St. Thomas in India: True or False? – N.S. Rajaram

N.S. RajaramHere is the substance of the St. Thomas story: First, if he existed he was a twin brother of Jesus which is unacceptable because Jesus was the Only Son of God. Next, he could not have preached Christianity in 52 AD because Christianity and the New Testament came into existence only in the fourth century, after the Council of Nicaea called by Roman Emperor Constantine in 325 AD. The first Christians came to India with the Syrian merchant Thomas in 345 AD escaping persecution in Persia. Lastly, the Namboothari Brahmins settled in Kerala only after the fourth century AD, so could not have been converted by Apostle Thomas in 52 AD using the Bible from three centuries later. – Dr. N.S. Rajaram

St. ThomasAccording to Christian leaders in India, the Apostle Thomas came to India in 52 A.D., founded the Syrian Christian Church, and was killed by the fanatical Brahmins in 72 A.D. His followers built the St. Thomas Church near the site of his martyrdom. Historians however say this apostle, even if he existed, never came to India. The Christian community in South India was founded by a Syrian (or Armenian) merchant Thomas Cananeus in 345 AD. He led four hundred refugees who fled persecution in Persia and were given asylum by the Hindu authorities.

This story was too commonplace to attract converts. So Christian leaders identified the merchant Thomas with Apostle Thomas and created the dramatic story of the Apostle’s persecution and death at the hands of the “wicked” Brahmins of South India. This became current in the 16th century when the Portuguese gained control of the west coast of India and forced the Syrian Christians to follow the Catholic faith. The Portuguese also destroyed the Kapaleeswara Temple that originally stood on the site now occupied by the San Thome Cathedral on the beach.

Kapali TempleThe creation of this myth and the history is told in detail by the Canadian scholar Ishwar Sharan in his famous book The Myth of St. Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple. The purpose of the myth was to create a local martyr. Christianity depends heavily on the appeal of martyrs who are projected as victims like Jesus Christ. Then as now, Church leaders liked to pose as victims to generate sympathy and propaganda. But no matter how much they tried, the Hindus of India refused to supply the Portuguese with martyrs. So they were forced to create their own. So they turned the merchant Thomas into the Apostle Thomas killed by the Hindus.

In his foreword to Ishwar Sharan’s book, the Belgian scholar Koenraad Elst wrote: “In Catholic universities in Europe, the myth of the apostle Thomas going to India is no longer taught as history, but in India it is still considered useful. Even many vocal ‘secularists’ who attack the Hindus for relying on myth in the Ayodhya affair, off-hand profess their belief in the Thomas myth. The important point is that Thomas can be upheld as a martyr and the Brahmins decried as fanatics.”

San Thome CathedralTargeting Brahmins to undermine Hinduism was a favorite tactic among missionaries. Elst gives the true picture: “In reality, the missionaries were very disgruntled that the damned Hindus refused to give them martyrs (whose blood is welcomed as ‘the seed of the faith’), so they had to invent one. Moreover, the church which they claim commemorates St. Thomas’ martyrdom at the hands of Hindu fanaticism, is in fact a monument of Hindu martyrdom at the hands of Christian fanaticism. It is a forcible replacement of two important Hindu temples (Jain and Shaiva) whose existence was insupportable to the Christian missionaries.”

Another motivation for the myth was to erase the unsavory record of the Catholic Church’s close association with the Portuguese pirates and even worse, the Goa Inquisition inspired by St. Xavier. But serious scholars including Christians have rejected this myth as we shall soon see.

Who was this Apostle Thomas and why was his name invoked? The main sources relating to Apostle Thomas are two Gnostic (non-Biblical) texts known as the Acts of Thomas and the Gospel of Thomas. According to them Thomas was the twin brother of Jesus. For this reason the Thomas myth is not accepted by the Vatican because of a doctrinal problem: Jesus as the Only Son of God cannot possibly have a twin brother. (Greek for Thomas is Didymus, which means twin brother.)

Christians in South India who identify themselves as St. Thomas Christians claim that their ancestors were blessed by Apostle Thomas in 52 A.D. who preached from the Bible. This has no historical basis as we shall see. In fact, there is no evidence that Thomas even existed. His “history” is full of contradictions as will become apparent.

Marco PoloAs just observed the Portuguese missionaries who came to India in the 16th century found that they could not do without a local martyr and created the myth of St. Thomas claiming that he was martyred in India. They gave no explanation as to how they discovered it more than 1500 years later. Marco Polo is supposed to have mentioned it but there is no authentic manuscript that can be attributed to him. Then there is the question of how he discovered it more than a thousand years later.

There is even a tomb that is supposed to contain his martyred remains in Mylapore in Chennai. But the problem is there are several such memorials spread across Persia, Acre (Israel) and a few other places dating to different times, all laying claim to be the place where Apostle Thomas was martyred and buried!

After examining all the evidence, the late Father Heras, former Director of the Historical Research Institute, St. Xavier’s College, Bombay, said in 1953 that he was convinced that the tomb of St. Thomas was not in Mylapore. He had earlier said, quite emphatically in The Aravidu Dynasty of Vijayanagara, that the Portuguese account of their discovery of some relics was “a most barefaced imposture [with] all elements of a forgery.” Heras was himself a Jesuit father but also an eminent historian.

Henry HerasThis is not the end of the story, for while denying the myth because it challenges Jesus as the “Only Son of God” the Vatican wants to have it both ways. On September 27, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech at St. Peter’s in Rome in which he recalled an ancient tradition claiming that Thomas first evangelized Syria and Persia, then went on to Western India, from where Christianity also reached Southern India. Syrian Christians derive status within the caste system from the tradition that they are converted Namboothiris (Brahmins), who were allegedly evangelized by St. Thomas after he allegedly landed in Kerala in AD 52.

There are serious problems with this theory: the Namboothiris started settling in Kerala only from the fourth century onwards, which means they did not exist at the time the alleged St. Thomas allegedly came to Kerala. So we have a possibly non-existent apostle preaching in the first century from a text, the New Testament, dating to the fourth century, to a people, the Namboothiris who settled in the fourth century or later. In reality the Pope’s original statement at St. Peter’s, reflected the geography of the Acts of Thomas, i.e. Syria, Parthia (Persia / Iran) and Gandhara (Afghanistan / Northwest Pakistan) — all far removed from Kerala in the southernmost tip of India.

Bleeding CrossThis is not the end to the contradictions. If Thomas landed in Kerala in 52 AD, he could not have taught from the Christian Bible (New Testament) with its four gospels which came into existence only in the fourth century. In fact Christianity did not exist at the time because there was no Christian scripture! In addition, the famous St. Thomas Cross supposedly brought by him made its appearance in Kerala only in the fourth century, about the same time as the Namboothiri Brahmins. So it is quite possible that the highly ornate St. Thomas Cross [with Hindu motifs carved in it] was borrowed from the Namboothiris, having nothing to do with St. Thomas or even Christians. The Church borrowed its cross from the Egyptians and the oldest so-called St. Thomas Cross is a pagan Persian symbol.

