Abhedânanda Swâmi.

Vedanta philosophy : five lectures on reincarnation online

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attain to the highest goal of reHgion. I know

Fatherhood and Motherhood of (rod.

a lady in India who became a widow when she
was young. She did not marry again. She
was not hke the ordinary woman of the world
who thinks that a husband is essential to her
happiness and that marriage is the highest
ideal of Hfe. She lived the pure life of a nun
and worshipped Krishna as her own child.
She became so advanced in spirituality that
now hundreds of educated men and women
of high rank in Calcutta come to see her, to re-
ceive spiritual instruction from her. They kiss
the dust of her feet as devout Roman Catho-
lics kiss the feet of the statue of Mary, they
revere her and call her the Mother of God,
Mother of Krishna, the Shepherd. She is still
living near Calcutta. She feels in herself the
presence of the blessed Mother of the universe.
Another wonderful result of this concep-
tion of God as the Mother of the universe, is
that when a man worships God as his mother,
he always thinks of himself as a child in its
Mother's arms. As a child does not fear any-
thing when it is near its mother, so the wor-

Vedanta Philosophy.

shipper of the Divine Mother is never afraid
of anything. He sees the Blessed Mother
everywhere. In every woman he sees the
manifestation of his Eternal Mother. Con-
sequently, every woman on earth is his mother.
He conquers all lust and sense desires. He
sees woman in a different light. He worships
every woman mentally.

I have seen a man who Hved on this earth like
a Hving child of the Divine Mother, always pro-
tected and taken care of by Her. He worshipped
God as the Mother of the universe. Through
that worship he became pure, righteous and
spiritual. He used to say "O, my Mother,
Thou art all in all. Thou art my Guide,
my Leader and Strength. ' ' His Divine Mother
showed him the true nature of man and woman.
He bowed down before all women, young,
mature and old, and said to them — "You are
the living representatives of my Divine Mother
on earth." How can a child have any other
relation to one who is the same as its real

mother? By this kind of devotion he con-

Fatherhood and Motherhood of God.

quered all lust and worldliness. His child- like,
whole-souled and rapturous self-consecration
to the Divine Mother is a landmark in the
rehgious history of India. His whole Hfe,
which was the personification of purity, self-
control, self-resignation and filial love to the
Divine Mother, stands as a mighty testimony
to the reality and effectiveness of the worship
of God as the Mother of the universe. When
he sang the praises of the Divine Mother,
he gave life to every word he uttered, and
no soul could hear him without being moved
to tears by deep devotional feelings, without
reahzing that this wonderful child was in direct
communion with his Divine Mother. His
Divine Mother showed him that each woman
was Her incarnation, so he worshipped and
honored all women as a son might worship
his own mother. Some Western people may
laugh at such reverence, but a Hindu is ex-
tremely proud of it. He knows how to honor
a woman. Professor Max Muller was much

impressed with the wonderful Hfe of this

Vedanta Philosophy.

great sage, and recently published his Hfe and
sayings.* He was once asked: '*If we are
the children of your Divine Mother, why does
She not take care of us? Why does She not
come to us and take us up in Her arms?"
The sage rephed: ''A mother has several
children. To one she has given a doll, to
another some candy, to the third a music
box, according as each one Hkes. Thus when
they begin to play and are absorbed, they
forget their mother; she in the meanwhile
looks after her household work. But the
moment any one of them gets tired of the play,
and, throwing aside the plaything, cries for
the mother, ' Mamma, mamma dear ! ' she
runs quickly to him, takes him up in her arms,
kisses him often and often and caresses him.
So, oh man! being absorbed with the play-
things of the world you have forgotten your
Divine Mother; when you get tired of your
play, and, throwing aside the toys, you cry

* " Life and Sayings of Ramakrishna," by F.
Max Miiller. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York.

Fatherhood and Motherhood of God.

for Her sincerely and with the simplicity of a
child, She will come at once and take you up
in Her arms. Now you want to play and
She has given you all that you need at pres-
ent." Each one of us will see the Divine
Mother sooner or later. The Mother is
always taking care of us and protecting us
whether we feel it or not, whether we reahze
it or not.

