Introducing Venu - Talking Hinduism, the Baha'i faith and life

Aug 2018
32
New Zealand
#1
For many Baha'is in the West having first hand experience talking about to Hindus isn't an experience that's readily available. We're very fortunate on Baha'i Forum to be joined by @Venu who considers himself a Hindu but also taken an interest in the Baha'i writings. With Venu's permission I have availed myself of the opportunity to hear about his experiences with Hinduism and anything else he may care to talk about.

To begin,

What are some of your core Hindu beliefs? How are they similar or different to other Hindus?

Thank you.
 
Last edited:
Likes: tonyfish58
Feb 2019
164
Chicago
#2
Thank you Adrian for this opportunity. Before I answer your question, let me just state that the word Hinduism was coined by Europeans just like they coined Buddhism, Sikhism and Mohammedanism (Islam). There is a river in India called Sindhu. The Persians and Arabs called it Hindu and Hind. When the Greeks went to India, they called the river Indus from which "India" is derived and the people of India were called Hindus and their "religion" was called by Europeans as Hinduism. But Hindus don't see Hinduism as a religion. They always called it Sanatana Dharma in Sanskrit language which is the language of Hindu scriptures. Sanatana means eternal. Dharma means principles and laws of creation that uphold the entire cosmos. Since man is part of the cosmos, these principles and laws apply to man as well. Dharma in the context of human actions also means righteous action based on principles and laws of creation. So Sanatana Dharma means an eternal way of life based on certain principles and laws of creation.

Now coming to your question, a vast majority of Hindus like people of other religions have their religious beliefs. But one of the unique things about Hinduism is that even an athiest can call himself a Hindu and take a scientific approach to discovering God instead of adhering to a belief system. Yes, Hinduism is so embracing that is has place for atheists in its fold and allows a person to question, criticize and reject anything including the existence of God. This is one of the reasons Hindus have been able to discover many paths to God and why Hindus have no problem accepting Jesus or Bahaullah as prophets of God who have laid out their own paths to God. Hinduism does not require me to have any beliefs. I am free to accept what sounds logical or is supported by evidence. I am free to reject anything I find illogical. I am not a big fan of belief systems because if I believe in something, I am essentially saying that I know the truth and I will stop searching for truth. It is only when I acknowledge that I do not know the truth that I am able to search for truth. I consider myself a seeker of the truth and my seeking will not stop until I find God or know God or realize God. Seeking begins with the awareness that I do not know. Seeking opens the possibility of knowing the truth. A belief system destroys that possibility with dogma. In my search for truth, the teachings of any true prophet can be a useful aid just like someone that wants to learn Karate would approach a Karate master for help. Which prophet I follow is entirely up to me. Hinduism does not require me to follow a particular prophet. Hinduism has produced many prophets like Rama and Krishna thousands of years ago to Swami Sivananda and Paramahansa Yogananda in recent times.

Years ago, powers of observation and logical reasoning led me to believe in the existence of God. Practicing Yoga and meditation have given me some experience of God within myself. So I no longer have to believe in God but I know from personal experience that God exists. But the effort continues to fully realize or know God and until I reach that goal, I cannot make the claim that I know the entire truth. Until then, the learning continues. Mistakes will happen. Slips and falls will occur in the quest. I will have to pick myself up and continue to walk the path I have chosen for myself.

Other Hindus follow different spiritual paths within Hinduism shown by different Hindu prophets. A vast majority of Hindus do not follow any particular prophet but lead a way of life based on truths found in the Hindu scriptures. This way of life includes various religious rituals to spiritualize their life, belief in one God and his manifestations in to multiple forms like Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, karma and reincarnation and living a life built around the following noble qualities.

26 Soul Qualities that make man God-like

1. *Fearlessness* _(Abhayam)_ : Means Faith in God: faith in His protection, His Justice, His wisdom, His mercy, His Love, His Omnipresence

2. *Purity of Heart* _(Sattva-Samshuddhi)_ : means Transparency to Truth. One's consciousness should be free from the distortions of attachment & repulsion to sense objects.

3. *Steadfastness* _(Jnana Yoga Vyavasthiti)_ : seeking Wisdom & in practicing Yoga. Wisdom guards the Devotee, by right reason & perception, from falling into the pits of ignorance & sense pleasures

4. *Almsgiving* _(Dana)_ : it expands the Consciousness. Discriminative devotee who wisely shares his wealth, knowledge, & spiritual treasures to the benefit of those who are needy, worthy, & receptive fits himself for liberation.

