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God, Indian conceptions of

DOI
10.4324/9780415249126-F058-1
DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-F058-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved October 18, 2019, from https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/god-indian-conceptions-of/v-1

Article Summary

In the Ṛg Veda, the oldest text in India, many gods and goddesses are mentioned by name; most of them appear to be deifications of natural powers, such as fire, water, rivers, wind, the sun, dusk and dawn. The Mīmāṃsā school started by Jaimini (c. ad 50) adopts a nominalistic interpretation of the Vedas. There are words like ‘Indra’, ‘Varuṇa’, and so on, which are names of gods, but there is no god over and above the names. God is the sacred word (mantra) which has the potency to produce magical results. The Yoga system of Patañjali (c. ad 300) postulates God as a soul different from individual souls in that God does not have any blemishes and is eternally free. The ultimate aim of life is not to realize God, but to realize the nature of one’s own soul. God-realization may help some individuals to attain self-realization, but it is not compulsory to believe in God to attain the summum bonum of human life. Śaṅkara (c. ad 780), who propounded the Advaita Vedānta school of Indian philosophy, agrees that God-realization is not the ultimate aim of human life. Plurality, and therefore this world, are mere appearances, and God, as the creator of the world, is himself relative to the concept of the world. Rāmānuja (traditionally 1016–1137), the propounder of the Viśiṣṭādvaita school, holds God to be ultimate reality, and God-realization to be the ultimate goal of human life. The way to realize God is through total self-surrender to God. Nyāya theory also postulates one God who is an infinite soul, a Person with omniscience and omnipresence as his attributes. God is the creator of language, the author of the sacred Vedas, and the first teacher of all the arts and crafts.

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Citing this article:
Bhattacharyya, Sibajiban. God, Indian conceptions of, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-F058-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis, https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/god-indian-conceptions-of/v-1.
Copyright © 1998-2019 Routledge.

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