(… Continued from Part 3 )
Sumant : Swami ji, I had committed impertinence in questioning the existence of God but my curiosity is still unsated.
Swami : Have patience. God can not be known intellectually but has to be realized.
I am planning to go to Neel Kanth Mahadev, an old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and stay there for three days. The place is about 15 km from here. Even though one can now reach there by a light motor transport , I prefer to walk the distance notwithstanding that it is a stiff climb.The charm of a place or thing increases if one has to make efforts to reach it or attain it. Vaue of a thing diminishes if we get it easily. Value of water can be better appreciated only in an arid desert and value of fresh air in a closed or polluted space.
In case you are interested , you may come along. We can talk on the way. Bring with you necessary requirements for the journey and stay in the temple premises.
Sumant : It will indeed be a privilege to walk in your benign company, Swami ji. I shall meet you at Swargashram in your room next morning..
Sumant waited on Swami ji early next morning. Swamiji came out of the room carrying a saffron shawl draped around his shoulders, a staff and a kamandal ( dried gourd bowl ) in his hand. Sumant offered to carry them for him but Swami ji declined stating that every one has to carry his burden himself , as one does pain and grief and sorrow. Joy can be shared.
The two took a bridle path through the forest often used by the villagers carrying goods on mules. After walking some good distance in silence, Swami ji stopped under a tree to regain breath as the initial cimb was really tough.
Swami : Do you see the hill yonder, Sumant ?
Sumant : yes, Swami ji.
Swami : Do you see the villages and the temple in the valley beyond the hills ?
Sumant : No Swamiji but I have the knowledge about their existence.
Swami : Who gave you this knowledge ?
Sumant : The travellers on the path.
Swami : Similarly, it does not mean that things we can not see do not exist. We may not be able to see God but have learnt about Him from enlightened Seers and Saints who have knowledge about Him either directly or indirectly. Even discerning people can come to the conclusion of existence of a Supreme Power through keen observation, inference and logic. One has only to step out of one’s house to see with ‘mind’s eye’ the work of Nature and the play of God in the diversity of and underlying unity in plant, animal and human life, the identical pattern of growth and decay cycle, the life giving air and water, the precise and predictable movement of the earth and solar/ planetary system, our dependence on the sun for the life sustaining light and heat and rain. In order to be able to see and hear, we have to be awake but we are mostly sleepwalking in our journey on this earth . If any of the life giving forces are taken away, the mankind will cease to exist. No wonder the ancient shamanic cult (the tribal way of communicating with supernatural forces ) and religions gave them the status of deities controlling our life. This tradition was, in a way, continued in the highly regarded Hindu scriptures- the Vedas ( Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sam Veda and Atharva Veda ) as the rishis of yore had their ashrams in the forests and as such they paid obeisance to the Elemental Forces like Indra ( rain and thunder ), Surya ( light and wisdom ), sacrificial fire- Agni ( invocation of gods), rivers ( life and vitality ), cow ((wealth ) etc and Vedas are full of hymns and incantations in invocation of these Primal Forces, which are God’s manifestation in different forms. They knew better as the present mankind is on self-destruct by over exploiting and polluting the life sustaining sources like the air, water, trees, mountains, earth etc.
It is now established that matter is energy when liberated. The Prana ( life force ) is similarly energy which escapes the body on death and assumes another form. Energy is never destroyed but only changes form, as scientists also confirm. This is what the Hindus calll the migration of soul in continuous life cycles. The soul is not a tangible entity in the body but a vital energy source which links humans with the divine cosmic force- Atma being a microcosm of Parmatma.
Man has progressed by discovering the laws of Nature. The law of gravity existed since the beginning of earth but it was Newton who discovered it in the 17th century. It was consideed till the 18th century by scientists like Dalton that atom is the the smallest indivisible particle in the matter . It was, however, later established in the 19th century that atom is also divisible and gives out immense energy during fission under controlled conditions. The same energy can be harnessed to produce electricity or for production of atom bombs. It does not, however, mean that all laws of Nature have been discovered or understood. Laws of Nature are discovered but inventions are made based on these laws. For instance, laws of aerodynamics discovered in bird flights led to the invention of aeroplanes and laws of liquid displacement discovered in the movement of marine animals helped in the invention of boats/ ships. The lightening in the clouds helped Michael Faraday invent dynamo and electric motor etc. It required a Newton or Einstein to discover the laws of Nature yet they humbly acknowledged that there are more mysteries in the universe than they can be comprehended. Shakespeare had said in Hamlet , ” there are more things in heaven and earth , Horatio , than are dreamed of in your philosohy…”.
The mere fact that there are certain immutable laws governing the universe would imply that there has to be a certain Law Maker. What name we choose to give Him or how we perceive Him is left to the individual perception and belief. He is formless but can assume any form like all pervading cosmic energy or universal consciousness. How we address Him is immaterial . It does not matter to Him whether we acknowledge His existence or not. He treats believers or non-believers alike as each one is bound by the laws of karma. We reap what we sow -as the Bible says. Prayers only give fragrance to our personality.
God or Creator has to be essentially one but capable of manifesting Himself through his deities or guardian Angels. Whether He is in sagun ( with attributes ) or nirgun (transcending attributes ) form are purely polemical arguments which are ,” all sound and fury signifying nothing “. Lord Krishna says in the Gita , ” maya tatmidam sarvam jagadvyakta murtina “- Ch. IX, Verse 4 (the God dwells in this cosmos in unmanifested form ).
As to the question whether heaven or hell exists, there is no precedent of any living person being able to reach heaven or hell to report the actual fact ! This, however, seems to me a figment of imagination of religious persons of all hues and denomination, of course with a noble motive, to pursuade us to live a virtuous life or deter the wayward from living sinful life so as to enjoy supposed heavenly joys or face punishment in hell. In my view, heaven and hell exist in this earth itself and one has to face the effects of karmas here itself in this life. Virtuous deeds give instant good feeling and joy and evil deeds lead to remorse or corrosion of the soul. To feel pleasure or pain, we need a body. We depart from this earth leaving behind the sheath of the body. The body merges with the Elements after death. That is the truth.