The Promise of Moksha – Right from the Beginning

In my last few posts I have looked at how mankind fell from their initial created state. But the Bible (Veda Pusthakam) continues with a plan that God had right from the beginning. This plan centered on a Promise that was issued back then and is the same plan that echoes in the Purusasukta.

The Bible – Really a Library

To appreciate the significance of this Promise we must know some basic things about the Bible. Though it is a book, and we think of it as such, it is actually more accurate to think of it as a mobile library. This is because it is a collection of books, written by a diverse set of authors, over a time span that exceeds 1500 years, which today is bound up into one volume. This fact alone makes the Bible uniquely like the Rg Vedas among the Great Books of the world. In addition to the diverse authorship, the different books of the Bible make statements, declarations and predictions that the later writers pick up on. If the Bible was written by just one author, or a group of authors that knew each other that should not cause us to take note. But the authors of the Bible are separated by hundreds and even thousands of years, writing in different civilizations, languages, social strata, and literary genres – yet their messages, allusions and predictions are picked up seamlessly by later authors or are fulfilled through facts of history verifiable outside the Bible. This makes the Bible unique on a whole different level – and knowing this should motivate us to understand its message. Existing manuscript copies of the Old Testament books (the books that precede Jesus) are dated to about 200 BC so the textual base of the Bible is better, by far, than all other ancient books of the world.

The Promise of Moksha in the Garden

We see this foreshadowing aspect clearly in the Creation and Fall account right at the beginning of the book of Genesis in the Bible. (Genesis was edited by the Rsi Moses ca 1500 BC). In other words, though it is recounting the Beginning, it was written with the End in view. Here we see a Promise when God confronts His adversary Satan, the personification of evil, and speaks to him in a riddle:

“… and I (God) will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman and between your offspring and hers. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

This is a Promise in riddle form – but it is understandable. Reading carefully you will see that there are five different characters mentioned and that this is prophetic in that it is looking forward-in-time (seen by the repeated use of ‘will’ as in future tense). The characters are:

  1. God
  2. Satan
  3. The woman
  4. The offspring of the woman
  5. The offspring of Satan

And the riddle predicts how these characters will relate to each other in the future. This is shown below

Relationships between the characters depicted in the Promise of Genesis

Relationships between the characters depicted in the Promise of Genesis

God will orchestrate that both Satan and the woman will have an ‘offspring’. There will be ‘enmity’ or hatred between these offspring and between the woman and Satan. Satan will ‘strike the heel’ of the offspring of the woman while the offspring of the woman will ‘crush the head’ of Satan.

Deductions on the Offspring – a ‘he’

So far we have just made observations directly from the text. Now for some reasoned deductions. Because the ‘offspring’ of the woman is referred to as a ‘he’ and a ‘his’ we know that it is a single male human – a man. With that we can discard some possible interpretations. As a ‘he’ the offspring is not a ‘she’ and thus cannot be a woman – but the ‘he’ comes from a woman. As a ‘he’ the offspring is not a ‘they’, which it could have plausibly been, perhaps a group of people, or a race, or a team, or a nation. At various times and in various ways people have thought that a ‘they’ would be the answer. But the offspring, being a ‘he’ is NOT a group of people whether that refers to a nation or those of a certain religion as in Hindus, Buddhists, Christians or Muslims etc. As a ‘he’ the offspring is not an ‘it’ (the offspring is a person). This eliminates the possibility that the offspring is a particular philosophy, teaching, technology, political system, or religion. An ‘it’ of these kinds would probably have been, and still is, our preferred choice to fix the world. We think that what will fix our situation is some kind of ‘it’, so the best of human thinkers through the centuries have advocated different political systems, educational systems, technologies, religions etc. But in this Promise the compass is pointed in a totally different direction. God had something else in mind – a ‘he’. And this ‘he’ would crush the head of the serpent.

Another interesting observation comes from what is not said. God does not promise the man an offspring like he promises the woman. This is quite extraordinary especially given the emphasis of sons coming through fathers throughout the Bible, and in the ancient world in general. In fact, one criticism of the genealogies in the Bible by modern Westerners is that they ignore the blood lines that go through women. It is ‘sexist’ in Western eyes because it just considers sons of men. But in this case here it is different – there is no promise of an offspring (a ‘he’) coming from a man. It says only that there will be an offspring coming from the woman, without mentioning a man.

