Are We Really Seeing the Truth?

Many of us want answers to questions of our existence, the reality of God, eternity, the soul, the meaning of truth and other such matters.

On the other hand, most of us know or realize that these answers are not available to our human minds. Still we persist in our quest. I think we do this to a large extent because the exercise is mentally fun. Most of us who pursue such truths intellectually are not really prepared for revelations that evade or defy the limits of our understanding.

Lord Buddha taught that we should not worry about understanding that which is beyond our grasp, but should focus instead on virtuous behavior and our karma. Early Buddhism did not consider God at all, but later Buddhist could not manage without a deity and decided that Lord Buddha embodied God Himself.

See On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar

Dharma

The idea of dharma is a central belief of Hinduism. Its meaning cannot be easily described or translated. Like karma, it is a fundamental concept.

The essence of Dharma is duty, but it is more. It is a universal principle as well as a personal principle. Hindu scripture says:

Dharma is truth.

It is said that

one who speaks truth

speaks dharma

and one who speaks dharma

speaks truth.

Bhridaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.14

Dharma embraces family life, social life and spiritual life. It is the guideline known as Sanatana Dharma meaning Eternal Law or Eternal Order which actually defines Hinduism.

See On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar.

God and Karma 

Different Hindus perceive the relationship between God and karma in different ways. Some go so 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.

Yet other individuals and Hindu schools of thought, more conventionally, see God as the dispenser of karma, which He tempers with divine mercy. Whatever their particular viewpoint, Hindu philosophers and laymen generally agree with the notion 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, tend to consider the idea of karma a plausible guideline for ethical living.

From On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar, Chapter One, Hindus and Hinduism; also available for purchase on Amazon.

Lord Krishna’s Divine Birth 

In the Gita, Lord Krishna tells us He is born from time to time to protect goodness and destroy evil. He says:

You and I have passed through many births. 

I know them all but you do not remember. 

I am born from time to time 

whenever the good need my protection. 

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

My birth is divine and those who understand 

this become part of Me 

and do not have to be born again. 

Gita: 4:5; 6; 7 

Human beings envision God in a form like ours. Thus we say that He created us like Him or now some of us consider perhaps like Her. At the same time we cannot imagine the Lord being conceived and born in the same fashion as we were.

In my view, the fact that so many of us not only imagine but also believe in miraculous birth validate our notion and make it true. The real question is what does truth mean?

For some answers, see The Gita, A New Translation of Hindu Sacred Scripture, and On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar.

Divided 

People of the world have been united and divided for as long as we can remember. City states warred for territory. Religious loyalists sought to impose their beliefs through both kindness and viciousness. Social groups fought to promote their values and to protect their status. Immigrants and emigrants crossed mountains, oceans ,and deserts going to seek fortunes or to escape from natural and man made disasters.

Thus, we organized ourselves into groups that collided with other groups. We identified with those who resemble or reflect ourselves and rejected those who differed in appearance, or belief, or custom. We forged alliances and fought enemies with different peoples at different times. Such behavior seems inherent to our humanity.

Many of us continue to force our beliefs, methodologies, and customs on others, believing them to be more truthful or superior. Of course we cannot impose our appearance on others except by blending our races over time. Our attitudes about racial mixing, though, are fraught with prejudice, attraction and other factors that are not totally clear even to ourselves.

Still, some of us resist and “otherizing” people who differ from ourselves. We try to appreciate at least some differences.

Today we are most focused on a political divide which encompasses all the other divides: racial, economic, social and cultural. We are most divided in our notion of unity. How should we govern ourselves and be governed? How should we behave publicly? Should we be polite or honest? What does civility mandate?

What is our responsibility to our fellow man, to our world and to future generations? Can we do or be me better? Can we achieve a more peaceful world? How much of our behavior is determined by our history and our destiny?

What do your think?

For some historical and philosophical insight consider the story of the great Mahabharata War which pitted families and friends against one another. See an analysis on pages 80-86 in On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar.

Vedic Worlds: Bhuloka

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Vedic scriptures speak of fourteen worlds. Seven of the worlds exist on three higher planes: Bhuloka, the first world or the earthly plane; Antarloka, the second world or the subtle, astral plane; and Brahmaloka, the third world or the causal plane of God. These three planes can also be viewed as dimensions.

Bhuloka is the dense outermost dimension of being and consciousness. It is the physical world perceived by the senses. Antarloka is the intermediate dimension, the sphere of gods and higher beings, that exists in between the earthly plane and God’s plane. It is a subtle, astral dimension of consciousness. Brahmaloka belongs to Lord Brahma, the Creator. It is both the highest and the innermost dimension. It is pure spirit. Brahmaloka is also known as Karanaloka, the causal plane or as Sivaloka, the plane of Lord Siva the Destroyer who, through destruction, causes a new cycle of creation. To reach this plane is to become entirely absorbed or dissolved in the Divine Spirit and to merge into or become One with the eternal God. To enter Brahmaloka is to end the cycle of birth and death.

Learn more about the Vedic Scriptures in On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar.

 

A Skeptic’s Critique of On Hinduism  

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In his introduction to On Hinduism, Ravi Heugle writes, “The establishment of a unified blueprint of life by science will exile the soul and the assumption of the existence of the soul will prove itself to be invalid. Thereafter, the soul will solely serve as a potent synonym for human identity.”

The merit of this opinion depends on how we define “soul.” In Sanskrit, the language of Hindu scripture, the word closest to “soul” is “atman” which means spirit, individual soul and the self or Self. The Self with a capital S implies identification with the divine spirit though ancient schools of Hindu Philosophy hold divergent views about unity between human spirit and a greater divine spirit.

Regardless, mainstream Hinduism considers our soul as our individuality, the part of us that in transmigration embodies the effects of our karma which preceded our birth and will succeed our death.

The real question is whether there is any eternity for individuals. Perhaps our ancestors and heirs represent the totality of our karma and thereby our souls. If that is all, it should be more than enough.

See On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar, “A Skeptic’s Perspective.

Other Worlds in the Universe and Within

 

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The earliest Hindu references to reincarnation describe journeys to other worlds or realms known as lokas. These worlds represent astral planes to which souls can travel outside of the body after death or when the body attains different levels of consciousness. At the same time, these worlds are viewed as regions in the universe. Thus, Vedic cosmology sees a singularity or oneness in the universe that is reflected in our consciousness. The universe exists beyond us and within us at the same time. It is a multidimensional and a multitemporal cosmos. Souls migrate from one world to another and fro one body to another until, after many lifetimes they yearn to become free.

–From Chapter 6, Karma and Reincarnation, of Irina Gajjar’s book, On Hinduism 

Karma and Reincarnation

Reincarnation2

Karma and Reincarnation are not really theories in Eastern religions. Rather they are premises that have evolved over time and continue evolving. These notions do not depend upon one another, but rather complement one another to provide answers to questions pertaining to the human condition. To understand this better, see Chapter Six of On Hinduism by Irina Gajjar.

Dharma

DHARMA

Dharma may be described as a religious path. It encompasses the idea of a universal and a personal principle which is is a lodestar for Hindus, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs. According to Vedic scripture, dharma means truth:

 

Dharma is truth.
It is said that one who speaks truth speaks dharma
and one who speaks dharma speaks truth.

Bhridaranyaka Upanishad I.4.14

see On Hinduism, Chapter Eight, Darma

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