Posts Tagged ‘distinct’

Darshan (Philosophy) XXXII

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Shad Darshan – Concluding comments:

Conclusion II

In conclusion, all of the above philosophies of Hinduism describe about the fundamental realities, from one, two, three, or five, and their relationships with each other. We can reduce all the realities, before the creation, to just one reality – God. But then we cannot explain all the realities that are in existence after the very first creation. The creation itself is a reality. We have to explain everything based on the minimum possible number of fundamental realities considering all the past, present, and future scenarios of existence. Even scientists have difficulty in reducing everything to just one particle and one force.

All philosophies agree that the Supreme Being is one, unique, incomparable, and unparalleled, who is conceived or understood as the perfect, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, creator, source, and controller of the universe, the cosmos, and everything. He is eternal, without beginning and end, forever stable, and unchanging. He is beyond time, space, deeds, and material world of maya. He is Soul of the souls and God of the gods. In Hinduism, He is known as Paramatma, Parabrahm, Purushottam, or Narayan. “Parabrahm” is so named because it is beyond or transcendental to Brahm (Param Brahm).

Brahm or the Abode of Parabrahm (God) is another reality which is penultimate to Parabrahm. Initially Brahm and Parabrahm were inferred as one reality, but later on it was clearly understood that Parabrahm and Brahm, God and His abode, cannot be just one reality. They are two different realities. Scriptures have described some of the characteristics exclusively for Parabrahm that cannot be applies to Brahm or any other realities. Parabrahm is the Supreme Being – the topmost creator, controller, and the essence of all. Parabrahm is described as the soul (shariri) of Brahm (sharir). Brahm is described as the body (sharir) of Parabrahm. Just as body (sharir) and soul (shariri) seems to be one, Brahm and Parabrahm were also understood to be one reality. But, they are not one and the same entity. Parabrahm can sustain without Brahm, but Brahm cannot sustain without Parabrahm.

In Hinduism, there is description of a super-soul or universal soul called Purush or Ishwar. In Hinduism, there is a crucial distinction between Purush and Purushottam (God). Ishwar or Purush is the super-soul of brahmand (whole universe). Hinduism describes about many brahmands. It is obvious that if there are many brahmands and each brahmand is governed by its own super-soul, then there are possibilities of existence of many super-souls. Existence of many Purushas is described in Sankhya scriptures and other scriptures like Mahabharat and Purans.

In Hinduism, individual soul is understood as ontologically distinct reality from God, Nature (Prakruti), and other realities. There are many individual souls or inner-self called atma or jiv limited to each mundane physical body. Each soul is separate, distinct, and different than its body. Therefore, bodily relations are simply bodily relations and are limited to the current birth only. The past, present, and future bodily relations have nothing to do with the souls. Once the soul is free from its three kinds of body it gets liberation or salvation. Soul has to be brahmanized (brahmrup) to get ultimate salvation called Atyantik Moksh. For that the living being has to take the shelter of God and completely and unconditionally surrender to Him, who resides forever in His abode and also, as His presence on this earth, in Satpurush (God-realized person or sant), in Satshāstra (Holy Scriptures), and in Satkriyā (pious and virtuous actions). No one has seen God as scientists see or observe tiniest particles or farthest galaxies and quasars. Everything what we know about God is from the holy scriptures. Scriptures have described every tiniest detail and the characteristics of God and His true and the choicest devotee or follower. Hinduism believes in worshiping the present form of God on the earth and that also in the form like us with which we can find some resemblance or similarity, develop intimacy, do some communication, and enjoy the same bliss on this earth and in this very life as we would enjoy in His abode. This also makes sure that what we are getting here, we will be getting there in His abode. Anyway, salvation ultimately is in His presence, in His service, and in His close association whether here or in His abode.

Darshan (Philosophy) XXV

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – Parabrahm

Parabrahm, Purushottam, or Narayan: Part III

Avatars of God are incarnations of God. Incarnation does not mean that God leaves His abode and comes on this earth or He divides into many incarnations. Incarnations or avatars mean manifestations of divine God by His full presence into human world for specific missions. They show both the aspects of humanity, externally, and divinity, from the inside. On one side they act as humble servants of God and on other side they show signs of divinity that do not exist in humans. When they appear as humans they act as perfect human beings. In the human form they act as normal human beings trying to hide their divine powers which come out occasionally to show God’s presence in them. In other words avatars are seen as Godly beings that have been sent by God from the spiritual world as an instrument of His divine revelation.

When God is not manifest on this earth, one should seek the refuge of the Sant who is God-realized. Even when such a God-realized Sant is not present at that particular time and place, one should keep faith in God’s murti (mental and physical image) and worship Him with navadhā bhakti while observing one’s religious vows and duties (swadharma). It also grants liberation to the soul.

