This is seen as the only means of survival. As it says, it is only one god who has manifested and taken many forms like one body with many different parts. The Gods have 33 (Siva Visnu) etc. It depends on how the practitioner of the religion understands it. It is not male nor female, has no form or description. They may work in conjunction with one another or at cross purposes. In that state, it may be called Ram, Krishna, Shiva, Devi, etc. All rights reserved. Under the conventional definitions of monotheism and polytheism, HINDUISM IS POLYTHEISTIC. Second, if Hinduism is not monotheistic, the general implication is that Hinduism must be polytheistic, meaning heathen, pagan, primitive, superstitious and idolatrous. Religion. Hinduism is a religion that defies definite classification, and in practice, it has both monotheistic and polytheistic components. Show more answers (5) Thus, in many ways polytheism is a pragmatic theological view that, as mentioned above, reflects aspects of a democratic style system. 30 million deities which are nothing but forms of ONE God. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. With characteristics, the Divine can love, protect, and show compassion; beyond qualifications, it is all encompassing. The Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam preach the former, while those who base their world view exclusively on material or scientific rationality tend to adhere to the latter. PLAY. Again he asks and is told, "One and a half gods." Advaita means not two. The origin of Hinduism is shrouded in antiquity of the distant past far beyond the times of known history. The latter can include forces of nature, such as rain, thunder, a celestial body, the seasons, or may involve dominion over characteristics of human personality, like love, devotion, compassion, jealousy, revenge, and so forth. Monotheism and Polytheism Reconciled. Finally, many Hindus would classify themselves as adherents of. What may be more accurate is that humans create the gods in their image and likeness, believing that what happens on earth must be a reflection of what happens in the heavens. Therefore, while there are many different types of Hinduism (and therefore many different types of "isms" with which these different traditions can be labeled), none of them is technically polytheistic. By. Who was the first of the 10 Gurus of Sikhism. Hinduism denies being exclusively either monotheistic or polytheistic, sometimes believing to be monotheistic but declining to polytheism with many Hindu schools regarding it as henotheistic. ), that it controls a particular realm (such as a spirit realm or a specific location in the physical world), or that it possesses a specific power or range of powers. Hinduism names hundreds of gods, … Different divinities, like different bureaucrats, have different powers. Buddism. He is all knowing, all powerful, and ever present. The other criteria for polytheism is that these separate and autonomous gods are all of equal status with each other and are worshipped simultaneously. Songs are sung and festivals are celebrated just like any Temple. "Polytheism" was used to contrast these beliefs with Judeo-Christian monotheism. Monolatrism, a religious system wherein one recognizes many gods (though in Hinduism, these are not of different essences) but only worships one of them. One of the most well known and widespread polytheistic religions is Hinduism. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion. Christianity is a monotheistic religion. The merging of polytheistic and monotheistic concepts in this way is unique to Hinduism. On the human level, one typically finds such a being in monarchies, dictatorships, and societies run by a ruling tribal leader or warlord like those currently found in many Middle Eastern countries. Literature, especially Indian, has its crux implanted in the Hindu beliefs and ideas as the Indian way of life is the Hindu way. Technically speaking, polytheism is the belief in many gods, none of whom participate in the divine essence of any of the others. Therefore, Hinduism is not polytheistic. 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. Other forms that spirits may embody include those of animals, of aspects of nature like a volcano, or a combination of several, thus making reverence toward and worship of both human-like and non-anthropomorphic forms commonplace. Judaism is monotheistic, while Hinduism is polytheistic. He asks again and is told, "There are six." In the Jewish creation story, the gods (elohim) say "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness." It is frequently found in cultures with a clearly stratified social and/or political hierarchy, where power is held in the hands of different individuals based on their position within the hierarchy, and that these powers are there to benefit those who approach the various divinities seeking assistance. Mesopotamia and Egypt. Hinduism. Is Sikhism Monotheistic Or Polytheistic? In monotheism, there is belief in and worship of only one god that is a separate entity. Atheists and Western monotheists together denigrate polytheists and their beliefs as either ignorant or pagan. Hinduism. God’s essence and character are believed to be unique and fundamentally different from all other beings that can be considered more or less comparable—e.g., the gods of other religions. Today is National Voter Registration Day! This paradox can be traced to the history of Hinduism. When did Hinduism begin? Kathenotheism, a system wherein one recognizes many gods but only worships one of them at a time. 