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Hinduism is the Only Dharma in this multiverse comprising of Science & Quantum Physics.

Josh Schrei helped me understand G-O-D (Generator-Operator-Destroyer) concept of the divine that is so pervasive in the Vedic tradition/experience. Quantum Theology by Diarmuid O'Murchu and Josh Schrei article compliments the spiritual implications of the new physics. Thanks so much Josh Schrei.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Satsang with Sri Swami Tattvavidananda Saraswati- Arsha Vidya Gurukulam

Satsang with Sri Swami Tattvavidananda Saraswati- Arsha Vidya Gurukulam

http://www.avgsatsang.org/hhstvs.html



The Essentials of Hindu Dharma



Question

Swamiji, you are a Hindu monk, I would like to begin by asking you what is Hinduism?



Answer

Hinduism is not a religion in the strict sense of the term. It is more a way of life, what we call a Dharma, rather than a religion. It is a very ancient culture that encompasses in its fold many modes of worship. It amounts to saying that Hinduism includes many religions within its fold. Hinduism is an all-embracing culture with a wonderful catholicity - exceptionally wide-ranging - in its approach and outlook. Therefore, I would like to describe Hinduism as a Dharma, a way of life and a culture rather than as a mere religion.



Question

Swamiji, if it is not a religion, then when did it start? Most of the religions of the world have been started by a personality, isn’t that the case in Hinduism too?



Answer

We say that Hinduism is a Sanātana Dharma. By that we mean it is a way of life since time immemorial, since the hoary past. In the case of a religion that is started by a person, because it is started by a person, such a religion has a date of birth. For example, Buddhism was started by Lord Buddha. Hinduism has no date of birth or it has no beginning as such. All the great saints or incarnations that are worshipped in Hinduism were actually born into this Dharma. They were not the initiators of this Dharma. Therefore, we describe Hinduism as a Sanātana Dharma, and cannot really fix a particular date for its beginning.



Question

Swamiji, is there some basic text, for example, the Bible in Christianity that defines the Hindu religion?



Answer

In Hinduism, we have a galaxy of saints, prophets and incarnations of God. We have also inherited a large collection of books. And thus if I have to name a book which represents the essence of Hinduism, it becomes a daunting task. Despite this difficulty, if I am pressed to point out one and only one book, then I would have to say that the book of the Bhagvad Gita represents the essence of Hinduism.



Question

One of the questions that people have, or a common impression that people have, about Hinduism is that the Hindus worship multiple Gods. In fact, Hindus worship idols. Is there any truth in that?



Answer

To say that in Hinduism many Gods are worshipped is a misconception. Such a statement originates from a wrong understanding of Hindu Dharma. I would not even use the word monotheism - worshipping one God – to describe Hinduism. It is something much more than that. In Hindu Dharma, there are not multiple Gods. One may argue that there is not even one God. The true essence of Hinduism is that there is only the God. Our understanding based on the Vedanta philosophy of Hindu Dharma is that this entire universe is not a special creation of an external God. Furthermore, we do not look at God as someone residing somewhere in heaven, and having created this universe from that vantage position is now controlling it as an outside entity. We do not at all look at it that way. The concept of having many Gods, in my opinion, is rather ridiculous. It is not possible to have many gods. So, there is only one God, and to put it even more



precisely, there is only the God. This entire universe happens to be not a special creation of the God as I mentioned before, but is itself a manifestation of the God. Therefore, I prefer to use the word Godhead, rather than the God. The connotation implicit in the word God is not acceptable to people following the Hindu philosophy. Therefore the Godhead, which is called the Para Brahman, is used to describe the non-dual Existence Absolute which also happens to be limitless Awareness. The Godhead has manifested in the time space framework as the plurality of this entire universe. And therefore, every particle of this universe happens to be the manifestation of that Lord or that Godhead. Once one understands Hinduism in this fashion, one clearly sees the fallacy in the belief that the Hindus worship many gods.



Question

And the idols therefore represent succinctly a symbol of the assimilated truth...



Answer

Yes, you’re right. Many people say that Hindus worship idols. I would like to differ with that kind of a description. We do not worship idols; we worship Īśvara, which is the Godhead. Indeed, we worship the Godhead called Īśvara in our Dharma. The Godhead, Īśvara, has essentially no form. Īśvara is formless, and not limited in time and space. Hence Īśvara can manifest in the framework of time/space as any form and every form. But the human mind being what it is, functions within the framework of space and time. It can therefore relate to forms and names alone. And hence at least in the beginning of religiosity and also spirituality, the human being needs a form to relate to Īśvara. And he can choose any form because there is no superiority of one form over another. Since every form is the manifestation of the formless Lord, the choice is left to the devotee. The devotee can choose any one of the myriad of forms available. He can then worship or relate to Īśvara, he can propitiate the Godhead through that form.



