The Simple Way to achieve Moksha

Today as I write this article the world’s attention is focused on the FIFA World Cup draw. While these dramas have many fans riveted, much of the rest of the world is focused on the riots and political stalemate in Thailand and Ukraine. Then there is always the civil war that is raging in Syria. And this just in … Nelson Mandela has passed away.

It is amazing to think that with all the attention around the globe focused on these events; nonetheless they will still be largely forgotten in a few years. What the world takes great note of now will quickly be forgotten as we move on to other amusements, championships or political crises. The rage one day quickly becomes forgotten history the next.

We saw in our previous article that this same pattern was true in the really ancient time of Abraham. The important and spectacular contests, achievements and drama that captured the imagination and news of people living 4000 years ago are now totally forgotten, but a solemn promise spoken quietly to an individual, though totally overlooked by the world back then, is growing and unfolding before our eyes. I pointed out the obvious, but usually overlooked fact, that the promise given to Abraham about 4000 years ago has literally, historically and verifiably come true. This should give us reason to recognize that at the very least this Promise to Abraham indicates that Prajapati or God is just as revealed in the Bible (Veda Pusthakan) and is working to see that His Promises will be accomplished. This is not simply legend or some abstract metaphor.

The account of Abraham continues with a few further encounters with this Promise-Making God. Abraham (and we who follow his journey) learn much more – even to the point of seeing this promise move from the realm of history to that of achieving Moksha, but in a very different way – a simpler way – than we might expect. The story of Abraham is not a quickly forgotten event like today’s news events; it is one of an unnoticed man setting a foundation to understand the gaining of eternity, so we’d be wise to take note.

Abraham’s Complaint

Several years have passed in Abraham’s life since the Promise recorded in Genesis 12 was spoken. Abraham had moved to Canaan (the Promised Land) in what is today Israel in obedience to that promise. Other memorable events then occurred in his life except the very one that he anticipated – the birth of the son through whom this promise would be fulfilled. So we pick up the account with Abraham’s complaint:

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram.

I am your shield,

your very great reward.”

But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” (Genesis 15:1-3)

God’s Promise

Abraham had been camping out in the Land awaiting the start of the ‘Great Nation’ that had been promised him. But nothing had happened and by this time he was around 85 years old. He complains that God was not keeping that Promise given to him. Their conversation continues with:

Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:4-5)

So in their exchange God basically renews His Promise by declaring that he would get a son that would become a people as uncountable as the stars in the sky – many for sure, but hard to number.

Abraham’s Response: Like a Puja with Permanent affect

The ball was now back in Abraham’s court. How would he respond to this renewed Promise? What follows is a sentence that the Veda Pusthakan (Bible) treats as one of its most important sentences (since this sentence is quoted several times later on). It lays the foundation to understand an unalterable truth. It says:

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)

It is probably easier to understand this sentence if we replace the pronouns with names, thus it would read:

Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD credited it to Abram as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)

It is such a small and inconspicuous sentence. It comes and goes with no news headline fanfare and so we are apt to miss it. But it is truly significant – and it contains the seeds of The Everlasting. Why? Because in this little sentence Abraham obtains ‘righteousness’. This is like a getting the merits of a puja that will never degrade or be lost. Righteousness is the one – and the only one – quality that we need to get right standing before God.

Reviewing our Problem: Corruption

From God’s point-of-view, though we were made in the image of God something happened that corrupted that image. Now the verdict is that

The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:2-3)

Instinctively we sense this corruption. This is why festivals, such as the Kumbh Mela festival, are so well attended because we sense our sin and our need for cleansing. The Prartha Snana (or Pratasana) mantram also expresses this view that we have about ourselves:

I am a sinner. I am the result of sin. I am born in sin. My soul is under sin. I am the worst of sinners. O Lord who has the beautiful eyes, Save me, O Lord of the Sacrifice.

The end result of our corruption is that we find ourselves separated from a Righteous God because we have no righteousness ourselves. Our corruption has seen our negative karma grow – reaping futility and death in its wake. If you doubt that just scan some news headlines and see what people have been up to the last 24 hours.

In fact our corruption has made us rather repulsive to God in the same way that the decaying body of a dead rat would be repulsive to us. We would not want to go near such a thing. The sight and stench would impel us to keep our distance. We are separated from the Maker of Life and so the words of Rsi Isaiah of the Veda Pusthakan (Bible) come true

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. (Isaiah 64:6, written ca. 750 BC)

Abraham and Righteousness

But here in the conversation between Abraham and God we find, slipped in so quietly that we can almost miss it, the declaration that Abraham had gained ‘righteousness’ – the kind that God accepts. So what did Abraham ‘do’  to get this righteousness? Once again, so unassumingly that we are in danger of missing the point, it simply says of Abraham that he ‘believed’. That’s it?! We have this insurmountable problem of being corrupt and so the natural, and dare I say universal, tendency of mankind down the ages is to look for sophisticated and difficult religions, efforts, pujas, ethics, ascetic disciplines, teachings etc. – to gain righteousness. But this man, Abraham, gained that prized righteousness simply by ‘believing’.  It was so simple we could almost miss it.

But what does believe mean? And what does this have to do with gaining righteousness?  We take it up in our next article.

The Rescue Plan for Enlightenment: Through the Blessings of a man

We saw in our last post that mankind had corrupted the worship of the Creator Prajapati into worshiping stars and planets. Because of this Prajapati scattered the descendants of the three sons of Manu/Noah (who had survived the flood) by separating their languages. This is why there are the many nations separated by language today. Echoes of mankind’s common past can be seen in the 7-day calendars used throughout the world today and in the diverse memories of that great flood.

Prajapati had promised at the beginning of history that through the sacrifice of a Perfect Man ‘sages would gain immortality’. This sacrifice would function like a puja to clean us on the inside instead of just on our outside. However, with the worship of the Creator being corrupted, the newly scattered nations were forgetting this primeval promise. It is only remembered today in a handful of sources including the ancient Rg Veda and the Veda Pusthakan – The Bible.

So Prajapati made a plan. This plan was not something that you and I would expect because it would seem (to us) far too small and insignificant to change things. But this was the plan that Prajapati chose. This plan involved calling a man and his family around 2000 BC (ie 4000 years ago) and promising to bless him and his descendants if he chose to receive the blessing. Here is how the Veda Pusthakan – The Bible – gives the account.

The Promise to Abraham

The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there….

