Secondary Hinduism Page 2

Thinking of God


God with form


Hindus say that it is not enough to just believe in God. We need to make the effort to find God while we are alive. One of the best ways to find God is to think of him/her as a person. This allows us to build a relationship with God and allows us to become closer to him. Many Hindus have successfully found God by thinking of Him as a person. This is why we see God being portrayed in so many different forms in Hindu temples. These are all different ways used by different Hindus to think of and reach the same one God.


The Same God Fulfilling Different Roles:



Brahma: God in the role of the Creator

Brahma is God seen in the role of the creator of the universe. He is shown with four heads looking in all four directions. He is sometimes shown holding scriptures, beads, and a water pot.


God in the role of the Preserver




Vishnu as preserver

Vishnu is God seen in the role of the preserver of the universe. He is normally shown with four arms holding lotus, mace, discus and conch.



Sometimes depicted as God who brings creation to an end




Shiva as the lord of the dance

Shiva is God seen in the role of the destroyer of the universe. He is sometimes depicted as 'Nataraja', the lord of the dance, holding a drum as a symbol of creation and fire as a symbol of destruction. Hinduism says that if God is the creator of the universe then God is the only one who can be the destroyer of the universe. Shiva is sometimes depicted in the posture of meditation (Yogiraja) with a snake curled around his neck. His body is smeared in ashes and he is shown with a third eye (the eye of discrimination).





God as Power is called Shakti:


Shakti: God as Mother

Sometimes as Parvati / Sometimes as Durga / Sometimes as Kali


Mother Goddess: Some Hindus like to think of God as their mother in heaven. There are several different forms of God as the mother in Hinduism.

 Parvati is the form of the Mother Goddess referred to as Shakti (Force). She is the driving force behind the whole of creation. Parvati in the role of the warrior is called Durga. She is shown sitting on a tiger holding many divine weapons. Parvati as the all destroying figure of the mother goddess is called Kali. Her role as the all destroyer allows creation to come into being again. In the film Star Wars, the term 'may the force be with you' was likely borrowed from this Hindu idea of God as shakti power.






Saraswati is the Mother Goddess as the personification of learning, art, and music. She is shown wearing a white sari, and playing the Veena instrument. She holds the scriptures in one hand. She is considered to be the consort of Brahma.





Lakshmi is the Mother Goddess as the personification of wealth and beauty. She is shown wearing a red sari and offers gold coins to her devotees. She is the consort of Vishnu. The English word luck is derived from the Sanskrit word Lakshmi, meaning good fortune.







God can be thought of as a personality but without shape


Some Hindus prefer to think of God without form. The best way they can describe a formless God is by calling (him) Love and Truth. They say that if we try to discover the real nature of these qualities, we can find God. Two recent movements in India that promoted this approach are the Arya Samaj and the Brahmo Samaj, and also brought about important social reforms within Hinduism.


How can God be both with and without shape?

The best explanation comes with the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna. He explained that there is no contradiction: Ice has a shape, but water does not. In the same way, God can be both with and without shape. It is the love of the devotee which freezes a formless God into the form of his choice. Any form of God we decide to worship is fine. God is both with and without form, and much more.


Sri Ramakrishna


God as a Principle: Brahman & Atman

Hinduism refers to God as the cosmic reality as Brahman. The ultimate reality (God) appears as the physical universe. This ultimate reality appears more clearly as living things. This is why all living things are sacred, as they are intrinsically God. Mankind is the most transparent manifestation of God on earth, hence the most sacred. God as our true self is called Atman. The clearest sight of God on earth is men and women. Service to mankind is the most comprehensive and highest worship of God, teaches Hinduism.
























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