pressers

    Now prophesy all these words against them and say to them: "The LORD will roar from on high; he will thunder from his holy dwelling and roar mightily against his land. He will shout like those who tread the grapes.” (Jer. 25: 30)

    He summons people by whistling and hissing

    He whistles for those at the ends of the earth. Here they come, swiftly and speedily! (Isaiah 5:26) I will hiss for them, and gather them together; (Zech. 10: 8 )

    He also summons the flies from Egypt and the Bees from Assyria by hissing

    And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. (Isaiah 7:18)

    GOD'S DECEPTIONS

    God deceives his own prophets.

    O LORD, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. (Jer. 20:7)

    "So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you." (2 Chronicles 18:22)

    And sends evil spirits to trouble his kings

    But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. (I Samuel 16:14) The next day an evil spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. (I Samuel 18:10 )

    He also deludes people into believing lies so that he can then condemn them.

    For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:11 )

    God makes men drunkards

    “This is what the LORD says: I am going to fill with drunkenness all who live in this land, including the kings who sit on David's throne, the priests, the prophets and all those living in Jerusalem. I will smash them one against the other, fathers and sons alike, declares the LORD. I will allow no pity or mercy or compassion to keep me from destroying them.” (Jeremiah 13:13 )

    YAWEH’S ENEMY THE SEA DRAGON

    God describes the Leviathan — a many-headed fire-breathing Sea-Dragon.

    Moreover the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind saying; " Can you catch the Leviathan with a hook? Or draw him out with a cord in his mouth? ....... One cannot go far off when Leviathan is stirred up; but who then is able to stand before me? Who can open the door of his mouth? His teeth are terrible round about...... His appearance is full of light, and his eyes are like the rays of the dawn. Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. Out of his nostrils goes smoke, like a flame, spreading around the sides of a pot. His breath kindles coals, and a flame goes out of his mouth...... His meat is good and fat and it is nourishing.... Because of the fear of him, the mighty are afraid; and the strong are humbled............He brings to destruction whatever is proud. He is the King over all things in the deep. (Job 41:1)

    God fights with the Sea-Dragon and kills it.

    It was you who split open the sea by your power; you broke the heads of the monster in the waters. 14 It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave him as food to the creatures of the desert. (Ps 74:14) In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that [is] in the sea. (Isa 27:1)

    Now for some ATROCITIES – I will not bore the patient reader with the full quotes – one can look them up.

    One whole generation punished for all offences committed since creation. (Luke 11:50)

    God glorifies himself by making the Egyptians recalcitrant and then drowning them. (Ex. 14:4, Ex 14:24)

    The Lord God kills 70,000 men for having been counted by King David in a census that was instigated by Satan. (1 Chron. 21:1) (See also 2 Sam. 24)

    The Lord assists in the robbing of the Egyptians (Exo.12:35)

    The Lord conspires with a lying spirit to kill King Ahab. (2 Chron. 18:19)

    The Lord entices prophets to prophesy as an excuse for murdering them. (Ezekiel 14:9)

    God reveals his holy laws and then curses all those who fail to obey them. (Deut. 29:1)

    Human sacrifice commanded by God. (Lev:27:28, Joshua 6:17)

    Yiftah offers his daughter in sacrifice to God. (Judges 11:29)

    King David sends seven innocent men to be sacrificed to God to stop a famine. (2 Sam. 21:1)

    King Agag sacrificed before the LORD (1 Sam 15:32 )

    Yahweh’s anointed priests massacre 3000 people. (Exo 32:27-28)

    God orders complete "ethnic cleansing" and the enslavement of 32,000 virgins; wholesale massacre of the captured women and children. (Num. 31:1 - 40)

    The LORD contrives the massacre of the Ammorites & sanctions pillaging. (Deut. 2:30 – 40)

    The LORD directs the total massacre of the population of 60 cities (Deut. 3:3 - 7)

    God directs his chosen people in the genocide of the seven nations of Canaan. (Deut. 7: 1-6)

    THE HOLY CATALOGUE OF GENOCIDE

    God's command of total genocide carried out and confirmed (Josh. 10:40)

    The entire inhabitants, men, women and children of following cities were exterminated:— Ai (Josh. 8:24) Makkedah, Libnah, Lahish, Eglon, Debir (Josh 10:28 - 38) Hazor (Josh 11:10) Anakites (Josh 11:21)

    Massacre and looting of a peaceful and trusting people. (Judges 18:6 - 27)

    The extermination of the people and animals of Jericho. (Josh. 6:17 - 25)

    So the discerning reader will note that there is a HUGE difference between the Biblical descriptions of God and those of the theologians. Likewise with the Puranas compared to the philosophy Vedanta or the theology of the Bhakti Movements. So when comparing religions we should be intellectually honest and compare like with like. Puranas with the Bible.


    Why don’t Hindus worship Brahman, the One God?

    Hindus worship ONLY Brahman since EVERYTHING is Brahman as well as we ourselves and every other thing you can conceive of. Seeing that Brahman in inconceivable and unimaginable we just worship IT through various manifestations such as Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha, Skanda, Durga etc.

    Your question assumes that Brahman is the creator of the world and different from it like Yahweh or Allah.

    We are pantheists and so there is nothing but Brahman - everything we can perceive with our five senses is nothing but name and form (nāma-rūpa) and is unsubstantial, ephemeral and transitory.

    If you would like to praise Brahman here is a hymn from the Mahanirvana Tantra:–

    namaste sate sarva lokāśrayāya, namaste cite viśvarūpātmakāya, namo 'dvaita tattvāya mukti-pradāya, namo brahmaṇe vyāpine śāśvatāya || 1 ||

    I pay my obeisance to the eternal Refuge of all: I bow to the pure Intelligence manifested in the universe. I pay my obeisance to the Non-dual Absolute that grants liberation. I bow to Brahman the great, all-pervading attributeless One.

    tvam ekam śaraṇyaṃ tvam ekam vareṇyam, tvam ekam jagat kāraṇam viśvarūpam | tvam ekam jagat kartṛ pātṛ prahartṛ, tvam ekam paraṃ niścalam nirvikalpam || 2 ||

    You are the only Refuge and Object of adoration. The whole universe is your physical appearance and you are its substrate. You alone are Projector, Preserver, Destroyer of the Universe. You are the sole immutable and inconceivable Supreme Being.

    bhayānāṃ bhayaṃ bhīṣaṇam bhīṣaṇānāṃ gatiḥ prāṇināṃ pāvanaṃ pāvanānām |mahoccaiḥ padānāṃ niyantṛ tvam ekam pareṣāṃ paraṃ rakṣakam rakṣakāṇām || 3 ||