7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

Many of us today wonder if there is a personal God who cares enough to directly intervene in our troubled lives to give us hope. Through this account we can test this idea because in it is a personal promise made to a specific person, parts of which are verifiable. This account records that The LORD (the name in the Bible for God or Prajapati) directly promised Abraham that ‘I will make your name great’. We live in the 21st century – 4000 years later – and the name of Abraham/Abram is one of the most globally recognized names in history. This promise has literally, historically, and verifiably come true.

The earliest existing copy of the Bible is from the Dead Sea Scrolls which date to 200-100 B.C. This means that this promise has, at the very latest, been put down in writing since at least that time. But even at 200 BC the person and name of Abraham was still not yet well-known – being known only to a small minority of Jews. So we can verify that the fulfillment has come about only after the latest time it was written down. This is not a case of a promise being ‘fulfilled’ by writing it down after it happened.

… by means of his great nation

What is equally astonishing is that Abraham really did nothing noteworthy in his life – the kind of thing that normally makes one’s name ‘great’. He did not write anything extraordinary (like Vyasa who wrote the Mahabharata), he did not build anything noteworthy (like Shah Jahan who built the Taj Mahal), he did not lead an army with impressive military skill (like Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita), nor did he lead politically (like Mahatma Gandhi did). He did not even rule a kingdom like a raja. He did nothing really except camp and pray in the wilderness and then have a son.

If you were predicting in his day who would be most remembered thousands of years later, you would have bet on the kings, generals, warriors, or court poets living back then to become great in history. But their names are all forgotten – while the man who just barely managed to have a family in the wilderness is a household name around the world. His name is great only because the nation(s) that he sired kept the record of his account – and then individuals and nations that came from him became great. This is exactly how it was promised at this time long ago (“I will make you into a great nation … I will make your name great”). I can think of no one else in all history so well-known who is so only because of descendants coming from him rather than from great accomplishments in his own life.

…Through the Will of the Promise-Maker

And the people today who descended from Abraham – the Jews – were never really a nation which we typically associate with greatness. They did not build great architectural structures like the pyramids of the Egyptians – and certainly nothing like the Taj Mahal, they did not write philosophy like the Greeks, or administer over far-flung regions like the British did. All of these nations did so in the context of world-power empires that stretched their extensive borders through extraordinary military power – something the Jews never had. The Jewish people’s greatness is mostly due to the Law and Book (Veda Pusthakan or Bible) which they birthed; from some remarkable individuals that came from their nation; and that they have survived for these thousands of years as a distinct and somewhat different people group. Their greatness is not really due to anything they did, but rather what was done to and through them.

Now look to the Cause that was going to drive this promise forward. There, in black-and-white, it says repeatedly that “I will …”. The unique way their greatness has played out in history fits once again in a remarkable way to this declaration that it was going to be the Creator who would make this happen rather than some innate ability, conquest or power of this ‘great nation’. The media attention paid around the world today to events in Israel, the modern Jewish nation, is a case in point. Do you regularly hear of news events in Hungary, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Bolivia, or the Central African Republic – all similarly sized countries around the world? But Israel, a tiny nation of 6 million, is constantly and regularly in the news.

There is nothing innate in history or human events that would cause the unfolding of this ancient promise exactly as it was declared to this ancient man who, because he trusted this promise chose a special path. Think how likely it was for this promise to have failed in some way. But instead it has unfolded, and is continuing to unfold, as it was declared those thousands of years ago. The case is strong indeed that it is solely on the power and authority of the Promise-Maker that it has been fulfilled.

The Trek that still shakes the World

This map shows the route of Abraham's Journey

This map shows the route of Abraham’s Journey

The Bible records that “So Abram left as the LORD had told him” (v. 4). He set out on a trek, shown on the map that is still making history.

Blessings to us

But it does not end there since there is something else promised as well. The blessing was not only for Abraham because it also says that

“all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (v. 4).

This should make you and I take note. Whether we are Aryan, Dravidian, Tamil, Nepali, or even something else; no matter what our caste is; no matter what our religioin, be it Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Sikh or Christian; no matter whether we are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick; educated or not – the ‘all peoples on earth’ has to include you, as well as me. The scope of this promise for a blessing includes everybody alive from back then until today – which means you. How? When? What kind of blessing? This is not clearly stated just here but this is the birth of something that affects you as well me.

We have just verified historically and literally that the first part of the Promise to Abraham has come true. Do we not then have a good reason to trust that the part of the Promise to you and to me will also not come true? Because it is universal and unchanging this Promise is Satya. But we need to unlock it – to understand Satya of this Promise. We need enlightenment so we understand how this Promise can ‘touch’ us. And we find this enlightenment in continuing to follow the pilgrimage of Abraham. The key to moksha, which so many around the world are working so hard to obtain, is revealed for all of us as we continue to follow the account of this remarkable man.

The convergence of Sanskrit and Hebrew Vedas: Why?

In my last post I looked at the convergence between the account of Manu in the Sanskrit Vedas and the account of Noah in the Hebrew Vedas.  Before I continue on to explore how these Vedas describe the new birth required for moksha, I want to suggest a reason for this convergence.  And the convergence I am talking about is not just with these flood accounts.  As I have written in a previous article, there is a similar convergence between the Promise of the sacrifice of Purusa at the dawn of time with that of the Promised offspring given in the Hebrew book of Genesis (also at the dawn of time).  So why do we see these convergences?  Is it due to coincidence?  Does one account borrow or steal from the other?  I want to put forward an explanation for you to consider.

Tower of Babel – The Account After the Flood

Following the account of Noah, the Veda Pusthakam (the Bible) goes on to record the descendants of his three sons and to state that “From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.” (Genesis 10:32).  The Sanskrit Vedas also declare (converging again!) that Manu had three sons from whom all mankind descend.  But how did this ‘spreading out’ occur?

