“All of them-as they surrender unto Me-I reward accordingly. Everyone follows My path in all respects, O son of Pritha.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.11)
ये यथा मां प्रपद्यन्ते
तांस् तथैव भजाम्य् अहम्
मनुष्याः पार्थ सर्वशः
ye yathā māṁ prapadyante
tāṁs tathaiva bhajāmy aham
manuṣyāḥ pārtha sarvaśaḥ
“Let me get this straight, you’re telling me that the religion you follow explains that even the non-believers are believers? That is a contradiction, I hope you realize. And yes, I get it, you don’t like it being labeled a religion. Sanatana-dharma is the appropriate term. We know it to be Hinduism, but I get your explanation that such a word is nowhere to be found in any of the many books that constitute the scriptural set.
“Could you please explain a little further? How do atheists believe in God? The very word indicates just the opposite; otherwise it wouldn’t be used. There would be no distinction between believer and non-believer. Everyone would be considered ‘okay’ or set for life.
“You know that in society things don’t work that way. There are the law-abiding and the criminals. You can’t say that both are the same; otherwise there would be no such thing as prison. Why the lack of distinction with the highest concept of all, God and His people?”
1. They have trust in nature and its laws
The concept is as eternal as sanatana-dharma itself, but is clearly explained in certain places. One of them is the Bhagavad-gita, where the conversation is not between a messenger and a teacher, nor a prophet and an audience desperate for higher knowledge.
Many of the verses begin with the Sanskrit words shri bhagavan uvacha. This translates to, “The Supreme Personality of Godhead said:” The Bhagavad-gita is God Himself speaking. Not that He is limited to that specific manifestation. The same work describes other transcendental forms belonging to Him, like Narayana, Rama and Narasimha. Despite the variety in appearance, the identity is always one.
Krishna tells Arjuna that everyone follows Him in all respects. The specific context is the explanation of when, where and why the Supreme Lord descends to earth. What are the conditions? Why not remain here in the personal form?
As a person surrenders, they are rewarded accordingly. The idea of the atheists believing in God relates to the mode of surrender. Everything in this world is attached to God. He is in everything, but everything is not in Him. I am part of what defines Him, but He is not a component to my existence. That is to say He could exist without me, but I could not exist without Him.
मया ततम् इदं सर्वं
न चाहं तेष्व् अवस्थितः
mayā tatam idaṁ sarvaṁ
na cāhaṁ teṣv avasthitaḥ
“By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.4)
One aspect to God is nature, and everyone acknowledges its existence. They both perceive the nature around them and make use of it. Do the atheists not eat? Do they not sleep? Do they not take comfort on a warm, sunny day in the winter season and feel relief on a cool, windy day in the summer?
Since the entire nature, vishva, is simply another aspect of God, every person has a connection with Him. This is irrespective of acknowledgment of the person behind the scenes, the actual source.
2. They give indirect praise to maya
To say there is no God is to say there is no nature or complete whole. One way that Krishna proved Divinity in the conversation with Arjuna was to show the virata-rupa. This is translated as “universal form,” which is like a single visual depicting everything known to exist. The “known” qualifier is intentional; there is so much about the universe that we don’t know. It is not necessary to show the unknown, since we wouldn’t know that it aids in the presentation.
To say there is no God is to say there is no origin, which is simply a period in time. Such denials are only possible when there is an illusory energy covering the otherwise good and decent sense of intelligence of the sober human being. This energy has a name in Sanskrit: maya.
Some philosophers speculate that maya is the equivalent to the devil of Abrahamic faiths, but that is actually not the case. Maya is a devi, or goddess, working directly for God. She creates a veil of illusion that is desired by the individual; it is their choice to be ignorant to the true ways of nature. Something like intentionally forgetting that the film playing in the theater is a scripted and edited performance, the individual thinks that under maya there will be more enjoyment in the material world.
Atheism is a byproduct of this illusion, and through that attitude a person indirectly praises the Supreme Lord. They show just how powerful His illusory energy can be, how it can turn an intelligent person into a fool very quickly.
3. They acknowledge God by denying His supremacy or existence
This is a more subtle admission; one that may not be obvious in the beginning. The historical example of Hiranyakashipu provides clarity. He was so much against God that he couldn’t stop thinking of Him. A powerful king in his own right, who was helped in reaching that position through worship of empowered beings, Hiranyakashipu would not tolerate any worship of Vishnu in his kingdom.
This was atheism, but there was still acknowledgement of the highest being. Though the king denied Vishnu’s supremacy, he always thought of Vishnu. In a subtle way he recognized that God existed; he simply had an improper assessment.
4. They believe in time
As mentioned previously, one way to know God is through time. He is the adi, or origin, of everything. He is actually the middle and end, as well, but the beginning is more easily understood. Before everything came to be, He was there. Through His breathing the universes manifest, remain for some time, and then disappear.
सर्गाणाम् आदिर् अन्तश् च
मध्यं चैवाहम् अर्जुन
वादः प्रवदताम् अहम्
sargāṇām ādir antaś ca
madhyaṁ caivāham arjuna
vādaḥ pravadatām aham
“Of all creations I am the beginning and the end and also the middle, O Arjuna. Of all sciences I am the spiritual science of the Self, and among logicians I am the conclusive truth.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.32)
Every person acknowledges an origin. The atheists speculate that first there was a single cell or a few cells. Perhaps they collided to create subsequent chemical reactions. Another person might say that nature itself is the origin. Regardless the specifics, there is always a period of time, and that marker is equivalent with God. It is simply another way to understand Him.
With respect to devotee and atheist, sura and asura, the destinations are different. That is where the distinctions come into play. The worshiper of nature stays with nature. They may descend to different species depending on how strong the illusion is, but their object of association is always there. They are rewarded accordingly.
The sura gradually moves closer towards eternal association with the personal form of God. This is considered superior because the problems of material existence are absent. No more threefold miseries. No more constantly changing bodies. No more succumbing to the illusory effects of maya. The path of the sura is superior, and for them Bhagavan descends to earth to show pastimes and pass on supreme teachings like Bhagavad-gita.
For believers Bhagavan descending,
To present and future shastra extending.
So that in best way all can live,
And example for others to give.
But atheists believers too in a way,
When origin as nature or chemicals to say.
When strongly denying even some respect,
But only with material in future to expect.
Categories: the four