But now what does this Polytheism mean? There is a truth in it. For every Nation has its own Ḍeva, as we should say; its own Angel, as the Christian and Musalmān would say. These subordinate hosts, these Angels and Archangels, these Ḍevas and Ḍevīs, they are all superhuman intelligences, working out the will of God the Supreme. Think for a moment of Astronomy. There was a time when this little world was the centre of the Solar System, when fixed, with the Waters below and the Waters above, the Sun, the Moon, the Stars also, circled around our Globe. Science gradually found out that the universe was larger than the Solar System; that the Universe had many Suns and many systems. It found out that our globe went round the Sun and not the Sun round our globe. The world was lifted out of this position of superiority and thrown out into space, one among myriads of worlds; that was the heresy for which Giordano Bruno died. He proclaimed the multiplicity of worlds, and that the Sun was the centre of our system, but that there were other worlds and other Suns. In the old days that was a frightful horror, for he turned everything upside down. What can you do with Christian teachings if our globe is one among many? Christ died for this world. Did God die for a grain of dust in an endless Universe? The whole dignity of our world was lost. Then they said that Christ ascended up into Heaven, but Bruno said that there was no “up” and no “down”. Our world with space below it; our world with space above it. Where then is Heaven? Where is Hell? Where is Heaven? Where is the Throne of God? Where the right hand of God where Christ is sitting? Where did He go to on that Ascension day? Where is He to be found in this unlimited space? And so they said: “Oh! burn him, get rid of him, send him to find the worlds of which he talks.” So they burnt him and scattered his ashes, and joyed that he was dead. But Bruno lived still although the body was dead, and Science, Science triumphed, although its votaries were burnt, were racked, were imprisoned. They took Galileo and forced him to his knees to confess that he had been mistaken; “and yet it moves,” were the whispered words of the Scientist, who did not dare to face the horrors of the Inquisition. And so Science triumphed, and now, what do you find? Not only that our Sun is, to us, a stationary body and the world goes round it; but that ours is only one of many systems, and that all those systems and their Suns go round another Sun, and that is not the last, and again that is not the last; for all those masses of systems, they also go round a still higher Sun, and so concentric circles of worlds, of systems, of Universes, without end that human eye can pierce, without end that human mind can grasp; and so we begin to realise that the local Gods of the past, they have their places, all circling round the One who is the centre of all life, “the One without a Second”. All Universes rise and fall in Him. All Universes are born and die in His immensity. No thought may limit Him. No mind may grasp Him. He is the All, the One, the Omnipresent, and His Life lives in the Angels and Archangels, lives in the Ḍevas of all the systems, and in all they are His Ministers, carrying out His Will.
And so there arose what is called Pantheism. God is All and in all. Now there is a great difference between the Pantheism of the West as embodied in Spinoza, and the Pantheism of the East, that you find in the Veḍas, that you find in the Zend-Avesta, that you find in the old dead Religions of Egypt, of Greece, of Rome. The Pantheism of the West is one Divine Existence with certain attributes, the Spinozean Pantheism. It is the Formless Boundless Existence. Not quite the Nirguṇa Brahman, the “Brahman without attributes”. His Pantheism is as cold and uninspiring for conduct, as the Nirguṇa Brahman would be if that were the last word of Hinḍūism. Infinite, All-embracing, All-in-holding, out of Space and Time, that is the central thought of every great philosophy, Musalmān, Hinḍū, Zoroastrian, I might almost say Christian–though that is more doubtful, for it is more rigid, and narrowed by being confined more or less within the conceptions of the Bible. If you go to the great Musalmān Doctors of the ninth and tenth centuries A. D. you will find magnificent descriptions of the All-God. In That is said to exist not only what has been, not only what is, but that which shall he, and all eternally existent, all that is conceivable, all that is inconceivable, all is in Him. It is the same as the Aḍvaiṭa-Veḍānṭa–if you take away from that the conception of the Saguṇa Brahman, and the devotional side of Shrī Shaṅkarāchārya in his sṭoṭras–the One without a Second, embracing all, conceiving all, all-existing, one Now, without past, present, and future, nothing to be excluded. But then comes the next step, the Saguṇa Brahman, the “Brahman with attributes,” that is not a second, but the One in manifestation. He manifests a part of Himself. Said Shrī Kṛṣhṇa: “I established this Universe with a portion of myself, and I remain”; all-transcending, all-embracing, the manifested God, limiting Himself by manifestation. And so Manu speaks of Him as “a mountain of light,” the generating Light; the One with attributes, but the attributes belong to the manifestation. They might vary perchance in another age, in another Universe. Then there go forth from Him the three great manifestations, Will, or Power; Wisdom, or Self-Realisation; Activity, or Creative Intelligence, and that threefold manifestation, of Power, of Self-Realisation, of Creative Intelligence, that is the root of every Trinity, as it is called, that you find in the ancient and in the modern worlds. Three forms of Manifestation inherent in one Existence, the creative Power, that brings a Universe into existence, called Brahmā among Hinḍūs; the sustaining all-preserving Power, that maintains a Universe, all-permeating, all-preserving, that is called Viṣhṇu; and He into whom all re-enters, the Destroyer, the Regenerator, He into whom all returns that a higher form may reappear, that is Mahāḍeva, Shiva, the Supreme Bliss.