    You are the Dread of the dreadful, the Terror of the terrible. The Refuge of all beings, Purifier of all purifiers. You alone rule the high-placed ones, Supreme over the supreme, Protector of the Protectors.

    pareśa prabho sarva rūpāprakāśin, anirddeśya sarvendriyāgamya satya | acintyākṣara vyāpakāvyakta tattva jagat bhāsakādhīśa pāyādapāyāt || 4 ||

    O Supreme Lord in Whom all things are, yet Unmanifest in all, Imperceptible by the senses, yet the very Truth. Incomprehensible, Imperishable, All-pervading hidden Essence. Lord and Light of the Universe! save us from harm.

    tad ekam smarāmas-tad ekam japāmaḥ, tad ekaṃ jagat sākṣi-rūpam namāmaḥ | sad ekam nidhānaṃ nirālambam īśaṃ bhavāmbhodhipotaṃ śaraṇyaṃ vrajāmaḥ ||

    On that One alone we meditate, that One alone we sing in praise, To that One alone the Witness of the Universe we bow. Refuge we seek with the One Who is our sole Eternal Support, The Self-existent Lord, the Vessel of safety in the ocean of repeated birth.

    pañca-ratnam idaṃ stotram brahmaṇaḥ paramātmanaḥ | yaḥ paṭhet prayato bhūtvā brahma-sayujyam āpnuyāt ||

    This is the five-jewelled hymn to the Supreme Being. He who pure in mind and body recites this hymn is united with the Brahman five-jewelled


    Who is "The One" from the Rig Veda creation hymn 10:129?

    The ONE is Brahman which means “the Immensity” and is characterized by sat chit ānanda.

    • sat = Being - Space (asti)
    • chit = Consciousness - Thought (bhāti)
    • ānanda = Bliss - Time (prīti)

    So the space, time thought continuum which includes the entire Universe is Brahman. It is thus the Totality of Being or the Unified Field, also known as Nārāyana - which means “The Ground from which everything emerges.”

    In the Taittiriya Upaṇiṣad a comprehensive description of Brahman is given by the Sage Varuna to his son Bhrigu who inquires about Brahman:–

    | yato̱ vā i̱māni̱ bhūtā̍ni̱ jāya̍nte | yena̱ jātā̍ni̱ jīva̍nti | yat praya̍nty-a̱bhisaṁvi̍śanti | tad viji̍jñāsasva | tad brahmeti̍ |

    That from which all beings arise, that by which they exist and that into which they eventually merge - investigate THAT - that is indeed Brahman.


    What are the names of the Hindu gods?

    Here are some charts to help you to get a bird’s eye view.

    The first Chart shows you the 33 Gods of the Vedic pantheon.

    This second chart shows you the current pantheon.

    [reply]
  • suyash95 3 days ago | +0 points

    Why do Hindus perform idol worship?

    The Ultimate Reality Brahman/God is declared by ALL the Hindu scriptures to be omnipotent (sarva-śaktimān), omnipresent (sarvaga), omniscient (sarvajña), omni-benevolent (dayā-sāgara), devoid of all qualities (nirguna), devoid of form (nirākāra), inconceivable (agocara), inexpressible (nirvacanīya) etc.

    He/She/It is sat (Being), cit (consciousness), ānanda (bliss absolute), ananta (infinite) and amalam (immaculate).

    Now, having said that the Agama states:–

    nirākāra tu deveśa na arcanam bhaven nṛnāṁ, na ca dhyānam, na ca stotram tasmāt sākāram arcayet ||

    Which means:

    “The Absolute Godhead is formless (nirākāra), but meditation, worship and praise of a formless Being is impossible for humans, therefore worship a form (sākāra).”

    So the Icons (NOT “idols” which is pejorative term used by the Abrahamics to denigrate and traduce Hindu forms of worship!) — are our graphical user interfaces with the Formless Godhead.

    No idolator in the history of idolatry has ever considered the image itself to be anything other than a SYMBOL of a higher ideal. The icon in itself is simply wood, stone or metal but it becomes sacred through our projection onto it of the notion of Divinity. Just as Muslims do with the Qur’an which becomes an idol and a fetish.

    If you announce on facebook that you’re having a Gita or Veda burning day - not a single Hindu will turn up or even care or if they did it would be to take selfies. The Gita or the printed copy of the Veda is simply a book from a printing press. But do the same with the other Holy Book and see the reaction – there will be world-wide riots and huge damage of property and life. A book will be burned by some crazy pastor in California and dozens of people will be murdered in Afghanistan – is this not some form of idolatry?

    The icons/images are made in strict accordance with the directions of the Agama Shastra which are equal to the Vedas in authority. Each and every detail has a symbolic meaning which I won’t go into but which can be found in books on Hindu Iconography.

    THE JUSTIFICATION FOR ICONS—

    1. The Godhead is omnipresent - therefore It is present in the icon.
    2. The Godhead is omniscient – therefore It knows that we are worshiping It through the medium of the icon and not the Icon itself.
    3. The Godhead is omnipotent – therefore in response to our prayers and out of Its omni-benevolence – It condescends to remain present in the icon to receive our worship.

    To respond that God is NOT in the icon is to negate His omnipresence. If God thinks we are worshiping the idol instead of him then his omniscience is compromised. If he is incapable of accepting worship through the medium of an icon then his omnipotence is compromised, and if he refuses, then his omni-benevolence is compromised.

    REJOINDER TO DR. Z.N.

    The good Dr. Z.N. is a charlatan. He regularly misquotes Vedas to prove an Islamic point of view. Gullible people are in awe of his rhetoric and their self-ignorance and become unsettled and conflicted. So I shall respond here to his most popular quotes.

    1.“NA TASYA PRATIMA ASTI”

    There’s no image of him (Yajurveda. 32:3)

    The verse actually says “there is no counterpart of Him (Hiranyagarbha) whose glory is verily great.”

    The verse begins by saying that “THAT Ultimate Reality is Agni, the Sun, Wind and the Moon………………..”

    2. SHUDHAM APAPVIDHAM”

    He is body-less and pure (Yajurveda: 40:8)

    Śuddham means pure and papa-vidham means untouched by sin NOT body-less

    3. “NA SAMDRSE TISTHATI RUPAM ASYA, NA CAKSUSA PASYATI KAS CANAINAM”

    His form is not to be seen, no one sees him with the eyes. (Svetasvatra upanishad. 4:20 )

    The verse is addressed to Shiva-rudra and actually says:– “His form is not to be see; no one sees him with the eye. Those who through heart and mind know Him as abiding in the heart become immortal. ‘You are unborn’ with this thought someone in fear approaches you O Rudra, may your face which is gracious protect me.”

