Mythology and Spiritual Aspect

Discussion in 'Spiritual Forum' started by garry420, Mar 3, 2015.

  1. garry420

    garry420 Well-Known Member

    Mythology forms a very important part of any religion. More often it helps the aspirant to understand the philosophic portion of the religion easily. We are going to see India's beautiful spiritual mythology, difficulties in understanding them with Vedanta and mythologies of other religions; about the differences within Hinduism's own sects, their logical conclusions. If the obstacle to believe a mythology in the absence of historical evidence is much felt among even Hindus, what will it present to a Westerner who develops a keen interest in Vedanta. The importance of idol worship in understanding the advaitic philosophy.

    If a modern aspirant takes Hindu mythology too literally, as many people do, he can be so shocked that he will lose interest in Hinduism's great spiritual tradition before he has investigated it. Or the average Westerner, demanding what he believes to be absolute truth and absolute reality from religion, sees no excuse for worshipping anyone or anything that cannot be verified historically. So he draws back in amazed disbelief when he discovers that there is no good evidence for the historicity of India's favourite divine incarnations, Rama and Krishna, whose imposing stories are told in the mythological epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. He is saddened to read that one of the most competent authorities on Indian philosophy and religion, Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, actually states that Krishna is a composite of three legendary figures rather than one historical person.

    He is further taken aback when he encounters India's many gods, some of whom impress him as being very beautiful and some of whom seem very strange to him with their many heads and arms. Some grotesque gods have such deformities that he cannot imagine how a child born with them could hope to survive. Although he thinks that the elephant-headed Ganesha is more humorous than repulsive, he cannot take him seriously. He wonders how this funny little fellow, with an elephant's head on a human body, could manage to function. He abhors the worship of the Sivalingam, a phallic symbol which is meaningless to him. And, finally, he is horrified that these unreal gods and goddess are worshipped and reverently housed in temple shrines.

    The Westerner with a superficial knowledge of Indian mythology may conclude that it is only folklore, which everyone knows is fictitious, rather than religion, which is the Lord's own truth. He may think that the worship of mythological figures conforms to Webster's definition of superstition as 'an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God, proceeding from ignorance, unreasoning fear of the unknown or mysterious, morbid scrupulosity, a belief in magic, or chance, or the like.

    If, however, the inquirer consults scholarly sources, he is sure to find statements suggesting that this point-of-view is too narrow. Expert mythologists are now setting forth the theory that many myths express hidden truths about man's relationship to the cosmos. For instance, Mircea Eliade writes, ' reciting or listening to a myth, one resumes contact with the sacred and with reality, and in so doing one transcends the profane tradition, the "historical situation". Thus Eliade believes that in reaching reality, one must transcend the historical situation, which some take to be the chief criterian of reality.

    Heinrich Zimmer, a foremost authority on Hindu mythology, specifically warns that 'it would not do to seek to constrain the Oriental conceptions into the delimiting frames familiar to the West. Their profound strangeness must be permitted to expose to us the unconscious limitations of our own approach to the enigmas of existence and of man. In other words, scholarly research suggests that the problem with Indian Mythology must be in the inquirer rather than in the mythology itself.

    The respectful study which Indian mythology deserves should probably begin with the Vedas, which are dated approximately between 2500 B.C. and 600 B.C. and which contain the earliest references to the Indian gods and goddesses. Careful analysis of the Vedas
    makes it clear that, in spite of the proliferation of gods and goddesses, there was no real polytheism in India even in ancient times. Swami Prabhavananda explains:

    Casual visitors to this ancient land carry with them the impression of an elaborate polytheism. True it is that India has always had many gods---- but in appearance only. In reality she has had but one god, though with prodigal inventiveness she has called him by 'various name'.

    With reference to the sections of the Vedas called the samhitas, the Swamy writes:
    The Samhitas are collections of mantras, or hymns, most of which sing the praises of one or another personal god. Sometimes the god is conceived as little more than a magnified man. In one hymn, for example, Indra, the god of rain, has a body clad in golden armour, is very strong, and descends to earth, where he lives and eats with his votaries, fights and overcomes their enemies the demons, and establishes his dominion. Similarly, Varuna, in another hymn is described as a mere nature god, presiding in anthropomorphic form over air and water. But, again, the god----even at times the same god that was just now so much a man----becomes nothing less than the Supreme Being, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent----and that within which the visible world is contained.

