Hindu Muslim Unity and Grey Block Illusion

This is called grey block illusion. Even though both blocks appear to have a different color, it is an optical illusion. If you hide the part in the centre, you can see that they have the same color… Hatred and discrimination is also an optical illusion, because it is a plank in your eye that hides your vision; you cannot really recognize a dust from somebody else’s eye. (Matthew 7)…♥️

Also read:

Why is there so much hate between Hindus and Muslims in India?

Prophet Muhammad Exposed – A Different Perspective That Everyone Should Read

Hinduism and Dharma: The Distinction between a Religion and a Way of Life

Here is one more illusion. But it is a deeper topic (The actual optical illusion you see in the image is called ‘the Kanizsa triangle illusion):

An article that you may be interested in: Pappankulam – A Village of Brahmins and Four Vedas

What does it feel like to be Spiritually Enlightened?

One of the questions that gets often asked by seekers is, “What does spiritual enlightenment or self-realization feel like? I am republishing the answer I wrote on Quora for the same question.

Life is usually felt as a journey in time. You experience it as if you are travelling from point A to point B in time, with hopes, expectations and dreams. It is an unconscious search towards becoming boundless.

Human beings are running in a hedonic treadmill. Everyone returns to a base level of happiness as soon as the effects of a profit or loss, success or failure, pain or pleasure fades away. So, no matter what you try to do, you really do not reach the place where you are left with complete fulfillment. If you stop running on this treadmill, even your base level happiness seems to go low. So there is a constant need to run behind a next achievement, next success or even next spiritual experience. This concept of hedonic treadmill is now a psychological fact.

Spiritual enlightenment/self-realization:  What does spiritual enlightenment or self-realization feel like?

What spiritual enlightenment or self-realization does is, it liberates you from the hedonic treadmill. Because you actually reach the completion or ultimate fulfillment that you have been searching for. Suddenly, the psychological time stops. You are not looking forward to the future anymore. So you neither search fulfillment in worldly affairs nor search enlightenment. Because every search is searching something in the future. At self-realization, the past and the future becomes collapsed in the present. You do not even feel like you have travelled all the way through time to reach that place. You feel like you have been always there. Do you think you can imagine this state? No, you can’t!

You also lose the psychological boundaries between you and the existence. Normally, you feel a difference between being alone and being in a room with another person. You feel it in your bones because your consciousness is trapped inside an idea of being a person or an entity that is distinct from the ‘others’. But after self-realization, you no longer sense the ‘other’ this way! The psychological wall that stands between you and the other breaks and melts away, leaving you in an ocean of oneness. This is what they call as oneness of God.

It feels like, the world and the life runs like a movie, and you are just acting your role, without even feeling that you exist (as a person or an entity). In fact, the word ‘I’ now becomes just a point of reference rather than an experiential identifier of your body and mind. You no longer feel that you are a character in a life story, experiencing it personally.

The distinction between inside and the outside disappears too.

It may sound too boring when you have not realized it yourself, but it is actually quite fulfilling, just like you feel during the end of a movie. After a movie is ended, you don’t regret that it has ended; so enlightenment is not something that will break into your life all of a sudden. It happens as a natural process after the game is over; after the drama is over.

How do you feel after removing a tight shoe that was hurting your toes for the past three hours while walking? The sense of separate self is like a tight shoe, and it puts a lot of pressure on you. You do not realize it since that is how you have lived your life from the beginning. But only when this pressure is gone, you really see how much pressure, strain and weight it was putting on you. You now feel like a free bird.

But words can certainly betray the actual meaning intended, when anyone who is free tries to describe it. This is beyond words!

There is a light inside you. Just follow it, walk where it takes you and you will find the source of the light one day.

There is something called seven-fold logic or saptangivada, which is a different form of logic that is used when talking about such subtle matters. You can read about it here: Logic And Spiritual Enlightenment – An Overview of Anekantavada, Saptabhangivada (Seven Valued Logic) and Syadvada of Jainism

I have put together a guide, in case you are a seeker; it has a series of articles : A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment

Hinduism and Dharma: The Distinction between a Religion and a Way of Life.

(I am republishing the answers that I wrote in Quora about Hinduism. This is a complete guide to Hinduism. It is a collection of multiple answers posted in a single page. So it is very long. You can bookmark this page so that you can take your time in reading it.)

1.Is Hinduism monotheism or polytheism or considered both?

In my recent answers, I have been writing about Hinduism a lot but I noticed that the answers get a low visibility and agreement. I also kind of discovered the reason. I have been using the word Hinduism to mean something called ‘dharma’.

But people use the word Hinduism to mean a colonial version of system based on the modern concept of religion, which did not exist 300 years before. Yes, there is a difference between religion in general and the modern concept of religion.

So based on this, let me make a clear distinction between Hinduism and dharma. Hinduism is about 300 years old, the youngest religion in the planet, but the dharma that I am talking about has existed since time immemorial. Some use the term sanatana dharma; but I don’t like to use it because dharma includes both eternal laws and the rules and moral codes which keep changing.

Also, this dharma that I am talking about is universal, even though most of it developed in Indian subcontinent.

TLDR: Hinduism is polytheistic; the elements of this polytheistic religion is very old, even though Hinduism itself is a concept that is just 300 years old. But the dharma I am talking about is not polytheistic; but it has absorbed various polytheistic elements as a part of its iconography, seeing everything as the extensions or rays of one supreme reality.

Moreover, Hinduism is based on identity. The more Hindu you are, the more intolerant you will be towards Muslims and Christians. Politics can feed this fanaticism and can tempt you to be too defensive and sensitive towards this identity. You need a constant ego gratification that sees how barbaric other religions are, so that your own identity as Hindu seems better. So you will try to copy the concepts from other religions like conversion, blasphemy, seeing nudity as a taboo etc. There will be a constant temptation to keep the Hindu superiority alive and you can easily do that by constantly pointing out how worse other religions are.

In fact, to be a Hindu, all you need to do is to be born as a Hindu parent. You can prove yourself as a devout Hindu by constantly bragging about this identity. But to follow the dharma I am talking about, you need to apply it in thoughts, speech and action.

First, let us establish that this modern concept of religion is a recent invention:

Here is the excerpt from Wikipedia:

The modern concept of religion, as an abstraction that entails distinct sets of beliefs or doctrines, is a recent invention in the English language. Such usage began with texts from the 17th century due to events such the splitting of Christendom during the Protestant Reformation and globalization in the age of exploration, which involved contact with numerous foreign cultures with non-European languages.[22][23][27] Some argue that regardless of its definition, it is not appropriate to apply the term religion to non-Western cultures.[28][29] Others argue that using religion on non-Western cultures distorts what people do and believe.[30]

The concept of religion was formed in the 16th and 17th centuries,[31][32] despite the fact that ancient sacred texts like the Bible, the Quran, and others did not have a word or even a concept of religion in the original languages and neither did the people or the cultures in which these sacred texts were written.[33][34]

For example, there is no precise equivalent of religion in Hebrew, and Judaism does not distinguish clearly between religious, national, racial, or ethnic identities.[35] One of its central concepts is halakha, meaning the walk or path sometimes translated as law, which guides religious practice and belief and many aspects of daily life.[36] Even though the beliefs and traditions of Judaism are found in the ancient world, ancient Jews saw Jewish identity as being about an ethnic or national identity and did not entail a compulsory belief system or regulated rituals.[37] Even in the 1st century CE, Josephus had used the Greek term ioudaismos, which some translate as Judaism today, even though he used it as an ethnic term, not one linked to modern abstract concepts of religion as a set of beliefs.[2] It was in the 19th century that Jews began to see their ancestral culture as a religion analogous to Christianity.[37] The Greek word threskeia, which was used by Greek writers such as Herodotus and Josephus, is found in the New Testament. Threskeia is sometimes translated as religion in today’s translations, however, the term was understood as worship well into the medieval period.[2] In the Quran, the Arabic word din is often translated as religion in modern translations, but up to the mid-1600s translators expressed din as law.[2]

The Sanskrit word dharma, sometimes translated as religion, also means law. Throughout classical South Asia, the study of law consisted of concepts such as penance through piety and ceremonial as well as practical traditions. Medieval Japan at first had a similar union between imperial law and universal or Buddha law, but these later became independent sources of power.[38][39]

Throughout the Americas, Native Americans never had a concept of “religion” and any suggestion otherwise is a colonial imposition by Christians.[40]

Though traditions, sacred texts, and practices have existed throughout time, most cultures did not align with Western conceptions of religion since they did not separate everyday life from the sacred. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the terms Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, and world religions first entered the English language.[41][42][43] No one self-identified as a Hindu or Buddhist or other similar terms before the 1800s.[44] “Hindu” has historically been used as a geographical, cultural, and later religious identifier for people indigenous to the Indian subcontinent.[45][46] Throughout its long history, Japan had no concept of religion since there was no corresponding Japanese word, nor anything close to its meaning, but when American warships appeared off the coast of Japan in 1853 and forced the Japanese government to sign treaties demanding, among other things, freedom of religion, the country had to contend with this Western idea.[47][48]

According to the philologist Max Müller in the 19th century, the root of the English word religion, the Latin religio, was originally used to mean only reverence for God or the gods, careful pondering of divine things, piety (which Cicero further derived to mean diligence).[49][50] Max Müller characterized many other cultures around the world, including Egypt, Persia, and India, as having a similar power structure at this point in history. What is called ancient religion today, they would have only called law.[51][1].

