Reply To: Destruction and its relationship with anger

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Ashish Dalela

The fact that in Vedic cosmology the material universe needs to be destroyed before it is created again seems very significant, particularly since the spiritual realm undergoes no such process, as far as I know.

We need to define carefully what we mean by “destruction” because material energy is eternal. This eternity pertains to what is possible, so in one sense, nothing is ever destroyed. This possibility manifests into the “about to manifest” stage due to time or Lord Shiva. The soul then converts the “about to manifest” into “manifest” by its choices. For example, dinosaurs are eternally possible. But sometimes they are converted into “about to manifest”, and the souls then convert them into “manifest”. Similarly, youth and old age go into “about to manifest” before they are manifest. Since the “about to manifest” is being destroyed, you lose the ability to youth when you become old. Basically, the youth becomes unmanifest when old age is manifest.

Question 1: Is the experience of destruction the key lesson the soul learns in the material world? Is it a necessary condition for the soul to have the revelation of his lost relationship with God?

No, it’s not necessary. One can voluntarily turn toward God; it is not necessary to suffer to love God. Suffering is caused by karma. It has nothing to do with the relationship with God. But it is typically seen that when one suffers, he feels helpless. Then he asks the right questions. That typically observed scenario is not necessary. But it is what happens most of the time.

Another intriguing fact is the connection between the process of destruction and the emotion of anger, with Lord Shiva being described as destroying the universe through a burning fire, in a mood of anger, with said anger having been held in check for the whole duration of the universe. Also, in general, people when they get angry they have the tendency to destroy objects or to physically hurt other people.

Lord Shiva is the representation of desire, and desire always comes with separation — you cannot desire something unless you are missing it. Destruction also means the separation of the modes, and creation means the combination of the modes. This separation is technically called tamo-guna. Lord Shiva means longing for the Absolute Truth. But that longing is eternal — He cannot meet or find the Absolute Truth. Lord Shiva also creates a longing in the material world, as we are separated from what we have, and then we desire it again. But Lord Shiva has no anger. He has a longing, but He has patience. He can eternally wait with the longing. A part of Lord Shiva is called Rudra. He too has a longing, but the patience in Him is absent. This the meaning of parts: something of the whole is missing in them. When Rudra doesn’t get something, then He becomes angry — because there is no patience. Lord Krsna says in BG, that anger is produced from material desire. That material desire is different from a spiritual longing. The difference is that when spiritual desire is unfulfilled, the desire grows. But when material desire is unfulfilled, it transforms into anger. Therefore, when Brahma asks his sons to create progeny, and they refuse to do so, then Brahma gets angry. Well, he need not have. He could produce more sons and asked them again and again. But he gets frustrated. Rudra is that frustration and anger. He is produced from Brahma when Brahma’s desires are unfulfilled. He is produced as a child who has no patience, and when He doesn’t get what He wants, He cries and throws tantrums. Thus Brahma names this impatient and entitled child as Rudra — or the “crying one”. Lord Shiva is not a child. He is an adult — He has an infinite longing, but He also has infinite patience. A part of Lord Shiva is Rudra, and He represents longing without patience. You can think of children.

Question 2: Why is destruction associated with anger and how can we connect the transition from manifest (objects) into unmanifest (ideas) with the emotion of anger, in the sat-chit-ananda paradigm?

Like I said above, destruction is separating the modes. Anger is impatience over unfulfilled desire. But it is wrong to say that Rudra is overwhelmed by anger and goes around breaking up things. The breaking is not the effect of anger. Anger is the effect of breaking. It’s like a person who doesn’t like their job of breaking things. But they do their job of breaking anyway, and that makes them unhappy. It doesn’t mean that they are breaking things because they are unhappy. It is rather that they are unhappy because they are breaking. Rudra is a partial manifestation of God. He performs a role, but He is not thrilled about it. So, the destruction of things causes anger, but anger is not the cause of destruction. These are very subtle differences.

Are you thinking that this has something to do with the Christian concept of an angry God who punishes and destroys things if His will is not fulfilled? There is no such God, in my humble opinion.