How can Hindus think like a Muslim or a Jew, despite the mention of 330 million gods?

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Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth glorifies Allah. (Al Quran 61:1/2)

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

It is very simple!

And as we celebrate, the first United Nations International Day of Yoga – the United Nations, today on June 21, 2015, it is the perfect occasion to examine the recipe.

Firstly, a happy International Day of Yoga to all our brothers and sisters from India.

Many if not all of the Hindus think that there is one ultimate God, Bhagavan or Brahman, if you will.  If you think of Him as the Creator and every thing else, 330 million wonderful products, as His creation that glorify Bhagavan or Brahman, then you are thinking like a Muslim.  Some biologists estimate that there are 10-30 million different species of different animals and plants on our planet earth.  So, God’s creations may well be 330 million or more.  The Holy Quran states:

The seven heavens and the earth and those that are therein extol His glory; and there is not a thing but glorifies Him with His praise; but you understand not their glorification. Indeed, He is Forbearing, Most Merciful. (Al Quran 17:44/45)

In other words please do not take the symbolism too literally and take it metaphorically, like a Muslim, a Jew or a Unitarian Christian will, in the understanding of the above verse or similar verses from the Holy Quran or the Holy Bible.  Now let me quote from a Hindu blog by Abhilash, who is a freelance writer and a full time blogger dedicated to writing on topics related to Hinduism,he currently lives in Pune, India,so you fully understand, what I mean:

Do Hindus worship 330 million gods? The number 330 million is constantly heard when any discussion regarding the gods in Hinduism take place. But the initiators of the discussion, who are mostly totally unaware of Hindu religion and wants to take a dig, deliberately skip the symbolism of the numerous Hindu gods. The symbolism of the 330 million that it represents the Brahman, which has different names, forms, activities, attributes and powers owing to differences of function. All animate and inanimate and those yet to appear is nothing but a manifestation of Brahman.

It is a known fact that it is impossible to worship the 330 million gods. But, why the number 33? In Brhadaranyaka Upanishad while discussing Brahman, Yajnavalkya is asked how many gods are there. He says that there are three hundred and three and three thousand and three gods. When the question is repeated? He says, thirty three. When the question is again repeated he says, six. Finally, after several repetitions he says ONE. (Chapter I, hymn 9, verse 1)

The number 33 comes from the number of Vedic gods explained by Yajnavalkya in Brhadaranyaka Upanishad – the eight Vasus, the eleven Rudras, the twelve Adityas, Indra and Prajapati. (Chapter I, hymn 9, verse 2)

Now to this 33 was added the maximum number of zeros that the ancient people thought were the number of living beings.

So when someone mentions about 330 million gods in Hindu Religion, it consists of the person mentioning it and those listening plus all living and non-living beings. In fact, if the ancient seers were to create the same symbolism today they will be counting it in billions.

Millions or billions, it is nothing but the manifestation of the ONE God and Hindus call it Brahman.

Lord Krishna explains thus in the Bhagavad Gita:

I am the goal, the supporter, the Lord, the witness, the abode, the refuge, the friend, the origin, the dissolution, the foundation, the substratum, and the imperishable seed. (Chapter 9, Verse 18)

I am the origin or seed of all beings, O Arjuna. There is nothing, animate or inanimate, that can exist without Me. (Chapter 10, Verse 39)

O Arjuna, know Me to be the eternal seed of all creatures. (Chapter 7, Verse 10)

This is what Hindus worship in the numerous forms.

So in the final analysis God is One but things that glorify Him run in millions!

As most of you have also read about the Big Bang, so now you know that material things are not eternal and God the Creator is, even though many of the Hindu scholars in the nineteenth century or the first half of twentieth century may have pleaded otherwise.   Time to evolve and change!

Here let me link one of my articles about Religion and Science, titled: The anesthesia of familiarity: There should be a Creator for this universe.

My other article about Hinduism.

Additional Reading

India yoga: PM Narendra Modi leads thousands in celebration

The Future of Hinduism in America’s Changing Religious Landscape

9 reasons why India is one of the most diverse countries in the world

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