Prostration to the Almighty, the Supreme Creator, Preserver and Transformer of the universe. Our humble obeisance to the great majesty and glory of this Supreme Being who, by His very existence, manifests this universe, whose very being is His action, and whose very essence is all creation, preservation and destruction.
Man’s mind is not made to understand the majesty and the glory of the Almighty. Our conceptions of God are anthropomorphic, human, sometimes even less than human. We create a social god, a family god, a business god, an industrial god, and whatever god we would like to satisfy our instincts and the frailties of our human nature. Yet God is kind and compassionate. He is agreeable even to our ideas of an industrial god or a business god. Such a god also exists; it is not that he is not there. Any god that we can think of in our mind is that God only.
The various shapes and forms and complexities of life are the drama that He plays within His own bosom. If there is nothing except God’s existence, every concept of God also is a valid concept. There is not a higher God and a lower God because it is in His multiplicity of values and multitudinous variety of powers that He ranges supreme in all the realms of being. We do not know how many realms there are. Scriptures speak of the various levels of manifestation – Bhuloka, Bhuvarloka, Svarloka, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka. These are the broad divisions that people make of the realms of existence, just as we say we have five bodies – the physical, the vital, the mental, the intellectual and the causal. As scientists tell us, there is matter – molecules, atoms, electrons, and so on. These are rough divisions of the layers of a particular substance.
But there can be infinitudes of levels which man’s mind cannot grasp. In the tradition of India, we call God as ananta koti brahmanda nayaka: the Lord of the universes which are infinite and indefinite in number. It is not that there are only seven levels. These are our understanding and our calculation. There is no mathematics for God, and there is no arithmetic and algebra and geometry. No calculation is possible; therefore, even logic, which is nothing but a rational calculation, fails when it attempts to comprehend God’s completeness.
We, as human beings, are capable of doing only one thing – namely, surrender of ourselves. God expects nothing from us because we have nothing that we can offer to Him. We have no property with us, no possession whatsoever that we can offer as a gift to God. God is not in need of any gifts. From where shall we gather the gifts to offer Him as our sacraments? We gather the fruits of our own actions and give them back to God as if they are our gifts. God laughs at us as a father may smile at his own child in infinite compassion and goodness and mercy, and no father, no mother can be so compassionate as God.
People complain of the cruelties of the world, the tragedies of life and the ugliness of things. This complaint arises on account of the prejudices of the human mind. The mind sees only through blinkers. It passes its knowledge through a tunnel or a conduit pipe through which only a certain quantity of understanding can pass. Who can encompass the infinitude of perfection which is the essence of the cosmos? Who are we to judge what nature is and what the cosmos is? Have we seen how the world was created? Was any one of us there at the time of the creation of the universe? Do we know why it was created, where the seed was formed? How can we judge anything in this world when we were not present at the time of its manufacture? If we could have been present at the time of the origin of things, we can say something about what it is. Did we participate with God in the creation of the universe? Were we His collaborators in creation to make judgments about what He has done?
Who can speak of God’s creation? Not even the gods or the celestials. Even the celestials were born afterward. Indra, Brahma, all were subsequent manifestations. How could they speak of the origin of creation? The Nasadiya Sukta of the Veda humorously tells us that perhaps God Himself does not know how the world came. It is a way of saying no one knows the origin of the universe.
As we do not know how it came, we also cannot know how it is sustained because its sustenance is dependent upon the way in which it was originated. As we do not know how it came and how it exists, we cannot know how it is transformed and where it goes. We do not know from where we came, we do not know where we are existing and how we are living, and we do not know where we shall pass away. Neither the beginning nor the middle nor the end is known to us, and such is man’s knowledge of which he boasts.
We know nothing practically, substantially or worth the while. A kind of ignorance is parading as a knowledge in the vanity of man’s life, and the more we seem to know, the more foolish we appear to be in the light of the mystery of things. The great stalwarts of wisdom in the world of creation were contented in saying that they knew nothing. The more we seem to know, the less we assume. Vidya and vinaya seem to go together, as the Bhagavadgita puts it. The greater is our knowledge, the greater is our humility and spirit of self-abnegation. The more we approximate to the perfection of God’s infinitude, the less we become human, the less we become the individual. The more is the self-abnegating spirit of man, the greater is the chance of his contacting God. The more we are, the less God is, and the less we are, the more God is.
Therefore, it is the duty of man to humble himself and to adore God as He is, and not merely as He appears to our fancies, to our predilections, to our idiosyncrasies, to our instincts and passions, though God also is kind even here. God gives a long rope to every person. No one can be so lenient and merciful and compassionate and considerate as God Himself is. Not even the kindest of judges can be so considerate as God is. We have the master illustration of the way in which Lord Krishna conducted himself in the Mahabharata war. He was like a lion, and God sometimes is compared to a lion, a tremendous majesty and power which is afraid of nothing. Let dogs bark, let jackals howl, the lion is not upset.
But God does not take action at once. God’s ways are very systematic when we look at it from one point of view. He gives us a long rope like a mother, and is very condescending like a father. We know the story of the Mahabharata where the unjust reaction from the side of the Kauravas against the Pandavas was sought to be rectified by the intervention of the great personality of Krishna. But he did not take action; he did not wage a war. The lion does not jump upon us even if we go near it. It is the dog that barks, not the lion, because the lion knows its strength. Why should it growl? Perhaps even if we throw a stone at the lion it won’t do anything, but if we even look at a dog it will start snarling. A long rope is given and it does nothing at all, as if nothing is taking place. A very kind and sympathetic attitude was adopted by Krishna. It is an example before us in the epic of how God seems to be working in the world and how we also have to work as humble representatives of the divine ordinance. It was the peace mission of Sri Krishna that was the beginning of his adventure in respect of the Kauravas. Let us make peace. God wants to make peace with man. He doesn’t want to fight with him. Though we rebel against God, He tries to make peace with us. Such is His goodness. Let us be brothers, not enemies.
