Hindu texts and practices suggest the simultaneous existence of polytheism and what seems to be monotheism, but some Hindus find it insulting to be called polytheists. Is Hinduism Pantheistic, Panentheistic, Polytheistic, monotheistic or henotheistic? Are the Semitic religions monotheistic or polytheistic? In Sanskrit, this concept is "tat tvam asi," which can be translated as "you are that" or "that you are.". Monism, a system wherein Ultimate Reality is believed to be the unpersonified essence underlying (or encompassing) all life. These may include gods, goddesses, semi-divine beings, good or evil spirits, or the spirits of departed ancestors. Such narrow minded views and biases have hampered many who adhere to western thinking from understanding the value and validity of polytheistic beliefs for the people who hold them. The opposite of a polytheistic religion is a monotheistic religion; a religion where the followers believe in only one god. Hinduism names hundreds of gods, … Add your voice. Another common belief is that spirits possess or adopt a specific form, often human-like, and are endowed with human-like characteristics, such as love and compassion, but also jealousy and revenge. This view also implies the superiority of monotheism over different formulations of the sacred that may have their own value. The Ancient Greeks had polytheistic beliefs and this Hellenistic tradition has greatly influenced modern western thought due to the stories of these gods. Yet, in much of the rest of the world, polytheism, or a belief in multiple divinities, has been a long held and popular conviction. Therefore, Hinduism is not polytheistic. With over a billion adherents, many claim that the religion is monotheistic and helmed by the supreme being, Brahma. Today is National Voter Registration Day! So then technically, Hindus are not polytheists because most Hindus are nondualists and believe that all of the gods and goddesses are manifestations/embodiments of the one Ultimate Brahman/Bhagvan. The term was first popularized in the writings of eighteenth century European ethnographers as they encountered, then sought to identify and label the religious beliefs of "primitive" peoples they studied. Identity Politics vs. Transactional Politics. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hindu monists, then, would argue that Hindu gods and goddesses have only a provisional reality and are, ultimately, illusory/unreal. When Waking Up is Falling Asleep, "The Church supports the use of vaccinations", The GOP's Double Standard on Christianity, The Soul of Gospel Music Explored in New Netflix Series "Voices of Fire", Seven Ways to Think About Christian Mysticism. I have come to the conclusion that Hinduism is neither, but monistic. Monotheism and polytheism are two very different belief systems. Jews and Muslims would surely say that Hinduism is polytheistic—for them, worship of anything that is not the Supreme Being is a sin. But Hinduism is unique, at least in the scope of my own knowledge about religion, in the way it presents its "monotheistic" and "polytheistic" facets. 2. ©2020 Verizon Media. 4. An organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods ... Polytheism. Monolatrism, a religious system wherein one recognizes many gods (though in Hinduism, these are not of different essences) but only worships one of them. It is not male nor female, has no form or description. When he questions this answer, he receives the reply, "There are thirty-three gods." The origin of Hinduism is shrouded in antiquity of the distant past far beyond the times of known history. For Hindus, this makes total sense. That being the case, we should focus instead on the ramifications and practical usefulness of the various theological conceptualizations on the people who hold them as well as on the rest of the world. The more conservative monotheists even equate them with evil and demonism. Different divinities, like different bureaucrats, have different powers. Depending upon the tradition, there may be an established and recognized hierarchy of worshipped beings or they may be seen to act independently. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, an important Hindu sacred text, a man asks a great teacher, "How many gods are there?" A polytheistic religion, on the other hand, is a religion that believes in the existence of many gods or deities. "Polytheism" was used to contrast these beliefs with Judeo-Christian monotheism. The merging of polytheistic and monotheistic concepts in this way is unique to Hinduism. However, Hindus rarely worship all of the gods and goddesses simultaneously; instead, Hindus generally worship only one God/Goddess as being higher than the others (although, in theory, they are all equally Brahman). Polytheism, then, often mirrors the human experience of family, village, and state. While such individuals are then believed to not receive divine assistance, they are typically not understood to be punished for this choice. In conceptualizing such a theology, then, the adherents obviously drew upon