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hinduism : polytheism or monotheism?

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libertygrl
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Posted 01/12/12 - 6:30 PM:
Subject: hinduism : polytheism or monotheism?
it's typically considered a polytheistic religion, but i've heard recent arguments stating that it is really monotheist. any thoughts?
thedoc
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Posted 01/12/12 - 7:04 PM:

That would depend on the definition of the elements and who is defining them. A Christian could look at it on the surface and say with all those god's it's polytheistic as a criticism from a monotheistic point of view. But if those god's are really equivalent to the christian angels, what is the difference? I have even had one Christian say that Christianity was polytheistic because of the trinity, which I felt was a misintrepretation of the theology. If you want an accurate acessement ask a Hindu what it is because no-one elses opinion really matters. I have often said that an outsider could look at any Christianity and call it Idolatry and be correct as seen from the outside.
Thinker13
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Posted 01/12/12 - 11:12 PM:

libertygrl wrote:
it's typically considered a polytheistic religion, but i've heard recent arguments stating that it is really monotheist. any thoughts?



What are those sources, if I may ask.smiling face


Hinduism does not have any core tenets in my opinion. There are a lot of theories and plethora of mythologies.

It would make for an interesting discussion.
thedoc
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Posted 01/12/12 - 11:39 PM:

Thinker13 wrote:

Hinduism does not have any core tenets in my opinion. There are a lot of theories and plethora of mythologies.
It would make for an interesting discussion.



I agree with the discussion, but the mythologies are where you need to look, the modern dogma will only mislead you, but NO I do not know enough about Hinduism to say, in any detail, what it is about.
Thinker13
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Posted 01/13/12 - 1:22 AM:

thedoc wrote:



I agree with the discussion, but the mythologies are where you need to look, the modern dogma will only mislead you, but NO I do not know enough about Hinduism to say, in any detail, what it is about.



I agree. None of us is an expert on Hinduism but we can discuss as long as it's interesting.smiling face
libertygrl
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Posted 01/13/12 - 9:23 AM:

thedoc wrote:
That would depend on the definition of the elements and who is defining them. A Christian could look at it on the surface and say with all those god's it's polytheistic as a criticism from a monotheistic point of view. But if those god's are really equivalent to the christian angels, what is the difference? I have even had one Christian say that Christianity was polytheistic because of the trinity, which I felt was a misintrepretation of the theology. If you want an accurate acessement ask a Hindu what it is because no-one elses opinion really matters. I have often said that an outsider could look at any Christianity and call it Idolatry and be correct as seen from the outside.

yes, very apt observation doc. i think your comparison to christian angels is very relevant to the person's opinion i mentioned at the beginning.

libertygrl
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Posted 01/13/12 - 9:25 AM:

Thinker13 wrote:



What are those sources, if I may ask.smiling face


Hinduism does not have any core tenets in my opinion. There are a lot of theories and plethora of mythologies.

It would make for an interesting discussion.


i found the quote while searching through google plus. for those not familiar, google plus is similar to facebook except you can search people's public posts (for example typing in "hinduism" or whatever text you like.) if anyone here is on google plus, please send me a private message, i would love to add you.

the quote was posted by a user named hemant nongpiur. i will quote the text in the next post.
libertygrl
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Posted 01/13/12 - 9:30 AM:

Why Hinduism Was Not, Is Not, and Will Never Be, Polytheistic
by Heman Nongpiur, via Google Plus

"Hinduism is not polytheistic. It believes that God manifests in innumerable ways so that we can better identify with Him/Her through these manifestations. Over time, people and priests alike started to believe however, that Hinduism is polytheistic. Fortunately, if you read the Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita, you will find that it’s very obvious that there is one God. I will address why Hinduism is not polytheistic in multiple ways. You can decide the truth for yourself.

Reincarnation – Hinduism and reincarnation go hand in hand. The purpose of reincarnation is simple – we are born again and again so that we can better orient ourselves towards God and ultimately become one with it. This is called Moksha in Hinduism, whereby you become free of the physical world and dissolve into the Supreme Brahman. If Hinduism is polytheistic, which God do we merge into?

Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita “I am the Self seated in the hearts of all beings. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all things.” If Hinduism was polytheistic, which Self is seated in us? Is it Indra? Or is it Vishnu? And here, Krishna speaking as an enlightened individual says that he is the beginning, middle and end of all things. Which God is speaking through him? Is it Vishnu or Shiva or Brahma? What about other scriptures that imply Rudra as the beginning, middle and end of all things? Is Hinduism really that contradictory?

