Understanding GOD. Oh My God! I chose this subject with great enthusiasm, but at the very Outset, I can feel myself developing cold feet, for I am realising that I have swallowed a greater morsel than I can chew, taken on a bigger task than I can ever do justice to.
For basically I believe in and can visualise mentally, the All-pervasive formless spirit from which everything, the whole Universe originates, and which contains everything, like the ‘Viraat Swaroop’ ( Vast form) of which Krishna gave Arjuna a glimpse or साक्षात्कारः on the battle ground during the war of the Mahabharata. No incarnation of Vishnu has impressed me much,except Shri Krishna, my favorite deity (इष्ट देव),who is the ‘Poornavatar’ (complete incarnation or manifestation) of Vishnu, the Saviour, and my Spiritual Guide,Philosopher.
However, I may not be able to describe the Supreme Spirit fully with my limited, mortal mind, for which I may be excused.
Nevertheless, I have done quite a bit of thinking about God, the chief reason being, with due respect to the Almighty, that though I have no doubt about the Existence and Power of the Supreme Spirit [whom some religions regard as a Male Power, while some think it is a Female Power (Adimaya), but Most regard it as without any gender, yet potentially bisexual(अर्धनारीश्वर) like Shiva], I have never been able to fathom the mystery of the claim of the Believers, of God’s Love for all of his creation without discrimination and Protection to all when needed, on one hand, And, The difference of the fortunes and circumstances and justice meted out between different individuals seen in this World on the other.
For, on general observation, the evidence is to the contrary. Only the rich, strong and cunning are the favorites and beloveds of the Heavenly Father and Mother Nature(Srishti) while all the others are godforsaken orphans begging pitifully of the more privileged, as expressed in the song of children of an orphanage, from the old film of RK Productions, ‘ Boot Polish’ –
” Tumhare hai tumse Dua maangate hain,
Tere laadalonki Daya maangate hain”!
And the song from the film ‘Nastik’ of yesteryears, based on the disrupted lives of people at the time of India’s partition, starring the ‘LOIN’ Ajit And Nalini Jaywant, “Dekh Tere Sansar ki Haalat Kya ho gayi Bhagwan, Kitna Badal Gaya Insaan”!
From childhood, we have been taught and are conditioned into thinking Of God or The Lord as an Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent Almighty Force (Paramatma: Eternal Soul), Whose Love has no limit, and Who looks after His creatures as a shepherd tends his sheep – As per the Bible saying,
“The Lord isThy Shepherd, Thou shalt not fear”!
And as children, we believed implicitly in God’s protection, and lived a carefree existence.
Alas, this innocence of childhood, and it’s spell of Heavenly Bliss does not last for ever. With the passage of time and growing years, it becomes evident that nothing in this world is absolutely steady or reliable, And even God’s protection is unpredictable and an illusion,which cannot be taken for granted, so that sooner or later, we have to learn to take care of ourselves by developing our own defenses to the best of our capacity.
For, the state of power relations between all living beings on this earth teach you only one hard fact ‘The survival of the strongest and fittest’! And sadly, not all human beings or animals are equally capable of fending for themselves!
As a result, people who become victims of stronger or craftier persons,or suffer acute privation because of all the human resources being misappropriated by corrupt and powerful individuals, turn to God, with the plaintive cry,” O Lord, Why hast thou forsaken me?” as though God is a supernatural, but ambivalent Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type of entity, combining good with negative powers.
Both these emotional states, of Faith that people have in Divine Protection, and the bitter Disillusion when their faith does not help them to sail smoothly through life and it’s difficulties, are the offshoot of our mental image of God as a Person-like spirit, whom we have cast in our own image, and who constantly keeps a watch over us at all times like a Diligent Parent or guardian.
Actually, I Think, God is more like a Giant ‘impersonal’ Computer-like Machine with an inbuilt Generator, Automatic’cut-off’ /restart switch which regulates and sets right any imbalance or antagonistic threat to the smooth working of the Universe, and a Mechanism of Disposal and Elimination of all Waste or Useless matter in the Universe. The Japanese Scientist, Michio Kaku, has given the same view in a detailed form recently.
