TEACHING OF THE MASTERS #7
We have previously discussed the omnipotence and omnipresence of God. In this essay we need to explore what is meant by the omniscience of God. Since all of us are limited in our ability to know the Infinite and Absolute Being, we can nevertheless try to formulate some ideas of what omniscience can possibly mean. Let us say that we need to “stretch” our minds so that we develop a greater understanding of nature and how we fit into it.
Omniscience is derived from the Latin Omnis (all) and sciens (knowing). In Hindi or Sanskrit it is sarvagya. The question now is what or who is all-knowing, and what does all-knowing mean. The universe is infinite and as far as anyone can tell, it is eternal, so how can we form any ideas about omniscience that applies on the universal level? Fortunately we have intelligence that helps us to understand things if we apply it both objectively and subjectively to seek knowledge.
Knowledge is derived by certain means, and all people seeking knowledge use them consciously or unconsciously. The means are:
1. Observation. We observe things and events all around us, and we develop an awareness that certain things always happen under the same circumstances. For example, if you apply heat to water, it would become hot and then evaporate. This can be repeated by anyone anywhere, and the same results would occur. This then becomes knowledge.
2. Experimentation. This involves keen observation, measurement and recording of the results. Others repeat the experiment, and if the same results are obtained, then this becomes knowledge. All scientists use this method and scientific knowledge increases over time. All the scientific advancements around us are derived by this method, and we are all benefiting, as our lives have been made better.
3. Analogy. This involves comparing things and events, and if they always bear the same relationships, then we develop knowledge. A simple example would be, whenever there is smoke there must be fire.
4. Intuition. This type of knowledge develops from within oneself. Expressions such as “I have a hunch”, “I just got a bright idea”, or “I woke up with this idea”. Spiritual knowledge is nearly entirely intuitive knowledge, as we realize this at a personal level. It is an inner experience, and cannot often be explained in a meaningful way to others.
5. Authority. This is knowledge derived from authoritative sources such as books, scriptures and experts in different fields of knowledge. A great deal of our knowledge is derived from this last category.
There is an overlap in all of these ways of obtaining knowledge, but no matter how each of us derives knowledge, our type and level of knowledge vary, so no two of us can have exactly the same knowledge at any time in our lives. In the acquisition of knowledge by any means we have to use our rational ability, and mentally categorize them in memory for use as is needed.
Now coming back to omniscience, who has the capacity to have all the knowledge in the universe? Certainly, it could not be a person for people have finite abilities, and cannot grasp infinite knowledge. So again we must return to God as the only Being that has this ability. Just as we have ascribed omnipotence and omnipresence to God, just so we must ascribe omniscience to Him. All the knowledge that people have is merely partial discoveries of the knowledge already present in nature, in the universe and in God’s mind. But since we have a tiny fraction of the intelligence of God, we are able to have a tiny fraction of God’s knowledge. But sometimes we get carried away by our ego and assert our importance, forgetting that God holds the strings to our puppet-like lives. We need to accept any knowledge we have with a good dose of humility.
We can look at omnipresence from two viewpoints:
1. God’s viewpoint. This, as already mentioned, is that all knowledge is “contained” in God, and manifest in the universe. The intricate biochemistry and biological functions in all of us are beyond our full understanding. Even if we know why a function occurs in us, we do not know how it occurs. Similarly, we have minimal knowledge of our solar system, and next to nothing of the infinite universe. Yet all the knowledge is in God’s mind, and only He knows how and why we are all here, and our ultimate destiny.
2. Human viewpoint. In spiritual teaching it is often stated that if you know the basic component of things then you do not have to know the individual things in their various forms. For example, if you know gold, then you know that it is gold in the bangles, earrings, brooches, necklaces etc. If you know clay, then you know that everything made of clay is just clay. If you know one mountain, what need is there to try to know every mountain? By extension, if you know the basic component of all things in the universe, then you do not have to know each thing in the universe. This type of knowledge is meaningful only after you have withdrawn your physical senses from the material universe, and turned your mind inwards to “see” the basis of all existence. When you know God, is there any need to know in detail all the things that proceeded from God? You now know the source. This is the teaching of the masters.
