Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

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No_Mind
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Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by No_Mind »

SarathW wrote:Isn't HInduism have many Gods?
http://dharmapaths.com/viewtopic.php?f=15&p=863#p856
Classic question.

Short answer -- No.

Long answer -- Hinduism believes in only one God. But it allows the devotee to morph the form they believe in.

Take for example the number five -- in English we write it as 5, in Roman numerals we write is as V, in Chinese as 五, in Thai as ๕, in Bengali as ৫ and so on.

Is that the same number five in different scripts -- yes. Do different people conceive of the number five in a different visual manner -- yes. Does that change number five -- no.

Now you can understand Hindu idea of one God. All the different Gods that you see are different forms of the same God (same number five, same God -- keep this analogy in mind when reading about Hinduism).

You may ask which God do I mean when I say same God. I mean Ishvara. Godhead without any attributes is Brahman. But ordinary humans cannot conceive of such a God. We need something visible. Ishvara is God with attributes -- such as Shiva, Durga, Vishnu (each is representation of the same Divine but with a different attribute). Clay on bank of a river is Brahman. When that clay is formed into an earthen cup by the potter (devotee in this case) it becomes Ishvara.

You can make a cup, a pot, a plate from clay. In same way to different Hindus, Ishvara has a different form.

Shaivas worship Lord Shiva, Shaktas worship Goddess Durga/Kali, Vaishnavs worship Lord Vishnu (usually as Krishna). But a Shaiva would not deny existence of Durga or Vishnu (there is a fourth form called Smartism which worships five deities, all treated as equal – Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesha, Surya and Devi or Shakti). The four divisions do not claim they are exclusive. On the contrary they are deeply inclusive of each other. Hinduism is thus henotheism (actually combination of monotheism and henotheism).

In practice the deep respect the different sects had for each other became kathenotheism -- someone worshipping different aspects of God through different depictions at different times (but keeping in mind that Divine is one). Like writing 55 as 五৫.

Why would that be necessary -- in everyday life I am austere and wish to be like a yogi so I worship Shiva (the ascetic face of Ishvara). When I have to defeat someone, I worship Durga (the warrior face of Ishvara). When I wish to be kind, I worship Krishna (the benevolent face of Ishvara). But Hindus never ever forget they are all the same; they are all human concepts of what they want Brahman to represent at that moment.

What is confusing to non-Hindus is that Hindus of various sects may call the Divine by different names, according to their denomination or regional tradition. Some prefer to worship Durga as Kali or worship Shiva as Pashupati or Vishnu as Venkateswara (in all there are probably few dozen principal variations and number of local variations run into thousands).

There is no restriction in Hinduism if you want to create your own depiction of God. You may decide [{(||)}] is your depiction of Ishvara and you may write your own mantras in whichever language you wish and pray or meditate using that. Not a problem at all. You may choose not to believe in Ishvara. That is also not a problem.

Few points are to be noted --

1 ) Hindu religious images are basically icons. Even Christians cannot do without icons. Ask a devout Christian to read the Bible but not to let the image of Jesus on Cross enter his mind. He will not be able to do it. Human mind needs icons. I do not know any religion that does not have icons. All religions claim they do not have an icon; but at end of the day they all have icons. If nothing else they use their scriptures or site of pilgrimage as icon (e.g Western Wall for those who follow Judaism). It is just that Hinduism makes no bones about it and says it out aloud and proudly.

2 ) If Buddha saw that he was being worshipped as God in 1,001 Thai and Tibetan temples he would have cried and probably torn up the Pali Canon. At end of the day, Buddha for all his antipathy towards any notion of personal God became the personal God to 99.99% of lay Buddhists. Does pure Buddhism exist anywhere except in the West?

In this respect Hindus of yore were much more worldly wise than Buddha. They developed a layered religion. The common man will worship a religious image. The wise man will try and understand concept of Brahman by reading Upanishads or simply by being contemplative, spiritual and philosophical . The wisest will understand that meditation on Brahman is nothing other than self inquiry.