The reason why a modern concept of religion developed:

The modern concept of religion developed to help European kings distinguish their power from that of church authorities. It was created to limit the power of the church. So life was segregated into religious and secular spheres. This segregation was not found in many other parts of the world.[1]

It is true that Hinduism doesn’t have a founder; it has founders; And most of them were British.

Before 300 years, no one identified oneself as a Hindu. There have been little intolerance between various schools of thought in India but that was not based on any identity. Most importantly, there was no ‘Hindu’ identity.

But Hinduism is actually an identity. Since this idea of Hindu identity is being constantly enforced by the society, politics and media, we are stuck in the world of comparison. Now it is natural that people feel an illogical responsibility to save their identity or Hinduism.

What is Dharma then?

Dharma is a way of living. It is not only about living ethically but to attain ultimate fulfilment and bliss in life through self-realization or God realization. Everything including Upanishads, epics, agamas, puranas serve as a means to direct you towards Moksha or ultimate liberation. The significance of moksha is Jivanmukti, or being able to live completely free from psychological suffering and psychological bondage; this can happen while living!

There are four goals in dharma:

  1. Dharma itself is a goal. It includes both the natural laws that govern the universe and ethical laws that govern people. More importantly, dharma includes instructions for attaining moksha or liberation.
  2. Artha – You don’t have to renounce the world for liberation. You are free to enjoy sufficient wealth.
  3. Kama – Pleasures are also not denied.
  4. Moksha – Dharma and moksha are mandatory in the path of dharma; acquiring wealth and pleasure is optional. It is typical for some people to have no attachment from both of these from the beginning and they tend to take sannyas earlier or just live as a bachelor.

In order to walk towards attaining God or liberation, dharma gives you three methods which can be combined in one’s life:

  1. Karma: Doing one’s duties while working on developing non-attachment to the fruits of action is karma yoga. Karma yoga involves choosing a way of living that suits your abilities and personality or svadharma. You as a person have certain obligations like make a good living and taking care of your family. But trying to do it with a sense of surrender and non-attachment prepares a person for self-realization and Moksha.
  2. Bhakti: Unconditional love towards one supreme God. Love and surrender cannot happen in a polytheistic religion. You cannot surrender to two different things. Dharma is a form of monism which considers Brahman as the ultimate reality and the essence of everything. But this Nirguna Brahman that is without attributes can be personified as Saguna Brahman or a God with a form. But unless it is monotheistic devotion, bhakti won’t make any sense. You are free to choose a specific form for bhakti. Bhakti also purifies one’s mind and prepares a person for self-realization and Moksha.
  3. Jnana: This involves inquiry into the nature of self and called as jnana yoga. It involves closely inspecting the contents of your consciousness, inquiring deeply into the nature of self and engaging in meditations like nididhyasana or mindfulness. Jnana not only includes this practice but also includes the actual self-realization itself, when you realize God in your experience. This can happen while living and give you the ultimate fulfillment and bliss that everyone is unconsciously searching for. The path of jnana involves getting insight about your own mind and its unconscious layers and untying many mental knots on the process.

Among all these three, bhakti is very common. It is found in dharma, Islam and the teachings of Jesus. Islam itself means submission to God. Bhakti is something that even a layman can understand. But according to dharma, we should work on developing bhakti as a pure unconditional devotion, instead of seeing it as a means to get what we desire. Only that pure devotion can purify your mind and make you ready for Jnana.

So dharma doesn’t have any conflict with the teachings of Jesus or Muhammad as far as the pure bhakti is concerned. Because no matter what one believes in (whether hell and heaven or Moksha), the devotion itself has the ability to lead one towards liberation. It is an effect that comes with a practice of devotion itself, regardless of what beliefs that devotion is based on.

There is something very important to notice here. Teachings of Jesus and Muhammad has only the bhakti part. They don’t cover jnana. Even though certain code of conduct is given and there is also a concept of surrender, the complete system of Karma Yoga as defined in Bhagavad Gita is not found in the Bible or Quran. Similarly, Buddha’s teachings concentrates deeply on jnana but ignore karma and bhakti. Dharma is the only one which has karma yoga, bhakti and jnana. In other words, dharma is not contradictory to the central teachings of both Jesus and Muhammad, but very complimentary. Dharma provides what other schools do not provide!

The reason why Bhagavad Gita is so central to dharma is because it defines dharma, elaborating on all the three methods that one can put together to reach the highest goal of dharma, which is moksha.

Dharma is a system of inquiry rather than a belief system. All rituals, stories and iconography can be interpreted in the context of dharma. This is the main difference between dharma and various polytheistic traditions.

While many Hindus talk about saving Hinduism, dharma doesn’t depend on any such community to save itself. There is a promise in Bhagavad Gita 4.7:

yadā yadā hi dharmasya glānir bhavati bhārata
abhyutthānam adharmasya tadātmānaṁ sṛijāmyaham

Meaning: Whenever there is a decline in dharma and an increase in adharma, O Arjun, at that time I manifest myself on earth.

Adharma doesn’t just mean something that is unethical, but it means violating the overall dharma.

2. What is, in detail, the Hindu religion?

Hinduism is a word that points to a geographical location. But it is not used as a geographical identity. It is understood as an umbrella term that connects various religious traditions. But the concepts that are common in all traditions of our subcontinent are the following:

  1. Atma Jnana or self realization
  2. Moksha or liberation.

This central nerve is forgotten and ignored by most of the Hindus today. But if you understand each concept in Hinduism by looking at its relationship with moksha, you will get a new understanding and extreme clarity on what this religion is all about.

There are four central goals in life, according to Hinduism: dharma (righteousness, social order and code of conduct), artha (wealth and education), kama (pleasure) and moksha (liberation). Moksha is the final and ultimate goal.

First, to distinguish Hinduism from Brahmanism, or the Vedic religion, let me quote from my recent answer:

What’s the difference between Hinduism and the Vedic religion?

Both are entirely different. Vedic religion is no longer followed.

When I say Vedic religion, I am talking about Brahmanism, a unique religion on it’s own which was very popular before the time of Upanishads and after the early Rig Vedic period.

Here are the aspects of Vedic religion.

  1. In Vedic religion, sacrifice is God, and it is more powerful than devas and humans. In fact, sacrifice or yajna created this world. So sacrifice is applied as a metaphor for many others things: birth, sex, burning a body in funeral pyre are all sacrifices.
  2. Devas attained immortality and went to heaven because of sacrifice. There is a story that says that when devas went to heaven, they destroyed all knowledge about sacrifice so that humans do not have access to them. But Rishis received that knowledge as revelation and gave it to mankind.
  3. Devas are not omnipotent. They depend on humans because they are pleased with oblations that we offer on fire. We also depend on them for rainfall, health, cattle, longevity, heaven etc. It is a mutual dependency. It is sacrifice which is omnipotent and that includes the hymns, melodies and the actual ritual.
  4. Each man is indebted when he was born. He owes to devas, Rishis and ancestors who are already living in heaven. So he has three debts. To clear the debt, he has to do these: a) To clear the debt to Rishis, he has to be initiated to study under a teacher and go through Vedic study. b) To clear the debts of Devas, he has to offer oblations five times a day and also offer seasonal rites. c) He has to give birth to a son to clear the debts that he owes to his ancestors. Progeny increases the glory of his ancestors in heaven. Also, a man is reborn as his son and thus attains immortality through son in the earth. At the same time, he also attains immortality in heaven after death.
  5. The wife and the son are two important people in Vedic religion. You are not qualified to offer oblations unless you are married, because you have to do them with wife. It is said that a wife completes a man by giving him the qualifications to do the rites.

So, you have to live a life as a house holder if you want to live according to Vedic injunction, as per Brahmanism. But when cities developed in North Eastern India, new ideas arose: the doctrine of samsara, karma, rebirth and moksha. People who were talking about these new concepts were wandering ascetics called sramanas. Many liberal Brahmins in the cities accepted these new ideas and tried to interpret them within Brahmanic religion which later led to asrama system. But Brahmins in villages were too orthodox and couldn’t accept these concepts because these parivrajakas or sramanas were not allowed to get married.

But slowly these ideas got absorbed in Brahmanism giving rise to Upanishads and the doctrine of Vedanta. Slowly, various folk religions, Shiva, Krishna, Vasudeva, Narayana cults got absorbed into Vedic religion and temple worship also became popular. Vedic popularity was replaced by agamas and puranas. It developed Hinduism as we know today.

But the heart of Hinduism lies in purusharthas: Dharma, artha, Kama, and moksha. It places Moksha as the final goal where as Vedic religion considered heaven as the final goal.

If you think about it, Brahmanism is life positive. Even though Sramana traditions were life negative, they actually offered a way out of psychological suffering while living. By taking the medititative aspects of Sramana traditions and combining it with life positive aspects of a house holder’s life, Bhagavad Gita came up with a complete path to moksha.[1]

Hinduism defines God in three levels:

  1. First you see God as saguna Brahman, a person with a name and a particular form. This is a very limited view of God because it puts him within time and space as a limited identity. Devotion can start at this level but this level has to be transcended. There are numerous forms to choose from.
  2. The second is Ishvara, which doesn’t represent a form but a formless personal God. This is similar to the concept of God in Abrahamic religions. But sometimes the boundaries between the concept of Ishvara and Brahman is blurred.
  3. The third is Brahman, when God is seen beyond the idea of a person. Now God is everywhere and everything. There is no distinction between God and you.