Prof. Francis Xavier Clooney, SJAs if this were not confusing enough, Father Francis Clooney, a theologian with the Harvard Divinity School has stated that St Thomas had preached in Brazil, no matter that Brazil as we understand today was unknown in his time. According to Clooney, one Ruiz de Montoya, writing in Peru in the mid-seventeenth century, thought that since God would not have overlooked the Americas for fifteen hundred years, and since among the twelve apostles St. Thomas was known for his mission to the “most abject people in the world, blacks and Indians,” it was only reasonable to conclude that St. Thomas had preached throughout the Americas:

“He began in Brazil – either reaching it by natural means on Roman ships, which some maintain were in communication with America from the coast of Africa, or else, as may be thought closer to the truth, being transported there by God miraculously. He passed to Paraguay and from there to the Peruvians.”

St. Thomas Book CoverSo here is the substance of the St. Thomas story. First, if he existed he was a twin brother of Jesus which is unacceptable because Jesus was the Only Son of God (born to a virgin). Next, he could not have preached Christianity in 52 AD because Christianity and the New Testament came into existence only in the fourth century, after the Council of Nicaea called by Roman Emperor Constantine in 325 AD. The first Christians came to India with the Syrian merchant Thomas in 345 AD escaping persecution in Persia. This was probably because Roman and Persian empires were great rivals. The Namboothiri Brahmins settled in Kerala only after the fourth AD, so could not have been converted by Apostle Thomas in 52 AD using the Bible from three centuries later.

Finally, the myth was created by Portuguese missionaries in the sixteenth century with the help of pirates. They destroyed also the Kapaleeswara Temple and a Jain temple building the church known as San Thome Cathedral in 1504. It acquired its present status and recognition as a cathedral (grand church) under British patronage in 1893. It was also the Portuguese who converted the Syrian Christians to the Catholic faith.

So, all these contradictions have to be reconciled before the myth of St Thomas can be taken seriously. – Folks Magazine, 7 November 2009

» Editor’s Note: Historians do not agree about the date for the coming of Namboothiri Brahmins to Kerala. Marxist historians make their arrival as late as the sixth century AD. However with the identification of the Namboothiri priest Mezhathol Agnihothri (b. 342 AD), the date can be moved back to the fourth century. Namboothiri historians themselves do not give a date for the arrival of their community in Kerala from North India.

» Dr. N.S. Rajaram has referred to the second (1995) edition of The Myth of Saint Thomas and the Mylapore Shiva Temple for this article. The second edition is now out of print and not available on-line. However the third (2010) edition, which contains everything in the second edition, revised with corrected dates and many new references, is available on The Ishwar Sharan Archive.

See also

Jesus Christ in the light of Sanatana Dharma – George Thundiparambil

I am proud to deliver this lecture in the memory of a man I admire greatly without knowing him personally. I have not read everything Sri Sita Ram Goel has written, but I have read some of the most important things I have read anywhere, which I deem to have utmost significance for Hindus in these difficult times. I also found courage and inner certitude reflecting in his words, which qualities I consider as carriers of sincerity and truth.

His sense of dharma made him distance himself from Hindu activists who apparently adopted shameful means to achieve their ends. His deep understanding of human nature enabled him to relate to members of other religious communities with the same compassion he had for his own, though he disagreed starkly with the Sita Ram Goel (1921-2003) engines that propelled these religions. He looked at humanity without the coloured lens of religious ideologies, while dissecting these same ideologies into their absurd extremities. He stood for the unity of humans without categories that is envisaged in age-old Hindu tradition.

Sita Ram Goel’s insight into the conceptual underpinnings of Abrahamic religions without experiencing or undergoing any of them personally was tremendous. While researching for this lecture, I could miss Sri Goel’s book, Jesus Christ: An Artifice for Aggression only at my peril. The Appendix 4: Hindus vis-à-vis Jesus of the said book covers most of the important questions and answers pertaining to what Jesus Christ means for Hindus. I don’t want to go into those aspects here since they are already in the public domain. [1] – George Thundiparambil

Jesus

Two different worldviews

In understanding the claim of Jesus Christ to be both God and Saviour of mankind and to be simultaneously a historical person who walked this earth two thousand years ago, as described by the many gospels and other books of Christian literature, in the light of Sanatana Dharma, it is essential to first examine the conception of gods and goddesses and their general significance in phenomenal life from the Hindu point of view.

To start with, there is a big difference in the Christian and Hindu worldviews regarding Nature and phenomena. The Hindus are Nature worshippers [2] and consider human nature as divine, [3] whereas Christians hold Nature as evil and corrupt. [4] The Hindus consider humans as good and sinless from birth, whereas Christians consider all humans as naturally evil and sinners from birth. For this reason, Christians have a ritual called baptism to clean away the sin of human nature.

First of all, Hindu tradition does not recognize a God or Goddess as creator and controller of the universe. The Vedic devas and the Lord God of the bible who claims to have created the universe and rules over it, belong to different categories. The devas like Agni, Rudra, Maruts and Indra are all integral to phenomena. It means any one of the human species can relate to these devas. This distinction implies a direct verifiability of the devas on the part of any human individual. And the effort on the part of the Hindus has been to propitiate or receive a boon from these natural forces composed of the five elements.

Compared with the Hindu devas, the Lord God of the bible is external to phenomena. For this reason, we can come to know of the Lord God only through prophets selected by him. We cannot independently verify this god, because the Christian has to open his book and depend upon the hearsay of the prophets who were chosen by the Lord God to communicate with humankind.

Vedic devas, like all other gods and goddesses of all ancient peoples on earth, represented phenomenal forces, such as the five elements and their various aspects of power. The worship of the life-giving sun, Surya, was as ancient as humankind itself. The first hymn in the Rig-Veda is dedicated to the sun, which was perceived in both its aspects of the male and the female.

Even devas who came later, the most significant of them – Brahma, Vishnu, Maheswara – lofty philosophical concepts though they are, are all anchored in nature, which, I emphasize, is based on our phenomenal world. These devas represent the forces of creation, preservation and destruction that happen simultaneously every moment in our phenomenal existence. One of the most popular Hindu deities of today, Ganesha, is absolutely a deva anchored entirely in our phenomenal world. His pictorial depiction represents the five natural elements. [5] The avatars of Vishnu are illustrative of the different evolutionary stages of organic life and human consciousness.

