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“Eko’aham Bahusyaam” (I am the One who became Many)

The One in Many, the Many in One: Hindu Notions of the Divinity as Unity
(Monotheism)

God his One, His names and Forms are Many:


They call Him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, and he is the Divine good winged bird (the sun with beautiful
rays). The sages describe one and the same Agni in various ways and call it Agni, Yama and Matarisvan.
Rigveda 1.164.46

Agni itself is Indra, Vayu, Brahma, Vishnu and Brahmanaspati. Rigveda 2.1.3
Varuna and Mitra are but functional manifestations of Agni. Rigveda 2.1.4
Vishnu, Rudra and Marut are also functional manifestations of Agni. Rigveda 2.1.6

That (Supreme Being) is Agni; that is the Surya; that is the Vayu; that is the Chandrama; that is Jyoti; that is
Brahman; and that is Prajapati. (Madhyandina) Yajurveda 32.1

“For indeed Agni is that God. His are the names: as the easterners (prachyaah) call him ‘Sarva’ (all),
Bahlikas (call him) ‘Dhava’ (one who shakes), ‘Rudra’ (one who causes weeping), ‘Pasunampatih’ (the
Lord or the protector of beasts), ‘Agni’ (the first leader, he who was there at the outset).” Kanva Shatapath
Brahmana 2.7.1.7

The perception of the worshipper makes the ONE Deity appear as three, but in their ontological essence,
they are ONE. Brhaddevata 2.18

Different ‘gods’ are limbs of the ONE Supreme Soul:


“On account of superb excellence of the Divinity, One soul (i.e., the All-pervading Soul) is extolled in
various ways. The other (manifest) gods are just like the limbs of the Great Soul, the secondary members of
the body. The specialists in this branch of study (= spirituality) observe that the Sages praise the beings
according to the plurality and Universality of their intrinsic nature. The gods are (figuratively described in
the Veda as) born from each other (e.g., Rigveda 10.72.4). The gods are the primary source of each other.
They owe their birth, i.e., coming into being, to their specific functions as well as to the (Universal) Soul.
Soul alone is their chariot, horse, weapon and arrow, i.e., these things which are not different from the soul
are only figurative appellations in their descriptions.” Nirukta 7.4

ONE God is Immanent and Transcendent:


Purusha is 1000 headed, 1000 eyed, 1000 footed; And, pervading the earth on all sides. He exists beyond
the 10 directions. Rigveda 10.90.1 (Purusha = Immanent, Creator God)
Purusha indeed is all this, What has been and what will be,
And the Lord of immortality, Transcending by mortal nurture. Rigveda 10.90.2
Such is his magnificence, but Purusha is greater than this; All beings are a fourth of him, Three fourths- his
immortality-lie in heaven. Rigveda 10.90.3

“(It is) The Supreme Being (Who) first spread out the mighty powers collected in Him
(It is) The Supreme Being (Who) first spread out the heavenly lights everywhere
Verily, The Supreme Being was born as first Lord of all that exists
Who, then is fit to be this Supreme Being’s rival” Atharvaveda Paippalada VIII.8.1

“He by Whom all this Universe is pervaded- the earth and the mid region, the heaven and the quarters and
the sub-quarters, that Purusha is fivefold and is constituted of 5 elements. He who has attained the Supreme
Knowledge through Samnyasa (renunciation) is indeed this Purusha. He is all that is perceptible in the
present, was perceptible in the past and will be perceptible in the future. Though apparently human-like,
His true nature is that which is settled by the Vedas and what is attained by his new birth is in right
knowledge. He is firmly established in the richness of knowledge imparted by His teacher, as also in his
faith and in Truth. He has become the self resplendent. Being such a one, He remains beyond/separate the
darkness of ignorance. Taittiriya Aranyaka 10.79.16

There are, no doubt, two forms of Brahman- one having a form and the other formeless. The mortal and the
immortal. The stationary and the moving. The discernible and the indiscernible.
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.3.1
That under which the year revolves with its days, the gods worship that as the light of lights and as life
immortal, That in which the people of all the five regions of the Earth and space are established, that alone I
regard as the Soul; know that Immortal Brahman, I too am immortal (=reference to Divinely enlightened).
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. 4.4.16-17

Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are aspects of One Supreme Being:


“They said: ‘Revered one, you are the teacher, you are the teacher indeed. What has been said has been
duly understood by us. Now answer a further question. Fire, air, sun, time, whatever it is, breath, food,
Brahma, Rudra (Shiva), Vishnu- some meditate upon one, some meditate upon another. Tell us- which one
is the best for us?’ Then he replied to them: “All these are merely the manifest/frontal forms of Brahman,
the Immmortal, the Formless. To whichever form each man is devoted here, in the realm of that deity does
that man rejoices. For it has been said- ‘Verily, this whole is Brahman. Verily, these, which are its manifest
forms that one meditates on, worships and discards. For by meditation upon these forms, one moves into
higher and higher realms. And when all things perish, he attains unity with the Purusha!” Maitrayaniya
Aranyaka IV.5-6

God is the Ruler of the Universe:1


AUM iishaavaasyamid.h.N sarvaM yatkiJNcha jagatyaaM jagat.h |
tena tyaktena bhuJNjiithaa maa gR^idhaH kasyasviddhanam.h ||

“All sentinent and insentinent objects in this ever changing Universe are ephermal and pass away with
time.

