In the present age, we see that the whole humanity is in disharmony owing to religious differences. This means that the present day religious theologies and practices have outlived their spiritual efficacy to bring about peace and spiritual evolvement to humanity. It is for India to take up a leadership role in the spiritual renewal of humanity. Although it may be unconvincing to many, the reality is that India is the mother of spirituality, the inheritor of an ancient most spiritual culture. Mark Twain (1835-1910) wrote that India is the “Land of religions, cradle of human race, birthplace of human speech, grandmother of legend, great grandmother of tradition… India had the start of the whole world in the beginning of things…’
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) the famous American Philosopher said that ‘The Hindoos are most serenely and thoughtfully religious than the Hebrews. They have perhaps a purer, more independent and impersonal knowledge of God. Their religious books describes the first inquisitive and contemplative access to God… The calmness and gentleness with which the Hindoo philosophers approach and discourse on forbidden themes is admirable’.
Annie Wood Besant (1847-1933) once said about Hinduism: “After a study of some forty years and more of the great religions of the world, I find none so perfect , none so scientific, none so philosophical and none so spiritual that the great religion known by the name of Hinduism…’
What is the base of India’s great spiritual culture that deserves such eulogy from these great teachers, thinkers and philosophers? They were not obviously referring to the pantheistic beliefs and practices of the vast sections of ignorant Hindu population and their superstitions, about the snake charmers, the relentless feuds between hostile castes, clans and regional states or about the culture of animal and human sacrifices, bride burning, rape and inhuman murder of helpless women etc. that attract the condemnation of Hindus and their religion. These famous thinkers found inspiration from the great metaphysical teachings of the rishis and sages of India that form the true Sanatana principles, which have hardly anything to do with the priest mediated temple oriented Hindu religion, often referred by scholars as Brahmanical Hinduism. Very less people, scholarly and otherwise, including the Hindus seem to realize the great flip-flop occurred in understanding the true basis of Indian spirituality, which can be categorized into two broad categories based on their ideological and ritualistic differences, most importantly based on the difference between their cosmologies.
The first one is the ancient Guru-Disciple Ashram (Rishi) tradition and the other is the Temple tradition or Trimurti (Devi-Deva) tradition. The temple tradition thrives on the premises of mythology found in the puranas that promote the worship of trimurti gods – Brahma, Vishnu and Siva and their vast family of gods and goddesses, as the ultimate spiritual authorities, whereas in the Guru-Disciple Ashram or Rishi tradition, the authority of creation is Manu, known to be the First Projection of God or the Saguna Brahman. In the rishi tradition, the medium between man and God is the Preceptors or Gurus who come in every age (yuga) for the spiritual uplift of humanity, reveals Navajyotisri Karunakara Guru. As Swami Vivekananda said, Guru is the mask worn by the formless God to come near man.
Every human universe (solar system) is born out of the sankalpam or conception of Manu, the Primordial Father of humanity and that is why the age of the universe is calculated in terms of Manvantara after the name of Manu. In a cosmic age known as Kalpa, fourteen Manus appear and project the solar system with the help of saptarshis, (the planetary spirits controlling the solar system). The time of six Manus has already passed and the present age belongs to the seventh Vaivaswata Manu. Our sages have even mentioned the names of these seven Manus who are going to appear in this Kalpa. The spiritual cataclysm of India is that this universal cosmology based on Manu has been altered subsequently to accommodate and project the trimurti gods as the authorities of creation.
The Trimurti tradition is based on Purana Samhita, the mythological treatise known to have been composed by Veda Vyasa (Krishna Dwaipayana) at the end of Dwapara Yuga. The present puranas are the subsequent redactions by his disciples such as Romaharsha and others during the beginning of Kali yuga. There are evidences to suggest that the present day puranas and epics were composed during the Buddhist or post Buddhist period about 2500 years ago or little later. The puranas and epics, which contain important chronicles of the past cosmic ages are said to be perennial and existed in every yuga in different forms and orally handed down age after age. Thus, the myths and legends about Brahma, Vishnu and Siva might be speaking to us the spiritual history of an unimaginable distant past. The puranic authors have cleverly mixed the metaphysical teachings of the rishis in their compositions in such a way that one would be unable to distinguish between the very diverging schools of thought in them. In reality, the philosophy of the rishis envisioned God independent of the mythical tradition and even the polytheism of the Vedas.