    4.“EKAM BRAHM, DVITIYA NASTE NEH NA NASTE KINCHAN”

    There is only one GOD, not the second not at all, not at all, not in the least bit. (Brahma suta)

    Brahma sutra Topic-7: Brahman is One without a Second

    Brahman (Godhead) is the totality of being, including both the efficient and the material cause of the Universe. The Vedas also say – sarvam khalvidam brahman — meaning everything in the universe both sentient and insentient is that ONE Brahman. There is no difference between the creator and the created – they are two aspects of the same Totality of Being.

    It does not refer to Allah and creator of the universe from nothing.

    Islamic theologians claim that Allah is FORMLESS - (we totally agree) then there are hundreds of anthropomorphic references to Allah in the Quran;-

    Allah creates, destroys, spreads out, speaks, beholds, covers, reveals, judges, owns, disowns, loves, hates, blesses, curses, approves, disapproves, appoints etc. All adjectives pertaining to FORM. There are also many references to his throne - which he doesn’t actually sit on but sits “above” it.

    Qur’an 25. al-Furqan: 59. He who created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days and then established Himself above the Throne - the Most Merciful, so ask about Him one well informed. (Sahih International)

    So Islam grants both FORMLESSNESS and FORM to the Godhead. (Just as we do!) The only difference between us is the clear distinction which is made and the degree to which we take our theological conclusions in both directions

    So while in Islam there is no clear distinction made between the two, in Hinduism the two are clearly demarcated and differentiated.

    The Hindu concept of the Formless aspect (nirākāra) of God is more profound I would suggest than any description in the Qur’an.

    While giving Allah descriptive semantic form the Qur’an categorically forbids worship of any form. But since we know that humans cannot relate to a formless God, symbols are substituted by the faithful - i.e. The Ka’aba, the Quran, caligraphy etc.

    Hindus go to the other extreme and create sophisticated iconic symbols and unashamedly use them for worship and meditation. BUT the worship of icons is NOT mandatory in Hinduism, it is one of many tools found in our spiritual toolbox:– other tools are mantras, yantras, mandalas, yoga āsanas, prānāyāma and a variety of contemplations, visualizations, stotras, fasting, etc. etc. etc.

    So Hindus are free to use icons or not to use them - we are free to relate to the Godhead in whatever we want to - for Krishna says in the Gita that he accepts us however we approach him as he dwells in our hearts and knows us better than we do ourselves.

    Below are two black stones - what is the difference between them? Both are sacred symbols, both are decorated and both are passionately revered by their followers. The difference is that the followers of one kiss it and the followers of the others bath it in milk.


    What are Hindu Gods? Are they personifications of human ideals? Are they states of higher consciousness, or are they personal?

     they are all of the above, how you see them depends on 3 conditioning factors:–

    1. svabhāva - your character, nature and disposition,
    2. bhūmika — your level of personal and intellectual development and
    3. adhikāra — your capacity to rationalize, comprehend and to apply the knowledge and insight.

    See my explanation of Hindu typology Rami Sivan's answer to Why is Hinduism so complex?

    So for a person of the paśu or “common” category they are personal beings managing the cosmos the delighting in offerings and bestowing favours.

    For a person of the vīra or “heroic” category they are personifications of psychological categories and natural phenomena.

    For a siddha or perfected one they are projections of one’s own mind and non-different from themselves.

    There are many categories of Hindu deities - far too complex for a short Quora post. But briefly:–

    There is the impersonal Absolute (BRAHMAN/Nārāyaṇa/Parama-śivam) from which everything arises.

    yathorṇanābhiḥ sṛjate gṛhṇate ca yathā pṛthivyāmoṣadhayaḥ saṁbhavanti | yathā sataḥ puruṣāt keśalomāni tathā’kṣarāt saṁbhavatīha viśvam || Mundaka Up. 1:1:7 ||

    As the spider sends forth and draws in its thread, as plants grow on the earth, as from every man hairs spring forth on the head and the body, thus does everything arise here from the Indestructible.'

    Then there are the Mahādevas — the Great trinity Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Śiva which are the three personifications of the facets of the Absolute: Brahmā = SPACE (sat), Śiva = CONSCIOUSNESS (chit). Visṇu = BLISS (ānanda).

    These three are accompanied by their female counterparts:– Sarasvati, Pārvatī and Lakṣmī.

    Thereafter we have the DEVAS who are the energetic forces of the cosmos:– macrocosm:- personification of the natural phenomena like Indra – god of rain, Vāyu – god of wind, Agni – god of fire, Varuna – god of the sea, Yama – god of death etc.

    microcosm:– personification of psychological forces:– Kāmadeva (desire) is the strongest and most powerful of all of them followed by Manyu (anger) etc.

    We believe that these Devas are administrative posts and not individuals, so every one of us can aspire to become an administrative Deva - it is just another birth like the human birth - long-lasting but temporary all the same.

    Then there are many other beings which inhabit the Hindu Universe - all of them being samsāric beings - subject to rebirth.

    The Devas or Suras are the forces of “light” the integrating powers of the Cosmos.

    The Asuras are the forces of “darkness” or disintegration and Chaos.

    Read my blog on Hindu Iconography to get a better understanding of this complex subject. https://www.quora.com/profile/Rami-Sivan/blogs

    yo anyām devatām upāste anyo asau anyo aham asmi iti, na sa veda, yathā paśur-evam sa devānām”,

    “One who worships a separate Deva thinking that the Deva is completely different from himself, he is ignorant; he is like a beast of burden to the Devas.” Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (4:10)

    This is from Swami Krishnananda’s commentary on the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:–

    The gods are the presiding deities over the senses, as far as the individuals are concerned. We have the gods in the cosmos, and gods in our own physical organism. The cosmical counterpart of the sensory powers in the individual are what are called the gods in the heavens. The macrocosmos and the microcosmos are correlated organically. The powers that are supermundane, which work as divinities in the heavens, as we hear of, spoken in the scriptures, are the superintending principles over the sense-organs. The god of the eyes, for example, is the Sun, Surya. The Sun is the god of the eyes, and likewise, we have gods or presiding principles, divinities, superior energies, presiding over every sense-organ and activity, including the psychological functions. The presiding deity of the eyes is Surya, of the nose are Asvini Kumaras, of the ears are the Dig-Devatas, of the taste principle is Varuna, of the touch principle is Vayu, and there are Agni, Indra, Vishnu, Prajapati, Mrtyu, presiding over the organs of action, the Moon presiding over the mind, Brahma over the intellect, Rudra over the ego, and Vishnu over the sub-conscious and the subliminal psychological layers.


