Wednesday May 23, 2018

Decoding the divine!

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By Nithin Sridhar

Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 10

In the last few installments of this series, various tenets of Dharma (duty/righteousness) like Ahimsa (non-injury), Daya (compassion), and Kshama (forgiveness) were explained. In this installment, let us delve deep into the topic of Ishwara or Brahman that is usually translated in English as God.

The concept of God or the Almighty has been a matter of debate all over the world from early times of mankind. Various religions, philosophies, and even scientists have tried to answer questions regarding this Supreme Being. Though most people agree with the definition of God as one who is Supreme Almighty, there are many huge irreconcilable differences between the concepts of God of the Dharmic traditions and the Abrahamic religions.

Without getting into the debate surrounding these differences, the article will try to highlight the concept of God as understood, realized, and passed down in the tradition of Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Dharma) or Hinduism.

Any discussion surrounding the topic of God and His/Her/Its existence ultimately boils down to three questions:

What is God?

Where is God?

How to perceive/reach/realize God?

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Let’s take up only the second question: “Where is God?” in this installment.

In the Isha Upanishad, the very first mantra (verse) gives an answer to this question. It says:

IshAvAsyamida.NsarvaMyatki~nchajagatyAMjagat | (Verse 1)

This translates into God has a habitat everywhere. So, to the question “Where is God?” the Isha Upanishad answers that God is present everywhere and in all objects of the Universe. Accordingly, from a tiny blade of grass to a big mountain, God is omnipresent. This understanding can be more profoundly understood by the event of Prahlada and Hiranyakashipu as mentioned in Puranas. When demon Hiranyakashipu asked his son whether God is in the pillar? Prahlada replied in positive. When Hiranyakashipu tried to break the pillar, God in the form of Narasimha came out of the pillar and slayed the demon.

The gist of the incident is that God is everywhere, in all sentient and non-sentient objects. He is in the rocks, the wind, the planets, the star, the space, the microbes, the plants, the animals or even in humans. The next question that may immediately arise is: When it is said God is in humans, plants, or objects, where exactly is the God located in them?

Lord Krishna answers this question in Bhagavad Gita (15.15) thus:

sarvasyachAhaMhRRidisanniviShTo

Translation: And I am seated in the hearts of all

So, Lord Krishna says God is located in the hearts of all. Here “Hrdii” that is translated as “Heart” does not refer to physical heart. The non-living objects don’t have a physical heart! The “Hrdii” refers to the central essence of an individual’s existence. This can be better understood with an example.

Every circle has a center. The center is the essence of the circle. It is not only the most important portion of the circle but also the very origin of the circle. In fact, the dot which represents the center can be considered as a circle in itself but with “zero” or “near zero” radius. From this perspective, a circle with any radius is nothing but a “zero radius circle” (i.e. the center) whose radius has been increased to form a particular circle with a particular radius.

Similarly, “Hrdii” or “Hradayam” does not refer to a physical heart, but to the center of “individual’s existence” of any object living or non-living. So, even though God is present everywhere and in all objects, He can be fully and directly perceived and realized in the “Hradayam” of all creatures.

How exactly this realization could be gained is a topic for another article. But it is sufficient to say that from one school of thought in Hinduism, God who is actually called as Ishwara or Brahman (each term has a specific meaning and context) in Hinduism is not some superman kind of existence present in heaven or something. Instead, God is present everywhere and in the heart of all creatures.

More in this segment:
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 1
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 2
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 3
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 4
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 5
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 6
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 7
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures- Part 8
Gleanings from Hindu Scriptures – Part 9

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4 Christian Movies on Netflix That Teach You History

In fact, many of them are either dramatic adaptations of Bible canons or simply historical accounts of that particular era with some moral lessons thrown into the mix to fit the theme of the movies.

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Christian movies get a bad rap
Movies about religion or Christianity are not necessarily religious in nature.

