Hindus Proselytize….but Maybe Not Enough

One of the main lessons I have learned about Hinduism is that  proselytizing is a charged word. The Hindu mindset is not to do it, even though it has and is being done to us, sometimes, even by means of chicanery and deceit.  Like many other concepts though, the act itself is neither good or bad, but all in the application.

It is safe to say that  the early Hindu missionaries to the West  were evangelist as well as a proselytizers. At this point I should stipulate that the difference between the two is purely one of perspective. Christians describe their conversion efforts as evangelism.  However in a reverse situation, Christians call the messengers proselytizers. I prefer to say that these beautiful souls and others evangelized The West.

Not too long ago I encountered some Americans in the Eastern section of the New Age book store and we began chatting. I asked if they were Hindu, and one responded with “I am not in a religion but I am spiritual.”  He spoke about his meditation practice and how it made him more calm.  His friend told me how she is trying to get him into yoga. I helped her a bit by saying how I enjoy it and scores of other men. Continue reading “Hindus Proselytize….but Maybe Not Enough”

No Idols Here….

saraswati, Lakshmi, Ganesha, Krishna, Odol, murti

Humans are image driven, and will naturally attribute form and design to their inner most mental                                         conjures. Probably the vast majority of humankind worships God in image form because                                                      the human mind even objectifies the idea of the formless.

Some of us remember a time before cell phones. A time when the land was

 replete with pay phones and every house or residence had a land line. To

call a friend or family member from afar was expensive. When I was a

soldier stationed in Korea during to 1970s,  a phone call to my family

back in the US cost $4.00 a minute!  That’s right. I paid dearly for the

privilege of speaking to my loved ones. Why? Because I missed them.

Did I keep the phone on the hook and simply talk to the device??

Of course not. That would have been akin to phone worship….. 

Well, so it is with murtis : in part, a murti, or murthi, or vigraha or

pratima typically refers to an image that expresses a Divine Spirit.

Meaning literally “embodiment”, a murti is a representation of a

divinity, made usually of stone, wood, or metal, which serves as a means

through which a divinity may be worshiped. 1

 

Some may consider that to be the definition of an idol. Yet that is exactly what a murti is not. An idol by definition is an image or other material object representing a deity or spirit to which religious worship is addressed. The difference may be described by the word life. One embodies divinity while the other simply represents.

Ganesha, Christ on cross, image, murti, idol
Why is the depiction on the left considered a “graven image” while the one on the right is simply a “sacred item”?

Coming from a Christian back ground, I know that the word idolatry is a highly charged one, meaning to worship, or make any human made image of God, or the divine. Catholics have images which are called idols by protestants, who claim not to have any such. Yet even though they don’t have carvings, they have stained glass windows handsomely adorned with images of Christ. Then during The Christmas season, many of them display statues of everyone involved in the Bethlehem scene from the Angel Gabriel to the sheep who lived in the barn. Yet it is they in particular who have  besmirched God’s material depiction, and their explanation of their Bible which has become the default for how our entire western society views what is “right” and “wrong” regarding spiritual expression.

 

Humans are image driven, and will naturally attribute form and design to their inner most mental conjures. Probably the vast majority of humankind worships God in image form because the human mind even objectifies the idea of the formless. So how is it that dharmic worshipers materialized their divinities while the Abrahamic relied on sub conscious subtleties to plant and enforce the mental image immortalized by Michelangelo of God as an angry ole white man.

 

For one, we Hindus consider all of creation to be God who is imminent and transcendent throughout the universe. Therefore all things created contain God’s presence. With that in mind, consider that there is not much of a transition to realizing that the images of Lord Ganesha or Goddess Saraswati already contain God whether made of wood, marble or granite. Murtis are not just physical carvings but bodies which are energized to vibrate in a certain way such that they impact their surroundings. The science of the murtis derives from The Agama Shastra, a tantric scientific methodology that has been perfected over eons. Each Agama consists of four parts, however for this purpose we focus on the Kirya which includes rules for construction of temples; and consecration of idols (murtis).  This code is analogous to those in Puranas. 2

 

God, Brahman, OM, Aum
Visual and oral representation of Brahman- the power responsible for creation, development and destruction of the universe

The Kirya has also detailed the creation for vibrational capacities and the life within the murtis. This life, this vibration of energy responds to us when we call upon it and address it. Every aspect and form reflects Gods presence which is nestled therein. Devout Hindus accept idol worship as a simple way of expr essing their faith, love and devotion to God. There is a childlike innocence and purity of approach when a person stands reverently in front of an image or a murti and bows to it in total submission. It is possible only when a person has strong faith and no egoism. Worldly people or intellectuals who have strong egos cannot easily surrender to God or worship God’s images with simple faith. However, those who worship God with devotion and humility know that murti worship connects them to God and opens their hearts to divine love. 3

 

Some reject at the idea of murti worship as superstition. However, the practice is based on scientific principles, matters which western scientist have recently began to acknowledge.

