Hindu Teachings That People of Other Religions Should Know

It can hardly be said that I have a reasonable amount of knowledge about other religions, but I'm quite confident that I have got the basic ideas right to delve on the topics that Abrahamic and Dharmic religions don't see eye to eye on. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Hinduism can be said to be different from other religions concerning the following points:

1) The Goal of Every Living Entity –
The Vedic tradition is the only philosophical system in the world that has provided the answer to the question: What do living beings want?

Vedic scriptures state that every living entity, from the ant on the earth to the material god in the heavens, desires happiness.

Some prefer to call it bliss, others peace, and still others pleasure or excitement or exhilaration. There are many names, but the principle is one.

Right from birth, the living entity starts his search for happiness. Just as a bicycle must be pedalled continuously to keep it running; that is, it cannot stand still even for a moment without falling, so also the living entity – through the instrument called the mind – must engage in a relentless search for happiness without break. This is the biggest, most significant contribution of Hinduism to the world.

Just consider for a moment… What is the thing that you desire at the moment? One might say, a scoop of ice-cream; another chocolate; another a refreshing drink; still another might say I desire to pass this college with a degree. If you follow the link of reasons behind every desire you will arrive at only one conclusion – that every living entity wants to please its senses and mind. A.K.A. it wants happiness. There are absolutely no exceptions to this rule, just as there are absolutely no exceptions to the behaviour of fire. Fire must burn all things, because it is compelled by its nature. Similarly, the individual living entities, who provide consciousness to 8,400,000 species of material bodies, must search for happiness.

Some may object to this axiom by presenting the obvious contradiction – suicides. Suicide entails taking one’s own life, and in the process, inflicting unbearable pain on the body – an action which seems to be the antithesis of the search of happiness. However, this view is wrong. People commit suicide only due to a strong yearning for happiness. A depressed person begins to experience so much mental pain and misery that he begins to view death as a great release. In short, he seeks happiness in death, too.

Science is wrong (albeit only partially) in advancing the theory of ‘survival of the fittest’ as the ultimate purpose of all biological life. The instinct of survival, which seems completely natural to the living entity, is actually only a partial expression of the inherent desire of every living being; and that desire is to remain immortal. Now Immortal life also happens to be one of the other two aims of life according to the Vedas, but I digress. I will come to these two aims later. For now, just know that they are not independent of the aim of happiness, but only the means to achieving that end.

If the Vedas have done such a tremendous service to all of humanity by revealing this basic principle underlying the functioning of the entire cosmos, one might expect Hinduism to define the cause for this mad search of happiness, too.

The Upanishads come with a pat reply: 

raso vai saha.
God is rasa or bliss.
Just as an ocean is a reservoir of salt-water, God is the reservoir of bliss. By its very nature, this non-material bliss is infinite and keeps on expanding every second, unlike material happiness, which is finite and goes on decreasing with every second. The Vedas further state:

 rasam hy-evayam labdhvanandi bhavati.
The individual living entity, the spirit soul, attains happiness only on attaining God.

But why are all the living entities frantically and ceaselessly searching for God (bliss)? It makes no sense. No one has taught the offspring of the living entities to search for happiness. They are already doing so automatically. Why?

Because the spirit soul is a part of God.

Just as the particle of dust is a part of the earth, the individual living entity, in its original form, is a part of God. By virtue of being a part of God, all living beings are natural servants of God i.e. they naturally yearn for Him, and thus, yearn for bliss, too. This they do without being taught to do so, without any influence of an external force or without any pressure whatsoever. The Valmiki Ramayan states:

Loke nahi sa vidyet yo na Raam manuvratah
There is not a single living entity in this universe who is not a devotee of Sri Raam (a principal denomination of God in Hinduism).

A person who has never heard of Raam (God) may scoff at this statement, dismissing it as an expression of a deranged mind. But if we reflect on this statement in the light of the matter presented before, we can easily accept it as nothing but the simple truth. Indeed, an American, Indonesian, African, an atheist, sadist, and cannibal – all are the servants of Sri Raam, or God. You may argue that they are servants of happiness, not God. But that is like saying you want to call upon your father, not your mother’s husband. Both these denominations indicate the same person in reality. Similarly, the term bliss is interchangeable with the term, God.

