2 points | Post submitted by suyash95 215 days ago | 98 comments
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Description of God
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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)
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)
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 )
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!)
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 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)
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)
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)
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
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.
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.
| 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.
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).”
Now, having said that the Agama states:–
nirākāra tu deveśa na arcanam bhaven nṛnāṁ, na ca dhyānam, na ca stotram tasmāt sākāram arcayet ||
“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—
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)
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)
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 )
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
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:–
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.'
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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. 3.2ye 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 — 57Without 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.
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.
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
There are certain features which are common to almost all Hindu deities and some Buddhist ones.
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:—
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.
Muslims claim to base Islam on rationality. Indian philosophical traditions posit that everything is in essence Brahman; & Brahman transcends every conception & cannot be bound in a rational/epistemological framework. Can the two views be reconciled?
All philosophy is based on rationality and logic.
Islam is a revealed religion and thus does not have a philosophy of its own. Islamic philosophy is monotheistic theology using Greek philosophy for its support viz. Aristotelian and Platonic thought.
Revealed religions are shackled by their dogma and intransigent premises. So there are certain givens that are not open to discussion or modification - e.g. The existence of Allah, the nature of revelation - Quran, the prophet-hood and status of Muhammad, heaven/hell, resurrection of the dead etc. So a certain degree of logic is used to justify these “givens” - but very unconvincingly.
Hinduism consists of several different philosophical systems and all are open to free discussion, and everything can be questioned and refuted. Logic is used till its furthermost limit and then discarded.
There are three laws of logic all of which are accepted by Hindu philosophers.
A fourth law was added by Arthur Schopenhauer who was profoundly influenced by Indian thought and wrote:– "In the whole world there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads. It has been the solace of my life, it will be the solace of my death”.
His fourth law based on Indian logic.
So Islam being a closed system and Hinduism being an open system there can certainly be some rational discussion but reconciliation is not possible.
LET US TAKE ISLAM in COMPARISON TO HINDUISM -
The primary objection that Islam has against Hinduism is its flexible attitude towards “God”.
The Islamic dogmas on God are rigid and absolute. Hinduism’s view range from atheism to polytheism with every flavour in between. But this is only the tip of the theological iceberg which is largely unexplored.
The theological difference are not simply “monotheism” (Tawḥīd) but the implications of that belief. There are many Hindu sects which hold with monotheism of one sort or the other, and even the other Islamic bugbear “idolatry” is superficial.
So let’s assume for the argument that there is only one God, creator of the universe - what is the nature of this God and what should our relationship with this God be?
In Islam, Allah is completely other. He is removed from his creation and is unknowable and transcendent. Everything including Heaven, earth and hell are his creations but he is different from them - so even in Heaven (jannat) the successful and victorious believers will never be in his company or have a direct experience of him.
Hinduism on the other hand teaches that God is both immanent in his creation/projection (which is actually his “corporeality” as it were) and also transcends the Universe.
Then the next point of contention is what should our relationship to God be? In Islam there is only one acceptable relationship - slave/master (‘abed/mālik).
In Hinduism there are different relationships suitable to all devotional types.
The highest goal in orthodox Islam is heaven, in which Allah is not to be found.
The highest goal in Hinduism is complete communion and enjoyment with God (yoga) and heaven is seen just as a trivial distraction.
How correct is the statement that Christians and Muslims are taught their religion while Hindus have to discover by themselves their religion?
Religion is something which is taught through manuals called catechisms. It is like teaching a Master Chef course through cookbooks. The students are given a recipe book from which they learn some basic recipes which they can then apply in their lives and get by.
Spirituality is something which cannot be taught like recipes, but has to be sought out and experienced for oneself. One needs to find a guru and to spend years studying, introspecting, meditating and applying the teachings to achieve a personal self-transformation, and an elevated state of consciousness - not many succeed as Krishna says in the Gita
manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu kaścid yatati siddhaye |yatatām-api siddhānāṁ kaścin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ || 7:3 ||7:3. Among thousands of people, perhaps one strives for perfection; even among those who strive for perfection, one only may know Me; and among those who know Me, one alone perhaps, knows Me in reality.
manuṣyāṇāṁ sahasreṣu kaścid yatati siddhaye |
yatatām-api siddhānāṁ kaścin māṁ vetti tattvataḥ || 7:3 ||
7:3. Among thousands of people, perhaps one strives for perfection; even among those who strive for perfection, one only may know Me; and among those who know Me, one alone perhaps, knows Me in reality.
The cook-book method - read & cook, is the preferred and favoured MO of the C’s and M’s whereas the search and find option is the standard MO for Hindus.
Certainly all the three Abrahamic faiths have their spiritual streams - Kabbalah, Christian Mysticism and Sufism which all accord with the spiritual teachings of Hinduism - but they are fringe elements often condemned or marginalised by the main stream faux “Master Chefs” with their cook-books.
Whereas Mysticism is the core of Hinduism. Vedānta is all about the mystic union and self-transcendence. It is precisely the cook-book approach to religion which makes Christianity and Islam so attractive to the many - very few people are interested in achieving excellence in the culinary arts.
SCIENCE AND RELIGION -
Science and religion are separate fields of study looking at the same thing from two different points of view.
Science is concerned with FACTS.
Religion is concerned with MEANING & VALUES
Non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA) principle of Steven Gould describes it as "Science tries to document the factual character of the natural world, and to develop theories that coordinate and explain these facts. Religion, on the other hand, operates in the equally important, but utterly different, realm of human purposes, meanings, and values—subjects that the factual domain of science might illuminate, but can never resolve." 
"These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for example, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty)." 
Too many people are conflating these two magisteria and should stop forth with!
From a Hindu perspective these two have been taught for centuries and are known as the Sakala-nishkala principle. Sakala = physics and Nishkala = metaphysics
Please note: mythos is NOT cognate with mithya (false) as so many Indians assume. Mythos refers to the realm of the mind and psychology and inner-experience and transcendental concepts.
What is the difference between Islam's Allah and Advaita's Brahman?
They are very much different but in some way related.
First of all, Allah is not a generic Arabic term for GOD. Allah is a specific Arabic name for God.
So in the shahāda it says — la ilāha Ila Allah — “there is no God but Allah”, the generic term for “god” is ilāha. Allah is his unique name. And Allah is a person who sits above a throne in the seventh heaven.
13:2 Sahih International: It is Allah who erected the heavens without pillars that you [can] see; then He established Himself above the Throne and made subject the sun and the moon, each running [its course] for a specified term. He arranges [each] matter; He details the signs that you may, of the meeting with your Lord, be certain.
It would be meaningless to translate it as:- “there is no god but God” - one wouldn’t say “there are no trees but Tree”, or “there are no mountains but Mountain”.
BRAHMAN of Advaita is the matrix of the Universe - the Ground-of-Being, the Vacuum (śūnya) or Space (ākāśa) in which the entire Cosmos of 100 billion galaxies has its existence - it is not a “god” per se but that Field in which all gods, humans, planets, stars, particles, waves etc. have their being and it is characterise by consciousness (cit).
This philosophical impersonal Ground of Being takes theological form as īśvara - a Personal Being, who has three hypostases as Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva - which are the three energetic operations of the Cosmos Generation (Brahmā), Conservation (Viṣṇu) and transformation (Śiva) - all three aspects of the same force.
So one can conclude that Allah and Īśvara are nominally correlated, but as said before Allah is a name where as Īśvara just means “the controller” - a subtle difference.
Quran is anthropocentric and says that Allah created humans to worship Allah and other things (sea, animals etc) to serve humans (see 16.5, 16.14). Is Indian philosophy also anthropocentric? Why?
From one point of view creation is anthropocentric but Islam is theocentric. The entire focus and emphasis of Islamic philosophy and theology is on the Oneness and Transcendence of the Godhead. Everything else is determined in relation to that - the doctrine of Tawḥīd. Creator and the creation and the created are major concerns of Islam.
Indian Philosophy of all schools is anthropocentric in that it begins, focuses on and has reference to the existential condition of humankind as well as all other sentient beings.
God is peripheral to Indian Philosophy. In fact of the 6 classical schools of Hindu Philosophy of 2500 years ago - 4 schools were non-theistic or agnostic. Jainism and Buddhism are of course non-theistic.
Creation and creator is also of no concern to Indian philosophers since time is viewed as cyclical and the Universe as eternal - alternating between emergence and concealment, egress, progress and regress. Nothing to do with humans - we are just like pixels in the painting, cells in the body - the Universe is what it is and we are not the reason for its existence.
Indian Philosophy is inseparable from psychology and begins with the contemplation of what are the two common goals of all sentient beings - in fact all life forms.
All the schools of Indian Philosophy then proceed from these two first principles to analyse the nature and causes of sorrow (duḥkha) - their casual chain (nidhānam) and they way of remedy or avoidance of duḥkha and the increase of sukha. (abhyudaya).
The analysis of human discontent and sorrow doesn’t need a “God” to either explain it or resolve it. The causes and resolutions are based entirely on philosophy and psychology.
But since Indian Philosophy includes the entire range of human emotions there is more than adequate accomodation for Bhakti - religious devotion in which a concept of God or Divine transcendence and immanence is given scope for exploration and integration. But here, as always, there are no limitations and constraints as to names and forms to be worshiped, adored or meditated upon - it is up to each individual to formulate their own ways and means.
Quran says Allah created humans to worship him, but why did Allah want to be worshiped?
Hindu philosophy is married to psychology so we would answer this question from that perspective.
A desire arises from a lack of something.
In the case of desire for worship or adoration the desire would be for recognition, acknowledgement and need for gratitude.
All religions claim that God is PERFECT. A perfect self-fulfilled Being can therefore never have a desire or need for anything - it is a complete contradiction.
This celestial need for worship is also worrisome because its lack of fulfilment results in anger and vengeance - two of the most insidious of all emtions.
So therefore any being that has a need or desire which, if unfulfilled leads to such emotional disturbance that sadistic punishment of the offender is the end result cannot be God who would be perfect in every respect - perfect in wisdom, compassion, tolerance and self-fulfilled.
This psychological cascade is taught in the Gita chapter 2
62, 63. When one deliberates upon sense-objects, attachment to them arises; from attachment is born desire, from desire arises anger. From anger arises delusion; from delusion, the loss of mindfulness; from the loss of mindfulness, the destruction of discrimination; and with the destruction of discrimination, one is completely lost.
This is what the Veda has to say about the Supreme Godhead.
pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idam | pūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyate |pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya | pūrṇam eva-avasiṣyāte ||That (Godhead) is complete, This (universe) is complete. The complete (universe) has arisen from the Complete (Godhead). When the complete has emerged from the complete it is the complete only that remains.
pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idam | pūrṇāt pūrṇam udacyate |
pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya | pūrṇam eva-avasiṣyāte ||
That (Godhead) is complete, This (universe) is complete. The complete (universe) has arisen from the Complete (Godhead). When the complete has emerged from the complete it is the complete only that remains.
How do the concepts of the soul differ in Islam and Hinduism?
This is a complex question because the teachings on the nature of the Soul (Self) are pretty much uniform and simple across the entire spectrum of Hindu philosophical thought whereas the Islamic view is complex and inconsistent.
So I will discuss the Hindu perspective first as the nature of the Self (ātma-bodha) is the principle subject of investigation in Hindu philosophy.
The Sanskrit term often translated as “soul” is ātma or jīvātma.
In the Vedas it is repeatedly stated:–
In the Gīta chapter 15 Krishna says:–
mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke jīva-bhūtas sanātanaḥ | manaṣ ṣaṣṭhān-īndriyāṇi prakṛtisthāni karṣati || 7 ||An everlasting part of Myself, having become the Jīvātman in the mortal world, acquires the [five] senses, and the mind which is the sixth, and abides in material Nature (Prakrti).
mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke jīva-bhūtas sanātanaḥ | manaṣ ṣaṣṭhān-īndriyāṇi prakṛtisthāni karṣati || 7 ||
An everlasting part of Myself, having become the Jīvātman in the mortal world, acquires the [five] senses, and the mind which is the sixth, and abides in material Nature (Prakrti).
So basically the Self is an aṁśa or portion, particle, module, spark of the Totality of Being – like a ray of sunlight from the source which is the Divine. The ātman is characterised by – eternality (asti), consciousness (bhāti) and love/bliss (prīti).
The ray of the Divine which enters into matter descends to the lowest life forms in which its qualities of consciousness and potential for bliss are severely contracted. As it ascends and evolves passively through the various forms of plant and animal life, said to number 8,400,000 the two qualities gradually expand until it reaches a human birth. In the human state one develops a sense of right and wrong and the ability to make moral decisions which in turn give us the control over further incarnations. As we evolve through the human phase our consciousness has the potential to expand without limit. So all sentient beings are jīvātmans with different bodies.
Thus, from the Hindu point of view the body is merely a biological mass of water and chemicals which is born, dies and is disintegrated according to the laws of biology whereas the ātman is the Self which uses the body as a vehicle. Eventually the goal of evolution is to return to the Godhead or original source known as the Totality of Being or Brahman/Paramātman.
The eternal question is — if we are originally sparks of the Divine how did we come to take birth in material nature in the first place? This question is unanswerable and considered irrelevant to what we need to do now that we are here on planet earth. How we got here is not the issue – the task facing us is how to live a good, fulfilled and worthy life.
There is a confusing variety of views on the exact nature of the soul in Islamic sources. The two major sources are (a) the Quran and Hadith and (b) the Islamic philosophers.
THE QURAN refers to the soul by the terms nafs (breath of life) and rūḥ (spirit) and states that it is a mystery — not given to mankind to understand it.
THE HADITH has quite a lot to say about the soul and about what happens to it during and after death but there is little investigation into its exact nature.
(Reported and classed as hasan by al-Tirmidhi. Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 3290). Allah sends the angel to breathe the soul into the foetus as was reported by Abd-Allah ibn Masood, who said: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh), who is the most truthful (of human beings) and his being truthful (is a fact) told us: The constituents of one of you is gathered in his mother’s womb for forty days, then it becomes a clot of blood within another period of forty days. Then it becomes a lump of flesh, and forty days later, Allah sends His angel to it to breathe into it the soul.
The angel comes with instructions concerning four things, so the angel writes down his livelihood, his death, his deeds and whether he will doomed or blessed.
Hence in Islamic theology there is predestination (qismat) of the soul - its livelihood, death, deeds and whether it will go to heaven or hell are predestined from its inception.
IN ISLAMIC PHILOSOPHY
Muslim philosophers, (Ibn Rushd, Ibn Sina, al Kindi) being very much influenced by the Greek philosophers considered the soul to have three parts; vegetative, animal and rational.
The soul is said to be a perfection inasmuch as it makes a natural body into a plant, an animal or a rational being. The body is, therefore, an essential element in the definition of the soul. Without relating to a body, the thing we call ‘soul’ is not a soul and does not require the body as an essential part of its definition.
In its first or lowest stages of relating to the body, the soul is the “plant soul” inasmuch as the body can take nourishment, grow and reproduce. The plant soul is the assimilative power human beings and other animals share with plants.
If the body is an animal, the vegetative soul develops into the “animal soul” inasmuch as an animal has sensation and movement through will. While this soul includes the plant soul, it has also a sensitive power and a locomotive one. All the Muslim philosophers agree that the vegetative and animal parts of souls are terminated with the death of the plant or animal. Only human beings develop an eternal “rational soul”.
The Soul (nafs) in non-gendered and some philosophers like al-Kindi and Ibn-Sina are of the view that the rational Soul pre-exists the body and ibn Rushd considers the Soul comes into existence with the body. All agree that once created, the soul (nafs) lasts forever.
The Hindus refute this saying that if something has a beginning it must have an end, there cannot be infinity for a created thing - period.
The Muslim philosophers share many ideas with the Arab Jewish philosophers of the same period – all being influenced by Plato and Aristotle.
There are also no direct references in the Bible to the origin of the soul, its nature, and its relation to the body; but these questions afforded material for the speculations of the Alexandrian Jewish philosophers who sought in the allegorical interpretation of Biblical texts the confirmation of Plato’s psychological system.
In the three Hebrew terms "ruaḥ," "nefesh," and "neshamah" (corresponding to the Arabic terms rūḥ, nafs & nasamah) Philo of Alexandria sees the corroboration of the Platonic view that the human soul is tripartite (τριμεής), having one part rational, a second more spiritual, and a third the seat of desire. Some of the Jewish philosophers argued that all the souls were created at the time of Adam and dwell under the Divine Throne – some even taught a form of reincarnation.
POPULAR MUSLIM QUESTION -
If idol worship is prohibited in most of the Hindu scriptures, why do they still do this?
This is complete nonsense – all based on the propaganda of the disreputable Dr. Zakir Naik.
The authoritative scriptures that deal with ICON-VENERATION are the Tantras and the Agamas and the Puranas.
This is what the Agama has to say - please memorise and spread among your friends and religious colleagues.
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 kiñcid anusmaret ||sarvathā akāram uddiṣṭaṃ na parityajya paṇḍitaḥ ||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 should meditate on some form, remembering however that it is an indirect method, a particularization or indication of that which is completely formless. (Vishnu Samhita 29:55 — 57)nirākāre tu deveśe na arcanaṃ saṃ∫ave n‡ṇām |na ca dhyānam na ca stotram tasmāt sākāram arcayet ||It is impossible for the human being to worship, meditate or praise a deity without form. Therefore the Lord should be worship through an icon. (Parama Samhita 3:7)Na te rūpam na cākāro nāyudhāni na cāspadam |Tathāpi puruṣākāro bhaktānām tvam prakāśase ||You O Lord! have no appearance, no form, no weapons and no abode. Even so you manifest in human form for the sake of your devotees. (Parama Samhita 23:50 29:25)
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 kiñcid anusmaret ||
sarvathā akāram uddiṣṭaṃ na parityajya paṇḍitaḥ ||
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 should meditate on some form, remembering however that it is an indirect method, a particularization or indication of that which is completely formless. (Vishnu Samhita 29:55 — 57)
nirākāre tu deveśe na arcanaṃ saṃ∫ave n‡ṇām |
na ca dhyānam na ca stotram tasmāt sākāram arcayet ||
It is impossible for the human being to worship, meditate or praise a deity without form. Therefore the Lord should be worship through an icon. (Parama Samhita 3:7)
Na te rūpam na cākāro nāyudhāni na cāspadam |
Tathāpi puruṣākāro bhaktānām tvam prakāśase ||
You O Lord! have no appearance, no form, no weapons and no abode. Even so you manifest in human form for the sake of your devotees. (Parama Samhita 23:50 29:25)
Let me repeat this - Hinduism is a religion of FREEDOM of thought and devotion -an individual can worship God through whatever device he/she chooses and in whatever form - male, female or androgynous, human or animal, vegetable or mineral.
What one worships is a personal choice - you can go from a stone to transcendental abstract contemplation and meditation.
In the Vedic days (3000 years ago) the primary medium of worship was the fire. There were no “Vedic” temples there were only fire-sheds (yāgaśālas) erected when needed. In the oldest archeological sites found - IVC - there were no temples only fire altars. But even there an icon of Lord Shiva as paśupatinātha was found.
