Armenian Church

  • Ritual animal slaughter and its possible karmic reactions

    On November 24th and 25th every year the religious festival of worship of Gadhimai, the Nepali goddess of motherhood of all living beings was celebrated. Pleasing her is supposed to release the worshipers from sin, anger, desire and stupidity. It is shocking that a group of Nepali priests decided that the best way to worship Gadhimai is by slaughtering up to 500,000 animals in two days. The animals include cows, buffaloes, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, rats, pigeons, rabbits, etc.

    The animals are hacked to pieces by traditional Nepali knives called kukri traditionally used by the Gurkhas. These blades of these weapons vary in size from a few inches to three feet. The longer kukri are used to chop off the heads of the buffaloes and cows with one strike. The animals are penned up and often tied down. A group of 250 appointed hackers, usually in an alcohol induced frenzy, mutilate to death the animals. The brutal slaughter turns many acres surrounding the temple of Gadhimai into bloody marshes in which people stand. The stink of the hacked body parts of the animals and their entails will spread for miles and last for months. The spectators regale hearing the piercing shrieks of the animals and many people’s clothes are splattered in blood. Rather than release the hackers and spectators from sin, anger and stupidity, it inflames them to extreme acts of cruelty and calloused savagery against defenseless animals in the name of religion.

    This orgy of slaughter is supposed to be a religious festival during which the Deity of Gadhimai is literally covered with the feces, urine and blood of the sacrificed animals. It takes place every five years in the Bara district of south-west Nepal. It is partially funded by the government of Nepal and attended by up to one million worshippers.

    Manoj Shah, a Nepali driver, has attended the event since he was six. In an interview this year he said: “It is the traditional way. If we want anything, we come here with an offering for the goddess. Within five years, all our dreams will be fulfilled.” It is the popular belief that the worshippers can make their wishes come true by offering animals for slaughter to the goddess. This was validated by a Hindu priest named Chandan Dev Chaudhary. He declared: “The goddess needs blood so that the person can make his wishes come true.”

    The Gadhimala mela was run by the animal skin, bone and meat coalition of businessmen and money-lenders which fund the priests and temple for their blessings amid a ceremonial air of piety. Deals were made with butchers. Trucks commissioned to take away the fresh meat and bones. The skins sold to contractors in Chennai and Kolkata for the manufacture of shoes. Stalls rented to alcohol, food and flower vendors. The animal sacrifices were propelled by commercial interests.

    Is there justification in the Vedas (the Hindus scriptures) for this spectacle of animal sacrifice? Are the Hindu priests in Nepal justified in encouraging the common people to engage in such religious ceremonies of animal sacrifice?

    Animal sacrifice was performed in earlier times by qualified Vedic priests. This was over 5000 years ago in a previous age called Dvapara yuga when there were highly qualified Vedic priests who could rejuvenate the dead cows. Such practices were performed to prove that the priests were actually qualified. They were only allowed to kill if they could resuscitate the dead cows. But such practices were not permitted when the present age began 5000 years ago because there are no longer qualified priests who can rejuvenate a dead animal.

    We must understand from Vedic authorities the real purpose of animal sacrifice in the Vedas. This question was debated by Lord Caitanya (the 15th century with Chand Kazi, the Mohammedan magistrate of the area of Bengal where the Lord appeared over five hundred years ago. Lord Caitanya challenged the Chand Kazi by asking a question:

    The Lord said, “You drink cows’ milk; therefore the cow is your mother. And the bull produces grains for your maintenance; therefore he is your father. Since the bull and cow are your father and mother, how can you kill and eat them? What kind of religious principle is this? On what strength are you so daring that you commit such sinful activities?” (CC. Adi.ch.17.153)

    Chand Kazi was a Muslim scholar of the Koran as well as knowledgeable in the Vedas. He stated that killing cows is permitted in the Koran. He reminded Lord Caitanya that the Vedas also recommend cow sacrifice:

    “In Your Vedic scriptures there is an injunction for killing a cow. On the strength of this injunction, great sages performed sacrifices involving cow-killing.”

    The Lord immediately replied, “The Vedas clearly enjoin that cows should not be killed. Therefore every Hindu, whoever he may be, avoids indulging in cow-killing.” There is an explicit statement in the Bhagavad-gita (18.44) that cows should be protected, “The duty of vaisyas (businessmen and agriculturalists) is to produce agricultural products, trade and give protection to cows.” Therefore it is a false statement that the Vedic scriptures contain injunctions permitting cow-killing.

    The Lord proceeded to give the correct explanation of why cow sacrifice was permitted in earlier Vedic period. The Vedas permit qualified brahmanas to kill animals for experimental purposes if and only if they have the power to immediately bring the animal back to life. Whenever there was a Vedic sacrifice, the brahmanas performing it were tested to see if they were successful or not. The test was a sacrificial offering of an old cow placed in the fire. The brahmana priest repeated certain mantras while the cow burned and then pulled the cow out of the fire. If he conducted the sacrifice perfectly the cow was rejuvenated to a young calf. The purpose of the sacrifice was not to kill the animal and then eat it. It was to test whether the brahmana could give the animal new life. The animal sacrifice tested the power and purity of the Vedic mantras he recited and his character. It was not a frenzy of ritual animal killing for commercial profit or a huge barbecue.

