Times have changed, so has God

by | Jul 15, 2019

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India has a rich tradition of worshipping a Personal God. In the Vedic tradition, God was seen in the Natural Forces – Sun, Wind, Water, and so on. Then came the Upanishads and the idea of God as an impersonal force – unseen, omnipresent, almighty, incomprehensible by man, ground of existence, absolute essence, etc., emerged.  The famous term ‘Neti, Neti’ – ‘Not this, not this…’ came into vogue in looking for God. Finally, starting with Shankaracharya, the idea of worshipping a personalized God, gained root. Even the Buddhists converted Buddha into a personal God. Jesus Christ too, became a personal God.   

In the Bible and the Quran, God is described as a personal creator, who talks with and instructs his prophets. Personal relationships with God may be described in the same way as human relationships, such as, a Father in Christianity, a Lover in Sufism, and a Mother in Hinduism. The Bhakti tradition of India created a Master-servant relationship between Man and God. Saint Francis of Assisi even saw Man as an instrument of God. Organized religion, later on branched out as commercial religion and the market for Personal God related merchandise boomed – talismans, idols, pictures, and so on.

What does a young person do with God in the modern world? Organized religion has greatly lost its appeal to the urbane, rationale and scientific person. The idea of an Abstract God remains vague and therefore, is not very useful in practical terms. So, how about understanding God as intelligence inside and outside of the human body? Everything is orderly inside the human body – the blood pressure, the heartbeats, the temperature, the digestive system, respiration… Everything is working most intelligently and for good. Outside also, an exact amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, days and nights, seasons… all is good and fully functional in the most ordered way.

Personal worship then becomes an alignment with this intelligence and not going against it. This means following the signals of your body, keeping it clean, free of toxins and nourishing it with nutrients, exercise and rest, staying connected to Nature, feeling the fresh air, staring at the stars, basking in mild sunshine, and floating in a water body, if possible. And most importantly, listening to your inner consciousness – the drives, intuitions, hunches – and taking note of the dreams that bring important messages every night from the depths of your inner world and in sync with the unknown, trying to make itself known to you for your own good.

In every major religion, Free Will is seen as a gift of God to Man, and it is this that distinguishes him as superior to every other living creature. In the Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna, after preaching to Arjuna about the three paths to reach him – the knowledge way, the action way, and the devotion way, gave him the choice to pick any one of them or leave all three – yatheccha si tatha kuru (Bhagavad Gita 18.63). In the Holy Bible, the predicament of human life is free will. “I don’t do the good I want to do; instead, I do the evil that I do not want to do (Romans 7.19). Dr APJ Abdul Kalam (1931-2015) used to tell me, “Free will is given to Man so that he willingly surrender it to God’s will.” Joseph Campbell (1904–1987) puts it so beautifully, “The goal of life is to match your heartbeat to the beat of the Universe.”

So, instead of signing off the concept of God as old-fashioned, fossil, dogma or making it a hollow ritual confined to ceremonies, understand it as an inseparable part of your being, real, palpable, operating upon you from inside and the outside, every instant, as Supreme Intelligence. An agitated mind is indeed noise, and emotions like greed, anger and lust, are like viruses hijacking your CPU that is connected to the evolutionary operating system Cloud – God.

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Comments

19 Comments

  1. Dear Bhai Sahib, Greetings! I went through the blog and indeed it was an experience of the journey you have made and views so thoughtfully perceived. I still remember a Hindi essay where for the early man religion and God were personifications largely out of fear or gratitude. rituals such as touching the mothers earth before starting anything, making a cross on heart ,bowing down your head in front of the temple before proceeding on a journey were symbolic to that.You would always find a temple on rough roads and in Hills. This all was very enriching when I read the Hindi essay in school which symbolised :”भूमि को देवत्व प्रदान करना”

    Your interpretation of religion in today’s time is very true and accurate. It is more of an individual space governed by one’s own belief and also practised in a very individualised manner. I have experienced this very closely with my daughter, who is brought up in a global environment, is engaged in research and has travelled widely. Her initial up bringing and value system comes from a traditional Hindu background . she still participate in various festivals, pujas at home but that is more of a ritual or festivity .But for her own strength, conviction and Belief she has her own way of practising religion, seeking answers for her peace and meditating again in her own way.at her own ease,

    I really enjoyed reading the Blog and also I appreciate the way you have designed the website.

