In the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna becomes conscious of the sin of fighting against and killing his relatives, revered teachers and elders, and declares that the moral code supports the idea that he should not fight. Sri Krishna responds that the divine intention is not limited by human-made moral codes, and that it was both his duty and his destiny to undertake the fight and come out victorious, killing those very elders, teachers and relatives who stood against him on the other side of the battlefield. There was a larger issue at stake that needed to be addressed. Arjuna even received blessings from the elders and teachers who were ranged against him, as they carried out what they saw as their duty despite their own knowledge of the larger issues at stake. This represents the difference between the human judgment of morality and the divine view of morality from an entirely different standpoint, perspective and distance.

The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously declared the superior man to be ‘beyond good and evil’ and not subject to the moral codes of humanity. This theme was taken up at length in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment. The Nazi regime in Germany interpreted this to mean that they could act with impunity as the ‘master race’ and that the moral guidelines and the rule of law were not meant to govern them, just as Raskolnikov tried to assert that the superior being need not be bound by the moral precepts and could thereby justify theft and even murder. Several issues are exposed. First, there is the question of interpretation of this philosophical premise. Being ‘beyond’ good and evil does not mean to disregard the rules, but to act in such a way as to not have to encounter them through a higher form of action. This is not a prescription for sinking to a lower state for which, indeed, the rules were devised in the first place. Nor is this a prescription for an individual to ‘self-declare’ his status of being outside the framework of the moral code or laws, and thereby justify any manner of depravity, violence or other forms of imbalance that harm others and disrupt the society.

A disciple asks: “I have not attempted the unification of the different personalities which may be in me, but I have tried to put them facing each other, the good opposite the bad, and I have never found in the good a sufficient dynamism to fight against the bad.”

The Mother responds: “Have you never thought that your judgment of what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ was a purely human judgment? And that it might not necessarily tally with the judgment of the divine Presence within you? The ‘bad’ things you could not get rid of were probably things not in their place, things not properly balanced, and it would be a great pity if they were eliminated because, perhaps, a part of your energy and of your divine Presence would disappear at the same time. People who do not do yoga under the direction of a guide follow ordinary moral notions and at times they feel very perplexed because with all their goodwill they do not get the expected result; that happens because generally they wish to approve of their being instead of transforming it and because moral notions are very bad. In the work of unification of the being, you must needs have imagination enough to be able to put the movements you have, the movements you wish to keep, to put them before what you are capable of imagining as most akin to the divine Presence; naturally, at first it is only an imagination quite far from the truth, but it would help you to get out a little from moral narrowness and also from the limitations of your consciousness. For example, you have the idea of putting what you are and what you do before a consciousness which is at once infinite and eternal. These two words do not perhaps make much sense at the beginning, but they compel you to break the limits and to put yourself in front of something which surpasses you so much on every side that its judgment cannot be the same as that of a human mentality. One must begin absolutely like that. If you try to analyse yourself according to moral principles, you may be sure of going contrary to the divine plan. Not that the Divine is amoral, mark that, but this is not a kind of morality that mankind understands at all, it is not the same.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Our Many Selves: Practical Yogic Psychology, Chapter 5, Organisation, Harmonisation, Unification, pp. 139-140

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 19 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.