Thursday October 18, 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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history-of-hinduism.blogspot.com

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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Move Closer to God For Better Sleep Quality

Religion could decrease psychological distress, substance abuse and stress exposure, which are all associated with sleep outcomes

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Move Closer to God For Better Sleep Quality
Move Closer to God For Better Sleep Quality. Pixabay

Finding it hard to get a proper night sleep? A higher religious involvement can reduce stress levels and lead to healthier sleep outcomes, say researchers.

The findings showed that persons with a greater sense of assurance of spiritual salvation tend to enjoy better sleep quality and tend to have fewer negative sleep consequences due to stressful life events and chronic conditions.

It is because higher religious involvement — religious attendance, prayer and secure attachment to God — benefits mental health by reducing stress, promoting social engagement and support from fellow members.

It also provides psychological resources — hope, optimism, sense of meaning — and promotes healthier lifestyles — lower levels of substance abuse, the researchers explained.

prayer
Representational image. Pixabay

“This research is relatively unchartered territory that allows us to better understand the way in which religion and spirituality affect a person’s health and overall quality of life,” said Christopher Ellison in The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).

Ellison said much of the benefit of perceived spiritual salvation among the faithful is because these persons have lower levels of psychological distress, i.e., feelings of depressed affect and anxiety.

Also Read: Can Sleeping More Affect Your Heart?

For the study, published in the journal Sleep Health, the team reviewed several large studies of religious involvement and sleep-related outcomes that included people from different age groups and religions.

Religion could decrease psychological distress, substance abuse and stress exposure, which are all associated with sleep outcomes, Ellison said. (IANS)