Dr. Jagessar Das
omniscience, intuition, analogy (inference), experimentation, observation, infinite knowledge
ENVIRONMENT ACCORDING TO SANT KABIR’S PHILOSOPHY
Sant Kabir accepted the doctrine of the creation as Lila, the play or sport of God. The forms so produced are actual. He felt that the concept of Lila brought out the idea of creation as springing not from necessity but in perfect joy from God’s free creative act. Sant Kabir felt that God’s nature was love, which pervades the whole creation. No one, neither Pir, Murid, Kazi, Musalman, deity, Sur, Nar, Gan, Gandharwa, Brahma, Dev nor Maheshwar, has ever unwrapped the mystery of His ‘Trigunatmak’ and ‘Panchmahabhutak’ creation.
In his Gyan Gudadi Kabir Saheb states:
alakh purush jab kiyā bichārā, lakh chowrāsī dhāgā dārā,
pānch tattva kī gudadī bīnī, tīn gunan se thādhi kīnhī;
When the Invisible Lord decided to create the world, He cast forth 8.4 million threads (species of life). Using the five gross elements, he wove the quilt-like body, and placed the three inherent qualities (gunas) in it.
tāme jīv brahm owr māyā, samrath aiso khel banāyā;
jivan pānch pachīso lāge, kām krodh mohh mad pāge;
In the body he placed the soul, Brahm and Maya. The Almighty made quite a play of creation.)
In a special context relating to the earth, Sant Kabir said that the earth is the property of ‘Sadhus’- the holy people and not of thieves. Thieves are a burden on the earth, and earth is for the holy people who receive the blessings of God. He describes the qualities of a Sadhu in many ways, but the one we need is that a ‘Sadhu’ is not only ‘Gurumukhi’ but also ‘aparighrahi’ (un-hoarding) who does not store more than needed. This is because he is always in communion with God, and trusts in His providence.
NATURE – HUMAN RELATION
In Sant Kabir’s Bani, he describes various human relationships with the environment. According to him, the mortal has exalted from the earth. After death some humans are cremated (turning into ashes) and some are buried in the earth. Sant Kabir states, not only humans but also all 8.4 millions of species will become soil and get mixed with the earth. He believes that encroaching on environment is the same as disrespecting God, because God dwells in each and every part of the environment. Sant Kabir said that some religious people pull out their hair as part of their important ritual, and they offer flowers of champa, darva to the idol of their God. Pulling out the hair is symbolic of damaging the earth and this way they waste their life. He does not portray the environment as God, but instructs us to have respect for the environment.
As stated before, we have multiple relationships with the environment that can be understood by living with it, and created out of it. According to Sant Kabir’s philosophy, I would like to discuss how humans are related with the environment. According to him, the relationship is not Animism (worshiping nature as God). He said, “Worshiping the idol of stone as the ‘Creator’ of the world, and having faith in it, will drown in ‘Kali-dhar’ i.e. in worldly things.” Rather, he says, “Instead of seeing God in the Shaligram (‘Shaligram’ i.e. round stone worshiped as Lord Krishna), see God in every ‘Jivatma’ (the soul) and consider ‘Sadhus’ (i.e. real disciples of God) as gods on earth. It is better to see God in every ‘Jivatma’ than to see god in ‘Shaligram’ i.e. stones as a worshiped entity.’ Using a metaphor of a gardener he said, “You tear off the leaves, O gardener, but in each and every leaf, there is life. That stone idol, for which you tear off those leaves, is lifeless. In this way, you are mistaken, O gardener. The True Guru is the Living Lord. In this way the philosophy of Sant Kabir is not Animism.
Article by Sudha J. Pandit
(To be continued)
STRIVE FOR SELF-IMPROVEMENT
We are often concerned with what we will be. President Abraham Lincoln said, “I did not know who my grandfather was, I am much more concerned to know who his grandson will be.” We want to be better human beings. If we would not be better human beings, then why are we so preoccupied with trying to look after ourselves in the physical sense, or study, or interact socially? We are trying to improve ourselves, to be better human beings. Education is one avenue. Education broadens our horizons. Instead of limiting you, it causes an expansion of your consciousness and intelligence. It is therefore always prudent for us to keep on learning and becoming better human beings. We will create a better life.
All of you know that, especially in western societies, there is a great deal of disintegration of the family. Perhaps fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. There are so many other problems in the family, which I am sure you all know by reading the papers and watching television. Having better families will eventually produce a better society, and if we have a better society we will have a better world. Everybody is talking about having a better world. Look at what is going on in the world right now. They are not conducive to making a better world. It is an eye for an eye behaviour. Mahatma Gandhi said, “If you follow the philosophy an eye for an eye, the whole world will soon be blind.” To have a better world we must also have a better environment. You know it is in the news everywhere that the Green Peace Foundation is trying all over the world to improve the ecological conditions, and to maintain natural habitats, forests, clean water and clean air. These are all important for making a better world, and that starts with being better human beings.