The ancient Hebrew account goes into detail to list and name the descendants of these three sons of Noah (Manu).  You can read this complete list here.  The account then goes on to describe how these descendants disobeyed the directive of Elohim or Prajapati – the Creator, who had commanded them to ‘fill the earth’ (Genesis 9:1),  and instead these people remained together in Mesopotomia to build a tower.  You can read that account here.  This account states this was a tower ‘that reaches to the heavens’ (Genesis 11:4).  This means that these first descendants of Noah (Manu) were building a tower for the purpose of worshiping stars and other bodies in the heavens (sun, moon, planets etc.) instead of worshiping the Creator Prajapati.  It is well-known that star worship originated in Mesopotamia (where these descendants were living) and that it then spread all over the world.  A Religion Dictionary reference states that star worship:

This was certainly so in Mesopotamia in the last two millennia bce [10: i–iii ] and in Central America among the Maya [9: v ]. Star-worship probably underlies the prehistoric megalithic astronomical sites of northern Europe [9: ii–iii ; e.g. Stonehenge] and similar sites in North America [9: iv ; e.g. the Big Horn medicine wheel]. From Mesopotamia star-worship passed into Graeco-Roman culture…

So instead of worshiping the Creator, our ancestors worshiped stars.  The account then says that to frustrate this, so that the corruption of worship would not become irreversible, the Creator decided to

…confuse their language so they will not understand each other. (Genesis 11:7)

As a result of this, these first descendants of Noah (Manu) could not talk with and understand each other and thus in this way the Creator

scattered them from there over all the earth  (Genesis 11:8)

In other words, once these people could no longer understand and talk to each other, they migrated away from each other, within their newly formed linguistic groups, and thus they ‘scattered’.  This explains why the different people groups of the world today speak in very different languages, as each group spread out from their original center in Mesopotamia (sometimes over many generations) to the places where they are found today.  Thus, their respective histories diverged from this point onwards.  But each language group (which formed these first nations) had a common history up to this point.   This common history included the Promise of Moksha through the sacrifice of Purusa and the flood account of Manu (Noah).  The Sanskrit rsis remembered these events through their Vedas and the Hebrews remembered these same events through their Veda (the Torah of Rsi Moses).

The Testimony of diverse Flood accounts – from around the world

This explanation does explain the convergence and similarity between these early Vedas.  But is there further evidence to support this explanation?  Interestingly, the flood account is not just remembered in the ancient Hebrew and Sanskrit Vedas.  Diverse people groups around the globe remember a great flood in their respective histories.  The following chart illustrates this.

Flood accounts from cultures around the world compared to the flood account in the Bible

Flood accounts from cultures around the world compared to the flood account in the Bible

Across the top this shows various language groups living around the world – on every continent.   The cells in the chart denote whether the particular detail of the Hebrew flood account (listed down the left of the chart) is also contained their own flood account.  Black cells indicate that this detail is in their flood account, while blank cells indicate that this detail is not in their local flood account.  You can see that almost all these groups had at least in common the ‘memory’ that the flood was a Judgment by the Creator but that some humans were saved in a huge boat.  In other words, the memory of this flood is not only found in the Sanskrit and Hebrew Vedas, but in other cultural histories around the world and continents apart.  It points to this event having happened in our distant past.

The Testimony of the Hindi Calendar

hindu-calendar-panchang

Hindi Calendar – the days of the month go top to bottom, but there is the 7-day week

It was when I worked and traveled in India that I became aware of another supporting testimony which I found to be rather remarkable – but only when you become aware of it.  It is peculiar enough to demand an explanation.  When working in India I saw the many Hindi calendars.  I noticed that they were different than western calendars.  The obvious difference to me was that the calendars were constructed so that the days would go down columns (top to bottom) instead of across rows (left to right), which is the universal way of demarking calendars in the West.  Some calendars had different numbers than the western ‘1, 2, 3…’ since they used the Hindi script (१, २,  ३ …).  I could understand, and even expect, such differences since there is no ‘right’ way to denote a calendar.  But it was the central convergence – in the midst of these differences – that struck me.  The Hindi calendar used the 7-day week – the same as in the Western world.  Why?  I could understand why the calendar was divided into years and months like the western one since these are based on the revolutions of the earth around the sun and the moon around the earth – thus giving astronomical foundations universal to all people.  But there is no astronomical time basis for the ‘week’.  When I asked people they said it was custom and tradition that went far back in their history (how far back no one seemed to know).

… and the Buddhist Thai Calendar

thai_lunar_calendar

Thai Calendar goes left to right, but has a different year than in West – but still that 7-day week

I also had the opportunity to live and work in Thailand.  While there I would view their calendars.  Being a Buddhist country, Thais mark their years from the life of the Buddha so that their years were always 543 years greater than in the West (ie the year 2013 AD is 2556 in BE –Buddhist Era – in the Thai calendar).  But again they also used a 7-day week.  Where did they get that from?  Why are calendars that diverge in so many ways across different countries based on the 7-day week when there is no real astronomical basis for this calendar time unit?

Testimony of ancient Greeks on the week

These observations on Hindi and Thai calendars pushed me to see if the 7-day week was evident in other ancient cultures.  And it is.

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, who lived around 400 BC is considered the father of modern medicine and he wrote books, preserved to this day, recording his medical observations.  In doing so he used ‘week’ as a time unit.  Writing about the growing symptoms of a certain disease he stated:

The fourth day is indicative of the seventh; the eighth is the commencement of the second week; and hence, the eleventh being the fourth of the second week, is also indicative; and again, the seventeenth is indicative, as being the fourth from the fourteenth, and the seventh from the eleventh  (Hippocrates, Aphorisms. #24)

Aristotle, writing in the 350’s BC uses the ‘week’ regularly to demark time.  To cite one example he writes:

The majority of deaths in infancy occur before the child is a week old, hence it is customary to name the child at that age, from a belief that it has now a better chance of survival. (Aristotle, The History of Animals, Part 12, ca 350 BC)

So where did these ancient Greek writers, far removed from India and Thailand, get the idea of a ‘week’ such that they used it so unassumingly, quietly but obviously expecting their Greek readers to know what a ‘week’ was?  Perhaps there was an historical event which all these cultures had in their past (though they may have forgotten the event) which established the 7-day week?

The Hebrew Vedas describe just such an event – the initial creation of the world.  In that detailed and ancient account the Creator creates the world and fashions the first people in 7 days (actually 6 days with a 7th day of rest).  Because of that, the descendants of the first human pair then used that 7-day week time unit in their calendar.  When mankind was subsequently scattered by the confusion of languages these major events that preceded this ‘scattering’ were remembered in different ways by some of these different language groups, including the promise of a coming sacrifice, the account of the cataclysmic flood, as well as the more innocuous 7-day week.  These memories are living artefacts of early mankind and a testament to the history of these events as recorded in these Vedas.  This explanation certainly is the cleanest and simplest way to explain the convergence of the Hebrew and Sanskrit Vedas.  Many people today dismiss these ancient writings as mere superstitious mythology but these convergences should cause us to reconsider.