    Max Muller, coined the word 'henotheism' for this elevation of one god after another to become the one supreme God who creates and sustains the universe. According to the Vedas, however, even this one god is not the ultimate divine reality.
    In the words of Swami Satprakashananda:
    ...the deities mentioned in the Vedas... were neither supernatural beings nor deified forces and phenomena of nature, but different manifestations of Nondual Brahman, 'the One without a second'. Indeed, the prevailing note of the Samhita part is not polytheism, henotheism, or even monotheism, but absolute monism or nondualism.
    The mythology of the Samhitas embodies the concepts presented in the philosophical portion of the Vedas, the Upanishads. The highest, most comprehensive, truth set forth in the Upanishad is nondual. But Vedantic sages recognise that gradations of philosophical truth are inevitable because Brahman, the absolute, nondual Reality is only partially revealed to the vast majority of us. In Swami Prabhavananda's eloquent words, the experience of Brahman is so 'utterly impersonal, so devoid of anything describable in human terms, as to be suited only to the greatest saints, and to those only in their most strenuous moments.' We see Brahman through a sort of spiritual fog. At first our perception is very vague, but our vision gradually becomes clearer as the fog dissipates. Brahman is always the same; it is our perception that varies. Since this nondual ultimate Reality, of course, admits no other, all that we experience in the apparently finite universe must be Brahman imperfectly understood. We first see Brahman, the all-inclusive rreality, not as spirit but as matter. When our vision clearsa little, we see Brahman as an external personal deity; then, with greater clarity, as the all-pervasive personal God in whom we live, move, and have our being; and finally, we know Brahman as undifferentiated divine existence, consciousness and bliss, We then know that the true Self, the Atman, is one with this absolute spirit, Brahman. Brahman is divine, so we are divine.
  2. garry420

    garry420 Well-Known Member

    In bhakti sadhana, as in non-dual absorption, the divine is experienced as blissful consciousness, which is much fuller and more intense than our ordinary consciousness. On the spiritual level of mythology, characters such as Rama and Sita embody this consciousness in exemplary lives to give us an idea of our own unrealized divinity.

    Humanity has projected its own nature, both human and divine, into myths. When the gods are conceived of as having ordinary human weaknesses, it is because we have attributed our weaknesses to them. And when the gods display saintliness and wisdom, it is because these qualities are also part of out nature. The myth of the great god Siva is an example of both human and divine projection. In the Atharva Veda, Siva (there known as Rudra) is 'dark, black, destroying, terrible'; he is the fierce god who is implored 'not to assail mankind with consumption, poison, or celestial fire'. But in the Upanishads, Siva proclaims his own divinity as follows: 'I alone was before (all things), and I exist and I shall be. No other transcends me. I am eternal and not eternal, discernible and undiscernible, I am Brahma and I am not Brahma.' To the advanced saint, Siva even personifies the absolute Brahman. He is also the compassionate one who drank the poison which threatened to destroy the world and who broke the fall of Ganga on his matted locks so that it would not devastate the land with her raging current.

    We make our own gods. When they are divine, it is because there is divinity within us, their creators. In an exquisite passage, George santayana says that our personal conception of Jesus and Virgin Mary come from within us, not from history, although it is perfectly possible that the historical Jesus and the historical Mary were as we imagine them.
    The Christ men have loved and adored is an ideal of their own hearts, the construction of an ever-present personality, living and intimately understood, out of the fragments of story and doctrine connected with a name. This subjective image has inspired all the prayers, all the conversions, all the penances, charities and sacrifices, as well as half the art of the Christian world.
    A Vedantist would say that the Christ spirit within countless Christians has been projected into the Christ men have loved and adored. Santayana continues:
    The Virgin Mary, whose legend is so meagre, but whose power over the Catholic imagination is so great, is an even cleaner illustration of this inward building up of an ideal form. Everything is here spontaneous sympathetic expansion of two given events: the incarnation and crucifixion. The figure of the Virgin, found in these mighty scenes, is gradually clarified and developed, until we come to the thought on the one hand of her freedom from original sin, and on the other to that of her universal maternity. We thus attain the conception of one the noblest of conceivable roles and of one of the most beautiful of characters.