It is pertinent to mention a much-quoted saying from the Rigveda which ostensibly attributes equal validity to all religions. By taking a line out of a stanza, people make a mountain out of a molehill. Thus, ekam sad viprãh bahudhã vadant actually is one of four lines that tell a different thing altogether. The line is applicable to the Vedic devas who are seen as aspects of the natural elements. This is a terrible mistake that has been pointed out by Sita Ram Goel. [6]

Who is Isvara then? The concept of Isvara as the ruler of several universes and everything in them, first appears in the Upanishads, a significant milestone in Hindu intellectual achievements. Ishavasya Upanishad states “ishavāsyam idam sarvam”, which means Isha dwells in everything, which in turn points to the phenomenal world. The Isvara concept was the product of millions of years of evolution and which is proposed after meticulous reasoning. Literally, Isvara only means “Lord” or “one who is richly endowed”. Gods become important for Hindus to succeed in phenomenal life. God is not sought by a Hindu for a good afterlife, but for the purposes and special circumstances of human life.

The relevance of Isvara for the Hindu comes from the concept of ishtadeva, which Sita Ram Goel calls “the highest symbol of a person’s spiritual aspiration.” [7] So if you worship a deva or devi as a tutelary deity, it denotes the personal and individual selection of a god or goddess as the highest symbol of your spiritual ambition. I shall come back to the principle of ishtadeva from a Christian point of view later.

The relevance of rational thought or the process of reasoning for Hindus is often underestimated. The foundation of modern science is the observation of phenomena and its propelling drive is reasoning or rational thought. It is exactly the same principle applied in jnānayoga, the philosophical faculty of the Hindu religion. This is the yoga for knowing brahman (ultimate reality) through jnana (knowledge) and is called brahmajnāna. All Hindu philosophies are included in jnānayoga and they strive to explain the ultimate reality through rational thinking. Intellectual Hindus who cannot identify with mystical paths of yogas can attain brahmajnāna or ultimate reality through rational thought. Jnānayoga is meant for such people.

The same principle of jnānayoga is applied here in the analysis of the Christian religion and its god. This means we are resorting to the process of reasoning to examine the verity of the Christian claim, which we find exactly contradicting the Hindu worldview. To be totally fair to the object of enquiry, we should clarify first of all what jnāna or knowledge means as defined by Hindu tradition.

Jnāna is the result of vichāra or reasoning on experience, says Adi Sankara in his work Aparokshanubhuti, Verse 11. To give a common example, the knowledge of the gravitational pull and shape of the earth as a globe is the result of reasoning on observations made by individuals. “All jnāna or knowledge is experience; but all anubhava or experience is not knowledge.” [8] The antonym of jnāna is ajnāna which is the absence of it and means ignorance. According to tradition, ignorance “represents that which is infinite, as finite, presents other things that are non-existent, and makes the Self appear as limited.” [9]

Hindu philosophy starts from the premise, the “I”, the Self that doesn’t require any proof for its own existence. [10] This is because it is assumed correctly that we cannot start applying reasoning on a non-existent thing. If we do, the result of such a reasoning would be faulty. Therefore, the starting point for any enquiry has been anubhava, the observation or experience of the Self, who is the witness.

On the contrary, Christian philosophy begins from Lord God whose existence is a product of hearsay and whose study is designated as “theology.” Simply put, these two systems of thought cannot be compared. The ancient philosophers, East or West, would reject a philosophy that is based on a premise that we cannot verify personally. The ancients never employed reasoning on unverified premises to generate a philosophy. Reasoning based on a priori principles is a mark of abstract sciences like mathematics, but for philosophy to be genuine, it should be based on what that is, or what that exists, which is the Self.

This differentiation between the Hindu and Christian viewpoints that exists like an invariable, endless thread is also reflected in the neutral dictionary definition of ‘religion’ as “the service and worship of God” and ‘God’ as “the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness” (Merriam-Webster). For Hindus, the religion (“worship” of the “perfection of goodness”) is ‘dharma’, which is but the holding on to a set of defined and undefined code of ethics. For Christians, the religion is the “service and worship” of the biblical god, also called the god of Abraham, and holding on to his commandments.

Vedic RishiDharma

The notion of untranslatability of the term dharma was posited by the greatest expositor of dharma in history, Ved Vyasa, author of Mahabharata, millennia ago. [11] According to him, dharma is the substratum of everything [12]. Hindu tradition says dharma is bound to the atman just as heat is bound to fire, or fluidity to water. Dharma is the moral component in human consciousness.

We shall look at this term in the light of modern science. First, we will look at the etymological association the term dharma has with the term ‘god.’ Both these words are derived from the Sanskrit root word dhri, which means ‘that which holds.’ The term dharma derives straight from dhri. The Sanskrit word gadh also derives from the same root. It means ‘to hold fast’. From this word gadh, another word came to be – the German ‘gut’ and the English ‘good’ meaning ‘virtuous’, ‘right’, etc. Ultimately, from this qualitative noun arose the word ‘god.’ The two words, dharma and ‘god’ are also interlinked by the notion of ‘goodness’ (to which one holds fast). For Hindus, ‘god’ is bypassed by dharma. Following dharma is the pursuit of goodness and characterizes the worship of the perfection of goodness through personal behaviour.

When we examine dharma as defined by Vyasa – “the substratum of everything” – in the light of modern science, we have to look for it in the field of natural sciences. If the dharma of natural elements is the code of natural sciences, the substratum of human consciousness is encoded in genetics. Implicitly, this means Hindus believe dharma or the moral component in humanity is written into the DNA of beings. This also explains why Hindus consider Nature as divine and view humanity as good and virtuous by birth, in contrast to the Christians.

One of the most respected contemporary scientists, the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, in his book The God Delusion suggests evidence for a universal moral grammar evolved over millions of years that crosses “geographical and cultural barriers and also, crucially, religious barriers”. [13] Dawkins formed this conclusion through his own observations and also those of Harvard biologist Marc Hauser who relied on psychological experiments and statistical surveys and by applying rational thought. This is jnāna, the knowledge that is obtained by applying rational thought to anubhava. These experiments also confirm Maharshi Vyasa’s statement of dharma being the substratum of everything.

The BibleThe Christian bible

We now look at the claim of the Christian god in the light of what we have discussed so far. As said earlier, the Christian god reveals himself to us through select individuals who are generally termed prophets. The statements of the prophets are compiled in one book called the Christian bible and we get to know the Christian god through the pages of this book.

The Christian bible is said to be the most printed and most translated book in the world. This book has two parts, the first part being common to the Jews as well. The first part introduces us to the Lord God who is the protagonist. The second part, or New Testament, is exclusive to Christians and introduces us to Jesus of Nazareth, also known as Jesus Christ. The term “Christ” is the Greek translation of Hebrew “Messiah” which at that time meant “king” or “high priest.” Christians believe that the two gods are the same, but consider the latter as the son of the former when he took a human form on earth around 2000 years ago. Jesus is said to hold the record of being the most talked about and most discussed person of all personalities on earth, man or god.

It is reasonable to think that the person who cannot or does not reveal to everybody equally, naturally becomes the most talked about person of all, because he holds a mystery. This inability of the Christian god to reveal to everybody equally tells us that this god is beyond the ambit of our senses as well as our intellect. For people like the Hindus, who consider jnāna to be derived from anubhava of the Self, this kind of object of enquiry does not belong to jnānayoga, but is considered sruti, that which is heard or revealed. I am using the word sruti here in its general sense, because by Hindu tradition, this word is used strictly in terms of Hindu literature, the Vedas.

