Posts Tagged ‘knowledge’

Darshan (Philosophy) XXVII

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Swaminarayan philosophy – Parabrahm

Parabrahm, Purushottam, or Narayan: Part V

God is sarvagna (all-knower). He is Karma-fal-pradātā (the judge and the reward giver of the deeds or actions). He does not have any of the worldly attributes. He is also called Nirgun, because He is beyond any attributes of maya. He is sarva-vyāpak (omnipresent) by His antaryāmi (inner guiding, inspiring, and controlling) power yet forever remains present in His abode. This is like space or energy that is inherently present in an atom yet no one can see it. The same way, God is present in every atom or subatomic particle of His Creation, but we cannot see Him. The same figure of God that is present in His abode is also present in every brahmand. This omnipresence quality of God, known as His “yogakalā” is beyond our human imagination or common logic (atārkya). While remaining there in His abode, He manifests in many different forms in many different brahmands according to His will. Wherever He resides in whatever form becomes the center of His abode as there are no limits to His abode. Thus, He never leaves His abode. This how Shri Swaminarayan describes in his Vachanamrut, “… In the same way, Purushottam Bhagwan manifests in whatever form is required in whichever brahmand – while simultaneously dwelling in Akshardham. Actually, He Himself forever dwells in Akshardham. In fact, wherever that form of Purushottam resides, that is the very center of Akshardham.” (Vachanāmrut: Gadhadā II-42)

He resides in Atma (souls) and in Aksharbrahm penetratingly (Vyāpak), because souls are akshar-like and though both are ontologically different, they are characteristically same. Atma (soul) and Akshar (Brahm) are both under His authority (ādhin) and dependant and penetrable compared to Him. He is all-capable. Purushottam (God) creates and enters the various types of life forms as their cause and as their inner-guide (antaryami) or controller (niyanta) and inspires them to different degrees according to the hierarchy (taratamataha). “Sva-kruta-vichitra-yonishu vishann iva hetutayā | Taratamatashchakāssyanalavat svakrutānukrutiha ||” (Shrimad Bhagwat: 10.87.19) Purushottam is distinct from Brahm and is the cause, the supporter, and inspirer of even the transcendental Brahm. Purushottam is described as different, distinct, and transcendental from both – Kshar (perishable) and Akshar (imperishable) in Gita (Bhagwad Gita: 15.17). Purushottam is also described, in Gita, to be transcendental and supporter of lifeless (jad) or non-transcendental (aparā) and live (chaitanya) or transcendental (parā) both kinds of prakruti (Bhagwad Gita: 7.4, 5). Hierarchy should be understood as follows. Among living (chaitanya) things, as per the knowledge (gnan), power (shakti), capability and potential (sāmarthya) humans are higher than animals and animals are higher than plants; devas are higher than human beings; and ishwars (purushas) are higher than devas. Brahm is transcendental to purushas and everything else, whereas Parabrahm Purushottam Narayan Paramatma (God) is transcendental to even Brahm. There is absolutely nothing higher than Purushottam. Just as tremendous energy resides in an atom without even being noticed or seen by anybody, God resides within the souls, universal souls (ishwars), His whole creation (maya), and Brahm. He is present in every little thing, though not equally but hierarchically (tāratamya). In common people He is present as the judge or the rewards giver for their deeds (karma fal pradātā), in His devotees He is present as an eyewitness (sākshi), and in God-realized Sant or Satpurush He is present entirely, fully, completely, and wholly (sāngopāng).

Shri Swaminarayan says that, God resides in the heart of a person who understands that the infinite numbers of wonders or miracles that happen at every moment in the world and cosmos are only due to God that I have presently realized or attained and no one else is the cause of all these wonders; who also realizes that, infinite numbers of wonders that have happened in the past, are happening now, and are going to happen in the future are all due to God that I have presently attained; who (is very stable minded, sthitpragna,  and) feels indifference even if someone were to humiliate or honor him; who also possesses countless noble virtues of the sant described in the scriptures, such as atma-gnan, brahm-gnan, devotion, dispassion, etc.; who, despite of possessing number of powers and potential to empower and liberate number of people, tolerates insults as well as praises of common and insignificant people; and yet who is a great forgiver. In such a person God resides forever.

And lastly, Shri Swaminarayan says that, “Everyone wants to worship God, but the difference is in the understanding.” (Vachanāmrut: Gadhadā I-27)

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.

Darshan (Philosophy) X

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Shad Darshan – Vedanta philosophies (contd.):

Achintya Bhedabheda philosophy

Achintyabheda-bheda of Chaitanya:

Achintya Abheda-Bheda is translated as “inconceivable or incomprehensible oneness and difference.” The philosophy is given by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486-1534). The subtle difference between jiv (atma) and God (Paramatma), according to this philosophy, is that quality wise jiv and God are identical but quantity wise jiv is infinitesimal whereas God is unlimited. This can only be experienced through Bhakti-yoga. In this respect, philosophically, it is almost similar to Nimbarkacharya’s Dvaitadvaita philosophy. Worshiping wise Chaitanya’s philosophy is more near to Madhavacharya’s philosophy. Thus, it can be said that, Chaitanya’s philosophy is the combination of Nimbarkacharya’s and Madhavacharya’s philosophy with the major difference in the way of worshiping. Chaitanya added Kirtan-bhakti and propounded Krishna, instead of Vishnu, as Purushottam (God) and the cause of all avatars.

