By Maria Wirth
At a seminar where Hinduism related topics were discussed, I asked some students during tea break, “Can you explain to me what Hinduism is about?”
There was an awkward silence. After a while, a girl said “Hindus worship many Gods.” I asked, who created the many Gods?” Now the silence was permanent. Nobody ventured an answer.
“Did you ever hear of Brahman?” I asked. “I do not mean Brahma the creator God, but Brahman the absolute Truth, the conscious Oneness behind this manifestation?”
No, none of them had heard of Brahman.
I hardly could believe it. How can the highest philosophy, discovered by the ancient Rishis, and handed down in the Vedas, not be handed down to future Indian generations, when even German philosophers and scientists praised it to the sky when this knowledge reached Europe a few hundred years ago?
From then on, when I meet youngsters, and there is a chance to have a conversation, I ask this question – “can you explain to me what Hinduism is about?”
So far, nobody told me about the basics of Indian wisdom. It almost seems as if Indians are not supposed to know that their tradition has a higher, absolute level, above the relative multiplicity of this world. A level which is beyond thoughts and words, which is A-dwaita: not-two, but ONE, and which makes the Indian tradition stand out among those traditions which came later.
By making Indians forget the highest teaching of their Rishis, those later traditions give the impression that THEY, not the Indian Rishis, have the more reasonable explanation for the creation of the universe. There cannot be many creators. It has to be ONE Supreme Power which is behind it, and indeed, Christianity and Islam stress the point that they worship one God, while Hindus worship many Gods, and therefore, they are the better choice and closer to the truth.
They get away with it, because most Hindus don’t know any longer their own tradition. Hindus will even argue, “what is wrong in worshipping many Gods? Leave us alone.”
Of course, nothing is wrong in worshipping many Gods. In fact, it makes great sense. As there is an incredible variety in this world, there are different ‘departments’ to be looked after by different Deities. But if Hindus don’t know that these different Deities are all one with the ONE Brahman, they basically concede that those two religions are more reasonable. The source must be ONE, and is ONE.
If Hindus knew their tradition, they can easily show, why Hinduism is preferable to Christianity and Islam, because it is closer to the truth.
Christianity and Islam claim that the Creator is separate from His creation and nobody must claim that he or she is one with God (Christianity makes an exception for Jesus, and elevated him to God status).
Further, this God has likes and dislikes, and He doesn’t like it, when people don’t follow what he supposedly told to one person and which is contained in a book – in the case of Christianity this one person is Jesus Christ and the book is the Bible, and in the case of Islam, the person is Prophet Mohammed and the book is the Quran. In fact, the great one God not only doesn’t like it, but will send those disbelievers for all eternity into hell, after only one life.
This sounds VERY unlikely, doesn’t it?
Now compare with what Hinduism says:
The one cause for everything is the ONE Brahman which is best described as blissful, infinite, pure (= thought-free) Awareness.
Out of THAT or rather, within That, thanks to Its innate Power (Shakti), the plurality of this universe appears.
Yet this plurality is not separate from Brahman. It is like the waves on the one ocean. All waves are nothing but the ocean. Nothing is lost when a wave subsides.
But how do we know that this is closer to the truth?
Is it possible that “God” is somewhere in heaven (where is it?) and the world is, independent of Him, a separate entity? Now even science came to the conclusion that all is ONE. Nothing is separate. All is interconnected.
But the wisdom of the Rishis is not only theoretical. It is practical. It can be experienced and it should be experienced. Conscious, blissful Oneness is not somewhere up in heaven, but it is the essence in all of us. The Rishis experienced it and they give us hints, how we also can experience it.
One major hint is to still the thoughts. The reason is simple. Beneath or beyond thoughts, there is pure Awareness – Sat-Chit-Ananda, and when we still the thoughts, we can get in touch with that.
To know, who we really are, is the goal of life and its fulfilment. We are not a small person in a big world, but blissful Awareness, one with everything.
The goal of life is not to wait for death and then hope to go to heaven, because we have steadfastly believed in a book during our life time.
The ultimate Truth is not in a book. It is within us.
By Maria Wirth