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ON THE PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY OF THE HINDŪS.
WHATEVER variety of opinions may obtain among the Hindus concerning spirit and matter, as well as the creation and deluge, the fundamental principles of their religion consist in the belief of the existence of one Supreme Being only, of the immortality of the soul, and a future state of rewards and punishments. Their precepts of morality inculcate the practice of virtue as necessary for procuring happiness even in this transient life; their religious doctrines make their felicity in a future state to depend on it.*
* "The doctrine of the metempsychosis is fully explained in the Institutes of Menu. The other dog
When speaking of the Supreme Being, they frequently use the expressions of, the first cause; the universal and eternal essence ; that which has ever been, and which will ever continue; that which vivifies and pervades all things; he who is every where present, and causes the celestial bodies to revolve in the course he has prescribed to them.*
mata may be epitomized in the following heads :-1. The existence of one God, from whom all things proceed, and to whom all must return. 2. A tripartite division of the good principle, for the purposes of creation, preservation, and renovation. 3. The necessary existence of an evil principle, occupied in counteracting the benevolent purposes of the first, in their execution by the devata, or subordinate genii, to whom is entrusted the control over the various operations of nature.”—Edinburgh Review, vol. xvii. p. 322.
* "One great and incomprehensible Being has alone existed from all eternity. Every thing we behold, and we ourselves, are portions of him. The soul, mind, or intellect, of gods and men, and of all sentient creatures, are detached portions of the universal soul, to which at stated periods they are destined to return. But the mind of finite beings is impressed by an uninterrupted series of illusions, which they consider as real, until again united to the great fountain of truth. Of
This religion, in its true abstract sense, is what we understand by deism. The love of imagery in a people of fertile and lively imaginations, may have occasioned their personifying what they conceived to be some of the attributes of God; or such personification may have arisen from the idea which generally prevails, of the necessity of presenting things in a way better adapted to the comprehensions of the vulgar, than the abstruse idea of an undiscribable, invisible being; and hence, probably, the invention of a Brahma, a Vishnu and a Siva.*
these illusions, the first and most essential is termed Ahangcar, or individuality. By its influence, when detached from its source, the soul becomes ignorant of its own nature, origin, and destiny. It considers itself as a separate existence, and no longer a spark of the divinity, a link of one immeasurable chain, an infinitely small but indispensable portion of one great whole. The divine being above described, is not the object of worship: he is named Brahm, a noun of the neuter gender."—Edinburgh Review, vol. xvii. pp. 320, 321.
The first created beings were the persons of the
Brahma is represented in a human shape, with four heads looking to the four quar
Hindu Triad, viz. Brahma, Vishnu, and Iswara (or Siva). The name of the first is derived from a root signifying to expand: to him was assigned the task of creation. The name of Vishnu comes from the root vis, which means to penetrate, or pervade: the world, after its creation, was entrusted to him to preserve. The word Iswara signifies powerful. His is the power of destruction, or rather, as the Hindus consider it, of renovation, or mutation of form, which implies the destruction of that which precedes. Hence, the phallus, the emblem of production, becomes that of the god of destruction. The Roman poet has distinctly expressed the idea, which led the Indians and Egyptians to assign this apparently incompatible symbol to Iswara:
"Haud igitur penitus pereunt quæcunque videntur :
“Nam quodcunque suis mutatumn finibus exit,
From his own substance, the Divine Being then formed
ters of the world: Vishnu and Siva, under various forms, but no emblem or visible sign of Brihm, the omnipotent, is to be found. Those who openly profess deism in India, justly consider the great mystery of the existence of the Supreme Ruler of the universe, as beyond human comprehension, as much as space without limits, or time without beginning or end: man can conceive and measure parts of time and space; but, would he carry his thoughts to extension that has no bounds, and to duration that never began and will ever continue, he must be lost and confounded in the maze that presents itself. Every creature, however, who is endowed with the faculty of thinking, must be conscious of the existence of God, a first
of eloquence, and the inventress of the lyre. 2dly. As Sri, she is the beloved of Vishnu, the goddess of abundance and of fertility. 3rd. As Isa, she is the companion of Iswara, and the vanquisher of the giants. These were the gods (deva) produced by the volition of the deity. All other beings were produced by Brahma, after creating the world."-Edinburgh Review, vol. xvii. p. 321.