Verse 110, the problem of evil

Verse 110, Vijñānabhairavatantra         the problem of evil

“Just as the waves arise from the water, flames from fire and rays from the sun, so too from me, Bhairava, the aspects of the universe arise in their variety.”

जलस्येवोर्मयो वह्नेर् ज्वालाभङ्ग्यः प्रभा रवेः।

ममैव भैरवस्यैता विश्वभङ्ग्यो विभेदिताः॥ ११०॥

jalasyevormayo vahner jvālābhaṅgyaḥ prabhā raveḥ |

mamaiva bhairavasyaitā viśvabhaṅgyo vibheditāḥ || 110 ||

In the previous śloka the meditation focused on the fact that the practitioner realizes he is Parameśvara. This śloka follows on naturally: all things arise from the Supreme Lord.

The question immediately arises about what is meant by ‘the variety’. Does this include evil? This question is acutely felt in the teaching of non-dualism. As long as the world can be divided into good and evil, in a Zoroastrian sense, the question is easily answered: No! But if all springs from Bhairava, then is evil due to him? Is he evil? How then pray to be free from evil; why fight against evil? Why be concerned with social justice? Why feel sorrow? The consequences are enormous.

Islam teaches that everything happens by the will of Allah, but would not go so far as to say that Allah is the author of evil. Job says “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,”(Job 1:21) but goes no further.

In the Christian view of things, there is another answer, namely that evil is turned to good. God shows his omnipotence by turning evil into good. On the last day when all is resolved, it will be seen that what was evil – and indeed it was evil – is now turned to our advantage. The tables have been turned.

Furthermore, who are we to know what is good and what is evil? However, just because we do not know what is finally good and what is finally evil, we do not jettison the law of morality. Moreover, there are paths down which we do not go, for they do not give rise to the flowering of consciousness.

Only the one who has been through life and death can be the Judge of all. Indeed, he wishes to know life and death so as to be the Lord of life and death. Non-dualism is not to be understood with limited consciousness. Only in the end is God all in all, God is God even in evil.

The title used in this verse is ‘Bhairava’ which is carefully chosen, for if the name ‘Śiva’ refers to auspicious form of the ultimate reality, ‘Bhairava’ refers to the awesome aspect, the terrible, redoubtable form.

About interfaithashram

Rev. Dr. John Dupuche is a Roman Catholic Priest, a senior lecturer at MCD University of Divinity, and Honorary Fellow at Australian Catholic University. His doctorate is in Sanskrit in the field of Kashmir Shaivism. He is chair of the Catholic Interfaith Committee of the Archdiocese of Melbourne and has established a pastoral relationship with the parishes of Lilydale and Healesville. He is the author of 'Abhinavagupta: the Kula Ritual as elaborated in chapter 29 of the Tantraloka', 2003; 'Jesus, the Mantra of God', 2005; 'Vers un tantra chrétien' in 2009; translated as 'Towards a Christian Tantra' in 2009. He has written many articles. He travels to India each year. He lives in an interfaith ashram.
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