Here we present the philosophical concept of God in Hindu dharma.
While Hindus worship God that has a form, where as one without a form, there is a synergy in this apparent contradiction. This is presented in the Saguna and Nirguna Brahman sections.
While Hindu believe in multiple Gods and a singular God, these concept in reality do not differ from one another.
Hindu temples have murtis (images) of Gods and Goddesses, but do God and Gods have gender?
Is there a hierarchy amongst the Gods and Goddesses?
And how do these God and Goddesses that Hindu worship differ from the ishta Devata that every Hindu family has?
And how does the worship in Hindu dharma lead to the ultimate communion with God?
These questions and more, are answered in this section.
Hindu dharma accepts the existence of several Gods or deities, it accepts only one God, the Supreme.
Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. are not three independent and separate deities, but three different aspects of the same Supreme God, while engaged in the processes of creation, sustenance and destruction of the universe, in that order. It is similar to the role played by the same person as the father at home, as the boss in the office and as a customer in a shop. Other deities also should be considered in the same light, as different aspects of the Supreme God, manifesting themselves for specific purposes.
The powers of these deities which are inseparable from them - just as the power of fire to burn cannot be separated from fire itself. This power is conceived in the form of their consorts, Sarasvati, Parvati (or Sakti) and Lakshmi.
This is not to say that these deities are imaginary creations. All of them, without exception, are different modes and aspects of Paramatman, the Supreme Self or God.
"If God is our- father, why cannot God be our Mother! If we are the children of our heavenly Father, why cannot we be the children of our heavenly Mother!." This rhetorical question is the basis of why Hindus recognize and accept both male and female aspects of Nature and worship the Supreme Reality in the form of Mother, Father, Friend, Master, Guru, and Savior. Thus Lord Krishna declares in the Bhagawad Gita:
"I am the Father- of this Universe. I am the Mother of this universe, and the Creator- of all. I am the Highest to be known, the Purifier, the holy OM, and the three Vedas." (BG 9.17)
The worship of God in the form of Mother- is a unique Feature of Hinduism. Through the ages, the doctrine of the Motherhood of God has established a firm root in Hinduism. Today Hindus worship the Divine Mother in many popular forms such as Durga, Kali, Lakshrni, Saraswati, Ambika, and Uma.
By worshipping God as the Divine Mother, a Hindu can more easily attribute Mothe rly traits to the Lord, such as tenderness and forgivingness. The natural love between a Mother- and her- child is the best expression of the Lord's unconditio nal love for- us as children of God. In the most representative Hindu view, the universe is the manifestation of the creative power (shakti) of Brahman, whose essence is absolute existence, consciousness, and bliss (or in Sanskrit, sat-chi t-ananda). Since all created forms proceed from the womb of the mother, the cr eative power shakti) of God is recognized by Hindus as the female principle or t he motherly aspect of nature. In this sense we are all children of the Divine Mo ther. We are contained by Her before our - manifestation and nourished by Her th roughout our existence.
To a Hindu, the motherly aspect of God in nature is full of beauty, gentleness, kindness, and tenderness. When we look upon all the glorious and beautiful things ill nature and experience a feeling of tenderness within us, we feel the motherly instinct of God. The worship of God in the form of Mother is a unique contribution of the Hindu child. When a devotee worships God as Divine Mother, he or- she appeals to Her tenderness and unconditional love. Such love unites the de votee with God, like a child with its mother. Just as a child feels safe and secure in the lap of its mother, a devotee feels safe and secure in the presence of the Divine Mother-. Pararnaharnsa Sri Ramakrishna, one of the greatest Indian s ages of modern times, worshipped the Divine Mother Kali during his entire life. He established a personal relationship with Her and was always conscious of Her presence by his side.
In Hinduism, Divine Mother is the first manifestation of Divine Energy. Thus with the name of Divine Mother comes the idea of energy, omnipotence, omnipresence, love, intelligence, and wisdom. Just as a child believes its mother to be all-powerful, and capable of doing anything for the child, a devotee believes the Divine Mother to be all merciful, all-powerful and eternally guiding and protecting him with her invisible arms.
The worship of God as Mother- has had a significant impact on Hinduism. The position of women in the Hindu religion is dignified because each woman is considered a manifestation of the Divine Mother. Hindus view man and woman as the two wings of the same bird. Thus, a man is considered incomplete without a woman, since "it is not possible for- a bird to fly on only one wing"---Swami Vivekananda. Through the worship of God in the form of Mother, Hinduism offers a unique rev erence to womanhood.
Okay, I have been writing a lot (no links due to obvious factor of anonymity) on software and of late more on pros and cons of Open Source and proprietary software. Then here, I had been writing onHitler and religious fanaticism (as you might have chanced upon). This has resulted in the concoction of a cocktail of thoughts and I started thinking how religion is like software today.
Islam is to religions what Microsoft is to software - predefined, and with proprietary verses.
Islam behaves like Microsoft as well – monopolistic and radical. There is little or no opportunity to work upon, modify and enhance the fundamentals. The whole operating system of Islam is the Koran - just like the Windows OS. You have everything on it. The mullahs define it and the laymen follow it blindly just like Microsoft gives its customers a finished product that does almost everything he wants his OS to do. It is very difficult to build add-ons or extensions unless Microsoft is literally forced to part with its source code.
Sufism was what I would term as Islam Lite. It flourished in the middle ages, but then the monopolistic practices of mainstream Islam killed it.
Compare that to say Firefox, god bless this browser. You can develop and users can add any number of extensions to Firefox.
Two more things on that:
i) Islam in religions is therefore like Microsoft in software biz – has a good popular finished product (read Windows OS) but without any scope for outside enhancement, modification, customization outside MS-set parameters.
ii) Modified Islam – like the Ahmadiyyas or the Imailis are often not recognized by mainstream Islam and look upon them as illegal and cracked versions of the main OS which was developed back in the 7th century.
Similarly, Roman Catholicism and Judaism are like proprietary software as well.
Hinduism on the other hand can be likened to true Open Source software. You have all the freedom to develop, change, modify, or even start new extensions based on the fundamental principals. There are hundreds of streams, cults, sub-faiths, off-shoot religions etc. You too can start your own cult and it would be perfectly accepted as a part of mainstream Hinduism. Not only that, with a little bit of 'kernel programming' with new philosophies, ideas and thoughts, you can start an entirely new religion – like Sikhism, Jainism or Buddhism.
Other variants of Christianity too have similar Open Source qualities.
To end: I am looking forward to the days of open source religion – like Firefox, extensions including.
If you happen to read this, do let me know about your thoughts. Feel free to modify, enhance or edit whatever I said here in your comments. It would be very interesting to hear your views.