When the devotee offers a flower to an idol, it appears to an outsider that he is offering a flower to a piece of stone. But the devotee has a clear understanding that he is offering a flower to Īśvara. And the idol helps him to gain the Bhagvad ākāra or the particular mind modification, in which the mind is filled with the bhāvana or the devotion to Īśvara. Therefore the form serves a very limited purpose of fixing Īśvara in the mind. Afterwards it is the mind which relates to the Īśvara as it understands Him. Therefore the idol is simply an intermediary step even while one offers flowers to the idol. In reality, nobody worships idols; nobody offers flowers to a piece of stone. The devotee’s offering is to Īśvara,

fixed in his mind as he relates to this particular form presented before him by the idol. In a nutshell, idol is nothing but a symbol of Īśvara. If you allow me to give you an example, a young man in love keeps a passport size photograph of his beloved in his wallet. He smiles when he takes out and looks at the photograph with love and affection. When he relates to that photograph it is clear that he is not relating to a piece of paper but he is relating to his beloved who is brought into his mind by this photograph. An idol serves a similar purpose for the devotee.



Question

Swamiji, you mentioned that the whole universe is the manifestation of the Lord. What about the creation of the universe itself? When did it begin and what is the Hindu view of the creation?



Answer

We have an elaborate time scale corresponding to the creation. In fact, we can provide a specific age for the universe as it is calculated in our almanac. I am glad to say that as described in Hindu almanac and as recited in the Hindu worships, the age of the universe nicely coincides with the age of the universe arrived at by geo-physical considerations and also by using cosmological methodology. The cosmologists study the expansion of the universe, because it is an expanding universe. By backward integration, they arrive at a particular figure for the age of the universe. The Hindu philosophy or the Hindu Dharma looks at this universe and also arrives at a particular age for it. This age coincides with the cosmological age and also the geophysical age. In fact, we have the concept of Kalpa. The Kalpa is one cycle of creation and consists of thousand mahāyugas; and each mahāyuga consists of 4.32 million years. Thus, a Kalpa is 4.32 billion years, while the age of the universe calculated by scientific methods is 4.5 billion years.



Question

So this universe is as old as Kalpa but before the Kalpa, what was there? What is the Hindu view of that?



Answer

You see, before the creation, it was the Being Absolute, which is non-dual and there was no time and space. As this Being Absolute, which is the Godhead, starts manifesting in terms of a time/space framework, there arises this universe of plurality. So before the creation it was the Godhead unmanifest and after the creation it is the same Godhead manifest. That’s all. So it is all one non-dual Godhead either before the creation or after the creation. And the creation is not some special creation in the sense that a non-existing thing comes into existence. The creation is nothing but the manifestation and hence, our view of cosmology and cosmos creation nicely coincides with the modern physics view.



Question

Swamiji, we have been discussing the macro view or the larger picture of the universe and how it relates to the creator. I would like to now shift our attention to a human being and his perspective on life. Let me begin by asking you, from the perspective of a human being what is the goal of life?



Answer

In the Hindu Dharma we clearly understand that every soul, every life form is essentially divine. If you restrict the discussion to a human being, then you can say that every human being is potentially divine. A human being, however, takes himself to be a merely person or a limited being; because he identifies himself with a given personality. But we say that this personality is not the true nature of the human being. It is actually an imposter and the true nature of the human being is Divinity Itself. If that is the case, then the goal of a human life becomes obvious: the goal of the human life is to manifest that Divinity within. A human being who is an animal-man to start with, has to first grow into a normal-man, and then into a spiritual-man or a spiritual-person, man or woman, and finally the person is supposed to grow into the Divinity Itself. And that happens to be the ultimate goal of the human endeavor. We call it the mokùa puruùārtha.



Question

What does one have to do in one’s life to achieve this progress from an animal-human to a human-human and eventually to a divine-human?



Answer

For starters, the person has to live a life of duty consciousness. A human



mind is always driven by intense likes and dislikes. These intense likes and dislikes are the only obstacles in manifesting the true Divinity which is one’s own nature. And therefore, the best way to neutralize these likes and dislikes is to start living a life of what we call Karma Yoga. It’s a life where the entire emphasis is on one’s duties rather than on one’s rights. In fact the Hindu philosophy and the Vedic Dharma happen to be duty based Dharma. So a student or a family person has to continue to live his normal life, without any major shifts in his goal or profession. He need not do anything dramatic. He can continue to live a clean life wherever he is, in whichever profession he is, by carefully disciplining his life and fitting it into a duty based culture and then relate to the Godhead with devotion, I am sure, eventually the human being will be able to neutralize his likes and dislikes and can rise to the Divinity which of course happens to be his true nature in any case.



Question

Swamiji, what is a human being’s future after the death of the body? What

is the Hindu view of life after death and also the Hindu view of the heaven?



