18 April, 2021

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Hinduism Which Revolves Round The Vedas, Upanishads & Vedanta

By Ayathuray Rajasingam

Ayathuray Rajasingam

The Vedas are the primary texts and sacred scriptures of Hinduism. They are the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by different persons at different times. The Vedas are without beginning and without an end. The Rishis are the discoverers of these Vedas. The Vedas teach that creation is without beginning or end. Hindus received their religion through revelation, known as Vedas. The Vedas are considered to be eternal. Scholars are of the view that the Rig Veda was composed about 1,500 B.C. and codified about 600 B.C. There are four Vedas., namely Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajir Veda, and Atharva Veda.

Upanishads are a continuation of Vedic philosophy and were written about 800 and 400 B.C. They describe on how the Soul (Atman) can be united with the Ultimate Truth (Brahman) through contemplation and meditation, as well as the doctrine of Karma (the cumulative effects of a person’s actions). Though Upanishads are considered to be one of the earliest texts on Hinduism to deal with wisdom, it is based on Rig Veda. The concept of ‘One Existence’ is already mentioned in Rig Veda (RV 1.164.49) which is mentioned as ‘ekan sat’ in the Upanishads. Even what Swami Vivekananda mentioned that ‘all human beings are children of immortality, ‘amrtasya putrah’ is also found in Rig Veda (RV 10.13.1).

Hinduism is essentially concerned with ‘Self’. The discovery of the reality about oneself and the Universe is the commitment of Vedanta. The whole fabric of thought in Hinduism revolves on God.  Vedanta affirms the oneness of existence, the divinity of the soul and the harmony of religions. Vedanta says God is infinite existence, infinite consciousness and infinite bliss, i.e. Brahman. Vedanta affirms that all religions teach the same basic truths about God and the relationship with other beings.

Vedanta is the essential philosophy original to Hindus. The major idea of Vedanta is the ultimate existence. All things are ultimately reducible to one substance. Generally, there are three main issues in any philosophical system. Normally, in every philosophical system, there will be three main questions: What is the nature of man? What is the nature of God as the ultimate reality? What is the nature of nature?

Though there was no founder for the discovery that Brahman and Atman are one and the same, a renaissance was brought in Hinduism, when Sankarachariya recognized that Brahman and Atman are one. Sankarachariya was the founder of Advaita Vedanta. According to Advaita Vedanta, Atman and Brahman centres round God. According to Advainta Vedanta, Brahman means oneness or non-differentiation between the Brahm (universal spiritual entity) and the Individual (Soul). It is a relationship between Brahman and the Individual Soul. Briefly all individual Souls are part of the Almighty. 

Different religious systems and different philosophical systems have different views. Vedanta, especially non-dualistic Vedanta which is known as Advaita, says all three issues are one. Man in his ultimate nature, nature in its ultimate nature, and God in his ultimate nature are the same. This is the basic position of Vedanta.

All forms of Vedanta are basically drawn from the Upanishads, a set of philosophical and instructive Vedic scriptures. The Upanishads are commentaries on the Vedas. The basic philosophy derived out of the Upanishads was that the Absolute Reality was the main principle of Vedanta. The absolute reality is the Brahman. Sage Vyasa was one of the major founders of this philosophy and the author of Brahma Sutras, based on Upanishads. The concept of Brahman is central to most schools of Vedanta. Brahman is one without a second, beyond all forms, names and qualities. That divinity is an existence that is eternally imperishable and indivisible. Swami Vivekananda also maintained that the Ultimate Reality is One and there is no second and it is designated as Brahman. It is immutable, incorporeal, Absolute pure Consciousness, beyond all names, forms, and attributes and all pervading. This is where it is called Nirguna Brahman. In other words, Brahman is the Supreme eternal, self existent, immanent, and transcendent Supreme and ultimate reality and this is the crux of the Upanishads. It is the considered view that Bhagavad Gita is a central text of Hinduism.

