In The Words Of Lord Krishna
In Bhagavad-Gita, The Sacred Book Of Hindu Religion, Lord Krishna Makes Clear The Concept Of Worshiping Him As An Incarnation Of The Supreme Being.
1. Isvarah Sarva-Bhutanam Hrd-Dese’rjuna Tishthati,
Bhramayan Sarva-Bhutani Yantrarudhani Mayaya
Meaning – Give Up All Other Duties And Surrender Unto Me.
As the originator of Universe
The existence of God and our reverence for Him has been a matter of prolong discussion since ages. However, the ancient Hindu Scriptures define God as omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient. Our very existence and existence of the nature vindicates the fact that the power of the originator of this universe is infinite, and that we should always be thankful to Him.
Unfortunately, the concept of God and His timeless existence is barely understood by any of us. Therefore, when we are asked why do we worship God, our answers are often vague because we take worshipping God for granted and never methodically think it through.
God is the Creator and we are His creation; He is the Supreme Soul and we are His subordinate souls, struggling for eventually getting merged unto Him. However beyond this, there is a lot more to learn during our spiritual course of exploring the deeper meaning of worshipping god.
Understanding the concept of God Worship
The first thing which comes into our mind on uttering the word ‘Shrine’ is ‘Worship’ and the concept is woven into the fabric of our lives, and in far too many cases, we take it for granted.
To combat this error, it is important to gather a deeper understanding on God worship; to realize that God exists even outside shrines, temples, etc. and that He is omnipresent. At this juncture, the role of Holy Scriptures including, Vedas and Upanishads come in. These scriptures provide an in-depth knowledge on the genesis of the universe. They reflect upon the role of God in the creation, sustenance and destruction of the universe at the end of every lifecycle.
The Hindu concept of God
As per the Hindu religion, there is only one God i.e. Brahman who is omnipresent in millions of forms. Hindu Scriptures have always stated that God is nameless, formless and timeless. Different names and forms [nama-roopa] have been given to God so as to create a clearer and more conceivable picture of God in front of ordinary beings.
Brahma Sutra of Hindu Vedanta states
“Ekam Brahm, dwitiya naste neh na naste kinchan”
Meaning – There is only one God, not the second; not at all, not in the least bit.
Since, it is believed that ‘All the goodness together is God’, one single Supreme Being has taken different shapes of Brahma (The Creator), Vishnu (The Sustainer), and Mahesh (The Destroyer), the core Trinity of Hindu worship. Many other forms are simultaneously created to define His different virtues for e.g. Ganapati for removing obstacles, Lakshmi for bringing fortune, Saraswati for attaining knowledge etc.
On an interesting note, God in the different forms of nature – such as trees, animals, sun, stars, moon etc. – is also being worshipped amongst the Hindus. However, irrespective of any name or form, the devotee is indeed worshipping the one and only Brahman.
Bhakti as in Hindu Scriptures
Worship or devotion in Hindu Scriptures is defined as ‘Bhakti’, derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Bhaj’. Bhakti indicates our pure service to the Lord and is measured in terms of emotions with which one devotes himself to the Lord.
It is believed that even if one’s Bhakti or worship to the Lord is intended towards attaining worldly gains, eventually it surpasses everything and reaches towards exchanging the unconditional love with the Lord. Thus, selfless Bhakti or devotion to the Lord illumines one’s knowledge called Jnana, leading to the realization of the Supreme Soul or Paramatman.
Indian Scriptures are the oldest and most authoritative in gaining knowledge on the object of worship i.e. the Lord. Upanishads scripts and Rig Veda mantras extensively elaborate on the essence of Bhakti.
God as described in Upanishads
Meaning – He is One only without a second.
[Chandogya Upanishad 6:2:1]
“Na casya kascij janita na cadhipah”
Meaning – Of Him there are neither parents nor lord.
[Svetasvatara Upanishad 6:9]
“Na tasya pratima asti”
Meaning – There is no likeness of Him.
[Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:19]
“Na samdrse tisthati rupam asya, na caksusa pasyati kas canainam”
Meaning – His form is not to be seen; no one sees Him with the eye.
[Svetasvatara Upanishad 4:20]
God as described in Rig Veda mantras
“Ma chidanyadvi shansata”
Meaning – O friend, do not worship anybody but Him, the Divine one.
[Rigveda Book 8:1:1]
Bhur Bhuvah Svah
Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yo nah Prachodayat
[Rig Veda 10:16:3]
Meaning – O thou existence Absolute, Creator of the three dimensions; we contemplate upon thy divine light. May He stimulate our intellect and bestow upon us true knowledge.
Nine stages or forms of Bhakti (Navavidha Bhakti) –
The pursuit of merging with the Supreme Soul is accomplished with constant devotion or Bhakti. One can associate Bhakti with the development of the upasana or fervent meditation.
Nine stages or forms of Bhakti called Navavidha Bhakti are as follows –