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BRAHMAN (God) in Hinduism

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BRAHMAN (God) in Hinduism Empty BRAHMAN (God) in Hinduism

Post by Seva Lamberdar Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:51 am

Hinduism is a monotheistic religion with one God (Brahman) assuming many forms and names. Brahman, as Nirguna, has no attributes (is formless and unmanifested), whereas as Saguna (or Iswara) is manifested and with attributes. People use many different names for God. Consider for example the following hymns from Rig Veda (RV).

"They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, and he is heavenly nobly-winged Garutman.
To what is One, sages give many a title they call it Agni, Yama, Matarisvan
." RV (Book 1, Hymn 164.46)

"He in his might surveyed the floods containing productive force and generating Worship.
He is the God, and none beside him. What God shall we adore with our oblation?"
RV (Book 10, Hymn 121.Cool

Thus various forms (names and perceptions) symbolizing Brahman reflect different visions according to many sages and seers. Note that, like any particular prophet, each sage advances his own concept of God which seems unique (in name and form / image) and may be classed as monomorphic (one view). This concept of divine -- monotheistic and monomorphic -- is usually accepted and followed by the adherents of that particular sage. This is just like any monotheistic religion after a certain prophet. But in Hinduism, this situation is further augmented due to accumulated visions of God from many sages -- each sage's vision being separately monotheistic and monomorphic -- resulting in monotheism with a polymorphic view where one God is perceived in many different ways and with various capabilities (e.g. Nirguna, Unmanifest, Saguna, Manifest, Transcendent, Immanent, and so on). Note that this is not polytheism, because God is still one, even though He is portrayed differently according to different people (sages, etc.) and situations.

Hinduism is also not henotheistic, where people believe in one god but are not concerned if he is the only god. Note that Brahman is one even though He has many names. For henotheism, there should exist a parallel (or competing) deity against Brahman but such is not the case. In addition, even the different Avtars (reincarnations) are not considered as independent of Iswara.

Hinduism is not pantheistic either, since there is no direct identification of God with universe. Note, God and universe (belonging to the Absolute or Reality -- which also consists of souls) are considered as distinct from each other in Hindu religio-philosophy.

Furthermore, polymorphically speaking, God may be worshipped, for example, by a farmer as Varuna (meaning the lord of water) and by a carpenter as Vishvakarma (meaning architect of the world). Since water -- potential boon from Varuna -- is important in agriculture for bringing good harvest etc., the farmer easily, conveniently and even inadvertently is drawn towards the deity known as Varuna. Meanwhile, the carpenter identifies himself professionally more closely with Vishvakarma (the Constructor). People thus have a tendency to assign and accept various functional or phenomenal labels for God, and perceive, worship, and meditate on Him accordingly. In spite of having different names, Brahman (God) still remains one and the Hinduism monotheistic. Note also that worshipping Varuna and Vishvakarma just amounts to worshipping God in two different aspects of water and construction, respectively. In reality, worship of either Varuna or Vishvakarma or both of them together still amounts to -- including the potential benefits -- the worship of one Brahman. The Real, possessing various attributes (i.e. God as Varuna or as Vishvakarma), should not be seen as accumulating them mathematically. Thus, one (as Varuna) + one (as Vishvakarma) is not to be construed as two, but still One (God).

Depending on the basic attributes, God (Hari or Savior) is called Om -- the creator (Omniscient, Brahma, the chaturmukh); Tat -- the preserver / master (Omnipotent, Vishnu, the chaturbhuj); and Sat -- the destroyer (Rudra or Shiva -- good and righteous; RV: Book 5, Hymn 44.2). Also (Gita: Ch. 10 – V. 20, Ch. 13 – V. 16), when the spark of Brahman enters the body as soul (spirit), life is said to emerge from him as the creator (Brahma); as long as the soul stays in the body, life continues to persist because of him as the preserver (Vishnu); and finally when the soul leaves the body, life appears to end under him as the destroyer (Shiva).

Furthermore, in the earthly regions, Iswara (and His power) may manifest as Agni; in the mid-air, as Indra; and in the heavens, as Savitar. Note that the personality or symbol used as a deity in meditation or worship is mainly for spiritual significance and to reflect the real power (God) behind it. Physical and material aspects of the symbol used in worship are less important.

