Polytheism and Hinduism

Discussion in 'Hinduism' started by iBrian, Mar 7, 2004.

  1. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

    Jul 15, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Re: some thoughts

    Thanks for the comments, tatvamasi. :)
  2. tatvamasi

    tatvamasi idol worshipping advaitin

    Jan 14, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Re: some thoughts

    You're welcome Brian.
  3. Enkidu

    Enkidu New Member

    Jan 30, 2005
    Likes Received:
    As I understand it, Hinduism is Monistic but not Monotheistic.

    This might seem like semantics, but common usage for Monotheistic today does very much suggest the Godhead as represented in Christianity, Judaism and Islam. That is, omnipotence is held by one entity who has the capacity to direct His will.

    Hinduism is Monistic in that the underlying vedic teaching is that all things are manifestations of one essence. There is no concept however of localisation of omnipotence, or direction of will.

    I would argue, in fact, that where Hinduism is polytheistic and monistic, religions like Christianity are monotheistic and dualistic.

    Having said that, I'm not sure what theology says about the monistic/dualistic split - I know that some of the medieval christian mystics did have a monistic viewpoint which could well mean my statement above is a complete misunderstanding.

    Edit: just saw the post above about Jesus being taught about the Vedas. It reminded me of something I read that compared the Bhagavad Gita and Krishna's teachings with those of Jesus.

    In essence, the two sets of teachings show a high degree of similarity, particularly the concept of bhakti (personal devotion to God).

    In fact, if I recall correctly, the article I read went so far as to suggest that the teachings of Jesus were essentially the same as those in the Gita, reclothed for a different audience (i.e. placed in the context of Judaic teachings as opposed to Vedic teachings).

    I'm not sure if I buy it entirely, but it is interesting to note the similarities nonetheless.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2005
  4. tatvamasi

    tatvamasi idol worshipping advaitin

    Jan 14, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Couldn't have said it better.

    But there are schools of thought in Hinduism which have interpreted the scriptures in a monotheistic way. These schools of thought are monotheistic and dualistic(or qualified dualistic).

    Dualism, qualified non-dualism and non-dualism have been explained by Jesus in a succinct way.

    1. My Father is greater than I-->Dualism
    2. I am in the Father and the Father is in me-->Qualified non-dualism
    3. I and the Father are one-->Non-dualism.

    I personally believe 1 to 3 is a step by step process. 1 and 2 are in the relativistic sense. 3 is in the absolute sense.
  5. Gwynplaine

    Gwynplaine New Member

    Apr 29, 2005
    Likes Received:
    since I'm studying ayurveda, with a view to practicing the art, I've spent some time studying vedic thought. It seems to me, poor scholar I am, that certainly there is a disjoint in terminology between western and eastern vocab. the 'gods' of the hindhu faith seem a direct corollory of 'saints' in christian thought, as in intersessionaries with the primary (mono-theist) god, with heavily allegorical tales about their doings to explain why you go to Ganesh, for example, to remove obstacles, or Lakshmi for abundance. 'Saints' are similar to our 'Saints', but one can be a living 'Saint' - Mahatma Ghandi springs to mind on that front, as does Pramahansa Yoganada, where as in western thought 'Saints' can only be dead (fewer PR problems I assume ;)) So, I'd make hinduism monotheist, non-dualist, since God is in everyone (cf Bhagvagad Gita)

    As something slightly off topic, but something I do feel needs mentioning, there was reference earlier to the 'caucasian' influence on indian culture. There is none, outside of the Imperalist thoguht of the 19th Century. Archaologiy, which is another area I am an enthusiastic amateur in, shows no evidence of there ever being an influx from the North and West, prior to the Murghals in the 13th Century C.E. There is evidence that there were sophistacted cities in the Indus valley, and around the current (higher sea level) coastline of India that are all but contemporary with Babylon, and there are oral traditions that indicate various exodii to the north, east and west, at differnet times. Muller's work is pretty good, but flawed in his insistance onthe world being created 4004BC, thus anything that, according to tradition, antedates that is 'false' and needs redating. There is ample evidence in the more scholarly journals of Indo-archaology that indicates quite high levels of sophistication between 10,000 and 12,000 years. thus the Vedas are more strictly correct than Muller, and we now can apply the critical tools to obtain the ur-version of the narratives.
    Last edited: May 1, 2005
  6. satay

    satay New Member

    Aug 11, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Namaste sama,

    Have you studied veda? I am just curious. I haven't studied them so why am I asking you. I don't like to quote from veda or gita but look at the translations of shlokas below and tell me if these are not part of veda...

    He is the sole sovereign
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Of the universe.[/font]
    [size=+2] [/size][font=Times New Roman,Times]- Rig Veda 6/36/4[/font]

    He is one, unparalleled
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Through His wondrous, mighty[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]And formidable laws and deeds.[/font]
    [size=+2] [/size][font=Times New Roman,Times]- Rig Veda 8/1/27[/font]

    There is only One
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Who ought to be adored[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]By the people.[/font]
    [size=+2] [/size][font=Times New Roman,Times]- Atharva Veda 2/2/1[/font]

    [font=Times New Roman,Times]O friends,[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Adore none else but Providence[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Who is supreme bestower of bliss[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]And thus thou wilt not suffer;[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Eulogise Him in congregation[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]And sing songs of His glory repeatedly[/font]
    [size=+2] [/size][font=Times New Roman,Times]- Sam Veda 242[/font]

    He, the all-pervasive
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Pervades all beings [/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Within and without.[/font]
    [size=+2] [/size][font=Times New Roman,Times]- Yajur Veda 32/8[/font]

    Thou art Lord of lords.
    [size=+2] [/size][font=Times New Roman,Times]- Rig Veda 1/94/13[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times][/font]
    He is One Brahma
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]The Creator of the cosmos[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Who pervades and protects[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]And enlightens aft beings[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]He is One Supreme Entity[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Whom sages call by various names[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Such as Indra, the glorious[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Mitra, the benign friend[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Varuna, the greatest, the noblest[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Agni, the resplendent, the bright[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Yama, the dispenser of justice[/font]
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Matarishwa, the almighty.[/font]
    [size=+2] [/size][font=Times New Roman,Times]- Rig Veda 1/164/46[/font]

    Verily He is one
    [font=Times New Roman,Times]Single, indivisible, supreme reality.[/font]
    [size=+2] [/size][font=Times New Roman,Times]- Atharva Veda 13/4/20[/font]

  7. Andre'

    Andre' New Member

    Sep 29, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Intersting thread and very complex. Hinduism has millions of Gods, as many already know, but at the end of the day they are all manifestations of the Ultimate Brahman or "All Soul." At the end of the day hinduism is monotheistic, which many aren't aware of. Henotheism is widley practiced amongst Hindu, which is a focus on one God at a time, without denying the existence of others. The whole goal of Yoga/Dharam/Bhakti-marga is to achieve moksha and reach the level of reality where all is one or one has achieved atman-Brahman and are part of the Ultimate Brahmn or All Soul. So hinduism is polytheistic in the sphere of regional gods, household gods, death gods..., it is henotheistic on the level of certain spheres that require devotion for a period of time or a regional god, and is monotheistic in the grand scale, which is to become one with the Ultimate Brahman.

    I love discussing HInduism because you could talk for years and still not cover it all, what an amazing faith.

Share This Page