I reiterate, this is the single most impressive revelation made by any religion, philosophy or scientific body extant on earth. Just consider… an universe which is so painstakingly diverse… Even the fingerprints of two human beings don’t match! Ever! Such a diverse universe is so astoundingly oriented towards only one phenomenon – happiness? What greater wonder could there be?

Thus, in the description of the ultimate goal of all life, Hinduism differs from other religions.

2) Extent of description of God.

Vedic scriptures are filled with descriptions of God. Hinduism is actually the greatest tool available to mankind to explore the spiritual world. Hinduism is the only religion on earth that has described God as having an anthropomorphic form:

Narakritim Parah Brahm.The original, most primeval form of God resembles that of a human.

The concept of a personal God with a ‘finite’ form is something that is very hard to come to terms with, especially for a mind that is used to associate all the ‘omni’-qualities with God, be it omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, etc.
However, the Srimad Bhagawatam states:

Svechcha pad pritah vapuh,The supreme spiritual Entity known as God crystallizes His infinite, non-material substance into a divine Form.

This seemingly impossible task He accomplishes through one of His infinite, eternal energies known as Swarup-shakti. The vedic scriptures overflow with descriptions of the divine, eternal forms of God. Just as a single human being dons different dresses for pleasure and entertainment, so also God dons different eternal forms for the pleasure of His devotees. This most wonderful concept, which gladdens every heart yearning for unconditional love, is misconstrued as polytheism by simple-minded people who have no interest in delving deep into the matters of spirituality.

For instance, the Brahma-samhita (a treatise expounding on the nature of the original Personality of God), states:

angani yasya sakalendriya-vrittimantipashyanti panti kalayanti ciram jagantiananda-cinmaya-sad-ujjvala-vigrahasyagovindam adi-purusham tam aham bhajami
“I worship Govinda, the primeval Lord, whose transcendental form is full of bliss, truth, and substantiality, and who is thus full of the most dazzling splendor. Each limb of that transcendental figure possesses in itself the full-fledged functions of all the other organs, and He eternally sees, maintains, and manifests the infinite universes, both spiritual and mundane” (Bs. 5.32).

Note: Govinda is another chief denomination of God.

Now this was a verse describing the first form of God, the Supreme Being in His original dress. He assumes many other Forms, principally called by the names of Raam, Vishnu, Shiv, and Durga.

The muktikopanishad (1,4/5ka) has the following to say about Lord Raam:

Raam tvam paramatmasi sacchidanand vigrahaIdanim tvam raghu shreshtha pranamami muhurmuhuh
O Sri Raam, You are the Supreme Being, known as Paramatma! Your nature is of immortal existence, infinite knowledge and limitless bliss! I pay my obeisance to Your lotus feet again and again.

Lord Brahma, the Creator of this solar system, said:

My dear Lord Shiv, I know that You are the controller of the entire material manifestation, the combination Father and Mother of the cosmic manifestation, and the Supreme Brahman beyond the cosmic manifestation as well. I know You in that way.
- Srimad Bhagvatam 4.6.42

Similarly, the Vishnu Puran, Devi Mahatmya, etc. all describe Vishnu and Durga in similar words and phrases. Thus, it should be clear to any serious Hindu why Vishnu, Shiv and Durga are all considered as God. The answer is that They all are God, simultaneously. God is one – that’s indisputable – but He has infinite, indivisible forms which He personally accepts for the pleasure of His variegated devotees.

Besides these five principal Forms of God, there are other, auxiliary forms such as Ganesh, Hanuman, Kartikeya, Kaali, etc. Who attend upon the principal Forms of God in different ways and Who are famous throughout the universe. This phenomenon (of expansions of God) can be compared to a child playing with his own shadow. The only difference is that God, being spiritual, has shadows that are conscious and wonderful, and possess all the qualities of the original personality of God.

Besides these eternal Forms of God, there are countless incarnations in which God embodies Himself every millisecond, and enters every universe for the welfare of the living entities. Although this is not supported by any Hindu scripture, Jesus can be accepted as an incarnation (looking at what His teachings enjoin His followers to do i.e. to love Him as one would love God).

The Bhagawatam enumerates 24 incarnations of God, including Buddha, which descend in various parts of the universe – in heaven, underworld and on earth – however, the actual number of these incarnations is infinite.

Thus, Hinduism is a complete deviation from the Abrahamic views on God, which are grossly limited in their reach and scope, in that it reveal the actual, spiritual forms of God and His traits.