    Myths are not confined to completely fictitious characters. They also grow up around actual historical persons like Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and the Buddha, making it difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. Was Jesus really born in a manger? Did angels sing and the star of Bethlehem appear in the sky on the night of his birth? Was Mary actually a virgin then? She may indeed have been, but, like Jesus, Krishna and the Buddha are said to have been conceived without human fathers. Their mothers, too, are supposed to have learned of the coming divine births through supernatural annunciations. Several centuries before Jesus' birth, Krishna was taken away and hidden from a wicked king, who sought to kill him for fear of losing his life and his throne. In Krishna's case, as in Jesus', the cruel king is reported to have slain many innocent children in the hope that the divine child would be among the victims. Can it be that the same myths and fragments of myths became attached to Jesus, Krishna, and the Buddha?

    Although, as far as we know, the Krishna of the Bhagavad-Gita was not a historical personality, he had all the characteristics usually attributed to divine incarnations. Perfect from birth, he came into the world not to satisfy personal cravings but for the good of humanity. He wanted to help mankind end its suffering and attain pure bliss in Atman. Unlike ordinary people, he was always fully aware of his divine identity; he even appeared in Viswaroopa, his cosmic form to the frightened Arjuna. Such a figure is too great spiritually, too transcendent, to be the product of ever our finest projections. It would be impossible to imagine a Krishna without knowing Krishna. Only a divine incarnation could have furnished the model for the Krishna of the Gita, so one must have existed approximately when the Gita was composed. The incarnation's name and exact dates are, therefore, not needed to prove his historicity. And who knows? Perhaps the historical divine incarnation's personal identity was that of the Krishna of the Gita.

    The other Krishnas: Krishna the king, the darling baby Krishna, and Krishna the enchanting cowherd boy, may all have been figures in legends which attached themselves to the divine incarnation of the Bhagavad-Gita. Krishna, the cowherd boy who steals the hearts of his devotees with his captivating smile and flute, may not have danced in the meadows of Brindavan, for he will always dance in their hearts.

    Mythological characters like Krishna, Rama, and Siva have brought multitudes of Indian devotees closer to God. Because it is impossible to imagine spirit in the abstract, personifications like these are improtant aids in people's spiritual lives, as are images and symbols of various sorts. As Swami Vivekananda says:
    All of you have been taught to think of an omnipresent God. How few of you can have any idea of what omnipresence means! If you struggle hard, you will get something like the idea of the ocean, or of the sky, or of a vast stretch of green earth,or of a desert. All these are material images, and so long as you cannot conceive of the abstract, of the ideal as the ideal, you will have to resort to these forms, to these material images.
    Devotees throughout the world create images of the historical and mythological divine incarnations, saints, and deities in whom they feel a holy presence. They do this for much the same reason a lover keeps his sweetheart's photograph on the desk before him. The picture is a reminder of the beloved person, not, of course, the actual person. Indian devotees neither think of stone images as the actual personalities who the images represent, nor do they worship the images as stone. As Swami Vivekananda explains, such worship would be contrary to human nature:

    Is there any God? Is there anyone to be loved, any such one capable of being loved? Loving the stone would not do much good. We only love that which understands love, that which draws our love. So with worship. Never say... there is a man in this world of ours who worshiped a piece of stone.....

    The Swamy further explains the use of the images in India:

    The man is before the idol, and he shuts his eyes and tries to think, 'I am He; I have neither life nor death; I have neither father nor mother; I am not bound by time or space; I am existence infinite, Bliss infinite and Knowledge infinite; I am He, I am He...I am Existence Absolute, Bliss Absolute; I am He, I am He.' This he repeats and says, O Lord, I cannot conceive Thee inn myself; I am poor man.'....This poor Hindu sits before that idol and tries to think that he is That, and then says, O Lord, I cannot conceive Thee as spirit, so let me conceive Thee in this form, and then he opens his eyes and sees this form and prostrating he repeats his prayers. And when his prayer is ended, he says, 'O Lord, forgive me for this imperfect worship of Thee.' A curious round stone is the emblem of Vishnu, the omnipresent. Each morning a priest comes in, offers sacrifices to the idol, wave iincense before it, then puts it to bed and apologizes to God worshiping Him in that way, because he can only conceive of Him through an image or by means of some material object. He bathes the idol, clothes it, and puts his divine self into the idol 'to make it alive.

    Those who officiate at the dedication of an image in a temple pray that the Lord may come and live in it. Then the devotees who worship there feel that the Lord is present in the image in much the same way that the spirit is present in the body.

    Like true devotees all over the world or like true Hindus, the devotee who prostrate/ kneels before the image is worshipping the one God in spirit and in truth.

