Many people find it difficult to understand Hinduism because of the numerous deities, scriptures and schools of thought.
The difficulty is primarily due to the popular concept of God – that there is a God sitting somewhere up in the heavens and controlling the happenings on earth. In fact majority of Hindus too believe in a ‘God sitting above’ but the sole difference that a Hindu can choose a personal God or Gods from the numerous deities in the Hindu pantheon who are all the representative of the Supreme Being – Brahman.
Hinduism, the real name Sanatana Dharma, should be understood step by step. The confusion arises when people directly jumps into the various schools of thought and scriptures or by forming an opinion by standing in the outskirts.
- There is only one Supreme Truth called by different names. It is present in all animate and inanimate. All birth and death are the result of this Supreme Truth. We are born into this state of Supreme Bliss.
- But soon this Supreme Bliss is replaced by various schools of thoughts primarily due to society, family and education. Every Hindu begins by praying to a personal god or gods or goddess or goddesses. There is a goddess for learning, there is a god of wealth etc etc. Each individual’s personal god is a symbol of his/her highest ideals.
The whole confusion exists in this level. The numerous gods and goddesses exist in this step. The various schools of thoughts, numerous rituals, scriptures, the caste system, mythology, incarnations, festivals, prayers, debates, astrology, shlokas exist in this level. Most people in this level are fortune seekers – who want to lead a good life on the earth with the help of God. So they propitiate a personal god, they bribe the god and so on to see miracles happen in their life. The three important sects in Hindu religion – the Vaishnava (Vishnu), Shaivism (Shiva) and Shakti (Mother Goddess) is also found in this level.
Even majority of Hindus do not realize the concept of Brahman in this level. The personal god becomes the sole refuge for many. But the scriptures like the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads constantly remind people to think beyond and to find answers to questions like Who am I? or Why do I suffer? Very few find time to find answers or even dare to enter the next domain.
- The next level begins with contemplation. Some people reach at this level by questioning the very existence of God. Others by trying to find answers to questions like Who am I?
- In this level the person realizes that I and God are one and therefore he studies more and more about Brahman. In this level he reads the scriptures, looks out for a Guru, and follows the teachings of ancient seers and modern day gurus. Most seekers in this level are students – they read and try to find answers.
A person in this level will frequently go back to the previous level. Because it is difficult to understand Brahman or that there is only one reality. Some cannot accept the fact that God is not going to help him in finding wealth and provide comforts or perform miracles.
- There are few souls who will get into the next level. They realize that there is only Brahman – I and Body will drop.
- The next level is the return to the first level of Supreme Bliss.