07.14 – We are our own devils
Some traditions have the conception of the Devil, an intrinsically evil being who is independent of and almost as powerful as God. He wants to usurp God’s position and seduces us into evil deeds.
Such a personification of the Devil may be practically helpful for inducing a healthy fear of evil temptations among people. However, from the philosophically precise perspective given in Gita wisdom, there is no such literally existing entity. Metaphorically speaking, we are our own devils.
Some novices equate the Devil with Maya in Gita wisdom. However, the critical difference is that Maya is a servant of God, as the Bhagavad-gita (07.14) indicates by describing her as daivi (divine). She is therefore neither intrinsically evil, nor is she independent of or nearly as powerful as God. In fact, there is no intrinsically evil being in God’s creation; all living beings are his parts and so are intrinsically pure. Nor is anyone independent of or nearly as powerful as God; all living beings are his servants.
Why does Maya seduce us, as does the Devil? To educate us. She is like a punctilious teacher who evaluates students by giving many wrong alternatives in a multiple choice question paper. But she never forces us to tick the wrong alternatives; we do that by thoughtlessly misusing our free will.
Understanding that we are our own devils is profoundly liberating. We become free from the fear that some overpowering evil influence is lurking in the dark, waiting to strike us down as we strive to walk on the path of virtue. We understand that all we need to do is just carefully choose to serve Krishna constantly. Then the seemingly devilish material energy will gradually reveal herself to be our friend and aid us in our virtuous march back to Krishna.