As the Vedic yajñas declined temple building filled the gap and the Agamas took over from the Vedas. The Vedic Yajñas were restricted to the traivarnikas only since only they had the finance to afford them. As the economical situation changed and the śūdras became the wealthier they had to be brought into the religious-economy as well and so temples became the focus for religious life and the ICON took the place of the Vedic AGNI as a focal point of worship.
The earth revolves around the Sun and there are more than 50 billion Suns in our Milky Way Galaxy, which is one of over 100 billion Galaxies in the Universe which is 92 billion light years across and 18 billion years old.
Do you really think that the God/Goddess who created this incomprehensible vastness is really bothered by what name you call IT or how you imagine IT or through what you worship IT? Do you think this God is really going to fly into a narcissistic rage and torture for eternity all those who reject him - when their individual life-span is an average of 80 years?
All this obsession and botheration with Hindu Idolatry only makes sense in a geo-centric Universe where earth is the centre of the Universe and the function of the Sun and the Moon is to give light to human beings. Remember earth is the size of a grain of sand on all the combined beaches of the world.
IDOLATRY REALLY DOESN’T MATTER. IT HURTS NO ONE AND BRINGS PLEASURE TO ALL US HINDUS - WE LOVE OUR IDOLS AND WE ENJOY SERVING THEM.
Islam is so clear about its core belief in God (God is One with no partner), but why is Hinduism so confusing about God (God, demigods, goddesses, the monkey god, the elephant god, the cow goddess etc.)?
Islam arose in the desert. Watch some youtube movies about the Bedouin to get the visual. Vast expanses of empty sand, bleak mountains, extreme heat in summer, bitter cold nights, sand-storms, camels, goats and sheep for company. A relentless sun rising over blue skies every day - little change, the desert is masculine, harsh and unforgiving. The one resource people die for is water, and oases are few and far between. Food consists of milk, yoghurt, dates, grapes and pomegranates, bread, lentils and occasionally meat - not even olives in Arabia. Bedouin are herders and fierce warriors - life is a struggle against competing tribes, enmity and suspicion are natural. There has always been class conflict between the uppity Bedouin herders and the “lowly” Falaheen - peasant cultivators. You get the picture.
The highest goal of Islam is admission to “The Garden” — Jannat — which is described in the Quran like a celestial oasis, with running water, rivers, cool shade of trees, couches, green silk clothing, houris and ghilman, fountains of non-alcoholic wine and honey. All exactly what you would expect from Bedouin — heaven is the exact opposite of what you have. Hell is a more intensified form of what one experiences every day! Fire for eternity! Time is linear like the distant horizon.
Islam is thus very simple — One God, formless like the unchanging and open sky, and an absolute monarch like a tyrannical Sultan demanding submission, exclusive devotion and loyalty and adherence to immutable divine laws — easy enough to believe and natural to the environment one is trekking through.
Hinduism arose in the Jungle. Abundance, greenery, bubbling rivers, hundreds of different birds chirping and singing, hundreds of animals of all sorts leaping and bounding through the forest in the glimmering light of the trees. The jungle is feminine and alluring, exciting and colourful — hence Hindu women wear an abundance of colours. Hindus were cultivators with a hierarchical social structure. Food in abundance, dozens of different fruit hanging low, trees providing everything from shelter to clothing to utensils, no conflict over scarce resources but working in harmony with other inhabitants of the jungle. Creatures of the night wandering about, danger after dark etc. etc. etc. So in this verdant environment, belief in nature spirits, multiple gods and mischievous spirits, demons, monkey gods and sagely bears is all very natural and credible. Time is cyclical like nature, symbolism and stories are as complex and as rich as the forest.
The forest is where the sages and hermits retire to meditate and attain enlightenment and to live in peace and harmony with nature. The constant renewal of nature is consonant with the belief in reincarnation and Karma and ultimately merging with the Totality as vegetation does in the jungle.
So ,Hinduism arose AROSE - i.e. flourished, developed, evolved in a jungle environment. Most of the imagery in Hinduism is jungle related - lotus, elephants, sacred rivers, sacred pools, sacred trees, sacred mountains - all north Indian temples are built to resemble mountains, the jungle is the place where the rishis and yogis live and build their ashrams, all the birds and beasts in mythology are from the jungle. And the purpose of the analogy was to illustrate the jungle-like complexity of Hinduism.There is no monotheism or polytheism in Hinduism there is only NON-DUALITY - which is called in Islamic philosophy WAHD el-WUJOOD. Every creature on earth is influenced in their thinking and attitudes by the environment in which they live — both animals and humans. Any brief study of sociology will reveal this. The state of a persons bedroom reveals the content of their mind - a messed up room indicates a messed up mind …. etc.
In Agama Hinduism - the deity worshiped is a projection of one’s own higher self, and the objective of the upāsana is to attain psychological identification with the qualities of the deity being worshipped. lumping Hindu worship with Abrahamic worship is invalid. For them God is transcendent and absolutely different to the worshiper who is a creature of God - made for his worship.
God is what people project onto the screen of existence. Dogs would have a big Dog as God, cows would have a big Cow, militant people view God as a Sultan and commander etc.
Is Hinduism only about worshipping idols?
Hinduism is grounded in 2 core concepts.
Darshana — the “View of reality” i.e. philosophy and metaphysics-
Dharma — Ethics - how to achieve the maximum common good.
Everything else is embellishment, decoration and entertainment.
We worship icons not because we are compelled to but because we LIKE too. Its lots of fun and entertaining. And since we have complete freedom of belief and practice everyone can do exactly as they please. Who cares?
As long as one is not impinging on the rights and freedoms of others and not encroaching on their space or disturbing their privacy, why should anyone even care?
We never ask you to believe what we believe or worship what we worship - you may do as you please and good luck to you.
If Hindus worship a stone or metal "idol " as God as a means to invoke the presence of God from the higher, unseen worlds, into the image so that Hindus can commune with Him and receive His blessings, why not simply pray directly to God?
You are asking from a dualist perspective. You consider God, souls and matter as being three different and distinct things.
For Hindus there is ONE singular reality which comprise of God (iśvara), souls (jīvas) and matter/particles and fields (prakṛti) - three in ONE like h2O.
God is everything and is in everything so whatever you use to focus you mind on is a direct method of interfacing with the all pervading Ultimate Reality.
Then the second part is about the blessings God. His/her blessings are continuously showering down on us - no need to request them like a service provider - just open your mind and remove your mental obstructions and the blessings will automatically flow in
Why is the Trimurti important to Hindus?
That’s like asking why is Gravity important to atheists?
Gravity is not something to be thought about - it just is. It operates independent of one’s belief, favour or disfavour.
The Trimurti are the graphic representations of the three fundamental forces of the Universe:–
These forces operate in the universe whether you believe in them or not. As Hindus we love the pictorial and graphical user interfaces - so we generate ICONS to represent subtle things like forces, and then we tell stories about them and how they interact with each other.
And seeing that the entire cosmos consists of nothing but energy (śakti) we use these forces either singularly or in combination to represent this Cosmic Energy (also known as “God”) of which we are all made and in which we all exist, as a means of contemplation and worship.
According to Hinduism, if God doesn't directly interfere with one's karma, why is it necessary to worship God?
Nowhere in the vast library of Hindu scriptures does it say that God must be worshiped, adored or venerated or even believed in. The reason is simple -
Those that feel that God has to be worshiped are differentiating God from themselves i.e. creating and perpetuating the vision of duality and difference.
The Vedas emphatically declare that this ātman which is us, is an expansion or mode or spark of the totality of Being - Brahman. Brahman or God if you will, is everything and the ONLY thing — nothing exists apart from Brahman.
In other words each and every one of us is non-different to the source from which we sprung. Just as the sparks are non-different in their essential nature from the fire - or a drop of water from the ocean - the difference is not in quality but in magnitude.
Thus, being sparks of the Divine Light, we have no existential need to worship or pay homage or grovel or to abase ourselves before some higher creative, authoritarian power, all we are taught to do by the Veda, is to pursue the path of Self-realization (ātma-bodha):– contemplate, meditate and realize our true essence as being one with God/Brahman — and to live an ethical and wholesome life, and to be a benevolent presence in the world.
But for those who cannot do this and wish to form a devotional relationship (bhakti) to the Supreme being male or female - they are more than welcome to do so - it is their personal choice - not a universal compulsion. Every Hindu is encouraged to choose his/her own path and method of communing with their higher nature.
Is the Vedic supreme god different from the Puranic supreme god (Vedas, Puranas, Brahman, Hinduism)?
The idea of theological “supremacy/inferiority” is itself a foreign concept which is the governing paradigm of the monotheistic faith confessions and the basis of their delusional claims to exceptionalism.
The Hindu vision is one of IMMENSITY, VASTNESS and INCLUSIVENESS.
All the Rishis had a vision of the ONE, all pervasive all inclusive, immanent and transcendent Being. The ONE of which everything - spirit and matter is a manifestation and mode.
But seeing that there is such incredible beauty and variety in the world, all of it seen as nothing but the external or concrete manifestation of that ONE Supreme Being.
Repeatedly in the Vedas we have the declaration that behind the variety of Gods, Antigods, humans, celestials, animals, vegetation, planets, stars, galaxies etc. is the Substratum consisting of Being, Consciousness, Bliss – Immaculate and Boundless – known as Brahman. This same substratum is called by a myriad of names (nāma) and depicted in a myriad of forms (rūpa) - but it is the one and the same.
ekam sat, viprā bahudhā āvadanti = Being is one, the wise describe it variously.
eka evāgnir bahudhā samiddha, ekaḥ sūryo viśvaṃ anu prabhūtaḥ |ekaivoṣāḥ sarvam idaṃ vibhāty ekaṃ vaidam vi babhūva sarvam ||Agni kindled in many places is but ONE; ONE the all-pervading sun; ONE the dawn spreading her light over the earth, all that exists is ONE, whence is produced the whole Universe. (Rik Veda 8.58.2)
eka evāgnir bahudhā samiddha, ekaḥ sūryo viśvaṃ anu prabhūtaḥ |
ekaivoṣāḥ sarvam idaṃ vibhāty ekaṃ vaidam vi babhūva sarvam ||
Agni kindled in many places is but ONE; ONE the all-pervading sun; ONE the dawn spreading her light over the earth, all that exists is ONE, whence is produced the whole Universe. (Rik Veda 8.58.2)
So all speculative chatter of theological “supremacy” and “inferiority” is a symptom of nescience, limited vision and sectarianism which leads to alienation and conflict.
How do we know that Hindu deities are real and not some nonsense the Hindu people made up?
What does REAL mean? and what is NONSENSE?
The Sun is a Hindu deity - I doubt that anyone in their right mind would say the Sun is not “real”. The Sun is the source of life on this planet.
Is the Sun being considered a deity “nonsense”? Well Muslims insist we worship our “creator”. Who is our creator if not the Sun? It makes perfect sense. Muslims will then say “worship the unseen and imaginary creator of the Sun” - this is real nonsense.
There are 100 billion Suns and 500 solar systems so far found in the Universe. Stars are being born and dying constantly – 400 million stars are born per year in the Universe - and no one is observed creating them and no such being can even be infered to exist.
The Moon is a Hindu deity, as is the Earth, the Wind, the Mountains, the Trees, - the dynamic forces of the Universe - the cohesive, centripetal and centrifugal energies and forces are all personified deities - what’s “unrealistic;” about these things?
The way in which they are conceived and depicted in Hindu Iconography is perfectly comprehensible and sensible.
Perhaps one should ask is believing in an unseen creator who spoke to a prophet through an unseen angel in a cave, and micromanages his life and reveals very confusing messages and thinks that the Sun sets in a muddy pool is “real”.
Do the gods in Hinduism regard humans as equal to them or do they see humans as inferior creatures?
A very good question Mateus, and one that is answered beautifully in the Veda itself Brhadaranyaka Upanishad’s (4:10) states:
“योऽन्यां देवतामुपास्ते अन्योऽसावन्योऽहमस्मीति न स वेद यथा पशुरेवं स देवानाम् —yo anyām devatām upāste 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.”
“योऽन्यां देवतामुपास्ते अन्योऽसावन्योऽहमस्मीति न स वेद यथा पशुरेवं स देवानाम् —
yo anyām devatām upāste anyo asau anyo ahamasmi iti, na sa veda, yathā paśurevam sa devānām”,
(credit to Ram Abloh for pointing this one out to me.)
The gods have to be meditated upon and worshiped as higher aspects of our own being. They represent cosmic forces and psychological principles which, when meditated upon and integrated, create greater inner harmony.
Other sūtras to this effect are:–
So the worship and meditation upon the gods, their iconography and their mantras brings about an inner transformation and advances our spiritual evolution. But one needs to see the gods as projections of our own minds.
I have never discouraged criticism - but it should be rational not just flinging dirt. Most “criticism” of Hinduism is just denunciation and condemnation from a feeling of superiority and not a critical analysis. In fact in the Upanishads we find denunciations and ridicule of all forms of worship. We are well known for self-criticism - I’m not sure Islam has the same attitude.
I have explained the psychology and dynamics of so-called “idolatry” dozens of times on Quora. “Theism” of whatever sort is an Abrahamic obsession which is a nonsense for us since we adhere to pan-en-theism.
All forms of worship and objects of worship in Hinduism are OPTIONAL not compulsory. You can worship God through a symbol or icon or you can meditate upon the formless Absolute. You can pray 24 times a day or never at all - it is entirely consumer driven - no dogmas, no rules, no regulations, no compulsion, no threats - entirely up to the individual.
The big difference is that we never state that our beliefs and practices MUST be accepted be everyone and that only WE are correct. Or that we have a monopoly on salvation. :-) Unlike Islam and Christianity.
How would polytheists argue that monotheism makes less sense than polytheism?
Polytheists say “we don’t care” - monotheists have no credible proof of their single deity and we have no proof of our multiple deities so we are both arguing about which of our invisible friends makes more sense!! An unwinnable argument.
The difference is polytheists have no interest in convincing others, but monotheists seem to be obsessed with their un-provable pet theory and are intent on convincing others of their postulation.
Why they can’t all just chill out and relax and accept difference.
Lots of monotheist religions have issue with atheists, how do polytheists feel about atheists?
As a Hindu I feel much more affinity with atheists than I do with devout Christians or Muslims who both see me as fuel for the fires of their hells and are probably assessing how much energy it will take to burn me to a crisp.
Its the honesty, natural humanity, rationality and freedom from appeals to authority that I like and also the fact that the good they do is unmotivated by some celestial rewards but for the good in itself.
Can a Hindu worship Brahman? As a Hindu, I want to practise Monotheism but I don't believe in Idol worshipping, so what do I do? Is yoga and meditation another option cause Jnana Marga is mentioned in Hinduism, right? Please help!
There is no obligation to use any tools or accessories in your spiritual practice, you can very well meditate upon the formless Brahman. You may find your mind wanders in which case you can use your breathing as a focusing device.
According to the Mahānirvāna Tantra the mūla-mantra for the formless Brahman is:–
oṁ sac-cid-ekam brahma
The hymn which is also from the Mahānirvāṇa Tantra can be recited:–
Om! I bow to You, the eternal Refuge of all:
I bow to You, the pure Intelligence manifested in the universe.
I bow to You, Who in essence is One and Who grants liberation.
I bow to You, the great, all-pervading attributeless One (59).
You are the only Refuge and Object of adoration.
The whole universe is the appearance of You Who are its Cause.
You alone are Creator, Preserver, Destroyer of the world.
You are the sole immutable Supreme, Who are neither this nor that (6o);
Dread of the dreadful, Terror of the terrible.
Refuge of all beings, Purificator of all purificators.
You alone rule the high-placed ones,
Supreme over the supreme, Protector of the Protectors (61).
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 (62).
On that One alone we meditate, that One alone we in mind worship,
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 being (63).
This is the five-jewelled hymn to the Supreme Self.
Why did God create/allow different religions that has led to untold strife on this planet?
What evidence do you have to assume that a “God” created any religion?
ALL religions are humankind’s attempt to understand and explain the natural world and to give meaning to life and hope for the afterlife.
Then the monotheistic religions made extraordinary and impudent claims that they have the monopoly on truth and salvation and that their mythology is “history” and that all non-subscribers to their tribal ideologies are going to be roasted forever while subscribers will be gamers in an eternal paradise.
Such outrageous and offensive claims will naturally cause conflict.
Is Hinduism monotheism disguised as polytheism?
Dear Ahmed, the question of Hinduism being originally monotheistic is an attempt to confirm a fundamental doctrine of Islam - Fitrah.
‘Every new-born child is born in a state of fitrah. Then his parents make him a Jew, a Christian or a Magian, just as an animal is born intact. Do you observe any among them that are maimed (at birth)?’
According to this doctrine, monotheism is the original and default state of humanity starting from the first man Adam (this doctrine is also held by Judaism). Hence everyone is born by default a monotheist (Muslim), and due to familial and social conditioning follow distorted forms of monotheism (Christians) or polytheistic or animistic or any other variety of beliefs. So when one converts to Islam one is said to be “reverting” to one’s original true spiritual state.
Islam also affirms that monotheist preaching messengers were sent to every people on planet earth - but there is absolutely no evidence of this belief.
Now there is a serious problem with this doctrine of fitrah because all the archeological and epigraphical evidence we find throughout the world proves exactly the opposite. Polytheism is the natural and default spiritual conviction of every tribe and nation on earth since the evolution of homo sapiens 200,000 years ago. Every single great civilization was polytheistic from inception — including Hinduism.
The first truly strict monotheistic religion is Judaism which also started as polytheistic, and gradually the other gods were either retired or merged with EL the high god of the Canaanite pantheon culminating in the one god EL ELYON, ELOHIM or YAHWEH who became fiercely intolerant of the other gods.
Muhammad became a zealous proponent of monotheism, and being rejected as a prophet by the Arab Jewish tribes of Arabia turned on them, accusing them falsely of being less monotheistic than he was because they allegedly believed that the Scribe Ezra was a son-of-god!! This is a complete fabrication, as Jews had been strict monotheists for at least 1000 years at that time.
Quran 9:30The Jews call 'Ezra a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. May Allah destroy them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!
So Hinduism in the beginning was also vibrant, unapologetic polytheism with henotheism or monolatry developing later. Today we find many western educated Hindus trying desperately to claim monotheism as their own in order to align themselves with Abrahamic trio.
Indian philosophical & religious traditions are a vast corpus & one may choose or reject practices depending on ones intellectual temperament. However rejecting an ayat of Quran will make one a disbeliever. Why did these two evolve so differently?
The terrain in which these two religious systems evolved is the answer. One’s belief system is profoundly influenced by the environment in which one lives and with which one interacts on a day to day basis. The realities of your daily existence shape your thoughts about the world, the universe and your place in it.
The desert is the source of Islam and the jungle the source of Hinduism.
Islam is extremely simple, stark and uncompromising, holding to ONE truth and not tolerating deviation or diversity - monopoly on resources (water) ensures survival. Hence the unity of the tribe (ummah) and also the concepts of heaven (jannat) as a luscious, verdant garden with cool rivers of pure water, and hell (annār) as a great fire can also be easily understood with reference to the environment in which Islam arose.
