THE VEDIC PANTHEON

[This is an old essay of mine written about 15 years ago in 1996. My viewpoint has somewhat modified since then, but the data in this essay is still agreeable to me at a certain level. Hope it gives you a fresh viewpoint.]

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Though many conservative Hindus may disagree with me, but my understanding of the various terms used in the Advaita philosophy in Hinduism is as follows:

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BRAHMAN AND ATMAN 

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BRAHMAN: The Absolute Potential of Creativity.

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Brahman is potential and not actual. It is a non-manifestation. Any manifestation would have the attributes of matter, energy, space and time. These attributes are inherent to the Creation, but not to Brahman.

Any form that Man may hold for Brahman (and call it God) would be a form that Man has created to express this concept of the Absolute. But that form would not be Brahman.

The forms applied to Brahman may be visual or audio, or may be just mental or conceptual. Any such forms would have the attributes of matter, energy, space and time. So, none of these forms is Brahman.

Brahman may be inexpressible, but Brahman can be experienced and understood. Brahman is not unknowable.

From the viewpoint of understanding, Brahman (in religion) acts as the reference point for the whole existence, just as Zero (in mathematics) acts as a reference point for all numbers.

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ATMAN: Brahman manifested as a cause point.

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When creation occurs, the power to create (which is potential in Brahman) becomes actually expressed. Atman is the beingness we recognize as a “cause point” or a “creator.” There can be infinity of such beingnesses.

Any form that Man may hold for an Atman would be a form that Man has created to express his concept of a cause point or a creator. But that form would not be Atman.  Just like Brahman, Atman is formless.

What we perceive is nothing but a form having the attributes of matter, energy, space and time. Forms are things created. Thus, we can never perceive Atman, the creator of forms.

Actually, Atman is that which is doing the perceiving.

Atman may be understood only in terms of what it is creating. Thus, there are as many Atmans as there are independent creations at any moment.

Atman is an actuality. Brahman is the potential.

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PARMATMAN AND JIVATMAN 

Paramatman and Jivatman define the two extreme states of Atman. Between these two states lie many other states. As Atman descends from the state of Paramatman it gets increasingly attached to creation, and becomes narrower in its viewpoint.

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PARAMATMAN: Atman in its supreme state.
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Paramatman is the supreme state of Atman. In this state the Atman is operating as total cause with full knowledge and responsibility.

The viewpoint of Paramatman is the broadest viewpoint possible, which is concerned with the survival of the whole universe and all things within it. 

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JIVATMAN: Atman in its attached state.
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Jivatman is that state of Atman where it is confusing itself with the body. It is not very causative, nor spiritually aware, nor very responsible. It is constrained by its own considerations.

The viewpoint of Jivatman is quite narrow. It is concerned only with the survival of the things it is attached to, at the expense of everything else.

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PURUSHA AND PRAKRITI

Purusha and Prakriti symbolize the duality of the Creator and the Creation. This is the prime duality in which Brahman appears.

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PURUSHA: The CREATOR principle
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Purusha is that aspect of Brahman, which is creating existence out of non-existence.

Purusha is the source of all considerations that underlie creation. It is the source of all principles that define the physical universe, such as, the laws of conservation of energy and matter.

 

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PRAKRITI: The CREATION principle

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Prakriti constitutes the considerations of matter, energy, space and time that underlie all creation.

The FORM of what is created constitutes the matter aspect of Prakriti. An example of this would be the thought that appears out of no where as a divine inspiration.

The MOTION that finally solidifies into a form constitutes the energy aspect of Prakriti. An example of this would be the process by which that thought comes into being.

The DIMENSIONS in which the form exists constitutes the space aspect of Prakriti. An example of this would be the dimensions in which the thought exists and which give the thought its form.

The CHANGES when the creation occurs constitutes the time aspect of Prakriti. An example of this would be the alterations involved in the creation of the thought.

Thus, PRAKRITI is the matter, energy, space, and time aspects of any creation.

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THE CYCLE OF EXISTENCE AND MAYA

The Hindu Trinity of Brahman, Vishnu, Mahesh defines the cycle of existence: Create, survive, destroy. SURVIVE means “continuous creation.” DESTRUCTION means, “complete disappearance of form,” as in the destruction of illusion. DESTRUCTION does not mean an alteration of form by force, such  as the “destruction” due to a natural calamity.

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THE CYCLE OF EXISTENCE:

The cycle of CREATE, SURVIVE, and DESTROY.

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The cycle of Existence consists of three elements: CREATE, SURVIVE, and DESTROY. Hinduism symbolizes these three elements as the gods BRAHMA, VISHNU, and MAHESH.

“To create” is to bring into existence. Thus, we also have non-existence.

“To survive” is to continue in existence. Survival is continuous creation, “Create, create, create…”

“To destroy” is to reduce back to non-existence. Destruction is a cessation of creation, “Create, no-creation.”

 

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MAYA: The impermanent nature of existence.
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MAYA refers to the following characteristic of existence: Anything that is created can also be destroyed. Therefore, anything that is created is impermanent.

A person who regards this impermanent creation as permanent (significant) is said to be under the influence of maya, or deception.

“God Himself is Mahamaya, who deludes the world with Her illusion and conjures up the magic of creation, preservation and destruction.” – Sri Ramakrishna

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SOME DEFINITIONS

KRISHNA: A great Yogi, who lived the great truth and expounded upon it. Many use the term “Krishna” synonymously with Brahman and Parmatman.

LIFE:          The interaction of the spirit (creator) with the creation. Life may be compared to a game composed of Goals, Freedoms, and Barriers.

I (SELF):    The individual spirit.

MIND:        The instrument to ensure survival in the game of life.

BODY:       The instrument to transmit effort in playing of the game.

EGO:          Part of the mind impersonating as the “I”.

GODS:       The mind’s conception of the ideal states that an individual can be.

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