The result of a seminar’s proceeding, the book presents an understanding of God in various religions and traditional around the world. It examines the concept of the Brahman in Hindu religiou thought‘and God as forming the relationship between the unmanifest Brahman and the manifest universe. It views the approach of the semitic religion that make absolute difference between God and Man. It discusses the glory associated with God, The nature of the Supreme God and His lesser denominations as well as the modern notion of God as a human creation and residing in the mind of Man. It delves into the core of the Upanisadic thought, God in Tibten thought, signs of Allah and his attributes in Islam, God in the Zoroastrian faith, Buddhism and Jainism vis-à-vis the notion of divinity and the Christain conception of the divine. It deals with God in the Shamanic cosmogonies of some Adivasi groups of eastern India and the syncretic folk deities of Sundarbans in west Bengal. The scholars interpret the cosmological, teleological and ontological, proofs, in various forms, to understand the reality of God.
The volume, with its painstaking studies, will prove invaluable to scholars and readers, mainly those associated with religious studies.
Baidyanath Saraswati, an anthropologist, has spent some for decades in unraveling the relationship between traditional thought and modern science. He is known to wide public for his ambitious attempt to make sense of Hinduism, an extremely complex religion. Brahmanic Ritual Traditions; Kashi: Myth and Reality; Spectrum of the sacred; The Eternal Hinduism; and Cultures and cosmos are his major contributions.
The N.K. Bose Memorial seminar on Traditional Thought and Modern science began
with the concept of Death (November2003), and structured by Five Senses (2004).
The next theme, in this series is God and His Kindred. We seek to approach various
traditions, offering different kinds of intelligibility (2005), which we now
take into comprehension in its entirety.
The Indian picture of God is fascinating, having a thousand names and a thousand forms, each having a definite form and specific function. At the conceptual level, God’s unfolding comes from the concept of Brahma (birth, expand), along which comes the notion of nada - sabda- Brahman, the cosmic sound. Related with the notion of sound is bindu, the dimensionless point- literally a drop. The Indian concept of zero (sunya) denotes the notional place as well as the void, that is, the absence of the notional place. Generally, the concept of zero when applied to Brahman, the Absolute, is unthinkable in itself. Metaphysically, it is identified with both fullness and emptiness. Fullness is the non-dual infinity of Brahman. The Universe that is unborn and that which is born is full. The opposite of fullness is emptiness. The description of Brahman as full-and empty shows that it is beyond the dialectical opposition between time and timelessness, formed formed and unformed, mortal and immortal, actual and beyond, and so on.
The relationship between the unmanifest Brahman and the manifest universe is formed by a divinity called God. As an aspect of Brahman, God is transcendent, and as an architect of the universe it is imminent. The Brahman is without name, without form and without function, but is called the God of creation (Prajapati Brahma), the death (Mahakala siva). One God assumes many forms, out of nothing and nowhere. There are many gods and goddesses with many names, many forms and functions, and yet they are not viewed in terms of Alpha and Omega. In fact they, are so much a part of the form and function of the observable universe that with the extinction of the universe they all dissolve in the same manner and at the same moment as the universe dies. With the passage of time and as a result of cross–cultural encounter the literature on the concept of the universe grew up as highly complex text. In this process, the philosophical concept of God merged into one single entity having many names and forms, each venerated in communion with the ultimate.
All religions accept the concept of God, but all philosophies do not agree on God as the highest manifestation. Thus, some may say the “Death of God,” some deny “God as creator and arbiter of the universe.” Semitic religion makes absolute difference between God and Man is a created being, and hence, has only one life till his “physical death,” i.e. he is in a kind of suspended animation till called on the Day of Judgment, before the tribunal of God, to be assigned to Heaven or everlasting Hell. In contrast, the Eastern religion conceives the finite spirit as more intimately related to God, and in some form, such as in the Advaita Vedanta, even identified with God. Death does not mean the end of man’s career in worldly life. In fact, this life is just one link in the series of births and deaths, before and after. The law of karma (action) operates, and determines the kinds and varieties if different births and status of the individual soul.
