Why the question, ‘Do you believe in God?’ comes across as a stupid one to followers of the Sanatana Dharma based on Advaita Vedanta.
The answer is that unlike in some other religions, the Supreme Brahman is not separate from nature and is also not someone like their God who lives in heaven as described in their book “The hair of his was white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes were like a blazing fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and His voice was like the roar of many waters.”(Rev 1:14-15)
The Supreme Brahman is formless and exists everywhere.
Kanchi Shankaracharya Chandrashekharendra Saraswati known as the Sage of Kanchi and Kanchi Paramacharya describes the Supreme Brahman or Paramatma in his book, “Deivathin Kural’ or ‘The voice of God’ :
“There is only one sun. When water is sprinkled on a smooth surface, the sun can be seen in each drop of water. Though many suns appear in the drops of water, actually there is only one sun. Likewise, the tiny sparks of intelligence in all the living beings on earth is a representation of the one Supreme Brahmam. This is what has been told by Sri Adi Sankaracharyal in Brahma Sutra Bhashyam.
The infinite knowledge and power that exists beyond boundaries in this universe, also exists in each one of us. This is the same matter (vastu) that is the end of the Vedas, called “TAT”. TAT means that which is far and above all. Though it may appear very far from where we are now, actually it is near as well as far and everywhere and it is also you, TAT-TVAM, says the Vedas.
At this moment, as I speak, we feel we have understood this truth. If we can be in the same state all the time like now, it will be bliss. But, the next moment, we lose sight of the truth. We get entangled in sufferings because of the lies. All the happiness arising out of such is also temporary. To experience bliss always, we must cling on to Truth, which is nothing but Bhagawan. Bhagawan is the only truth. When all the tiny sparks of intelligence inside each of us merge with the Supreme, the joy is everlasting.
The infinite existence is only real. All the others (finite) which bind us are dreams (maya). They are not true. This infinity is the Paramatma. We give a finite name and form to the infinite Paramatma and offer our prayers to him. As we continue to progress in this path and start worshipping the formless Supreme, all we feel is complete peace (parama shanti). There is no fear, strife or sadness. This is the fruit given by Sri Adi Sankara Bhagawadpadhal from the tree of the Upanishad.
How do we attain this state? A bud changes to a flower and then a young fruit before it becomes a full ripe fruit. Before undergoing this transition, if the fruit changes colour and appears ripe, it does not taste good and is discarded. In the same way, patience is very important until that state of ripeness is reached. If one shows hurry to become ripe when he is not ready yet, it becomes useless. “What happens if a fruit ripens un-naturally?” asks Sri Ramalinga Adigalar. That is why tapas, pooja, and japam are very necessary. They are all necessary until that state of end state of Vedanta “TAT-TVAM” is reached. That is when one ripens naturally. Where does the “TAT-TVAM” (root) exists? It is the self. It also resides in the very same mind that is enquiring, which can only be experienced.” (Source https://mahaperiyavaa.blog)
Some basic facts about Advaita Vedanta :
- Universal Oneness
- One formless Supreme Brahman which is worshiped in various forms
- Freedom to visualise and personify the Supreme Brahman or Krishna in any form
- No Adam, no Eve and no talking snake
- No punishment for seeking knowledge
- No eternal sin
- No incestuous procreation
- No compulsion in following anyone or anything
- No threats of hell
- No eternal damnation
- No need of God’s ‘son’ in order to commune with Him
- No hell and No heaven
- No commandments
- No prophets
- No messiahs
- No proselytisation
- No mandatory congregations
What does Vedanta mean?
The term ‘Vedanta’ has two parts which are ‘Veda’ and ‘anta’, meaning knowledge and goal or end respectively. The ‘knowledge’ referred to here is not something that you learn at school or in the university but it is the knowledge of the divinity in you and in all beings. It is about learning to separate illusion from reality. Most importantly, it is about understanding the omnipresence of the Supreme Bhagavan. Advaita Vedanta is founded on nondualism and on the infinity of existence of the formless and transcendent Supreme Brahman.
A Janma or lifetime is merely one leg of a long journey towards realising divinity or superconsciousness during which, people undergo various experiences in the form of losses, adversities, pain, failures, hatred as also of gains, rewards, love, bliss, etc.
Every single experience teaches people something or the other which helps them evolve further and it is absolutely essential to experience and relish each and every moment of life in which the PRESENT lies. This saves people from wasting their precious and priceless moments of their life by worrying, being envious of others, wishing bad for other people or also by hating themselves. Every thought, word or deed creates new Karma which shapes the future of a person the same way their past Karma shaped their present. A person who knows this truth would not risk their future by harbouring negative feelings in their mind which can lead to negative actions resulting in negative Karma.
How can I study Vedanta?