However, when the Ultimate Reality is designated by various names it is called Saguna Brahman. Various names can not only be Hindu Gods like Shiva, Vishnu, Parasakthi, Ganesha, Muruga, etc., but also prophets such as Jesus, Allah, Jehova, etc. It is the Brahman that appears as Personal God and also as impersonal Absolute Truth. ‘Brahman is called the Reality of all Realities. Various concepts of Divine depend upon the various readings by the individual minds. Here is where Hinduism appears to be individualistic while other religions appear to be congregational in their characteristics.   

The philosophy of everything in God’s existence as per the Vedanta revolves round three areas namely God, Soul and Maya. Soul refers to Self and Maya refers to senses and mind giving birth to ignorance. The Self forms the very core of man’s being. It is different from his physical body, vital energy, senses and mind. Man’s ego is not this Self. The ego or I-ness is an idea only; it is purely mental. Being mental, it cannot be the Self. This Self of man is called Atman in Sanskrit. In this respect the foundation of Hindu ethics is the Vedic teaching that God (Brahman) and the indwelling Self of man are one and the same. According to Vedanta the individual Soul is the focus of the infinite Brahman. Hinduism asserts that God created the universe. Before the creation of the Universe, no one knows the nature of the Universe or its energy. All what Hinduism says Lord Brahma created the Universe and the beings. Hindu scriptures assert that Universe precedes humanity. Hinduism arose from discoveries through revelations by way of deep meditation ascetic practices. But Science had not discovered the creation of Universe but relied on theories which are still not conclusive. Hinduism relies on the concept of ‘Brahman’ as to the existence of the Universe. Brahman represents the Ultimate Reality. Further, as the language during Verdic period was Sanskrit, the word Brahman derived from Sanskrit root ‘brh’ leading to expansion., perhaps followed by an explosion. Brahman is described as impersonal absolute of pure timeless existence. Hence in the words of Swami Vivekananda Creation is beginnningless cycles of manifestation and non-manifestation of Brahman. Vedanta always describe Creation as the out-breathing and in-breathing of Brahman.

Soul is the core of life. If there is no soul the existence of the body gets negated. Soul resides in the heart within the body. Soul is the only true existence of life. Without a Soul, everything in the Cosmos becomes inert matter (unable to move). It is the Soul that activates the body at the time of the birth of a being. The presence of a Soul within the heart is reflected when the heart keeps on pumping. Similarly, right from the beginning of the Cosmos with a big bang, it is only the journey of the Souls that led to the hospitable planets like mother earth being born. The big bang resulted in all the Souls existing in the Cosmos getting scattered all over the Cosmos.

The individual Soul is the focus of the infinite Brahman according to the Vedanta. The Soul is divine upon realization of the Supreme Being and separates from Maya. The Soul is like a wave in the Ocean. It is not different from the Ocean but is part and parcel of the Ocean. It is the Soul which has become the manifold universe. Hence the Souls are like whirlpools in the Ocean of Infinite Brahman. Therefore, Self is part of Brahman. If this truth is realized it is not possible to hurt or hate others. This is the spiritual goal Hinduism which everyone is expected to experience this divine Self.

God dwells in us. It is within the body that man should attempt to remove the impurities. The impurities are the Karma which are the manifestations of greed, anger, resulting from desires. It is after removing the impurities from the body, the Soul becomes enlightened and attain salvation. Until such time, the cycle of Birth-Death-Birth continues until the mind is liberated or refined from impurities. The rebirth of a Soul is continuation of events.

One of the central beliefs of Hinduism is that there are many paths to seek the truth and God. They believe in the existence of Brahman, one God, or a supreme universal spirit from which the manifestations of various deities developed including the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma represents the Hindu principle of origin or creation. Vishnu is the principle of preservation or nurturing and Shiva represents the principle of dissolution or destruction. Brahman is present in everything in this universe – people, animals, trees, plants, and even stones.

