Why Hinduism is different than Abrahmic religions?

In recent years, we have seen upsurging of Hindu consciousness on various matters. Slowing down of the casteism politics, the rise of education and wealth amongst middle class have lower down the inferiority complex with the west in normal Hindu consciousness. With the surge of this consciousness, many young Hindus want to understand the core concept of Hindu philosophy. The term Dharma, Karma, Samkhya, and Vedas is seen more normal now.

There are few concepts of Hinduism which shall be explained more briefly to the people of India (Specially Hindus) in this blog.

BRAHMAN IS NOT GOD

The concept of Brahman (please do not confuse with Brahma – The puranic God, Brahmin- The upper class of current Hindu society and Brahminism- A created religion by western Indologist) is very different than God mentioned in Judeo-Christian religion. These two words “Vedic Brahman” and “God” is not the same word and cannot replace each other because of the different meaning.

What is Brahman?

“Brahman” comes from the root word “Brih” means to expand. The all expansive ultimate reality that creates all lives in all and transcends all” – Being different by Rajiv Malhotra.

I would not go into the detail of concept of Brahman but I would like to highlight the key difference. Brahman mention in Taittiriya Samhita as:-

The Ṛcs are limited (parimita),
The Samans are limited,
And the Yajuses are limited,
But of the Word-Brahman, there is no end. (Source: Wikipedia- Brahman)

Brahman used as a metaphysical reality which is part of every living being (Human, animal, and plants). The word Meta “Beyond” and Physical “Physical thing” is used in philosophy as it’s part of the Ultimate supreme principle of Nature and Universe. In Various Puranic texts that principle is used as common Hindi as “Vidhi ka Vidhan – Law of Nature/Kala/Time”. This principle resides in cosmos and every living being. We can compare it with Gravity. However, comparing it gravity is intellectual dishonesty but for the sake of comparison, we can say Brahman (Ultimate principle) works like gravity. It resides all over the universe, inside human consciousness. “Jiva” (Body) is the physical interface of Supreme consciousness of the universe and Physical world.  God on another side, is the creator of the universe itself and not part of it. he has the separate identity which is punitive and has authority over the universe.

Brahman is not authoritative and punitive like God. I have summarised the difference between basic understanding of God and Brahman.

BRAHMAN  IS NOT GOD
Brahman” comes from the root word “Brih” means to expand. The all expansive ultimate reality that creates all lives in all and transcends all   In Judaism, GOD was seen on Mount Sinai who is the creator of the universe.
Brahman is the cosmos and resides in all of us, unrealized as Ātman   In the Judeo-Christian sense, GOD is separate from the universe
Brahman is not authoritative or punitive   God is authoritative and punishes those who transgress his rules and those who do not follow his religion.
Ishawara, Bhagwan, Devta and Brahman all have different meaning and contexts of use.   They cannot be replaced by GOD just like UNCLE doesn’t necessarily means CHACHA & MAMA.

(Source: Book “Being Different” by Rajiv Malhotra)

ĀTMAN IS NOT SOUL

That Ātman  (self, soul) is indeed Brahman. It [Ātman] is also identified with the intellect, the Manas (mind), and the vital breath, with the eyes and ears, with earth, water, air, and ākāśa (sky), with fire and with what is other than fire, with desire and the absence of desire, with anger and the absence of anger, with righteousness and unrighteousness, with everything — it is identified, as is well known, with this (what is perceived) and with that (what is inferred). As it [Ātman, self, soul] does and acts, so it becomes: by doing good it becomes good, and by doing evil it becomes evil. It becomes virtuous through good acts, and vicious through evil acts. Others, however, say, “The self is identified with desire alone. What it desires, so it resolves; what it resolves, so is its deed; and what deed it does, so it reaps.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (Source : Wikipedia-Atman)

Ātman is the true nature of self. Ātman is the metaphysical spiritual concept beyond the mind, body, and consciousness. Atman is Sacchidānanda.

Sacchidānanda (Sat Chit Ananda) representing “existence, consciousness, and bliss” or “truth, consciousness, bliss”, is an epithet and description for the subjective experience of the ultimate, unchanging reality in Hinduism called “Brahman”.

The human can realize true nature of Ātman by various form of Sadhana and Adhyatma Vidhya. Sadhana is based on four paths like Karma Yoga, Gyan Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Raj Yoga. The human can also realize the Ātman by Adhyatma Vidhya which is referring to self Knowing. Studying the inner self is a very important concept.

Ātman is one of the fundamental principle and Ultimate sentient principle.

ĀTMAN IS NOT SOUL
In Dharmic tradition, the true nature of self or Ātman is Sacchidānanda   In Christianity, All humans are born as sinners due to original sin by Adam and Eve. Hence the true self or soul is sinful.
The true nature of Atman can be realized with Sadhana or Adhyatma Vidhya   The only through Jesus can the soul attain the salvation
Atman is present in plants and animals. Hence nature is as sacred as the self.   The soul is not present in plants and animal. In the Bible, God gave mankind dominion over plants and animals.
Atman reincarnates. Hence the body is cremated once atman has departed.   Soul DOES NOT reincarnate. Hence in Christianity, you only get one body that must be preserved until the end of the time.

