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Emanationism In The Hindu Religions

Although strongly theistic, most of the Hindu religions, differs from the theologies of the West and Middle East by emphasising the monistic, emanationist, and pantheistic nature of the Godhead, and Its inseperability from created existence.  This is the exact opposite to the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic position, in which God creates the entire universe out of nothing, and always remains dualistically separate from it (pantheism has always been regarded as a particularily serious form of herasy).

 Typical of the spirit of Hindu emanationism is the following passage, from the commentary on a Shakta Tantric text, which cites rather unsystemmatically from a wide range of earlier writings regarding the relation between the Godhead and the world.

 "...(Brahman, the Godhead, said) `May I be many and born as many', and thus He made Himself into the world as it exists within Himself.  So it has been (also) said `By His mere wish He throws out and withdraws the universe in its enturety.'  Also it is elsewhere said - `The Great Lord having drawn on Himself the picture of the world by the brush of His own Will is pleased when looking thereon.'  S'ruti also says `As the spider throws out and takes back its thread, so Ishvara (God) projects and withdraws the universe.' Thus the one great Lord becomes the material cause from which the world is made, as says the Text, `May I be many.'..."
[Kama-Kala-Vilasa, Translated by Sir John Woodroffe, Ganesh ∓ Co. Madras, 1971, p.142]

Note that God (Ishwara) is here described as "the material cause"  of the universe.  In the other words, the matter from which the cosmos is formed is the Godhood-nature itself.  This is in complete contrast to the Judaeo-Christian-Islamic monotheistic type of religion, where God is indeed, obviously, the spiritual cause, but never ever (apart from the claims of a few brave heretical mystics) the material cause.

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page by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 30 June 1999, last modified 11 August 2005