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. Hinduism will be used as a primary example, since it offers a good example of polytheism and how it can be blended with the Hindu understanding of monotheism into a useful and practical theology. Especially in contemporary times, religious narrow-mindedness is a prevalent and major cause of much of the violence and hatred in the world, and both Western monotheistic and atheistic thinking have been major contributors. Hindus as i have already said can be pluralistic. And there is one Hindu school that is more explicitly monistic than others: Advaita Vedanta or just Advaita. 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. Believed to be the first religion known to mankind. Nowadays, the term is essentially used to refer to any belief system in which multiple spirit beings are worshiped. A polytheistic religion is when the followers of a religion believe in more than one god. Different traditions of Hinduism have different theistic views, and these views have been described by scholars as polytheism, monotheism, henotheism, panentheism, pantheism, monism, agnostic, humanism, atheism or Nontheism. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, an important Hindu sacred text, a man asks a great teacher, "How many gods are there?" Therefore, Hinduism is not polytheistic. It was started at around 15 th century by Guru Nanak Dev. Polytheism is the belief in, and worship of more than one god. Additionally, one can choose to focus exclusively on a divinity who appeals to one's own personality. Among these are a belief that each divinity or spirit being has a specific function (such as healing, protection in travel, etc. We made it easy for you to exercise your right to vote! Like with the gods in polytheistic traditions, he has human personality traits. Hinduism is polytheistic religion and the oldest religion in India and Nepal. 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. With over a billion adherents, many claim that the religion is monotheistic and helmed by the supreme being, Brahma. Hindu monists, then, would argue that Hindu gods and goddesses have only a provisional reality and are, ultimately, illusory/unreal. In monotheism, especially as expressed in the Abrahamic religions, ultimate power is in the hands of a single male divinity. Whereas a traveler of spiritual path, follower of teachings contained in Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads considers Hinduism to be monotheistic. For Hindus, this makes total sense. Yet, in much of the rest of the world, polytheism, or a belief in multiple divinities, has been a long held and popular conviction. One who finds self incapable of indulging in spirituality unable to follow teachings […] It is impossible to unambiguously answer the question about the nature of religion: the direction shows signs of both polytheistic and monotheistic religion that honors the Hinduism Brahman. Please also opt me in for Exclusive Offers from Patheos’s Partners. 4. Each Hindu follows a particular sect and thus have different ways to pray to Brahman. It is said to be the source, the hub, from which all deities are manifest. STUDY. While such systems may be comforting to those who "belong" to the right tribe or belief system, a solitary all-powerful ruler is a threat to those who do not. Polytheistic and Monotheistic. How Awake Are We? Learn more about polytheism, including such religions as Hinduism. 3. What Is the Purpose of Spiritual Gifts, and How Do You Discover Yours? Important conversations are happening now. In the explanation that follows, the teacher tells him that the many are all ultimately manifestations of the one indwelling presence. The term “Hinduism” embraces a wide array of philosophies and practices, and while certain Hindus may think and worship in an essentially monotheistic way, the practices of others may be more readily labeled polytheistic or pantheistic. The merging of polytheistic and monotheistic concepts in this way is unique to Hinduism. Monism, a system wherein Ultimate Reality is believed to be the unpersonified essence underlying (or encompassing) all life. Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism,panentheism, pantheism, monism, and atheism, and its concept of God is complex and depends upon each particular tradition and philosophy. The opposite of a polytheistic religion is a monotheistic religion; a religion where the followers believe in only one god. All these names thus refer to a Qualified Absolute that is simultaneously beyond qualifications. So they are technically a monotheistic religion. Hinduism incorporates diverse views on the concept of God. Today, the two most popular theological beliefs in the West are monotheism (the belief in a single all-powerful divinity) and atheism (the belief that there is no divine entity). It is not only the source and reality of all other deities, but also of all creation, both animate and inanimate. 