1
Note: Mahatma Gandhi once remarked that if all the sacred lore of Hindus were to be consigned to flames
with the exception of this verse, Hinduism would still have survived in all its beauty. Thus, according to
him, this verse represents the essence of Hindu spirituality. Note that this verse does not forbid the
enjoyment of mundane things, rather it enjoins that we should not get unduly obsessed with them.
But the Lord Who is immanent in everything, and controls it in multifarious ways, is Eternal and
Imperishable.
Seek to realize this Eternal Truth and do not get entangled in this world.
Enjoy the bounties of Nature, but with a sense of reunuciation.
To whom does all this belong?” Ishavasya Upanishad 1

We can worship ONE God in ANY Form:


“In whatever form my worshipper chooses to worship Me, in that very form I accept his worship, and make
his faith steady in that very form.” Gita 7.12

Meanings of the names of God: From Vayu Purana


He is called 'Atman' because whatever He attains (apnoti), takes up (adatte) and exists (asti) for the
(enjoyment of) objects, that is his permanent being. 1.5.32
He is called Rishi because He goes everywhere. He is Vishnu because he pervades everything. He has the
lordship over everything. He is the lord of the Physical body etc. 1.5.33
He is called Bhagavan because there are such (excellences) in him. He is Raga (lord of passion) because he
controls passion. He is Para (Supreme) because he is the cosmic being. He is Om because he protects (all).
1.5.34
He is Sarvajna because he knows everything. He is sarva because everything originates from him. As men
originate from him, He is called 'Narayana.' 1.5.35
Because He is the first to manifest, he is called the first god. He is called Aja because he is not born (is self
existent). Since He protects his subjects, He is called the Prajapati. 1.5.37
He is called Mahadeva because he is the greatest deity amongst the Devas. He is Ishvara because he is the
Lord of the worlds and because he is not subject to other's control. 1.5.38
He is called Brahma because of his hugeness. He is called Bhuta because of his (eternal) existence. He is
Kshetrajna because he knows the unmanifest cosmic nature. He is Vibhu because he is omnipresent. 1.5.39
Because he lies in the subtle body (called Pur), he is called Purusha. He is called Svayambhu because he is
not procreated and because he exists before the creation. 1.5.40

They who distinguish between Forms of ONE God suffer:


From Kurma Purana
This great mediator, the Imperishable Vishnu Who is your protector is none other than Mahadeva, the Lord
of gods- there is no doubt in it. 1.14.86
They, who regard Vishnu, the cause of the Universe, as different from Lord Shankara due to a deluded mind
or due to lack of adherence to the Vedas indeed go to hell. 1.41.87
The followers of Vedas behold Lord Vishnu and Lord Rudra with the same feeling (of reverence) and thus
become fit for Salvation. 1.41.88
He Who is Vishnu is indeed Rudra himself; and He who is Rudra is indeed Vishnu. He who worships God,
with this understanding; reaches the supreme state (of salvation). 1.14.89

Narada Purana
They who do not distinguish between Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, but worship them both equally as ONE-
these indeed are the true devotees of God. 1.5.72

The Gender of God: Either Both or None2:


God as Half Woman: In numerous iconic representations, God is shown as ‘ardhanariishvara’ or ‘God
who is half woman’, to emphasize that either God has no gender or he is both woman and man.

2
The very word ‘Brahman’ used to denote Supreme Being in Hindu texts is in neuter gender. Likewise,
many words used to denote Universal Virtues such as Truth (Satyam) are considered neuter gender in
Sanskrit, the sacred language of Hindu Dharma.
God as a Divine Couple:
Sage Parashar said:
O Maitreya! Always a companion of Vishnu and the Mother of this Universe,
Devi Lakshmi is eternal. Vishnu is omnipresent, so is She.
If She is speech, Vishnu is the object of description.
Vishnu is the Law, and She is the Policy.
Lord Vishnu is knowledge, she is intelligence.
He is Dharma, She is good karma.
If Vishnu is the Creator, She is the Creation (that abides eternally with Him).
He is the mountain, She is Earth.
He is the virtue of contentment, She is the all satisfying.
If Lord Vishnu is desire, She is the object of desire.
He is the sacred Vedic ritual, she is the priestly fee…( Vishnu Purana 1.8.17-20ab)