5. *Self-restraint* _(Dama)_ : Power to control the senses when they are excited by the pleasant sensations of sight, hearing, smell, taste & touch.

6. *Religious Rites* _(Yagya)_ : symbolic rite of pouring clarified butter into fire, or the mental rite of burning wrong desires in the flame of wisdom, or the Yogi's spiritual rite of consuming human restlessness in the fire of Soul ecstasy.

7. *Right Study of the Scriptures* _(Svadhyaya)_ : Theoretical study is helpful when it inspires a devotee to practice the holy teachings.

8. *Self-Discipline* _(Tapas)_ : includes Celibacy, Restraint of Appetite, & various methods of training the body to withstand cold, heat, & other discomforts without the usual mental agitation.

9. *Straightforwardness* _(Arjavam)_ : it denotes Sincerity. The eyes that see God are honest & artless. The aspiring devotee strives to be free from guile & crookedness.

10. *Non Injury* _(Ahimsa)_ : is extolled in the Hindu scriptures. The prohibition refers to wanton destruction of any of God's creatures.

11. *Truth* _(Satya)_ : is the foundation stone of the universe. "The Worlds are built in truth" says the Mahabharata.
Men & Civilizations stand or fall according to their attitude toward truth.

12. *Absence of Wrath* _(Akrodha)_ : is the quickest way to peace of mind. Anger is caused by the obstruction of one's desires. A desireless man has no anger. A sage is content on the knowledge that the Lord is running the universe, & never considers that anything has been done amiss.

13. *Renunciation* _(Tyaga)_ : is the wise path trod by the devotee who willingly gives up to lesser for the greater. He relinquishes passing sense pleasures for the sake of eternal joys.

14. *Peace* _(Shanti)_ : is a divine quality. Everything in the phenomenal world displays activity & change-fulness, but tranquility is the nature of God.

15. *Absence of Fault-Finding & Calumny* _(Apaishunam)_ : hastens one's spiritual evolution by freeing the mind from concentration on the weakness of others to focus while on the full-time job of bettering oneself. A critical person rarely perfects his own life.

16. *Compassion toward all beings* _(Daya)_ : is necessary for Divine Realization, for God himself is overflowing with this quality. Those with a tender heart can put themselves in the place of others, feel their suffering, & try to alleviate it.

17. *Non-convetousness, absence of Greed* _(Aloluptvam)_ : Absence of Greed & Envy are characteristics of true devotees, those whose minds are absorbed in inner joys. In comparison, the world has nothing to offer.

18. *Gentleness* _(mardavam)_ : A Spiritually patient man does not feel ill will toward anyone, even the most evil.

19. *Modesty* _(hri)_ : is the Power to feel shame at any wrongdoing & to be willing to correct oneself.

20. *Absence of Restlessness* _(Achapalam)_ : enables one to avoid physical & mental roamings & useless activities.

21. *Radiance of Character* _(Tejas)_ : comes from the cosmic fire of God's supreme, consciousness, the flame of awareness, within man & other satient creatures.

22. *Forgiveness* _(kshama)_ : in the man of God consists in not inflicting, or wishing to inflict, punishment on those who harm or wrong him.

23. *Patience, or fortitude* _(dhriti)_: enables the devotee to bear misfortunes & insults with equilibrium.

24. *Cleanliness of Body & Purity of Mind* _(shaucha)_ : is respect for the indwelling Taintless Spirit. It has been said that cleanliness is next to Godliness. On waking in the morning it is best to cleanse the body & mouth before Meditation.

25. *Non-Hatred* _(adroha)_ : A Devotee who feels malice towards others loses the Power to see God in all.

26. *Lack of Conceit* _(na atimanita)_ : signifies absence of excessive pride. The Lord does not Harbor pride, though His Cosmic possessions & powers are infinite. Only he who is free from the sense of self-importance becomes richer & richer in Spirituality until he is one with God.

These 26 Qualities are all divine attributes of God; they constitute man's spiritual wealth.

A God-Seeker should strive to obtain all of them.
 
Last edited:
Aug 2018
32
New Zealand
#3
That is truly a beautiful and profound account of the spiritual path that is eternal, universal and yet draws from Hindu traditions. I can see there is no line nor distinction between being called a Hindu or a Baha’i as the traditions are interwoven and inseparable. Whoever connects you to the Eternal Dharma and enables you to reflect the heavenly attributes is worthy. The light within Hinduism is undeniable.