Theologians and philosophers, in the East and the West, have tried to prove God’s existence and his mature by appeal to scriptures, as also arguments, although among themselves they are not in complete consensus. The cosmological, teleological, and ontological proofs, in various forms, have been interpreted to assert the Reality of God.
Texts of God
In the prayer to Agni, the Rgveda reveals: “O God, you are our providence, our Father. We are your brother; you our source of life. You are called Father, you carry us forward. Supremely wise, you teach the simple wisdom.”
The Katha Upanisad says: “Above nature, the unmanifest seed, above the manifest seed, God. God is the goal; beyond him nothing. God does not proclaim Himself .He is everyday’s secret, but the intellect of the sages has found Him. Above the unmanifest is God ---- unconditioned, filling all things He who finds Him enters Immortal life, becomes free.’
The Buddhists adopted large number of deities from other religions; they are essentially atheistic. Their deities do not, by any means, represent the highest existence. They think of standing below the Buddha, protecting the Buddha and the Dharma. Gods are above the realm of human begins, but the Buddha --- realm is above all existence , and it is the human beings, not the gods , that are able to reach this state. The Buddha is viewed, in Hinduism, as the 9th incarnation (avatara) of Visnu.
The Jains do not believe in God as an Almighty, perfect, conscious soul to be a creator. Great is the power of purity and truth. No external God creates and sustains the world, no means of terminate the cycle of births and deaths, and reincarnation, when the soul is finally liberated to eternal bliss and infinite knowledge.
The Zoroastrians have their own cosmology. Ahura Mazda is the supreme Lord of everything; the pure eternal omniscient and powerful creator of the world, out of whom everything proceeds, depends, and is ruled. Evil, belonging to cosmic dynamism as a person, as a concrete object, rules the universe with the same energy as God has. God remains beyond the destructive, which cannot rise above the level of existence itself.
The Judaism, religion of the Jews, was founded by Moses. The supreme deity of this religion is Yahveh (also called Jehovah) who revealed this faith to the most pious member of the chosen people on the earth. He revealed to him the secret of divinity, along with the codes of the proper conduct. Yahveh gave Moses the rules of social life in the form of Ten Commandments. Judaic God is just and merciful. He is the perfect on, who created the world in six days. Jews believe in the continued existence of soul, after the death of man.
The Christian story is derived from Greek logic. It has a climate of opinion on an unquestioned fact that the world and man in it had been created in six days by God, the Father, an omniscient and benevolent intelligence for an ultimate. Although created perfect, man had, through disobedience, fallen from grace into sin and error, thereby incurring the penalty of eternal damnation. Yet happily a way of atonement and salvation had been provided through the propitiatory sacrifice of God’s only begotten son. God is love. God is, in fact, community. Man was made in God’s image. God is potency, which is pure Act, the changeless one. God is pure potency, which is pure non – being. God is historical. The Christian belief in the incarnation of God in Jesus should be understood as God continuing to make the world by redeeming it; God continuing to make human life.
The Islamic story, the complete and total doctrine of the nature of God in Arabic, refers to Allah, the Supreme Reality, who is not only transcendent and immanent, infinitely beyond, but also infinitely close to man, majestic and merciful. He is Absolute, infinite and the source of goodness. He is the origin and end of all things.
The Nihongi, or Chronicles of Japan (CE 720), began with a history of the creation and the generation of gods. Of old, Heaven and Earth were not yet separated and the In and Yo (feminine and masculine principles) not yet divided. They formed a cosmic mass, like an egg, which was of obscurely defined limits, and contained germs. Purer and clearer part was thus drawn out and formed Heaven, while the heavier and grosser elements settle down, and become Earth. Heaven was formed first, and Earth was established subsequently. Thereafter, Divine Beings were produced between them.
The Altaic people are a linguistically related group, including Turks, Mongols, and Turks—Manchus, In their perception God and Devil are identified with “First Man.”
The “Primeval Man” creates God in his own image. Xenophanas remarked long ago that the complexion of Nigro God was black and their noses flat; that Thracians Gods were ruddy and blue eyed; and that if horses, oxen and icons only believed in gods and had hands with which to portray them; they would doubtless fashion their deities in the form of Horses, Oxen, an icons. In modern Egypt, the magician still works his old enchantment by the same ancient means; only the God by which he conjures is different. The man who knows the most great name of God can by the mere utterance of it kill the living.
