God – ईश्वर (January, 2019)
There may be variance in opinions on when Vedas were written but there is a near complete agreement that Vedas are among the oldest sacred texts, if not the only oldest text. Some even term it as the fountainhead of all known and future philosophies. The word Ved means knowledge. Majority of the Indian scriptures find their roots in Vedas. Knowing Vedas is the theme of this year’s assignments. Every month, we will pick a nugget from the Vedas in the form of a mantra and go over its literal meaning and significance.
While starting on this theme, there cannot be a better choice than to start with mantra number 40.8 from Yajur Veda, which articulates God’s properties.
As such, God is beyond human comprehension – for He* cannot be observed directly [with human senses] or indirectly [using any apparatus]. Yet, this mantra takes on the gigantic task of articulating something that cannot be understood.
* Attributing God with masculine pronoun does not mean God is male, for God is beyond gender.
What is the need to know God?
We have the most intimate relationship with God – more intimate than any bodily relation we have with any other person or object. We started our journey from Him and it ends in Him.
At a gross level, we fall back to Him and pray for His help whenever we lose hope in the world. Despite such steadfast relation, we hardly try to know Him. Majority of the people spend whole life – and even die – without even building a faintest idea of the supreme reality: God. Of course, it is not a surprise then that we spend our life with fanciful ideas about Him and do not achieve bliss that is inherent in simply knowing Him. Only by knowing Him correctly, we can converse with Him [in the form of effective prayer] and imbibe His qualities in our life, in order to live a fulfilling and ideal life
How can I know God?
As God cannot be observed with naked eyes, to know Him, we have to understand His attributes, which are articulated in this mantra. God is…
- Pure and beyond sin
God is present everywhere – there is no place devoid of Him. He is both larger than the largest object and smaller than the minutest object. He has no shape, form, or dimension. He transcends and envelops everything.
God is Omnipotent – the most powerful entity. This universe is a vast sea of energy and God is the root source of that energy. He is full of infinite strength.
As God does not have bodily parts, Being without eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin, nerves, arteries, veins, etc., He is without diseases. He has no human vice either, like biases, ignorance etc. He is pure and sinless.
Being everywhere, He is in everything and knows everything. He knows past, present, and future; He knows gross and subtle; He even knows our thoughts. There is nothing that is not known to Him. In short, God is Knowledge.
God is the most intelligent entity. Knowing everything (including our thoughts), He cannot be fooled by our superficial acts. When we try to converse with Him in the form of prayers or worship etc., He knows what we mean in our heart. There is nothing wiser than God. In fact, the ultimate intelligence is God.
God watches us – He watches our acts, He watches our words, and He watches our thoughts. He delivers justice. We may forget our sins and wonder when an unfavorable judgement is delivered to us, but He does not forget. He delivers the judgement in a perfect manner based on our deeds – following the rule of karm-phal.
God was there before our universe came into being; God was there before stars were born; God will be there after this universe and stars vanish. (Just to give a bit of idea of timeline and distance, our universe is 13.7 billion years old; the light we see from several stars has traveled several million light-years to reach us). Obviously conceiving in our mind the vastness of time and space dimension of the universe that we can see is extremely hard. God is much bigger and much older than all that. God is Eternal.
I hope this month’s article will help our kids develop a better understanding of God. Kids will write about God in terms of His attributes.