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Swami Krishnananda in Conversation
by Swami Krishnananda
Compiled by S. Bhagyalakshmi

15. The True Nature of History

On this cold winter morning, the small gathering around Swami Krishnanandaji had somehow come to discuss the role of history in human affairs.

A visitor: History as such has not got a destiny but history as a whole has—I miss the point.

Swamiji: History is another word for evolution—cosmic evolution. The self-realisation of the Absolute, that is the goal of evolution; evolution through the passage of time is called history. There is movement from the lower to the higher stage. Every step in history is a step forward and onward. And it has a cosmic significance. It is not merely the history of India or England or any other nation. This is a wrong notion we have of history. The sickness of any part of the body is the sickness of the whole body. Even if it is only a thorn that has pricked the foot, the whole body is affected. So any event is a cosmic event. When an activity is going on in any part of the body, the whole body is working. When you walk, it does not mean that only the legs are moving. Are all other parts of the body inactive in this act of moving? Every cell of the body is active when the legs are moving. When you eat, is it only the stomach that is working? Everything from head to foot is working in the process of eating. It is a total, complete activity.

Similarly, there is nothing like a temporal event. Everything happens in eternity. There is no such thing as time. It is a misconstruction of eternity that is called time; an empirically interpreted idea of eternity. Sensorily perceived infinity is space. So there is neither space nor time; there is only infinity which seems to be space and eternity which seems to be time. So the process of history is a movement within the body of the Absolute; like the movement of the waters of the ocean within its own bowels. Any movement in any part of the ocean is the movement of the whole ocean. There is no such thing as a part of the ocean moving anywhere. In the same way every event in history is a cosmic event. This is a cosmic evolutionary process towards Self-realisation in the Absolute.

Visitor: Do you include involution in evolution?

Swamiji: Well, it all depends upon your viewpoint. In a cosmic movement, you cannot say which is the beginning and which is the end, which is evolution and which involution. They are simultaneous activities; there is birth and death going on at the same time. Even within our body, cells are being destroyed and cells are being rejuvenated; new cells are being formed. There is creation, preservation and destruction; all three processes are going on simultaneously in this body. Even so, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva—Creator, Preserver and Destroyer—all three are working at the same time. It is not that Brahma creates today and Vishnu protects tomorrow and Rudra destroys the day after. All the three processes are happening simultaneously. But they appear to be different on account of the difference in perspective. Atom, electron, molecule, all exist at the same time. It is not that electrons come first, atoms next and molecules later. How is it that these three things exist at the same time? Because they are not three things, only three viewpoints of the same thing.

Visitor: Evolution is a misleading term for most people.

Swamiji: It is misleading ultimately. But it is an acceptable term from the point of view of mere empirical observation. You see movement, activity, you see a tendency of something to move towards something else. And when you observe that, you call it evolution, but ultimately it is not like that. There is no tendency, no movement, nothing happens anywhere. Everything is Absolute.