Part XXXI – Concept of Ishvara or God-Hood
Since we see the creation (and Brahman being
infinite does not create), we bring in a third
factor - Ishvara, God or the Lord, who is empowered
to create. He is a mAyAvin [possessor of magical
powers], the wielder of mAyA i.e. he is not affected
by mAyA. What is mAyA? mAyA is that power because of which
one appears to be many. In the example of the gold, we can
say it is that power that makes gold to appear in varieties
of ornamental forms. mAyA is a factor brought in to explain
how one becomes many. Krishna says in the Gita, “This
mAyA of mine is of divine origin, it is very difficult to overcome
this power of mAyA. Only by surrendering to me one can cross
over and realize”. When we recognize and understand that
there is really no creation at all and all this is nothing
but Brahman, the concept of Ishvara, a creator-sustainer-annihilator
is no longer needed. A creator comes into the picture when
one supposes the existence of creation.
When did this creation start? Creation-sustenance-annihilation
is a cyclic process and therefore there is no
beginning. To account for the creation, for those
who are perceiving a creation different from
themselves, a God principle is posited who is
both the material and instrumental cause for
the creation. This is also described in the from
of a trinity: brahma (note brahma is not the
same as brahman, the infinite consciousness),
Vishnu and maheshvara. This is further fragmented
in order to understand the process of creation.
brahma is in charge of creation. For creation,
knowledge - the know-how of how to create - is
required and therefore he is married to sarasvatI,
the goddess of knowledge. viShNu is in charge
of maintenance, which is an expensive affair.
He is married to the goddess of wealth, lakShmI.
Lord Shiva is in charge of dissolution which
requires all the missile power and therefore
he is married to shakti or pArvatI.
The concepts of Gods and Goddesses are mostly
purANic [from the class of scriptures called
the purANa], where the processes of creation
etc. are explained in mythological story form.
Gods and goddesses are also symbolic to help
the mind to go beyond the plurality. All phenomenal
forces in nature are symbolized in the form of
Gods and Goddesses. Krishna says that when we
perform work to its fulfilment and offer it to
the Gods, they give the results. The production
potential in the field of action is related to
the Gods. Hence the gods are pleased when the
action is done to its fulfilment and they have
to rain down the results for the actions performed.
These are the laws of Nature that Krishna brings
out in his analysis of action and results and
the role of the gods in giving the results for
the action. All the phenomenal forces are conceptualized
in the form of Gods.
Since conceptualization is the only way our
limited minds can understand any concepts, Gods
are also symbolized to help a seeker who needs
a spring-board to make a quantum leap into the
present, where his ego is completely surrendered.
Since everything in the creation is nothing but
Brahman, which is formless, Brahman can be invoked
in any form, as long as one understands the form
is only a symbolic to denote that which cannot
be denoted. It is similar to assigning a flag
to symbolize the nation. When we salute a flag
and chant a national anthem, it is not the piece
of cloth that we are saluting but the nation
for which it stands. Similarly, a Hindu does
not salute a piece of stone or figure but that
which it symbolizes: the infinite consciousness
that pervades all forms and names. Hindus are
not idol worshipers but worshipers of the ideals
behind the idols. The Vedic rituals that are
performed all have a deeper meaning than at first
sight. Since that which pervades all forms can
be invoked in any form for the purpose of symbolism,
we have many gods and goddesses. The ultimate
truth of course is beyond any name, form or symbol.
Proceed to the next