By convention the Hindu sruti is generally taken as truth without further investigation, especially when it is consistent with the system (ēkavākyata) and has been confirmed by respected commentators. This methodology is actually in use in the modern academic world, where students quote a respected and eminent scholar to reinforce or establish the truth of a matter. But according to Sankara, when sruti contradicts empirical knowledge, it is the sruti that has to be rejected. [14] So, when we are considering the Christian bible as legitimate sruti we have to apply the principles valid for jnānayoga as advised by Sankara.

This simply means we have to first examine the Christian book in the light of empirical methodologies and listen to what experts have to say about it before you decide on whether to accept the claim as legitimate or illegitimate. It also becomes pertinent to identify the protagonist of the book as to which category he belongs in the Hindu system, or whether he is outside the system. This is not a big task, because we can discern the nature of the Christian god from the bible by reading it ourselves and see whether this character really fits into any of the categories of divinity of the Hindus or whether it adds any new knowledge at all.

TorahThe Old Testament and the Lord God

Scholars are of the opinion that the Old Testament was written between the 8th and 6th centuries BCE and assumed its present form between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE. The authorship of the first five books is attributed to Moses, a prophet with whom the protagonist Lord God made contact and gave the primary laws to be followed by his worshippers. These worshippers who abide by these rules and regulations came to be known as Jews in history. There are many other books that are appended to these five books to make up the Old Testament and differ in numbers according to the Christian denomination you follow, such as Catholic, Protestant, etc.

The Old Testament tells us that the Lord God created the universe and all that is in it in six days. Then he proceeded to make a man, Adam, in the image of himself and also a woman, Eve, from his rib and then prohibited them from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and bad. [15] The knowledge of good and bad is achieved through rational thought or reasoning and is called jnāna by Hindus. For the same reason, the believers of the book are required to suspend their rational thinking in order to consider whatever is said in these books. This system criterion is extended to the second part of the Christian bible, the New Testament, and is generally known as “faith” among the followers of this religion and is highly regarded. True Christians consider “faith” as superior to rational thought, even though the term is defined in the dictionary as “a belief without evidence.”

The reason given by Christians for the superiority of faith is that the Lord God intended it to be like that and it is said so in the bible. In the bible, however, the archetypal human pair opted in favour of rational thinking by eating the fruit of knowledge and were banished from the Lord God’s presence and condemned to death and evil. In the course of the story, this evil is inherited by the whole of humankind and their whole suffering arises from that.

After the creation episode and the play of power by the Lord God over humans, seen in the banishing of the human pair from Paradise, what becomes interesting in the narrative is the efforts of the Lord God to procure a set of people to worship him. For a dispassionate reader, it seems that the Lord God had to do a lot of difficult manoeuvres to emerge as a deity, which appears to have been much more difficult than creating the whole world. The Lord God finally succeeds when he confronts an old miserable man named Abram from a place called Ur in Babylonia, who had migrated to Haran, and promises him land and nations besides progeny if he were to worship him. Abram accepts an agreement with the Lord God, and gets a new name, Abraham. In return of worship, the Lord God grants the land of Canaan and all that is there to him. To make a long story short, by making this covenant, Abraham got land and progeny, and the Lord God got a set of people to worship him. The Jews, the Christians and the Muslims all swear by Abraham, when they want to distinguish this particular god and not to mix him up with somebody else.

The beginning of worship of the Lord God is significant historically, because it brought forth what is known as monotheism, which the dictionary defines as “the doctrine or belief that there is one God” (Merriam-Webster). From the narrative of the Old Testament, we apprehend the presence of a number of gods, even in the statements that explain the principle of one god [16] through the ten commandments. However, the followers of Abraham claim that there is only one god who is referred to as a male and all other gods and goddesses don’t exist or are false.

At this point, we may mention a recent archeological evidence referred to by a British biblical scholar, Francesca Stavrakopoulou, in her documentary film, The Bible’s Buried Secrets, Part 2, Did God have a Wife? She refers to archeological evidence that the Lord God of the Old Testament was originally a Canaanite god of war by the name of El and also had a female counterpart called Asherah. The point of significance is that before the Old Testament was written down after the 8th century BCE, the Israelites were a group of people in Canaan with the same kind of worship as other groups of people living in the area. Stavrakopoulou tells us that in the Old Testament the female counterpart of the god becomes not only insignificant, but becomes a mysterious person that needs to be put down.

The thought system that evolved out of this book and used by the followers of Abraham is called monotheistic theology. As stated, Christian theology starts from the god portrayed in this bible, a work of the prophets and their entourage, and not from a directly perceived object. However, Christians also claim that all goodness on earth comes from this god of the bible. Human nature is considered by Christians as entirely evil, in contrast to the viewpoint of Hindus. According to Christians, one needs to turn to “faith” to save oneself from this deplorable and terrible condition. In this context, ‘faith’ means a belief in the goodness of the Lord God and Jesus without any evidence. On the basis of this book, Christians believe that all goodness on earth comes from this biblical god. Without him, they say, we are all evil. For this reason, “faith” is good and “rational thought” is bad.

We will now examine what secular (faithless) scientists have to say about the character of the Lord God, which will be a significant factor in our assessment. In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins starts his second chapter with these words: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sado-masochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” [17] One who has read the bible dispassionately may find Dawkins strikingly articulate in his expression, evaluating the Lord God using the values of this age.

Apostle PaulThe New Testament and Jesus

The New Testament, also a collection of books about its protagonist Jesus, was written much later than the first part. The earliest of these books are estimated to have been written by second and third generation Christians in the latter half of the 1st century CE. They are deemed by scholars as records of the preaching of the earliest Christian missionaries. The collection as seen now was authorized in the 4th century CE by Christian leaders of that time to establish a certain common ground among the numerous versions of Christianity that existed at that time.

The first four books of this collection are called canonical gospels and were selected from around 60 such gospels [18] that circulated at that time. The rest of the books comprise the acts of the apostles, who were disciples of Jesus, while spreading Christianity, and the letters or epistles of Paul, a convert from Judaism who never met Jesus in his lifetime. Biblical scholars like Prof. G. A. Wells differentiate the character of the Jesus of the gospels and the Jesus depicted in the Pauline epistles. It is pointless here to go into the details that make up these differences, but suffice to say that all of them together make up the character of Jesus Christ as preached by many Christian professionals today. The gospels describe the extraordinary life of Jesus, while the remaining books build up a thought system from it, but together they make a connection to the thought system of the Old Testament and the Lord God.