    Don't you agree that if there was more than one God in the universe then they sure would have fought each other for complete dominance in the universe, resulting in its destruction?

    The question is coming from a theistic geo-centric point of view.

    The Zoroastrians believe that there is a good God - Ahura Mazda, and an evil God (Ahriman) who would fight each other for control of the world - Ahura Mazda will ultimately win.

    Some of the Abrahamic faiths believe that God will fight the Devil/ Satan/ Leviathan in the end of days and triumph. The Gnostics believed that an evil God (The Demiurge) had created this world and entrapped the souls and that the good God Jesus would liberate all souls from it.

    Desire for dominance, pride, sense of superiority, demand for worship and homage from others, anger, resentment, jealousy and desire to punish are all negative HUMAN qualities.

    Any “God” or “Gods” that had the capacity to create the huge universe in which we live - on planet earth – the equivalent of a speck on sand on all the combined beaches of the earth, would presumably be free of those petty traits.

    In Hindu theology God - Ishvara - is absolutely free from all negativity - not a single human failing can be attributed to Him/Her/It. Our Gods (devas) are all aspects of the same Ultimate Reality just as all jīvās (what you refer to mistakenly as “souls”) are all identical in their essential nature and part of that singular Ultimate Reality.

    We are ALL one!!


    Whether there are any justifiable and scientific reasons for idol-worship in Hinduism and several other religions?

    How can there be a “scientific” reason for a metaphysical practice?

    Why does one need to justify a spiritual practice - the results are in the experience. Does anyone ask for a justification for going to the movies or a play?

    First the term “idol” is pejorative and was coined by Christian and later Muslim missionaries in order to degrade and insult Hinduism. Christians claim that their symbols are ICONS whereas pagan symbols are IDOLS.

    There is a huge body of knowledge behind the use of iconography which is beyond the scope of this forum. Simply put, the icons we use are symbols of Ultimate Truths and psychological realities. Each and every aspect of the icon has a symbolic meaning .

    The Ultimate Truth is beyond the scope of the human mind to comprehend or the speech to articulate. Its like the 0’s and 1’s of computer science. Experts are very familiar and can negotiate this territory easily but for the vast majority of computer users the binary code is incomprehensible. But all of us, even the most simple and children can utilize electronic devices through the GUI (Graphical User Interface. So our ancient sages have devised a GUI for interacting with the All-pervading Divine Consciousness in the form of Icons.

    As an example I shall explicate GANESHA for you.

    Everything that we perceive in the universe must be grasped and expressed by the mind through the means of categories, therefore "category" is a fundamental principle of existence. The 'principle' by which all classifications, and the relationship of one thing to another in the universe can be understood is called Ganapati — The Lord of Categories. Ganapati is the god of Wisdom and the patron of learning. He is the scribe who writes down the Holy Scriptures.

    Ganapati has many names, but the main ones are;— Ganesha — Lord of categories, Vighneshvara — Lord of Obstacles, Vinayaka — Great Leader, Gajanana — the Elephant-faced One. He has two wives Siddhi — Success, and Buddhi — Intelligence sometime his second wife is said to be Riddhi — Prosperity.

    Ganapati represents one of the basic concepts of Hindu Mythology _ the identity between the macrocosm and the microcosm. In religious terms this is the identity between the individual and the universe (mankind made in the image of God). This idea of the potential divinity in the person and the immanence of God should be presented before the mind before beginning any undertaking. This is the reason that Ganapati is worshiped at the beginning of every enterprise. Not only this but his icon is seen at the entrance to almost every Hindu home and on every altar.

    In iconography Ganesha is represented as an Elephant-head man. The word for mankind "nara" is defined as "divinity qualified". The word for elephant is Ga-ja meaning "the origin and the goal". The elephant is thus a symbol of the stage where existence begins. The universe is said to originate from the Veda, the Veda from AUM and AUM from the ultimate Reality — Brahman. Ganapati is therefore a personification of AUM. The man part of Ganapati representing the manifest Principle is subordinate to the unmanifest Principle which is represented by the elephant head.

    The graphic representation of Ganapati is the svastika meaning "auspicious symbol". It is made up of a cross with arms bent towards the four directions. Thus is symbolises the projection of the universe from a basic point of unity known as the bindu. It shows that one cannot reach unity with the original point of creation directly through the outward forms of the universe.

    One Tusk.

    Ganapati acted as the scribe for the Mahabharata, on the condition that he would on no account interrupt the recitation by Vyasa who was dictating the Mahabharat for the welfare of the world. When the pen broke Ganapati broke off his own tusk in order not to interrupt the work. Thus out of great compassion for all beings the Lord was prepared to mutilate himself! This is the symbolism contained in the iconographical representation.

    The Trunk

    Ganapati's trunk is always bent either to the right or to the left. The message contained in this is that Divinity cannot be understood directly by the mind, there are many obstacles on the path to God-realisation, hence Ganapati is also known as Vighneshvara — the Lord of obstacles. There are also two paths to approach the divine — the left-handed and the right-handed path. In connection with this, it is important to note that one should never keep an icon of a right-handed Ganesha in the house. It is a form which requires very particular handling.

    The Four Arms.

    Most Hindu deities are depicted with four arms, these represent the four Vedas, the four divisions of society — the intelligentsia, the administrators, the businessmen and the workers. The four directions; indicating that the Supreme Lord is all pervading etc.

    The Weapons.

    Ganesha holds various weapons each with a spiritual meaning. The axe [parasu] represents non-attachment. In order to progress on the spiritual path the essential virtue to cultivate is that of non-attachment to the sense-object and their means of gratification. The Elephant Goad [ankusha] represents perseverance on the path of spiritual practice as well as self-discipline. The spiritual path is very arduous and difficult but if we are committed then the Lord will prod us by means of the Goad, and guide us to our supreme destination — union with God. Sometimes Ganesha is shown holding a noose [pasha], which represents the three things which are the cause of our bondage. 1. Ignorance of our true nature [ajnana], 2. Our actions and their reactions [karma] 3. The deluded potency of the visible world [maya]. In the hands of a free and enlightened being these three become a mere ornament! in his left hand he holds a sweet which represents the basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. One should never neglect one's physical well-being while one is practicing spiritual discipline. The spiritual life is to be followed in harmony with a material life — not in opposition to it.

    The Mouse Vehicle.

