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Thread: Choosing one deity and sticking to it no matter what?

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    Choosing one deity and sticking to it no matter what?

    What is your opinion?

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of choosing one deity (name and form of Brahman if you wish) or a single sampradaya and sticking to it to help us?

    For example, do we limit ourselves if we only choose to read scripture or sign bhajan on Krishna and never on another or do we in fact help us to focus our practice?

    Please avoid debating which is right over another, I am hoping for feedback on if you think the pros out weight the cons if we stick to one deity and exclude the rest or do we go against dharma or ourselves in doing so?

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    Re: Choosing one deity and sticking to it no matter what?

    Namaste onkara,

    I have a kind of list of people/personalities/gurus who have influenced me. I have mixed ordinary mortals like David Beckham and Sourav Ganguly with Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. But still, I have something like First on the list. I finally decided to accept him as the ultimate lord for the sake of worship, although I really do worship other dieties. It is not like who is supreme(that is limited to mortal world) but a strange connection. In my observation, most of the muktas have had single dieties varying from Sharada devi(sri chandrashekhara bharathi), Kali devi(Ramakrishna paramahamsa), Lord Krishna(chaitanaya,purandara dasa, kanaka dasa), Lord Shiva(markandeya) and so on.

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    Re: Choosing one deity and sticking to it no matter what?

    Namaste Onkara.

    Quote Originally Posted by Onkara View Post
    What is your opinion?

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of choosing one deity (name and form of Brahman if you wish) or a single sampradaya and sticking to it to help us?
    Being an "all-or-nothing" kind of guy, I prefer to worship God in many forms. I thought I was Vaishnava, but it turns out I am closer Smarta, as defined thus:

    Smarta Sampradaya (Smarta Tradition, as it is termed in Sanskrit) is a liberal or nonsectarian denomination of the Vedic Hindu religion which accept all the major Hindu deities as forms of the one Brahman
    I may not be using the term correctly, but that's as close a description of my beliefs as I can come up with. I commented here http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/sho...8&postcount=14
    Sometimes I feel conflicted because, while my Ishta deva is Sri Krishna, I feel an affinity for Maa Saraswati because of my guitar playing. ... I have Her image in my avi with Her mantra because I am still learning, about a lot of things.
    Sunyata wisely pointed out:

    Why should you feel conflicted? Krishna is not a jealous God. It's my belief that one's affinity to Saraswati is a great motivator for striving for greater knowledge for the Supreme Truth, which in your case is Sri Krishna. She and Ganesha were one of the first Devas that really caught my attention when I first began reading casually about Hinduism. For this reason, They both have a special place in my heart.
    Whether one worships only Sri Krishna or Lord Shiva or Maa Kali, it is still worship of God. I worked with a guy who said that his wife would pray only to Shiva. Bottom line, I don't see why one should feel short-changed by having only one Ishta devatā. But for me, it helps me see God in all Its forms.

    To use a colloquialism: "whatever floats your boat".
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ

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    Re: Choosing one deity and sticking to it no matter what?

    Vannakkam Onkara: Its whatever works. For me, I'm a simple kind of guy. Imagine the analogy to building a temple. You want to consult 6 different Gurus, 3 architects, 5 sthapathis, have a board of 15, discuss till your eyeballs fall out, and get little accomplished... or

    One guru, who helps find a good stapathi for you, and a western architect who understands some of the concepts, and proceed with confidence ... and get things done.

    For me its the latter. i have plenty to work on. Perhaps if I master what I have been given to work on already, I may go find something else. But that'll be awhile, methinks.

    Aum Namasivaya

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    Re: Choosing one deity and sticking to it no matter what?

    Namaste Onkara,

    Personally, I see no problem at all with Hindus sticking to praying and worshipping just one deity. As with some folks, like EM, worship of one form of God is just plenty, and as they don't feel compelled to worship other forms, why worry about it? It doesn't make one any more or less Hindu, and it certainly couldn't be labelled as mere monotheism.

    Advantage wise, I guess sticking to just one deity and school of religion would make things a lot less complicated. There's no mixed messages going into your subconscious - it's just like a straight road and you follow the directions. All paths lead to the same Brahman, even if you are just going down the one path. There are no real disadvantages within the sampradaya. It's having individuals crossing over and having to mingle freely amongst each other that could cause potential trouble. Not to undermine the tolerance within the many branch sects you find in the Hindu faith, but you can get very vocal worshippers who insist only their Deva is the Supreme Personality, essentially branding other aspects as demigods or lesser forms.