    The Vedas enjoin that in the present age called Kaliyuga such animal sacrifices are not allowed because the brahmanas no longer are qualified to conduct them successfully.
    In the Brahma-vaivarta Purana (KrÌshna-janma-khana 185.180), it is stated, ‘In this Age of Kali, five acts are forbidden: the offering of a horse in sacrifice, the offering of a cow (or bull) in sacrifice, the acceptance of the order of sannyasa (renunciation), the offering of oblations of flesh to the forefathers, and a man’s begetting children in his brother’s wife.’

    For a more complete historical perspective, we must mention that Lord Buddha, an incarnation of Lord Krishna, who appeared over 2500 years ago in India, raised the same objection to animal slaughter by Hindus in the name of religion. Lord Buddha was born into a Hindu royal family. On attaining adulthood, he noticed that there was tremendous suffering in his kingdom. He tried to understand why. After a period of renunciation and contemplation, he realized that the cause was due to improper teaching of the Vedas by the priestly brahmana class that misled people into sinful activities. Rather than attempt to correct the brahmanas of his time who were not qualified to perform Vedic sacrifices because they had lost the power and purity to do so, he decided to categorically reject the Vedic authority and set up a standard of ahimsa paramo dharma (supreme spiritual practices) based on ahimsa (nonviolence and compassion for all living beings) for the benefit of the common people. He recognized that the brahmanas had strayed so far away from the correct following of the Vedas and that they were so corrupted by material benefits derived from ritual performances that they would never understand. So he undermined their entire corrupt system of ritual sacrifice by rejecting the Vedas.

    Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a Vedic authority and recognized scholar and author of translations and commentary on many Vedic texts, has written about Lord Buddha,

    “Technically Lord Buddha’s philosophy is called atheistic because there is no acceptance of the Supreme Lord and because that system of philosophy denied the authority of the Vedas. But that is an act of camouflage by the Lord. Lord Buddha is the incarnation of Godhead. As such, he is the original propounder of Vedic knowledge. He therefore cannot reject Vedic philosophy. But he rejected it outwardly because the asura, or the demons who are always envious of the devotees of Godhead, try to support cow-killing or animal-killing from the pages of the Vedas, and this is now being done by the modernized sannyasis. Lord Buddha had to reject the authority of the Vedas altogether. This is simply technical, and had it not been so he would not have been so accepted as the incarnation of Godhead.

    Nor would he have been worshiped in the transcendental songs of the poet Jayadeva, who is a Vaisnava Ãcarya(guru in disciplic succession). Lord Buddha preached the preliminary principles of the Vedas in a manner suitable for the time being (and so also did Sankaracarya) to establish the authority of the Vedas. Therefore both Lord Buddha and Ãcarya Sankara paved the path of theism, and the Vaisnava Ãcaryas (such as Ramanujacarya, Madhavacarya and), specifically Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, led the people on the path towards a realization of going back to Godhead.”

    Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada also writes about Jesus Christ in the Srimad Bhagavatam (7.15.10) as follows,

    “Upon seeing the person engaged in performing the sacrifice, animals meant to be sacrificed are extremely afraid, thinking, “This merciless performer of sacrifices, being ignorant of the purpose of sacrifice and being most satisfied by killing others, will surely kill us.”

    PURPORT

    “Animal sacrifice in the name of religion is current practically all over the world in every established religion. It is said that Lord Jesus Christ, when twelve years old, was shocked to see the Jews sacrificing birds and animals in the synagogues and that he therefore rejected the Jewish system of religion and started the religious system of Christianity, adhering to the Old Testament commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ At the present day, however, not only are animals killed in the name of sacrifice, but the killing of animals has increased enormously because of the increasing number of slaughterhouses. Slaughtering animals, either for religion or for food, is most abominable and is condemned herein. Unless one is merciless, one cannot sacrifice animals, either in the name of religion or for food.”

    Today, as in the time of Lord Buddha (2500 years ago) and Lord Caitanya (500 years ago), the priestly class whether, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jewish or even Buddhist who are not qualified to teach their scripture have invented horrible rituals or customs permitting massive animal slaughter in the name of religion. For example, the Thanksgiving Day in the USA requires the slaughter of 47 million turkeys. In Islam, after Ramadan or Hajj, millions of animals are slaughtered ritually. The rabbis slaughter animals for the kosher diet. Even amongst some sects of Buddhism there is also animal slaughter. A friend of one of my sons is a Buddhist. He attends a Buddhist temple in Redmond. He explained to me that the chief monk of the Buddhist temple explained that when a Buddhist (in their sect of Buddhism) eats meat, the soul of the animal is elevated quickly to a human birth. This is their belief. People can believe whatever they want, but there is no evidence in the life and teaching of Buddha that such a claim is true.