Out of all the humans that have ever existed that I can think of, historically as well as mythically, only one claimed to have had a mother but at the same time never had a physical father. This was Jesus (Yeshu Satsang) who the New Testament claims was born of a virgin – thus a mother but no human father. Is Jesus being foreshadowed here in this riddle right at the beginning of time? This fits with the observation that the offspring is a ‘he’, not a ‘she’, ‘they’ or ‘it’. With that perspective, if you read the riddle some pieces fall into place.

‘Strike his Heel’??

What does it mean that the serpent would strike ‘his heel’? I could never see it until I worked in the jungles of Cameroon. We had to wear thick rubber boots even in the humid heat – because the snakes there lay in the long grass and would strike your foot – i.e. your heel – and that would kill you. My first day there I almost stepped on a snake, and possibly could have died from it. The riddle made sense to me after that. The ‘he’ would destroy the serpent, but the price he would have to pay, would be that he would be killed. That does foreshadow the victory achieved through the sacrifice of Jesus.

The offspring of the Serpent?

But who is his other protagonist, this offspring of Satan? Though we do not have space here to trace it out exhaustively, the later books speak of a coming person. Note the descriptions:

“… when their sin is at its height, a fierce king, a master of intrigue, will rise to power. He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause a shocking amount of destruction and succeed in everything he does. He will destroy powerful leaders and devastate the holy people. He will be a master of deception and will become arrogant; he will destroy many without warning. He will even take on the Prince of princes in battle, but he will be broken, though not by human power. (Daniel 8: 23-25; written by Rsi Daniel in Babylon ca 550 BC)

A man, with an invisible power behind him will challenge the ‘Prince of princes’ but his head too ‘will be broken’ – but ‘not by human power’.

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him … Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4; written by Paul in Greece ca 50 AD)

And the last book in the Bible, many pages and thousands of years removed from the Promise in Genesis, predicts:

The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come. This calls for a mind with wisdom. (Revelation 17:8-9; written by Rsi John on an island off Turkey ca 90 AD)

These later books (again note the diversity of authors, settings and eras they were written in) more explicitly speak of a countdown to a clash between the offspring of the woman and Satan’s offspring. But it is first mentioned in embryo-like form in this Promise of Genesis, at the very beginning of human history, with details waiting to be filled in. So the climax of history, the countdown to a final contest between Satan and God, started long ago in the Garden is foreseen at that same beginning – the earliest Book. It could almost make one think that history is really His-Story.

In previous posts we have journeyed through the ancient hymn Purusasukta. We saw that this hymn also predicted the coming of a Perfect Man – Purusa – a man who would also come ‘not by human power’. This man would be also given in sacrifice. In fact we saw that this was decided and determined in the mind and heart of God at the beginning of time. Are these two books speaking of the same person? I believe that they are. The Purusasukta and the Genesis Promise remember the same event – when God decided that He would one day incarnate as a man so that this man could be given in sacrifice – the universal need for all humans no matter what their religion. But this Promise is not the only parallel between the Rg Veda and the Bible. Since they record the earliest in human history they also record other parallels which we look at in the next posts.

Corrupted (Part 2) … missing our target

In my last post I looked at how the Veda Pusthakam (Bible) describes us as corrupted from the original image of God that we were made in.  A visual analogy that has helped me to ‘see’ this better was the orcs of Middle Earth, corrupted from the elves.  So this is how the Bible describes us.   But how did this happen?

The Origin of Sin

It is recorded in the book of Genesis of the Bible.  Shortly after being made In the Image of God the first humans were tested.  The account records an exchange with a ‘serpent’.  The serpent has always been universally understood to be Satan – a Spirit adversary to God.  Through the Bible, Satan usually confronts by speaking through another person.  In this case he spoke through a serpent.  The exchange is recorded in this way.

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. (Genesis 3:1-6)

The crux of their choice, and thus the temptation, was that they could ‘be like God’. Up to this point they had implicitly trusted God for everything and taken Him at His word for everything. But now they had the choice to leave that behind, become ‘like God’, trusting themselves and taking their own word for things. They could become ‘gods’ themselves, captains of their own ship, masters of their destiny, being autonomous and answerable only to themselves.

In their Declaration of Independence from God something in them changed. As the passage recounts, they felt shame and tried to cover up. In fact, just afterwards, when God confronts Adam about his breach of covenant, he blames Eve (and God who made her). She in turn blames the serpent. No one would accept responsibility.

