QUESTION #9 From Hazrat Inayat Khan's perspective, the religion of the hindus sees many gods in one God and that one God is recognised in all His myrid forms.
Select on of the following:
a) How would you convey this insight to those who accure the hindus of worshipping false idols?
b) Why is this teaching important in terms of the Universal Worship?
c) Please relate the above to the focus in the religion of islam upon the attributes/names of the one God?
I am going to include week 10 also here
QUESTION #10 Meditate upon the following:
"Hinduism advocates freeing oneself from all conditioning with the consequent disaggrigation of the personality and the notion of the self. One ceases to create conditions that bind one." (Pir Vilayat Khan, Toward the One, P. 50)
a) Why should te disintegration of the personality and the notion of the self lead to freedom from conditioning?
b) The discovery of these two elements of life - prakriti and purusha - is one of the great contributions of this tradition. In the alchemical retreat process tought by Pir Vilayat Khan, at a certain stage one earmarks the changing and eternal aspects of one's being. How would you describe the prakriti and purusha elements of your being?
Below are the basic readings from the Unity of Religious ideals. We have a new student with us who is trying to catch up and does not have the manual or tapes. If there is someone hwo would like to volunteer to post the supplementary readings from the manual I am sure that would be greatly appriciated.
Rama, the great Prophet and ideal of the Hindus, was at the same time the example of Godhead. The character of Rama is said to have been foretold by Valmiki; at the same time, the training which was given to Rama by a great Rishi whose name was Vashishta was a training to bring out that Kingdom of God which is hidden in the heart of man. In this respect Rama was not only an ideal for the Hindus of that particular age, but was a model to mold the character of those who tread the spiritual path in any age.
Rama was a prince by birth, but was given to be trained by a Sage, where he lived the life in the solitude, the life of study and play both together. He was not only taught to read and write, but he was trained in athletic exercises, in sports, and had a training in all the manner of warfare. This shows what education the ancient people had, an education in all directions of life. And, being trained thus, Rama completed his course of study about the time of the prime of his youth.
The story of Rama has been always considered as the most sacred scripture for the Hindus. It is called Ramayana. The Brahman recites this story in a poetic form, to which the devotees of the Master listen for hours without being tired of it. For they take it as their religious training.
The most interesting part of Rama's life is his marriage. In the ancient times there was a custom that the husband was chosen. This custom came owing to the tendency to warfare. At every little trouble the princes of the time were up in arms even in such matters as marriage. In order to avoid war, the father of Sita invited all the princes and potentates of his land and gave the right of selection to his daughter. There was a time appointed, when they all gathered in the royal gallery, adorned in their regal ornaments and decorations.
Rama lived a simple life; he had not yet known what princely life means, for he was being trained under a Saint, where he ate the same food as the Sage did, wore the same simple clothes as the Sage, and lived in the woods in the solitude. Yet the brightness of the soul shines out even without ornaments. When Sita entered this assembly, with a garland of flowers in her hands, her first glance fell upon Rama, and she could not lift her glance from that ideal of her soul to anyone else, for her soul recognized the pearl in its heart. Sita, without a moment's pause, came immediately and put the garland on the neck of that youth, so simple and unassuming, standing with an innocent expression behind all the shining hosts. Many marveled at this choice, but many more became as glowing fire with the thought of envy and jealousy. Among them, the one who was most troubled was the King of Lanka, Ravana. For Sita was not only known as the most beautiful princess of the time, but also was called Padmani, the Ideal Maiden. As Rama was an example in his character, so in Sita the ideal character was born.
Then came the separation of the two. Sita, who had followed Rama in his twelve years' Vanavasa, which means roaming in the forest, was once left alone in the woods, and Rama had gone to fetch some water. At that time Sita disappeared, and after a great difficulty and a great grief the trace was found. She had been taken prisoner by Ravana. She steadily lived for Rama in this captivity, and would not yield to Ravana's temptations and threatenings. In the end victory was won. Rama fought a battle with Ravana and brought Sita back home.
This story gives the picture of life being a struggle for everyone, in a small way or in a big way. The outer nature of the struggle may be different for everyone, but, at the same time, no one can live in the midst of this world and be without a struggle. In this struggle the one who wins in the end has fulfilled the purpose of his life; who loses in the end, has lost.
The life of Rama suggests that, spiritual strife apart, the struggle in the world is the first thing to face; and if one keeps to one's own ideal through every test and trial in life, one will no doubt arrive at a stage when he will be victorious. It does not matter how small be the struggle, but victory won in the end of every struggle is the power that leads man farther on the path towards life's goal. The life of man, however great and spiritual, has its limitations. Before conditions of life the greatest man on earth, the most powerful soul, will for a moment seem helpless. But it is not the beginning that counts; it is the end. It is the last note that a great soul strikes which proves that soul to be real and true.
