Wednesday, July 25, 2007

fundamentals of hinduism and population growth

I am sure any hindu would give a kick on my backside if i start off by saying "theory of hinduism". well basically there is nothing which u can call as hinduism, its juss sanathana dharma and its very highly pluralistic in nature. But there is one thing common across the customs and beliefs of "sanathana dharma". The only thing that differentiates hinduism from other religions is the belief that there are seven worlds through which the soul moves and the soul never dies. Soul moves through these seven worlds and its final salvation is when it merges with the paramatma. The soul moves from a body of one living thing to another based on the karma it does and punya and paapa that it accumulates. So its basically a kind of negatives and positives get cancelled and ur final balance remains as +ve or -ve based on the sum total. And every karma that the person does does not have equal weightage. Some acts
get more +ve points and so on. Same with the negative acts also.

So the other day i was juss ruminating and trying to put things in todays perspective. Application of theory as i am being taught in my MBA classes. Then something basic struck me. If the soul cannot be created or destroyed and if every human being needs a soul how come our population is exploding this way. Is there a flaw in sanathana dharma??? Thats wat intrigued me and plzz read ahead if it intrigues u too... :)

Well the human population is increasing coz other living things are being reduced. The rate at which species are becoming extinct and the rate at which we are losing the green cover explains everything. The human population is increasing at the expense of other animals and trees/plants. So that total number of souls is constant and its only that the souls are more into taking the form of humans. So this gets us to another doubt. Why should the souls take the form of human coz according to the dharma human form is the highest form that a soul can take and it becomes easier for the soul to merge with the paramatma through the human form. So basically for the soul to take a human form there should be some good that it should have done in the previous animal/plant birth. Well dharma has a reason for that too. One gets lotsa positive points when one dies for the betterment of another living being. These living beings die to help humans lead a better life and thus have given up their life for us humans. Hence they get
lotsa +ve points and thus that soul takes a human form.


Latheesh said...

Well, this is one of my favourite topics…

It’s kind of cool to derive a theory of Hinduism but looks like it can be rather one sided to do that since, as you mentioned, people are still talking about whether or not we can call it a religion in the first place. It’s huge, really, and it’s more than a religion, it’s been a medium for civilizations if I may say so and it’s the oldest of the ‘known religions’, so mysterious and incomprehensible that people have a hard time understanding even the simplest of the arcane scripts!

The analysis is profound and I really enjoyed its flow. I have a couple of points that I don’t understand in your reasoning though. What do you think is happening to the souls that reach back to the paramathma (after moksha)? Are they recycled or something? Otherwise we would have run out of souls! Also you mentioned they can neither be created nor be destroyed! Is that mentioned anywhere? I would rather see paramathma (an infinite source of energy) as a pool/bank of jeevathmas and as and when needed god does the conversion to maintain the wellbeing of the universe!

I think your reflections on this matter will be interesting.

Gokul said...