Some people rationalize their ill luck as a consequence of their sins, either in this life or in some past life, and believe that the suffering is caused by our sins or Karma, and is our own doing, something that even God can’t overrule and change, or will not change, unless the sinners purge their sins by observing strict penance. This belief has some truth, except that it can be verified with reference to the deeds in the present life, but impossible to prove that it has any relevance to one’s past life (if there is any).
Likewise , this Entity called God(collection of all that is Good),does not change Nature’s Laws for individual interests or benefit, as that would upset the order of working of Nature. He is concerned with collective or universal Good, so our hope lies in gathering social support to make a regularly occurring crime or offense a collective problem of the world.
Still, with due respect to the Almighty, I do have a doubt related toHis ‘So-called Love and protection of all his creation. Nature’s principle is supposed to be, ‘Survival of the Fittest’, and by that as applied to Humankind, we mean those who are the Best among Human beings, forceful but at the same time good people; but in real practice, it is observed that the motto is, ‘Might is Right’ and justifies everything done by the mighty as right. That is, one has to be powerful to survive in this world, rather than good or noble.
Then, Is Fitness to be judged only on the criterion of strength in one form or another, viz.physical, financial or political? Or sheer cunning or cleverness in protecting one’s selfish interests, even if it is at the cost of other individuals or the larger interest of Society or Humanity?
Mother Nature, what sort of children do you want? Strong and selfish Bullies Or noble, peace loving ones? And you pose to be the Mother of all your creation, loving everyone equally. Revered Mother, this is sheer ‘Shortchanging’ of your simple children who have implicit faith in your protection and justice – ‘Ullu Banaaving’!
If we can blame a mere mortal Like India’s PM, Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi for poor administration and supervision of Law and Order,Why Not You, a Super human Force?
It is said that God and Nature are primarily concerned with the establishment and maintenance of collective and Universal Good, but What exactly is Nature’s and God’s concept of Collective Good? Is the gender genocide regularly and unscrupulously practiced in India and other developing countries by Female Foeticide/Infanticide, and sexual exploitation of human females all over the the world,in any way contributory to Universal good? Is it not in the order of Natural justice and protection to curb these social evils, and protect the weaker sex especially of downtrodden communities from atrocities inflicted on them by some Males and male oriented society, or weak people in general from the tyranny of powerful brutes ?
It is known that in Some species of animals, like the crab,The female is larger and stronger than the male, and she can reject a male with whom she is not inclined. Why do human females (as also men of certain downtrodden races and tribes), with some exceptions (who also have usually reached where they are because of a strong man’s backing and guidance, eg. Indira Gandhi), not have equal strength for self defense ? Why are they so vulnerable that they succumb to the power of the strong?
Even the Goddess Durga, who is spoken of as the Symbol of Woman Power in India, is said to have become what she is is by having been ‘lent’ the powers of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, to prepare her for vanquishing the Demon Mahishasur! It means that a woman can be powerful only if she has the backing or delegation of powers from a man/men at least in the initial stage of her life! In that case, What are a Woman’s own independent or native powers?
More generally, what and where is Nature’s protection towards the weak, with the exception of the mother animal who zealously and tenderly rears and protects her young by her Maternal Instinct ? Or is it that, as in the Animal Kingdom, Nature has no use or need for the weak, so that if one cannot become strong enough to fight for one’s equal rights or status, one is doomed to live under the fear and domination or patronage. of the strong, for better or worse, to survive, or die as their prey!
At least in the case of animals, the females enjoy a certain amount of natural protection from males, by way of Nature’s control and regulation of male sexuality. Animal males do not attack biologically immature, or pregnant, or nursing females. Animal females do not menstruate round the year, but only in some seasons, when they welcome the advances of males. During other times males either spend their time hunting and conquering new,
as well as guarding their new territory from other animals. They are not constantly hooked on to the Vagina like leeches, as some human males are! Why is this protection Not provided by Nature for human females? The ideal is for Men to be Gentle underneath their Toughness, and Women to be Firm under their Gentleness.
Nature’s leniency towards powerful wrong doers and indifference towards their excesses towards the weak has a demoralizing effect on human beings in general, and does not raise the morale of Humankind in any way! Thus It is taken by many disillusioned people to mean that the main policy and aim of Nature is actually to build up a world of selfish, aggressive and scheming Men and women,who are expert at winning in the struggle for survival,as in the animal kingdom.