According to the gospels, Jesus was born of a virgin and the Lord God of the Old Testament and brought up as the foster son of one Joseph. From the little we know of his biography, he became a preacher among the poor people of Judea, a part of today’s Israel, then a Roman colony. When he was not preaching, Jesus did many miracles, like raising the dead from their graves, enabling blind people to see and exorcising devils that possessed human beings of that time. He also did things that seem trivial and crazy [19], but these things were said to have been prophesied in the Old Testament as marks of the messiah / saviour for whom the Jews were waiting. He was prosecuted for blasphemy by the Jews because he called himself “son of god” and found guilty and crucified according to their laws and then buried. Then he is said to have resurrected from his death and escaped from his tomb. Later he appeared to his close followers and after giving many directions and advices for a few days, he disappeared.

According to the epistles attributed to Paul, the Jewish belief in a saviour who will come to their rescue gets transformed into a belief in the saviour of all mankind. If you ask me from what it is that we are saved, let me remind you and take you back to the Old Testament and the sin of Adam and Eve in eating the fruit of knowledge. This sin, we are told, is never to be forgotten. Paul tells us that Jesus took birth in order to save us from this sin and inherited evil. Though Paul makes an excellent case for a sin overarching the species, there is nothing in the statements of Jesus himself anywhere in the gospels that he was preaching to the whole of humankind.

Actually, there is a contrary evidence that he was exclusively preaching to the Jews. There is a scene in one gospel, Mark chapter 7, when a non-Jewish woman from Syria comes and asks him to exorcise her daughter. Jesus refuses to do her bidding calling non-Jews “dogs”. Only when the woman agrees with Jesus and tells him that even dogs (non-Jews) get leftovers from children (Jews) does he proceed to do her bidding. [20]

This discrepancy in the gospels and Paul’s version will give an idea of the true nature of the books; they vary with each other in many aspects and these discrepancies are not just restricted to the audience Jesus actually had in mind when he preached. Now we will look at the Jesus of today’s Christian theology as well as of modern scientists.

Adam & EveJesus and the original sin

As mentioned earlier, it was Paul who came up with the idea for the first time as to what the horrible sin [21] (disobedience of Adam) was from which Jesus (the only obedient man) was supposed to have saved us. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, [22] also known as Saint Augustine who lived in the latter half of the 4th and the beginning of the 5th centuries, spent much time deliberating on the sin from which mankind was saved by Jesus. He named it the “original sin” though orthodoxy still calls it “ancestral sin”, [23] because this sin never washes off or is redeemed, and is transmitted from parent to child from the time of Adam and Eve. The only way for humankind to save themselves is to accept Christ as saviour by submitting to baptism.

The entire Christian theology rests upon this doctrine of original sin and without it, fails completely as a valid thought system. The claim that Jesus is the exclusive saviour of humankind does not stand if there was no original sin. So, we will first examine this sin before we proceed to examine what scientists and scholars say of Jesus.

The “original sin” can be dismissed as humbug from a scientific point of view. Because, if, as Christians say, evil was transmitted from every parent to every child like a genetic disease, it should be found in the genes. The indications are on the contrary. The existence of a universal moral code in the human species beyond religious persuasions, as confirmed by the findings of Marc Hauser, not only speaks against a genetically transmitted evil, but indicates the opposite. This finding is also confirmed by the existence of the notion of goodness even prior to the writing of the Christian bible. The idea of bhoodhdaya (compassion for all beings) among Hindus also confirms the existence of goodness prior to the birth of Jesus Christ. This proves beyond doubt that goodness is a genetic trait of human beings.

There is no valid case for a theological Christ as propounded by Christian orthodoxy. This proposition is simply untrue. What about Jesus Christ the man? What do scholars tell us about Jesus from the evidence of the bible as a fellow man?

The Russian writer Leo Tolstoy was the first to examine Jesus as an ordinary mortal who was also a rebel and stood for all the oppressed people of his time. [24] He found, like Friedrich Nietzsche after him, a marked difference between the Christ of the Christian churches and the Christ of the New Testament. While Tolstoy found Christ a revolutionary, Nietzsche looked upon Christ, in Koenraad Elst’s words, endowed with features that would still endear him to young dreamers. “While Christ’s religion is centered on love and surrender, Paul’s Christianity becomes, in Nietzsche’s analysis, the religion of hatred and revenge,” [25] says Elst.

To quote Elst again: “One might say that Nietzsche’s view of Jesus was very one-sided. The peaceful apostle of love is a popular image of Jesus based on only a few gospel texts: the Sermon on the Mount; ‘when you get slapped, offer the other cheek also’; ‘he who lives by the sword shall perish by the sword’; ‘the lilies of the field don’t toil, yet Solomon in his splendor was not as good-looking as any of them’; ‘do not judge lest you yourself be judged’. These passages are of disputed historicity, while many reliably historical passages show us a very different Christ, short-tempered, defiant, and a Doomsday prophet. The gentle Jesus, who was in Nietzsche’s view the original Jesus whose teaching and example were later deformed by Pauline Christianity, was himself just as much a creation of his second-generation disciples.” [26]

There are many statements in the bible made by Jesus that endow him with love, surrender and compassion. But there are other statements that say exactly the opposite. For example: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) “I came to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49) “Do you suppose that I came to bring peace to the world? No, not peace, but division. From now on a family of five will be divided, three against two and two against three. Fathers will be against their sons, and sons against their fathers; mothers will be against their daughters, and daughters against their mothers; mothers-in-law will be against their daughters-in-law, and daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law.”(Luke 12:51-53). [27]

Many popular writers and celebrities who supposedly follow the Hindu religion still call Jesus the great teacher of peace, [28] but one can say this only if one is ignorant of the New Testament in all its parts and hasn’t read the history of Christianity. [29]

So, what does this tell us about Jesus? The bible is like a huge jigsaw puzzle, from which one can draw pieces and make your own Christ, but then find that many pieces are still left out unused. Every church creates a Jesus of its own, but there are still pieces left out in the bible for others to make something else. Humanists make a Jesus out of some pieces, but certain pieces are left unused. Anybody familiar with the bible would affirm this. The rigorous consistency that is required for a true thesis is missing, because of opulent data that contradict themselves.

In the aforementioned book, Psychology of Prophetism, Koenraad Elst mentions reports of psychopathologists who examined various statements of Jesus and deduce that he had a psychopathological condition called Paraphrenia, which is included in the category of Paranoia. This is irrelevant here, but it shows there are still more possibilities to create a new personality of Jesus, but some pieces of the jigsaw puzzle would still be left over. Elst tries his best to use up all the pieces by explaining that all the contradictions have been caused by human error. All the good (humane) statements attributed to Jesus are really not his, because they are really not original.

The unoriginality of Jesus’ ‘good’ statements is confirmed by other sources, in particular by Paul N. Tobin in his compelling thesis, The Rejection of Pascal’s Wager – A Sceptic’s Guide to Christianity [30]. He says in the chapter Ethical Teachings of Jesus: “There were many thinkers, before and after Jesus who extolled teachings similar to Jesus. They include, among others Lao Tzu (6th cent BCE), Mencius (4th cent BCE), Epicurus (342-270 BCE) and Marcus Aurelius (121-180 CE). But there is actually a difference between these humanists’ teachings and Jesus’. To them doing good comes spontaneously to the educated because he understands that man is a social animal. But to Jesus one must do good because the reward is great.”

