It has been noticed that many people appear every now and then and want to do something great and important and so they cover their intentions under a divine ordinance. When Cromwell butchered the Irishmen, women and children, and fought his battles with distinction, he always announced that he was working under direct orders from God. Calvin, too, had the same pretension. In a minor degree people who indulge in this pretension are found in many walks of life.
When the Indian semi-religious teacher Govindasingh founded the Sikh order to combat the Mohammedan tyranny, he announced that it was under the direct command of God that he was founding the ‘pantha’ or order. In Bengal not long ago Keshub Chandrasen gave out that he received direct orders from God and that God had commanded him to marry his daughter, who was not yet twelve years old, to the heir-apparent of the Maharaja of Koochbihar. In our own days Aurobindo Ghose gave out that he was interviewed by Shri Krishna, who ordered him to adopt a certain course of life.
When I carefully considered this matter, I came to the conclusion that all those men who made extravagant claims were either demented or selfish hypocrites. Cromwell started his military career as an anti-Royalist, but he was quite willing to proclaim himself king after the beheading of Charles I, when he was prevented by those men who were nearest to him and who were his great supporters. Govindasingh, the Sikh leader, fought the Raja Belashor and the other chiefs for the sake of his individual power, and the same applies to all other such pretenders also.
God has ordained only one course of life for man, and it is the moral mystico- spiritual creed. Let him purify and still his mind, give unqualified devotion, and finally recognise his identity with the Lord Himself in his own being.
What is the meaning of the words, Rishi, seer of Truth, or Hebrew prophet? It seems to me that under certain mystic experiences man imagines that he is ordered by God to do such and such a thing. But it is only a test of the stability of his heart in devotion and renunciation.
It will be seen that the self-ordained prophets of God contradict themselves when it suits their purpose. They have no idea of the future; no man ever can. But they believe that they know all the past and future. Before Maya relieves the soul of man of her clutches, it tries many subtle tricks to delude him, and in the case of some pious men the assumption of the claim to be under the command of divinity is one of them.
Does God need a man to command? Is He not the basis of the intellect of the whole universe? In the inorganic kingdom do the rocks ever assert such a claim? Let me illustrate the point of view which I hold in this matter.
There was a certain Sufi who lived as a perfect renunciate and a thorough devotee of God. He used to cry involuntarily the spiritual truth: “I am Shiva, I am the highest bliss.” In Arabic it means ‘Analhaq’. At one time the Sufi mystic happened to be in the neighbourhood of a few rationalistic sceptics. In order to subject him to a test, they imprisoned him in a ruined house and supplied him with the bare necessities of life.
The Sufi was unmindful of all the external changes and went on singing: “Analhaq, Analhaq.” One dark night a number of young and beautiful boys dressed up as angels suddenly descended upon him, and their leader said: “O holy Saint, Allah is highly pleased with thee. He recognises the unique quality of thy devotion. He has sent us round to ask thee what boon thou wouldst desire of Him. Allah is willing to make thee a king, a sovereign, a commander of people, a great religious leader. Tell us now, what is thy wish, O holy man?” The Saint looked at them carefully and shouted: “Get away, ye hypocrites, you are cheats and deceivers. There is no other God but myself, and I have not ordered you to do any such thing which you are now pretending to do.”
This Sufi illustrates the spiritual position very well. To a jnani God is his own Self, and how can the Self order his own Self to claim that a certain man is under the command of God? It is an absurd assumption. The command of God implies duality, but the Supreme Spirit is above duality.