Ahimsa

Ahimsa, or nonviolence, is a Hindu principle that means we should live in harmony with the universe. We should be considerate of all creatures and all natural forces and live in balance with them. We should be compassionate. We should exercise self-control and not go into frenzy to satisfy our desires, treading on the toes of those who stand in our way. We should be at peace within ourselves and with the world. We should not needlessly hurt others in any way. However, we should do what our duty demands.

While Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism all endorse the doctrine of Ashimsa, they consider it differently. Buddhism bans killing along with stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, and intoxication. Jainism opposes all killing categorically. Hindu tenets are not so specific. They go to motive. Hinduism des not oppose killing. Rather, it opposes senseless killing. The distinction is difficult ti put into words. The effects of an act depends on the thoughts that engendered it. The doer of the act must decide whether an act is hurtful or not and whether it is necessary or not. It is the quality of the actor’s nature that determines if her or she makes the right and good decision and that sets karma in motion, for better or for worse. While a wise person performs acts that are in keeping with universal harmony, an anger driven fool is likely to commit acts of unwarranted violence.

Violence and destruction is not always harmful. Burning fields to improve their fertility is a good thing. It is different from starting a wildfire that will burn and destroy forests. The Gita speaks of a moral war, explaining that the soul cannot be killed and that the body does not matter at all. The Mhabharata and the Gita illustrate rather than explain what constitutes a moral war. Lord Krishna speaks on the “Battlefield of Dharma.” The noble hero, Arjun, does not want to slay his enemy. He does not want a kingdom, or victory, or pleasures. He would rather his enemy kill him and kill them. Lord Krishna convinces Arjun to fight, leaving the outcome of the war in God’s hands:

Do not care if your fighting brings pleasure or pain,

Victory or defeat.

Just do your duty.

In this way you will be free.

(Gita 2:38)

 

Read more from On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar

Understanding the Existence of God

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The concept of there being a God is one that is difficult for some people to understand. In this excerpt from On Hinduism, Irina Gajjar explains how The Gita shows God and how you can come to understand and know Him:

The ancients described God millennia ago and however we may visualize God today, the Bhagavad Gita explains:

God is beyond what your mind can understand.
God shines like the sun far beyond the darkness of ignorance.
(Gita 8:8)

Although God cannot be understood by the mind, God can be known by the spirit. In chapter seven of the Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjun that he will understand God after knowing Him. God says that He knows all beings, but they do not know Him.

People cannot see God because confusion and desire cover their minds, but they can reach God by seeking Him.

The Sanskrit language distinguishes between spiritual knowledge (seeing, knowing) and rational knowledge (understanding). We can come to know God only by seeking Him. Trying to understand God is a path to knowing Him, yet we cannot understand God without knowing Him.

This is an apparent paradox, not a real one. It means that we must take steps toward understanding God in order to experience God. While the absolute cannot be understood by our finite mind, it can be known by our infinite soul. However, the soul can only experience the truth if the mind strives for it to do so.

Reason or understanding is a path that leads to spiritual knowledge, but only spiritual knowledge has the power to reveal God. The Gita understands God to be both the knower and the known, or that which we wish to know. He is the great soul, the individual soul called Atman. He is spirit.

God is the knower of the universe and the knower of the “field” which means the human body as well as all embodiment. “Field” refers to place or area, like “field of knowledge.” The term field implies that the body is a place where action or conflict occurs. Lord Krishna delivered the Bhagavad Gita

Read more from On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar

Curiosity

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Today curiosity is viewed as something good and important. Years ago this was not so much the case. Young people who asked too many questions were not appreciated. Questions interrupted lectures and they embarrassed speakers by potentially revealing ignorance or foolishness or by touching upon prejudicial or personal or prurient matters. In past decades information was not readily available.

Children were told “Curiosity killed the cat,” and it was only under their breath that they muttered “Satisfaction brought it back.”  After all a cat is believed to have nine lives.

It is a good thing that curiosity is now recognized as something to be fostered in our youth and in everyone for that matter. I guess the best way to do this is to raise questions rather than to begin with conclusions and then expect those conclusions to be accepted and learned.

At the same time, we do not have to tell everything to everyone at any age. And we should let others make discoveries on their own or find answers or suggestions often available at the touch of a screen.

Visit amazon.com Irina Gajjar’s Page to learn about her work and her views on a variety of matters.

The God in Whom Atheists Disbelieve

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Often I wonder about the God or gods in whom atheists disbelieve.

Do they disbelieve in truth, in nothingness, in energy or in the unknowable?

Do they disbelieve in nature?

Some of us think God has certain forms, powers or manifestations. Some of us are tentative in our belief or agnostic while others are unwilling even to consider questions associated with the notion of God. Yet others blame God for all the atrocities we humans have committed in His or Her name.

I deeply respect all belief and no belief, but I wonder what disbelievers think when they go beyond denial.

Types of Karma

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Hinduism acknowledges four types of Karma: Sanchita Karma, Prarabdha Karma, Kriyamana Karma and Agami Karma.

Sanchita Karma is the total of all the unresolved karma we accumulated in past lives. It is Karma we have not yet burned.

Prarabdha Karma is the portion of our Karma that is destined to bear fruit in our present life. It has been set into motion and cannot be stopped or erased.

Kriyamana Karma is karma in progress. It is unleashed by the actions and decisions we make in our present lifetime and it bears fruit in the future.

Agami Karma comes in part from the past but continues to generate fruit in the present. Our nature and circumstances are carried over from earlier lives but decisions about things like education, marriage or children affect both our present and future lives.

See Irina Gajjar’s On Hinduism, Chapter 6 to get a better idea on how Hindu thought perceives the workings of Karma.