God & Evil

In the Bhagavat Gita, Chapter VII, Slokam 16, Lord Krishna mentions four types of persons who are drawn to worship the Divine:


Gita: 7-16

arjuna O Arjuna, bharatarshabha foremost of the Bharata dynasty, caturvidhah, four classes; of janaah, people; who are eminent among human beings and are pious in actions, and are sukrtinah, of virtuous deeds; bhajante, adore; maam, Me:-
aartaah
, the afflicted-one who is overcome by sorrow, who is in distress;  
jijnaasuh
, the seeker of Knowledge, who wants to know the reality of the Lord; 
arthaarthi
, the seeker of wealth; ca and 
jnaani
, the man of Knowledge, i.e. one who, already having intellectual knowledge, aspires for Liberation. 

In this connection,  I remembered some statements in a book which I had read a long time ago -  `God and Evil' by C.E.M Joad.

The author had been an atheist till about age forty. He was faced with the universal problem baffling all genuine seekers: the obtrusiveness of evil and the absence of a logical explanation for its power and existence in an universe owing its origin to God, who is portrayed as omnipotent and benevolent.  In many of his earlier writings, he denied that an omnipotent God could exist because of the dominance of evil and its power to vanquish good. After World War II, a change came over him and he wrote God and Evil;  in the first part of this book, he argues elaborately that every logical explanation to reconcile the two positions was bound to fail and then proceeds to Part II of the book (page 112) commencing with the statement:

".... the conclusions of the intellect deny that the orthodox God of the religious hypothesis - omnipotent and benevolent, could have been the creator of the world;  and deny it precisely because of the fact of evil.  But if the intellect denies what the heart demands,  what then? ...perhaps the deadlock is a sign of, perhaps it is even a punishment for, intellectual arrogance...The considerations which have set my mind working again on the problems of religion are of an emotional order .....the emotions are those connected with inadequacy. The life that lacks religion lacks, so I have come to feel, fullness and roundness, and the desire to find that true which I have always believed to be false, to know something of that which I have thought to be unknowable grows as the years pass by. One is dismayed by the evil at large in the world and in oneself, depressed and humiliated by the inadequacy of one's efforts to cope with it, humiliated then by the inadequacy of one's own self. It is from precisely such a feeling of humiliation that, religious writers have often urged, the search for and need of God, take their rise. What is more, the seeker who is inspired by such a mood  may not be wholly without hope of succeeding in his quest.  For alienated by intellectual pride, they have assured us, God draws nearer to those who approach Him in humbleness of spirit." (More at:    God&Evil_Joad)

Joad  belonged to the group of persons referred to in sloka 16/Ch.VII as being distressed.  He was distressed  not because of personal misfortunes, but because he was a true seeker who was initially turned away from God by his intellect due to God's failure to pass  man's test of  His omnipotence and benevolence on this earth, by allowing evil to dominate.  Later, when  his heart was not satisfied with his intellect's conclusion, the very reason for rejection, namely, the obtrusiveness of evil and his own helplessness to counter it created in him a deep distress which set him on the path to seek God as the sole support. 

The particular events which caused him this immense distress were the  cruel killing of five million defenseless men, women and children in gas-chambers by Nazi Germany and the many horrors of World War II including the total destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki cities with atom- bombs that killed almost the entire civilian population of the two cities.

The lucky few are drawn to the Divine through love for Him.  Most are drawn to him through a sense of their own inadequacy to conquer evil -- which exists, has always existed and periodically causes a steep decline in Dharma, leading to the Lord's divine appearances amidst us, as assured by Him in the famous Gita-slokams - IV 7, 8

Whenever there is decline of righteousness, O Arjuna, and rise of unrighteousness, then I manifest Myself. -7
For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked and for the establishment of righteousness, 
I take birth in every age. -8