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Hinduism Makes Sweetness Of Divine Unity Suit Different Tastes

God is not only Nature but something more, interpenetrating Nature. ‘As the one fire, having entered the world, manifests itself in every form, so the One, the inmost Soul of all beings, manifests Himself in every form and is yet more besides (Katha Upanishad, V.9). To the man who has not realized God, conceptions of Him may appear unlike his experiences of Nature. But to the man who realizes Him, He is not unnatural or supernatural but immanent in Nature. The whole of Nature assumes a different meaning to that man and he sees Nature in God and God in Nature. The theme of religion is no longer unnatural but a reality ever present in and bathing in celestial beauty and life every part of Nature.

Man’s misery and sorrow come from his selfishness and attempts to establish kinship with the transitory incidents of an eternally changeful world. Religion brings him face to face with an Infinity before which his little self melts into insignificance, with a Permanence, the vision of which exposes unmistakably the impermanence of the world and destroys the folly of his endeavours to have abiding relationships with it. With his little ‘me’ left, he lives in the world, no more a victim of burning desires for self-assertion with its attendant sorrows, and the world does no more weigh upon him with that tremendous seriousness, for he has seen through its transience. Life to him has become a play, a joy, the beautiful-without-utility of religion as an art.

Hinduism does not stop here. It is not satisfied with the realization of the Godhead as a universal unity only. The sweetness of divine Unity is, as it were, the substance out of which Hinduism makes many particular preparations, suited to different tastes. They are the Hindu gods and goddesses. They are like so many figures carved out of the rock of Divinity. To the beginner in religion, the deities are means of realization of the Unity. Besides, they have a deeper meaning. Once the Unity is realized, they are not looked upon as means but as various modes of enjoying the Unity. Milk can be enjoyed in shapes such as curd, cream, butter, ghee, cheese, even so, Kali, Durga, Shiva, Vishnu and other deities are the many shapes in which the advanced devotee enjoys the one God.

SourceExcerpt from an article published in May 1903 edition of Prabuddha Bharata magazine titled ‘Religion As the Highest Art’.