    When the devotee prostrates before the image ardently praying, 'Lord, Lord, reveal thyself to me', he may feel a holy presence. The one to whom he prays, perhaps Krishna, Siva, or Kali, may appear to him in a vision and even speak to him. Are such visions hallucinations of schizophrenics? People who insist that Jesus came and spoke to them frequently end up in mental institutions. Some of the mentally deranged even believe that Allah commanded them to commit murder. But no God would do such things and no true devotee would carry out such an order.

    The distinguishing feature of a genuine vision is the elevation of consciousness which accompanies it. Those who have felt a divine presence in legitimate visions manifest it spontaneously in their lives. They are saner and more compassionate after experience than they were before. The touch of God has a softening effect, and it purifies the heart.

    Note: This article is not written by me, I have just copied it from some discussion.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 3, 2015
  3. garry420

    garry420 Well-Known Member

    Topic contd.
    Some sages say that God in His infinite compassion takes the form the devotees love, that is He assumes the form of a Krishna, a Kali, or a Jesus Christ much as water freezes into the different shapes of ice, snow and hail. Sri Ramakrishna taught that divine incarnations, likes blocks of ice floating on the ocean, retain their personal identities for the sake of their devotees instead of disappearing in the undifferentiated Brahman. Perhaps these holy ones as well as living and departed saints can appear to us through some subtle faculty. Our five senses and even our best scientific instruments tell us little of the finer workings of our psyches and of the universe in general. It may be that when the devotee's consciousness rises through prayer and meditation he can experience the presence of saints and divine personalities who are always on that level of consciousness. If we climb (or take the elevator) to the penthouse on the roof, we will meet the people who live there.

    The essential feature of a vision, however, is not the personality of the holy man or woman who appears to the worshiper. But the essential feature is the divine conscious which becomes part of our useness---the grace---which communicates itself to him.

    Visions and relative experiences can have various logical interpretations, none of which contradicts the others. We are the Atmans, Brahman-within-the-Creature, but we are not aware of it. The Atman is much more intense consciousness than our ordinary consciousness, which is a little ray of the Atman. In other words, we have a spiritual super-consciousness which the little limited ego does not usually experience. But when prayer and meditation become deep and sincere, the devotee's level of consciousness can rise. Then intense spiritual consciousness can penetrate the surface consciousness, bringing ecstasy and bliss. A divine presence is felt; a vision is seen or a voice heard. It may be that the devotee's own mind interprets this spiritual presence as that of Jesus, Siva, the Buddha or any holy person he especially loves. The vision is seen because the area of the mind which is the source of all symbols has been stimulated. Thus, spiritual visions can come from the devotee's higher consciousness. Or they can be produced externally because God in His grace takes the form the devotee loves.

    Perhaps different visions have different causes. But in a certain sense there is only one cause. There is only one spiritual consciousness, Sacchidaananda, absolute Existence, absolute Consciousness, and absolute Bliss. Siince there is no spiritual consciousness outside of Brahman, Brahman is the ultimate source of all true visions whatever their immediate cause. The air in our lungs, which becomes part of us,is not different from the air outside. Similarly, the divine within (Brahman-within-the-Creature) is identical with the divine outside. Since there is only one divine existence, no valid distinction can be made between the divine within and the divine without.

    A legitimate vision or other spiritual experience derives its reality from the living spirit which animates it. The vision is real even when the historicity of the divine incarnation, saint, or god who appears in the vision cannot be definitely established. The divine presence experienced by the devotee worshipping before the image of Krishna, Siva, Kali, or Rama, is the same divine consciousness, the same holy spirit, which lived in the historical Jesus and Buddha.

    Spiritual life deteriorates when we place such emphasis on the body that we forget that the spirit is only temporarily associated with it. In the West as they commonly say that they have souls, implying that we are bodies which possess souls. Vedanta puts it the other way, saying that we are spirits inhabiting bodies. The spirit animating Jesus' body gave it worth; even his body would have been nothing without the spirit. We burn or bury bodies from which the spirit is gone. When Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me', the 'I' of which he was speaking was the 'I' to which he referred when he said, 'I and my Father are one.'

