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SNAPSHOT: Hinduism

Yukteswar's Approach

The Bible contains many self-contradictions. One may line up with some of them and say, "It is in the Bible." And the opposite view is in the Bible too . . . Examples:
"God is everywhere present, sees and knows all things and is not everywhere present, or sees or knows all things." (Proverbs 15:3; Ps. 139:7-10; Job 34:22, 21 against Genesis 11:5)

"God is all-powerful and not all-powerful." (Jeremiah 32:27; Matthew 19:26 against Judges 1:19). Compare the conundrum: "Can the almighty create a stone that is so heavy that he cannot lift it?"

"God is to be found by those who seek him and is not to be found by those who seek him." (Proverbs 8:17; against Proverbs 1:28 etc.)

There is more here: [Over a hundred great Bible inconsistencies.]

We can get Bible support for many witty views if we want to. Still discern: "What good will it do?"

We might be able to do better than walk in Yukteswar's steps of seeming Bible support by fragments from here and there. It is fair to view Bible sayings in their context (setting) and discern main thrusts in the Bible developments. Evaluate Bible sayings on their own terms, that is. Quite recent Biblical criticism may be fit for that.

Swami Sri Yukteswar (1855-1936) wrote The Holy Science (Kaivalya Darsanam) in 1984 at the behest of a secretive guru. His given task and mission was to show "the basic unity between the Christian and Hindu scriptures". Here is a clue already: Both Christian texts and texts of Hinduism contain assertions that contradict one another, also about deep matters. A "basic unity of self-contradictions" has been laid bare.

Yukteswar was given another task too, to "Show by parallel references that the inspired sons of God have spoken the same truths." He should have been told explicitly who were "the inspired sons of God". When sayings of various "sons" differ - they often do - one should not pretend it is otherwise. And when the "son" contradicts himself, it is fit to point out that too. A little survey can soon show that some sayings agree more or less, and others hardly, and still others do not agree at all.

Also, the frame of references in Christianity are not like those of Hinduism. Not at all. And those frames of reference - with cultural background, body of scriptures and traditions - tend to bring "surround-meanings" - and statements should be seen in context if they are to be compared very well. The large and kaleidoscopic, embracing body of Hinduism is not like the exclusivity-claiming Christianity.

On the previous page is shown how Yukteswar tried to accommodate to what he was told to do. For one thing, Yukteswar did not tell in his book that the old and traditional Samkhya philosophy system he made use of, has been atheistic from antiquity to this day, and that theistic Samkhya is a later development within it, and not many centuries old.

This serves to point out that the Hindu philosophy he draws on throughout the book, has an atheistic basis, and that its traditionally upheld goal, Kaivalya, Aloneness, Aloofness, is not God in Christianity. The yogi Yukteswar might have done better by keeping to the Yoga Philosophy, rather, or a form of Vedanta. For Yoga Darshan is theistic, in that it incorporates Ishwara (God of Light).

In Samkhya we find thus, "There is no God" and also "There is a God". Such soap unity . . . This said, Yukteswar's exposition of theistic Samkhya offers food for thought.

Yukteswar's coverage of Christianity in his slim book is not deep and comprehensive, as shown on the previous page. The yogi was to show a deep unity; he ought to have gone deeper and then he might just have done better.

To make it clearer: In his slender treatise, Yukteswar goes into a theistic variant of Samkhya and underpins tenets of it by not more than 36 passages from the Bible. But he does not define or clarify his fundamental concepts as well as desirable, neither 'Hinduism', 'Christianity' or 'religion'. He does not show what these are, their main content, variety or scopes. And the "unity of all religions" of his program is a vagueness blunder, for much is evidently different in the two religions of his study. It helps to clarify the main concepts if that is possible. And why? People understand 'religion' differently. Hinduism is a conglomerate of ideas, and Christianity means different things to different adherents too. "While Christians worldwide share basic convictions, there are also differences of interpretations and opinions of the Bible and . . . traditions on which Christianity is based. . . Christians differ in their views on the extent to which individuals' salvation is pre-ordained by God. . . . The books of the Bible accepted by the Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches vary somewhat. . . . Modern scholarship has raised many issues with the Bible. While the Authorized King James Version is held to by many because of its striking English prose, in fact it was translated from the Erasmus Greek Bible, which in turn 'was based on a single 12th Century manuscript that is one of the worst manuscripts we have available to us.' . . . several books are considered to be forgeries." (WP, "Christianity", passim)