Now assuming that my explanation is indeed correct, how will the primal Promise of the Coming Sacrifice and promise of Moksha from the Creator come to pass?  We continue with the account of a holy man who lived just after the scattering caused by the confusion of languages.  He had a mysterious riddle that he acted out where he had to face sacrificial death before he could see life.  This dramatic event points the way to how Prajapati the Creator would achieve Moksha for all peoples and languages.  We pick this up in our next article.

[For a further look at ancient memories that show similar kinds of convergences – but this time through the calligraphy in the Chinese language see my article here]

How Mankind continued on – Lessons from the account of Manu (or Noah)

In our previous post we looked at the promise of Moksha given right at the very beginning of human history. We also noted that there is something about us that tends to corruption, that shows up in our actions missing the target of intended moral behaviour, and even deeper into the very nature of our being. Our original image which was made by God (Prajapati) has been marred. Though we try hard with many rituals, washings and prayers, the reality of the corruption causes us to instinctively feel a need for cleansing that we cannot properly achieve. We often tire of continually having to fight this ‘uphill’ struggle of trying to live with perfect integrity.

But if we let this pull to corruption grow unchecked without any moral restraint we can quickly degenerate. This happened very early in human history. The early chapters of the Bible (Veda Pusthakam) tell us how this happened. This account is paralleled in the Shatapatha Brahmana which details how the progenitor of mankind today – known as Manu – survived a great judgment of a flood that came because of human corruption, and did so by seeking refuge in a great boat. Both the Bible (Veda Pusthakam) and the Sanskrit Vedas tell us that all mankind alive today descended from him.

Ancient Manu – from whom we get the English word ‘man’

In fact, if we look into the derivation of the English word ‘man’, it comes from proto-Germanic. Tacitus, a Roman Historian who lived around the time of Jesus Christ (Yeshu Satsang – and also wrote about him) wrote a book of the history of the German people called Germania. In it he says

In their old ballads (which amongst them are the only sort of registers and history) they celebrate Tuisto, a God sprung from the earth, and Mannus his son, as the fathers and founders of the nation. To Mannus they assign three sons, after whose names so many people are called (Tacitus. Germania Ch 2, written ca 100 AD)

Etymologists tell us that this ancient Germanic word ‘Mannus’ is a derivation of the Proto-Indo-European “manuh” (cf. Sanskrit manuh, Avestan manu-,). In other words, the English word ‘Man’ probably derives from Manu whom both the Bible (Veda Pusthakan) and the Shatapatha Brahmana say that we all come from! So let us look at this person and see what we can learn. We start by summarizing from the Shatapatha Brahmana. There are a few renditions that have slightly different aspects to the account, so I will stick to the main themes.

The account of Manu in the Sanskrit vedas

In the Vedic accounts Manu was a righteous man, who sought truth. Because Manu was absolutely honest, he was initially known as Satyavrata (“One with the oath of truth”).

According to the Shatapatha Brahmana (click here to read the account in Shatapatha Brahmana), an avatar warned Manu of a coming flood. The avatar appeared initially as a Shaphari (a small carp) to Manu while he washed his hands in a river. The little Fish asked Manu to save Him, and out of compassion, he put it in a water jar. It kept growing bigger and bigger, until Manu put Him in a bigger pitcher, and then deposited Him in a well. When the well also proved insufficient for the ever-growing Fish, Manu placed Him in a tank (reservoir), that was two yojanas (16 miles) in height above the surface and on land, as much in length, and a yojana (8 miles) in breadth. As the Fish grew further Manu had to put it in a river, and when even the river proved insufficient he placed it in the ocean, after which it nearly filled the vast expanse of the great ocean.

It was then that the avatar informed Manu of an all-destructive deluge which would be coming very soon. So Manu built a huge boat which housed his family, 9 types of seeds, and animals to repopulate the earth, for after the deluge abated the oceans and seas would recede and the world would need to be repopulated with people and animals. At the time of the deluge, Manu fastened the boat to the horn of a fish which was also an avatar. His boat ended up after the flood perched on the top of a mountain. He then descended from the mountain and offered sacrifices and oblations for his deliverance. All peoples on earth today descend from him.

The Account of Noah in the Bible (Veda Pusthakam)

The account in the Bible (Veda Pusthakam) describes the same event, but in this account Manu is called Noah. Click here to read the account of Noah and the global flood in detail from the Bible. Many people find the story of Noah and the flood unbelievable. But, apart from the Vedas and the Bible, memories of this event are preserved in many histories from different cultures, religions and histories.  The world is covered with sedimentary rock, which is formed by depositing of sediment during a flood so we have physical evidence of this flood as well as anthropological evidence. But what is the lesson for us today that we should pay attention to in this account?

Missing vs. Receiving Mercy

When I talk to people about whether God judges corruption (sin), and in particular whether their sin or my sin will be judged or not, the reply I often get is something like, “I am not too worried about Judgment because God is so merciful and kind I do not think He will really judge me”. It is this account of Noah (or Manu) that should cause us to question such reasoning. The entire world (apart from Noah and his family) was destroyed in that judgment. So where was His mercy then? It was provided in the ark or boat.

God in His Mercy, using Noah (or Manu), provided an ark that was available for anybody. Anyone could have entered that ark and received mercy and safety from the coming flood. The problem was almost all people responded to the coming flood with disbelief. They mocked Noah and did not believe the coming Judgment would really happen. So they perished in the flood. And all they needed was to have entered the ark and they would have escaped the Judgment.

Those alive back then probably thought that they could avoid the flood by climbing to a higher hill, or by building a big raft. But they totally underestimated the size and power of the flood. These ‘good ideas’ would not be sufficient for that judgment; they needed something that could cover them much better – the ark. While they all watched it being built it was a clear sign of both coming Judgment and available Mercy.  And in paying attention to the example of Noah (or Manu) it speaks to us today in the same way, showing that mercy is attained through the provision that God has established, not by one that we think is good.

So why did Noah find the Mercy of God? You will notice that the Bible repeats several times the phrase

And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him

I find that I tend to do what I understand, or what I like, or what I agree with. I am sure that Noah must have had many questions in his mind about the warning of a coming flood and the command to build such a big ark on land. I am sure he could have reasoned that since he was a good and truth-seeking man he perhaps did not need to pay attention to building this ark. But he did ‘all‘ that was commanded – not just what he understood, not what he was comfortable with, and not even what made sense to him. This is a great example for us to follow.