Forms of Hindu Worship
The Hindu religion is one of the most ancient religions in the world, and to this almost all religions of the past may be traced. The world's primitive religion, sun worship, which came and went in the world, still exists among the Brahmans. They greet the sunrise after bathing in the river; and they are purified by its most inspiring rays. Besides the sun, they worship the moon and the planets, counting every one of them as a peculiar god, signifying a particular power of God.
The mythical religion of the ancient Greeks, the gods and goddesses of the old Egyptians--all that is found today in the religion of the Hindus. They have among their gods almost all animals and birds known to man; and all different aspects of life are explained in their myths, which teach man to see the Divine Being in all. The great powers of the Almighty are pictured as various gods and goddesses, attributed with special powers. Some worship these. Even such savage animals as lions, elephants, or cobras are considered sacred. By this the moral is taught, to love our enemies.
The fire worship of the Zoroastrians may be seen in the Yag and Yagna ceremonies of the Hindus. The idea of Trinity of the Christians may be traced in the idea of Trirnurti in the Hindu religion. The prostration at the prayers, which exists in Islam, may be seen in its complete form in the Pranarn and Dandavat forms of Hindu worship.
Besides all these objects of worship, they are taught the worship of the Guru, the Teacher. The first Guru they see in the mother and father; then every person with whom they come in contact, who teaches them anything, they esteem as their Guru, until they have developed in themselves the worshipful attitude, which in the end they show to the real Guru, who helps them in their spiritual awakening. The following verse, from the Hindi, gives an idea of what the chela thinks of his Guru:
I have enjoyed my life on earth, O Guru, by thy mercy. Thy words have drawn me closer to God. As with the rising of the sun darkness disappears, So thou hast cleared away the darkness of ignorance from my soul. Some adore the earthly beings and some adore the heavenly, But I revere thee, O holy Guru! (Sundar Dhas)
The Basis of the Caste System among Hindus
When the Aryans came and settled in Bharat Khand, which is today called India, they wanted to make the life there a life of solitude and self-sufficiency.
Those among them who were learned and pious, whose living was better in every way than the others, grouped themselves, and called themselves Brahmans, whose part of work was study, scientific investigation, music, poetry; and priesthood was their right. They taught people as teachers. At the wedding ceremonies and at births and deaths they took charge of the ceremonies with their religious rite. Their life was as the life of a hermit. The difference was that they married among their own people. Their living only depended upon Bhiksha -- free will offerings.
There were others among them who revered the Brahmans for their learning and piety, but held themselves superior for their warlike merits and for their control of the land that belonged to them. They were called Kshattriya (landowners, or warriors).
Those who were clever at commerce took refuge under the power and control of the Kshattriya, and took in their hands all concerning money. They were called Vaishyas. Business of all kinds was carried on by them.
Those remaining were the ones who labored, and, according to their labor, among them grades were formed. They were called Shudras. Among them were some whose work was of such a nature that their coming in the house, or touching another person when working, would be against the sanitary law. Brahmanism being the most scientific religion, it made a law that they should not be touched.
In this way these four castes were formed, and went on peacefully until the entry of foreigners into their land, which naturally interfered with their harmony, and the whole plan became a failure.
With all the wisdom in forming these four castes, there is a selfishness shown on the part of the high classes, as has been always the case with the human race; and that has been a great hindrance to the progress of Hindus in general, for every chance of progress was shut out for the lower classes. Their only consolation was to reincarnate and be born in a higher class. If not, there was no other way. This is the chief reason which gave the doctrine of reincarnation importance in the Hindu race.
The life of Krishna is an ideal which gives the picture of the life of a perfect man. The real meaning of the word Krishna is God, and the man who was identified with that name was the God-conscious one who fulfilled His Message in the period in which he was destined to give His Message.
The story of Krishna, apart from its historical value and interest, is of great importance to the seeker after Truth. No one knows of the father and mother of Krishna. Some say he was of royal birth. It means of kingly origin, from that King Who is the King of all. Then he was given in the care of Yeshoda, who brought him up as his guardian mother. This is symbolical of the earthly parents, who are the guardians, the real father and mother being God. In the childhood of Krishna, it is said, he was fond of butter, and he learned, as a child, to steal butter from everywhere. And the meaning is, that wisdom is the butter of the whole life. When life is churned through a wheel, then out of that comes butter; wisdom is gained by it. He was stealing it; which means, wherever he found wisdom he learned it, from everybody's experience he benefited-that is stealing.
