Ever since the world happened and humans came into existence (does anyone know when it was?), men and women have been inquiring as to where human, animal, bird, and other creatures have come from and where they would go after their life processes.
While extraordinary developments have happened over the last several centuries in science, technology, medicine, and other areas, no one has been able to explain the origin and end of life with clarity. Scientists may say that humans and animals happen due to chemical reactions in the womb of the mother, and humans, animals, and other creatures disappear due to the decay of cells in the body. This explanation is just a materialistic way of explaining away and is in a vacuum, as it does not explain the fundamental factors.
Multiple religions and common advocacy
Historically, several sustained efforts have been put forth by humans all over the world to understand the origin and end process of life. As a result, several religions have sprung up that were founded by deep thinkers who have tried to find an answer to this vexed question. In their thought process, they evolved their own theories and postulations and propagated them. Thus came the references to the so-called hell, heaven, rebirths, resurrection, fate, miracles, etc. as possible occurrences either before the origin or after the end of life.
At the same time, there have also been those who are described as atheists, who refuse to accept any of the versions advanced by religions. But these non-believers do not have anything better to explain, and they end up only in disbelief of the views advocated by different saints and religious scholars, remaining confused.
In short, all religions provide an explanation for the life and death process in a way that appears mostly similar to materialistic thinking. The religions stress that there is a creator (termed as God, whatever He may be and wherever He may be), who has brought into existence humans, animals, and other creatures. This explanation appeals to most sections of the people as they can readily appreciate the “logic” that the world could not have been created without a creator, just like a pot cannot be made without a potter.
All religions stress the need to worship God (the creator) and lay out guidelines for living. One common theme in all religions is the advocacy of truth, love, and compassion for everything around, including animals, other creatures, and even plantations. The religions say that this would lead to mental peace and pave the way for realizing God.
Essence of Hindu philosophy:
A dispassionate analysis of various religious doctrines, which have several things in common, would lead one to the conclusion that Hindu philosophy comes nearest to offering an explanation for the origin and end process. That may not still be fully explained but may leave most people with a level of half clarity and half understanding.
The Hindu philosophy covers several aspects of human life, devising a way of living for people that will enable them to live in peace in a lifetime and perhaps move nearer to the realization of God.
Yoga is a practice evolved by Hindu saints from historical times. Yoga is a preparatory exercise for meditation, which can ultimately lead to the state of such mental bliss, known as “Ananda,” which is the stage that Hindu religion asks everyone to strive to achieve.
Hindu philosophy is widely recognized and accepted as the oldest thought process evolved by humans, which has been subsequently and continuously refined and perhaps even modified by several great philosophers and saints like Adi Sankara, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi, and others.
Adi Sankara fine-tuned the Hindu philosophy and evolved the Advaita concept, stating the two terms Jeevatma (individual soul) and Paramatma (ultimate state) are really not different and are one and the same in essence. Adi Sankara says that the ultimate objective of human life should be to achieve a state where Jeevatma would unify itself with Paramatma, both of which are in the inner self of humans. Adi Sankara composed Upadesa Panchakam containing five verses that point out the ways and means of the great path to truth, which is the state of realization of Paramatma. The last verse points out to quietening one’s mind towards the Supreme Lord (Paramatma), Ekante Sukham Asyatam, which means Happiness is in solitude.
Aham Brahmasmi is the core philosophy in Advaita Vedanta, indicating the absolute oneness of atman with Brahman (Paramatma).
Now, in recent years in living memory, Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi, one of the greatest saints that the world has seen, spoke eloquently on the subject and asked everyone to introspect, “Who am I”? Bhagawan Ramana Maharshi also espoused the Advaita philosophy and asked people to meditate to realize “Who am I?” that would ultimately lead to bliss in the mindset, which is said to be the ultimate stage of realization of God in oneself.
According to Hindu religion, as one goes deeper within, the true self is discovered and gets connected to the cosmic consciousness. Certainly, this state calls for shedding ego, greed, and violent thoughts in an individual, which will create a sense of peace and harmony in the mindset and enable everyone to live in absolute peace, which is otherwise called “Ananda.” This is perhaps the endpoint of Hindu religion’s goal.
The point stressed by the great saints in every religion is that everyone should readily agree with the concept of what is termed as God without questioning or doubting and then try to realize God within oneself by meditation and deep and sustained thought processes.
While such “strategies to realize God” are advocated by Hindu philosophy, one is really not sure whether any human has really achieved this state.
While there are great saints who have lived and may still be living, who could have succeeded to some extent in achieving such a mental state by sustained meditation, it is doubtful as to how many persons could have really achieved such a state in full even as they live in the world with all the manifestations in their living process in their own way. If at all anyone has achieved this, perhaps, it may be one in a billion. What about others?
While the Hindu philosophy explains the origin and end of life in the most possible way, it still cannot explain fully how humans and animals and other creatures have happened and how they disappear after the life process. To explain this, some vague statements such as rebirth, resurrection, etc. have been put forth, which one can genuinely disbelieve.
If religions say that a complete explanation for the origin and end of life is beyond human comprehension, then it may lead one to think that it is never clearly explained or unexplainable.
Kabir (1456 to 1525), one of the greatest philosophers and bold thinkers that India has produced, said in his characteristic style, “scholars, poets, philosophers, and philanthropists with a variety of talents and gifts can’t breakthrough the state of delusion. They read hymns, legends, epics, and the laws but still miss the vital inner experience.”
Where do we go from here?
The advocacy of love and compassion pronounced by the religious doctrine that can be achieved by introspection is the best way to follow and survive in the world until the human body perishes.
Hindu religion, as well as a few other religions, including Christianity, advocate idol worship (image worship), which is appropriate for normal human beings to begin the process of introspection with the focus point of viewing the Idol as God. When the Idol is viewed as God and prayers chanted, then it inspires and takes the individual to the higher level of introspection. Beginning with the process of idol worship, the individual is enabled to reach a state where ego is shelved, and mental peace is achieved, and a state of Ananda gradually happens.
Aldous Huxley, a famous thinker, said, “Using our limited intelligence, we think that we have the answers and clues to everything and every issue.”
There seems to be a general consensus that there is a limit beyond which the subject of the origin and end of life cannot be discussed or debated. Can we call it the limits of human intelligence?
Finally, let every human understand that the origin and end of life are an unresolved query, and it is a futile exercise to find an explanation with human intelligence being what it is