The Door for salvation

The Bible also tells us that after Noah, his family, and the animals entered the ark that

Then the Lord shut him in. (Genesis 7:16)

It was God that controlled and managed the One Door into the ark – not Noah. When Judgment came and the waters rose, no amount of banging on the ark from the people outside could move Noah to open the door. God controlled that one door. But at the same time those on the inside could rest in confidence that since God controlled the door that no wind or wave could force it open. They were safe in the door of God’s care and Mercy.

Since God does not change this also would apply to us today. The Bible warns that there is another coming Judgment – and this one by fire – but the sign of Noah assures us that along with His Judgment He will also offer Mercy. But we should look for the ‘ark’ with one door that will cover our need and grant us Mercy.

Sacrifices again

The Bible also tells us that Noah:

built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. (Genesis 8:20)

This fits the pattern of sacrifice that we noted in the Purusasukta. It is as if Noah (or Manu) knew that the sacrifice of Purusa would be given so he offers an animal sacrifice as a picture of this coming sacrifice demonstrating his trust that God would do it. In fact the Bible says that just after this sacrifice God ‘blessed Noah and his sons’ (Genesis 9:1) and ‘made a covenant with Noah’ (Genesis 9:8) to never again judge all people with a flood. So it seems that the sacrifice of an animal by Noah was crucial in his worship.

Re-birth – through Law or…

In the Vedic tradition, Manu is the source for the Manusmriti which advises or prescribes one’s varna/caste in life. The Yajurveda says that at birth, all humans are born shudras or servants, but that we need a second or new birth to escape this bondage. The Manusmriti is controversial and different points-of-view are expressed in and about this smriti. It is beyond our scope to analyze all these details.  However, what is interesting, and what we will explore, is that in the Bible, a Semitic people who descended from Noah also received two ways in which to receive purity and cleansing. One way was through a law which included cleansings, ritual washings and sacrifices – very similar in priniciple to the Manusmriti. The other way was much more mysterious, and it involved a death before achieving re-birth. In fact this death and re-birth echoes of the death and re-birth of Purusa. We look at this in our next post as we examine the signs that lead to moksha and salvation.

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.

But Corrupted … like orcs of middle-earth

In my last post I looked at the biblical foundation for how we should see ourselves and others – that we are made in the image of God. But the Veda Pusthakam (The Bible) develops further on this foundation. The Psalms are a collection of sacred songs and hymns used by the Old Testament Hebrews in their worship of God. Psalm 14 was written by King David (who was also a Rsi) about 1000 B.C., and this hymn records the state-of-affairs from God’s point of view.

The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one. (Psalm 14:2-3)

The phrase ‘become corrupt’ is used to describe the entire human race. Since it is something we have ‘become’ the corruption is in reference to that initial state of being in the ‘image of God’. This passage says that the corruption demonstrates itself in a determined independence from God (‘all’ have ‘turned aside’ from ‘seeking God’) and also in not doing ‘good’.

Thinking Elves and Orcs

Orcs were hideous in so many ways. But they were simply corrupt descendants of elves

Orcs were hideous in so many ways. But they were simply corrupt descendants of elves

To better understand this think of the orcs of Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings as an illustration. Orcs are hideous creatures in appearance, conduct, and in their treatment of the earth. Yet orcs are descended from elves that had become corrupted

The elves were noble and majestic

The elves were noble and majestic

by Sauron. When you see the stately majesty, harmony and relationship with nature that elves had (think of Legalos and the elves of Lothlorien) and realize that the depraved orcs were once elves who have ‘become corrupt’ you will get a sense of what is said here about people. God intended elves but what he found was orcs.

This fits exactly with what we noted as a universal tendency among people, to be aware of our sin and need for cleansing – as illustrated in the Kumbh Mela festival. So here we arrive at a perspective that is very instructive: The biblical starting point of people as sentient, personal, and moral, but then also corrupt, fits with what we observe about ourselves. It is shrewdly spot-on in its assessment of people, recognizing an intrinsic moral nature within us that can easily be overlooked since our actions never actually match what this nature demands of us – because of this corruption. The biblical shoe fits the human foot. However, it raises an obvious question: why did God make us this way – with a moral compass and yet corrupted from it? As well-known atheist Christopher Hitchens complains:

“… If god really wanted people to be free of such thoughts [i.e., corrupt ones], he should have taken more care to invent a different species.” Christopher Hitchens. 2007. God is not great: How religion spoils everything. p. 100

But this is where in his haste to dismiss the wisdom of the Bible that he misses something very important. The Bible does not say that God made us this way, but that something terrible has happened since the initial creation to bring about this difficult state-of-affairs. An important event happened in human history subsequent to our creation. The first humans defied God, as recorded in Genesis – the first and earliest book in the Bible (Veda Pusthakam), and in their defiance they changed and were corrupted.  This is why we now live in Tamas, or darkness.

The Fall of Mankind

This landmark event in human history is often called The Fall. And we can perhaps understand it better if we think through what Adam (the name given to the first man) faced in his relationship with God when he was created. To give us some further insight we turn to a mid-8th century BC, Old Testament Rsi (or prophet) called Hosea. As he recounts in his book, his wife had repeatedly cheated on him and run off in a string of affairs. In the midst of his pain and betrayal God commanded him to go and find his wife, reconcile with her, and win her back. Then this episode is used as a picture to show how, in God’s eyes, the Israelites of the Bible at that time were like the cheating spouse, but God, like Hosea, was willing to reconcile if they would only come clean and come back to Him. In that plea comes a comparison to Adam:

“O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?” asks the LORD. “For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight. … I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. But like Adam, you broke my covenant and betrayed my trust. (Hosea 6:4-7)

In other words, what the Israelites of Hosea’s day were doing was continuing what Adam, the first man, had started. There had been an agreement between God and Adam, similar to a marital contract of faithfulness, and Adam had violated it. The book of Genesis records that Adam ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. There had been a covenant or agreement between God and Adam that he would not eat from that tree – all others were available for him. It was not that there was anything special in the tree itself, but its presence gave Adam a free choice as to whether to remain faithful to God or not. Adam had been created as a sentient person, who was both made and placed into friendship with God at the same moment. Adam had no choice regarding his creation, but God gave him the opportunity to choose concerning his friendship with God, and this choice was centered on the command not to eat from that one tree. Just like the choice to stand is not real if sitting is impossible, the friendship and trust of Adam to God had to be given in the context of a viable alternative, and thus Adam was given a choice as to whether he would remain faithful in his agreement to God or not. We look more closely at this account – and what follows by deduction from it in the next post.