Hinduism is like a jungle; complex, rich, variant, mysterious, frustrating, inclusive and diverse, accepting myriads of facets to TRUTH and multiple ways to interact with the environment - being rich in resources there is no need for monopolising anything - diverse categories and tribes of beings live in harmony and cooperation to ensure the integrity of the ecology.
What is one of the most misunderstood things about Hinduism by most Westerners?
Most people - westerners, easterners, northerners and southerners have the same misunderstanding which even most Hindus have!
What you see - the colourful pageantry, festivals, icons, legends, mythology, dress, caste, curry and cows are only the external window dressing.
The hidden core of Hinduism is a very deep and profound philosophical system grounded in logic, rational thinking, free speech, open questioning and argument. An open system of thought, unfettered by dogma or creed, adapting and transforming according to evidence and proof.
Along with a very sophisticated and universal system of deontology.
If all the window dressing is swept aside, the core of Hinduism i.e. Vedanta stands firm and unshakable.
Why do we worship God in a human form? Why is it that God seems to mirror us rather than us mirroring God?
God made mankind in his own image and mankind returned the favour!
The answer is given in the Agama Shastra (There is no icon worship in the Vedas).
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 kiñcid anusmaret ||Sarvathā akāram uddiṣṭaṃ na parityajya paṇḍitaḥ ||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 should meditate on some form, remembering however that it is an indirect method, a particularization or indication of that which is completely formless. (Vishnu Samhita 29:55 — 57)
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 kiñcid anusmaret ||
Sarvathā akāram uddiṣṭaṃ na parityajya paṇḍitaḥ ||
nirākāre tu deveśe na arcanaṃ saṃ∫ave n‡ṇām |na ca dhyānam na ca stotram tasmāt sākāram arcayet ||It is impossible for the human being to worship, meditate or praise a deity without form. Therefore the Lord should be worshipped through an icon.
It is impossible for the human being to worship, meditate or praise a deity without form. Therefore the Lord should be worshipped through an icon.
But the use of icons and symbols is entirely optional for Hindus. We acknowledge that God is formless and all pervading but due to human mental frailty symbols are required - they are crutches which are useful, like using a raft to cross a river and then duly abandoned the raft once on the other side, not carried on one’s head for the rest of the journey.
The Vedānta states that the highest form of worship is to meditate (dhyāna) on the divinity within one’s own heart.
Are there any Muslim idols (just wondering)?
There are two definitions of IDOL.
The greatest fiction that was ever peddled by the propaganda machinery of iconoclasts is that Pagans actually worship the idol itself. The Babylonians, Romans, Persians and Greeks were highly intelligent, as were the Indians and Chinese. No one who ever fashioned an ”idol” thought that IT was a God in itself.
The artisans all created them artistically and aesthetically as SYMBOLS of a higher unseen Archetype or Principle (read God). And everyone of any intellectual attainment knows that the prayer, worship and adoration is not addressed to the object ITSELF but the principle which it represents.
Just as a map-maker knows full well that the map she is creating is NOT the terrain she is describing. There is not a photographer in history who actually believed that the photograph taken is actually the person photographed. Were the ancients less intelligent?
So any objection or denunciation of idolatry as “sinful” is duplicitous when one is using and cherishing symbols for one’s own BS (Belief System).
The only legitimate objection that can be made is giving form to the formless -and this too is fraught with contradictions because there are explicit descriptions of the form of God in both the Bible and the Quran.
Always best not to criticise or condemn the devotional equipment of others.
the Veda says. Its says
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 know that. That is Brahman.' (Tattiriya Up. Bhriguvali)
8. 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.
He 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.
"This foundation is nothing but the Absolute. Beyond that, there can be nothing. That is the immaculate Absolute," says Yajnavalkya.
Muslims warn those who worship Hindu gods or worship created things even after reading the Quran and understanding the message of pure monotheism will be burnt by Allah for eternity. Do the Hindus warn the Muslims in a like manner?
In my experience of inter-faith dialogue the biggest misunderstanding between Muslims and Hindus is on the nature and purpose of RELIGION itself.
The difference is encapsulated in the descriptor of the religion. ISLAM means “submission to the will of Allah”, SANĀTANA DHARMA - means the “perennial philosophy or path”.
The pivotal concern of Islam is with Tawhīd - the oneness of God, his creatorship, his concern and plans for humankind delivered by his messenger, his need to be worshipped and his laws (sharia) to be obeyed. The first word in the Quran is “bismillah” - in the name of Allah.
The pivotal concern of Sanātana Dharma (aka “Hinduism”) is Dharma not God. Dharma is one of the untranslatables, encompassing the nature of reality itself to the way in which we interact with each other, animals and the environment. Dharma can be studied, taught and practiced without any reference to God whatsoever. The firs word in the Gītā is “Dharma-kṣetra” - in the field of Dharma.
Some may try to draw and equivalence between Dharma and Sharia, but this is false. Sharia is a rigid code based upon the commands of Allah and the example of the Prophet. There is little scope in the 4 schools of Sunni or Shia Sharia for change, upgrading or renovation and innovation.
Change and upgrade in Dharma on the other hand is imperative, since everything is temporary and conditioned by nature, so Dharma must be adapting to time, place and circumstance to be relevant. Dharma is subjected to democratic vote and public opinion, old values are jettisoned and new values adopted as required. Everything that Dharma involves is open to questioning, argument and of course rejection.
There are of course Bhakti sects in the federation of Hinduism which are ardently theistic and define themselves by their belief in God e.g. Vaishnavas, Shaivites, Shakta etc. but Dharma is the commonality, it is the central thread that holds the garland of Hinduism together and enables peaceful cohabitation and cooperation. When two Hindus meet they are unlikely to begin their conversation about which god the other worships and to find any commonality through theism - it is cricket which is the basis for their bonding! And cricket is a form of Dharma! Some may even say the highest expression of Dharma. The central text of modern Hinduism - the Bhagavad Gita could very well have been delivered on the cricket pitch rather than the battle-field.
So interfaith discussion on theological terms and conditions can take place between any Bhakti sect of Hinduism and Islam, but not between the federation of Hinduism and Islam as a single religio-political body.
So in summary Muslims are obsessed with God and Hindus with Dharma.
Islam asks - “who created me and what are my obligations to him?”
Hinduism asks - “what is my relationship to other beings with whom I share the planet and how should I act to achieve the greatest common good?”
So we remain totally unconcerned with what other people believe, and how or what they worship, we are only concerned with how they behave.
Who created Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva ?
There are two perspectives of these three gentlemen.
Mythological - all the weird and wonderful stories of their pastimes and scandalous activities and their absurd mutual conflicts and triumphalism. Depending on the Purana each one creates the others and then they fight about who is superior - great entertainment like Star Wars - but not serious.
Metaphysical - they are the personifications of the three primal energetic forces in operation in the Universe. They are not antagonistic forces but rather inseparable synergetic forces.
They are not “created” sky-guys but are eternal principles forever in operation in the Cosmic dance of BEING.
They all emerge from the Matrix or the Unified Field known as BRAHMAN and are representative of the three essential qualities of Brahman.
Sat - Being = Brahma (SPACE)
Cit - Consciousness = Shiva
Ānanda - bliss/love = Vishnu (TIME)
So we need to put down our Puranas and start studying metaphysics.
What is the difference between the God of the Qur'an, New testament and Gita?
I am a Hindu and so my answer is obviously biased. I’m sure Christians and Muslims will give a more profound and detailed assessment of their points of view.
Firstly the similarities between Allah, Jesus and Krishna are:–
The difference lies in the extent of their compassion and mercy and the limitation of the humans they care about.
Allah, the Koran repeatedly affirms is compassionate and merciful (ar-rahman ar-rahim) but that noble sentiment is reserved predominantly for Muslims. All unbelievers, hypocrites and apostates are condemned to eternal torment in the fires of hell – as over a hundred verses categorically declare.
Regarding the Jews and Christians the Koran is ambiguous. According to 5:60 Jews, Sabians and Christians, who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness shall have their reward.
But according to 2:88 & 4:46 the Jews are cursed by Allah for their disbelief. According to 9:30 the Christians are also cursed and condemned for calling Jesus the son of God. But Allah knows best.
Jesus affirms that all who take refuge with him and acknowledge him as Lord will be saved and those who don’t will be condemned to eternal damnation.
The view of theologians has been modified over the years and nowadays there is a leaning towards Universal Salvation. Few ministers apart from the Pentecostals preach about hellfire and damnation nowadays and most have relaxed into a kind of multi-cultural relativism.
The view that all those who do righteousness (irrespective of belief) will be rewarded is based on the Parable of the sheep and the goats (https://biblia.com/bible/esv/Matt%2025.31-46). But some commentators would say that good deeds is not the cause of salvation but the result of it. But Jesus knows best.
Krishna’s pronouncements in the Gita are much more nuanced.
I am the Self, O Arjuna, dwelling in the hearts of all beings. (10: 20.)I am the same to all beings; to Me there is none hateful or dear; but those who worship Me with devotion abide in Me and I in them. (9: 29.)Whichever manifestation (of the Divine) any devotee desires to worship with faith — that faith I make unshakeable and firm. (7:21.)
I am the Self, O Arjuna, dwelling in the hearts of all beings. (10: 20.)
I am the same to all beings; to Me there is none hateful or dear; but those who worship Me with devotion abide in Me and I in them. (9: 29.)
Whichever manifestation (of the Divine) any devotee desires to worship with faith — that faith I make unshakeable and firm. (7:21.)
In Chapter 12 Krishna responds to a question by Arjuna about the merits of those who worship Him (with form) and those who worship the formless unmanifest as follows:–
“But those who meditate upon the Imperishable the indefinable, the Unmanifest, omnipresent, inconceivable, ubiquitous, stable and constant; Having subdued all their senses, unprejudiced, intent on the welfare of all beings — they too come to Me alone.” (12:3 - 4.)
In regards to those who are openly hostile towards him and wicked in deeds he declares:–
“Overcome with egoism, power, conceit, desire and anger, those malicious people hate Me in their own bodies and in those of others. These wicked people who are hostile, cruel, and the most contemptible of humankind, I hurl continually into the cycles of births and deaths, into the lower species. (16: 18,19.) NOTE - they return to the cycle of birth and death but eventually will evolve and return to Godhead.
So according to the Gita there is no eternal damnation and certainly no eternal divine torture for the thought crime of disbelief or even rejection of Krishna. Krishna is more accepting and embracing of diversity and his compassion is unlimited and inclusive – universal humanism, altruism and moral rectitude being the decisive factor, not belief.
The major difference with Allah and Jesus is that both of them have limited compassion and mercy and an exclusive and condemnatory policy towards those who reject them, no matter how virtuous and righteous they may be.
If one considers God to be Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omni-benevolent then any restriction or limitation on the knowledge, power, presence or compassion and mercy of that superlative Being would be a major theological flaw and a logical fallacy – limitation of the limitless.
Are there really 33 crore gods in Hinduism? Isn't there a war between them?
The Universal Conflict is not among the gods themselves but between the gods who represent the forces of Cosmos (order) and the anti-gods who represent the forces of Chaos.
This conflict between Order and Chaos can be seen all around us, between us and even within us.
As for there being 33 million gods - that was when there were only 33 million people on the planet, now there are 7.674 billion (2019) gods and thousands more are being born every minute.
Hindus claim to find peace in worship of Hindu gods. Does that make them confident to reject Allah's message of pure monotheism and not fear punishment for eternity in hellfire. Is Allah deceiving Hindus as Quran says Allah is the best of deceivers?
We know that our gods actually exist and we know that our path is the correct one. We have hundreds of sages and enlightened beings who have confirmed this for us.
We also know that there are many paths and all are welcome to find the one that suits them, the Ultimate destination is the same - Union with the Divine. So we have no necessity or need to invite others to travel on the road we have chosen.
Whether the Arab god Allah actually exists or not or whether his threats and promises are authentic or not or if he is the best of deceivers or not, is a matter for his followers to figure out.
As far as we are concerned he has no place in our universe - and his threats and promises are piffle.
Marduk was worshipped in Babylon for 2000 years and his promises and threats were also believed - his cult is now nowhere to be seen. And so it was with all the gods and cults of the Middle East and Europe. And here we are - still following our traditions, practicing Yoga - spreading it around the world, and teaching our philosophy while all our fellow travellers have disappeared, bar the Zoroastrians and the Jews and we get on extremely well with both of them and they are our most trusted and cooperative travelling companions - and there has never been enmity or treachery with them.
What is the difference between Hindu gods and Muslim god?
Gandhi famously sang:– “Ishwar Allah tero naam, sab ko sanmati de bhagavan” - “Ishwar and Allah are your names please give noble thoughts to everyone.”
But I think this is misguided theological relativism and I have yet to find an orthodox Muslim theologian that agrees with Gandhi. “Same-same” always comes from the Hindu side of the isle.
The principle of Divinity or the Absolute or Godhead (Divine Nature) or Source etc. has been the cornerstone of every religion that has ever existed from 100,000 years ago.
While the principle is ONE, conceptual packaging differs radically. And most religious cultists are concerned only with the packaging and argue and dispute and go to war and kill each other over it - millions of people had died because of difference in packaging and advertising. Only the mystics of every culture have discarded the packaging and are relishing and blissfully enjoying the content.
So the Islamic theological concept of Allah is radically opposed to the Hindu concept of Ishwara. They are in essence referring to the same DIVINE NATURE but the conceptual configuration in which that Godhead is being promoted, advertised and consumed are as different as day and night.
The Hindu position has been consistent and resolute.
Ekam sat viprā bahudhā vadanti. The TRUTH is ONE but the theologians describe it in a variety of ways.
All names and forms are of the ONE.
The Sun is ONE but illumines every country on the globe and is called by thousands of different names. The Sun gives its light and life to every living form without discrimination, favour or prejudice.
So while the principle of DIVINE NATURE is the same in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism and every other religion, the way we perceive, conceptualise, claim exclusive ownership of, and market that product is what we are all arguing about.
The moment everyone drops their deluded claims on exclusivity and arrives at the inclusive and rational Hindu position - there will be peace on earth. As long as one group claims that the SUN is theirs, shines on them only, loves them and hates everyone else - religious wars will continue to rage.
Why is Islam considered the most logical religion?
Islam is a FAITH which means a subjective belief in a proposition without evidence or logic. The foundation of Islam is “the belief in revelation” i.e. Quran was orally revealed by Allah to the final prophet, Muhammad, through the archangel Gabriel, incrementally over a period of some 23 years.
No revealed religion can lay claim to being “logical” because there is no evidence or rational argument that any Sky-guy revealed anything to anyone at any time.
So in order to claim that Islam is “logical” the sponsor of this proposition must first prove beyond reasonable doubt:–
I would argue that all three points are SUBJECTIVE beliefs and have no evidence or reason to validate them.
The question asked was “Why is Islam considered the most logical religion” i.e. of ALL RELIGIONS. So it was inviting extra-Islamic comment. I just raised some questions as to its rationality - you may please prove the points raised - why denounce me for raising them.
This is the problem with Islam - Muslims believe that Islam is objectively and self-evidently and unquestionably true and that if someone questions the claim - they must evil-minded islamophobes.
I believe in the Unconditioned, Limitless, Universal Supreme Being who Being-consciousness and Bliss - IT is not the limited, and conditioned Arab god who is subjected to human emotions like anger, hate, resentment, and sadism. It is like comparing the Sun to a bonfire - both give light but they are not the same.
We are differing on conceptual perspective not on the principle of Divinity itself.
So in order to establish that Islam is indeed logical you would need to explain and rationalise how a perfect being can be angry and hate, how a creator can even create something that he detests, and how a perfectly compassionate being can also be a cruel sadist. I think you will have some difficulty doing this.
I didn’t say I don’t believe in God - I just don’t believe in the Arab concept of God which is paltry, limited and contradictory. I believe in Wadat-al-wujd.
I’m a Muslim and I think that Islam, at its best, is mighty illogical.
But you lose me when you say this and go on and advocate Hinduism.
I mean, Sir, isn’t that rejecting one illogical argument and then accepting another ??
Hindus never claim that we are the BEST and everyone is wrong. We acknowledge all universals. And we never invite others to accept our point of view.
If you wish to share your views why you think Hindu philosophy is illogical or irrational then please try me - and I’ll answer you.
What will you use as logic for Hinduism.
If I say that God is one and he is the creator of world. He created you and me. He is all powerful.
[And please do not ask what is the difination of God you know it]
I do not need to defend Hinduism because we do not invite others to believe our teaching. Islam claims it is “perfect” and “rational” so the burden of proof is on Islam to prove itself.
You have made a statement of FAITH. Prove that God exists first. There are four schools of Hindu philosophy which rejects the doctrine of God.
Islam is based entirely on Tawḥīd. Hinduism is based on ātma-bodha - Self-Realisation. Which is more rational? Proving the existence of God or the existence of Self?
Who are the real gods and goddesses in the Hindu religion?
Thanks for asking this most important question. The real, tangible and directly perceptible gods and goddesses of the Hindu religion are all the sentient beings you live with on planet earth.
