Posted by spritzophrenia on September 21, 2010
Following up our recent discussion on polytheism, turns out there may be less “true” polytheists these days than I thought.
Meryl commented that Hindus generally believe that the gods are actually representations of the One (Brahman), so they would be “soft polytheists”, in that there is an ultimate reality, or perhaps g0d behind these deities. Freeman, a pagan, characterised himself as a “hard polytheist”, meaning that the gods are separate distinct and real entities. From my reading it seems Hindus might have been hard polytheists once upon a time, but their conception of deities have developed since then.
Bearing in mind the limitations of Wikipedia,
The Parthenon, where multiple gods were worshipped.
In the Smartha denomination of Hinduism, the philosophy of Advaita expounded by Shankara allows veneration of numerous deities with the understanding that all of them are but manifestations of one impersonal divine power, Brahman. Therefore, according to various schools of Vedanta including Shankara, which is the most influential and important Hindu theological tradition, there are a great number of deities in Hinduism but they are essentially different forms of the same “Being”.
In contrast to the Smartha sect, Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism follow an established singular concept of a personal god, as panentheistic monistic monotheism, but differ in their conceptions of the Supreme God. A Vaishnavite considers Vishnu or Krishna as the only god worthy of worship, and worship of other deities as subordinate…
What’s it like to venerate a god, Ganesha in this case? Venga shared this attractive video of Westerners doing Kirtan:
“Kirtan opens the heart and stills the mind. It is the yoga practice of ecstatic chanting. Through repeating the Divine Names in Sanskrit, the mind is cleared of worry, doubt, fear and all limiting concepts. The joy of peace and infinite love is given to the practitioner, and transmitted through the world by chanting. This is the practice of bhakti yoga or the yoga of devotion.” ~ Toronto Kirtan Community
This would be the kind of yoga the Hare Krishnas observe, and I guess they would be Vaishnavites as above. I intend to visit them one of these weekends. The food is good, and as I’ve said, music could be a pathway to the spiritual for me.
Some cool words I’d forgotten: “Polytheists do not always worship all the gods equally, but can be Henotheists, specialising in the worship of one particular deity. Other polytheists can be Kathenotheists, worshiping different deities at different times.”
Whew, lots of big concepts and foreign phrases today. For me, assuming it’s real, I think I’d rather focus on the One, or the God behind everything than the “lesser” beings.
? What do you think?
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