Sunday, 17 June 2018

On the Sandhyavandanam

In an earlier post, I had talked about how Hinduism is actually a monotheistic religion, as it considers all Gods representations of the One Truth, Parabrahma. The basic end objective of a follower of sanaatana dharma is not heaven, but moksha or liberation. I will talk about this in another blog post.

Now, as part of life man is supposed to have broadly three kinds of devotional activities - nitya (नित्य), naimittika (नैमित्तिक) and kaamya (काम्य) - those which are to be followed daily, on special occasions (festivals for example) and for fulfillment of desires respectively.

Of these the nitya karma component includes basic pooja, the sandhyaavandanam and many other activities, which are today followed as an exception rather than as the rule (I know a few names - agnihotram, brahmayagnyam, vaiswadevam et al).

The most basic practice of a Hindu's life is the sandhyaavandanam. I want to focus on this in this post. Everbody knows about namaaz, and how Muslims religiously follow it. Many Christians compulsorily go to church every Sunday. Many, if not most are not even aware of the Vedic sandhyaavandanam, or have major misconceptions around it. And I am talking about Hindus themselves.

This practice takes primacy over any other ritual activity. According to the Vedic scriptures, a person that does not do the sandhyaavandanam becomes unclean and unfit to do any other pooja or ritual or vratam. Thus, without doing this basic practice no benefits will accrue via going on pilgrimages or doing any other ritual - vratam, yagnyam or abhishekam
Another important point to be noted is that one's varna does not matter. There is a misconception that only Brahmins, or maybe those who wear the sacred thread can do the sandhyaavandanam. Wrong, EVERY Hindu MUST do the sandhyaavandanam ideally thrice a day. The difference is in the methodology. Those who wear the sacred thread have a prescribed format in which they must do it. Those who do not can actually chant a specific mantra at least thrice, or for that matter recite anything of their choice at the prescribed times. Further, it is said that those who wear the sacred thread must do it not only for their sake, but for the sake of everyone's welfare. The Vedas constantly talk not just about personal welfare. They go beyond that, and talk about humanity's welfare and that of all living creatures and the universe itself. Various shaanti mantraas talk about peace across the universe, and not for just the person chanting the mantra.

Another example of this is borne out by the plural (not singular, as in for the worshipper) term used in the gaayatri mantra. This is the core/heart of sandhyaavandanam. Again, there are many misconceptions and erroneous practices around this. 
  1. What does gaayatri actually mean? Crudely, it means that which protects the praanas in us (गयान् त्रायते इति गायत्री). It also means that which protects the person that chants it, in the prescribed method (गातारम् त्रायते इति गायत्री).
  2. Mantra means that which protects by continuous contemplation/chanting (मननात् त्रायते इति मन्त्रः).
  3. So, one thing that must be followed, is that a mantra must NOT be said out aloud. So there is no way, it should be recorded and broadcast on loudspeakers.
  4. What is commonly referred to as the gaayatri is not meant for everyone. Each varna can have its own gaayatri. What people commonly think of as the gaayatri is actually to be chanted only by Brahmins (and maybe by those who wear the sacred thread). Those who do not wear it can chant the following mantra thrice. The meaning is the same as that of any gaayatri. They can also recite anything of their choice at the prescribed times.
sarvachaitanyaroopaam taam
aadhyaam vidhyaam cha dheemahi
buddhim yaa nah prachodayaat
सर्वचैतन्यरूपाम् ताम्
आद्याम् विद्याम् च धीमहि
बुद्धिम् या नः प्रचोदयात्

It is the chanting of the gaayatri that is heart of the ritual. Parabrahma is invoked in the form of gaayatri. This is an example of how the feminine aspect is given the highest respect in Hinduism. Gaayatri is called the veda maata (वेदमाता). 

For those who wear the sacred thread, the ritual, when done in entirety has three components. 
1. Purification of oneself and invitation to gaayatri to enter the practitioner - shuddhi and aavaahanam (शुद्धिक्रिया, आवाहनम्​)
2. Chanting of the gaayatri mantra - mantra japam (मन्त्रजपम्)
3. Bidding farewell to gaayatri - upasthaanam (उपस्थानम्)

The broad meaning of the gaayatri (any version) and other topics will be covered in the next post.