However this is also an exaggeration, and the other extreme of mistaken thinking, viz. cynicism, which too does not help anyone, because the Truth is something midway, and moderate or balanced.
For, one does see examples of hardcore and oppressiveTyrannical persons and rulers also paid back in their own coin in due course, and suffer a tragic and shameful end.
Even if we leave the pre-History period, with its gory examples of the downfall of dreaded mythological(or perhaps really existed) rulers like Ravan, Kansa etc.unraked, as also the medieval kings of India like the proud Dhana Nanda of Magadh, overthrown by his humiliated Brahmin Minister Chanakya, by fostering and grooming the Moor boy(Prince) Chandragupta Maurya to ascend the throne and build up his empire,and the Moghul empire , STILL, in view of the recent debacles and downfall that we have witnessed in our own lifetime, of World-feared Terrors like Benito Mussolini of Italy, who was an ally of Adolf Hitler of Germany in WW2, the unrepentant Idi Amin – the late Murderous, oustedPresident of Uganda,Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussain of Iraq,President Gaddaffi of Libya, and of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, we have to make humble and apologetic acknowledgement with bowed heads of the oft heard fact that –
“Bhagwan ke Ghar Der hai, par Andher Nahi! (There may be Delay in God’s House in the dispensing of Divine Justice, but Not Total Lawlessness)!
But how did these defeats come about? God did not strike the tyrants down directly from the Heavens. Their NEMESIS was brought about by the ‘COLLECTIVE AND ORGANISED RISING OF THE COMMON PEOPLE THEMSELVES AGAINST THE DESPOTS.’
‘GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES’ !
In fact, some people believe that natural catastrophes are a part of God’s plan to make people forget their personal differences, and come together
to Unite as One Race, for it is only in natural calamities that human beings
surmount the Manmade barriers of religion, community and caste, and
Rush to one another for help !
Still, the question remains about why the wicked and undeserving persons mentioned above were allowed to attain so much power in the first place.
The answer to this is contained in the saying, ‘THOSE WHOM THE GODS WISH TO DESTROY, THEY FIRST MAKE MAD WITH POWER’ !
However there are instances, where staging a big revolt against a mighty conqueror brought tragic and morbid consequences for the people of the defeated nation, as happened in the battle waged by Ashoka The Great, against the kingdom of Kalinga. Ashoka won the battle despite the valiant resistance and fight put up by the people of Kalinga.
What happened thereafter though, was an anticlimax! Ashoka rode proudly and victoriously into the roads and alleys of the vanquished kingdom to see the spectacle of the defeated foes coming humbly to greet and welcome him to be their King. BUT what met his eyes was a shocking sight he had never expected. Heaps of dead soldiers strewed his path, with pathetically mangled bodies, while those who were living,were so badly wounded that they were crying and cursing the Victor! This was the moment of reckoning that changed King Ashoka forever. He began to get convicted by his own conscience.”Oh God, what have I done! I have reduced a nation of fine and vibrant people to nothing but a big cremation ground.How can I rule over these corpses?” he cried, and was filled with deep remorse and penitence. Thus and thence started the transformation of theEmperor Ashoka, the unrivaled warrior and conqueror of a large part of India, except the Dravid countries (as the States of Tamil Nadu and Kerala were then collectively known), into the disciple of Lord Buddha, to take the oath of Ahimsa, that is Non Violence!
The Moral Is: A person maybe so powerful that nobody can punish him for his evil deeds, but he will be sooner or later doomed to suffer the torment of reproach by his own guilty conscience forever! As the lines of a Hindi song go, ” Jagse chahe bhagale koi, Manase Bhag Na Paaye, Tora Man Darpan Kehlaye – Bhale Boore Saare Karmonko, Dekhe aur Dikhaye”!
Therefore I have tried to develop for myself a realistic concept of God and Nature, which can help me to understand Life and the World better, and attain the maturity to appreciate and reconcile myself with the established order of Nature, and the ‘Divine Wisdom’!