Each and every sentient being is the embodiment of the Divine - we are just holograms of Divine energy. Leaving aside sky-guys and sky-gals we should be devoting ourselves in worship and service of our fellow beings.
yasya nārāyaṇo devo bhagavān hṛdgataḥ sadā | bhaktyā kevalayā ajñānaṃ dhunoti dhvāntam arkavat ||For in your heart Nārāyaṇa, the Lord dwells forever. Drawn by unswerving devotion, He dispels the darkness of ignorance like the Sun. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam Skanda 7 Adhyāyaḥ 13 ; 21.sa eva sarva-bhūtāntarātma apahata pāpmā divyo deva eko nārāyaṇaḥHe alone is the indwelling spirit of all beings; free from all evil qualities, the One Divine Radiant Nārāyaṇaḥ (Subāla Upaniṣad 7:1)mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke jīva-bhūtas sanātanaḥ || (Gīta 15:7)An everlasting part of Myself, becomes the Jīva (being) in the mortal world.jīvanaṁ sarva bhūteṣu (Gita 7:9)I am the life-principle in all beings,yo māṁ paśyati sarvatra sarvaṁ ca mayi paśyati | tasyāhaṁ na praṇaśyāmi sa ca me na praṇaśyati || Gita 6:30 ||He who sees Me everywhere and everything in Me; I am not separated from him and he is never separated from Me.sarva-bhūta-sthitaṁ yo māṁ bhajaty-ekatvam-āsthitaḥ | sarvathā vartmāno’pi sa yogī mayi vartate || Gita 6:31 ||31. The Yogi who, established in unity, worships Me dwelling in all beings, he abides in Me, howsoever he may live.aham ātmā guḍākeśa sarva bhūtāśaya sthitaḥ || Gita 10:20I am the Self, O Gudakesha (Arjuna —Conqueror-of-sleep), dwelling in the hearts of all beings.Svetasvatara Upanishadtvaṃ strī tvaṃ pumān asi tvaṃ kumāra uta vā kumārī |tvaṃ jīrṇo daṇḍena vañcasi tvaṃ jāto bhavasi viśvatomukhaḥ || 4.3 ||You are woman (feminine), you are man (masculine); you are a youth and a young damsel too. You as an old man totters along with the help of a stick; it is you alone appear in the cosmic form and have faces in all directions.(Also Atharva Veda 10.8.27)
yasya nārāyaṇo devo bhagavān hṛdgataḥ sadā | bhaktyā kevalayā ajñānaṃ dhunoti dhvāntam arkavat ||
For in your heart Nārāyaṇa, the Lord dwells forever. Drawn by unswerving devotion, He dispels the darkness of ignorance like the Sun. (Śrīmad Bhāgavatam Skanda 7 Adhyāyaḥ 13 ; 21.
sa eva sarva-bhūtāntarātma apahata pāpmā divyo deva eko nārāyaṇaḥ
He alone is the indwelling spirit of all beings; free from all evil qualities, the One Divine Radiant Nārāyaṇaḥ (Subāla Upaniṣad 7:1)
mamaivāṁśo jīva-loke jīva-bhūtas sanātanaḥ || (Gīta 15:7)
An everlasting part of Myself, becomes the Jīva (being) in the mortal world.
jīvanaṁ sarva bhūteṣu (Gita 7:9)
I am the life-principle in all beings,
yo māṁ paśyati sarvatra sarvaṁ ca mayi paśyati | tasyāhaṁ na praṇaśyāmi sa ca me na praṇaśyati || Gita 6:30 ||
He who sees Me everywhere and everything in Me; I am not separated from him and he is never separated from Me.
sarva-bhūta-sthitaṁ yo māṁ bhajaty-ekatvam-āsthitaḥ | sarvathā vartmāno’pi sa yogī mayi vartate || Gita 6:31 ||
31. The Yogi who, established in unity, worships Me dwelling in all beings, he abides in Me, howsoever he may live.
aham ātmā guḍākeśa sarva bhūtāśaya sthitaḥ || Gita 10:20
I am the Self, O Gudakesha (Arjuna —Conqueror-of-sleep), dwelling in the hearts of all beings.
tvaṃ strī tvaṃ pumān asi tvaṃ kumāra uta vā kumārī |tvaṃ jīrṇo daṇḍena vañcasi tvaṃ jāto bhavasi viśvatomukhaḥ || 4.3 ||
You are woman (feminine), you are man (masculine); you are a youth and a young damsel too. You as an old man totters along with the help of a stick; it is you alone appear in the cosmic form and have faces in all directions.
(Also Atharva Veda 10.8.27)
Is Hinduism the world's most peaceful religion?
The uniquely peaceful thing about Hinduism is the recitation of Peace-Mantras (śāntiḥ pāṭhaḥ) at every function.
The Peace Chants invoke peace equally on all sentient beings and even to the trees and the environment. This I think is in contradistinction to the monotheism which invoke peace on their own cult followers while ignoring all other people, animals and the environment.
Here are some examples.
taccha̱ṁyo rāvṛ̍ṇīmahe | gā̱tuṁ ya̱jñāya̍ | gā̱tuṁ ya̱jña-pa̍taye | dai̱vī̎ sva̱stir a̍stu naḥ | sva̱stir mānu̍ṣebhyaḥ | ū̱rdhvaṁ ji̍gātu bheṣa̱jam | śanno̍ astu dvi̱pade̎ | śaṁ catu̍ṣpade ||
We worship the Supreme Being for the welfare of all. May we be free from all miseries and shortcomings so that we may always chant in the sacrifices and for the Lord of Sacrifices. May the medicinal herbs grow in potency, so that diseases can be cured effectively. May the devas grant us peace. May all human beings be happy, may all the birds and the beasts also be happy. Om Peace Peace Peace.
pṛ̱thi̱vī śānti̍r-a̱ntari̍kṣa̱gu̱ṁ śānti̱ dyauś-śānti̱r diśa̱ś-śānti̍r avāntara di̱śāś-śānti̍r a̱gniś-śānti̍r vā̱yuś-śānti̍r ādi̱tyaś-śānti̍ś ca̱ndramā̱ś śānti̱r nakṣa̍trāṇi̱ śānti̱r-āpa̱ś śānti̱r oṣa̍dhaya̱ś śānti̱r vana̱s-pata̍ya̱ś śānti̱r gauś śānti̍r a̱jā śānti̱r aśva̱ś śānti̱ḥ puru̍ṣa̱ś śānti̱r brahma̱ śānti̍r brāhma̱ṇaś śānti̱ś śānti̍r e̱va śānti̱ś śānti̍r me astu̱ śānti̍ḥ | tayā̱haguṁ śā̱ntyā sa̍rvā śā̱ntyāmahya̍ṁ dvi̱pade̱ catu̍ṣ-pade ca̱ śānti̍ṁ karomi śānti̍r me astu̱ śānti̍ḥ ||
Peace be to the earth; peace to the atmosphere; peace to the sky; peace to the cardinal directions and to the intermediate directions; peace to the fire; peace to the wind; peace to the Sun; peace to the Moon and constellations; peace to the waters; peace to the healing herbs; peace to the forests; peace to the cattle; peace to the goats; peace to the horses; peace to all humankind; peace to the Creator; peace to the priests; let there be peace everywhere and may I attain peace. From that all-pervading peace, may there be peace to me and to all animals and birds; I make peace with all creation; may I have peace.
What are the primary ways the Hindu and Abrahamic conceptions of G-d differ?
It depends on which “god” you are talking about.
The God of scripture or the God of theology?
The God of scripture i.e. Bible and Quran and the Gods of the Puranas are all very human characters with all the foibles that humans have, and they are subjected to the same range of human emotions - anger, hatred, vengeance, wilfulness, subterfuge etc.
The God of theology is an altogether different character - based on reasoned argument with more objective and universal qualities and attributes like:–
Which all the Abrahamic faiths and Hindu schools accept. The one quality which some schools of monotheism deny and which Hinduism affirms is omnipresence. Hindus are panentheistic - which means God is non-different to the Universe itself. Monotheism asserts that God is totally different to the world and therefore cannot be omnipresent other than by “knowledge” but not in essence.
Hindu philosophy doesn’t draw a distinction between God’s essence and his knowledge.
Christianity and Judaism affirm that God is love and humankind are his sons and daughters - so they often call God “our father” which Muslims never do and would consider blasphemy.
Hindu focus on relationships with God is more on lover-beloved dynamic rather than father-child.
While in higher theology all the religions have the same exalted ideas and characterisations of God what I find incongruous among some of the Abrahamic community are the following contradictions:–
Hindu theology is completely free from all these contradictions.
If Hindus worship monkeys, why not donkeys?
Donkeys are actually the hardy beast of burden that has contributed the most to assisting humanity in development over the millennia and are still very active today in the 21st century.
The gentle and affectionate donkey can carry enormous loads and is good natured and easy to get along with. It is not easily startled, is courageous and naturally curious and has a natural instinct to learn.
A donkeys’ territorial instinct is so strong that in many countries they are used to guard herds of sheep and goats against dogs, foxes and wolves.
If we had a god of enterprise then his vehicle would definitely be the donkey and we would worship him as well - with bathing, perfuming, garlands and sweets.
But in spite of donkey’s impressive CV and work-experience and proven reliability donkey has we don’t have a celestial post for him as yet. But if there is a restructuring of the pantheon and new position made available we may enlist his services.
Please watch this space for job updates. We thank you for your interest and good luck with your search.
Is the Vedas the word of God? If not, then how come Hinduism has God when it is not He is the one telling them?
In Gita Krishna says buddhau-śaraṇam anvicche - “take refuge in intelligence”.
The Vedas are a collection of hymns or poems composed by 560 different poets or Kavis. Their subject matter is mostly songs of praise to various forms of divinity asking for material benefits like, rain, food, horses, cattle. strong sons, skilful daughters etc. But there are some philosophical and reflective poems among them.
Why would an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God compose laudatory hymns to himself? And why would he, who projected 100 billion galaxies into existence compose hymns to various aspects of divinity rather than to just one and reveal them to humans living on an insignificant rock in a remote corner of the Universe?
The second point is there are no diktats in the Vedas like there are in other sky-books. There are certainly axioms and beneficial advice given but there are no commands accompanied by threats and intimidation.
God resides in the heart of every one of us and communicates directly to us through our conscience.
So let’s take a look at the first and the last sūkta of the Rig Veda - does this sound like the “word-of-God”?
And now this is the last Sūkta of the Rig Veda 10,191:2,3,4.
Is idol worship a sin in Hinduism, as per the Vedas?
No, it is not a sin according to Vedas, because you find innumerable descriptions of physical and human attributes of the deities.
According to the Vedas, the omnipresent and omnipotent deity has an infinite number of manifestations. These range from purely spiritual manifestations all the way to purely physical manifestations.
As Rig Veda 3.53.8 says:
“रूपं रूपं मघवा बोभवीति मायाः कृण्वानस्तन्वः परि स्वाम् “ “rUpam rUpam maghavA bobhavIti mAyAh kRNvAnastanvah pari svAm”
—”Indra becomes every form by extending his own form by his omnipotence”
As Rig Veda 6.47.18 says:
“रूपं रूपं प्रतिरूपो बभूव तदस्य रूपं प्रतिचक्षणाय। इन्द्रो मायाभिः पुरुरूप ईयते युक्ता ह्यस्य हरयः शता दश॥”
“rUpam rUpam pratirUpo babhUva tadasya rUpam praticakShaNAya; indro mAyAbhih pururUpa Iyate yuktA hyasya harayah shatA dasha”
—”For every form, Indra becomes its inner form. This is his inner form for viewing. Indra by his omnipotence projects innumerable forms, his thousand rays are spread all around.”
There are many similar examples that assign both infinite form and formlessness to the deity.
This is the true test of an omnipotent and omnipresent deity, that there are no restrictions on what the deity can be. It is most illogical and self-contradictory to say that an all-powerful deity is restricted to not having any physical forms.
Arya Samaj is famous for rejecting and despising idol worship. However, in the very Veda samhitas that they hold sacred, the deities are addressed using human physical attributes.
There are innumerable references to deities as having human attributes.
Even in the Upanishads, which are supposed to be purely philosophical texts, there are many descriptions of the supreme reality in terms of human characteristics.
For example, Chandogya Upanishad 1.6.6–7:
य एषोऽन्तरादित्ये हिरण्मयः पुरुषो दृश्यते हिरण्यश्मश्रुः हिरण्यकेश आप्रणखात् सर्व एव सुवर्णः तस्य यथा कप्यासं पुण्डरीकमेवमक्षिणी
“The Golden Person who is within the sun, he has a golden beard, golden hair, he is golden all through to the tips of his fingernails. His eyes are red like the full-bloomed red lotus.”
Now, if your argument is that these references are all symbolic, my reply is that all “idols” are symbolic. All pictures, paintings, sculptures, images are symbols that strive to represent the deity that is both immanent and transcendent, omnipotent and omnipresent.
So there is no prohibition in the Vedas against use of symbols, whatever they may be, to represent and worship the deity.
Are Hinduism polytheistic?like 0 god, 1 god, 3 gods, 4 gods, 33 gods 333 gods or 33 million gods is all a distraction from the true spiritual work which is Karma Yoga.
Arguing about the integers of the unseen is a fool’s enterprise since no benefit is obtained thereby.
In Vedanta we use the maxim of speculating on real estate in the cloud-world of the Gandharvas (gāndharva nagara nyāya) to describe this exercise in accounting futility.
The goal of spiritual work is:–
“God-counting” will not be at all helpful to you in this spiritual curriculum - and the time to start attending to your spiritual curriculum is NOW and HERE itself.
Death is uncertain and you need to do some preparation on yourself.
According to Bhagwat Puran, chanting the name of Narayana will release you from all sins and Vishnu's gatekeepers will come to take you to Vaikuntha. Where does the law of karma apply here?
The injunction is to constantly remember God and to chant the holy name and serve others as you would God Himself.
Don’t worry about the Karmic accounting – Yama and Chitragupta will negotiate a cancellation of debts with the agents of Vishnu.
You just do the needful.
Is Advaita Vedanta science or pseudoscience?
Advaita Vedanta is a systematic PHILOSOPHY.
Science deals with the material world of physics. Philosophy deals with Metaphysics - there is a complimentary relationship but they are non-overlapping magisteria. (Stephen Jay Gould)
Why do Hindu people worship Shiva, Vishnu, Ram, Krishna etc.? Is there anything in the Veda that told people to worship them? If not, what is the point of worshipping them?
Hindus can worship whatever they want, whenever they want and however they want. One is totally free to commune with the Divine in any way of his or her choosing.
Hinduism is the religion of complete freedom of thought, contemplation and sharing in the sublime nature of Divinity.
The catch phrase is Love ALL, Serve ALL and be mindful of the Divine.
When Hinduism doesn't have a fixed founder, isn't Hinduism made up of stories for entertainment?
Originally Answered: When Hinduism doesn't have a fixed founder, isn't Hinduism made up stories for entertainment?
Hinduism consists of all the following:
Did someone really live called Krishna? Is there evidence? What evidence is there that the Bhagavad Gita was written 5000 years ago? When was the Bhagavad Gita recorded?
There is no evidence - the purpose of Spirituality is not to gather and store useless data and evidence but rather to apply the teachings and to experience self-transformation. The spiritual teachings should be based on reason and actionability not on the personality of the person that teaches
Will knowing dates and times and seeing evidence produce self-knowledge and freedom from suffering or will it just be more useless data accumulated?
Ramakrishna said it’s like standing outside a mango grove and counting and discussing and assessing the number of trees - the weight and the economic value of the crop but never actually tasting the fruit.
When will Rami Sivan (Hindu priest) understand that there is no god except Allah and Muhammad (SAW) is his slave and final messenger?
Never. But thank you for your concern.
Belief in God and prophets and Shahadas are only useful in so far as they inform one’s personal conduct and practices which manifest friendliness, compassion, empathetic joy and equanimity. Otherwise they are just a source of alienation and separateness, anger and conflict based on an exaggerated delusion of superiority and triumphalism.
I think a better set of questions to ask of any one would be —
Islam is all about submitting to and doing the WILL of Allah.
Hinduism is about BEING and manifesting inherent Divinity.
Vedas are not commandments they are hymns and Praisesdedicated to various Deity(devas) so what's your point ? , as per vedas thereare various hymns dedicated to vedic vishnu (mind not the puranic or post vedicVishnu) like these ones :—
Rig veda 7.40.5 अस्यदेवस्य मीळ्हुषो वया विष्णोरेषस्यपरभ्र्थे हविर्भिः | विदे हिरुद्रो रुद्रियं महित्वं यासिष्टंवर्तिरश्विनाविरावत ||
5 With offerings I propitiate the branches of thisswift-moving God, the bounteous Viṣṇu. Hence Rudra gained his Rudra-strength: OAśvins, ye sought the house that hath celestial viands.
Rig veda 1.156.2 यःपूर्व्याय वेधसे नवीयसे सुमज्जानयेविष्णवे ददाशति | यो जातमस्यमहतो महि बरवतसेदु शरवोभिर्युज्यं चिदभ्यसत||
2 He who brings gifts to him the Ancient and the Last, to Viṣṇuwho ordains, together with his Spouse, Who tells the lofty birth of him theLofty One, shall verily surpass in glory e’en his peer. Simalarly there arehymns dedicated to vedic rudra and other deities aswell , so worshipping anygod is upto you , anyways Shvetasvatara upnishad and Bhagwad Geeta has alreadydedicated in worshiping Shiva and Krishna (vishnu) respectively , plus eventhough puranas are Smritis and less authoritative, they still holds highsignificance in hinduism . Chandogya upnishad (one of the mukhya upnishad and ashruti already gave some authority to puranas)
See this mantra fromchandogya upnishad :—
chandogya upnishad Verse 7.1.4 नाम वाऋग्वेदो यजुर्वेदः सामवेद आथर्वणश्चतुर्थइतिहासपुराणः पञ्चमो वेदानां वेदःपित्र्यो राशिर्दैवो निधिर्वाकोवाक्यमेकायनं देवविद्याब्रह्मविद्या भूतविद्या क्षत्रविद्या नक्षत्रविद्यासर्पदेवजनविद्या नामैवैतन्नामोपास्स्वेति ॥ ७.१.४॥
4. Name is the ṚgVeda, the Yajur Veda, the Sāma Veda, and the fourth—the Atharva Veda; then thefifth—history and the Purāṇas; also, grammar, funeral rites, mathematics, thescience of omens, the science of underground resources, logic, moral science,astrology, Vedic knowledge, the science of the elements, archery, astronomy,the science relating to snakes, plus music, dance, and other fine arts. Theseare only names. Worship name. So what exactly do you mean by not worthless toworship ?.
How many Napunsak Bhagwan are in Hinduism?
Napumsaka means one who is gender non-binary.
In Hindu mythology there are a number of celestials that are non-binary.
Saturn (śani-bhagavan) & Mercury (Budha) are both napumsaka among the Grahas. Rahu and Ketu are also non-binary according to some authorities.
Chandra (Moon) and Shukra (Venus) are gender fluid.
Narasimha Bhagavan was technically non-binary because the conditions placed upon the terminator of Hiranyakashipu had to be beyond all the pairs of opposites like human/animal, deva/asura, male/female etc.
Vishnu Bhagavan while being “cis-gender” is famous for taking the form of the most captivating beauty - Mohinī to achieve a specific goal.
There are a few more in local mythology.
Which of the Hindu Trimurti is "The Creator"?
The problem with discussing Hindu mythology is that it is unique and unlike Greek or Roman mythology in which roles are fixed.
All three persons of the Trimurti are facets of the ONE Brahman and although Brahmā is the “creator” both Vishnu and Shiva also create, transform and recreate.
They are the personifications of the GUNAS which operate together and cannot exist independently or separately.
Viṣṇu = Sattva
Brahmā = Rajas
Śiva = Tamas
Hinduism contains the concept of a single godhead reflected in innumerable manifestations. Do any other religions embrace this union of singularity and multiplicity?
Only Christianity where the One Godhead has three hypostases in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Three in One and one in Three - this is the same concept as the multiplication of the aspects of Ishvara. The Christians were more conservative and restrained so they limited the hypostases to three only. Hindus always go to extremes in everything so the 3 became 33 which became 333, to 33 million and kept expanding by 3’s to infinity.
The Christians of course will deny any similarity and will affirm the uniqueness of their theology. But mathematically once you divide ONE into 3 then it doesn’t matter how many more multiplications you make - its just one of degree.
Why is Lord Vishnu capable of creating, preserving and destroying, but Brahma and Shiva can only create or destroy?
Vishnu is very seldom associated with the actual creation or destruction of the Universe he usually delegates it to others.
Lord Shiva is associated with the direct emergence and transformation of the Universe and the Icon of Naṭarāraja depicts it beautifully. Hence the study of iconography is one of the essential branches of Hindu learning which is the most neglected.