    The mouse is the master of the inner part of every building, and as such it represents the Atman or the Self. The Atman lives in the innermost recesses of the intellect, within the heart of every being. The mouse is called mushaka in Sanskrit. It is derived the word mush which means to steal. The Inner Ruler (atman ) steals everything that we enjoy, hidden from our view it enjoys all the pleasures and remains unaffected by virtue or vice. The inner ruler is the real enjoyer of everything yet the ego in ignorance thinks that it is the enjoyer! The mouse also represents the uncontrolled and negative mind that lives in the dark hidden places and destroys for the sake of destroying. Ganesha, representing wisdom can control the mind by riding on it but the mind can never be completely crushed.

    Ganapati is always depicted as being obese because all the universe is contained in his belly, yet he himself is not contained in anyone.

    [reply]
  • suyash95 3 days ago | +0 points

    There is a given Verse -EKAM BRAHM, DVITIYA NASTE NEH NA NASTE KINCHAN”  brought by Muslims to denigrate Hindu Worship

    There is only one GOD, not the second not at all, not at all, not in the least bit. (Brahma suta) -Brahma sutra

    Brahman is One without a Second Brahman (Godhead) is the totality of being, including both the efficient and the material cause of the Universe. The Vedas also say – sarvam khalvidam brahman — meaning everything in the universe both sentient and insentient is that ONE Brahman. There is no difference between the creator and the created – they are two aspects of the same Totality of Being .It does not refer to Allah and creator of the universe from nothing.

    Hindu Philosophy says that the universe.s the body of God (Brahman). Nothing exists apart from Brahman. The highest spiritual practice is MEDITATION upon the Self and its relationship to the Impersonal Absolute Totality of Being.

    Hindu Theology says that the Brahman manifests in several Personal forms - Śiva,Viṣṇu, Brahmā, Dūrgā etc. They are all different aspects of the same Supreme Impersonal Multifaceted Absolute, not different gods.

    Hindu Ritual Theory permits every one to make offerings to,meditate upon, commune with, adore or praise God or Goddess in whatever way they want  The Personal God in his great wisdom and compassion accepts the devotee in whatever why she or he wants - without judgement, knowing in omniscience that whatever we worship is indicative of the Absolute only.

    yo yo yāṃ yāṃ tanuṃ bhaktaḥ śraddhayārcitum icchati | tasya tasyācalāṃ śraddhāṃ tām-eva vidadhāmy-ahaṃ || Gita 7:21 ||

    Whichever manifestation (of the Divine) any devotee desires to worship with faith — that faith I make unshakeable and firm.

    If God doesn’t know that we are worshiping him alone through the icon then he is obviously not omniscient and unworthy to be called God.

    If he demands that everyone worship him in one single form then he is a jealous, tyrannical control freak and also unworthy of our adoration.

    If he eternally punishes those who think of him in any other way than what he approves of, then he is a selfish, egotistical, psychopath and should also be booted out of heaven!

    In Case of MUSLIMS -

    You’re assuming that “God” is some big guy living in the sky who is creating things out of nothing and wondering why is he doing this all?

    From a Vedānta point of view the Ultimate Absolute is BRAHMAN defined as the space-time-thought-continuum (sat-cit-ānanda) which does not translate as “God” in the Abrahamic sense.The Vedas say -Sarvam Khalvidam Brahman that means There is nothing but GOD. So the entire universe of trillions of galaxies is all BRAHMAN.

    And guess what? You are an aspect of THAT space-time-thought-continuum. You are part of the flow of universal consciousness not separate from it.

    Your individual existence is based on ignorance (avidya) of who and what you really are - and so you identify with a conditioned personality and think you are a unique and special person and that God is somehow separate from you. The ultimate spiritual goal is to know yourself and your true identity as non-different from the Ground-of-Being.

    Your question in this context, can be rephrased as, why did we separate from the BRAHMAN? This is one of those transcendental questions that can never be answered satisfactorily. But from a spiritual point of view how we got here is irrelevant, what matters is how we live this life here and now.

    In HINDUISM , God is the universal consciousness, Ever new Joy,the ocean of bliss which can only be experienced. God is universal consciousness and the ocean of bliss in which the illusions of Time n Space present an infinite variety of forms interacting in a progressive mode of past,present n Future. He is formless, but he can manifest Himself in any form. He can appear to his devotee in the form he/she assumes God is both personal and impersonal. He is the Absolute, beyond form, but He also makes Himself manifest in many ways. He is visible everwhere,in everything He has created, and in the workings of His intelligence governing all creation. God cannot be bound by any form, even His personal aspect in the universe is also infinite.” “The impersonal God cannot be described, or even understood with the intellect. The only way you can know the Absolute GOD is to be one with him in Spirit.

    Islamic theologians claim that Allah is FORMLESS - (we totally agree) then there are hundreds of anthropomorphic references to Allah in the Quran;- Allah creates, destroys, spreads out, speaks, beholds, covers, reveals, judges, owns, disowns, loves, hates, blesses, curses, approves, disapproves, appoints etc. All adjectives pertaining to FORM. There are also many references to his throne - which he doesn’t actually sit on but sits “above” it. Qur’an 25. al-Furqan: 59.

    He who created the heavens and the earth and what is between them in six days and then established Himself above the Throne - the Most Merciful, so ask about Him one well informed. (Sahih International) So Islam grants both FORMLESSNESS and FORM to the Godhead. (Just as we do!)

    The only difference between us is the clear distinction which is made and the degree to which we take our theological conclusions in both directions So while in Islam there is no clear distinction made between the two, in Hinduism the two are clearly demarcated and differentiated

    The Hindu concept of the Formless aspect (nirākāra) of God is more profound I would suggest than any description in the Qur’an. While giving Allah descriptive semantic form the Qur’an categorically forbids worship of any form. But since we know that humans cannot relate to a formless God, symbols are substituted by the faithful - i.e. The Ka’aba, the Quran, caligraphy etc. Hindus go to the other extreme and create sophisticated iconic symbols and unashamedly use them for worship and meditation.

    BUT the worship of icons is NOT mandatory in Hinduism, it is one of many tools found in spiritual toolbox:– other tools are mantras, yantras, mandalas, yoga āsanas, prānāyāma and a variety of contemplations, visualizations, stotras, fasting, etc. etc. etc.

    The Highest of Which is Meditation upon SELF

    THAT DEPENDS ON HOW DO U VIEW IDOL WORSHIP-

    Anything one desires intensely becomes for him, in a sense, a god. This is the true meaning of idol worship. An idol is not a statue or a painting that people use to remind them of some high ideal. Such people are indeed ideal worshipers, not idol worshipers. Idol worship means to harbor a desire for anything other than God.Every man unless he loves God alone is in this sense an idol worshiper To love somethng or some person, becoz it reminds him of God is a virtue, not a fault. To get to the top floor of a building one must ascend by the other floors No one can leap all the way to the top. To feel love for God as He really is, formless and impersonal, is almost impossible for human beings. Such love comes naturally, however, to those who first envision divine perfection in some human form. The important thing in such worship is always to keep in mind that the form one loves (even of a living person) serves one only as a window onto INFINITY.There is nothing wrong or contrary to spiritual truth in using images as reminders of high principles.