(A) Nature of God as the Supreme,All-pervading Spirit :
My belief about God is that there is a Spirit which has no form or shape(निराकार), or gender, Nor any sensory organs such as Eyes, Ears, or Mouth, like a Human Being, or any animal or bird, for the functions of Sight, Hearing, Speech, etc., but is a mass of creative and sensitive material, which is called ‘Metaplastic substance’ or ‘Metaplasm’ by some, having the capacity to undergo metamorphosis, viz. the potential to mould itself into any shape or gender required, with definite attributes (Saguna or Manifest Brahman like Rama, Krishna and Devi Parvati/Kaali,who was supposed to be a human being before She married Shiva but got elevated to the status of a goddess thereafter) for Hindus; Jesus Christ for Christians, etc. for working out the Divine purpose of regulating and co-ordinating all the processes maintaining this Universe – Creative, Protective /Regenerative and Destructive – and keeping it going. It is the SAME ‘ONE ABSTRACT SPIRIT’ (basic Metaphysical Supreme and Eternal Spirit/ Nirguna Brahman) which rules the World and Universe and the people of All Religions and Races, even though the followers of the different religions ascribe different names, forms and attributes to it, such as God Jehova of the Jews and Christians, Jesus Christ- the Prophet for Jews and Muslims, and The Son of God as well as the Messiah/Saviour for Christians(as also Mary, the Holy Virgin Mother of Christ for the Catholics), Allah-God of the Muslims, Ahura Mazda of Zoroastrians, and the ‘Trimurti’- Brahma(Creator), Vishnu(Preserver and Regulator), and Mahesh(Shiva, The Ultimate Destroyer, Disposer and Catabolic, as well as the God of fertility, alongwith their respective Divine Female Associates viz. Saraswati(Goddess of Knowledge), Lakshmi(Goddess of Wealth), and Shakti (Shiva’s Power), incarnated as Parvati, daughter of the Himalayas- of the Hindus! Besides the above mentioned deities, there is also a special place for Ganapati (The Leader or Lord of Shiv-Parvati’s Ganas/People), aka Gajanan(Elephant-headed), the Son said to have been created by Parvati from the flesh of the right side of Her trunk, and then beheaded by Shiva in a fit of anger for being arrogantly and adamantly blocked from entering His house by Ganesha who was seeing Shiva for the first time and didn’t recognise Him, but was given an elephant head in its place subsequently on Parvati’s lamentation and insistence on having her son back. (This is as per Hindu Mythology, for the elephantine head is really a Symbol of Wisdom).Shankara(Shiva) also granted Ganesha a boon that He would be the First Deity to be worshipped at the beginning of All auspicious religious ceremonies and occasions as ‘Prathamesh’, that is, ‘Inaugural Lord of Auspiciousness and Wisdom’. This may be a form of Animal worship too, for Hindus believe that all Animals and living beings including Plants and Trees are inhabited by Guardian Spirits and have a Soul.
I can give an example of how the Eternal, Supreme Spirit assumes any shape, any divine or human shape for sustaining the faith of devotees of all faiths,religions or sects by mentioning a scene from an old Bengali film on the life and philosophy of RamKrishna Paramhansa, by whose simple but genuine spirituality, even a brilliant rationalist like Swami Vivekananda was so impressed that he Immediately fell at his feet and made him his Guru!
However certain intellectuals, including some of his own relatives were skeptical of RamKrishna’s deep devotion towards Maa Kaali, and when he Got possessed by his love for his Maa, and danced in ecstasy, there were a few who even called him ‘mad’, but Rama Krishna was so far above them spiritually,that he was not at all disturbed by what those shallow intellectuals thought of him.
That made one intellectual cousin who was a Vaishnava,want to challenge
Ramakrishna ‘Devi Bhakti’. So one day, when Ramakrishna was praying to the ‘Mother Goddess’, he came to the temple, and challenged Ramakrishna to prove that his Devi Maa was real by making her come out live from her idol right then in front of him.Ramakrishna told them that if they would place some faith in his ‘Maa’ ,she would certainly come out live to bless him, and submitted an invocation to the Mother requesting her to incarnate herself before his cousin who wanted to test whether she was a true deity,
For the sake of proving his faith as true.He then requested his cousin to bow to the Mother’s idol, and wait a while. And then,suddenly, a miracle took place – the Mother Goddess changed from the stony ,static form of her idol into a live deity! Thereafter, just as the cousin was getting over his initial surprise, Another unexpected thing happened.The Mother Goddess slowly started melting as it were, and began to assume the form of Shri Vishnu, of whom the cousin was a devotee, just to make him realise that- ‘All the different forms of the Goddess or God are essentially and basically One,
and that it is our ignorance and narrow understanding that makes us think of them as separate deities. Only the Way of Beholding, and of worshipping The Supreme is different for different sects and religions!’
