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  1. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    1 Not allowed!
    From the openingpost, the following Questions remain to be asnwered:

    2. Whyare we worshipping so many Gods ? is there one God or many Gods?
    3. IsHinduism monotheistic or polytheistic?

    The above twoquestions are related.

    The short answer toQuestion 3 (from Post 1) is that it isneither.

    1. Are the umbrella religion Hinduism truly polytheistic?
      1. It is sort of polytheistic because our rituals are based on Puranic stories and we have many Gods and Goddesses related to each other.. BUT
      2. एकं सत विप्र : बहुधा वदंति (ऋग्वेद . १६४. ४६ ) This verse occuring in Rig Veda is often mistranslated as "Truth is one, Scholars describe it many ways" By looking at the context of this verse one has this meaning - " One God (Sat) - wise people describe it by many FORMS" . In fact the actual verse is as follows

    इन्द्रंमित्रंवरुणंअग्निंआहुरअथोदिव्यःसुपर्णोगरुत्मान |
    एकंसदविप्रबहुधावदन्त्यअग्निंयमंमातरिश्वनंआहुः ||

    Theycall him Indra, Mitra, Varuáa, Agni,
    Andhe is heavenly nobly-winged Garutman.
    Towhat is One, sages give many a title
    Theycall it Agni, Yama, Matari´svan.
    Theforms are many, but the reality (of God) is one. (Translation by Griffith)
    ~RgVeda 1:164:46) .

    Thiswill suggest that there is One Isvara but worshipped by many forms. The gloryof Hinduism is that we can even superimpose the idea of death as a form ofIsvara. To a true Bharathiya person raised in these teachings there is no issue even accepting the symbolof Cross as a representation of Isvara. The problem we will have is in thetheology of these other religions which can be shown to contradict with truth .The fact that Hindus worship One God by many forms would suggest that Hinduismis practiced like Polytheism but the underlying truth it is based on Monotheismperhaps

    1. Is Hinduism then Monotheism?
      1. Before this can be answered, we have to consider other aspects of our modes of worship. It is kind of monotheism at its essence but the short answer it is not quite that way when one explores more. There will be more discussions later about this as to why Hinduism is not exactly monotheistic either though it seems to be at the heart of our 'polytheistic form ' based worship
      2. There are other aspects of Hindu modes of worship that suggests we worship nature elements as forms of Isvara. After all Vedic worship had 'gods' like water, air, fire etc. This suggests that Hinduism in actual practice could be considered as embracing Pantheism which is a belief that the Universe (or nature as the totality of everything) is identical with divinity or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent god. Pantheists thus do not believe in a distinct personal or anthropomorphic god. Puranic story inspired by human forms of God appeared perhaps much later to Vedic forms of worship.

    2. Is Hinduism embraces Pantheism?
      1. Answer is sort of yes, but No.
      2. Isvara is both immanent (Pantheism) as well as transcendental . This is illustrated in the famous verse of Pursusha Suktham


    InSwami Krishnanada's translation themeaning is that "All this (manifestation) is the Purusha alone— whateverwas and whatever will be. He is the Lord of Immortality, for He transcends allin His Form as food (the universe). Such is His Glory; but greater still is thePurusha. One-fourth of Him all beings are, (while) three-fourth of Him risesabove as the Immortal Being."

    1. This suggests that Hinduism is understood more as "

    Panentheism(meaning "all-in-God", also known as Monistic Monotheism, is a beliefsystem which posits that the divine – whether as a single God, number of gods,or other form of "cosmic animating force" – interpenetrates everypart of the universe and extends, timelessly (and, presumably, spacelessly)beyond it. Unlike pantheism, which holds that the divine and the universe areidentical, panentheism maintains a distinction between the divine andnon-divine and the significance of both.

    Inpantheism, the universe and everything included in it is equal to the Divine,but in panentheism, the universe and the divine are not ontologicallyequivalent. God is viewed as the soul of the universe, the universal spiritpresent everywhere, in everything and everyone, at all times. Some versionssuggest that the universe is nothing more than the manifest part of God. Insome forms of panentheism, the cosmos exists within God, who in turn"transcends", "pervades" or is "in" the cosmos.While pantheism asserts that 'All is God', panentheism goes further to claimthat God is greater than the universe. In addition, some forms indicate thatthe universe is contained within God, like in the concept of Tzimtzum. MuchHindu thought is highly characterized by panentheism and pantheism

    1. Is Hinduism more like Panentheism then?
      1. Well the answer is again Yes and No. Yes because we see Isvara to be understood as immanent and transcendent. The practices include Pantheistic worship of many forms (of related Gods of Puranas representing Polytheism of One Isvara (Monotheism). However this is not quiet complete because there is yet another definition of what is practiced by Hindus coined by Max Muller.