True bhakti (devotion) and the type (method) of worship depend on a person's nature and temperament. Moreover, even if the object of adoration remains the same, there may be several ways to approach it. In addition, Brahman as Nirguna (unmanifested) is simply believed in. The direct worship of Nirguna Brahman is not possible, because it is not known (as Nirguna) and therefore can not be worshipped. The believer therefore simply recognizes the entire creation as a reflection of God and acts accordingly (Gita: Ch 12).

In the case of Saguna Brahman, there are two types of worship -- one is of a personal God as the Immanent, and the other by using symbols. In case of the Immanent, worship usually occurs in the form of pure meditation and at the spiritual level. On the other hand, when a worshipper views God as being external to him, then the worship is symbolic. Here, symbols (objects and deities etc.) used are generally prakrit (comprising of prakrti / nature and therefore involving three modes or gunas -- sattva, rajas, and tamas). Note that the worshipper in this case needs to be careful as to what exactly the object of adoration (such as the deity) and the method of worship (yajna etc.) stand for, because that will determine the outcome (fruits) of such worship.

Object of meditation (worship) should be beyond or above the Law of Karma. It should not become part of the sansara (world) -- as a soul or the constituent matter -- and be not existing at times in the mode of darkness or ignorance (Tamas). Note that only Brahman is above and beyond Karma, is changeless, and meets these conditions (Gita: Ch. 5 - V. 29). On the other hand, if the meditation (worship) is intended towards a secondary figure (such as a guru or a deity) who is subject to the Law of Karma, the results from such effort will also be secondary (Gita: Ch. 9 - V. 25). The meditation (worship) symbols and methods should be therefore carefully selected.

Note also that the religious offerings and gifts, though important, are voluntary and motivated by faith and love. Moreover, worships and rituals should not be performed miserly and with a desire for vainglory (RV: Book 7 - Hymn 32.9; Gita: Ch. 9 - V. 26, Ch. 16 - V. 17, Ch. 17 - V. 13).

------------------------------------

by: Dr. Subhash C. Sharma
(F
eb. 24, 2004: http://www.geocities.com/lamberdar/brahman.html)
Seva Lamberdar
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Post by Vakavaka Pakapaka Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:49 pm

In my view (i.e., I may be wrong), Brahman is used as a concept to explain how a unitary thing becomes the cause and effect, all in one. In Rg Veda there is a proclamation by the sages that they tried hard to understand the true nature of reality and found it impossible to comprehend. The other statement is in Purusha Sookta where it suggests that Saadhyas performed a "yajna", offered Purusha as the sacrifice and through Purusha the structures, rules and regulations of society came out. There are other instances where "Gods" were put in their place by sages.

If we ignore smriti, Hinduism is neither theistic nor atheistic. It is more concerned about trying to understand reality. This was the reason why it was never opposed to science, logic and mathematics. The latter three can easily replace Hinduism without any objective Hindu opposing such a change.

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Post by Seva Lamberdar Mon Mar 04, 2013 4:47 pm

Vakavaka Pakapaka wrote:In my view (i.e., I may be wrong), Brahman is used as a concept to explain how a unitary thing becomes the cause and effect, all in one. In Rg Veda there is a proclamation by the sages that they tried hard to understand the true nature of reality and found it impossible to comprehend. The other statement is in Purusha Sookta where it suggests that Saadhyas performed a "yajna", offered Purusha as the sacrifice and through Purusha the structures, rules and regulations of society came out. There are other instances where "Gods" were put in their place by sages.

If we ignore smriti, Hinduism is neither theistic nor atheistic. It is more concerned about trying to understand reality. This was the reason why it was never opposed to science, logic and mathematics. The latter three can easily replace Hinduism without any objective Hindu opposing such a change.
Good comment.
If we look at the above Rig Veda hymns (I indicated earlier), one thing is clear that Veda recognizes one ultimate power which is beyond comprension to a human mind (a fact also recognized by Samkara when he talks about Brahman).
Regarding the Purusha Suktha on Creation (in the Rig Veda), there is a lot of speculation and symbolism in it (including about the nature of Purusha). Dividing the Purusha by Saadhyas in the beginning is more symbolic and less physical / literal. When we say "Gods" were put in place by sages, it seems more like assigning the names and sounds representing various aspects of Brahman.
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Post by Seva Lamberdar Wed May 13, 2020 9:13 pm

