In this new feature of our website, we present
every week a new selection of the teachings of Vedanta, taken from a
variety of sources – lectures and writings of Swami Adiswarananda,
Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Literature, and other spiritual texts.
Hindu scriptures describe ultimate reality as Brahman. Brahman is non-dual
pure consciousness, indivisible, incorporeal, infinite, and all-pervading
like the sky. Brahman is of the nature of
existence-knowledge-bliss-absolute-the ground of all existence, basis of
all awareness, and source of all bliss. It is the reality of all
realities, the soul of all souls, one without a second, the constant
witness of the changing phenomena of the universe. From the absolute point
of view, Brahman alone exists. Brahman has two aspects: transcendent and
immanent. In Its transcendent aspect, Brahman is devoid of name and form,
sex and attributes. But in Its immanent aspect, Brahman is endowed with
them. The Upanishads designate the transcendent Brahman by the word "It"
and the immanent Brahman by the word "He." Through Its inscrutable power
called maya, the transcendent Brahman
appears to be conditioned by time and space and to manifest itself as
personal God, the creator, preserver, and destroyer of the universe. The
Upanishads describe God as the supreme person:
His hands and feet are everywhere; His eyes, heads, and faces are
everywhere; His ears are everywhere; He exists compassing all. The heavens
are His head; the sun and moon, His eyes; the quarters, His ears; the
revealed Vedas, His speech; the wind is His breath; the universe, His
heart. From His feet is produced the earth. He is, indeed, the inner Self
of all beings.
The various Godheads of Hinduism, such as Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Kali, and
Durga, are but different facets of Brahman. The supreme Brahman assumes
various forms for the fulfillment of the individual spiritual seekers. All
concepts and forms of God, according to Hinduism, are what we think of Him
and not what He is to Himself. Again, various seekers of God, depending
upon their advancement, perceive God differently. For example, to the
beginner God appears as an extra-cosmic creator; to the more advanced
seeker as inner controller; and to the perfect knower of God, God is
everywhere and in everything. Still another manifestation of the
conditioned Brahman is the incarnation of God-God's taking human form.
According to Hinduism, God incarnates Himself to fulfill the needs of the
universe, whenever and wherever such a need arises. In the Bhagavad Gita
Sri Krishna says:
Whenever there is a decline of dharma
(righteousness), O Bharata, and a rise of
adharma (unrighteousness), I incarnate myself. For the protection of
the good, for the destruction of the wicked, and for the establishment of
dharma, I am born in every age.
Thus, according to Hinduism, the supreme Godhead is both formless and
endowed with many forms.
[Copyright Swami Adiswarananda]
Weekly Message Archive