Knowledge

Hinduism defines knowledge as more than the acquisition of information. Knowledge pertains first and foremost to knowing God. This covers everything from seeking God, to knowing about God, to understand God, or to feeling God. Chapter seven of the Bhagavad Gita, “Knowing God,” offers a road map to the unveiling of the mystery of life. It explains that of the countless people who exist, only a few seek God and that of those few, only a handful gain a true understanding of divinity.

True knowledge pertains to understanding the Creator who causes the worlds and is the “life principle” or the essence of life. In his incarnation as Lord Krishnas, God says that He is composed of earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, reason, and the self. He tells us that He is the wetness in water, the light in the moon and sun, and the sacred symbol Om which encompasses God and the Universe:

 

I am the manliness in men

And the smell of the earth

And the brightness in fire.

Ia m life in living things.

I am the seed in all beings.

I am the wisdom in men’s minds.

I am the strength of the strong and the wish in your heart.

This excerpt is from On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar. To read more or to buy the book, visit the www.irinaspage.com/onhinduism 

 

(Gita 7:9, 10, 11)

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

The Hindu Divinity

 

The Hindu Divinity is the flame of truth envisioned by humans to be in harmony with the light that shines within. Because individual perceptions of the absolute differ greatly from one another, Hindu philosophy seamlessly conjoins and separates symbols, ideas, stories, and beliefs that pertain to God or to gods. As God is the Creator, the Destroyer, the Preserver as well as invisible, omnipresent, omnipotent, indestructible, and one with us, there is no perception that any divine representation or symbolism whatsoever could be flawed.

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

This excerpt is from On Hinduism, by Irina Gajjar. To learn more about the book or to make a purchase, visit the On Hinduism page.

 

Where Are You Going and What Is in Your Bag?  

 

When I was little, I asked an older lady where she was going. She gave me a look that suggested this was an inappropriate personal question. However, she answered, “I’m going crazy.

I stood somewhat at loss but then she added, “Would you like to come along?”

A few years later, I was climbing a flight of stairs with a neighbor who carried a brown paper bag. I asked what was in the bag and he told me that it was personal. He said I should never ask such a question.

Again I felt bad, but then the gentleman told me that what he had were freshly baked rolls.  To this day I wonder how little we should inquire of our friends and acquaintances.

What do you think?

Read more from Irina Gajjar 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.

Nervousness

Nervousness presents itself as a sense of urgency. At this time the world feels nervous. Everyone is in a hurry and everything is urgent.  It’s all hurry up, even if it winds up as hurry up and wait.

Advertisements rush us. We are told that whatever we do, we have to do it right away. No chance to think things over. No time to enjoy making choices.

Whatever it is that we are pushed into buying, or wish to buy, we are told that it will soon cease to be available. Or else the price will rise. Or we are urged to hurry into buying things as significant as a new car or a new home so as not to waste “a whole day.” We can buy or sell our cars in an instant at a place called “carvana,” suggestive of a nirvana-like caravan. It is all urgent, efficient, joyless and tense. No human interaction required.

No wonder we are feeling increasingly isolated, frenetic, and nervous.

Read more from Irina Gajjar at www.irinaspage.com

 

 

Personal Beliefs

One of the vows in Hindu marriage ceremonies illustrates the importance of freedom of personal belief. Both the bride and the bridegroom encourage one another to develop their personal faith through worship that is free from interference.

The Gita crystallizes Hindu thought but it is too subject to interpretation. It does not require a Hindu to believe anything in particular. Instead, it glorifies goodness and truth and makes references to beliefs that are taken for granted. It addresses human doubts, questions, and fears and inspires physical and spiritual courage. This teaching illustrates the meaning of merging into God, soul, worship, knowledge, good deeds, karma, and reincarnation. It sets forth diverse and sometimes opposing criteria for attaining enlightenment or becoming on with the infinite which, according to Hindu theory, represents ultimate bless.

God is implicit, though debated in Hinduism. He is an idea that cannot be grasped by the human mind, a presumption regarding an absolute, awesome eternal energy worthy of adoration.

God is separate and distinct from the gods of mythology who romp about as did the gods in Greek and Roman myths. God is also separate from His human incarnations. Both in myths and in scripture, Divine Avatars act on behalf of God’s invisible, unfathomable form. Lord Krishna, an Avatar of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver, who is believed to be the source of all other Avatars, explains:

 

I am born from time to time

Whenever the good need my protection.

I am born to destroy the bad and help the good.

(Gita 4:7)

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

Wonder

Everything we read or see or hear is processed through our experience, be it first hand or second hand or even more remote.

What I wonder about the most, are things people have no idea about. We cannot imagine shapes, or thoughts, or ideas that are entirely alien.

All our notions, be they of aliens, beings, creations, machines, natural phenomena, or whatever are permutations and combinations of familiar stuff. They are notions of what is known, and hence, fathomable. They relate to something we have seen, or heard, or touched, or tasted, or felt, or smelled, or inherited, or understood either first hand or via some communication from someone else.

I wonder if there is anything else out there: colors beyond those that exist in our rainbow, or beings that differ from those whose ancestry we have traced, or substances that are beyond our conception. I wonder what else could exist.

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

 

Democracy

 

Churchill is believed to have said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.” Most of us who live in democracies think this is absolutely true. Also, most of us pretty much take our democracies for granted. We think it is a given in our nations and that it will last for the foreseeable future.

We do not realize, that government by the people, of the people and for the people may not endure. We forget that democracy did not last even two centuries in Greece, where it was born and that it is not the order of the world any more than other forms of government. Dictatorships, benevolent and malevolent, oligarchies, communism, imperialism and ebb and flow on our planet.

I am frightened by the fragility of democracy. I worry about the tensions that threaten it. I think the demise of democracy is a scary prospect and I hear alarm bells ringing across the globe and at home.

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

Conflicted

We, the human members of our planet, of our nations and of our communities, are conflicted. On the one hand, we want to belong, to fit in and to share our lives with others. On the other, we want to own our personal space, to stand out and to keep our privacy.

Not only are we conflicted in our interactions, but our natures which resist discipline tempt us with intemperance. For example, we want to have our cake and eat it too. We want to eat a lot without getting fat or feeling stuffed. We want to be couch potatoes and feel fit. We want to party, but not feel exhausted. We want to sleep but also be productive.

Calibration can help us manage our conflicted selves. If we balance our opposing urges by practicing moderation, we can experience greater harmony. But too much moderation is boring and unstimulating. So, I note that everything should be practiced in moderation, even moderation.

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