Reference: Speech by Sri Samavedam Shanmukha Sarma (Telugu video): Link here.
Sanskrit keyboard from:

Saturday, 19 May 2018

How Rahul Gandhi can help the BJP increase its membership

The readers of my posts would have gathered by now that I have a distinct right wing tilt. Some of my family members have been associated with the RSS for decades. My studies till class 10 were in a school run by an organization which is part of the overall RSS umbrella.

However, till date, I have never been a member of the RSS or the BJP. I attended a few shakhas, but always because someone took me there, and not out of my own volition. However, today I took the decision to become a formal member of the BJP. I in fact paid money to become a formal member. Not that I will become politically active or participate in dharnas etc. It was a knee-jerk reaction, my personal way of protest when I saw Rahul Gandhi's press conference today.

I do not want to go into the morality or legality of whatever has transpired after the latest assembly elections in Karnataka. I do confess that I wanted a BJP government to come to power, though in retrospect, it looks as if the BJP would have been better off sitting on the sidelines, and let the drama play out.

What pushed me towards my symbolic protest was the sheer entitlement that was oozing from Rahul Gandhi. According to him, the Congress would have "let" the BJP come to power had they won the majority on their own. Let? Does this guy think he owns the country, its Constitution, its institutions (which he claims are being decimated and/or hijacked by Modi and team) and its citizens? Does he think all of them exist to serve at his pleasure? Let us look at what all he did during these elections. He campaigned, in multiple constituencies. I understand that the Congress lost most if not all the seats where he campaigned. He in fact queered the pitch for an INC-JD(S) tie-up by calling the JD(S) a B-team of the BJP (he apparently apologised later to Deve Gowda). Imagine, the party president apologised due to his goof-up. The team which ran to the Supreme Court, and also handled the situation on the ground in Karnataka was not his team. It was managed by Sonia Gandhi, who seems to have been forced to enter the arena.

As soon as it became apparent the Congress was losing, there were obvious attempts to shield him. He was in hiding all the time, from counting till recently. Suddenly, one saw him with a smug smile, delivering a sanctimonious lecture after the events of today. And my God, the sense of entitlement! The way he seemed to insist that the RSS and BJP were destroying "institutions" without any regard. If one were to point out the falsehoods that were peddled by the Congress about the "murder of democracy", the text would possibly run into pages. On top of that were congratulations pouring in from various quarters. The AP CM, who till recently, was part of the NDA, and suddenly started claiming that nothing was being done for the state was one. Another was Mamata. In the recently concluded Panchayat elections in Bengal there have been multiple reports of booth capturing, rigging, rapes, murders etc. which were not even covered in the mainstream media. I understand that in many seats, the election was unanimous as there was no competition to the TMC candidate. After all this, the lady has the gall to lecture about how she believes in democracy.

As many people pointed out, the coming elections in 2019 seem to be clearly demarcated as competition between Modi and the rest of the media and political parties, who seem to be unanimously against him. The BJP has various points in its favour due to whatever it has done till date. Possibly, for the first time, a bankruptcy case has been successfully settled via the new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). There are scores of Modi supporters on social media who provide points against the competition. In parallel with whatever populist/welfare schemes are being taken up by the central government, the success of the BJP will also depend upon how Modi and team explain to the population, what they see as injustice being meted out to the country because of the current opposition. Modi and team, do not have a strong ecosystem to convey their view. The Congress does. Hence, if Modi wants to retain power, it all depends on how effectively his work is conveyed to the people, and also on how effectively the opposition's version is countered. This is one reason I titled the post the way I did.

Also, interestingly, there were howls of protests when Yeddyurappa was given two weeks to prove his strength. Now Kumaraswamy has been given the same time. Everything is silent, no protests any more. 

As for Bengaluru and Karnataka, assuming the INC-JD(S) government lasts for some time, one must hope that lakes continue to be rejuvenated, something is done to reduce the traffic congestion, and the white-topping of roads, which I believe was halted before the elections, restarts and finishes. It would also be interesting to see how long the government would last.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Why I think people like Kamal Haasan are wrong

There has been a controversy over a Sanskrit song sung during an event at IIT Madras some time back. The criticism ranged from why a Tamil song that was sung "routinely" was not sung, to "imposition" of Sanskrit and Hindi. I actually wanted to have a stronger headline, then I toned it down.

Let me say that I have nothing against the Tamil song, which personifies the language as a mother. I admire Tamilians for the love they have for their language and always hope Telugu people learn this from them. Now, onto my points.

