Hindu deities=1 God?

Discussion in 'Hinduism' started by fitd, May 18, 2011.

  1. fitd

    fitd New Member

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    Hello!

    Recently a Hindu friend of mine told me that Hinduism is actually monotheistic, and that all of the deities are parts of the one true god. Could any of you please elaborate on this for me?
     
  2. Lunitik

    Lunitik Interfaith Forums

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    It really depends on the sect, but I think monotheistic is not quite correct... even Christianity and Islam would admit more of a panentheistic view - for instance, the Bible says "you have your existence in God, and he in you", and the Quran states "nothing exists save God". This is quite similar to most Hindu sects, so if you call these monotheistic, then Hinduism can be counted also.

    This might help you understand a little better the Hindu view:
    Brahman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  3. Eclectic Mystic

    Eclectic Mystic New Member

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    I was told something similar.
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Spiritus ubi vult spirat

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    From what I understand of Hindu metaphysics, the entire pantheon can be explained in terms of one God, multiple in its mode and manner of manifestation.

    As ever, such technicalities are quite precise, and the idea becomes somewhat simplified in the minds of many, so one ends up with the popular notion of a number of gods.

    René Guénon is widely regarded as a master of Hindu metaphysics and has written extensively on the subject, but his works are very technical.

    He's available at World Wisdom Books or the Sophia Perennis website.

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  5. NiceCupOfTea

    NiceCupOfTea Pathetic earthlings

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    lol you beat me to it :)
     
  6. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Active Member

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    fitd,

    Most major religions (including Hinduism) have the idea of one big god and many little gods. But I would not so far as to say this is a monotheistic idea.

    Even the idea of a triple Logos or trinity is common to many religions, including Hinduism. Take a look at this chart.

    http://users.ez2.net/nick29/theosophy/tabulation.htm
     
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    I may have related this before...I also was shocked as I heard this...but the whole story.

    I'm assigned to go pick up the Hindu Priest for our interfaith service....

    I drive upto the temple, I see all the shoes in little cubbies, I put mine in there.

    I go in and see the food plates laid out for offerings ready for purchase. The " " (I don't know, gatekeeper, administrator, greeter) asks what he can do for me. I tell him and he says, "Bring him right back today is Ganesha's birthday we will be very very busy" I notice the lanyard around his neck holding a few keys or something says "I (heart) Jesus". My quizzical look is enough and he says, "Oh yes, we love your Jesus, he is one of our gurus" And points me to the wall of framed 8x10s of various gurus and Jesus is among them.

    We walk toward the interior of the temple where a number of people are surrounding Ganesha, with a number of priests leading the chanting...one starts to walk backwards backing away from the statue, and the people part to give him room....as he seperates from the crowd he begins jogging backwards and does a 180 and runs right to me bowing and saying "I've been waiting for you" this was about 9 years ago...nobody tweeted him.

    We got our shoes and went on. During the drive I was quizing him about Ganesha, the ceremony, the chants, the planned evening and such and this monotheistic thing came up. Again, as I said, I was surprised to say the least. His response, "To my mother I am a son, to my sister a brother, to my son a father, to my nephew an uncle, to my wife a husband, they all see me in different roles, in different ways with different names, but I am all me" and went on to say how all the gods are a trait, an aspect, a vision of the one.

    That night was the night of our first interfaith service, it had been scheduled and planned for months, with 24 hours of prayer to follow. The night was Sept 11, 2001, 9/11...every representative from every religion without prompting spoke of peace and forgiveness, it was beautiful.
     
  8. Thomas

    Thomas Spiritus ubi vult spirat

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    I would agree that 'monotheism' (because the term is shaped in an Abrahamic context) does not apply to Hinduism, nor perhaps is 'monism' any more useful.

    However, the idea of big god/little gods is, as they would declare, an operation of Maya, to which all are subject to a greater or lesser degree ... so whilst 'this side' of the veil (as we speak of Maya in the Christian tradition) or Maya, there may appear to be many gods, beyond, all is One ... at least, such is the teaching of the Advaita (no-dual) tradition as formalised by Shankara, as I understand it.

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  9. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,

    Santana Dharma means the Eternal Truth and their religion teaches the Eternal Truth of the monism of existence.

    given the subtle nature and depth of Santana Dharma thought on these matters i would simply point out that the manner in which we conceive and discuss something may not have a lot of correlation with the actual reality involved. more to the point, however, is that many of the terms used for discussion of these subjects in the Santana Dharma require a great deal of background to properly understand.

    so.. with that said. yes. they are generally thought of as monotheistic however a more apropos term, in my estimation would be a term called "henotheistic" which is defined as the acknowledgement of multiple deities or aspect of deity with a worship of only one.