Plainly speaking, there are two ways of learning wisdom. The one way of learning wisdom is that a person goes and drinks to excess, and then falls down in the mud, and then the police take him to the police station, and when he recovers from his drunkenness he cannot find his clothes and he is horrified at his own appearance. This makes him realize what he has done. This is one way of learning, and it is possible that he does not learn. The other way of learning is that a young man is going along the street; he sees a drunken man, and sees how terrible it is to be in this position; he learns from that. That is stealing the butter.
But then the latter part of Krishna's life has two very important aspects. One aspect teaches us that life is a continual battle, and the earth is the battlefield where every soul has to struggle, and the one who will own the kingdom of the earth must know very well the law of warfare. The secret of the offensive, the mystery of defense, how to hold our position, how to retreat, how to advance, how to change position, how to protect and control all that has been won, how to let go what must be given up, the manner of sending an ultimatum, the way of making an armistice, the method by which peace is made--all this is to be learned. In this life's battle man's position is most difficult, for he has to fight on two fronts at the same time: one is himself, and the other is before him. If he is successful on one front, and on the other front he proves to have failed, then his success is not complete.
And the battle of each individual has a different character. The battle depends upon man's particular grade of evolution. Therefore every person's battle in life is different, of a peculiar character. And no person in the world is free from that battle; only one is more prepared for it; the other, perhaps, is ignorant of the law of warfare. And in the success of this battle there is the fulfillment of life. The Bhagavad Gita, the Song Celestial, from the beginning to the end, is a teaching on the law of life's warfare.
The other outlook of Krishna on life is that every soul is striving to attain God, but God, not as a Judge or a King, but as a Beloved. And every soul seeks God, the God of Love, in the form it is capable of imagining. And in this way the story of Krishna and the gopis signifies God and the various souls seeking perfection.
The life and teaching of Krishna have helped the people of India very much in broadening the thought of the pious. The religious man, full of dogmas, is often apt to make dogmas too rigid, and expects the godly, or the God-conscious, to fit in with his standard of goodness. If they do not fit in with his particular idea of piety he is ready to criticize them. But the thought and life of Krishna were used by the artist and the poet and the musician, and out of it was made a new religion, a religion of recognizing the divine in natural human life. And that idea of considering a spiritual person exclusive, remote, stone-like, and lifeless ceased to exist. The people of India became much more tolerant toward all different aspects of life, looking at the whole life, at the same time, as an Immanence of God.
The Worshipers of Krishna
Among Hindus some are called by this name; for all Hindus belong to one religion, and yet there are different gods and goddesses worshiped by different people among Hindus. The worship of Krishna is most prevalent among them, and it is as ceremonial as the ancient Church of Rome, and even more so. This teaches us that ceremony is a concrete expression of thought, and it has suited the masses better than a religion of thought alone.
In the temple of Krishna there is an image of Krishna lying in a cradle. Women who go there for worship will sing lullabies in a prayerful attitude. Then there is an image in the same temple of Krishna grown up, and with him the image of Radha, his consort. Men and women will go there and worship both. They will take flowers and sandalwood and a few grains of rice in order to make an offering to the god. Then there is an image of Krishna with a sword, cutting off the head of Kounsa, the monster. Then there are engravings in the temple of Krishna driving the chariot of Arjuna, the exiled King of India, when going to wage war against the Pandavas, the rulers of the time.
At first sight it surprises a stranger to think that God is worshiped in the man's form, and God is considered so small as to be rocked in a cradle, and to picture God Most High standing with his wife, and then to see God going to war, which any kindhearted person would refuse to do. But to a Sufi it gives a different impression, since he sees God in every form. First, he says that if the worshiper cultivates his patience by standing, in his joy and trouble, before a heedless god of stone that never answers or stretches out a helping hand, he can only be a steady worshiper of the true God, and will not fail, as many do when they have no help given by God, who then begin to disbelieve, or at least to doubt His existence. He thinks that when He is all and in all, what does it matter if one looks at heaven and the other looks at earth? To his mind both are looking at the same thing.
In ancient times many had thought that spirituality means to be alone in a forest, which thought is broken by seeing Krishna and Radha both, which means that both mean God, not one alone.
Many today question: "If there is God, why should wars and disasters
take place?" And many give up their belief when they think more about it.
The image of Krishna with a sword and going to war shows that it is God
Who is in heaven, it is God Who is most kind, but it is the same God Who
stands with a sword; that there is no name, no form, no place, no occupation,
which is void of God. It is a lesson to recognize God in all, instead of
limiting God only to the good and keeping Him away from what we call evil,
which goes against the saying that "in God we live and move and have our