Question: Why was a man like Judas permitted to play the role of traitor to the Master?

Sri Chinmoy: It is true that a man by the name of Judas Iscariot did exist and did betray the Christ. But if you think that this betrayal was something that took place all of a sudden, that Judas did it on the spur of the moment, then I wish to say that this is not correct. It was not a sudden temptation that compelled Judas to do this unthinkable thing. It was preordained in the inner world.

When a spiritual Master enters into the world, there is always a tremendous opposition to him from the world of ignorance. Sometimes spiritual Masters are able to overcome this opposition; at other times they fail. In the case of Jesus, we have to remember that the opposition of the inner world attacked him twice, not once. When Satan attacked him on the mountain, thrusting worldly temptations upon him, it was a tremendous attack. But Christ overcame it; otherwise, he would not have become the Christ, but would have consented to become the earthly king of the Jews. If he had become a victim of Satan by doing this, he would have become an ordinary man.

Who is Satan? He is the embodiment of ignorance, the embodiment of the lower forces, the vital forces. Lord Buddha was attacked by Mara, the evil hostile force in the form of the lower vital. Lord Buddha did conquer Mara; that is why he became the Buddha, the Enlightened One.

In the case of Jesus Christ, he won the battle the first time. But the second time that ignorance, embodied by Judas, attacked him, he did not defeat it. This was preordained in the inner world. There is a plane of consciousness where we see that this outcome was granted by the highest Supreme. Many circumstances in the inner world led up to this decision.

You have heard of our first Indian Avatar — King Rama or, as we call him, Ramachandra. Ramachandra was the Avatar before Lord Krishna. Rama had an arch-enemy called Ravana, who was the absolute embodiment of ignorance. Ravana abducted Ramachandra's wife, Sita, and stood totally against Rama. Ravana was the greatest hostile force incarnated in that era. You can say that Ravana came into the world specifically to harass Ramachandra. But this is an understatement. He came into the world with the purpose of destroying or, if that was impossible, of delaying the divine evolution on earth. So he stood most powerfully against Ramachandra, whose purpose was exactly the opposite. Rama did conquer Ravana, however, and rid the world of him.

In the case of the Christ you may say, "Judas was his disciple. How could his own disciple get the power to do this tremendous evil?" But we have to understand that ignorance was able to enter and occupy the consciousness of a human being who himself wanted to take that role. Judas wanted, consciously and deliberately, to take that role. In the inner world there exist some souls that have been totally enveloped by the destructive vital. They want to become famous or well-known by any means. In the outer world also, we see human beings who want to become famous by any means. They want to be known throughout the world for doing something destructive. They know that people will hate them, but they accept that hatred as long as their notoriety brings them into the limelight.

People who assassinate famous political leaders will often say that their own party or their doctrine is very good and the dead person's is very bad; this is why they have killed the leader. But in their hearts, those who have killed the Kennedy brothers, Dr. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and other famous people simply wanted to become well-known all over the world overnight. In order to do this they had to kill a person who was well-known. This is how ignorance attacks the individual. It is for their own personal sake that they do it, and not for the sake of some belief or doctrine. If they really believed in some other philosophy, they would work for it in an acceptable way. When you see that people are being shot supposedly because of a difference of opinion, it is not really because of the difference of opinion. It is because an individual has surrendered to wild ignorance. He opens himself to this force because he feels that this is the way to make himself known. He realises that his victim will be known as a good man, and he himself will be known as a bad man. But he feels that as long as he is known, even as a murderer, that will be enough for him.

Judas deliberately chose to accept ignorance and fight against divine knowledge, which was embodied in Jesus Christ. He knew that if he became responsible for the death of the Christ, then he would be famous and notorious. Individual weakness is such that very often we hope to do something very great and good, but when it proves impossible, we say, "All right, then let me do something very bad." We know inwardly that we can conquer the world only with our love, joy, compassion and oneness. But when we are ambitious and we see that we do not have enough capacity, if we do not have the feeling of oneness, what happens? We become victims of frustration, hostility and destructive feelings. With these destructive feelings we try to attack the divine qualities which we secretly admire but do not have.

Jesus as a human being was killed, but the consciousness of the Christ can never be killed. When ignorance attacks, it kills only the human in us, not the divine. The divine always remains. But, unfortunately, what happens is that the divine in us does not get the chance to do its work at the proper time. The attack delays the divine progress. If the Christ had not been killed at that time, there would have been another great step forward in human evolution. This progress did come later as a result of the whole Christian spirit. But if the Christ had not been killed, it would have taken a purer form, a more direct and powerful form. Again, from the highest point of view, we can say that it was all preordained. We do not blame Judas, the person, but the forces of ignorance which he allowed to seize him most powerfully. These forces were responsible for delaying human evolution.