By R K Madhukar
07th April 2014
God and religion are deeply relevant to men and women and influence their lives, day in and day out. Prayers to God and belonging to religion provide human beings with a protective armour and a support system, towards facing life’s challenges and overcoming sorrows and distresses. Side by side, they also teach them to be grateful for all the good things they enjoy on this earth. In short, through God and religion, men and women search for a deeper meaning to their lives.
God is deeply relevant to human beings around the world. Since time immemorial, this word has mesmerised men and women across civilisations. No matter who that God is, all of them accept that God to be a Supreme Power, somebody who can be their saviour or protector. Men and women look up to God as someone who is always there to comfort and solace them. God is a universal phenomenon. God is for everyone. Spiritual masters like Swami Kriyananda have observed that God is not sectarian, partisan or narrow-minded. God is not a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jew or a Sikh. He is not confined to any region, country or community. God is for every person who believes in the concept of God.
God is described in many different ways in various holy texts and prayers. God is always described in superlative terms. God is beauty. God is splendor. God is purity. God is power. God is goodness. God is beneficent.
God is benevolent. And so on. Yet, the fact remains that in reality, God is beyond all kinds of description. Spiritual masters all over agree that God cannot be described, with attributes, in any particular fashion. God is indescribable and inexpressible. God is not a corporeal being — someone tangible, material and possessing a body. God is the Absolute, the Infinite and the Ultimate.
Spiritual texts emphasise that God is a divine spiritual experience. In the ultimate analysis, God is a Realisation, a Spiritual Realisation. God can be seen only through the spiritual eyes.
In their day to day lives, men and women, as they face the challenges and vicissitudes of life, and pass through joy and sorrow, exhilaration and depression, successes and failures, highs and lows, discontent and tranquillity, they feel the urge to relate to and speak with that Higher Power, that Supreme Being in whom they repose their faith. This contact with the Supreme Being takes place through the medium of prayer and worship. For men and women around the world, God is not a peripheral issue, but rather something cardinal.
When it comes to belief in God, there are essentially three kinds of people. First, there are people who subscribe to theism, that means, they believe in the existence of God or Gods. They are known as theists. Second, there are atheists, that is, people who believe that God does not exist. Third, there are agnostics, which refers to those persons who believe that it is not possible to know whether God exists or not. At least 84 per cent of the world’s population comprises of theists, those who believe in God.
The world of Hindu gods and goddesses is varied and complex. Nobody really knows how many gods and goddesses are actually there. Spiritual masters and Indian scholars are unanimous, however, that although the Puranas and other scriptures refer to numerous gods and goddesses, Vedic monotheism considers these godly figures to be various aspects of a single god. It is emphasized across Vedanta that different gods are but manifestations (avatars) of that one Supreme God. The Vedas refer to that one Supreme Being as Para Brahman, the Absolute and the Infinite.
The Vedic concept of God is neither a He nor a She. In fact, God is referred to in all the three genders — He, She and It. God is that one Divine Being, who is a Father, Mother, as well as that one great truth or Reality. That is how in Bhagavad Gita too, He is referred to as the ‘Supreme Being’, Parama Purusham (Ultimate Being), Divyam (Glorious Divinity) and so on.
Mantra, Japa, Dhyana or meditation, reading Holy books, chanting and singing God’s names and praises, offering of prayers and worship, are all different ways of approaching that One Supreme Being.
Excerpts from the book Gayatri - The Profound Prayer by R K Madhukar