Here is something from another answer that I wrote:

Is Hinduism a polytheistic belief or is it a belief that accepts the many aspects of Brahman as gods or is it something else?

Strictly speaking, it is neither, because both polytheism and monotheism imply multiplicity: the illusion that there are multiple entities; the illusion that something other than Brahman exists….

This is a complex topic by appearance but simple when understood in experience. It is not possible to convey what Brahman is, in language. But we can kind of point to it.

Where does one entity end and another entity begin? Do you think your body is one entity? No. There are millions of microbes living in the body; and for them, you are a forest!

Where does the air inside your body end and the air outside your body begin? Where does the water inside your body end and the water outside your body begin? Apply this to space, heat and atoms of the body too.

‘Entities’ are creations of the human mind. For our own convenience, we have mapped various entities and named them: a car, a man, a cow, a grain of sand.

But in fact, about fourteen billion years ago, all that existed was primordial singularity: there was no space and no time! Don’t try to imagine that, you can’t! It expanded, cooled down and became everything! There was a time when there was no distinction between matter and energy.

Upanishads say that just like different ornaments of Gold are essentially Gold, everything is essentially Brahman. The multiplicity is illusion or Maya and it is also a part of Brahman. Only the mind creates it for practical purposes. If Brahman is like a screen, Maya is like the moving pictures in the screen. In screen, you may see thousand men marching together. But it is just one screen which is manifest as thousand men!

If ‘entities’ are illusions, then ‘me’ as an entity is also illusion. You are Brahman itself in reality. But this has got nothing to do with the egoic self of ‘me’ that you identify with. That ‘entity’ is an illusion.

That is why in Upanishads, you find statements like ‘Tat tvam asi’ : You are That!

So why do we have idols? Actually, they are not idols, they are icons or murtis. If Brahman Is everything, that Murti is also Brahman. We don’t bow down to it, we do namaskar; there is a difference. We do Namaskar to human beings as well. It is done with folded hands. It implies ‘I am saluting the essence inside you’! What is the essence of a Murti? Brahman! What is the essence of a human being? Brahman!

There are multiple forms for that Brahman to focus the mind and to interact with devotionally. A person can pick a form or Ishta Devata to suit his personality. Then all other Devatas are seen as the extensions of the Ishta Devata.

If you look at the history, it will be very obvious.Tulsidas was only devoted to Rama. Chaitanya was only devoted to the form of Krishna. So was Thirugnana Sambandar to Shiva, Arunagiri nathar to Muruga or Skanda, Avvaiyar to Ganesh and Ramakrishna Paramahansa to Kali. This duality of devotee vs God ends with a singularity, with the experience of oneness of Brahman. You can read more about it in my book ‘Discovering God – Bridging Christianity, Hinduism and Islam’.[2]

Does Hinduism have rules and commandments?

Many people say that Hinduism is not a religion of laws and commandments. It is true. Because multiple traditions from the past have combined together to form Hinduism as we know today.

But if we rewind and go back to a period before 2300–2500 years, the religious traditions were a lot different. In fact, there were three types of religions in the Vedic period, before Upanishads were added to Vedic canon:

  1. Brahmanism which was full of rituals and law codes. Their goals in life were wealth, health, cattle, long life and heaven. This early Vedic religion had way more law codes than any religions that we know today. They did not accept the concepts of rebirth, moksha, karma and asceticism. And they had law code for each and everything.
  2. Sramana traditions which were all about asceticism, moksha, rebirth and ending human suffering. This wisdom was unknown to early Brahmanas. In fact Chandogya Upanishad specifically states that this wisdom was never conveyed to Brahmins before. In the late Vedic period, Brahmanism absorbed many concepts of Sramanic traditions. ( Read ‘Greater Magadha: Studies in the culture of Early India’ for extensive details on these two traditions.)
  3. Various folk religions all over sub continent that included polytheistic and animistic elements.

Brahmanism absorbed the concept of moksha from Sramana traditions and derived most of it’s iconography from folk religions. It is only after that agamas, and puranas were created and Hinduism as we know today took shape. But the entire Hinduism is unified by the four purusharthas: dharma, artha, kama and moksha.

So, the detailed law code was indeed present in Brahmanism. All Dharma sutras list forbidden food.But these rules are no longer followed today though.

For example, Apastamba dharma sutras 1.17.14-39 lists forbidden food for students:

14. He should not eat food obtained from the market,

15 even seasonings, with the exception of raw meat, honey, and salt;

16. oil and ghee, on the other hand, may be used after sprinkling them with water.

17. He should not eat, drink, or consume cooked food that has been left overnight

18. or turned sour,

19. with the exception of sugar-cane juice, rolled rice, gruel, roasted barley, barley meal,
vegetables, meat, flour, milk, milk products, and roots and fruits of plants and trees.

20. He should not consume anything that has turned sour without mixing it with some other food.

21. It is forbidden to drink any type of liquor;

22. as also the milk of sheep,

23. camels, and deer; the milk of animals in heat or bearing twins;

24 and the milk of a cow during the first ten days after giving birth.

25. Herbs used in the manufacture of liquor are likewise forbidden;

26. as also Karañja garlic, onion, leeks,

27. and any other food that is forbidden.

28. For a Brahmana states: ‘Mushrooms should not be eaten.’

29. The meat of one-hoofed animals, camels, Gayal oxen, village pigs, and Sarabha cattle are forbidden.

30 It is permitted to eat the meat of milch cows and oxen.

31. A text of the Vajasaneyins states: ‘The meat of oxen is fit for sacrifice.’

32. Among birds that feed by scratching with their feet, the cock is forbidden,

33. and among birds that feed by thrusting their beaks, the Plava heron.

34. Carnivorous birds are forbidden;

35. as also the Hamsa goose, the Bhasa vulture, the Cakra bird, and the Suparna falcon.

36. The Kruñca curlew and the Krauñca crane are forbidden, with the exception of the Vardhranasa cranes and Laksmana cranes.

37. Animals with five claws* are forbidden, with the exception of the Godha ̄ monitor lizard, tortoise, porcupine, hedgehog, rhinoceros, hare, and Putikhasa.

38. Among fish, the Ceta is forbidden,

39 as also the snakehead fish, the Mrdura crocodile, carnivorous fish, and others that are grotesque, such as the mermen.

( The four ashrama system in Hinduism was not really four stages of life in the beginning but four ways of life. After initial Vedic study, one can take up either of the four ways. Dharmasutras list law codes for all four ways of life, but they never fail to mention that grihastha life is the only way of life that is accepted in Vedic texts and that which guarantees heaven when followed according to the code of conduct.

Also, Apastamba dharma sutras also has contradictory views, hence it talks about rebirth and even the knowledge of self in some verses. That indicates that some portions of it were added probably much later.

But Gautama Dharmasutras lists four ways of life as the view of the opponent and refutes the view with statements from Vedas, insisting that the way of house holder is the only accepted way as per Vedas.).[3]

Is Hinduism a religion of beliefs?

Mahabharata talks about how various people had various beliefs and attitudes during its days. All those comes under the umbrella of Hinduism.

It is a set of schools which encourages logical inquiry, debates, mystical poetry, mystical fiction, healthy criticism, critical thinking, hermeneutics and also allow various folk religious beliefs to co-exist, influence and interact.

Most importantly, it has ways to end psychological suffering in life and feel complete, eternal, infinite, expansive, blissful and content. If understood properly, it can take you on a journey.

The four main goals of Hinduism are dharma (righteousness, social order), artha (weath, education), kama (pleasure) and moksha (liberation). Ultimately it is about self-realization and liberation, which gives you true and endless happiness.

Here are those verses from Mahabharata. Various seers ask Brahma about true dharma (religion):

To which, indeed, of the dharmas should a person here most closely adhere? What do they have to say about this? Tell us, for the course of dharma appears to us to be diverse and contradictory.

Some claim that there is life after death, while others maintain that there is not. Some express doubt about everything, while others claim certainty. Things are impermanent according to some and permanent according to others, unreal according to some and real according to others. Some believe that the one reality appears as dual, while others think that it is mixed;'” some teach unity, others separateness, and yet others multiplicity.

Thus do Brahmins who are wise and perceive the truth argue. Some wear matted hair and deer skin, others shave their heads, and still others go naked. Some say that one should not bathe, while others insist on bathing. Some favor eating, while others are given to fasting.

Some praise rites and others the cessation from them. Some assert the influence of both place and time, while others deny it. ‘ Some extol liberation and others diverse pleasures.

Some desire wealth, while others strive after poverty. Some maintain the efficacy of worship, while others deny it. Some are devoted to non-injury (ahimsa) and others to injury.”

Some claim that one attains glory through good deeds, while others deny it. Some delight in certainty as to the truth, while others adhere to skepticism. Suffering is the motive for some and pleasure for others.

Some assert the primacy of meditation, other wise men that of sacrifice, and still others that of giving gifts. Some assert the existence of everything, while others deny that anything exists.

Some praise austerity, while other people extol vedic study. Some assert that knowledge comes from renunciation, while nature philosophers claim that it comes from nature.

With so much disagreement regarding dharma leading in so many directions, we become bewildered, O god supreme, unable to reach any certainty. “This is ultimate bliss,” “No, that is ultimate bliss”: so thinking, people charge on, for one always praises the dharma that one loves. In this regard our judgment is confounded and our minds bewildered. This we want you to tell us, O lord: what is ultimate bliss?