The Vedic scriptures also contain extensive descriptions of the spiritual world, which is a conglomeration of various stations par excellence situated far above the material universes.

“That abode of Mine is illuminated neither by the sun and the moon, nor by fire (electricity) but by My personal light alone. And anyone who reaches it never comes back to this material world.”– Bhagavad Gita 15.6, a verse spoken by Sri Krsna Himself.

The glories of Vaikunth’s residents, who are all beyond the material world of five elements, of Vaikunth-lok, and of Vaikunth’s Hero (God), cannot be described with examples drawn from the world of five elements.- Brhad Bhagvatamrtam Canto I, 4.40 & 4.41.

Lord Shiv tells His internal potency, Parvati:My dear Consort, beyond all the spiritual planets, there is a divine, eternal abode called as Saaket, which is unachievable for even the greatest of yogis. However, that excellent station can be achieved by chanting the pure name of Raam in an authentic manner.– Padma Puran.

Similarly, bounteous descriptions are given for Shiv-lok-Kailas (the station of Lord Shiv) and Mani-dveep – the island of spiritual gems (the station of Durga), etc. All of these quarters of the various forms of God are eternal, divine, full of bliss and infinite in length. This is possible because They are situated beyond the material conceptions of time and space.

Besides describing the various eternal forms and spiritual stations of God, the Vedic scriptures also contain exhaustive reports on the qualities of God. In a world where the descriptions of God in religious scriptures are limited to His benignity, compassion, love and other vague terms like omnipotence, the Vedic scriptures offer a refreshing view:

Aishvaryasya samagrasyaviryasya yashasah shriyahjnana-vairagyayosh chaivashannam bhaga itingana 
- Vishnu Puran 6.5.47

God (addressed as Bhagavan here) is the Being Who possesses in full the six attributes of Wealth, Fame, Knowledge, Physical Strength, Beauty and Renunciation.

In the spiritual station of Vaikunth, etc. God displays these six attributes in full. For example, in Vaikunth, as Supreme Vishnu, God reigns as the Emperor of the spiritual and the material spheres of existence. As Vishnu, He commands Sri – His internal potency and the Goddesss of all fortune – and thus displays infinite wealth.
Similarly, the other attributes are also manifested in the exceedingly divine Person of God. No wonder then, that all living entities are naturally attracted towards these six qualities. Although these qualities exist in the material universe only as a shadow of the original, spiritual qualities of God, they nevertheless act as a great mirage for the human beings, who, in their thirst for happiness, resemble a deer in the desert.

Even the most black-hearted person, who is most attached to sin, expects others to be selfless (i.e. possess the quality of renunciation) and have qualities like truthfulness, etc. This could be, perhaps, the most astonishing thing in the world. How can a person, who doesn’t think twice about lying to others for selfish gain, be indisposed towards others’ dishonesty?

What scientific explanation can provide an answer to this question? None.

The real reason behind this great conundrum is that the living entity is actually searching for God, of Whom he is a part. Now because God is bliss as well as a complete repository of all these sublime qualities, the living entity is vying for happiness (through cheating and sinning) as well as for a person who possesses all these good qualities. Thus, the living entity is always searching for God without even knowing it consciously.

Similarly, even the most greedy, gluttonous person expects others to be moderate in their eating, sleeping, etc. i.e. they expect others to be above the material desires. What is this but renunciation? The most relevant example that comes to my mind is that of the general adoration enjoyed by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam – the former President – in India. Here is an image I came across:
Thus, renunciation begets respect from all quarters in the world. This is an indisputable fact.

Next, we shall consider beauty. There is no study on earth that can explain why human beings are attracted to beauty. Although many activists berate popular culture and its representative figures for promoting physical beauty, they themselves fall victim to the desire of looking at beautiful people several times within a single day.

However, the soul’s yearning for beauty can only be satisfied when He looks at the form of God. All things and persons that appear beautiful in this world represent only a shadow of God’s beauty in the spiritual world. Thus, the pleasure derived from material beauty diminishes with every passing moment. The more a person observes a ‘beautiful’ object or person in this universe, the more he becomes disenchanted, until one day he begins to feel averse to the very same object or person. This is due to the principle of diminishing happiness of the material world.
Similarly, the qualities of Physical Strength, Fame, etc. attract all living entities indiscriminately because they are the qualities of God.