Education can be religious or secular. I will not dwell on that, as I am sure you are all familiar with what is a religious and what is a secular education. An education for the 21st century ought to stress mutual coexistence because that is lacking in the world today. We do not tolerate or accept people of other ethnic origins, religions, cultures, castes etc. Except for ethnic origins, most of the differences are man made. We should have a classless society and we will all be better off. This mutual coexistence means we appreciate, accept, and respect one another as human beings. The same spirit that dwells in me also dwells in you. What makes us different? Satguru Kabir said, “We are all born from the same Mother Nature, we are all nurtured by the mother’s milk, we all live on the same earth, the same blood flows in our veins. By what kind of cunning intellect have we created separations between ourselves.” It is not human to create separations. Let me draw an analogy: have you ever seen a brown horse and a black horse fight because their color is different. Are human beings less smart than the horses? Sometimes you wonder about human behaviour, that they cannot tolerate somebody because the color is different, the race is different, or the religion is different. Thus there are religious wars, racial wars and all kinds of other wars going on, because people have not trained the mind to accept the divinity that is the same in all. Actually, I am a medical doctor and I will just point this out to you. Peel off the superficial layer of your skin. All of you will be the same colour. So look below the skin before you make judgments and hold prejudices.
I think that it is important for the 21st century that every child should be trained in virtues of love, respect, compassion, and understanding. Confucius said, “The superior man thinks of virtue and the small man thinks of comfort.” It is important for a child to be trained for the 21st century to accept diversity, as diversity is everywhere – people are different, and animals and plants are different. I’ve heard biologists say that even every fish is different. Only we can’t tell because we don’t look at the fine peculiarities of each fish. The biologists can tell the differences. So are the differences in our fingerprints. Nothing is really alike except if you make clones as was done in Scotland with Dolly the sheep. But we don’t want to clone human beings. The child should also systematically be taught by developed, mature, spiritual individuals to give up such things that create trouble in the world. He should learn to control hate, greed, anger, jealousy, selfishness, ego etc. Negative behaviour is due to immature thinking; it’s foolish. We must not get caught up in these negative behaviours.
Now we have come to the topic I would like to stress. It is the introspective knowledge, which means that you are looking within yourself. If you study history you can say it is retrospective. If you formulate conceptions and ideas about the future, let’s say science fiction, that you can say is prospective. But looking retrospectively at history is like looking to the left, and prospective knowledge is like looking to the right. You are not looking to the center, and you will run into trouble. The center is right here, your self, your heart, your mind, and your intellect. You are your self, the real Self, the eternal Self, and that is what we need to learn. That Self that you are is called the soul. That is your intrinsic value. It is like the precious diamond. It is as Satguru Kabir said, “hira paiyo gath gathiyayo, bar bar wako kyon khole.” When you have found the diamond and put it in your pocket, you will not be taking it out like a foolish person, again and again to show it around.” You will soon lose it. Just so, when you have spiritual depth of knowledge, it gives you the satisfaction that you own the most precious commodity in the world. The most precious commodity in your life is the soul. That is why all the great saints and teachers of the world taught through meditation to go within your self. Seek the divinity within yourself. When you realize your divinity, you will realize divinity within all beings. Then you will see the equality. Let us all strive sincerely to become better human beings for the twenty first century. Let us follow the injunction, “Sow an act and you reap a habit, sow a habit and you reap a character, sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
Dr. Jagessar Das
Self-improvement, Kabir, Gandhi, Ethnicity, Clones, Behaviour
The Awakening Lotus
What a beautiful metaphor:
The Lotus awakening to caress the cool sunshine!
It continues its rhythm with every sunrise,
And goes to sleep as day ebbs into night.
We also follow this natural rhythm,
Of awakening to the light and sleeping at night.
A universal rhythm pervades the universe,
As we can see in nature and the cosmos.
To be static is not nature’s rule,
For even the rocks have atomic motion.
Think of our divinely crafted body:
Every living cell is in perpetual motion.
And energy is the motive force in all.
This energy also flows along the spine,
Rising through the lotuses — the chakras,
And opening each to spiritual light.