Shri Swaminarayan says that, “When God is not manifest on this earth; one should seek the refuge of the sant who has the realization of God, because jiv can also attain liberation through him. Even when such a sant is not present, one should keep a firm faith in God’s murti and perform bhakti while observing swadharma (one’s religious vows), because doing so can also grant liberation to the jiv.” (Vachanāmrut: Vartāl 10)

It is said in the scriptures that wherever the manifest form of God resides, that itself is the highest abode of God. A person who has realized God perfectly has nothing left to realize.

There are three most important things to know about God: 1. Greatness: His greatness, His subtleness, His omnipresence, and His cause-effect (kārya-kāran) relationship with His creation. 2. Power: His supremacy or power in respect to the creation, control, and destruction of countless brahmands.  3. Form: God’s form has two aspects: Vyatirek and Anvay. As His vyatirek or distinct form, God is present in divya sākār swarup (divine personified form), surrounded and humbly served by Aksharbrahm and akshar-muktas. At the same time, as an anvay or indistinct form God, because of His inner guiding (antaryāmi), inspiring (prerak) power, and controlling (niyantā) power, is present as a witness (sākshi) within His creation, that is, His abode Brahmdham or Akshardham, ishwars, souls, maya and the effects of maya – the countless brahmands. When the same, extremely powerful, extremely luminous, and extremely great God with extraordinary qualities takes the simple human form, on this earth, with ordinary human qualities for the liberation of the souls, one’s mind boggles or hesitates to believe in Him, especially during His presence on the earth. After hundreds or thousands of years people have no hesitation to believe in Him as God. It is recommended in the scriptures that, both these forms, the one in His abode Akshardham and one in this world, have to be known perfectly.

Darshan (Philosophy) XX

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – Brahm

Brahm, Akshar, or Aksharbrahm: Part II

As we have seen previously, in the scriptures, Brahm is described as the overall cause of countless brahmands or multiverse. Purushottam Vāsudev Narayan (God), who in the form of Brahm, is the Final or Ultimate cause of the creation, sustenance, and dissolution of countless brahmands. In this manner, Hinduism is crystal clear about the creation and the cause and the source of the creation. In Hinduism, Brahm and Parabrahm are two separate entities, as mentioned in the following verse of Bhagwad Gita. “Sarva yonishu, Kaunteya, murtayaha sambhavanti yāha | Tāsām Brahm mahad yonir, aham bij-pradaha pitā ||” (Bhagwad Gita: 14.4) Meaning, “Of all the pathways or sources of creation or origin, in which all forms of bodies appear, O, son of Kunti, the major source of creation or origin (mahad yonir) is Brahm in which I am (aham – means Parabrahm Purushottam) the seed-provider father – pitā. (The word “bij-pradaha,” means, by providing akshar-muktas (liberated souls) in the form of Purush or Mahapurush as the seed.)” This also suggests that, just as Brahm is different than Parabrahm Purushottam. Purushottam (God or Bhagwan) is different than Purush or Mahapurush.

The characteristics or qualities of Brahm described in the scriptures are almost similar to the qualities described for Parabrahm confusing the scholars. But if one tries to see minutely there is a big difference between Brahm – the penultimate element and Parabrahm – the ultimate Supreme element. First and foremost, Brahm is mentioned, in the scriptures, as the sharir or body of Parabrahm – the shariri or the essence. Without the essence body cannot function. Thus Parabrahm is the life and soul of Brahm. Brahm is subordinate and dependent to Parabrahm for all his activities. Brahm is mentioned as the overall support and overall cause of the whole creation. In the scriptures Brahm is never mentioned as the support, source, or cause of Parabrahm. Brahm works or functions according to the will of Parabrahm. Parabrahm is independent and supreme in all manners. Parabrahm, if He wishes, can stand and sustain on His own supporting the whole creation and countless muktas (liberated souls) without taking the support of Brahm. Brahm is transcendental to everything else but not to Parabrahm. Parabrahm is the Supreme Being. Parabrahm Purushottam is the master of all – Brahm, ishwar, jiv, maya, and everything that is evolved from maya. One can and should make a union with Brahm to attain Parabrahm but no one can be reached to the level of Parabrahm – physically, spiritually, or potentially. Parabrahm is immune to any comparison, impervious to any realities and unparalleled to any being.

Two qualities of Aksharbrahm

In the scriptures two specific qualities of Aksharbrahm are discussed. They are: Anvay quality and Vyatirek quality. Certain characteristics of Brahm can be explained only by these two qualities. The anvay and vyatirek qualities of Aksharbrahm can be explained by taking the example of Akash (space). Just as an ordinary space is penetrating everything, it is also separate from everything. Space is everywhere, it is as vast as the universe at the same time it is as subtle as to penetrate even an atom. Brahm is subtler than even the ordinary space.