Christian movies get a bad rap. Many people avoid watching them under the assumption that they are a personal soap box for the directors or writers to showcase their faith in God. While you can easily make this case for a certain number of them, movies about religion or Christianity are not necessarily religious in nature. In fact, many of them are either dramatic adaptations of Bible canons or simply historical accounts of that particular era with some moral lessons thrown into the mix to fit the theme of the movies. Either way, while they are not full on historical renditions, they can teach you a lot about that historical era. Without further ado, here are four Christian movies on Netflix that teach you history.

Joseph & Mary (2016)

Joseph & Mary is a historical biblical drama that follows the journey of Elijah, a devout rabbi, who swears revenge upon King Herod the Great, who slaughtered hundreds of innocents, including his two child proteges. Elijah’s quest for revenge gets a lot more complicated when he starts spending time with Joseph, Mary,and their young Son, who challenge the very beliefs that fuel his rage.

Starring Kevin Sorbo as Joseph – which you might remember from the light-hearted Tv Show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Captain Dylan Hunt in Andromeda –, and Lara Jean Chorostecki – of Hannibal and Designated Survivor fame -, the film, due to its heavy subject matter, might not be an easy watch for everybody.

However, history buffs will surely appreciate the care and detail that the writers and producers put into the décor, costumes,and script, as it feel very authentic from a historical standpoint. If you are interested to see more Christian movies that are historically accurate, make sure to check out this article on Netflix Guides, a website frequently updated with well-written guides and reviews.

Joseph: King of Dreams (2000)

Joseph: King of Dreams is a 2000 American animated biblical musical drama.  Serving as a prequel to the 1998 film The Prince of Egypt, the plot itself is an adaptation of the story of Joseph from the Book Of Genesis in the Bible. Not many people might think to get their history lessons from an animated musical, you will soon find out that Joseph: King of Dreams will shatter this perception. While the film does take some artistic liberties when it comes to historical facts, the animators made a great job of reconstructing the spirit and atmosphere of the era.

Featuring a stellar cast that includes Ben Affleck, Richard Herd (Get Out, Star Trek: Renegades) andMark Hamill (Luke Skywalker, and many other voice roles in animated shows and video games), King of Dreams is a great Christian film that will charm you with its smart direction, good music and enticing story.

The Book of Esther (2013)

Released in 2013, the film follows the story of Esther, a Jewish girl who is handpicked as the new queen consort to King Xerxes I of Persia. The story centers around Esther’s efforts to stop Lord Haman from exterminating her people. The film does take some artistic licenses from the Biblical account, but the main actress’ good performance compensates for any of the film’s shortcomings. If you are looking for an intrigue film with a historical Christian twist, then do not hesitate to try out The Book of Esther.

 Son of God (2014)

Christian movies get a bad rap
Christian Movies are worth watching.

Son of God is a direct adaptation of the ten-hour miniseries The Bible, which aired on the History channel throughout March 2013. Starring DiogoMorgado as Jesus Christ, Darwin Shaw as Saint Simon Peter, Sebastian Knapp as Saint John and Roma Downey as Mary, amongst others, the film is a retelling of the Biblical Story of Jesus, from his birthright until his crucifixion and ascended into Heaven.

Beyond Bofors: Beyond Bofors: An Untold Story Of India’s First Family

The story itself is seen through the eyes of an elderly John, one of Jesus’ most faithful followers, who is living in exile after being the sole survivor of the group. While the film does contain some recycled scenes from the miniseries (probably because they are produced by the same person, Mark Burnett, or simply due to budget constraints), Son of God stands on its own and is worth a view even if you have already seen the TV show. DiogoMorgado deserves special praise for his stellar acting, which is arguably one of the best interpretations of Jesus Christ after Jim Caviezel’s performance in The Passion of the Christ.

Conclusion

Many people tend to avoid watching Christian movies believing that they are either poor quality or too preachy. But in reality, only a small fraction of them are like this – most of them are quite balanced and made in such a way that even people who are not particularly religious can enjoy them. The movies that we have showcased in this write up, with their good casts and direction, appeal both to Christians, and people who enjoy good historical dramas. If you are looking for Christian movies but are unsure what to choose, do not hesitate to give these titles a try.