by Swami Krishnananda
The creation of the world was referred to in the seventh chapter of the Bhagavadgita, indicating that the whole process of evolution is motivated by the will of God. By creation we have generally an idea of substances, things or objects, persons, etc. Tangible things, visible objects and cognisable contents are usually considered by us as contents in creation. But creation is something vaster and more pervasive than can be comprehended by the tangibility of the sense organs. As the teachings of the Gita move forward through the ascending chapters, we are taken further on to the greater subtlety involved in the structure of creation to culminate in the most subtle of all concepts—the Being of God Himself. We commenced with the grossest concept, namely, human society, to recapitulate the entire ground that we have traversed throughout the period of our study. When we think of life, we always think of human society, as frogs think only of frogs, as the old adage goes. To think of the cosmos of the five elements is a larger concept, and it requires a greater stretch of imagination than is available to the common man. For him life is only human beings, or perhaps only a family—that is all the life that he can conceive of. When a person refers to life, he refers to his family, and nothing else can be comprehended within the idea of life. Life is miserable; when speak like this, we mean our family is miserable. Or if we are more sophisticated intelligentsia, we mean humanity is miserable—mankind is in a tragic situation. This is all the view of creation we have with our present stage of understanding.
Further on in the Gita, we were taken to the more psychological implications, which require a more impersonal outlook than the merely family outlook or even the so-called humanitarian outlook. The psychological outlook is superior to the merely human outlook, and from the second chapter onwards we were concerned with the individual propelling constituents that make up what we call the grosser forms of human society. Human beings are psychic entities. They are minds, essentially, and not bodies. They are not fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, as they appear to be, but they are eddies in a psychic ocean. So the springs of action in human society are in the minds of people, and not outwardly in the political governments or in the communities through which people pass and in which they appear to live. Our ideas have to be gradually rarified as we move on further through the ethereal teachings in the chapters of the Bhagavadgita.
So to come to the point, when we reached the seventh chapter, we were taken to a larger concept of creation, above the level of human society and even the individual psyche, namely the cosmos of five elements—earth, water, fire, air and ether. Mostly, people cannot imagine these things. Who thinks of five elements every day? We think only of a little bread and jam, and a cup of tea and a little skirmish and a rubbing of shoulders that we have in our little day-to-day life. These are all the little bits of creation that we can have in our minds. But this wondrous expanse of cosmic elements, which stumps the imagination of even the astronomer and the physicist, is beyond the imagination of ordinary human beings. Such was the idea of creation given to us at the beginning of the seventh chapter, which implied that there is a Creator transcendent to the created universe, who is the regulator and the dispenser of justice. The destinies of people are controlled by the will of this Supreme Being, whose will is creation. The whole process of transmigration, the life after death of the individual, is a progression towards contact with God, whether it is consciously regarded as a movement towards this supreme end or it is merely an unconscious bungling and groping in the darkness, as is the case with many of the ignorant souls, due to which they return to lower births or to the same kind of birth from which they rose up, etc.
The idea of God becomes more and move emphasised as the chapters move forward, while in the earlier chapters it was kept aside for later consideration. The higher concepts come later for contemplation—the lower and gross ones come before. When we reach the ninth chapter, we are brought almost to the point where we can breathe the breath of the presence of God in all creation. The winds of the ocean of Being begin to blow directly on our face, and we are stumbling almost unconsciously on that stupendous aegis of God’s Being. The visualisation has not yet taken place—even an inkling of it seems to be very far away. The mind is kept in tenterhooks; it appears to be catching it but the idea is receding further, as the horizon moves further away as we try to approach it by going in that direction. There appears to be a confidence in the soul of the seeking spirit that God is immanent and capable of approach. But this capability of approach to the Being of God still remains as the ability to catch the horizon—appearing to be there but yet not possible of real contact. There is a spiritual anguish that grows deeper and deeper as the seeker goes higher and higher, and the agony grows more and more incapable of tolerance. The spiritual suffering in a way can be said to be more agonising than the sufferings of the mortal body. The soul’s anguish is incapable of experience and explanation. Only one who has trodden the path can know what it is to have spiritual anguish inside. It is not merely the anguish of a suffering hungry stomach or an aching body—but of an aching soul. That is the condition of Arjuna when he rises into a question as to what this miracle could be, and whether is it possible at all for a person of his character to have a comprehension of this mystery.
Now the creation of God is explained in greater detail, with further emphasis, in the tenth chapter. Not merely do objects and things, persons and visibles constitute what we call creation, but even the relations that exist between things or subsist among objects are the creation of God. Not merely the things, but even the ideas and the thoughts of people are also part of the creation of God. Buddhir jnanam asammohah ksama satyam damah samah, sukham duhkham bhavo’bhvo bhayam cabhayam eva ca. Ahimsa samata tustis tapo danam yaso’yasah, bhavanti bhava bhutanam matta eva prthag-vidhah. Unthinkable are these attributes. Good and bad, right and wrong, beautiful and ugly—everything proceeds from God.
Our idea of creation is not like this, generally speaking. We have our own queer notions of the perfection of God’s creation. Every blessed thing—every Tom, Dick and Harry—cannot be included in this omnibus of God’s creation; that would be a pell-mell idea. We have a system of scientific thinking that acquiesces only to the acceptance of certain particulars which are regarded as necessary to form a perfection we regard as creation. But perfection is not necessarily what we regard as perfect. Our idea of perfection is that which agrees with the present pattern of our mind’s thinking. Whatever we regard as good is that which has some relevance to the requirements of the human mind. If there is no relevance to the aegis of mental requirements of the present set-up of human thinking, then it cannot be regarded as good. Therefore the ethical good or even the metaphysical good, for the matter of that, is a conditional good, and so we expect creation to be of a particular character in order that it may be the creation of God. We do not believe that God creates evil, for instance, but we accept that evil exists. So we have a peculiar dichotomy or duality of philosophical concept in our acceptance of the principle of creation. If evil exists, it must be created by somebody, and if it is not God’s creation, it must be our creation, and we are not prepared to say that it is ours.
Then whose creation is it? We cannot say that it is not there; we cannot say it is there—so we jumble up ideas. The difficulty arises because we have a conditional idea of relevance and meaningfulness in things. Whatever is pleasant is regarded as good, and even our idea of evil is a prejudiced idea. It is not really an acceptable notion, because we are phenomenal beings, which means to say we are limited to the present set-up of space-time relations. And there is relevance, as I mentioned, to the present framework of space-time relation. When anything fits into this framework, we regard it as necessary and acceptable. But when it is does not fit in, somehow or other, to the present set-up of space-time relations—which implies the fitting into our personal individual existence and also society—we regard it as bad, ugly, undesirable, hellish and evil. But the cosmos is a blend of positive and negative forces, whether we like it or not. Our likes are not the criterion for the perfection that creation has to be.