    How many people are able to visualize such abstractions as love or wisdom? The Hindu images are not idols. They are symbols of different aspects of God. Their very variety shows a recognition of the fact that God is infinite in nature. Hindu religion has been incorrectly recognized as worshiping idols because of their many gods.If u go deep,u will find these gods are nothing but representatives of the many attributes of the one God. It is therefore “ideal worship” rather than “idol worship.” an Idol is a tool to connect to Divine.

    The Devatas (Gods and Goddesses) are Forms of One ParaBrahman.. Each Hindu Devata has its form, symbols, vahana, yantra, mantra, ritual, meditation and cosmic meaning, reflects all levels of existence.Hindus do not worship a stone or metal "idol " as God. They worship God through the image.Hindu temples have either images ,murtis and yantra, a symbolic or mystic diagram. the sight of them enhances the devotee's worship.All religions have their symbols of holiness through which the sacred flows into the mundane.The human mind releases itself from suffering through the use of forms and symbols that awaken reverence,evoke sanctity and spiritual wisdom. In Hinduism one of the ultimate attainments is when the seeker transcends the need of all form and symbol. This is the ultimate goal.Hindu Dharma honors Self-realization and God-realization for all, with diverse forms of worship and meditation to achieve it. They talk of God as Universal Infinite Consiousness. Hindu view is Sarvam Khalvidam Brahman . Everything is Brahman or Being-Consciousness-Bliss. Monotheism may have One God but has two humanities, the saved(Believers) and the damned(Disbelievers), and is trapped in conflict and duality. The One God is also at war against the many Gods and Goddesses. Monism is more than monotheism, sees the same Self in all beings. Understanding that sunlight is scattered throughout land but if you place a piece of paper it will not lighten it up.But If u use a magnifying glass to focus sunrays at paper, it will than lighten it up.Similarly God is Infinite Universal Consciousness But u will not feel him n neither will it develop any devotion in ur heart.but if u use an IDOL, it will concentrate God's Infinite Consciousness into an object and will help in developing devotion in ur heart.

    There is no IDOL Worship in Hinduism.The correct term is Deity Yoga Practise. Hindu Upāsana is a process of visualization and meditation. The fundamental principle of Vedānta philosophy is that we are sparks/rays/ modes or particles of the Divine (tat tvam asi — thou art that). We are reflections in matter, of the Divine Nature, like the sun is reflected in buckets of water. In simple terms God is within us. So the process of Upāsana, also known as Dhāraṇa is to visualize God/Goddess within ourselves and to commune with Him/Her/It. This is known as Deity Yoga Practice. Meditation can be done without using any form. It can be done by focusing on the breath or to contemplate emptiness — but this is very difficult, as our minds are conditioned to be constantly processing data in the form of name (nāma) and form (rūpa). So using form (rūpa) is the easiest and most convenient type of meditation.meditation consist of visualizing the chosen deity and reciting his or her mantra to initially develop devotion n than do Meditation.But All  This is Optional .Hinduism has preserved the Atma-Vidya, the knowledge of the Supreme Self, for all humanity.The Vedic vision perceives nature as a manifestation of the Divine, extending to our own senses and pranas(CHI / Life Energy), but recognizes a transcendent Self behind this magical display.

    Acc to Hinduism,the true goal of civilization and human life is Moksha or the liberation of consciousness from body, mind and karma. All other religions except Hinduism r based upon body consciousness and ego assertion in the realm of religion. Hinduism profound Vedic intellectual tradition is rooted in Yoga, mantra and meditation. Connects the human mind with cosmic intelligence. Takes us beyond the mere dualistic opinions of the ego-mind. In Hindu view, the universe is a manifestation of supreme consciousness and Self-awareness; physics not yet there but beginning to suspect.The Hindu vision rests upon the unity of Consciousness in and beyond innumerable lokas. (REALMS)

    [reply]
  • suyash95 3 days ago | +0 points

    Why does Hindu  defend idol worship when he himself is unsure about the presence of God?

    Philosophical Principle #1 the entire universe is the “body” (śarīra) of the Divine. I am a convinced, card-carrying, industrial strength PANTHEIST I see and feel the presence of the Divine within everything around me.

    I also believe that when an icon is carved according to the iconographical dictates of the Āgama śāstra it is a symbol of the divine.

    When we perform the elaborate prāṇa-pratiṣṭha rites according to the Āgama/Tantra, then the Supreme Being by dint of his/her omnipresence and omni-benevolence energizes and locates itself within the sacred icon in order to be a link between the two realms of sakala and nishkala.

    The Āgama says:–

    bhagavat sānidhyam arcakasya tapo balāt

    The presence of the Divine in the icon is dependent upon the meditative powers of the attendant priest.

    [reply]
  • suyash95 3 days ago | +0 points

    If you are Hindu, do you believe the gods are real beings outside the mind?

    What Hinduism teaches is that nothing exists outside of the mind.

    All perception takes place in the mind — seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling all occur in the mind only. This is why in Sanskrit one of the terms for world is Prapañca -” that which is grasped by the five senses.”

    So all concepts you have about yourself, your family, your friends, your enemies, your belief systems that make you - are all figments of your imagination.

    The world that we experience is not the real world which consists of particles and fields - there is more space in an object than solid matter.

    So what is “real”? Is there an objective reality or is it subjective? The gods are all abiding principles - billions of their worshippers have come and gone but still the names of the gods are being recited every day.

    Brhadaranyaka Upanishad says:– (4:10) statement:

    yo anyām devatāmupāste anyo asau anyo ahamasmi iti, na sa veda, yathā paśurevam sa devānām”,

    “One who worships a separate deity thinking that the deity is completely different from himself, he is ignorant; he is like a utilitarian animal to the deities.”

    Taittiriya Samhita 1. 2. 3.2

    ye devā manojātā mano-yujas sudakṣā dakṣa-pitāras te naḥ ||
    The gods, mind-born, yoked to the mind, having the blissful power of discrimination (dakṣā), and are the children of discernment.

    [reply]
    • suyash95 3 days ago | +0 points

      Why do we worship gods like Hanuman, Rama, Ganesha, Krishna, etc., if they are myths?

      Secondly in a Hindu context what is meant by “worship.” There are a number of terms used in Sanskrit for this particular activity with a variety of implications.

      Pūjā/ Arādhana – worship as in making offerings (upacāras) of various types from 5 (scent, flowers, incense, lamp and food) to 108.