Nataraja. The well-known bronze sculpture of Nataraja (the King of Dancer) is considered to be one of the most beautiful pieces of art produced by Indian craftsmen. Lord Siva is generally worshipped through the medium of the Lingam which is a symbol of the unmanifest Progenitor of the universe, but every Saiva temple has a shrine dedicated to Siva in his form of Nataraja performing the Ananda Tandava — the "Dance of Bliss".
In this icon we are instructed in the five functions of the Supreme Lord; creation, sustenance, transformation, revealing and concealing.
The Dance takes place within a ring of flames which symbolises the cycle of births and deaths, the cycle of universal creation and destruction — projection and withdrawal. The Lord dances upon the back of the "Dwarf of Ignorance" known as Mulayaka. It is ignorance of our true nature (cognitive error) that binds us to cycle of reincarnation and it is wisdom/ enlightenment that releases us.
The drum (damaru) held in the right upper hand symbolises the act of creation. According to Vedic teachings the act of creation takes place through sonic vibration. This primary sound is symbolised by the drum, from which all the sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet originated at the beginning of time. The universe of our empirical experience is composed of Name (nāma) and Form (rūpa). We see the universe and then participate in it through the process of naming everything. By naming something we are able to understand it and obtain a sense of control over it. So this process of creating, perceiving and naming are all symbolised by the drum.
The flame held in the upper left hand of Lord Siva represents the flame of destruction and transformation. An object when consumed by the fire is destroyed in one sense but transformed into energy and thus continues in another more subtle form.
In the same way our physical bodies and the universe are destroyed but the Self (jīvātman) continues to exist in a subtle form as does the universe. Nothing is destroyed absolutely it only undergoes changes and change is the only thing constant in our world.
The left hand is held up in the Gesture of Fearlessness (abhaya mudra). Our greatest fear is that of death and personal annihilation. The upheld hand is Siva's assurance of protection and preservation. The right lower hand is indicating concealment or drawing of the veil of Cosmic Illusion (māyā). There is a very subtle veil that clouds our understanding — even though we see death all around us we each think that we are immortal. We know what is good for us but still we pursue that which is transient and ephemeral. We cling to the ephemeral universe thinking that we can gain ultimate pleasure and satisfaction through it, but even though we fail we still go on trying — this is Māyā or Cosmic delusion.
And finally the left leg projecting outside of the circle of influence indicates the way of release and liberation. By surrendering to the Divine Will and making an offering of ourselves we can, through the Grace of Lord Siva obtain release from the cycle of births and deaths and attain eternal beatitude (Brahma Nirvāna).
What does Geeta, Hindu scripture part of Mahabharata, say about idol worship and visiting temples for blessings?
Hinduism is pluralistic and a devotee has the complete freedom to use whatever form he wants to commune with the divine.
Think of it as computer science - all based on 1’s and 0’s - which to the vast majority of common people is incomprehensible - only those who know the programing languages can understand and appreciate the system and structure.
For us common people we interact with that vast body of 1’s and 0’s through Graphical User Interfaces known as ICONS on a computer or Pad or Smart phone screen. Likewise the icons we worship are the Graphical User Interfaces that we use for connecting with the all-pervading absolute cosmic consciousness.
So the Gītā tells us:–
yo yo yāṁ yāṁ tanuṁ bhaktaḥ śraddhayārcitum icchati | tasya tasyācalāṁ śraddhāṁ tām-eva vidadhāmy-ahaṁ || 7:21 ||7:21. Whichever manifestation (of the Divine) any devotee desires to worship with faith — that faith I make unshakeable and firm.
yo yo yāṁ yāṁ tanuṁ bhaktaḥ śraddhayārcitum icchati | tasya tasyācalāṁ śraddhāṁ tām-eva vidadhāmy-ahaṁ || 7:21 ||
7:21. Whichever manifestation (of the Divine) any devotee desires to worship with faith — that faith I make unshakeable and firm.
In Chapter 10 Arjuna asks the Lord what all are the forms through which he can be worshiped
katham vidyām ahaṁ yogiṁs tvāṁ sadā paricintayan | keṣu keṣu ca bhāveṣu cintyo’si bhagavan mayā || 17 ||17. O Almighty Lord, How can I, a Yogi, know You by constantly meditating on You? And in what forms are you to be contemplated upon by me?
katham vidyām ahaṁ yogiṁs tvāṁ sadā paricintayan | keṣu keṣu ca bhāveṣu cintyo’si bhagavan mayā || 17 ||
17. O Almighty Lord, How can I, a Yogi, know You by constantly meditating on You? And in what forms are you to be contemplated upon by me?
And the Lord then gives all the following 68 locations in which he can be visualized and worshiped.
Islam is simple due to its association with the desert, Hinduism is rich and extremely complex due to its being born in the rich abundance and fecundity of the jungle.
Is the belief in Avataras essential in Hinduism? If not, what is the role of Krishna and the Gita
DOCTRINE OF AVATARA
The Avatara doctrine of divine descent of Vishnu into the world for the establishment of Dharma, protection of devotees and the vanquishing of Adharma is unique to Vaishnavism. There are millions of staunch Shaivites who do not accept the theory of Avatars nor do they accept the authority of the Gita.
Of the trinity only Vishnu is believed to take Avatars not Shiva or Brahma.
There is no theory of Avatara in the Vedas and neither in the Shaiva Agamas and Tantras. It is elaborated upon in the Puranas, Epics and the Vaishnava Pancharatra Agama.
The Arya Samaji also reject the Avatara doctrine because of its absence in the Vedas.
The first 6 avatāras are all totally mythical and bear a remarkable resemblance to the theory of evolution.
matsya - fish, kūrma - turtle, varāha - boar, narasiṁha - man-lion, vāmana - dwarf, paraśurāma – angry retributive man.
They are also linked to the 10 manifestations of Kali (Daśa-mahāvidyas) as well as have a connection an overlay with the planets.
Rama and Krishna are quasi-historical (without any concrete evidence), and some include the Buddha (a political expedient) and the mythical Kalki due to come in 25,000 years or so.
So in short Shaivites, Shaktas and Arya Samaji Hindus do not believe in any of the Avatars.
KRISHNA & THE GITA.
The Gita has been commentated on by non-Vaishnavas like Shankaracharya and the great Kashmiri Shaivite theologian and polymath Abhinavagupta - both of them take Krishna to be the “Ātman”, or impersonal Parameśvara – Supreme Lord (non-specific - fill in the name and form yourself).
The culminating verse of the Gita for Vaishnavas is 18:66 where Krishna says:–
sarva dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇā vraja | ahaṁ tvā sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śuca || 18:66 ||Completely relinquishing all Dharmas (self initiated means of achieving liberation), take refuge in Me alone. I will release you from all sins, grieve not.
sarva dharmān parityajya mām ekaṁ śaraṇā vraja | ahaṁ tvā sarva-pāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śuca || 18:66 ||
Completely relinquishing all Dharmas (self initiated means of achieving liberation), take refuge in Me alone. I will release you from all sins, grieve not.
For vaishnavas this is an emphasis on the personal nature of Krishna and it is him alone one should take refuge.
For Shankaracharya and Abhinavagupta this verse means one can take refuge in any form of the Supreme Being that one chooses since Krishna is speaking not as a Personal historical Being, but as the Multi-form Krishna of the 10th Chapter and the Cosmic Krishna of the 11th Chapter.
Some cult Vaishnavas consider this to be an heresy and a cause for holy war of vituperative abuse! For them, Krishna being an historical character as per the Bhagavata Purana therefore is paramount in spite of any evidence to the contrary.
The value of the Gita is not in it's being an accurate recording of a real-time conversation between Arjuna and Krishna sitting in their chariot and talking to each other in poetry just before a real battle. Its value lies in the teaching itself, which one may add is not unique but is found throughout the vast library of Hindu sacred literature. There are dozens of “GITAs” not one. The teaching is not subject to “belief” but rather “practice” and personal experience (anubhava).
The Gita summaries and codifies teaching, doctrines and philosophical postulates which are found in the Upanishads and its greatest contribution is BHAKTI - the Love of God. But again it is not unique to the Gita, Bhakti is expounded upon in the Bhakti Sutras of Narada and Shandilya and several other texts as well. And there are also SHIVA and DEVI Bhakti movements.
So in summary the Gita is not unique in the Hindu library it is just convenient and handy. Whether Krishna was a real person or just an archetype is not relevant, since one has the choice of surrendering to the Impersonal Absolute or the Personal God in any form you choose or even just surrender to the Ātman.
Krishna never says that those who refuse to surrender to him will be in any way sanctioned on the contrary he says all jīvas will be ultimately united with the Godhead.
Like Shiva and Vishnu, is Brahma a complete manifestation of Brahman? If Brahman is 100% pure and never makes mistakes, like Shiva and Vishnu, why did Brahma commit some sinful actions if He is also a complete manifestation of Brahman Himself?
You are thinking in a very “personal” way.
Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are not sky-guys sitting around on clouds and having tea and scones and chatting about their adventures and home renovations – they are dynamic principles of the Cosmos.
All three are aspects of the ONE BRAHMAN - Totality of Being. Here is a simplified chart to illustrate their functions and identifications.
P.S. Don’t worry about the mythology - that requires some intensive parsing and unpacking - just focus on the metaphysics of the thing.
What did Brahman say or command?
Nothing.Brahman is not the equivalent of a Dear Leader Sky-guy who issues commands, and micro manages the lives of his believers,Brahman is the matrix of the Universe known as Space-consciousness-Time - Sat - Chit - Ānanda.
We are all pixels in the grand cosmic painting of Brahman. We are That.So there are no plans, agendas, chosen elect, rules about what to eat or how to pray, no demands or commands, no hopes or aspirations, no exultation or depression, no love or anger, attraction or aversion — Just pure, spacious, unlimited BEING.
Why do people worship idols, which you created yourselves?
Some people worship imaginary Gods who live in the sky - created by thoughts.
Others imagine that the Universal Consciousness is present everywhere and therefor also in a beautiful sculpture - another product of thought.
Both concepts occur in the mind of the worshipper - so why is one better than the other? Both are equally imaginary - why evaluate?
Does the sky-guy answer more prayers than the idol?
What is a concise summary of Sri Vaishnava theology?
According to the great Sri Vaishnava Theologian and Philosopher - Ramanujacharya, the nature of the Godhead is categorically threefold answering to the three “factors” or tattvas of Hindu metaphysics. (1) The essential nature of the Godhead (2) God’s relationship to the Universe, (3) God’s relationship to the individual Selves (souls).
The attributes describing the essential nature of the the transcendent Godhead are known as the Svarūpa Nirūpaka Dharmas. These five are based entirely on the declarations of the Upanishads - they are;
2. God as Personal Projector of the Universe
The qualities of the Godhead in relation to the Universe which is his “Body” (śarīra). These are known as Bhagavat Guṇāḥ (svarūpa dharmas).
The best way to comprehend the connection between these two classes of Dharmas is to think of the Godhead as the “soul” and the manifest Universe of billions of galaxies spanning vast fields of time-space as his “embodiment” or “concretised” form, or his “body”. This is known in theological terms as PAN-EN-THEISM - where God is both the Universe and at the same time transcends the Universe in his BEING and attributes.
N.B. These are specific terms which cannot be adequately translated into English.
3. The attributes of the Godhead in relation to the Individual cetanas (sentient beings = “souls’) These are the Svabhāva Dharmas — and describe God as concerned Saviour of all jīvas/cetans (units of consciousness) which are themselves emanations of himself.
These qualities are limitless as is His nature but the outstanding ones that concern us and our relationship to Him are;
How can a Hindu explain why there are so many religions?
In the same way as we explain the diversity of culinary arts. Different tastes for different buds.
Food is both culturally conditioned as well as based on personal tastes.
Religion is generally culturally determined - people blindly follow the religion into which they are born, but as their intelligence develops they see different perspectives, have different understandings and experiences and have their own personal realisations.
According to Hinduism - everyone should choose their own path and not follow the herd.
Why are Hindu gods portrayed blue in colour?
Blue is the colour of the Sky and the Sea - both of which are actually colourless. Blue signifies the vast expanse of space which pervades the universe and in which the Universe has its being.
VISHNU means the “all-pervading consciousness” and therefore his characteristic colour should be blue.
The connection between the Absolute known as BRAHMAN and expansive space is enunciated in the Chandogya Upanishad.
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.
It can be that Hindus Devas were Humans who became one with the Brahman?
The question has an interesting blend of different ideas. These can be disentangled and systematized.
The concept of ‘Deva’ is used for many purposes or at many levels in Hinduism. These levels can be summarily categorized into:
These categories are used already in Yaska’s Niruktam to explain the multiple levels of meaning of Vedic mantras. Yaska for example, says “इत्यधिदैवतम् । अथाध्यात्मम् । …” i.e. “thus is the explanation from the viewpoint of divinities; now as regards the spiritual explanation…” These categories are even more ancient, as seen from their mention in Taittiriya, Chandogya and other Upanishads.
The first level (adhibhUtam), that of the physical universe, should be quite obvious. The various forms of matter and energy in the universe are various forms of the Devas.
The second level (adhidaivatam) is the more complex one, as seen from its extensive use. I will come to this later.
The third level (adhyAtmam) is simpler than the second level. At this level, the Deva is a direct symbol of Brahman. The Deva is a representative of Brahman. This is seen frequently in the Vedas. I will provide two examples below:
Now, let’s go back to the second level (adhidaivatam). This is the level of worship in a world of duality. This is the level of gradation and non-parity. This level is complex because it is used for many different purposes in the scriptures.
So to answer the question, the idea that a human can attain the position of a Deva is present. But it is one aspect of one particular level of the symbolism of Deva.
What did Brahman say or command?Nothing.
Brahman is not the equivalent of a Dear Leader Sky-guy who issues commands, and micro manages the lives of his believers,Brahman is the matrix of the Universe known as Space-consciousness-Time - Sat - Chit - Ānanda.We are all pixels in the grand cosmic painting of Brahman. We are That.So there are no plans, agendas, chosen elect, rules about what to eat or how to pray, no demands or commands, no hopes or aspirations, no exultation or depression, no love or anger, attraction or aversion — Just pure, spacious, unlimited BEING.
Malikreported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Ihave been sent to perfect good character.”
How do these versesfrom the Noble Sky-book contribute to Universalism, inclusivity and altruism?Does your tribal God calling us the worst of beasts and the worst of creaturesengender love for us?
What is thecontribution of Islam to world peace today?
3:110 "You[Muslims] are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind
47:3 "disbelievers (Hindus) follow falsehood,
3:10 "Verily, thekufar, will be fuel for the Fire."
33: 64 Verily Allahhas cursed the Unbelievers and prepared for them a Blazing Fire
3:87 "The [kufar]are those who are Cursed by Allah, by the angels, and by all mankind.
4:76 Disbelievers arethe friends of Satan
4:144 O you whobelieve! Take not for friends unbelievers rather than believers:
8:22, 55 "Verily,the worst of living creatures (sharra-al-dawābi) before Allah are thosewho disbelieve (Hindus)."
98:6 Lo! those whodisbelieve, among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, (Hindus) willabide in fire of hell. They are the worst of creatures (sharru-l-barayati).
CLAIM -POOP or SHIT contains divine nature as per your logic so doyou worship SHIT or not?
Response -Everyatom is pervaded by God - try to grasp this fact - the entire universe is likethe body of God. We worship God by serving Humanity not worshiping anythingspecific - we can worship the entire universe.;
Dear Sarin its like a tree - if you water and worship the leavesnothing happens - you need to water the ROOT to make it flourish. So we worshipGod through serving Humanity :-)
Godis in your heart, in mine and in every other living being - see God everywhere- this is the message of the Holy Gītā.
Claim - Why do people worship idols,which you created yourselves?
In theQuran, when people who do it are asked about it. They say that they found theirfathers doing it.
you can read chapter 26: verses 69 to75. The photos below include an attempted English translation.
note: the Quran can not betranslated perfectly since it is from God. Some of the meaning can betranslated but all the holiness, elegance and poetry can not.
Response - Youridols are the Cube, Black stone and Quran - so why are you casting stones whenyou yourself live in a glass house?
If you create an image in your head or an image in stone what’sthe difference?
Allahsits on a throne above the waters and shows his shin to his believers - how isthat mental idol more sublime than a beautiful sculpture in stone?
Claim -Wedont worship that cube, we worship God, who created this universe and thestones which that cube was built with. It is a mosque, just like christianshave churches.
yousay you’re a student of religions. You should know who Muslims worship.
Response - Wedon’t worship the idol either we worship the Divine Nature which pervades theentire universe - every atom - including your cube, and the idol, temple andmosque and who is present in your heart and mine and that of every livingbeing. Wherever you look there is only God.
The problem is Muslimshave no idea about Hindu philosophy and judge the wedding only by the externaldecorations. As a student of philosophy you too should know this very basicdistinction.
Claim - You said “we worshipthe Divine Nature which pervades the entire universe - every atom”.
So am sure you wont have any problem worshipping the POOP/SHITwhich as per your logic is DIVINE as it is also part of nature.
Actually,you do worship cow dung. Not sure about human shit. Maybe you can clarify.
Response - Absolutely - it is justatoms and is the same stuff of which your body is composed and of which thewhole universe is composed. You are an electronic engineer surely you knowabout the atomic theory - or perhaps you don’t believe it because it is notmentioned in the Quran.
Yourbody and the poop are composed of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium,and phosphorus. When you ate it you called it delicious fitr food - when itcame out you called it poop. What’s the difference? You eat transformed shit daily . study basic agriculture.. There is noanswer of illogical argument . If divine is in kaaba than divine is also in myshit because everything comes from the same source and that source has no namessome fools called that source allah ,some god ,some can called it ballah .. Thecosmos which you call allah converts my shit into food and we all eat them youmust this basic science .
Claim - Webelieve that God has his own appearance that there is nothing in this worldlike him and no one can come close to imagining him. But those who enter heavenwill see God, which is a greater reward than entering heaven itself. Justsharing what Muslims believe. I don’t know enough about your religion I justwanted to point out the flaws in worshiping idols.
Response -Thereare no flaws in using symbols to worship - the greatest of forms of worship isaltruism. God does not need our servitude he after all created 200 billiongalaxies - so do you really think he frets over what human use in theirdevotion tool-box!
Such a god is not universal but rather tribal and isgeo-centric.
Theflaws in your religion are triumphalism, exclusivity claims to truth,fanaticism and dichotomous thinking - al-walla-walbarra, mu’umin vs kāfir.
Claim - I fail to understand whoyour worship, if you god is in everything then can he speak if he want to, tothe angels for example or to the Prophets?
in the afterlife, will you be able to see him and how? Sincewhat you worship is in things and doesn’t seem to have an appearance.
how did he create things if the universe was created at somepoint by god, and this universe contains things, how do you work that out?
doeswhat you worship hear your thoughts, because allah does. Nothing is hidden fromGod.
Response - Hespeaks to us through our conscience, not through fictitious prophets. There areno angels. The afterlife consists of rebirth, he created nothing becausecreation is not a one-off affair - creation is an on-going process - neverending - the Universe is a “becoming”. Like numbers 0 to infinity and back.