Now, it’s time to come to the points I’d briefly referred to above while talking about ‘survival of the fittest’. They pertain to the secondary nature of God, as reported in the Vedic scriptures.

Isvarah Paramah KrsnaSat-chit-ananda vigrahaAnadir aadir GovindahSarva Karana Karanam.- Brahma Samhita.
The Supreme Lord has a form which is Sat (Immortal), Chit (Full of knowledge and Consciousness) and Ananda (Bliss). He has no origin and is Himself the cause of all causes.

Thus, in Hinduism, God is also called as Sacchidanand (Sat-Chit-Anand spoken as one word).

This revelation of the Vedas paves the way for understanding the relentless pursuit of the living entities for knowledge and their natural desire to live eternally. Even the most illiterate person is always very curious about what happened in his locality, in and around his work-place, etc. Every person always observes others secretly, in order to obtain knowledge about how to behave, how to talk, how to smile, how to impress others, etc. Thus, he is constantly searching for knowledge, even though he may have a great aversion for formal, academic education.

Similarly, every living entity holds its own life most dear. It does not want to die. What a great contradiction it is that the very product of inert matter does not want to die! After all, doesn’t the theory of evolution advance human beings as simply a product of matter? How can it possibly explain the human quest for immortality?

Thus, in being the only tradition in the world that describes God so extensively and comprehensively, Hinduism has provided answers to the most confounding questions that have plaqued the human mind since the dawn of creation.

3. The Material Energy - Maya.

Hinduism was the first religion to properly define the concept of Maya - the material energy of God. This material energy is the origin of all the matter that we see in the Universe today. However, she is not merely limited to that. Maya also covers the individual soul and makes it forget its original constitutional position as the servant of God. Because the soul endeavours to enjoy on its own, it develops a great ego under the spell of maya, thus considering himself to be an independent enjoyer other than God. Under this conditioning, the soul tries/desires to gain complete control over its surrounding environment and people, but is met with only disappointment.

Because She is the energy of God, Maya is simultaneously one and different from Him. However, because She binds the spirit souls in ignorance, maya is equated with darkness, and God, with light.

Understanding this concept makes it very easy to estimate how God's world would be. Everything that is temporary, unsatisfying and the cause of misery can be attributed to maya, whereas everything that is wonderful, permanent and blissful can be attributed to God.

daivi hy esa guna-mayi mama maya duratyaya mam eva ye prapadyante mayam etam taranti te- Bhagavad Gita 7.14
This divine energy of Mine, Maya, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is extremely difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.

sattvaṁ rajas tama iti guṇāḥ prakṛti-sambhavāḥ nibadhnanti mahā-bāho dehe dehinam avyayam- Bhagavad Gita 14.5
Material nature consists of three modes – goodness, passion and ignorance. When the eternal living entity comes in contact with nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, he becomes conditioned by these modes.

sattvaṁ sukhe sañjayati rajaḥ karmaṇi bhārata jñānam āvṛtya tu tamaḥ pramāde sañjayaty uta- Bhagavad Gita 14.9
O son of Bharata, the mode of goodness gives rise to considerable happiness; passion conditions one to fruitive action; and ignorance (tamas), if entertained for a long time, covers one’s knowledge and gives rise to madness.

guṇān etān atītya trīn dehī deha-samudbhavān janma-mṛtyu-jarā-duḥkhair vimukto ’mṛtam aśnute- Bhagavad Gita 14.20
When the embodied being is able to transcend these three modes associated with the material body, he can become free from birth, death, old age and their distresses and can enjoy nectar even in this life.

The Abrahamic religions have absolutely no concept analogous to maya. Thus, they have no clear distinction between the nature of the material world and the nature of God.

They believe that mere prayer and repentance will transport them to the spiritual world after death. How simple!

