About Audarya-lila Dasa
I like to garden and spend time in nature. I read a lot. Mostly either scientific journal articles and books or theological works either from my own spritual tradition (mostly) or others on occasion.
Teenage years have been the hardest years in our family life. I was naive enough to think it would get easier when my kids could think more rationally, but I will readily admit that I somehow had developed a bit of amnesia regarding my own teenage experience and what my family went through with all of my siblings!
Basic Hindu Beliefs
A more refined and personal definition of God is that he is rasaraja, which means that he is the king (raja) of rasa (loving exchanges) or that he is the emporium of rasa and all aspects of love can be fully experienced in relation to him.
Bhagavad-gita which literally means 'the song of God' is a central book to all Hindus. The book follows Arjuna, who in one sense represents the whole of humanity, as he is taken by Krsna from bewilderment and material attachment to enlightenment and material emancipation.
Krsna teaches about five basic things in the Bhagavad-gita: God (himself), the soul (everyone else), karma, material nature and time. Of these five, four are eternal and one, karma, though said to be beginningless, is not eternal. Karma is that which binds us to the world of birth and death. The soul is described by Krsna as eternal, full of knowledge and happiness. The soul's true nature is covered by various levels of ignorance in embodied life. This is described with the examples of dust on a mirror, smoke covering fire and the womb covering the embyo. When the soul is free from Karma and it's reactions he/she is liberated from birth and death and lives eternally in his/her own nature which is eternal, full of knowledge and happiness.
Put in easy terms - reincarnation continues for the soul until he/she attains moksha or liberation which is by definition the state of freedom from karma.
There are many schools of thought in Hinduism. The two largest branches of Hinduism are Vaishnavism and Saivism. To expound upon the similarities and differences of all the branches of Hinduism would take volumes of text. Hinduism is really a large umbrella under which many differing theological ideas are juxtiposed. It is not like Christianity in the sense that there is a central figure like Christ who all agree is the center of the religion regardless of church affiliation. Hinduism encompasses panthiests, monists, mono-theists and many other types of believers under it's broad heading. This is so because the very term Hinduism has no historical context relating to a unified belief system. It is the name given by the moslems to the people they found in India who lived in the Sindhu valley. These people were quite diverse and held a wide array of beliefs.
There are many texts which emcompass the religious canon of Hindus. The texts have been classified as sruti and smriti or revealed sound and a reflection on that which is revealed. Not all agree on this definition or what texts belong to which category. The Upanishads are the philosophical texts of the Vedas and are quite numerous and diverse. They are universally accepted under the category of sruti. In order to show concordance of the Unpanishadic texts Vyasadeva wrote the Vedanta Sutras. The Vedanta Sutras are quite terse and they do not directly reveal what texts they take their lead from. This has led to the need for commentaries on the sutras. Shakara Acharya wrote a famous commentary which espouses the idea of monism and is the source of the idea that 'all is one'. His commentary and the various iterations on the ideas presented in his commentary are what most westerners come in contact with when they first encounter Hinduism. There are also devotional commentaries that are not monistic, but rather are what I will call theistic in the sense that they all agree that God has an eternal form and that all souls are eternally conscious individuals. All of the shools have to deal with Upanishadic texts which convey both the oneness of God and his creation and the difference. Where Shankara would say that texts which refer to God as having form are literary devices or temporary manifestations the theisits would argue that God does indeed have a form and that he is formless only in the sense that he does not have a form consisting of material ingredients and his form is beyond duality.
Our devotional school follows what Vyasadeva himself has called the natural commentary on the sutras as our major source of revelation - the Bhagavata Purana. It is revealed there that Krsna is svayam Bhagavan, or he from whom all avatars of God come. He is thus called in english the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Our metaphysic has been stated succinctly thusly: God is inconceivably simultaneously one with and different from his creation. This metaphysic reconciles both the idea of distinction and non-distinction.