Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas - a Vedantic perspective

At the outset of this mail, let me wish each and everyone “MERRY CHRISTMAS”. It may seem a bit weird about Christmas being spoken about in between bhagavatham postings. But it is a fact that all religions are various paths to the ultimate reality of Lord. Each religion has its own rituals. These rituals might be different but the basic theory propounded in the scriptures of each religion is the same only. For a Vedantin, the Bible is full of Vedantic concepts. Thus it is but essential to understand and acknowledge the theoretical and practical aspects of each religion. If each individual were to do this, there wouldn’t be any bloodshed in the name of religion.

Let us all today try to analyze the celebration of Christmas from a Vedantic perspective. We all know that Christmas or December 25th is celebrated as the birth of Jesus Christ. Christianity considers Jesus Christ as the son of Lord, the savior, the redeemer of the people of the world who takes them from out of sins to salvation. If we analyze the life of Christ as well as his teachings, we will find only Vedantic concepts. Swami Prabhavananda of Ramakrishna Mission has already brought out a book titled “Sermon on the Mount” wherein he analyzes the teachings of Christ on the mount and finds a Vedantic interpretation to them.

We find in Christ a Jeevanmuktha, a realized saint, who lived merely for the sake of the world. The Lord propounds in Gita that the very purpose of realized beings in the world is “welfare of the world” (loka sangraha). It is to make the people of the world understand the basic teaching of the scriptures that Jesus Christ was born on earth. Christ was not a mere preacher but a practitioner. We can find many preachers of Vedanta preaching Vedantic concepts to others but when the time comes for them to implement the same, they fail to do so – instead they enter into the delusion of samsaara. Christ unlike normal preachers was a practitioner. He spent his entire life living the teachings of the scriptures. The basic preaching of Christ was to spread love, peace, compassion and forgiveness. This is only possible if the people of the world consider everybody as “mine” instead of considering a few people as “mine” and others as “somebody else”. This is the concept of removing the egoistic attitude & instead considering everything as “mine”. This is what Vedanta calls as globalizing the ego (which we learnt a few days back). Globalizing and considering everybody as “mine” is possible only when there is some common link between everyone. The common link is that of being children of the Lord. As the children of a father & mother will love each other & not have any hatred, the children of the Lord cannot but love everyone. It is this what the scriptures preach as “love thy neighbor”. As in the case of any theory, there will be wrong and false interpretations – this famous statement also has been interpreted as meaning to love only Christians and hate non-Christians. If the Lord propounded in the Bible created the world, then whether a person is a Christian or not he is the child of the Lord. The Lord propounded in the Bible is what Vedanta calls as Brahman or Ishwara. The Lord who created the world and the people in the world cannot but love the people. Thus the Lord ever loves his children and is wanting the children to realize the Lord’s nature. Christianity defines salvation as removal of sin and going to heaven. Vedanta defines moksha as removal of sorrow (ignorance) and attaining eternality. Thus both are but one and the same only.

Vedanta is impossible for a normal person to learn by himself and realize the Lord without any external aid. It is for this reason that Vedanta propounds that without a Guru, realization is not possible. The Guru is defined as one who knows the ultimate reality of Lord. This Guru is what is termed in Christianity as Jesus Christ. Christ is the one who knows the Lord and thereby can lead the people of the world to the Lord. Jesus is the savior who takes the people from sins to salvation. What is sin??? Sin in Vedanta is not knowing one’s own nature of Lord. To make it simpler, sin is not knowing the Lord. We all are thus sinners only because we don’t know the ultimate reality of Lord. It is only when we seek and surrender unto the Guru of Jesus Christ that he takes us out of the sins by making us realize the ultimate reality of Lord. Christianity says that the very aim of Jesus’s life was to save each one of us from our sins by dying on the cross. The Guru for the welfare of the disciple abandons everything and takes the sins of the disciples. We find in Paramahamsa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi” the mention of his Guru taking the sins of his disciples. Most of the Hindu saints have been suffering from major diseases though they were realized and could control everything – this itself shows that they suffered the sins of their followers. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa suffered from tumour (pardon the incorrect memory – this might be a wrong info about the disease of Ramakrishna). Vivekananda died at a very young age. Sankara suffered from piles trouble. Tapovan Maharaj also suffered from throat cancer so was Ramana Maharshi. Thus we find in all these saints the same symptoms as that of Jesus.

It is true that Christianity considers Jesus alone as the son of God but if we consider all Gurus as nothing but sons of God, we can generalize it into one son of God taking different forms. Swami Vivekananda proclaimed that there will be an avatar who would be he and his Guru together taking a human form & the avatar would speak in the UN 100 days after the year which Swamiji spoke. This prophecy of Swamiji was fulfilled through AMMA speaking at the UN in 1993 (exactly 100 years after Swamiji spoke in 1883).

Thus we find Vedantic concepts in each and every theoretical aspect of Christianity. On this benign day of the birth of the son of the Lord amidst us to save us from the ocean of samsaara, let us seek and surrender unto the compassionate Jesus Christ in the form of various saints in the world.

Let the Lord save us all from the ocean of samsaara and lead us into eternal bliss.

Let a moment not pass by without remembering God

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