“Brahma” By Ralph Waldo Emerson


If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Far or forgot to me is near
Shadow and sunlight are the same;
The vanished gods to me appear;
And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;

I am the doubter and the doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

Brahma the creator in the Hindu pantheon here speaks like Krishna in the Bhagavadgita where the latter advises Arjuna the reluctant warrior standing in the battlefield with crippling doubts about the correctness of fighting a battle . In much the same way-the red slayer, the slain are one and the same,both functioning in their roles already scripted when the world began. Neither the slayer nor the slain can claim credit for the roles and being concerned with the killing of the near and the dear ones one arrogates to oneself the power to change one’s own destiny and others’.

Brahma is the creator ,while Vishnu ,who is also Krishna, maintains order. The knowledge of Brahma is knowledge of the world which makes one aware of one’s own insignificance in the scheme of things. The doubter as well as the doubt is Brahma .It is from him that God’s existence as well as skepticism about his existence flow. If one finds Brahma one can turn one’s back on heaven.

“I am the doubter and the doubt” -in Hinduism the system of belief accommodates skepticism, explained by an all-pervading maya(roughly,illusion) ,which casts doubts on the existence itself.

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