Contradictions, Truth, Formlessness and Forms

ShivaI recently received a lovely email regarding the Vedas. The question came up regarding Truth and contradiction. The idea was that Truth is free of contradiction so any contradictions are non-Truths.

In a sense, this is certainly true. However, this is the world of paradox and contradictions. Paradox and contradiction finds resolution in the depth, not on the surface. In that sense then, Truth does not exist on the surface of life, but in the depth. All paradoxes and contradictions find resolution in the Transcendent, in the depth. Even within the Veda, this is of course addressed. The Shiva Puranas declare Shiva to be the highest of all the Gods. The Vishnu Puranas declare Vishnu to be the highest of all the Gods. On the surface that appears to be a contradiction. In fact, many see such ‘contradictions;’ permeating the Veda and reject it. Yet by looking more deeply within Vedic Knowledge, such apparent contradictions do exquisitely find their resolution.

The second idea in the email involved the idea that pictures of God vary from temple to temple and are therefore not correct since only one can be right. Of course, no picture of God or anything else is totally accurate, so that idea is correct. At the same time, all pictures of God point in a direction, toward the Formless, the Transcendental, the Divine and in that sense they can all be ‘correct’. Furthermore, the One God has many faces.

I humbly do very much appreciate such heartfelt and reflective emails and invite others.

© Michael Mamas. All rights reserved.


  1. Truly awesome – integrating the words, image, and awareness!

  2. Thank you for sharing these wonderful insights
    For me, they help bring clarity

  3. If one was sitting on Saturn observing the Earth..the Earth is quite insignificant in the universe..however since the Earth is the only known planet that supports relative life..that makes us incredibly significant in the universe. I like to view that as a contradiction however it is really a situation of different perspectives. is a strong analogy for resolve in many conversations. Wonderful blog Brahmarshi

  4. Michael B.,
    Very good!
    All contradictions are perspectives.
    All realities have a perspective. But of course, not all perspectives coincide with a reality. Some perspectives are just invalid.
    For example, when life is some day discovered on other planets, we will all realize that Earth being the only planet to support life was a perspective, but not a reality.

  5. Puranas are NOT Vedas. Puranas are written by humans and Vedas are given by God. In Vedas it is clearly mentioned that God does not take any form. There are number of Mantras which indicate that God is omnipresent, omniscient, All mighty, and formless. Yajur Veda clearly states these concepts. Yajur Veda (33-2) clearly states that God does not exist in any form. When you say Veda, do not give reference in Purana. Vedas are NOT Puranas and Puranas are NOT Vedas.

  6. Typo in the above: It is not Yajur Veda (33-2) but it is Yajur Veda (32-3). Thanks

  7. Dear Venkata,

    You are entirely correct that the Puranas are Pureshea (man-made). I also of course agree that Yajur Veda is Apureshea (not man-made). However, contained within the Veda is all knowledge. As I said, contradiction, which exists in life, finds its resolution in the Veda. Explaining how that contradiction in Shiva versus Vishnu Puranas is resolved is something I lecture upon in great depth. It exceeds the scope of a brief comment to a blog. However, the Puranas do point in that direction. Your point is very well taken, and I fully agree. But at the same time, like the Puranas, as I pointed out, images of God do also have the value of pointing in the direction of that which transcends relativity.

    We can also find references in the Upanishads (Pureshea) which, on superficial examination, can be viewed as contradiction. What’s necessary is a deeper understanding, not a value judgment.

    I very much appreciate your thoughtful comment and only wish that more people reflected as deeply on the nature of the Veda.

  8. Michael and Venkata, thank you both for this wonderful exchange. It has helped me to consider these questions more deeply.

    It helped me to find more harmony between my Jewish upbringing and the devotional practices at the Sri Somesvara temple. (My Jewish upbringing taught a formless omni present God.)

    This may not be correct but I understand the images of Gods to be expressions of Divine energy that come from the Unbounded Totality. And so in my heart the two are compatible.