This obsession with reward (after death) is a thread seen throughout the New Testament. [31] This is a stark contrast to the message of nishkāma karma (action without expectation of reward) in the Bhagavad Gita and I am mentioning this because there are Hindu gurus [32] who preach that the message of the Gita and Jesus are the same by randomly picking up a statement or incident involving Jesus and comparing it with a statement of Krishna.

So much for the nature of Jesus as obtained through the New Testament.

Ramana MaharshiConclusions

As we have seen, the Jesus of theology is untenable as a scientific proposition. One needs to go beyond the boundaries of sense to grasp such a reality. Many Christian theologians advocate the rejection of reason to comprehend this reality and say the ultimate reality is beyond human common sense. Some say all genuine religious experience is completely mystical and that includes Jesus. Some say that many Hindu yogis like Ramakrishna Paramhamsa and Paramhansa Yogananda have perceived Jesus in mystic visions and their experience shows that Jesus is truly divine. They say you can only experience this directly, only by eliminating your intelligence.

Is the reality of ‘faith’ true in a mystical sense? Generally, all paths of yoga are considered to lead you to the direct perception of supreme reality. This applies to jnānayoga as well, though the importance of jnānayoga has been waning because of the little importance we grant to rational thinking in the realm of religion. Whether one is Hindu or Christian or Muslim or Jew, he or she takes for granted that religion means the absence of reason or the suspension of rational thinking. Nothing can be farther from the truth.

Jnānayoga is the branch of study that confirms the Vedic thesis through rational thinking. According to Hindu tradition, one can perceive the ultimate reality through rational thought and this path is called jnānayoga. [33] The ultimate reality, brahman, would be no true reality if it were also not validated by rational thought. There are many ways to attain this reality, but the reality itself should be validated by rational thinking so that it can be considered true. [34]

When one looks at Jesus Christ from the viewpoint of jnānayoga, he falls short of the characteristics of brahman. The character also falls short of the neutral dictionary definition of the capital ‘G’ god as the “Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe” (Merriam-Webster).

It is notable that Swami Vivekananda warned against the fallibility of mystical experiences. Mystical experiences are no test for verifying reality, because they need not simply be true. [35] If somebody says he has experienced or saw Jesus while meditating, Jesus does not become supreme reality because of that. Mystical experiences are anubhava (experience), but not jnāna (knowledge).

In the light of sanatana dharma, Jesus Christ is neither the brahman nor kutashta chaitanya [36] of Hindus, nor a dharma master as some people have been postulating in recent years. On the contrary, it is a concept and symbol that should be rejected not only because it is untrue, [37] but it is dangerous for the sustenance of the human species when it is dominant. Since the rise of Christianity in Rome in the 3rd century CE up to the present time, the history of the world is an illustrated example of what an utterly destructive force Christianity is for the human species as well as for the environment.

Soon after Christianity became an official religion of Rome, the empire fell and the whole of Europe became a battlefield of ignorance, [38] despite the intellectual head start given to the continent by the classical Greek and Roman civilizations. The chief impetus for colonialism was the Christian religion that was unleashed upon continent after continent, sustained by the funds of slave trade and pillage and loot, which were all sanctioned by the church by quoting the bible. The riches of extortion and outright robbery funded the European Renaissance that brought back the humanistic ideas, but these were not enough to stave off the gross ignorance of faith that culminated in the two World Wars of the last century. These wars were exclusively between Christian nations but did not fail to impact the whole world.

This illustration of history was just to demonstrate the untenability of a faith without rational thinking. Faith that is required to be a Christian is an impossible proposition in sanatana dharma and should be rejected by all those who have the welfare of humankind and the whole world as one family in mind. For people who believe in statements like vasudeiva kutumbakam [39] and lokah samastha sukhino bhavanthu, [40] Christianity is an abomination that should be rejected.

There is a view prevalent among some American Hindus that there is no harm in adopting dharma and seeing Jesus Christ as an ishtadeva, provided the “history-centrism” of Jesus Christ is rejected. [41] This is also a fallacy, because by rejecting the historicity of a certain divinity, the proposition does not change its qualitative nature. Specifically, by rejecting the historicity of Jesus Christ, he will neither transform into a phenomenal deva as depicted in the Vedas nor can he be attributed with the intellectual construction of Isvara.

It would be theoretically possible only in one way, and this is to position him as a phenomenal deva in the Hindu sense of the term and then accept him as an ishtadeva. For this, we have to consider the actual phenomenal impacts wrought by Jesus Christ through his followers. By rejecting the historicity of Jesus, the negative historical impacts made by Christianity cannot be wished away.

That is indeed a big problem. Judging the historical impacts made by Jesus Christ’s devout followers during the last 2000 years, the god hasn’t done the human species any favours, but on the contrary has sown and harvested distress and destruction and continues to do so. Phenomenally viewed, Jesus is a fallen deva, [42] an asura to be precise, in the Hindu definition of the word. Therefore, one would be courting certain disaster by accepting Jesus as an ishtadeva, with or without “history-centrism.” – 16 Sept. 2012

