Brahman/Bhagavan

Vandana talks about her life as a Hindu

In Hindu scriptures and tradition, there are thousands of gods and goddesses. These are all understood as aspects of the ‘Divine One’. Brahman is this ‘Divine One’ or ‘God’ – also known as the Ultimate Reality. Hindus believe that Brahman is eternal and everywhere at once. Hindus may say that everything is Brahman, and Brahman is everything.

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Brahman is the one present everywhere and is the great one who is above all.Katha Upanishad 5.2

Hindus believe that Brahman is greater than any one human can understand. They believe in the idea that Brahman is beyond the material universe, or ‘above all’. Brahman is in every single particle of everything that lives but also beyond the universe: This whole universe is Brahman. In tranquillity, let one worship it, as that from which he came forth, as that into which he will be dissolved, as that in which he breathes. (Chandogya Upanishad 3.13.1)

Bhagavan – the personal God

Some Hindus also use the word Bhagavan to describe the Ultimate Reality. Bhagavan is the Ultimate Reality manifested or shown as a personal God. Brahman can be described as like the sun – millions of miles away, too bright to look at and impossible to approach. In contrast, Bhagavan is like the sunlight that is experienced on Earth.

If Brahman is like the sun, then Bhagavan is like the sunlight that is seen and felt on Earth
Question

What is meant by the term Bhagavan?

Bhagavan is a term used by some Hindus to refer to God or Ultimate Reality as a personal God. Some Hindus believe that if Brahman is like the sun, Bhagavan is like the sunlight that is experienced on Earth.