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God in Hinduism

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In Hinduism the concept of God is complex and depends on a particular tradition. In majority of traditions of Vaishnavism he is Vishnu, God, and the text identifies this being as Krishna, sometimes referred as svayam bhagavan. The term isvara - from the root is, to have extraordinary power. Some forms of traditional sankhya systems contrast purusha (devine, or souls) to prakriti (nature or energy), however term of sovereign God, ishvara is mentioned six times in the Atharva Veda, and is central to many traditions.[1] .

Ishvara

The Sanskrit word for God with the root is referring to a being with extraordinary powers,[1] that is used most commonly, is Ishvara, originally a title comparable to "Lord", from the roots īśa, lit., powerful/lord/owner, + vara, lit., choicest/most excellent). Hindus believe that Ishvara is One.

Svayam Bhagavan

Svayam bhagavan is a Sanskrit theological term that refers to the concept of absolute representation of the monotheistic God as Bhagavan himself within Hinduism.

It is most often used in Gaudiya Vaishnava Krishna-centered theology as referring to Krishna. The title Svayam Bhagavan is used exclusively to designate Krishna,[2]. Certain other traditions of Hinduism consider him to be the source of all avataras, and the source of Vishnu himself, or to be the same as Narayana. As such, he is therefore regarded as Svayam Bhagavan.[3][4][5]

The term is seldom used to refer to other forms of Krishna and/or Vishnu within the context of certain religious texts such as the Bhagavata Purana, and also within other sects of Vaishnavism.

When Krishna is recognized to be Svayam Bhagavan, it can be understood that this is the belief of Gaudiya Vaishnavism,[6] the Vallabha Sampradaya,[7] and the Nimbarka Sampradaya, where Krishna is accepted to be the source of all other avatars, and the source of Vishnu himself. This belief is drawn primarily "from the famous statement of the Bhagavatam"(1.3.28).[8]

A different viewpoint, opposing this theological concept is the concept of Krishna as an avatara of Narayana or Vishnu. It should be however noted that although its is usual to speak of Vishnu as the source of the avataras, this is only one of the names of god of Vaishnavism, who is also known as Narayana, Vasudeva and Krishna and behind each of those names there is a divine figure with attributed supremacy in Vaishnavism.[9]

The theological interpretation of svayam bhagavān differs with each tradition and the literal translation of the term has been understood in several distinct ways. Translated from the Sanskrit language, the term literary means "Bhagavan Himself" or "directly Bhagavan".[10] Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition often translates it within its perspective as primeval Lord or original Personality of Godhead, but also considers the terms such as Supreme Personality of Godhead and Supreme God as an equivalent to the term Svayam bhagavan, and may also choose to apply these terms to Vishnu, Narayana and many of their associated avatars. [11][12]

Earlier commentators such as Madhvacharya translated the term Svayam Bhagavan as "he who has bhagavatta"; meaning "he who has the quality of possessing all good qualities".[5] Others have translated it simply as "the Lord Himself".[13] Followers of Vishnu-centered sampradayas of Vaishnavism rarely address this term, but believe that it refers to their belief that Krishna is among the highest and fullest of all avatars and is considered to be the "paripurna Avatara", complete in all respects and the same as the original.[14] According to them Krishna is described in the Bhagavata Purana as the Purnavatara (or complete manifestation) of the Bhagavan, while other incarnations are called partial.

Brahman

The Vedantic school of Hindu philosophy also has a notion of a Supreme Cosmic Spirit called Brahman, pronounced as / brəh mən /.

Characteristics of God

The number six is invariably given, but the individual attributes listed vary. One set of attributes (and their common interpretations) are:

    • Jñāna (Omniscience), defined as the power to know about all beings simultaneously;
    • Aishvarya (Sovereignty, derived from the word Ishvara), which consists in unchallenged rule over all;
    • Shakti (Energy), or power, which is the capacity to make the impossible possible;
    • Bala (Strength), which is the capacity to support everything by will and without any fatigue;
    • Vīrya (Vigor), or valour which indicates the power to retain immateriality as the supreme being in spite of being the material cause of mutable creations; and
    • Tejas (Splendor), which expresses his self-sufficiency and the capacity to overpower everything by his spiritual effulgence; (cited from Bhakti Schools of Vedanta, by Swami Tapasyānanda.)

A second set of six characteristics are

    • Jñāna (Omniscience),
    • Vairagya (Detachment),
    • Yashas (Fame),
    • Aishvarya (Sovereignty, derived from the word Ishvara),
    • Srī (Glory) and
    • Dharma (Righteousness).
  • Other important qualities attributed to God are Gambhīrya (grandeur), Audārya (generosity), and Kārunya (compassion).

The early Upanishads presented the conception of the Divine Teacher, guru on earth. Indeed, there is an understanding in some Hindu sects that if the devotee were presented with the guru and God, first he should pay respects to the guru since the guru had been instrumental in leading him to God. Hence many gurus have the epithet of Bhagwan, a term often confused with God.

Hari Bhakti Vilasa mantra ( 4.344)
Prathamam tu gurum pujya tatas caiva mamarcanam
Kuran siddhim avapnoti hy anyatha nisphalam bhavet
One does not directly worship one's God. One must begin by the worship of the Guru. Only by pleasing the Guru and gaining his mercy, can one offer anything to God. Thus, before worshiping God, one must always worship the Guru.

