Thursday, May 4, 2006

The concept of good

What is the Hindu definition of God -monotheistic or polytheistic?

There is much confusion about this, not among Hindus but among those on the outside looking in.

Hinduism is both a monotheistic and a henotheistic religion. Hindus believe in one supreme God who created the universe and who is worshipped as Light, Love and Consciousness. Hindus were never polytheistic, but were always henotheistic. Henotheism is defined by Webster's as "the belief in or worship of one God without denying the existence of others."
//do you agree this?? Comment this on the bottom of this page.

Personal God
In general Hinduism considers God not just as the Supreme All-powerful Gigantic One, Who commands the humanity to tread the way He/She/It says, but also a personal God Whom the individual can worship out of love and not necessarily out of fear ! The fear brings one only upto certain point and beyond that it repels, but love takes through to the point. Devotion or bhakti as often referred to is a very key concept in Hinduism, even for the philosophically inclined ones. While the shashtras - be it vedas, Agamas, purANas - describe the Glory of God, one finds abundance of stotras that praise the God in love.

God is Formless or with Form ?
For Hindus God, as is, is beyond any attributes of form, color, shapes ... That is, God does not have any specific form or name. In this state God is referred to as nirguNa brahman (attributeless god). However God takes forms as perceived by humans and this perceived form is called saguNa brahman (god with (good) attributes). These forms could range from calm to fierce to yogic (1). Each form has its significance. For example when one is depressed and sees the form of God Strong and Powerful, the seeker feels the moral boost that God would definitely be the support for the right thing. Similarly when in an auspicious ceremony would like the God to be the calm provider of boons. In a spiritually elevated
state, the choice would be the yogic form of God. The forms provide a basis for the Hindu worshipper to easily pursue the otherwise incomprehensible Supreme. So Hinduism supports both form as well as formless worship of the God. Whether one worships in saguNa or nirguNa way, it is ultimately the same God.

Let us hail the God, Who does not have a name or a form or anything like that, by singing thousands of Its names! - thiruvAcakam

Is there an evil force against God ?
God is the Almighty and Supreme. So how can there be anything good or bad against It ? If the good things are the creation of God and bad things of some other evil force, will the gravitational force of the earth be attributed to God or the other force, as it is vital good element for us to live at the same time kills somebody who falls down from a high-rise building! In the system made by God, normally one gets to enjoy the good or bad things based on what have been their inclinations and the actions they made because of that. (This is called karma). There is no evil (satan type) against God. In fact atharva veda puts it
very clearly,

"na dvitIyo na tR^itIyashchaturtho nApyuchyate na pa.nchamo na ShaShThaH saptamo nApyuchyate nAShTamo na navamo dashamo nApyuchyate
ya etaM devamekavR^itaM veda" There is none second to It, neither third not even fourth.
There is none fifth to It, neither sixth not even seventh. There is none eighth to It, neither ninth not even tenth. It is the only Supreme. This is to be known.

The concept of good and bad things is at a lower level and that too in a different way than strictly good and evil. The divines called devas are the protectors and the essentials who support the worlds. For example, air, sun, moon, water, fire etc. Those who disrupt the life supporting mechanism are the daemons called asuras. The conflicts between the two often arise and the Hindu epics talk in detail about them. However it should be kept in mind that as
specified in purANas all the devAs are not the perfect beings and the asuras the worthless evils.

Is God in some heaven beyond ?
God is not just something that stays in a far off heaven, who would be met with after death, if one gets to heaven etc. God is omnipresent. It is right in front of us. Oh, It is right inside us too. Well, It is in each and every minute of the minute particle present/void anywhere! Does It stay in a world beyond ? Of course It does there too. (Very renowned gAyatri mantra hails the Supreme to be the earth, the world around and the skies beyond). One need not wait for the whole lifetime to get to meet God. The important concept in Hinduism is that God
can be realized right here in this world and the God is not just Magnificent Almighty, but is also a sweet lovely One, with whom yu can have a relationship - devotee, spouse, sibling, child, parent... God is not just in some heavens, It is right in us. It is both transcendental as well as intermixed in everything. Those who realize Its presence reap the grand reward.

