Brahman, the Universal Spirit

We often think of Hinduism as having many gods. However, Hindu beliefs also include the concept of Brahman, the universal spirit. Brahman permeates everything, and everything is part of Brahman. Our souls are part of Brahman and seek to be reunited with him. Brahman is infinite and eternal – and impossible to describe.

Since people think in concrete terms, most find it hard to imagine divinity on this scale, with no form or face. For this reason, some Hindus believe that Brahman is manifested in many different forms, some of which are gods. Since Brahman is in everything, including us, then Brahman is also in the different gods of Hinduism. In the Bhagavad Gita, part of a great Hindu epic, the god Krishna says, “Whatever god a man worships, it is I who answer the prayer.” Thus the thousands of minor gods of Hinduism can be seen as the different faces of the universal spirit Brahman.

Which would you find easier to think about: Brahman as a formless universal spirit that is part of everything, or as a pantheon of different gods?