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The White Hindu has moved! This blog is no longer updated, but Ambaa is still writing The White Hindu every weekday at

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Reader Questions

Basu had some questions that I am going to attempt to discuss. I won't say answer, because I am not any kind of expert. This is my take on it and I welcome you to put your own beliefs or understandings in the comments.

1. attaining moksha breaks the cycle of rebirth . but after a soul attains moksha through the law of karma , what happens?

I believe that we tend to think about our souls in too limited a way. We are so connected to this idea of ourselves, that we imagine that we go to join God with all our thoughts, feelings, personal history, opinions, grudges, etc.

We leave our body behind when we attain moksha and we also leave our mind behind. Our mind is not who we are any more than the body is. It is the soul only which attains moksha, and the soul is a part of God already.

It is described as being like coming home. We rejoin the rest of ourself, and so it's not like we're a little piece hanging out thinking about being bored while we are in the midst of moksha.

There is no mind to be bored and we are not a separate piece, we become the whole.

Of course, since we can never prove that any messages have come from people who have attained enlightenment, it's hard to be sure about these things. Life or lack thereof after death is a very tricky concept to pin down because no one really knows.

2. you said you follow advaita vedanta . which i suppose says god, a supreme being is beyond all our senses. and the personal gods visnu, durga, lakshmi etc are result of an illusion/maya. in that case how do you relate to myriads of mythological stories? do you think all of them are symbolic stories?
i found it difficult to get the symbolism of all our mythological stories.

I don't know if I would say that personal gods are maya. There's two ways of looking at them. 1) The gods are living creatures like us, but on a different level or 2) the gods are symbolic ways of understanding different aspects of the one God who is too big a concept for us to comprehend. This second one is my own belief.

Also, the one God can go by any name. "He" is ultimate reality and you can call that Atman, or Brahma, or Shiva, or Cosmic Energy, or Shakti. Any of those names can name the Absolute.

I find mythology very interesting. I rarely think that the stories "really" happened, but I don't find that means that they are any less valid or any less real. Being a trained fiction writer, I sometimes find more truth in fiction than in real life.

I don't need for religious stories to make sense or follow a linear progression. Contradictions are not a problem for me. Rather than analyze them, I usually just let them wash over me and see what I get from it.

Take Krishna and Radha and the rest of the gopis. Is it weird that there's a story of a God who is lustfully desired by hundreds of young women? Not really. I think that we are all gopis, longing for unity with God. And all of us can be beloved of God, not just one.

What about Krishna stealing butter and being a difficult child? I think it shows the joy and zest for life in children and encourages us to seek unity with that kind of delight.

Are there particular stories that trouble you?

3. you surly heard the phrase "33 koti devas/deities" in hinduism. wikipedia says that it is possible that 330 million is a mistranslation . and it is actually 33 kinds/types of gods. do you have any reference on this issue for further reading? or if you yourself can explain it to me .

I read recently that 330 million is more like a way to express infinite. Like in English we might say "There were like a billion flies at the picnic." We have no idea of the number, so we pick a really big one to represent it.

On a DVD I watched about Going to a Temple (from Appu Series) they said that 330 million is not a literal number, but a way to express that every single thing in creation is a god (right down to blades of grass and fruit flies).

Of course, as mentioned about Advaita, in reality there is only one. One God who is everything.

I disagree with some of the things written in that Wikipedia article. To say that God is generally considered female in Hinduism is ridiculous and there are no footnotes to support that claim. There are those who worship Shakti primarily or Kali, but they are not the majority. I think most Hindus (and probably most Christians) would agree that God does not have a gender. Again, we break the Absolute down into parts so that we can understand the whole, so there are both male and female parts that balance each other. Each major male God has a female counterpart.


I'm happy to discuss anything that anyone wants, but it is a good idea to put the questions in an email to me or a comment on the current post. I don't get any alert of new comments, so it can sometimes take a while before I discover new comments on older posts.

Tomorrow I'm going to post a summary linking to some of my key older posts so that new readers can get a quicker introduction to what's going on around here and not have to read through every post.


  1. thanks for taking the effort in reflecting on my queries. in future i will send you e-mail.

    1. so in advita-vedanta there doesn't seem to be a need for the concept of heaven and hell.

    2. what you say about the allegory behind radha-krishna story is absolutely true. but i was thinking about all the puranic stories. it will be hard to find the symbolism behind all of them. for example the story of the birth of ganesha and how he gets the elephant head.
    none of the stories trouble me. because i think most of the puranic stories are imaginations. some might have some historical origin but turned into myths and mythology after so much of time. but this is a historical explanation.
    the reason why i asked you is to know how one see it from a religious point of view. and because you follow advaita vedanta.

    3. i don't agree with your explanation of the number 33. i think normal human being always prefer round numbers like 10, 100, 1000 etc.
    for example in india elders often say "sho shal jio" - may you live 100 years. they don't say may you live 111 years of 77 years.
    so i personally think it is likely that the number 33 has some other explanation.
    yes, wiki in this case is not reliable because they didn't provide any reference.


    contradiction doesn't trouble me too. because i like that . it indicates people didn't follow something blindly but explored things with some logic - a worthy attitude to be preserved but unfortunately lost in today's india.

    - basu

  2. by the way, what do you think of lokayata tradition?

    do you take it as a part of hinduism or a part of indian philosophy like buddhism and jainism and distinct from hindusim?

    - basu

  3. I always thought 330 Million was a symbolic and poetic way to say "a whole lot", but I'll have to look into it more. Thanks for all your questions and thoughts, I'll do another post on these soon!