View Full Version : Comparitive religion question

15 June 2015, 03:29 PM
Hi all! My name is Jonathan.

I was wondering if any of you wonderful folks on here would be willing to help me with a project I'm working on.

I'm in the middle of working on a book. It is part autobiography and part motivational handbook. As part of the book, I express a view that the majority of the world's religions share at least one thing in common, and that is the view that life is short--that humans are temporary, and that all you really have is time, and that chasing material wealth is a waste of your life.

I'm looking for a verse in the Hindu scriptures that supports this view. Let me give you an example of what I already have.

For Judaism I'm using a verse from the book of Psalms:

Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreath; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. - Psalm 39:4-6

For Christianity I'm using a verse from the book of James:

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on and make money. Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. - James 4:13-14

And here is the current verse I'm using from the Qur'an.

Know that the worldly life is only a game, a temporary attraction, a means of boastfulness among yourselves and a place for multiplying your wealth and children. It is like the rain which produces plants that are attractive to the unbelievers. These plants flourish, turn yellow, and then become crushed bits of straw.... The worldly life is only an illusion. Chapter (57) sūrat l-ḥadīd (The Iron)

I was wondering if anyone out there would be willing to help me by finding me a verse or verses in the Hindu scriptures that support the same basic viewpoint. I'm 98% certain that they are out there, I just don't know how to go about finding them. Any help you folks could give me would be appreciated.

Eastern Mind
17 June 2015, 05:52 PM
Vannakkam Duckman: I don't believe most Hindus would share that POV, so not sure if we can help. Maybe someone will have a scripture quote for you.

Aum Namasivaya

17 June 2015, 07:45 PM

I'm not having a verse... but Hindus believe that the maximum lifespan possible for a human life is 120 yrs and never more than that. Even in Indian astrology (Jyotish Shastra), the sum total of all different time cycles of planets is 120 yrs, because it is believed that would be the max. possible lifespan.


Mystical Soul
17 June 2015, 07:47 PM
Namastee Jonathan, I am not sure if this is in the ball park or not. I put the link at the end. It is not a verse per se but a concept that relates to what I think you are trying to you are trying to express. Here is a paragraph:

The deceptions and delusions of materialism stem from its inevitable superficiality. Materialism traps us, unawares, in a world of possessions hag-ridden by irrational fears of likely loss and lurking dangers. Finally, it degrades creativity to consumption. The spiritual option, say SWAMI AGNIVESH and Rev. VALSON THAMPU, is not to renounce modernity and demonise development, but to transcend the spirit of materialism.

The above, while not a scripture probably has a scriptual reference that you might track. This is the link: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/2001/07/15/stories/13150611.htm

It is a lengthy philosophical piece but the gist of it is what you seem to be trying to emphasize. I got it by googleing "Hindu view of material wealth" Eastern Mind is correct in saying that the one time life is not a Hindu concept and therefore an exact quote may be a challenge. However keep looking you'll find something. Oh, have you tried a Gita? There are lots of great life advice in there, Chapter 6 vs 1 may help you. Good luck


18 June 2015, 07:23 AM
Although the short lifespan of humans is not spoken explicitly, to dwell on impermanence of life, of the transient nature of things such as wealth, how chasing woman and wealth is wrong, etc, is the theme of Sri Adi Sankara's 'Bhaja Govindam'. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4FUQxn4CnY

19 June 2015, 04:13 PM
I was instructed the following, which is based on the Katha Upanishad and mysticism, that it is written of a yogi whose own father cursed that his son would die.

Sometimes Fathers do this, they may say to a son, "I say you should die". Sometimes for good reasons, sometimes bad. Sometimes such a death teaches humans a lesson, it can even be a blessing.

This son waited patiently for the God of Death to show up.

But the God of Death known as Yamaraj, didn't show up right away for different reasons. He was "late". Some say the God of Death was busy at the time trying to visit the Holy City of Kashi Varanasi, the City of Shiva, but the "gatekeeper" of Kashi known as Bhairava would not let Him in to take souls. But Yamaraj was allowed in that day, but only to visit a famous Lingam or sacred stone which was founded by, and named for, death itself. He had to leave His "noose" that snatches souls outside the City Gates.

Yamaraj took only 1 hour to worship in the City, but nevertheless was "late" to travel to the place of this yogu to take the yogi to "hell".

When Yamaraj showed up, the yogi greeted Him politely, and in fact the God of Death was very impressed. The yogi said, "Thank you God of Death for coming, I was waiting to fulfill the desire of my blessed Father, but ... why are you late?"

God of Death was sort of embarrassed, and taken back by the character of this yogi. He apologized for showing up "late", and to compensate for His "lateness", He promised the yogi a wish or boon.

But then The King of Death thought, "This yogi may ask for the boon to live a long life. Then I cannot take his soul in My noose today."