    The problem is not with the teaching of the prophets, it is with the misinterpretations of unqualified teachers or priests who misrepresent the teaching for vested interests. This misrepresentation is taking place in all the religions of the world and is causing havoc in society. The common people are bewildered in determining what is right or wrong.

    There was once a marriage ceremony. Right before the marriage was consecrated a bird fell down dead in front of the bride and groom. Everyone looked at the elder amongst them for an explanation. He said immediately get a straw hat. The hat was handed to him. He carefully and seemingly ceremoniously placed the hat over the bird. He said solemnly, “Let the marriage continue.” Years later, the elder died and the child of the bride and groom became of marriage age. When the preparations for the marriage were being discussed they consulted with the elders on how to perform the marriage according to their religious and family customs. The elders said, “You must have a dead bird place about two feet nears the bride and groom. A special straw hat must be placed ceremoniously on the bird by the groom’s father and he must say solemnly, “Let the marriage continue.” Thus a family tradition became part of the marriage ritual for all future generations.

    Many customs and rituals that are being practiced today are also similarly fabricated like the dead bird ritual above. The ritual slaughter of cows and buffaloes in Nepal is a ceremonial performance that dates back hundred of years. Similarly, in other parts of India such as Calcutta when Kali or Durga puja is performed many thousands of animals are slaughtered. However, these sacrificial slaughter of innocent animals have no basis in Vedic scriptural evidence. Yet, the common people believe that because these ritual performances have a long history, if they stop them, there will be catastrophic consequences.
    By testing the validity of a statement against Vedic evidence and the collaborating evidence of previous recognized acaryas or great teachers such as Buddha, Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhava, Caitanya, we can determine what is true and what is misrepresentation.
    We can ask if there is Vedic evidence that permits animal sacrifice? The answer is yes but with many strict restrictions. First, there is no provision for slaughter of cows.
    It is explained in the Sri Caitanya-caritamrita (Adi-lila, Chapter 17, verse 166): “Cow killers are condemned to rot in hellish life for as many thousands of years as there are hairs on the body of the cow.” The Yajur Veda 13.43 and 13.48 states, “Do not kill the cow which is splendor of life and [which is] inviolable,” and “Do not kill the Ox.”

    The Manu Samhita states that the karmic punishment for killing a cow is very severe.

    “If he has a strong desire (for meat) he may make an animal of clarified butter or one of flour (and eat that); but let him never seek to destroy an animal without a (lawful) reason. As many hairs as the slain beast has, so often indeed will he who killed it without a (lawful) reason suffer a violent death in future births.” (Manu-samhita 5.37-38)

    A lawful reason means according to scriptural laws. According to Vedic scripture, license is given to meat eaters to sacrifice a black goat once a month on the dark moon night. It is strictly forbidden to purchase a slain animal for consumption in Vedic scripture. The person who wants to eat meat must kill the goat on a dark (or new) moon night under the supervision of a priest who instructs him to repeat the following mantra before cutting the throat of the goat, “Mam sa khadatiti mamsah.” The Sanskrit word is mamsa. Mam means “me,” and sa means “he.” I am killing this animal; I am eating him. And in my next lifetime he’ll kill me and eat me. When the animal is sacrificed, this mantra is recited into the ear of the animal ˜You are giving your life, so in your next life you will get the opportunity of becoming a human being. And I who am now killing you will become an animal, and you will kill me. (Journey of Self Discovery 6.5)

    The purpose of the ritual and the repetition of the mantra is to contain unrestricted meat eating by forcing the meat eater to kill the animal himself and witness the horror of the act as well as to repeat the mantra that reveals the consequences of such an act. Such regulation is meant to discourage the meat eater by making him understand the consequences of his acts. Unrestricted meat eating is forbidden. The massive slaughter of animals for Gadhimai or Kali puja is not a bona fide Vedic ritual.
    Further Vedic evidence is given in the Srimad Bhagavatam (11.5.14),

    “Those sinful persons who are ignorant of actual religious principles, yet consider themselves to be completely pious, without compunction commit violence against innocent animals who are fully trusting in them. In their next lives, such sinful persons will be eaten by the same creatures they have killed in this world.”

    In conclusion, we may cite two quotes, one by Mahatma Gandhi and the second by His Divine Grave A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.