One may raise the question as to why some are suffering while others are enjoying. Vedanta attributes five causes for sufferings. They are (1) loss of contact with the Soul, (2) ego, (3) attachment, (4) aversion (a feeling of dislike), and (5) clinging to a fanciful world of imagination and dream. According to the law of Karma birth and death, pain and pleasure, etc, apply to the ego and its world. The remedy is the Self-realization through self-control.

Finally, it may be concluded that Vedanta teaches five principles of Hinduism.

1. Existence of one God. Manifestations of many forms apart from Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.

2. God dwells in every being. Hence all human beings are divine.

3. Religious harmony. It accommodates the principles of all religions.

4. Asserts Unity of existence through love and compassion.

5. Bhagavad Gita is a central text of Hinduism for Knowledge and Gayatri (sacred mantra)

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Latest comments

  • 1
    5

    Hindu knowledge must be imparted in Hindi – the language most Hindus speak and the language most Hindu knowledge is stored today. Translation into other languages has diluted Hinduism.

    Veneration of Krishna, Brahma and Shiva must be promoted among Sri Lankan Hindus instead of others.

    • 3
      0

      Language cannot be a barrier to impart any religion. The translation sciences have advanced. Latin, Sanskrit Pali the original languages of major religions are no more in vogue. Even in Classical Arabic, the Quran is recorded is now more confine to literature. The same applies to classical Hebrew. However, later 2 are still in use. Hence, trying to limit, Hinduism to Hindi, for me appear an extension of a socio-political thought & nothing to do with a practice of Hinduism. Languages are merely a means of communication & to the believers of God; if it is interpreted the GOD can be communicated better with a particular language; the very thought puts the GOD concerned in a very poor light. God cannot & should not be discriminative. I am not a practitioner of any faith. Always attempts to find a GOD inside me. At times I succeed. Also if religions are meaningful no promotion is required; may it be in Sri Lanka or elsewhere.

    • 0
      0

      GATAM
      ,
      What do you suggest to reform the Buddhists who in your opinion are
      /
      GATAM / November 7, 2020

      Sri Lankan Buddhists are the most intolerant, superstitious, jealous and naive people I have ever met across 34 countries I traveled. They would worship any tree, clay thing, alien or politician for benefit. World Buddhists must steer clear of this intolerant tribe.
      /

      Soma

  • 5
    0

    Interesting read. Just an observation. Allah is not a Prophet. Allah is God. I presume it may have been an inadvertent error. Instead, Prophet Mohamed would have been appropriate. Unfortunately, the contents of Rig Veda & Upanishads are not imparted to a practising Hindu. Neither there are hardly any user-friendly texts in a simple language widely available for day to day spiritual reading. Like the Bible or Quran. Anyway, I enjoyed reading this article.

  • 1
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    There are only two base religions. Hinduism and Judaism.
    All others are close derivatives of these two.
    These originals do not display any craving to convert others by hook or crook.
    Derivatives of Judaism have been at each others throats and this , coupled with desire to convert others has been the main cause of bloodshed throughout human history . Hinduism tolerates diversity and cannot be targeted for the same charge.

    Problem in life is there are too many Gods to choose from with hefty advertising budgets.

    Soma

    • 1
      1

      I forgot to add that Hinduism is bloody confusing with so many gods , you don’t know who fathered whom or who came before or who after.
      Anyway central theme of Ahimsa is evident.

      Soma

      • 0
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        Soma,
        Avoid speaking publicly when you are confused. You are making an ass of yourself.

      • 1
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        Soma,
        There is only one God, but with many manifestations.

  • 1
    1

    Thank you Mr. Ayathuray Rajasingam for the very interesting article and CT for publishing same.

    You wrote:
    “All what Hinduism says Lord Brahma created the Universe and the beings. Hindu scriptures assert that Universe precedes humanity”

    Was man created the way , I, a Christian believes , by God or did he evolve?