The cousin was so moved and absolutely humbled by the lofty wisdom and spiritual power of Ramakrishna, that he tearfully fell to Ramakrishna’s feet, and acknowledged the superiority of his spirituality over his own conceited highbrow intellectualism!
(B)God assumes many forms to help us through life, e.g. a tree or a rock which may protect us from an accident in the nick of time, but one should not make the mistake of deifying the tree/stone and build a temple around it, for the same tree or rock is not a deity by itself, but only an instrument that comes to one’s rescue in a particular incident,and may become the major cause of a big accident at the same place some other time.
(C)More wonderful is the way Nature restores the normal working of the world gradually after major natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, floods and famine..This means that God is not like a human being running to the rescue of each of his his creation for its protection, like a parent,but he has created the agency ofNature through whom he governs and regulates all aspects of life and the environment. And given every creature the means of selfdefense of one way or another- to fight, flight or fright(though I feel that that Nature has not given human females their due share of defenses! Definitely less than that given to animal females, and the maledominated patriarchal society makes it difficult for them to unite for mutual support and protection; but slowly, things are changing, especially in cities).
Actually, it is we human beings who’re inviting our doom by destroying Nature’s Ecobalance by replacing forests and lakes by raising concrete Jungles,as well as by female genocide in developing countries.
And then we blame Providence for making us suffer at the hands of. Nature’s Fury.
Yet, there are plenty of instances or occasions when, if it were not for the strong, corrective hand of the Supreme power, the whole world would have perished long ago due to one calamity or the other, but the timely sustaining mechanisms of the Universe have protected us without our knowing it.
For example, NASA Scientists often declare that some big meteor or object in the Space was approaching the Earth at dangerously close quarters at some times, which would have caused extensive destruction on the Earth’s surface if it had collided with, or hit the earth, but that it luckily changed its direction at the last minute and went far away, saving the World from a major catastrophe. Does mankind really think that it’s some sort of manoeuvring on the part of human beings,viz. human intelligence,or the Luck of all the creatures on the earth that is saving life on earth from annihilation every Time, or a mere game of chance ‘Hit or Miss? NO ! It is the powerful repellant forces of this planet and Space which effectively prevent such deadly collisions! That way, on a larger scale, the Supreme Power IS constantly guarding its creation. (It is very rarely, only once in several million years that the defense mechanisms or forces of the earth fail to counter the onslaught of the approaching meteor or object in time for some reason, and a holocaust occurs,rendering many species extinct, as happened a few times ‘several ages ago’ ! )That is why, ever since the date 21.12.2012 has been broadcasted as the Day of Doom or the End of the World by the believers in the Mayan Calender, we hear of morbid prophesies being made for the future of this planet and life on it, year after year,and yet ,here we are, continuing our lives nonchalantly like Nobody’sBusiness To do us in!
So honestly, if something untoward happens earlier than the expected span of millions of years of survival still left in the account of the living beings on this earth, then we will have only ourselves to blame for it. For I am observing a steady and sinister decline in mankind’s concern for other human beings and creatures,as well as for the environment over the years; while on the Other hand animals, including those who were hitherto regarded as sworn enemies of each other, like cats and dogs, are found living together quite amicably in many places in the present age!
I hope Mankind’s greed and growing preference for material possessions and concrete jungles over Natural resources like farms and green environment and essential needs of life, like fresh air,water etc, which is leading to a destruction of Nature’s gifts and global warming, does not turn it into a revival of the fable character King Midas(मायदास) of Phrygia with golden touch,whose obsession with turning everything that he touched into gold, turned his darling daughter into a statue of gold as soon as he embraced her lovingly, much to his belated chagrin!
