Friday, September 22, 2017

Sri Ramana Maharshi on Many Gods, Relative Existence and Supreme Truth

D: Devotee
B: Bhagavan (Sri Ramana Maharshi)

Sometimes questions were also asked about the multiple gods of Hinduism. In this connection it should be explained that Hindus, like Christians or Muslims worship the One God.Some of the questions about God recorded above were put by Hindus. However, they also worship God manifested in various forms, one possibility or name or form or viewpoint not negating another.

D.: Why are so many gods mentioned?

B.: The body is only one, but how many functions are performed by it! The source of all these functions is one. It is the same with the gods.
It would sometimes be asked whether the various gods and their heavens were real. But such a question starts from the presumption of the reality of this physical world and the questioner’s body – a presumption which Bhagavan would not admit. Instead, he would turn this question, like all others, to the quest for Reality.

D.: Are the Gods, Ishvara and Vishnu, and their heavens, Kailas and Vaikuntha, real?

B.: As real as you are in this body.

D.: I mean, have they got a phenomenal existence like my body, or are they pure fictions like the horns of a hare?

B.: They do exist.

D.: If so, they must be somewhere; where are they?

B.: In you.

D.: Then they are only my idea; something which I create and control?

B.: Everything is.

D.: But I can create a pure fiction like the horns of a hare, or a partial truth, like a mirage; while there are also facts which exist irrespective of my imagination. Do the gods, Ishvara and Vishnu, exist like that?

B.: Yes.

D.: Is God subject to cosmic dissolution at the end of a cycle?

B.: Why should He be? A man who realises the Self transcends cosmic dissolution and is liberated; why should not Ishvara (God) who is infinitely wiser and abler than a man?

D.: Do gods and devils also exist?

B.: Yes.

D.: How are we to conceive of Supreme Divine Consciousness?

B.: As that which is.
Particularly interesting are the questions asked by a Muslim professor about the hymns which Bhagavan wrote to God in the form of Arunachala.

D.: I have been reading the Five Hymns. I find that the hymns are addressed by you to Arunachala. But you are a non-dualist, so how can you address God as a separate Being?

B.: The devotee, God and the hymns are all the Self.

D.: But you are addressing God. You are specifying this Arunachala Hill as God.

B.: You can identify the Self with the body, so why shouldn’t the devotees identify the Self with Arunachala?

D.: If Arunachala is the Self, why should it be specifically picked out among so many other hills? God is everywhere. Why do you specify Him as Arunachala?

B.: What has attracted you from Allahabad to this place? What has attracted all these people around?

D.: Sri Bhagavan.

B.: How was I attracted here? By Arunachala. The Power cannot be denied. Again Arunachala is within and not without. The Self is Arunachala.

D.: Several terms are used in the holy books. Atman, Paramatman, Para, etc. What is the gradation among them?

B.: They mean the same to the user of the words but they are understood differently by various persons according to their development.

D.: But why do you use so many words to mean the same thing?

B.: It depends on the circumstances. They all mean the Self. Para means not relative, or beyond the relative, that is to say the Absolute.

Bogger's Note: In this Q and A i.e. conversation, 

  • Bhagavan  gives importance to going deep within i.e. becoming introvert.
  • For this to happen, outside world and other subtle worlds are to be neglected. Focus has to be on SELF, 'I' or Brahman
  • Yet on vyavahArika satya i.e. empirical reality, our own existence, existence of various Gods and Goddesses and demi-gods and demi-godesses and their worlds is accepted.
  • The power of God is also accepted and revered. It cannot be neglected. Hence hymns on Arunachala were composed. But from standpoint of Atma-sthiti i.e. Supreme Reality, only one tatva exists. It is 'I' or 'Atman' or Brahman. SAntam Sivam Advaitam. Here Siva is not Lord Rudra or Shankara Bhagavan, but nirguNa and nirAkAra tatva i.e. attribuless, formless pure consciousness

Source: Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi in his own words – Arthur Osborne

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