God can be approached only through a completely pure mind. A materially bound soul cannot even see God, let alone enter His kingdom. Thus, Hinduism reveals that the souls must first cultivate a pure mind, through constant practice of devotion to God, and only then, can they become rightful participators in the bliss of God. A.K.A. they must first overcome the impure modes of maya and the lust, greed, anger, ego, etc. associated with them.

yah maya thagini jaan reyate vidhi darpat, yah atishay balwan revishvamitr parashar se muni, maya maahi bhulan reyehi nahi mithya tattva maan man, shakti jaan bhagavan rebinu Hari kripa jaati nahi kaisehun, saadhan kiyehun mahaan repai 'Kripalu' Hari kripa hoye tab, jab bhaju Shyam sujaan re.- Prem Ras Madira (1.3.83), a treatise on the highest devotion, by Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj.
My dear mind, know Maya to be the greatest deceiver. She is so powerful that even Lord Brahma, the Creator of this solar-system, is fearful of her. Great ascetics like Vishvamitr and Parashar fell under her spell. She is not some imaginary entity (as followers of Shankaracharya proclaim) but the power of God! One cannot free himself of her clutches, no matter how great his endeavors, but only by the grace of God. Shri Kripaluji Maharaj reminds the mind, "Grace is bestowed only on those souls who practice devotion to Krsna (called Shyam here)."

4. The Law of Karma.

Hinduism was the first religion to ‘introduce’ the law of karma. (Because the common reader will have difficulty digesting the notion that Hinduism has existed since the beginning of creation some 4 billion years ago, I have used the word ‘introduce’. This word fits in well with the commonly accepted belief that Hinduism began 5000 years ago.)

Just as there is a cause behind every effect according to science, so also there is a reason to every apparent circumstance in this world. This is the theory promoted by Hinduism, and what a logical theory it is! It puts to rest all the accusations made by atheists against God as being cruel, partial, prone to common anger, powerless and without any love for his children.

The law of karma states that a person only experiences that which he deserves, nothing more. Although this is, and should be, the basic premise of the law of karma, it does not actually function like this. God, being infinitely compassionate, arranges for a person to experience only that which will elevate him to a purer state of consciousness. The rest of the karmic records are relegated to a reserve known as ‘sanchit karm’. The living entities, being conscious entities, are without beginning. They have existed before time came into existence and will continue to exist after time ceases to exist. Thus, through their countless lives, they have accumulated unlimited sins and pious credits in their ‘sanchit’ stock.

Thus, this theory makes much more sense than the Abrahamic belief of a single life. Why, you may ask. Well, for one, the theory of karma, by definition, explains why there is so much diversity in the world. It explains why two human beings, born at the same time and under similar circumstances, go on to experience completely different lives and experiences. It also explains why, although there exists only one God, there are so many different religions extant upon earth. The law of karma states that the environment in which a person is born, is determined by his mental attachments to specific objects (type of food), persons (his family) or activities (singing, sports, etc.).

Thus the law of karma provides clues as to why the Abrahamic religions exist in the following manner:

Christianity, Islam and co. sprang up to accommodate a large section of souls who, although deserved to be human, were quite attached to meat-eating and other unagreeable pleasures from their previous lives. To give them scope for evolution of the consciousness, which happens invariably if the person honestly follows the injunctions of Christ, etc., these religions emerged as the foremost amongst all others. Similarly, Jainism and Buddhism came to light through the efforts of their own central super-figures, to guide souls who were atheistic in their outlook from the former lives. These impressions of the subtle mind, which determine the birth of a living entity are called as samskaras, and they are differ from one person to the other more than finger-prints do.

Thus, Hinduism is different from other religions, in that it can satisfactorily explain the existence of other religions whereas the other religions cannot reconcile the existence of Hinduism with that of an all-knowing God. Christianity, will all its propagation of ‘no one can come to the Father unless he comes through Christ’, assumes serious shortcomings as a religion when coupled with the ‘one life’ theory. A single life simply does not provide any scope for a person born within a tribe in the most remote corners of the world to accept Christ as saviour. It would be an extremely faulty system, if it were ever to be true.

Secondly, the law of karma encompasses all living entities, including animals, fish and birds into a single family called as ‘souls’. Thus, the scope of compassion within Hinduism is truly universal as compared to the limited empathy extended by the Abrahamic religions. It is also in line with the common observations of the most unintelligent person – that animals too feel pain, happiness, and emotions, just like humans do, signifying that what thrives inside a human body must also thrive inside an animal’s.

The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [an outcaste].- Bhagavad Gita, 5.18

Thus, the Vedic religion advances true equality, as opposed to the superficial, limited equality demanded by people of many races worldwide. While human beings demand equal treatment by virtue of being part of the human race, the Vedic tradition demands equal treatment for all living beings, irrespective of their size, shape, etc. simply by the virtue of their belonging to the soul category.

