Talk on The Quintessence of Hinduism
I offer my deep sense of gratitude to our most revered Rabbi Ronald Millstein for extending to me his cordial invitation to speak on Hinduism. It is indeed a great privilege and pleasure to address this distinguished audience. I am extremely glad to learn from the Rabbi that this is a liberal synagogue. To me, the word “liberal” has a special significance. It signifies a truth as luminous and powerful as the sun, as vast as the universe. It is in our liberal understanding of all religious faiths that we can hope to achieve tolerance. Tolerance helps us to a large degree to put an end to the age-old prejudices born of ignorance.
And now my heart desires to share with you a few significant thoughts on Hinduism. Let me first tell you a short story.
A great sage of ancient India, named Bhrigu, wanted to test the three principal gods the great Trinity of Hinduism: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He wished to determine who was the greatest. He approached Brahma, but showed him no respect. Brahma was very displeased with him. With the same disrespect, Bhrigu went to Shiva, who became violently angry. When he went to Vishnu, he found the deity asleep. So Bhrigu put his foot on Vishnu’s chest to wake him up. The god was greatly alarmed at being awakened in so rude a manner, and immediately he began to massage Bhrigu’s foot affectionately, saying, “Is your foot hurt? I am so sorry.” Thus Bhrigu discovered that Vishnu was the greatest of the three gods.
The tolerance shown by the god in this story was not weakness but the heart’s generosity. Further, it came from a feeling of oneness. When, in our sleep, our elbow strikes some other part of our body, we do not become angry with the elbow, but massage it. Similarly, Hinduism strives to regard humanity as one great body.
Hinduism is a river that flows dynamically and untiringly: Hinduism is a tree that grows consciously and divinely. Hinduism is variety. Unique is Hinduism in her Mother aspect. She is blessed with children who cherish various conceptions of God. One of her children says: “Mother, there is no Personal God.” “I see, my child,” she answers. The second child says: “Mother, if there is a God, then He can only be Personal.” “I see, my child,” she replies. The third child says: “Mother, God is both Personal, and Impersonal.” “That is so, my child,” she says. And now she says to them: “Be happy, my children, be happy. Stick to your own beliefs and learn through them. Grow through them and always be faithful to your ideals.” Indeed, this is the Mother-Heart of Hinduism.
Hinduism clings to the inner law of life which is the common heritage of mankind. So long as one is a Truth-seeker, it does not matter if one is a theist, an atheist or an agnostic. Each human soul has its own place in the Hindu ideal of spirituality. Significant are Gandhi’s words: “Hinduism is a relentless pursuit after Truth. It is the religion of Truth. Truth is God. Denial of God we have known. Denial of Truth we have not known.”
By: Sri Chinmoy
From: Yoga and the Spiritual Life