I am both a Christian and Baha’i. The traditions of Christianity have become exclusive unlike Hinduism that is inclusive. To be a Christian in my culture is to reject the Divine origins of the other Great Spiritual Teachers so best I bear the name Baha’i. Hinduism appears to embrace diversity and so can easily incorporate the Baha’i Faith. There seems to be no need to call yourself a Baha’i. Is that right?

My next questions if you don’t mind,:

1/ Are there groups within Hinduism that seek to exclude the Abrahamic Faiths?

2/ Are there forces within Hinduism that seek to divide and exclude rather that unite?

3/ Are you ever troubled by such people?

Thanks in advance.
 
Likes: tonyfish58
Feb 2019
164
Chicago
#4
Before I answer your questions, let me just comment on your opinion that traditions of Christianity have become exclusive. There is truth in that statement but Jesus Christ is not responsible for it. He was way ahead of his times and most people of his land did not understand him. So he spoke in parables to the general population and only to his inner circle of close disciples he imparted the esoteric truths. And when his teachings were translated in to European languages, some of the meaning was lost. Even today, most Christians don't understand the esoteric meaning of his teachings. For example, most devout and religious Christians believe that Jesus is the only Son of God and no one else can become a Son of God. But if you read the Bible carefully, you will know that the disciples of Jesus learned from him through personal experience that anyone that was receptive to the light and wisdom of Jesus which was coming from God and received it in their consciousness, was given the ability to become a Son of God. See this Biblical verse from the Gospel of John

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. - John 1:12

"Received him" does not refer to physically receiving Jesus but spiritually being receptive to light and wisdom of God that was being expressed through the medium of Jesus who was a prophet of God. So why on earth do most Christians believe that only Jesus was the Son of God. They simply don't understand what Son of God means to begin with. But that's a topic for another discussion.

Now to your questions.

1/ Are there groups within Hinduism that seek to exclude the Abrahamic Faiths?

Hinduism and all Hindu prophets teach that there are many paths to God. The most important Hindu Scripture the Bhagavad Gita broadly classifies them in to four different categories based on the faculties of man. The Bhagavad Gita also states that whenever there is decline in morality and evil predominates, God incarnates in human form as an avatar (manifestation) to destroy evil and promote righteousness. So Hindus accept the Abrahamic prophets as true prophets of God. But from time to time, there has been some resistance by some Hindu groups in India to the way Islam and Christianity have sought to convert Hindus and destroy Hinduism. But even those Hindu groups never denied the divinity of Prophet Mohammed or Jesus Christ. The resistance was to the questionable methods being adopted.

2/ Are there forces within Hinduism that seek to divide and exclude rather that unite?

Anything divine touched by human hand gets corrupted because human beings are not perfect which is why manifestations of God keep incarnating again and again - to restore the purity of God's message that humans have corrupted. Over thousands of years, the divine message of the Hindu scriptures was corrupted in practice but fortunately, the scriptures themselves were never corrupted. So in practice, the Hindu society got divided in various castes and the upper castes exploited the lower castes. But all that has started changing for the better in the last 200 years or so, especially after India's independence in 1947.

3/ Are you ever troubled by such people?

Yes.
 
Last edited:
Feb 2019
164
Chicago
#5
Bahaullah's views on Hinduism and Yoga

In his correspondence with Manakji Limji Hataria, Bahaullah acknowledges one of the timeless truths in the Bhagavad Gita - the Hindu scripture - which states that whenever there is a decline in virtue and vice predominates, God incarnates as an avatar (manifestation) to restore righteousness. To Hindus, this truth also explains the birth of Bahaullah and others like Jesus. Read this tablet of Bahaullah if interested.

Tablet to Mirza Abu'l-Fadl Concerning the Questions of Manakji Limji Hataria

Bahaullah was also knowledgeable of the Hindu treatise on Yoga called Yoga Vasistha which was translated in to Persian from Sanskrit in the 15th century and was known as Jug-Basisht in Persia. In one of the tablets (published in Gleanings from the Writings of Baháulláh, section LXXXVII) Bahá'u'lláh discussed the absence of records about history before Adam. Here he refers to the Jug-Basisht (Book of Juk in English) and states that beginning and end of the creation in time is not delimited. Hindu scriptures state that God's creation has no beginning or end and it goes on in cycles endlessly.