The Vedanta philosophy recognizes both
the fatherhood and motherhood of the personal
God and teaches us that through the worship
of either of these aspects the highest ideal of
reUgion can be reached. The Prajapati or
the Lord of all creatures of the Vedas is
called "Isw^ara" in Vedanta. Some worship
Him as the Father, while others call Him
Divine Mother. But He is sexless and
therefore both Father and ISIother of all.
Those who address Him as the Father say:

"O Lord, Thou art the Father of the uni-
verse, of all animate and inanimate objects.

Thou art worshipped by all. Thou art

Vedanta Philosophy.

greater than the greatest; O Thou of incom-
parable power, none in the heavens and
earth is equal to Thee, how can any one be
greater? O Lord, as a father forgiveth his
son, a friend his dear friend, a lover his be-
loved, even so do Thou forgive me.''

Those who worship His motherly aspect
pray to Her, saying:

"O Mother Divine, Thou art the eternal
energy, the infinite source of the universe.
Thy powers manifest in the infinite variety
of names and forms. Being deluded by the
power of ignorance we forget Thee and take
pleasure in the playthings of the world. But
when we come to Thee, take Thy refuge and
worship Thee, Thou makest us free from igno-
rance and worldliness, and givest us eternal
happiness by keeping us, Thine own children,

on Thy bosom."


The Relation of Soul to God.

"The soul enchained is * man* and jree from chain
is *God*" — Life and Sayings of R&makrishna, by
F. Max Miiller, p. 145.

The Relation of Soul to God.

A CLEAR understanding of man's relation
to God is a matter of momentous importance
to students of philosophy and religion and to
all seekers of Truth. From very ancient times
all the best thinkers, prophets and the great
rehgious leaders of the world, whether of the
East or of the West, have endeavored to explain
our relation to God and to the universe. Out
of those explanations have arisen various
schools of philosophy and different systems
of rehgious behefs among the different nations
of the world.

Every philosophy and every rehgion, ancient
or modem, has arrived at certain conclusions
in its attempt to describe the relation which
each individual bears to God. All such con-
clusions, of course, presuppose the existence

Vedanta Philosophy.

of God, and depend upon the nature of our
conception of God as well as of the human
soul. Those who deny the existence of God
and hold that we are but mere accidental
appearances in the mechanical process of the
blind forces of nature which are acting aim-
lessly upon dead matter, think that it is loss
of time and waste of energy to discuss such
useless and absurd topics. They would rather
devote their energy to obtaining the best
things of the Godless world for the comforts
of the soulless body. They do not beheve
in the existence of any such thing as soul,
mind or spirit apart from the functions of the
body. When the body dies everything comes
to an end. As with the body, so it is with
the material universe.

Such thinkers are not the products of the
Twentieth Century alone, but they are as old
as the appearance of man upon earth. In
ancient India this class of thinkers existed
side by side with the behevers in the individual

soul of man and in God, as numerously as we

The Relation of Soul to God.

find them to-day among the most cultivated
minds of the West. Those ancient material-
ists, Hke the modern agnostics and atheists,
making sense perception the standard of
their knowledge of things, denied the exist-
ence of that which they could not perceive by
their senses. But the other class of thinkers,
who went below the surface of sense percep-
tions into the realm of the invisible, weighed
these materiahstic arguments, pointed out
their fallacies, and ultimately established
through logical and scientific reasoning, the
existence of the individual soul of man as
well as of the soul of the universe, or God,
and described their mutual relation.

These thinkers can be divided into three
classes: First, theduaHsts; secondly, the qual-
ified non-dualists, and thirdly, the non-dualists,
or monists. The Western dualists beheve in
an extra-cosmic personal God, who creates
the universe out of nothing, fashions it, gives
names to the phenomena, and afterwards

governs it. According to them, God, the

Vedanta Philosophy.

creator and governor of the universe, is eter-
nally separate from the world and from all
living creatures, just as a potter is separate
from the pot which he makes or as a carpenter
who stands always outside of the table or
chair which he makes. The dualists beheve
in a God who has human attributes infinitely
magnified. He is all-wise, merciful, just
and all-powerful. Some of the dualists go
so far as to give human form to God, as v/e
find in the conception of Jehovah among
the Hebrews and the orthodox Christians.
In the Old Testament, Jehovah is described
as walking with Adam in the Garden of Eden.
It is said: "And they heard the voice of the
Lord God walking in the garden in the cool
of the day, and Adam and his wife hid them-
selves from the presence of the Lord God
amongst the trees of the garden. " (Genesis iii,
8.) Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu,
and seventy of the elders of Israel saw Him.
The nobles not only saw but they did eat and

drink with Him. (Exodus xxiv, 9, 11.) Moses

The Relation of Soul to God.

