By P. Soma Palan –
This refers to the article by Shyamon Jayasinghe (SJ) titled “An Indifferent God” in the Colombo Telegraph dated 5th October 2018. With due respects to the author, who was a Senior to me at the University Campus, Peradeniya, during 1959-62, I wish to express my views on it. SJ uses the English word “God” in a general sense as understood in Christianity and Islam, two main theistic religions. But, my views are from the standpoint of the Hindu religion. The Hindu Conception of God referred to as “Brahman”in Sanskrit, varies from the Christian and Islamic conception of God. The latter two religions believe God to be a supra anthropomorphic Being, residing in the Heavens and ruling the Cosmos, the Creator of all sentient and insentient beings and, an all-pervading Compassionate Being rewarding the virtuous. All evils in the world, both human and material, are the creations of the Satan (God of Evils). Thus, according to these two religions, there are two kinds of Gods in the world, one for evil and one for Good. Therefore, God is not responsible for the negative results, such as human tragedies, natural disasters, sickness, sorrow and suffering in the world. The God of Evil, Satan, is responsible for these misfortunes. This separation of the two aspects of Good and Evil, limits the all-powerful quality of God as he is helpless over the power of the Satan. Therefore, God has a limitation over his mercy and compassion. This explains the lamentation of the Archbishop Canterbury over human tragedy of the Tsunami over Sri Lanka to exclaim “where is God”; “why is he indifferent” or “simply He does not exist? SJ also questions why the Earthquake in Indonesia which claimed the lives of 1500 in a Muslim country where the people pray God five times a day to illustrate the powerlessness or the non-existent of a God. All these doubts and agnosticism seems justified when perceived from the understanding of God from the standpoints of both Christian and Islamic religions, and from the Atheism of Buddhism.
Hindu Concept of God
Hindu Religion is undeniably the oldest and original systematic religion in the world, with a Philosophy coming from the unknown and unknowable past. It has no Founder and/or a chronological date of origin as other religions of the world. The Eternal Truths were revealed to the ancient Rishies and transmitted in a line of parampara Rishies, in the form of Vedas and Upanishads. It was rendered into writing only around 3000 BC. The proper name for Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma. It was the Persians who called those on the side of the river Indus, Hindu, derived from the latter. Hindu conception of the so-called God,is different to the Biblical and Islamic idea of God. There is no creation of the world, both sentient and insentient, by a Personal God . God or more correctly called Brahman is Impersonal. In philosophic terms Brahman is Absolute Truth or Reality and Nameless and Formless. Brahman signifies ever expanding Entity, Infinite. Anything which has Form is limited and destructible and subject to dissolution. It is Cosmic Intelligence, Consciousness. Thus, there is no Creation as understood by other religions by an all-powerful Being creating everything out of nothing. Hindu Cosmology is one of Projection (Sristi in Sanskrit). This process of Sristi or Projection is in accordance with modern Science and the Quantum Theory. Creation is cyclical. Each Creation or Sristi made up of Four Eras (Yugas) of 24000 years. Last Yuga is Kali Yuga, which we are now in. With this, there will be dissolution. A new cycle will commence, with the process of dissolution, Involution, evolution and creation. The world as a Gross Matter will be reduced to its finest quantum – atoms to the invisible level cf Akash (space) and all life force to level of Prana (invisible Vital Energy-The Universal Soul). It is this Universal Soul, which we call the indestructible Paramatma, the Infinite and expanding “Brahman, which is formless. It is the activation and vibration of the Pranic Force, (Vital Life force or Energy) against Matter (Akash) that is, force acting against matter, that starts the creative process (Sristi) of all gross forms, both sentient and insentient of the new cycle. Thus begins involution and evolution and birth of a new world.
