God, gods and beyond

Chetan Shah

I had an interesting coincidence of reading the Taittireeya Upanishad and having unrelated dialogues with my monotheistic (namely Muslim, Christian etc.) friends, which results in to this note.

We Hindus, while forming exclusive and often overlapping fan clubs of our favorite gods, are different from the staunch and disciplined monotheistic fan clubs, which tolerate or forgive no such nonsense. While retaining our right to remember one, two or many deities at the time of celebration or tragedy, at heart we know that ‘sab ka malik ek’. However, our light hearted approach to our saviors appears to be conflicting to Non Hindus and often confusing to us Hindus, too.

One of my monotheistic friends told me that she believed that Vedic philosophy propagates monotheism i.e. belief in a single God. I said I couldn’t agree more.

Physicists tell us that the universe was created after the gases came together under heavy pressure and exploded in a big bang. Physical elements, mostly liquids hurling all around formed stars, planets and other astral objects that is our universe today. While life as biologically defined exists on earth as perhaps well as on some other planets, if self-vibrating atoms and airwaves are to be defined as alive then it pervades the whole universe.

What physicists seem to be telling us is that there is ONE single life force to the universe. In my view these physicists are scientifically monotheistic. They do not believe in multiple independent sources of energy driving the universe.

What do Vedas and Upanishads tell us? Let’s just take the example of Taittireeya Upanishad. It talks about brahme. In Sanskrit, it is ‘brahma’ where the end of the word is to be pronounced like in German words such as ‘Bayerische’ or ‘Porsche’, so I am changing the spelling to avoid confusing it with ‘Brahma’ the Lord.

Brahme is the name given to the pacific life force that was (and is) shapeless, nameless, indescribable, unclothed and without any physical features. It ‘decided’ to become many from ONE. The ‘sleeping’energy thus first took the form of space, then air, then fire, water and solid matter. Then brahme the energy continued to live within the physical manifestation – the universe including its life forms and objects made of vibrating atoms.

How interestingly this matches with the scientific explanations! Gases could not have existed without the space mentioned in the Upanishad, and the rest of the story from the big bang (fire) onwards is visibly fitting the Upanishad proposal.

Indian wisdom or sciences (literally the Vedas) have been studied in great detail by Western academics and scientists for centuries. Max Mueller and others used the term ‘monism’,not ‘monotheism’ to describe the Vedic thought of oneness. Monism consists of the argument that everything that we know today as well as that, which our ever expanding science is finding in the universe, is integral and inseparable part of brahme and hence we all are intertwined and interconnected. Conversely brahme resides in all of us, in animals, plants, rock, plastic, waste etc etc.

Monotheism is different thanfrom monism because it argues that God is different from humans and other matter. God is the creator, supervisor, blesser and punisher. He has to be different in order to effectively run the show. He is akin to an all powerful father or a king or a superman. He is not human but is given to being understood by humans. I think there is an emotional element to this argument. Kids always indulge in oversleeping, overeating, writing on newly painted walls etc because they know the all powerful mom and dad will take care of their mess, even if sometimes slapping them, only to love them more finally.
Acharya Rajneesh, as he was known before he became Osho, used to say something to the effect that all paths of understanding the universe and your place in it could finally be classified in to two – the path of emotion and the path of wisdom. He would have described monotheism, traditional Hinduism etc. as the paths of emotion, submission, devotion – the Bhakti or Prema Marga.

The path shown by the rishis of Upanishad and Veda and the physicists as well as the paths of Buddha and Mahavir who do not speak about God and his role - are the paths of rationale, science and logic. Brahme is no loving father, nor does it punish. It is not visible, fathomable except through the big bang and its aftermath. Rajneesh would call this Jnana Marga – the path of knowledge and wisdom.

To each her own !

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Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / Features

Sardar statue to cost Rs. 2000 Crores

Prof. N.R. Dave

Do we need a Ratan Tata to tell his Nano-host that the concern for human development index for Gujarat dictates that Rs. 2000 Crores has several alternative uses for improving quality of life of down-trodden and needy and for enhancing their dignity as human beings? 

Shall we furnish arithmetic of Rs. 2000  crores as equivalent  options in number of good and functioning primary schools, primary healthy centres and potable as well as reliable water supply system for each village in the State?

Sardar is the tallest of the tallest for all the time. Does he need artificial and physical height to be visible for being inspirational to the generations to come? Sardar Patel University, Sardar Patel Institute of Public Administration, Sardar Smruti, Sardar Smarak are some of the institutes in the State  which need to be augmented, enriched and brought up to world class centres of excellence. It is childish to throw old toys in a dustbin and seek new toys for possessive and promotional vanity. 

In fact, there has not been any public debate on this momentous project. Politicians of all colours are understandably silent; some intellectuals are apprehensive of antagonizing the regime and others are simply indifferent. 

Erecting a statue is not an innovative idea.  There are thousands of them everywhere in cities, towns and villages.  Anybody who mooted this idea of the tallest Sardar needs to be credited for packaging the gimmick properly.  This was perhaps at a time when the Chief Minister, as reported in the media, commented that the bureaucrats were not coming up with any new idea or scheme.

In a country  more and more petty politicians with parochial loyalties are thrown up at the top post, imagine ---- states and UTs--- installing the tallest statues of  Gandhiji, Sardar, Buddha, Mahavir, Shivaji, Rana Pratap, Kanshiram, Mayawati etc  and vying with each other to escalate the height of statue higher than 182 metres.

It is not so much relevant as whose money you are spending; it is pertinent to ask whether you are doing enough to inspire the generations to come for inculcating grand values and rich legacy of such eminent persons. It is rather difficult, but then that is only thing worth doing. Long term vision needs long term total concerns.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED