Shiva

Representations of Shiva, also called Maheshvara, often show him sitting cross legged in meditation or else dancing. Shiva is Lord of Dance, Nataraja, and Lord of Animals, Pashupati. He is sexual energy symbolized by the phallus. The Destroyer is white in color, has multiple faces and a third eye filled with visionary and destructive power. The Ganges River flows from his matted hair, the moon adorns his head, a cobra garlands his neck, and he carries the trident.

Shiva’s wife, Parvati, is the great mother goddess. She is the personification of female energy known as Shakti and revered as the power behind all creation.

God as the force of destruction appears in the Gita as a frightening power beyond reality and beyond unreality. This manifestation induces both terror and ecstasy. It makes demons flee and saints bow down in awe.

This excerpt is from On Hinduism, by Irina Gajjar. To read more or purchase the book, visit the website at www.irinaspage.com.

 

 

Nothingness

Belief in the world’s illusory nature gives rise to belief in the reality and greatness of nothingness. AN understanding of nothingness relates to the understanding of mathematics which embodies the concept of zero. At the same time, belief in nothingness is a significant aspect of Hindu belief in God. Nothingness is greater than creation which comes and goes as worlds appear and disappear in cycles. Nothingness existed before God undertook creation and God alone transcends nothingness. Devout Hindus seek to attain enlightenment which is akin to becoming lost in the supreme blissfulness of God who is as much nothing as He is everything.

Some people revere God as an infinite force requiring no further definition. But others find it difficult to work the idea of an intangible, unfathomable, all powerful God into worship or life. Thus, Hinduism facilitates faith by giving God a multitude of physical forms that represent his multiple attributes. It is next to impossible to know these countless forms and names. In ritual ceremonies, priests recite as many names as the worshipers have the patience to repeat or hear while they toss a leaf or a petal for each name into a vessel as a symbol of their acknowledgment.

This excerpt is from On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar. Read more from Irina or learn where to buy the book at www.irinaspage.com.

The Idea of God

Hindu philosophy is premised on the idea of God, not on a belief in God. Thus, the divine force, howsoever it may be perceived, or even if it is disregarded, is ever-present. Hinduism does not demand faith in God. Rather it provides links to the idea of God. Those interested can click on a link at any time.

What then describes Hindus if not faith in God, or acceptance of the tenets of Hinduism, or following the dictates of Hindu scriptures, or performing specific rituals? Responses often given to the question “Who is a Hindu?” include: followers of Hindu traditions, believers in Vedic philosophy, persons who follow dharma (a complex inclusive terms representing maintaining balance, staying on the path of truth, and fulfillment of duty), persons of righteousness, persons who will perform Hindu sacraments, persons who live a Hindu lifestyle, persons who uphold Hindu values, seekers of God, and persons who profess themselves to be Hindu.

The above replies are all correct, but none is definitive, given the wide diversity in individual beliefs. The last statement is probably the closest to the best answer. Nobody can judge the belief of a particular Hindu, but persons who believe themselves to be a Hindu know what they believe. Thus, a Hindu may be best described as someone who calls himself Hindu and who does not adhere to any other religion.

This excerpt is from On Hinduism, by Irina Gajjar. To learn more about the book, visit the website at www.irinaspage.com. You can purchase the book directly from Amazon by clicking this link.

God’s Multiple Roles

Hinduism sets forth a comprehensive world view. However, the breadth, depth, and boundlessness of this view may perplex those unaccustomed to following alternative trains of thought. For example, though Hindus take God’s multiple roles of Creator, Preserver, Destroyer for granted, others may consider these roles in conflict, failing to take into account that they represent the cycles followed by the universe.

Similarly, non-Hindus may consider worshipping an absolute God incongruent with worshipping the many gods in the Hindu mythological pantheon. These super beings illustrated in books and posters and on big and little screens live in the other worlds or in the imagination. But shouldn’t we wonder at our imagination? Isn’t imagination also a world? Isn’t the source of human thoughts and ideas as real as the universe? Isn’t the output of the human mind as real as the world which is illusory in itself?

This excerpt is from On Hinduism, by Irina Gajjar. Read more at www.irinaspage.com.

Behavior Influencing Karma

 

Different Hindus perceive the relationship between God and karma in different ways. Some go as far as to say that karma determines the future and God does not exist or matter at all. Some equate the divine force with karma or believe that God creates karma and hence see no issue regarding interaction between the two.

Yet other individuals and Hindu schools of thought, more conventionally, see God as the dispense of karma, which He possibly tempers with divine mercy. Whatever their particular viewpoint, Hindu philosophers and laymen agree with the viewpoint that good behavior earns merit and improves their karma and that misfortune is the product of prior bad behavior. Even those who do not fully believe in karmic power generally consider the idea of karma a plausible guideline for ethical living.