      Upāsana — literally “sitting close to” which is a process of visualization and meditation.

      Offerings of food, fruit, flowers, incense, water and leaves are made as the expression of gratitude to the cosmic forces embodied as the devatas. It’s always a good thing to express gratitude – always!

      There are 100’s of volumes written on the subject of “worship” known as the Tantras or Agamas — I am vainly attempting to give you a tweet version!

      The most important aspect of Hindu spiritual practice (sādhana) is Upāsana — visualization and meditation — this is considered to be the highest practice.

      The fundamental principle of Vedānta philosophy is that we are sparks/rays/ modes or particles of the Divine (tat tvam asi — thou art that). We are reflections in matter, of the Divine Nature, like the sun is reflected in buckets of water. In simple terms God is within us. So the process of Upāsana, also known as Dhāraṇa is to visualize God/Goddess within ourselves and to commune with Him/Her/It. This is known as Deity Yoga Practice.

      Meditation can be done without using any form. It can be done by focusing on the breath or to contemplate emptiness — but this is very difficult, as our minds are conditioned to be constantly processing data in the form of name (nāma) and form (rūpa). So using form (rūpa) is the easiest and most convenient type of meditation.

      So what form should we use? We use the form of that deity to which we are naturally attracted and to which we have become attached. If we do not have an specific deity then we consult an astrologer and according to our charts our personal deity can be discovered.

      So meditation consist of visualizing the chosen deity and reciting his or her mantra is the highest form of worship. This Upāsana is a technical process which cannot be justly dealt with in a brief public post. Iconography is the basis for dhāraṇa or visualization another HUGE subject which I think I may deal with in a blog seeing it is one of the most important and one of the least understood aspects of Hinduism.

      The purpose of meditation is to bring about self-transformation and to become more enlightened and compassionate beings.

      [reply]
  • suyash95 2 days ago | +0 points

    Is Deistic Monotheism more rationally respectable than Abrahamic Monotheism?


    “Deistic monotheism” IMO is the universalist monotheism found among others, in Hindu thought. i.e. There is ONE God, source of the Universe, and whatever others call “God” refers to the one and the same essence, principle or Being. You can call IT by whatever name you want, IT is the same for all - with different descriptions mythos and ways of relating with IT as per individual choice — just as the Sun is one and the same whatever name you give it - and it shines on all without prejudice or bias.

    This monotheism leads to unity in diversity and fosters interconnectedness of all humanity and contributes to peace and harmony.

    “Abrahamic monotheism” is tribal & dogmatic. It conceives of God as the sole sponsor and property of the tribe - expressed as:– “My God is the true living God and yours is a fraud, a devil or an idol,” this then is followed by;– “My God loves and approves of me and hates and disapproves of you”. “I will be rewarded with heaven and you will be punished in hell.” So the only hope for you is to join my tribe and subscribe to what I believe.

    This tribalism is further exacerbated by the fact that the monotheists themselves do not all agree on the identity of that one God.

    Any reasonable person will see this as a formula for disharmony, distrust, conflict, wars and ultimately genocide.

    [reply]
    • suyash95 1 day ago | +0 points

      HINDU ICONOGRAPHY -

      Introduction to Iconography

      Everything connected with the Hindu icon has a symbolic meaning; the posture, gestures, ornaments, number of arms, weapons, vehicle, consorts and associate deities (parivāra devatā). Symbolic meanings of various rituals and paraphernalia are first given in the Brāhmanas and Aranyakas, and later the iconic symbols are explained in the various Purāṇas such as Srimad Bhāgavatam (S.B.), Viṣṇu Purāṇa (V.P.), Śiva Purāṇa; Upaṇiṣads such as Gopāla-uttara-tāpini Upaniṣad (G.U.T.Up), Kṛṣṇa Upaniṣad (K.U.) and Āgamas.

      Iconology

      Iconology is defined as the study of the symbolism behind sacred images. One of the most prominent tools of devotion in Hinduism is the use of images. These images or icons are made of wood, stone, metal or painted on cloth. The term generally used by non-Hindus and unfortunately by Hindus themselves when referring to these sacred images is IDOL. This term is actually pejorative — a demeaning, insulting word first used by Christian missionaries who perceived Hinduism in an extremely negative way — describing us as pagans, heathens and idolaters.

      The use of images is also predominant among Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians who refer to sacred images as ICONS to differentiate them from the ‘idols’ of the heathens.

      An icon can be defined as a sacred symbol which embodies a spiritual truth and is worthy of veneration and contemplation.

      All Hindu icons are visual representatives of the transcendent Divine and the Spiritual Forces which support, sustain and direct the Cosmos. The art and symbology of Icons has been developed to an extremely sophisticated degree by the Hindu mind. Each and every feature of an icon has a profound truth behind it, and all the mystical teachings of the sages are presented to the spiritual seekers through the means of these icons and symbols.

      The language of symbols develops when an attempt is made to represent something that is beyond the normal capacity of the human mind to comprehend or to express. A transcendent reality is expressed in terms of equivalents known as symbols.

      All of human interaction is carried out through the use of symbols. To represent a quantity of something we use symbols called numbers. To articulate and communicate ideas we use symbols known as words. To transmit words to others in a graphic manner we use the symbology of letters of the alphabet.

      A symbol can be natural or conventional. When we perceive a direct relationship between one order of things with another a natural symbol develops.

      In Hindu cosmology, symbolism is the expression of reality. It is the expression of the particular points where two realms meet — the transcendental (niṣkala) with the material (sakala).

      The Āgamas affirm 2 core tenets;—

      1. The material realm (sakala) is a reflection of the transcendental realm (niṣkala) and

      2. The inner spiritual/psychic world is related with the outer (yathā brahmāṇḍa tathā piṇḍāṇḍa)

      and therefore symbolism arises from nature itself and is not the result of speculation. And through the contemplation of the outer symbols one reaches the innermost subtle concepts behind those symbols.

      However far back we reach in Indian thought as a whole we find a coherent use of symbols to represent the abstract. The whole of Indian iconology is built up upon a code of symbols based on the assumption that there exists a natural affinity between ideas (nāma) and forms (rūpa).

      This code of symbols has been transmitted over thousands of years and its origins are lost in the remote past.

      Symbols do not speak to the rational mind and cannot be fully understood by logic, they are the subject of contemplation, worship, assimilation, inner experience and ultimate spiritual realization. Symbols are the esoteric language of the unconscious mind.

      TERMINOLOGY.

