Perfect God, the Creator of Imperfections
Today in the world, the prominence of logic over emotions is growing. One of the commonly asked questions is why God created all the imperfections and evils in the world which caused sufferings to the human beings. Why there isn’t happiness and goodness all over. In Hinduism, the question has been researched since Vedic time. It is attempted here to solve the riddle.
Vedanta-Sutras say God (Brahman) is the most essential part of the system and world has originated from Him. Vedantins accept Brahman as Sat-Chit-Ananda & Ananta. It means Existence-Consciousness-Bliss & Infinite. As per Vishnu Purana, God possesses six most glorious powers viz. Sovereignty (Independence), Omnipotence (all powerful, capable to do everything, Supreme), Omniscience (updated knowledge about everything), Immateriality (not composed of matter) and has endless manifestation.
When we closely watch, everybody wants to be independent, powerful, prosperous, famous, healthy and to be always happy & satisfied (blissful). But miseries come in forms of diseases (physical, mental & genetic), poverty, misfortune, non-fulfilment of desires, loss of wealth, bad family life etc. So the living beings that are being created by the God face evils, imperfections and miseries.
Miseries, Evils & Imperfections:
Bhagwan Vyasa in Shrimad Bhagavad Mahapurana has mentioned three causes of miseries. These miseries caused by the body and mind (Adhyatmika), by another living entity (Adhibhautika) and by nature (Adhidaivika). Patanjali Yoga Darshan informed that these three causes result into pain, heat distress and bad memories. Rishi Patanjali further explained, when the person feels deficiencies in comforts and due to which develops anger, malice, greed, attachments etc.
Causes of miseries & Imperfections:
The miseries/sufferings are experienced in the mortal body. Bhagwan Krishna in Bhagavad Gita has mentioned (in chapter 3) in the theory of Karma that mental tendencies, character, potentials etc. are formed by the virtuous and vicious actions (karmas) done in past. Rishi Patanjali has explained that the reservoir of past deeds form the Karmashya which is the root cause of five afflictions/sufferings viz. Avidya (ignorance), I-am-ness or egoism, desires, hatred & attachment to life. These accumulated karmas are enjoyed / suffered. There is continuous flow of pleasure and pain till the karmas are extinguished. In the yogic sense, Avidya means something that goes far beyond ordinary ignorance. Avidya is a fundamental blindness about reality, self (soul) and God (Brahman).
Whether God is Creator of Imperfect World:
It is incorrect to think that the world, beings, or any of the creations of God are imperfect. It is worth mentioning that Vedas identified six basic creations viz. Supreme Being (God), Souls (Jivas), Non-material stuff (Shuddhsattva), matter (Prakriti), outward consciousness (Dharmabhuta-Jnana) and Time (Kala). All the creations are perfect in it.
Rishi Kapil in Samkhya Darshan has explained that Prakriti has three attributes viz. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas in equal proportion in latent state. In Samkhya darshan, Rishi Kapil has postulated that Prakriti is cause of world (chapter-1). Two elements viz. intellect & ego are produced by Prakriti and 21 elements arise from ego. These twenty one elements are five subtle tanmatra (forms or visibility, taste, smell or odour, touch and sound); five organs of senses, five organs of actions, five gross elements and manas. These are the root cause of mortal body without these actions (karma) cannot be done (chapter-3). When the proportion of three attributes of Prakriti is not equal, Tanmatra continue to have tendency to build gross body. Avidya (Ignorance) is bondage of Jivatma with mortal body. The bondage is broken only when spiritual wisdom is gained about Jivatma and God. Hence, the Avidya and bondage with body create miseries, evils and imperfections.
The Vedas teach that the soul is divine, only held in the bondage of matter; perfection will be reached when this bond will burst, and the word they use for it is therefore, Mukti — freedom, freedom from the bonds of imperfection, freedom from death, misery and re-birth.
God's creation is both sacred and perfect. However, since he also envelops his creation with Maya (delusion) and subjects it to the modifications of Nature, it may appear to be imperfect, just as the light from the sun appears to be imperfect when the sky is filled with clouds.
Why God is unaffected:
These co-existent eternal entities attain partial modification owing to the dependence on another (Paradhina-visesapati) which justifies His claim to be all-creator. The modifications are of two kinds. One kind of change can transform the basic nature of the substance, as when the milk changes into curd. The substance itself is lost and something else takes its place. The non-eternal types come into being in their entirety, undergo change in nature and they perish.
The change in the regard to eternal entities is not of this kind. In case of eternal substances, the creative process consists in generating new temporary traits without modifying the substratum which is co-eternal with the creator. The change is not a change of basic nature (Dharmi-svarupa) but is the generation of many traits or subsidiary characteristics which can be eliminated without impairment to the substance in question. For example, Prakriti evolves Mahat and subsequent categories when it is stirred by the will of the God, but when creative process terminates at the end of the creative cycle, the eternal substance Prakriti remains in its pristine form, and again brings forth the world when the new cycle starts. The change in the Jiva, who is by nature a center of intelligence and bliss, is generated by ignorance (Avidya). Consequently, he gets bound to various kinds of bodies. When ignorance is affected by the grace of God, the Jiva subsists in his own basic nature which cannot be modified by all the bodily changes.
