What is God (ईश्वर)? And Who is Lord (भगवान)
In this article, Sri Ben Prabhu is presenting a unique interpretation of the two deepest words used in Spirituality — ‘Ishwar’ and ‘Bhagwan’; the words which are of a deep spiritual essence but are lost out to a common synonymous usage in religion. She aims to begin an intellectual revolution within everyone of us by making us clear about the base of every belief on the planet.
India’s religious culture and traditions are full of words like Ishwhar, Paramatma, Parbrahma, Parmeshwar, Prabhu and many more. It is really the philosophical depth of the Indian culture that it has tried to express in words ‘that’ power which is invisible and those experiences which just can’t be expressed. These words are not enough to completely express the Infinite Existence but still, it is the peak of achievements of the Indian Philosophy, Religions and Culture that even by these few words they initiated to express the wordless, vast, infinite, formless existence and its experience.
Law of Duality
It is a law of nature that as soon as any object, person or situation appears, a duality of interpretations gets attached to them. These interpretations of their being good or bad, right or wrong, complete or incomplete, etc. arise in every time period and in every place; and this same duality has happened in case of the words Ishwar, Bhagwan, Parbrahma, Parameshwar and others too. Whereas, on one side these words have tried to attain the vastness of the Infinite in them, on the other side the narrow vision of various religious sects and their representatives have not done a fair justice to the usage of these words. Rightly so, the incompleteness of experience can never fully reflect the completeness lying in these words. These words came out from the experiences of the true sages and seers of the Indian culture but over ages they landed in the hands of bookish pundits. The biggest loss to mankind was that instead of these words making the essence of Spirituality easy and facilitating for a seeker, they made them to be mere synonymous religious utterances further complicating and making the deep spiritual philosophy lying in them tough-to-achieve.
Duality of Heart & Mind
Today, everybody in the world of religion is confused. To worship a God, to be devoted to Him, to follow rituals leading to Him — all this is in our DNA, and so we all naturally want to do it. But, due to our not knowing the real philosophical and spiritual meaning of these deeds, we label everything from worshipping to devotion to religious practices as mere superstitions and shy away from doing them. Our excessive logical reasoning is doubting everything! The irony is that the all important life giving and life sustaining ‘heart’ wants to follow these rituals but its subordinate — the life organizing ‘mind’ says that these deeds are not logical, so, our mind imposes some twisted logics and over rules the heart.
Today, when all communities and even religions’ own sects are engaging in debates and literal fights to impose their views on the others, the face and identity of Truth itself has got blurred. These are deep and soulful words which till now were getting lost in our debates and confrontations. But, from now onwards, we should understand the Spirituality of these words and develop a deep boundless love for the Infinite Divine Existence. Due to a lack of souls’ experience, the sayers of these divine words have lost out the ecstacy of soulful expressions lying in them. And so, this is the time, this is the right time to again flower the Divinity from the seeds of these words, to make fall all the mind-raised questions towards them, to put an end to the gross injustice done to them and to begin a new era of Spirituality from the meaning and feeling of these words.
This is the right time to again flower the Divinity from the seeds of these words, to make fall all the mind-raised questions towards them, to put an end to the gross injustice done to them and to begin a new era of spirituality from the meaning and feeling of these words.
Ishwar and Bhagwan
There are two invaluably precious words gifted to us by our sages and seers — these are Ishwar and Bhagwan. The English dictionary gives them a same meaning as ‘God’ and ‘God’; the present Hindi grammar also calls them synonyms but only spirituality can see the injustice done by these ‘meanings’ and ‘grammars’. Only Spirituality can rightly clarify the fundamental differences in the expressions of these words, something which can’t be ignored to expand our narrow vision and develop our beliefs in the right direction, without shaking the base pillars of any of our religious belief systems. It is only because of a lack of understanding of the mystery hidden in these words that even in the noble world of religion, one religion is fighting the other, one sect of the same religion itself is in opposition to another sect. But when God is ‘One’, then why are there so many diversities, opposing attitudes and even fights in understanding this ONE GOD? The reason is surely a lack of the required soulful experience of the preachers and a highly stubborn ego of the propagators. We just have to remove the curtains of our mis-beliefs and egos, and then the omnipresent-infinite-eternal nature of these divine words will themselves present to us.
Ishwar is an Energy, an Infinite Existence!
Bhagwan is a Realized Individual who has experienced the Infinite Existence within Himself !!
Researching the English vocabulary, too, we find 2 words — God and Lord. These two words can be rightly substituted to their Hindi counterparts — God as Ishwar and Lord as Bhagwan. Let’s begin the clarity.
God — God is an Energy, an Infinite Existence!
Lord — Lord is a Realized Individual who has experienced the Infinite Existence within!
God — The complete Existence, the uncreatable-undestructable Energy or Shiva in its infinite, boundless, multiversal, beyond space and time state is called God.
