The scholars, philosophers and religious gurus across the world have interpreted and described the nature and attributes of God, in different names and forms in various cultures and religions since time immemorial. In fact, in the modern age, some Abrahamic religions have aggressively avowed and asserted that ONE followed by them is the only almighty and everything else is false. While visiting some Western countries, I have even noticed young boys and girls at the intersections and city squares distributing pamphlets and telling visitors how only a particular prophet and god can do their welfare, and save the world and mankind. The fanatic followers of yet another religion even openly talk about killing people who do not subscribe to their faith.
Recently, I became interested to learn about several ancient civilizations that thrived well with their faith in own culture and religion for the hundreds of years before being destroyed or lost with the onslaught of some neo-religions in the post Christ age. One common feature of nearly all these civilizations was belief and worship of multiple gods, who basically represented various natural phenomenon and elements. Actually, all visible or invisible energies and natural forces that affected human life in some way were deified by them either due to reverence or fear for own well-being and prosperity. In a way, I find no defect in this approach if a person acknowledges his gratitude through reverence or devotion to seen and unseen material and abstract forces that make his life easy and comfortable.
Today, I find that out of over a dozen significant ancient civilizations, only Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) has survived in the modern age and all other ancient civilizations are now a thing of past. Perhaps this is the reason why the world now treats Hinduism as the oldest surviving culture and religion. At the same time, some forces of the very same neo-religions are still actively engaged against Hinduism with the same agenda and tactics that ensured fall of all other ancient cultures and religions in the world. Ironically and paradoxically, irrespective of their description of God and His message, something significant is always found amiss in their preaching that leaves many doubts in the mind of any well-reasoned person. But then such questions and doubts are scuttled by the edict their faith is not subject to any question or discussion.
It is also beyond comprehension and any logic or rationale why such an ALMIGHTY would inspire or ask followers to engage in coercion or evangelism to force or incite other people to follow this particular creedal and dogmatic religion as being carried out by some people in a mission mode. In fact, when I see some clerics, scholars, politicians, and occasionally even some professionals from the neighbouring Islamic country giving a call of Gazwa-e-Hind in rhetorical tone, I find it quite frightening and insecure not only for the followers of the Hinduism in the Indian sub-continent but also for the entire mankind world over, wherever people value the ideals of freedom of the religion, culture, educations, speech, equality, and so on.
When I analyse the ancient cultures, traditions and belief systems of old civilizations, I find they had many commonalities among them respecting their political, economic and social systems, including their faith. However, to sum up their difference in one sentence; while all other civilizations had largely followed a materialist approach towards life, the Indian civilization (Sanatana Dharma) was the only one which realized the futility of materialism and emphasised on the spiritual pursuits, if not from the early life then for sure in the later life after living the life of a householder for a reasonable period. Perhaps spirituality and its associated aspects have been main strength of Hinduism because despite systematic attempts to destroy it and nearly a millennium’s socio-religious turmoil, Hinduism still survived with its ancient positive attributes.
When I compare Hinduism with some dominant neo-religions of the world, I find others’ still thrive on the concept of consumerism in their concept that the ALMIGHTY has created every other thing only for His faithfuls’ consumption, the spirit of Hinduism can be understood with the following ancient great quotes from scriptures:
Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam (The whole world is one family)
Sarva Dharma Sambhav (All faiths lead to the same destination)
Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah (Let everyone live happily)
Even the much criticized and debated concept of idol worship in Hinduism cam be so easily understood by learning the concept of Sadhya (deity), Sadhak (devotee), Sadhan (medium) and Sadhana (devotion). Hence the concept of some dogmatic religions or their clerics as “my God vs your God” is utterly flawed and erroneous. The differences on account of religion, region, colour, caste and creed are manmade and (true) God will never make any distinction among living beings based on such discriminatory attributes. For sure, God will neither force anyone to worship and fear HIM, nor tell anyone to kill those who do not subscribe to a philosophy.
While Vedic Indians believed in 33 deities comprising of 8 Vasus, 12 Adityas, 11 Rudras and 2 Aswins that essentially represented material, personified and abstract elements important for the prosperity and peaceful living, somewhat analogous to other contemporary civilizations, the Vedas find a mention of (one) Brahman (God) in many hymns, Who has been analysed and explained in the Principal Upanishads with such attributes as being original, absolute, eternal, incorporeal, indescribable, inexhaustible, omniscient,, omnipresent, omnipotent, both transcendent and immanent , infinite in existence, source of all creation, and without beginning and end. Thus, the definition and description of God as propounded in the Vedas and Upanishads appears nearly perfect and flawless. So the GOD does not belong to any particular religion or set of people; instead, He belongs to everybody, and everybody belongs to Him.
There is rather a simple way of understanding God (Brahman) and His potentialities. In this universe, there are numerous positive and negative energies (forms of Shakti), including abstract emotions such as love, hatred, anger, fear, joy, disgust, surprise and so on, which leave powerful impact but invariably need a physical form (a body or device) for expression. God (Brahman) is the highest and purest form of Shakti (energy) all-pervasive and all-competent as described in the earlier paragraph that needs special vision, devotion and for some a medium too to be realized. Many Indian rishis and scholars in the ancient past and some medieval age saints like Adi Shankara, Kabir and Nanakdev had easily realized these aspects of God during their life time. Only this VERY GOD pervades the entire universe, Who in interplay and combination with nature, is the cause of all creation, perpetuation and extirpation in the universe without any discrimination.