 

In the Image of God

In the last post I looked at how the Purusasukta goes back to even before time began and explains the mind of God (Prajapati) deciding to sacrifice Purusa. From this decision creation of everything followed – including the creation of mankind.

I want to now consider implications of what the Veda Pusthakam (Bible) says about this creation of mankind. So, in this spirit of considering, I want to chart an understanding of what the Bible teaches about us by looking at a key passage from this creation account.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27)

“In the Image of God”

Now what does it mean that mankind was created ‘in the image of God’? It does not mean that God is a physical being with two arms, a head, etc. Rather at a deeper level it is saying that basic characteristics of people are derived from similar characteristics of God. So for example, both God (in the Bible) and people (from observation) have intellect, emotions and will. In the Bible God is sometimes portrayed as sad, hurt, angry or joyful – the same range of emotions that we humans experience. We make choices and decisions on a daily basis. God similarly in the Bible is described as making choices and coming to decisions. Our ability to reason and think abstractly comes from God. We have the capacities of intellect, emotion and will because God has them and we are made in his image.

At a more fundamental level when we consider these aspects of ourselves we see that we are sentient beings, self-aware and conscious of ‘I’ and ‘you’. We are not impersonal ‘its’. We are like this because God is this way. In this fundamental perspective, the God of the Bible is not portrayed as a pantheistic impersonality as understood in later Hindu traditions, or like the ‘Force’ in the well-known movie Star Wars. The fact that humans are sentient persons rather than ‘its’ makes sense in light of this early teaching about God. We are this way because God is like this, and we are made in His image.

Why we are Aesthetic

We also appreciate art and drama. Consider how we so naturally appreciate and even need beauty. This goes beyond just visual beauty to include music and literature. Think about how important music is to us – even how natural it is for us to dance. Music so enriches our lives. We love good stories, whether in novels or plays, or more commonly today, in movies. Stories have heroes, villains, drama, and the great stories sear these heroes, villains and drama into our imaginations. It is so natural for us to use and appreciate art in its many forms to entertain, reinvigorate and rejuvenate ourselves because God is an Artist and we are in his image.

It is a question worth asking. Why are we so innately aesthetic, whether in art, drama, music, dance, or literature? Whenever I travelled in India I was always amazed at the Indian movies which feature music and dance even more than Western-made movies. Daniel Dennett, an outspoken atheist and an authority on understanding cognitive processes, answers from a materialistic perspective:

“But most of this research still takes music for granted. It seldom asks: Why does music exist? There is a short answer, and it is true, so far as it goes: it exists because we love it and hence we keep bringing more of it into existence. But why do we love it? Because we find that it is beautiful. But why is it beautiful to us? This is a perfectly good biological question, but it does not yet have a good answer.” (Daniel Dennett. Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. p. 43)

The materialistic perspective on mankind has no answer to this fundamental question about our human nature. From the Biblical perspective it is because God is artistic and aesthetic. He made things beautiful and enjoys beauty. We, made in His image, are the same.

Why we are Moral

In addition, being ‘made in God’s image’ explains the innate moral capacity that is so common in all cultures, and which we covered in the moral teachings of the guru Sai Baba. Because we are made in God’s image and morality is intrinsic to His nature, like a compass aligned to magnetic North, our alignment to ‘fair’, ‘good’, ‘right’ is this way because this is the way He is. It is not just religious people who are made in this way – everyone is. Not recognizing this can give rise to misunderstandings. Take for example this challenge from the materialist American Sam Harris.

“If you are right to believe that religious faith offers the only real basis for morality, then atheists should be less moral than believers.” Sam Harris. 2005. Letter to a Christian Nation p.38-39

Harris is dead wrong here. Biblically speaking, our sense of morality comes from being made in God’s image, not from being religious. And that is why atheists, like all the rest of us, have this moral sense and can act morally. The difficulty with atheism is to account for this objective basis of our morality – but being made in God’s moral image is a simple and straightforward explanation.

Why are we so Relational

Thus Biblically, the starting point to understanding ourselves is to recognize that we are made in God’s image. Because of this, as we gain insight into either God (through what is revealed about him in the Bible) or people (through observation and reflection) we can also gain insight into the other. So, for example, it is not hard to notice the prominence people place on relationships. It is OK to see a good movie, but it is a much better experience to see it with a friend. We naturally seek out friends to share experiences with. Meaningful friendships and family relationships are key to our sense of well-being. Conversely, loneliness and/or fractured family relationships and breakdowns in friendships stress us. We are not neutral and unmoved by the state of relationships we have with others. Again, as a frequent visitor to India this comes out so strongly in Indian movies. There always seems to be family and romantic relationships strongly portrayed in these movies.

Now, if we are in God’s image, then we would expect to find this same relational tilt with God, and in fact we do. The Bible says that “God is Love…” (1 John 4:8). Much is written in the Bible about the importance that God places on our love for him and for others – they are in fact called by Jesus (Yeshu Satsang) the two most important commands in the Bible. When you think about it, Love must be relational since to function it requires a person who loves (the lover) and a person who is the object of this love – the beloved.

Thus we should think of God as a lover. If we only think of Him as the ‘Prime Mover’, the ‘First Cause’, the ‘Omniscient Deity’, the ‘Benevolent Being’ or perhaps the ‘Impersonal Atman’ we are not thinking of the Biblical God – rather we have made up a god in our minds. Though He is these, He is also portrayed as almost recklessly passionate in relationship. He does not ‘have’ love. He ‘is’ love. The two most prominent Biblical metaphors of God’s relationship with people are that of a father to his children and a husband to his wife. Those are not dispassionately philosophical ‘first cause’ analogies but those of the deepest and most intimate of human relationships.

So here is the foundation we have laid so far. People are made in God’s image comprised of mind, emotions and will. We are sentient and self-aware. We are moral beings with our ‘Moral grammar’ giving us an innate orientation of ‘right’ and ‘fair’, and what is not. We have instinctive capacity to develop and appreciate beauty, drama, art and story in all its forms. And we will innately and naturally seek out and develop relationships and friendships with others. We are all this because God is all this and we are made in God’s image. All these deductions are at least consistent with what we observe about ourselves as we laid this foundation. We continue in the next post to look at some difficulties.