Those who say He resides up in the sky, say so;
Those who say the Lord of divines residing down in the world beneath, say so.

I would say, the Lord of wisdom, Who got His throat brightly adorned with the stain of poison, is residing in my heart ! (2)

Is God a He ?
Hinduism says, God is not just a He. It is beyond the created contours of gender. For this eason the scriptures very often use the term "It" to refer to God apart from using He and She. Especially when it comes to the Supreme in the natural state (Formless, Attributeless), they prefer It to He or She. The form of Lord ardhanArIshvara(3) clearly conveys that God is masculine, feminine and neuter. When the God is called the Lord of all creatures, It is the God irrespective of the gender, animal race, or whatever other differentiation one could think of.

God is understood not only postulated
The beauty of Hinduism is that the concept of God is tried to be understood, experienced. There are purANas that elaborately tell through the voice of the divines the glory of God. These are one part. On the other hand the scriptures like upaniShads analyze through questioning and reasoning the concept of God. These two types go very much hand in hand. Neither the divine glory limited to the reaches of the human mind with the purANa like scriptures telling the things beyond the normal human reach. At the same time they do not command a blind following of some super-human texts, but also very much permit analysis. The presence of a range of philosophies in Hindu system is the testimony of this. There are texts like yogasutras that cover the scope from reasoning to divine glory too. So the total and complete spectrum of human verification to super-human wisdom is richly available for the smooth progress of the follower
in Hinduism. No need to be blind-folded, explore your way to the Supreme !!

Those who did not get the deeper sense out, keep lecturing out the book-confined knowledge.
//this part wrote by [ aRpudhath thiruvandhAdhi ]

Siddha Siddhanta
Siddha Siddhanta, or Gorakshanatha Saivism, is generally considered to have come in the lineage of the earlier ascetic orders of India. Gorakshanatha was a disciple of Matsyendranatha, patron saint of Nepal, revered by certain esoteric Buddhist schools as well as by Hindus. Gorakshanatha lived most likely in the tenth century and wrote in Hindi. Historians connect the Gorakshanatha lineage with that of the Pashupatas and their later successors, as well as to the siddha yoga and Agamic traditions. Gorakshanatha adherents themselves say that
Matsyendranatha learned the secret Saiva truths directly from Siva, as Adinatha, and he in turn passed them on to Gorakshanatha. The school systematized and developed the practice of hatha yoga to a remarkable degree, indeed nearly all of what is today taught about hatha yoga comes from this school.

Gorakshanatha, the preeminent guru and author of Siddha Siddhanta Paddhati ("tracks on the doctrines of the adepts"), was a man of awesome spiritual power
and discerning practicality. As a renunciate, his early life is unknown, though he is thought to have been a native of Punjab. He mastered the highly occult Natha yoga sciences after studying for twelve years under his famed guru, Matsyendranatha. Roaming North India from Assam to Kashmir, he worshiped Siva in temples, realizing Him in the deepest of samadhis and awakening many of the powers of a Saiva adept.

By creating twelve orders with monastery-temple complexes across the face of North India, Gorakshanatha popularized his school and effectively insulated pockets of Saivism from Muslim dominance. Matsyendranatha had already established it in Nepal, where to this day he is deified as the country's patron saint. Scholars believe that Gorakshanatha's yoga represents a development out of the earlier Pashupata and related ascetic orders, as there are many
similarities of practice and philosophy.

To outer society, Gorakshanatha's siddha yogis were mesmerizing, memorable men of renunciation-dressed in saffron robes, with flowing, jet-black hair, foreheads white with holy ash, large circular earrings, rudraksha beads and a unique horn whistle on a hair-cord worn around the neck, signifying the primal vibration, Aum. Muslims called the Gorakshanathis "Kanphati," meaning "split-eared ones," referring to the rite of slitting the ear cartilage to
insert sometimes monstrous earrings. Some Muslims even joined the Kanphatis, and heads of a few Gorakshanatha monasteries are known by the Muslim title pir, "holy father." This unusual ecumenical connection was of enormous benefit at a time of general religious persecution.

