I am K R Manoj, director of Arsha Vidya Samajam. Recently a friend, who believes in Islam, sent an audio clip to the students of Arsha Vidya Samajam. Students in turn sent that clip to me and requested to give a reply. Since those critics are worthy to consider, I am giving an explanation herewith. I carefully listened to the audio clip send by the Muslim friend. He comments mainly on four topics.
First, God concepts contained in the Hindu Puranas are childish. He asks why Gods need nose and other sense faculties. He also describes the foolishnesses in the Ganapathi tales.
Second, Why Lord Mahadev needs leopard’s skin? Which came to existence first, Mahadev or leopard? Why God needs weapons like trident? This is the second doubt.
Third, he argues that the God concept of Semitic religions is better, and God of Semitic religions did not descend to the earth.
Fourth, he tries to establish that the God concept of Islam is very perfect.
Now, I shall describe the stand of Arsha Vidya Samajam in these topics.
Dear friend, the first portion of what you said is completely true. We also agree with you to the critics that you raised in the first portion. All of those are from the Puranic literature. But, none of the major Vedic traditions consider Puranas as authentic. Sri Sankaracharya doesn’t even consider them. It is said that, they came to existence after Sankaracharya. In the case of, demeaning Isvara concept and making conflicts between different manifestations of Isvara, Puranas compete with each other. This literature compendium was created by some people, well versed in Sanskrit, using the limited knowledge available in their period of political disintegration. There are good and bad contents in them. That is why Yogis like Swami Dayananda Saraswati openly urged to avoid Puranas, like food mixed with poison. Only some traditionalist, who thinks that everything that is ancient is true, are giving importance to Puranas now. Even the nominal supporters of Puranic literature, are used to advice others that, Puranas should be studied only in such way, like a swan drinks milk, even if milk is mixed with water. Puranamityeva Na Saadhu Sarvam. Nothing will be authoritative because of a mere mentioning of it in Puranas. Puranas (even much popular ones like Bhagavatham) admits in their last portion that, Puranic stories are concocted ones, and hence not original. Because of these reasons most of the Guru paramparas reject Puranas as authoritative. Christians consider some texts as Apocrypha and Muslims some texts as not Sahih. Sanatana Dharma considers the Puranas in the same manner.
Now let us turn to your examples… Nose, inhale/exhale, Ganapati stories, all are very well reasonable. Those beings which live in the earth and water have their body structure accordingly. Living beings posses the body structure according to the surroundings, where they live. Transcendental Isvara does not need nose, eyes, ears, tongue or skin. That is why Isvara is called ‘Akaaya’ in the Vedas. The meaning of Akaaya is that which have no body. The Vedas give epithets like Niraakaara, NIranjana, Suddhavigraha, etc to Isvara. The Upanishads states that Ultimate reality is beyond the realm of sense faculties and thought processes. Na tasya Pratima Asti. Isvara do not have any particular nature or qualities and we can’t confine Isvara into a picture or statue. It is this Reality that is realized by the Guru Paramparas and described in the Vedic texts. This is the essence of Sanatana Dharma. A book named ‘Bharata Prabhavam’, published by ‘Bhauthikam Books’, describes this in detail in the 2nd Part, 3rd chapter.
Secondly, you says that, there is tigress-skin in the pictures of Mahadev, and so, which came to existence first, Mahadev or tigress? You asks that, how Mahadev walked before the advent of tigress. My dear friend, Parameswara/Paramasiva is formless, omnipresent, omnipotent and transcendental reality. Whom we see in pictures is not Parameswara, but Siva Rishi or Adinath. Siva Rishi is a manifested form of Parameswara. Sanatana Dharma eulogize this ‘first sage or supreme teacher’ by giving epithets like Dakshinamurti, Siva Rishi, Nilakanta Rudra, Kailasanatha, etc. This ultimate reality has no internal organs like humans have. During the first days of creation, Isvara accepted this form, to impart knowledge about the Vedas, Sanatana Dharma and Yogavidya to some select people. This happened in the initial period of the humanity itself. This is reasonable. If it is argued that, Isvara sent enlightened souls to earth just before 2000 or 1400 years ago, then it can be said that Isvara did not consider the people who lived and died here, before that periods. It is not apt for an impartial and moral God.
Now comes to the question of whether Isvara can take forms. If somebody argues that, omnipotent God cannot take a specific form, then it implies that Isvara is not omnipotent. The manifesting body (Bhava roopa) of Isvara is unlike a common man’s body, which was born to parents and lives by obeying the natural rules. After giving this decree, Paramasiva instructed to spread the Vedas all over the world and enlighten people. Krinanto viswam aaryam. Aadinath, the founder of Sanatana Dharma, taught people these religious texts, by taking the form of a human. Without a human form, how systems like Yoga can be taught? At that time, he was tigress-skin clad and hymns points out that he wandered by wearing trident, jata and bhasma. Islam also says that, ancient Arabs spread bad things about Allah. Quran strongly rejects stories that say Allah had daughters. In the same manner, Puranas concoct stories by adding unreal things about Paramasiva & Aadinath, and then spread them. This is very much like portraying Ayyappa and Saasta as one and same. How they will be responsible for this? All Vedas and Upanishads unanimously states that everybody should worship one and only one Reality, Parameswara. History says that, all these were distorted in the time of Puranas and Smritis. This is indicated even by major Islamic scholars in their books.