If we are interested in theistic Samkhya, one of the many niches of Hinduism, Yukteswar's could be of value. Several stands throughout the book may be interesting too, such as his views on why vegetarianism is best for man. He reasons that the form of the teeth suits such a notion, the length of the intestines too, and what food man naturally delights in. There are many other views on what foods are best suited to man than those of Yukteswar, though.

The professed, overriding aims of the book are not really reached. Why? Letting Samkhya represent "all religions", Hinduism and Christianity, is clearly not adequate.

Basically, Yukteswar's slender book covers one narrow path of many in a wide and varied landscape that is "a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, monism, atheism, agnosticism, gnosticism among others." (WP, "Hinduism").

The Commision and How Yukteswar Solved It

Yukteswar starts his introduction of the book thus:
YUKTESWAR This Kaivalya Darsanam (exposition of Final Truth) has been written by Priya Nath Swami [Sri Yukteswar] in 1894.

At the request in Allahabad of the Great Preceptor (Mahavatar Babaji) . . . this exposition has been published for the benefit of the world [Yukteswar, Hos 3].

As summed up above, Hinduism is a conglomerate of ideas and issues.

Snapshot: Hinduism

Because it integrates a variety of elements, Hinduism constitutes a complex but largely continuous whole and has religious, social, economic, literary, and artistic aspects. As a religion, Hinduism is a composite of diverse doctrines, cults, and ways of life.

In principle, Hinduism incorporates all forms of belief and worship without necessitating the selection or elimination of any. It is axiomatic that no religious idea in India ever dies or is superseded - it is merely combined with the new ideas that arise in response to it.

A Hindu may embrace a non-Hindu religion without ceasing to be a Hindu.

Hinduism is both a civilization and a congregation of religions; it has neither a beginning or founder, nor a central authority, hierarchy, or organization. Every attempt at a specific definition of Hinduism has proved unsatisfactory in one way or another. The finest scholars of Hinduism, including Hindus themselves, have emphasized different aspects of the whole.

As the All, [B]rahman (ultimate Reality) causes the universe and all beings to emanate from itself, transforms itself into the universe, or assumes its appearance.

[And] two movements, ahimsa and vegetarianism, reinforced one another through the common concept of the disinclination to kill and eat animals. Together they contributed to the growing importance of the protection and veneration of the cow, which gives food without having to be killed. Neither ahimsa nor vegetarianism ever found full acceptance.

Hindus disagree about the way (marga) to final emancipation (moksha). [Key source: EB "Hinduism"]


This is a more elaborate selection to put things into perspective.

Hindu texts discuss theology, philosophy and mythology, and provide information on the practice of dharma (religious living).

The term 'Hindu' includes those who adhere to the wide range of religious beliefs and practices related to Sanatan Dharma (The Eternal Righeousness, i.e., Hinduism).

From the 1800s onwards, Hindiusm was quite revived, and reformulated versions of Hinduism's foundational texts appeared. Others such as Yukteswar's emissary Paramahansa Yogananda have served to attract awareness of Yoga in the West and elsewhere.

Hinduism does not have a "unified system of belief encoded in declaration of faith or a creed", but is rather an umbrella term. Another way of putting it: Hinduism is like a wide flood with many currents in it. The main divisions of Hinduism today are Vaishnavism (Vishnuism), Shaivism, Smartism and Shaktism. Smartism, from Sanskrit 'smarta', is a liberal or nonsectarian denomination of the Vedic Hindu religion. Advaita Vedanta Hinduism is of Smartism, and rooted in the existential-minded approach of the Upanishads.