their own human experiences. Reflecting on how this approach can be understood on a human level, it parallels in many ways the functioning of democratic society in which power exists in the hands of various individuals who can be approached in turn or simultaneously for assistance. What Is the Purpose of Spiritual Gifts, and How Do You Discover Yours? It allows people to believe in and pray to their own conceptualizations of the divine in whatever form they choose, while at the same time elevating all of them to their ultimate reality, which is the singular omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient divinity, who demands no allegiance, punishes no one for lack of belief, yet provides wisdom, comfort, compassion, and freedom to those who seek it. STUDY. Not satisfied, he continues to ask and gets the response, "There are only three gods." The deity worshipped in each is seen by Hindus to simply be a different manifestation of the deity they already worship. It takes on apparent form or characteristics solely to allow humans the ability to relate to it. Hinduism incorporates diverse views on the concept of God. It is not only the source and reality of all other deities, but also of all creation, both animate and inanimate. Hinduism incorporates diverse views on the concept of God. 30 million deities which are nothing but forms of ONE God. Religion. This is a nondualistic monotheism. Professor of Religion, University of Hawai’i, Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter. Over time, Hinduism has evolved from a polytheistic religion to one that is widely monistic. they believe many Gods. One enfolds the other. Atheists and Western monotheists together denigrate polytheists and their beliefs as either ignorant or pagan. This paradox can be traced to the history of Hinduism. Monotheism and Polytheism Reconciled. Hinduism. To this he is told, "Three thousand and three." Hindus as i have already said can be pluralistic. So it got me thinking. The vast majority of individuals in such societies remain weak and powerless unless they observe strict adherence to the being in power and do whatever they are told. In Hinduism, polytheism and monotheism coexist in a relationship much like the parts of a wheel. A polytheistic religion is when the followers of a religion believe in more than one god. One of the most well known and widespread polytheistic religions is Hinduism. Then, is Hinduism monotheistic polytheistic or atheistic? Finally, many Hindus would classify themselves as adherents of. From time to time you will also receive Special Offers from our partners that help us make this content free for you. Kathenotheism, a system wherein one recognizes many gods but only worships one of them at a time. Monotheism is the belief in one god and polytheism is the belief in more one than one god. Monotheism - Monotheism - The spectrum of views: monotheisms and quasi-monotheisms: The God of monotheism is the one real god that is believed to exist or, in any case, that is acknowledged as such. Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! Learn more about polytheism, including such religions as Hinduism. Buddism. Whereas a traveler of spiritual path, follower of teachings contained in Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads considers Hinduism to be monotheistic. Hinduism is a philosophy of different levels of reality/perception. Countless deities are regularly propitiated, often together. So you can say that Hinduism is polytheistic, monotheistic, or monistic. Again he asks and is told, "One and a half gods." In the process, he alludes to a concept found in various Upanishads that equates the unchanging reality that exists in each individual with the Supreme Changeless Divinity. When did Hinduism begin? Therefore, Hinduism is not polytheistic. Is Sikhism Monotheistic Or Polytheistic? Believed to be the first religion known to mankind. Then, there is the Hindu form of monotheism, in which the Divine is formally referred to as Brahman (not Brahmin, the priestly caste). Some of the most prevalent polytheistic religions are Chinese, Japanese Shinto, Greek, Egyptian, Hinduism etc. Modern Semitic religions are monotheistic, namely Judaism and Islam. This is why it is commonplace for Hindus to be seen in Buddhist or Jain temples, in Sikh gurudwaras, and in mosques and churches. At the same time, one can choose to ignore all deities. Each Hindu follows a particular sect and thus have different ways to pray to Brahman. Is Hinduism monotheistic, or polytheistic? With characteristics, the Divine can love, protect, and show compassion; beyond qualifications, it is all encompassing. Among these are a belief that each divinity or spirit being has a specific function (such as healing, protection in travel, etc. I mean Islam and Christianity are monotheistic. It should be noted at the outset, however, that this is chiefly a western difficulty: the Indian mind is much more inclined to regard divergent views as complementary rather than competing. 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