:namaste:
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johnny dangerous
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by johnny dangerous »

2 ) If Buddha saw that he was being worshipped as God in 1,001 Thai and Tibetan temples he would have cried and probably torn up the Pali Canon. At end of the day, Buddha for all his antipathy towards any notion of personal God became the personal God to 99.99% of lay Buddhists. Does pure Buddhism exist anywhere except in the West?


I really think if you want to make statements like that, you ought to qualify them with some kind of explanation. Coming from the Tibetan traditions myself, what you have said here is not true as far as I'm concerned, and merely shows a deep misunderstanding of those traditions.
No_Mind
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by No_Mind »

johnny dangerous wrote:
2 ) If Buddha saw that he was being worshipped as God in 1,001 Thai and Tibetan temples he would have cried and probably torn up the Pali Canon. At end of the day, Buddha for all his antipathy towards any notion of personal God became the personal God to 99.99% of lay Buddhists. Does pure Buddhism exist anywhere except in the West?


I really think if you want to make statements like that, you ought to qualify them with some kind of explanation. Coming from the Tibetan traditions myself, what you have said here is not true as far as I'm concerned, and merely shows a deep misunderstanding of those traditions.
I did not say monks worship Buddha as a God. I wrote 99.99% lay Buddhists worship him as a God (here the word lay Buddhist means those who have no knowledge of suttas or sutras. I do not include converts to Buddhism who have taken time to learn about the Buddhist religion and philosophy such as you or me as perfect examples of lay Buddhists. We are not like typical Thai or Tibetan lay Buddhist).

Will my personal experience be good enough as an explanation?

Rumtek Monastery, the home of Karmapa Lama is I believe the third most important Mahayana monastery outside Tibet. It is in Sikkim, India. I guess that makes it as important a home of Tibetan Buddhism as any. Why are food offerings made to Buddha there -- chocolate pastry? That is worship as a God is it not. And it is a direct rub off from Hinduism where food offering is made to presiding deity of a temple.

Tibetans pray to Buddha as others pray to a God (always speaking of lay Buddhists). Lay Buddhists look upon Buddha as a God in Thailand. They pray to Buddha. They seek his blessings. How is that not making Buddha into an anthropomorphic personal God in same way as Christ or Shiva?

I have not visited Dharamsala but I have been told it is same there (among lay Buddhists).

A full fledged Theravadin monk in Calcutta (no less than abbot of a tiny monastery) kept addressing Buddha as Bhagwan Buddha when I used to visit him. One day I pointed out to him Bhagwan is a word from Hindu religion and synonym of Ishvara. He said -- Buddha is Bhagwan is it not? I was stunned.

Do you think if Ananda had asked Buddha "Sir, when you have passed away, can we build massive temples and offer your statue food?" he would have been very pleased? This deification was everything that Buddha had fought against.

I am an ardent student of Buddha. He is one of the wisest men to have ever lived and he gave us philosophical teachings that are near unparalleled in wisdom. And that is why I grieve what Buddhism in Asia has become.
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AlexMcLeod
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by AlexMcLeod »

No_Mind wrote:Why are food offerings made to Buddha there -- chocolate pastry? That is worship as a God is it not. And it is a direct rub off from Hinduism where food offering is made to presiding deity of a temple.
I'm not sure why chocolate pastry, but I thought food offerings had symbolic meaning. Just as offerings of light of a candle, incense, flowers, and fruit are all symbols for qualities the person may wish to develop.
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No_Mind
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by No_Mind »

AlexMcLeod wrote:
No_Mind wrote:Why are food offerings made to Buddha there -- chocolate pastry? That is worship as a God is it not. And it is a direct rub off from Hinduism where food offering is made to presiding deity of a temple.
I'm not sure why chocolate pastry, but I thought food offerings had symbolic meaning. Just as offerings of light of a candle, incense, flowers, and fruit are all symbols for qualities the person may wish to develop.
I am also not sure why pastry. But it clearly demonstrates what I want to say -- lay Buddhists look upon Buddha as a God. Same as Christ is to Christians. They cannot understand the intricate philosophy that prevents Buddha from being Christ. Being simple human beings they can only understand worship and offerings.

Let me rephrase a line from my last answer --

Do you think if Ananda had asked Buddha "Sir, when you have passed away, can we build massive temples and offer your statue incense, flower, candle?" he would have been very pleased? This deification was everything that Buddha had fought against.