What are your views on karma? Do you feel your good behavior earns merit and that your misfortune is a product of your prior poor behavior? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Read more from Irina Gajjar at www.irinaspage.com.

Unity with God

Though Hindus know deeply that the ultimate aim of their faith is to achieve unity with God, daily life and worship generally focus on more immediate results. Karma may take ages to play out, but the laws of cause and effect that are its foundation may also operate more quickly. Divine intervention works hand in hand with karma that is created by human behavior. Thus, worship is a path to enlightenment and simply setting forth on this path has its own validity. Progressing on the path to God is not only about reaching a destination. Making the journey earns merit in itself.

Hindu scriptures and customs consider a wide range of activities as worship: fulfillment of duty, prayer, pursuit of knowledge, honoring elders and teachers, tending to shrines in the home, visiting temples, going on pilgrimages, bathing in holy waters, practicing moderation, fasting, performing rituals, chanting, engaging in meditation and yoga, attending and participating in ceremonies, listening to preachers, performing classical dance, and so on. These activities are incorporated into secular life. Though none of them are singly defining, it is virtually certain that routine customs and occurrences will engage just about every Hindu in some overt forms of worship. Mindsets may differ regarding the value or effect of these variegated activities, but participating in some of them unavoidable.

The vast array of practices that make up worship in Hinduism may befuddle strangers to such rituals. Although most ritualistic acts and sacrifices have specific and generally known purposes, collectively their aim is to enhance the mind’s focus and thereby to extend consciousness. These ceremonies as well as actions undertaken in the name of God or goodness acknowledge and revere a power higher and greater than the power of the human mind or the human heart. Whatever form worship takes, be it worship of God or of another deity, worship in any form acknowledges the existence of something greater than humankind. Chapter four of the Gita, “The Sword of Knowledge,” explains:

 

A puja is a ceremony for God.

It is a sacrifice.

The puja is Brahma [God].

The fire which is part of the puja is Brahma.

The person who performs the puja is Brahma.

Brahma is God’s everlasting power.

We cannot see or hear or feel Brahma.

This excerpt is from On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar. Learn more about the book at www.irinaspage.com

God: Beyond the Grasp of Human Thought

While Hinduism understands that God is beyond the grasp of human thought, it also acknowledges God’s tremendous power over our human minds and lives. As the quest for the enlightenment is the quest to become one with God, Hinduism strives to bring humankind to oneness with divinity.

Hindu philosophy gives great importance to the soul or spirit which it distinguishes from the mind as well as from the body. Hinduism equates the spirit with God. Chapter thirteen of the Bhagavad Gita explains that the spirit cannot be described, that it cannot act, that it is always pure and endless as the sun and the sky. God is considered the greatest spirit Thus, to Hindus, finding our soul is akin to finding infinity within us. It equates to achieving perfection which can only be attained by a highly evolved soul, a soul that over many lifetimes has superseded the limitations of humanness.

This excerpt is from Irina Gajjar’s book, On Hinduism. To learn more about this book or other books by Irina, visit the website at www.irinaspage.com.

 

God’s Glories

In Chapter 10 of the Gita, God describes Himself to humankind. We have differing views about creation as well as about the existence and nature of a higher power. Some of us question the validity of any assumptions about these notions.

But Lord Krishna speaks in light of orthodox Hindu opinions. He answers doubts about what the Divinity represents by telling us He is the best of whatever the human mind can imagine.

God says He is the most powerful of weapons, the lion of beasts, the holy Ganges of rivers, the cleansing wind, life, death, and the future. He tells us that He is beyond time and He is time itself. He is both the cause and the source of everything. He explains that while no one understands His power, the wise know He causes and moves the world.

See The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture, by Irina Gajjar, Chapter 10.

The Road Map to Our Actions

The Bhagavad Gita fills our minds with imagery that corresponds to our emotions and our imagination. It provides something of a road map to help us direct and manage our actions. Perhaps most significantly, it responds to questions that human intelligence cannot answer yet never stops asking. These questions have been posed by philosophers and scientists, by seekers of God and seekers of truth, by people who wonder and by people who doubt. Lord Krishna’s answers go beyond what we know, but do not contradict what we know. What His words really tell us, is that if we look hard enough and long enough and if we care enough the answers will be revealed.

Read More from On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar.

 

Life Principle

The mind and body are part of nature and matter rather than an essential or integral part of the God, although God is everywhere. In his manifest form, God personifies the same subtle elements that make up the body plus mind, reason and the self:

 

I am made of the earth, water, fire, air,
ether, mind, reason, and the self.
These eight things are one side of Me
is what makes the whole world exist
and is called the “life principle.”

(Gita 7:4, 5)

Read more from On Hinduism, by Irina Gajjar at http://irinaspage.com/philosophy/on-hinduism/