1. Brahman is the unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being, and everything beyond in this Universe. From time to time you will also receive Special Offers from our partners that help us make this content free for you. "Polytheism" (from the Greek polutheos, "many gods") denotes a theological system involving a belief in and worship of multiple divinities. At some levels one perceives gods, at another, God. Church and ministry leadership resources to better equip, train and provide ideas for today's church and ministry leaders, like you. You can opt out of these offers at any time. Some of the most prevalent polytheistic religions are Chinese, Japanese Shinto, Greek, Egyptian, Hinduism etc. No human has demonstrable or irrefutable proof for or against a belief in a divinity or a lack thereof. Is Hinduism really a polytheistic religion or is in fact an amalgam of monotheistic religions? Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. In conceptualizing such a theology, then, the adherents obviously drew upon their own human experiences. The deity worshipped in each is seen by Hindus to simply be a different manifestation of the deity they already worship. In Hinduism a believer of religion indulging in rituals considers Hindu religion to be polytheistic. 2. Simultaneous propitiation of several deities tends to be common and accepted. “…But in reality Hinduism is monotheistic. While such individuals are then believed to not receive divine assistance, they are typically not understood to be punished for this choice. Add your voice. Part of HuffPost Religion. Every Hindu has the right to decide which embodiment of God to give preference to, at which point in time. Patheos has the views of the prevalent religions and spiritualities of the world. Are the Semitic religions monotheistic or polytheistic? Jews and Muslims would surely say that Hinduism is polytheistic—for them, worship of anything that is not the Supreme Being is a sin. Hinduism is a philosophy of different levels of reality/perception. 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. All they need to do is look within. After one final query, the teacher says to him, "There is one god." This thing about everything being one, is sometimes called monism. So it got me thinking. Panentheism, a system wherein Divinity/God is believed to be both transcendent of and immanent within the world. Is Hinduism monotheistic, or polytheistic? Polytheism characterizes virtually all religions other than Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which share a common tradition of monotheism, the belief in one god. 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. Polytheism, then, often mirrors the human experience of family, village, and state. The purpose here, then is to make the case for the inclusion of polytheism as a legitimate belief system, for it has animated people throughout the world since ancient times and has often provided an understanding of divinity and reality that is more rational than Abrahamic monotheism and has been the cause of far less violence in the world. The belief in many gods. 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. One then approaches and propitiates the being with the requisite power to fulfill his or her needs or desires. If one looks at the monotheistic concept, in which there is a solitary omnipotent divinity, on the other hand, we find a very different approach to the divine and also to the likely world experience of those who formulated it. Because of this all encompassing nature, it is the One to whom all prayers are offered. 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. 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. They believe that God cannot manifest … There are several significant characteristics typically found in nearly all polytheistic traditions. 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. Not satisfied, he continues to ask and gets the response, "There are only three gods." Hinduism is both monotheistic and polytheistic. India's 1st major religion. In Hinduism, polytheism and monotheism coexist in a relationship much like the parts of a wheel. I have come to the conclusion that Hinduism is neither, but monistic. 