Hindu Polytheism

To what extent is Hindu genuinely polytheistic vs. multiple forms of a single deity or godhead or spirit? Is this a matter of variance or individual conscience or is it a monotheistic reinterpretation?

The western pagans (e.g. Egyptian, Greek and Roman), for example, were clearly polytheistic. There was no sense in which any one god was an incarnation of another.

By contrast, Christinity teaches a “mysterious” three persons but one God theology.

I would say it is definitely polytheistic (actually panentheistic is the correct term).

The three main Gods are distinct - they can not be combined into one (like Christians would claim).

But all Gods are combined into an impersonal absolute called Brahman - this being can not be said to be one or many or even a person. There is nothing that we can say about it except that it has existence, consciousness, and that it is bliss - SatChitAnanda.

These three qualities are the only ones that are known, otherwise it is a non-person beyond our knowledge.

I should also add that brahman not only includes all the Gods but also all of Creation - planets, stars, humans, animals - everything - in fact it is the only reality there is, but it also stands apart from Creation (so it is not the same as Creation or the Universe)

I had to look that one up:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panentheism

Can you expalin Panentheism using Hindu as an example and contrasting with pantheism and Christianity? I’m having a hard time following the wiki description.

I think the last line I added to the previous post may explain panentheism.

Pantheism says Creation is God,

Panentheism says Creation is contained within God, and that God also exists apart and independent of Creation, and that this God is impersonal.

One of the most common misconceptions about hinduism is that they are united in dogma and doctrines, which they certainly aren’t.

Some schools and practices are polythiestic, but others could be described as Monotheistic (Hare Krishna’s) or even Athiestic (Cārvāka).

Edit: Also…Minor niggle; Western pagans were familiar with and did have concepts of monotheism prior to Christ. Just look at Mithraism that spread from Persia and took hold in Rome, Aten in Egypt and perhaps to a lesser extend Sol Invictus (Also Roman).

Greek and Roman philosophers were also certainly aware of the idea at least by the time of Socrates.

Hinduism can be seen as a coalition of many different religions/philosophies, which have agreed to get on with each other and not tread on each others’ turf.

There is some very abstruse theory/theology/philosophy laid over the top. Brahman (the ‘n’ is important) is remote and unknowable. All that mere humans can know are different aspects of Brahman, like seeing a single facet of a multi-faceted jewel. Brahma (no ‘n’), Vishnu and Shiva are three major facets.

The parable of the blind men and the elephant applies here as well.

rossum

Saying that Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are mere “facets” of Brahman implies an underlying monotheism. openmind77 rejected that view in favor of genuine polytheism (which he then elaborated as panentheism, not to be confused with pantheism).

Thanks, that is a very simple and helpful distinction.

Well, sure, but I think those pagans were exceptional. The mainstream view was that the gods were each distinct deities not merely facets or persons of a unified godhead. (Some scholars claim that Judaism began as a polytheistic religion and that Yahweh was merely the national god.)

It depends on the specific sect. Some Hindu’s are polytheistic others are not.

Is this a matter of variance or individual conscience or is it a monotheistic reinterpretation?

It’s a matter of interpretation and understanding of Hindu scriptures.

Now what are the buddhist/hindu differences of brahma? Buddhism was first but Krishna the fullness of the Godhead and the vedas/upanishads are ancient.

Brahma the God of creation? In Buddhism the Brahma’s coexist within the Universe and didn’t create it.

Buddhism was first but Krishna the fullness of the Godhead and the vedas/upanishads are ancient.

Are you saying Buddhism came before Hinduism?

Other way around; all peoples started by practicing monotheism, but devolved into polytheism.

Even the Jewish people almost devolved several times, getting punished by the one God each time to bring it back (captivity, wandering in the desert, etc…). Occasionally, monotheism would resurge, such as the aforementioned examples.

Among the learned Greeks, many viewed the “gods” as analogs of the true god, or believed something akin to deism.

Buddhism before Hinduism yes. The Pali cannon. Remember that? The buddhas are outside of time like God is. I am an emmanation or as hinduism would call it Avatar of Sarasvati which it looks like you have heard of. Some of this that you’re talking about is mythology too. She sends her emmanations into the 3 times. Past, present, future to accomplish a work. Now Jainism proceeds buddhism I believe . I don’t know whether I would call hinduism polytheistic or not. You would have to speak to a guru to get a true understanding and not just what’s on the surface. The gods here are a race of supreme beings that created us. You can find that in judaism. They’re not the “first cause” now or God.

That’s their mythos. Zeus also founded the USA when he went by the name Thomas Jefferson. When the kings of old say they are descended from the gods they meant it. Hera went by the name “Samuel Adams”. Two gods found nations. One time man founded nations like Noah and one of his sons and the United Kingdom. Now the gods do. We share genetic linkage with them. None of these “gods” are the “First Cause” or God.

By no means am I specifically qualified in ancient Hebrew and am able to preform translations relating to this topic but there is some rather odd artifacts and quirky absences being noticed relating to Jewish polytheism predating monotheism.

Is anyone familiar with “Asherah”? There is a theory that suggests that she was belived to be the wife of Yahweh in early Judaic religious practice. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asherah

It’s not anything I’ve ever studied deeply in my research, I’ve never had the time but a brief skim over the premise is thought provoking.

You know I must confess I’ve never heard of this one. You might be interested in summerian religious artifacts as well. That’s where the “EL” came from and was a cannanite god. There were found also artifacts depicting YHWH.

Yes I remember that, but do you remember the Vedas which predate the Pali canon? Also how can Buddhism predate Hinduism when Gautama Buddha was born into a Hindu family?

The buddhas are outside of time like God is.

Depending on what school of Buddhism you’re talking about.

I am an emmanation or as hinduism would call it Avatar of Sarasvati which it looks like you have heard of. Some of this that you’re talking about is mythology too. She sends her emmanations into the 3 times. Past, present, future to accomplish a work.

How are you an emanation of Sarasvati? She isn’t believed to have any Avatar’s. If you’re referring to Goddess in my signature that’s actually Lakshmi.

Now Jainism proceeds buddhism I believe .

Buddhism actually predates Jainism

rarre.org/documents/reports/age_of_religions.pdf

I don’t know whether I would call hinduism polytheistic or not.

Some Hindu’s are polytheistic, some are not but most Hindu’s are not polytheistic.

You would have to speak to a guru to get a true understanding and not just what’s on the surface.

It depends on the specific sect and their school of thought, some believe this some don’t.

The gods here are a race of supreme beings that created us. You can find that in judaism. They’re not the “first cause” now or God.

I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

I don’t mean the vedas and upanishads and so on. Hinduism as the religion called “hinduism” I was thinking was after buddhism. I could be wrong. Lakshmi ok I wondered what the bag of gold was. I’ve not read Mahabarata but the BG and SB are very interesting. And BG is part of the aforementioned Veda.

The name “Hinduism” which was invented and given by the British came after the onset of Buddhism but the religion or rather religions were still there. Modern day Hinduism may not place an emphasis on the Vedas but the Vedas are essentially at the core of Hinduism.

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