When the thousand-petalled lotus is reached,
It opens to the radiant light of enlightenment.
The yogis placed this last lotus in the brain,
Which we know is, anatomically, its proper place,
As Consciousness is concentrated there.
It is consciousness that is enlightened,
And propels one into spiritual ecstasy.
The bliss of this state is unfathomable,
And cannot be described in words.
It has its own celestial language,
Spoken silently to the awakened heart.
This is the thunder of silence,
And the peace that passeth all understanding,
That great teachers of humanity experienced,
And have urged us also to follow the path.
Our life is sacred and its purpose divine.
Let us not squander this gift of life,
And depart without achieving our goal.
Be like the beautiful lotus flower:
It follows its natural rhythm all its life,
It passes no judgments, and has no hangups.
Purity is its essential nature,
And so also should be ours.
Our source is divine and our spirit divine,
And as the lotus growing in mud is pure,
Let us living in a “muddy” world also be pure.
Dr. Jagessar Das
Lotus, Chakras, Sunshine, Divine, Spirit
YOU CAN BE HEALTHY – ITS UP TO YOU
Disease, in one form or another, is known to everybody. It does not spare any age group, social rank, religious affiliation, or geographic location. The type of disease may vary according to age group, geographic location or economic status, but disease, nevertheless, attacks anyone. It is almost axiomatic to state that everyone will be ill with something during his or her lifetime. Diseases may vary in severity and duration, and cause suffering to varying extents in different people. However, disease implies suffering of some kind. No one welcomes a disease.
There are many “apparent” causes of disease. Some diseases are hereditary and others are acquired. Examples of hereditary diseases are hemophilia, muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis. The acquired diseases have a host of causative agents. Common among them are bacterial infections, such as pneumonia, abscesses and kidney infections. Viral infections are like the common cold and influenza, measles, viral pneumonia etc. There are parasitic infections such as hookworm, malaria and other intestinal parasites. Fungal infections include athlete’s foot and ringworm. Neoplastic diseases (malignant and non-malignant tumors) are of a wide variety attacking different organ systems of the body. Toxic diseases include poisoning of various types such as lead, carbon monoxide, botulism and insecticide ingestion. There are many others caused by poor nutrition, glandular disorders, injuries, and the environment including drowning, heat stroke and frostbite.
As you can see from the brief list outlined, diseases manifest in almost endless variety. And it is universal. However, we need to develop a different type of awareness of disease than the one to which we are accustomed. The various agents listed above are customarily thought of as the causes of disease. But, in effect, they are not the causes of disease. They only interact with the body in their own appropriate ways in order to manifest disease. This concept may be somewhat difficult to understand, as it is not the traditional scientific way of looking at diseases. It is a spiritual way of looking at them.
In order to simplify this concept of disease, let me use a simple example. Suppose I throw a stone at you and it hits you on the face, and you suffer a bruise. Would you say that the stone was the cause of the bruise, or was I the cause of the bruise? The stone merely fulfilled the law of motion and did what it had to do after I threw it. This is a crude example, but it will serve to illustrate the point. I think that everybody will agree that everything that happens must have a cause. That cause, operating through the Law of Karma, results in an effect. The effect is what we see. The diseases that we suffer are the effects of certain causes based on the Law of Karma. This Law will explain why different people, exposed to the same so-called disease-producing agent, do not all suffer the disease. Nor, do they suffer the same severity and duration of the disease. You might say that some people have natural immunity and, therefore, do not suffer as others with less immunity. But why then do some people have greater natural immunity than others? You can ask this type of question “ad infinitum” and do not come out with any logical answer. The only answer that will make sense and fit all the circumstances is the Law of Karma determining the cause of disease. In the Cosmic scheme of things, if we are to suffer according to our just deserts, then the various agents are there like so many law enforcement officers, to see that we contract the appropriate type of disease with sufficient severity and duration to fulfill that Law of Cause and Effect. The same principle also holds for the various things in our lives that bring happiness.
Although I have been trained as a physician, it makes greater sense for me to consider disease in the above context. This concept of disease can easily explain why disease will always afflict mankind as long as mankind behaves in thought, word and actions as they have been doing. Although science has been able to eradicate one disease after another, science is beset with new diseases appearing all the time. Recently, the new disease is AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) that is rapidly increasing in various parts of the world. Others are Zika, SARS (Severe Adult Respiratory Syndrome), Ebola and Avian (Bird) Flu. As long as people do not live in harmony with nature, but persist in the wrong types of thinking and living, of hurting other people and other beings, of holding negative thoughts, of practicing vices and indulging the passions, of improper eating habits and hygiene, then it follows naturally that people will have to be subjected to suffering. One such category of suffering we call disease.
