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The Six Qualities of God

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Practically every religion in the world speaks of God as greatness. But what is this greatness? In Vedic philosophy, this greatness is described as the possession of six qualities, namely, knowledge, beauty, power, wealth, heroism, and autonomy. This presentation discusses how these qualities of God are manifest even in this world and every living entity pursues some sense of greatness to be as good as God.

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The Six Qualities of God

  1. 1. THE SIX QUALITIES OF GOD I N T R O D U C I N G V E D I C P H I LO S O P H Y — L E S S O N 3 ASHISH DALELA
  2. 2. WHAT ARE THE SIX QUALITIES?
  3. 3. T H E E S S E N C E O F G R E AT N E S S • In the Sankhya Philosophy lesson we spoke about Mahattattva as the essence of greatness – Mahat literally means “greatness” – Tattva literally means the “essence” • This “essence of greatness” is known by six qualities – Knowledge – Beauty – Power – Wealth – Heroism – Renunciation • The world is created from the perfect and ideal. The perfect and ideal is the original element called mahattattva • The perfection, greatness, or idealism is further divided into six types of qualities that make something great or ideal SAT CHIT ANANDA GREATNESS The ideal behaviors (Honesty, charity) The ideal objects (Perfect male body) The ideal emotion (Love, kindness)
  4. 4. EXAMPLES OF GREATNESS RICH MAN HEROIC MAN POWERFUL MAN RENOUNCED MAN BEAUTIFUL MAN KNOWLEDGEABLE MAN
  5. 5. G O D – T H E G R E AT E S T • Everyone is trying to pursue greatness in their lives • People want to be rich, famous, powerful, knowledgeable, independent, and heroic • Where do we get these ideas about greatness? What is the basis of these pursuits? • The reason for these pursuits is that greatness is itself defined in terms of these six qualities • The most knowledgeable; called omniscient • God’s greatness is that He knows everything KNOWLEDGE • The most beautiful, or the most attractive • God is called Krishna due to all-attractiveness BEAUTY • The most powerful; called omnipotent • Everyone else’s power is lesser in comparison POWER • Wealth represents the ownership of things • God owns everything by virtue of creating it WEALTH • Heroism is leadership and fearlessness • God is the biggest leader and most fearless HEROISM • Renunciation is independence • God is most independent or self-sufficient RENUNCIATION
  6. 6. THE EXPRESSION OF GREATNESS
  7. 7. A R J U N A A S K S A B O U T G R E AT N E S S • Chapter 10, Verse 16: Please tell me in detail of Your divine powers by which You pervade all these worlds and abide in them. • Chapter 10, Verse 17: How should I meditate on You? In what various forms are You to be contemplated, O Blessed Lord? • Chapter 10, Verse 18: Tell me again in detail, O Janardana [Krsna], of Your mighty potencies and glories, for I never tire of hearing Your ambrosial words. • In the Bhagavad Gita Arjuna is interested in knowing God by observing things and people of this world • He is interested in the “divine powers by which You pervade all these worlds and abide in them” • This is not transcendental existence but existence within this world by which God can be known
  8. 8. KRISHNA TALKS ABOUT GREATNESS • Chapter 10, Verse 21: Of the Adityas I am Visnu, of lights I am the radiant sun, I am Marici of the Maruts, and among the stars I am the moon. • Chapter 10, Verse 22: Of the Vedas I am the Sama-veda; of the demigods I am Indra; of the senses I am the mind, and in living beings I am the living force [knowledge]. • Chapter 10, Verse 23: Of all the Rudras I am Lord Siva; of the Yaksas and Raksasas I am the lord of wealth [Kuvera]; of the Vasus I am fire [Agni], and of the mountains I am Meru. • Chapter 10, Verse 24: Of priests, O Arjuna, know Me to be the chief, Brhaspati, the lord of devotion. Of generals I am Skanda, the lord of war; and of bodies of water I am the ocean. • Chapter 10, Verse 25: Of the great sages I am Bhrgu; of vibrations I am the transcendental om. Of sacrifices I am the chanting of the holy names [ japa], and of immovable things I am the Himalayas. • Chapter 10, Verse 26: Of all trees I am the holy fig tree, and amongst sages and demigods I am Narada. Of the singers of the gods [Gandharvas] I am Citraratha, and among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila.
  9. 9. GOD IS GREAT; GREATNESS IS GODLY • Krishna describes that He is manifest as greatness within this world – By observing the world, comparing things to one another, and then determining which of these different things are better than others, one can know the qualities of God – God’s six qualities are the criteria by which we decide perfection vs. imperfection • Therefore, God is not merely transcendent; He is also immanent – His immanence is manifest as the greatness of the different things • To know God, therefore, we have to understand perfection – What makes something better than other things?