First of all, for those talking about an insult to Tamil. The Tamil song is sung at state government functions. However, as far as I know the IITs come under the Ministry of HRD, GoI and is not a state government body. So, this argument does not hold.

Next, for those talking about imposition of Hinduism and Sanskrit, I have a longer response. People who still believe Tamil is completely unrelated to Sanskrit or Hinduism are fooling themselves. These are the characters who still stand by the discredited Aryan Invasion Theory. Sanskrit and Hinduism are irrevocably intertwined with India. This guy, Kamal Haasan, who is espousing "Dravidian identity", himself is an Iyengar Brahmin by birth, and get this, has a Sanskrit name. Thus, in both ways he is part of the "ecosystem" from which he is so desperately trying to dissociate himself.

Next, Hinduism is the only major religion that believes in a Mother Goddess. What exactly one names the Goddess is up to one's choice. However, going by the Tamil belief that Tamil was handed down by Murugan (Skanda, Subrahmanya, Kartikeya, whatever you wish to call him, and given that his mother is Parvati, one can safely assume Tamil is a personification of her. Also, Lord Siva is called vAgeesha. So this also supports my theory. The only other name I can think of is of Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. If anyone believes otherwise I believe he is being delusional. 

All the so-called Dravidian parties and now Kamal Haasan, are basically Tamilian. To my knowledge no other state of south India espouses "dravidianism" as much as some Tamils. They treat Tamil as a pure language that was completely independent of Sanskrit and "Brahmanism". Obviously all these people can be assumed to be extremely proud of the language. I have news for these delusional people. The five great epics of Tamils are (forgive me for the transliteration errors)  silappadikAram, sivaka chintAmani, maNimekhalai, valayapathi and kunDalakesi. Without even getting into the contents of these (I am unaware of these) and names of characters, four out of these five epics have Sanskrit names. One can also refer to videos available of Dr Nagaswamy, a renowned Tamil scholar who again and again debunks the arguments of these dravidian opportunists.

Now, one explanation for the popularity of the dravidian hypothesis is provided by Rajiv Malhotra in his writings. This is one of the many tools employed by the British and missionaries - to subjugate India, and to convert more people to Christianity. Tamil, from outside seems different in some ways. These differences were played up historically to whip up sentiments of Tamils that they were dominated by the so-called Aryans. There are schools of thought that have claimed the Tamil philiosopher Thiruvalluvar to be a disciple of Saint Thomas (whether he ever came to India is a separate debate).

On top of that, broadly speaking, major Indian languages have the same alphabets. I am leaving out certain tribal and north-eastern languages which may have a different origin.

This list can go on and on. So, those Tamil chauvinists who claim Tamilakam (do look that up) is separate from the rest of India, need to get their agendas or sources checked.

References: Works of Rajiv Malhotra - Being Different, Breaking India.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

On an angry Hanuman

There has been a recent article in leftist website "The Wire" on an angry Hanuman. This post is based on that.

According to the author Nilanjana Bhowmick, "Hanuman 2.0" is no longer benign but is threatening. She has a problem because people are putting up saffron flags, putting up stickers of Hanuman and are treating Hanuman as a symbol of manhood/machosim. 

I have a few queries for this lady. 
1. Does she have anything to say about fans of our film heroes (particularly relevant today, of Salman Khan) who treat them as heroes and idols? There is a moron who posted a picture on social media of himself with a tied up (killed?) deer saying he supports Salman Khan. Does anyone in our media have the guts to speak out against this kind of blind, stupid idol worship? 

2. Do they have anything to say about overt displays in any other religion? There are places in India where till recently (even now?) police feared to tread because they were dominated by people of a certain faith. Touching them would invite political wrath. Do our "journalists" have the guts to talk about situations like these?

I normally do not support use of derogatory terms like aaptard or presstitute. But, seeing people of late, I am beginning to tilt more and more in favour of using these.

I respect all religions. As a Hindu I have the broadmindedness to accept that there are multiple ways to reach God. I do however have a problem with those that denigrate my religion, and with those who try to convert people. These two activities clearly show the hypocrisy of people who say they respect all religions. As per our seculars, any other religion is free to have overt displays of faith. Hinduism cannot. A few examples of our journalistic hypocrisy:

1. Nobody has a problem if kids carry sharp weapons and hurt themselves in a Muharram procession. They however, have a problem, even if adults carry weapons in a Hindu procession. 