These Nathas perceived the inner and outer universes as Siva's cosmic body (Mahasakara Pinda), as the continuous blossoming forth of Himself as Shakti (power) into an infinity of souls, worlds and forces. Earth and life, human frailties and human Divinity are Siva manifest. As such, these men expressed spiritual exaltation in mankind and joyous devotion through temple worship and pilgrimage. But their daily focus was on internal worship and kundalini yoga. Inside themselves they sought realization of Parasamvid, the supreme transcendent state of Siva.

Gorakshanatha, in Viveka Martanda, gives his view of samadhi: "Samadhi is the name of that state of phenomenal consciousness, in which there is the perfect realization of the absolute unity of the individual soul and the Universal Soul, and in which there is the perfect dissolution of all the mental processes. Just as a perfect union of salt and water is achieved through the process of yoga, so when the mind or the phenomenal consciousness is absolutely unified or identified with the soul through the process of the deepest concentration, this
is called the state of samadhi. When the individuality of the individual soul is absolutely merged in the self-luminous transcendent unity of the Absolute Spirit (Siva), and the phenomenal consciousness also is wholly dissolved in the Eternal, Infinite, Transcendent Consciousness, then perfect samarasattva (the essential unity of all existences) is realized, and this is called samadhi." Having achieved samarasattva (or samarasa), the yogi remains continually aware of the transcendent unity of God, even while being aware of the ordinary
material world. This is the supreme achievement of the system. The school is noted for its concept of kaya siddhi, extreme physical longevity, and even the claim of immortality for some. Indeed, Gorakshanatha himself and many of his followers are considered to be alive today, carrying on their work from hidden places. The precise methods of this are not delineated in their texts, but are taught directly by the guru.

Among the central scriptures are Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Svatmarama, Gheranda Samhita, Siva Samhita, and Jnanamrita, which are among forty or so works attributed to Gorakshanatha or his followers. Most deal with hatha yoga. The Siddha Siddhanta theology embraces both transcendent Siva (being) and immanent Siva (becoming). Siva is efficient and material cause. Creation and final return of soul and cosmos to Siva are described as "bubbles arising and returning to water." Siddha Siddhanta accepts the advaitic experience of
the advanced yogi while not denying the mixed experiences of oneness and twoness in
ordinary realms of consciousness.

Through the centuries, a large householder community has also arisen which emulates the renunciate ideals. Today there are perhaps 750,000 adherents of Siddha Siddhanta Saivism, who are often understood as Shaktas or advaita tantrics. In truth, they range from street magicians and snake charmers, to established citizens, to advanced sadhus. The school fans out through India, but is most prominent in North India and Nepal. Devotees are called yogis, and stress is placed on world renunciation-even for householders. Over time and
still today, the deeper theology has often been eclipsed by a dominant focus on
kundalini-hatha yoga. Values and attitudes often hold followers apart from society. This sect is also most commonly known as Natha, the Goraksha Pantha and Siddha Yogi Sampradaya. Other names include Adinatha Sampradaya, Nathamatha and Siddhamarga. The word gorakh or goraksha means "cowherd." (The name Gorkha means an inhabitant of Nepal and is the same as Gurkha, the famous martial tribe of that country.)
// do u accept this concept - comment it

Here I present the philosophical concept of God in Hindu dharma.

While Hindus worship God that has a form, where as one without a form, there is a synergy in this apparent contradiction. This is presented in the Saguna and Nirguna Brahman sections.

While Hindu believe in multiple Gods and a singular God, these concept in reality do not differ from one another. Hindu temples have murtis (images) of Gods and Goddesses, but do God and Gods have gender?

Is there a hierarchy amongst the Gods and Goddesses?

And how do these God and Goddesses that Hindu worship differ from the ishta Devata that every Hindu family has?

And how does the worship in Hindu dharma lead to the ultimate communion with God?

These questions and more, are answered in this section.

