The Question of the Divine Personality

For those who follow a path of religion that believes in a personal God, the question of the Divine Personality is one of faith. In today’s world, with its emphasis on facts, science and provable assumptions, the concept of a Divine Personality has been either entirely removed or relegated to the status of something illusory and less “real” than the Eternal, Impersonal, the Absolute. Western science, with its enormous analytical powers, has delved into the inner workings of the universal manifestation and found that there is an incredibly precise and balanced machinery of existence that constitutes forms and forces according to certain principles. There are mathematical relationships that clearly control the relationships between forms. The Indian focus on the Yoga of Knowledge, coming at the issue from a different direction, found that form and personality were less real than the abstract, infinite and eternal consciousness which appeared to be highly impersonal. With respect to the Western approach, the emphasis has always been on analysis and the need to divide, categorize and segment everything into parts, so much so, that nowadays we are beginning to recognize that, as the proverb goes, they have “failed to see the forest for the trees.”

The argument against a Divine Personality is based on this analysis of the view of an impersonal mechanism, a natural series of processes that carry out the functions of the machinery without any visible sign of a conscious personality involved in the result. The argument however always stops short of taking up the larger question of how this obviously precisely formed and intelligent universal creation came about and for what purpose. Where there is intelligence in the forms and their interactions, the question must be asked, as to how it got there, and who or what designed it. Once we come to this question it is clear that there must be a Divine Intelligence. The next step is to determine to what degree that Divine Intelligence has made itself manifest as a Divine Personality.

Sri Aurobindo emphasizes the issue in the modern world: “All the trend of modern thought has been towards the belittling of personality; it has seen behind the complex facts of existence only a great impersonal force, an obscure becoming, and that too works itself out through impersonal forces and impersonal laws, while personality presents itself only as a subsequent, subordinate, partial, transient phenomenon upon the face of this impersonal movement.”

This question must be answered in order to provide a solid basis for any Yoga of Devotion.

Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Three: The Yoga of Divine Love, Chapter 5, The Divine Personality, pp. 552-553