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Chapter 3: Godliness, Not God

So these points have to be clear to you. I am not a theist like Jesus or Mohammed or Krishna, because I cannot agree with a dead god.

I am reminded of one of my professors. He is a very beautiful man: Professor S.S.Roy. Now he is retired as head of the department of philosophy from Allahabad University. The first day I joined his class, he was explaining the concept of “The Absolute.” He was an authority on Bradley and Shankara. Both believe in “The Absolute” - that is their name for God.

I asked him one thing which made me very intimate with him, and he opened his whole heart to me, in every possible way. I just asked, “Is your ‘Absolute’ perfect? Has it come to a full stop or is it still growing? If it is still growing, then it is not absolute, it is imperfect - only then can it grow. If something more is possible, some more branches, some more flowers - then it is alive. If it is complete, entirely complete - that’s the meaning of the word absolute: now there is no possibility for growth - then it is dead.” So I asked him, “Be clear, because ‘Absolute’ represents God to Bradley and Shankara; that is their philosophical name for God. Is your God alive or dead? You have to answer this question.”

He was really an honest man. He said, “Please give me time to think.” He had a doctorate on Bradley from Oxford, another doctorate on Shankara from Benares, and he was thought to be the greatest authority on these two philosophers because he had tried to prove that Bradley, from the West, and Shankara, from the East, have come to the same conclusion. He said, “Please give me time to think.”

I said, “Your whole life you have been writing about Bradley and Shankara and ‘The Absolute.’ I have read your books, I have read your unpublished thesis, and you have been teaching here your whole life - has nobody ever asked you such a simple question?”

He said, “Nobody ever asked me; not only that, even I have never thought about it - that, certainly, if something is perfect then it has to be dead. Anything alive has to be imperfect. This idea has never occurred to me. So please give me time.”

I said, “You can take as much time as you want. I will come every day and ask the same question.” And it continued for five, six days. Every day I would enter the class and he would come shaking, and I would stand up and say my question.

And he said, “Please forgive me, I cannot decide. With both ways there is difficulty. I cannot say God is imperfect; I cannot say God is dead. But you have conquered my heart.”

He removed my things from the hostel to his house. He said, “No more. You cannot live in the hostel. You have to come and live with my family, with me. I have much to learn from you, because such a simple question had not occurred to me. You have canceled all my degrees.”

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