  9. Compatibility is different from Truth. If God says “I cannot take form”, and someone thinks that a form for God gives peace or compatibility, then it is doing against God and His teachings. God (in Vedas) clearly said that no one should pray any statue or person as equal to Him. Then why do we do? If we do that means we are defying God and His teachings. Let me give you an example. If someone calls your name and you respond, then which part of your body is responding? Which part of your body is you? Your answer will be “the entire body”. Similarly if someone calls God, it is the entire Universe and not simply a part of the Universe which is a statue.

    Vedas clearly mention that God cannot be sensed by any organ and not even by our mind. The only way God can be felt is by our Bhuddhi (knowledge base). When we sleep we will have two states. One is dreaming and the other is deep sleep where we do not even think like in dream. This state is the time we are with God but without knowledge. If we can achieve this state while we are awaken, then we can feel God. To do this we have to follow Patanjali Yoga Darshan (This is a Science which deals with Yoga).

    Now people might feel what is wrong if I think God is something like a Shiva statue or Vishnu statue? First thing first, it is because God said in Veda that it is wrong to do idol worship. Second is that what we see will be imprinted in Bhudhi (knowledge base) and cannot perceive real God.

    I am not writing these comments to belittle anyone or to discourage anyone. I am thinking that someone who built this blog wants all of us to discuss about the Truth and exchange views and knowledge. If I am wrong please ignore.

  10. Venkata,
    You comments are beautiful and very far reaching. In all heartfelt sincerity, understanding these things requires a great willingness to take a step back and start with a fundamental understanding and then building upon that. Otherwise, it is like trying to understand advanced mathematics while not understand addition and subtraction. Far reaching questions can be answered responsibly, but first the fundamental understanding must be there and built upon. Attempting to fathom such matters without sufficient understanding just ties things up in unfathomable knots. I appreciate your words very much. Your sincerity touches my heart. I do not know where you live, but if possible, it would be good to see you in our meetings here at Mount Soma.

  11. To ponder all of these lovely points is excellent. However, ultimately to understand Vedic knowledge is to awaken to it. Understanding is a matter of level of consciousness. Until awake to it, one is striving to understand while as if being on the outside looking in. To really know what a strawberry tastes like, one must actually taste it.
    Yet the pondering, the investigation, the discernment is excellent. As Adi Shankar said, the spiritual path is the path of discernment.
    As Maharishi Mahesh Yogi said, “Knowledge is structured in consciousness.”

  12. There is nothing like awakening Vedic knowledge. We have to awaken. What is Vedic knowledge? It is the knowledge obtained by reading/knowing/preaching/teaching/listening Vedas. There are four Vedas given by God and are respectively Rig, Yajur, Saama, and Atharva Veda. Everything else is a commentary or explanation of Vedas. But if these explanations are not in accordance with Vedas, we have to reject such explanations. For example God has clearly mentioned that He will not take any form and we should not do idol worship. But if a puranna or something else is telling about Shiva, Parvathi, or Vishnu in human form or some other form, we have to reject such explanations and follow the path of Vedas. Since Purannas are written by selfish humans, there are many impossible things and contradicting writings in Purannas. These are not in accordance with Vedas. There may be some truth in Purannas but many untruth writings are present. Since this blog is about Vedic knowledge and Mount Soma website is about Vedic knowledge, it is better to write what is present in Vedas rather than beating around the bush. To the structured consciousness, one has to read Vedas or related Shastras like Upanishds, Darshanas, and other materials which are in accordance with Vedas. If these writings are not in accordance with Vedas, we have to reject them.

    Now how do we ascertain that the writings are in accordance with Vedas? The best way is to read Vedas. In order to understand advanced mathematics one has to learn addition and subtraction: This statement is true. Therefore in order to understand Vedas, one has to read Sanskrit, Mahaa Bhashyam, Panini Grammar, and other related books. People think these are difficult to read. A person who can understand the structure of atom can definitely understand Vedas. In order to know the taste of sugar, chanting sugar for 100 years will not give you the taste. But searching for sugar, finding the sugar and tasting it will give you the taste. So in my view it is better to talk about Vedas if you are truly in search of Vedic knowledge.