2. Nobody, even PETA or our film stars talk against mass animal slaughter during Id/Christmas celebrations. They however pity dogs during Deepavali. They are against Jallikattu, though this sport does not end with the animal being killed. The animal is in fact worshipped after the event.

3. Income of temples is appropriated by the government. No one has the guts to touch or administer non-Hindu places of worship. Recently, a priest in Kerala who is being investigated for some illegal land transactions had the guts to say that he is behind the purview of Indian law. I am not sure how many secular journalists spoke up against this.

4. Shekhar Gupta has reached the conclusion that Hindus are more likely to defecate in the open. Sagarika Ghose has the ability to tell the faith of a man by seeing his semen.

5. The Supreme Court recently was talking about how flowers in certain temples must be used. Do they have the guts to say the same about other faiths?

6. Under the Right to Education Act drafted by the earlier UPA government, minority institutions are not needed to take in poor students. Why is that so? No wonder, some Lingayats are supporting they being recognised as a minority religion because that will offer them many benefits not available to mainstream Hindus.

7. Manmohan Singh went so far as to say that minorities have the first claim to resources. Did he have the guts to designate Hindus in Kashmir and some parts of the north-east as minorities (they are) and offer them benefits?

The list goes on and on. Let me reiterate that I have no issue, and I should have no issue, with how people of any other faith follow their religion. However, this should not affect people of other faiths. Also, I should not be told by these journalists how to follow my own faith.

Now let me come to Hanuman. Hanuman is not just a bhakta/daasa (I prefer these to servant) of Lord Rama. An analysis of Hanuman's personality, words and actions will offer multiple things we can learn from him. How to speak, self-control, single-mindedness in his quest etc. are all qualities we find in him. He is not a docile, quiet character in the Ramayana. While he does exhibit these qualities, he is terrible against his enemies (not random enmity, but with those who work against Dharma) when roused to action. It is beyond my ability to encapsulate the qualities attributed to Hanuman. However, let me share one sloka from the Sundarakaanda in the Ramayana which encapsulates multiple meanings beautifully.

yathaa raaghavanirmuktah sharah shvasanavikramah
gachchhet tadvad gamiShyaami lankaam raavana paalitaam

I shall go to Ravana-ruled Lanka, like an arrow released by Rama, with wind-like power.

RamabaaNam, the arrow of Lord Rama, is said to be invincible. Once released it will hit the target without fail. It has the ability to return to Rama once its task is achieved. Also, the power of the arrow is not its own, but is that of Rama. Thus Hanuman beautifully says that he will achieve his task and return without fail. He conveys confidence in his strength and ability. At the same time, he attributes this power not to himself, but to Rama. Thus he shows confidence while being humble and without being arrogant. This, you ignorant Nilanjana, is Hanuman.

Many (most?) journalists today have agendas. They want to curry favour with the powers that be. These people in all probability have no clue, and most definitely have not read our holy books. They simply write whatever comes to their mind and suits their agenda without giving any thought to the truth. Today's news is no longer about reporting and letting the audience form their opinions. It is about moulding and conveying the journalists' opinion. Who gave these rights to the journalists? How dare one ask this question! How dare one ask journalists to be informed? How dare one ask journalists to be neutral! 

1. Ramayana discourse by Sri Samavedam Shanmukha Sarma

Sunday, 18 February 2018

On misinterpretation of Hinduism, and on Vatapatrasaayi

First, an apology. My knowledge of Sankrit genders is limited. Hence while I will try to present a correct transliteration, those who know better must forgive me for my apses.

There are many reasons that Hinduism is not doing as well as it could be or should be. I will elaborate over a few posts. One simple reason is misinterpretation - either wilful or by mistake.

There have been many who have set out to present Hindu thought to the world - from the old authors of the bhashyaas or commentaries, to the much later colonial Indologists, to the Devdutt Pattanaiks of today's world, to spiritual speakers like Sri Samavedam Shanmukha Sarma and Sri Chaganti Koteswara Rao. The reasons also have been many, genuine intellectual curiosity, intention to make money, to get fame, dissemination of knowledge to seekers, a drive to remove misconceptions etc.

In an open letter to DP that I had written earlier I mentioned how he seemed to be lacking in basic Sanskrit knowledge. Now, reporting what has been read is one thing. However, trying to interpret the basic meaning of Hindu scriptures without the necessary knowledge is like trying to do a surgery by reading a manual - the patient will end up dead.