    Henotheism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  10. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    The Hindu's I met didn't declare big little gods...They declared one G!d with various faces and aspects. At another interfaith experience where we invited a different religion in each month to come for a longer more indepth, more intense discussion. The Hindus lead us through various chants...and then discussions about the chants. They described if their child was having issues at school, they would do the chant to ask for assistance by the goddess of education, Saraswati. Now after doing the chant the parents would discuss with the child the benefits of calling on the goddess, and that they better study now that she was here and looking over them.

    I think we can all see fairly clearly how that works. I thought to myself the same stories I heard from Catholic friends regarding reciting the prayer to St. Anthony to find lost things (of course you don't simply sit down and do this, you 'chant' while you are looking).

    Of course on the flip side as well, Muslims and Jews often see trinitarian Christians as polytheistic. Father, Son and Holy Ghost....as we respond different aspects of the one....ah similarities....
    hmmm.... so would that make Christians henotheistic?
     
  11. Thomas

    Thomas Spiritus ubi vult spirat

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    Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans, no (I think the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints is).

    There is only one God, and no other gods, and the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity are not aspects or perceptions of God, that would be modalism.

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  12. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Thomas, the hindu says there is one G!d, and various people see the One in different ways. The Christian says their's is one G!d, and 2,000 years ago we saw him as Jesus, and many pray to Jesus today, and say the Holy Spirit is G!d working for us and thru us, and we pray to G!d...the difference is?
     
  13. Thomas

    Thomas Spiritus ubi vult spirat

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    The difference is 'The Trinity is One God, not Three Gods', to quote Boethius.

    text here

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  14. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Which is the same statement the Hindu's make...so..we are now accepting both as monotheistic?
     
  15. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    Let's all of the good Christian folk here try to remember ... how does that First Commandment go again? Hmmmm. The Jews were not monotheists prior to the Mosaic revelation and Covenant. This should be made CLEAR.

    Again, for clarity's sake, since the Trinity is already being discussed, one might also reference: Seven Spirits of God - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    To be certain, the idea of the Absolute, or One God resting back of/underneath it all is ... most ancient. Islam, the most recent of the `People of the Book' declares: There is NO GOD but GOD; and Mohammed is His Prophet!

    Hinduism might be said to be henotheistic, as Vajradhara pointed out. This term was coined by Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, then popularized by Max Muller, and suggests that Hindus acknowledge multiple deities, yet an esoteric understanding is that there are many face[t]s or aspects of God, but only one God ultimately. The chart that Nick links us to demonstrates this wonderfully.

    Any of us that understands the multifaceted nature of human beings is already well disposed to grasp something about this topic. We are definitely physical beings, yet most of us probably believe in and acknowledge more to our existence than this dimension and expression alone. We are definitely emotional beings, yet here again, there is more to us than just a physical body and a set of emotions. We are obviously thinking, intellectual entities - to a greater or lesser extent - yet most of us would accept that even the inclusion of mind does not fully explain who and what we are.

    Physical body, emotional self, mind, the creator of thoughtforms ... and what about Soul, or Spirit? Plenty of us here acknowledge a [possibly reincarnating] `spark' of the Godhead, and we affirm that in our connection with that spark [of Eternal Fire, as taught in all of the ancient Fire-religions] we also connect with God, as well as with every other human being. Some of us go further, and affirm connection with all beings, whether as esotericists, or as lay practitioners of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism or Christianity.

    If Hinduism is among the most ancient of our 5th Root Race exoteric religions (some of us believe the poet Vyasa was Shakyamuni Buddha in a much earlier incarnation) ... maybe this is because the Ageless Wisdom was already present upon our planet at a very early stage, ready to be handed down in an unending Guru-shishya relationship, or true Apostolic Succession. This, and no less, will suffice for many students of world religion.

    A good understanding can develop if we consider that on the other side of `the veil' (Maya), there is surely still diversity and latitude in understanding, while also a depth of meaning, an appreciation of Purpose and most certainly an accord which is only sometimes present upon the Earth plane. We may reach this deeper appreciation while still in the body, or in the very least we may continue to aspire toward it.

    Hinduism has sometimes been criticized for attempting to gobble up each new presentation of the Truth. Buddha, for example, came as a definite Avatar and Reformer of the Vedic Wisdom, but not in its original form ... and certainly not in some absolute sense, especially if we consider the view of some esotericists that Siddharta Gautama simply was the originator of the Vedic Teachings [in that He wrote them down, not that He Himself somehow created them, or gave birth to Truth Itself; after all, the DHARMA "just is," as any good Taoist can remind us].

    I would suggest that Hinduism contains elements, found in the Vedic Wisdom when properly understood, which simply cannot be improved upon. This is because there are definite aspects of Divine Revelation ~ coming from the ONE GOD, which is pretty much the topic of this thread ~ which are unique to Hinduism, and which reached a clear enough expression through this particular religion many thousands of years ago. There will be many people, especially in the East, for whom this is abundantly obvious, being a main tenet of their belief system and world philosophy.

