Hinduism: Its Spiritual Significance

The ideal of Hinduism is to see all in the Self and the Self in all. A Hindu believes that each individual is a conscious manifestation of God. The spirit of selfless service is his supreme secret. A Hindu unmistakably feels that God is manifesting and perfecting Himself through each human being. Each individual soul represents a type of divinity projected by the Supreme. Each human being has a mission to fulfil on earth, and he does it at God’s choice hour.

The breath of Hinduism is spirituality. Whatever a Hindu does, he does as a means to this end. It is true, as with any other individual, that he wants to accomplish all that he can here on earth. But the important thing is that he does not and cannot do anything at the expense of his spiritual life. To him, the spiritual life is the only life that can eventually garland him with the victory of perfect Perfection.

In the spiritual life, people very often use the word “sin.” Here I must say that a Hindu has nothing to do with sin. He takes into consideration only two things: Ignorance and Light. With his soul’s light, he wants to swim across the sea of ignorance and transform his lower self into his higher Self.

Tena tyaktena bhunjita. “Enjoy through renunciation.” This is the life-giving message of the Hindu seers. What is to be renounced is the train of our desires, nothing more and nothing less. In renouncing all our earth-bound desires, we can have the taste of true divine fulfilment.

I have already told you that the breath of Hinduism is spirituality. In the spiritual life, the control of the senses plays a great part. Since such is the case, let us try to clearly understand the function of the senses. A devout Hindu feels that his senses are not meant for mortification. The senses are his instruments. Their assistance is indispensable. The senses should and must function in full vigour, for the divine purpose of an all-fulfilling, integral wholeness. Then alone can true divinity dawn in human life. Self-indulgence ends in utter frustration. Poor mankind! It is so lavish in using and exhausting the pleasures of the body. Certainly man is not so lavish in his life with anything else as he is with his self-indulgence. Alas, to his utter surprise, before he exhausts the pleasures of the body, his very life exhausts itself into futile nothingness. It is high time for the brute in man to give place to the divine in him. Brutality does not conquer. It kills.

Spirituality is the all-embracing love. This love conquers man and makes him conscious of his true, inner divinity, so that he can fulfil himself and become a perfect channel for God’s manifestation. This love, or this bond of love, man can create within himself in order to bind or unite himself with other individuals, other nationals, other internationals. This is what a devout Hindu feels.

No movement, no progress. Movement needs guidance. Guidance is knowledge. But man has to know that mental knowledge can only help him to a certain extent. With its help, he can go nowhere near the Goal. It is the knowledge of the soul that grants man his God-realisation.

Robert Browning said:

“So free we seem,
So fettered fast we are.”

Man is bound to the finite, but he cannot be bound by the finite. Man has surrendered himself to time and space. But neither time nor space has compelled him to surrender. Man tries to possess the beauty of the finite. He thinks that if he can bind himself to the finite, he will be able to possess its beauty. Alas, instead of possessing, he has been possessed. Time and space have lured him. He thought he would be able to possess them with his surrender. They gladly accepted his surrender. But he has been possessed by them mercilessly. Possession is not oneness; conquest is not unity.

The vision of Hinduism is unity in diversity. First, Hinduism lovingly embraces all alien elements; second, it tries to assimilate them; third, it tries to expand itself as a whole, with a view to serving humanity and nature. Indeed, this is the sign of its life’s meaningful, dynamic aspiration.

Sri Chinmoy