    Om namah Shivaya
    "Watch your thoughts, they become words.
    Watch your words, they become actions.
    Watch your actions, they become habits.
    Watch your habits, they become your character.
    Watch your character, it becomes your destiny."

    ॐ गं गणपतये नमः
    Om Gam Ganapataye namah

    लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनो भवन्तु ।
    Lokaah SamastaaH Sukhino Bhavantu

  6. #6

    Re: Choosing one deity and sticking to it no matter what?

    Namaste Onkara,

    Part of the beauty of Sanatana Dharma is that it always has been and always will be a faith that largely goes by the phrase "To each his own". I don't think there are concrete pros and cons to worshipping just one deity or many. It all depends on the individual devotee. One who prays to just one deity may just view that as enough for them and anything else would be too much or not necessary for them personally. One who prays to a multitude of deities may view that as just right for them and more spiritually fulfilling that just sticking to one deity. Some may say that praying to multiple deities makes things complicated and mixed up, while others would say that just sticking to one deity is not fulfilling enough. Again, it's all just personal preference for each devotee.

    I don't think it violates dharma to pray just to one deity. In my opinion, it can only lead to problems if somebody blatantly disrespects other deities and views them as demigods or whatnot and pushes that view on other people.

    Jai Sri Ram
    Sanatana Dharma ki Jai!
    Jai Hanuman

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    Re: Choosing one deity and sticking to it no matter what?

    Namast,

    Onkara, intriguing question. I had these thoughts in reply:

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of choosing one deity (name and form of Brahman if you wish) or a single sampradaya and sticking to it to help us?

    Advantages might include -
    *Diving deeply into the ocean, so to speak - understanding the nature of God and the world by delving into the complexity of a single form.
    *Developing an intense closeness and intimate familiarity with that one manifestation.
    *Over time, gaining great knowledge of that deity's stories, scriptures, mantras, and other tools of teaching and learning. Being able to help other devotees and/or discuss with them in a learned way.
    *Having a clear, simple, clear-cut way to explain one's faith to others, from friends to children. "I am a :fill in sampradaya here:. I worship :so-and-so:."
    *Narrowing down pilgrimage destinations and cities of residence, based on the temples and sites of one's particular revered.

    Disadvantages might include -
    *Becoming so focused on one's chosen form that narrow-mindedness and/or rigidity develops.
    *Choosing a form of God that is temporarily interesting but, in the long run, does not truly inspire and guide one. Moving further from God and truth, or becoming lazy and disinterested in worship.
    *Not having a well-rounded knowledge of Sanātana Dharma, focusing only on one's own deity.
    *Over-simplifying Brahman or faith. Forgetting to see God in things that do not remind one of one's own deity.
    *Hostility or prejudice towards other sampradayas.

    For example, do we limit ourselves if we only choose to read scripture or sign bhajan on Krishna and never on another or do we in fact help us to focus our practice?

    This likely depends on the person. One could ask the same question about marriage - is love limited or expressed fully by traditional monogamous/heterosexual marriage, can someone who lives polyamorously or unconventionally also experience deep and abiding love, etc., etc. - and people are so different from each other that no one answer seems to suit everybody. I have a restless, curious nature that loves to jump around to new topics. I've found greater calm, self-control, and peace in worshipping one form closely and looking to him for pretty much everything. But someone else might find that sort of worship limiting and tiresome, and seek to understand God and the world by exploring the many manifested forms of the Divine instead.

    Worshipping one form exclusively (or at least mostly) doesn't seem that it would be against dharma, but anyone seeking to choose one deity and stick to it "no matter what" should pick their form with great care. It's not enough to choose Maa Lakshmi because one has difficult financial times and hopes for a wealthy future, or to come to Ganesha because the elephant head seems kind of groovy. A relationship with the Divine is as enduring, special, and important as a marriage or a family tie - in my opinion even more so - and should be chosen with at least as much thought and love as one might select a spouse. Otherwise, the obvious pitfall to single-deity worship would come in wanting to "change horses mid-race," which would likely be a miserable and deeply unsettling experience.

    Indraneela
    ===
    Oṁ Indrāya Namaḥ.
    Oṁ Namaḥ Śivāya.

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