Notes

  1. See bibliography under ‘Internet links’.
  2. “In India the veneration of Nature has never been discarded as outdated and primitive. On the contrary, primitivity is here appreciated in its productive ambiguity and inexhaustible potentialities. Nature cult is the fundament of the earliest form of Indian religions and remains the basis of even the highest and most exalted speculations of Indian philosophy.” Betty Heimann, Facets of Indian Thought, in the essay entitled ‘Indian Metaphysics’, p. 107.
  3. “The Hindu refuses to call you sinners. It is a sin to call a man so; it is a standing libel on human nature.” cited from The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. 1, p. 9
  4. “I know that good does not live in me—that is, in my human nature. For even though the desire to do good is in me, I am not able to do it.” Romans 7:18 See also: “Get away from me, Satan, he said. Your thoughts don’t come from God but from human nature!” Mark 8:33 (Good News Translation)
  5. Ganesha’s “embodiment represents an expression of the five universal elements.” Vasant D. Lad, Secrets of the Pulse, p. 117; see also “Ganesha is not a symbol. He has symbols, but he is not a symbol … He is living deity breathing like you. He is as real as you are.” From an excerpt of a satsangh with ShantiMayi at Sachadham, Rishikesh, India January 2000.
  6. Here is the whole verse: “They hail Him as Indra, as Mitra, as VaruNa, as Agni, also as that divine and noble-winged Garutmãn. It is of One Existence that the wise ones speak in diverse ways, whether as Agni, or as Yama, or as Mãtarišvãn.” Rigveda 1.164.46 Taken from Sita Ram Goel, Defense of Hindu Society in the chapter: Sanãtana Dharma Versus Prophetic Creeds.
  7. See interview with S. R. Goel: http://sathyavaadi.tripod.com/truthisgod/Articles/goel.htm
  8. See Swami Iswarananda, God-Realization Through Reason, p. 18
  9. Ibid., p 101/102
  10. See Sri Sankaracharya’s explanation of tat tvam asi in the Upadesasahasri with reference to Chhandogyopanishad: “This witness does not require any proof, for, as it never ceases to exist, its eternal existence is self-evident, and does not depend on any evidence; for only an object of knowledge different from the self-evident Knower depends on an evidence in order to be known.” Ibidem, p. 77.
  11. “As expositor Vyasan himself emphatically says, dharma is not translatable into a different language in its exact subtle sense.” Leo Panakal, Ancient Mother Series II, The Judgement on Christianity,  p. 59.
  12. Leo Panakal & Vinodh Kumar, Ancient Mother Series I, The Key to the bible, p. 42
  13. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, p. 255-258
  14. See Sri Sankaracharya’s explanation of verse 66, chapter XVIII in the Bhagavad Gita. Cited in T. P. Balakrishnan Nair, Kalady and Sri Sankaracharya, p. 11
  15. Genesis 2:9 (Good News Translation)
  16. “Worship no god but me … Do not bow down to any idol or worship it, because I am the Lord your God and I tolerate no rivals.” Exodus 20: 3 & 5 (Good News Translation)
  17. Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, p. 51
  18. From BBC documentary– Lost Years of Jesus
  19. “Jesus found a donkey and rode on it, just as the scripture says …” John 12:14. See also in the Old Testament “Rejoice, rejoice, people of Zion! Shout for joy, you people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you! He comes triumphant and victorious, but humble and riding on a donkey …” Zechariah 9:9
  20. Mark 7:25-29. See also Matthew 15:24 “I have been sent only to the lost sheep of the people of Israel.”
  21. “And just as all people were made sinners as the result of the disobedience of one man, in the same way they will all be put right with God as the result of the obedience of the one man.” Romans 5:19 See also “For God has made all people prisoners of disobedience, so that he might show mercy to them all.” Romans 11:32
  22. See bibliography for link
  23. See bibliography for link
  24. Leo Tolstoy: “I believe that Christ was a man like ourselves; to look upon him as God would seem to me the greatest of sacrileges.” See link in bibliography for Rejection of Pascal’s Wager
  25. Koenraad Elst, Psychology of Prophetism – A Secular Look at the Bible in the chapter Psychology of Jesus.
  26. Ibidem, same chapter
  27. All bible quotations from the Good News Translation
  28. Example, see Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love, p. 14
  29. “For Hindus like me who have studied Hinduism as well as Jesus, he can be related to no strand in Hinduism. We see in him a dark force arising from the lower levels of human nature. Hinduism in its essence can have nothing to do with the likes of him except as villains a la Vritra or Ravana or Kamsa.” Sita Ram Goel, Jesus Christ: An Artifice for Aggression, p. 106
  30. See bibliography for link
  31. See Luke 6:35; Matthew 6:3-4; Matthew 5:12
  32. Example, see Dharma Pravartaka Acharya, Jesus: The Dharma Master Parts 1 & 2
  33. Jnanayoga is the path of straightforward thinking, the shortest way to the realization of the ultimate Reality and the easiest of all yogas … ‘To the introspective,’ says Sankara, ‘with the blessing of a teacher and of one’s own self, there is nothing so easy, so well known and so quickly accessible, and so near as this knowledge of Brahman.’” Swami Iswarananda in his introduction to God-Realization Through Reason, p. 4-5. Sankara’s quote is from Gitabhashya, XVIII-50.
  34. “True philosophy will result in true religion, as ultimately there cannot be any conflict between faith and reason. The religion is true not because it is a particular religion, but because it is a philosophical religion. When we say that true religion and true philosophy will agree, we do not mean that the religious experience of the primitive savage and the totem worshipper will be acknowledged to be valid by the philosopher. We mean that the specialist in religion, the mystic with his experience, wisdom and insight will agree with the rational thinker.” S. Radhakrishnan, The Reign of Religion in Contemporary Philosophy, p. 22
  35. “Real inspiration never contradicts reason but fulfils it.” Swami Vivekananda quoted from Raja Yoga, chapter VII, in Swami Iswarananda, God-Realization Through Reason, p. 146
  36. As postulated by Paramahansa Yogananda in Autobiography of a Yogi  p.169. David Frawley in his book Gods, Sages And Kings – Vedic Secrets of Ancient Civilization, also postulates, without considering the bible as an entirety or as a closed system of thought, Jesus Christ to be a Vedic idea just by juxtaposing the mention of “Divine Son and Father” in the Vedas with the “Father and Son” in the bible. He says on p. 280: “The Vedic Divine Sons are all aspects of the Divine Son or Christ consciousness. This Divine Son is the Sun.” How the “Christ consciousness” becomes the “Sun” of the Vedas can only be attributed to a subtle leap of the imagination than to any natural process of reason.
  37. “The fundamental problem with monotheistic religions is not that they are intolerant but that they are untrue.” Koenraad Elst, Psychology of Prophetism: A Secular Look at the Bible.
  38. See Encyclopaedia Brittanica: “Dark Ages, the early medieval period of western European history. Specifically, the term refers to the time (476–800) when there was no Roman (or Holy Roman) emperor in the West; or, more generally, to the period between about 500 and 1000, which was marked by frequent warfare and a virtual disappearance of urban life. It is now rarely used by historians because of the value judgment it implies. Though sometimes taken to derive its meaning from the fact that little was then known about the period, the term’s more usual and pejorative sense is of a period of intellectual darkness and barbarity.”
  39. Ayam bandhurayam neti ganana laghuchetasam Udāracharitānām  tu vasudhaiva kutumbakam (Only small men discriminate saying: One is with us; the other is against us. For those who live magnanimously the entire world constitutes but a family.) Maha Upanishad (Chapter 6, Verse 72)
  40. Svasti prajabhyam paripalayantham nyayeana margena mahim maheesah / gobrahmanebhya shubamsthu nityam lokah samastha sukhino bhavanthu (May there be well being to the people; / May the kings rule the earth along the right path; /May the cattle and the Brahmins have well being forever; / May all the beings in all the worlds become happy; / Peace, peace and peace be everywhere!)
  41. “I am always inviting my Christian friends to adopt dharma and see Jesus as Ishta-devata, BUT always explaining that the concept of ishta-devata requires removing HC [history-centrism]. No ishta-devata can be exclusive or HC as that would distort the principle of ishta-devata.” Rajiv Malhotra in a post titled Digestion – The Good Cop Style in RajivMalhotraDiscussion forum dated 16 June 2012
  42. This view has been voiced already by Shivkumar aka Leo Panakal in his exhaustive thesis: Jesus = Lucifer = THE Devil. Incidentally, all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that is the Christian bible are used up by Panakal in his thesis and thus prove to be the most consistent theory of all that have been produced so far. See Bibliography for link.