But man is very adamant. He is not prepared to make peace with God. His egoism is like flint, and it cannot melt even with the greatest heat applied to it. Duryodhana refused; there was no question of peace. “No peace,” he said. “Talk not of it.”
But even then there was no revolt on the part of Krishna. There was no resentment of the attitude of Duryodhana. He said, “Well, if you do not make peace, at least there can be a little bit of concession. You give a part of the kingdom to the Pandavas, not the whole of it. They are not asking for their entire property, though they are the rightful heirs. They are entitled to the whole kingdom, but you are not prepared to give it. Okay. Give a little bit.”
“Nothing doing,” said Duryodhana. “Even that I cannot give.”
Man will not give even the least charity to God. He is highly conservative. Everything should be mine only, let God hang himself. This seems to be man’s attitude. He wants everything for himself; let anything happen to anybody else. Sri Krishna’s attitude was still considerate. “If you cannot give half the kingdom, give at least five villages, five houses to live in. Can you not share even that much?”
“No, nothing doing,” Duryodhana said. “I cannot give even that much.”
We would not give even one inch of space to God to exist. What a pity! In this vast creation of God, He has no place to keep His foot. “Foxes have holes and fowl have nests, but the Son of man has no place to keep his head,” said Christ. Even foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the son of God has no place to keep his head. He cannot rest his head anywhere. Nobody wants him. Who wants him? Everybody is conservative, egoistic and self-adamant. So we have driven God from our hearts completely and driven Him from the Earth itself. God is dead, and there is the end of it. We are happy that God is dead and we have killed Him completely. Duryodhana was of this type. “Hang yourself, gentlemen,” he said.
Well, the lion is looking at all these things. “You throw stones at me? You insult me? You won’t allow me to lie down calmly under a tree?” It tolerates every little bit of torture that we inflict upon it. But once it rises, then nobody can stand before it. We have heard it said that God’s mills grind very slowly but very finely. He doesn’t grind immediately and crush us to powder. It is a very, very slow movement of the wheel of the mills of God. So slowly does He grind that we cannot even know that we are being ground. But once He starts grinding, we are pounded to finest paste and not merely to powder. The lion rose up, with the fierceness that God was and God is. When everything goes wrong, the Kalki avatara, as we speak of, the Rudra-Siva that is dancing his tandava in the mightiest ferocity that creation can imagine, assumes its form once it has finished its work as Brahma and Vishnu, and there was the Mahabharata war. And once the lion stood up, who could stand to face it? No jackals, no dogs. Everything was pounded and pounded, and ground, and nothing was left. If God gets angry, who can stand before Him? But He never gets angry. His anger is the dissolution of the universe.
So here we have a small picture of the intricacy of God’s existence, the beauty of His being, the glory and the majesty and the grandeur and the perfection and the sweetness and whatnot of God the Almighty. Whatever we say about Him applies to Him. We may call Him a child, a father, a mother, a friend, a guide, the supplier of our demands. Yes, that also He is. He is the supplier of our demands. Ananyāś cintayanto māṁ ye janāḥ paryupāsate teṣāṁ nityābhiyuktānāṁ yogakṣemaṁ vahāmy aham (Gita 9.22): If you look to Me for help, it is My duty to help you. Who could say this? Not even a mother could speak like this. Can a father or a mother say this: It is my duty and responsibility to take care of you. A day comes in the family when even a parent will not want the son, and will like him to get out. Under conditions which are intolerable to the father or the mother, the son is banished from the house. But here is God – the father, the mother – who says, “If you look to Me for succour, it is My duty to take care of you.”
Our hearts should melt and our eyes should weep at this great goodness which is at the heart of the cosmos. It is not animosity that is ruling the world. It is love and perfection and goodness and compassion and coordination and cooperation and friendliness and whatnot. If God exists, love only can exist in the world because God is love – not the love that we evince through the instincts of man. It is not a selfish reaction of the psyche towards objects of attraction. God’s love is of a different nature. It is a love that absorbs us into Himself. Our loves are dual in their nature. We love today; tomorrow we hate the very same thing because of different conditions in which the object is placed. We cannot love a thing always; we know it very well. There is no such thing as perpetual, eternal, uncontaminated love in this world. Every love is conditional and circumstantial, except this love we speak of in respect of God. It is a love that is the core of things. It is the very existence of all things. It is the love which melts us into its own existence so that we do not exist outside. In all forms of love, the subject attracts the object or the object attracts the subject. The intention behind love is the union of the seer and the seen, the subject and the object. Otherwise, why do we love anything? The love that we evince in regard to any object in this world is an intention behind expressing the desire to unite with that object and become one with it. But we cannot become one with anything in this world on account of the defects which inflict sorrow upon everybody’s heart.
The world is made of space and time. It is made up of distance and continuity of process; therefore, one thing cannot become identical with another thing, and so there cannot be true love in this world. It is possible only with God, and God’s love rules the world. It is because of the presence of that infinite, uncontaminated, eternal and absolute love that we reflect it in our own frail manner through the tinsels and broken glass of our personality in the form of the little affections that we show to the perishable objects in the world. Even the little love that we show in this world – this little love of ours which is worth nothing ultimately – is a reflection of that eternal centrality of love in the heart of the cosmos. God is supreme affection. May we manifest this love towards our brethren, towards animals and even the plants, and the whole of creation. May we become sarvabhūtahite ratāḥ (Gita 5.25), and may we submit to the almighty will of God and realise that He alone is and that nothing else can be.
**By Swami Krishnananda