Monday, November 30, 2009

Hinduism: One Truth - Many Paths

Hinduism is the oldest and most misunderstood religion. It is older than the Western religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and the Eastern religions of Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, which are its offspring. Hinduism originated in India and has slightly more than a billion adherents throughout the world.

Hinduism is unique, because unlike the other major religions, it has no single founder, no single scripture, no single deity, no single prophet, no strict priesthood, and no single way to reach salvation. Because Hinduism has numerous sages as spokespersons, scores of religious books for open discussion and various paths available for enlightenment, it is liberal, tolerant of differences, accepting of other faiths, inclusive and secular in orientation.

What gives unity to Hinduism is the belief that it is based upon eternal principles, which are explicitly stated in the Hindu sacred texts of the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-Gita and the Yoga Sutra. The quintessence of Hinduism is affirmed in the ancient text of the Rig Veda as follows: "There is one reality, the wise call it by many names; there is one truth, reached by many paths." This statement becomes the starting point of Hinduism and the Hindu way of life.

The Hindu mindset views the sacred books of all religions including its own, as nothing more than limited human perspectives on the unlimited reality. Though each perspective captures an aspect of this truth, no single perspective is capable to conveying it totally. The ancient Indian story of seven blind men and their limited perspectives on the elephant epitomizes this attitude. This is a clear example of Hinduism's tolerance of differences and acceptance of other faiths.

Hinduism uses the term Brahman for this single reality. Since Brahman is the source of everything, the plurality and divisions are only on the surface. Brahman permeates every aspect of existence ranging from inorganic objects to organic things, from plants to insects, and from animals to humans. As our unique bodily cells, while contributing to the development and sustenance of the various parts, are organically connected to the entire body, so are the different aspects of existence as cells connected to the body of Brahman. Though no single description of Brahman is capable of capturing its nature totally, Hinduism gives a partial account by identifying it with infinite blissful consciousness.

In Hinduism, the notion of a personal god is subservient to the notion of Brahman. A personal god is nothing more than the human attempt at conceptualizing what cannot be captured through the limited categories of the limited minds. Since no single concept of god can confine the infinite spiritual depth of Brahman, which is the boundless ocean of cosmic consciousness, Hinduism has no problem accepting many gods and goddesses (polytheism), a single almighty god (monotheism) and a single non-personal spiritual principle (monism). These deities are nothing more than limited attempts of the human mind at revealing the innumerable qualities of the one all-encompassing cosmic consciousness. Moreover, these deities are mere personal pathways through which one comes in contact with one of the manifestations of Brahman.

Brahman is unlike the creator in the Western religions. It is not an artist or a sculptor that creates a painting or sculpts a statue and remains separate from its creation. Rather Brahman is a cosmic dancer where the dance and the dancer are indissolubly connected. The creator and its creation are non-separable from each other because there is no creator without the creation and no creation without the creator.

Brahman has been creating, continuously and joyfully the varied forms of the entire universe. Brahman as cosmic consciousness is like an infinite circle whereas each object, animal and human being is a concrete center of it. Each human being is a miniature fountain of creativity just like the blissful creative consciousness of Brahman. Hinduism asserts unambiguously that all life is a gift of the divine consciousness. The birth of a human being is an opportunity to get in touch with this joyful-creative-force that resides within.

Hinduism believes that this joyful-creative force is the divine spark in each human being. It resides in each of us as our conscience, which can act as our spiritual mentor. This divine conscience is our inner sacred spiritual space. Through the regular practice of meditation, one can gain access to one's conscience and can live a divine life on earth.

Moreover, this cosmic consciousness is available to anyone who approaches it with openness and without malice. Through meditation, this joyful creative force can be made to descend into oneself to nurture and revive the conscience within and could be used for cosmic transformation of oneself and others. Mahatma Gandhi, the Buddha and Mother Theresa were transformed by it and they expressed it through "serving everybody, feeding everyone, and educating every individual."

By Ashok Kumar Malhotra

15 comments:

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful presentation of Hinduism. One would be interested in knowing more about the relation of Hinduism to Hindu statecraft in the ancient kingdoms of India. Could it not be said that the society described in Mahabharata is not so different from today's India?

