Hinduism: One Truth
Hinduism is a religion but more so, a tradition – a way of righteous living.
No matter what path to spirituality, Hinduism teaches that we are all trying to get there like with a GPS – the shortest route may not be the quickest and may not be the most scenic!
So the tolerance and mutual respect of other traditions is a very important message of Hinduism.
“Truth is one, wise call it by different names.” – Rig-veda
“Namaste” means “I honor the Divinity within you” and is a traditional greeting in Hinduism.
In many ways, it is also the crux of Hinduism.
God is Infinite
Hindu Trinity: Brahma is the creator of the universe; Vishnu is the preserver of it. Shiva's role is to destroy the universe in order to re-create it.
Truth is one, the wise call it by many names.
Representations of God
The Infinite One in represented in numerous forms to develop a loving relationship.
Hindus are free to choose the form which appeals most to them.
Even a simple village priest in his prayers may say “Forgive me Lord for my three mistakes: I see you in various Forms although you transcend all Forms; I sing your praises but no language, no words, are adequate enough to describe The Infinite; and by making this pilgrimage by coming to this temple, I am denying your omnipresence.” God is always more than what we can ever imagine!
"The images of the gods are not a 'likeness' of any earthly form. They are fantastic forms, with multiple heads and arms, with blue, green, or vermilion coloring, or with part-animal bodies. They are not intended to 'represent' earthly realities, but rather to present divine realities. They stretch the human imagination toward the divine by juxtaposing earthly realties in unearthly ways. Indeed, the God Shiva has three eyes. Vishnu has four arms. Skanda has six heads. The vivid variety of Hindu deities is visible everywhere in India. Rural India is filled with countless wayside shrines. In every town of some size there are many temples, and every major temple will contain its own panoply of shrines and images…. On the whole, it would be fair to say that the Western traditions, especially the religious traditions of the 'Book' – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – have trusted the Word more than the Image as a mediator of the divine truth…. The ears were somehow more trustworthy than the eyes. Not so with Indian religion.” -Huston Smith
Worship and spiritual practice for those lovers of God with form and attributes often is devotional in nature, with prayer and meditation employed to deepen the aspirant’s pursuit of divine relationship.
Gods & Goddesses
The Supreme Reality (Brahman) manifests itself in both male and female form. Every major god has a goddess counterpart. Many Hindus worship the Great Goddess exclusively.
Sri Saraswati is the Goddess of knowledge and Wisdom. We all need knowledge, and we all need wisdom so Sri Saraswati is popular with all Hindus. The instrument in her hand is called Veena –the original instrument of India with a very deep sound.
Sri Lakshmi the Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Who doesn’t like wealth and who doesn’t like prosperity - so Hindus celebrate her birthday in a grand style!
Sri Durga is the Goddess of power and Strength – Hindus call it Shakti. Hindus see power and strength – Shakti – in a female form. As you can see, she is riding a lion. – it takes a little bit of strength to jump on the back of a lion! Here we see mother Goddess in a most benign form. Sometime Hindus see her as Kali – her tongue hanging out, her foot on the chest of a man and she has a skull of a man in one hand and then she has a thousand arms. Perhaps 20-30 percent, a good portion, of Hindus see the Divinity through mother Goddess; such followers are called Shaktas.
How Many Gods?
There is only One – with various names and forms of the Infinite One.