Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

Lectures on the philosophy of religion, together with a work on the proofs of the existence of God online

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with which the course of events was sufficiently ungod-
like ; indeed, conquest and amours are the two aspects,
the most important acts of the incarnations.

The Third is Siva, Mahadeva, the great god, or Eudra :
this ought to be the return into self. The First, namely,
Brahma, is the most distant unity, the self-enclosed
unity ; the Second, Vishnu, is manifestation (the moments
of Spirit are thus far not to be mistaken), is life in human
form. The Third should be the return to the First, in
order that the imity might appear as returning into
itself. But it is just this Third which is what is devoid
of Spirit ; it is the determination of Becoming generally,
or of coming into being and passing away. It has been
stated that change in the general sense is the Third ;
thus the fundamental characteristic of Siva is on the
one hand the prodigious life-force, on the other what de-
stroys, devastates ; the wild energy of natural life. Its
principal symbol is therefore the Ox, on account of its
strength, but the most universal representation is the
Lingam, which was reverenced among the Greeks as
(paXXo?, and it is this sign which is to be found in
most of the temples. The innermost sanctuary contains it.


Such are the three fundamental determinations : the
whole is represented by a figure with three heads, which
again is symbolical and wholly without beauty.

The true Third, according to the deeper conception, is
Spirit. It is the return of the One to itself; it is its
coming to itself. It is not merely change, but is the
change in which the difference is brought to reconcilia-
tion with the First, in which the duality is annulled.

But in this religion, which still belongs to nature, the
Becoming is conceived of as mere becoming, as mere
change ; not as a change of the difference by means of
which the unity produces itself as an annulling of differen-
tiation and the taking of it up into unity. Conscious-
ness, Spirit, is also a change in the First, that is, in
the immediate unity. The Other is the act of judgment
or differentiation, the having an Other over against one
— I exist as knowing — but in such a manner that while
the Other is for me, I have returned in that Other to
myself, into myself.

The Third, instead of being the reconciler, is here
merely this wild play of begetting and destroying. Thus
the development issues only in a wild whirl of delirium.
This difference, viz., the Third, is essentially based upon
the standpoint of natural religion and based upon it in
its entirety.

These differentiations are now grasped as Unity — as
Trimurti — and this again is conceived of as the Highest.
But just as this is conceived of as Trimiirti, each person
too in turn is taken independently and alone, so that
each is itself totality, that is, the whole deity.

In the older part of the Vedas it is not Vishnu, and
still less Siva, that is spoken of; there Brahma, the One,
is alone God.

Kot only is this principal basis and fundamental
determination in the Indian mythology thus personified,
but all else too is superficially personified by means of
imagination. Imposing natural objects, such as the


Ganges, the Sun, the Himalaya (which is the special
dwelling-place of Siva), become identified with Brahma
himself. So too with love, deceit, theft, avarice, as well
as the sensuous powers of nature in. plants and animals,
so that Substance has the form of animals and the like.
All these are conceived of by imagination as free and
independent, and thus there arises an infinite world of
Deities of particular powers and phenomena, which is
notwithstanding known as subordinated to something
above it. At the head of this world stands Indra, the
god of the visible heavens. These gods are mutable and
perishable, and are in subjection to the Supreme One ;
abstraction absorbs them : the power which man acquires
by means of these gods strikes them with terror ; indeed,
Vi^mavitra even creates another Indra and other gods !

Thus these particular spiritual and natural Powers,
which are regarded as deities, are at one time indepen-
dent, and at another are regarded as vanishing, it being
their nature to be submerged in the absolute unity, in
Substance, and to spring iuto existence again out of it.

Thus the Hindus say there have already been many
thousand Indras, and there will yet b3 more ; in the
same way the incarnations, too, are held to be transient.
The substantial unity does not bacome concrete because
the particular Powers return into it, but, on the contrary, it
remains abstract unity ; and it also does not become con-
crete although these determinate existences proceed out
of it ; rather they are phenomena with the characteristic
of independence, and are posited outside of that unity.

