No monopoly on monotheism

Nagasaki University

In his Dec. 25 Timeout article, “The holy trinity of religions,” Michael Hoffman writes: “Hindus, 870-million strong, comprise the bulk of what’s left of the polytheists. For Hindus, the world is simply too rich, too overflowing, too monstrous and too beautiful, to be explicable in terms of a single, solitary God.”

He does not know Hinduism. In Rig Veda, the story of creation states clearly that “when there was no existence or even nonexistence, there was no sky, or water or light or darkness, THE ONE was there; from his meditation came out LOVE, the first creation; all others were derived from it.”

That ONE is called Brahman, the only One God (Iswar in Sanskrit) in the Hindu religion. In the Bhagwat Gita, Lord Krishna says clearly, “I am the ONE source of all; everything comes from me and goes back to me. … I am the abode of Brahman”.

In Hinduism, there are some very powerful angels, all created by Brahman, and his major manifestations, called Devas and Devis, as written in the Purans, which describes the history of the world from the beginning until the 13th century. Western translators, by mistake, called them gods and goddesses. There is only One Iswar (God) in the Hindu religion — Brahman. Rama, Krishna and Gautam Buddha are Brahman’s reincarnations; some people also accept Jesus as a reincarnation of Brahman.

The monotheism of the Hindu religion was passed on to Ancient Persia, where Mitra (meaning sun in Sanskrit) was God before Zarathustra proclaimed Asura Mazda as God and Mitra as the eye of Mazda. Mitra was the most important god in the Roman Empire. There was even a Mitra temple inside a Roman fort in ancient Britain — what is now Colchester, England. Mitra worship took place Dec. 25 in the Byzantine Empire to celebrate the winter solstice; Emperor Constantine, after becoming Christian (313 A.D.), used that date as the birthday of Jesus as well.

So, Abraham was not the first person to promote monotheism, as it existed earlier in both the Hindu and Zoroastrian religions.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

dipak basu