    To suggest anything else might not be blasphemy, but it is simply superfluous to them to speak of Nirmanakayas who cannot be understood as coming to fulfill another part of the ongoing Divine Revelation. After all, the Guru-shishya relationship continues, both in the case of individual lineages, and also in terms of the several main branches of Hinduism: Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism, Smartism, etc. Thus, the Buddha was easily and quickly recognized by the true student for Who and what He was. This should not be confused with the attempt by others, such as certain elements of the Brahmin caste and other authority figures, to pretty much squelch the teachings and overshadow the genuine authority and legitimacy of the Buddha ... since this clearly threatened them on many levels and evoked resistance, understandably enough.

    All of this has a parallel with the Jews, the Sanhedrin and the appearance of the Galilean. History records the same phenomenon time and again. Today, we see no different, and so while it is possible to see a truly timeless, eternal Dharma present within the earliest of the Vedic Teachings, it is only the sincere student of TRUTH who will be able to set aside differences and prejudices, narrowness of vision and the many arrows of ignorance that are aimed at him ... as he aspires to KNOW GOD and to follow the dictates of his own mind and heart. This, and no less, is what the Buddha taught.

    Interestingly, the Hindus do not fight about whether one should approach the Godhead through Siva, through Krishna/Vishnu or through Ganesh, or even one of dozens and scores and hundreds of other expressions of Divinity. And curiously enough, neither do the Buddhists, even while there are most certainly doctrinal differences between these great philosophies, and also within the specific traditions. No, there is enough fighting elsewhere, enough separateness, enough foolishness and enough challenge ... that we must work hard if Interfaith efforts are to succeed.

    For if you haven't discovered yet that the vast majority of our world's problems today, as always, are rooted in religious differences and, similarly, matters of ancient race hatred ... well, you just haven't been paying attention.

    All hail the God within ... and may each one of us swiftly discover [this God] ... and why [this God] is there.

    I don't want to move mountains. I just want to move. ;)
     
  16. fitd

    fitd New Member

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    Thank you everyone for your responses. I got my answer. :)

    Amazing way to put it. I like that a lot and surely will be something I will remember.
     
  17. Thomas

    Thomas Spiritus ubi vult spirat

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    Hi Wil —
    Well you'd have to speak to a Hindu, I think ... and then is it a Hindu man-in-the-street, or a Hindu metaphysician in the tradition of Shankara's non-dual Advaita Vedanta.

    I would say, following Réne Guénon, that the plasticity of Hindu metaphysics 'escapes' the pigeon-holing of the western mindset, so I would be loathe to apply western terms for fear of the baggage they might bring with them, when looking at Hinduism — and I think this can be said of henotheism, which is a relatively modern term — if a Hindu spokesperson OKs it, then OK, but I'd be careful of accepting 'badging' the tradition from without?

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  18. Thomas

    Thomas Spiritus ubi vult spirat

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    Hi Wil —
    I've opened a thread on the Trinity over in Christianity, rather than continue discussion here ...

    God bless,

    Thomas
     
  19. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Active Member

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    Andrew,

    I see you have used the word nirmanakaya several times recently. I thought it would be good to let everyone know what it means, A nirmanakaya is a person who has achieved enlightenment and has earned the right to enter a blissful nirvana, but chooses not to. Instead, they happliy sacrifice their own happiness, keep reincarnating here on earth, and supply greatly needed help to those of us who are still struggling to achieve enlightenment.
     
  20. Kenneth

    Kenneth New Member

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    Once during his tour to the US a person asked a similar question to Swami Vivekananda.

    He said to Swami Vivekananda "you people the Hindus worship the books, Money, Gold and other wealth, machinery and tools, cow, the Sun, the moon and so on. How could all these become GOD."

    Swami Vivekananda replied -"we as human beings will have thousands of thoughts. For thousands of such thoughts there are thousands of GODs with whom we could concentrate and pray and internalize that thought in us. For a child who wishes to study well and excel in his / her studies, GOD is there in Hinduism as Goddess Saraswathi, similarly for a person in need of money there is Goddess Lakshmi to whom he could pray and internalize a habit to work hard and earn money in a lawful manner. For a person who wishes to become pure and get rid of sins or other bad effects, he / she goes to a temple tank or the sea, lights a camphor and then bathes by immersing his head in the water and chants / prays along with the earth, water, fire, sky, wind all of which were created by God. To them all the 5 elements are GOD.

    An ancient Hindu lived this way and there was nothing called as Hinduism as there was no need for a definition. The lifestyle that I mentioned was their basic relationship with GOD. The word Hinduism was coined as time passed by to differentiate between other religions and then further sub-divided for various reasons.

    He is one for various people he is also many for various other people. He is one and also many. God is a person to many and also not a person to many. God could be described in many ways, put into all religions and personified or not personified.

    GOD in any religion is a realisation, a mystery.
     

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