There is Folk Hinduism, Vedic Hinduism, Yogic Hinduism, especially that based on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. "Dharmic (moral)" Hinduism of adjusting to explained laws of Karma, and Bhakti or devotionalism, notably in Vaishnavism.

Hinduism is a traditional way of life with a wide range of traditions and ideas incorporated within or covered by it. It is a most diverse religious tradition and the most complex of all the living, historical world religions.

India's former president, the philosopher Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, states that Hinduism cannot be defined. Some academics suggest that Hinduism can be seen as a category with "fuzzy edges", rather than as a well-defined and rigid entity. Some forms of religious expression are central to Hinduism, while others are not as central but are there still.

The concept of God in Hinduism is complex and depends the tradition and philosophy in question. Most Hindus believe that the spirit or soul - the true "self" of every person, called the atman - is eternal. The goal of life, according to Advaita, is to realize that one's atman (spirit) is identical to Brahman (Spirit), the supreme soul. The Upanishads state that whoever becomes fully aware of the atman as the innermost core of one's own self realizes an identity with Brahman and thereby reaches moksha (freedom).

"The Supreme Lord": interpretations of Ishvara vary. Advaita identifies Brahman and Ishvara as one, while in most of the traditions of Vaishnavism Ishwara is Vishnu, God, and the text of Vaishnava scriptures identify this Being as Krishna.

Samsara, the world with its rounds of births and deaths, provides temporary delights. Moksha is believed to ensure lasting happiness and peace of Spirit (Brahman/Paramatman) The ultimate goal of life, referred to as moksha, nirvana or samadhi, is understood in several different ways, but the key is that inner realization liberates one from samsara and ends the cycle of rebirth.

Classical Hindu thought accepts four main goals of human life, the purusharthas. They are Dharma ("righteousness"), Artha ("livelihood, wealth"), Kama ("sensual pleasure") and Moksha ("liberation, freedom (from samsara)")

There are several methods (yogas) that sages have taught for reaching that goal. Texts dedicated to Yoga include the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, and, as their philosophical and historical basis, the Upanishads.

Paths, margas, toward the end goal of life (moksha, samadhi or nirvana) include Bhakti Yoga (the path of love and devotion); Karma Yoga (the path of proper activity); Raja Yoga (the royal path, which is founed on deep meditation with auxilliaries); and Jnana Yoga (the path of discernment). An individual may prefer one or some yogas over others, and practice of one yoga does not exclude others. Many schools believe that the different yogas naturally work together, much like branches of a tree.

Hinduism has a developed system of symbolism and iconography to represent the sacred in art, architecture, literature and worship. These symbols gain their meaning from the scriptures, mythology, or cultural traditions. The syllable Om (which represents the Parabrahman) and the Swastika sign (which symbolizes auspiciousness) have grown to represent Hinduism itself.

Mantras serve to help a person focus the mind for benefit. Many adopt mental mantra repetition, japa, as their key spiritual practice.

Most Hindus engage in daily religious rituals at home, but practices vary greatly. At the back are concepts of accumulated merit to be got through charity or good works, to the effect of improving conditions here or hereafter, or both.

On death, cremation is considered obligatory for all except sanyasis, hijra, and children under five. Cremation is typically performed by wrapping the corpse in cloth and burning it on a pyre. Hijra? They are physiological males who have feminine gender identity, women's clothing and other feminine gender roles [Wikipedia].

Hindus recognise several Indian holy cities. The Kumbh(a) Mela (the "pitcher festival") is one of the holiest of Hindu pilgrimages that is held every four years. Pilgrimage is not mandatory in Hinduism.

Hinduism has many mythology-rooted festivals throughout the year.