Symbolic offering is the one thing that cannot be done in Buddhism. It goes against the very DNA of his teachings. Symbolic offering was stuff of the Vedas, and it was what Buddha rebelled against. Vedic rituals comprises of one symbolic offering after another -- an anathema to Buddha.

He wanted us to know the truth not offer him candles. He said "Atta Deep Bhava" Be thy own light. What can be more beautiful or sublime and what can be a stronger pointer that he was not to be worshipped in any way.
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No_Mind
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by No_Mind »

Here is what Venerable Subharo wrote in Dhamma Wheel Should we offer food to Buddha?
I've mentally struggled a long time to try to understand the Buddha Puja as being something other than completely daft.
and
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against reverencing the Buddha, in whatever way the Buddha actually told us to. It's just that I do not particularly dig Hindu-style rituals which, when taken at face value, seem to strongly imply that the Buddha must still be up there somewhere, looking down upon us from the heaven called "Nibbana", where he finds it pleasing, and is appeased, whenever we make sacrificial offerings of food to him.
That is exactly my point.
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Nicholas
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by Nicholas »

Worship or devotion helps to purify, focus and uplift and Buddha encouraged devotion to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Can this devotion be felt and expressed with little or no ritual, yes - must it be done that way - no.

Even when Buddha was alive he accepted without tears or protest the traditional verbal praises and physical prostrations made to him. For some disciples he warned against attachment to his visible form, but for many followers he left them to 'work out their salvation with diligence' however that may be.
Truth is against the stream of common thought, deep, subtle, difficult, delicate, unseen by passion’s slaves cloaked in the murk of ignorance. Vipassī Buddha
johnny dangerous
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by johnny dangerous »

No_Mind wrote:
I am also not sure why pastry. But it clearly demonstrates what I want to say -- lay Buddhists look upon Buddha as a God. Same as Christ is to Christians. They cannot understand the intricate philosophy that prevents Buddha from being Christ. Being simple human beings they can only understand worship and offerings.
If that's true, what's wrong with it? Also, emulation of the Buddha and making offerings is very different from most Christian ways of viewing Christ because the Buddha is not Christ and Buddhism (even in its "folk" forms) is not Christianity. For example, the Buddha can never be omnipotent.

Offerings are done to generate merit, not in a 'tit for tat' way. Also many offerings are not just to Buddhas, but ultimately to the meritorious activity of all sentient beings.

Do you think if Ananda had asked Buddha "Sir, when you have passed away, can we build massive temples and offer your statue incense, flower, candle?" he would have been very pleased? This deification was everything that Buddha had fought against.
The Buddha said lots of different things in lots of different places, to lots of different people. There are Mahayana scriptures involving these things, as well as Buddhanusati in the Pali Canon. Do you know any of these lay people who you are putting down? Have you ever asked them how they view offerings?
Symbolic offering is the one thing that cannot be done in Buddhism. It goes against the very DNA of his teachings. Symbolic offering was stuff of the Vedas, and it was what Buddha rebelled against. Vedic rituals comprises of one symbolic offering after another -- an anathema to Buddha.
This completely misunderstands Buddhist ritual, which does not revolve around the Vedic idea of ritual purity, but accumulation of merit,...which of course is in no way exclusively produced by ritual.
He wanted us to know the truth not offer him candles. He said "Atta Deep Bhava" Be thy own light. What can be more beautiful or sublime and what can be a stronger pointer that he was not to be worshipped in any way.
He also taught recollection of the Buddha as a part of the path - Buddhanusati, in the Pali Canon, reverence of the Triple Gem, various things in various Mahayana scriptures etc.