Dr. Jagessar Das
Disease, karma, AIDS, hereditary disease, Zika, SARS
OM PEACE-PEACE-PEACE/OM SHANTI-SHANTI-SHANTI
People need peace. The world needs peace. To attest to this, there are many people all over the world who talk about peace. There are peace demonstrations, peace conferences, peace summit meetings, preaching of peace and many writings in the press and news reports on televisions talking about peace. The human mind appears to be obsessed with peace. Yet it has been illusive throughout the ages, and peace has not dawned in the hearts of humanity and in the world.
What is so illusive about peace? The nature of the soul is peace. Peace, indeed, is a divine gift, just as life is a divine gift. God could not be so uncaring as to put people into the world and then torment them with disturbed minds. All lack of peace in the world has been created by the mind of man. And what was the motivation behind the lack of peace? It is clear to see that the mind is full of ego, desires, frustrations, anger, hurt feelings, guilt, fear, vanity, revenge, hate, etc. Are any of these characteristics conducive to peace within the heart, or in the world? Obviously not!
In order to understand the foundations of peace it is important to understand what the soul is. Now, since no one has seen the soul, and which has no form or dimension, then how can one understand what the soul is? Just as in science you cannot see the electrify, but you can see its effects; you cannot see magnetism, but you can see its effects; you cannot see heat, but you can see its effects; just so, you cannot see the soul, but you can see its effects. Now, you may ask what are the effects of the soul? It is obvious that without the soul, which is the animating principle within, just as electricity is the animating principle in a computer, the soul allows us to have life, to have mind, to have a body, to have emotions and to have all the multifarious feelings and emotional states. The soul is the vehicle that God uses to produce consciousness, which must then translate into living beings to manifest consciousness. It is clear that consciousness cannot manifest in inert matter. So God, in His wisdom, created conscious beings, endowed with a soul and all attributes, or adjuncts, which enable the soul to function as a living organism.
Peace is illusive! Why? It is easy to see that the mind which is full of desires and cravings, as pointed out by Lord Buddha, must be a restless mind. A mind driven by anger and other negative emotions must be a restless mind. A mind driven by greed, fear, guilt, possessiveness, etc, must be a restless mind. A mind driven by egotistic tendencies must be a restless mind. The mind needs a centre or a foundation from which it can identify itself and perform its various functions. That foundation is the soul. But the mind is often too cunning or too foolish to understand that it has a basis for its own existence. The mind feels sophisticated and superior to admit that it is subservient to the Divinity of the soul that is within. Actually, in the hearts of most people, and in the preachings of various religions, the soul is often relegated to some infrequently used “store-house”. It is often spoken of, but rarely understood. In order to have peace one must constantly “dive” in the serenity of the soul. It is that serenity that is described as the “peace that passeth all understanding”. It must be realized that the peace of the soul is always present and available for the service of humanity. It is the source of harmony, happiness, contentment, love and the ultimate source of communion with God. Each one of us must remember that the mind is only a servant and that it can function in a negative direction, and be a source of bondage and distress, or it can function in a positive direction, and be a source of immense pleasure and happiness. But we have to choose how to use the mind, and we do this by using what is called vivek in Sanskrit, which means the use of spiritual discriminative knowledge. It simple words, it means to know the difference between good and bad; virtue and vice; righteous living vs. unrighteous living, Reality from unreality, etc. We must be able to tell what is the real from the unreal. We must identify that part of us that keeps us in touch with our Divine source, and that part of us which blinds us from our Divine source. Each one of us has the ability to delve into that lake of inner serenity, which is our birthright. It is a gift of God. Let us experience that peace for ourselves, and let us manifest it in our dealings with all people.
Dr. Jagessar Das
Linkedin @jagessar das
Twitter @jagessar das
Please note that this poem expresses my views. It is not directed at any religion or religious beliefs.
My previous poem was on Heaven, so I logically followed it up with a poem on Hell. JD
Hell has no meaning unless we add suffering.
And the suffering there is very intense!
