Where does people’s evil tendency come from?
Transcription by– VandanaGoel and Keshav Gopal Das
Question– If God is not responsible for people’s bad actions then where from does the living entity get the desire to do terrible things? Say Hitler did Holocaust. Where does evil come from?
Answer– The tendency for evil comes from people’s own past choices which are stored as impressions in their conscience, in their mind, and which they further aggravate by the choices they make now. To understand this; say a butcher regularly kills animals so the butcher is going to initiate his child; his son in this act of killing. The first time a butcher picks up a knife to kill a hen, butcher’s hand may tremble but the second time the hand trembles less and fifth time; tenth time, he kills effortlessly. He kills thoughtlessly; as if somebody is cutting sabzi, the butcher may kill living animals like that. So what has happened; because of repeated killing, the conscience which was there prompting a person not to do wrong, that conscience gets dulled and dumbed, numbed and then it gets dumped. Dumb means be muted, that means we don’t hear its voice, numbed means we become desensitized and dumped means we neglect it afterwards; one doesn’t even notice anything is wrong at all. So in this way one loses his inner guide that is there. All of us have free will. And we as souls are originally virtuous. We are parts of God and we meant to be Godly. But we are covered over by impressions which prompt us to do right or wrong things, depending upon the nature of impressions. That means, we could consider these impressions to be like prompts coming out of a computer. When the prompts comes in a particular way; then people choose accordingly. The prompts which come, they do not force people to choose a particular way how you would like to run this program. So now, yes or no, I can choose both. But if I keep choosing yes; again and again; then after sometime that program becomes like a default program. And then; even without my consciously choosing, that program gets chosen or rather I just choose that program unconsciously and it becomes a part of who I am, or what I am doing? Does this have to happen necessarily? No, definitely it doesn’t. But, the fault of repeated wrong choices makes that a default. That default can become a dangerous fault over a period of time. The people who just lose their conscience and do whatever brutal things they feel will bring about their happiness or their success. So, our own choices and our habits; our default habits that results because of our choices; are responsible for what we do. In the Bhagwad Geeta; this question of, ‘from where the evil comes from within us?’ The answer given is ‘the lust’. In 3.36, Arjuna ask, arjuna uvāca atha kena prayukto ‘yaḿ pāpaḿ carati pūruṣaḥ anicchann api vārṣṇeya balād iva niyojitaḥ What is it that impels me to do sinful activities even unwillingly as if impelled by force? Krishna replies, ‘kameshkrodhesh ‘, it is lust only Arjuna which later degrades into wrath, fury, anger. And that makes people do wrong things. Lust at one level refers to sexual pleasure, at another level it refers to the broad desire to control and enjoy the other. In lust, ‘the other is embodied as a sexually alluring object’. In general lust basically represents the desire to control or anything that may be embodied as the other. For Hitler, it was the German territory, the European territory, the world, which he wanted to control and enjoy. And how did he try to do it? He eliminated anyone who came in his way and used whatever means necessary to do that. So the soul’s terrible choices are because of the alien covering the soul has chosen on itself and reinforced by the choices. But all of us can choose to act rightly. We can choose to act rightly if we want to and if we desire to act rightly then Krishna is there to help us. He is there to purify us. He has given us the holy name by which we can purify us and thereby go beyond our past default conditioning. Being consciously and determinately make right choices and become virtuous. For those who refuse to become virtuous then there are karmic reactions which come. These are reactions for their own past deeds which come and they have to learn in the school of hard knocks. So those who do brutality, they will get terrible sufferings as the consequences and by those consequences they will get shock treatment which will eventually enable them also get the good sense that I should not be making wrong choices and they will start making right choices. Thank you Hare Krishna