    Mr. Bertil Haggman, LL.M., author

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  2. Apparently the person who wrote this blog knows NOTHING of Christianity and is a one dimensional thinker. Maybe Christianity is but one perspective as it relates to it's culture.

    The perspective the author has is not aligned with true Christian beliefs.

    Forgiveness, Helping Those In Need, Living In Peace, Loving Your Neighbor just a few concepts in Christianity that parallel other open minded peace loving religion.

    But again I would say the author's expression on Hinduism is maybe over simplified and also shares similarities with true Christian beliefs.

    As a matter of fact very little of what was stated about Hinduism
    contradicts Christian beliefs except the notion the having a personal God means our belief in the Creator Of The Universe is subservient is not a concept in the Christianity. It just means a direct access to God. Not that God will do what we want.

    I does not state that there is only one way to salvation just that it is immediate and direct if you just believe.

    I know there are many over simplifications and complications of all religions.

    I love all peaceful religions, mostly those believers within them that go the extra mile to achieve peace all around and not just for themselves and so do most True Christians.

    We may not see eye to eye on everything.

    A wise man once said "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is: contempt prior to investigation."

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  3. Wow. I loved this! Thank you so much for writing this!! I have been a Christian my whole life, and am now seeing that there is SO much truth out there. It is so awesome. Thank you for your words! They literally have altered my life. Namaste

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    1. sister ! this is just a brief on hinduism ! maybe i'll tell you everything about hinduism ! hinduism does not beleive in religion , the name itself is a false interpretations ! hinduism is a name given by the north indians ! the scriptures does not talk about religion ! it only talks about how a man should live his life and what he must do and what must not ! for more info contact me @hwrng.mishima@gmail.com

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    2. Rightly said Hworang the most misunderstood fact about hinduism is that it is a religion(or belief) in its own way. Infact none of the hindu texts have any reference to any believer nor is there any word "hindu" in any text. It is very different from western religions where there is one holy book for all believers which states what is right and what is wrong and the true way of life. Instead these books are a set of philosophies regarding the nature of god, creation, way of life, karma, dharma, etc. etc. as seen by various sages. No scripture talks about defining a particular religion or a belief, infact there is no word in sanskrit for religion(the word dharma which is used nowadays, in sanskrit, means 'way of righteous living' or in some contexts 'law'
      What i mean to highlight is that Hinduism is not hinduism is not like a 'Religion' the way western or middle-eastern minds perceive 'religion'to be. It is a huge bunch of philosophies which talk about the universal nature if god, humanity, etc.(no eeference to believers).

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  4. You have limited knowledge...who said.... Hinduism is older than Judaism?...have u ever looked into scripting years of it... , who said Judaism & Christianity are western religion..? Myth is always a myths u can ever prove it can u...? believe blindly as u were told or dont.... Before writing anythin..do a research of everythin well...this google itself can help u alot.. den u rewrite this post...

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  5. Great Writing Ashok! Thank you. How sad that some people don't understand their own religion. We must ignore the ignorant folks out there who use this forum to insult you and show their own lack of knowledge of that Jesus taught. what was already stated in the Rg Veda. He said their is only One Truth. One way. Jesus was clearly an enlightened yogi. The wise men came from the east- India! Hello......:)

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  7. Hinduism is an eternal way of life and one day will come when world accept the reality of vedas and Hinduism.

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  8. Simply beautiful. I felt elated reading this.Good work and thumbs up Ashok Kumar

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  9. Great discourse about the gist of Sanatana Dharma!simply beautiful.It is bewildering Abrahamic faiths followers insist that there is only one way to reach God and it is only their own faith has it.Why it is so difficult for us to believe there is only one God but the ways to reach him could be different?

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  10. Great discourse about the gist of Sanatana Dharma!simply beautiful.It is bewildering Abrahamic faiths followers insist that there is only one way to reach God and it is only their own faith has it.Why it is so difficult for us to believe there is only one God but the ways to reach him could be different?

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  11. Could you please refer to chapter and slok no from Rig Veda also with roman English for " There is one reality , the wise call it by many names; there is one truth, reached by many paths.

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