    If , God created man, did He create woman also at the same time?

    If man evolved, did woman also evolve at the same time?

    Was the first birth of a human due to Karma?

    If you or any other Hindu or Hindus would care to answer.

    Thank you
    Vijaya Lekamge.

    • 0
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      Dear Vijaya,
      I will be posting about the Creation of the Universe shortly.
      Can you please wait until then. It is a subject of considerable debate.

  • 0
    1

    You wrote:
    “Though there was no founder for the discovery that Brahman and Atman are one and the same, a renaissance was brought in Hinduism, when Sankarachariya recognized that Brahman and Atman are one. ” “Briefly all individual Souls are part of the Almighty. “
    Please connect it with:
    ” Lord Brahma created the Universe and the beings.”

    Which comes first, Brahman or Atman?

    Could this be explained?

    You wrote:
    “Hinduism arose from discoveries through revelations “
    Who made the revelations ?

    According to the Bible, God spoke to man, sent prophets and ultimately became human and died for the creatures.

  • 0
    1

    According to you:
    “Lord Brahma created the Universe and the beings”

    How did caste enter.
    I understand that in India there about 200 million untouchables or low cast people.
    If one God created the universe how could there be low caste people.
    “Brahman and Atman are one. Briefly all individual Souls are part of the Almighty. “

    Would you or any other Hindu care to explain?

  • 0
    1

    I have heard of a passage from the Bhagavad Gita in which Krishna counsels young Arjuna, who is on the battlefield ,facing the possibility of killing his half brother .He struggles and cannot bring himself to do this.
    Krishna ,who comes as his chariot driver , talks to him about his duty. This was his duty
    to fulfill his caste’s responsibility as a warrior .This is the way life life moves on. But he told Arjuna not to fear to do his duty, for all good and evil are fused in the one ultimate reality ,Brahman .In Brahman, says Krishna, the distinction breaks down.
    That which appears evil is only the lesser reality. In the end , all evil flows from God and back to Him .

    ” Go to war and do your job”

    This creates a problem for Hindus in our country. for all good and evil are fused in the one ultimate reality ,Brahman.
    If innocent civilians were killed during the ethnic war -evil, it flows from Brahman?

  • 0
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    Thank you, dear .Mr. Ayathuray Rajasingam for you response that you will be writing later about creation.

    Yes. I definitely can wait.

  • 0
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    Dear Mr. Soma,
    You wrote:
    “Derivatives of Judaism have been at each others throats and this , coupled with desire to convert others”

    Agreed. I am a Christian. I am a part qualified Accountant , a retiree, who has lived 74 years,
    in Sri Lanka.
    I too am interested in people being converted so that they may go to heaven when they die.
    I have accepted the Gift of Eternal life , given free of charge , at the expense of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of the whole earth.
    I am very interested to share this good news.

    I read an article which explained that rebirth based on Karma is not logical.
    Let’s assume , I have had 10 rebirths, based on the Buddhist theory that ,every birth is the result of our good and evil done in the previous birth.
    My 10th birth is due to the good and evil of the 9th.
    My 2nd birth is due to the good and evil of the first birth.
    However. as I did not have a previous birth before my first birth, I cannot be born due to Karma.

    (Continued below)

  • 0
    0

    Dear Mr. Soma,
    The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ:
    John 3
    6 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

    18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

    John 14
    6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

    7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.

    8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

    9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?

  • 0
    0

    The Lord Jesus Christ taught the following:
Matthew 22
37 Jesus said unto him,
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
    38 This is the first and great commandment.
    39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
    In response to the question, who is my neighbour, the Lord Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan, who was helpful to the Jew who was robbed and hurt, as compared to the priest and the Jewish Levite, who was too busy to help.
    Some of the other teachings:
About heaven,
Matthew 22
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
    30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
    Matthew 5
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
    Luke 6
27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,

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