  2. A study finds Children Raised Without Religion Are Kinder And More Empathetic (https://www.anonews.co/children-raised-religion/?fbclid=IwAR0ptzXgQwyESeYe4LQiUvipx-2Ojh_EXyUGxjfG6FlkrYaPHhrSmKRrRqo). What makes people happy is not religion. Western European countries are the world’s happiest, the poor countries of Africa and the Middle East are the world’s unhappiest, and Finland has moved into the #1 spot on the 2018 UN world happiness report. happiness is strongly correlated with variables like income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust and generosity. Sadly, in a religious country as ours with hundreds of gods, sectarianism n casteism, the ills that eat into our society keep growing bigger and better. Shame on us, there is no end to communal riots. What good are religions n gods for when people cant live in harmony n citizens can’t afford material well being and the assurance of material aid?

  3. if we believe that our body is the temple of God, then we ought to believe that we are created in God’s image and vice versa. or if we have come to realize we are just ordinary mortals then let’s try our best to live in unison with God who resides in us, His temple. Agreed, we don’t hold the stars, times n seasons in our hands but we are blessed with a tender touch and a willing heart to love even the broken ones, people ahead and behind us. If only people realize this keepin aside all their fears n prejudices, we’ll see God living in all of us. freewill is more about exercising grace and forgiveness for the things n people we do not know.

  4. if we believe that our body is the temple of God, then we ought to believe that we are created in God’s image and vice versa. or if we have come to realize we are just ordinary mortals then let’s try our best to live in unison with God who resides in us, His temple. Agreed, we don’t hold the stars, times n in our hands but we are blessed with a tender touch and a willing heart to love even the broken ones, people ahead and behind us. if only people realize this keepin aside all their fears n prejudices, we’ll see God livin in all of us n not in places of worship. freewill is more about exercising grace and forgiveness for the things n people we dunno

  5. What a fabulous interpretation of God, Tiwari jee, a new dimension that persuades us to think over. In general, when in distress, most of us look towards God as external force to come to our rescue. I am reminded of a childhood story of a Hiran (deer) running all throughout in search of Kasturi, which is within. Your proposition makes us to realise our inner power, to believe in oneself. May be your suggestion would help us to understand the meaning of Yog, Atma and Parmatma. What most dharm gurus could not do till date you did it.

  6. With the opening of the Personalized God tradition of India and the movement of the article from the Vedic, Upanishadic era to the era of the modern religions, I initially wondered if this article is like to lead to a forthright rejection of the personalized tradition which is often postulated by most rationalists.This article strikes a chord with the youth who are often plagued with the “whom to follow?” question.

    The traditionalists often reject the scientists and vice versa and hence there is never a reconciliation of opposites which are both part of the higher truth.
    However, there was no such negation in the article.

    Instead, a personalized and yet logical approach is suggested as the way for the youth to begin and embark on the journey of their spiritual and material life. question. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s sir’s quote , “Free will is given to Man so that he willingly surrender it to God’s will.” gives a straight and most optimum solution for the youth for their life’s journey.

    “So, instead of signing off the concept of God as old-fashioned, fossil, dogma or making it a hollow ritual confined to ceremonies, understand it as an inseparable part of your being, real, palpable, operating upon you from inside and the outside, every instant, as Supreme Intelligence.” is a quote worthy statement and resonates the light of the Gita – sarva dharmaan parityaje maam ekam sharanam vraja , where Sri Krihsna advises Arjuna to let go off all the dogmas (not religion, but the rigid ownership over religion) and surrender to the supreme intelligence, the supreme I.

    Indeed, Time’s have changed, though God has remained immutable like an undefined constant, man’s perception of God has remained a variable that has undergone multiple differentiation. Now it remains to be seen how the integration will take place and at how many levels.

    It was very nice to read the article, Sir and in the end it reminded me of Sri Aurobindo’s words where he had foreseen a union of the material and the spiritual -“and matter shall reveal the spirit’s face”.

  7. ” listening to your inner consciousness” – seems perfect definition of GOD

    Growing up I heard god helps us and he makes sure good wins over bad ( Ramayana and Mahabharata) . As we grew up concept kept changing but one thing that has never change – GOD IS INSIDE YOU… or listening to your inner consciousness…

  8. While a corporate God appeals to community, I think that a personal God with whom I can communicate is inviting. If God does not do anything for me, how would He be useful? My spiritual, emotional and personal needs make God attractive to me, more so in this ‘me’ generation.