Hmm. A prickly subject to touch upon. Hinduism is definitely a religion while ppl can characterize it as a way of life its a part of both. All the Astika schools of hindu thought accept that the vedas/upanishads and possibly the brahma sutras as the basis of their philosphy. The belief that the vedas(sruti) are apauruseya and the source of truth is the basis of these texts. The nastika schools which comprises schools such as buddhism and jainism do not accept the authority of vedas. Treating jainism and buddhism as separate religions we have a basic definition of hinduism. As for the seven worlds I have never heard of seven worlds formally (mentioned in any text or translation) though folk references in colloquial languages do abound. We look again here only at the relevant schools i.e vedantic(uttara mimamsa )schools.Advaita says that the atman is indeed the brahman and there is no distinction between the two. Thus there is no explict merger between the two. Visishtadvaita says u cannot survive without brahman. They declare Brahman to be the inner self of all entities. Neither the individual self nor the world can exist by itself. They are inseparably connected with Brahman as his body, and thus are controlled by him. It also mentions that moksha does not mean merging with him but rather serving brahman eternally. In moksha it(jivatma) becomes all-knowing and enjoys perfect bliss and love in divine communion. In short it is an ineffable enjoyment. In this natural state it yields its spirit to the will, glory and adoration of God. Some ppl believe that this cannot be moksha because u are subservient to someone else which is not the case. Different people pursue different and mutually conflicting values. Hence the notion that independence is happiness proceeds from the misconception that one is identical with the body, mind, etc.Hence dependence on anything other than God is painful and subservience to God is joy and freedom. Similarly bondage is indeed a dog's life when one serves those who are unworthy of service. The only entity which is worthy of love, adoration and service is God. Sri Ramanuja clinches the issue by quoting a text, "He is to be served by all [sa hy ASramaiH sadopAsyaH samastaiH eka eva tu ]" The emancipation consists in service of God, and true bondage is independence of God and service of body. I am not very familiar with dvaita and will restrict myslef to these two. As far as +ve and -ve contributing to moksha they as such do not contribute to moksha. U accumulate a certain number of +ve pts and attain heaven(heaven != moksha). Over the passage of time u spend ur pts and return to 0 or in some cases below 0. Then u are thrown again into samsara and the cycle is repeated again. SO u cannot achieve true moksha using this. In advaita karma is not as important as jnana but Sri Adi Shankara does not deny the power of bhakti( The bhaja govindam song). According to advaita the whole universe is illusion or maya and moksha is the understanding of this supreme knowledge that that whole thing is illusory and the realization that u are brahman.The Advaitic concept of a j├«vanmukti is also absurd because a person who has surmounted the realm of perception and realized the Absolute (as Advaita holds of a mukta) should not continue to exist within and interact with the realm of perception that he has realized as being not-Real—no one continues to perceive a snake after realizing that the object of his perception is actually a rope. The suggestion that such bondage to the world of perception continues for a while after the occurrence of Realization, because of past attachments, is not tenable—such attachments themselves are artifacts of the perceived world that has supposedly been sublated, and should not continue to besiege the consciousness of the Realized. If they do, then we have to either reject the Realization that is said to have occurred, or else reject the notion that the world of perception, as manifesting through the attachments on a supposedly Realized person, can be sublated. In either instance, the notion of j├«vanmukti is not meaningful. Sri Vaishnavism affirms bhakti as the most important things for moksha. Sri Yamunacharya(Sri Ramanujacharya's teacher) declares that bhakti succeeds the twofold training of the mind by karma and jnana [10]. Karma-yoga is performance of duties of one's station in life with no thought of reaping any personal benefit in the spirit of the Gita's teachings (
"He who acts, offering all his actions to Brahman, giving up all attachment, is never touched by sin, like the lotus leaf which is untouched by water."
[Chapter 5 Verse 10]) is a true karma yogi. Karma that is performed in this manner cleanses the heart. Jnana-yoga, which immediately follows the previous discipline, is meditation upon the individual self as distinct from matter like body, mind, etc., with which it is associated Gita says (
Out of them the man of wisdom who is constantly engaged in devotion to Me, is very special and dear to Me. Certainly to the man of wisdom I am very dear and he to Me."
[Gita Chapter 7 Verse 17]

"All these men are definitely magnanimous souls. But the man of wisdom in my opinion is verily like Myself. He is certainly situated in Me and attains the highest end."
[Gita Chapter 7 Verse 18]

It helps the aspirant to determine the true nature of one's self in relation to the Supreme. He realizes that he is absolutely subservient to God. Here the word bhakti does not connote the popular sense in which it is understood. Bhakti-yoga is loving meditation upon God. When the meditation attains the form of "firm remembrance" (dhruva-anusmrtih) characterised by intense love, the vision of the Supreme is attained. It must be mentioned here that the final release is attained after the dissolution of the body. One endowed with such bhakti and self-surrender attains the fitness to earn the grace of the Lord. But the lord himself says that such souls are very rare.

("It is only at the end of many births, the man of wisdom surrenders to Me, realizing that Vasudeva is all. But it is very rare to come across such great souls."
[Gita Chapter 7 Verse 19]).
So coming back to the original discussion the number of souls attaining moksha is neglible compared to the actual number of souls and we need not worry abt a soul shortage in the future or rest assured that the population problem is just a matter of time before it gets lessened :-).

refractor said...

Very interesting and intelligent blog , and also the discussion.
Well I am unable to understand one thing. What is the use of hell?
Are you going to punish the unpunishable soul or Atman?

And of course no soul which has merged with the Bruhm is going to come back because it will defeat the very purpose of Moksha.

karthikplus said...


So you mean to say our last Jenma (earlier) we where animals & in this birth we became Human being...Can you give me reference for this....

kanachi said...

well,this is indeed a very thought
provokin concept..i think its tha state of mind that creates everythin coz our mind is our best frnd and its our worst enemy...
am not a profound thinker whn it comes to analysin religion..but tha way u hav conceptualised it is amazin!!!its true tht energy can neither be created nor destroyed!!
so does it imply in a way tht soul is a form of energy??but then tha Q is whr is tha evidence of its very existence??
well...juss bcoz v humans hav intellect v tend to believe tht v r supreme of all living beings...well,well..its indeed a huge debatable topic...tha whole concept of soul can be perceived by only a realised person..n whts realisation???its again a state of mind tht can be visualised only whn v realise tha whole truth behind tha existence of this cosmos!!!...

Raghu dear...donno wht made u ruminate on this topic but i appreciate tha wide spectrum of topics ur touchin upon!!good job!
keep it up!!..