 

 

Sacrifice of Purusa: The Genesis of all things

After verses 3&4 Purusasukta changes its focus from the qualities of Purusa to focus on the sacrifice of Purusa.  Verses 6&7 bring this focus about in the following way.  (The sanskrit transliterations, and many of my thoughts on the Purusasukta, have come from studying the book Christ in the Ancient Vedas by Joseph Padinjarekara (346 pp. 2007))

Verse 6-7 in Purusasukta

English Translation Sanskrit Transliteration
When the gods performed a sacrifice with Purusa as an oblation, spring was its melted butter, summer its fuel, and autumn its oblation.  They sprinkled Purusa, born in the beginning as a sacrifice in the straw.  The gods, sadhyas, and the seers sacrificed him as the victim Yatpurusena havisa Deva yajnam atanvata Vasanto asyasid ajyam Grisma idhmah saraddhavih Tam Yajnam barhisi prauksan Purusam jatamgratah Tena deva ayajanta Sadhya rsayas ca ye

Though not all aspects of these verses are immediately clear, what is clear is that the focus is about the sacrifice of Purusa.  The ancient vedic commentator Sayanacharya had this remark:

“the rsis – the saints and gods – bound the Purusa, the sacrificial victim to a sacrificial pole as a sacrificial animal and offered him in the sacrifice by their minds” Sayanacharya’s Commentary on Rg Veda 10.90.7

Verses 8-9 begin with the phrase “Tasmadyajnatsarvahutah…” which means that in his sacrifice Purusa offered all that he had – he held nothing back.  This demonstrated the love that Purusa had in the giving of his sacrifice.  It is only with love that we can give ourselves fully to others and hold nothing back.  As Yeshu Satsang (Jesus Christ) said in Veda Pusthakam (Bible)

“Greater love has no one that this:  that one lay down his life for his friends” (John15: 13).

Yeshu Satsang (Jesus Christ) said this to his disciples as he was willingly about to submit himself to the sacrifice of going to the cross.  Is there a connection between the sacrifice of Purusa and that of Yeshu Satsang?  Verse 5 of Purusasukta (which we have skipped thus far) offers a clue – but the clue would at first indicate that there is no connection.  Here is verse 5

Verse 5 in Purusasukta

English Translation Sanskrit Transliteration
From that – from a part of Purusa – the universe was born and it was made the seat of Purusa and he became omnipresent Tasmad Viralajayata Virajo adhi Purusah Sa jato atyaricyata Pascadbhumim atho purah

According to Purusasukta, Purusa was sacrificed at the beginning of time and it resulted in the creation of the universe.  Thus this sacrifice could not be performed on earth because the sacrifice was what brought the earth forth.  Verse 13 clearly shows this creation resulting from the sacrifice of Purusa.  It says

Verse 13 in Purusasukta

English Translation Sanskrit Transliteration
Moon was born from His mind.  The sun came out of his eye.  Lightning, rain and fire were produced from his mouth.  From his breath the wind was born. Candrama manaso jatas Caksoh suryo ajayata Mukhad Indra sca Agnisca Pranad Vayur ajayata

It is in the deeper understanding, rather than what we get from hearsay, of the Veda Pusthakam (Bible) that it all becomes clear.  We see the beginning of this clarity when we read the writings of the Rsis (prophet) Micah.  He lived about 750 BC and though he lived 750 years before the coming of Jesus Christ (Yeshu Satsang) he foresaw his coming by noting the city where he would be born.  He wrote

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from days of eternity. (Micah 5:2)

Micah predicted that the ruler (or Christ) would come out of the town of Bethlehem.  750 years later Jesus Christ (Yeshu Satsang) was born in this town in fulfillment of this vision.  Seekers after truth usually focus their wonder on this aspect of Micah’s vision.  However, it is the description of the origins of this coming one that I want to draw our attention to just now.  Micah predicts the future coming, but he says that the origins of this coming one are deep in the past.  His ‘origins are from of old’.  The origins of this coming one predate his appearing on earth!  How far back does the ‘… of old’ go?  It goes to the ‘days of eternity’.  Other sayings of True Knowledge in the Veda Pusthakam (Bible) clarify it further.  In Colosians 1:15 the Rsis Paul (who wrote about 50 AD) declared about Yeshu (Jesus) that:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (Colossians 1:15)

Yeshu is declared to be the ‘image of the invisible God’ and the ‘firstborn over all creation’.  In other words, though Yeshu’s incarnation was at a precise time in history (4 BC – 30 AD), he existed before anything was created – even to eternity past. He did so because God (Prajapati) has always existed in eternity past, and being his ‘image’ Jesus (Yeshu Satsang) would also have always existed.

The Sacrifice from creation of the world – the Genesis of everything

But not only has he existed from eternity past, the Rsis (prophet) John in a vision of heaven saw this Jesus (Yeshu Satsang) depicted as

“…  the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (Revelation 13:8)

Is this not a contradiction?  Was not Jesus (Yeshu Satsang) slain in 30 AD?  If he was slain then, how could he also be slain ‘from the creation of the world’?  It is in this paradox that we see that the Purusasukta and the Veda Pusthakan are describing the same thing.  We saw that Verse 6 of Purusasukta says that the sacrifice of Purusa was in ‘the beginning’.  Joseph Padinjarekara in his book Christ in the Vedas indicates that the Sanskrit commentary on the Purusasukta tells us that this sacrifice of Purusa in the beginning was ‘in the heart of God’ (he translated this as the meaning of the Sanskrit ‘Manasayagam’).  He also references the Sanskrit scholar NJ Shende as saying that this sacrifice in the beginning was a “mental or symbolic one” (NJ Shende. The Purusasukta (RV 10-90) in Vedic Literature (Publications of the Centre of Advanced Study in Sanskrit, University of Poona) 1965.

So now the mystery of the Purusasukta becomes clear.  Purusa was God and the Image of God from eternity Past.  He was before anything else.  He is firstborn of all.  God, in his omniscience, knew that the creation of mankind would necessitate a sacrifice.  This sacrifice would require all that he could provide – the incarnation of Purusa into the world to be sacrificed as a washing or cleansing from sin.  It was at this point that God had to decide whether to go ahead with creation of the universe and mankind or not.  In that decision Purusa decided to be willing to be sacrificed, and the creation went ahead.  So mentally, or in the heart of God, Purusa was ‘slain from the creation of the world” as the Veda Pusthakan declares.