As for scriptures, The Rig Veda is the oldest Veda. Shruti (lit: that which is heard) primarily refers to the four Vedas. Hindus believe that because the spiritual truths of the Vedas are eternal, they continue to be expressed in new ways.

Hindu texts other than the Shrutis are collectively called the Smritis (memory). The most notable of the smritis are the epics, which consist of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. The Bhagavad Gita, spoken by Krishna, is described as the essence of the Vedas, but it is more often placed in the Shruti category, for it is heavily Upanishadic in content.

Puranas, which illustrate Hindu ideas through vivid narratives, come under smritis. Other texts include Devi Mahatmya, the Tantras, the Yoga Sutras. The Manu Samhita (Manusmriti) is a prescriptive lawbook which lays the societal codes of social stratification which later evolved into the Indian caste system.

Hinduism has no central doctrinal authority. The Western understanding of what Hinduism is has been formed largely by the Smarta view.

Traditionally the life of a Hindu is divided into four ashramas (stages). The first is the stage as a student, spent in controlled celibate study under a Guru (teacher), building up knowledge. The second is the householder's stage, in which one marries and satisfies kama and artha in one's married and professional life (see the goals of life). Third, the retirement stage, is gradual detachment from the material world. Some Hindus choose to live a monastic life (Sannyasa) of simplicity, celibacy, and contemplation on the Divine. It is considered a highly meritorious act for a householder to provide sadhus (sannyasins) with food or other necessaries.

Hindu society has traditionally been categorized into four classes: (a) the Brahmins: teachers and priests; (b) the Kshatriyas: warriors, nobles, and kings; (c) the Vaishyas: farmers, merchants, and businessmen; and (4) the Shudras: servants and labourers. In addition there are over 160 million Untouchables (outcastes) currently.

Hindus advocate the practice of ahimsa (non-violence). Accordingly, for the sake of doing less harm to life and benefit higher life forms, many Hindus embrace vegetarianism: there are several hundred millions of lacto vegetarians in India. What is more, the cow in Hindu society is traditionally honoured for all its gifts. Cow-slaughter is legally banned in almost all states of India.

There are some surface similarities in Christian and Hindu theology, for example that that both religions have their trinities. The Holy Trinity of Christianity - the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - is sometimes seen as roughly analogous to a trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva - Well, there are three in each group. And there is a Parabrahma, the Supreme Brahman, to reckon with.

Another Hindu trinity is that of Sat-Tat-Aum, which Yogananda likens to the Father, the Son (Tat), and the Holy Spirit (Aum), Yogananda's laboured parallelism is shown in detail here: [More]

In Hinduism (also in Jainism and Sikhism), the concept of moksha is akin to that of Buddhism's nirvana, as well as Christianity's doctrine of salvation. But Buddhism, Hinduism and Christianity differ on fundamental beliefs on heaven, hell and reincarnation. From the Hindu perspective, heaven and hell are temporary places only. Permanent, divine bliss is " Moksha".

[Main sources: WP, "Hinduism;" "Hinduism and other religions"

Back to Yukteswar

When Yukteswar describes how the world is made up, from gross to subtle, it is in accord with how it is delineated in Samkhya. The way towards subtlety is also the way to freedom, he holds. But the way to freedom - what it consists of, how its goal is, and how to reach it - is subject to disagreements within Hinduism.

Babaji speaks of "the inspired sons of God", whereas the gospel of Matthew says that salvation is an exclusive deal for Jews only, according to Jesus (Matthew 15:24; 10:5-8; cf. 24:24-25]. As for the underlying basic unity of unspecified Hindu scriptures and Christianity, there is none if the earthly level is unreal. Babaji says it in Autobiography of a Yogi: "The divine realm extends to the earthly, but the latter [is] illusory". (1998, Chap. 34]

If illusory, than without real sons of God in it. This goes to say that a great lack of consistency is detected.