 

Energy, temple, vibrations worship
A temple is an outgrowth of the deity which has its own independent intelligence and from which energy is constantly radiating.

A temple, is a miniature cosmos comprised of the five elements and a presiding deity.  They are the places containing pure vibrations of magnetic and electric fields with positive energy.  A temple is an outgrowth of the deity which has its own independent intelligence and from which energy is constantly radiating. Essentially, temples were designed to be spaces where the mind spontaneously moves within and meditation happens effortlessly. Every aspect of the temple, from the architecture to the rituals to the kinds of worship offered, has been consciously created to make this experience happen. 4

 

Deities work as our focal point, to remind us of our true potential. In silence your thoughts have tremendous potential to become reality. This is why people say “My prayers have come true”. Indeed every prayer has potential to come true provided you prayed in deep awareness. Deity itself has no meaning unless you create. They are used more as a focal point or to attack the Mind. 5

 

Without getting too immersed into quantum physics, this works on the premise that all matter vibrates and  thought vibrations can and do produce desired results. Murtis are the conduit whereby these abstract brain pulsations transform into meaningful praise and supplications.

This practice also works for the practices of Voodoo and tantra shastra. Distance healing is based on a similar principle. Thought waves are very subtle, they can be transferred at incredible speed through space. This can be performed with willpower. After all, existence is homogeneous. In a state of silence all psychological barriers are broken. 6

 

The first time I ever visited a Hindu temple, when I was in deep searching, I remember feeling overwhelming joy and peace. The feeling was extremely profound, almost tactile. I returned to that temple many times to make sure the sensation was not imaginary. After having attended awhile, I discussed it with the temple Pandit. He explained the vibratory energy and said that when the worship is done in a group it is intensified. It was that positive intensity that I felt welcoming me onto the eternal path.

 

Back to the concept of the phone call. If the conversation stops at you just talking to the phone, then your conversation goes absolutely nowhere (ie idolatry) . It is not until you “open the connection channel” that you are able to communicate with your desired party. The phone just simply allows the two way transmission.

 

Swami Paramananda sums it up better than I. He says “Coming to idol worship, let it be very clear that if worship stops at the statue or the picture, then it is idolatry. The truth, however, is that idols are a means to reach the formless aspect of God. Form is used as a means to reach the formless. Many people talk about praying or worshiping directly, but this is impossible – no one can make it. Whether it is a mosque, a temple, a scripture, rites, rituals, prayers, meditation techniques, a prophet or a guru, all are forms and only means to reach the formless. Yes, it is absolutely true that people stagnate with idolatry, thus missing the opportunity to experience the formless. 7

By the Prana Pratishtha ceremony, the idol becomes identical with the deity.

By Swami Paramananda*

1 www.definitions.net

2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%80gama_(Hinduism)

3 http://www.hinduwebsite.com/idols.asp

4, 5 http://www.speakingtree.in/allslides/science-behind-hindu-temples/238296

6, 7 http://www.londonmeditation.info/Truth-behind-Idol-and-Image-Worship—By-a-Meditation-Master/B43.htm>

* Paramananda (1884–1940) was a swami and one of the early Indian teachers who went to the United States to spread the Vedanta philosophy and religion there. He was a mystic, a poet and an innovator in spiritual community living. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swami_Paramananda>

Continue reading “No Idols Here….”

No Males Allowed

Goddess, temple, curse,
Saraswati is usually sweet and pleasant, but this time her husband upset her to the point of putting a curse on him….on all married men

 

I recently learned that there are some temples in India that deny entry to non-Hindus. The Swami who told me that said that he thought it had to do with some westerners who disrespected the temples by their dress and or behavior. Later, I learned that there were also temples that deny entry to women.

Continue reading “No Males Allowed”

The Final Four – Yoga Limbs 5 thru 8

This concludes the series 8 Limbs of Yoga

In brief summary, we have discussed the goal of Yoga, which is to unite one’s transitory (temporary) self, “JIVA” with the infinite “BRAHMAN”, the Hindu concept of God.  This God is not a personal God, but it is an impersonal spiritual substance which is one with nature and cosmos. Brahman is an impersonal divine substance that “pervades, envelopes and underlies everything”. Yoga comes to yogi who is one with Brahman”

Continue reading “The Final Four – Yoga Limbs 5 thru 8”

Breathing and Posing

yoga, pose, asana, meditate, breathe, pranyama
Ready to Meditate

Yoga Pt III  Breathing and Posing Third in the series, The Debt I Owe to Yoga

We now arrive at asanas. This is limb number three of yoga that gets called, well, “yoga.” Actually, it is properly named asana, or , posture. These are the poses you see in advertisements for yoga paraphernalia or poses by bodies that grace the covers of Yoga or health related magazines .  These postures practiced in asanas, comprise the third limb and the breathing exercises or pranayama comprises the fourth.  If you have been reading this series so far, you will know that asana is not a fitness system or a series of gymnastic exercises but part of a larger process of spiritual rebalancing. 1, 2

Continue reading “Breathing and Posing”

Have You Exercised Your Limbs Today?

