The Struggle with Evil: The Theology of Evil in the Bhagavad Gita and the Devimahatmya

in Probing the Depths of Evil and Good
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The problem of evil has vexed many Hindu thinkers throughout the ages. But unlike Christianity, Judaism and Islam, which hold to the belief in an allpowerful benign creator-God of the world, Hinduism never explicitly held that God is good. Rather, God is impersonal, like the universe itself. Thus, as the universe, God created everything but in an impersonal way. The creator- God of the three Abrahamic religions is a person, even a legal person, who enters into a contract with His people and Who promulgates irrevocable legal texts. This idea is unknown in Hinduism. God is not a lawgiver. In Hindu thought, the question of evil is relevant only in the social world. Moreover, evil is the outcome of (social) human action, driven by desire, anger and avarice. These three vices are regarded as the sources of evil. This idea is illustrated by relevant passages from the Bhagavad Gita, a rather abstract theological scripture and the Devimahatmya, a very popular narrative Hindu scripture. With respect to both scriptures, it is important to note that (a) they promulgate the idea of an internalized renunciation of the world as the source of ultimate human good, and (b) they place the origin of evil squarely in human hands. God, the ultimate Spirit of the universe, is not responsible for evil. Evil has a human source and it takes human effort to overcome it within oneself by renouncing the three vices of desire, anger and avarice.

Probing the Depths of Evil and Good

Multireligious Views and Case Studies

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