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Guru Teg Bahadur Ji being beheaded

If Everything Is Divine-How Can Divine Beings Commit Horrible Deeds?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

According to Sanatana-dharma, all in this world is divine. This means that everything and everyone is a manifestation of Brahman. But if we follow this cosmic law, then how is it possible for divine beings to do such horrible things?

To find the answer, we can look to the Baghavad Gita.

The first verse is as follows:

धृतराष्ट्र उवाच |
धर्मक्षेत्रे कुरुक्षेत्रे समवेता युयुत्सवः |
मामकाः पाण्डवाश्चैव किमकुर्वत सञ्जय ||1||

dhṛitarāśhtra uvācha
dharma-kṣhetre kuru-kṣhetre samavetā yuyutsavaḥ
māmakāḥ pāṇḍavāśhchaiva kimakurvata sañjaya

Dhritarashtra said: O Sanjay, after gathering on the holy field of Kurukshetra, and desiring to fight, what did my sons and the sons of Pandu do?

Bhagvad Gita 1.1

The Battlefield & Blindness

The whole story takes place on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. The battlefield represents the world, in which the war between dharma and adharma is constantly being fought. Dharma and adharma have been westernized to mean “good” and “bad”, but dharma in this context means the cosmic order, while adharma represents the disruption of that order.

Many aspects of our lives can sometimes be viewed as the battlefield between dharma and adharma. There is a constant struggle, and we often face decisions that will determine which of the two sides we choose. These battles usually happen quietly in our hearts and minds, but at other times we may be forced to physically fight for what we believe, or abandon it completely. Whatever the case, the Baghavad Gita is trying to show us how to make good decisions about these things.

 King Dhritarashtra, the father of the Kauravas, is blind. His blindness is symbolic of the avidya, or ignorance, and his son Duryodhana, who is evil in the story, represents adharma, or unrighteousness. Adharma is only born of ignorance. Delusion exists because we forget our true nature. Avidya lies at the very core of adharma.

Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma

The statement “Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma” means that everything is Brahman. We are all rays of the Divine Light. The image reminds of us about our essential nature—pure consciousness—and instills in us a sense of divine universalism about all things and beings.

In order to realize our true nature, which is Spirit or Brahman, we have to remove the veil of ignorance.  This ignorance is of our own making.

How then can we reconcile the reality that everything in this world is divine, with horrifying images of violence and injustice?

The Adharmic Acts of World War II

Adolf Hitler was a profoundly adharmic man whose actions led to the death of tens of millions. How can something divine be behind such a massive display of cruelty?

The answer is that while Hitler himself was divine, his actions were not. Hitler’s acts were all based on avidya.

Imagine Hitler had recognized the divine nature of everyone and everything—would he have set out to commit adharmic acts?

No. If Hitler had been enlightened, he would not have acted in such adharmic ways. The veil of avidya prevented him from seeing that all human beings are divine.

The Veil of Avidya (Ignorance)

When we are masked behind the veil of avidya, we are capable of all kinds of acts of adharma. Conversely, when the veil is removed, we will only act in ways that are consistent with our true nature as divine beings.

Once we recognize the innate divinity in all that exists, it becomes impossible to cause harm to anyone or anything, nor would we wish to.

“Ignorance is death, knowledge is life. Life is of very little value, if it is a life in the dark, groping through ignorance and misery.” – Swami Vivekananda

What the Gita Teaches Us

What the Bhagavad Gita teaches us is that we are divine beings.

We return to the question: If everything Is divine—how can divine beings commit horrible deeds?

For the revelation of the divine in all things and in every being to affect us, the veil of ignorance must be pierced. When we do not recognize ourselves and everyone else as divine, it becomes possible to cause harm to others and oneself in a variety of ways.

However, when we realize our true nature,  the inherent purity, goodness, and divinity within us, there is no desire to harm ourselves or anyone else.