View Full Version : Devotee not a Slave or Servant
04 April 2008, 11:24 PM
Living in the US amongst a sea of christians I often hear the words, "Fear of God". These words have always puzzled me since I see no reason to fear my Rama or any other hindu Gods for that matter. Growing up I have never heard any of my elders say anything to this effect. Even Durga is referred to as Mother Durga or Ma Kali.
And then I also kept hearing the words, Lord, King and Master. Slowly it dawned on me that we hindus might be viewing God differently than the Abrahamic Faiths.
While we view ourselves as children of God, they view God as a King, hence they become his subjects, servants, slaves even. Subjects and servants fear their king and Master. They behave like subjects and servants kneeling before their master, they constantly talk about his wrath.
For hindus who view God as their parent, Love and Respect is the correct attitude not fear and obedience! Most hindus who visit the temple are either in a standing position or sitting while facing the murti. A few prostrate themselves, a practice which should be discouraged. Prostrating, Kneeling are the positions of a servant not a devotee. God has no use for slaves or servants, she wants a devotee!
Let Hinduism seperate itself from these slave or servant faiths.
05 April 2008, 01:33 PM
As Hindus we bow and touch the feet of our parents, and our elders as a sign of respect and GRATITUDE, NOT servitude. I have never been very comfortable with full length prostration, but, if a devotee wishes to express him/herself in that way, what is wrong with that?
Indeed you are correct about the Abrahamic Religions. G-D, YHWH, Allah is seen as a jealous and wrathful god. Respect and fear are often corelated, rather than respect and love. Hindus know that God is gentle, merciful and compassionate, and loving, always willing to help a devotee, even when he/she stumbles.
05 April 2008, 06:47 PM
full length prostration = Dandvat pranam (I think)
What's wrong with doing a dandvat pranam to the Lord?
05 April 2008, 07:41 PM
Good answers both. What I would like hinduism to do is to distance itself from these proselytizing religions which use fear as a tool. They tell hindus that their way is the only way and one will go to hell if you are not one of them.
We need to show that we are different. Every faith needs to evolve and change over time, otherwise it becomes ossified like Islam. Countries having sharia law seem to be back in the 16th century. Over here in the US, christian fundamentalists want to teach the bible as science ie the bible says that the earth is 5,000 years old and that's what they want to teach. This makes them seem a backward faith.
Just because something is being done for ages (widows not able to participate in family marriages, caste system) doesn't mean that it should continue. Kneeling and prostrating is the position of a servant or slave. Hinduism should teach that we are in a higher position, we are children of God. We respect and love God, we are not fearful of God. Therefore our actions should reflect our thoughts.
IMHO touching an elder's feet is a mark of respect, nothing to do with slavery or servitude.
06 April 2008, 09:29 AM
I don't quite see your point. You talk about Christian fundamentalism and radical Islam. I have personal experience with. both of them. And you talk about some dubious cultural traditions which you say are part of Sanatana Dharma.
I will try to address what I think you are trying to say.
Sanatana Dharma is not and never has been about the FEAR of God. Choosing to show our respect, gratitude and devotion to God by prostration, touching the head to the ground and bowing does not imply FEAR, except perhaps to a non-Hindu. Interestiingly Christians generally to do not bow or prostrate themselves before God
Hinduism IS different from Islam and Christianity. The biggest threats I see to Hinduism are:
A) active deceitful proselytizing by Christians and Muslims
Treatment of widows, caste system and other elements of the Manu Smriti are not supported by the Vedas. These are a cultural overlay and are not part of Sanatana Dharma
Sanatana Dharma will not become "ossified". It is a vibrant way of life with many options within its scope. We may follow different traditions and rituals, and we may worship different aspects of God as the Supreme Being, but we have a basic framework of philosophy that unites us.
06 April 2008, 11:49 PM
Let me rephrase the question.
Does doing dandvat pranam to the lord (in your opinion anyway) signify that the person doing the dandvat is some how 'fearful' of GOD? Not at all in my opinion and experience. It is done in total love...not because we 'fear' god.
If touching feet of the elders is alright, I don't see a problem with dandvat.
12 April 2008, 11:15 PM
devisarada: I am not sure where you live, I live here in the US, and recently the big news here was about a christian cult that kept its members in huge building, told them that the outside world was evil. Members were encouraged not to trust outsiders. This organisation got busted because they were caught marrying young girls to older men within the cult.
The operative word is fear. Cults thrive on fear. Usually you see these people talk about us vs them. Christianity and islam share a lot with these cults. Heaven is a members-only club. "They" ie non-members are going to hell. Fear of God. God will do terrible things to you if you don't remain a member etc.
I would like hinduism to leave this fear behind. If we truly believe that we are children of God, not her servant nor her slave, then we should behave appropriately. Address God appropriately, stand or sit before the murti. Show respect and Love in both actions and words. Any action or word that denotes that you are anything else needs to go.