To form an estimate of the number and value of these
deities is wholly out of the question here ; there is nothing
which takes a fixed shape, since all definite form is want-
ing to this fantastic imagination. These shapes dis-
appear again in the same manner in which they are
begotten ; fancy passes over from an ordinary external
mode of existence to divinity, and this in like manner
returns back again to that which was its starting-point.


It is impossible to speak of miracles here, for all is
miracle ; everything is dislocated, and nothing determined
by means of a rational connection of the categories of
thought. Undoubtedly a great deal is symbolical.

Tiie Hindus are, moreover, divided into many sects.
Among many other differences, the principal one is this,
that some worship Vishnu and others Siva. This is often
the occasion of bloody wars; at festivals and fairs especially,
disputes arise which cost thousands their lives.

Now these distinctions are in a general sense to be
understood as meanin" that what is called Vishnu even
says again regarding itself that it is All, that Brahma is
the womb in which it begets All, and that it is the abso-
lute activity of form, that indeed it is Brahma. Hero
this differentiation represented by Vishnu is removed and
absorbed .

If it is Siva who is introduced as speaking, then it is
he who is absolute totality ; he is the lustre of precious
stones, the energy in man, the reason in the soul — in fact,
he too in turn is Brahma. Here all the Powers, even
the two other differences, as well as the other Powers,
gods of nature and genii, melt into One Person, into
one of these differentiations.

The fundamental determination of the theoretical con-
sciousness is therefore the determination of unity, the
determination of that which is called Brahma, Brahma,
and the like. This unity, however, comes to have an
ambiguous meaning, inasmuch as Brahma is at one time
the Universal, the All, and at another a particularity as
contrasted with particularity in general. Thus Brahma
appears as creator, and then again as subordinate to
something else, and he even speaks of something higher
than himself — of a universal soul. The confusion which
characterises this sphere originates in the dialectic neces-
sarily belonging to it. Spirit, which puts everything in
organic connection, is not present here, and therefore if
the determinations never make their appearance at all


in the form adequate to Spirit, tlaey have to be abrogated
as one-sided, and tlien a fresh form maizes its appearance.
Tiie necessity of the Notion manifests itself merely as
deviation, as confusion, as something which has nothing
within itself to give it stabilitj'', and it is to the nature
of the Notion that this confusion owes its orinin.

The One shows itself as fixed or established in its own
right, as that which is in everlasting unity with itself.
But since this One must advance to particularisation,
which, however, remains devoid of Spirit here, all differen-
tiations are called and are in turn Brahma, are this One
within itself, and thus also appropriate the epithet of
the One, and so the particular deities are all Brahma
likewise. An Englishman who, by a most careful in-
vestigation into the various representations, has sought to
discover what is meant by Brahma, believes that Brahma
is an epithet of praise, and is used as such just because
he is not looked on as being himself solely this One,
but, on the contrary, everything says of itself that it is
Brahma. I refer to what Mill says in his History of
India. He proves from many Indian writings that it is
an epithet of praise which is applied to various deities,
and does not represent the conception of perfection or
unity which we associate with it. This is a mistake, for
Brahma is in one aspect the One, the Immutable, who
has, however, the element of change in him, and because
of this, the rich variety of forms which is thus essentially
his own is also predicated of him. Vishnu is also called
the Supreme Brahma. Water and the sun are Brahma.
Special prominence is given to the sun in the Vedas, and
if we were to reckon up the prayers addressed to it, we
might suppose that the ancient inhabitants of India found
Brahma in the sun alone, and that they had thus a
different religion from that of their descendants. The
air, too, the movement of the atmosphere, breath, under-
standing, happiness are called Brahma. Mahadeva calls
himself Brahma, and Siva says of himself, " I am what


is and what is not ; I have been everything ; I am always
and shall always be ; I am Brahma and likewise Brahma ;
I am the cause which causes, I am the truth, the ox,
and all living things ; T am older than all ; I am the
past, the present, and the future ; I am Eudra, I am
all worlds," &c.

