Saturday, 13 June 2015

Hinduism Is Neither Polytheistic Nor Monotheistic Religion

This is one of the most frequent misconceptions about Hinduism and it is totally false. Hinduism is not, and has never been, polytheistic, meaning the belief in many Gods. In fact, there is no concept of "god" even in Hinduism, in Abrahamic view. Ishwara as stated in Hinduism is not equivalent to god, simply because Ishwara is not an entity different in outside the world, ruling over it! 

The concept of "creation" in Hinduism is not an external creation, rather it is a manifestation of Parabrahman itself. Hence Ishwara or Paramatma is not an entity different from this world, but rather the world itself is a manifestation of Parabrahman.

According to Hindu thought, there is no separation between the Divine and the world of nature. They are the two aspects of the same reality. The cosmic reality is one like the ocean. Nature or the manifest world is like the waves on the surface of the sea. Brahman or the unmanifest Absolute is like the depths of the sea. But it is all water, all the same single ocean.

Ultimately for the Hindu as the Upanishads say, “Everything is Brahman,” Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma. This does not mean that the informed Hindu mindlessly worships the forces of nature on an outer level out of superstition and fear. The Hindu perceives a Divine and sacred presence working behind the forms of nature as their inner spirit, which is the real object of their adoration.

Hinduism has always been pluralistic, meaning many ways to think of and relate to Ishwara. It is the only religion in the world in which a person is not only allowed, but also encouraged, to relate to Ishwara in the way that suits them best, whatever that may be.

This sense of the Divine in all of nature is the reason why Hindus find sacred places everywhere. The Hindus have sacred mountains and hills, sacred rivers and lakes, sacred trees and groves, sacred flowers and grasses. They can honor the Divine not only in the human form but in all the forms of nature. This Hindu devotional attitude is not mere primitive idolatry as the western religions would like to project. It is not a worship of nature externally. It is a recognition of the Divine reality within all things.

Hindus honor all the forms of the Divine but also recognize the formless Divine even beyond the Creator, extending to the Absolute. Vedanta teaches us that this Absolute or Brahman is the being, self and soul of everything animate and inanimate. It says our very Self is the entire universe and the entire universe dwells within us. To honor nature is to honor ourselves. To honor ourselves, one should honor all of nature.
For the Hindus the Earth is sacred as the very manifestation of the Divine Mother. She is Bhumi Devi, the Earth Goddess. One of the reasons that Hindus honor cows is that the cow represents the energies and qualities of the Earth, selfless caring, sharing and the providing of nourishment to all. Hindu prayers are done at the rising of the Sun, at noon and at sunset, honoring the Divine light that comes to us through the Sun. Nature is always included in the Hindu approach. Even the great Hindu Yogis retire into nature to pursue their practices, taking refuge in the Himalayas and other mountains and wilderness areas where there is a more direct contact with the Divine.


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