Comparative religion for all human: By TM Kamal Pasha

 Comparative Religion For all Human: 

 

By TM Kamal Pasha   

INTRODUCTION:

The most popular among the Aryan religions is Hinduism. Hindu is actually a Persian word that stands for the inhabitants of the region beyond the Indus Valley. However, in common parlance, Hinduism is a blanket term for an assortment of religious beliefs, most of which are based on the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.

 

The Brahma Sutra of Hinduism:

"Ekam Brahm, dvitiya naste neh na naste kinchan"

(Sanskrit transliteration) "There is only one God, not the second; not at all, not at all, not in the least bit."

Shruti:

     Śhruti, often spelled sruti or sruthi mainly in South India, is a term that describes the sacred text comprising the central canon of hinduism and is one of the three main sources of dharma. These sacred works span much of the history of Hinduism, beginning with some of the earliest known Hindu texts and ending in the early modern period with the later Upanishad.

This literature differs from other sources of Hindu Philosophy, particularly smrti or “remembered text”, because of the purely divine origin of śruti. This belief of divinity is particularly prominent within the Mimamsa tradition. The initial literature is traditionally believed to be a direct revelation of the “cosmic sound of truth” heard by ancient Rishi who then translated what was heard into something understandable by humans.

Smriti:

     Smriti literally means "that which is remembered," refers to a specific body of  and is a codified component of Hindu customery law.Smṛti also denotes non-sruti texts and is generally seen as secondary in authority to Śruti. The literature which comprises the Smrti was composed after the  Vedas around 500 BCE. Smrti also denotes tradition in the sense that it portrays the traditions of the rules on dharma, especially those of lawful virtuous persons. This is understood by looking at traditional texts, such as the Ramayana, in which the traditions of the main characters portray a strict adherence to or observance of dharmsa (the same however need to be understood as experiences rather than binary haves or have-nots).

 

 INTRODUCTION TO HINDU SCRIPTURES:

There are several sacred scriptures of the Hindus. Among these are the Vedas, Upanishads and the Puranas.

1.VEDAS:

i. The word Veda is derived from vid which means to know, knowledge par excellence or sacred wisdom. There are four principal divisions of the Vedas (although according to their number, they amount to 1131 out of which about a dozen are available). According to Maha Bhashya of Patanjali, there are 21 branches of Rigveda, 9 types of Atharvaveda, 101 branches of Yajurveda and 1000 of Samveda).

ii. The Rigveda, the Yajurveda and the Samveda are considered to be more ancient books and are known as Trai Viddya or the Triple Sciences. The Rigveda is the oldest and has been compiled in three long and different periods of time. The 4th Veda is the Atharvaveda, which is of a later date.

iii. There is no unanimous opinion regarding the date of compilation or revelation of the four Vedas. According to Swami Dayanand, founder of the Arya Samaj, the Vedas were revealed 1310 million years ago. According to other scholars, they are not more than 4000 years old.

iv. Similarly, there are differing opinions regarding the places where these books were compiled and the Rishis to whom these Scriptures were given. Inspite of these differences, the Vedas are considered to be the most authentic of the Hindu Scriptures and the real foundations of the Hindu Dharma.

 

2.UPANISHADS:

      a. The word 'Upanishad' is derived from Upa meaning near, Ni which means down and Shad means to sit. Therefore Upanishad means sitting down near. Groups of pupils sit near the teacher to learn from him the secret doctrines. According to Samkara, Upanishad is derived from the root word Sad which means to loosen, to reach or to destroy, with Upa and ni as prefix; therefore Upanishad means Brahma-Knowledge by which ignorance is loosened or destroyed.

 

      b. The number of Upanishads exceeds 200 though the Indian tradition puts it at 108. There are 10 principal Upanishads. However, some consider them to be more than 10, while others 18.

 

      c.The Vedanta meant originally the Upanishads, though the word is now used for the system of philosophy based on the Upanishad. Literally, Vedanta means the end of the Veda,Vedasua-antah, and the conclusion as well as the goal of Vedas. The Upanishads are the concluding portion of the Vedas and chronologically they come at the end of the Vedic period.

 

     d.Some Pundits consider the Upanishads to be more superior to the Vedas.

 

PURANAS:

Next in order of authenticity are the Puranas which are the most widely read scriptures. It is believed that the Puranas contain the history of the creation of the universe, history of the early Aryan tribes, life stories of the divines and deities of the Hindus. It is also believed that the Puranas are revealed books like the Vedas, which were revealed simultaneously with the Vedas or sometime close to it.

Maharishi Vyasa has divided the Puranas into 18 voluminous parts. He also arranged the Vedas under various heads.

Chief among the Puranas is a book known as Bhavishya Purana. It is called so because it is believed to give an account of future events. The Hindus consider it to be the word of God. Maharishi yasa is considered to be just the compiler of the book.

 

ITIHAAS:

The two epics of Hinduism are the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

A. Ramayana:

According to Ramanuja, the great scholar of Ramayana, there are more than 300 different types of Ramayana: Tulsidas Ramayana, Kumbha Ramayana. Though the outline of Ramayana is same, the details and contents differ.

