Some time ago I wrote about the similarities between Hinduism and Mystic Judaism.I thought that it might be interesting to look at the similarities and differences between Judaism’s ten commandments and the Hindu yamas (restraints) and niyamas (observances). I made a diagram, which is not very easy to publish on WordPress. The best I can do is make a pdf version available and insert an image. You will have to click on the image to see the whole thing, and possibly zoom in :
I have used solid lines where there is a direct connection or even equivalence, and dotted lines where there is some sort of relation. Continue reading
Many people think of Hinduism as polytheistic. In fact most Hindus are monotheistic, and Shaivas, fall into this category. How do the other Hindu deities, Vishnu, Ganesha, Krishna, etc. fit into this perspective. Ultimately there is nothing but Shiva. All the other Gods, in fact everything is a creation, emanation, or view of Shiva. The way that the multiplicity of different Gods are viewed.
Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva, (the Trimurti)
Probably the most iconic image in Shaivism is the Nataraja, Shiva as Lord of the Dance. This pictures Shiva in the dance of creation, preservation and destruction. In this form Shiva holds a drum in one hand, representing creation, the fire of destruction in another. One of his right arms is in the Abhayaprada Mudra, a gesture meaning “no fear”, signaling preservation. His fourth arm is held in an elephant trunk like posture, alluding to Ganesha, the removal of obstacles, again showing help and preservation to all people. It is clear from this that Shiva holds the properties of Vishnu and Brahma. In other words Vishnu and Brahma are alternative views of Shiva. Whereas a Vishnava or would see things differently I don’t think it is useful to talk about better or correct views; this is out view as Shaivas and we acknowledge that others may see things differently. Shaivas (and Vishnavas) believe in a good and merciful God, and all will be redeemed so this means there is no need for the type of conflict with other beliefs that we see in Islam and Christianity. Continue reading
I have written previously about how it is almost ironic that Christian Fundamentalists go out of their way to distort science to make it fit their creation story, whereas science tends to agree with the Hindu view of the Universe. This is despite Hinduism not predicting a correspondence between Maya and spiritual truths, which Christian Fundamentalists see as essential.
I read an interesting article in New Scientist “Did our cosmos exist before the big bang?“, which shows that the latest advances in quantum loop cosmology predict an endless series of universes, a new one being created after the destruction of the previous. Again science confirms what Hinduism predicts, while the Abrahamic 6,000 year old Universe is now discounted by all serious main-stream scientists.
Posted in christian right, hinduism, other religions, religion
Tagged Add new tag, christianity, creation, creationism, hindu, quantum loop cosmology, quantum physics, science
The Himalayan Academy master Course Books
I previously wrote that after completing the Chinmaya International Foundation’s “Foundation Level” e-vedanta course”, I was not going to continue with their advanced course but take the Himalayan Academy’s Master Course. I thought it might be useful to give some first impressions of the course, though I have been following it for just over two weeks, so it is a very early impression. I have not even completed my first self-assessment yet!
I ordered the books and the self-assessment PDFs, which are sent via email. When I ordered the books I had thought that they seemed rather expensive, but when they arrived the size, weight and sheer quality Continue reading
Posted in books, hinduism, religion
Tagged conversion, himalayan academy, hindu, master course, saiva, saivism, shaiva, Shaiva Siddhanta, shiva, spirituality
Last week I completed the Chinmaya International Foundation’s “Foundation Level” e-vedanta course. The course consists of 12 monthly lessons. At the end of each month there is a set of questions, and these are sent to the acharya at CIF for marking. The course is quite challenging, as in addition to the lessons a sādhana, or discipline is recommended. At a cost of $100 for a whole year of study it is excellent value – at the time I registered this was £50.
The course was very informative, describing the basics of Hindu Vedantic philosophy. It has enabled me to understand many terms and discussions and the discipline of regular spiritual practice has helped me advance spiritually. The only minor criticism of the course material is that sanskrit words are not shown in IAST or an equivalent, or in Devanāgarī. This means that I don’t know how to pronounce some of the terms I learned, and it led to me being confused by thinking that mālā (prayer beads) and mala (impurity) were two meanings of the same word!
Though I would recommend the course as an introduction to Hinduism and Vedanta, I will not be taking the advanced course. There are several reasons for this. Continue reading
I have noticed that a lot of people still visit the page on my first visit to a Hindu temple. A lot of people want to visit a mandir but are not sure what to expect. It occurred to me that some people might think that I was just lucky that my local mandir was very friendly, so I thought it worth posting about my visit to another mandir to show that this is not an exception.
I have visited other Hindu temples. I have visited the large Swaminarayan temple in Neasden, London. This is a building of National importance, which won the 2007 British pride of place award, and has been featured in the journal of the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. As you would expect from such an iconic temple, this mandir has people there to welcome you, answer questions and generally help. People would rightly see that as different from most of the many mandirs that are in towns and cities in the West.
