Friday, September 18, 2020

On the Vedic Gods

The word “Veda” is derived from the Sanskrit root vid, to know. Three thousand years ago, the Vedas referred to the knowledge that was available to the people of that period. The Vedic teachers realized that the material world is not the creation of a conventional God but of an omnipotent and omnipresent author who is undivided, timeless, and motionless. They give this author the exalted title of Atman or Paramatman, the great soul, or living principle of the universe. Since the living principle cannot be grasped by the human mind, they preached that we must contemplate the finite portions of its infinite energy. That is what they were trying to do when they developed the Gods of natural phenomena: there are the Gods of sun, fire, wind, rain, and a multitude of other natural phenomena. But these Gods are a contemplation of the finite and comprehensible portions of the infinite Atman or Paramatman. Max Muller uses the term “henotheism” to describe the Vedic practice of contemplating the living principle in the form of multiple deities.

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