If God is supreme, why does he need weapons?
Question: In temples, God is often depicted as carrying weapons. If God is supreme, why does he need weapons to protect himself?
Answer: God’s weapons are meant to protect not him, but us – from our lower selves.
God rules by love. For those who being impelled by their lower selves resent and reject the rule of love, the weapons implement the rule of law so as to inspire them to once again choose the rule of love. To understand this better, we need to acquaint ourselves with the Vedic worldview.
The Vedic scriptures explain that we live not just in a universe, but in a universal government. Just as an uneducated person may see an airplane as “a steel bird” flying automatically, the ignorant materialistic vision sees the wind as air flowing automatically. But just as a well-educated person knows that the airplane is guided by an expert pilot, the enlightened spiritual vision knows that the wind is guided by an expert intelligence, that of the demigod Vayu. In the universal government the demigods are cabinet ministers with the Supreme Lord being the Prime Minister. As these demigods are not omnipotent like the Supreme Lord, they need their weapons for protection and administration.
Though the demigods symbolically represent their particular universal department, they are not mere symbols; they are real extraterrestrial beings who exist higher up in the cosmic hierarchy usually invisible to the fallible vision of us earthlings. Correspondingly, the weapons of these demigods, in addition to being real objects, symbolically represent the power of the rule of law that governs all of us. Thus, Indra, who is in charge of the atmospheric function of rainfall, carries a thunderbolt, which represents the awesome power of the atmosphere forces to which we are subject. The strongest of all natural forces is the force of time, for it as death conquers all mortal beings – even world conquerors. This supreme force of time is represented by the weapon of the Supreme Lord, the fiery disc known as the Sudarshan Chakra. This disc, far from being a primitive wheel, is an insurmountable hi-tech device capable of striking decisive blows in the battles between good and evil. But more importantly, the circular shape of the disc symbolizes the cyclic nature of time.
Meditation on the disc inspires the intelligent to return to the world of love, where God in his highest and most intimate aspect as Sri Krishna usually doesn’t carry any weapon. What he does carry is an enchanting flute, by whose magical music he invites all of us back from the world of law filled with weapons and violence return to the eternal spiritual world, where weapons are not needed, for their love reigns supreme.