  9. Tiwari Sir, the evolution of the Concept of God is beautifully described by you in this blog. I agree with the idea of God being the supreme energy of this universe and more. For me, the idea of God is the gentle breeze that blows through life and gives direction and the soft sunshine that gives warmth and promotes growth. This is where I feel that the idea God that appeals to most people has changed and this is where religions need to change their tone. In the modern world where man controls nature, the idea of following religion due to fear of God is no longer appealing. Thus religions who cultivate a God-loving population rather a God-fearing population will find more appeal and more acceptance in the society. Only a God-loving person will follow God by his free will, exactly as Kalam sir said. God hasn’t changed but the idea of God that appeals to people has certainly changed.

  10. In kullu nafsin lamma Hafiz AAalayha

    There is no soul on earth which has no guardian over it!

    Al-Tariq (The Night-Comer)
    The Holy Quran (86.4)

  11. That’s the beauty of religion in this part of the world. The shaswat satya of God remains same and the shape changes. The religion is quite fluid…it takes shape as per the requirement of the time. Very well written Prof. Tiwari.

  12. Very candidly explained the predicament of us the young people driven by outside forces to maximize their profits and interests. The journey to self-realization is mostly abandoned though we know that it can’t be escaped. It’s like walking down on the path , I LEAVE YOU THE BEST OF MYSELF…

    There is a strong Guru-Parampara in India. God is easily accessible in the company of the Guru. Your post is God-send read on Guru Purnima today. It is indeed very important to hear our body and conscience, but is impossible before we know how to calm down our mind.

  13. I think God is finding your inner strength through meditation, nurturing nature by taking care of the living and non-living alike. I throughly enjoy reading your thoughtful blogs. Having a wide experience, you always bring a new dimension to the subject. May we all find our inner God and make this world more peaceful and sustainable.

  14. India is one of those rare rich cultures which allowed humans to choose their own God..and as people evolved so did Gods.
    Perhaps this flexibility of choosing and changing deity is unique to Indian system. In fact duality advocating Samakhya even says the question of God itself is irrelevant.

    What can be the new Gods in a time when Google shows us the right path, internet teaches us wisdom (choice dependent) and mobile phone helps us connect to the world ?

  15. I enjoy reading Prof. Tiwari’s writings. In fact, today -the politics of globalization and modern social network together have undermined the strength of universal truth and amazing sincerity and power of warm compassionate persons like Prof.Arun Tiwari. We need people like him for this subcontinent.
    Life is being mechanized in our present time,where arrogance is overshadowing kindness. And we need to spread kindness, kin-ship and proper knowledge – that ‘Arun Tiwari Shaheb’ has been trying to explore.

  16. Each one of us believes in what works for him or her. Modern life is stressful – living in crowded apartments, traffic, job uncertainties – generate constant anxiety and tension. If you’re going to survive, you have to manage the stress. Otherwise, you’ll burn out—which hurts you and the cause you’re dedicated to. Belief in God is the most powerful stress-buster. I can’t agree more with Sir’s description of God as Intelligence field. We actually disturb it by the noise in our mind. To calm down and listen to your inner voice is indeed the best form of worship.

  17. Deep Thoughts provoked me to think and look on God s existence and beliefs as per personal likes ,Shri Arun Tiwari ji is exceptional in his writings and this blog really superb giving a new perception of God ,

  18. There are times when we are afraid, alone in our struggle or suffering loss of a loved one. Belief that there is God, someone powerful out there who knows your problem and interested in your good is very helpful, especially for those who have no other help. Idea of God fills an important role in life. Of course people are free to believe in a God of their own choosing. But not believing in God is very dangerous. Your idea of God as intelligence that is running our inside and outside is very practical and helpful.

  19. I do agree on the views expressed by you. For me the God is never an ( to quote from your blog)
    old-fashioned, fossil, dogma or making it a hollow ritual confined to ceremonies, understand it as an inseparable part of your being, real, palpable, operating upon you from inside and the outside, every instant, as Supreme Intelligence.
    For me the God/ religion has been an unseen guiding force about what is right and what is wrong. With my personal experience I can tell that the younger generation is also very God fearing because it helps them to unclutter their mind with the present day competition/ materialistic thoughts.
    The strength of the believe that if I do good nothing bad will happen to me comes from that unseen power.

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