CONCEPT OF GOD IN HINDUISM

CONCEPT OF GOD IN HINDUISM
by
Dr. Zakir Naik


1. Common Concept of God in Hinduism:

Hinduism is commonly perceived as a polytheistic religion. Indeed, most Hindus would attest to this, by professing belief in multiple Gods. While some Hindus believe in the existence of three gods, some believe in thousands of gods, and some others in thirty three crore i.e. 330 million Gods. However, learned Hindus, who are well versed in their scriptures, insist that a Hindu should believe in and worship only one God.

The major difference between the Hindu and the Muslim perception of God is the common Hindus’ belief in the philosophy of Pantheism. Pantheism considers everything, living and non-living, to be Divine and Sacred. The common Hindu, therefore, considers everything as God. He considers the trees as God, the sun as God, the moon as God, the monkey as God, the snake as God and even human beings as manifestations of God!

Islam, on the contrary, exhorts man to consider himself and his surroundings as examples of Divine Creation rather than as divinity itself. Muslims therefore believe that everything is God’s i.e. the word ‘God’ with an apostrophe ‘s’. In other words the Muslims believe that everything belongs to God. The trees belong to God, the sun belongs to God, the moon belongs to God, the monkey belongs to God, the snake belongs to God, the human beings belong to God and everything in this universe belongs to God.

Thus the major difference between the Hindu and the Muslim beliefs is the difference of the apostrophe ‘s’. The Hindu says everything is God. The Muslim says everything is God’s.

2. Concept of God according to Hindu Scriptures:

We can gain a better understanding of the concept of God in Hinduism by analysing Hindu scriptures.

BHAGAVAD GITA

The most popular amongst all the Hindu scriptures is the Bhagavad Gita.

Consider the following verse from the Gita:

"Those whose intelligence has been stolen by material desires surrender unto demigods and follow the particular rules and regulations of worship according to their own natures."
[Bhagavad Gita 7:20]

The Gita states that people who are materialistic worship demigods i.e. ‘gods’ besides the True God.


UPANISHADS:

The Upanishads are considered sacred scriptures by the Hindus.

The following verses from the Upanishads refer to the Concept of God:

"Ekam evadvitiyam"
"He is One only without a second."
[Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1]1

"Na casya kascij janita na cadhipah."
"Of Him there are neither parents nor lord."
[Svetasvatara Upanishad 6:9]2

"Na tasya pratima asti"
"There is no likeness of Him."
[Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:19]3

The following verses from the Upanishad allude to the inability of man to imagine God in a particular form:

"Na samdrse tisthati rupam asya, na caksusa pasyati kas canainam."

"His form is not to be seen; no one sees Him with the eye."
[Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:20]4

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1[The Principal Upanishad by S. Radhakrishnan page 447 and 448]
[Sacred Books of the East, volume 1 ‘The Upanishads part I’ page 93]

2[The Principal Upanishad by S. Radhakrishnan page 745]
[Sacred Books of the East, volume 15, ‘The Upanishads part II’ page 263.]

3[The Principal Upanishad by S. Radhakrishnan page 736 & 737]
[Sacred Books of the East, volume 15, ‘The Upanishads part II’ page no 253]

4[The Principal Upanishad by S. Radhakrishnan page 737]
[Sacred Books of the East, volume 15, ‘The Upanishads part II’ page no 253]

THE VEDAS
Vedas are considered the most sacred of all the Hindu scriptures. There are four principal Vedas: Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samveda and Atharvaveda.

Yajurveda
The following verses from the Yajurveda echo a similar concept of God:

"na tasya pratima asti
"There is no image of Him."
[Yajurveda 32:3]5

"shudhama poapvidham"
"He is bodyless and pure."
[Yajurveda 40:8]6

"Andhatama pravishanti ye asambhuti mupaste"
"They enter darkness, those who worship the natural elements" (Air, Water, Fire, etc.). "They sink deeper in darkness, those who worship sambhuti."
[Yajurveda 40:9]7

Sambhuti means created things, for example table, chair, idol, etc.

The Yajurveda contains the following prayer:
"Lead us to the good path and remove the sin that makes us stray and wander."
[Yajurveda 40:16]8

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5[Yajurveda by Devi Chand M.A. page 377]

6[Yajurveda Samhita by Ralph T. H. Giffith page 538]

7[Yajurveda Samhita by Ralph T. H. Giffith page 538]

8[Yajurveda Samhita by Ralph T. H. Griffith page 541]

Atharvaveda
The Atharvaveda praises God in Book 20, hymn 58 and verse 3:

"Dev maha osi"
"God is verily great"
[Atharvaveda 20:58:3]9

Rigveda

The oldest of all the vedas is Rigveda. It is also the one considered most sacred by the Hindus. The Rigveda states in Book 1, hymn 164 and verse 46:
"Sages (learned Priests) call one God by many names."
[Rigveda 1:164:46]

The Rigveda gives several different attributes to Almighty God. Many of these are mentioned in Rigveda Book 2 hymn 1.