Yukteswar's Purpose

YUKTESWAR The purpose of this book is to show as clearly as possible that there is an essential unity in all religions; that there is no difference in the truths inculcated by the various faiths; that there is but one method by which the world, both external and internal, has evolved; and that there is but one Goal admitted by all scriptures [Sri Yukteswar, Hos 3].

To cut to the chase again: To see where a stream comes from, go to its source or sources. A book often has many sources too. Seeking unity among the books of scriptures may be a work of cunning. To say there is a unity where none is found, backfires at times. However, to find that unity gurus talk of, one had better go the one's own source if one may find some. At that level old Samkhya says there are two sources, spirit and matter. Advaita Vedanta ascertains there is only one source, Atman-Brahman as Absolute Spirit.

What do all religions agree on, what is such a "lowest or highest common denominator"? Although most large religions speak of a deity, there are religions that do not.

Yukteswar sloppily speaks of "all religions" without saying anything about almost all of them. There are dozens quite known ones, and their views on many subjects differ widely. As for the way to liberation, some teach this, and others teach that, and others do not mention it. All religions do not necessarily agree. [WP, "Religion", "Major religious groups" and "List of religions and spiritual traditions"]

Yukteswar further decrees that "The object of this book is to point out the harmony underlying the various religions, and to help in binding them together." To point out that harmony, transcend the widely divergent religions well. Then come back and tell.


Yukteswar book, the holy science, Literature  

Ak: Yogananda, Paramahansa: Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1982.

Alk: Beck, Thomas: Astrologisk leksikon. Oslo: Teknologisk forlag, 1993.

Aso: Asimov, Isaak: Om tall. Oslo: Dreyer, 1980.

Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Philosophical Library, 1946.

EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica 2010 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2010.

Ewo: Caplan, Mariana. Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path.. Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 2009.

Ha: Yogananda, Paramahansa: Autobiography of a Yogi. 12th ed. Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF). Los Angeles, 1981.

Hom: Berne, Eric: What Do You Say After You Say Hello? The Psychology of Human Destiny. Bantam. New York, 1973.

Hos: Yukteswar, sw: The Holy Science. 7th ed. Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), Los Angeles, 1972.

Ith: Flood, Gavin. An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Mux: Bühler, G. tr: The Laws of Manu. Banarsidass (Reprint from Oxford University's 1886-edition). Delhi,1984.

Nai: Guba, Egon, and Yvonne Lincoln. Naturalistic Inquiry. Newbury Park: Sage, 1985.

Pa: Yogananda, Paramahansa: Autobiography of a Yogi. 11th ed. Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF). Los Angeles, 1971.

Puh: Deussen, Paul. The Philosophy of the Upanishads. New York: Dover (Reprint of Clark's 1906-ed), 1966.

So: Deussen, Paul, tr. Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Vols 1-2. Varanasi: Banarsidass, 1980.

Tpu: Deussen, Paul. The Philosophy of the Upanishads. Tr. A. S. Geden. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent, and Co. Ltd, 1906.

Tmu: Aiyar, K Narayanasvami, tr. Thirty Minor Upanishads. Madras: K. N. Ayar, 1914.

Viom: Jolly, Julius tr: The Institutes of Vishnu. Banarsidass. Delhi, 1965.


  1. Lajoie, D. H. and Shapiro, S. I. (1992). "Definitions of transpersonal psychology: The first twenty-three years." Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, Vol. 24.
  2. Lajoie and Shapiro, p. 91.
  3. Scotton, Bruce W., Chinen, Allan B. and John R. Battista, eds. Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology. New York: Basic Books, 1996
  4. Lu Francis G., David Lukoff D, and Robert P. Turner. "Religious or Spiritual Problems." In: DSM-IV Sourcebook, Vol. 3. Widiger TA, Frances AJ, Pincus HA et al., eds. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, pp 1001–1016. 1996:238
  5. "Vegetarians are more intelligent, says study". London Evening Standard, 15 Dec. 2007.

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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