(D) About individual fortunes, Hindus believe that our sufferings do not come from God, or Satan.( In fact, there is no such single entity like Satan in the Hindu, Jain/Buddhist faiths, but the negative or destructive tendencies and powers in Human Nature which are termed’Asuri Shakti'(Demonic powers) probably linking them with the Asuras /Assyrians, the ‘anti Gods’ of yore, also known as ‘Daityas’. In fact, some people believe that the ‘God Spirit’ comprises both qualities, like Lord Krishna,who was born of Vasu Dev, and Devki, an Asura princess! It is believed that each of us has a small fragment or portion of the Divine, Omnipotent Spirit, as well as some negative (Asuri/Demonic) attitudes and tendencies within us. It is upto us to choose which part of our Nature we should foster and nurture, and which to discourage and reject.
We suffer because of our own Karma or wrong deeds prompted and directed by the negative tendencies and strivings within our psyche, whose rewards and punishments are to be borne in this life, and carried over to the next life.
So that’s that – ‘As you sow, So shall Ye reap’. Tit for Tat!
All said and done, I advocate the Middle Principle recommended by
Sri Krishna , of ‘Live and Let live’, that is , ‘Do protect your own interests by all means, and avoid the policy of some people to be excessively self – effacing and self-sacrificing’. For neither God nor Mother Nature expect you to live as a martyr without any good cause, without Self respect or refrain from striving for/expecting your due and legitimate rights,but remember that others too have their rights, so don’t crush them.
Further, talking about the problem and future of weak, simple and harmless people being tortured and crushed by the strong, I remember the words of the renowned Author of Award winning Litrature(late)Prof.Shivram Karanth,with whom I had a discussion several years back on this subject, (of the torment of common people by those in power)that ” to attain a collective good, and win the support of the Divine power for a deserving mission, common people have to unite and make a collective effort to free themselves of victimization and tyranny of any sort, which we are not doing and just complaining”! M So that is the solution to victimization of the common people by some people in power! United we rise, Divided we fall !
The strength of ordinary people, including the underdogs, lies in their unity, which sadly, many people don’t realise and succumb to the power of the cunning and strong, by fighting among themselves. (In the case of women, their case is more difficult, as their attempts at uniting to lend one another support, strength and mutual protection is thwarted in orthodox, backward communities, by the shackles placed on the individual freedom of women by the strongly male-oriented, male dominated patriarchal society; but slowly that wall too is giving way to the winds of change and the rise of a new generation of the self sufficient independent Woman, particularly in cities).
A tiger may be a mighty and ferocious animal, but it has no recourse but to hide its tail between its hindlegs and flee for its life in the face of an onslaught of a swarm of bees!
That is the message that I have derived from my contemplating about this subject, that-
(1) God is the Supreme Spirit governing this world and Universe as a whole,
But not responsible for individual fortunes and problems. According to the theory of Karma, it is our sins or evil deeds, and excessive attachment to worldly things that are the cause of one’s suffering. God does not solve our problems for us, just as he does not create them, but leaves it to us to solve them are ourselves by mustering personal courage, [as in the example of the classical dancer Sudha Chandran, who lost her leg in an accident, but who surmounted the setback by resuming dancing with a Jaipur prosthetic leg and foot; Dr.Mary Verghese, who compensated for the loss of function of both her legs in a bus accident, by becoming an excellent Rehabilitative surgeon at the Leprosy Unit of the Christian MedIcal College Hospital, Vellore in Tamil Nadu(incidentally my Alma Mater too,because of which I have had the valuableopportunity to meet her personally),an account of whose lif’e’s work has been published vide the book,”Take My Hands”; the famous Helen Keller, etc ], alongwith mutual sympathy, cooperation and collective effort with others. Nevertheless, GOD DOES HELP THOSE WHO strive to HELP THEMSELVES, by honest and harmless means and meditate upon the Divine Power ,to solve and overcome their problems and vicissitudes.
However, THE INITIATIVE AND PAINS HAVE TO COME FROM OURSELVES!
But again, while fending for ourselves and our rights, we have to remember to respect the rights and welfare of others too!
In. other words, “Do Unto Others As Thou Would That Others Do Unto Thee”!