5. Hinduism is the only religion to reveal the inner constitution of the living entity.

The Vedic scriptures are the only ones in the world to reveal just how things work inside our body. This is explained very beautifully in the Kaṭhopaniṣhad with the help of the model of a chariot:

ātmānagvaṁ rathinaṁ viddhi śharīraṁ rathameva tubuddhiṁ tu sārathiṁ viddhi manaḥ pragrahameva chaindriyāṇi hayānāhurviṣhayānsteṣhu gocharānātmendriyamanoyuktaṁ bhoktetyāhurmanīṣhiṇaḥ (1.3.3-4)
The living entity (soul) is the passenger of the chariot of the body. The driver of the chariot is the intellect. The mind is the rope which controls the five horses bound to the chariot, and the five horses are the five senses viz. tongue, ear, nose, eyes and the sense of touch.

This means that the senses are controlled by the mind – the faculty which facilitates the function of thinking, remembering, contemplating, pondering, etc. – and the mind, in turn, is controlled by the intellect. The mind is such a device that, if it is trained on an object or person for a long time, it takes on the qualities of that object or person, just as boiling wax takes on the colour of dyes discharged within it. Because the mind has been dwelling on material objects and other conditioned souls since beginning-less time, it has developed a great liking for the same.

That is the reason why the mind derives great flashes of pleasure when the senses indulge in the objects of the material world such as sweets, candies, drinks, beautiful views, music, etc.

However, this is not the area where the soul can find true happiness. Thus, with his intellect trained on this fact, a human being must strive to divert his mind towards God, His names, His abodes, His saints, etc. which are all pure. If the mind consistently delves on them for a long period of time – say, for a fifty years – it will become pure. Once it becomes pure, God will bestow all His powers and mercy upon that soul and the soul will experience real, infinite happiness for the first time since eternity. In a fashion that is exact opposite to the material world, the soul will derive bliss that will keep on increasing for eternal time.

6. The saints and divine representatives of the spiritual Government:

Although there are scores of saints in both Islam and Christianity, their combined numbers pale in comparison to the sheer strength of India’s offering.

Besides, there are a host of other differences, including the extent of their individual realizations, and the impact these saints have had on the devout population of the respective religions.

Which saint’s works can vie with the popularity of Tulsidas’ Ramayana even after all these years? Which saint can boast of such a cultural impact as that of Mirabai? Can any western saint even dream of approaching the most esoteric and confidential philosophy of Chaitanya through his teachings?

Kumudini kai jaane parimalBhramar sakal bhogitaseTaise tuj thave naahi tujhe naamAamhich te prem sukh jaani- a popular abhang of the most popular Marathi saint, Tukaram.
The lotus flower doesn’t know its own fragrance, but the bumble-bee enjoys it. Similarly, o God, you may not know the sweetness of your name, but we are well-versed with the bliss hidden in it.

Awaghe jan jhaale lokpalSoere sakal praan-sakheTuka mhane aata khelato kautukeJhale tuzh sukh antarbaahi- another abhang of Sri Tukaram.
All the living entities around me have become dear to me as my very own life. Tuka says, now I play in this cosmos for Your pleasure, and Your infinite bliss has pervaded every fiber of my being, both inside as well as out.

Anandache dohi anand tarangKai saangu jhaale kahicheeya baahiPudhe chaali naahi aavadeeney- another abhang by Tukaram.
I feel like I am floating on the ocean of infinite bliss. This bliss has no boundaries, how shall I describe it? Because of this, all my material desires (beginning with lust, greed, etc.) have completely fallen away from me.

O my companion, worldly comfort is an illusion.As soon as you achieve it, its charm dwindles away.I have chosen the Indestructible as my refuge,Him whom the serpent of death does not devour.I have actually seen that abode of limitless joy.Meera’s Lord is Hari (Krsna), the indestructible.- Meerabai, one of the most famous poet-saints of India.

“Having recognized the Lord within, my thoughts rest only in Him. Now wherever I cast my eyes, I see none else but Him. Since realization came, here, there, everywhere the Lord alone I see.”- Kabir, another saint of Northern India, whose poems have stood the test of time.

Says Kabir:Lord, I weave the cloth of Thy NameThe fruitless toilOf weaving for the worldHas come to an end;I have attainedThe dazzling state of bliss —Free from fear, free from pain,I am the weaver, O Lord, of Thy Name;I weave and reap the profitOf inner rapport with Thee.I am the weaver of the Lord’s Name.