Chanted prayers, or mantras, are central to Hindu worship. Many mantras are from the sacred Vedas, and in Sanskrit.


See also

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Bryant, Edwin H. (2003). Krishna: the beautiful legend of God; Śrīmad Bhāgavata Purāṇa, book X with chapters 1, 6 and 29-31 from book XI. Harmondsworth [Eng.]: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-044799-7. 
  2. (Gupta 2007, p.36 note 9)
  3. Delmonico, N. (2004). "The History Of Indic Monotheism And Modern Chaitanya Vaishnavism". The Hare Krishna Movement: The Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant. http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&id=mBMxPdgrBhoC&oi=fnd&pg=PA31&dq=Vaisnava+monotheism&ots=r4RVWf2w7X&sig=ml4nbiFNep6SCtqVbOZsCv5s6g0. Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  4. Elkman, S.M.; Gosvami, J. (1986). Jiva Gosvamin's Tattvasandarbha: A Study on the Philosophical and Sectarian Development of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Movement. Motilal Banarsidass Pub. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Dimock Jr, E.C.; Dimock, E.C. (1989). The Place of the Hidden Moon: Erotic Mysticism in the Vaisnava-Sahajiya Cult of Bengal. University Of Chicago Press.  page 132
  6. Kennedy, M.T. (1925). The Chaitanya Movement: A Study of the Vaishnavism of Bengal. H. Milford, Oxford university press. 
  7. Flood, Gavin D. (1996). An introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 341. ISBN 0-521-43878-0. http://books.google.com/books?id=KpIWhKnYmF0C&printsec=frontcover&dq=gavin+flood&sig=q_waAYpO_WokCivKS2OtlwsG2dw#PPA118,M1. Retrieved 2008-04-21. "Early Vaishnava worship focuses on three deities who become fused together, namely Vasudeva-Krishna, Krishna-Gopala and Narayana, who in turn all become identified with Vishnu. Put simply, Vasudeva-Krishna and Krishna-Gopala were worshiped by groups generally referred to as Bhagavatas, while Narayana was worshipped by the Pancaratra sect."
  8. Essential Hinduism S. Rosen, 2006, Greenwood Publishing Group p.124 ISBN 0275990060
  9. Matchett 2000, p. 4
  10. Gupta, Ravi M. (2007). Caitanya Vaisnava Vedanta of Jiva Gosvami. Routledge. ISBN 0415405483. 
  11. Knapp, S. (2005). The Heart of Hinduism: The Eastern Path to Freedom, Empowerment and Illumination -. iUniverse.  "Krishna is the primeval Lord, the original Personality of Godhead, so He can expand Himself into unlimited forms with all potencies." page 161
  12. Dr. Kim Knott, (1993). Contemporary Theological Trends In The Hare Krishna Movement: A Theology of Religions. http://www.iskcon.com/icj/1_1/knott.html. Retrieved 2008-04-12. ..."Bhakti, the highest path, was that of surrender to Lord Krishna, the way of pure devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead".
  13. K. Klostermaier (1997). The Charles Strong Trust Lectures, 1972-1984. Brill Academic Pub. p. 206. ISBN 90-04-07863-0. http://books.google.com/books?id=F_0UAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA109&dq=Svayam+bhagavan&as_brr=3&sig=0MqNO6X3nyfgZTNDC1nVI_OLd0A. "For his worshippers he is not an avatara in the usual sense, but svayam bhagavan, the Lord himself."  p.109 Klaus Klostermaier translates it simply as "the Lord Himself"
  14. "Sapthagiri". www.tirumala.org. http://www.tirumala.org/sapthagiri/122002/purana.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-03.  Parashara Maharishi, Vyasa's father had devoted the largest Amsa (part) in Vishnu Purana to the description of Sri Krishna Avatara the Paripoorna Avatara. And according to Lord Krishna's own (instructions) upadesha, "he who knows (the secrets of) His (Krishna's) Janma (birth) and Karma (actions) will not remain in samsara (punar janma naiti- maam eti) and attain Him after leaving the mortal coil." (BG 4.9). Parasara Maharishi ends up Amsa 5 with a phalashruti in an identical vein (Vishnu Purana .5.38.94)

References

  • Elkman, S.M.; Gosvami, J. (1986). Jiva Gosvamin's Tattvasandarbha: A Study on the Philosophical and Sectarian Development of the Gaudiya Vaisnava Movement. Motilal Banarsidass Pub. 
  • Flood, G.D. (2006). The Tantric Body: The Secret Tradition of Hindu Religion. IB Tauris. ISBN 1845110129. 
  • Matchett, Freda (2000). Krsna, Lord or Avatara? the relationship between Krsna and Visnu: in the context of the Avatara myth as presented by the Harivamsa, the Visnupurana and the Bhagavatapurana. Surrey: Routledge. p. 254. ISBN 0-7007-1281-X. 
  • Template:Cite Journal
  • Gupta, Ravi M. (2007). Caitanya Vaisnava Vedanta of Jiva Gosvami's Catursutri tika. Routledge. ISBN 0415405483. 

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