    This 'I', the one divine Existence, also spoke through the Buddha and through Krishna. It speaks through Kali, Siva, or Rama to the devotee kneeling before the image. The one infinite spirit, which is the way, the truth and the life, mercifully appears in many forms for the sake of spiritual aspirants with different ideas. It is not restricted to any one individuality. When Sri Ramakrishna had a vision of Jesus, Jesus walked upto him, entered his body, and disappeared. Although these two supremely great souls may seem to have been separate individuals, they were---and are---identical on the only level that really matters, that of the spirit. The poet who wrote the following lines knew his Krishna to be pure radiant spirit:

    Meditate, O my mind, on the Lord Hari,
    The Stainless One, Pure Spirit through and through.
    How peerless is the light that in Him shines!
    Although the Lord can appear in many forms, He is not restricted to any of them. He always remains the same.

    Idolatry is worshipping the physical, whether it is clay or flesh and blood, instead of the spiritual. It does not necessarily involve image worship or any other specific kind of worship. Even Jesus and the Buddha can become idols if too much emphasis is placed on the bodies associated with them. We make idols of out friends and relations when we love them for personal rather than spiritual reasons.

    The complete independence of the divine existence from anything physical is demonstrated by Sri Ramakrishna's experience of the nondual absorption, nirvikalpa samadhi. Sri Ramakrishna began worshipping the mother goddess Kali in her image in the Dakshineswar temple when he went there as a young priest. As time went on, he developed profound love for Kali, came to feel her presence wherever he was, and saw her in many gracious feminine forms. At the height of this spiritual relationship, he became infused with her blissful consciousness. Although his consciousness was then pervaded with divine consciousness, he retained a slight sense of ego which prevented total absorption. At this critical point in Sri Ramakrishna's spiritual life, the austere nondualistic monk Totapuri (Nangta) appeared to help him. Describing the events that followed Totapuri's arrival, Sri Ramakrishna himself said:

    Nangta began to teach me the conclusions of the Advaita Vedanta and asked me to withdraw the mind completely from all objects and dive deep into the Atman. But in spite of all my attempts I could not altogether cross the realm of name and form and bring my mind to the unconditioned state. I had no difficulty in taking the mind from the objects of the world. But the radiant and too familiar figure of the Blissful Mother, the Embodiment of the essence of the Pure Consciousness, appeared before me as a living reality. Her bewitching smile prevented me from passing into the Great Beyond. Again and again I tried, but She stood in my way every time. In despair I said to Nangta: 'It is hopeless. I cannot raise my mind to the unconditioned state and come face to face with Atman.' He grew excited and sharply said: 'What? You can't do it? But you have to.' He cast his eyes around. Finding a piece of glass he took it up and struck it between my eyebrows. 'Concentrate the mind on this point!' he thundered. Then with stern determination I again sat to meditate. As soon as the gracious form of the Divine Mother appeared before me, I used my discrimination as a sword and with it clove Her form into two. The last barrier fell. My spirit at once soared beyond the relative plane and I lost myself in samadhi.

    Note: This article is not written by me, I have just copied it from some discussion.
  4. garry420

    garry420 Well-Known Member

    Topic contd.
    Sri Ramakrishna had experienced the divine consciousness in the form of Kali. But when he severed the form of Kali with the sword of discrimination, the non-essential form vanished leaving only the spirit, the divine consciousness in which his ego and plurality disappeared.

    Without the image of Kali, Sri Ramakrishna would probably have progressed more slowly toward this ultimate realisation. The worship of Kali in her image concentrated his mind on the divine, making it relatively simple for him to go beyond the goddess herself to the spirit she embodied for him.

    But Sri Ramakrishna, came down from his nirvikalpa samadhi for the benefit of bhaktas. Only an avatarapurusha is capable of this deed, as even the sheath of mind too dissolves in nirvikalpa samadhi. Sri Ramakrishna remained in nirvikalpa samadhi for six long months.

    The initial experience of nondual absorption was often repeated and became interspersed with visions of Kali, Krishna, and other holy figures. Knowing from experience that the divine assumes forms, Sri Ramakrishna did not deprive himself of the joy of dualistic worship even after nirvikalpa samadhi. In teaching his disciples, he emphasized the fact that God can be worshiped either with form or without form. But since the nondualistic vision is very difficult to attain, he taught that almost everyone should worship God with form. And because he knew that one divine spirit, one God, is worshiped by the devotees of all religions, he effortlessly extended his devotion beyond Hinduism to Islam and Christianity. One day at a friend's house he caught sight of a lovely painting of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus on her lap. Overwhelmed with love for the Christ child, he spontaneously entered into deep meditation and had an ecstatic vision of the divine child's luminous form.