We are what we worship - you are not reading what I write - Godis the entire cosmos. He alone exists in multiple forms - all forms are HISforms - this is known in Islam as Waḥdat-al-wujūd.
God is no something separate from us - He dwells within yourheart.
Claim - There’s a difference between an idol and a religious symbol. Nobodyworships what you just listed - nobody feels that those can protect them. It’sthe presence of God in those things that can protect them.
Response - An idol ISa religious symbol - it is simply another tool in the box of devotionalequipment - like a prayer-mat or a Holy Book or a rosary. God is to be found inthe heart not in the sky.
Claim - But the prayer mat can’t help you if you prayto it. On the other hand Allah who is the God that created this universe can.
Response - Anddoes your God answer prayers? Why isn’t he intervening in the Middle East? Arethey no praying 5 times a day? Why are the Yemenis babies starving to death afew kilometres from the House of God? Does he not hear their cries andpleading? Why does not help the Uighers that are being persecuted in China - ahorrendous genocide about which the Arab world is silent?
So if the evidence of God is his answering prayers then the philosophicalconclusion is he doesn’t exist and is a figment of your imagination.
All worship in Agamic Hinduism is about affirming the identification of the individual with the Cosmos under this principle of correspondence.
The Deity that is contemplated upon is understood to be an aspect of the higher consciousness (universal consciousness) of the practitioner and non-different from him/her. The image that is used during meditation is projected from the meditator’s mind and is formally reabsorbed at the end of the worship.
In the Āgamic (Tantric) practice, each and every temple is built to serve as a tīrtha, a place to commune with the Devas and experience the niṣkala realm. Hence specific temples like Srirangam, Tirupati are called bhūr-loka vaikuṇṭham — “heaven on earth”. Wherever Hindus migrate in the world they create these fords or sacred places, they sacralise the land and through the complex rituals replicate the sacred landscape of India in America, Australia, Europe, England, Africa etc.
Is it true that Samkhya, Yoga, and Mimamsa schools of Hindu philosophy reject the idea of God?It is not a question of “rejecting God” - they didn’t reject anything, they just simply did not find it necessary to include a Personal God in their systems of philosophy.
The problem in studying Indian systems of Philosophy is the tendency to use western “monotheist” paradigms and lenses - which are distorted and do not apply to oriental thinking. The default lens used is of “God the Creator and Interventionist” and this doesn’t work
Samkhya posits a Universe comprised of two eternal principles - matter (Prakriti) and consciousness (Purusha = lit “that which fills”) - everything could be explained using these two principles without the need for a personal, creating, and intervening God. For Samkhya the “cycle of becoming” occurs automatically and there is no Interventionist Creator.
Yoga uses the Samkhya metaphysic but adds “Ishvara” as an archetypal Yogi worthy of being an object of meditation and a locus of focus.
1:23 Or samadhi may be attained through surrender to the Lord
Although all schools of Hindu Yoga recognise the existence of a Supreme Being or Cosmic consciousness, this belief does not necessarily find expression in the practice of Yoga. The earlier schools of Indian philosophy considered the Supreme Being to be an Archetypal Model irrelevant to one's spiritual practice and attainment of liberation form Samsāra. Patanjali introduces the idea of surrender to an Archetypal Preceptor as an adjunct to the practice of Yoga and advocates the merging of that ideal with the chanting of OM.
Surrender being natural and easy to perform, whereas the discipline of arduous meditation on the abstract is very hard to achieve and sustain.
1:24 Īśvara is a distinct Being untouched by ignorance and suffering caused by ignorance — nor subject to Karma and its results.1:25 In that [Being] omniscience is unlimited, in others it is only a seed.1:26 He is also the Preceptor of previous Preceptors being unconditioned by Time.1:27. That Absolute Being is expressed by OM.
1:24 Īśvara is a distinct Being untouched by ignorance and suffering caused by ignorance — nor subject to Karma and its results.
1:25 In that [Being] omniscience is unlimited, in others it is only a seed.
1:26 He is also the Preceptor of previous Preceptors being unconditioned by Time.
1:27. That Absolute Being is expressed by OM.
So Patañjali does also not accept the need for an Interventionist Creator and Yoga can very well be practiced without this idea and samādhi obtained regardless.
Mīmāṁsa is interesting and unique among world religious systems because it is a system which is focussed on the ritual process known as the Yajña the performance of which yields rewards.
Although being an intensely religious and complex system it rejects the notion that the rewards of the Yajña are delivered by the gods, and asserts that the rewards come from the precision of the acts themselves!
In other words if a religious or secular act is done according to the rules and meticulously the rewards will come automatically (adṛṣṭha) and there is no involvement of the gods at all. So it is in fact a non-theistic ritual practice.
The principles of exegesis and hermeneutics of Mīmāṁsa inform the entire metaphysics of Hinduism - philosophy, epistemology, deontology, ethics as well as Law.
PATANJALI mentions in his Yoga Sutras -
This is also the basis of AGAMIC Hinduism where Deva/Devi grants Moksha different from VEdic Stream
The ethical standard of Sanātana Dharma I far superior to that of Islam or any religion - ahiṁsa paramo dharma - is the highest form of religion, and a Universal religion like Sanātana Dharma is unequivocally and unconditionally INCLUSIVE of ALL sentient beings.
God dwells in the hearts of ALL beings and ALL are equally loved and cherished by the Almighty.
aham ātmā guḍākeśa sarva bhūtāśaya sthitaḥ |
aham ādiśca madhyaṃ ca bhūtānām anta eva ca || 20 ||
10:20. I am the Self, O Gudakesha (Arjuna —Conqueror-of-sleep), dwelling in the hearts of all beings. I verily am the beginning, the middle and also the end of all beings.
In AGAMIC HINDUISM -
Deity Yoga is a meditation technique which is best done under the supervision of a guru and not pick-one-of-the-shelf and DIY.
What you meditate upon you become identified with. You will assume the qualities of that deity you adore.
So for example if you meditate and worship an angry, resentful, wrathful, jealous, resentful deity you too will absorb those qualities subconsciously and will manifest them.
If you worship and meditate upon a peaceful, compassionate, loving and non-judgemental deity then that’s what you will become. And this is the most prescribed sort of practice for the average spiritual aspirant.
So in Tantra the meditation upon wrathful deities is not done only under strict supervision and for specific purposes - as psychotherapy. An example would be timidity or phobia which are obstacles to spiritual progress - so you may meditate upon Kali or Durga to develop the strength to combat your demons and destroy them before progressing to a more compassionate form of practice.
“Thus we Hindus are not required either to acknowledge the existence of a creator God nor are we compelled to adore and worship him -”
But Sir, the Bhagavad Gita clearly states that the aim of man is to become a 'Karm Yogi'. Also as stated by these verses, it's apparent that a Hindu has to acknowledge the presence of their creator and their duties towards Him:
If he fails to do so, he would have committed a sin.
So, isn't it wiser to say that all religions aim at creating a relation of man with God?
Chapter 3 – Bhagavad Gita, The Song of God – Swami Mukundananda
This is SUGGESTION for practice not COMMAND to worship. What is required of man is not to form a relationship with God through ritual and adoration but to realise his own divine nature as inseparable from God.
Krishna says “I am the ātman situated within the heart of every living being” - this is called GOD/SELF-REALIZATION.
Yet, there are repercussions if these teachings are not followed. Man is doomed to be stuck in this eternal cycle of karma.
Those who abide by these teachings of mine, with profound faith and free from cavil, are released from the bondage of karma.(3:31)
those who find faults with my teachings, being bereft of knowledge and devoid of discrimination, they disregard these principles and bring about their own ruin.(3:32)
I don't think SUGGESTION would have reward/loss attached to it. Man has free will to choose the path but there will be consequences -good or bad. It's like jumping a traffic signal; you can do it but you will be breaking the law and will be fined. The law is not bendable for anyone.
Response - The teachings are about modifying your behaviour and leading a good life - not about worshiping a God out of fear. In the higher practice you must abandon all worship and do meditation only.
How does the food offered reach God in Hindu prayers?
The answer is given in the Shastra:–
na devā khādanti na pibanti dṛṣṭyeva tṛrpyanti.
The gods do not eat or drink anything we offer them - merely by seeing are they pleased.
Hence the quality of the offering is superseded by the aesthetic presentation.
Is it true that worshipping the Supreme Lord (Brahman) alone is equivalent to worshipping all beings including the celestial gods (Navagrahas)?
Firstly you need to always clarify what you mean by “worship”.
According to the Vedānta - Brahman is not a subject of “worship” as in receiving offerings of flowers, water and incense and fruit a process technically known as pūjā. Brahman is to be “meditated upon” a process known as “dhyāna” or “upāsana”. Brahman has no need of nor makes any demand on our submission and adoration.
The Vedānta says:– brahmā vid āpnoti param – the one who meditates upon Brahman attains the highest state - i.e. Self-realisation- ātma-bodha.
The Navagrahas (nine planetary devas of time), the Dikpālakas (the 8 guardian devas of space) and there are many other devas associated with the Universe and its various forces in which we exist and upon whom we depend for our existence. So during temple festivals and domestic ceremonies we remember them and make offerings to them (pūjā or arcana) in order to express our gratitude. It is not compulsory or demanded - its just what we do - we Hindus like to thank the Universe for everything - not a bad way to behave I think.
Allah of Quran (AoQ) provides clear instructions for worship commanding to not worship anything other than AoQ (3:64). What reasons do the Hindus who have read the Quran have for not agreeing with AoQ? How will AoQ deal with them in the hereafter?
“Worship” needs to be defined in order to answer this comparative question because the same word in English has different connotations in different cultures.
Ibadah (worship) is one of the 3 most important components of Islamic teachings along with aqidah (belief - upon which everything stands) and akhlaq (morality).
Its importance is necessitated and is imperative through the purpose for creation of humans, namely to be devoted to Allah.
So the Hindu position is that the world was not created by a creator, there is no “purpose” to any part of the vast Universe of trillions of galaxies and humans are just one among 8,400,000 species on the planet. So we are not obligated to worship any hypothetical “creator”.
Even the creator of Hindu mythology - Brahma - is a forlorn and much neglected figure - there being only a few temples dedicated to him in India with devotees (Buddhists) mainly in Thailand.
The other important factor to consider is what ‘”worship” is in the Hindu context. What is translated as “worship” are terms like:–
The path and goal of the Bhakti-mārga (path of devotion) of Hinduism is to share and participate in the nature of divinity - to experience the divine universal love and to share that with others. To relate to God as a friend and a lover not as a grateful slave.
So we are not concerned with what AofQ thinks, does and what his imaginary post-mortem program is for us unbelievers is because we got totally different and contradictory messages from the Cosmos.
Krishna tells us to worship him in all beings not in the sky or in an icon.
Gita 6:31. The Yogi who, established in unity, worships (bhajati) Me dwelling in all beings, he abides in Me, howsoever he may live.
There are many different ways to reach God.
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.
God does not differentiate between believer and unbeliever
Gita 9:29. I am the same to all beings; to Me there is none hateful or dear; but those who worship Me with devotion abide in Me and I in them.
As long as you do good and live an ethical life dedicated to the welfare of others you’ll be right.
Gita 6:40. Neither here [in this world] nor there [in the next], O Arjuna, is there destruction for him. For verily, no one who does good, my son, ever comes to grief.
So given the choice between the Personality and teachings of the AoQ or the KoG - for me the KoG wins hands down!!
If I do only meditation and not any puja, then will it be considered as worship according to Hinduism?
Worship is understood in different ways by different people and different cultures.
All concepts in Hinduism are couched in Sanskrit which is highly structured and nuanced, So worship in English has several different connotations in Sanskrit. This is why they say that with the loss of a language comes the loss of a culture - all cultures are linguistically dependent. Hence the importance of knowing basic Sanskrit for insight into Hindu culture and philosophy.
Definition of worship - the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.
Pūja = is the formal making of offerings which can number from 3, 5, 10, 16 or 108 depending on the degree of elaboration you like. Pūja can be done to an icon, a person, a yantra, a mandala, a tree, a river or a mountain. It can be done with things like water, flowers, incense, lamp, fruit, food, betel etc. or it can be done MENTALLY only - this is known as mānasika pūjā and is said to be even greater than using items.
Ārādhana = is basically the same as pūjā but it usually refers to pūjā done in an āgāmic temple.
Stotra/stuti = is the singing of hymns of praise of your chosen deity - like the Vishnu sahasranama stotram. It can be used as an adjunct to pūja or independently.
Bhajan/kīrtan = the congregational chanting of the names of God with musical accompaniment
Japa = the silent repetition of a mantra using either your fingers to count or a rosary of 108 beads.
sāṣṭhāṅga/pañcāṅga namaskāra = prostrating oneself in front of a deity, object, person or the sun - it can be done once or 108 time (excellent exercise as well if done full-length!)
Upāsana = literally means “sitting near”, it is used for any process with which you interact with your chosen deity (iṣṭha-devatā). So it can include all the previous menu items but it primarily refers to Dhyānam which is meditation. Dhyāna/upāsana is considered to be the highest spiritual practice.
Upāsana/dhyāna is of two types - personal and impersonal. Personal is when you engage in “deity yoga” that is, mediate on a chosen form of a god or goddess, and impersonal is when you simply focus on your breath or a mantra or use a blank wall or even the sky to meditate upon.
Now the English word “worship” may cover any or ALL of these different forms of SĀDHANA - spiritual practice.
Who is the goddess Aditi in Hinduism?
ADITI is one of the most important goddesses of the Veda. She is the sky goddess, the wife of Prajāpati Kaśyapa whose name means “Clear Vision” and she is the mother of the gods.
Aditi means “the Primordial Vastness”, “the totality” “the integrated consciousness” “the undivided” — she is the first Goddess and gave birth to the Adityas who embody the laws of the Cosmos both Niskala and Sakala.
Aditi’s offspring therefore are the forces of Order in the Universe. Order in the cosmos and the psychic balance in the individual arise from an integrated and well harmonised consciousness - undivided.
Aditi’s co-wife was Diti whose name means “divided” or “split” consciousness. She had a deep animosity towards Indra and conceived a son who would kill him. Indra came to know of the plot and divided the embryo into 49 pieces all of whom became the storm gods - the Maruts.
Diti also gave birth to Hiraṇyākṣa and Hiraṇyakaṣipu who were enemies of Vishnu and were dispatched by him.
So this myth depicts the Chaos that arise when the consciousness is divided and split i.e. split off from reality.
adi̍ti̱r dyaur adi̍tir a̱ntari̍kṣa̱m adi̍tir mā̱tā sa pi̱tā sa pu̱traḥ |viśve̍-de̱vā adi̍ti̱ḥ pañca̱-janā̱ adi̍tir jā̱tam adi̍ti̱r jani̍tvam ||Yajur Veda 25:23. Aditi is the heaven, Aditi is the atmosphere, Aditi is the Mother and the Father and Child. Aditi is all Gods, Aditi the five-classification of humanity, Aditi is all that has been born and shall be born.
adi̍ti̱r dyaur adi̍tir a̱ntari̍kṣa̱m adi̍tir mā̱tā sa pi̱tā sa pu̱traḥ |
viśve̍-de̱vā adi̍ti̱ḥ pañca̱-janā̱ adi̍tir jā̱tam adi̍ti̱r jani̍tvam ||
Yajur Veda 25:23. Aditi is the heaven, Aditi is the atmosphere, Aditi is the Mother and the Father and Child. Aditi is all Gods, Aditi the five-classification of humanity, Aditi is all that has been born and shall be born.
The pitfalls of seeing duality and difference and not acknowledging the Unity and interconnectedness underlying all things is taught in Kaṭhopaṇiṣad 4.
Failure to comprehend the essential unity of all Being is the cause of rebirth.
10. Whatever is here, that is there. Whatever is there, that too, is here. Whoever perceives anything like duality here goes from death to death.11. By cogitation alone is this to be realised. There is no duality here. Whoever perceives anything like duality here, goes from death to death.14. As water rained upon an inaccessible height flows down in various ways among the hills; so one who views things as seperate runs after them (distractedly).15. As pure water poured forth into pure water becomes the very same, so the Self, O Gautama, of the meditator who has insight becomes (one with the Supreme).
10. Whatever is here, that is there. Whatever is there, that too, is here. Whoever perceives anything like duality here goes from death to death.
11. By cogitation alone is this to be realised. There is no duality here. Whoever perceives anything like duality here, goes from death to death.
14. As water rained upon an inaccessible height flows down in various ways among the hills; so one who views things as seperate runs after them (distractedly).
15. As pure water poured forth into pure water becomes the very same, so the Self, O Gautama, of the meditator who has insight becomes (one with the Supreme).
Who gave Hindu gods those forms?
The forms are all described in the works on Iconography and were delineated by various unknown sages. They are to be found in the Puranas, Tantras, Agamas, Shilpa Shastras and Minor Upanishads.
Devotionaly speaking all the Hindu Bhakti or devotional sects declare that once one has surrendered to their chosen deity (iṣṭha-devata) and been duly initiated, then at death the Lord or lady of the universe will directly intervene to grant one immediate liberation (mokṣa). This is where the sectarian disagreement starts - Vaishnavas say only Vishnu can liberate one, the Shaivites and the Shaktas say the same.
According to Advaita Vedanta, Vishnu, Shiva, Shakta et al are all the same - different aspects of Ishvara, so it doesn’t matter which name you call upon or which deity you surrender to - outcome is the same.
Has anyone ever logically or theologically reconciled Hinduism with any of the Abrahamic religions?
The fundamental dogmas of Abrahamic religions are impossible to reconcile with the fundamental philosophy of Hinduism. Note the bolded words.
What comes through from the fundamental scriptures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is a dogma, a ruling, a monopolizing “revelation”, a tribal survival handbook of do’s and don’t’s, a disrespecting attack on diversity and the ‘other’.
What comes through from the fundamental scriptures of Hinduism is an introspection, a seeking, a questioning, a quest, a spiritual discovery, a universal consciousness of oneness, a mutually-respecting acceptance of diversity.
Even when Christian mystics or Islamic sufi mystics are professing to be experiencing ‘oneness’ with God, their ‘God’ is still very Biblical or Quranic (i.e. monotheistic and monolithic). Somehow, truly universal spiritual philosophy hasn’t dawned on these religions.
For example, even the most sophisticated Christian mystic or Islamic Sufi wouldn’t dare to say that multiple deities are not a problem. Or that worship of images of deities is not a problem. Somehow, they think that having multiple deities or images is an “abomination”. Whereas, even a Hindu villager would understand that all these multiple deities are only expressions of the numberless universal spirit.
Again, contrast the two bolded words — ‘monotheistic’ vs. ‘numberless’. The Abrahamic God is strictly one, whereas the Hindu universal spirit Brahman can be one, two, three, hundred, thousand, but is actually beyond the concept of quantity (because of ultimately being beyond speech and thought).