Our visit to Newcastle Hindu temple is probably typical of the friendly welcome that anybody will get in one of the more common mandirs. This year we were on holiday in Northumbria over diwali week, and naturally we wanted to attend a mandir as part of the celebration. Continue reading
I was recently asked to review the booklet “Hindu Spirituality in a Nutshell”. available from http://www.hinduspirituality.com/. This is available as a downloadable e-booklet at a cost of £0.73, or as a paperback at £4.03. Being just over 30 pages long it is easily readable on the computer, so I would recommend the electronic version rather than the rather expensive paperback.
This book sets it self one goal, to teach the basic ideas of Hindu spirituality. It describes the basic ideas of reincarnation, God, Karma and the nature of the spiritual and physical world. It does not seek to teach any practical spiritual practices such as yoga, meditation, or devotional worship. I have to say that it achieves simple goals it sets for itself very well. There are some things that I would have probably included that were missing, for example it described the physical and spiritual world but did not distinguish the subtle plane. Continue reading
Many Christians are extremely insulting about Hinduism and other religions. They call us ignorant, dumb, followers of Satan and mock our beliefs and practices. They tell converts that they should not associate with non-Christians, and sometimes even incite violence, trickery, deception, and destruction of shrines. You only have to look at some of the comments by Christians on this blog to see the degrees of hatred. These Christians honestly believe that this is what their religion teaches.
In contrast, many Hindus believe that Jesus was a guru, and that his teachings do not incite this type of behaviour. I have looked at the teachings of Jesus and I have come to the conclusion that many Christians have misunderstood the real meaning of the teachings of Jesus. In short, what the many missionaries teach is not in accord with the true teachings of Jesus.
Jesus as a Guru
If Jesus is seen as a guru, and the gospels as the teachings of Jesus become clear. When Jesus says to Thomas In John 14:6-7
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.
This is an explanation of the Guru student relationship. Many gurus would say the same thing to their students, but this would not exclude the possibility of other gurus. Many sayings that are taken as instructions to be exclusive and divisive by the Christian Right are in reality simply instructions to keep firm to the guru-shishya relationship.
Jesus’s words on Other Faiths
From the way that many modern Christians behave you would expect Jesus to be full of condemnation, insults, and irreverence for the Roman and Greek gods. In fact, Jesus never said anything negative about these beliefs. Having queried this on a Christian board someone eventually came up with two passages from Jesus: Continue reading
I have been looking at the way various different worshipers view Shiva as God. This is only one aspect of the differences, worshipers may have different practices, traditions and emphasise worship, medditation or jnana (learning and understanding). In trying to prepare this post I have discovered one thing, wordpress does not do tables well. I have therefore put the table into this post as an image, and made it available as a pdf file. The table looks at various groups worshiping Shiva and how Shiva relates to various Hindu views of God. These views are explained as follows:
Ishwara is God as the great lord. This is God the supreme controller, but is a personal God.
Brahman is God in the absolute, omnipresent form of God, often described as the Cosmic Spirit, or Paramatman (Supreme Soul). Brahman can not be related to by bhakti or devotion but reached and experienced through meditation.
I have decided that I need to change my blog title from “Westerner interested in Hinduism”. I am more than just interested in Hinduism now, I am a follower of Sanatana Dharma. I have to say a follower at the beginning stages, and perhaps not a very good one. But what should I change it to? Well, it should reflect that I am ethnically Western, and that I am following Hinduism. The obvious title is “Western Hindu”, and that is actually the title that I have decided to use.
Why have I bothered to write this article then? Because there are very good arguments that the title “Western Hindu” is not accurate and some would argue incorrect. This article explores the alternative titles that I have considered, and why I have chosen a title that is not the most accurate. I will start by looking at why the term “Western” is could be misleading, and then look at why some people would claim that my use of the word “Hindu” is wrong.
Shiva appears in many forms. The abstract form of the lingam (sanskrit for mark or sign) helps us concentrate on the mysterious nature of Shiva, that is beyond comprehension or representation.
The lingam reminds us of the presence of God within all of creation, and within us all.
Then there is the canonical form of Shiva, meditating with the moon in his hair, holding the trident and drum. Continue reading
The novel Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchel is at one level a collection of stories. This review is from the perspective of Hinduism, so I talk about the theme of reincarnation and spiritual advancement more than conventional reviews; I also skip over the plot. If you want to read a more conventional review, then there are many on the web , .
The stories describe various characters, a naive 19th century traveler, a rather immoral composer, a female journalist in the 1970s, a present day publisher, a victimised clone in the future, and a member of a Hawaiian tribe in the distant future following the collapse of civilisation. These stories are written with such a diversity of styles that they could almost be from different authors.