  • (MBh 14.48.14-27)

But majority of today’s Hindus are being misled by political ideologies, suffering from groupthink, taking Hinduism as an identity instead of seeing it as a path, getting offended a lot, being hyper-sensitive and slowly forgetting the true essence of Hinduism.[4]

What is the relationship in Hinduism between Brahman, Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) and the rest of the deities?

bsolute reality is one without a second. But we can still divide it into two aspects: Purusha and Prakriti.

Purusha has three dimensions to it: sat or Truth, cit or consciousness and Ananda or bliss.

Brahma represents sat or the truth. Since Vedas convey the Truth, Brahma is shown to have four heads, representing four Vedas.

Vishnu represents cit or consciousness. Vishnu is a solar deity in Vedas and physically he represents sun which takes three strides in the sky everyday. Vishnu means all pervading. Spiritually, Vishnu represents the inner sun or consciousness, who strides and pervades the three states of consciousness which is waking, dreaming and sleeping.

Shiva is always associated with bliss. He is known as the Lord of sleep because He is the bliss that one experiences in deep sleep. So Shiva represents Ananda or bliss.

Just like Purusha, Prakriti also has three aspects or gunas. Prakriti is the one which animates the world and all actions happen because of three gunas of Prakriti. Saraswathi represents sattva or balance and also represents Jnana Shakti, the power to know. Lakshmi represents Rajas or activity and also the Kriya Shakti, the power to do. Kali represents Tamas or resistance and also Iccha Shakti, the power of will.

Purusha is like a screen where the movie of the existence is played. Purusha does nothing; everything is done by Prakriti. Prakriti is the moving pictures of the screen as well as the energy that animates the movie.

Brahma and Saraswathi together represent creation; Vishnu and Lakshmi together represent maintenance; and Shiva and Kali together represent destruction.

In addition to it, any one of the male deities of Trimurti and his consort can be used to represent Purusha and Prakriti. So, If you are a devotee of Shiva, you can see Shiva as Purusha and Shakti as Prakriti.

But always remember that the Truth is one, even though many names are used.

To understand more about Prakriti and it’s three gunas, visit this page: A Shamatha Meditation Based on Symbolism, Visualization, Mnemonics and Classical Conditioning[5]

3. Almost all early human civilizations practiced polytheism (idol worshiping and worshiping nature). Why is Hinduism the only ancient polytheistic religion that survived?

I strongly disagree with Rami Sivan here. Hinduism has survived simply because it is not polytheistic. In fact, it has a better version of monotheism. If Hinduism was really a polytheistic religion, It would have faced the fate of all polytheistic religions in the world that have disappeared.

It is true that there are many forms of God in Hinduism, but not many Gods. Either it is one and only Brahman or the division of a supreme God and a devotee.

But it is true that Abrahamic religions ban idol worship where as Hindus use murtis as a part of their iconography. But unlike other cults of idol worship, Hinduism do not consider a murti as God itself which will mean that everything else apart from the murti is not God. Murti is a representation of God.

So,

शिवमात्मनि पश्यन्ति प्रतिमासु न योगिनः |
अज्ञानं भावनार्थाय प्रतिमाः परिकल्पिताः || ५९ ||
– जाबालदर्शनोपनिषत्

A yogin perceives god (Siva) within himself,
images are for those who have not reached this knowledge. (Verse 59)

  • Jabaladarsana Upanishad

The raise of seeing God as a supreme ruler or Ishvara has a strong correlation with the raise of empires. A strict monotheism developed only during Persian rule in Judaism. Before that, it was monolatory. When people were living as tribes under many tribal chieftains, it was natural to have many Gods, which are independent of each other. But for a king of an empire, God is the divine patron while the king being his reflection. You can see this happening in the history, when a well developed cult of Shiva, Bhagavata deities and Skanda arose before 2000 years.

But we have the example of the divine ruler in Rig Veda itself. It is Indra. Even though Vedic hymns seem to talk about different powerful entities, two lines from Dirghatamas in Rig Veda, solves that problem:

Rg Veda 1.164.46

इन्द्रं॑ मि॒त्रं वरु॑णम॒ग्निमा॑हु॒रथो॑ दि॒व्यः स सु॑प॒र्णो ग॒रुत्मा॑न् ।
एकं॒ सद्विप्रा॑ बहु॒धा व॑दन्त्य॒ग्निं य॒मं मा॑त॒रिश्वा॑नमाहुः ॥४६॥

Translation:

They called him Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, Agni; and he is heavenly Garuda, who has beautiful wings. The truth is one, but the sages (or learned ones) call it by many names or describe him in many ways; they called him Agni, Yama, Mātariśvan.

When we move to Brahmanas suddenly there is Prajapati. But he survived only for a short time and evolved into Brahma.

And Upanishads proclaim Brahman is the only reality. I am Brahman; You are Brahman. This is what I call as a much better version of monotheism, an evolved monotheism where the division between the God and his creation disappears.

You can see the same theme in a poem of Rumi, a Sufi mystic:

When we move on to epics, we have the most important text of Hinduism (even though it is a smriti) which is Bhagavad Gita. And in Bhagavad Gita, Krishna is the supreme God. He also says that worshipping any God or deity actually goes to him.

The core concept of bhakti in Hinduism is surrender. You can either surrender to God or surrender to the existence. But you cannot submit yourself to two entities at the same time. If Hinduism is polytheistic, then surrender will have no place.

In Rig Vedic verse, we saw that Soma, Agni and Indra are one. In other words, the object of the sacrifice (soma), the carrier of the sacrifice (agni) and the enjoyer of the sacrifice (Indra) are all now one.

Bhagavad Gita literally says that: (Chapter 4, Verse 24)

ब्रह्मार्पणं ब्रह्म हविर्ब्रह्माग्नौ ब्रह्मणा हुतम् |
ब्रह्मैव तेन गन्तव्यं ब्रह्मकर्मसमाधिना ||

brahmārpaṇaṁ brahma havir brahmāgnau brahmaṇā hutam
brahmaiva tena gantavyaṁ brahma-karma-samādhinā

Translation:

For those who are completely absorbed in God-consciousness, the oblation is Brahman, the ladle with which it is offered is Brahman, the act of offering is Brahman, and the sacrificial fire is also Brahman. Such persons, who view everything as God, easily attain him.

We have Upanishads for Ganesha, Shiva, Narayana etc, and each will assert a specific form as a supreme God. Rami Sivan knows better.

Boothanatha Gita, the only spiritual text assigned to Ayyappa also says (Verse 1.8):

AdimadhyAntarahitam svayam jotih parAtparam

avyayam nirgunam rAjan kAladezAdi varjjitam

citganam nityamAnandam tatbhinnam nAsti vastu bho

asitatvamaham taccetyAmnAyah parikIrtitah

Meaning:

Oh king! Brahman has no beginning, no middle and no end. It shines on its own and is the greatest of the greatest. It is imperishable, attributeless and beyond space & time.

It has been described in the scriptures that it is conscious and always in bliss. Nothing other than that exists! It is you and it is also me.

What about puranas?

Puranas may seem to portray a picture of God having multiple subordinates. This is actually little similar to Gods having various angels as subordinates in Abrahamic religions. But the essence of the puranas seem to show the better version of monotheism, portraying the form of God as the supreme consciousness or Brahman itself.

If you see what the famous devotees of Hinduism worshipped, you will see that they were all devoted to one form of God.

  1. For Tulsidas, the entire world is Rama.
  2. For Chaitanya, everything is Krishna.
  3. Arunagirinathar worshipped Murugan and Murugan alone.
  4. All Shaivite nayanmars worshipped Shiva as the only God.
  5. All Tamil azhwars saw Tirumal as the supreme deity.

In the entire Patanjali sutras, there is only one reference to God. Patanjali mentions Ishvara as special purusha.

So where is polytheism in Hinduism? Which scripture in Hinduism says that there is more than one supreme ruler for this universe? You will either find non-duality, duality or some special kind of duality.

Among today’s Hindus, there is a very large gap between what they believe in and the essential truth conveyed in scriptures. Saying Hinduism as polytheistic will only increase the gap further. It promotes a wrong notion.

It is true that there are still polytheistic forms exist in villages and among tribes. But even though they are classified under Hinduism, their cults are not completely absorbed into Hinduism. But both Vedic religion and Buddhism has absorbed such polytheistic cults in the past. Buddhism absorbed deities like Manibhadra, Vajrapani etc. Syncretism has happened in all cultures.

In another answer, I read Rami Sivan saying that polytheistic is natural because all cultures were originally polytheistic. Well, all humans were originally homo erectus. But we evolved. The religions also evolved in the same way, The only thing is, Abrahamic religions have still not evolved into this better version of monotheism which Hinduism offers (with exception to Sufism and Christian and Jewish mysticism). It will happen as time goes because history repeats itself.

Adi Shankaracharya united various traditions under Advaita. He connected them all with a central philosophical core. And this philosophical core of Hinduism has been maintained by various people like Adhi Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Kabir, Tulsidas, Chaitanya, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Ramana Maharshi and more. It is only because of them Hinduism survived. So more than rituals and myths, Hinduism had a logical appeal to people. It has a strong scriptural basis as a foundation, which you cannot find in any polytheistic religion.

If only the first verse in the Ishopanishad were left intact in the memory of the Hindus, Hinduism would live forever

  • Mahatma Gandhi

(The first verse is ‘isavasyam idam sarvam’ which means ‘God is everywhere).