      In Sanskrit there is a very rich terminology that is used when referring to icons;

      bera — image

      mūrtī — anything which has definite shape and physical limits, an embodiment or incarnation.

      bimba — reflection or prototype — the original or model after which a thing is copied (the Original Being of course is God)

      vigraha — extension, expansion, form.

      pratima — resemblance, similitude, representation

      pratīka — symbol

      rūpa — form, aggregate, a sum total of form.

      arca — object of adoration and worship

      If one does not have the vocabulary (nāma) one cannot understand an experience (rūpa) and if one cannot understand and define an experience to oneself, one cannot share it with others. The function of the icon is to represent, through a combination of forms and proportions, some fundamental aspect of the cosmos and it's presiding consciousness which is not directly perceptible by our senses. Although these cosmic realities cannot be perceived, they can be experienced, the icons are the vocabulary whereby we interpret the experience of the divine to ourselves and convey that understanding to others.

      Theological and Scriptural support for the use of icons.

      na ca rūpaṃ vinā dhyātuṃ kenapi śakyate || sarva rūpa nivṛttā hi buddhiḥ kutrāsya tiṣṭhati | nivṛttā glāyate buddhir nidrayā vā parīyate || tasmād vidvān upāsīta buddhyā sākaram eva tam | asti tasya parokṣaṃ tad iti kiṅcid anusmaret || sarvathā akāram uddiṣṭaṃ na parityajya paṇḍitaḥ ||

      Vishnu samhita 29:55 — 57

      Without a form how can God be meditated upon? If he is completely formless, where will the mind fix itself? When there is nothing for the mind to attach itself to it will slip away from meditation, or will glide into a state of slumber. Therefore the wise will meditate on some form, remembering however that it is an indirect method, a particularization or indication of that which is completely formless.

      Hindu theology affirms that the Supreme Being is a Personal God/Goddess but at the same time declares that His/Her form is undefinable (anirdeśya), incomprehensible (acintya) and infinite — i.e. unconditioned by Time and Space (ananta). We should not think of the “Personality” of God in human terms – like a great Sultan in the Sky!

      In the Vishnu Samhita 29; 49b — 58. It is pointed out that it is beyond the capabilities of an average human being to adequately conceive of the Supreme Being for the purpose of contemplation. The human mind relies on concepts and forms and contrasts, in order to focus its thinking processes.

      Without a definitive content, the mind wanders and contemplation becomes impossible. So therefore the Āgamas have prescribed the use of symbols for focusing the mind and providing content upon which to meditate. This content itself must be meaningful, in order to bring about the required change of consciousness.

      In the Parama Samhita 3:7 it is stated;

      nirākāre tu deveśe na arcanaṃ saṃbhave nṛṇām | na ca dhyānaṃ na ca stotraṃ tasmāt sākāram arcayet ||

      It is impossible for the human being to worship, meditate or praise a deity without form. Therefore the deity should be worship through an icon.

      The Sriprashna Samhita 18;1 affirms that the descent of the Lord into a permanent iconic abode is due to His Divine Initiative alone, for bestowing grace and blessing upon the devotees.

      Saturday 29th September 2019

      UNDERSTANDING ICONOGRAPHY

      There are certain features which are common to almost all Hindu deities and some Buddhist ones.

      1. Lotus Throne

      All the gods & goddesses, buddhas and boddhisattvas are usually depicted standing or seated upon lotuses. The pure and unsullied lotus arising from the depth of the waters and far from the banks of the lake is associated with the idea of purity which arises from the law-of-conduct (dharma) and wisdom (jñana). The Lotus is also symbolic of the enlightened mind. It rises in the mud of material existence gradually growing through the waters until it reaches the surface and then opens up to the sun in all its glory. Water splashed upon a lotus leaf never remains but immediately slips off. In the same way the dirt of worldliness never stains the enlightened being. The lotus base therefore establishes the idea that the devata or buddha contemplated is nothing but a projection of the mind, and has no existence apart from the devotee.

      2. The Postures.

      The deities and buddhas are shown in various stereotyped postures, reclining, sitting with one foot raised, two feet raised or two feet down or standing.

      The reclining posture indicates absolute transcendence, a state of inscrutable "otherness" and is beyond all our powers of comprehension.

      Seated there are three stages of manifestation being depicted. Both legs crossed in padmasana (lotus posture) indicate a state of transcendence with a potential for manifestation. One leg lowered indicates a concern for sentient beings, a desire to be pro-active and an intention to engage in acts of compassion and liberation. Both legs down indicates a full intention to assist the devotee and an impending act of great compassion guiding others to enlightenment and moksha.

      Standing indicates full manifestation within our realm of being and capacity to comprehend — it indicates immanence — the closeness of our inner being. It is the Divine in full action within our minds and the world in which we live.

      FRIDAY 5th OCTOBER 2018

      3. The Four Arms.

      Most Hindu deities are depicted with four arms, these represent:—

      • The poises or states of Rality:— Brahman — the Absolute all inclusive totality of being; Īśvara — the Personal Creative Deity, Hiraṇyagarbha — the conglomeration of individual Selves or Jīvas, and Virāṭ — the manifest universe.
      • The cardinal directions; indicating that the god is all pervading and has perfect dominion over all the directions.
      • The four divisions of society; intellectuals, administrators, entrepreneurs, and workers.
      • The four stages of life; student, householder, retirement and renunciate.
      • The four aspects of Hindu psychology — the lower cogitative mind (manas) the intellect (buddhi), ego (ahamkara) and consciousness (cit).
      • The four levels of consciousness; waking (jagrata), dream (svapna), sub-consciousness (sushupti) and transcendental consciousness (turiya).
      • The four essential components of dharma; truth (satya), meditation (tapa), compassion (daya), and charity (Dana).
      • The four aims of human endeavor (purusharthas); pleasure (kama), prosperity (artha), righteousness (dharma) and liberation (moksha).
      • The four "immeasurable" qualities — friendliness (maitri), compassion (karuna), empathetic joy (mudita) and non-attachment (upeksha).

      4. The Crown

      The crown is the quintessential symbol of sovereignty and is also said to be indicative of the Unknowable Reality which is trying to be presented through this deity.

      5. The Earrings

      The earrings shaped like mythical sea-monsters (makara) represent the two methods of pursuing knowledge — intellectual knowledge (sankhya) and intuitive perception (yoga).

      6. The Gestures

      The language of the hands known as mudra is very significant in all forms of Indian art — in dance as well as sculpture and ritual. There are some mudras which are common to many deities and buddhas. These are:—

      Abhaya Mudra — the gesture of fearlessness — the palm displayed with the fingers pointing to the sky. Indicates the practice of harmlessness to all beings in word, deed and thought (ahimsa) and granting to all beings the gift of freedom from fear.


      [reply]