Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 2:15 AM
Hinduism, as we have seen, has a wealth of scriptures to guide both the initiate and the scholar. We now come to some of the fundamental tenets of the religion, as given in these scriptures.
The first question the Hindu is asked is whether he believes in God. Verily Hindus believe in the One God, Who, in His highest form is known as the Brahman, the Absolute, or the Universal Soul. He is imminent within and about us, as also transcendent, outside material existence, transcending Time and Space. He is Nirguna, or without shape and form, and without beginning or end.
To explain that God exists and is reality, we have, in the Chandogya Upanishad, the illuminating story of the young Svetaketu's discussions on the Brahman with his father, Uddalaka Aruni, when he wanted to know where there was proof that God, who is not visible, really exists.
The father asked his son to get a fruit from the great nyagrodha (banyan) tree and to break it open. Taking one of the tiny seeds inside the fruit, he asked him to split it further, but young Svetaketu found nothing inside the seed. Yet, the father explained to him, inside the seed, not visible to the eye, is something out of which grows the mighty banyan tree. That same great power pervades the entire universe. It may not be seen, but It exists.
Uddalaka further asked his son to mix salt in water. After it had dissolved, he asked Svetaketu to taste the different parts of the water in the bowl and to separate the salt from the water. The son found all parts of the water equally salty and pointed out that the salt could not be separated from the water.
Uddalaka explained to Svetaketu that just as the salt pervades every drop of water in the cup, the Universal Spirit pervades all life.
Uddalaka also pointed out to his son that, just as the salt cannot be separated from the water, when finally all beings merge with the Brahman, they lose their individual entities, as the separate waters of rivers lose their separate forms when they flow into the ocean. Individuals may die but the Universal Spirit is deathless and life itself therefore does not die.
The Upanishads therefore teach us that the whole Universe is a manifestation of the Brahman. Life in all its forms is evolved from this single source of Energy, the Universal Spirit, which pervades all life and all things animate and inanimate. Since It is Nirguna or formless, the Brahman is not considered either male or female and is referred to by the impersonal pronoun, Tat (meaning That).
The Brahman is also described as "Satchitananda". Sat is that which exists (Being), Chit is pure intelligence (Consciousness), and Ananda is pure joy (Bliss).
All meditation begins with the words, "Om Tat Sat", to remind us of the only Ultimate Reality, the Brahman, which is the highest intelligence and is supreme bliss.
The mystic syllable, "OM" (pronounced "Ohm"), is known as the Pranava and is the symbol of the Brahman. This sacred word encompasses in itself the whole universe, the past, present and future and goes beyond the periphery of Time itself. Being the symbol of the Brahman or the Universal Soul, it is the very essence of all that is sacred in Hindu thought. It is used at the beginning of meditation, at the beginning and end of prayer, during the practice of Yoga, in fact at all times when the thought of the Brahman pervades one's being.
Writer – Shakunthala Jagannathan