The best and easiest way to understand important truths of life is by reading the Srimad Bhagavad Gita. It is quite unfortunate that many Hindus have not read the SBG but claim to be Hindus. In fact, there is not much of a difference between Sanatana Dharmis (Hindus) who have not read the SBG and those who belong to other faiths and cults because they do not understand Advaita Vedanta. Reading a few verses from the SBG here and there and sharing on FB or Whatsapp ridiculous presentations such as ‘Bhagavad Gita in 16 slides’ etc. do not help people learn even the basics of Advaita Vedanta.
One of the main objectives behind this site is to facilitate and ensure that more and more people read the SBG. One thorough read of the translated 700 verses through the eighteen chapters of the SBG usually takes about four hours. The simple translations on our TVM Gita site helps people COMPLETE reading the SBG instead of either putting the book away or falling asleep after reading two or three pages of the big and fat editions of the SBG printed and distributed by large organisations. Watching our 48 minute video with 128 selected verses from the SBG can be a good way to prepare oneself to receive the life changing Divine Knowledge from the SBG.
Humans are living ‘units’ made up of an impermanent body, and the formless and divine Self which is the life and soul of the body. The Atman evolves Karmically through the various Janmas or lifetimes it goes through using different bodies which are simply vehicles that it uses to travel in. Therefore the feeling of superiority or inferiority in people based on one’s looks, skin colour, gender, economical condition, etc., is totally senseless and childish. One child is born into a royal family while another is born to parents who are criminals. What justification could there be for such disparity among people at birth? It could either be because ‘God, some planet or someone’ caused it or just that those people are in different levels of the process of their Karmic evolution that is powered by their Karma. The birth of a person as a king or queen in one Janma and as a person suffering in penury in another is not some form of Karmic reward or punishment but it is simply the result of their previous Karma. A kid born in a royal family is certainly not entitled to another royal birth in the next Janma just because he or she is a royal in the current one. The good deeds by a person in one Janma lead the Atman in the next Janma into situations where the person can continue evolving. However, the choice of accepting the opportunity and rising higher or not accepting it and continuing to be tossed around in the same cycle of births, miseries, hardships and deaths, remains with the person.
SBG 3:36 Arjuna said:
What prompts a man to perform sinful deeds O Krishna? Why does he commit such acts even without desiring to do them, as if he were forced to do them?
SBG 3:37 Shri Bhagavan said:
It is lust (for power), which is born out of the quality called Rajas Guna that leads to anger which in turn prompts a person to commit sin. It is all devouring and greatly sinful. You must know that this is the greatest enemy in the world.
SBG 12:13 -14 He who hates no creature, who is friendly and compassionate to all, who is free from attachment and egoism, balanced in pleasure and pain, and forgiving, ever content, steady in meditation, possessed of firm conviction, self-controlled, with mind and intellect dedicated to Me, he, My devotee, is dear to Me.
SBG 16:18 Given over to egoism, power, haughtiness, lust and anger, these malicious people hate Me in their own bodies and those of others
SBG 16:19 These cruel haters are the worst among people and they are sinful. They are always thrown by me into demonic wombs life after life, in the cycle of life and death.
SBG 16:20 Entering into demoniacal wombs and deluded birth after birth, not attaining Me, they thus fall, O Arjuna, into a condition still lower than that!
(Remember, the above three verses 16:18-20 are not threats! They only tell people what kind of a future they can attract when they have negative qualities in their heart)
SBG 14:05 The three Gunas or qualities are Sattvam which is the quality of goodness; Rajas which is the quality of passion, and Tamas, which is the quality of ignorance, They are born of Prakriti or Nature and they bind the Self in the body.
SBG 14:06 Of these, Sattva is pure, luminous and healthy. It frees a person from all sinful reactions. Those of this Guna are attached to knowledge and to happiness, O sinless one.
SBG 15:05 Free from pride and delusion, victorious over the evil of attachment, dwelling constantly in the Self, their desires having completely turned away, freed from the pairs of opposites known as pleasure and pain, they will certainly reach the eternal goal.
SBG 18:57 Mentally renouncing all actions in Me, having Me as the highest goal and devoting yourself intensely to me, you are under my protection. Be fully conscious of Me.
SBG 18:58 Being fully conscious of Me, you will overcome all obstacles and hardships through My Divine Grace. However, due to pride and ego, should you do not listen to My advice, you will perish.
SBG 18:66 Abandoning all your ideas of righteousness, take complete refuge in Me. I will liberate you from all sins. Do not despair.
When you smile at others, they smile back at you and when you shout at others or use abusive language, that is what you will get back too. Similarly, a good natured, well mannered and peaceful person radiates and also attracts only positive energy as compared to the negative energy hateful people have around them. The mind is certainly not easy to control, but those who have done it can straightaway start experiencing divinity which will attract good people and good things into their lives.
SBG 6:06 The mind is the greatest friend of the one who has conquered it; but of the one who hasn’t, the mind is the greatest enemy.
Life is the greatest gift that people receive every moment of their life and there is no negative emotion that is worth wasting this Divine gift for. People who have lost near and dear ones and also those battling serious diseases know for sure how precious life is.
Stay happy and make others happy.
Jai Shri Krishna