First, let us analyze what Hindu Dharma holds to be the Absolute. In Sanskrit, the ultimate goal, or shall we say, the Absolute of Hindu Dharma, is “Brahman.” The word derives from the root “Brh,” meaning “that which grows” (Brhati) or “Which causes to grow” (Brhmayati).
Is Brahman “God”?
When we talk about Brahman, most people indicate it to be “God.” But no, Brahman is not “God.” According to the scriptures of Hindus and the “acharyas” of the Vedanta school, Brahman is rather a very specific conception of the Absolute. And this concept is unique to Hinduism, and we cannot find any traces of this in any other religion. This is exactly why it would be imprecise to call Brahman “God.”
Brahman is not relevant to the anthropomorphic concept of God in the Abrahamic religion; Brahman is not “the Oldman in the sky,” nor is he the one who chooses his favorite people from the creatures the one who is vengeful and fearful. As such, to label Brahman as “He” would be a mistake. Rather, Brahman transcends beyond any of the empirically distinguishable categories, limitations, and dualities.
So what is Brahman then?
Brahman has been described in the “Taittariya Upanishad” II.1 as “satyam jnanam anantam Brahma.” This translates to:
Brahman is of the nature of truth, knowledge, and infinity.
Thus, Brahman’s very reality secures the infinite positive qualities and states to have their existence. Brahman is a necessary reality – one that goes beyond the purview of temporality, one that is eternal, fully independent, non-contingent, and the source of everything.
Brahman is everywhere, present everywhere, in the realm of materiality, penetrating the whole of reality as the essence that provides the structure, meaning, and existence to everything, and yet, Brahman is the transcendent origin of all these things. Thus, Brahman is said to be panentheistic.
Nirguna Brahman describes Brahman without any specific qualities or attributes. It’s like a pure, formless essence. Saguna Brahman is the idea of Brahman with qualities and attributes. It’s like giving some characteristics to that big, mysterious reality.
The Nature of Brahman
Brahman is rather considered to manifest the non-Brahman metaphysical principles of matters and jivas due to the overflowing of Brahman’s grandeur, beauty, bliss, and love than the primary coming into being with the non-Brahman metaphysical principles of matter.
Just as how Brahman exists, Brahman cannot but create an excess of good in a similar manner too. Both of these – existence and overflowing of abundance – are crucial properties of Brahman, just as love and nurturing are the crucial properties of any virtuous and loving mother.
Brahman – The Source
Brahman constitutes the essential building of all reality, and thus Brahman is the source. Brahman is the antecedent primeval ontological substance from where all things move forward. Like other sciences, Brahman does not create anything from nothing as part of ex nihilo creation. But rather, Brahman creates anything from the reality of Brahman’s own being. In Aristotelian terms, Brahman is “the material cause as well as the efficient cause of creation.”
The Final Goal and The Final Cause
Brahman is seen as the Formal Cause as part of the metaphysical ordering principles inherent in the cosmos’ design and as the source of Dharma.
Moreover, Brahman is also seen as the Final Cause, as the final goal of all reality. Brahman is the only reality that truly exists, as being the ontological source of all reality; everything else is just a contingent transformation of Brahman, or substitute of the attributive dependence on Brahman, or else the illusory in nature. Even the theological teachings of both Advaita and Vishishta-Advaita schools of Hindu Dharma resonate with this nature of Brahman.
Brahman – The Ultimate Reality
As mentioned times and again, Brahman is the source of everything, and thus all reality has a source in Brahman. Everything grounds to Brahman, and all reality has its ultimate repose. Hindu Dharma, as a philosophy and a religion, is thriving towards this reality known as Brahman, both consciously and exclusively.
Brahman is like the foundation of everything. It’s the most real thing, even more (supreme reality), real than the world we see around us. It’s like the “big picture” behind everything. It’s important to note that Brahman isn’t a god with human-like qualities. It’s not a person sitting in the sky making decisions or having emotions. It’s much bigger and more mysterious than that.
Think of Brahman as being everywhere, but not in a way that’s limited by space. It’s like the essence or energy that makes everything exist and have meaning. This idea is called “panentheism,” meaning Brahman is both within everything and beyond everything. Brahman is like the starting point of everything in the universe. It’s not like a builder creating things from scratch, but more like the essential stuff that everything is made of.
Some people say that your true self or your individual soul (your “Atman”) is connected to Brahman. It’s like a small part of Brahman inside you, an eternal truth. This idea is important in a certain type of Hindu thinking called “Advaita Vedanta.” Many Hindus believe that understanding Brahman is a way to become free from the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. It’s like a key to escape this cycle and find ultimate peace.