I think your attitude is basically protestant, and makes some very colonialist assumptions about lay Buddhists. I also think you have no real understanding of Buddhist ritual.
No_Mind wrote:Here is what Venerable Subharo wrote in Dhamma Wheel Should we offer food to Buddha?
I've mentally struggled a long time to try to understand the Buddha Puja as being something other than completely daft.
and
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against reverencing the Buddha, in whatever way the Buddha actually told us to. It's just that I do not particularly dig Hindu-style rituals which, when taken at face value, seem to strongly imply that the Buddha must still be up there somewhere, looking down upon us from the heaven called "Nibbana", where he finds it pleasing, and is appeased, whenever we make sacrificial offerings of food to him.
That is exactly my point.
That is but one point of view from a "original Buddhism" type Theravadin, and utterly unconvincing to plenty of other people. Again blessings of, and reasoning behind Buddhanusati are mentioned in the Pali Canon.
Rumtek Monastery, the home of Karmapa Lama is I believe the third most important Mahayana monastery outside Tibet. It is in Sikkim, India. I guess that makes it as important a home of Tibetan Buddhism as any. Why are food offerings made to Buddha there -- chocolate pastry? That is worship as a God is it not. And it is a direct rub off from Hinduism where food offering is made to presiding deity of a temple.
No, it's not worshiping a god. If anything it's closer to hero worship ;)

What is your experience within Tibetan Buddhism?

Offering to Buddhas and teachers has a very long history in Mahayana and actually a fairly deep meaning, you can check the Aspiration of Samantabhadra prayer I posted in another section for an example of this. Of course there are aspects of it that resemble Hindu worship, but the meaning is quite different.

Do you have any actual contact with Tibetan Buddhist, or Thai teachers or traditions, or are you just speculating based on things you've read?

I actually know a few lay Tibetans, while some of their worldview might be quite out there to your average materialist/atheist westerner, or protestant-leaning Bu8ddhist, their philosophy and viewpoint is very different from what you are pigeonholing them as. All this convinces me of is that you probably don't have much experience with actual lay Tibetan practitioners, let alone teachers.

You could literally have dispelled at least part of your issues with a simple Google search:

http://www.kagyu.org/kagyulineage/buddh ... /bec05.php

Straight from the seat of the Karmapa.

Maybe you don't get it, that's fine, but even a quick glance shows that the offerings you are complaining about mean something different to the practitioners than you claim.

Now, do some Buddhists mindlessly try to accrue merit and make mindless offerings?

Sure, I'm sure some do, in fact it's even addressed int he above article.. but that certainly isn't what is taught in the traditions.
AlexMcLeod
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by AlexMcLeod »

I think it's closer to the Eastern attitude towards teachers in general. I know in Kung Fu circles, it is customary for the students to serve the Master and his inner chamber disciples. Things like offering food, tea, cleaning the kwoon, etc. One is also expected to bow to the teacher, both in greeting and leaving. These are not seen as acts of worship, but as correct attitude towards one's teacher. They are also very similar to the type of offerings given to Buddha.
There is no Emotion, there is Peace;
There is no Ignorance, there is Knowledge;
There is no Passion, there is Serenity;
There is no Death, there is the Force.
No_Mind
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by No_Mind »

johnny dangerous wrote:
No_Mind wrote:
I am also not sure why pastry. But it clearly demonstrates what I want to say -- lay Buddhists look upon Buddha as a God. Same as Christ is to Christians. They cannot understand the intricate philosophy that prevents Buddha from being Christ. Being simple human beings they can only understand worship and offerings.
If that's true, what's wrong with it? Also, emulation of the Buddha and making offerings is very different from most Christian ways of viewing Christ because the Buddha is not Christ and Buddhism (even in its "folk" forms) is not Christianity. For example, the Buddha can never be omnipotent.
Are you saying if lay Buddhists look upon Buddha as a God what is wrong with it?
johnny dangerous wrote:Now, do some Buddhists mindlessly try to accrue merit and make mindless offerings?

Sure, I'm sure some do, in fact it's even addressed int he above article.. but that certainly isn't what is taught in the traditions.
So at end of the day it boils down to this .. I am saying most and you are saying some. There is no difference of opinion in our views only a difference of degree.

I can live with that. That amount of variation will happen in any debate.
johnny dangerous wrote:I actually know a few lay Tibetans, while some of their worldview might be quite out there to your average materialist/atheist westerner, or protestant-leaning Buddhist, their philosophy and viewpoint is very different from what you are pigeonholing them as. All this convinces me of is that you probably don't have much experience with actual lay Tibetan practitioners, let alone teachers.
I am not a westerner. I am an Indian and live in Calcutta. But I have to accept I am extremely westernized and influenced by western culture and thoughts. I was born a Hindu (though in an irreligious family). I studied Hinduism but it could not give me complete answers (since it is not a well consolidated religion). Some thing was missing.

