The Struggle Between Good and Evil in Human Psychology

Sri Aurobindo translates Chhandogya Upanishad, Chapter One, Section Two, Verses 1-6: “The Gods and the Demons strove together and both were children of the Almighty Father.  Then the Gods took up for weapon OM of Udgitha, for they said, ‘With this we shall overcome these Titans.’  The Gods worshipped OM as Breath in the nostrils; but the Demons came and smote it with the arrow of Evil; therefore it smelleth both alike, the sweet scent and the evil odour.  For it is smitten through and through with Evil.  Then the Gods worshipped OM as Speech; but the Demons came and smote it with the arrow of Evil; therefore it speaketh both alike, Truth and Falsehood.  For it is smitten through and through with Evil.  Then the Gods worshipped OM as the Eye; but the Demons came and smote it with the arrow of Evil; therefore it beholdeth both alike, the fair to see and the foul of favour.  For it is smitten through and through with Evil.  Then the Gods worshipped OM as the Ear; but the Demons came and smote it with the arrow of Evil; therefore it heareth both alike, that which is well to hear and that which is harsh and unseemly.  For it is smitten through and through with Evil.  Then the Gods worshipped Udgitha as Mind; but the Demons came and smote it with the arrow of Evil; therefore it conceiveth both alike, right thoughts and unlawful imaginations.  For it is smitten through and through with Evil.”

The symbolism of the gods and the titans is tied to the internal focus and direction of the being, the force of impulsion of the individual either towards light, growth and advancement, increase of knowledge and oneness with the Eternal, or towards self-aggrandizement, egoistic fulfillment of desire and the darkness of the unenlightened vital nature.  The gods express their aspiration through focus on OM.  When this is applied, however, to the instruments of the manifestation, the sense organs and the mind, this focus is generally overwhelmed by the demands of the physical and vital nature.  This is called being “smitten with Evil”.  Evil in this sense is not a moral judgment, based on some specific social mores, but a description of the focus and direction and limitation of the being which tries to achieve its separate fulfillment from the rest of the creation of which it is a part and partial expression, in other words, a false or “unlawful imagination”.

This describes the difference between “good” and “evil” and the complexity of human nature with both an outward and downward urge and an upward and inward aspiration.

Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads, Chhandogya Upanishad, pp.349-366

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.