Are GODs just symbolic ???

Subrahmanian, Sundararaman V [IT] sundararaman.v.subrahmanian at CITIGROUP.COM
Thu Jul 18 14:00:18 CDT 2002

Dear Sri. SriKrishna Ghadiyaram,

Before I proceed I request you not to be hasty in lifting quotations from
speeches and transplant them elsewhere and try to find
meanings/justifications.  The Swami whom you quoted was a PhD in Chemistry
and PhD in Sanskrit before he became a Sanyasi.  He is a well read person.
Your best bet to get a clear answer about what he said is to ask him
yourself.  He is normally in Hyderabad and he visits US once a year for a
few months to teach in PA, USA.

In sandhyaavandanam, as part of maarjanam, there is a mantra "ushatiriva
maataraH" - May you protect me like a mother.  The reason for such a prayer
(apart from personifying Ishvara as Mother) is that a mother knows what a
child can take and what it cannot.  So the prayer is to guide Ishvara to
guide one along the right path through means that is right for the instant
stage of development.  For devotees who have accepted a Swami as their Guru,
he imparts instructions that is "digestible" at their current level of
maturity (this is not to appease anybody).  Try teaching somebody
spirituality who are filled with various mental blocks and inner resistances
- you will know.  Mailing lists like this can help share information, but
nobody takes up a commitment to your spiritual growth.  But a Guru takes
upon himself the committment for one's progress, so he does what he thinks
is best for the student.  He may reveal higher Truths after some degree of
maturity on part of the disciple.

Anyway, you asked what Swami Dayananda Sarasvati - SDS (who is the presiding
Guru of the Ashram to which the Swamiji also belongs) has to say about
devataas.  I will write in my own words what his teachings are in this
regard.  SDS never said that there are no devataas.  Infact I have heard him
categorically state that rituals are effective and if the appropriate
devataas are propiated the rituals will offer results.  He said he has been
a witness to a putrakaameShTi yajna after which the landlord (zamiindaar)
who conducted it, begot 3 children.  He also talks about lokaas where
devataas exist.  He has always maintained that shruti is a pramaaNam and
that what is contained in it can neither be proved or disproved by other
means.  As to the definition of a devataa here is what he has to say:

The entire universe is a field of experience.  This universe is not a random
event, but it has been intelligently put together by a higher intelligence.
Ishvara who is brahman viewed with maayaa is the creator, sustainer and
destroyer of this universe.  Ishvara is both the material and instrumental
cause of this universe.  Hence all that we see is Ishvara and there is an
order in what see.  Eyes see, ears hear, nose smells, sun shines, water
flows etc.  There is no chaos.  This order is nothing but a manifestation of
Ishvara.  So every order namely, sight, smell, liquidity, heat etc is an
expression of Ishvara.  So when Ishvara is viewed with reference to a
particular order, Ishvara is seen as a devataa.  So a devataa equals a
particular order of the universe.  As an example, when Ishavara is viewed
w.r.t the "order/law of sight" he is called aadityaa.  Therefore every
devataa is equally Ishvara but seen w.r.t a particular order.  Just as the
obedience of a law results in the benefits, worshipping a devataa will help
us overcome the ill-effects of not obeying the order and also give us the
strength to see Ishvara in that order.  Example:  worshipping aadityaa will
improve our sight etc.

Regarding the "reality" of devataas, we can see from the above description
that the devataas are as "real" as iishvara.

Hope this answers your question.


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