The difference in names / characters Agni and Indra etc. used in the Vedas and subsequent (post-Vedic) texts (including Puranas):

While Vedas (e,g. the Rig Veda) use these names (Agni and Indra etc.) in the phenomenal sense to represent one God (Brahman) basically during worship and prayer etc. (e,g. Agni as the name for Brahman in the terrestrial region, Indra in the mid-air, and Savitar or Surya in the heavens, and so on), they (Indra and Agni etc.) acquire independent character and identity (Indra as the rain god, Agni as the fire god, and so on) in the post-Vedic Purana stories / tales (using Indra etc. as independent demigods).
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Post by Seva Lamberdar Thu May 14, 2020 11:27 am

Just to continue with the discussion (on my earlier comment).

The Puranas (created usually by using mythical and fictional tales for validating and giving credence to Puranic demigods, e.g. Agni etc. which were derived and based on the names for one Brahman / God in Rig Veda etc.) include the Agni Purana (created by using mythical and other tales to justify the existence and supremacy of Agni as a demigod), Vishnu Purana (for Vishnu), Devi Purana (for Devi), Shiv Purana (for Shiva), and so on. This naturally has resulted inmany unnecessary and additional texts on religion, whilealso giving rise to myths and mythical tales.

The theological character / nature according to the Veda, Rig Veda basically, is monotheistic, where the deity (or deities) merely refer to different names for one Brahman (God) in the Veda, without giving rise to multiplicity and non-parity with respect to gods.

Conversely, different demigods mentioned in the Puranas, including their having gained support from mythical stories and Puranas in their names (e.g. Agni Purana dedicated to Agni, etc.), give rise to polytheistic characteristics and hierarchical order, resulting in the impression that religion has many different gods and goddesses, while people even arguing and fighting over the supremacy / superiority of their favorite god or goddess.

Let's take the example of the Mahabharata composed by Vyasa in which Krishna is just an ordinary character, like most other major players, and he even narrates the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna on the battlefield in Kurukshetra. Moreover, most of the important contents uttered by Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita in the Mahabharata are as "Bhagavan-uvacha" (God-speak), as if Krishna is merely speaking on behalf of (or quoting) God (Bhagavan), and not himself. In other words, there is no effort in the Mahabharate by Vyasa to portray Krishna as a special person with superhuman and divine strength / powers.

In addition, the message in the Bhagavad Gita is to do one's duty (Karma), without any special distinctions as karma yoga, gyan yoga and bhakti yoga, According to the Bhagavad Gita, karma, gyana and bhakti etc. go hand in hand in the effort to do one's duty in the best way.

However, following perhaps the popularity and acceptance for the Mahabharata, someone else, very likely using the name "Vyasa", created / composed the Bhagavaram (the Bhagavad Purana) while using many extra / mythical tales and stories on Krishna's superhuman powers (unlike mentioned in the Mahabharata)., which seemed to elevate Krishna in status as God (according to Bhagavaam or Bhagavad Purana).

There was also a gita (the Uddhava Gita) as a part of Bhagavad Purana, just like the Bhagavad Gita in the Mahabharata. Note, whilethe Bhagavad Gita in the Mahabharata had merely shown the need for performing action (or doing karma / duty) in the spirit of a warrior without neglecting gyana and bhakti,the Uddhava Gita in the Bhagavad Purana emphasized mostly on bhakti (to spend lifetime like a priest praying, preaching and worshiping God), which also raises questions on the possibility that the chasm involving karma yoga, bhakti yoga and gyan yoga as different / separate paths to salvation might be due to the Puranic influence (e.g. the Uddhava Gita in the Bhagavad Purana).
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Post by Seva Lamberdar Sun May 17, 2020 9:03 am

While my impression about Krishna's divinity and superpowers is more as subtle and not easily perceptible according to the Mahabharata (the Bhagavad Gita), unlike quite apparent and easily recognizable as God according to the Bhagavad Purana (the Uddhava Gita), the general worship and belief in God by people (Hindus) is indicated in "BRAHMAN (God) in Hinduism," http://creative.sulekha.com/brahman-god-in-hinduism_599173_blog

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