Three years ago I stumbled upon Theravada quite by accident. The teachings of Pali Canon have since then cleared up a lot of my questions. I identify myself as a Hindu Buddhist. I find Hinduism and Buddhism complement each other (not speaking of liturgy and rituals but the philosophy).

I would like to add one point. Buddha had made his dislike of prayer quite clear in Ittha Sutta (one of my favorites) "Oh Anathpindika -- long life, beauty, happiness, status, rebirth if all these could be achieved by prayers (to Vedic Gods presumably) who here would be without them"

At the cost of pigeonholing people -- I do not believe that ordinary Tibetans and Thais do not take Buddha as an anthropomorphic personal God since every ritual they have is an adaptation of something from Vedic traditions which Buddha so disliked.

We agree to disagree. I would recant only if you could show me an early Buddhist text from Pali Canon where Buddha stated he was willing to have Puja (worship) done to him after parinibbana. Mahayana texts are not acceptable since they do not date back to time of Buddha. They were composed centuries after Buddha died.

If Buddha died in around 450 BCE (mid point of conjectured dates) then earliest Mahayana texts do not appear till about 500 years after he died. So most probably any Mahayana text you refer to appeared approximately half a millenium after death of Buddha.

That is more than adequate time to water down the original teachings and introduce aspects of Hinduism to make the religion more palatable to ordinary folks.


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Last edited by No_Mind on Sat Jul 09, 2016 3:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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AlexMcLeod
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by AlexMcLeod »

No_Mind wrote: At the cost of pigeonholing people -- I do not believe that ordinary Tibetans and Thais do not take Buddha as an anthropomorphic personal God since every ritual they have is an adaptation of something from Vedic traditions which Buddha so disliked.

We agree to disagree. I would recant only if you could show me an early Buddhist text from Pali Canon where Buddha stated he was willing to have "Puja" done to him. Mahayana texts are not acceptable since they do not date back to time of Buddha. They were composed centuries after Buddha died.

If Buddha died in around 450 BCE (mid point of conjectured dates) then earliest Mahayana texts do not appear till about 500 years after he died. So most probably any Mahayana text you refer to appeared approximately half a millenium after death of Buddha.

That is more than adequate time to water down the original teachings and introduce aspects of Hinduism to make the religion more palatable to ordinary folks.
This is why you should rely on the skills passed down from Master to student that have given the desired results. The book learning is useful only in understanding the philosophy behind the practices and skills.
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No_Mind
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by No_Mind »

johnny dangerous wrote: You could literally have dispelled at least part of your issues with a simple Google search:

http://www.kagyu.org/kagyulineage/buddh ... /bec05.php

Straight from the seat of the Karmapa.

Maybe you don't get it, that's fine, but even a quick glance shows that the offerings you are complaining about mean something different to the practitioners than you claim.
From the site you quoted above --
It is important that one knows the purpose and symbolism of these offerings, and that whether one is able to offer one single bowl or many, one realizes that the importance lies in the attitude with which one makes the offering to the enlightened objects of the refuge, the sources of all inspiration. Offering is an occasion for the accumulation of inexhaustible merit.

http://www.kagyu.org/kagyulineage/buddh ... /bec05.php
I am absolutely unable to see any daylight between offering of food to a statue of Buddha and Shiva. Maybe I have stunted intellectual development due to being a Theravadin.

But this is a Hindu tradition adopted into Buddhism. Hindus offer food, flowers, incense, light for merit, Buddhists offer food, flower, incense, light for merit. What is the difference?

Hindus add one more line -- it will please "..." (insert name of God being worshipped) and you will make merit, Buddhists say -- you will make merit.

Hindus are doing it at least from 2000 BCE (it was not called Hinduism then). Very clearly Hindus started the tradition and Buddhists adopted it after Buddha died.
The more sincerely offerings are made, the more one will find themselves surrounded by an abundance of what has been offered.
http://www.kagyu.org/kagyulineage/buddh ... /bec05.php
That is straight out of the Bible, Luke 6:38 -- "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."

