Hindu views on monotheism

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Hinduism is a religion which incorporates diverse views on the concept of God. Different traditions of Hinduism have different theistic views, and these views have been described by scholars as polytheism, monotheism, henotheism, panentheism, pantheism, monism, agnostic, humanism, atheism or non-theism.[1][2][3]

Monotheism is the belief in a single creator God who is almighty, omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent.[4][5] Hinduism does not posit or require such a belief, and is considered a non-monotheistic religion by scholars of religion.[6][7][8] Many traditions within Hinduism share the Vedic idea of a metaphysical ultimate reality and truth called Brahman instead. According to Jan Gonda, Brahman denoted the "power immanent in the sound, words, verses and formulas of Vedas" in the earliest Vedic texts. The early Vedic religious understanding of Brahman underwent a series of abstractions in the Hindu scriptures that followed the Vedic scriptures. These scriptures would reveal a vast body of insights into the nature of Brahman as originally revealed in the Vedas. These Hindu traditions that emerged from or identified with the Vedic scriptures and that maintained the notion of a metaphysical ultimate reality would identify that ultimate reality as Brahman. Hindu adherents to these traditions within Hinduism revere Hindu deities and, indeed, all of existence, as aspects of the Brahman.[9][10] The deities in Hinduism are not considered to be almighty, omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent, and spirituality is considered to be seeking the ultimate truth that is possible by a number of paths.[11][12][13] Like other Indian religions, in Hinduism, deities are born, they live and they die in every kalpa (eon, cycle of existence).[14]

In Hindu philosophy, there are many different schools.[15] Its non-theist traditions such as Samkhya, early Nyaya, Mimamsa and many within Vedanta such as Advaita do not posit the existence of an almighty, omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God (monotheistic God), while its theistic traditions posit a personal God left to the choice of the Hindu. The major schools of Hindu philosophy explain morality and the nature of existence through the karma and samsara doctrines, as in other Indian religions.[16][17][18]

Contemporary Hinduism can be categorized into four major traditions: Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism. Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism worship Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi — the Divine Mother — as the Supreme respectively, or consider all Hindu deities as aspects of the formless Supreme Reality or Brahman. Other minor sects such as Ganapatya and Saura focus on Ganesha and Surya as the Supreme. A sub-tradition within the Vaishnavism school of Hinduism that is an exception is dualistic Dvaita, founded by Madhvacharya in the 13th-century (where Vishnu as Krishna is a monotheistic God). This tradition posits a concept of monotheistic God so similar to Christianity that Christian missionaries in colonial India suggested that Madhvacharya was likely influenced by early Christians who migrated to India,[19] a theory that has been discredited by scholars.[20][21]

Vedic ideas[edit]

According to Rigveda 1.164.46,
Transl: Klaus Klostermaier[22][23]

Indraṃ mitraṃ varuṇamaghnimāhuratho divyaḥ sa suparṇo gharutmān,
ekaṃ sad viprā bahudhā vadantyaghniṃ yamaṃ mātariśvānamāhuḥ
"They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuṇa, Agni, and he is heavenly nobly-winged Garutmān.
To what is One, sages give many a title — they call it Agni, Yama, Mātariśvan."

Vaishnavism[edit]

Krishnaism is a sub-tradition of Vaishnavism wherein Krishna is considered Svayam Bhagavan, meaning 'Lord Himself' and it is used exclusively to designate Krishna as the Supreme Lord.[24][25] Krishna is considered the source of Vishnu himself or to be the same as Narayana.[26][27][28] Krishna is recognized to be Svayam Bhagavan in the belief of Gaudiya Vaishnavism and Dvaita sub-school of Hindu philosophy,[29] the Vallabha Sampradaya,[30] in the Nimbarka Sampradaya, where Krishna is accepted to be the source of all other avatars, and the source of Vishnu himself.[29][31]

The theological interpretation of svayam bhagavān differs with each tradition and the translated from the Sanskrit language, the term literary means "Bhagavan Himself" or "directly Bhagavan."[32] Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition often translates it within its perspective as primeval Lord or original Personality of Godhead, but also considers the terms such as Supreme Personality of Godhead and Supreme God as an equivalent to the term Svayam Bhagavan, and may also choose to apply these terms to Vishnu, Narayana and many of their associated avatars.[33][34][35]

Gaudiya Vaishnavas and followers of the Vallabha Sampradaya Nimbarka Sampradaya, use the Gopala Tapani Upanishad,[36] and the Bhagavata Purana, to support their view that Krishna is indeed the Svayam Bhagavan. This belief was summarized by the 16th century author Jiva Goswami in some of his works, such as Krishna-sandarbha.[32][37]

In other sub-traditions of Vaishnavism, Krishna is one of many aspects and avatars of Vishnu (Rama is another, for example), recognized and understood from an eclectic assortment of perspectives and viewpoints.[38]

Vaishnavism is one of the earliest single God focussed traditions that derives its heritage from the Vedas.[26][27] [39] Within Hinduism, Krishna is worshiped from a variety of perspectives.[38][40]