The sinner consigned there, faces fire and brimstone –
Not just until he is consumed to ashes,
But “eternally,” to pay for his errant “sinning.”
It appears that such a one earns no forgiveness,
Though Jesus said God forgives abundantly,
And that we should forgive seventy time seven.
The one consigned to burn in hell, we all know,
Is a child of a loving and forgiving God.
Can it then be divine justice – no forgiveness?
If hell is a requirement to fulfill divine justice,
Then it must be located within God’s universe.
Where could God place hell? On which celestial body?
We all assert that God is Omnipresent Being.
Can hell then be a “place” outside of God?
His Omnipresence indicates that God is there too.
So if God is in hell, should we fear to go there?
Has anyone experienced the suffering in hell,
To speak eloquently with fist pounding authority?
All who speak of hell, read in their holy books,
That there is such a “place” for the sinner.
Yet we know that experience is the best teacher.
Should speakers on hell not have the experience,
That there is such a “place,” and the conditions there?
Can faith without knowledge be the yardstick,
That confers on us with absolute certainty,
That what we have read is definitely the reality?
At what point on the continuum from good to evil,
Can we say that one goes to heaven or hell?
Who is the judge that decides the punishment,
When Jesus said, “Judge not that ye be not judged.”
Logic becomes useless at such a state of affairs,
And hides its face and runs speedily away.
“As you sow so also you shall reap,”
Is religiously accepted by all people, everywhere.
It is called the law of Karma, of cause and effect.
You sow in thoughts, words and deeds,
And you are doing it continuously.
You also reap the effects continuously.
Would this not account for the pleasure and pain,
That are part of the daily life of everyone?
We are creating our own heaven and hell,
So let us be mindful how we live. We have choice!
Dr. Jagessar Das
Where is heaven extolled in Scriptures?
What are the coordinates to locate it?
Does anyone have a clue of what heaven is-
Its inhabitants and their way of living?
Are there embodied souls or free roaming spirits?
Longing for a destination you do not know,
Will take you straight to Fool’s Paradise.
Think of the word Heaven itself,
It is nearly all “h-e-a-v-e” with “n” attached.
So does one “heave” oneself to heaven?
Or, perchance, one is “heaved” there?
Heaven is said to flow with milk and honey,
Indicating it must be a physical place.
Where can we then guess heaven to be,
Amongst the billions of galaxies,
And trillions upon trillions of stars.
Can it be somewhere on a planet –
Numberless, beyond our imagination?
If there is such a desirable “place”,
Do we know how to “travel” to get there?
No one has returned from heaven
To enlighten us about its fantastic glory!
No one has bought us a return ticket,
For us to come back and cheer our friends.
So are we living in blind expectation,
To reach an abode that’s unknown?
Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is within.
And Jesus is one with supreme knowledge.
Should we not accept his divine teaching,
To see that our journey to heaven is within?
There is no coming or going for the soul,
But only to realize its own divinity.
This is the awakening to divine light,
That leads us to Enlightenment.
But you ask, “How to journey within
When there is no map or directions?”
My friend! Seek and you shall find.
Knock and it shall be opened for you.
Seek an earnest and benevolent teacher.
Surrender yourself to his instructions.
Knock on the door of your consciousness,
And delve deeply into meditation.
There you will find the reality of the Self.
That is where the heaven is that you seek!
Dr. Jagessar Das
SALIENT FEATURES OF HINDUISM
Hinduism is an ancient religion often called Sanatan Dharma, which means eternal religion. It started approximately five thousand years ago, but there is no definite time or personality which can be said to be its beginning. The ancient civilization of the Indus Valley was quite advanced at that time. Later the Aryans * supposedly came into India and brought with them an oral religion which was later written down to become the four Vedas. The religion which came to be known as Hinduism was originally calledVedism or Brahmanism. The Vedas were memorized and handed down from generation to generation. It was later compiled by Ved Vyas as the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda and Atharva Veda. These Vedas taught various types of worships called Yajnas to various gods and celestial beings. Later the Upanishads were added to the Vedas. The Upanishads became known as the Vedanta Philosophy which means those at the end of the Vedas. The teachings contained in the Upanishads were further elaborated in important texts called the Brahmasutras – short aphorisms for easy memorization explaining the ultimate Truths. These were also written by the Sage Ved Vyas. The Vedanta philosophy became divided into Advaita Vedanta, and later Vishisht Advaita or qualified non-dualism of Ramanuja. The Advaita, or non-dualism, was further propounded by the one of the greatest of world philosophers, Adi Shankara, in the eight century as the highest teachings of Hinduism.
