Friday, August 19, 2005

Essence of Hindu Spirituality

I will not go into the different sects which are there in Hinduism, but try to analyse it from a principles point of view.

Universality: This is the first priciple in Hinduism. The principle of universality. Whether in science or in religion, any theory is considered good only if it is applicable universally. The presence of anomalies makes any theory incomplete. So Hinduism does not give any exclusive priveleges to anyone. If it is possible for one to see God, it should be possible for all to see God. If one can be a son of God, any other person also should have the potential to be son of God.If Meera saw Krishna, I too should have the potential to see Krishna.('potential'- meaning- may not be at the present time, but surely has a chance, provided he is determined).

Cause & Effect: Every action is a result of another action. Every result has a cause. So this principle is that if something happens, its not just that it generally happened, but happened due to a cause. Suppose if water is formed, it has not come into existence from no where, but has formed due to the presence of H, O and also some other conscious entity bringing them close. This principle results in what is called "Law of Karma".

Anubhuti: This is also the main idea in the Hinduism. It means 'experience'. The idea is that to know the reality, we ourselves should experience it, and not on some others experience. I cannot understand the God, until I myself experience it. A person who has seen a horse is trying to tell how a horse will be. But if I have never seen horse myslef, my understanding of horse will not be complete, and I may even start to think of horse as donkey, coz I have only seen a donkey.

Now the whole of Hinduism can be divided into four approaches.

1. Jnana Yoga, The yoga of Knowledge. The philosopher, the thinker, who wants to go beyond what is visible, and understand the Reality.

2. Karma Yoga, the yoga of Action. Working in a unattached manner. Serving others, helping the poor etc.

3. Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion. Faith and belief also may be a part of it, but the most essential part of this is unconditional love. Loving God, without expecting any results, jsut for the sake of love, like a mother loves her child etc.

4. Raja Yoga, the yoga of psychic control. Controlling the internal nature and the mind through practices like Meditation etc.

Whatever sect of Hinduism you take, it will be a combination of these four aspects. Only the proportions may vary. One can now easily see that due to this reason, sects are not seen as something problematic in Hinduism. Each person may have a different nature. One may be more emotional, another may be intellectual, some other hard working. So the respective aspects also should be in accordance to his internal nature. Only one has to be only careful about sectarianism.. thinking that he alone is unique, and others inferior. Thats why you can see that one personal may be a totally reasoning type, questioning even the existence of God, and another may be a totally devoted person, not bothered about any of the philosophies, and still both these extremes will live without any problem in Hinduism.

Now the next question is all these four yogas are enirely different, how can they be explained. Yes at a surface level, they are different. But if you see deeper, there is one element which is common to all of these: "The Idea of Freedom". Moksha, this is the Goal of every human knowingly or unknowingly.

This is *my* understanding of Hinduism, and will be happy to be corrected if wrong.


Blogger Krishna Prasad said...

Good work... But what of the Sankhya philosphy, Nyaya Philosophy, The Karma Kanda theory, Chavarka...

Mna... It sure is difficult to summarize Hinduism !! :)

10:10 PM  
Blogger santosh said...

Dear Surya,
Anubhuti can be either 'aparoksha' or 'paroksha" or indirect. The anubhuti can be paroksha only if the subject and object are different, isnt it? But in case of myself, I am not different from myself. So how can I be an anubhuti to myself? I find it confusing when people describe "anubhuti" as "experience". Which is why a person after reading all the vedas, still wants to have an "anubhuti" of Brahman. But the anubhuti is in the KNOWING of Brahman, isnt it? So if one reads the vedas, understands it completely for himself, then isn't that the "anubhuti"? Isn't it sufficient? Why does one then have to "experience" a Brahman after "knowing" the vedas? I think this confusion is because of defining "anubhuti" as "experience"...
plz enlighten me further if you think this is wrong or if i might have misunderstood what you are saying.

6:35 AM  
Blogger Surya S said...


Dear Santosh,

Yes you are very correct, “experience of myself” is contradiction of terms.

But the word knowing is also not accurate in my view. What is meant by knowledge in our common-sense idea? It is only something that has become limited by our mind, that we know, and when it is beyond our mind, it is not knowledge. We seek to know how the Absolute has become the relative. Supposing we knew the answer, would the Absolute remain the Absolute? It would have become relative. Now if the Absolute becomes limited by the mind, It is no more Absolute; It has become finite. Everything limited by the mind becomes finite. Therefore to KNOW the Absolute is again a contradiction in terms.

Here again the problem comes due to translation. Shankara uses the word “Jnana”, which is usually translated into “knowledge”. But what Sankara means by Jnana is not just knowledge, but complete knowledge and understanding (or correct knowledge and understanding).

One can have complete knowledge about something only when one becomes one with it. If the subject remains different from the object, its knowledge is always going to be partial. So to have Jnana about the reality, one must experience the state of oneness.

As you see, both the words experience and knowledge fall short to accurately convey the idea. So while writing in English I prefer to use the word experience than knowing in order to differentiate the normal state with the Samadhi State where the individual 'becomes' one with Brahman. I feel the word experience conveys the idea of a “state” better than the word “knowledge” which may be misunderstood for any other normal knowledge, where as the word experience lowers the ambiguity.

Anyhow the word experience should not be seen as “experience of myself”. Instead what I mean by the word experience is “experience of oneness”

Hope that clarifies your question.

5:22 AM  
Blogger V said...

Dear Surya,

Thanks for that very nicely worded reply to a truly sincere question by Santosh.

We know of ourselves only what we THINK we are. This is the situation in the state of bondage. Vedanta has for its goal the enlightening of us about what we ARE in truth. This has to come only through aparoksha anubhuti. Vedanta teaches that we are ANUBHAVA svarupa. The subject-object divide has to be transcended to realize this. That is why an intellectual understanding of the Vedantic teaching alone is not sufficient for liberation. Sri Shankaracharya talks about 'anubhava' in the Brahmasutra bhashya :LingAccha IV.i.2. This word appears so many times in this bhashya that one cannot miss its significance.


1:16 AM  

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