Answer

One important hallmark of Hindu dharma is the theory of reincarnation. When a human being comes into life in this world, we do not agree with the view that he has started the life at this point alone and that there was nothing earlier to it. In fact, we say that though it appears that life started at this point from date of birth, there is a history behind this individual. We find such wide variations in the environments in which different individuals take birth. Some individuals are born with a silver spoon in their mouth; some individuals are much less privileged at or after birth. All such variations are accounted for by invoking a history for each individual. So it is really a pilgrim's progress. The birth is not the beginning of a person and death is not the end of the individual. The person is making a journey and this life happens to be just one leg in that journey. After death, if he has led a virtuous life, he goes to other levels of existence called heaven. But in Hindu philosophy, there is no eternal heaven. A person acquires heaven by the dint of his virtuous life and having acquired it, he will stay there for a while enjoying a few things only to return back. Because there is no eternal heaven, because there is no infinite virtue in any jīva, this journey continues till he realizes his own essential Divinity and becomes, thereby, one with the Godhead. Till that point, this journey continues. And so, if he leads a virtuous life, he goes to the heaven and comes back. Otherwise, he has to account for all his actions in every possible way. There is no way of putting an end to everything just by going to heaven.



Question

So would it be correct to say that human beings should reach their Divinity while they are in this body, that they should achieve their own inherent svarūpa, their own inherent nature while living in this life itself?



Answer

Yes. We talk of a heaven and we also say that a human being by virtuous actions can reach the heaven and enjoy a few things there. However, our emphasis is not at all in reaching the heaven for enjoyment. To encourage a person to lead a virtuous life, we talk of a heaven because heaven happens to be an important content of a religious mind. In any case, we emphasize that the heaven is not eternal and also that even by gaining heaven you are not going to gain anything everlasting; you have to come back and start afresh again. And if you have done some wrong actions in this life or in earlier life, you have to account for all those actions. Therefore, despite our description of heaven and its glories, our ultimate emphasis is on an individual’s effort to recognize or manifest his own Divinity - because he happens to be the Divinity. He is not the person which he takes himself to be. He happens to be the Divinity and he should make an effort to manifest that Divinity. The entire emphasis is given on manifesting that Divinity and reaching that exalted state of being one with the Godhead, the origin of this universe.



Question

I would now like to turn to a common human experience of unhappiness and also deep sorrow. One asks the question why it is so and what can one do to alleviate suffering in one’s life?



Answer

Let me tell you that in Hindu philosophy, we look at this issue of human suffering in a very unique and characteristic way. We maintain that a person suffers not because of external situations or circumstances, not because of something other people have done or not done to him but because of his own wrong understanding of himself and of the world. In a nutshell, human sorrow is directly caused by human ignorance. Ignorance is the cause of the sorrow. If this premise is accepted, from that acceptance and from that understanding, a process of growth for the individual begins to take place. The individual begins to examine and enquire into his ideas of himself, and of the world and also of the Godhead. A seeker, who clearly understands that his suffering has its origin in ignorance, makes an enquiry into his long-held ideas and then starts to revise his ideas. After all, a man is what his ideas are. It is our false understanding that makes us suffer and the right understanding liberates us from suffering. Therefore, we put a lot of emphasis on the fact that a proper understanding will put an end to all the sufferings in one’s life.



Question



Swamiji, we have a few minutes left in our program and I would like to have you give some advice to the viewing audience on if there is one thing that they could do to follow some of the teachings of the Hindu thought, what would that be?



Answer

If I have to give only one advice, I will say as follows: in Hindu Dharma, we have a text called the Bhagvad Gītā. It is a relatively small text having some 700 verses. And if we subtract the contextual verses which amount to 50 or 60, you are left with some 650 verses which talk of the human nature, the human goals and various disciplines that one may pursue to manifest his inner nature. Thus the entire philosophy of human life is presented in these 650 verses. If anybody thinks that the Bhagvad Gītā is a religious text, I submit that it is not so. It is not even a text that is limited to Hindu Dharma. It transcends all the limitations of time or geography or history. I sincerely believe that it is the greatest psychological treatise that is ever written in human history. It can help anybody irrespective of his creed, cast, religion or nationality. So every human being should benefit by studying the Bhagvad Gītā. In fact, many western scholars have studied the Gītā. In America, Emerson, known as the sage of Concord, studied the Gītā and benefited from it. In Britain, Thomas Carlyle was a great scholar who studied the Gītā and expressed his appreciation. I sincerely feel that every human being, every intelligent person should study the Gītā and benefit from it.



_______________________________________________________________________________

This transcript is based on Swami Tattvavidanandaji’s TV interview in California with Mr. Vijay

Kapoor. Transcribed and edited by Mohan Bhujle.



http://www.avgsatsang.org/hhstvs.html

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