Though the followers of Sanatana Dharma (Hindus) are considered to be polytheists, worshipping numerous Gods and Goddesses and even inventing new deities very often, they are actually monotheists. Hindus, in fact, have only one God called Brahman, the supreme being, who is all powerful, eternal, and changeless. The word ‘Brahman’ should not be mistaken for ‘Brahmin’ or ‘Brahma’. As many of us are aware, a ‘Brahmin’ is a priest who officiates the worship and rituals in a temple and ‘Brahma’ is one of the trinity, along with Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva, who is responsible for the creation.
Brahman is one of the core concepts in Hinduism. A person who knows Brahman is considered to be an enlightened being, and the people who want to attain Moksha (liberation from the cycle of birth-death-rebirth) spend most of their lives trying to comprehend Brahman.
Though the Brahman is considered to be formless, and no attributes could be ascribed to him, some theories differ from the idea. Many claim that there are two kinds of Brahman – one is Saguna Brahman and the other Nirguna Brahman. Saguna Bhahman (Ultimate Reality assigned with attributes) describes a God with tangible attributes and Nirguna Brahman describes a God with Intangible attributes. According to Adi Shankaracharya, Lord Krishna, who gave Bhagavad-Gita to warrior Arjuna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, is the highest form of Saguna Brahman. Nirguna Brahman, being formless can’t be described and no attributes could be ascribed to it.
Some people feel that the compound Sanskrit word ‘sat-cit-ananda’, which represents ‘truth-consciousness-bliss’, describes the experience of the ultimate and unchanging reality called Brahman. Some others feel that Brahman and the Atman (soul) are one and the same and the one who realizes the Atman and dwells in Atman also realizes the Brahman. And, many others believe that the all powerful Brahman is the source of everything and all things ultimately get back to the same source.
Though we can’t describe Brahman as he/she/it is considered to be formless, the sacred symbol ‘OM’ is considered to be a symbol of Brahman and it also manifests Brahman in sound.
People, who worship Lord Vishnu or Narayana, consider him as Brahman. In the same way, people who worship Lord Shiva and Goddess Shakti also consider their deities as the manifestations of Brahman. Therefore, though Hindus worship multiple Gods and Goddesses, Brahman encompasses everything, and in a way, all the devotees are worshipping the same God in the form of Brahman.
A person who realized brahman is at peace and still. The enlightened sage, Ramana Maharshi, would, most of the time, remain silent, peaceful, and still. Such people are said to attain Moksha, releasing themselves from the cycle of birth-death-rebirth.