By Kishor Gandhi
(Original Version from Sri Aurobindo Circle Journal 1966)
CONTINUED FROM PART 1
True Meaning of the Destroyer Aspect of the Divine
This Gita’s conception of God as the Time-Spirit in the aspect of the Destroyer should not be identified with the crude Semitic religious idea of God as a stern and wrathful almighty Creator and Judge who punishes the sinners and casts them into an eternal hell. The Jews who brought forward most prominently this idea and from whom it overspread a great part of the world, could believe in a God of righetousness who was exclusive, arbitrary, wrathful, jealous, often cruel and even wantonly sanguinary. But, according to Sri Aurobindo, this idea “even apart from these extravagances of a childish religious belief,… is a crude and imperfect idea of the Divine, when taken by itself, because it takes an inferior and an external truth for the main truth and it tends to prevent a higher approach to a more intimate reality. It exaggerates the importance of the sense of sin and thereby prolongs and increases the soul’s fear and self-distrust and weakness.” (CWSA, Vol 24, p. 561) What the Gita points at is an aspect of the Divine which is as essential to world-action as the aspect of Love. As Sri Aurobindo says : “In the divine no less than in ordinary human character and action there are always two strands, sweetness and strength, mildness and force, saumya and raudra, the force that bears and harmonises, the force that imposes itself and compels, Vishnu and Ishana, Shiva and Rudra. The two are equally necessary to a perfect world-action.”(CWSA, Vol 24, p. 736)
But even though we may speak of this Rudra aspect of the Divine as “fierce” and “terrible” and “wrathful”, we must remember that these are only human images of divine qualities which disfigure their true nature. God who has created all is equal to all and is not moved by the blind passions of wrath, hatred or disgust even though he has to destroy at times with a shattering vehemence what needs to be destroyed in the progressive march of the universe. As Sri Aurobindo explains : “The Divine is equal to all, an impartial sustainer of his universe, who views all with equal eyes, assents to the law of developing being which he has brought out of the depths of his existence, tolerates what has to be tolerated, depresses what has to be depressed, raises what has to be raised, creates, sustains and destroys with a perfect and equal understanding of all causes and results and working out of the spiritual and pragmatic meaning of all phenomena. God does not create in obedience to any troubled passion of desire or maintain and preserve through an attachment of partial preference or destroy in a fury of wrath, disgust or aversion.” (CWSA, Vol 24, p.700)
We have therefore to look at this Rudra aspect of God and its destructive action as a part of the total process of God’s working in the world. We have to courageously admit its necessity in the earlier stages of the evolutionary movement through Ignorance where every step forward often requires the destruction of the old formations which oppose God’s progressive will in the world. It is only in the higher stages of evolution when this opposition changes into willing acceptance of God’s Will that this necessity of destruction ceases and God begins to deal with us by his gentler method of love and harmony.
This issue assumes a special significance and intensity during those critical periods in the world’s history which arrive at the turning-points in its evolutionary development and which Sri Aurobindo has called the Hours of God. Whether the forward step in evolution at these points will be taken under the law of strife and destruction or the law of love and harmony depends altogether on the condition of humanity at these times.
At the present moment humanity is passing through one of these critical periods which is of supreme importance to its future destiny. A new Truth, the supramental Truth, which is the next principle to emerge in the terrestrial evolution after Mind, has manifested in the inner atmosphere of the earth and from there is pressing to emerge in the external life of humanity. But simultaneously with the manifestation of this Truth there has also occurred a precipitation of very dark and dangerous forces of Falsehood trying with all their vehemence and fury to obstruct and destroy that Truth. They are engaged in a dire battle with it because they know that when it succeeds in establishing itself upon earth their days would be ended. Fearing their destruction they are fighting a crucial battle to retain their grip over earth and humanity. This invisible opposition to the advent of Truth on the inner plane is projected in the external life of the world through the human instruments, individual and collective, of these adverse forces.
The victory of the supramental Truth over these opposing forces of Falsehood is absolutely certain because that Truth is empowered with the omnipotent Divine Will. But whether humanity will receive that Truth in a harmonious evolutionary mutation or after undergoing a catastrophic destruction will depend upon its readiness to receive it. If it willingly consents to change its consciousness to receive the Truth, then its evolutionary development will work itself out smoothly and harmoniously. But if it persists in its present egoistic consciousness and blindly sides with the obstructing forces of Falsehood then it will not be able to avert destruction.