    Kathenotheism is a termcoined by the philologist Max Müller tomean the worship of one god ata time. It is closely related to henotheism, the worship ofone god while not rejecting the existence of other gods. Müller coined the termin reference to the Vedas;where he explained each deity is treated as supreme in turn.

    From <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathenotheism>

    1. What is Hinduism then - is it Polytheism, or Monotheism or Pantheism or Panentheism or Kathenotheism?
      1. It is all of the above but none of the above when one tries to understand.
      2. Our Hindu practices include all of the above versions. We have no contradictions going from one form or God to another and our Dwitha Acharyas have really defined the finest form of worship. There are also aspects of Hindu tradition that will only worship only one form namely Narayana supported by schools of thought of Visishtadwitha.

    2. The understanding of Advaitha posits that all that exists is but Isvara. Swami Dayananda famously said "There is not one God but ONLY God". This has no ism available exactly but could be called Advaitism.

    Our Hindu approachto worship is to embrace everyone wherever they are in life. If one understandsand reconciles all the verses quoted above we see no contradiction. We canworship Yama - Lord of Death (during daily Sandhyavandanam ritual for examplein many traditions) as well as human forms and formless Isvara.

    Questions by Sunita(post #2) is mostly answered and will betaken up in the next post.
  2. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2011

    1 Not allowed!
    I am unable to easily fix the formatting issues in the prior thread, my apologies

    Let us take up Sunita's question from Post #2

    First two questions are already answered in the thread

    3. Rats are seen as an ugly thing. But how come it got associated with a god?

    Hindus do not worship rats or cows or sun which is an enormous star having thermo-nuclear reactions or stones or idols.

    Hindus worship only God or Isvara IN THE FORM OF one of the above.

    Cow represents a role like a mother giving most human beings much needed nourishment needed to sustain life. We are grateful to Isvara and worship the FORM of Cow representing Isvara’s blessing to sustain our life.
    Similarly, all energy we have in earth comes from SUN in one form or the other. We worship Isvara in the FORM of Sun.

    Now all living and non-living things depict the existence of Isvara. However, our human mind cannot associate a Pig with Isvara because it reminds many of us that is dirty.

    I could not see the presence of Isvara in a Cross because it reminds me of a gruesome killing only. However for my Christian friends the symbol of Cross reminds them of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in dying for their 'Original Sin' thereby allowing them to go to heaven. So the symbol of Cross invokes different feelings for them than it does for me.

    In certain parts of India (I think Madhya Pradesh), there is a belief that rats represent the power of ancestors and God. Since they see the presence of God in the symbol of Rat, they are able to worship God in the FORM of rat. Again I may not see that symbolism.

    Again those people do not worship a Rat. They worship only God. It is just that they chose of a FORM of rat to conduct their worship. Any Hindu that understand symbolism should be able to respect this.

    4. I noticed there are two books that talk about an ancient civilization before us that are out in the market. Though i have not yet read both, is there any truth in them?

    a. Species with Amnesia - Our Forgotten History by Robert Sepehr

    I have not read the book except browsed it. It is about ancient civilization and the advancements that are often forgotten due to some catastrophic events only to be rediscovered again.

    In the context of this thread, my take is that universal principles of both meta science ("Santana Dharma") and Science (Laws of Physics) do not die and do get rediscovered.

    The other point I want to make is that our system of calendar is not Gregorian and linear but cyclical. This is another truth known to our Rishis and seers.

    b. Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth's Lost Civilization by Graham Hancock

    I have not read this book as well except browsed it. It seems to be well researched presentation. I am not much of a history person and do not have expertise to comment on the truth of the research. However, anything universal (and invariant to space and time) can be verified here and now. I am not surprised that ancient civilization existed that may have been very advanced.

    In closing this thread, I want to say that the Bharathia society had a very interesting way of realizing inclusiveness in the religious traditions. We have the notion of Dharma that is true and applicable to all beings including human beings.

    Based on how evolved a person is in terms of background, we have Puranic stories appealing to our emotive capacity to believe in God like Ganesha, we have rituals based on Puranic stories appealing to our capacity to do action and serve God like Ganesha and we have profound teaching that appeals to the one that want to exercise their intellect to understand the context for the stories and rituals of God like Ganesha.

    Our type of worship cannot be boxed as polytheism, or monotheism or pantheism or panentheism, or Kathenotheism. It is all of the above in many ways and none of the above for one who seeks to UNDERSTAND (and not believe) the formless Isvara everywhere.

    The main point to appreciate is inclusiveness and mutual respect of many systems of worship embedded in our scriptures.

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