Hindu Chaplaincy

Ashit Mohan Maitra

Dr Ashit Mohan Maitra

Hinduism in a Nutshell

Hinduism is the most ancient religion on earth and its four Vedas the most ancient scriptures. Hinduism has been practiced as a way of life that best reflects the principles and spiritual laws revealed in the Vedas at different times by different Rishis (sages). These spiritual laws governing moral, ethical, and spiritual relations within society and between individuals and God, are eternal. The Vedic answer to the eternal question "who am I" is "I am a spirit living in a body".

Our everyday life's experience testifies that people are born with different tendencies and with different mental traits and physical appearances. Since tendencies are created by habit and habits are acquired through repetitions in action, the tendencies in a new-born must have come down from past lives. Apart from the body and mind, which are subject to change, there is also the immutable soul (Jivatma) that does not change. And the soul with a certain tendency would, by the laws of affinity, take birth in a body which is most suitable to express that tendency. This is how reincarnation takes place following the laws of Karma according to which there is a cause behind every effect. The reason we don’t remember our past lives is because our consciousness operates only on the surface of the mental ocean, and within its depths (in the sub-conscious) are stored all our experiences. If we could stir up the very depths of the ocean of memory, we would get a complete reminiscence of our past lives.

So the Hindu belief is that each person is a spirit: eternally free, holy, pure and perfect. But somehow or other it finds itself tied down to matter, and thinks of itself as matter. This mistaken identity is Maya. One can come out of the chain of Maya - the prison of 'cause and effect' and be free. As declared by a Vedic sage: "Hear, ye children of immortal bliss! I have found the Ancient One who is beyond all darkness, all delusion: knowing Him alone overcomes death over and over again". As to His nature, He is everywhere, almighty, pure and formless. The Vedic Rishis sang, "Thou art our father, Thou art our mother, Thou art our beloved friend, Thou art the source of all strength; give us strength. Thou art He that bears the burdens of the universe; help me bear the little burden of this life". This Mother, Father, Friend is to be worshipped through love - unselfish love for love's sake. The Ancient One may be worshipped in the form of Iswara (personal God) or a formless impersonal God, the universal Soul, Brahman. Sri Krishna, whom the Hindus believe to have been God incarnate on earth, taught that a man ought to live in this world like a lotus leaf that grows in water but is never wetted by water; i.e., one should live in this world with the heart to God and the hands to work. The soul, Jivatma, is divine but held in bondage to matter (Maya); liberation will be reached when this bond is broken leading to freedom from imperfection, i.e., freedom from death and misery.

This bondage can only fall off through the mercy of God. He reveals Himself only to the pure heart. Then all doubt disappears and the law of causation ceases to have a hold, and the perfected sage can say "I have seen the soul; I have seen God." The Hindu religion consists in realisation, not just in believing, but in being and becoming. Then all multiplicity and duality merge into ultimate unity, and one sees that the Personal God (Iswara) and the Impersonal Absolute (Brahman) are one and the same - existence absolute, knowledge absolute, and bliss absolute.

Why on campus?
We seek to be a companion for students and staff in the search for spiritual solutions to the worldly problems towards strength, peace and freedom.