saw Jehovah's back. Jehovah ate with Abra-
ham under the oaks at Mamre. (Genesis xviii,
I, 8.) God was pleased with the sweet savor
of Noah's sacrifice. He possessed human
appetites. He walked with Noah.

The same Jehovah with a human form and
human qualities and with a human personality
is the ideal God of the orthodox Christian
monotheists of to-day. They beHeve in Je-
hovah as sitting on a throne somewhere in
the heavens, with eyes red with anger and
revenge, and holding a rod, ever ready to
punish the wicked with eternal fire. From
many of the orthodox pulpits the same God is
preached to-day, as He was in the days of the
past. The relation of man to such a personal,
or rather human God, with human attri-
butes, is like that of a creature to his creator,
of a subject to his king, or of a slave to his
master. As the duty of a subject is to obey
impHcitly the commands of his king, or ruler,
or governor, so every man's duty is to obey

the commands of the Governor of the uni-

Vedanta Philosophy.

verse, otherwise he will be punished. Similar

relation of man to the extra-cosmic personal

Ruler of the universe is to be found in most

of the dualistic or monotheistic religions of

the world. All the religions of Europe and

Asia which are dualistic or monotheistic

teach that our relation to God is that of a

creature to his creator, or of the governed

to the governor.

Although man is said to be created in

God's image in Genesis, yet it is generally

understood that he cannot have any relation

higher than that of a creature to his creator.

It simply means that the first man, being

the image of God, possessed at first some

of the divine quaHties before he was tempted

by Satan. Although the Christians beHeve

that Jesus the Christ was the son of God,

and that God is the father of the universe,

yet according to them, an ordinary mortal

cannot be called the son of God in the same

sense as Jesus of Nazareth was, because he

was an exception to the general rule. Whether

The Relation of Soul to God.

Jesus ever meant that he was the only begotten
son of God exclusive of any other mortal, is
a problem yet to be solved. If every individual
be a true image or the son of God, then the
question arises, why should He punish His own
son so mercilessly with eternal fire as is de-
scribed in the parable of the marriage of the
king's son: "Then said the king to the serv-
ants, bind him hand and foot and take him
away and cast him into outer darkness;
there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth;
for many are called but few are chosen."
(Matt, xxii, 13, 14.) Again, in the saying:
*'Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how
can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Matt,
xxiii, 33.) Thus, according to popular Chris-
tianity, as it is understood and preached in
the orthodox churches, man's relation to God
is not like that of His image, nor Hke that of a
son to his loving Father, but Hke that of a
subject to his despotic monarch, Christ being
the only begotten son of God. The Christians

believe that God creates the soul out of nothing

Vedanta Philosophy.

and implants it in the human form at the time
of its birth. As long as there is preached
the idea of the creation of the universe and
of man out of nothing by an extra-cosmic
personal God with human attributes, so long
will our relation to God remain hke that of
a creature to his creator or of the governed
to his governor.

In India too there are dualists. They
beheve in an extra-mundane personal God
who is the repository of all blessed quaUties,
who is omnipotent, omniscient, and all-
loving; who creates the universe, not out of
nothing, but out of the material of nature,
which is eternal. God is the efficient cause
of the universe and nature is the material
cause. They do not believe that the human
soul comes into existence all of a sudden and
has a beginning, as the Christians do, but
that it existed in the past and will exist in
future from eternity to eternity. They say
that as nature is eternal so are the individual

souls. Each soul after remaining potentially

The Relation of Soul to God.

in nature for some time, comes out of the causal
state at the beginning of a new cycle of crea-
tion or evolution, and manifests in gross forms,
one after another, going through the different
grades of evolution according to its desires
and tendencies, until it reaches perfection.
After reading the New Testament one cannot
get any definite conception of the nature of
the human soul, nor of its destiny, but in the
duahstic system of India one learns that the
human soul is Hke an infinitesimal particle of
nature containing the divine light of intelli-
gence and divine power in an infinitely small
degree, whose duty is to serve God through
prayers, good deeds, good thoughts and love.
God loves all, and He can be loved in return.
Those who worship Him through unswerving
devotion and unselfish love obtain freedom
from the dark side of nature; that is, from
the bondages of ignorance, selfishness, suffering,
misery and all other imperfections; and after
death they hve a life of bliss and perfection

forever in the presence of the eternal personal

Vedanta Philosophy.

