In Search of God

by Pradeep Joshi

All of us wonder and think many times whether God exists and whether has any one seen Him!. No single person has explicitly confessed, to my knowledge that he has seen the God and he has a specific appearance, shape and figure etc. In many photographs, paintings and stone or wood carvings, God in his myriad forms has been always depicted as beautiful, each like Rama or Krishna or Sita or Radha their respective spouses having a particular attractive facial feature or appearance. Every one believes that they are Gods or Goddesses as our minds have been so programmed to believe so, from our childhood. We pray and worship them as it gives us happiness and leads us to think and act in a positive manner.

Bhagwad-Gita introduces Krishna as the Supreme Consciousness (Paramatma) and one has to understand and believe him as the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Arjuna is regarded as the pure Consciousness ( Pure Soul ) as a human being. According to Upnishads and Gita, God is “Nirvikar” meaning that he has no shape and is invisible. In order to convince a normal person, devotees created some kind of images and paintings to depict him as the handsome and strong. Since this is an accepted fact, one need not say that God as such does not exist. He exists in the form of Super Consciousness and monitors the existence of Consciousness (Atma) in the body of every living being. The Supreme Being is “Sat Chit Anand“ and He is supposed to be the Controller over the Prakritis, living being etc., as per Gita.

I assumed for long and came to a conclusion that there is some one like Super Power who rules the destiny of an individual as also the entire Universe and he guides our actions. The assumption for existence of God is often combined with awe and amazement as to who would have created this entire Universe or the beautiful World with mountains, huge sea (occupying 3/4th of the World) oceans and rivers along with Sun and Moon, innumerable stars and planets all of which have occupied a specific field and have been assigned with a definite function or role to play. And to our surprise, all these objects are held in balance with a gravitational force which itself is a wonderful phenomenon. All planets, Moon and the Earth including the stars revolve around the Sun at a specified speed and cause day and night in their revolution around an axis or in orbit.

The “human body” itself is an amazing creation with its varied clockwise functions (we say some times a biological clock) with its own cycles of ups and downs throughout the day and night. For example, the whole digestion process that takes place in the human laboratory is a scientific phenomenon due to which food in one’s body gets converted into so many elements like blood, urine, stool or waste, and metabolizes it producing a variety of natural vitamins to nourish the body and brain on which man’s longevity depends. The food so converted gives a continuous source of strength and energy to the human body to enable the man or a living being to function properly. No one monitors this scientific phenomenon that works in the human body, on its own. Only if some thing goes wrong with the stomach or body due to a particular food intake or otherwise, one needs to take the help of a doctor to correct the imbalance.

Who created such a miraculous body and also put life in to it? Who placed the breath in this body which governs the very essence of life through its force? Sooner the breath disappears, life is dead and only a bare body and skeleton remain. Some have wrongly termed this breath as “Atman” which is not true. Breath is only a tool to keep the body alive and it is temporary and as soon as death occurs, breath disappears or it is the reverse. This theory of life does not only apply to human being but also extends to other living entities like innumerable insects, animals -from ant to elephant -besides a large number of species in plants and trees. Who is the originator of the seed that creates life into all these living entities? Who at all created these living entities? Since we did not find any logical answer for existence of these living beings, we found solace that there must be some “Super Power” playing the role of a Creator! If we assume there is a Creator, the question arises who created that Creator. These thoughts were no doubt, mind boggling to me over a period of years.

Recently however, I came across a theosophical group which came up with some answers which deserve to be considered dispassionately as there is a semblance of some logic. Let me describe what I understand from their explanation. According to this group, there is no one like God in existence! Since no one has seen a God or a Goddess in any specific form or appearance, it would not be right for us to make an assumption of their existence. Even the scientists and the younger folks would always wish to have some kind of proof to believe the existence of God or Goddess. What one sees and believes is, that some one in the past created a beautiful image of a particular God and Goddess and we believed it in good faith and worship them which helps us to lead a devotional path and gain inner peace.

This theosophical group assumes that from the very beginning of this World, there was already available a scientific infrastructure, in the form of a cosmos as well as human body which were totally equipped or endowed with certain characteristics and functions. For example, the Sun and Moon or the planets are the permanent features and move on their own fixed axis or orbit and have a certain impact on the living beings or the plants or animals, due to their movement. The earthquakes and volcanoes, rains and sunshine take place as per the system, which is already inbuilt in them. One can not come to the conclusion that these were created by God, as some one like God who is the embodiment of doing good things in our perspective, would not be causing any destruction due to the occurrence of earthquakes, volcanoes or Tsunamis! The group therefore concludes that God was neither responsible for creation of this scientific infrastructure nor is He interested in destroying them. If one affirms that God is responsible for all these occurrences, then who created the God or the Super Power himself?