    “Cow-slaughter and man-slaughter are in my opinion two sides of the same coin.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

    “You are killing innocent cows and other animals, nature will take revenge. Just wait. As soon as the time is right, nature will gather all these rascals and slaughter them. Finished. They’ll fight amongst themselves, Protestants and Catholics, Russia and America, this one and that one. It is going on. Why? That is nature’s law. Tit for tat. “You have killed. Now you kill yourselves.” (Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)

    Animal sacrifice is also practiced officially in the Armenian Christian Church since it began as the state religion of Armenia in 303 AD, St. Gregory the Illuminator, the Armenian Saint who converted King Drtad of Armenia, converted a large portion of the Armenian people in his kingdom to Christianity, He also used the forces loyal to the king who objected to conversion. This happened in Taron, which is an area of traditional Armenian habitation west of Lake Van known as Sassoun and Moush in modern times. There was also an colony of Hindus that lived in the area of Taron who maintained Hindu temples. The Hindus that numbered approximately 15,000 revolted against the forced conversion and they were defeated by the forces under the control of St. Gregory. Once the Hindus were defeated, St Gregory had their main temple and other shrines destroyed. On the ruins of their main temple which was dedicated to the worship of Rukmini and Krishna St. Gregory established the second most famous temple and monastery of ancient Armenia called Sourp Garabed (St. John the Baptist). It is here that he instituted the ceremony of matagh or sacrifice of animals. The following is a first hand account of British scholars who witnessed and chronicled the practice of animal sacrifice in traditional Armenia which was in the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th century.

    “I now pass on to report a few noticeable survivals of animal sacrifice amongst the Armenians.

    Mr. Croybeare, whose acquaintance with Armenian history and literature is of the first order, had advised me that such sacrifices were still extant amongst the Armenians, and I was interested to verify the matter for myself. In his Key of Truth, p.115, note 4, he tells us that ‘the custom of offering victims in church and eating their flesh continues in Armenia and Georgia until today.’ Thus Gregory of Datev, c. 1375, in his manual condemns the Mahometans because they refused to eat of the Armenian victims.”

    In the same work, p.134, note i., there is a long passage from Neres Shnorhali, born c. 1100, and Armenian Catholicos 1165, in defence of the custom of sacrificing animals in church in expiation of the sins of the dead. This sacrifice was called Matagh, and was said to be for the repose of the dead. If I understand Nerses rightly, the sacrifice was to take place at the door of the church, the body of the animal being divided in the following order: (i.) the priests, (ii.) the poor and needy, (iii.) the friends of the offerer.

    At Archag, not far to the east of Lake Van, I took the opportunity of inquiring from the priests of the village with regard to this custom. They readily admitted the fact; the sacrifice occurred at leading festivals such as Easter, but especially, if I understood rightly, on the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin. The victims were usually lambs. Their blood was poured out upon the ground and the meat given to the poor. The sacrifice was not, however, performed in the church, but outside. They also informed me it was done in remembrance of the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham!” (Notes from Armenia, p. 439 Folklore Vol XV no.1, March 25, 1904, Transactions of the Folklore Society, A Quarterly Review of Myth, Institutuion and Custom)

    Today, the Armenian Apostalic Orthodox Church continues the practice of animal sacrifice, which is explained on the official web page of the Armenian Church, The Catholicosate of All Armenians, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. They explain the meaning of Matagh performance as part of the church tradition.
    “Matagh, offering, is one of the traditions of the Armenian Church, its main meaning is giving a gift to God and giving alms to the poor.
    Matagh existed in Armenia as early as in the times of St. Gregory the Illuminator. After having converted King Trdat to Christianity, along with all his people, St. Gregory the Illuminator offered a thanksgiving sacrifice to God in the Church of St. John the Forerunner, in Taron, killing numerous animals and distributing them to the poor.
    Since ancient times the custom of offering sacrifice during great feasts, in the connection with the consecration of Churches or khatchkars (cross-stones), was practiced in the Armenian Church.
    Offering is carried out for different purposes:
    as gratitude to God for having saved the individual from misfortune or for granting health and well being,
    as plea for the peace of the souls of the deceased.
    One needs two elements for offering a sacrifice: an animal and salt. The animal must be male. It can be a cow, sheep, chicken or dove. When a cow is killed, its meat is distributed to 40 houses, a lamb, to 7 houses, a chicken, to 3 houses. The meat must not be left until the next day. If the sacrifice is a dove, it should be set free. First, the salt must be blessed. The salt is the element which purifies the matagh and makes it different from the pagan sacrifice. The meat is cooked only in salted water.
    The custom of the Armenian matagh is a profoundly humane, Christian custom, which gives an opportunity to the faithful to express their love towards God, show mercy by helping the poor.
    The origin of matagh comes from Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and other patriarchs. Christ Himself during the Last Supper ate the meat of the Easter lamb, which is considered to be matagh, handed down by Prophet Moses.” (web page of the Armenian Church, The Catholicosate of All Armenians, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin)

    The sacrifice of Matagh (animal sacrifice) is not actually a Christian practice. It has no relevance to the teaching of Jesus Christ. In fact, Christ stopped the practice of animal sacrifice as performed traditionally by the ancient Jews when He presented the bread and wine of the last Supper as the embodiment of His blood and flesh. He presented Himself as the lamb of sacrifice for all time which ended the Jewish practice and instituted a new covenant in which Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross would atone for the sins of all who put their faith in him.” (Matthew 26:28)

    We can see a pattern in modern religions or religions that have started in the last three thousand years from Judaism onward, including the modern form of the Vedic religion which is Hinduism, of deviation from the original teachings of the founders. Animal sacrifice or ritual killing of animals whether in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity has brought misfortune to those who insist on practicing it. Ritual sacrifice of animals (or animal slaughter for food) is not necessary in any of the religions. It is contrary to the principle of compassion and mercy which is inherent to all the religions. Yet, the priests of the different religions promote it for material gain and to satisfy the palate of meat eaters who would be reluctant to follow a vegetarian diet.

