Sri Aurobindo translates Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, Chapter One, Section Three, Verses 1-2: “Two were the races of the Sons of God, the gods and the Titans. Thereafter the gods were weaker, mightier the Titans. They in these worlds strove together, and the gods said, ‘Let us by this udgitha overpass the Titans in the Yajna.’ They said to Speech, ‘Do thou go upward (by the udgitha) for us.’ ‘So be it’, said Speech and he went upward for them; the enjoyment that is in speech, he reached for the gods, the good that it speaks, he reached for the self. They thought it was by this singer they would overpass them, but they ran at him and penetrated him with evil. The evil that one speaketh, this that hath no correspondence (to the thing in fact to be expressed), — this is that evil.”
The battle of the gods and the Titans is an allegory of the inner struggle between the impulses driven by ego, and the aspiration of the higher self seeking to attain knowledge and realisation. The actions of each individual are governed by the predominance and balance of the three gunas, or qualities of Nature. Those with a predominant sattwic nature, focused on peace, harmony, compassion, seeking for knowledge and devoted to truth, are carrying out the action of the gods, focusing on the growth of the higher principles of action, and reducing the impact of the ego-nature’s seeking for satisfaction of its desires. Those with a predominant rajasic nature tend to try to aggrandize themselves at the expense of others, want to satisfy the urgings of their lower desires and do not care about truth in their attempt to gain a victory for their egoistic pursuits.
In his Essays on the Gita, Sri Aurobindo comments: “These are the human representatives of the Devas and Danavas or Asuras, the Gods and the Titans. This distinction is a very ancient one in Indian religious symbolism. The fundamental idea of the Rig Veda is a struggle between the Gods and their dark opponents, between the Masters of Light, sons of infinity, and the children of Division and Night, a battle in which man takes part and which is reflected in all his inner life and action.”
The egoistic nature and the rajasic and tamasic elements are naturally stronger in man in his animal nature. Seeking physical satisfaction, vital achievement and the seeking for power are thereby predominant for a long while in human nature, and the vital force, oriented towards the process of “eating” in order to survive and thrive, naturally favors the ascendancy of these forces. Those who seek truth, who seek oneness, who seek a wider and higher action of harmony try to overcome the force of desire through the chanting of the udgitha, the OM. This action is beneficial, but for a long time the force of desire continues to arise and it can hijack the thoughts, and deeds of the individual even as they begin to carry out their higher seeking. The force of speech, when it is not chanting OM, engages still with the human nature, and brings about the expression of falsehood as part of the egoistic approach to success in life. This is that evil that is spoken of here.