    Sri Ramakrishna knew how easily a devotee could be tempted to think that his own spiritual ideal, his Krishna, Buddha, or Jesus Christ, is beyond all comparison, and how easily he could then conclude that this ideal is the one source of salvation for all mankind. Such an attitude would naturally lead to bigotry and intolerance of other faiths. But if he were to grow sufficiently in understanding to realise that the followers of other religions also worship the divine spirit he worships, the devotee would be able to appreciate their ideals and forms of worship. Using a little effort, he would be able to transfer his own religious experience to other situations. For instance, the Hindu, in his creative imagination, could transfer his love for the baby Krishna to the baby Jesus, not permanently, but long enough to feel kinship with Christians who adore the Christ child.

    Because they know that the spirit alone gives life, the Vedantic sages do not try to convert anyone. And because they realize that conceptions of the divine vary with spiritual aspirants's backgrounds, they hope there will never be a universal religion with a universal mythology. Sri Ramakrishna, for example, recommended different spiritual practices to aspirants with different personality types and degrees of development. In defence of this undogmatic approach he told the following parable:

    God Himself has provided different forms of worship. He who is the Lord of the Universe has arranged all these forms to suit different men in different stages of knowledge. The mother cooks different dishes to suit the stomachs of her different children. Suppose she has five children. If there is fish to cook, she prepares various dishes from it---pilau, pickled fish, fried fish, and so on---to suit their different tastes and powers of digestion.

    Because many stomachs are too weak to digest the pickled fish of abstract thought, myths are used to present Indian cosmology. These myths are projections of actual human experience in spite of the fact that no one could possibly remember the creation. In Nirvikalpa samadhi, the greatest sages experienced the undifferentiated divine Essence, Brahman, as the ultimate Existence. They then realized that all creation has it being within Brahman. So India's great creation myths teach that Brahman is the source, the so-called 'clay', which gives substance to all things. One Upanishad compares the universe emanating from Brahman to a spider's web issuing from a spider. According to these myths, periods of involution, in which there is no finite universe, alternate with periods of evolution, in which universes appear, evolve through countless ages, and finally disappear. This alternation of periods of evolution with periods of involution is beginningless and endless.

    In one of the favourite Indian creation myths, the spirit of God hovers over the waters prior to creation much as it does in Genesis. At the end of the period of involution, when all is still in the undifferntiated state, Vishnu (the spirit of God) is asleep upon the cosmic ocean. That is, he reclines on one of his mounts, the enormous serpent Ananta, who rests upon the cosmice ocean, which it also represents. In spite of the apparent individual differences, Vishnu, the snake Ananta, and the cosmic ocean are not separate entities. They are Vishnu, who personifies the absolute Existence, in which there are no differrences. When creation is about to begin, Vishnu puts forth from his navel a lotus of a thousand pure gold petals, stainless and effulgent. Upon this lotus sits Brahmaa, the creator God, who is emanating from Vishnu. Then with Vishnu's energy working through him, Brahmaa proceeds to create the universe. When creation is finished, Vishnu pervades and sustains the universe which evolved from him.

    Brahmaa, the creator, is one of the strange gods with several heads and arms, which some novices in Indian mythology have difficulty understanding. Brahmaa has four heads, one facing north, one facing south, one facing east, and one facing west, so that he can watch all points of the compass while creating the universe. In his hands he holds the sceptre, or a spoon, or a string of beads, or his bow, or a water jug, and the Veda. He uses these four arms (which symbolises his power) and his several instruments for his various characteristic activities, which he can carry on simultaneously.

    The Sivalingam belongs to a different creation myth. Like Vishnu's votaries, Siva's votaries think of him as the one supreme God. They think of the lingam as representing the power by which Siva creates, preserves, and destroys the universe. They do not think of the lingam in terms of the phallic symbol. To Siva's devotees, it represents the great God in his many aspects, of which creation is only one.

    The conscientious study of Indian mythology thus makes clear the error in the snap judgement that the worship of mythological figures conforms to Webster's definition of superstition as 'an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature or God, proceeding from ignorance, unreasoning fear of the unknown or mysterious, morbid scrupulosity, a belief in magic, or chance, or the like.' Far from being irrational, this worship proceeds with the clearest reasoning. It isnot abject. It is inspired by knowledge, not ignorance, and there is absolutely no fear involved in it.

    This article is not written by me, I have just copied it from some discussion.

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