4. How would you compare the top 3 religions: Christianity, Islam and Hinduism?

This is going to be a long answer. Because it is not only intended to answer this particular question but will answer many other questions too. Because, I see a threat India; and based on the fact that this question is related to three major religions in India, I am going to answer this question to make many Indians understand what they misunderstand.

Religion is actually a recent Western colonial concept which has been wrapped around some major spiritual paths in the world. The divisions like Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam have been created based on certain theological and cultural similarities. Most importantly, it was created to differentiate Christian theology vs the faiths of other cultures, when colonialism was alive.

But this division based on the concept of religions conveniently ignored the esoteric part of religions. They enforced and reinforced the idea that religions are all about a set of beliefs, myths and rituals. Result? 98% of Hindus have no clue about what Bhagavad Gita is, what Upanishads are all about and what are considered as four main goals of a person’s life in the culture that evolved in Indian subcontinent.

Because of this, religion has now become an identity rather than a path. People discuss how proud they are because of being in a particular religion and try to prove that their religion is better than another one. These people are completely misled and end up poisoning the minds of others rather than really understand the depth of their own religion and walk in the path shown by it. Religion is not a matter of pride!

If you think carefully, this concept of religions in its proto-form was only created as a political tool right from the beginning. For example, Vedas were not compiled until the formation of Kuru kingdom, the earliest kingdom in India. Before that, the verses existed with individual families. It was the rulers of Kuru kingdom who compiled them. This resulted in both negative and positive consequences. The positive aspect is that some valuable verses of ancient wisdom were preserved; but it also led to prejudice among classes or varnas for the first time. Winning in a war meant a lot to the king and he depended on the priestly class to provide him with suitable rituals and spells. So, creation of verses that was once meant for inner seeking and divine revelation had then become a commercial thing; varnas or the four classes in ancient India which were strictly based on occupation turned into a birth based system for the first time.. But this was then just a Vedic way of life and Hinduism in its present form didn’t exist.

Hebrew Bible was not compiled until Israelites returned from Babylonian exile during Persian rule. Judaism as a religious concept was created as a political tool. It was created to unify the people of Israel under one temple and one God, purely for political convenience. Before that, various schools of thoughts existed and various tales from folklore existed along with it, with complete freedom of religion. Neither Abraham nor Moses created Judaism, but preached a path, a path of submission to the one and only God.

Christianity was created by Roman Emperor Constantine as a political convenience. Jesus never found a religion but preached a path, a path of submission to the one and only God. That is the reason why the current images of Jesus look like a Roman pagan God and why December 25 is never mentioned as the birthday of Jesus anywhere in the Bible. The whole model of Christianity as exists today was primarily created by Constantine.

The same is with Islam. It is a way of life. All Prophet Muhammad did was preach the path of submission to the one and only God and also restate that Abraham, Moses and Jesus said the same thing. In addition to that, he brought cultural, social, religious, and political changes and reformation. It was Abu Bakr, a father-in-law of the Islamic prophet who had Quran to be compiled in current form in the current order, which led to a theological narrative based on that order, creating Islam as it exists now. Hadith and Sharia were compiled much later mainly as a political device. Contrary to the popular belief, Mughal rulers who ruled Delhi Sultanate were not really interested in converting people to Islam, because that would mean a loss to national revenue. By declaring non – Islamic population in Indian subcontinent as “The people of the books”, they could get them pay a tax.

Hinduism is a creation of British. Before that, there was a philosophical system that united many major traditions of faith. This system has Brahman, the only one without a second as the supreme reality. But it also had a system of iconography, with different forms of the same supreme reality that one can choose from. So, iconography, not idol worship, is the right word to describe the Indian system of submission to God. Adhi Shankara, unified various traditions into six different paths , Shanmata, which is based on six different forms of the same Brahman. This is very evident when you see how devotees in Tamil nadu approached devotion. A devotee of Shiva like Thiru Jnana Sambandhar would only praise the form Shiva and be devoted to Him alone. A devotee of Ganesha like Poet Avvaiyar would only sing the praise of form Ganesh. The same with Arunagiri Nathar to Muruga and Periyazhwar to Vishnu. These are not different Gods and the system is not polytheistic, but they are all forms or icons of the same Supreme reality. This is the essence of all Indian scriptures.

But just after 1st century BCE, a lot of puranas or myths were written, depicting a polytheistic picture. These were just stories intended to convey some philosophical truths then and there. For example, a long treatise on Advaita Vedanta is a part of Skanda Purana. But this led to many negative consequences. The concept of Hinduism during British rule was born with Puranas getting a higher importance. Because of this, Hinduism as now become mostly polytheistic as only a very few actually try to read and understand the scriptures, while majority is concerned with drinking cow urine, building Ram mandir, trying to prove that Internet existed during 50th century BCE in India and pretending to save Hinduism from Christians and Muslims of India. The people who claim to save Hinduism should feel ashamed because they think that a culture that has thousands of scriptures can get destroyed by two books, the Bible and the Quran. So whenever you see anyone who says Hinduism needs to be saved, you can be pretty sure that he understands nothing about Indian culture, its scriptures, traditions and schools of thought. You can also be sure that anyone who is trying to prove Hinduism is better than any other religion is not only wasting his/her time but is also kindling unnecessary prejudice in the society. What is the need to prove which religion is better?

Just like galaxies are moving far away from each other, we are moving far away from each other by appreciating and encouraging religious differences.

Do you know the consequences of this recent concept of religions? It has led people to pick up the most extreme view of any religion, and consider that it represents the beliefs of the whole population that follows that religion. For example, there are some verses called sword verses in Quran, which seem to suggest to kill any non-believer, but it actually refers to a specific historical context, to a specific tribe who were prosecuting the early Muslims in a cruel manner. Similarly, there is a concept called Jihad which simply means struggle, including any kind of positive struggle that one goes through in life, struggling to be a good human being, struggling to build a career and most importantly, struggling to purify oneself to reach the final goal. Jihad applied to war only in certain situations when Muhammad was alive. But certain terrorist organizations who hold extreme views on Islam and who interpret these verses according to their advantage do not represent what the majority of Muslims believe in. (But I am completely against inhuman blasphemy laws that exist in certain Islamic countries. They have also been misled.)

But people who want to prove that their religion is better than Islam would hold on to such extreme views about Islam and never even listen to counter arguments. I have explained a few things about Islam in the following two answers and I suggest reading them too:

Why do you think Prophet Muhammad was a good person or a bad person? Please provide unbiased facts based on his biography wherever possible.

Shanmugam P’s answer to How cruel was the prophet Muhammad?

Shanmugam P’s answer to Was Prophet Muhammad a virtuous man or a man of good character? In some hadiths, he is portrayed as a slave-trading, sex-obsessed man. If these hadiths are true, why do Muslims follow him? And if these hadiths aren’t authentic, which ones are?

But I insist and request again, do not see this answer as a discussion of whether your religion is better than another religion!

Also, if we start pulling out verses by the extreme interpretation of each religion and claim that this extreme view represents the religion in entirety (like we are doing to Islam), then Christianity and Hinduism will start sounding worse.

  1. There are verses in the Old Testament of the Bible which portrays God as someone who is instructing to stone infidels to death, including young children. Honestly, they sound more cruel than the verses from Quran taken out of context. Can we insist that this represents Christianity as a whole?
  2. There are a few Dharmasutras and Dharmashastras in Indian religious literature which say that molten lead should be poured into the ears of Shudra, the person of the lowest class, if he listens to the recitation of Vedas. There are verses in later literature which promote Sati, burning the widow alive in the funeral pyre of her husband. At least Islam and Christianity gives you a choice: you won’t be killed if you accept the truth that is being said (according to the extremist interpretation). But Hinduism leaves no choice. If you are a Shudra or a widow, you have no choice of saving yourself by accepting a faith! Can we take this extreme view and say that this represents Hinduism in entirety?

No!

Now, please don’t take whatever I said as an insult to Hinduism, because Hinduism, just like Christianity and Islam is just a concept; not an entity that can be insulted. But if you feel offended, that is because you have taken religion as an identity, instead of taking it as a path! It is connected to your self-image, rather than being connected to devotion.

Do you know Ramakrishna Paramahamsa? He was the guru of Swami Vivekananda. He practiced the spiritual paths of Islam and Christianity separately, reached the same experience of Samadhi and declared that all paths lead to one truth.

But I know that many so called Hindu saviours of today won’t agree with this, Their gurus are their politicians and political parties. That will make them think even Mahatma Gandhi as an enemy of India and call Godse as a true patriot. I have written a detailed book showing that the basic essence of all these three religions are the same. It is not a topic that I can cover in this answer. Go to this link for the details about the book: Discovering God: Bridging Christianity, Hinduism and Islam.

Also, I want to discuss Christian Evangelism. It is true that Jesus asked his disciples to spread the good news; but it was 2000 years before. Now, the good news has been spread and easily available on the internet. So, why is there a need for a missionary? This missionary business has become dirty, because a lot of these preachers are indulging in calling Hindu temples as Satanic. They misunderstand Hindu iconography; it is not the same as the polytheistic worship of ancient Israelite tribes or pagan Arabs. They didn’t have any philosophy and they didn’t know about the oneness of the Supreme reality that we call as Brahman in Indian culture.

Hindu temples are created based on Agamas which are based on human psychology. The system of worship by the way of Agamas includes stimuli of five senses : decoration of the deity and lamps; the smell of the incense, flowers and food (prasad); taste of the food; touch of sandal, tumeric and sacred ash on the skin; the sound of the bell and hymns etc. These stimuli are paired with the experience of devotion, so that every time you are exposed to one of these stimuli, you automatically get feeling of devotion. This is actually called classical conditioning in psychology. This is an useful tool in devotion and that is what the whole iconography is based on.