(Source: Book “Being Different” by Rajiv Malhotra)

DHARMA IS NOT RELIGION

Nothing is higher than dharma. The weak overcomes the stronger by dharma, as over a king. Truly that dharma is the Truth (Satya); Therefore, when a man speaks the Truth, they say, “He speaks the Dharma”; and if he speaks Dharma, they say, “He speaks the Truth!” For both are one.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (Source : Wikipedia-Dharma)

“Dharma” is the fundamental principle in all Indic dharmic group. Indic dharma is referred here as Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Hinduism. Dharma has various meaning in various Indic dharma like:-

In Hinduism, it is the conduct of a person
In Buddhism and Jainism, it is universal law and order
In Sikhism, it is the righteous path

However, the word Dharma comes from Sanskrit word “Dhri” which means “that which upholds” or “without that nothing can be stand” or “that which maintains stability and harmony of the universe”. All three definitions are extracted out of this word “Dhri”. Dharma is applicable for all things (Living and Non-living) in various degree of complexity.

For simple understanding, the electron has dharma to be fundamentally negative but it doesn’t have religion. Dharma is conduct, duty, justice, morality, virtue, right and much more. Dharma is the value-centric belief because it’s about the natural value in the conduct of a being. It is value-centric.

On the other side, western Religion is defined as faith and worship on a divine being which is separated from humans and universe. He (male only as per Judeo-Christine) is sentient, authoritative and punitive in nature. The institution like Church and Ulemas (religious authority) which govern and hold authority over God, Holy book , and religious laws is part of western religion. western religious rituals based on events that happened some time in History. Hence all Abrahamic religions are History Centric in nature.

Religion is only for humans. While religion is obeyed as Laws and western religion believe GOD’s law must be obeyed and hence non-followers must be converted or punished.

DHARMA IS NOT RELIGION
Dharma comes from Sanskrit word “Dhri” which means “that which upholds” or “that without which nothing can stand” or “that which maintains stability and harmony of the universe”  
Dharma is conduct, duty, justice, morality, virtue, right and much more. Animals, plants, electrons have dharma but no religion. No such explanation for religion. Also, religion is only for humans
Dharma is not LAW as the law is authoritative. western religion believes GOD’s law must be obeyed and hence non-followers must be converted or punished.

(Source: Book “Being Different” by Rajiv Malhotra)

GURU or RISHI or YOGI is Not Prophet or Saint 

Guru, in Hinduism, a personal spiritual teacher or guide. From at least the mid-1st millennium BCE, when the Upanishads (speculative commentaries on the Vedas, the revealed scriptures of Hinduism) were composed, India has stressed the importance of the tutorial method in religious instruction.

– Source: https://www.britannica.com/topic/guru-Hinduism

The concept of Guru was first introduced in Upnishadas and it was the developed way to rational learning of Dharma. Gurus are generally well versed in Vedas and Upanishads. Gurus have to spend a long time in Sadhana or Disciple’s Sadhana. Guru can proclaim his own interpretation of Vedas and Upnishadas according to his own understanding of Hindu scripture. While Saint is the one who spent his whole life in spreading Christianity and rest in eternal bliss after death as declared by Church as promised under Christian salvation. Yogi and Rishis are different than Guru. 

Yogi and rishis have to spend their time in devotion to attain the highest level of consciousness. Yogis and Rishis cannot be Guru because Guru is the only Dharmic teacher while Yogi and Rishis have more consciousness than guru itself. the major difference between prophet and Rishi is that Rishi has to spend time in meditation for attending higher consciousness while prophet is chosen by GOD itself to communicate humans. Christian Saints also don’t need to meditate or be enlightened. Most saints were martyrs for spreading Christianity.

Moreover, Prophet and saints word considered as the words of God itself for Humans while Guru/Yogi/Rishis understand the meaning of dharma and Brahman according to their raised up consciousness through meditation

GURU or YOGI or RISHIS IS NOT Prophet and Saints
Guru is the one who guides individual disciple’s sadhana Saint is the one who is dead now and church recognized him enjoying the bliss as promised in Christianity
Yogis and gurus devote their lives to attain the highest level of consciousness Saints/Prophet do not need to meditation or be enlightened. Most saints were martyrs for spreading Christianity. The prophets are chosen by GOD to communicate with humans

(Source: Book “Being Different” by Rajiv Malhotra)

MURTI IS NOT IDOL

Superstition is a great enemy of man, but bigotry is worse. Why does a Christian go to church? Why is the cross holy? Why is the face turned toward the sky in prayer? Why are there so many images in the Catholic Church? Why are there so many images in the minds of Protestants when they pray? My brethren, we can no more think about anything without a mental image than we can live without breathing. By the law of association the material image calls up the mental idea and vice versa.

— Vivekananda, World Parliament of Religions (Source wikipedia-Murti)

At the era of British raj, Christian missionaries had propagated that “Murti” is as same as “Idols” .They understood the concept of murti and start using it as the tool of conversion of people from Hindu to Christianity

In Christianity itself, Jesus is used to kissing, touched, revered and respected in images and idols but technically not worshiped. However, Murti means real, awakened and expressive of divine after the ritual ceremony of Pran prathishtha.

Visarjan is another ritual which is used as the ceremony of detachment of divine from matters. It’s generally ritual of throwing murti into holy rivers. Visarjan is also connected with Ramayana in which Lord Rama took Jal-Samadhi for deportation from his earthly life.

MURTI IS NOT

IDOL

Sanskrit word Murti means real, awakened and expressive of the divine spirit.   In Christianity, Cross, Image of Jesus is revered and respected but not worshipped is termed as ICON.
Prana pratishtha is ritual of infusing the murtis with prana or divine energy. Its only after prana pratishtha pooja is offered to murti.   No such thing happens with Idols
Visarjan is the ritual of throwing the mutis in holy water to encourage detachment from the murti.   No such thing happens with Idols
As per Sri Aurobindo, it is not the stone but the divine presence/energy in the murti to which the prayer is offered  

Similar Blog like this :

Being Different: Four major difference (Series #01)

Dharma Is Not The Same As Religion by Rajiv Malhotra

What is Dharma? An Answer for young Minds.


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