The Dinka in Africa worship innumerable deities, and yet affirm that ‘divinity is one.” What they mean is simply that there is one divine power, one absolute reality, perceived in many different aspects, like light refracted in many colours; it is a matter of perception.
In the beginning God was a woman. Persistence of Goddess religion for 3,000 years began in the Late Paleolithic, the Ice Age. Goddess religion was earth-centered, not heaven centered, of this world, not other – worldly, body- affirming, not body- denying, holistic, not dualistic. The Goddess was immanent, within every human being, not transcendent; and humanity was viewed as part of nature, death as a part of life. Her worship was sensual, celebrating the erotic, embracing all that were alive. The religious quest was above all for regeneration of life, and the Goddess was the Life-force. The Goddess had been a model of woman’s nature in all its fullness.
The Celestial Deities
The sun, the moon, the stars, the spirits and the Demons of the primitive man belong to “super- human Forces,” elevated high up, infinite, eternal and powerful. Celestially structured supreme primitive divinity tends to disappear with the creation of God – centric religion. The conversion to Christianity does not stop a Tribal approaching the old God, saying: “Now we have tried everything, we still have you to help us.”And they sacrifice a white cock to him. “God thou art our creator, have mercy on us.”
The message of all the sacred traditions is more or less the same .Man is a thinking animal, having a mindset, raising ontological questions, builds up theories ( cosmological, ontological, teleological ), and forms his own conclusions: who is God ? Is He perfect? Does He care about human beings? Is man one with God? From where does God come out? At the level of physical appearance, is there a personal God? Is God Indefinable? We bow down to Him Great Sage! Faith in God remains very strong. God is the base of reality. He dissolves the distinction between subjectivity and objectivity and unites, spirit and Nature.
Truly speaking, we do not know what God is, except that he was thousands of names, he created man and all that exists in his own image, that in the beginning, he created the Heaven and the Earth, and Men and Animals, following the ways that he has made. If you admit all this, how can you be sure that there is nothing behind the curtain? The sacred science Review raises such questions. Think: What, if there is no God? Who plays with the Nature? Also, who said that it was very good?
Essentially, the sacred originates with the recognition of a directing consciousness beyond apparent forms. The Elements that reveal or “symbolize” this consciousness represent the inner logic underlying the appearance of created forms. They are common to the different aspects of the manifest world and express certain data about the creative modality. Such elements may thus serve as intermediaries between mankind and Divine thought of which the created world is an expression. This is why the Scared lives through symbols, to which magical values are attributed, since they create the possibility of a link with the divine. In actual fact, such symbols must comply with certain basic data concerning the structure of the universe. If they are merely conventional, we enter the domain of the falsely sacred. In fact the permanence and universality of certain symbols, as well, their utilization in efficacious rites, means that they may be considered as precise interpretation of the processes of manifestation of the Creator’s mind as indications of the structures that influence the supernatural states of being that show through certain aspects of the created.
Traditions of God
Of all the animals, man alone speaks a language, other than his own. He communicates with the birds and beasts. He also delves with Gods, spirits, and Ancestors. He has learnt the “language of God,” the ritual language.” Ritual language is always a code, which points beyond that which cannot be expressed in normal human language. In its essential form, it is a fourfold structure, consisting of: (a) esoteric word, (b) gesture, (c) sound, and (d) everyday language of communication. Borrowing Sanskrit terms, these may be called mantra, mudra, dhvani and vyavahariki, respectively. Each has its own face significance.
THE MAORI OF NEWZELAND CHANT
From nothing the begetting
From nothing the increase
From nothing the abundance
The power of increasing
The living breath.
THE CHINESE MYTH OF P’AN KU IS TYPICAL
The world was never finished until P’ an ku died. Only his death could prefect the universe. From his skull was shaped the dome of the sky, and from his flesh was formed the soil of the field: from his bones came the rocks, from his blood the rivers and the seas: from his hair came all vegetation. His breath was the Moon: his left eye the Sun. From his saliva or sweat came rain. And from the vermin which covered his body came forth Mankind
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