Hence, the God, as the great creator, generates these changes producing new characteristics of a temporary nature without impairment to the basic nature of the substances which are coeval with him.
India borne religions (namely Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism) are uniquely different from most of the world’s religions in “Philosophy of Re-birth”. Liberation from Re-birth is the ultimate goal of human being and to be free from sin, sorrow, hunger, thirst, desires volitions etc. and be one with Supreme Being.
Sri Krishna has elaborated four paths in Bhagavad Gita for achieving the goal of liberation viz. the path of unconditional devotion (Bhakti-yoga), the path of selfless action (Karma-yoga), the path of True Knowledge (Jnana-yoga) and the path of Meditation (Dhyana-yoga). Initially, the path of Bhakti is more suitable for the person of emotions; the path of Karma for the person of actions; the path of Jnana for the person of high intellect and the path of Dhayana for the focused person. All these four paths are inter-dependent and have goal i.e. Salvation or Liberation.
Bhakti is preceded by a deep understanding of the majesty, omnipotence and omniscience of the Independent entity, the Supreme Being (God). The practice of Karma Yoga and Jnana Yoga is essential in practice of Bhakti Yoga. Spiritual wisdom and Vairagya are not possible without bhakti. Without spiritual wisdom, bhakti is blind and without bhakti spiritual wisdom is lame. One should have controls over habits and desires. In Bhakti, duties of life have to be done without desire or fruits of actions or attachment and for success in this one must have an understanding of oneself as the Atman and practice meditation on almighty which combines all the paths.
In the discipline of Navdha Bhakti, self-surrender is ultimate aim which needs absolute self-surrender and dedicating oneself to the almighty.
A large number of people describe themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious.’ But practice of spiritual virtues can coexist with a detached understanding of traditional religious claims; that religious belief is defined by the practice of virtues. Spirituality may have religious fervor but it is not religion totally.
Spirituality inspires to be more mindful, accepting, grateful, compassionate, and lovingly connected to others. These virtues oppose both the conventional social ego's attachment and arrogance, and any habitual, unreflective religiosity.
What is Spirituality:
Word spirituality derives from the word spirit. There is an individual spirit (individual soul) and a Supreme Spirit (God).
Spirituality is inner journey to establish connection with the divine. In Sanskrit, Spirituality is known as Adhyatma. It is derived from two words Adhi and Atman (Atmanaha). Adhi means pertaining to the topic and Atman means the Soul. The spiritual attitude is to find meaning for every suffering. The moment the explanation for suffering is found, suffering becomes less.
What is spirituality in Hinduism:
Spiritual goal in Hinduism is renunciation. Renunciation of fame, dearest ones, and properties, even one’s own bodies i.e. ego.
There are different methods of spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, yajna, chanting of names or mantras, etc. The spiritual practices should be done minimum twice a day i.e. morning and evening. At one time, it was four times a day, then it became three times a day.
The gist of all worships is to be pure and to do good to others. Worship means entering a mood of purity and holiness. Full purity comes only from a condition of desirelessness. In the early stage of spiritual life, we desire things and God also. By connecting desires to the God, the mind goes up gradually. Real devotion comes when we look upon people as the manifestation of God and while serving the former, look at his divine core. As per philosophy of Vedanta, Brahman alone is real, the universe is ultimately unreal and the individual soul is no other than the Universal soul.
Why to be spiritual as per Hinduism:
The body and mind are transient and have limitations. But the soul (Atman) is permanent and repository of all strength, hope and energy. Each soul is potentially divine. By attuning oneself to the self, one could gain strength, hope and energy.
The liberation (salvation, mukti) is ultimate aim of life. The liberation is the freedom-physical, mental and spiritual. Political, social, cultural, and other freedoms are only the fragmentary aspects of real freedom. In the age of mobile, the freedom of movement and free thinking has been restricted. But the freedom is cry of soul.
How to be spiritual as per Hinduism:
The spiritual disciplines in Hinduism are grouped according to the predominance of various faculties of human being viz. intellect, emotions, will power and activity. Different faculties are dominant in people of different temperament. Based on that, people having dominance of intellect, may adopt spiritual discipline of Jnana yoga; likewise for people of emotions, Bhakti yoga; people of will power, Raja yoga and people of activity, Karma yoga. But all the yogas have same destination and merge into “Renunciation & Surrender to almighty”.
The four paths are defined as under:
The second method is to practice little detachment. An average man cannot work without definite gain. But the idea of physical gain gradually is replaced by other types of subtler gains, such aesthetic enjoyment and intellectual pleasure. These are also gains, but of a subtler type. These are spiritual gains. Sri Krishna said in Gita, “Whatever you do, offer to me.” Then you will free from bad effects of all karma and also from the good effects. Both are bondage. Both credit and discredit should go to the master. Normally, people take credit and offer discredit to the almighty.
Reference: Vedanta & Vivekananda by Swami Swahananda