Hinduism II Love as a path to salvation: Hindu Gods & goddesses Introduction to World Religions Fall 2007 Dr. Hannah Schell Agenda for class meeting Review basic concepts of the Hindu worldview Atman = Brahman Can God be described? God without attributes vs. God with attributes
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Love as a path to salvation:
Hindu Gods & goddesses
Introduction to World Religions Fall 2007 Dr. Hannah Schell
The Hindu “triad” of Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva
“Behold the universe in the glory of God: and all that lives and moves on earth. Leaving the transient, find joy in the Eternal: set not your heart on another’s possessions…
The Spirit, without moving, is swifter than the mind; the senses cannot reach him: He is ever beyond them. Standing still, he overtakes those who run. To the ocean of his being, the spirit of life leads the streams of action….
Who sees all beings in his own Self, and his own Self in all beings, loses all fear.”
- Isa Upanishad, The World’s Wisdom, 9.
“Standing on the bare ground, my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, all mean egotism vanishes.
I become a transparent eyeball-I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me-I am part or particle of God.
The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances-master or servant, is then a trifle, and a disturbance. I am a lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I have something more connate and dear than in the streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature (1836).
Nirguna Brahman is an example of negative theology:
“Oh Thou, before whom all words recoil.”
(Quoted by Smith, 47).
There was neither non-existence nor existence then; there was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond. What stirred? Where? In whose protection? Was there water, bottomlessly deep? There was neither death nor immortality then. There was no distinguishing sign of night nor of day. That one breathed, windless, by its own impulse. Other than that there was nothing beyond. Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning; with no distinguishing sign, all this was water. The lie force that was covered with emptiness, that one arose through the power of heat.
(see handout for rest of passage).
God with Attributes:
Indra: “King of the Gods” – a warrior, a king, associated with thunder.
Agni: “The priest of the Gods” – the god of fire, associated with lightning, fire, the sun.
Soma: deification (but not personification) of a hallucinogenic elixir from a plant.
Sarasvati: goddess associated with a river, also learning, sometimes identified with speech; truthful words.
Video clip from Understanding Hindu Tradition (1994); clip is approximately 15 minutes.
“Always glorifying me, striving, firm in their vows,
Paying me homage with devotion, They worship me, always disciplined…
I am the universal father, mother, granter of all, grandfather,
Object of knowledge, purifier, holy syllable OM, threefold sacred love…
Men who worship me, thinking solely of me, always disciplined, win the reward I secure…
The leaf or flower or fruit or water that he offers with devotion, I take from the man of self-restrain in response to his devotion.
Whatever you do- what you take, what you offer, what you give, what penances you perform – do as an offering to me, Arjuna!
You will be freed from the bonds of action, from the fruits of fortune and misfortune; armed with the discipline of renunciation your self liberated, you will join me..
If he is devoted solely to me, even a violent criminal must be deemed a man of virtue, for his resolve is right… Keep me in your mind and devotion, sacrifice to me, bow to me, discipline your self toward me, and you will reach me!”
From the Bhagavad Gita, included in World Religions; Eastern Traditions, 2nd ed. (37).
The “trimurti” (three forms) – 8th century.
The first-born being, seated on a lotus that stems from Vishnu’s navel
Appears in the world in several incarnations (avatars) to rid the world of evil and establish dharma or righteousness (Oxtoby, 40).
Avatars: literally, “descents”; incarnations of the deity into bodily forms.
“For the protection of the good and the destruction of evil-doers, and for the re-establishment of dharma, I come into being in successive ages.”
- Bhagavad Gita (Qted by Zaehner, 91).
I desire that if I saw you, I would impetuously take you and simply swallow you; but, stealing a march over me, you yearned for me and drank me off completely, O dark, cloud-like God… O you impatient Lord!”
- Alvar poet (Tamil - South India, 6th c.)
Vishnu as Krishna with Radha
- The Bhagavad Gita
“Lakshmi, mistress of material abundance (artha) goes wherever there is Vishnu, guardian of righteous conduct (dharma) bringing with them their son, Kama, lord of worldly pleasure.”
Lord, you dwell in everything, you are everything, you take all forms and you are the origin of everything. You are the Self of all.
You, the Self of all beings, the Lord of all creation, you are the source of all that exists. You know everybody’s desire.
Salutations to you, the omnipresent, who are inseparably linked with the universe. You are the first object of all meditation.
- From Vishnupurana, Ch. XII
“We bow to you, O lord of the gods and people.. We bow to you, the eternally successful yogi, the support of all the universe, the highest ruler, the highest reality, the undying, the highest place… You are quality of sound in space; you are the origin and dissolution of creatures. You are the perfume in the earth, the fluidity of the waters, the brightness of fire… You destroy all the worlds; you are Time, the Ender, made of death. You alone maintain the three worlds, and you alone create them, o lord… In one way or in many ways, you create the worlds and destroy them, O god.”
- Brahmanda Purana (Textual Sources, 86).
(Read full story on page 85-86 of Textual Sources).
Associated with the lingam – a phallic symbol that represents fertility, generativity, creation, power.
I love the Handsome One;
He has no death
Decay nor form
No place or side
No end nor birthmarks.
I love him, O mother. Listen
I love the Beatufiul One
With no bond nor fear…
So my lord, white as jasmine, is my husband.
Take these husbands who die,
Decay, and feed them
To your kitchen fires!
Better than meeting
And mating all the time
Is the pleasure of mating once
After being far apart.
When he’s away
I cannot wait
To get a glimpse of him.
Friend, when will I have it
Be with Him,
Yet not with Him,
My lord white as jasmine?
- Mahadevi (poet-saint from the 12th century). Sources of Indian Tradition, 2nd ed. 349-350.
I worship Siva in my heart,He can be known through the Vedas,He is delightful to the heart,He has destroyed the three cities.He is before all time and has three eyes,He looks majestic with his head of matted locks,He wears snakes as ornament and antelope skin for a dress,He is the Great God, gracious Lord of Souls,He is consciousness and bliss,The companion of Parvati.O Lord of Souls!The one sun that is visibleTakes away the darkness from the earth.Your splendor surpasses that of a thousand suns.Why do you not become visible and take away my darkness?Destroy that night of mine and show yourself to me!
Note that Shiva includes all of the following elements:
“My dear friend, when you hear one of the glorious Divine Names – be it Allah, Tara, Krishna, or whichever revealed name is closet to your heart – if tears of ecstasy come spontaneously to your eyes or if the sensation of weeping springs forth secretly in your heart.. This is authentic confirmation that you are awakening… You will not have to renounce the formalities of religion. Formalities of every kind will simply disappear from your being… Even the Divine Names most intimate to you will eventually disappear, and you will commune directly with the One Reality, which precedes and which emanates all names and forms…