The Divine Power Manifesting in the Universe

Westerners understand the concept of “God” differently than people from other parts of the world, and have a hard time reconciling their concept with the numerous “gods” that are referenced in the Vedas, Upanishads and other scriptural texts of India.  The essential issue is the standpoint from which the individual is viewing things.  Westerners, who generally see the world as external and see themselves as individual actors trying to survive and thrive in this external world, look upon God as an external being of indefinite form, but generally conceived as having essentially human characteristics, but “more so”.  The gods of the Upanishads, however, are representations of the manifestation of the Brahman in the universe with various powers in the forefront.

Sri Aurobindo observes:  “They represent the divine power in its great and fundamental cosmic functionings whether in man or in mind and life and matter in general; they are not the functionings themselves but something of the Divine which is essential to their operation and its immediate possessor and cause.  They are, as we see from other Upanishads, positive self-representations of the Brahman leading to good, joy, light, love, immortality as against all that is a dark negation of these things.  And it is necessarily in the mind, life, senses and speech of man that the battle here reaches its height and approaches to its full meaning.  The gods seek to lead these to good and light; the Titans, sons of darkness, seek to pierce them with ignorance and evil. (Chhandogya and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads)  Behind the gods is the Master-Consciousness of which they are the positive cosmic self-representations.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Kena Upanishad and analysis, pp. 103-104, 165-170