Similarly, thousands of saints have lit the beacon of God’s glory throughout the corners of the country. Be it Ramakrishna Paramhans, the principal-saint of Bengal and the worshiper of Durga, or Namdev, the devotee of Krsna from Maharashtra. Who can forget Tulsidas, whose spotless work, the Raam-charit-manas, is growing in popularity with every passing year despite being over 500 years old? Tulsidas has sowed the seeds of devotion to God in the hearts of countless people and his work will continue to do so for ages to come. Then there is Surdas, Nanak, Chokhamela, Ramprasad, Nimbarkacharya, Madhvacharya, Swami Ramanandacharya, Ramanujacharya and countless others, who have given their stamp of approval upon the revelations of the Vedas. There is absolutely no reason to doubt the words of pure souls, because they are free from desire, are self-content, and thus not prone to make errors or lie. Just as Jesus’ words are believed by millions because he was pure, so also these saints’ works and teachings are upheld by millions of devout Hindus till today.

7. Hinduism cannot be separated from the Indian subcontinent, or Bharat:

Unlike other religions, Hinduism is India-specific. Just as Delhi is the capital of India, and the address of the President, so also the Supreme Lord has anointed Bharat-varsh, the tract of land known as India today, as His capital. It is on this tract of land that the Supreme Lord descends along with his pure devotees, who are all complete and spiritual in themselves, and who purify the earth here with Their hallowed footprints.

The gods in the heavens say:
We are now living in the heavenly planets, undoubtedly as a result of our having performed ritualistic ceremonies, pious activities and yajñas and having studied the Vedas in our previous human lives. However, our lives here will one day be finished and we will return to the cycle of transmigration. We pray that at that time, if any merit remains from our pious activities, we may again take birth in Bhārat-varṣh as human beings able to remember the lotus feet of the Lord. The Lord is so kind that He personally comes to the land of Bhārat-varṣh and expands the good fortune of its people.- Srimad Bhagavatam 5.19.28

All the gods in the various heavens speak in this way: How wonderful it is for these human beings to have been born in the land of Bhārat-varṣh. They must have executed pious acts of austerity in the past, or the Supreme Lord Himself must have been pleased with them. Otherwise, how could they engage in devotional service in so many ways? We gods can only aspire to achieve human births in Bhārat-varṣh to execute devotional service to the lotus feet of Lord Vishnu, but these human beings are already engaged there.- Srimad Bhagavatam 5.19.21.

But not everyone is engaged thus in India, which is quite clear to any discerning eye.

The people who take birth in this tract of land are divided according to the modes of material nature — the mode of goodness [sattva-guṇa], passion [rajo-guṇa], and ignorance [tamo-guṇa]. Some of them are born as exalted personalities, some are ordinary human beings, whereas others are extremely abominable, for in Bhārat-varṣh one takes birth exactly according to one’s past karma.- Srimad Bhagavatam 5.19.19

Through this peculiar aspect of Hinduism, it is proved that it the only eternal religion on earth.

8. The level of spiritual revelations.

This last point may be the most glaring difference yet. Where other religions can be equated to the moon, which, upon arrival, brightens a great section of the heavens above, the Vedic tradition is, verily, the dazzling sun, which illuminates the farthest corners of the solar system, and indeed, lends light to the moon itself.

I’m talking about the level of spiritual philosophy revealed in each religion. Abrahamic religions reveal God in only two relationships: as the Father, and as the Master (or King). The Vedic religion, however, describes God not only as the Master and Father, but also as the Friend, Son, Husband and Lover. Indeed, what relationship exists in the world that cannot be shared with God in its original, pure form?

I was wary of sharing this feature of Hinduism on such a public platform, where people of all mentalities and types of consciousness arrive, but I guess there should be no harm if the discussion comes with a cautionary piece of advice. Just as a jaundiced person sees yellow everywhere, so also a person who is grossly attached to lust, sees filth everywhere. Thus, if, by reading the words ‘husband’ and ‘lover’, filthy images and conceptions of material sex have sprung up in your mind, discontinue reading. The attraction between the spiritual soul (which is denoted as God’s Shakti – a feminine energy) and the Primeval Purush (The original Male), is non-physical, sublime and natural. That very-natural attraction between God and the spiritual soul is reflected in the material world as perverse, unhealthy desires for sex.

