Hinduism is mankind’s oldest spiritual declaration, the very fountainhead of faith on the planet. It is the only religion, that is not founded in a single historic event or prophet, but which itself precedes recorded history. Hinduism has been called the “cradle of spirituality” and “the mother of all religions,” partly because it has influenced virtually every major religion. Hinduism is not a polytheistic religion. Hinduism is without doubt the most monotheistic religion in the world because it recognized that the Supreme can only be diverse and that he incarnates Himself in many forms It was Hinduism who first proclaimed God as One in this universe. A Hindu worships that One God in diverse divine forms.
The earliest statement of the Nature of Reality occurs in the first book of the Rig-Veda 1.164.46
Ekam Sat-Viprah Bahudha Vadanti. “The ONE BEING, the wise diversely speak of.”
“The source and origin of the gods, ruler of all, may Supreme God, the great seer, who anciently created the golden germ, endow us with clear intellect.” (Svetasvatara Upanishad III.4)
“Great indeed are the devas(demigods) who have sprung out of Supreme God.” Atharva Veda
Hinduism is an open-minded discipline. It is a discipline that does not use force on its follower. That is, it does not dictate the follower to act by one step by step recipe it gives, condemning all other recipes.
Hinduism describes everything as divine and sacred because God is everywhere and in everyone. Supreme Self has truly created this real world, everything belongs to him but He also pervades everywhere. Hinduism speaks about all-pervasiveness and all-controlling nature of the Supreme Being. The Changing things that appear in the physical and mental world may be realized as divine: the Supreme Self that shines unmixed in everyone and everything, beneath all names and forms and qualities of personality and world. He pervades everywhere — is explained by the use of phrases such as “He is near and also very far” (yaddure yadvantike); “He is within and without” (tadantarasya sarvasya tadu sarvasya bahyatah); “He moves and yet does not move” (taddhavato’nyanatyeti tisthat). These apparently contradictory attributes reveal his achintya shakti — unthinkable ability (which may not be understood under human senses but exists)
“All this that is in front is but Supreme God, the immortal. Supreme God is on the right, as well as on the left; Above and below too, is extended Supreme God alone. This world is nothing but Supreme God, the highest.” Mu.n.daka Upani.sad 2.2.11
“All this entire universe belongs to God: who lives in it, in every smallest bit of it. It moves; and yet it does not move. God is far beyond the furthest reach of space and time; and yet He is immediate, forever close, inseparably present here. He is here inside, in everything; yet it is outside all of this. God shines pure, through everything unconstrained by muscled body, unaffected by all ill, untouched by any taint of sin.” (Isha Upanishad, stanzas 4-8).
Katha Upanishad it is said: “Paramātmā is the same everywhere, in every world, on every level throughout the entire Cosmos. Until you recognise this you will continue to be reborn. Paramātmā remains the same – in past, present and future. It is the same in the heart of an ant or an elephant, in every living being. It is the Cause of everything.”
Thus the major difference between the Hindu and the Muslim beliefs is while Islam speaks relatively partial attributes of the God, Hinduism speaks about complete attributes.
CONCEPT OF GOD ACCORDING TO HINDU SCRIPTURES
God is experienced in two aspects – as NIRGUNA and SAGUNA .
NIRGUNA is the eternal all-pervading and omnipresent divine consciousness. The Absolute without qualities, is impersonal, without guna or attributes, Nirakara (formless), Nirvisesha (without special characteristics), immutable and eternal. This “Formless” form of God is called Sat-Chit-Ananda Rupa (Eternal-Truth-Consciousness-Bliss-Form)
SAGUNA is the manifestation of God in form. Qualified absolute, came from the Sanskrit saguṇa (सगुण) “with qualities” and brahman (ब्रह्मन्) “the Absolute.” The personal aspect of the Ultimate Reality. This saguna brahman is eternal, undecaying and non-differentiated from nirguna brahman.
Verses Describing God As Formless(Nirguna)
“Na tasya pratima asti”
“There is no likeness of Him.”
[Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:19/ Yajurveda 32:3]
There is not Form of Nirguna Brahma or God as Supreme Consciousness.
“His form is not to be seen; no one sees Him with the eye.”
[Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:20]4
His Formless Form cant be seen. Though He manifests Himself as Saguna Brahma, but no one can see Him with present eyes or material eyes. To see His Supreme and Original Form one needs spiritual perfection. “No one can understand the transcendental nature of the name, form, quality and pastimes of God through his materially contaminated senses. Only when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord are the transcendental name, form, quality and pastimes of the Lord revealed to him.” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.234). God says: “You cannot see Me without your present eyes. Therefore I give you divine eyes, so that you can behold My mystic opulence” (Bhagavad-Gita 11.8)
“He is bodyless and pure.”
God as Nirguna Brahma or Brahman or Supreme Consciousness is bodiless and pure. That doesn’t mean His Saguna form is impure, It is pure too.
Verses Describing God In Form(Saguna)
“The Lord of the universe, Lives inside the universe, And without being born, Appears in many forms,And only the wise realize his real form…” Rig Veda,purusha suktam 2-3
Though unborn, It appears to be born in diverse ways. Yajurveda 31.19
The Lord, takes on manifold form. Brihadaranyaka Upanishat 2.5.19
“Your form, Supreme God, which is kind, pure, free from fear and evil, with that most loving form, appear to us” SHVETASHVATARA UPANISHAD 3.3
“He does not possess bodily form like that of an ordinary living entity. There is no difference between His body and His soul. He is absolute. All His senses are transcendental. Any one of His senses can perform the action of any other sense. Therefore, no one is greater than Him or equal to Him. His potencies are multifarious, and thus His deeds are automatically performed as a natural sequence.” (Svetasvatara Upanisad 6.7-8)
He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and he is the prime cause of all causes.” (Brahma Samhita 5.1)
Therefore it can be understood now that God has two forms formless form and Formed form. It these two form Characteristics of God like all-powerful, all-knowing, all-merciful, pure, infinite etc remains same. Just like water has three forms – liquid, solid and vapour, though it appears in different forms but core substance H2O remains same in all forms.
Muslim says Allah or God has no form or shape. Hindus have no objection if someone is worshiping Supreme God in Nirguna Brahma or Formless Form. However if it is said that Almighty God has no Original Form then Hindus take strong exception to it. Because all religions speaks about Saguna Brahma and Nirguna Brahma forms of the Supreme God. But throughout the ages it was either ignored as contradiction or forcefully translated as different interpretation because Semitic religions are divine commandments which give light on rightful living of humans on the earth, therefore it does not give more light on Science of God. Below i would like to give some verses from semitic scriptures to show how theory of saguna and nirguna can be found in god’s own words.
NIRGUNA & SAGUNA IN CHRISTIANITY
No man hath seen God at any time. John 1:18, 4:12
No man has seen God in Formless Form ever.
Not that any man hath seen the Father. John 6:46
God as seed giving father in Formless Form cannot be seen by men. Even his Original Form or Saguna Avatar cant be seen by men without mercy of God.
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory forever and ever. 1 Timothy 1:17
This verse is describing attributes of Formless Form of God.
The fact that no man has seen god does not imply god can’t be seen. People can’t see god in formless but they can see god in his original form by the mercy of god. Actually bible indicates God can be seen and has been seen in his Saguna Form.
And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him. Genesis 12:7
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him…. Genesis 17:1
And the Lord appeared unto him [Abrham] in the plains of Mamre. Genesis 18:1
Abraham saw God several times. In His original form, God appears in front of him as Saguna Brahma.
And the LORD appeared unto him [Isaac], and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of. Genesis 26:2
And the LORD appeared unto him [Isaac] the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not. Genesis 26:24
Isaac also saw God in his original form twice.
NIRGUNA & SAGUNA IN ISLAM
“There is nothing whatever like unto Him.” [Al-Qur’an 42:11]
Prophet Muhammad said: “My Lord came to me in the most beautiful image”
Ibn Kutiba says “Allah has Image/Sura but not like other suwar”. Allah has body but not like other bodies. God the Allah has an existence, he has a unique personality who nobody else in this world posses. Just like Hindu scriptures Islam declares God’s Saguna Brahma Form is All-Attractive and transcendental.