Among the various attributes of God, one of the beautiful attributes mentioned in the Rigveda Book II hymn 1 verse 3, is Brahma. Brahma means ‘The Creator’. Translated into Arabic it means Khaaliq. Muslims can have no objection if Almighty God is referred to as Khaaliq or ‘Creator’ or Brahma. However if it is said that Brahma is Almighty God who has four heads with each head having a crown, Muslims take strong exception to it.

Describing Almighty God in anthropomorphic terms also goes against the following verse of Yajurveda:

"Na tasya Pratima asti"
"There is no image of Him."
[Yajurveda 32:3]

Another beautiful attribute of God mentioned in the Rigveda Book II hymn 1 verse 3 is Vishnu. Vishnu means ‘The Sustainer’. Translated into Arabic it means Rabb. Again, Muslims can have no objection if Almighty God is referred to as Rabb or 'Sustainer' or Vishnu. But the popular image of

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9[Atharveda Samhita vol 2 William Dwight Whitney page 910]

Vishnu among Hindus, is that of a God who has four arms, with one of the right arms holding the Chakra, i.e. a discus and one of the left arms holding a ‘conch shell’, or riding a bird or reclining on a snake couch. Muslims can never accept any image of God. As mentioned earlier this also goes against Svetasvatara Upanishad Chapter 4 verse 19.

"Na tasya pratima asti"
"There is no likeness of Him"

The following verse from the Rigveda Book 8, hymn 1, verse 1 refer to the Unity and Glory of the Supreme Being:

"Ma cid anyad vi sansata sakhayo ma rishanyata"
"O friends, do not worship anybody but Him, the Divine One. Praise Him alone."
[Rigveda 8:1:1]10

"Devasya samituk parishtutih"
"Verily, great is the glory of the Divine Creator."
[Rigveda 5:1:81]11

Brahma Sutra of Hinduism:

The Brahma Sutra of Hinduism is:

"Ekam Brahm, dvitiya naste neh na naste kinchan"

"There is only one God, not the second; not at all, not at all, not in the least bit."

Thus only a dispassionate study of the Hindu scriptures can help one understand the concept of God in Hinduism.

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0[Rigveda Samhita vol. 9, pages 2810 and 2811 by Swami Satya Prakash Sarasvati and Satyakam Vidyalankar]

11[Rigveda Samhita vol. 6, pages 1802 and 1803 by Swami Satya Prakash Saraswati and Satyakam Vidyalankar]

as from the sun." The Prophecy confirms:

The name of the Prophet as Ahmed since Ahmed is an Arabic name. Many translators misunderstood it to be ‘Ahm at hi’ and translated the mantra as "I alone have acquired the real wisdom of my father".

Prophet was given eternal law, i.e. the Shariah.

The Rishi was enlightened by the Shariah of Prophet Muhammad. The Qur’an says in Surah Saba Chapter 34 verse 28 (34:28):

"We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not."

CONCEPT OF GOD IN JUDAISM

CONCEPT OF GOD IN JUDAISM

Judaism is one of the major Semitic religions. Its followers are known as Jews and they believe in the prophetic mission of Prophet Moses (pbuh).

(i) The following verse from Deuteronomy contains an exhortation from Moses: (pbuh)
"Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad" It is a Hebrew quotation which means
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord"
[The Bible, Deut 6:4]

(ii) Consider the following verses from the Book of Isaiah :
"I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour."
[The Bible, Isaiah 43:11]

(iii) "I am lord, and there is none else There is no God besides me."
[The Bible, Isaiah 45 : 5]

(iv) "I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me."
[The Bible, Isaiah 46:9]

(v) Judaism condemns idol worship in the following verses :
"Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor see them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God…"
[The Bible, Exodus 20:3-5]

(iv) A similar message is repeated in the book of Deutoronomy :
"Thou shalt have none other gods before me.Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that in the earth beneath, or that is in the water beneath the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God…"
[The Bible, Deut 5:7-9]

CONCEPT OFGOD IN CHRISTIANITY

CONCEPT OFGOD IN CHRISTIANITY
by
Dr. Zakir Naik

I INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIANITY:
Christianity is a Semitic religion, which claims to have nearly 1.2 billion adherents all over the world. Christianity owes its name to Jesus Christ (peace be on him). The Holy Bible is the sacred scripture of the Christians:

a) The Bible is divided into two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is the Holy Scripture of the Jews and contains records of all the prophets of the Jews that came before Jesus (pbuh).
The New Testament contains records of the life of Jesus (pbuh).
b) The complete Bible, i.e. the Old Testament and the New Testament put together, contains 73 books. However, the Protestant Bible i.e. the King James Version, contains only 66 books as they consider 7 books of the Old Testament to be apocrypha, i.e. of doubtful authority.
Therefore the Old Testament of the Catholics, contains 46 books and that of the Protestants, 39 books. However the New Testament of both these sects contains 27 books.

