Hindu Chaplaincy

Ashit Mohan Maitra

Dr Ashit Mohan Maitra
T 0405 657 257

The Essence of Hinduism

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.

Even though each person is in essence a spirit - eternally free, pure and perfect - 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 Ancient One may be worshipped in the form of Iswara (personal God with form, the Creator of the cosmos) or Brahman, the formless impersonal God, the universal Soul. The spiritual practice, therefore, may take a dualistic approach (that considers Jivatma and Brahman as eternally separate), or the non-dualistic/monistic approach (that considers Jivatma as essentially the same as Brahman or God). The practice may also take an approach intermediate between these two (that treats Jivatma to be qualitatively the same as Brahman but quantitatively vastly different).

In contrast to the Supreme Soul, the individual soul is perceived indirectly with the help of the mind. A mind is identified with the sense- induced thought waves (chitta vritti) that are created in the ocean of the mind. Once these waves are completely eliminated, one gets a direct experience of the Supreme Soul. In this state, one’s consciousness of oneself melts away and merges into the universal consciousness. 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.

Hindu spirituality in practice is modulating one’s mind so as not to allow mental turbulence. This is done by encouraging the one idea of the Divine thought to permeate into every human faculty. Thus, in Karma Yoga one does work as one’s duty without expecting any return, in Bhakti Yoga it is devotional self-surrender to God, in Jnana Yoga it is intellectual self-analysis, and in Raja Yoga it is determined self-control. With this preparation for mind purification, when God reveals Himself mercifully then the law of causation ceases to have a hold, and the perfected sage can say "I have seen the soul; I have seen God." Religion in Hinduism is not just believing, but it is being and becoming.

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.