Monday, 5 December 2016

The Gods See The Spirit Supreme

"Gods" differ. I refer, of course, to superhuman beings who either are believed in and prayed to or are imagined in works of art/literature/fiction but do not necessarily exist. In fact, if any such beings do exist, then they are almost certainly completely unlike anything that has been believed or imagined.

Poul Anderson's heroic fantasies highlight the Eddaic pantheon, particularly Odin. Thor wields his hammer in Chapter I of War Of The Gods. Although these guys are inspiring to the extent that they protect mankind from hostile elements personified as Giants and Ice Trolls, their personalities, Odin's trickiness and Thor's oafishness, remain unedifying and it seems inappropriate to call them "divine."

The Vedas, like the Eddas, celebrate Aryan gods of fire, wind and thunder:

"I will declare the manly deeds of Indra, the first that he achieved, the Thunder-wielder."
(see here)

However, later scriptures, the Upanishads, promote the Vedic gods to a higher spiritual status when they see "...Brahman, the Spirit Supreme..."

They ask:

"'Who is that being that fills us with wonder?'"
-Kena Upanishad IN The Upanishads, trans. Juan Mascaro (Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1984), pp. 51-54 AT p. 52.

"'...Indra, the god of thunder, excelled all other gods for he came nearest to Brahman and he first knew he was the Spirit Supreme." (p. 53)

Thus, Indra transcends Thor.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

By mentioning Odin's trickiness and the oafishness of Thor you have touched on one reason why Christianity has converted so many pagans. The pagan gods are not WORTHY of being either worshiped or taken seriously. And I suspect the philosophizing of the Hindu gods we see in the UNAHISHADS was an attempt to strip away treachery and boorishness from the "gods."