Hindu Advaita (Monism) and Islamic / Semitic Monotheism
 Source : News Bharati English  Date : 28-Nov-2016

There is no doubt that Advaita is the pinnacle of all Hindu Philosophy. That is the final stage to which every other philosophy leads. Time and again the Muslim Sunni philosophers also have extolled Gita describing the same, ultimate, indescribable and indefinable reality and the Allah as the same. Any numbers of videos on YouTube are available to support this claim. However, there are some subtle differences between the two which we will see later. That, however, does not deny the fact that ultimately it is the monotheism in both the Islam and the Hindu psyche.

The moment the gaze even slightly shifts away from the realisation of the Ultimate Reality the empire of Dvaita or dualism in Hindu psyche and philosophy begins. One great example is of Sri Ramakrishna, who has gone to say that even after achieving the Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the highest stage of unison in bliss and oblivion with the ultimate reality did not want to merge with it permanently to be able to continue to enjoy the bliss by remaining slightly separated from it. This is the power of Dvaita. If this was so difficult for the saint it is easy to understand the need for Dvaita for the common man for all his daily interaction and philosophical needs. The allegory of Purusha, the ultimate reality or the Brahman and the Prakriti or the Maya which involves itself into the world play of reality, partly as a result of it and for expressing the perturbation in the Brahman and partly to amuse the Purusha is an indestructible image in the Hindu philosophy and the psyche.

The conflict in the Advaita and the Dvaita for one’s superiority in the life and traditions of Hindus is age old. One such big argument is about the Advaita or Dvaita Nature of the Patanjali Yog Sutras themselves. The Sutras are also called by Krishnaji Keshav Kolhatkar as Bharatiya Manas Shastra or Indian Psychology. In his mega work of the same title, he has spent pages after pages to establish that the Sutras are Advaiti in nature and essence. Obviously, the arguments were not easy to win. There have always been differences about Gita itself over this matter. If not there was no great reason for Ramanujacharya and Madhvacharya to propagate the philosophies of Vishishtadvaita (specific Dualism) or just Dvaita for which there are even today numerous die-hard followers reaching the Supreme Court in their disputes.

Gita itself has immortalised the Sankhya or the dualistic Philosophy. Its explanations of the construction and destruction of the world wonderfully explained in Lokamanya Tilak’s ‘Gita Rahasya’ are absolutely fascinating. One could argue that the stages of Ahankar and Mahat and so forth may lay down the steps to the realisation of the ultimate reality. But it also explains so many psychological and spiritual phenomena before that. Some of them find expressions in the ideas of the over mental or supramental states of mind and as the levels of consciousness. These are elaborated by Sri Aurobindo in his magnum opus Life Divine. One of the fascinating statement of Gita is – Yo Buddhhe Paratastu Saha, i.e. one that is beyond the intellect and goes to Unison on the ladder of Dualism. Ayurved is essentially based on Sankhya Philosophy.

Living with Dvaita means the world begins with me or I and you and others. It is so difficult a stage to penetrate and go beyond. The moment the world goes beyond this stage and stabilises in what is called the Atmoupamya Buddhi, a stable state where a person does not find any difference between him and the world or that the same soul resides in all the living and non-living matter. This end of the Dvaita also signifies the equanimity, balance and equipotentiality of Satva, the purity, the Rajas or the valour and Tamas or the inertia. If the world reaches such a situation the visible, understandable world will dissolve and perish. It is the Dvaita which keeps the world going. You cannot live without Dvaita.

Islamic Monotheism and Dualism

Islamic Monotheism constantly occupies the ethos of Muslim Mind in two shades. One is a pious and submissive pathos. The second is violent. If something good happens or if one wants to wage war then ‘Allah u Akbar’ or God is great! If something is expected to happen or wished to happen or something bad happens it is Inshalla or God willing. Within the monotheistic remembrance, there is a dualism. THIS IS NOT INTENDED AS AN INSULT OR CRITICISM. It is just to underline that one cannot live without dualism just like the Hindus.

Islamic Monotheism in its essence and the fundamental concept is supposed to reject all Gods except Allah. It will be a pity if Muslims so think. The rejection of any God is undertaken if such a god is presented in the form of an image or statue. If not, as said in the beginning, all formless ultimate gods are acceptable to Islam. Here, however, there is a subtle and important difference. Like Hindus, a Muslim cannot experience this God in his present living form. Hindus on the contrary claim to be able to experience it in this life not once but many more times and dissolve in it in the end. Muslims are expected to meet Him on the day of Quayamat or the Judgment Day only to get the punishment of hell or the reward of heaven. Since the Allah cannot be described, felt, experienced is formless and so infinite its experience is beyond human capacity and is not permitted. This is a difficult position to maintain when there is nothing experiential. Just like Advaita is difficult to maintain and Hindus need something in a form that is visible so do Muslims.

The Sufis actually yearn for such an experience with God while on earth and even later. This actually is one of the many reasons that Sunni Muslims hate Sufis, to the extent that they are prepared to describe them as non-Muslims. Sufis also think that their religious teachers can intercede with God for such an experience. If one even superficially study the Sufi practices, their signings and dancing Dervishes and the stages through which the Sufi Sama goes the journey is pretty identical or at least parallel to the stages described in the Yog Sutras. Thus this is another aspect of the dualism that exists.

Here the second dualism within the Monotheistic Idea comes in. Once we leave the Monotheistic Ethos behind, the Dualism in and of the Muslim is so deeply and violently ingrained in their daily lives that it is terrifying and disappointing. One is an accepted dualism which Leon Uris has explained in the very first few sentences of his acclaimed novel The Haj. This novel is not known as well, compared to Exodus which tells the Jewish side of the story of Israel. The Haj tells the story of the Arab side in the creation of Israel. It simply states ‘My name is --- my brother is --- it is me against my brother, and it is me and my brother against my father … and so on.’ Thus the dualism starts at the most fundamental family level in distrust, paranoia and violence.

One need not even mention the Shia-Sunni divide and the tremendous violence and hatred attached to it over past 1400 years. The same God, the same Prophet but these two people cannot even look at each other. Then there is a continuing dualism of Arabs being the only true followers and converts of Islam and no one else. Close at hand is the violent and vengeful dualism of Punjabi Pathans v/s the Balochs and the Sindhis or those who migrated from India to Pakistan and still received a contemptible status of Muhajirs. The history is replete with fratricide and patricide which in its depth only is a form of violent dualism if even a father or a brother cannot be your won.

Then there is a multilateral or multiple simultaneous Dualism among the Indian Muslims. This is inherited by them from the caste ridden Hindu mind. After hundreds of years of being Muslim, their caste consciousness and superiority-inferiority ideas have not disappeared. The Prophet had predicted that his people will be divided into 70 segments. It has come about at least in India.

Within the Monotheistic Semitic religions, the Muslims make dichotomies of people of the book and people not of the book. There are similar vertically dividing dualisms in Christianity among the Protestants and the Catholics. So is the case with Hindus in their dualism of the caste differences and hatreds that prevail.  In the ultimate analysis, all of them worship the ONE and Only GOD.

The conclusion is that the question is not that we cannot live without dualism. It is that we want to live with dualism so that all our hatreds can be directed at something other that me and us or Someone, Other than us.

Is there any way we can explain this dualism in living and Monotheism in an idea? I think we can. Is there any other side to this dualism that is pleasing, assuring and one that generates hope in the human beings? I think there is. In the next part, I will explain both the situations.