Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought

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Just as the law of gravitation acted before its discovery by humanity, and would continue to act if all humanity forgot it, so is it with the laws that govern the spiritual world. The discoverers of these laws are called Rishis, and we honor them as perfected beings as quoted in Londhe, Vivekananda summarily stated the orthodox Hindu view of scripture: scripture is eternal, it is impersonal, and it is much more than letters written on a page. There they affirmed the Vedas to be eternal nitya and impersonal apauruseya. To understand these two propositions, insight must be gained into the Hindu conception of Veda.

As Vivekananda pointed out, the Vedas are more than a mere book—they are eternal knowledge, without author, beginning, or end. These increate truths have occasionally been perceived by humans and recorded in books, but the Vedas are much more than what is written. Vedic knowledge hangs in the atmosphere as a sort of ether exuded by the gods; the truth needs only to be grasped by enlightened disciples whose heightened senses allow them to perceive it.

Hence the description of Vedas as sound vibration in the air:. I [Krishna] personally establish the Vedic sound vibration in the form of omkara within all living entities. It is thus perceived subtly, just like a single strand of fiber on a lotus stalk. Krishna a primary Hindu god, conceived as a manifestation of Vishnu declares that the Vedas are within.

Many seek the truth in the hope that they might grope for it and find it, though, according to this passage, it is not far from each one of us. Though Christians believe scripture to be the complete, written record of specific truths revealed by God, Hindus consider scripture to be the whole of universal truth that may be discovered.

Vivekananda also stated that the Vedas are eternal, even preexisting the gods. This means something significantly different to a Hindu than it would to a Western Christian with his linear notions of time and space. To the Hindu, time and space exist only in relation to perception; when perception is altered through religious rites such as meditation and the Cosmos is seen as it really is, distinctions in time and space melt away into the Absolute. Thus, the Vedas and the gods both were created, but they both have also always existed.

These sophisticated beliefs developed over time, however, and some of the most ancient hymns attribute revelation to the highest god. Later passages elaborate this same theme. This Absolute god-principle did not create the scriptures, but as eternal truth they are part of his essence. They are thought to have co-existed with the Absolute, and pre-existed in the Absolute.

He created the gods and manifested the truth of his presence to them; they in turn created the written books of the Veda for the humanity they also made. The eternal Vedas were thus received by the gods, who entrusted them to humans. God, known here as the Immense Being, breathed out the Vedas, not into specific men, but into the Universe. There the scripture remains, as smoke lingering from an extinguished fire, waiting to be perceived by humans.

Seven men served as interlocutors between the Supreme and humanity—men of extraordinary perspicacity who distinguished themselves by their asceticism and acts of renunciation see Mitchiner, These men were not chosen to be inspired; they were gifted sages with keen insight into spiritual matters. Their sensitivity allowed them to perceive those eternal truths that permeate the fabric of space and time.

The revelation they perceived was not confined to a particular time or place, and if it were to be forgotten, other sages would comprehend those truths again. According to Hindu tradition, the rsis recorded their experience because of the coming Age of Kali, a dispensation when men would be hardened against spiritual matters. The seven rsis , along with Vyasa, the compiler of the scripture, are generally considered to be perfected beings, greater than humans but less than divine. The eternal Vedas came from the impersonal Absolute.

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They were not personally delivered from God to man, but impersonally manifested. The Veda was not received by humans, as was the Bible, but perceived by sages.

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Though impersonal, the Hindu philosophy of the word is not unlike that of the Bible. His Word was with him. This Word was his second.

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He contemplated. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of transcendental mediation and Beatles fame explained this process in more detail:. The material Universe did not come into being by omnipotent fiat, or the intentional will of a purposeful Deity, but by spontaneous evolution from the eternal Veda. The sounds of the Veda the Veda is sound became the fabric of the Cosmos. Yet in contrast to the impersonal Hindu word, the Christian Word is a living and personal Being, Who willed the Universe into existence for His own purposes, Who delivered a temporal revelation to humanity for the express purpose of imparting saving knowledge, and Who revealed Himself to man as the ultimate divine knowledge.

As a result, Hindus typically have relied on the spoken word to a greater degree than any written text. Words and sounds were very important in the Vedic tradition, and even in the earliest Vedas the smallest syllables and intonations were thought to be of divine origin. Speech has the power to evoke images and ideas. The process through which a thought, at first indistinct, gradually becomes definite and exteriorizes itself is similar to the process through which the divine thought becomes the universe. The difference is only one of degree. If our power of thought, our power of expression, was greater, things we speak of would actually appear.