From Hinduism came the Yoga system with its eight parts outlining in detail the attainment of liberation which is union with God, called samadhi. There are seven preparatory stages called Yamas, Niyamas, Asanas, Pranayamas, Pratyahara, Dharana and Dhyana, then Samadhi. On attaining Samadhi a person becomes an enlightened sage and becomes free from the effects of Karmas. This is a very well thought out and logical system that can match any other scientific system for the spiritual, moral and social betterment of humanity.
Hinduism also produced the six great philosophies called Darshanas. They are Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vedanta, Vaiseshika and Purva Mimansa. These philosophies delved into the nature of the universe in terms of composition and arrangement right up to the highest unity of all in the formless eternal Brahman (not brahmin, the caste). This is the non-dualist or monistic teaching which India has given to the world. All the greatest speculative thoughts of life, the cosmos, and God have been elucidated in India. India is justly called the cradle of religions.
Here it is well to note what Max Muller, the great German Indologist, had to say about India and its teachings:
If I were to look over the whole world to find out the country most richly endowed with all the wealth, power, and beauty that nature can bestow in most part a very paradise on earth – I should point to India. If I were to ask under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them which will deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant – I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we, here in Europe, we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans and one of the Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw that corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human, a life, not only this life only, but a transfigured and eternal life, again I should point to India.”
From the foregoing statement it can be seen that India, indeed, has a great deal of wisdom to offer to the rest of the world. The mind of the sages of India was not content just to read a scripture and to follow blindly. They delved into themselves to find the answers that governed life from the soul to God, and to the material universe. Mahatma Gandhi recognized the contribution India can make to the world when he stated: “An India awakened and free has a message of peace and goodwill to give to a groaning world”.
Hinduism has laid out the four Purusharthas for the attainment of liberation, and which also form the goal of life. They are Dharma or religious duties in all aspects of life; Artha or the earning of material wealth in order to sustain life and to perform charitable work; Kama or the fulfillment of noble and uplifting desires; and Moksha or liberation from the bondage of ignorance and delusion, and material bondage. It sets the person free to roam in the spiritual region of self-knowledge. And not content with living, outlined in these goals, the sages have devised a progressive system by which one can attain this highest wisdom. They are:
(i) Vivek – the practice of discriminative knowledge to know the reality from unreality, the truth from falsehood, etc.;
(ii) Vairagya – detachment from all passions and material bondage so as to be free to pursue the highest goal of life;
(iii) Shatsampat – the six virtues of gaining control over the mind and senses, and practicing faith, endurance, non-attachment to external ceremonials and meditation, and
(iv) Mumukshutva – an intense longing for the realization of God.
In addition, they have devised the attainment of supreme knowledge by:
(a) Sravan – listening to the great teachings, either by reading or through discourses with saintly people;
(b) Manan – to contemplate on the teachings read or heard;
(c) Nididhyasan – meditation on the teachings until they form part of your being in a state of realization and
(d) Sakshatakara – the manifestation of Divine wisdom in one’s own life.
Hinduism has also divided life into four states called ashramas. And these are:
(i) Brahmacharya – which is approximately the first twenty-five years of life given to celibacy and the study under a guru;
(ii) Grihasta – to marry and to raise a family and to look after household responsibilities.
(iii) Vanaprastha – to withdraw from worldly duties and to give oneself to a devotional contemplative life, usually in an isolated area, such as a forest and
(iv) Sanyasa – which is detachment from all worldly pursuits and wandering for the dissemination of knowledge and for attaining ultimate peace and bliss in life.
Hinduism is a very resilient religion and there are no fixed dogmas. People can practice Hinduism in the way they see fit according to their own temperament and inclination. Yet, they all form a totality. Because of its resilience Hinduism has been able to withstand and often absorb other religions which have foisted themselves on India. It has also influenced the other religions without losing its own spirit. It is one of the major world religions with about one billion adherents throughout the world. Since Hinduism is based on very meticulous analysis of the soul, the mind, the gross elements making up the body – the microcosm, and the cosmos or the macrocosm, and since it deals with the intimate relationship and ultimate identity of the two, Hinduism stands on a very firm foundation, and it can never be toppled from its solidity.