We are not at all agreeing with your third point. You are claiming the superiority of Semitic religious concept through it. The God concepts of Semitic religions are as childish as in the Puranas; in addition they are more dangerous too. You argue that, God of Semitic religions neither descend to the earth nor fight wars. This is contrary to the truth. It is mentioned in the Genesis book that, in earth, in the Eden garden (which is near the Euphrates River), Adam & Eve heard the footstep sound of Yahweh, who was the gardener, after sunset. Genesis, 3rd Chapter, 8th Verse. Yahweh was jealous of the advancements that man made and because of that, to deny the life tree to man, Yahweh expelled him from the Eden Garden and told cherub to guard it. Yahweh gives big punishments for even small crimes and for one’s sins/mistakes he impinge curse to the sinner’s many generation. Yahweh claims himself that he is intolerant, he cut short the life span of man to 120 years and ensured disharmony among men.
Genesis, 18th chapter says that, before Abraham and Sara had progeny, Yahweh visited their home accompanied by two others, and ate beef. It is believed that, Genesis is a book among the five books written by Moses. Chapter 32 of that book describes the wrestling between Yahweh and Yaakob (Jacob). Even after fighting till the next day morning, Yahweh was unable to defeat Yaakob. At last, Yahweh escaped from there by kicking on the stomach of Yaakob. From that day, Yaakob, his descendants and his country got the name ‘Israel’. This name is given because Yaakob won wrestling against God and people. A transcendental and omnipotent God failing in a fight with a silly human! Won’t it degrade the position of that God?
Fourthly, you describe the superiority of the God concept of Islam. Allah did not descend to earth to kill the people… my friend says this to indicate the worthiness of God. You narrate that, Allah totally destroyed the first community by wind and another community by voice. It is not by using sword, trident or Sudarsana Chakra that your God killed people, but by natural calamities! The weapons mentioned in the Puranas like spear, sword, arrow, bow, cudgel, lance, etc are able to selectively destroy the cruel ones. It needs unparalleled forwardness to say that an atom bomb, which can destroy human and other being en masse, is a better divine project. Let us assume that some people commit wrong, and for that crime, Allah destroyed everybody at one go, including pregnant women, children in their wombs, mothers & their kids, aged people, medical patients, mentally & physically unstable people, etc. Now you are inviting everyone to the glory of such a God! Is this the right action suited to a vindictive and merciful God?
Allah of Islam is not just omniscient, he also determined everything else. He has written everything about the future course of his creation in Lauhul Mahfuz, and kept it under his throne. In addition to this, when a child completes 120 days in mother’s womb, God bring angels to write on the child’s head and then inject life to the child. Nobody should ask what! A child becomes alive after four months? Qadr, the sixth article of faith, instructs that good and evil are coming from Allah and it must be believed as such. Being so, if human commits wrong, who is responsible for it? If Allah is responsible for good and evil things, then why should he give innumerable punishments for the mistake of man… punishment in natural world, in Qabr, in hell, etc. Why God want circumcision? Why is it said that worship by animal sacrifice is a must? Quran says that worshipping other gods along with Allah is the greatest taboo. If there is only one God for everything, then, why Allah get angry for worshipping him in different names? He can account of everything himself.
At first, Allah decreed to do prayer 50 times a day. For man, 50 times per day! Nabi took very pain to reduce this to 5 times per day. Suppose in a day.., man is awake for 18 hours. It is 1080 minutes. If 50 prayers have to be done, then, a prayer in every 20 minutes is needed. Prayer time also should be calculated. Why a complete and infinite God always, and immensely, desire for the worship from man? It is said that animals and birds were created to worship God. Is it a dignified act, creating supporters to eulogize himself. Then another matter… Why Allah instructs to kill birds and animals which praises the glory of God.
The concept of Allah in Quran is childish. Allah, the God, invites man for fistfight and literature contest. It is said in 15 places in the Quran that earth is flat. Sun sets in the western lake. Stars are created to throw at the Jinn in the earth. Hadith says that, in night, sun will go to the throne of Allah to do sujud. During night in India, if sun went to do sujud to Allah’s throne, what Americans will do? The reason for the bloodshed in the current world is the call of Islam to do Jihad against non-believers. Degrading the women… to punish non-believers in the eternal hell, ‘merciful’ God has arranged many things.., just have a look into the Hadiths. Had Allah, the creator, created people with unshaken belief in the God, all of these mishaps could have been avoided. Lauhul Mahfuz, the text where God has written down all predestined events, is kept under the throne of Allah. Islam says, at the end of world, even the throne of Allah will shake, but angels will hold fast it in its exact position. But why Allah, a formless God, need a throne?
My friend, while criticizing the beliefs of others, reason is a must. Do you think that you don’t need that?
I invite you to this debate in future too.