Once that decision was made – before time even began – God (Prajapati – The Lord of all creation) set about creating time, the universe and mankind. Thus the willing sacrifice of Purusa caused ‘the universe to be born’ (verse 5), the moon, sun, lightning and rain (v 13) to be made, and even time itself (spring, summer and autumn mentioned in v 6) to begin.  Purusa was firstborn over all this.

Who are the ‘gods’ that sacrificed Purusa?

But one puzzle remains.  Purusasukta verse 6 says that the ‘gods’ (devas) sacrificed Purusa?  Who are these gods?  Veda Pusthakan (The Bible) explains it.  One of the Rsis, David, wrote a sacred hymn in 1000 BC that revealed how God (Prajapati) spoke of men and women:

“I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’ (Psalm 82:6)

Yeshu Satsang (Jesus Christ) 1000 years later commented on this sacred hymn of Rsis David by saying:

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? (John 10:34-36)

Yeshu Satsang (Jesus Christ) affirms the Rsis David’s use of the term ‘gods’ as true scripture.  In what way is this so?  We see in the creation account in the Veda Pusthakan that we are ‘made in the image of God’ (Genesis 1:27).  So in some sense perhaps we could be considered ‘gods’ because we are made in the image of God.  But the Veda Pusthakan explains further.  It declares that those who accept this sacrifice of Purusa are:

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will (Ephesians 1:4-5)

When Prajapati-Purusa made the decision before the creation of the world to offer Purusa as the perfect sacrifice, God also chose people.  What did he chose them for?  It says very clearly he chose us to be his ‘sons’.

In other words, the Veda Pusthakan (The Bible) declares that men and women were chosen when God chose to fully give Himself in the perfect sacrifice to become children of God through this sacrifice.  In that full sense we are said to be ‘gods’.  This is true for those whom (as Yeshu Satsang declared above) to those ‘to whom the Word of God came’ – to those who accept His Word.  And in that full sense it was the needs of the future sons of god that bound Purusa to his sacrifice.  As Purusasukta verse 6 says ‘The gods performed a sacrifice with Purusa as the oblation’.  Purusa’s sacrifice was our cleansing.

The Sacrifice of Purusa – the way to heaven

So we see in the wisdom of the ancient Purusasukta and the Veda Pusthakam the plan of God revealed.  It is an awesome plan – one that we could not have imagined.  It is also very important for us because as the Purusasukta concludes in the 16th verse

English Translation Sanskrit Transliteration
The gods sacrificed Purusa as the sacrifice.  This is the earliest established principle.  Through this the sages obtain heaven Yajnena yajnamajayanta Devastani dharmani prathamanyasan Teha nakam mahimanah sacanta Yatra purve sadhyah santidevah

A sage is a ‘wise’ person. And it is truly a wise thing to yearn for obtaining heaven.  This is not out of our reach.  It is not impossible.  It is not only for the most ascetic of holy men who through extreme discipline and meditation achieve moksha.  It is not only for gurus.  On the contrary it was a way provided for by Purusa himself in his incarnation as Jesus Christ (Yeshu Satsang).

The sacrifice of Purusa – No other way to heaven

In fact not only has this been provided for us but the Sanskrit commentary by Sayanacharya between verse 15 and 16 of Purusasukta says

English Translation Sanskrit Transliteration
Thus, the one who knows this becomes able to reach the state of deathlessness.  No other way is known for this Tameva vidvanamrta iha bhavati Nanyah panta ayanaya vedyate

No other way is known to reach eternal life (deathlessness)!  Surely it is wisdom therefore to study the matter a bit more thoroughly.  Thus far I have jumped around through the Veda Pusthakam (The Bible) showing how it tells an overarching story of God, mankind and reality that is echoes with the story told in Purusasukta.  But I have not looked at this story in detail or in order.  There is much more to learn, many more rsis and hymns and principles that are revealed.  With this as our motive, I would like to invite you to explore along with me the Veda Pusthakam in more detail, starting at the beginning, learning about the creation, what happened that required this sacrifice of Purusa, what happened to the world that brought about the flood of Manu (Noah in Veda Pusthakan) and how the nations of the world learned and preserved the promise of the Perfect sacrifice that would free them from death and grant eternal life in Heaven.  Surely that is something worth learning and living for.

Verse 3&4 – The Incarnation of Purusa

The Purusasukta continues from verse 2 with the following. (The sanskrit transliterations, and many of my thoughts on the Purusasukta, have come from studying the book Christ in the Ancient Vedas by Joseph Padinjarekara (346 pp. 2007))

English Translation Sanskrit Transliteration
The creation is the glory of Purusa – so great is his majesty.  Still he is greater than this creation.  One fourth of [the personality of] Purusa is in the world.  Three fourths of Him are still living eternally in heaven.Purusa arose upwards with three quarters of himself.  One Quarter of Him was born here.  From that He spread life in all living beings. Etavan asya mahima ato jyayamsca PurusahPado-asya visva bh u tani tripad asyamrtm diviTripad urdhva udait purusah padou-asyeha a bhavat punah tato visvannvi akramat sasananasane abhi

Imagery is used here that is difficult to understand.  However it is clear that these verses are speaking about the greatness and majesty of Purusa.  It states quite clearly that He is greater than creation.  We can also understand that only a part of his greatness is manifested in this world.  But it also speaks of His incarnation into this world – a world of people where you and I live (‘one quarter of Him was born here’).  So when God came down in His incarnation he manifested only a part of His glory in this world.  He emptied Himself in some way when He was born.  This is consistent with how Purusa was described in verse 2 – having ‘limited himself to 10 fingers’.

This is also consistent with how Veda Pusthakan (Bible) describes the incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth.  It says of him that

My purpose is that … they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:2-3)

So Christ was the incarnation of God but the manifestation of it was largely ‘hidden’.  How was it hidden?  It explains further:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name, (Philippians 2:5-9)

So in his incarnation Jesus ‘made himself nothing’ and in that state prepared himself for his sacrifice.  His revealed glory was only partial, just like the Pususasukta states.  This was because of his coming sacrifice.  The Purusasukta follows the same theme since after these verses it turns from describing the partial glory of the Purusa to focus on his sacrifice.  We look at that in our next post.