Bibliography

  1. Dawkins, Richard, The God Delusion (London: Transworld Publishers, Black Swan edition, 2007).
  2. Elst, Koenraad, Psychology of Prophetism – A Secular Look at the Bible (New Delhi: Voice of India, http://voiceofdharma.org/books/pp/).
  3. Frawley, David, Gods, Sages And Kings – Vedic Secrets of Ancient Civilization (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2003).
  4. Gilbert, Elizabeth, Eat, Pray, Love (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2007).
  5. Goel, Sita Ram, Defense of Hindu Society, (New Delhi: Voice of India, http://voiceofdharma.org/books/hindusoc/index.htm)
  6. Goel, Sita Ram, Jesus Christ: An Artifice for Aggression (New Delhi: Voice of India, 2001).
  7. Heimann, Betty, Facets of Indian Thought (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1964).
  8. Iswarananda, Swami, God-Realization Through Reason (Trichur, India: Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, 1975).
  9. Lad, Vasant D., Secrets of the Pulse (Albuquerque, New Mexico: The Ayurvedic Press, 2006).
  10. Nair, T. P. Balakrishnan, Kalady and Sri Sankaracharya (Kalady: Vyasa Press, 4th ed., 1988).
  11. Panakal, Leo, & Kumar, Vinodh, Ancient Mother Series I, The Key to the bible (Kiental, Switzerland: Identity Publishers, 1994).
  12. ______, Leo, Ancient Mother Series II, The Judgement on Christianity (Kiental, Switzerland: Identity Publishers, 1994).
  13. Radhakrishnan, S., The Reign of Religion in Contemporary Philosophy (London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd, 1920)
  14. Vivekananda, Swami, The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. 1 (Mayavati: Advaita Ashrama, 1950).
  15. Yogananda, Paramahansa, Autobiography of a Yogi (LA, California: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2005).

Videos

  1. Dharma Pravartaka Acharya, Jesus: The Dharma Master Parts 1 & 2, www.dharmacentral.com
  2. Mysteries of the Bible series – Lost Years of Jesus, BBC production http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiy5uY3Iw2s&feature=related
  3. Did God have a Wife? – Part 2 of 3-part series, The Bible’s Buried Secrets, BBC production http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtEsQT5M2IQ

Internet links

  1. Augustine, details in – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustine_of_Hippo
  2. Bible quotations – http://www.biblegateway.com/
  3. Dark Ages, see http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/151663/Dark-Ages
  4. Ganesha, quote – (http://www.jivanjili.org/ganesha_mantra.htm)
  5. Jesus = Lucifer = THE Devilhttp://identitypublishers.org/insight/ins00.htm
  6. Lokah samastha sukhino bhavanthu – details in – http://archives.amritapuri.org/bharat/mantra/lokah.php
  7. Original sin, details in – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_sin
  8. Sita Ram Goel – Interview – http://sathyavaadi.tripod.com/truthisgod/Articles/goel.htm
  9. Sita Ram Goel on Jesus Christ – http://www.scribd.com/doc/73307310/Jesus-Christ-An-Artifice-for-Aggression-Sita-Ram-Goel
  10. The Rejection of Pascal’s Wager – A skeptic’s guide to Christianity by Paul N. Tobin – http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/central.html

 » George Thundiparambil writes in Bharata Bharati as George Augustine. This article based on the Sita Ram Goel Memorial Lecture delivered at the Global Hindu Conference 2012 at Houston, Texas, on 28 July 2012.

 

 

 

Hindus should not convert an Apad Dharma into Sanatana Dharma – Sita Ram Goel

Sita Ram Goel“Flattering the bully may become necessary when the bully is powerful and there remains no other way of softening him except by extolling his heroes or his cult. Hindus have experienced such emergencies vis-a-vis both Islam and Christianity. But there is no reason for their continuing with the same psychology. Hindus should not convert an Apad Dharma into Sanatana Dharma.” – Sita Ram Goel

The first glimpse of the Jesus of the gospels came to me in 1956. My Jesuit friend who had tried to convert me, had failed in the attempt. When we were back at the mission headquarters in Patna, the following dialogue took place between us.

“You believe that Jesus was an avatar,” he asked.

“Yes, I do,” I replied.

“Can an avatar tell a lie?”

“He is not supposed to.”

“What if Jesus says he is the only God?”

“He can’t say that.”

HellMy friend picked up a copy of the New Testament and read out several passages from the gospels. Jesus did say in so many words not only that he was the only God but also that those who did not accept his claim would burn for ever in the infernal pit.

I realized with painful surprise that Jesus was not all Sermon on the Mount as I had been led to believe by his Hindu votaries. Years passed, and I had no time to spare for Jesus. I turned to him again in the eighties when Ram Swarup made me wise about the character of monotheistic creeds. It was then that I turned to the gospels. I was horrified. Now I could see why the history of Christianity had been what it had been. The source of the poison was in the Jesus of the gospels. The rest of my studies followed.

A few years ago I was discussing the menace of Christian missions with a Gandhian friend. He agreed with me that there was something sinister about them. I told him that we shall have to tell our people the truth about Jesus if we wanted to tackle the missions. He was visibly shaken, and said to me in a voice choked with emotion, “Sitabhai. Jesus ko kucch mat kahiye (Brother Sita, do not touch Jesus)!”

“Have you read the gospels,” I asked him.

He was annoyed, and shot back, “That is a personal question.”

I had to drop the subject. Every time I have asked opinionated people about the source of their opinion on a particular question, I have been accused of being personal. I am thinking of writing an essay — Advantages of Being An Ass.

And now I have defied the ban. I do not know how my Gandhian friend will take it.

Jesus the YogiI have wondered over the years why we Hindus have remained preoccupied with the behaviour patterns of Muslims and Christians and not with the belief systems which create those behaviour patterns. We object to Christian missions, but refuse to discuss Christianity and its god, Jesus. We object to Islamic terrorism, but refuse to have a look at Islam and its prophet, Muhammad. I see no sense or logic in this Hindu habit.

In fact, we go a step further. We appeal to the Christian missionaries in the name of Jesus, and ask them not to do what they have been doing. We appeal to the Muslims in the name of Muhammad, and ask them to stop doing what they have been doing. In the process, we have invented a “real” Jesus and a “true” Christianity. We have also invented a “real” Muhammad and a “true” Islam. The missionary and the mullah smiles at our inventions but goes ahead and makes good use of our soft-headedness. That is why we have failed to solve the “communal problem” all these years. We have never tried to find out why our own people, which both Christians and Muslims are, should become alienated from us when they pass under the spell of Christianity and Islam.

Flattering the bully may become necessary when the bully is powerful and there remains no other way of softening him except by extolling his heroes or his cult. Hindus have experienced such emergencies vis-a-vis both Islam and Christianity. But there is no reason for their continuing with the same psychology. Hindus should not convert an Apad Dharma into Sanatana Dharma. – Preface to Jesus Christ: An Artifice for Aggression, Voice of India, 2001

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