Thus Brahma is the One, and is also everything inde-
pendently which is conceived of as God. Among other
prayers, we find one addressed to speech, in which it says
of itself, " I am Brahma," the universal supreme soul.
Brahma is thus this One, which, however, is not ex-
clusively held fast to as this One. He is not such a
Being as we have in our minds when we speak of one
God ; this One God is universal unity ; here everything
which is iadependent, which is identical with itself says,
" I am Brahma."

By way of conclusion, another description may be given
here, in which all the moments which we have hitherto
considered in their divided state and dialectic are ex-
pressed unitedly.

Colonel Dow translated a history of India from the
Persian, and in an accompanying dissertation he gives a
translation from the Vedas, and in it there is a descrip-
tion of the creation of the world.

Brima existed from all eternity in the form of im-
measurable expansion ; when it pleased him to create
the world he said, " Rise up, Brima ! " What was
first had thus been desire, appetite. He says this to
himself. Immediately thereupon a spirit of flames of
fire, having four heads and four hands, issued from h s
navel. Brima looked around and saw nothins; but his
own immeasurable image. He journeyed a thousand
years in order to attain a knowledge of his expansion
and to understand it. This fire again is Brima himself,
and he has himself alone for his object as immeasurable.
Now Brima, after the journey of a thousand years, knew
as little about his expansion as he did before. Sunk in


wonderment, he gave up his journeyings and considered
what he had seen. The Almighty, who is something
different from Brima, had then said to him, " Go, Brima,
and create the world ; thou canst not understand thyself ;
make something understandable." Brima had asked,
" How shall I create a world ? " The Almighty had
answered, " Ask me and power shall be given thee."
Fire had now issued out of Brima, and he had seen the
Idea of all things, which hovered before his eyes, and
liad said, " Let all which I see become real, but how shall
I preserve the things so that they do not go to destruc-
tion ? " Upon this a spirit of blue colour proceeded out
of his mouth ; this again was Brima himself, Vishnu,
Krishna, the maintaining principle, and this he com-
manded to create all living things, and for their main-
tenance the vegetable world. Human beings were as
yet wanting. Thereupon Brima commanded Vishnu to
make mankind. He did this, but the human beings
which Vishnu made were idiots with great bellies, with-
out knowledge, like the beasts of the field, without
emotions and will, and with sensuous passions only ; at
this Brima was wroth and destroyed them. He himself
now created four persons out of his own breath, and
gave them orders to rule over the creatures. But they
refused to do anything else than to praise God, because
they had nothing of the quality of mutability or destruc-
tibility in them, nothing of the temporal qualities of
existence. Brima now became angry. His vexation
took the form of a swarthy spirit, which came forth from
between the eyes. This spirit sat down before Brima
with crossed legs and folded arms, and wept, saying,
" Who am I, and what is my dwelling-place to be ? "
Brima replied, " Thou shalt be Eudra, and all nature thy
dwelling-place ; go and make men." He did so. These
men were more savage than tigers, since they had nothing
in them but the destructive quality ; they destroyed
themselves, for their only emotion was wrath. Thus we


see the three gods working separately from one another ;
what they produce is one-sided only and without truth.
Finally, Brima, Vishnu, and Eudra united their forces,
and thus created men, ten of them, in fact.

(c.) Worship.

Subjective religion — the comprehension of itself by
self-consciousness in relation to its divine world —
corresponds with the character of that world itself.

As in this world the Idea has developed itself to such
an extent that its fundamental determinations have
emerged into prominence though they remain mutually
external, and as in like manner the empirical world re-
mains external and unintelligible relatively to them and
to itself, and therefore abandoned to the caprice of
imagination, consciousness too, although developed in all
directions, does not attain to the conception of itself as
true subjectivity. The leading place in this sphere is
occupied by the pure equality or identity of thought,
which at the same time is inherently existing creative
Power. This foundation is, however, purely theoretical.
It is still the substantiality out of which indeed poten-
tially all proceeds, and in which all is retained, but out-
side of which all content has assumed independence, and
is not, so far as regards its determinate existence and
standing, made by means of that unity into an objective
and universal content. Merely theoretical, formal thought
supports the content when it thus appears as accidentally
determined ; it can indeed abstract from it, but cannot
exalt it to the connected unity of a system, and con-
sequently to a connected existence in accordance with
law. Thought, therefore, does not really acquire a prac-
tical signification here ; that is to say, activity and will
do not give the character of universality to its deter-
minations ; and though form develops itself potentially,
indeed, in accordance with the nature of the Notion, still
it does not appear in the character of something posited
by the Kotion, and does not appear as held within its


