“Everywhere are His hands and legs, His eyes and faces, and He hears everything. In this way the Supersoul exists.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.14)
सर्वतः पाणि-पादं तत्
सर्वतः श्रुतिमल् लोके
सर्वम् आवृत्य तिष्ठति
sarvataḥ pāṇi-pādaṁ tat
sarvataḥ śrutimal loke
sarvam āvṛtya tiṣṭhati
1. A single space
The Vedic tradition emanates from the place known as India, based on the modern-day map. The people in that region speak various languages, which are mostly rooted in Sanskrit, the oldest language known to man.
That tradition describes God in detail, with a key philosophical teaching presented at the beginning. Blind faith is not the entryway. As every person has a natural inclination towards worship of the Divine, there is comprehensive information presented so as to develop that inclination into a mature stage. In other words, the human population is encouraged to apply as much intellect as possible for understanding the most difficult concept.
As such, a wise person quickly realizes that God is not limited to a specific space. This applies to both the house of worship and the general region where spiritual practices thrive. Certainly, it is beneficial to reside in a holy place, a tirtha. This is due to the well-known association with the personal side of God. In addition, saintly people tend to congregate in such areas, and a moment of their association can remove all misconceptions about the proper direction in life.
There is the house of worship, honoring the saguna form, representing the mercy of the Almighty. I lack the eyes capable of discerning His all-pervasive presence, but through the deity He helps me to understand. It is a place to which I can direct my inquiries, share my shortcomings, offer prayers, and make vows of future purification.
Though the temple is important in this regard, God the person could never be limited to a single house of worship. He is both inside of the temple and out. He is worshiped in truth both within the borders of India and outside, as well.
2. A single area
It may be that in the land of Vrindavana devotion flourishes. There are many physical locations directly relating to the Supreme Lord in His avatara of Shri Krishna. The real Govardhana Hill is there. Krishna once lifted this to rescue the residents from a catastrophic flood. There are the many forests where Krishna and His friends played during the day.
At the same time, Krishna can be worshiped outside of Vrindavana. Devotees around the world make replicas of Govardhana Hill to imitate the first puja inaugurated by Krishna Himself. They perform the Ratha-yatra parade as a worship to the Lord of the universe, Jagannatha.
3. A single religion
“It is my way or the highway. Accept this faith or be forever doomed. This is your one chance. Miss it and you will suffer in hell. Eternal damnation. Mine is an angry God. He does not have a sense of humor.”
Actually, if man laughs and tries to make others laugh through joke-telling and the like, why would the trait be absent in the origin of man, Narayana? Why should I have an ability that He lacks? If I am forgiving to the point of ignoring repeated transgressions by a certain loved one, why would the Almighty only give me one chance at redemption?
Within the Vedic tradition, there are many layers of realization. The idea is that no one should be completely shut off from spiritual life. If they are not able to understand God to the fullest extent of the Bhagavan feature, they still have the opportunity to engage in practices that will steadily bring purification.
Dharma applies to all spheres and to all time periods. Dharma is never the exclusive property of any tradition of spirituality. The many faiths practiced are merely different ways to understand the single God. Just as the sun shines its light on the entire universe, so every person is eligible for receiving the Divine mercy.
4. A single name
The Vedas present thousands upon thousands of names. Many of them are negations. We live in a world full of limitations. There are concepts beyond our understanding. Time. Space. Age. Fallibility.
The Supreme Lord is the opposite; i.e. He lacks limitations. He is Achyuta since He never falls down. He is Anadi since He has no beginning. He is Ananta since He lacks an end. He is nava-yauvanam, which means that His transcendental body always appears fresh and new, like a person who has just become a teenager.
He is Krishna, Rama and Hare. He can be identified by so many names, and one is not considered better than the other if the mood is pure. If I prefer to say Shyamasundara instead of Krishna, what will be the harm? I am addressing God as the most beautiful person, with a distinct bodily complexion.
5. A single revered sacred text
In courtroom cases, witnesses take an oath upon a specific sacred text. The idea is that they wouldn’t want to give false testimony while the man upstairs is watching. The book is a conduit to a different location. That book is merely a way to describe someone who is beyond description. Glorification of God has been ongoing since before anyone can remember, and it continues with successive generations of man.
Even within the Vedic tradition there are many revered sacred texts. Bhagavad-gita. The original Vedas. The Ramayana. Shrimad Bhagavatam. One cannot be considered superior to another, though each has their appeal and target audiences. If a person is able to fully understand God and engage in unalloyed devotional service as a result of contact with a specific book, then that book is most valuable.
Deity of features befitting,
On this temple throne sitting.
But not limited practically so,
Elsewhere opportunity to know.
Described in sacred text to revere,
But other works of understanding clear.
Never limited by such can be,
Through holy name clearly to see.
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