A different Vaishnavism viewpoint, such as those in Sri Vaishnavism, opposing this theological concept is the concept of Krishna as one of the many avatar of Narayana or Vishnu.[41][42] The Sri Vaishnavism sub-tradition reveres goddess Lakshmi with god Vishnu as equivalent,[43] and traces it roots its roots to the ancient Vedas and Pancaratra texts in Sanskrit.[44]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. [a] Julius J. Lipner, Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd Edition, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-45677-7, page 8; Quote: "(...) one need not be religious in the minimal sense described to be accepted as a Hindu by Hindus, or describe oneself perfectly validly as Hindu. One may be polytheistic or monotheistic, monistic or pantheistic, even an agnostic, humanist or atheist, and still be considered a Hindu.";
    [b] Lester Kurtz (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict, ISBN 978-0123695031, Academic Press, 2008;
    [c] MK Gandhi, The Essence of Hinduism, Editor: VB Kher, Navajivan Publishing, see page 3; According to Gandhi, "a man may not believe in God and still call himself a Hindu."
  2. Rogers, Peter (2009), Ultimate Truth, Book 1, AuthorHouse, p. 109, ISBN 978-1-4389-7968-7<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>;
    Chakravarti, Sitansu (1991), Hinduism, a way of life, Motilal Banarsidass Publ., p. 71, ISBN 978-81-208-0899-7<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Polytheism". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Bruce Trigger (2003), Understanding Early Civilizations: A Comparative Study, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521822459, pages 473-474
  5. Charles Taliaferro and Elsa J. Marty (2010), A Dictionary of Philosophy of Religion, Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 978-1441111975, pages 98-99
  6. Eric Ackroyd (2009). Divinity in Things: Religion Without Myth. Sussex Academic Press. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-84519-333-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>, Quote: "The jealous God who says, "Thou shalt have no other gods but me" belongs to the Jewish-Christian-Muslim tradition, but not to the Hindu tradition, which tolerates all gods but is not a monotheism, monism, yes, but not monotheism."
  7. Frank Whaling (2010). Understanding Hinduism. Dunedin Academic Press. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-903765-36-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Hiroshi Ōbayashi (1992). Death and afterlife: perspectives of world religions. Praeger. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-275-94104-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. James Lochtefeld, Brahman, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A–M, Rosen Publishing. ISBN 978-0823931798, page 122
  10. Gavin Flood (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521438780, pages 84-85
  11. Wendy Doniger (1976). The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology. University of California Press. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-520-03163-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>;
    Harvey P. Alper (1991). Understanding Mantras. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 210–211. ISBN 978-81-208-0746-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Guy Beck (2005), Alternative Krishnas: Regional and Vernacular Variations on a Hindu Deity, State University of New York Press, ISBN 978-0791464151, page 169 note 11
  13. Bruce Trigger (2003), Understanding Early Civilizations: A Comparative Study, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0521822459, pages 441-442, Quote: [Historically...] people perceived far fewer differences between themselves and the gods than the adherents of modern monotheistic religions. Deities were not thought to be omniscient or omnipotent and were rarely believed to be changeless or eternal."
  14. W. J. Wilkins (2003). Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Courier. p. 354. ISBN 978-0-486-43156-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. John Bowker (1975). Problems of Suffering in Religions of the World. Cambridge University Press. pp. 194, 206–220. ISBN 978-0-521-09903-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Kaufman, Whitley R. P. (2005). "Karma, Rebirth, and the Problem of Evil". Philosophy East and West. Johns Hopkins University Press. 55 (1): 15–32. doi:10.1353/pew.2004.0044.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Francis Clooney (2005), in The Blackwell Companion to Hinduism (Ed: Gavin Flood), Wiley-Blackwell, ISBN 0631215352, pages 454-455;
    John Bowker (1975). Problems of Suffering in Religions of the World. Cambridge University Press. pp. 194, 206–220. ISBN 978-0-521-09903-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>;
    Chad V. Meister (2010). The Oxford Handbook of Religious Diversity. Oxford University Press. pp. 163–164. ISBN 978-0-19-534013-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Francis X. Clooney (1989), Evil, Divine Omnipotence, and Human Freedom: Vedānta's Theology of Karma, The Journal of Religion, Vol. 69, No. 4, pages 530-548
  19. Sabapathy Kulandran and Hendrik Kraemer (2004), Grace in Christianity and Hinduism, James Clarke, ISBN 978-0227172360, pages 177-179
  20. Jones & Ryan 2006, p. 266.
  21. Sarma 2000, pp. 19-21.
  22. Klaus K. Klostermaier (2010). A Survey of Hinduism: Third Edition. State University of New York Press. pp. 103 with footnote 10 on page 529. ISBN 978-0-7914-8011-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. See also, Griffith's Rigveda translation: Wikisource