A Different God
God in Hinduism, is a Different God and an Impersonal God. He is not an Indifferent God as SJ perceives. Indifference is a quality arising from a Personal nature. God or Brahman is beyond all Good and Evil. From the above creation, it is evident that man emanated from the Universal Soul (Absolute Reality). I am using the word He for convenience, but the real Sanskrit word is “Twam”, which means “That”which ”Is”. It is said “Thou art That”( TatTwam Arsi) God is the Cause of our existence (effect). The effect was potentially in the Cause. If so, the Cause is also in the effect. The Cause is Divine, then, there is spark of divinity in man. Unlike in Christianity all human beings are born Sinners and carry the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, vicariously. Man can attain the status of Divinity by his efforts. Man becomes Good by himself and Evil by himself. God does not punish or reward man. We reward and punish ourselves by our own actions ( Karma). SJ‘s view is that since there are natural disasters like Tsunami and destruction of lives, human suffering, so-called God, if He exist, is either impotent or indifferent to all the negatives of life. The assumption is that such a God is wicked, indifferent and not merciful and compassionate, if He exist or plainly does not exist and only a figment of our imagination, a wrong notion from the idea that God is an Extra-Cosmic Human Being living in the skies above. According to SJ, God if He is God, should prevent all deaths and suffering in the world, otherwise God is an Indifferent God or does not exist. Then, why prevent deaths, instead in the first place, God must make all Beings Immortal. All born beings should live for eternity without dyeing. Why should a benevolent God protect and prevent only the collective deaths caused by tsunami and other natural disasters and not prevent individual deaths of all beings, caused by natural means. Is it that the lives of latter of no value? Isn’t the God who is said to be their creator, is equally indifferent by not allowing human beings, including all life forms of life to die? If God is compassionate there should be Immortality. There should be no deaths and/or destruction in the planet, to exculpate God from the charge of being “an indifferent God”. If death is the natural Law of life, then one can conclude that God is indifferent and do not exist. Death and God cannot coexist. These two are mutually antithetical. The line of reasoning of SJ will thus lead to such a ludicrous and preposterous conclusion. SJ cites the case of a Cancer patient who was saved from death and her praise of God for that. SJ argues “why God gave her Cancer in the first place” if God existed. By regression, why God brought about her birth? By infinite regression, why whole Existence, if death and destruction is inevitable? Isn’t Wars that cause millions of human deaths and great suffering to mankind also due to an “Indifferent God”? Aren’t wars are due to the stupidity of man and not due to God’s indifference?
The Universal Soul, the Soul of all Souls, is the Absolute Truth or Reality, was in existence before, and in the present and the future. That, is the Vital Energy that brings about creation or Sristi. It has no beginning or end. It,“Is and Being”. All that is originated, created, compounded is subject to the law of decay, destruction and death. If God is finite and has form, then God too must die. But so-called God exist, not in the Gross and Finite Form. It is Formless. If it is has a Form, it is limited and cannot be Infinite. The Finite, the Existence, cannot know the Infinite, except by merging with the Infinite or coming one with the Infinite. That cannot be through the scientific method of analysis, dissection and laboratory experiment. One cannot fall in love by outside means by reading love stories, love poems etc. It is by experiencing love that one can know love. Thus, God has to be experienced to know His existence. It is like this: a Family has a Head. Society or community has a Head. A country has a Head and Similarly, a vast, complex Universe with many Planets, the Sun, the Moon , so on is managed and governed by a supra- Cosmic Intelligence, which we call God. How can one account for the precision and regularity of functioning of these cosmic objects like the Earth and its rotation and revolution around the Sun, giving Day and Night, and monthly appearance of the Moon without fail? Obviously there is some Universal Intelligence behind them. It cannot happen by chance: Because chance and regularity cannot go together. If such an Omnipotent, Omnipresent and Omniscient Entity exist in a concrete gross form like Man to be seen, felt and touched, then He ceases to be God.
Rationalists, Atheists, Agnostics and Materialists and egocentric Intellectuals deny the existence of God. Denial is the easiest path. But none of them have given a credible and substantive explanation for the Non-existence of God. Only speculations and assumptions are available. God has to realized and experienced. By scientific methods and intellectual reasoning one cannot know God. To the Hindu, God is nothing but the Ultimate Truth, Absolute Reality. All Else is just illusion (Maya). That, which “Is”, is One, and not many, but called by different Names- Holy Father of the Christians, Allah of Islam, and Brahman of Hinduism. Buddhism is not God-centric but Man-centric.Though accepting the Hindu doctrines of Rebirth, Karma and Mukthi (Nirvana), which are in the realm of faith, but strangely not God, which is also an article of reasoned faith.
Those who deny the existence of God are the worshippers of Materialism. They see Matter all around, outside them, and ignorant of the Spirit within Oneself. Man is more than the physical and mental. Spiritualism is going beyond the physical and realizing the Divine. One cannot realize even a spark of Divinity by mere intellectualizing.
I conclude with a quote from the Bhagavad Geetha.
Lord Krishna says “Death is certain for the born. Birth is certain for the Dead. Knowing the inevitable, why grieve”?