Valmikis Ramayana:

Unlike the Mahabharata, the Ramayana appears to be the work of one person  the sage Valmiki, who probably composed it in the 3rd century BC. Its best-known recension (by Tulsi Das, 1532-1623) consists of 24,000 rhymed couplets of 16-syllable lines organised into 7 books. The poem incorporates many ancient legends and draws on the sacred books of the Vedas. It describes the efforts of Kosalas heir, Rama, to regain his throne and rescue his wife, Sita, from the demon King of Lanka.

Valmiki's Ramayana is a Hindu epic tradition whose earliest literary version is a Sanskrit poem attributed to the sage Valmiki. Its principal characters are said to present ideal models of personal, familial, and social behavior and hence are considered to exemplify Dharma, the principle of moral order.

B. Mahabharata:

The nucleus of the Mahabharata is the war of eighteen days fought between the Kauravas, the hundred sons of Dhritarashtra and Pandavas, the five sons of Pandu. The epic entails all the circumstances leading upto the war. Involved in this Kurukshetra battle were almost all the kings of India joining either of the two parties. The result of this war was the total annihilation of Kauravas and their party. Yudhishthira, the head of the Pandavas, became the sovereign monarch of Hastinapura. His victory is supposed to symbolise the victory of good over evil. But with the progress of years, new matters and episodes relating to the various aspects of human life, social, economic, political, moral and religious as also fragments of other heroic legends came to be added to the aforesaid nucleus and this phenomenon continued for centuries until it acquired the present shape. The Mahabharata represents a whole literature rather than one single and unified work, and contains many multifarious things.

C. Bhagavad Gita:

Bhagavad Gita is a part of Mahabharata. It is the advice given by Krishna to Arjun on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. It contains the essence of the Vedas and is the most popular of all the Hindu Scriptures. It contains 18 chapters.

The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most widely read and revered of the works sacred to the Hindus. It is their chief devotional book, and has been for centuries the principal source of

religious inspiration for many thousands of Hindus.

The Gita is a dramatic poem, which forms a small part of the larger epic, the Mahabharata. It is included in the sixth book (Bhismaparvan) of the Mahabaharata and documents one tiny event in a huge epic tale.

The Bhagavad Gita tells a story of a moral crisis faced by Arjuna, which is solved through the interaction between Arjuna, a Pandava warrior hesitating before battle, and Krishna, his charioteer and teacher. The Bhagavad Gita relates a brief incident in the main story of a rivalry and eventually a war between two branches of a royal family. In that brief incident - a pause on the battlefield just as the battle is about to begin - Krishna, one chief on one side (also believed to be the Lord incarnate), is presented as responding to the doubts of Arjuna. The poem is the dialogue through which Arjunas doubts were resolved by Krishnas teachings.

 

CONCEPT OF GOD IN HINDUISM:

1.Common Concept of God in Hinduism:

Hinduism is commonly perceived as a polytheistic religion. Indeed, most Hindus would attest to this, by professing belief in multiple Gods. While some Hindus believe in the existence of three gods, some believe in thousands of gods, and some others in thirty three crore i.e. 330 million Gods. However, learned Hindus, who are well versed in their scriptures, insist that a Hindu should believe in and worship only one God.

The major difference between the Hindu and the Muslim perception of God is the common Hindus belief in the philosophy of Pantheism. Pantheism considers everything, living and non-living, to be Divine and Sacred. The common Hindu, therefore, considers everything as God. He considers the trees as God, the sun as God, the moon as God, the monkey as God, the snake as God and even human beings as manifestations of God!

2.Concept of God according to Hindu Scriptures:

We can gain a better understanding of the concept of God in Hinduism by analysing Hindu scriptures.

 BHAGAVAD GITA

The most popular amongst all the Hindu scriptures is the Bhagavad Gita.

Consider the following verse from the Gita:

"Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures." [Bhagavad Gita 7:20] The Gita states that people who are materialistic worship demigods i.e. gods besides the True God.

UPANISHADS:

The Upanishads are considered sacred scriptures by the Hindus.

The following verses from the Upanishads refer to the Concept of God:

i. "Ekam evadvitiyam" "He is One only without a second." [Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1]

ii. "Na casya kascij janita na cadhipah." "Of Him there are neither parents nor lord." [Svetasvatara Upanishad 6:9]

iii. "Na tasya pratima asti" "There is no likeness of Him." [Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:19]

iv. The following verses from the Upanishad allude to the inability of man to imagine God in a particular form:

"Na samdrse tisthati rupam asya, na caksusa pasyati kas canainam."

"His form is not to be seen; no one sees Him with the eye." [Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:20]

 

THE VEDAS Vedas are considered the most sacred of all the Hindu scriptures. There are four principal Vedas:

Rigveda

Yajurveda

Samveda 

Atharvaveda.

The Rigved deals with ‘Songs of praises’;
The Ajurved deals with ‘Sacrificial formulas’,
The Samved with Melody, and
The Atharvaved with Magical formulas.

Comparative Religion