REALLY PRESENT IN EVERYONE?
Loving Sai Ram and greetings from
People often write to us and ask:
“How can you say God is present in all? Surely God is NOT present in a
murderer. If He were, then how come the man committed murder? There is
something wrong somewhere in the assertion that God is present everywhere.”
Today, we would like to offer some thoughts on this question.
The question posed is one that is frequently asked. Interestingly, the
answer was given – tersely though – as far back as five thousand years ago,
by Lord Krishna Himself. Krishna did not elaborate. Swami too has spoken
about the Omnipresence of God, but unlike Krishna He has commented
extensively on aspects of the Divinity latent in man and how it can be made
to manifest. Unfortunately, few pay any attention to these great expositions
of profound truth, which is one of the reasons why this question of God
being present in evil men comes up again, and again.
Let us go back to the BhagavadGita. When Krishna first tells Arjuna that God
is present in all, Arjuna is not quite able to understand and wants further
explanation. That Krishna offers in the eighth chapter, using three key
words – Adi Bhoutika, Adi Daivika, and Adhyatmika. In simple terms, these
three words refer to the presence of God within each one of us at three
levels, the gross, the subtle and the causal. Perhaps these words sound
mysterious but don’t worry we shall try and explain what precisely they
Let us start with the presence of God within us at the gross level. What
does this mean? Simply this: Our bodies are all made up of atoms and the
power of God is unquestionably present in every single atom. By the way,
please do take a minute off to appreciate that the atoms in the body are not
there “permanently”. Atoms are all the time coming in and atoms are all the
time going out. Let us say we walk bare feet; as we do so, millions of cells
get removed from the foot due to friction, and in that process out go
billions of atoms. When we breathe in, atoms get in, and when we breathe
out, atoms go out. Similarly, atoms go in when we eat and atoms go out with
sweat, excreta, etc. In short, there is a constant and dynamic traffic of
atoms in every living body.
OK, accepted but what has all this got to do with the presence of God
within? Simply this: We all know that there is power within the atom. This
power is enormous, especially if we look within the nucleus of the atom. How
do we know? Via Hiroshima and Nagasaki . You know something? These cities
were each destroyed by the release of the energy contained in just about
five grams or so of matter – yes just five grams or so of fissile material,
Uranium in the case of Hiroshima and Plutonium in the case of Nagasaki .
Imagine that! Apply the famous formula E = mc2 to five grams of atoms and
you can enough energy to wipe out a big city. Supposing this formula is
applied to say seventy kg, which is the weight of a moderately-built person.
You get an energy equivalent of 70 x 200 or 14,000 Hiroshima bombs! In other
words, if all the atoms in the body of a person weighing 70 kg were to be
converted into energy according to Einstein’s famous formula, it would mean
a release of energy equivalent to that of 14,000 Hiroshima bombs!
Mercifully, it is not easy to release such energy, and we have to be
thankful to God for packing it all very safely inside, but let us remember
after this calculation how much of mass-energy each one of us packs in!
Whether we like it or not, whether we believe in God or not, this mass
energy is present in not only every living being but also in every inanimate
being. Just to amuse yourself, try and figure out the mass energy of the
earth! It would be astronomical; and yet we routinely dig this earth, tear
it apart to build skyscrapers and what have you. It is lucky for us that the
earth bears it all patiently and does not release even a tiny fraction of
the energy packed within it. That is God’s Grace!
We hope we have been able to convey the important truth that God is present
at the gross level in all of us as the energy of the atoms that make up the
body. Even the body of the murderer is made up of the same atoms as are
present in the bodies of saints. Thus, at the gross level at least, the
presence of God in all, including a murderer cannot be questioned. In fact,
the murderer may weigh more than a saint, in which case his latent atomic
energy would be more!
All the above is an amplification of the word AdiBhoutika, used by Krishna
to describe the presence of God within us, at the so-called gross level. He
is immanent and therefore not easily recognised, but that does not mean He
is absent. Let us now move on to the next level, that is the subtle. As
already mentioned, Krishna uses the word AdiDaivika to describe the presence
of God at this level. Now what exactly does this word mean?
Consider any living person. What do we mean by saying a person is alive? If
a doctor is examining a patient who is on the deathbed and is about to die,
he watches carefully for vital signs, sometimes simply by feeling the pulse,
sometimes using the stethoscope and sometimes using more complex electronic
monitors. Whatever the method, he looks for signatures of life such as
breathing, blood circulation, etc. Now the ancients of India said that life
is sustained by some vital forces that control breathing, circulation,
response of the nervous system, etc. They then argued that these vital
forces or Praanas as they called them, are all controlled by certain
deities. What Krishna told Arjuna was that it was not really deities who
were managing the vital forces within but He, the Lord. Remember the
Gitasloka that begins with the word Aham Vaishvaanaro Bhutva…, that we chant
before meals? Through that sloka, Krishna asserts that He is the vital force
presiding over the process of digestion. In fact, He is the vital force that
controls blood circulation, nerve conduction, respiration and what have you,
a fact that is echoed again and again in various ways in the Vedas. Now you
will surely agree that these vital forces operate even in a murderer; if
they did not, he would be dead. So, whether we like it or not, we have to
concede that God is present even in a murderer at the so-called subtle
level. That makes it two of three. What about the third level? That is what
we shall consider next, and it would turn out that it is at this level that
one does see a difference between a murderer and a saint.