    .

  • Nicene Creed (325 A.D.)

     

    We believe in one God, the Father almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, of things visible and invisible.

    And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of God the Father, only begotten, that is of the same substance of the Father.

    God of God, light of light, true God of true God, begotten and not made, of the self-same nature of the Father, by whom all things came into being in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible; who for us human beings, and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate, was made man, was born perfectly of the holy virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit; by whom He took body, soul, and mind and everything that is in man, truly and not in semblance. He suffered, was crucified and was buried and rose again on the third day and ascended into heaven with the same body and sat at the right hand of the Father. He is to come with the same body and with the glory of the Father to judge the living and the dead; of whose kingdom there is no end.

    We Believe also in the Holy Spirit, the uncreate and perfect, who spoke in the Law and in the prophets and in the Gospels; who came down upon the Jordan, preached in the apostles and dwelt in the saints.

    We Believe also only one universal and apostolic holy Church; in one baptism with repentance for the remission and forgiveness of sins; in the resurrection of the dead, in the everlasting judgment of souls and bodies, in the kingdom of heaven and in the eternal life.

     

    Explanation of some aspects of the Nicene Creed

     

    The Nicene Creed is a statement of Faith used by many Christian Churches. There are some variations between the Armenian version which is translated above and that used by the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, or Protestant Churches.

    The first question to ask is why should there be a statement of belief when there is the Bible or the perfect word of God? The problem has always existed of people using their fertile brains to speculate on the word of God and extract speculative theories and false representations of the original Bible knowledge. Beside the ravages of speculation, the second crucial problem is trying to understand the nature and person of Jesus Christ. Christianity introduced an esoteric element that the ancient Jews refused to accept: the possibility that God may incarnate at his will, or send “His Son” to incarnate in this world.” The idea of the incarnation of God or the incarnate Son of God were concepts that the ancient Jews could not accept.

     

    I recently emailed and phoned three rabbis in the Seattle area about the Jewish point of view concerning the possibility of the incarnation of God or that God may have a son. One rabbi emailed me back the following statement:

    “Judaism typically rejects the notion of God’s physical incarnation, and also that of any one individual becoming God’s son. The closest to any of this is the Jewish mystical notion of the Shekhinah, the feminine, indwelling, intimate presence of God in the world.”

     

    The second rabbi explained to me on the phone that Judaism considers every being as a sort of incarnation of God. However, Judaism cannot accept that Jesus Christ was the unique Son of God or the unique incarnation of God or His Son.

     

    The third rabbi explained to me on the phone that in the time of Jesus the Jewish rabbis would not be concerned by the technical details whether Jesus was an incarnation or the son of God. They were most concerned to determine if Jesus was the Messiah of their prophecy. They examined if Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecy. The Jews would not doubt that God can do anything such as incarnate or have a son. But they examined according to their scripture if God would appear in the particular way that Jesus appeared and acted. They would not accept, however, that Jesus was born of Mary if he was indeed the Messiah. Obviously, they concluded that Jesus was not the Messiah.

     

    The concept of the incarnation of God or His Son cannot be understood in a comprehensive way by using the Jewish or Greek philosophical systems. These systems of thought are certainly profound but they lack the knowledge to understand the transcendental nature of God. I will give an example for illustration from the Gospel of John.

     

    John 14 (New International Version)
    New International Version (NIV)

    Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

    Jesus Comforts His Disciples

     

    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. 2- In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3-And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4- You know the way to the place where I am going.”

     

    Jesus the Way to the Father
    Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7- If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

    Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

    Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10-Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11- Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.12- I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13- And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14- You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

     

    Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit
    “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16- And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever 17- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18- I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19- Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20- On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21- Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

    Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

    Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24- He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

    ”All this I have spoken while still with you. 26- But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27- Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

    “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29- I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. 30- I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 31- but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.
    “Come now; let us leave.”

    It is impossible to approach these statements of Jesus by using Jewish or Greek philosophical systems to understand what he means. The Jewish and Greek systems are limited to the range of conceivable duality and oneness. For example if we try to understand the statement of Jesus,

    Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10- Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11- Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.”