Al-Tirmidhi (3234) narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “My Lord came to me in the most beautiful image and said, ‘O Muhammad.’ I said, ‘Here I am at Your service, my Lord.’ He said, ‘What are the chiefs (angels) on high disputing about…’” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.
[ Allah ] said, “O Iblees, what prevented you from prostrating to that which I created with My hands? Were you arrogant [then], or were you [already] among the haughty?” 38.75
Here God says He has made us by his hands, this whole creation comes from his Saguna Brahma Avatar or God in His All-Attractive Being Form has created this universe.
They have not appraised Allah with true appraisal, while the earth entirely will be [within] His grip on the Day of Resurrection, and the heavens will be folded in His right hand. Exalted is He and high above what they associate with Him.39.67
Whole universe will vanish within His right Hand.
From these divine verses we learn that it is proven that Allaah has an image (soorah in Arabic), in a manner that befits Him, may He be glorified and exalted. His image is one of His attributes which cannot be likened to the attributes of created beings, just as His essence cannot be likened to their essence.
Always above attributes of Allah are translated as metaphor than so called literal. Muslim sects are divided on their interpretations of Koran and accusing each other’s interpretations as blasphemy. But the truth is both literal and metaphor interpretation are true. Lack of deeper philosophical understanding leads Muslims to follow “this” or “that” interpretations and assumptions. A systematic logical and scriptural analysis resolves the confusion. The Vedic tradition teaches a higher principle that harmonizes such dualism beautifully. Formless can have form which is transcendental. Unlimited can have form which is unlimited in Itself. That Lord whom Moses called Jehovah, whom Jesus referred to as his father in heaven, whom Mohammed praised as Allah, the Vedic scriptures reveal as Brahman/Bhagwan, God as the all-attractive transcendental Supreme Person.
YajurVeda and Gita
“Andhatama pravishanti ye asambhuti mupaste”
“They enter darkness, those who worship the natural elements” (Air, Water, Fire, etc.). “They sink
deeper in darkness, those who worship sambhuti.”
“Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures.”
[Bhagavad Gita 7:20]
This speaks about not to worship man-made gods or demi gods. Humans are impelled by material motivations. This is due to their inherent natures, innate attributes and over attraction to sense gratification. But people worships demi-gods of heavens like Indra who is king of heaven for fulfilment of their desired material goals. So here Supreme God says it is ignorance of people who worships demi-gods who Supreme God Bhagwan has created. The Supreme Lord is not averse to those who worship the demigods but He makes a distinction between worship to Him and worship to others. The results of worshipping all other gods is temporary and fleeting because the inherent power invested in them has limitations being only applicable to the material worlds; but the results of worshipping the Supreme Lord are permanent and eternal because unlimited power is possessed by Him. Supeme Lord is Lord of lords of divine powers, Kings of kings of heaven,Light of the lights, He has created unlimited heaven and unlimited heavenly kings but some people worshiping mere king of heaven who is works under Supreme Self, the ever blissful, all-powerful, all merciful Almighty God.
“Three rural students arrive one night at a railway platform with their teacher, eager to have their first sight of a train. After a long wait, when they see a bright light in the distance, the first villager asks their teacher, “Is that the train?” When the teacher nods, the student departs, convinced he has seen the train. When the train comes closer, the second student notices the engine—the form behind the light—and asks, “Is that the train?” When the teacher nods again, the second student leaves, confident of having seen the train. When the train finally comes into the station, the third student sees the train in its fullness with its driver and multiple compartments and passengers and, with the encouragement of his teacher, even meets and befriends the driver.”
Therefore Hinduism illustrates complete unity-in-diversity of the Absolute Truth. Being Mother of religions it has influenced all other worldly religions. As the oldest of religions, the mother of all religions, it accepts all religions.
Islamic Research Foundation