Knowledge of Sanskrit, while being a necessary and basic prerequisite is not sufficient. To truly interpret and understand the Vedas a person needs to be an expert in the Vedaangaas. There are six of these - shiksha (शिक्षा ), chandas (छन्दस), vyaakaran (व्याकरण), jyotish (ज्योतिष), nirukta (निरुक्त) and kalpa (कल्प). All these are needed to correctly interpret Vedic slokas. 

Further, even words can have multiple meanings.

For example the word go (गो) can mean a cow, the 5 sense organs or even the sun's rays. Thus Govinda (गोविंद) can be a protector of cows (Krishna), ruler of the senses (God) or even the Sun God as he is the Lord of the rays.
Similarly, giri (गिरि) can refer to both slokas of the Veda, and to mountains.
Hence, trying to do a literal interpretation of a Vedic sloka will not give the complete meaning. 

Additionally, Hinduism is rich in symbolism. There is a tale where after the pralaya (प्रलय), i.e. dissolution of creation, only the primordial waters were left. Markandeya is said to have seen Vishnu or Krishna come floating on a banyan tree leaf on these waters. He was in the form of an infant. As infants tend to do, he had his toes and fingers in his mouth. What is the symbolism? We do our actions using the hand. Thus the hand is a symbol of creation. We walk with our legs, which indicate movement. This indicates the movement of this world, what Hinduism calls sthiti (स्थिति) after creation. This is basically a state of maintaining the world as it is. We use the mouth to eat. For the Lord, the mouth indicates where he takes in creation when he decides to end it. Thus it signifies dissolution (I prefer not to use the word destruction). Thus the image of an infant is used to explain the concept of the almighty God who is responsible for creation, maintenance and dissolution.

Now, tell me if any person who does not know about these multiple layers of meanings should ever try to interpret Hinduism!

Sunday, 11 February 2018

On idol worship

This is in continuation with my earlier post.

Before writing this post I glanced through a Wikipedia article on idolatry. I would recommend that you read this as well. Broadly speaking Abrahamic religions discourage (some sections, radically and violently) reverence to any physical idol, while Hinduism does not.

When we mention an idol what comes to mind more often than not, is a physical image or portrait that is treated with reverence and to which worship is offered. However, here I want to extend the concept of idol beyond just this over-simplified concept.

Let us first understand why Hindus offer worship to actual physical images. In my earlier post I spoke about Hinduism believing in both saakaara (साकार) and niraakara (निराकार) worship. It allows the devotee to approach God as either with form or without form. It offers that flexibility. Why? For the average human mind it is not possible to visualize a formless, shapeless object of devotion. We are material and physical creatures. We cannot wrap our heads around the concepts of quantum physics which at the end of the day, according to today's scientists are part of our physical, "rational" world. How can one understand and revere something which has no shape or form? This is the reason Hinduism encourages reverence of physical images, to begin with. 

The devotee however, is asked to progress from worship of God with form to the next level, without form. Also, whenever he worships a murti the devotee is asked to understand that the ultimate receiver of this worship is the shapeless and formless parabrahma

This is also a reason for the importance giving to the worship of a Sivalingam. I will cover that later.

Another aspect, possibly not known to many is that the murtis in Hindu temples are not necessarily simple images. Any temple worth its name is supposed to have a yantra installed under the main deity. There is a process called praana pratiShtha (प्राणप्रतिष्ठा) through which divine energy is invoked and is asked to enter the yantra and hence the murti. I have read that a mirror placed in front of such an "idol", into which energy has been invoked, will break. Only then is the process said to be complete. I am not sure how many people are left in this world today who can achieve this.

Now let us consider the Abrahamic religions. We have seen how hardline interpreters or Islam have been against what they think is idolatry. Destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas comes to mind immediately. However, as I said earlier even these religions are not above idol worship, at least as far as their own religions and their own concept of God is concerned.

  1. Christians, even Protestants pray in front of the cross. Many have a portrait of Jesus in their homes. I believe the Christian concept of God has been influenced by Greek and Roman imagery (old man with white beard etc.).
  2. Muslims, of all denominations pray facing Mecca, where the Kaaba is present. This is reverence to a physical image.
  3. Many Muslims have verses from the Koran framed and kept in their shops and houses. This is reverence to an image. Many in fact have the number 786, which I understand is a numerical representation of Allah written down.
  4. The Parsees worship fire.
Hence, irrespective of religion, an average human being needs some image/imagery using which he can revere God.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Is Hinduism a polytheistic religion?

