In the summer of 2009, when I was in the midst of an epic journey of discovery through the writings and talks of Paramhansa Yogananda and the Bhagavad-gita, my favorite currently functioning band since I was 16, Green Day, released their album”21st Century Breakdown.” Not having yet grasped the art of renunciation, I was in a phase wherein I was retreating from a lot of the bands I used to listen to. But I wanted to hear what Green Day would do, having been impressed by their previous effort “American Idiot.” On the album is a song “Know Your Enemy” which included the line “Silence is the enemy against your urgency, so rally up the demons of your soul.”
Now, I had been reading Hindu-themed books for six months but I was still, when my wife asked if I was a Hindu now, saying “no.” So I was conflicted about how I was supposed to feel when I heard the word demon. My Catholic upbringing told me that a demon was a member of Satan’s legion of eternal doom, yada yada yada.
It is not as though Hindu’s happily accept demons into their lives and give them free reign. Certainly not. But I found an understanding (and this is only my interpretation) that each of us has angelic (Sattwic) and demonic (tamasic) qualities but with Divine Consciousness one can make either one work for good. As Krishna said in the Uddhava Gita, “One who has thus transcended good and bad will act for the good and refrain from acting for the bad.”
Green Day is by no means a band of “believers” but they definitely touched on something, intentionally or not. Violence, in it’s basic form, is tamasic. But with renunciation, one might just “rally up the demons of their soul” to do a duty that is beyond their own mundane consciousness and ability. Who knew Green Day was so wise in the ways of Karma Yoga philosophy?