The goal of Hinduism is nothing less than to elevate ordinary mortals to saints of the highest order. This is achieved by control of the passions which are described as lust, anger, attachments, greed, and ego. When these are controlled, the mind becomes serene. In the Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna describes such a state:
“When he sets aside desires,
All that have entered his mind, O Partha,
And is contented in himself and through himself,
He is called a man of steady wisdom.
He whose mind turns not in sorrows, who enjoys but longs not for joys, he whose passions, fear and wrath are gone, that steady minded man is called a sage”.
This essay has been a brief and, of necessity, a superficial overview of the salient features of Hinduism. It is hoped that it will shed some light on the nature and importance of Hinduism in the religious life of humanity.
Dr. Jagessar Das
Kabir Association of Canada
*The Aryan invasion theory is now debated, that it did not take
Hinduism, Aryan Invasion, Vedas, Yoga, Advaita, Dharma, Ashramas
TEACHING OF THE MASTERS #6
The omnipotence of God has been mentioned previously but not discussed. Omnipotence in Hindi is sarv shaktiman. The word is derived from the Latin omni (all) and potentia (power, energy). In this essay we will look at what omnipotence is so that we can form some idea of this ‘all power’ and how it operates in the universe. I must admit here that I am not a physicist, so the discussion would be simple and, hopefully, understandable by the average reader.
Energy was mentioned before. We would now discuss it in more detail. Scientists say that energy manifests in four ways – gravitation, electromagnetism, strong force and weak force. Gravitation is what gives us weight, and this is due to the fact that gravitational force attracts two or more bodies of matter towards one another. The earth’s gravity acts on all things so they all have weight. Each one of us also pulls on the earth due to this gravitational force, but we are so small that our pull on the earth is negligible. The force of attraction between any two bodies of matter is proportional to their masses, but this attraction decreases when they are farther apart. The farther apart two bodies are, the less is the gravitational pull. So the very heavy space vehicle on earth becomes weightless in space. That is how the space station remains in orbit. You may be familiar from watching television that astronauts float around in their shuttle in earth orbit due to weightlessness. Another example would be a person’s weight on the moon that has about one/sixth the mass of the earth. A person weighing 150 pounds on earth would weigh only 25 pounds on the moon. Just so all celestial bodies exert gravitational pull on one another, and they maintain a certain ‘balance’ by spinning in orbits. The orbital velocity balances the centripetal and centrifugal forces to keep them in their orbits. This gravitational force operates in the whole universe.
The second force is electromagnetic force. This force acts on electrically charged particles and holds electrons and protons together in atoms, and holds atoms together in molecules. Unlike electric charges attract, and like charges repel each other. Similarly, unlike magnetic poles attract and like poles repel each other. Electricity and magnetism act on each other so that a wire moving in a magnetic field will develop electricity, and also if a magnet is moved towards or away from the wire. The electromagnetic force operates in the atoms so that the electrons spin around the nucleus of the atoms, and that the protons are held together in the nucleus of the atoms. Atoms combine to form molecules due to this force. Molecules of the same kind that are held together form an element such as gold, copper, oxygen etc. Molecules of different kinds combine to form compounds such as sugar, flour, cement, medicines etc. All the matter in the universe consists of atoms and molecules in different combinations.
The other two forces are the strong and the weak that are in the nuclei of atoms. The strong force holds the subatomic particles, mostly quarks, together, and the weak force causes radioactive decay of atoms. Quarks are particles that are held together by the strong force to form protons and neutrons in the nuclei of atoms. The power contained in the nuclei of atoms is revealed in the nuclear bombs that can each destroy a city as happened in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan by United States during the second world war.
Scientists theorize that all these four forces together arise from the unified force or unified field theory. This is not yet confirmed. Scientists also theorize that there is a ‘God particle’ (In 2012 this particle, the Higgs Boson, was discovered at CERN the large Hadron Collider under the French-Swiss Alps) that is fundamental to all manifestations. It is reasonable to say that all the energy or force in the universe must have a single source from which they manifest in different ways. We can call the ‘source’ God or the Absolute Being, or any other name, since God has nothing to do with what name we give to ‘Him’. Since all the energy in the universe is from God, we must admit that God is omnipotent. It is His omnipotence that keeps every particle, and every process and function, from the non-living to the living, working in harmony. We are part of the universe and take part in this universal harmony.
Dr. Jagessar Das
Omnipotence, God Particle, Energy, matter, Force, quarks