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The Main Villain in Hampering Spiritual Evolution Is Desire

There is a certain notorious lineage down which the vice of wickedness runs, like a strand with unbroken continuity. The progenitress of the lineage is, of course, Avidya (primal nescience). She is a past-master in the art of obfuscation. She delights in eclipsing the non-dual Spirit, effectively camouflages the Truth of the oneness of existence and dopes beings by throwing on them a thick shroud of non-apprehension of the spiritual Truth.

Like mother, like son. The offspring of Avidya is Ahankara (ego). He is a chip off the old block and, in doing mischief, not a whit inferior to his ruthless mother. Causing distortion of the spiritual Truth and projecting fantasies are child’s play for him. Causing a spell of universal misapprehension is his forte. He is an adept in causing finitude, individuation, and cleavage in the Spirit, which is really infinite, unitary, undifferentiated, and impartite. He creates an illusion of multiplicity on the non-dual Spirit. Under his potent illusion causing power, the oneness and unity of the Spirit get splintered into a breath-taking diversity of nama-rupa (names and forms). He is, in fact, the axle on which the wheel of empirical delusion revolves.

Once the non-dual Spirit is camouflaged and a staggering skein of nama-rupa takes over, the birth of Kama (desire) from Ahankara is logical and inevitable. Kama wilts and withers on the terrain of non-dualism but thrives in the soil of pluralism. He flourishes in an ambience where a plethora of sense delights presents itself and does its job of enticement. Kama seduces and enthralls the whole world with his blandishments. The atrocities he perpetrates are quite serious and an offence against spiritual verity. The more one comes under the dominion of Kama, the farther one moves away from the Divine. Bhagavan is so appalled by his capacity for mischief that He uses a couple of choice – but significant – epithets for him in Bhagavad Gita 3.37: mahasanah (mighty devourer) and mahapapma (worst sinner). Desire is a mighty devourer as his appetite is unappeasable and grows with whatever he feeds on. His sin is horrifying too, as he is guilty of the heinous crime of spiritual decimation of his victims. Scriptures are never tired of characterizing him as the villain in the drama of the soul’s spiritual evolution.

Sourceexcerpts from article titled The Leaf and the Leaping Fire by N Hariharan in August 2005 issue of Prabuddha Bharata magazine.