II Position of Jesus (pbuh) in Islam:
(i) Islam is the only non-Christian faith, which makes it an article of faith to believe in Jesus (pbuh). No Muslim is a Muslim if he does not believe in Jesus (pbuh).
(ii) We believe that he was one of the mightiest Messengers of Allah (swt).
(iii) We believe that he was born miraculously, without any male intervention, which many modern day Christians do not believe.
(iv) We believe he was the Messiah translated Christ (pbuh).
(v) We believe that he gave life to the dead with God’s permission.
(iv) We believe that he healed those born blind, and the lepers with God’s permission.
III CONCEPT OF GOD IN CHRISTIANITY:
1. Jesus Christ (pbuh) never claimed Divinity
One may ask, if both Muslims and Christians love and respect Jesus (pbuh), where exactly is the parting of ways? The major difference between Islam and Christianity is the Christians’ insistence on the supposed divinity of Christ (pbuh). A study of the Christian scriptures reveals that Jesus (pbuh) never claimed divinity. In fact there is not a single unequivocal statement in the entire Bible where Jesus (pbuh) himself says, "I am God" or where he says, "worship me". In fact the Bible contains statements attributed to Jesus (pbuh) in which he preached quite the contrary. The following statements in the Bible are attributed to Jesus Christ (pbuh):
(i) "My Father is greater than I." [The Bible, John 14:28]
(ii) "My Father is greater than all." [The Bible, John 10:29]
(iii) "…I cast out devils by the Spirit of God…." [The Bible, Mathew 12:28]
(iv) "…I with the finger of God cast out devils…." [The Bible, Luke 11:20]
(v) "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgement is just; because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." [The Bible, John 5:30]
2. The Mission of Jesus Christ (pbuh) – to Fulfill the Law
Jesus (pbuh) never claimed divinity for himself. He clearly announced the nature of his mission. Jesus (pbuh) was sent by God to confirm the previous Judaic law. This is clearly evident in the following statements attributed to Jesus (pbuh) in the Gospel of Mathew:
"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
"Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
"For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." [The Bible, Mathew 5:17-20]
3. God Sent Jesus' (pbuh)
The Bible mentions the prophetic nature of Jesus (pbuh) mission in the following verses:
(i) "… and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me."[The Bible, John 14:24]
(ii) "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent." [The Bible, John 17:3]
4. Jesus Refuted even the Remotest Suggestion of his Divinity
Consider the following incident mentioned in the Bible:
"And behold, one came and said unto him, ‘Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?’
And he said unto him, ‘Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.’ "[The Bible, Mathew 19:16-17]
Jesus (pbuh) did not say that to have the eternal life of paradise, man should believe in him as Almighty God or worship him as God, or believe that Jesus (pbuh) would die for his sins. On the contrary he said that the path to salvation was through keeping the commandments. It is indeed striking to note the difference between the words of Jesus Christ (pbuh) and the Christian dogma of salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus (pbuh).
5. Jesus (pbuh) of Nazareth – a Man Approved of God
The following statement from the Bible supports the Islamic belief that Jesus (pbuh) was a prophet of God.
"Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know." [The Bible, Acts 2:22]
6. The First Commandment is that God is One
The Bible does not support the Christian belief in trinity at all. One of the scribes once asked Jesus (pbuh) as to which was the first commandment of all, to which Jesus (pbuh) merely repeated what Moses (pbuh) had said earlier:
"Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adonai Ikhad."
This is a Hebrew quotation, which means:
"Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord." [The Bible, Mark 12:29]
It is striking that the basic teachings of the Church such as Trinity and vicarious atonement find no mention in the Bible. In fact, various verses of the Bible point to Jesus’ (pbuh) actual mission, which was to fulfill the law revealed to Prophet Moses (pbuh). Indeed Jesus (pbuh) rejected any suggestions that attributed divinity to him, and explained his miracles as the power of the One True God.
Jesus (pbuh) thus reiterated the message of monotheism that was given by all earlier prophets of Almighty God.
NOTE: All quotations of the Bible are taken from the King James Version.

IV CONCEPT OF GOD IN OLD TESTAMENT:
1. God is One
The following verse from the book of Deuteronomy contains an exhortation from Moses (pbuh):
"Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad". It is a Hebrew quotation which means: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord"
[The Bible, Deuteronomy 6:4]
2. Unity of God in the Book of Isaiah
The following verses are from the Book of Isaiah:
(i) "I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour."[The Bible, Isaiah 43:11]
(ii) "I am Lord, and there is none else, there is no God besides me."[The Bible, Isaiah 45:5]
(iii) "I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me."[The Bible, Isaiah 46:9]
3. Old Testament condemns idol worship
(i) Old Testament condemns idol worship in the following verses:
"Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
"Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:"
"Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God."[The Bible, Exodus 20:3-5]
(ii) A similar message is repeated in the book of Deuteronomy:
"Thou shalt have none other gods before me."
"Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that in the earth beneath, or that is in the water beneath the earth."
"Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God." [The Bible, Deuteronomy 5:7-9]