Chaitanya was initiated in Madhavacharya tradition but after about 250 years he started his own tradition which is known as Gaudiya Vaishnav tradition. Gaudiya means “from the Gauda desh” – the Bang-bhumi or ancient Bengal part of India. Chaitanya accepted two important teachings of Madhavacharya: 1. complete rejection of Mayavadi (Kevala Advait) philosophy. 2. Worship and devotion to Shri Krishna, accepting Him as the personified God. According to this philosophy, God is simultaneously one with His creation and also different, rather distinct, from His creation. In Chaitanya’s philosophy Krishna is considered as the Supreme God who is also known as Ādipurush or Swayam (Svayam) Bhagwan. In Shankaracharya’s philosophy everything is considered Brahm – the whole creation is Brahm (including jivas or souls) and the Creator is Brahm. The object of worship (ishtadev) traditionally was Shiv especially for Brahmins. In Ramanujacharya’s philosophy, jiv and universe were two forms of Brahm, namely, Chit and Achit, and Ishwar (God) was separate entity from them. Meaning, Brahm and Ishwar were partly separated and partly unified. But, their separation or unification (ontological distinction) was not stressed considering it less important than bhakti or worship considering the strong hold of, then prevailing, Shankaracharya’s philosophy. People were skewed from bhakti or worshiping God towards just verbal knowledge of God. So, the devotion or bhakti was strongly proposed by Ramanujacharya. Ramanujacharya placed devotion to God at higher level than even Karma (deed) and Gnan (knowledge). He also added service to devotees. Devotees of God are equally valued. The object of worship was Vishnu as Sriman Narayan. In Nimbarkacharya’s tradition the object of worship was Vishnu as Shri Hari, Madhav, Gopal, or Krishna. He also had started worshiping Krishna with Radha. Madhavacharya also stressed devotion to God rather than any other means to please God. Madhavacharya worshiped Vishnu as Bala-Gopal-Krishna (young Krishna) – the present or the latest form. He worshiped Krishna with Arjun. In Madhavacharya’s philosophy, the object of worship was Krishna, but as an avatar or the form of Vishnu. Krishna was considered as the most recent and most powerful avatar of Bhagwan Vishnu or Vāsudev Himself. After about 250 years of Madhavacharya, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu started his new tradition that had combined features of both Nimbarkacharya’s tradition and Madhavacharya’s tradition. Chaitanya worshiped Krishna with Radha, suggesting Bhagwan should be worshiped by His best devotee (bhakta) like Radha. Still up to Madhavacharya’s period God was mainly worshiped alone. Shiv, Vishnu, Pārvati (Devi), and Lakshmi were worshiped alone or unaccompanied. Madhavacharya worshiped Krishna alone or with Arjun as his bhakta. In Chaitanya tradition that still maintained the dualistic (Dvait) philosophy with little different understanding, pure devotion (bhakti) with pure love to Krishna is given more stress rather than liberation from the cycle of birth and death (Sansar chakra), because the liberation automatically follows the purest love for God.

Hinduism – Philosophy:

Saturday, May 1st, 2010


Dear reader:

Philosophy is the heart of a religion. Religion is based on God’s words revealed directly to the great people. They put them in the words for all human beings. Scholars and Godly people interpreted them for the salvation and good for the common people. Yet, in studying these philosophies, one should keep in mind that the world’s great philosophers and philosophies were misunderstood and misinterpreted first by their own people, by taking their words literarily when they were not to be taken literarily and by taking them metaphorically when they were not meant for or to be conceived as a metaphor, before the rest of the world later knows about the true or real meaning of these words.

Herewith, in the following articles, we will try to present various major philosophies of Hinduism for the general information. Details of particular philosophies can be studied from the authentic text books. It is not necessary for everybody to agree with everything presented here. Readers may agree or disagree with any or all of the philosophies, yet one should keep oneself open to study other philosophies to seek the Truth. For the serious readers, it is advisable to refer to the original scriptures. We are sure that they would find for themselves some new understandings about the subject. We shall also try on our side to provide the references as much as possible, but we are afraid that it might make the articles uninteresting or boring. Also, please, pardon us for our unintentional typos and grammatical errors.

The beauty of Hinduism is that one can keep one’s faith or religion and still study and follow the universal laws of peace and harmony from it. Sincere seeker of the knowledge of the Ultimate Truth – Brahm and Parabrahm (God), should find and follow the great Sant or personality as Guru. The information only becomes knowledge after understanding and putting into practice the scriptural words of God. Salvation only occurs by practicing, and not just discussing, God’s words in one’s day to day life. Without putting those words into practice even masters would not enjoy the bliss of God.

Shad Darshans are the six major philosophies of Hinduism. They are all supportive to each other and each one is centered on any one particular ideology from the Vedas. The Vedanta philosophy is one of the six major philosophies of Hinduism. There are many philosophies under this heading. Vedanta philosophies are mainly based on Prasthantrayi and Agamas texts. Agamas are the body or religion part of Hinduism, whereas, Nigamas (Vedas and Upanishads) and Prasthantrayi, are the essence or heart, meaning, philosophical part of Hinduism.

In the coming pages we will try to present as many from the above philosophies of Hinduism as possible.