Part II Of The Debt I Owe to Yoga

This is thPatanjali, yoga Sutra Part II the debt I owe yogae second part of a series entitled The Debt I Owe to Yoga, subtitled Have you worked your limbs today? Part one was an introduction to yoga, some of its cultural impact, a brief history, and how it has affected me personally.

To  explain the spiritual significance and the totality of what yoga really is one must, of necessity visit Patanjali.  It was he who classified yoga at approximately  200-400 BCE, (some documents say 150 BCE) because by that time the practice, had gone into all different directions. He organized it into a format known as the Yoga Sutras.  His “eight limbs” of yoga still inform the practice today and discuss posture, breathing, meditation and correct living. He is known as “the father of modern yoga.”

Continue reading “Have You Exercised Your Limbs Today?”

Musings of Hinduism By Nithin Sridhar A Book Review

                                                                              Musings of  Hinduism                                                 Book By Nithin Sridhar Dharma Brahman Vedanta or non-duality           By Nithin Sridhar

Nithin Sridhar has created a master piece. He has many meaningful thoughts on Hinduism that he packs into this book, Musings of Hinduism. His basic premise is that of the philosophical concept of Vedanta or non-duality, which essentially means to know and to merge with what is real. For instance, since, Brahman being the highest reality, from which we came, we will eventually again merge with Continue reading “Musings of Hinduism By Nithin Sridhar A Book Review”

Today’s Ponder – Why People Shout In Anger

Akshaya Tritiya 2017

Akshaya Tritiya 2017
Lord Ganesha for Akshaya Tritiya

A most auspicious day according to the Hindu calendar.  Lord Vishnu and Lord Kuber endow great wealth and prosperity on devotees on this day

The word “Akshaya” means imperishable or eternal – that which never diminishes. Initiations made or valuables bought on this day are considered to bring success or good fortune. Buying gold is a popular activity on Akshaya Tritiya, as it is the ultimate symbol of wealth and prosperity. Gold and gold jewelry bought and worn on this day signify never diminishing good fortune. Indians celebrate weddings, begin new business ventures, and even plan long journeys on this day. https://www.thoughtco.com/akshaya-tritiya-1770185

One of my favorite Akshaya Tritiya   stories is the Krishna-Sudama Legend where his poor Brahmin childhood friend Sudama came over to his palace to request from him a loan or small grant . As an offering, poor Sudama brought all that he had which was  a handful of beaten rice. So, he was actually ashamed to give it to his friend, but Krishna took the rice  and happily received it.  Krishna was following the practice of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ that ‘the guest is like God’ and he therefore treated Sudama like a king. His poor friend was so heartened by the warmth and hospitality shown by Krishna, that he could was too ashamed to ask for the financial favor  after all.  When Sudama  returned to his home, it had been transformed into a palace! He found his family dressed in royal clothing and all of the contents were new and expensive. Sudama knew that it was a boon from Krishna, who blessed him with more than the wealth he actually intended to ask for. Therefore, Akshaya Tritiya is associated with material gains and wealth acquisition.  I might also add generosity.

On this day world leaders are to perform Puja at the picture of Vaibhav-Lakshmi for their subjects which should make the subjects happy as well as prosperous. We should remember though to make sure to invoke Lord Vishnu because Goddess Lakshmi is his divine energy (shakti). So to not invite him to our worship on this day will not allow us the maximum benefit of the principle of Lakshmi-tattva”

Today’s Ponder Hymn XII Book VII Atharva Veda

These Vedas are so easy to like. Really now who among us has not prayed a prayer close to if not this?

A prayer for influence at deliberative and religious meetings

In concord may Prajapati’s two daughters, Gathering and As-
sembly, both protect me.
May every man I meet respect and aid me. Fair be my words,
O Fathers, at the meetings.
We know thy name, O Conference: thy name is interchange of
talk.
Let all the company who join the Conference agree with me.
Of these men seated here I make the splendour and the lore
mine own.
Indra, make me conspicuous in all this gathered company.
Whether your thoughts are turned away, or bound and fastened
here or there,
We draw them hitherward again: let your mind firmly rest on me