  24. Gupra, 2007, p.36 note 9.
  25. Bhagawan Swaminarayan bicentenary commemoration volume, 1781-1981. p. 154: ...Shri Vallabhacharya [and] Shri Swaminarayan... Both of them designate the highest reality as Krishna, who is both the highest avatara and also the source of other avataras. To quote R. Kaladhar Bhatt in this context. "In this transcendental devotieon (Nirguna Bhakti), the sole Deity and only" is Krishna. New Dimensions in Vedanta Philosophy - Page 154, Sahajānanda, Vedanta. 1981
  26. 26.0 26.1 Delmonico, N. (2004). "The History Of Indic Monotheism And Modern Chaitanya Vaishnavism". The Hare Krishna Movement: the Postcharismatic Fate of a Religious Transplant. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-12256-6. Retrieved 2008-04-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. 27.0 27.1 Elkman, S.M.; Gosvami, J. (1986). Jiva Gosvamin's Tattvasandarbha: A Study on the Philosophical and Sectarian Development of the Gaudiya Vaishnava Movement. Motilal Banarsidass Pub.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Dimock Jr, E.C.; Dimock, E.C. (1989). The Place of the Hidden Moon: Erotic Mysticism in the Vaisnava-Sahajiya Cult of Bengal. University Of Chicago Press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> page 132
  29. 29.0 29.1 Kennedy, M.T. (1925). The Chaitanya Movement: A Study of the Vaishnavism of Bengal. H. Milford, Oxford university press.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. Flood, Gavin D. (1996). An introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 341. ISBN 0-521-43878-0. Retrieved 2008-04-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>"Early Vaishnava worship focuses on three deities who become fused together, namely Vasudeva-Krishna, Krishna-Gopala and Narayana, who in turn all become identified with Vishnu. Put simply, Vasudeva-Krishna and Krishna-Gopala were worshiped by groups generally referred to as Bhagavatas, while Narayana was worshipped by the Pancaratra sect."
  31. Dalmia-luderitz, V. (1992). "Hariscandra of Banaras and the reassessment of Vaisnava bhakti in the late nineteenth century". Devotional Literature in South Asia: Current Research, 1985-8. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-41311-4. Retrieved 2008-04-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. 32.0 32.1 Gupta, Ravi M. (2007). Caitanya Vaisnava Vedanta of Jiva Gosvami. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-40548-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. Knapp, S. (2005). The Heart of Hinduism: The Eastern Path to Freedom, Empowerment and Illumination -. iUniverse.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> "Krishna is the primeval Lord, the original Personality of Godhead, so He can expand Himself into unlimited forms with all potencies." page 161
  34. Dr. Kim Knott, (1993). "Contemporary Theological Trends In The Hare Krishna Movement: A Theology of Religions". Retrieved 2008-04-12. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>..."Bhakti, the highest path, was that of surrender to Lord Krishna, the way of pure devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead".
  35. K. Klostermaier (1997). The Charles Strong Trust Lectures, 1972-1984. Crotty, Robert B. Brill Academic Pub. p. 206. ISBN 90-04-07863-0. For his worshippers he is not an avatara in the usual sense, but Svayam Bhagavan, the Lord himself.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> p.109 Klaus Klostermaier translates it simply as "the Lord Himself"
  36. B. V. Tripurari (2004). Gopala-tapani Upanisad. Audarya Press. ISBN 1-932771-12-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. Gupta, Ravi M. (2004). Caitanya Vaisnava Vedanta: Acintyabhedabheda in Jiva Gosvami's Catursutri tika. University Of Oxford.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. 38.0 38.1 Mahony, W.K. (1987). "Perspectives on Krishna's Various Personalities". History of Religions. 26 (3): 333–335. doi:10.1086/463085. JSTOR 1062381. Retrieved 2014-02-10. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  39. Klostermaier, K. (1974). "The Bhaktirasamrtasindhubindu of Visvanatha Cakravartin". Journal of the American Oriental Society. American Oriental Society. 94 (1): 96–107. doi:10.2307/599733. JSTOR 599733. Retrieved 2014-02-10. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  40. See McDaniel, June, "Folk Vaishnavism and Ṭhākur Pañcāyat: Life and status among village Krishna statues" in Beck 2005, p. 39
  41. Bryant, Edwin Francis (2007). Krishna: A Sourcebook. Oxford University Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-19-514891-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  42. Matchett, Freda (2001). Krishna, Lord or Avatara?: the relationship between Krishna and Vishnu. 9780700712816. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-7007-1281-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  43. Matchett, Freda (2000), Krsna, Lord or Avatara? The relationship between Krsna and Visnu: in the context of the Avatara myth as presented by the Harivamsa, the Visnupurana and the Bhagavatapurana, Surrey: Routledge, pp. 4, 77, 200, ISBN 0-7007-1281-X<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  44. Lester, Robert C (1966). "Rāmānuja and Śrī-vaiṣṇavism: The Concept of Prapatti or Śaraṇāgati". History of Religions. University of Chicago Press. 5 (2): 266–269. JSTOR 1062115.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Bibliography[edit]

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