||[Oct. 27th, 2006|08:49 am]
Asian Religions and Philosophy
(Since we need a topic to get us going)|
Something I was thinking about a few weeks ago, in relation to Hinduism (when I realized I couldn't remember!), but I think the question can apply to other traditions as well:
Are the gods subject to the laws of karma and rebirth? (adjust terminology as relevant for other traditions)
Or put another way, Just how ultimate are the gods?
The Trimurti MAY not be subject. There is a wonderful pre-Vedic story about (Indra?) going to Vishnu with some complaint about complaint about not being treated as well as his rank entitles him. Right before he opens his mouth, he sees Vishnu staring at the ground, contemplating a parade of what are apparently ants. upon closer inspection, he sees that they are all little Indras on tiny elephants.
"Who are they?" asks Indra
"Those are all the Indras that have come before you" replies Vishnu.
"Negatory shit. You wanted something?"
"Nah. Never mind."
That is an excellent story that I had long forgotten! I think the idea is that whoever is considered the supreme god (Visnu for Vaisnavites, Siva for Saivites, etc.) is, of course, supreme, but all the others are subject to the laws of karma and rebirth.
I remembered a professor saying that one rationalization used for all the contradictory creation, destruction, etc. myths is that they were all different time of creations and destructions...implying that the gods are reborn in each...but I couldn't remember any primary source for that.
This helps immensely in pinning down a nagging belief I couldn't substantiate. Thank you!
Because the gods are just a higher form of life, as animals and demons are lower forms of life, they are still subject to karma. One may renicarnate as a god, die be reborn as animal and then come back to being human. Gods are more like superheros than like a western consept of a god.
I think I also remember, something about their being more a sense of inertia to the karma of the gods. Humans have a great deal more variability in their karma and rebirths, while the gods might tend to be reborn as gods, but are stuck as gods.
(At some point though I tend to get confused and blend my recollection of Hinduism with my memory of the Buddhist critiques of Hinduism.)
Of course within Hinduism, Brahman or whoever is seen as the supreme god is considered transcendent, unlike the lower gods.
Great insight, thank you! This has been bothering me and I haven't taken the time to look anything up or think it through.
Only humans can jump off the wheel so wheel of existance. Only we can reach Liberation. So were like in the right place at the right time.
2006-10-27 06:13 pm (UTC)
Re: jumping off the wheel
This is precisely the part that had been bothering me. From the Buddhist viewpoint, karma and rebirth is of course a trap, and the goal is to end that cycle or recognize that it doesn't really exist. But from the Hindu perspective, can a person actually leave the cycle? In many cases moksa is attained through karma marga or bhakti marga, and liberation is found within the laws of karms...at which point they no longer apply.
(I can't believe I spent 10 years learning this and it's only taken another 10 to forget it all! It's painful to see.)
Depends on the Hindu philosopher, Theres like one or two are verry simmilar to the budest thinking, that it is merely recoginzing reality which alows us to attain liberation. But for the most part I'm pretty sure that Hindus did belive they got off the wheel though enough good karma. You know whats really a mind bender Jainism.
In jainism, all karma is bad, even if its good karma. because karma is what ultimatly holds us here, even good karma. So the best way to live (according to them) is to not make any karma at all by doing nearly nothing.