To anyone that hath read the book of Júk it is clear and evident how much the accounts given by the various books have differed - Bahaullah
Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh | Bahá’í Reference Library
 
Aug 2018
32
New Zealand
#6
Before I answer your questions, let me just comment on your opinion that traditions of Christianity have become exclusive. There is truth in that statement but Jesus Christ is not responsible for it. He was way ahead of his times and most people of his land did not understand him. So he spoke in parables to the general population and only to his inner circle of close disciples he imparted the esoteric truths. And when his teachings were translated in to European languages, some of the meaning was lost. Even today, most Christians don't understand the esoteric meaning of his teachings. For example, most devout and religious Christians believe that Jesus is the only Son of God and no one else can become a Son of God. But if you read the Bible carefully, you will know that the disciples of Jesus learned from him through personal experience that anyone that was receptive to the light and wisdom of Jesus which was coming from God and received it in their consciousness, was given the ability to become a Son of God. See this Biblical verse from the Gospel of John
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. - John 1:12

"Received him" does not refer to physically receiving Jesus but spiritually being receptive to light and wisdom of God that was being expressed through the medium of Jesus who was a prophet of God. So why on earth do most Christians believe that only Jesus was the Son of God. They simply don't understand what Son of God means to begin with. But that's a topic for another discussion.
I agree that Christ did not teach exclusivity but Christianity has become exclusive because of the addition of man made traditions and misunderstanding of the Gospels that Christ never intended.

As you probably know Baha'u'llah speaks of the underlying purpose of religion:

"O ye children of men! The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men…Whatsoever is raised on this foundation, the changes and chances of the world can never impair its strength, nor will the revolution of countless centuries undermine its structure."

And the unity of religion:

"…the Bearers of the trust of God are made manifest unto the peoples of the earth as the Exponents of a new Cause and the Bearers of a new Message. Inasmuch as these Birds of the Celestial Throne are all sent down from the heaven of the Will of God, and as they all arise to proclaim His irresistible Faith, they therefore are regarded as one soul and the same person. For they all drink from the one Cup of the love of God, and all partake of the fruit of the same Tree of Oneness."

The Challenge therefore is to appreciate what all the recognised religions have in common and better understand the apparent contradictions or inconsistencies. Shoghi Effendi, the leader of the Baha'i Faith from 1921-1957 stated in regards to Christ:

"As to the position of Christianity, let it be stated without any hesitation or equivocation that its divine origin is unconditionally acknowledged, that the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ are fearlessly asserted, that the divine inspiration of the Gospel is fully recognized, that the reality of the mystery of the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary is confessed, and the primacy of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, is upheld and defended. The Founder of the Christian Faith is designated by Bahá’u’lláh as the “Spirit of God,” is proclaimed as the One Who “appeared out of the breath of the Holy Ghost...” Shoghi Effendi

So how does the designation 'Son of God' assist us to understand the Spiritual Reality of Christ AND the underlying unity of religion?

Let's consider some key verses:

In Matthew 1:18-25 it is written:
"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ”The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”-- which means, “God with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus."


We know from the Baha'i writings that the virgin birth is upheld as a Divine mystery.

We also consider
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that however believes in Him should not perish and have everlasting life." John 3:16


This is important to emphasise Jesus' Uniqueness and Greatness in contrast with the quote you mention where "we are all sons of God".

The phrase Sons of God and Children of God are used many times through both the Old and New Testaments.

Sons of God: Genesis 6:2, Genesis 6:4, Job 1:6, Job 2:1, Job 38:7, Matthew 5:9, Luke 20:36, Romans 8:14, Romans 8:19, Galatians 3:26

Children of God: John 1:12, John 11:52, Romans 8:16, Romans 8:16, Romans 8:21, Romans 9:8

The significance of John 3:16 in contrast to these other verses along with the story of the virgin birth clearly sets Jesus apart from ordinary men. So the 'Son of God' designation highlights the Uniqueness and Greatness of Jesus when compared to the rest of humanity.

However other religions have also used different designations such as Moses being the 'Friend of God', Muhammad being the 'Seal of the Prophets' or Baha'u'llah being the 'Glory of God'. These different designations may serve a similar purpose to highlight the Uniqueness of a particular Man who Manifests God's Greatness with a Revelation that transforms communities, traditions, morals, and even civilisations.

Therefore the 'Son of God' designation of Jesus is consistent with the underlying unity in all the Great Prophets or Manifestations of God.

