1. Who created the world is a common question. That the world was created by God is also a very common answer.
2. In the Brahmanic scheme this God is called by a variety of names – Prajapathi, Ishwar, Brahma or Maha Brahma.
3. To the question who this God is and how He came into being there is no answer.
4. Those who believe in God describe Him as a being who is omnipotent, i.e., all-powerful, Omni-potent, i.e., he fills the whole universe, and Omniscient, i.e., he knows everything.
5. There are also certain moral qualities which are attributed to God. God is said to be good, God is said to be just and God is said to be all-loving.
6. The question is did the Blessed Lord accept God as the creator of the universe.
7. The answer is, “No.” He did not.
8. There are various grounds why he rejected the doctrine of the Existence of God.
9. Nobody has seen God. People only speak of God.
10. God is unknown and unseen.
11. Nobody can prove that God has created the world. The world has evolved and is not created.
12. What advantage can there be in believing in God? It is unprofitable.
13. The Buddha said that a religion based on God is based on speculation.
14. A religion based on God is, therefore, not worth having.
15. It only ends in creating superstition.
16. The Buddha did not leave the question there. He discussed the question in its various aspects.
17. The grounds on which he rejected the doctrine were various.
18. He argued that the doctrine of the Existence of God is not based on truth.
19. This he made clear in his dialogue with the two Brahmins, Vasettha and Bhardvaja.
20. Now a dispute arose between them as to which was the true path of salvation and which false.
21. About the time the Blessed One was journeying through Kosala with a great company of the brethren he happened to halt at the Brahmin village called Manaskata and stayed in the mango grove on the bank of the river Akiravati.
22. Manaskata was the town in which Vasettha and Bhardvaja lived. Having heard that the Blessed Lord was staying in their town, they went to him and each one put forth his point of view.
23. Bhardvaja said: “The path of Tarukkha is the straight path, this is the direct way which makes for salvation, and leads him, who acts according to it, into a state of union with Brahma.”
24. Vasettha said : “Various Brahmins, O Gotama, teach various paths. The Addhariya Brahmins, the Tittiriya Brahmins, the Kanchoka Brahmins, the Bheehuvargiya Brahmins. They all lead those who act according to them, into a state of union with Brahma.
25. “Just as near a village or a town there are many and various paths yet they all meet together in the village – just in the same way all the various paths taught by the various Brahmins lead to union with Brahma.”
26. “Do you say that they all lead aright, Vasettha?” asked the Buddha. “I say so, Gautama”, replied Vasettha.
27. But, Vasettha, is there a single one of the Brahmins versed in the three Vedas who has ever seen Brahma face to face.
28. “No, indeed, Gautama.”
29. “Is there a single one of the teachers of the Brahmanas versed in the three Vedas who has seen Brahma face to face ?”
30. “No, indeed, Gautama.”
31. “Nobody has seen Brahma. There is no perceptual knowledge about Brahma.” “So it is,” said Vasettha. “How then can you believe that the assertion of the Brahmins that Brahma exists is based on truth ?
32. “Just, Vasettha, as when a string of blind men are clinging one to the other, neither can the foremost see nor can the middle one see not can the hindmost see – just even so, methinks, Vasettha, is the talk of the Brahmins nothing but blind talk. The first sees not, the middle one sees not, not can the latest one. The talk of these Brahmins turns out to be ridiculous, mere words, a vain and empty thing.
33. “Is this not a case, Vasettha, of a man falling in love with a woman whom he has not seen ?” “Yes, it is,” replied Vasettha.
34. “Now what think you Vasettha? If people should ask you. ‘Well ! Good friend ! This most beautiful woman in the land, whom you thus love and long for, who is she ? Is she a noble lady, or a Brahmin woman, or of the trader class, or a Sudra ?’
35. “With regard to the origin of Maha Brahma, the so-called creator,” the Blessed Lord said, addressing Bhardvaja and Vasettha, “Friends, that being who was first born thinks thus : I am Brahma, the Great Brahma, the Vanquisher, the Unvanquished, the All-seeing, the Disposer, the Lord, the Maker, the Creator, the Chief, the Assignor, the Master of Myself, the father of all that are and are to be. By me are these beings created.