Hindu dharma accepts the existence of several Gods or deities, it accepts only one God, the Supreme. Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. are not three independent and separate deities, but three different aspects of the same Supreme God, while engaged in the processes of creation, sustenance and destruction of the universe, in that order. It is similar to the role played by the same person as the father at home, as the boss in the office and as a customer in a shop. Other deities also should be considered in the same light, as different aspects of the Supreme God, manifesting themselves for specific purposes.

The powers of these deities which are inseparable from them - just as the power of fire to burn cannot be separated from fire itself. This power is conceived in the form of their consorts, Sarasvati, Parvati (or Sakti) and Lakshmi.

This is not to say that these deities are imaginary creations. All of them, without exception, are different modes and aspects of Paramatman, the Supreme Self or God.

"If God is our- father, why cannot God be our Mother! If we are the children of our heavenly Father, why cannot we be the children of our heavenly Mother!."

This rhetorical question is the basis of why Hindus recognize and accept both male and female aspects of Nature and worship the Supreme Reality in the form of Mother, Father, Friend, Master, Guru, and Savior. Thus Lord Krishna declares in the Bhagawad Gita:

"I am the Father- of this Universe. I am the Mother of this universe, and the Creator- of all. I am the Highest to be known, the Purifier, the holy OM, and the three Vedas." (BG 9.17)

The worship of God in the form of Mother- is a unique Feature of Hinduism. Through the ages, the doctrine of the Motherhood of God has established a firm root in Hinduism. Today Hindus worship the Divine Mother in many popular forms such as Durga, Kali, Lakshrni, Saraswati, Ambika, and Uma.

By worshipping God as the Divine Mother, a Hindu can more easily attribute Motherly traits to the Lord, such as tenderness and forgivingness. The natural love between a Mother- and her-child is the best expression of the Lord's unconditio nal love for- us as children of God. In the most representative Hindu view, the universe is the manifestation of the creative power (shakti) of Brahman, whose essence is absolute existence, consciousness, and bliss (or in Sanskrit, sat-chit-ananda). Since all created forms proceed from the womb of the mother, the creative power shakti) of God is recognized by Hindus as the female principle or the motherly aspect of nature. In this sense we are all children of the Divine Mother. We are contained by Her before our - manifestation and nourished by Her throughout our existence.

To a Hindu, the motherly aspect of God in nature is full of beauty, gentleness, kindness, and tenderness. When we look upon all the glorious and beautiful things ill nature and experience a feeling of tenderness within us, we feel the motherly instinct of God. The worship of God in the form of Mother is a unique contribution of the Hindu child. When a devotee worships God as Divine Mother, he or- she appeals to Her tenderness and unconditional love. Such love unites the de votee with God, like a child with its mother. Just as a child feels safe and secure in the lap of its mother, a devotee feels safe and secure in the presence of the Divine Mother-. Pararnaharnsa Sri Ramakrishna, one of the greatest Indian s ages of modern times, worshipped the Divine Mother Kali during his entire life. He established a personal relationship with Her and was always conscious of Her presence by his side.

In Hinduism, Divine Mother is the first manifestation of Divine Energy. Thus with the name of Divine Mother comes the idea of energy, omnipotence, omnipresence, love, intelligence, and wisdom. Just as a child believes its mother to be all-powerful, and capable of doing anything for the child, a devotee believes the Divine Mother to be all merciful, all-powerful and
eternally guiding and protecting him with her invisible arms.

The worship of God as Mother- has had a significant impact on Hinduism. The position of women in the Hindu religion is dignified because each woman is considered a manifestation of the Divine Mother. Hindus view man and woman as the two wings of the same bird. Thus, a man is considered incomplete without a woman, since "it is not possible for- a bird to fly on only one wing"---Swami Vivekananda. Through the worship of God in the form of Mother, Hinduism offers a unique reverence to womanhood.

"I am the Father- of this Universe. I am the Mother of this universe, and the Creator- of all. I am the Highest to be known, the Purifier, the holy OM, and the three Vedas." (BG 9.17)

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