Abrahamic religions still cannot get beyond individualizing ‘God’ into a concrete separate entity. Their “ultimate” is still an individual person. The “ultimate” is to have a “personal relationship” with ‘God’. There is nothing beyond the duality for Abrahamics.
Hinduism’s “ultimate” encompasses all ideas that humanity can come up with, and then exceeds them all. Finally, having exhausted the mind and speech, the Hindu mystic only experiences ‘God’ in silence as a totality, as a sweet wave from the infinite ocean that engulfs everything. Hindu philosophy is fearless in exploring the extreme limit of spiritual experience where individual identities are lost and there is no duality at all. In other words, the Hindu “ultimate” experience is to drown oneself in ‘God’.
The ultimate truth in Hinduism is that the ‘individual’ is essentially equivalent to the ‘universal’. So the Hindu mystic says, “I am That (or He or She)”. Identity with ‘God’ is the ultimate experience of truth.
By contrast, in Abrahamic religions, identity with ‘God’ is the ultimate sin, the ultimate “blasphemy”.
Hindu philosophy says that every conceivable object in the universe is drenched and soaked in ‘God’. ‘God’ is not just the master of everything, but he is also everything.
By contrast, Abrahamic religions feel that ‘God’ should be kept separate and “above” the “dirty” universe, so as to protect his “holiness”. He can only be the master.
Logically, if one object cannot become another object, then the first object is limited in its scope or power. The most illogical thing to say is, “God has created the universe, but universe is not his form”. It’s as if God is allergic to the universe that he himself created.
So Abrahamic religions say that God’s majesty is somehow reduced by worshiping him through images. Hindu philosophy says that every particle of dust is worthy of worship because it is a “God particle” !!!
Hindu philosophy is brutally honest and does away with illogical, artificial and immature ideas about ‘God’. Examples of such illogical, artificial and immature ideas are that ‘God’ is somehow humiliated by being worshiped through images; that ‘God’ cannot be conceptualized in multiple forms; that ‘God’ cannot be known by everyone but only by a self-proclaimed person, only once in history for all ages to come.
In summary, Hindu philosophy is the height of human maturity. On the other hand, Abrahamic dogma is the height of human immaturity.
Do Hindus outside of the Balinese Hindu tradition still venerate Indra in any capacity?
In every fire-ceremony (havan, homa, yajña) offerings of ghee are made to Indra.
In South India there is a major purification and empowerment ritual known as UDAKA SHANTI in which dozens of hymns are chanted over about 2 hours invoking the blessings of Lord Indra.
In most elaborate pūjā ceremonies like at marriages, he is invoked along with his wife Sachi as the head of the 8 guardian deities of the directions (dik-palakas), and during Agamic temple consecrations and festivals he is always worshiped and offerings are made in the easter side of the temple.
So he is still very much alive, well and happily enjoying offerings of ghee and praises
Why are all Hindu gods shown as having only black hair? Why aren’t they shown as having blonde hair?
Because all nations on earth visualise their gods as being like themselves and since Hindu gods are Asians - they have black hair.
When the Hindu gods migrated to Japan they took on Japanese features.
This is Narayana who took Japanese citizenship and changed his name to Naraen-ten and Garuda tried to do the same but a little less successfully :-)
When he moved to Cambodia he again changed his features to assimilate.
Jesus apparently does the same.
So as the Hindu gods migrate to Europe the artists may well start depicting them as blond- europeans
Did Hanuman or any other Hindu God claim that he/she was God? If they didn't claim, why do Hindus worship them?
We are ALL gods and most of us have not yet realised it.
Most people think they are somebody, someone unique and separate from everyone and everything else.
So the only true god which should be worshiped is the one dwelling in the hearts of every living being not the imaginary one living up in the sky.
6:30. He who sees Me everywhere and everything in Me; I am not separated from him and he is never separated from Me.6:31. The Yogi who, established in unity, worships Me dwelling in all beings, he abides in Me, howsoever he may live.
6:30. He who sees Me everywhere and everything in Me; I am not separated from him and he is never separated from Me.
6:31. The Yogi who, established in unity, worships Me dwelling in all beings, he abides in Me, howsoever he may live.
Can you answer these please?
2. Can I simply reject the wife hitting verse in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad?
3. How to answer desert cults for they blaming Vishnu as powerless and characterless in Vrinda-Vishnu story??
RESPONSE 2 -
“Demigod” is an offensive term and is not a proper translation of the Sanskrit Mahādeva or even deva.
Deva comes from the Sanskrit root DIV which means to illuminate.
A Deva is therefore a radiant Being of Light a “demigod” is a term from Greek mythology and means something else altogether.
How is vedic Indra different from Indra mentioned in Purans and epics like Ramayan and Mahabharat?
Since I have already discussed the conceptual differences in detail in several of my answers before, I shall concentrate literally on compilation and enumeration of outward differences as suggested by the question.
> Vedic Indra is one and eternal, whereas Puranic Indra is a position in name, attained by performing n horse sacrifices(in practice, the Indra is same and is ridiculed throughout)
Rigveda 1.52.13 says : “satyam addhā nakiranyas t-vāvān” “Indeed the truth is : there is no other like you (Indra)”.Or Rigveda 1.81.5 : “… na tvāvāṅ indra kaścana - na jāto na janiṣyate. Ati viśvaṃ vivakṣitha!” : “There is no one, like you, Indra! None who was born, none who will be born. For you grow beyond all.”Or Rigveda 1.165.9 : “… nakir nu na tvāvāṅ asti devatā vidānaḥ, na jāyamāno naśate na jāto …” : “… there is no one like you, no such divinity is known. None who is being born attains you, nor those born …”Or Rigveda 6.21.10 : “… na tvāvāṅ anyo - amṛta - tvad asti”. “O Eternal one, there is none like you, other than you”.Rigveda 6.30.4 : “satyam id tan na tvāvāṅ anyo astīndra - devo na martyo jyāyān” - “It’s indeed the truth : there is no other like you, O Indra - no deva or martya exceeds you”. (As all are contained in him)Or Rigveda 7.32.23 : “na tvāvāṅ anyo divyo na pārthivo na jāto na janiṣyate” : “There is no other like you divine, nor earthly, none born, none to be born”.
Rigveda 1.52.13 says : “satyam addhā nakiranyas t-vāvān” “Indeed the truth is : there is no other like you (Indra)”.
Or Rigveda 1.81.5 : “… na tvāvāṅ indra kaścana - na jāto na janiṣyate. Ati viśvaṃ vivakṣitha!” : “There is no one, like you, Indra! None who was born, none who will be born. For you grow beyond all.”
Or Rigveda 1.165.9 : “… nakir nu na tvāvāṅ asti devatā vidānaḥ, na jāyamāno naśate na jāto …” : “… there is no one like you, no such divinity is known. None who is being born attains you, nor those born …”
Or Rigveda 6.21.10 : “… na tvāvāṅ anyo - amṛta - tvad asti”. “O Eternal one, there is none like you, other than you”.
Rigveda 6.30.4 : “satyam id tan na tvāvāṅ anyo astīndra - devo na martyo jyāyān” - “It’s indeed the truth : there is no other like you, O Indra - no deva or martya exceeds you”. (As all are contained in him)
Or Rigveda 7.32.23 : “na tvāvāṅ anyo divyo na pārthivo na jāto na janiṣyate” : “There is no other like you divine, nor earthly, none born, none to be born”.
> Vedic Indra assumes every form in this universe and lives in them, whereas Puranic Indra comes in a form only to deceive righteous persons.
Rigveda 6.47.18:He has become the reflection of every form, that is his form to behold at;Indra, by māyā, moves in multiple forms, a hundred times ten golden ones are yoked (“in yoga”) for him.Rigveda 8.100.4:“This is me, O Singer, see me here. I dwell in all that is manifest, by magnificence.The directions of the cosmic flow-law make me spread, As the breaker, I rend the beings”
Rigveda 6.47.18:He has become the reflection of every form, that is his form to behold at;Indra, by māyā, moves in multiple forms, a hundred times ten golden ones are yoked (“in yoga”) for him.
“This is me, O Singer, see me here. I dwell in all that is manifest, by magnificence.The directions of the cosmic flow-law make me spread, As the breaker, I rend the beings”
> Vedic Indra is not king of heavens but a king over all, whereas Puranic Indra is merely a king of heavens
Rigveda 1.32.15:“Indra is the king of the nomad and of the one who has settled down;The one armed with Vajra; of valley-dweller and mountain-dweller,He alone, is the king, he rules over the agricultural dominions,Like a felly for the spokes, he has become an enveloper”
“Indra is the king of the nomad and of the one who has settled down;The one armed with Vajra; of valley-dweller and mountain-dweller,He alone, is the king, he rules over the agricultural dominions,Like a felly for the spokes, he has become an enveloper”
> Vedic Indra is not a storm god, but Puranic Indra is arguably one.
Vedic Indra is everything that establishes the Ṛta and allows it to move on. If rain is the Ṛta, Indra is there. If dawning is Ṛta, Indra is there. (He thus becomes the dad of Dyaus, Sūrya and Uṣas, RV 1.32.4)
> Vedic Indra doesn’t know Amarāvati or Airāvata
All these classical Indian ruler’s caricatures are unknown to Vedic Indra who is totally different.
> Vedic Indra instructs his friend Viṣṇu to illuminate, after killing Vṛtra. Puranic Indra kills a Brahmin Asura Vṛtra and usually goes to help to Puranic Vishnu in other cases
Vedic Indra gladly instructs, “sakhe viṣṇo vitaram vi kramasva” (O my friend, Vishnu, just stride yourself widely!) by which Viṣṇu creates space and light. (RV 4.18.11, 8.100.12)
> Vṛtra is not a singular demon in Rigveda, but a class of hurdles who have to be overcome to “move on”. Indra kills the Vṛtra of Vṛtras, the first born of Ahis and releases the cosmos.
“He killed the Vṛtra, greater vṛtra …” (RV 1.32.5), “.. he killed the first-born of Ahis” (RV 1.32.4)
> Puranic Indra has several enemies of whom he fears, whereas Vedic Indra is himself the only existent with no enemies or adversaries. The Vṛtra he fights, to make himself the Indra and thereby existent, from being pre-existent. He shakes and desires so as to become existent.
“There is none to hinder, none to overpower the Vajri” (RV 1.40.8)
“Thereafter, he, indeed, has found absolutely no adversary”. (1.32.4)
Further, Indra helps those who retreated and are shunned, and motivates them to victory. He is said to be the haṃsa by the wise. He even fights devas when their radiances blind people. He has no censors to keep Ṛta established, and is impartial, and further, positively discriminates the weak, and keeps the back foot in front so as to set going the motion.
> Vedic Indra is not a nymphomaniac, neither has anything to do with lust issues, (as he is not a humanly mythological character) whereas Puranic Indra is every king’s worst vices personified
Indra is prayed to by women too, he loves all regardless of their affiliations. To the menstruating teen Apālā, he makes her a sage and makes her life great, to the shunned Ahalyā who is not fertile, Indra shows his graceful love.
At the same time, he picks on Uṣas when she opposes Ṛta, hits her.
> Vedic Indra has nothing to with Urvaśī, Menakā, Rambhā or Tilottamā.
Vedic Indrāṇī is the one feminine power, the “wife” of Indra, who might already be associated with Power (Śacī) in Rigveda itself. Urvaśī is related to Purūravas, Menakā is the same as Menā, the feminine Indra by which (s)he is related to Vṛṣaṇaśva. (“bullock cart”) Later, Menakā becomes Puranic Viśvāmitra’s wife. (You know it is a Vāsiṣṭhan myth)
> Vedic Indra helps the weak, makes the blind see, the lame walk, the retreated win, uplifts the oppressed, uplifts the shunned son of unwed girl - is thus the symbol of divine benevolence to all.
These are also specifically attributed to Nāsatyas Aśvins as well.
(Rigveda 2.12.6, 2.13.12, 2.15.7, 4.30.16, 1.112.8, 4.30.19, 6.45.19, 10.24.3)
>Nothing other than Indra, nothing above Vedic Indra
Hindus, are you Polytheistic or Monotheistic? Or in other words, do you believe in loads of Gods being one God, or do you believe in separate Gods?
We believe that every sentient being is “God” - so what type of “theism” would that be? “Polytheism”?
God is not a “sky-guy” separate from the universe and its inhabitants and contents - God is the Unified Field the Ground-of-Being - would that be “mono-theism” or “pantheism” or “pan-en-theism”?
Theism per se is an obsession with occidental religions. Oriental religions are not concerned with “theism” - they are concerned with Dharma or the Dao (Tao).
While the occidentals (Abrahamics) were fretting and obsessing about the THEOS (as in “who created this world and us, and what does he want?) - the oriental sages and philosophers were meditating and pondering upon the TOE (Theory of everything) - how is all this multiplicity and manifoldness inter-connected? Occidental sectarian Monotheism is underpinned by fear (of God and his punishments for disbelief). Oriental philosophy is driven by inquisitiveness.
Here are a few verse from the Bhagavad Gita to help you to understand the Hindu position on “Theism”.
6:30. He who sees Me (Krishna) everywhere and everything in Me; I am not separated from him and he is never separated from Me.6:31. The Yogi who, established in unity, worships (bhajati) Me dwelling in all beings, he abides in Me, howsoever he may live.15:7. An everlasting part of Myself, having become the Jīvātman in the mortal world, acquires the [five] senses, and the mind which is the sixth, and abides in Prakṛti (Physical nature).10:20. I am the Self, O Gudakesha (Arjuna —Conqueror-of-sleep), dwelling in the hearts of all beings. I verily am the beginning, the middle and also the end of all beings.11:13. There [in that Cosmic form] Arjuna beheld the entire universe, with its manifold divisions gathered together in one single point [of light] within the body of the God of gods.
6:30. He who sees Me (Krishna) everywhere and everything in Me; I am not separated from him and he is never separated from Me.
6:31. The Yogi who, established in unity, worships (bhajati) Me dwelling in all beings, he abides in Me, howsoever he may live.
15:7. An everlasting part of Myself, having become the Jīvātman in the mortal world, acquires the [five] senses, and the mind which is the sixth, and abides in Prakṛti (Physical nature).
11:13. There [in that Cosmic form] Arjuna beheld the entire universe, with its manifold divisions gathered together in one single point [of light] within the body of the God of gods.
The Upanishads clearly affirm the following propositions about the Universe and the Self - which the focus of the ancient Sages.
So you may take these fundamental concepts and weave them into some category of “theism” as suits your comprehension - but we have no such category nor do we have a word in Sanskrit for “theism”.
Is Hinduism monotheistic or polytheistic in nature? What is Sanatana Dharma then?
Hinduism is not “god-obsessed” like the Abrahamic religions, Hinduism is “human-focussed”.
The spiritual quest is of SELF-KNOWLEDGE - ātma-bodha and awakening to your true nature.
Ask “who am I?” and not “who is God”.
Once you discover your true essential being - everything will become clear.
There is a story about a man who went to his guru and asked if he could show him God. The guru said:– “certainly I can introduce you to God but I need to know who you are first!”
So who are you and how shall I introduce you?
The man said “I am Devadatta.”
Guru:– there are thousands of Devadattas on the planet - that is just a name.
Aspirant: “I am Devadatta the merchant.”
Guru:– “there are thousands of merchants - that’s just your occupation”.
Aspirant:- “Introduce me as the husband of Anjali and the father of Hari and Janaki.”
Guru:– “those are just your relationships - they are not who you are.”
Aspirant:– “Introduce me as one who possesses large properties and has many vehicles and stuff.”
Guru:– “those are just your possessions, they do not describe who you are.”
Aspirant:– “tell him I am Devadatta who has great aspirations to benefit humanity through my wealth and donations, I will build hospitals and schools.”
Guru:– “those are just pious and well-meaning aspirations - they are not who you are.”
Aspirant: “hmmmm ask me questions and I’ll tell you who I am.”
Guru:– “well dear Devadatta, if you don’t know who you are how can I introduce you to God? You are identifying yourself through your network of relationships, I want to know who you are independent of those relationships.
Please go away discover who you really are and then come back to me for your introduction to God.”
Are Hindus scared of invisible Hindu gods?
No, why should we be scared of the invisible?
Fear is of another - a person or thing which one believes can be the cause of physical harm. Invisible sky-guys cannot harm us so why fear them?
Hindu gods do not demand recognition, worship or slavish belief - they do their thing in the sky and we do our thing here on earth.
It is up to you to believe in them and to make offerings to them or not.
There are no consequences for disbelief or failure to pay tribute and homage.
If in Bhagavad Gita 7:21 said that God can be in any form, does that mean Hindus worship everything including toilets, cows, etc.?
You stopped reading 3 chapters too early - in chapter 10 Krishna illustrates those attributes and things through which he can be worshipped - so please go through that.
If your mind is elevated, and love generated in your heart through worshiping a toilet then what’s to stop you?
You identify with the qualities of the thing you worship - so if you worship a cow on a regular basis you will develop the cow-like qualities, if you worship an angry vindictive god you too will become angry and vindictive. If you worship a compassionate and loving deity - then you will become compassionate, kind and loving.
So what you want to worship is entirely left to you - God is far too busy managing over a trillion galaxies and multiverses to concern himself with your devotional practices.
Here is a perspective for you to consider. This is just our galaxy - there are a trillion like this - so how significant do you still think you are, and why do you think a God of all this cosmos would be concerned with what you thought of him/her/IT? or what you worship and how?
Is verse 3:178 of Quran applicable on Hindus who continue worshipping Hindu gods and other created objects even after being fully aware of message of one true Allah? Is Allah fulfilling their wishes only to punish them eternally in the hereafter?
The verse shows that the Arab god to whom it is attributed is a narcissist and extremely vindictive.
We Hindus who are able to read, find the Quran to be the work of an illiterate Arab who claimed to be a prophet and who’s message was applicable to 7th century Arabs only.
There is nothing praiseworthy in the message that we did not have in our literature 2000 years before the prophet, and much that is most disagreeable and unworthy of being included in a “holy” text - like all the hundreds of threats of eternal torture for thought-crime and relentless abuse of unbelievers.
Allah does not fulfil anyone’s wishes - everyone acts and reaps the results of their own actions tempered by Karma.
So the verse is not applicable to anyone other than those who received it in awe and wonder in the 7th century.
So this is the memo that we received from head office over 1000 years before the Arabs.
Gītā 9:29. I (Krishna) am the same to all beings; to Me there is none hateful or dear; but those who worship Me with devotion abide in Me and I in them.Gītā 9:23. Even those who, endowed with faith are devoted to other gods, they worship Me alone, O Kaunteya, in an indirect manner.Gītā 7:21. Whichever manifestation (of the Divine) any devotee desires to worship with faith – that faith I make unshakeable and firm.Gītā 6:40. Neither here [in this world] nor there [in the next], O Arjuna, is there destruction for the one [who meditates on the inconceivable Absolute]. For verily, no one who does good, my son, ever comes to grief.
Gītā 9:29. I (Krishna) am the same to all beings; to Me there is none hateful or dear; but those who worship Me with devotion abide in Me and I in them.
