Angels and Demons? Uniquely christian concepts I suppose. Reflecting on Hindu Mythology, the concept of devas (gods) and asuras (lesser of the demigods) are so much less black and white. In fact, some of the so called rakshasas were ardent devotees of various gods and earned many favours for their faith and penance. Devas, besides being mighty and noble and all that had their weaknesses and often ended up doing vain things. Perhaps Hindu mythology understood that the dichotomy of good and bad, while academically sound just won’t work in reality. Greek Gods too were similar in their character. Between Aries and Zeus, they indulged in their share of hanky panky. Don’t believe me? Ask how Hercules was born.
Basavanna, perhaps one of the greatest philosophers to have walked this earth, was a 12th century poet who understood the essence of vedic philosophy and founded an egalitarian movement. His poetry condemned all kinds of discrimination and urged people to find their soul through reflection, instead of seeking out god in the temples of the land. His poetry in Kannada remains true for generations. He and many other kannada poets like Sarvagna, constantly reminded people that heaven and hell are within and it is for one to find them with good conduct and behavior. But what is the right thing to do?
That then brings me to Angels and Demons. To me the first exposure to angels and demons occurred through the cartoon, Tom and Jerry. Often times, when faced with a crisis of conscience, the characters would have a demon and an angel appear on either side of their shoulder and offer advice both good and bad. But in hindsight, I admit that the bad advice could have led to more fun whereas the good advice would probably deprive good old tom of some much needed rewards. Its yet another thing that no matter what advice Tom took, Jerry always got the better of him because the script said so.
There lies, ladies and gentlemen, the lesson for us all? Angels and Demons are not the all powerful influences in our life. Their boss, like the script writer, just so happens to be “karma”. You listened to the angel and worked hard for a reward and yet it escaped you and instead the reward was in favour of someone less deserving? Lo, behold, Karma. On the other hand you decided to listen to the demon and indulged a nefarious inclination? Immediate gratification notwithstanding, live the remainder of your life wondering what fate awaits around the corner. Either Karma delivers or Karma inspires fear. Karma, come to think of it, is like batman. Angels and demons on the other hand are like your beat cop and criminal henchmen respectively. Ultimately, they both have their egos and bodies handed to them by the Bat.
But if you are looking for a shorter more crisp answer as to how to distinguish between angels and demons, I leave you to reflect on the photo taken of the pope and a certain orange man together…..