A Baha'i perspective on Jesus as the 'Son of God'
 
Last edited:
Sep 2010
4,519
Normanton Far North Queensland
#7
Before I answer your questions, let me just comment on your opinion that traditions of Christianity have become exclusive. There is truth in that statement but Jesus Christ is not responsible for it. He was way ahead of his times and most people of his land did not understand him. So he spoke in parables to the general population and only to his inner circle of close disciples he imparted the esoteric truths. And when his teachings were translated in to European languages, some of the meaning was lost. Even today, most Christians don't understand the esoteric meaning of his teachings. For example, most devout and religious Christians believe that Jesus is the only Son of God and no one else can become a Son of God. But if you read the Bible carefully, you will know that the disciples of Jesus learned from him through personal experience that anyone that was receptive to the light and wisdom of Jesus which was coming from God and received it in their consciousness, was given the ability to become a Son of God. See this Biblical verse from the Gospel of John

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. - John 1:12

"Received him" does not refer to physically receiving Jesus but spiritually being receptive to light and wisdom of God that was being expressed through the medium of Jesus who was a prophet of God. So why on earth do most Christians believe that only Jesus was the Son of God. They simply don't understand what Son of God means to begin with. But that's a topic for another discussion.

Now to your questions.

1/ Are there groups within Hinduism that seek to exclude the Abrahamic Faiths?

Hinduism and all Hindu prophets teach that there are many paths to God. The most important Hindu Scripture the Bhagavad Gita broadly classifies them in to four different categories based on the faculties of man. The Bhagavad Gita also states that whenever there is decline in morality and evil predominates, God incarnates in human form as an avatar (manifestation) to destroy evil and promote righteousness. So Hindus accept the Abrahamic prophets as true prophets of God. But from time to time, there has been some resistance by some Hindu groups in India to the way Islam and Christianity have sought to convert Hindus and destroy Hinduism. But even those Hindu groups never denied the divinity of Prophet Mohammed or Jesus Christ. The resistance was to the questionable methods being adopted.

2/ Are there forces within Hinduism that seek to divide and exclude rather that unite?

Anything divine touched by human hand gets corrupted because human beings are not perfect which is why manifestations of God keep incarnating again and again - to restore the purity of God's message that humans have corrupted. Over thousands of years, the divine message of the Hindu scriptures was corrupted in practice but fortunately, the scriptures themselves were never corrupted. So in practice, the Hindu society got divided in various castes and the upper castes exploited the lower castes. But all that has started changing for the better in the last 200 years or so, especially after India's independence in 1947.

3/ Are you ever troubled by such people?

Yes.
The world would benefit greatly from those that share your spirit of service to humanity. You have shown how the veil of names are of our own making. It is good having you and Vinayaka here to open our views about life and Faith.

I am enjoying your posts immensly.

Regards Tony
 
Likes: Adrian009
Dec 2012
199
Earth
#8
Greetings Venu,

It is very welcoming to read your intelligent comments here.

I have nothing to add to the conversation other than share a dialogue between Hindus and Bahá’ís in one Community I spent some time in. It is a very simple point but one that you might see some humour and wisdom in. The subject was on the matter of food. The Hindus explained their diet and the Bahá’ís listened and then said the same is true for us. The Hindus then looked at some of the food that had been made available to all at the meeting and what Bahá’ís were eating and politely asked why Bahá’ís were not already living to such a diet because it was very easy for them all over the world? The Bahá’ís tried to say that the time was not right yet, but then they realised that such an argument did not hold any ground today. So they recognised that they did not have a a suitable response. The process of reconciling matters of faith, should always be a self-humbling spiritual experience. Fortunately the Bahá’ís present all learnt so much more about themselves that day.

Earth
 
Apr 2019
14
Canada
#9
I'd just like to add something to Tony's question about vastness. It is said that if you ask 100 Hindus the same question, you'll get 101 different answers. That also illustrates our vastness. I should have made it clear from the beginning that I'm no authority, just one guy out of a billion. This is why Venu and my answers will be really different, and if we added a few more, they'd all be different as well.
That said, there is also a certain amount of ethnocentricity within Hinduism, as some Hindu folks (including myself) haven't gotten out enough to truly realise its vastness. Therefore, we may speak about it as if our version of Hinduism is representative of all of Hinduism, which would be folly.
Sorry i didn't say this earlier ... should have.
 
Likes: Adrian009

Similar threads