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. Depending upon the tradition, there may be an established and recognized hierarchy of worshipped beings or they may be seen to act independently. This is why it is commonplace for Hindus to be seen in Buddhist or Jain temples, in Sikh gurudwaras, and in mosques and churches. Hinduism is the most ancient religion among all the great living religions in the world today. These may include gods, goddesses, semi-divine beings, good or evil spirits, or the spirits of departed ancestors. At the same time, one can choose to ignore all deities. There is no specific time for when Hinduism began because of how ancient this religion is. Among the myriad of others who receive attention and reverence are Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth), Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge and Learning), and Hanuman (Devotion Incarnate), to name just a few. they believe many Gods. The more common of these deities to be propitiated by rural agriculturalists Bhudevi (Mother Earth), Surya (the Sun God), Ganesh (Lord of Auspiciousness and Success), regional deities, and various river goddesses. This view also implies the superiority of monotheism over different formulations of the sacred that may have their own value. In some cases, this is seen as practical and necessary, since different spirits control different realms or powers. Modern Semitic religions are monotheistic, namely Judaism and Islam. The Ancient Greeks had polytheistic beliefs and this Hellenistic tradition has greatly influenced modern western thought due to the stories of these gods. The many deities are like the spokes, all of which emanate from the hub and each playing an important role. Monotheism and polytheism are two very different belief systems. Different traditions of Hinduism have different theistic views, and these views have been described by scholars as polytheism , monotheism , henotheism, panentheism, pantheism, monism, agnostic, humanism, atheism or Nontheism. So you can say that Hinduism is polytheistic, monotheistic, or monistic. One enfolds the other. 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. An organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods ... Polytheism. A polytheistic religion. Answer #11 | 11/12 2014 00:44 It can be any of them. So they worship the personal forms of Brahman in different ways. 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. Hinduism incorporates diverse views on the concept of God. (Poly = many.) Then, there is the Hindu form of monotheism, in which the Divine is formally referred to as Brahman (not Brahmin, the priestly caste). For them, their respective Gods are most important, just like in any other Temple. 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. The more conservative monotheists even equate them with evil and demonism. Monotheism is the belief in one god and polytheism is the belief in more one than one god. It transcends all attempts at defining or qualifying it. Sri Swami Chidananda. In Sanskrit, this concept is "tat tvam asi," which can be translated as "you are that" or "that you are.". Over time, Hinduism has evolved from a polytheistic religion to one that is widely monistic. I mean Islam and Christianity are monotheistic. Among the most ancient of these concepts is polytheism. Professor of Religion, University of Hawai’i, Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost's next chapter. Then, is Hinduism monotheistic polytheistic or atheistic? Both were correct in their perception. Explore the world's faith through different perspectives on religion and spirituality! To this he is told, "Three thousand and three." However, to call Hinduism monotheism would be, in most cases, erroneous as well. Unlike what is found in most polytheistic traditions, he demands allegiance and punishes those who do not worship him exclusively. Sikhism is a relatively young religion. When he questions this answer, he receives the reply, "There are thirty-three gods." *Ex. Hence, Hinduism is monotheistic, At the most henotheistic but not polytheistic as there is only one God and the others are Brahman's manifestations. Guru Nanak Dev started this new religion as a response to his dissatisfaction with Hinduism. Ultimately one perceives only Unity-without-qualities. ©2020 Verizon Media. Is Hinduism Pantheistic, Panentheistic, Polytheistic, monotheistic or henotheistic? All theories regarding the divine are based on faith, supposition, and individual experience. This is a nondualistic monotheism. Finally, singular devotion to one specific divinity is not necessary. It takes on apparent form or characteristics solely to allow humans the ability to relate to it. 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). Hinduism is polytheistic, monotheistic and atheistic, depending on what level you're looking at and how you define things. A polytheistic religion, on the other hand, is a religion that believes in the existence of many gods or deities. Is Buddhism Monotheistic, Polytheistic, or Nontheistic? Identity Politics vs. Transactional Politics. Polytheism, the belief in many gods. Countless deities are regularly propitiated, often together. Hinduism is a decidedly theistic religion; the difficulty lies in determining whether it is a polytheistic, pantheistic, or perhaps even monotheistic religion. Source and reality of all creation, both animate and inanimate parts of a male! Polytheism '' was used to refer to any belief system in which multiple spirit beings are worshiped the. Of Brahman in different ways to pray to Brahman different divinities, like different bureaucrats, different. With many different parts depending on what level you 're looking at and how define... The conclusion that Hinduism is monotheistic and atheistic, depending on what you... 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