     

    With conceivable oneness or duality, we understand that Jesus and His Father are either one in the sense of the same person, or that they are two distinct persons like a father and a son. This is an example of conceivable oneness or duality. However, this is not what Jesus is indicating in these statements.

    When he says, 9- Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10- Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11- Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.

     

    If we look in the Bhagaved-gita, which was written over 5000 years ago, we find statements made by Lord Krishna that explain the principle of simultaneous and inconceivable oneness and difference as Lord Jesus indicates in His words above spoken over 2000 years ago.

     

    BG 9.4: By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.

    BG 9.5: And yet everything that is created does not rest in Me. Behold My mystic opulence! Although I am the maintainer of all living entities and although I am everywhere, I am not a part of this cosmic manifestation, for My Self is the very source of creation.

    BG 9.6: Understand that as the mighty wind, blowing everywhere, rests always in the sky, all created beings rest in Me.

     

    Lord Krishna explains in these three verses the esoteric nature of God which can be summarized by the Sanskrit term acintya bheda abheda tattva, the truth is simultaneously and inconceivably one and different. First, He says that He pervades the entire world in His unmanifest form. Thus all beings are in Him but He is not in them. To understand the science of God realization, one must accept that God has inconceivable powers that are beyond our own human abilities.

     

    This essential first point is revealed in the Bhagavad gita by the following:

     

    BG 10.39: Furthermore, O Arjuna, I am the generating seed of all existences. There is no being — moving or non-moving — that can exist without Me.

    BG 10.40: O mighty conqueror of enemies, there is no end to My divine manifestations. What I have spoken to you is but a mere indication of My infinite opulences.

    BG 10.41: Know that all opulent, beautiful and glorious creations spring from but a spark of My splendor.

    BG 10.42: But what need is there, Arjuna, for all this detailed knowledge? With a single fragment of Myself I pervade and support this entire universe.

    To understand what it means that by a single fragment God pervades and supports the entire universe, we can study a verse from the Vedic scripture called the Satvata tantra wherein it says:

    “For material creation, Lord Krishna’s plenary expansion assumes three Vishnus. The first one Mahavishnu, creates the total material energy, known as the mahat-tattva. The second, Garbhodaksayi Vishnu, enters into all the universes to create diversities in each of them. The third, Ksirodaksayi Vishnu, is diffused as the all-pervading Supersoul in all the universes and is known as Paramatma. He is present even within the atoms. Anyone who knows these three Vishnus can be liberated from material entanglement.”

     

    There is the spiritual world which is eternally existing. In the spiritual world, God or Lord Krishna, the father of Christ, possesses unlimited or inconceivable powers. From His position, He expands unlimited energies to sustain the spiritual world and also to manifest the material worlds. The spiritual world exists for the eternal loving exchanges between God and His devotees or loyal servants. The material world exists to give those souls who revolt against God an opportunity to see the futility of their attempts to live separately from God and eventually to rehabilitate themselves and return to the spiritual world.

     

    Everything we perceive in the material world is made by the expansion of God’s energies. Everything is maintained by the mysterious expansion of God Himself into every atom of the material creation and also into the heart of every living entity. For the creation, maintenance and eventual destruction of the material world, God expands Himself into the Vishnu expansions or forms. Mahavishnu is the repository and creator of the entire material energy technically called the mahat tattva. When Mahavishnu breaths or exhales, innumerable molecules expand from His Body and in each one there is a separate and complete universe. This is unimaginable ordinary living entities. However, we must accept the grandeur and infinite power of God. Maha Visnu expands Himself as Garbhodakasayi Visnu and enters into all these molecular universes to create diversities. This second Vishnu form is also the collective Supersoul of the material universe. Garbhodaksayi Visnu expands Himself as the all-pervading Supersoul known as Paramatma who is present in every atom of the universe and in every heart of the living entities.

    Thus, with a single fragment of God’s infinite energies everything that we perceive in this world is pervaded by Him. The concept of a “single fragment” of God’s infinite energies is important because the entire material creation with its millions of universes (we, of course, only live in one tiny universe) does not constitute more than one fourth of God’s creation. The other three fourths is made up of the spiritual worlds. So the spiritual world is much bigger and much more expansive than the material creation and the diversity of the spiritual world is much more variegated than the diversity here as Jesus himself indicates, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

     

    The statement by Jesus that the Father is in Me is easily understood now. As the Supersoul (the 3rd Vishnu expansion) of everything, God the Father is personally present in every atom and in the heart of every being. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad gita 13.23,

    “Yet in this body there is another, a transcendental enjoyer, who is the Lord, the supreme proprietor, who exists as the overseer and permitter, and who is known as the Supersoul.”

     

    This verse makes a clear point that God is present in the individual living entity’s body as the Paramatma (or the 3rd expansion of Vishnu) as the overseer or witness, the transcendental enjoyer (bhokta), the proprietor (maha-isvara), the permitter (anumanta), which means it is only by his permission that one can act either by following His instructions or willfully disregarding them. The Paramatma (God) in the heart is different than the individual soul (jivatma) or each one of us.

