God is everywhere, God is one, God is omnipresent, beyond origin and end. God is the one who is behind all this creation. How He creates, how the world came into existence, what is the role of a human being? What is the meaning of evolving, what is the essence of being a human?
How should we relate to each other and what should be our relationship with other species, how should we connect with other elements of nature around us?
Hinduism is a flow of an ancient body of evolving knowledge rooted in inspiration and contemplation. Rishis attempted to reveal the secrets of the creator with humility. They tirelessly, reverentially, and passionately worked towards unveiling the ideal structure to resonate with the cosmic force. They experimented through rigorous practices and determined the efficacy of certain rules, which are presented as standard for uplifting life and to realize the optimum level of happiness possible for a human being. They were convinced that the ‘extent of limitless joy or bliss’ that is attainable by a human being has a lot to do with harmonizing the inner environment of human mind to the Cosmic Being/God.
God is infinite and there could be infinite ways to reach Him. We eulogize the importance of surrendering to Him. Here Him and Her are interchangeable — we are trying to talk about that which is beyond gender, beyond form, beyond the rules of time and causation. That is why HE/SHE is ever free. Freedom can be given by the one who is free. We can’t even fathom the meaning of liberation within the routine walls of our day-to-day experience if we lead a life that lacks awareness of the absolute.
We are indebted to the rich spiritual cultural heritage of Hinduism which has given enlightening guidance towards the ultimate achievable and worthy goal of life. They did not stop at showing just the goal, but also laid out ways to reach there, and offered this with so much understanding of the human mind that there is a variety to suit everyone to attain the infinite in his/her unique and distinct way.
Let us further simplify. When we are told ‘accept yourself as you are’ by the gurus, they ask us to be true to ourselves. Bring this idea to the practical world. We say, ‘Honesty is the best policy’.
Why? To appreciate this principle, it is necessary to take the spiritual dimension of human beings into account. Otherwise on the mundane level, many times we see dishonest people who seem to be winning.
We need to look at who we are in the totality of our existence. If we are lazy, we will not touch the depth given to us by the creator.
Hinduism offers tools to attain ‘that’ which is within. That is why there is so much emphasis on ‘knowledge’. Karma or good deeds is not going to liberate, knowledge will. When Adi Shankara proposes and emphasizes this, it is the knowledge of ‘Brahman’.
Let us consider the two words, ‘Brahman’ and ‘Dharma’. Saints have again and again clarified that ‘Brahman is to know (the Ultimate Reality)’ and ‘Dharma is to follow’. Practicing Dharma is living truthfully. That enables us to evolve and appreciate Brahman (not to be confused with Brahmin caste). We resonate with loving joy as we become aware of participating creatively in the divine play.
Love, creativity, and worship — all are synonymous on some level. In love, surrender happens inevitably without even realizing it. In creativity, when one is lost, that subtle consciousness takes over, works through us, making us a medium of its expression.
The goal of human life is to become a medium of the Divine. That is why we say, do God’s work. This God is a continuity of that energy, which is eternal, which is not confined to the ‘duration of our body’ as it exists with an identity and expresses itself in alignment with its unique characteristics. Here again, the idea of surrendering to the absolute with awareness of being one with it is what we call ‘Worship’.
Hinduism believes in openness regarding designing one’s own sadhana or daily practices. The guiding light comes from the Vedas, which are considered ‘A-Paurushey’ (not made by man). So, this revelation sustains the glory of human beings in an impeccable manner and offers a vision of vastness.
Many Hindus these days are not excited about practicing it because we stifled the spirit of questioning and seeking answers in a soulful manner. We became dependent on technology to shape our lives. So, when Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev talks about ‘Inner Engineering’, he is repositioning the spirit of the Upanishads and inviting practitioners to a space where they would respect their originality. When Sri Sri Ravi Shankar names his organization as ‘Art of Living’, he has simplified and beautifully energized the word towards the focus on breath with creative insight.
Hinduism is not particularly concerned in its core about conversion or about showing its supremacy. It is assured of its role being relevant for the whole of humanity. None of our scriptures use the term ‘Hindu’, indeed it is meant for the whole of humanity. When a yoga practitioner in Boston or Bahrain connects with his/her inner joy, it is pure, it needs no label.
Hindu inspiration and its universality is epitomized in this thought,
‘Amantramkhsaram Nasti Nastimoolmanaushadham
Ayogyah Purusho Nasti Yojgastatra Durlabhah’.
Which reads in translation: “There is no single letter of the alphabet that cannot be used as a mantra, no bit of vegetation that does not contain a medicinal cure for a disease: even so, there is no human being who is fit for nothing.”
This sense of conviction in the goodness of every human being is an antidote to depression and empowers everyone beyond divisions.
Dharma is that practice which leads to the ultimate, the Gita asserts. “That which is the source of the life-steams of all beings. That by which the world is permeated, by Worshiping That with his actions man attains to the ultimate fulfilment.
(Verse 46, Chapter 18)
The flow of knowledge occurs when consciousness contacts consciousness. When we pay more importance to the mechanical aspect of life, the soulful aspect of our being takes a back seat.
When soulful living happens, reverence sprouts and blossoms, paving the way for love and compassion. The presence of a guru in one’s life to learn about life and celebrate it is always recognized and appreciated in Hindu traditions. It is the guidance, instruction, and inspiration from the guru on the path of spiritual evolution that is helpful in attaining clarity of vision.
My guru, Swami Ishwarananda Giri, has expressed it beautifully in the book ‘Seven Days in Samvit’: “God becomes the Guru when you seek Light and surrender to His Grace. Human birth is an invitation for enlightenment. Harken to this call.”
When we read the sayings of our great masters, we open our mind to their inspiration. Their compassion has the power to lift our level of consciousness. Pray intensely: “Lead me from darkness to light!”