Lord — Those great souls who have experienced the infinite grandeur of the complete Existence in themselves and have become One with it are called Lord.
God — The energy which is unborn-immortal-indestructible and existed before time and shall prevail even after time is God.
Lord — Those who ignited an inner strength by getting aware of the uselessness of being stuck in the circle of births and deaths and then walked the journey to immortality, experiencing their own Indestructible Existence are Lords.
God — As a substance, God is infinite and boundless.
Lord — As a substance, Lords are in a limited body form with a limited lifespan. That is why we celebrate the Birth Anniversary, Nirvana-Jayanti, etc. of a Lord but don’t do so for God — the Existence — which is beyond time.
God — God is formless in terms of colour, smell, and touch.
Lord — Lords have a bodily form and can be seen and felt when they are alive as a body.
God — The Uncreatable-Undestructable Energy and Shiva, the One Multiversal Existence, are expressions to represent the Divinity of God.
Lord — From Hindu traditions Shri Rama, Krishna, etc. are called Lord. In Jain traditions all the Teerthankaras, Kevalis, etc., who have succeeded in ending their Ashta Karmas and have got immersed in the Infinite Existence within themselves are called Lord. The Buddhist tradition calls Gautama Buddha as Lord, the Christian tradition calls Jesus as Lord while the Sikh tradition calls Guru Nanak Dev as Lord.
The subtle differences in the words ‘God’ and ‘Lord’ can be felt even when we say ‘Lord’ Shri Ram,‘Lord’ Krishna, ‘Lord’ Mahavira… and not ‘God’ Shri Ram, ‘God’ Krishna, ‘God’ Mahavira!
God — The reason for the presence of God is that it creates, manages and then eliminates the entire Leela (play).
Lord — The reason for the presence of Lord is that they realize the creations–variations–stability (Uttpaad–Vyay–Dhruv) of their Soul and Nature and become an idol-to-follow when they end their circles of Life and Death by realising God within.
God — The grossest Universe to the minutest atoms have all come out and are manifestations of God.
Lord — Lord is a unique person who has succeeded in experiencing that same Existence within.
God — God is that Indestructible Energy which is our guardian, which cares for and nurtures every person and every particle of its creation. Whether we know it or not, the Energy and Existence which is looking after the operation to expansion of the entire universe to the systematic working in the minutest of atoms — that is God.
Lord — Lord is not our guardian, He is our guide who tells us the path of experiencing that Existence while living in this human body.
God — Since God is our loving father, mother and a guardian who by its creation has given birth to us all, it is within our right that we pray to God for our survival, prosperity, welfare, etc.
Lord — Since Lord in not a guardian but a guide, we do not have a relation with Him for maintenance of our livelihood, prosperity, health, etc. Lord is revered and should only be worshipped for His teachings which can be a catalyst to our soul’s eternal salvation.
God — The basic nature or character of Everything — heat in fire, liquidity in water, knowledge in a Soul — is God.
Lord — One who has realized and experienced His Souls Existence and Character is Lord.
God — For God, being a timeless Existence, there are almost a month-long festivities in a year like Navaratri, Shivratri, etc. to celebrate its presence.
Lord — Lords have an age and specific celebratory moments in their lifespan. As such, there are specific festivals like Janmashtami, Diwali, Dussehra, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Panch Kalyanak etc., generally day-long, to celebrate the path shown by Lord.
God — The ‘believer’ philosophy (theist) propagates the acceptance of God while the Atheist (non-believer) philosophy does not accept the existence of God.
Lord — Seeing the prevalent wrong practices in any time, region or beliefs, Lords like Mahavira, Buddha, Krishna and all others put in front any one philosophy, in domination over the other, to re-establish spiritual principles for the attainment of Souls’ Existence.
God — God cannot be confined to any religion, culture or sect. God is that same One Existence for everyone.
Lord — With each and every Lord, a new era of religion begins and a new sect of followers is born.
God — Referred in Hindi as Ishwar!
Lord — Referred in Hindi as Bhagwan!
By understanding the true nature of Ishwar (God) and Bhagwan (Lord), when we enter into a belief, following, deity worship or ritual practice, our blind faith becomes a true devotion and our thoughtless practices become sacred sacrificial deeds. What the educated class is today calling a blind faith and primitive dogmas, these are actually philosophies of Spirituality which are beyond the capability of short-sighted intelligence and logical reasoning. However, with a deep understanding and thinking over these differences, we can give ourselves a chance to solve our internal as well as external conflicts and complications which are going on for centuries. When our beliefs get the Grace of Truth, our life is blessed with a wonderful ability of differentiating between right and wrong, noble and evil, permanent and temporary and to proceed correctly — with praying for the blessings from God, the Ishwar and worshipping for the Guidance of Lord, the Bhagwan.
– Sri Ben Prabhu
Watch the complete Satsang:
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