     

    There are three distinct topics of discussion namely the body, called the field of activity, the individual soul, or the knower of activities in the body (jivatma or individual living entity), and the Supersoul, or God (isvara) the supreme knower of activities and the supreme controller of both the body (material nature, prakrti), the individual enjoyer (purusa, the individual soul). Just as one should not confuse the painter, the painting and the easel. The material world as the field of activity is nature, the enjoyer of nature is the individual living entity and above both of these is the supreme controller or God.

     

    The individual soul (the jiva) and the Supersoul (God as the Supersoul is present in the heart of all beings) are one and different. They are of the same nature because all souls come originally from God. This is stated in Bhagavad gita 15.7:

     

    “The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts.”

     

    The identity of the individual living being is clearly stated. The living entity is the eternal fragmental part and parcel of the Supreme Lord. The living entity does not assume individuality in his conditioned state and in his liberated state becomes one with the Supreme Lord. The living entity is eternally existing because he is part of God’s spiritual nature. He exists before birth in the material body, during his stay in the body and after death of the body. The eternality of the living entity is fully eternal before birth in a material body and after death of the material body.

     

    For example, Jesus existed before his incarnation in this world and continued to exist after his resurrection. However, contrary to the Vedic evidence, Christianity does not accept that the individual soul like you and me existed before birth in the material body. After death, according to Christianity, we may either exist eternally in heaven or be destroyed or stay eternally in hell. This incomplete understanding of the individual soul gives rise to many philosophical inconsistencies in Christianity. (See Footnote n.1)

     

    According to the Vedas, the Supreme Lord manifests and expands Himself in innumerable expansions, of which the primary expansions are Vishnu-tattva (as explained above) and the secondary expansions are called the living entities or individual, minute souls like us (jivatma). As fragmental parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, the living entities have fragmental portions of God’s qualities, of which independence is one. Every living entity, as an individual soul, has his personal individuality and a minute form of independence. By misuse of that independence he becomes conditioned by birth and death in the material world, and by proper use of independence he is eternally liberated. Coming originally from God, the living entity is eternal, as is God. In his liberated state, he is freed from this material condition and he engages eternally in the loving service of God without any limitations of birth, old age, disease and death. In the conditioned state, he is dominated by lust, anger, greed, illusion, envy, and madness which causes him to forget the eternal loving service of the Lord and works for material happiness through enjoying his senses and exploiting the senses or material bodies and minds of other conditioned souls. Due to this forgetfulness, he experiences a constant, difficult struggle for existence in the material world of birth, old age, sickness and death.

     

    Lord Jesus repeats several times: “…I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me….it is the Father, living in me, who is doing this work…Believe me when I say I am in the Father and the Father is in me..”

    From the above explanation from the Vedic literature, we can understand how Lord Jesus and His Father are distinct, but at the same time eternally together in an inseparable relationship due to Lord Jesus’ complete surrender to the will of God the Father (Lord Krishna). This is collaborated in the Bhagavad-gita:

     

    “Having obtained real knowledge from a self-realized soul, you will never fall again into such illusion, for by this knowledge you will see that all living beings are but part of the Supreme, or, in other words, that they are Mine.” (Bg, 4-35)

     

    The “illusion” referred to here is the sense of an existence separate from God which is impossible because God is all pervading as seen above. Such an illusion is called in Sanskrit maya (ma-not, ya-this). Receiving knowledge from a self-realized soul means knowing things as they really are or learning that all living entities are parts and parcels of God. This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita 15.7 as explained above.

    More evidence is given in the Bhagavad-gita to understand Jesus’ statements to His apostles:

     

    “A true observer sees Me in all beings and also sees every being in Me. Indeed, the self-realized person sees Me, the same Supreme Lord, everywhere.”
    “For one who sees Me everywhere and sees everything in Me, I am never lost, nor is he ever lost to Me.”
    “Such a person, who engages in the worshipful service of the Supersoul, knowing that I and the Supersoul are one, remains always in Me in all circumstances.”
    (Bg, 29-30-31)

     

    A person who is meditating on God within eventually will see the Supersoul (the 3rd Vishnu expansion of Lord Krishna). Why does God expand Himself into many expansions and specifically the Vishnu expansions? The Vishnu expansions are meant to create, maintain and regulate and eventually wind down the material creation. This goes on cyclically for eternity. Just as a businessman has so many executives work under him to maintain his company. God expands Himself so that He oversees all the complicated operations of the material and spiritual worlds and still in His original form remains completely aloof and untouched by the happenings under His control because everything is done by His potent expansions.

     

    How do we understand the living entities? We, the living entities, including all living creatures (men, animals, reptiles, plants, etc), are all emanations from God. God is One but He decides to expand Himself to increase His loving propensity of reciprocal loving exchanges. Just as a couple is married, but they decide to expand themselves by having children which permits them to increase their mutual love as well as share it with their children who, in return, love their parents. We are creatures of love because we come originally from God, the Supreme Loving Being.

