Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hinduism: Polytheistic?

So said the learned priest: A common misconception about Hinduism is that the religion is polytheistic, meaning one that prays to many gods. Although on the surface it may seem that Hindus pray to hundreds of gods, that is not true. But here we are in the temple, and all around us we see idols of different gods; Ganesha - the remover of obstacles, Lakshmi - the goddess of wealth, Saraswati - the goddess of learning and arts, Vishnu - the creator and protector, and Shiva - the destroyer of evil, and on and on. Does that not make Hinduism a polytheistic religion?

Here's how he explained the deeper philosophy...
When you look around your home there are many appliances, a refrigerator for keeping things cold, a furnace to keep us warm, a computer to keep us connected, an oven and stove to cook our food, and on and on. Each has its purpose and we go to each one based on our needs. But inside, they all work on the same power, electricity. We can't see the electricity, but based on our knowledge we know that it is in there and powering the device that we are interacting with.

Similarly, there is a single power inside the various forms of god, the single God, the Para-Bramha. That is the only God in Hinduism, the various forms are just to simplify the process of prayer for the different things that we  interact with God for. And even though we cannot see God (like we can't see electricity) we know that God is there and always present.

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