(To be read at the Service of Universal Worship)
Religious Gatheka Number 50
The conception of many gods has come from two sources. One was the idea of the wise to make every kind of power and attribute in a form of deity and to call it a certain god. It was done in order to give the ordinary mind the most needed thought that God is in everything and that God is all power. Many afterwards misunderstood the idea, and the wisdom behind it became obscured. Therefore some wise men had to fight against the ideas of the other wise men. And yet they did not fight with the idea, they fought with the misconception of it.
But now, at the present time, when there exists no such idea in Europe of many gods, many have lost their faith after the recent war, saying: if God is all goodness, all justice, all powerful, why has such a dreadful thing as war been allowed to take place? If the same people were accustomed to see, among their many gods, as the Hindus have worshipped for generations, Kali, the goddess of war, it would not have been a new thing for them to know that if all is from God, not only peace, but even war is from God.
The mystics of all ages have therefore given God many Names. The Sufi schools of esotericism have possessed their different names of God, with their nature and secret; and have used them i in different meditations along the path of spiritual attainment. Therefore the Sufis have not many gods but many Names of God, each expressive of a certain attribute. Suppose these Names which the Sufis have used were not the Names of God – if they had only held in thought words such as: mercy, compassion, patience, – it would have been a merit, not a person. Merit is not creative, and merit is only something which is possessed. Therefore attributes is not important, the important one is the possessor of the attribute. Therefore, instead of thinking of success, the Sufi calls upon the God of success. For him the God of success is not a different God, there is only one God. But only by calling upon that Name of God which is expressive of success he attaches his soul to that perfect Spirit of success.
The other source from whence the idea of many gods has come is the deep thinkers and philosophers, who have seen God in every soul and every soul making a God of its own according to its stage of evolution. Therefore there is a saying among the Hindus: 'There are as many gods as there are strains of music.' In other words, there are numerous imaginations and numberless gods. And if ever this idea was taught to the people, it was to break that ignorance of some people who made God confined to heaven, and kept the earth free from His divine presence. They waited for death to come, when they might be taken into the presence of God, Who was sitting on the throne of justice in the hereafter. By this they tried to show to the people that God is in every soul, and so as many souls, so many gods; some advanced, some not advanced, some further advanced; and yet all gods. If there is a struggle, it is a conflict between gods, if there is harmony, it is a friendship between gods. By these terms they wished to make man realize the most essential truth that God is all. No doubt those who misunderstand will always misunderstand.
This idea brought about corruption also, and made people who regard many gods interested in the legends of the past which narrated the wars and battles which took place among gods. Therefore the wise had again to come to their rescue, and teach them again of the one God; that by this teaching they may again come too the realization of the oneness of life, which is best realized in the God-Ideal.