8: Creation and Life After Death : 4.
The Teachings of the Bhagavadgita :
Then we come to the harder task of relating the individual itself with its original, from where it has come – the cosmos. This is a third step, as it were, we are taking, and a more difficult step because the subject of epistemology is a crucial theme in all philosophical studies, and it is an essential introduction to all further studies in the philosophical fields. It is a very difficult theme and much has been said and written about it – still people are saying and writing about it, without coming to a final conclusion as to how we come in contact with the world at all, and how we know that anything is there at all. Even today we are not able to come to a final conclusion about it because the doctrines of philosophy vary from each other for obvious reasons, and we are still at loggerheads as far as finals are concerned.
However, it has to be accepted finally that, from the point of view of at least the implications of the possibility of knowing anything at all, the knowledge process should imply, suggest and include a kind of kinship between us and that which is known by us. The Bhagavadgita is explicit in this matter. There is nothing outside this Supreme, Creative Principle:
'Mattah parataram nanyat kincidasti' (Gita 7.7);
'aham krtsnasya jagatah prabhavah pralayastatha' (Gita 7.6).
These magnificent proclamations may sometimes go above our heads; we cannot understand how this could be – how God could be everywhere. Man's mind is weak and is not endowed with that much strength as to enable it know how God could be everywhere and, yet, we also could be there at the same time to know that God is there. How could God be an object of our consciousness, of our perception? How could the world be there at all as something that we know through our senses? This difficulty has been obviated by the Samkhya doctrine mentioned in earlier chapters, and now we are going deeper into a vital connection that we have, as souls rather than as bodies, with the vitality of the whole creation.
In the beginning, at the commencement of this seventh chapter almost, we are not introduced into the principle of God or Creator very much, though it is mentioned here and there in a scattered manner. A vista of a larger expanse of the universe is opened up before our eyes, wider than our individuality and even our social relations, and we are merely told that God created the world. The principle of creation, or the hypothesis of God creating the world, keeps us in a position of awe, wonder, and our devotion to God as the creator of the universe is sometimes called, in certain fields of theology, aisvarya-pradhana-bhakti – devotion charged with the spirit of awe, wonder and majesty as we would look upon a judge of the Supreme Court or a monarch ruling an empire, who is far above us in power, knowledge, and in every respect.
The concept of God in religions, at least in the earlier stages, seems to involve a sense of awe and a distance between us and God. This distance is maintained in the seventh chapter, though the distance gets diminished and narrowed down, as it were, as we go further and further in the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh chapters, until we reach the eleventh where the narrowness gets abolished completely in the commingling of us with the All-Being. The seventh chapter therefore introduces the principle of the Creator, who is not mentioned at all in the earlier chapters up to the sixth, because the first six chapters seem to be confined to the discipline of the individual which is very essential for even knowing something about there being such a thing as Creator himself, or God.
To be continued ...