unity. The activity of the will, therefore, does not arrive
at freedom of the vs^ill — does not arrive at a content
which, being determined through the unity of the Notion,
would consequently be rational, objective, and in accord -
ance with right. This unity, on the contrary, remains
the merely potentially existent substantial Power existing
in seclusion, namely, Brahma, which has let go actuality
as mere contingency, and now abandons it entirely to its
own wild caprice.

Worship here is first of all a certain attitude of the
self-consciousness Brahma, and then afterwards to the
rest of the divine world existing outside of him.

I. As regards the first attitude, that towards Brahma,
we find that it is specially marked off and peculiar
exactly in proportion as it keeps itself isolated from the
rest of the concrete, religious, and temporal fulness of

I. Brahma is thought, man is a thinking being, thus
Brahma has essentially an existence in human self-con-
sciousness. Man, however, is essentially characterised
here as a thinking being, or, in other words, thought as
such, and in the first place as pure theory has universal
existence here, because thought itself as such, as in-
herently Power, is given a determinate character, and
consequently has in it form generally, namely, abstract
form, or the character of determinate Being in general.

Man, indeed, is not only a thinking being, but is here
essentially thought ; he is conscious of himself as pure
thought ; for it has just been stated that here thought
as such comes into existence ; here man has the general
idea of it within himself. In other words, he is actually
self-conscious thought, for thought is implicitly Power,
but Power itself is just that infinite negativity, that
negativity relating itself to itself, which is actual Being,
Being-for-self. But Being- for-self, enclosed within the
universality of thought generally, exalted in it to free
equality with itself, is the soul of a living creature only.


not the powerful self-consciousness imprisoned within
the particularity of desire, but the self of consciousness,
which knows itself in its universality, and which thus
as thinking itself, as forming conceptions within itself,
knows itself as Brahma.

Or if we proceed from the determination that Brahma
is Essence as abstract unity, as absorption in self, he has
then his existence in the finite subject too, in the par-
ticular Spirit, as this absorption in self. To the Idea of
the true there belongs the universal substantial unity
and identity with self ; but in such a way that it is not
merely the Undetermined, not merely substantial unity,
but is determined within itself. Brahma, however, has
the determinateness outside of him. Thus the supreme
determinateness of Brahma, namely, consciousness, the
knowing of his real existence, his subjectivity of unity,
can only be the subjective consciousness as such.

This attitude is not to be called worship, for there
is here no relation to the thinking substantiality as to
anything objective, but, on the contrary, the relation is
immediately known along with the deternjination of my
subjectivity, as " I myself." In fact, I am this pure
thought, and the " I " itself is indeed the very expression
of it, for " I " as such is this abstract identity of myself
within myself as wholly without determination — " I " as
" I " am merely thought as that which is posited with
the determination of subjective existence rejected into
itself — I am ivhat thinks. Conversely, therefore, it is
conceded, on the other hand, that thought as this
abstract thought has this very subjectivity which " 1 "
directly expresses as its existence. Tor the true thought,
which God is, is not this abstract thought, or this
simple substantiality and universality, but is thought as
tlie concrete, absolutely full or filled up Idea. The
thought which is merely the potential existence of the
Idea is just the abstract thought which has merely this
finite existence, namely, in the subjective self-conscious-


ness, and ■which has not relatively to the latter the
objectivity of concrete being in-and-for-self, and there-
fore is quite justly not held in reverence by it.