It is not Buddhism in any way, shape or form.
johnny dangerous wrote:
The Buddha said lots of different things in lots of different places, to lots of different people. There are Mahayana scriptures involving these things, as well as Buddhanusati in the Pali Canon. Do you know any of these lay people who you are putting down? Have you ever asked them how they view offerings?
..........

That is but one point of view from a "original Buddhism" type Theravadin, and utterly unconvincing to plenty of other people. Again blessings of, and reasoning behind Buddhanusati are mentioned in the Pali Canon.
Buddhanusati does not include offering food. Buddhanusati is recollection and contemplation of Buddha.
It is the focused recollection of the Buddha and his qualities ..

How does one begin to practise Buddhanusati? Sit before a Buddha image you find inspiring. Make sure it is placed a little higher than your eye-level, so that you have to look up to see it. Light candles and incense, bow three times,take your refuge in the Three Jewels and close your eyes. Use the likeness of the image as a point of departure to try and flesh out an image of the real Buddha as he might have looked sitting under a tree in the old days. Throughout the exercise, whenever the visualization becomes weak or the mind wanders, open the eyes and refresh the imagination with the image on the altar.
http://www.arrowriver.ca/dhamma/budhsati.html
At no point is food mentioned. Incense, flower I can live with but not food.
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Spiny Norman
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

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No_Mind wrote:There is no restriction in Hinduism if you want to create your own depiction of God. You may decide [{(||)}] is your depiction of Ishvara and you may write your own mantras in whichever language you wish and pray or meditate using that. Not a problem at all. You may choose not to believe in Ishvara. That is also not a problem.
I do rather like that about Hinduism, the built-in plurality.
SarathW
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by SarathW »

For me it does not make any sense.
Say I may worship a tree in my garden thinking it is God.
What just worship going to do to a person.

By the way is there a authority or guide line that all Hindus should follow. ( such as bible, Koran, or Pali Cannon etc)
No_Mind
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by No_Mind »

SarathW wrote:For me it does not make any sense.
Say I may worship a tree in my garden thinking it is God.
The tree is a living being. It cannot be worshipped as God since it may suddenly be uprooted in a storm.

(That being said peepal, banyan, bel trees have a special place in Hinduism. Buddha had attained enlightenment under peepal tree and Krishna had died under it. So it has a sacred connotation. Same with the other trees especially bel which is related to Shiva. Not that they are worshipped but they are called sacred trees)

Read what I wrote in OP carefully -- There is no restriction in Hinduism if you want to create your own depiction of God. So if you wish to say "to me God looks like a huge tree", by all means go ahead, create an idol and worship it. It is your idea of God; why must you have to explain to other people why to you God looks like a tree.

But .. there is always a but .. you cannot proselytize your views (spread it as a distinct branch of Hinduism). You are fully free to follow your own path and build your own temple on private land if you wish. Public worship can only be of Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesha, and Durga or their morphed forms like Krishna, Venkateswara, Kali, Jagadhatri and so on.
SarathW wrote:What just worship going to do to a person.
Read the last three sentences of OP.
The common man will worship a religious image. The wise man will try and understand concept of Brahman by reading Upanishads or simply by being contemplative, spiritual and philosophical . The wisest will understand that meditation on Brahman is nothing other than self inquiry.
In Hinduism there are 4 paths to liberation - 4 Yogas or paths. They are independent of one another and appropriate for different types of people, according to their inclinations.
Bhakti Yoga: Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion, emotion, love, compassion, and service to God and others. All actions are done in the context of remembering the Divine.

Jnana Yoga: Jnana Yoga is the path of knowledge, wisdom, introspection and contemplation. It involves deep exploration of the nature our being by systematically exploring and setting aside false identities.

Karma Yoga: Karma Yoga is the path of action, service to others, mindfulness, and remembering the levels of our being while fulfilling our actions or karma in the world.

Raja Yoga: Raja Yoga is a comprehensive method that emphasizes meditation, while encompassing the whole of Yoga. It directly deals with the encountering and transcending thoughts of the mind.

http://www.swamij.com/four-paths-of-yoga.htm
So according to Hinduism worship or Bhakti Yoga can bring you liberation if you are devoted enough.
SarathW wrote:By the way is there a authority or guide line that all Hindus should follow. ( such as bible, Koran, or Pali Cannon etc)
Vedas, Upanishads, Gita, Puranas and treatises from different schools. In all about the same size as Pali Canon.