So Yamaraj decided to preach some "advice" to this yogi in case he was thinking to ask for a long life. He then told the yogi:

"Life is short. All life is short. For all things living, no matter how long they may live, Death takes them one way or another in the end. But time doesn't end. No one is late before Time. Time has patience but is also agitated both at the same moment. Because your body is the canvas of Time. When there is no canvas, Time is long and far reaching. You can become far reaching. You have this ability without the need to wish for a long life. The body of the person is the chariot. But your soul sits in the chariot. The senses are the horses. You must be a charioteer. A charioteer controls the horses. By restraint, your soul can control the senses. The wise know, the chariot is not as important as the charioteer. A chariot going here and there is a chariot where the passenger is not holding the reigns of the horses. Life of the body, the chariot is doomed, and the passenger as well. But with a charioteer, there is victory. This charioteer lives on..."

And so that day, the yogi thanked The King of Dreath. And he didn't die. "Let me live so that I mat bring Your teaching to my Father."

This yogi was a Good Son.

Om Namah Sivaya

19 June 2015, 11:22 PM
Hello Jonathan, namaste

The gist and message of the entire scripture of Hinduism (Hindu Dharma) is that being born as a human is a great rare gift more than we realize, and the purpose of human life is to realize the spiritual nature of oneself as a first step of spirituality.
Therefore, attachments to the mundane, material objects that are transient & temporary are a hindrance to realization of the eternal and everlasting -- the spirit. This is very subtle --- to live in the world, but stay detached from it. It does not mean one has to throw away everything, but to throw away the ego-attachments and the binding that it causes.

There are, not one or two but numerous quotes thoughout BhAgvat purAN, Bhagavad Gita, Upanishad, AraNyaka, and more, that speak this language and message.

So, although it is true that living entities - the individual souls evolve over lifetimes, the human birth is not to be wasted. One has to be realistic and evaluate where they are and what they can and cannot leave behind. Making unrealistic leaps is not wise. At the same time, this birth is not to be wasted on mundane attachments, life is short, and time is running out.

20 June 2015, 12:15 AM
Bhagvad Gita 2.55 Shri Bhagavan KRshNa said, O Arjuna, when one gives up all desires of the mind and is satisfied in reveling in the AtmA, the eternal spirit Self, at that point such a person is called 'sthitapradnya'
the Lord, KRshNa continues further...
BG 2.56 When one is undisturbed by sorrowful events, does not hanker for material or worldly happiness, who has no worldly attachments, anger and fear left, is called one of steady mind.

BG 2.61 Therefore the spiritual aspirant should keep all senses and mind under control, take shelter of Me and stay still in communion with Me, because one who has not controlled the senses cannot have a steady mind.

NOTE: Here Lord KRshNa is asking people to do their duties, act, take right decisions, in this meditative state of shelter in Him. It is not to be misunderstood as leave all your life and sit under a tree. That is also the life-course of some who have reached the end of material evolution. However, that is for a handful few rare ones. Not everyone. What is strongly discouraged is getting entangled in material pleasures or glamour or fame or prestige, expectations of honor or whatever it may be that feeds the ego. This is what "stay in the world but detached from it" means.

KRshNa's important msg from the karma-yoga angle is : Do not keep expectations of fruits and results of your actions. Be selfless. [These goals are not ordinary, at the same time not to be ignored as out of reach]

summary and main points of bhakti yoga -- Bhagvad Gita chapter 12: Shri KRshNa says : One who harms no living being, who does not have attachment or hate, who forgives those who have wronged them, who is not let down by undesirable outcomes and is not elated by material gain, to whom mud, stone and gold are all the same, who does not get disturbed by sun, wind, rain, heat and cold, such a devotee is very dear to Me.

Shrimad BhAgvat MahApurAN, and many upanishads are full of the message of purpose of human life.

BhAgvat extends the msg of Bh. Gita and says -- engage in hearing, chanting, singing, discussing, spreading, meditating on, reveling in the glories of BhagavAn (God), the Highest, the Supreme Spirit - surrender your life to Him, let Him take care of you...

Bramhan ParamAtmA BhagawAn Parameshwar VidhAtA Prabhu Vibhu KaruNA-sAgar patita-pAvan Bhakta-Watsal JagannAtha Param-dhAm Param-Gati ParaBramhan JanArdana iti shabdate

20 June 2015, 12:30 AM
I was instructed the following, which is based on the Katha Upanishad and mysticism, that it is written of a yogi whose own father cursed that his son would die.

Sometimes Fathers do this, they may say to a son, "I say you should die". Sometimes for good reasons, sometimes bad. Sometimes such a death teaches humans a lesson, it can even be a blessing.
Om Namah Sivaya


What happened is Nachiketas' father was giving away all his wealth to the poor with the desire to attain svarga (glamourous heaven). The possessions he was donating included cows that had stopped giving milk. Nachiketas was wise and feared this will bring misfortune on his father so he said "Father, give me away instead"
Father got angry on hearing that and uttered hastily "Give you away ?! I shall give you to Yama!"

22 July 2015, 10:18 AM
Namaste Smaranam,

That was pretty close to exactly what I was looking for!! Thank you so much for all your help!

23 July 2015, 12:40 PM
Namaste Jonathan

You are welcome. I am so glad it helped.

om namo bhagavate vAsudevAya ~