As mentioned in my earlier post, I will from this post onwards, write occasionally about Hinduism and try to answer some questions that people may have. The words that I put down here are not from my own knowledge. They come from reading and listening to people like Sri Rajiv Malhotra (RM), Sri Chaganti Koteswara Rao garu (CKR), Sri Samavedam Shanmukha Sarma garu (SSS), Paramahamsa Yogananda (PY), Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev (SJV) et al. As always, please feel free to add questions when I post this on Facebook. And as always, I am open to (hopefully constructive) feedback.

I want to put forward certain points on Hinduism that are either not known or are misunderstood. If my writing helps people to better understand and appreciate the culture they are born into, I would be happy with that. Going by certain conventions followed by the aforementioned people, I will mostly refer to Hinduism as Sanatana Dharma, or SD and Judaism, Christianity (the Biblical version) and Islam as Abrahamic Religions, or ARs. For convenience most references will be masculine - he, him etc. Feminine references can be assumed as necessary.

Let me start now. If you were to pick an average Hindu and ask him the question in the blog post title, he would in all probability say yes. He would not be wrong either. Going by SD's own scriptures, the number of gods is 33 million, yes 3.3 crores. Now please note that I did not say Gods with a capital G but gods with a g. 

Most of you may have heard the following sloka.

gururbrahmA gururvishnuh gururdevO maheshwarah
gurussAkShAt parabrahmA tasmai sree guravE namah

गुरुः ब्रह्मा गुरुः विष्णुः गुरुः देवो महेश्वरः 
गुरुः साक्षात्परब्रह्मा तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः

This sloka extols the importance of a guru and salutes him. Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara (Siva) are ok. Who is this Parabrahma? This Parabrahma is the true concept of God in SD. According to SD, everything - which includes all gods, this creation, the universe(s) and time - are manifestations of something greater. To give an example, a woman can wear bangles, rings, ear rings, anklets etc. However, all of these will be made out of gold. So the gods that Hindus worship in daily life are but manifestations of this essence and universal consciousness called brahman (not the caste, which is brAhman) but brahman or parabrahma. From this perspective SD is very much monotheistic. ARs think that there is only one God. For SD, EVERYTHING is God. 

This is one reason there is no Satan or purely evil force in SD. There is no need for one. What we perceive as evil is only a different manifestation of what is ultimately God. Now, before you protest, let me state that I will cover this later. So, do let this point rest for now.

ARs also like to think of God as male. Today, only Roman Catholics seem to have some reverence left for Mary. Else, all ARs follow a strictly male God. It is probably blasphemy to think of a Goddess in place of God in ARs. Hindus have gods and goddesses. However brahman is beyond everything. As I mentioned earlier, by definition It cannot be defined and is beyond comprehension. It does not even have a gender. 

So, the obvious question that will come to mind is, what about the 33 million number earlier and why so many? I will answer this by taking another example. Do we not use electricity to power various electrical items like fans, lights, TV etc.? However, is it not the same electricity powering everything? Is not the same potato consumable as chokha, French fries or tikki? As Paramahamsa Yogananda put it, Jesus liked the fatherly aspect of God. So to him God became male. However, to a Ramakrishna Paramahamsa the motherly aspect of God was of supreme interest. So he worshipped Goddess Kali. As SJV puts it, SD is not a religion of believers but one of seekers. A seeker in SD is given the freedom to approach God the way he wishes. SD is a "religion" that allows its followers maximum flexibility. Let us think logically. When a devotee or seeker says that God is infinitely capable, almighty and beyond comprehension by humans, who is this seeker to impose any attribute to God and insist that his interpretation alone is true? By doing this are we not imposing human restrictions on God? This is the true beauty of SD. There are no such restrictions needed. However, to quote RM, SD does not say all paths to God are the same or are of the same merit. This is merely an interpretation.

God in SD is said to be approachable as both with form and without form - sAkAra and nirAkAra. God is to be with attributes and without - saguNa and nirguNa. Here is where "idol" worship comes into the picture. I will cover this shortly. However, the important point is that whenever a Hindu performs his worship, whether it is at home or in a temple he has to remember this parabrahma as the power/essence behind the god or goddess that he is worshipping. All offerings are ultimately to this essence and not just to the god/goddess that is a manifestation of this essence. The ultimate aim of worship is freedom from the cycle of births and union with this parabrahma. I will cover idol worship in my next post.