Gītā 9:23. Even those who, endowed with faith are devoted to other gods, they worship Me alone, O Kaunteya, in an indirect manner.
Gītā 7:21. Whichever manifestation (of the Divine) any devotee desires to worship with faith – that faith I make unshakeable and firm.
Gītā 6:40. Neither here [in this world] nor there [in the next], O Arjuna, is there destruction for the one [who meditates on the inconceivable Absolute]. For verily, no one who does good, my son, ever comes to grief.
Is Krishna the source of Shiva or vice versa? Hindu texts are so confusing.
Neither is correct and there is no confusion whatsoever. Both have their source in BRAHMAN - like everything else.
o̎ṁ tad bra̱hma | o̎ṁ tad vā̱yuḥ | o̎ṁ tad ā̱tmā | o̎ṁ tat sa̱tyaṁ | o̎ṁ tat sarvaṃ̎ | o̎ṁ tat puro̱r namaḥ | antaścarati̍ bhūte̱ṣu guhāyāṁ vi̍śva-mū̱rtiṣu | tvaṁ yajñas tvaṁ vaṣaṭkāras tvaṁindras tvaguṁ rudras tvaṁ viṣṇus tvaṁ brahma tva̍ṁ prajā̱patiḥ | tvaṁ ta̍d āpa̱ āpo̱ jyoti̱r raso̱-mṛta̱ṁ brahma bhūr bhuva̱s suvar o̱ṁ ||OM that is Brahman. Om that is Vayu. Om that is the Self. Om that is the Truth. Om that is everything. Om that is the multitude of recepticles (physical bodies of sentient beings). Salutation to That Supreme Being who moves inside the hearts of all created beings of manifold forms. O Supreme being! You are the sacrifice, You are the sacrificial chants, You are the Indra, You are the Rudra, You are the Brahma, You are the Lord of all beings, You are the That, You are the water in the rivers and the ocean, You are the Sun, You are the essence of life, You are the nectar of immortality, You are the Vedas, You are the triple universe - You are the AUM. (Nārāyana Upaṇiṣad 68: 1 & 2)
o̎ṁ tad bra̱hma | o̎ṁ tad vā̱yuḥ | o̎ṁ tad ā̱tmā | o̎ṁ tat sa̱tyaṁ | o̎ṁ tat sarvaṃ̎ | o̎ṁ tat puro̱r namaḥ | antaścarati̍ bhūte̱ṣu guhāyāṁ vi̍śva-mū̱rtiṣu | tvaṁ yajñas tvaṁ vaṣaṭkāras tvaṁindras tvaguṁ rudras tvaṁ viṣṇus tvaṁ brahma tva̍ṁ prajā̱patiḥ | tvaṁ ta̍d āpa̱ āpo̱ jyoti̱r raso̱-mṛta̱ṁ brahma bhūr bhuva̱s suvar o̱ṁ ||
OM that is Brahman. Om that is Vayu. Om that is the Self. Om that is the Truth. Om that is everything. Om that is the multitude of recepticles (physical bodies of sentient beings). Salutation to That Supreme Being who moves inside the hearts of all created beings of manifold forms. O Supreme being! You are the sacrifice, You are the sacrificial chants, You are the Indra, You are the Rudra, You are the Brahma, You are the Lord of all beings, You are the That, You are the water in the rivers and the ocean, You are the Sun, You are the essence of life, You are the nectar of immortality, You are the Vedas, You are the triple universe - You are the AUM. (Nārāyana Upaṇiṣad 68: 1 & 2)
Who is the Goddess of demons in Hinduism?
Originally Answered: What are the demons in Hinduism?
The best answer ever has been given by Ivar Hakuse - I am only supporting his detailed answer.
The “demons” are all forces of CHAOS and are the polarity of the Devas who are the forces of ORDER. Please note polarity is different to “opposites” - the two forces are mutually constitutive of each other and not contending opposites. Both chaos and Order are mutually dependant, to have one we need the other - this is the bi-polar nature of the Universe.
The forces of Chaos are known in Mythology by various names:-
Asuras, Daityas and Rākṣasas. They all have different fields of operation
ASURAS are inner “demons” - like kāmāsura = demon of self-referent desires, krodhāsura = the demon of anger, mohāsura = the demon of self-delusion, madāsura = the demon of arrogance, lobhāsura = demon of greed, mātsaryāsura = the demon of malicious envy.
DAITYAS are celestial Chaotic forces which upset the balance of nature they are the polarities of the Adityas.
RĀKṢASAS are the “Guardians” of the Forests, Jungles and terrestrial resources in general and cause havoc in nature - especially when we humans encroach on their territory.
Is Ishwar in Hinduism and the Yahweh of Abraham the same?
All concepts of who or what God is is a projection of the human imagination and conforms to cultural values, memes and modalities.
So we look up into the sky and think this Universe is so incredibly vast - why is there something rather than nothing?
Some people the posit that there is a mysterious something behind the Universe, some abstract “cause” which we will call “God” for want of a better word.
Then we fit that “God” out with a personality which conforms to our cultural perspective and and equip him with our own values in a superlative degree. (God made humans in his image and we returned the compliment!)
Firstly most societies are patriarchal so God must obviously be MALE. In most patriarchal societies the Alpha Male is top-dog (sos to speak). So God is depicted as an Alpha-Male.
We then imagine him to be a Sultan, both sternly just and a tyrant with a modicum of compassion (when in touch with his feminine side - which is repressed!) sitting on a throne in the sky. He is like Big Brother - watching our every move and judging us, he loves our “tribe” and disapproves, and sometime vehemently hates others. He has created the world especially with US in mind and has a “program” or a “plan” for us as long as we remain his slavish vassals. etc. etc. etc - this is the theological Gran Narrative in essence.
Ishwara is Vedanta is a personification of the Unified Field or Ground-of-Being known as BRAHMAN which means the “vastness”.
Ishwara has three functional aspects - universal projection personified as Brahmā, universal equilibrium personified as Vishnu and universal dissolution and reintegration personified by Shiva.
Yahweh is the tribal God of the Israelites who was later adopted and retrofitted to the ideals and needs of Christianity and Islam.
They may both be referring to the same “mystery” or the “Origin of the Universe” but they are characteristically, conceptually and functionally different.
Quest - Allah was borrowed from a tribal God, this is not true of YHWH,
Responjse - Correct, the Israelites were a section of the greater community of the Canaanites and they all shared they same pantheon of El, Ba’al Hadad, Asherah, et al. So when they broke away and achieved supremacy they amalgamated all the pantheon into one God - Yahweh - who was ba
Why does Rami Sivan keep denying the existence of Hindu deities by reducing them to symbolism or mocking them as imaginary sky gods? If he wants to present atheistic views then why does he not label himself as an atheist rather than a Hindu priest?
This is an excellent question and one which I would love to clarify. But take a seat and relax because it is a long one.
Which deities of which religion are real people living in the sky? Allah? Yahweh? Jesus? Adi-buddha? Manushri? Indra? Vishnu? Shiva? Odin? Wodin? Quetzalcoatl? Wahid Guru? Please clarify your preference and then produce the evidence.
All the deities in Hinduism are PRINCIPLES of the collective unconsciousness, not people living in the sky or in another dimension.
Now I will guide you through Hindu Theology step by step but you will need to focus really hard. First the basics.
1. There is only ONE reality taught in the Upanishads and that is BRAHMAN.
sarvam khalv idam brahma — All this is Brahman (Muṇḍaka 2.2.11 & Chand. 3.14.1)
2. Apart from BRAHMAN nothing is real in the sense of being substantial and abiding.
neha nānāsti kiñcana — There is nothing (other than Brahman) anywhere. (Chāṇḍogya 3.14.1)
3. And BRAHMAN is defined as – prajñānam brahma — Brahman is consciousness (Aitareya 3.5.3)
Okay, so far we have established the only reality in this vast cosmos of trillions of galaxies is the principle of consciousness which is termed in the Upanishads as BRAHMAN.
In other words everything else – stars, planets, atoms, molecules and quanta are all emergent properties from consciousness – so that includes planet earth, trilobites, dinasaurs, primates and humans etcetera.
Some of you will be asking is this “scientific”? We’ll leave that aside for the minute because we are focussing on pure Theology.
So now we have established that Brahman is the substratum or the Unified Field or the Ground-of-Being what can we know about it?
4. Tattiriya Upanishad says yatho vāco nivartante – aprāpya manasā saha – “It is that from which the mind and speech recoil, unable to comprehend and unable to express.”
So now we have established that the Ultimate reality which is Brahman is inconceivable and inexpressible. Why? Because everything we can think about and discuss requires four predicates.
Since none of these can be predicated of Brahman it is therefore unknowable and there is nothing we can say about it. Anything we do say is merely an approximation.
Some of the Upanishads go on to describe Brahman more fully in negative terms – this is called “Negative Theology”.
5. Here is an example from Nārayaṇa Upaṇiṣad which employs both Negative and Positive Theology. Nārāyaṇa literally means “The Ground-of-Being”
Nārāyaṇa is boundless. Brahma is Nārāyaṇa. Siva is Nārāyaṇa. Indra is Nārāyaṇa. Time is Nārāyaṇa. Space is Nārāyaṇa, the intermediate quarters also are Nārāyaṇa. That which is above is Nārāyaṇa. That which is below is Nārāyaṇa. That which is within and that which is without is Nārāyaṇa. The entire Universe which existed and that which will exist is Nārāyaṇa.
Nārāyaṇa is the only One, It is partless, immaculate (free from every conceivable imperfection), inconceivable, indescribable, pure and divine.
There is nothing apart from this. Whosoever knows Him thus, becomes Vishnu. (Nārāyaṇa Upaṇiṣad. 2.)
So far you will notice that no “Personality” has been ascribed to Brahman/Nārāyaṇa – THAT is said to be the basis of all the other Gods like Brahmā, Siva and Indra. They are manifestions that arise from THAT like waves in the ocean. They are not separate “entities” or “beings” or “sky-guys”. Brahma is the principle of force of creativity of manifestation, Siva is the principle of transformation and dissolution and Indra is the principle of MIND.
So far you have understood the OBJECTIVE Reality proposed by the Upaṇiṣads. This is the view of the Universe from a Hubble Telescope – seeing the entirety in perspective.
Now what about the SUBJECTIVE perspective?
We puny, tiny, limited and conditioned, insignificant human beings are not happy with an Ultimate Principle which we cannot understand and talk about, which we cannot meditate upon and which we cannot relate to. We want something to focus our thoughts on, to be our compass and orientate ourselves to. We want a God or gods to relate to.
Human beings are categorised into three classes in a pyramidal structure.
Paśu – which are the common folk who are simple, unsophisticated and unlearned in philosophy and want things, stuff to give them security, a sense of belonging and meaning in their lives – they want a Big Daddy or Celestial Sultan, or a Saviour who will look after them and cares about them and their activities. They want to be told what to believe, what to do and the rewards of compliance. For them we have Puranas.
Vīra – are the heroes, the pioneers, those who question, argue, and want to explore and experience for themselves – they do not want to be told what to think – they want to think for themselves, to figure everything out and to ascend to the heights of human endeavour. For them we have Upaṇisads
Siddhas – are the accomplished Yogis, the perfected and enlightened Beings who have achieved their goals and have insight into the nature of Reality – they are the Rishis and Sages. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. No scriptures are needed.
So for the Viras and Siddhas no prescription or format or model is needed. But what of the common folk? What do we do for them?
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 kiñcid anusmaret ||sarvathā akāram uddiṣṭaṃ na parityajya paṇḍitaḥ ||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 should meditate on some form, remembering however that it is an indirect method, a particularization or indication of that which is completely formless. (Vishnu Samhita 29:55 — 57)
So the sages in their wisdom have given genus, forms and qualities, functionality and relationships to the abstract principles of the Unconsciousness and produced images, icons, and characters, written stories, legends and anecdotes to entertain us and to fill our minds with entertaining and uplifting accounts of Gods and Antigods of Sages and Kings, and within these stories they have embedded teachings and guidance, morals and ethics, and have alerted us to problems and issues that we need to deal with – all of this is found in the Puranas and Itihasas.
And the Veda itself reminds us that they are not objectively “real” but subjective perspectives or aspects of that which is ultimately incomprehensible and inexpressible.
“योऽन्यां देवतामुपास्ते अन्योऽसावन्योऽहमस्मीति न स वेद यथा पशुरेवं स देवानाम् —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.”
For a full explanation of the Gods and their forms please study;
So is Rami Sivan the (fake) Hindu priest as “theist” or an “atheist”?
Well as a staunch Vedantin I am an “agnostic” which means I cannot comprehend or speak about Brahman because of my cognitive and expressive limitations.
Do I believe the Gods to be real? Of course I do, since they are true abstract principles of psychology and cosmology how is it possible to deny them?
Brahmā is the Principle of manifestation and creativity - does this exist? Of course it does.
Vishnu is the Principle of sustentation and Shiva is the Principle of dissolution and recreation - do these forces and principles exist or not?
Kāma-deva is the Principle of Desire - who can deny desire is the motivating force in every living creature.
Do I believe they are living in their heavenly worlds in their marvellous palaces with their appurtenances and paraphernalia and with their family and attendants, watching apsaras dance and gandharvas play music ? No I do not! They exist as principles and facets within us.
When we invoke the Gods during ceremonies (āvāhana), we first visualise the God or Goddess seated within the lotus of our heart Chakra, or in the Sahasrara Chakra at the crown of the head. We then project the deity onto the Icon, picture, yantra of mandala or kumbha we are using as a focussing device. We then acknowledge the temporary presence and make our offerings - then afterwards we symbolically return the Deity to our own heart (visarjana).
So in each ceremony the deity invoked is a projection from our own minds - not an invitation of a sky-guy to descend. There is no descending and ascending - there is only projection and withdrawal. Externalisation and internalisation mimicking the eternal process of the Universe itself.
Because in the Ultimate Realisation we ourselves are non-different from BRAHMAN as the Vedānta boldly, shamelessly and affirmatively declares:-
I hope this clarifies Hindu theology for you from the Vedanta perspective. You may get your theology from the Puranas and that is good, because that is where you’re at.
Did Hindu gods, while sitting in the sky like an idol, witnessed the destruction and loot of several Hindu temples by the Mughals?
No. The Hindu gods are not sitting in the sky - they are living in the bodies of everyone involved in the destruction of the temples. The gods are within us and not in the sky.
But the conquerors and destroyers all had their Karma to reap. Who know where they were reborn and what suffering they had to undergo? We are not to judge others or to weep over the past, but just to rebuild the temples and like Rama Mandir in Ayodhya and move on, treating everyone with friendliness, kindness, compassion and generosity.
Hindus have culturally never bothered about the past because of the key doctrine of impermanence - everything is subjected to decay and destruction at some time. So why grieve over it?
>”But the conquerors and destroyers all had their Karma to reap.”
So is Hindus, those rulers destroyed temple because hindus did some bad things in there lifes so they got bad karma as a result the temples are destroyed.
So hindus are the real reason along with muslim invaders.
After all every happens is due to karma right.
All part of the Cosmic Game, Hindus got their Karma, the Muslim jihādis did their Karma and then got reborn as Iraqis and Syrians and Rohingyas and Uighyurs. Those that persecute them will also be reborn and enjoy the fruits of their karma and around and around the wheel of Karma turns.
That’s why the Hindus just got on with their lives and rebuilt the temples when they could.
Why Is Goddess Kali So Blood-Thirsty?
You need to learn the language of symbology in iconography.
The blood represents unending chain of desires.
Kāli was conjured up by Durga when she was fighting a demon known as Rakta-bīja which means the Blood-seed demon. Every drop of his blood which dropped on the ground during the battle produced another demon like him. So this represents the chain of desires. Every desire that we fulfilled gives birth to more desires - equally powerful and so the morass of desires in which we entrap ourselves is ever expanding and causing ever increasing unhappiness.
The way Kāli dealt with this problem was to drink his blood which is symbolic of swallowing or consuming our desire - internalising them and quelling them.
So Kāli represents the inner psychic force we require to triumph over our desire nature.
The sword represents wisdom - hidden in its sheath of ignorance, the heads she wears are garlands represent all the fake personas we adopt and with which we identify and the arms she wears as a skirt represents all the vain happiness projects we engage in which never bring us abiding happiness.
How can you defend the idea that Hinduism, with its many personal gods and multiple belief systems, can be viewed as the ultimate monotheistic religion?
Well Hinduism as a cooperative can’t claim or espouse a single philosophical or theological view - since the definition of a cooperative is multiple and inclusive points of view.
If we take the core of modern Hinduism to be the Vedanta then there is definitely no claim to exclusivity or the promotion of any sort of “monotheism”. In fact theism per se is of no interest to the sages of the Upanishads who were intensely curious, and it precisely this curiosity and inquisitiveness which differentiates them from the Hebrew prophets and sages. All the Upanishads are replete with questions. Sages questioning Kings, and Kings questioning sages, and sages questioning each other.
The names of a few of the Upanishads is telling - the Prashna Upanishad - which means “the question”. Kena Upanishad - which means “by what or whom”?
What they were seeking an answer to is the Theory of Everything (TOE) -
Shaunaka, a householder asks sage Angirasa “What is it that knowing which, everything becomes known? (Mundaka Upanishad)
“What is THAT from which everything emerges, in which it is sustained and into which it ultimately dissolves?” (Tattiriya Upanishad)
In the Brhadāranyaka Upanishad, Maitreyi asks her Sage husband Yajñavalkya: "Tell me, venerable Sir, of that alone which you know to be the only means of attaining Immortality."
The Kena Upanishad starts with the question: “What activates our mind? What is the director of the mind? What is behind the mind? What is behind our senses activating them?” and then asks “If the eye, nor speech nor thought can grasp the truth then how is it to be taught?”
Nachiketas asks Lord Yama in the Katha Upanishad: “What happens to a person after death? Some say that he exists; some say that a person does not exist. What is the truth of the matter?”
Prashna Upanishad, opens with a question by Kabandhi to Sage Pippalada, “Master, whence verily do these beings arise?"
Svetaśvatara Upanishad begins with the questions: “O Knowers of the Vedas, who is that Brahman - the root cause of this world. From what have we been born? Due to what do we live? In what are we abiding? Under what orders are we passing through pain and pleasure? Under what set rules are we being governed?”
“Should time, or nature, or necessity, or chance, or the elements be regarded as the cause? Or he who is called the purusha, the self?”
So we see that the obsession with a single Supreme Creator and Controller God as in monotheism was never central to their investigations.
The Bible begins with a dogmatic statement “In the beginning God created heaven and earth” and everything else then flows from this first unquestionable dogma. Likewise the Quran starts with “In the name of Allah” – and this fundamental assertion of a creator God is an unquestionable “truth.”
Vedantic Hinduism is thus an eternal process of questioning, investigating, exploring and experimenting – it is an open source which is constantly being added to and subtracted from – flowing and changing, adopting and adapting all with reference to the TOE. There is no finality and each and every individual is encouraged to explore and experiment to achieve personal insight and never to be stifled and suffocated with dogma.
So there is no obsession with “monotheism” and no claim to be fixated in this belief.
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