In Bhagwad-Gita, Nature is explained as “Prakriti” and the living entity is explained as the superior Prakriti. Prakriti is always subordinate controlled by the Supreme Lord or Consciousness. The living entities are considered as parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord and this is clearly mentioned in the Seventh Chapter of Bhagwad-Gita. Material nature itself is constituted by three qualities; the mode of goodness, the mode of passion and the mode of ignorance. Above these modes, there is eternal time and by a combination of these modes of nature and under the control and purview of eternal time there are activities which are called “Karma”. In every field of life, we enjoy the results of our work or we suffer the results. This is called “Karma”.

Ishwara ( the Supreme Lord), Jiva (the living being) prakriti (nature), kala (eternal time) and karma (activity) are all explained in Bhagwad-Gita. Out of these five, the Lord, the living entities, material nature and time are eternal. Karma only is not eternal. The manifestation of world is accepted as real, but temporary. It is likened in to a cloud which moves across the sky or the coming of the rainy season which nourishes grains. As soon as the rainy season is over and the clouds go away, all the crops which were nourished by the rain dry up. So, this material manifestation takes place at a certain interval, stays for a while and then disappears. This cycle of material nature is eternal. This material nature is the separated energy of the Supreme Lord or Consciousness as per the Gita. ( Source; “Bhagwad-Gita as it is” by Bhakti Vedanta Swami Prabhupada).

An important view accepted by different religions is about the life in a human body or any living animal or plant is that, there is a “Soul” besides the body and this Soul is incorporated in every living being. That Soul is invisible, shapeless, indestructible either through fire or any thing, and it is a permanent phenomenon that pervades not only within one’s body but throughout the Universe. Therefore, the “Body dies but not the Soul!”. This leads us to re-incarnation theory which has been accepted in several religions including Hinduism. This is a philosophical expression in Upanishads or Bhagwad-Gita, according to which Body is only an outer cover for the soul similarly as a clothing to a physical body. Each person therefore is in fact, a pure Soul ! If the body dies, soul always remains permanent and may in its rebirth, take the shape of a human being or an animal, insect or even a plant depending on the result of “Karma” i.e., actions he/she has performed in the previous life. “Karma Phal” is a cause and effect. Good actions result in to good “Karma Phal” that is, fruits of good deeds and on the contrary, bad deeds only lead to unhappiness.

Who are then Lord Rama and Lord Krishna whom we all worship and pray for our peace of mind and bliss? They were themselves “ Pure Supreme Souls” and they took birth in the form of human beings and underwent sufferings and demonstrated how bad deeds or actions can result in grave situations and how good deeds can result in a happy or comfortable state of living.

Although every living entity has a pure soul but he or she does not realize this fact. A person is rather unable to realize as he is totally engrossed in materialistic pursuits in his life and he never tries to find out who one is. “Whom am I ?’’ is a moot question asked by the great Philosophers like Ramana Maharshi, Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramhansa or even Adi Sankara. One needs to realize that he or she is primarily the “Pure Soul” and his body is only an agent clothing this soul, to play or fulfill a defined role in life. When once he realizes this cardinal principle, he is proceeding towards attaining self-realization. Self realization is defined as one getting into a devotional path i.e., (Bhakti Marg ) and he is in the process of getting into Jnana Yoga (Intellectual Yoga) which when perfected releases him from the bondage of taking rebirth in the World. He is then considered fit to get release from this mundane world and merge into the Super Consciousness in a perfect state of bliss without reverting back to the earth in the form of a human being, animal, insect or a plant. There is also a belief that depending on the degree or level of good deeds one has performed in one’s life span, one will take the shape of a human being, animal, insect, bird or a plant.

In Bhagwad Gita, Lord Krishna sermonizes Arjuna to get ready for getting into the battle of Kurukshetra for killing the Kouravas or his near relations, step brothers, his teachers, etc. because they are destined to die in his hands because of their deeds “ karma” in their past lives. Here, the enemies are destined to die in the hands of Arjuna on one hand, and Arjuna himself is required under his “karmas” to perform the unpleasant duty of killing his own kinsmen. There is a strange contradiction involved in these actions as it is difficult to distinguish what is a good deed and what is a bad deed. According to Lord Krishna, Arjuna has been enjoined to take the role of a killer as the bad deeds of Kouravas have only one recourse i.e., to get killed from a near relative like Arjuna. Krishna advises him that in order to extricate the subjects from the tyrannies of Kouravas, they need to be annihilated. Arjuna therefore, is expected to perform this duty as enjoined on him by the destiny. The question that arises is how his action is not considered as something evil?

Possibly, the answer is that Arjuna has to take rebirth in the world several times till such time he prepares himself fully towards Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga to finally merge with the Super Conscientious Soul (of Paramatma).