God. This is salvation according to the dual-
ists in India. They do not mean by salvation
going to heaven, but on the contrary, hold
that heaven is a realm where one goes to
enjoy the results of one's good deeds, and at
the end of such a period of celestial enjoyment
one comes back to earth and is born again.
Each soul is bound to attain this salva-
tion, sooner or later. Those who do wicked
deeds reap the results of their actions
and thoughts, not by going to any place
of eternal fire and punishment, but by being
born again and again until they reach the
state of spirituality, devotion and righteous-
ness. The monotheists in India do not be-
lieve that God punishes any one, as He is the
embodiment of Divine love. Nor do they
believe in eternal suffering, nor in any Satan
or creator of evil. But they do believe in a
temporary suffering of the wicked, which is
the reaction of their own wicked acts. They
do not blame God or charge Him with par-

tiaHty, they do not blame Satan, but they

The Relation of Soul to God.

take upon their own shoulders the whole
burden of responsibility. These dualists be-
lieve that wherever there is life there is the
manifestation of the divine hght of intelH-
gence, however small it may be, however
imperfect the expression of intelligence may
be. From the minutest insect up to the high-
est gods (Devas) or angels, or bright spirits,
each individual Hfe is filled with a ray of that
Divine Sun. They sometimes compare God
with a gigantic magnet and the individual
soul with the point of a needle, and say as a
magnet attracts a needle so the great God
attracts the individual souls toward Him
through love, and magnetizes them as it were
by His divine grace and power. Although
they believe that each soul is separate from
God and from other souls, yet its relation to
God is like that of a ray to the sun or of a
spark to fire. Their conception of the human
soul is with attributes, with quaUties and char-
acter, with mind, intellect, sense-powers, and

the finer particles of ethereal matter which

Vedanta Philosophy.

give foundation to grosser physical forms.
In short, it is the same as the individual ego,
as we call it, or the spiritual body as it is called
in the New Testament. According to these
duahsts, God can be worshipped by man
through various relations, such as by calling
Him master, or father, or mother, or brother,
or friend, or son, or husband. These relations
depend upon the nature and characteristics
of the worshipper. Some hke to think of
themselves as servants of God, others as
friends, or brothers, or sons. They say, as
the same man in a household can be the master
in relation to his servants, the father in relation
to his children, a friend, a brother, or a hus-
band in relation to his wife, so the same God
can appear in all those various relations to
different devotees according to their modes
of thinking. Such is the conception of the
individual soul and its relation to God accord-
ing to the dualistic thinkers of India.

Next to the dualistic conception of God

comes that of the quahfied non-duaHsts,

The Relation of Soul to God.

These thinkers go a little deeper than the dual-
ists. Starting from the dualistic standpoint
they go a step further toward the realiza-
tion of Truth and of man's relation to God.
According to them, God is no longer extra-
cosmic, no more outside of and separate from
the universe, but He is intra-cosmic. He is
no longer governor from the outside, but
Aniarydmirij inter- ruler. He is immanent
and resident in nature. He interpenetrates
every particle of the universe. The physical
universe is His gross physical body. He has
infinite eyes, infinite ears, and infinite organs
of other senses. He sees through the eyes of
all living creatures of the universe. He hears
through all the ears that exist in the universe.
He has infinite heads. The wind is His breath.
His mind is the sum total of individual minds,
or in other words, the Cosmic Mind. His
intellect is the Cosmic intellect. His soul is
the Cosmic Ego, or the soul of the universe.
He is no longer the creator of the universe,

or one w^ho fashions the materials of nature

Vedanta Philosophy.