The Consequences of Adam’s Rebellion

And what started that day has continued because we have inherited that same innate disposition. That is the reason why the Israelites (in the previous post) of Hosea’s day were behaving like Adam – because they (like us) had inherited his disposition. Some misunderstand the Bible to infer that we are blamed for the rebellion of Adam. In fact, the only one blamed is Adam but we live in the consequences of that rebellion. We can think of it genetically. Children acquire the traits of their parents – good and bad – by inheriting their genes.  We have inherited this mutinous nature of Adam and thus innately, almost unconsciously, but willfully we continue the uprising that he started. We may not want to be god of the universe, but we want to be gods in our settings; captains of our own ships; autonomous from God.

The effects of Sin so Visible Today

And this explains so much of human life that we take for granted. This is the reason that everywhere people need locks for their doors, they need police, lawyers, encryption passwords for banking – because in our current disposition we will steal from each other. This is why empires and societies all eventually decay and collapse – because the citizens in all these empires have a tendency to decay. This is why after trying all forms of government and economic systems, and though some work better than others, every political or economic system seems eventually to collapse on itself – because the people living these ideologies are dogged by tendencies which eventually drag the whole system down.  This is why though our generation is the most educated that has ever existed we still have these problems, because it goes much deeper than our level of education.  This is why we identify so well with the prayer of the Pratasana mantram – because it describes us so well.  When I, though living in the West most of my life, read it for the first time I immediately could identify with it – because I knew it described me.

Sin – To ‘miss’ the Target

This is also why no religion has fully brought about their vision for their society – but neither have the atheistic ones (think of Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia) – because something about the way we are tends to make us miss our vision.  In fact, that word ‘miss’ pretty much sums up our situation. A verse from the Old Testament gives a picture that has helped me understand this better. It says

Among all these soldiers there were seven hundred select troops who were left-handed, each of whom could sling a stone at a hair and not miss. (Judges 20:16)

This verse describes soldiers who were experts at using slingshots and would never miss. The word in Hebrew translated ‘miss’ above is יַחֲטִֽא׃  (pronounced Khaw-taw). What is so interesting, is that this same Hebrew word is also translated to sin across most of the Old Testament. For example, this same Hebrew word is ‘sin’ when Joseph, sold as a slave to Egypt, would not commit adultery with his master’s wife, even though she begged him. He said to her:

No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? (Genesis 39:9)

And just after the giving of the Ten Commandments it says:

Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” (Exodus 20:20)

In both these places it is the same Hebrew word יַחֲטִֽא׃ that is translated ‘sin’. It is exactly the same word for ‘miss’ with soldiers that sling stones at targets as in these verses which means ‘sin’ when dealing with people’s treatments of each other. This provides a picture to help us understand what ‘sin’ is. The soldier takes a stone and slings it to hit the target. If it misses it has failed his purpose. In the same way, we were made in God’s image to hit the target about how we relate to Him and treat others. To ‘sin’ is to miss this purpose, or target, that was intended for us, and which we in our various systems, religions and ideologies also intend for ourselves.

Bad News of ‘Sin’ – An issue of Truth not Preference

This corrupted and missed-the-target picture of humankind is not pretty, it is not feel-good, nor is it optimistic.  Over the years I have had people react strongly against this particular teaching.  I remember one student at a university here in Canada looking at me with daggers in her eyes saying, “I don’t believe you because I do not like what you are saying”.  Now we may not like it, but to focus on that is to miss the point.  What does ‘liking’ something have anything to do with whether it is true or not?  I do not like taxes, wars, AIDS and earthquakes – I doubt anyone does – but that does not make them go away, and neither can I ignore any of them.

All the systems of law, police, locks, keys, security etc. that we have built in our society and take for granted to protect ourselves from each other does suggest that something is wrong.  The fact that festivals such as the Mela Kumbh draws tens of millions to ‘wash our sins away’ indicates that we ourselves instinctively know that in some way we have ‘missed’ the mark.  The fact that the concept of sacrifice as a requirement for heaven is found in all religions is a clue that something about us is not right.  At the very least, this doctrine deserves to be considered in an even-handed way.

But this doctrine of sin existing across all religions, languages and nations – causing all of us to ‘miss’ the mark raises an important question.  What was God going to do about it?  We look at God’s response in our next post – where we see the first Promise of the coming Redeemer – The Purusa who would be sent for us.