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Spiny Norman
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by Spiny Norman »

No_Mind wrote: Bhakti Yoga: Bhakti Yoga is the path of devotion, emotion, love, compassion, and service to God and others. All actions are done in the context of remembering the Divine.

Jnana Yoga: Jnana Yoga is the path of knowledge, wisdom, introspection and contemplation. It involves deep exploration of the nature our being by systematically exploring and setting aside false identities.

Karma Yoga: Karma Yoga is the path of action, service to others, mindfulness, and remembering the levels of our being while fulfilling our actions or karma in the world.

Raja Yoga: Raja Yoga is a comprehensive method that emphasizes meditation, while encompassing the whole of Yoga. It directly deals with the encountering and transcending thoughts of the mind.
Could you say something about the practical differences between Jnana Yoga and Raja Yoga? They sound quite similar. Would Raja Yoga be included in Jnana Yoga?
No_Mind
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Re: Isn't Hinduism Many Gods?

Post by No_Mind »

Rick O'Shez wrote: Could you say something about the practical differences between Jnana Yoga and Raja Yoga? They sound quite similar. Would Raja Yoga be included in Jnana Yoga?
I can only copy -paste because most of these words have come to exist as spiritual jargons in modern times with no real examples to observe and understand.
Jnana Yoga

This is the most difficult path, requiring tremendous strength of will and intellect. Taking the philosophy of Vedanta the Jnana Yogi uses his mind to inquire into its own nature. We perceive the space inside and outside a glass as different, just as we see ourselves as separate from God. Jnana Yoga leads the devotee to experience his unity with God directly by breaking the glass, dissolving the veils of ignorance. Before practicing Jnana Yoga, the aspirant needs to have integrated the lessons of the other yogic paths - for without selflessness and love of God, strength of body and mind, the search for self-realization can become mere idle speculation.

http://www.sivananda.org/teachings/fourpaths.html#jnana
Raja Yoga

Often called the "royal road" it offers a comprehensive method for controlling the waves of thought by turning our mental and physical energy into spiritual energy. Raja Yoga is also called Ashtanga Yoga referring to the eight limbs leading to absolute mental control. The chief practice of Raja Yoga is meditation. It also includes all other methods which helps one to control body, energy, senses and mind. The Hatha-Yogi uses relaxation and other practices such as Yamas, Niyamas, Mudras, Bandhas etc.. to gain control of the physical body and the subtle life force called Prana. When body and energy are under control meditation comes naturally.

http://www.sivananda.org/teachings/fourpaths.html#raja
As far as I understand a Jnana Yogi would have sufficient knowledge of Upanishads, Gita and Vedanta (the principal theoretical treatises in Hinduism). He would master his body and mind by Raja Yoga and have sufficient amount of devotion (Bhakti) but reach his goal by intellectual reflection upon and dissection of what he has learned in the scriptures.

While Jnana Yogis may go into deep meditative state (samadhi), they do not have that extreme control over their body that full fledged Raja Yogis have but just enough grasp of yoga to have enough fitness to be able to sit upright for couple of days.

A Raja Yogi would have mastery over yogic postures and breath control (pranayam). They may not have much knowledge of theoretical philosophy but will be able to take part in extended periods of samadhi (deep meditation state) which reportedly can stretch to a week. Some of them show pretty extraordinary control over themselves -- standing up for a decade, holding up the right arm for 25 years and so on. They also learn chakra meditation which requires complete mastery of yoga.

However .. one has to be practical .. none of us are going to reach Moksha or Nirvana. So terms like Jnana Yogi and so on are used more loosely .. someone who studies scriptures and contemplates about them (in original or translated works) can call themselves Jnana Yogi (you do not have to be liberated to be termed a Yogi of one sort or the other .. the 4 Yogas are 4 roads .. any one travelling the path is a Yogi of some sort). Most Theravadins who visit Dhamma Wheel would fall into this class.
May the Force be with you
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