Every Hindu is himself momentarily Brahma. Brahma
is this One, the abstraction of thought, and to the extent
to which a man puts himself into the condition of self-
concentration, he is Brahma. Brahma himself is not
worshipped ; the One God has no temple, has no worship,
and no prayer is addressed to him. An Englishman, the
author of a treatise on " Idol- worship among the Hindus,"
makes a number of reflections on the subject, and says,
if a Hindu were asked whether he worships idols, he
would answer without the least hesitation, " Yes, I
worship idols." If, on the other hand, we were to ask
a Hindu, whether learned or unlearned, " Do you worship
the Supreme Being, Paramesvara ? Do you pray to
Him ? Do you bring Him offerings ? " he would then
say, "Never." If we were to inquire further, "What
is this tranquil devotion, this silent meditation which is
enjoined on you and which you practise ? " he would
then reply, " When I engage in prayer, sit down, cross
my legs over one another, fold my hands, and look
toward heaven, and concentrate my spirit and my
thoughts without speaking, I then say within myself,
' I am Brahma, the Supreme Being.' "

2. Since in this first attitude we have only one
moment of single prayer, of devotion, so that Brahma
is momentary only in his existence, and since this exist-
ence is thus inadequate to such content and its uni-
versality, the demand arises that this existence should
be made into a universal one, such as the content is.
The " I," abstractly as such, is the universal, only that
this itself is merely a moment in the existence of
abstraction ; the next demand therefore is that this
abstraction, this " I " should be made commensurate
with the content. This exaltation means nothing else
„than the breaking off of the transition from the moment

YOL. 11. c


of still solitude into life, into the concrete present, into
concrete self-consciousness. With this, all life and all
relations of concrete actual life to the One are to be
renounced. The entire living Present, whether that of
natural life or of spiritual life, of the family, of the
State, of art, of religion, is dissolved in the pure nega-
tivity of abstract selflessness.

The highest point which is thus attained to in worship
is that union with God which consists in the annihila-
tion and stupefaction of self-consciousness. This is not
atRrmative liberation and reconciliation, but is, on the
contrary, wholly negative, complete abstraction. It is
that complete emptying which makes renunciation of all
consciousness, will, emotions, needs. Man, so long as he
persists in remaining within his own consciousness, is,
according to the Hindu idea, ungodly. But the freedom
of man justs consists in being with himself — not in
emptiness, but in willing, knowing, acting. To the
Hindu, on the contrary, the complete submergence and
stupefaction of the consciousness is what is highest, and
he who maintains himself in this abstraction and has
died to the world is called a yogi.

This state is found existing among the people of India,
because many Hindus, who are not Brdhmans, undertake
and accomplish the task of making themselves into the
" I " which is in a completely abstract condition. They
renounce all movement, all interests, all inclination, and
give themselves up to a still abstraction ; they are re-
verenced and supported by others, they remain speechless
in rigid torpor, looking toward the sun or having their
eyes closed. Some remain thus during their whole life,
others for twenty or thirty years. It is related of one
of these Hindus that he had travelled for ten years with-
out ever lying down, having slept standing; during the
following ten years he had held his hands above his head,
and then he intended to have himself suspended by the
feet to swing for three hours and three-quarters over a


fire, and finally to have himself buried for three hours
and three-quarters. He would then have attained to the
highest state, and he Vi^ho succeeds in reaching such
motionlessness, such lifelessness, is, according to the
opinion of the Hindus, immersed thereby in the inner
life, and exists permanently as Brahma.

There is an episode in the Eamayana which places us
entirely at this point of view. The story of the life of
Visvamitra, the companion of Kama (an incarnation
of Vishnu), is thus related. There was a mighty king,
who, as being such, had demanded a cow (which is wor-
shipped in India as the generative energy of the earth)
of the Brahman Vasischtha, as he had got to know of its
wonderful power. Vasischtha refused it ; the king there-
upon seized it by force, but the cow escaped back again
to Vasischtha, reproached him with having permitted it to
be taken from him, since the power of a Kshatriya (which
the king was) is not greater than that of a Brahmaia.

Online LibraryGeorg Wilhelm Friedrich HegelLectures on the philosophy of religion, together with a work on the proofs of the existence of God → online text (page 3 of 31)