Anyway, this is not a time to prove which religion is better than the other, but this is a time to think about living in harmony with the brothers and sisters who belong to other religions. That is the beauty of India and that is what the Republic of India is meant for, Everyone of us living in harmony is the dream of Mahatma Gandhi (Gandhi haters stay away from comments; you will be reported and blocked).

Consider Shirdi Sai Baba; Consider Kabir; consider Ramakrishna; consider Abdul Kalam; consider Gandhi; these are the people who were familiar with the truths of more than one religion, and they proclaimed that all these religions lead to the same goal. I know they look different, but you haven’t gone deep. The difference is only in the periphery and the majority do not understand. I have explained in length in my book and it should be convincing enough for people who are already familiar with the path to self-realization or God-realization. There is an esoteric side to all these three religions and they are the same!

5. Why does Hinduism have many gods?

This question arises based on a false premise, because of not understanding the meanings of these words: Brahman, Ishvara, devata and murti.

Do you think there are equivalent English words? No. But since we mostly talk about Hinduism in English, we tend to misunderstand many things. You will be surprised to see how a lot of Sanskrit words lose their original meaning when they are conveyed using their English alternatives.

In Hinduism, God is referred to as avyakta[1]. vyakti means person. Avyakta means something that is not a person or that is not confined to clear limits. In other words, avyakta doesn’t have any boundaries. A more popular word for this is Brahman. Upanishads say that just like the ornaments of gold is essentially made of gold in spite of their difference in forms, everything is a modification of Brahman.

But it is not possible to conceive this all-pervading, infinite Brahman that is beyond time and space with our limited intellect. It can be only understood by experience, by a direct spiritual transformation.

So, Hinduism steps down a bit and provides the concept of Ishvara.

Ishvara has a personal touch. But it still doesn’t mean God as a person in the sky. The personification is quite fuzzy.

Ishvara comes from the root ‘Ish’ which means ‘to possess or own’. He owns everything, including your body and mind. Ishvara means supreme being.

Yoga sutras recognize just one God, Ishvara as the supreme being. This is more convenient for devotion and surrender. But this word, evolved. It was not used in the same meaning in Vedas.

If we step down a bit, we have Devatas or various forms of God. A devata has a form, personality and stories associated with it. It comes from the root ‘div’ which means ‘to shine’. So a devata is something so obvious like a lamp. It shines with certain attributes. But it is one of the a representations of Brahman.

Brahman is said to have no attributes in itself. But we associate these attributes to a devata to make devotion easier. One can choose an Ishta Devata and consider it as a supreme reality and see other devatas as extensions or emanations of it. So, your Ishta devata can be Shiva, Vishnu, Shakthi or any form you choose.

The final step down is murti. Murti essentially means something that has limits. You need to notice that it is the total opposite of avyakta. Murti also means manifest, because anything that is manifest has boundaries in the coordinates of space and time.

A murti is a physical representation of God. The murti and the temple appeals to your five senses and create strong psychological association with devotion or any spiritual experiences.

So there can be many murtis and devatas. But Ishvara is one. And saying Brahman is one in itself betrays the oneness of Brahman, because the mention of ‘one’ assumes the existence of an other or others. That is why it is said that Brahman is beyond words.


But

शिवमात्मनि पश्यन्ति प्रतिमासु न योगिनः |
अज्ञानं भावनार्थाय प्रतिमाः परिकल्पिताः || ५९ ||
– जाबालदर्शनोपनिषत्

A yogin perceives god (Siva) within himself,
images are for those who have not reached this knowledge. (Verse 59)

  • Jabaladarsana Upanishad

By the way,

Atman is not synonymous to the word ‘soul’; Atman means the true self.

Ahamkara is not synonymous to ‘ego’; Ahamkara means, the presence of the sense that one is the doer of his actions. (When ahamkara disappears, you realize yourself or attain atma jnana and be liberated from all mental bondage and mental pain while living. That is moksha.)

The most shocking thing would be, dharma is not synonymous with Hinduism. Because, Hinduism is a totally different colonial version of belief system which seems to have a lot of disconnected concepts. Religion itself is a recent Western concept, which tries to accommodate various theistic systems, rituals and beliefs into certain abstract categories. (go through linked answers at the bottom of the page for more details).

But if you go by the scriptures, you will see that this scriptural canon of Hinduism calls itself as ‘dharma’. Dharma means many meanings. These meanings bind the seemingly disconnected concepts of Hinduism together into dharma.

Dharma comes from the root ‘dhr’ which means uphold. During Vedic times, Varuna was associated with the upholder of divine order. He is responsible for the movement of the planets, the rain, the changing of seasons and all other natural laws. During the royal consecrations, the rajasuya yajna was conducted and the king was referred to as Varuna, because he upholds the dharma of people. He gives judgements and he makes sure that everything is functioning in the order. So he is called as dharmaraja.

Dharma also means the way of life. Dharma defines how to conduct your life that is not only righteous, smooth, and joyful but also leads to moksha, or the final liberation. And it gives four goals or purusharthas to people: dharma (personal order and righteousness), artha (wealth and education), kama (pleasure) and moksha (liberation).

Dharma is also synonymous with truth. It is an inquiry to the truth which finally leads to atma-jnana (self realization) and moksha.

In Mahabharata. Various seers ask Brahma about true dharma (religion):

To which, indeed, of the dharmas should a person here most closely adhere? What do they have to say about this? Tell us, for the course of dharma appears to us to be diverse and contradictory.

Some claim that there is life after death, while others maintain that there is not. Some express doubt about everything, while others claim certainty. Things are impermanent according to some and permanent according to others, unreal according to some and real according to others. Some believe that the one reality appears as dual, while others think that it is mixed;'” some teach unity, others separateness, and yet others multiplicity.

Thus do Brahmins who are wise and perceive the truth argue. Some wear matted hair and deer skin, others shave their heads, and still others go naked. Some say that one should not bathe, while others insist on bathing. Some favor eating, while others are given to fasting.

Some praise rites and others the cessation from them. Some assert the influence of both place and time, while others deny it. ‘ Some extol liberation and others diverse pleasures.

Some desire wealth, while others strive after poverty. Some maintain the efficacy of worship, while others deny it. Some are devoted to non-injury (ahimsa) and others to injury.”

Some claim that one attains glory through good deeds, while others deny it. Some delight in certainty as to the truth, while others adhere to skepticism. Suffering is the motive for some and pleasure for others.

Some assert the primacy of meditation, other wise men that of sacrifice, and still others that of giving gifts. Some assert the existence of everything, while others deny that anything exists.

Some praise austerity, while other people extol vedic study. Some assert that knowledge comes from renunciation, while nature philosophers claim that it comes from nature.

With so much disagreement regarding dharma leading in so many directions, we become bewildered, O god supreme, unable to reach any certainty. “This is ultimate bliss,” “No, that is ultimate bliss”: so thinking, people charge on, for one always praises the dharma that one loves. In this regard our judgment is confounded and our minds bewildered. This we want you to tell us, O lord: what is ultimate bliss?

  • (MBh 14.48.14-27)

So dharma is actually an inquiry into the truth rather than a collection of beliefs. Certain aspects of dharma keeps changing. For example, scriptures that provided social legal code for Brahmanism like Gautama dharmasutras, Baudhayana dharmasutras, Apastamba dharmasutras etc are no longer followed.

But Bhagavad Gita can apply for all time, because it provides an essence of the path to moksha without much of religious dogma. The essence is the same. But it can be adapted and applied to different times, different cultures and different societies by understanding the core concepts of this eternal dharma that Bhagavad Gita provides: Karma, Bhakti and Jnana.

This is the essence of dharma: live ethically and orderly with sufficient wealth, education and pleasure. To naturally attain liberation and eternal bliss, 1) Do your duties while being not-attached to the fruits of actions 2) Be devoted unconditionally to Ishvara 3) At other times, inquire into the nature of your existence, consciousness and mind and also engage yourself in meditation. Choose a way of living that suits your personality, abilities and interests (svadharma).

So, In my recent answers, I am trying to redefine Hinduism from the perspective of dharma


Discovering God: Bridging Christianity, Hinduism and Islam

I just published my new book yesterday, September 11, 2019. The name of the book is ‘Discovering God: Bridging Christianity, Hinduism and Islam’. It is available in both kindle and paperback. This book is a step towards bridging all religions. Out of 100 readers, I am sure that it will make a difference to at least 10 people. This book explains the central nerve, the essence of all religions. I have written this book hoping that it will contribute something towards religious tolerance, unity of mankind and the ability to really see that all religions lead to the same truth.