Krishna while explaining the rationale behind killing the enemies and for Arjuna not feeling sorry for the killing is that no killing really takes place as the Pure Soul is permanent and it is only the body that is destroyed. The spirit of soul still exists and takes another form of a living being. According to the same theory, one should not lament on one’s death as his Pure Soul always exists and remains all pervasive. One has to accept death as it is a natural phenomenon after birth or rebirth and it is inevitable.

Some one gives the analogy of a butcher who when born did not know what his role would be but is destined to take up the role of a butcher required to kill or sacrifice animals. Similarly, a hangman is required under the law to hang people sentenced to death by the judiciary as per the administration of criminal justice. Although he kills the people, he is performing a duty and is not committing a wrong action. Whether one likes or not, the duty assigned has to be performed sincerely. Again, the duty assigned to him depends on his own “Karma” in his past life.

Another interesting story narrated by a theosophical group is about a thief or a robber who wrongfully deprives an innocent person with a valuable thing. Here, the thief is not considered as doing wrong thing. But, the man who has lost his valuables needs to console himself that the article that was robbed did not really belong to him. He would have owned or possessed it in his past or present life, through a wrong doing like cheating. This does not mean that the thief should not get punishment for his theft but the loser should not repent for the loss as the object really did not belong to him nor was it the result of his honest deed in the past or present life. The causes and effects of one’s actions are none other than “ Karma” and the “Phal” i.e., the fruits or results of past deeds.

Similarly, a postman carries letters for the clients and he is not concerned with the contents of the letters he delivers. He may be carrying either good news or bad news of a death or loss for the client. His job just enjoins him to do his duties as assigned to him. In the same way, Arjuna is not concerned with the grief that results to him due to his killing his kinsmen in the battle. Because it is a duty he has been enjoined to perform. As per Lord Krishna, Arjuna has to know that it is the role or duty he is required to play in his life, fighting the battle, as his pure soul remains unaffected due to the action performed.

Some of these thoughts I received from different quarters had their own implications but without sitting on a judgment over them, I felt like incorporating them as new strands of thoughts into my repertoire. I continue to treat myself as a student learning the subtle implications of Hindu Philosophy and I may have still to go a long way to really understand them fully!.

Also, a question is prominently asked in Vedic literature starting from Upanishads- 5000 years ago. Who Am I? I am nothing but “Atman” which also means “ Pure Atman” i.e., Pure Consciousness of a subtle body; but which is an integral part of “ Super Consciousness” i.e., “Brahman”. In other words, God exists within us and our individual souls in the entire world constitute the “total consciousness” of Brahman. Shankaracharya , a well known intellectual Saint of 8th Century, draws a beautiful analogy between the “Atman” of subtle body and “Brahman” to an ocean. Ocean incorporates all waves in it and all waves constitute the ocean. Both are inseparable but both provide a conclusion to “Absolute Truth” about “Individual Atman” and

“Brahman” i.e., “Super Consciousness”.
I found an appropriate verse in Bhagwad-Gita while reading this great book of knowledge, recently. Lord Krishna says as under:

" Neither the sense of acting; nor actions, nor connections of cause and effect comes from the Lord of this world. These three arise from Nature". – Bhagawad-Gita 5:14

Here, the God himself says that he is not the creator or doer nor is he the enjoyer, and he has no connections with the cause and effect- what we call as "Karma Phal". At the same time, He is also not a destroyer of things. All creations in the Universe are due to the scientific circumstantial evidence or "Nature" as termed by Lord Krishna, but it was that way, it existed right from the beginning.

God does not also create any worries or problems for any one nor he finds a remedy for them. Ultimately it boils down to the fact there is some thing like "Karma Phal" for which man himself is responsible for his good and bad actions. Good actions lead to his enjoyable state and bad ones lead to suffering. He has to himself correct the course of his life.

God himself is a Super or Supreme Consciousness whereas man can only claim to achieve real consciousness and merge with Him, when only he proves through his cycle of births and deaths that he has throughout his existence in every life done only very good things. For this purpose, he has to go through Karmayoga, Bhakti Yoga and JnanaYoga finally and the last stage only makes him fit to merge into the Supreme Consciousness. To demonstrate this process, God as a Supreme Consciousness transformed himself into an ordinary person ( namely Rama and Krishna )and went through all struggles in life and perhaps, and I cannot comprehend whether he also had to go through Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Jnana Yoga- to reach his status as Supreme Consciousness. This seems to be more implicit than is explicit from what we discern from reading the Vedantas.

It is also interesting for us here to compare "Pure Atma" i.e., "Shudhatma" with "Paramatma" to understand what is pure consciousness (as a man's maximum achievement ) and Supreme Consciousness as a supreme God Head.

We always need to research more and more on the Vedantic literature to comprehend what Gita preaches, or what Mahabharata describes, in the own words of Lord Krishna. The scope for learning is endless and unlimited.