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Key Metaphors in Hindu Thought

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Hindu writers often use metaphors to illustrate and teach the essentials of the Hindu philosophy. In their writings, they refer to these metaphors in a way that assumes that you know and understand them.


1. Arundhati – pointing to a star; indirect of apophatic theology

2. Rope-snake – perceptual vs. objective reality

3. Clay pot - pot creates a false sense of “separateness”

4. Monkey/Kitten - grace vs. Works - salvation as gift, salvation earned

5. Grieved man concerning son – perception vs. reality

6. Painted canvas - creation is manifested and unmanifested by Brahman

7. Dirty mirror - true nature of reality obscured unless one follows a yoga/marga

8. Hidden treasure – true nature of self-obscured by phenomenal world

9. Seed/egg – entire world is latent (unmanifested) in Brahman

10. Salt in water - atman no separate existence from Brahman

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