Krishna says, and I quote:

Of the Adityas I am Vishnu
Of creators I am Brahma
Of the Gods I am Vasava
Among sages and Gods I am Narada
Of all the Rudras I am Shankara (Shiva)
Among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila


If Hinduism was polytheistic, how can Krishna claim to be more than one God at the same time? He then goes on to say that some of these Gods worship him. How can he claim to be both the Gods and the object of their worship? In Rig Veda, 1.164.46, it is written “To what is One, the sages give many names.” Now any person with a rational mind would read this and see that the One is God – the Divine Reality underlying the physical. If Hinduism was polytheistic, which One is given many names? (I would love to hear an explanation to this one)

Hinduism understands that the Universe was created by Brahman. Is this Brahman another God now? How then do you reconcile that with Krishna saying he IS this Brahman? Further, how do you reconcile it with the Atharva Veda which claims that Indra is the Brahman? Or the Rig Veda which claims that Aditi is Brahman? Or the Svetasvatara Upanishad which says that Rudra is this Brahman? Or even with the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad which says that consciousness alone, as Brahman, is this Brahman? Which enlightened sage is lying here?

Yeah, if you understand Hinduism as polytheistic, you are going to be lost. And when a Christian points out these “contradictions,” you will probably end up believing Hinduism to be a false religion at some point and convert to Christianity.

However, if you understand Hinduism correctly, everything makes sense. God is Eternity, Consciousness and Bliss. God is that nameless Source to which man has given countless names over the centuries to better understand it. God can manifest in countless forms. God is present within the Universe and outside of it, sustaining it with only a portion of Himself, that is if He could be measured. This understanding of God is the only correct one and is known as panentheism (not to be confused with pantheism). Now we CAN worship God in multiple ways, but when we say “God is only ever manifested in this form,” we are limiting God. We are worshiping a temporal creation of the mind. God is also present within us. Enlightened humans such as the Buddha and Jesus were people who realized this fact and let it work through them.

Simply put, there is one God, within and without us. There are many ways to worship Him."
Thinker13
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Posted 01/13/12 - 12:47 PM:

Why Hinduism Was, Is, And Will Be Polytheistic, Pantheistic, Panentheistic and so on

Hemant wrote:
"Hinduism is not polytheistic. It believes that God manifests in innumerable ways so that we can better identify with Him/Her through these manifestations. Over time, people and priests alike started to believe however, that Hinduism is polytheistic. Fortunately, if you read the Hindu scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita, you will find that it’s very obvious that there is one God. I will address why Hinduism is not polytheistic in multiple ways. You can decide the truth for yourself.


This statement is self-effacing in my opinion. What is wrong with this opinion? It suggests that there was a central authority suggesting that it was ‘Hinduism’ and told “Hinduism is not polytheistic”. Bhagavad Gita is indeed a very important book, but nobody should say that it’s the only book serving in the capacity of authority on the religion of Hinduism.
Unlike Talmud or Quran or Bible, there is no ‘final authority book’ in Hinduism and if someone says that there is—I do not give hoot.

[ More than that, there is contradiction in this preposition which the author of preposition barely realizes: Vedanta which asserts that there is just one self, immediately denies that the manifestations of any supreme God are there to get identified with: In fact Vedanta suggests that manifestations are YOUR manifestations because you are the supreme self and the moment you realize this you're liberated. The author has tried to use Vedanta's concept of one supreme self-throughout in his post but haphazardly. ]



Reincarnation – Hinduism and reincarnation go hand in hand. The purpose of reincarnation is simple – we are born again and again so that we can better orient ourselves towards God and ultimately become one with it. This is called Moksha in Hinduism, whereby you become free of the physical world and dissolve into the Supreme Brahman. If Hinduism is polytheistic, which God do we merge into?


This is a vacuous logic. Buddhism accepts reincarnation but denies God. No God is needed to describe the cycles of birth and death in Samsara and then the final liberation which is equivalent to Moksha of Hinduism.
I am not denying that this ‘merging into the source’ definition is wrong for Moksha. No, it’s right. What is wrong with his proposition is---confusing ‘deities’ with supreme God or Godhead. Hinduism simultaneously accepts myriads of deities and a supreme God, which clearly makes it a Polytheistic religion with a similarity to Monotheistic (Since a supreme God is similar to other Monotheistic religions like Islam, Christianity and Judaism) religions.

Therefore, in spite of giving correct definition of the concept of Moksha, this assertion does not support that Hinduism is not polytheistic religion.



Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita “I am the Self seated in the hearts of all beings. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all things.” If Hinduism was polytheistic, which Self is seated in us? Is it Indra? Or is it Vishnu? And here, Krishna speaking as an enlightened individual says that he is the beginning, middle and end of all things. Which God is speaking through him? Is it Vishnu or Shiva or Brahma? What about other scriptures that imply Rudra as the beginning, middle and end of all things? Is Hinduism really that contradictory?


Vedanta is one of the Philosophical schools of Hinduism. Vedanta says that there is only one self, whereas everything else is merely appearances projected by the self. Krishna, as an enlightened being is aware of the self but then all the deities along with humans are merely projections of the same self.

Again: It’s a flagrant error to use God as a synonym of Self. One should be very careful in doing so. They are different.