Anvay means close association or relation. This quality is because of the subtleness and all-pervasive (vyāpak) or penetrating power of Aksharbrahm. According to his anvay quality, Brahm seems to be closely associated or mixed with maya and the effects (kārya) of maya, such as, infinite numbers of brahmands.  Brahm is the inspirer (prerak) of Prakruti-Purush and all devatas like Surya, Chandra, etc. for all of their activities and functions including creation, sustenance, and destruction. This can be explained on the base of the anvay quality of Brahm. To be effective or inspirer, two entities have to be related. If both entities are not related to each other, they cannot be effective on each other.

Vyatirek means separate, distinct, or different. Even though Brahm is all-pervasive because of his subtleness and penetrating power, he is separate and distinct from everything else. This vyatirek form Brahm is known as his divine Sachchidanand form. In this divine Sachchidanand form, he is present personally in the service of God as the humble servant. As the abode of God he is holding and supporting the whole multiverse of infinite numbers of brahmands. In his vyatirek form, Brahm is transcendental to everything else, including Maya and Prakruti-Purush and the whole creation evolved from them, except Purushottam Narayan (God).

Darshan (Philosophy) XIX

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – Brahm

Brahm, Akshar, or Aksharbrahm: Part I

After discussing the three distinct ontological elements, namely, jiv, ishwar, and maya, Swaminarayan philosophy discusses two more and the most important ontologically distinct entities or elements (tattvas), which are transcendental to all the three including maya (amāyik) and cannot be convinced, determined, or inferred just by guessing, arguing, or discussing; but only by experiencing personally by association with the Brahmanized Sant or by meditation (samādhi). These are: Brahm and Parabrahm.

1. Brahm, Akshar, or Aksharbrahm:

Brahm is, one and the only one (ekam and advitiyam), eternal (nitya), and penultimate reality. It is transcendental to all other realities, yet it is subordinate to the topmost, the Ultimate, and the Supreme Reality called Parabrahm. Brahm is the abode (dham) of Parabrahm Purushottam Narayan. Brahm is characterized as Sachchidanand (truth-, conscious or chaitanya-, and bliss- full) Brahm. As an abode it is also known as Brahm-mahol, Brahmdhām, or Akshardhām. As the topmost devotee (bhakta) and the humblest servant of God, as a role model for other devotees, or as a divine personified reality (tattva) the same abode of Purushottam (God) is known, in Vedas, Upanishads, and in Prasthantrayi, as Akshar, Brahm, or Aksharbrahm. It is known as param chaitanya (transcendental consciousness), satya-rup (true), gnan-rup (form of knowledge), anant (infinite), amāp (immeasurable) and adho-urdhva pramān-rahit (overall or all-around limitless). In Taittiriya Upanishad Brahm is described as, “Satyam (truth), Gnānam (knowledge), Anantam (infinite) Brahm.” (Taittiriya Upanishad: 2.1) It is shuddha (pure – without any impurities of maya), akhand (whole, undivided, and indivisible), avinashi (indestructible), vikār-rahit (without any deformity or changes) and without any characteristics (gunas) of maya. It is extremely cool and bright. This extremely cool (mahāshital), pleasant (sukhmaya), extremely bright (atishay tejomaya), infinite (anant), and limitless or beyond any limits (apār) luminescent light (tej) of Aksharbrahm is known as Chidākāsh. It is sarvādhār (all-supporter), sarva-vyāpak (all-penetrating), divine and characteristically most distinct (vilakshan) from other mayik elements. It is this abode of God, known as Akshardham, in which Purushottam (God) resides Himself forever, in His vyatirek (distinct from Brahm and other realities) and anvay (indistinct from Brahm and other realities as their essence or antaryāmi) forms.

The existence of Brahm and Parabrahm, according to Hinduism, is undeniable. Until the clarification by Shri Swaminarayan, the words Brahm and Parabrahm had become synonymous or having similar meanings. But if one studies the scriptural sayings very minutely one would immediately know that Brahm and Parabrahm are not the same but two different entities. In the scriptures, Brahm is described as the overall cause of countless brahmands or multiverse. He does that according to God’s wish. Parabrahm is described as the cause, essence, or soul of Brahm, Dham, Brahmdham, or His abode. Parabrahm is described as the ultimate cause of His creation. He does it by means of His four other realities, namely, Brahm, maya, ishwar, and jiv. The scriptures have never described anywhere Brahm as the cause or source of Parabrahm. “Mama yonir mahad Brahm, tasmin garbham dadhāmyaham | Sambhavaha sarva bhutanam, tato bhavati Bharat ||” (Bhagwad Gita: 14.3) Meaning, “My major pathway or source of creation or origin is through Brahm, in which, I place (dadhāmi) the seed or germ of the cosmos from which all beings are created or born, O, son of Bharat.” Because of the transcendental, subtle, all-pervasive, and infinite nature and description of Brahm, it can be easily misunderstood that Brahm could possibly be Parabrahm, but in the scriptures Brahm is never ever described to be transcendental to Parabrahm or to be the essence and master of Parabrahm.