Chapter XVI: 19-20
|These cruel haters, worst
among men in the world, I hurl these evil-doers into the wombs of demons only.
Entering into demoniacal wombs and deluded, birth after birth, not attaining me, they thus fall, Oh Arjuna, into a condition still lower than that.
Even the wicked ones have a human garb - let us not forget that. But their inmost personality (the "bhava") is that of a demon. There, they deserve (and desire?) only birth as demons. There is no injustice in this. Naturally, therefore, our next birth will be in accordance with the "bhava" (innermost nature) of our being.
The"wombs of demons" may very well mean houses of power and affluence. The answer to the oft-asked question "Why do wicked men prosper?" is So that they may commit more crimes and descend into the lowest depths sooner - and so that eventually they may rise from there sooner, too, and be redeemed. Injustice is man's invention; God is just.
Cannot God avoid all this and directly redeem the sinner? asks a friend. Yes, of course he can, as the exceptional cases in our legends prove, but having bestowed on man intelligence and free-will, God would rather let the soul lovingly, knowingly and deliberately choose to love him, even after some amount of painful wandering in lower births.
A condition still lower than that is what is popularly called hell. This is not outside God's creation, but inside it. It is a state of being which is farthest from light, a plane of existence farthest from the divine. Such hell may be within the heart of man, in the darkest corners of a guilty conscience, in the vicious dens of modern living or in a far distant planet or star.
Farthest does not necessarily imply spatial distance; a person standing close to light but facing away from it with blindfolded eyes, is farthest from that light!
Hell may exist in all these forms; one need not necessarily cancel the other!
Web Editor's Notes