Krishna says, and I quote:

Of the Adityas I am Vishnu
Of creators I am Brahma
Of the Gods I am Vasava
Among sages and Gods I am Narada
Of all the Rudras I am Shankara (Shiva)
Among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila

If Hinduism was polytheistic, how can Krishna claim to be more than one God at the same time? He then goes on to say that some of these Gods worship him. How can he claim to be both the Gods and the object of their worship? In Rig Veda, 1.164.46, it is written “To what is One, the sages give many names.” Now any person with a rational mind would read this and see that the One is God – the Divine Reality underlying the physical. If Hinduism was polytheistic, which One is given many names? (I would love to hear an explanation to this one)


Again: Incoherent logic. If Hinduism was essentially Monotheistic wherefrom these all deities come? In any other religion, Bramha, Vishnu, Mahesh, Rudra or any other name referred to in the quotation above would have been called a messenger or a prophet or a messiah but Hinduism considers all of them God; essentially because it’s Polytheistic.



Hinduism understands that the Universe was created by Brahman. Is this Brahman another God now? How then do you reconcile that with Krishna saying he IS this Brahman? Further, how do you reconcile it with the Atharva Veda which claims that Indra is the Brahman? Or the Rig Veda which claims that Aditi is Brahman? Or the Svetasvatara Upanishad which says that Rudra is this Brahman? Or even with the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad which says that consciousness alone, as Brahman, is this Brahman? Which enlightened sage is lying here?


He wanted to say: “Which enlightened sage is telling a lie here?”

My answer is: None of them. The Adaivaita Vedanta says that there is only one self behind all appearances and that self remains static. That’s what all of these sources are saying. They’re saying that all deities are also appearances of the same self.

What is the confusion here?



Yeah, if you understand Hinduism as polytheistic, you are going to be lost. And when a Christian points out these “contradictions,” you will probably end up believing Hinduism to be a false religion at some point and convert to Christianity.


Non-sequitur. I am clueless as to why a religion which is Polytheistic should be abandoned. I also fail to see contradictions.




However, if you understand Hinduism correctly, everything makes sense. God is Eternity, Consciousness and Bliss. God is that nameless Source to which man has given countless names over the centuries to better understand it. God can manifest in countless forms. God is present within the Universe and outside of it, sustaining it with only a portion of Himself,


Great! How does it gainsay Polytheism?

that is if He could be measured.


What?

This understanding of God is the only correct one and is known as panentheism (not to be confused with pantheism).


“This understanding of God is only correct one” sounds like dogmatic-fanatic view and does not seem to be a statement from someone willing to discuss something. Panentheism is indeed one( and not the only one) of the views in Hinduism.

Now we CAN worship God in multiple ways, but when we say “God is only ever manifested in this form,” we are limiting God. We are worshiping a temporal creation of the mind. God is also present within us. Enlightened humans such as the Buddha and Jesus were people who realized this fact and let it work through them.



Do not put words into the mouth of Buddha. Buddha clearly denied the existence of God. Secondly, your views here do not sound contradicting Polytheism. Polytheism is merely acceptance of multiple deities.


Simply put, there is one God, within and without us. There are many ways to worship Him."


God is an invention of Mankind. Simply put, you’re using ‘Self’ as a synonym of ‘God’ to get your ideas across to convince the readers.
thedoc
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Posted 01/13/12 - 8:28 PM:

There are 2 books I am reading that have some relavence to this discussion, 'Thou Art That' by Joseph Campbell is a work about mythology, but since all religion is based on mythology it brings some insight, especially on western religions, on eastern religions I think he misses the mark just a bit. The other is 'Egyptian Ideas of the Afterlife' by E. A. Wallis Budge. In it the author presents the case that Egyptian religion was monotheistic Even though it has been long considered as polytheistic. So there is going to be a similarity to any discussion about Hindu monotheism.


Thinker13, where do you find in Buddhist teaching that the Buddha had denied the existance of God. In many years of reading about Buddhism I have not come across such a definate statement like this. Certainly the Buddha did not reference or acknowledge God but I do not recall anywhere where he denied Gods existance. That seems to be a much more contemotrary concept that may not have been in existance then.
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Posted 01/14/12 - 1:50 AM:

thedoc wrote:

Thinker13, where do you find in Buddhist teaching that the Buddha had denied the existance of God. In many years of reading about Buddhism I have not come across such a definate statement like this. Certainly the Buddha did not reference or acknowledge God but I do not recall anywhere where he denied Gods existance. That seems to be a much more contemotrary concept that may not have been in existance then.



Yes, I agree. My assertion was a bit misplaced. Buddha had nothing to do with God and he found it not a very useful concept as far as attaining of final liberation was concerned.

As said earlier, about my own views where Lib was trying to tell that I seem like an Atheist---I do not need a God to discuss important things and I do not consider God important enough to belabor denying its existence. Similarly I suppose was the case of Buddha, but, by the definitions used by lib in another thread he would sound much like an Atheist.

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