The Christian Bible (New Testament) states that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God.(John 1:1)” Many Christians I grew up with cited this verse as indication that the Bible has always been around – literally. This is based on their strict definition of what “the word of God” means, and not only contradicts the actual history of the Bible, but also basic Christian theology. Alternately, I have also heard that “The Word” is the English translation of “Logos,” which apparently is Jesus in his pre-human, pre-creation, form. So, The Word manifested as The Son. It’s a verse and a concept that now makes me smile, and is actually quite “Hindu” and our own scriptures, which predate all Abrahamic scriptures by millennia, also assert that The Word existed before the physical world.
Hindu spirituality informs that the Supreme exists and only exists. From this unfathomable “Is-Ness” issues forth everything else. The first discernible emanation from this “is-ness-only” Brahman is an expansion in the form of sound and light. It’s because of this that our universe is built the way it is and that everything in the physical realm is actually hardly physical, but is instead varying combinations of light and sound. I find this to be yet another area where Hinduism is ahead of science, and even the mystical parts of Hinduism are supported by this kind of parallel between science and the faith – some Hindu theology indicates that God is, and pervades, everything. If the known universe is essentially light and sound in varying resonance frequencies, and the primary active manifestation of God is as Light/Sound, there’s no conflict.
My own ishtadevata, Ganesha, happens to be the arguably most common face in the Hindu pantheon attributed to that first Sound – reaching back into our foundational scriptures, the Vedas. The Word that was in the beginning, was with God, and was/is God. To Hindus across the broad Hindu spectrum, the Primal, Primeval, and Causal Sound is Aum. Aside from the notion of Brahman (which isn’t a god, per se), the only god in the entire Hindu pantheon that is endeared pretty much across that spectrum, although to varying degrees, is Ganesha. His cosmic and religion-wide (indeed trans-cultural) universality is a direct side effect of Him being the embodiment of the concept recognized by every Hindu: Aum.
An aside that I find interesting, Christianity claims that the Son was actually in “Logos” form before there was a corrupted earth on which to incarnate. At the right time, he manifested and was then known as The Son. Ganesha, with some very obvious differences, has some parallels. “In the beginning” there was Aum and later on down the road, that Word took shape as Ganesha, the Son of Shiva, also known as Mahesh (Great Lord) or Mahadev (Great God), who is The Father.
In the past, I’ve detailed my perception of Ganesha being simultaneously the closest to the material plane AND the closest to Brahman. That seemed to have mixed reception – reasons about which I sometimes still speculate. At any rate, my intention isn’t to express Ganesha’s supremacy so much as share thoughts based on material I’ve been reading lately in regard to him being The All-Sound, Shabda Brahman.
In a post a while back, I detailed (among other things) why I decided to change how I spell the symbol of the Hindu faith. I had been using the phonetic rendering, and have since adopted the try-akshar version, which I find to be cleaner and also indicative of my understanding of Ganesha as the beginning-middle-end of all that is.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Nice. The Gita seems to suggest itself as a form of “The Word” which was being told since the very “primevalest” (I make up words) of times as well. I am curious why it is that you think your assertion about Ganesha being closest to Brahman and the material world simultaneously was received with mixed reaction?
I think my assertion about Ganesha being the closest to Brahman, etc… was received with mixed reaction because I was approached by someone shortly after making a few ganesh-centric posts to let me know that sometimes I might be forgetting that others have their own ishtadevatas who are likewise faces of The One.
It also felt mixed to me because in some (specific) circles bhakti that leads to a person/group placing their deva on a throne – sometimes even a throne that ignores or contradicts pretty much the entire Hindu hierarchy of myth, historically – is simply bhakti, well not even that: it’s apparently the epitome of bhakti yoga. When I do it in my own way, however, I’m apparently forgetting that other expressions of the divine are equally valid.
The thing that gets me, though, is that pretty much all the “claims” I make about my own ishtadevata are supported either by the most ancient Hindu scriptures, by simple logic, by actual widespread Hindu practice and expression – or by some combination of those things.