With our limited powers only their image is evoked. Speech can therefore be represented as the origin of all things. The cosmos is but the expression of an idea, a manifested utterance. Supreme Divinity can be represented as the causal word sabda-brahman [, p. The words of the Veda are intrinsically powerful.

Every syllable is sacred, and the repetition of the scripture is auspicious in and of itself. The books of the Veda are cherished not for their great wisdom or moral instruction, but for the holy sounds contained within.

Christians may be skeptical of this oral approach to scripture, but they would do well to remember the supremacy of the spoken word in their own religion. The spoken word indicates presence, while the written word implies absence. Christ, as the Word, was present among us, and he represents the highest form of revelation. It is not the immediacy of the Word that sets Christianity apart from Hindu scripture, however, nor the respect for the spoken word, but the content.


The Bible contains clear statements that must be affirmed prerequisite to salvation. For instance, Jesus gave the model prayer Matthew to His disciples as an example of prayer that was pleasing to God. To repeatedly recite the exact words of that prayer today would be of little use because the effectiveness of the prayer is linked to a comprehension of the words uttered as well as compliance with certain moral requisites such as forgiving others their trespasses, Matthew Though the Hindu scriptures are immensely significant to the tradition, they exert surprisingly little influence in the religious life of the average Hindu devotee.

This is not to say that all Hindus accept the scriptures. It might accurately be said that atheists orient themselves in relation to the Bible, yet their position is opposite that of a Christian. Similarly, Hindus are defined by the degree to which they accept or reject the Vedic scriptures. Some renounce the holy books on principle: most notable among these is Gautama Buddha, an Indian prince who abandoned the Vedas because they reinforced the caste system. The mammoth size and obsolete script of traditional Sanskrit scriptures renders them inaccessible to the majority, and even vernacular translations are unintelligible to a predominately illiterate population.

In the Laws of Manu, the Veda is held in highest regard:. The root of religion is the entire Veda , and then the tradition and customs of those who know the Veda , and the conduct of virtuous people, and what is satisfactory to oneself. Whatever duty Manu proclaimed for whatever person, all of that was declared in the Veda, for it contains all knowledge. So when a learned man has looked thoroughly at all of this with the eye of knowledge, he should devote himself to his own duty in accordance with the authority of the revealed canon. For the human being who fulfils the duty declared in the revealed canon and in tradition wins renown here on earth and unsurpassable happiness after death.

The Veda should be known as the revealed canon and the teachings of religion as the tradition.

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These two are indisputable matters, for religion arose out of the two of them. Any twice-born man who disregards these two roots of religion because he relies on the teachings of logic should be excommunicated by virtuous people as an atheist and a reviler of the Veda Manusmrti 2. Contemporary Western and Indian scholars also acknowledge the centrality of the Vedas to Hindu religion. As noted above, Hindus do not unanimously accept any single text, or group of texts, as the authoritative body of eternal truth.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam each cherish a holy book containing everything that pertains to life and godliness, but Hindus have no analogous monolithic text. This we do not believe, because we know Germany and hold the alliance between Providence and our people to be a matter of necessity. Naumann , Member of the Reichstag, D.

Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought

The difficult Christian commandment, "Love your enemies," is nowhere more easily obeyed than in war! There is much talk about "hate" against England. But how do our warriors greet each other?

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  7. It is the just God at whose hands we hope for the punishment of the unjust man or nation. It might come to pass that we succumbed in this fight of righteousness and purity against falsehood and deceit. That could only happen, I am sure, over the dead body of the last German—but should it happen, I assert that we should all die happy in the consciousness of having defended God against the world.

    We are beginning slowly, humbly, and yet with a deep gladness, to divine God's intentions. It may sound proud, my friends, but we are conscious that it is also in all humbleness that we say it: the German soul is God's soul: it shall and will rule over mankind.

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    The German God is not only the theme of some of our poets and prophets, but also a historian like Max Lenz has, with fiery tongue and in deep thankfulness, borne witness to the revelation of the German God in our holy war. The German, the [74] national, God! Has war in this case impaired, or has it steeled religion?

    Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought
    Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought
    Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought
    Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought
    Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought
    Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought
    Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought Gems From The Ocean of Devotional Hindu Thought

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