You don’t have to have a kindle. You can download kindle app for android, create a free amazon account if you don’t have one, login and download the book for free during the period of promotion. Please leave your reviews after you read the book, to let the world know about this book. This book was possible only by Grace. Here is the book description as it is given in Amazon:

” God is the most misused and misunderstood word in the world. There are thousands and thousands of religions in this world but the major religions that stand out in the list include Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Do they have anything in common or they are completely different from each other? In this book, I will show you how all the major religions of the world have the same central core and point to the same truth. I have quoted numerous verses from the Bible, Bhagavad Gita and Quran and have given a detailed commentary on them in the process of explaining the truth about these religions. I have unraveled the secrets of Greek mystery schools, Upanishads, Kabbalah, Hasidism, Sufism and other mystic traditions in the book. But this book needs a complete open-mindedness and patience from your part. By buying this book and sharing it with your friends, you are contributing something to the world peace. I strongly believe that this book will bring a change. “

US readers, click here to buy the book:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XRJ3GWS

Indian readers click here:

The Book of Quotes: A Colorful Collection of Spiritual Quotes

This book is a colorful collection of spiritual quotes from Tripura Rahasya, verses of Rumi, quotes of Osho and other mystics, verses from Bible and Gita and my own comments and interpretations. The text is very less in this book, as the book is indeed a collection of pictures with quotes in it. So,each page covers one deep spiritual quote. These quotes are powerful pointers of the truth. This is not only a colorful book that is worth decorating your bookshelf but it is also a perfect gift for a spiritual friend.

To order, visit this page: https://www.amazon.com/dp/168971266X

Sufism – The Islamic Mystical Path of Love and Surrender

True islam involves three things: surrender to the will of God and Holy Jihad, which is actually a war against one’s own ignorance and delusion, and unconditional love towards God. The concept of oneness in Islam is so subtle that it is misunderstood by 98% of the people. So, the Quranic verses that came through Muhammad was tailored to suit the understanding of the barbaric, uncivilized people who lived in Arabia back then. People were making idols and eating the pieces of them, and were also killing female children alive.

How can the oneness of God be understood by these people when it deifies the minds of people who are living in a technologically advanced, scientifically progressed and culturally more civilized modern world? But still, Quran seems to preserve the essence, as Sufis seem to interpret it in a way that is so close to the essence of various thoughts of schools of ancient India, Greece and China. The violent verses in Quran need to be interpreted with the right context, as a verse intended to convey how one has to defend oneself. It was true that a large number of people were trying to kill Prophet Muhammad and those verses should be taken as inspiration that Muhammad gave to Muslims to be ready for the war as a self defence. It was a need of the hour.

Also, It seems to make sense to think that Muhammad was a very compassionate and intelligent person, going by the things that have been written about Muhammad. He is described by various authors of his time as an extremely compassionate and caring person. He was also a conqueror by his psychological nature and was a Kshatriya in the lingo of Hinduism. He seemed to have created a revival in the society and culture.

His main teaching was the oneness of God, surrendering to the will of God (taking what comes in life and not struggle against the nature; surrender itself gives a deep sense of peace) and unconditional love towards God. Everything else he said was culturally specific and also specific to the social conditions of the time he lived. Because, there are multiple ways to approach divine. As long as the essence of a spiritual path is love and meditation and conveys the oneness of God, it is the right path.

Now, what is this oneness of God? It doesn’t just mean that there is no other God apart from him. It means that nothing else has an existence apart from him. This is what one without the second means, and it is the literal meaning of the word Advaita (without second). Oneness of God is something that is realized in one’s experience. Words of prophets and Imams can only guide you towards realizing it on your own. They cannot describe the oneness because the oneness and the unity of Gods cannot be described in words, even though people always give it a try. You have to walk the path and dissolve yourself in the process.

Let me put it this way. Imagine that there is a water in a glass tub and an ice cube is floating in it. There are two clearly manifest entities in the bathtub now: an ice cube and the given volume of water. But when finally the ice cube melts and becomes one with water, ice cube has lost its independent existence. Now there is complete oneness, one without a second. Same thing happens psychologically to a true Muslim. He is like the ice cube and the water is like God. He loses his psychological boundaries and his sense of independent existence. Then he gets his true afterlife, which actually happens while living in the body. In this afterlife, there is eternal peace and bliss. This is when a Muslim truly understands the oneness of God; this is when it is possible to understand it in the first place.

To put it in Christian terminology, this is when you discover the Kingdom of God inside you, become spiritually reborn, get a mind like a small child, become baptized by the Holy spirit and enjoy the gifts it brings such as peace, joy, kindness, goodness, a deep trust in existence etc.

To put it in Hindu terminology, this is when you finish your sanchita karma, get atma jnana or self realization and understand the true meaning of Advaita. This is when you are twice born or dvija. In the terminology of Upanishads, this is when you are really a Brahmin, a knower of Brahman!

Spiritual wisdom is so subtle and can be easily misunderstood. But it is the central nerve that runs through every major religion. It is also the same in all religions. People focus more on the skeleton and skin instead of the flesh. How would you feel if I come to your home on Ramadan, get a plate of delicious mutton Biryani from you, throw the flesh and eat the bones? God has given a feast to you. But you are fighting among yourselves in proving whose plate has more number of bones, when it is actually an all-you-can-eat-buffet. Spiritual wisdom of oneness of God and realizing that oneness in one’s own experience by walking on the path of unconditional love and surrender brings out the flesh of the feast that Allah has given you in this wonderful party of life! Alhamdulillah الحمد لله (All praise goes to God!).

Islam openly shares two elements of self purification that it shares with Bhagavad Gita: 1) Doing one’s duties while surrendering oneself to the Will of God or karmayoga 2)Showing unconditional love towards God, long to unite with him and go through a pain of suffering until the Unity of God is experienced in one’s experience or bhakti yoga. But Bhagavad Gita also has something called Jnana Yoga which Islam too secretly shares through the path of Sufism. Sufism is not just about love and surrender but also about getting the true knowledge of oneness of God through one’s experience. Muhammad gave the Sufi teachings to his cousin and son-in-law Ali. Almost all Sufi orders trace their origins to Ali.

You can read the verses of the great Sufi Mystic and poet Rumi here: https://nellaishanmugam.wordpress.com/best-quotes-and-poems-of-jalaluddin-rumi/

I also want to share some Quotes by various Sufis:

The Holy Spirit and its Gifts – Bible Verses

Let me first quote a paragraph from one of my recent posts, which will serve as an introduction:

We tend to interpret the scriptures the wrong way when we take them literally. But scriptures are full of metaphors. It is said that God breathed his breath into man. The Holy Spirit comes from the Greek word ‘pneuma’ which means ‘breath’. Holy spirit is the same as Prana, Shakti and Kundalini in Hinduism. It is what animates the world and the human beings. But inside the human beings it is dormant. By spiritual practice involving unconditional devotion and meditation, we purify ourselves and let the holy spirit be revealed and fill our entire being. This is the meaning of getting baptized by the Spirit. The fall of Adam and Eve is a beautiful metaphor that indicates how the oneness of childhood is lost by the birth of duality. This happens to everyone. Exodus is the symbolism of the journey from bondage to liberation. Crucifixion is the death of the duality. And resurrection is the birth of Christ consciousness, the spiritual rebirth which brings the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is called as Jnana in Hinduism.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 say that your body is the temple of Holy spirit. We have the exact same concept in Hinduism. Holy spirit is within us, but we have to purify ourselves with unconditional love so that holy Spirit fills your entire being and experience.

Psalm 139:7-8 talk about the omnipresence of God. God is usually personified but that is only for our understanding in the initial stage. As you progress in the spiritual path, you realize that God is all pervading presence and the essence of existence. The verses say that God is in your depths, within you, as a divine spark of consciousness and as the divine breath, energy and experience of Holy spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 talks about the gifts of the Holy spirit. These are nothing but the fruits of self realization or spiritual enlightenment. It brings love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Self realization indeed brings all this. So these two verses prove that Bible has a hidden message, which has a collection of some truthful verses about spiritual path and self-realization randomly distributed in the Old testament and concentrated much on the New testament. When we interpret symbolically, it solves many problems.

Story of Lord Ganesha and its Spiritual Significance

Today is Ganesh Chaturthi, which is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. Ganesha’s birth story conveys something very symbolic. Parvati while taking bath, makes the form of Ganesha with turmeric paste. She breathes life into the form and makes him as a young boy and appoints him as a guard. When Shiva comes in, Ganesha doesn’t recognize him and doesn’t allow him inside. This results in a fight and Shiva severes the head of Ganesha. Finally when the truth is recognized, an elephant’s head is fixed on the headless boy.

Lord Ganesha with Shiva and Parvati

Parvati taking bath symbolizes the first step in the spiritual path: preparing the ground by purifying oneself. Ganesha guarding the door is your awareness guarding the contents of the mind, which symbolizes the second step in the spiritual path where you remain as a witness. When Shiva or the self realization comes, the head or the ahamkara, the feeling that one is the doer of his actions, is severed. Elephant symbolizes wisdom. Wisdom replaces ahamkara.

The story of Skanda and Ganesha quarrelling for the fruit of wisdom or the gnanapalam also has a symbolic meaning. Ganesha symbolizes the type of seekers who realize that Purusha and Prakriti, or the Father and the Mother are within and get the fruit of wisdom instantly. They are like Ramana Maharshi who follow the direct path like self inquiry right away. Skanda symbolizes the type of seekers who go around the world, seeking fulfillment in worldly things, then trying various spiritual practices before attempting to go through the direct method. These people are like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who was more attached to the name and external form of Goddess Kali. After trying various sadhanas, he receives Vedantic instructions from Totapuri and gets the fruit of wisdom.

Lord Skanda or Murugan

The Word to Word Meaning and the Significance of Gayatri Mantra

Gayatri mantra is a short hymn written in Gayatri meter. Let us first look into the significance of this meter.

A meter is a basic rhythmic structure of the verse. Sanskrit has many meters using which verses can be composed, but Gayatri is considered as the most sacred of all. It is also the shortest meter. It has three lines or padas with 8 syllables each. It is like an Indian version of Japanese Haiku.