I like what you said about christian proselytization. How do we fight this? Not just by simply building temples but with ideas. Show that our values are better. They are slaves, servants of God, we are children of God. They get only one life, one-and-done, whereas only hindus get to be reborn. A backward faith that says the earth is 5,000 years old, whereas hinduism says that the earth is 10 billion years old!
12 April 2008, 11:25 PM
Satay: Would you do dandvat pranam to your parents? The fact that you are behaving differently before God is because you view her differently.
Watch one of the old movies and see how a servant is usually pictured. From the waist upward, he seems to have developed a curvature of the spine. Head down hands clasped.
You don't see that in a first-world country. There are no servants here. The lady who comes and cleans homes is not a servant she is an employee of a company that contracts to clean homes. Her entire posture and attitude is totally different.
If you have the time pick up a book on body language. It's great fun and you can easily read a person. Next time you are in a group of colleagues watch how they behave when your big boss joins you, especially if the big boss is somewhat a nasty guy. Pay less attention to what they are saying and try to watch their body language.
13 April 2008, 09:35 AM
Another point of view on this matter can be found in the Manduka ( frog) Upanishad canto 1, valli 6. It simply says the Lord is the ruler of all, Sarvesvara, the all knower, the cause and origin of the whole creation, the origin and end of all beings.
This then suggests it applies to all religions, to all levels of dharma. He is the sap of the tree, and all branches , all leafs, all buds, bark, etc. that are nourished by this sap. The sap is the essence of the total tree, Sarvesvara. He is all-pervading -tad vishnoh paramam padam¹.
Hence, this sap knowing that it is the essence of the tree, it knows that it has expressed itself as a bud, a flower, a branch, it is just the sap in a different form, but still the sap.
Like that then It understands the devotion, the puja, the homam, the mass, the prArthanA, pradakshina, even the fear and respect one gives to Sarvesvara is done in the manner commensurate with the individual's understanding, or heart, feelings, devotion or even respectful fear.
People view the Lord differently - We should know this the best. We know Him in different forms , yes? - we see him as Bhairava, Sadasiva, Sri Devi, Krsna, Sri Ram, Narsimha, Siva, Ganesha, Govinda, so many forms and views.
We see Visnu in salgram, Siva in lingam; and what of circumnavigating mount Govardhana? And Tulasi (some write Tulsi)? All His forms, as we adore these different forms as per our teaching and understanding and heart.
This allows us to give our devotion or respect or even fear to Him/Her that meets our compassion our view, our rejoicing.
Let me offer one last view from the Taittriya Upanishad kanda 2, Brahmananda valli, 8 aunvaka ( or sloka), it says:
Through fear of Him the wind blows. Through fear of Him rises the sun. Through fear of Him Indra, fire (agni) and the 5th, death (Yama) proceed to their respective duties.
These devata dispense their respective duties due to a controller, this we know as Brahman. They provide or render service as if to a King, this is Brahman. Their existence is dependent upon this Brahman, and serve accordingly.
The was another view, yet worth the mention. Does it mean we 'fear' Him? Absolutely not. It is another view that rounds out our understanding. One can then appreciate how others may see Sarvesvara.
1. Rig Veda 1.22.20 Visnu - the all pervading Brahman, tad vishnoh paramam padam¹
13 April 2008, 10:53 PM
The true meaning of any bowing down completely is surrender. Surrendering of your Ego. What you bow down is your head. And Head represents your Ego. We always keep it high. It represents our self esteem, intellect, ego and everything connected to it. All that we think that we are so wise, educated, strong, have a high status etc. etc. And until we keep thinking big, we can't surrender or bow. So this bowing process is keeping this big head, the ego and the self at the holy feet of the Lord. To come under his protection. To accept refuge in his higher being and energy. Its acceptance and surrender. Its an ego humbling process. And once we do it, we certainly feel lighter.
But this is also true that one may not agree to bow down before everyone. Depends how you see it. As one saint said, if I have the same spark of God in me and you have the same God in you, then what difference does it make if I bow? Why should I bow my God to your God! lol. Its a bit funny. But the basic idea is to humble the ego and surrender to the divine power to be able to get closer to it. Cuz the ego is the main hindrance.
Aum tat sat!
15 April 2008, 09:21 AM
Well said, Yogkriya!
19 April 2008, 08:59 PM
I like the japanese way of bowing, it is sign of respect. Certianly I have no problem with that.
As for surrender, why does God need a slave? God has no need for a servant, a subject. When trouble hits me, God is not going to come to my help. She is there for me, she is my guide, my helper, but I have to meet my troubles on my own.
A person who surrenders may be looking for more help than God can give. Again to give a movie analogy, watch a scene when the times are good, people are standing up, smiling before the murti. When trouble strikes, these very same people are down on their knees, crying, beseeching God for help. These people think that God is the answer to all their problems, she is not. There is no need to go down on one's knees, no need to be weak, this is the time to be strong. Be brave, stand up, look God in the eye and ask for help and go meet your troubles head on.
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