and gives names and forms to the phenomena
from outside Hke a potter or a carpenter.
He is not the efficient cause alone, as the
dualists maintain, but He is both efficient
and material cause of the universe. He cre-
ates, that is, He projects into the physical
space the phenomenal forms out of nature or
divine energy v^hich is in His body. He is
the one living Being in the universe. He is
the one stupendous Whole, and we are but

In that process of projection or evolution
of nature, infinite numbers of individual souls
which existed in His body from the begin-
ningless past, come out on the physical plane,
take forms, play their parts according to their
desires, and fulfil the purpose of Hfe by going
through the process of evolution. Each indi-
vidual soul is like a spark which emanates
from the huge bonfire of God, and Hves in and
through God, but it cannot be called God.
God dwells everywhere. He pervades the

universe and nature, and yet He transcends

The Relation of Soul to God.

them both. He is infinite but personal, with-
out any human form. The quaHfied non-
duahsts say that God cannot be confined to
any form, because every form is a Hmitation
in space by time, while God is unHmited by
space or time. He is beyond space and time.
Still, He can appear in various forms to
satisfy the desires of His worshippers. Our
body is a part of God's body, our mind is a
part of the divine or universal mind, our will is
a part of the universal or cosmic will. This
is called the quahfied non-duaHstic concep-
tion of God, because it looks at unity as quaH-
fied by variety. That is, God is one, the uni-
verse and human souls are one in God, yet
each retains its own separate individuahty.
God is Hke a tree and we are like branches
thereof. It reminds me of the simile of the
vine and its branches which Jesus the Christ
gave to show man's relation to God. The
same idea underUes His saying, ''My Father
is greater than I." According to this class

of thinkers the individual soul possesses all

^^edanta Philosophy.

the quabties of the ^uman ego. As our ego
has mind, intellect, sense-power, memory,
and is hmited by other egos, so is the soul.
After the death of the body the soul contracts
its quahties within itself, and at the time of
its birth it expands those latent powers. Our
ego or soul is a part of the cosmic ego, or the
soul of the universe, or God.

Next to these comes the class of monistic
or non-duahstic thinkers. They do not stop
where the quahfied non-duahsts have stopped,
but they push their investigations still further,
and analyze the nature of the individual soul
or ego, and ultimately discover the unchange-
able essence of the ego. They are the seekers
of the unchangeable reality of the universe.
In their search they will not stop until they
have reached that Truth which is immutable,
eternal and one. They adopt the scientific
methods of analysis, observation and experi-
ment, and apply them to solve the subtlest
and most abstract problems. Analyzing the

nature of the ego, they find that it cannot be

The Relation of Soul to God.

the unchangeable reahty or immutable Truth,
because the mind, with its various modifications,
such as intellect, memor>', etc., is constantly
changing. After patient research and con-
tinuous struggle to know the ultimate Truth,
these great monistic sages reahzed that the
ego, or the individual soul, is nothing but a
changeful receptacle of a still subtler sub-
stance, which is unchangeable and eternal.
They called it the Atman in Sanskrit.

There is no word in the Enghsh language
which conveys the meaning of this Atman.
It is much finer than ego or the Hving soul
of the individual. Atman is the uncondi-
tioned reahty in man; and the hving soul or
the individual ego is the subtle covering of
the Atman, hke the globe that covers the
hght of a lamp. That Atman is not a part
of the universal ego, but it is one with the un-
conditioned Reahty of the universe, which
is called in Sanskrit Brahman, or the All-
pervading Spirit, or the Absolute. Some-
times it is caUed Paramatman, which was

Vedanta Philosophy.

translated by Ralph Waldo Emerson as
Over-Soul. It is finer than the Cosmic Ego
or God. It is sexless, neither masculine nor
feminine. It is sometimes translated by the
Oriental scholars as the Self. But Self is a
confusing word. Some people mistake it
for the Anglo-Saxon self, which acts and
progresses, and which is another name for
the ego.

According to the non-duahstic conception
of the true nature of man, the Atman or the
Self, or the spiritual essence of man, is the
same as the Brahman, the spiritual or divine
essence of the universe. The relation of the
true nature of man to God is no longer like
that of a creature to the Creator, nor like
that of a son to his father, nor like that of a
part to the whole, but it is absolute oneness
on the highest spiritual plane. The Atman,
or the divine nature of man, is the same as

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