An extraordinary talent is required to say something in the shortest way possible, limiting the number of syllables to very few. People who composed hymns in Gayatri had to say something sweet and significant in just 24 syllables.

In Bhagavad Gita 10. 35, Krishna says गायत्री छन्दसामहम् (gAyatri chandaSAmaham) which means ‘among Chandas (metres), I am Gayatri’. This verse glorifies Gayatri meter and says that it is the best among all meters. (In Tamil, we have a meter called Kural venpa, a meter of two lines, which has the same significance because of its shortest length. Tirukural, a Tamil law code for the humanity, proves its excellence by conveying great wisdom quotes in Kural venpas.)

Now let us explore the actual Gayatri mantra, a highly revered verse from Rig Veda (Mandala 3.62.10). It is addressed to Savitr, a Vedic solar deity, which is one of the Adityas. Savitr refers to the sun before sunrise. This implies the hidden sun within us, the sun of Self or atman which is hidden by our own ignorance. Bhagavad Gita 5.15 says ‘अज्ञानेनावृतं ज्ञानं’ (ajñānenāvṛitaṁ jñānaṁ) which means that jnana or the wisdom of Self is covered by one’s own ignorance.

Gayatri Mantra goes like this:

ॐ भूर् भुवः सुवः ।

तत्स॑वि॒तुर्वरेण्यं॒

भर्गो॑ दे॒वस्य॑धीमहि ।

धियो॒ यो नः॑ प्रचो॒दया॑त् ॥

(oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ suvaḥ

tatsaviturvareṇyaṃ

bhargo devasyadhīmahi

dhiyo yo naḥ prachodayāt)

– Rigveda 3.62.10

Gayatri mantra has three parts:

The first part is the mantra Om. Om is the symbol of absolute reality and a mantra on its own. It is considered as the most suitable one for meditation. This sound can actually be heard as a buzzing sound when you close your ears with fingers, when you are in a silent room or when you are in meditation. It might have a medical explanation on its own but focusing on this sound is one way to do focused attention meditations.

The second part has the phrase ‘bhūr bhuvaḥ suvaḥ’. This is known as ‘Mahāvyāhṛti’ which means ‘great utterance’. It has three words.

Physically they mean the following:

  • Bhūḥ: the terrestrial,
  • Bhuvaḥ: the world connecting terrestrial to celestial,
  • Svaḥ: celestial

(The letter ‘r’ replaces the visarga of‘Bhūḥ’ because of Sandhi.)

There is also a mystical interpretation to this. There are three obstacles when it comes to spiritual path, which can be also said as the three layers of the mind. Here they are:

  1. Attachment to objects, pleasure, sleep. It is tamasic in quality. ‘tamas’ means resistance and is one of the three attributes of prakrti (nature). In human beings, lethargy, laziness, depression etc are tamasic qualities. They resist the flow of life and act like speed breakers. This level of mind is very basic and called as Brahma granthi or the knot of Brahma.
  2. Attachment to people, ambition, goals, power, fame etc. It is rajasic in quality. ‘rajas’ means activity and is one of the three attributes of prakriti (nature). Desire in human beings is rajasic, as it makes people to be active and even restless. This is also called as Vishnu granthi or the knot of Vishnu.
  3. Attachment to one’s own self-concept or personal narrative. This is the last obstacle. It is a combination of rajas and tamas. This is also called as Rudra granthi or the knot of Rudra. This knot is responsible for the sense of separation, the duality or avidya, the basic ignorance of mistaking one’s body and mind as the Self.

Savitr, the inner sun illumines all three in the process of the spiritual path. As you go deeper and deeper in meditation, your consciousness illuminates the deeper layers of your mind and purifies them, helping you to untie the three knots and get liberation (moksha).

The third part is the actual verse, which has 3 lines and 24 syllables:

tat savitur vareṇyaṃ (or vareniyam)

bhargo devasya dhīmahi

dhiyo yo naḥ prachodayāt.

Let us explore the word by word meaning:

tat: that

savitur – the God Savitr or Savitri. Spiritually it is the inner sun, the antaryami or the divine spark within you.

varenyam – it means ‘the most excellent’ or supreme bliss.

bhargo – भर्गस् (bhargas) means glory or radiance; it becomes bhargo because of Sandhi.

devasya – of God (bhargo devasya together means the radiance or glory of God).

dhimahi – it means let us meditate. It comes from Sanskrit root root ‘dhī’ = to think about (something/somebody), to meditate upon (something/somebody). When it is conjugated in first person plural, it becomes ‘dhimahi’. It doesn’t need any pronoun since dhimahi itself is the conjugation in first person plural, making it clear.

dhiyo – the actual word is ‘dhiyaH’ which has become ‘dhiyo’ because of Sandhi. dhiyah is the plural of ‘dhi’ which means intellect.

yo – which

naḥ – Our

prachodayāt – comes from the root ‘pracud’ which means to command, to excite or to inspire. It means inspiring or driving something to action.

So the actual meaning of the third part is, “Let us meditate on Savitr, the glory of God and supreme bliss, which inspires our intellect!”.

There is also another significance in this verse. The verse summarizes the three attributes of Brahman or supreme reality: which is sat – truth, cit – consciousness and Ananda – bliss. (satcitAnandA means truth – consciousness and bliss:

‘tat’ refers to the truth. Truth is always mentioned with the pronoun ‘that’. tat tvam asi, an important Mahavakya from Chandogya Upanishad means ‘You are that’.

‘bhargo devasya’ means ‘radiance or glory of God’ and it refers to consciousness.

‘varenyam’ means ‘’the most excellent’ or the supreme bliss. It refers to the bliss, AnandA.

So, Gayatri mantra is a good mnemonic device as it has some important spiritual concepts. It is also a good choice for meditation. Focusing on a sound comes as an aid in meditation and Gayatri mantra is a good choice as an aid.

In my blog, I have written in detail about a meditation called ‘3 level meditation’. It combines a psychological concept called classical conditioning, vajrayana meditation of Buddhism, and dhyana, the form of focused attention meditation mentioned in Yoga sutras. The second level of this meditation requires chanting of a mantra and Gayatri mantra is an excellent choice for it. I have explained about the three level meditation here: A Shamatha Meditation Based on Symbolism, Visualization, Mnemonics and Classical Conditioning

It has a visual meditation aid (VMA) to facilitate focus and I have written about it in detail in the page, including two videos of my speech regarding the various objects you see in the VMA. Here it is:

The Metaphoric Explanation of the Holy Bible – Discovering True Christianity

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We tend to interpret the scriptures the wrong way when we take them literally. But scriptures are full of metaphors. It is said that God breathed his breath into man. The Holy Spirit comes from the Greek word ‘pneuma’ which means ‘breath’. Holy spirit is the same as Prana, Shakti and Kundalini in Hinduism. It is what animates the world and the human beings. But inside the human beings it is dormant. By spiritual practice involving unconditional devotion and meditation, we purify ourselves and let the holy spirit be revealed and fill our entire being. This is the meaning of getting baptized by the Spirit. The fall of Adam and Eve is a beautiful metaphor that indicates how the oneness of childhood is lost by the birth of duality. This happens to everyone. Exodus is the symbolism of the journey from bondage to liberation. Crucifixion is the death of the duality. And resurrection is the birth of Christ consciousness, the spiritual rebirth which brings the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is called as Jnana in Hinduism.

This doesn’t mean that the stories in Bible didn’t happen. They just didn’t happen exactly the way it is explained. Also, there is a strong consensus among historians that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and many others were not real people. Archeological research has rendered incredible evidence for the fact that many of the Bible stories are stories and not history. But it also presents the history of Israel in a way that adds juice to the story, even though it is completely different from the actual history. For example, the conquest of Canaan didn’t really happen; but to interpret it in a symbolic way, it symbolizes the conquest of one’s own ignorance, which is also the metaphorical interpretation of Holy Jihad in Islam. United Kingdom of Israel as portrayed in the Bible never existed either.

The Hebrew Bible was written for two purposes. Contrary to what Bible suggests, the entire Torah and the parts of Old testament was written sometime around 8th – 6th Century BCE. A major part was written after the destruction of the first temple in Jerusalem. The first purpose was political: to unite the people of Israel under one God, one temple and one Kingdom. The second purpose is spiritual: to convey truths via metaphors, parables and sayings.

The whole Bible comes under the category of mythology. In fact, only after the birth of Jesus, puranas, the Indian myths were composed. This also suggests that Indian mythology might have been inspired by Christian and Jewish scriptures. Indian myths also try to convey the spiritual truths using metaphors, parables, sayings and in the form of conversation between two people, a guru and a disciple. They do convey a little bit of history directly and indirectly, but many of the stories were added to create an interesting narrative. This narrative was used to unite people and also to kindle the feelings of devotion in the initial stage.

It is said that Quran was revealed to Muhammad by angel Gabriel. But here it is important to understand that even Gabriel is a personification of the Holy Spirit and the revelation by Gabriel is hence symbolic. There are a lot of such symbols in scriptures.

However, historians do agree that Jesus was a historical person. Two incidents which are considered as absolutely real are his baptism by John and his crucifixion.

John Campbell, an American professor of literature, has done a lot of research and has written books on this subject. I haven’t read any of his books yet and hence can’t comment about how efficient his arguments are. But I understood the symbolic nature of myths and scriptures in the light of my own experience.

Also read: Dear Christians, Hindu Deities are not Evil Spirits! – A Criticism of Christian Churches Which Promote Religious Intolerance