Krishna tells Arjuna, “My dear fellow, besides the gross and the subtle
levels, I am also present as the spiritual force in the Heart of every
person. Whether you like it or not, every person has not only a physical
heart but also a spiritual Heart. The spiritual Heart is where I reside, and
I do so in every person. I make Myself present in everyone so that whenever
anyone wants Me, I am available immediately. Remember Draupadhi? When she
called out to Me by crying, ‘Oh God the Resident of my Heart, why don’t You
help me?’ I responded instantly. So this is the first point you have to
understand. I am present in all, without any exception, including in a
murderer. Now comes the question: ‘In that case, why do people commit
murder? How can they do so, when God is within? And why does not the God
within prevent the murder?’ Well, you see, just because I am inside, it does
not mean that people always listen to what I have to say. Sometimes, they
simply lock Me up inside and do not allow Me to manifest Myself. I don’t
push Myself or throw My weight around. I just say, ‘I am here and you can
take My help anytime you want. If you want Me, then I am ready to help.’ I
am sure you have noted that right now I am helping you because you asked Me
for it. But if a person does not want to use My services, then I am happy to
sit inside and just watch. I have given every person the option to call for
Me or to ignore Me. If the person calls, I respond; if there is no call, I
do not. I just take it easy and watch as a witness, that’s all!”
We agree that Krishna does not quite put it this way in the Gita, but if you
read Swami’s Discourses carefully, you would discover that this is
effectively what God tells man. So what does it all boil down to? Simply
this: God is present within us even at the spiritual level but unless we
allow that spiritual force to manifest, our actions would be tainted and
even evil. Let us put it this way: God is present at three levels, with each
level having a switch. The switch for level 1 is put on by God Himself and
we do not have any role to play. The same is true for level 2; when we are
born, God puts on the switch. As for level 3, God has left the job of
putting on the switch to us. The switch is there in everyone including a
murderer; however, the murderer does not put it on, while the saint does;
that is what makes the difference between a murderer and a saint.
Incidentally, this also makes it easy for us to understand how a notorious
criminal named Ratnakaara became Saint Valmiki and wrote the Ramayana.
Initially the third and crucial switch was off but when Ratnakaara met the
seven sages and heard their advice, he flicked the third switch to the ON
position. That is how he became a saint. Barely five hundred years ago, the
same thing happened to a stingy miser and pawnbroker named Narayana Shetty.
But one day due to some powerful incidents, he put on the switch; overnight
he became Saint Purandaradasa, who, incidentally, is also the founder of
Carnatic system of Indian classical music.
So the bottom line is this: God is present at three levels as explained
above. The switch that makes Him present at level 1 and level 2 are put on
by God Himself. However, the switch for level 3 is not put on by God. He
leaves that job to man. If man flicks that switch, then God manifests in
that person via qualities like love, compassion, forbearance etc. If man
does not bother to put on that switch, then God does not certainly manifest
in the actions of the concerned person. In other words, God is present but
only partially shall we say? In short, we cannot simply say that God is not
present in a murderer.
Let us leave the murderer and for a minute consider a person who is very
corrupt. If we accept the argument that God is not present in a murderer,
then we can jolly well ask: “Is God present in a corrupt politician? Is He
present in a crooked businessman,” and so on. If we started doing that, then
pretty soon we would have to rule out the presence of God in practically all
of us! Fortunately, that is not the way it is. God is the resident of all
Hearts but His manifestation is a different matter. The purer a person is
the greater is His manifestation through virtues, goodness of action etc.
Now some might ask: “Why on earth did God do this? Why could He not have
flicked the third switch also?” Well, we cannot answer that question! God is
the One who created this Universe and living beings, and He alone can answer
that question. But this much we can say: Life is a game. Every game, be it
baseball, cricket, golf, or soccer or whatever, has its own rules, and when
one plays the game, one must follow the rules. If there is a violation, it
is declared a foul, and in soccer, one gets yellow and red cards! In the
same way, we have to play the game of life according to God’s rule and we
have no choice!
Perhaps you are not happy about that, but we hope that you would at least
agree that God is present even in a murderer, though He may not manifest in
terms of virtues and humanness.
Well, what do you think? Why don’t you write and tell us?
All the best till next Sunday. Jai Sai Ram.
With Love and Regards,