  10. 10. THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF PERFECTION
  11. 11. THE PROBLEM OF ORDERING • We can observe different things in this world • After this observation, we have to also order or sequence them – When things are sequenced, they can be counted – e.g. first, second, third, etc. – What is the criteria for ordering or sequencing things? • In modern science, this sequencing is observer-centric – I count myself as first, the thing closest to me as second, the thing next closest as third, etc. – This type of counting or sequencing is relative rather than absolute • Absolute counting means sequencing by the perfection – E.g. the most perfect thing is first, the next perfect thing is second, etc.
  12. 12. P L ATO N I C I D E A L F O R M S • Plato believed that beyond the world of imperfect things, exists a world of pure and perfect forms – Imperfect things mimic perfect forms • He however did not define what we mean by perfection – Based on Vedic philosophy we can know what we mean by perfection – Tables and chairs are also perfect or imperfect • The perfect thing is the combination of the six qualities that represent perfection • There are hence two ways to understand something: • First, the concept in the hierarchy such as table and chair (these are child concepts of furniture, which is a child concept of things) • Second, the level of perfection in that concept given by the six qualities of perfection
  13. 13. T H R E E D I M E N S I O N A L S PAC E • The conceptual space is created by two criteria • First, the top-down or vertical dimension represents the hierarchy of concepts • E.g. animal  mammal  dog  poodle • Second, at each level, each concept is expanded from perfect to imperfect • The perfection lies at the center and imperfection at the periphery ABSTRACT CONCEPT DETAILED CONCEPT PERFECTION AT CENTER IMPERFECTION AT THE PERIPHERY
  14. 14. T H E C H R I S T M A S T R E E S T R U C T U R E • The criteria for expansion from abstract to detailed combined with the expansion from perfect to imperfect creates a three dimensional conceptual space • This conceptual space has the seven tiers from mahattattva to objects, and then an expansion from center to periphery which represents perfection to imperfection • Distance from top denotes detailing and distance from center denotes degree of perfection PERFECT IDEALS IMPERFECT IDEALS PERFECT IDENTITY IMPERFECT IDENTITY PERFECT JUDGMENTS IMPERFECT JUDGMENTS PERFECT CONCEPTS IMPERFECT CONCEPTS PERFECT SENSES IMPERFECT SENSES PERFECT PROPERTIES IMPERFECT PROPERTIES PERFECT OBJECTSIMPERFECT OBJECTS
  15. 15. V I S H N U F O R M S AT T H E C E N T E R O F S PAC E • The perfection at the center is represented by a personality form who rules over the space as the prefect entity • Four such forms called Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha are respectively the rulers of mahattattva, ahamkara, buddhi, and manas • They are the ideals from which the non-ideal things expand VASUDEVA SANKARSANA PRADYUMNA ANIRUDDHA INDRA CHITRARATHA MERU
  16. 16. T W O H O R I Z O N TA L D I R E C T I O N S • The two directions in the horizontal plane represent knowledge and action • For example, just looking powerful is not enough; one has to also have the ability to demonstrate power • Likewise, there is a difference between looking rich and actually being rich • Perfection is both looking rich and being rich, looking powerful and being powerful ABSTRACT CONCEPT DETAILED CONCEPT KNOWLEDGE
  17. 17. GOD AND THE SOUL: PERFECT AND IMPERFECT
  18. 18. GOD IS ALREADY PERFECT, THE SOUL STRIVES FOR PERFECTION • God is at the center of space in which perfection is measured – Everything is measured relative to God • We all have some ideas about perfection; we strive for that perfection in our life – Everybody wants to become like God – Everyone wants to rich, powerful, heroic, beautiful, knowledgeable, renounced • In the Vaikuntha planets the living entity becomes as good as God – He or she possesses qualities similar to God – The living entity acquires as much richness, power, beauty, etc. just like God
  19. 19. THE SOUL CANNOT BECOME GOD • This perfection (as good as God) is indication of the proximity to God – The soul is close to the center, and hence close to perfection • Nevertheless, the soul never becomes the center itself – He can never replace God as the most perfect – He can attain perfection by being close to God, but not God Itself
  20. 20. “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can attain excellence” – Vincent Lombardi www.ashishdalela.com

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