Anyway, there are five types of relationships or bhavs which an individual soul can share with God. They are: Shanta (as a subject of God as King), Dasya (as a servant of God as Master), Sakhya (as a friend of God), Vatsalya (as the parent of God) and Madhurya (as a lover of God). These five bhavs are progressive in their significance and intimacy with God.

Because the madhurya bhav is characterized by a complete and utter selflessness on the part of the soul, it is considered as the acme of all spiritual attainments. In this relationship, the soul is ready to give up everything that he possesses, including his very own life, for the pleasure of God. The extent of such unconditional love cannot be understood by our ordinary intellects, because we are, by nature, selfish beings.

Even God is tightly bound by this brand of love, and feels Himself indebted to such devotees for eternity.

na paraye ’ham niravadya-samyujamsva-sadhu-krtyam vibudhayusapi vahya mabhajan durjara-geha-srnkhalahsamvrscya tad vah pratiyatu sadhuna- Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.32.22)
Krsna says: My dear gopis (the souls who loved God as the beloved), your meeting Me is innocent and immaculate in every respect because it is devoid of even a single iota of desire for your own happiness. It is overflowing with supremely pure love. Although the bonds of affection for the members of one’s own home are impossible to overcome, you have completely demolished them. Thus, for loving service to Me, you have transgressed the moral laws of this world. Even if I lived as long as the gods I would be unable to requite even one drop of your love, sacrifice and service. All of you may free Me from debt simply by your own gentle nature, but I am forever the debtor of your prema (the term that denotes spiritual love of God), and will always continue to be.

This brand of love is completely free from even the slightest tinge of selfishness. The devotees of this class do not care if they have to go to the most horrendous hell till the end of time, whether the object of their love (God) is beautiful or exceedingly ugly, or even if they never meet God for a period of a billion years. Their only desire to keep their Beloved happy.

The great Mystic, and India’s biggest spiritual giant, Sri Chaitanya states:

ashlishya va pada-ratam pinashtu mamadarshanan marma-hatam karotu vayatha tatha va vidadhatu lampatomat-prana-nathas tu sa eva naparaha- Shikshashtakam, verse 8
Let Krsna tightly embrace this maidservant, who has fallen at His lotus feet or let Him trample Me or break My heart by never being present before Me. He is completely free to do anything and everything He likes, for He is always my worshipful Lord, unconditionally.

Alas, mere words can never convey the depth of such spiritual emotion. In a final attempt to impress upon the readers the gravity of this spiritual relationship, I will describe something related to Radharani, the principal gopi and the internal potency of God. In short, God is Radharani and Radharani is God. But what I am about to say should be judged only for its relation to the selfless divine love of the gopis.

It is my greatest misfortune that I cannot find the verse on the net right now, although I’d found it many years ago. Also, there is no doubt in my mind about its authenticity because it has been quoted by a recent scriptural scholar and saint of the highest order many times.

Before we consider what the verse states, we must study a bit of the nature of fires. The flames of the fire are the hottest, then the portion just above the body of the flame come next. The least hottest is the black line of smoke that rises several feet above the fire. Lets call it, simply, smoke.

The verse states:

If Radharani didn’t control the fire of separation She feels for Sri Krsna with Her power of Yogmaya; if She were to let out a mere vestige of that smoke out of Her heart, the entire material cosmos, will all its infinite galaxies and solar systems, would reduce to ashes immediately.

Thus, Hinduism is vastly superior to its counterparts when it comes to delineating and guiding souls towards fulfilling relationships with God.

However, as a parting thought and for something to mull over, and as a unique reconciliation of the Vedic religion with its western counterparts, I present to you something very interesting that I came across during my retrieval of scriptural quotes – the words of a Christian saint, St. Faustina:

“Today I was in heaven, in spirit, and I saw its inconceivable beauties and the happiness that awaits us after death. I saw how all creatures give ceaseless praise and glory to God. I saw how great is happiness in God, which spreads to all creatures, making them happy; and then all the glory and praise which springs from this happiness returns to its source; and they enter into the depths of God, contemplating the inner life of God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, whom they will never comprehend or fathom. This source of happiness is unchanging in its essence, but it is always new, gushing forth happiness for all creatures.”

Ring a bell?

Who says that the God of Hinduism is different than the God of Abrahamic religions? One need only look at the nuances of each religion to identify the common thread.

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