36. “This means that Brahma is the father of those that are and are to be.
37. “You say that the worshipful Brahma, the Vanquisher, the Unvanquished, Father of all that are and are to be, he by whom we were created, he is permanent, constant, eternal, unchanging, and he will remain so forever and ever. Then why are we who are created by that Brahma, have come hither, all impermanent, transient, unstable, short-lived, destined to pass away ?”
38. To this Vasettha has no answer.
39. His third argument has reference to the Omnipotence of God. “If God is Omnipotent and is also the efficient cause of creation, then because of this man cannot have any desire to do anything, nor can there be any necessity to do anything, not can he have the will to do anything or to put forth any effort. Man must remain a passive creature with no part to play in the affairs of the world. If this is so, why did Brahma create man at all ?”
40. To this also Vasettha had no answer.
41. His fourth argument was that if God is good then why do men become murderers, thieves, unchaste, liars, slanderers, abusive babblers, covetous, malicious and perverse? The cause of this must be Ishwara. Is this possible with the existence of God who is good?
42. His fifth argument was related to God being Omniscient, just and merciful.
43. “If there is a supreme creator who is just and merciful, why then does so much injustice prevail in the world?” asked the Blessed Lord. “He who has eyes can see the sickening sight; why does not Brahma set his creatures right? If his power is so wide that no limits can restrain, why is his hand so rarely spread to bless? Why are his creatures all condemned to suffering? Why does he not give happiness to all? “Why do fraud, lies and ignorance prevail? Why does falsehood triumph over truth? Why does truth and justice fail? I count your Brahma as one of the most unjust, who made a world only to shelter wrong.
44. “If there exists some Lord all-powerful to fulfill in every creature, bliss or woe, and action, good or ill, then that Lord is stained with sim. Either man does not work his will or God is not just and good or God is blind.”
45. His next argument against the doctrine of God was that the discussion of this question about the existence of God was unprofitable.
46. According to him the centre of religion lay not in the relation of man to God. It lay in the relation between man and man. The purpose of religion is to teach man how he should behave towards other men so that all may be happy.
47. There was also another reason why the Blessed Lord was against belief in the existence of God.
48. He was against religious rites, ceremonies, and observances. He was against them because they were the home of superstition and superstition was the enemy of Samma Ditthi, the most important element in his Ashtangmarg.
49. To the Blessed Lord belief in God was the most dangerous thing. For belief in God gave rise to belief in the efficacy of worship and prayer and the efficacy of worship and prayer gave rise to the office of the priest and the priest was the evil genius who created all superstition and thereby destroyed the growth of Samma Ditthi.
50. Of these arguments against belief in the existence of God some were practical but the majority of them theological. The Blessed Lord knew that they were not fatal to the belief in the existence of God.
51. It must not, however, be supposed that he had no argument which was fatal. There was one which he advanced which is beyond doubt fatal to belief in God. This is contained in his doctrine of Patit Samutpad which is described as the doctrine of Dependent Origination.
52. According to this doctrine, the question whether God exists or does not exist is not the main question. Nor is the question whether God created the universe the real question. The real question is how did the creator create the world. The justification for the belief in God is a conclusion which follows from our answer to the question how was the world created.
53. The important question is: Did God create something out of nothing or did he create something out of something?
54. It is impossible to believe that something could have been created out of nothing.
55. If the so-called God has created something out of something, then that something out of which something new was created has been in existence before he created anything. God cannot therefore be called the Creator of that something which has existed before him
56. If something has been created by somebody out of something before God created anything then God cannot be said to be the Creator or the first Cause.
57. Such was his last but incontrovertible argument against belief in the existence of God.
58. Being false in premises, belief in God as the creator of the universe in Not – Dhamma. It is only belief in falsehood.
Source : THE BUDDHA AND HIS DHAMMA –
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Writings and Speeches,
Vol.11, Published by Education Department,
Government of Maharashtra, 1992