     

    Therefore God expands in a complete way as the Vishnu expansions. He also expands as the minute living entities like ourselves. The complete expansions of God create, maintain and regulate, and wind down the material creation so that those living entities who misuse their free will and revolt against God can have a place where they can pursue their illusory desires. If they awaken to the truth, they can rehabilitate themselves and come back to God and the eternal spiritual world.

     

    Lord Krishna, as we have said, is in the heart of every living entity as the Vishnu form. There is no difference between the Vishnu forms present in the hearts of the innumerable living entities. By virtue of contemplation and practical loving service to God, the person who practices devotion and meditation always remains situated in God. We can see the meaning of the following words by Lord Jesus:

     

    Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

     

    “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

    Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

    Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

    ”All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

     

    The sincere servant of God always acting in God consciousness (Krishna/Christ consciousness) is automatically liberated because he employs all his senses, mind, intelligence, everything in the service of God without any expectation of material gain. He acts only to serve God with love. By always concentrating on Lord Krishna (whose Son is Lord Jesus), who is all-pervading and beyond time and space, one becomes absorbed in thinking of the Lord and then attains the happy state of transcendental association with the Lord.

     

    The understanding that God is present as the Supersoul or Holy Spirit in everyone’s heart makes one spiritually aware and very careful in one’s behavior in order to honor the presence of God and listen to His instructions.

     

    There is verse in the Sri Isopanisad which says:

     

    “He who sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, who sees all living entities as His parts and parcels, and who sees the Supreme Lord within everything never hates anything or anyone.” (Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 6)

     

    In the Gopala-tapani Upanisad 1.21 confirms the inconceivable potency of the Lord as follows:

     

    Although the Lord is One, He is simultaneously present in innumerable hearts.”

     

    Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita states:

     

    “I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come memory, knowledge and forgetfulness…..’ (Bg, 15.15)

    “The Supreme Lord is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of material energy.” (Bg, 18,61)

     

    God sits in the heart and directs the wanderings of every living entity. There is, therefore, no such thing as hazard or chance in the material world. Still the living entity has limited free will that is exercised by the living entity without the interference of God. The free will of living entities is limited to accepting or rejecting the instructions of God.

     

    There are consequences that are all positive by accepting God’s will and consequences that are all negative by rejecting. The Lord, as the Supersoul or Holy Spirit, sits in the heart and directs the living entity. If the living entity accepts God, He directs him back to the eternal kingdom. If he rejects God, God gives him what he desires and merits according to his previous acts and desires.

     

    When the living entity’s material body dies, he forgets his past deeds, but the Supersoul, as the knower of the past, present and future, remains the witness of all the activities. All the activities of the living entities are directed by the Supersoul. The living entity gets what he deserves and is the driver of the vehicle of the material body, which is created in the material energy under the direction of God.

     

    As soon as a living entity is placed in a particular body, he has to work under the spell of that bodily situation. A person seated in a high-speed motorcar goes faster than one seated in a slower car, though the living entities, the drivers, may be equally qualified. Similarly, by the order of the Supreme Soul, material nature fashions a particular type of body to a particular type of living entity so that he may work according to his past desires. The living entity is not independent. The individual is always under the Lord’s control.

     

    Christianity no longer accepts the full eternality of the individual as we explained above (since the 6th century A.D. when Father Origen’s writings were rejected). Father Origen, a prominent Christian theologian of the 3rd century wrote that the soul passes through successive stages of incarnation before eventually reaching God. He imagined even demons being reunited with God. For Origen, God was the First Principle, and Christ, the Logos, was subordinate to him. His views of a hierarchical structure in the Trinity, the temporality of matter, “the fabulous pre-existence of souls,” and “the monstrous restoration which follows from it” were declared anathema in the 6th century. From the 6th century A.D. Christianity rejected the notion of reincarnation and restricted the individual soul to one birth and one death. This is a flawed concept that contradicts Vedic philosophical truths and leaves many questions unanswered about the nature of God and the living entity.

     

    However, the full eternality of Lord Jesus is definitely accepted and proclaimed. Therefore, Lord Jesus existed before His incarnation in this world. He was at the side of His Heavenly Father and after death and resurrection, He returned again to the side of His Father. Why should Jesus have full eternality and not the individual souls like you and me? This questioned is not answered in Christian theology and leads to many philosophical inconsistencies such as the notion that the individual does not exist until he takes birth in a material body on this earth.

     

    The problem again is that Christian philosophers like Origen and others relied on Greek philosophy to understand the nature of the individual soul and Christ’s incarnation and the nature of God. Origen relied on Plato and therefore believed that the Supreme Father is invisible and incorporeal, transcending all things material, and therefore inconceivable and incomprehensible. Such flights of speculation based on Platonic impersonalism makes God into something that is less than His own creation. A common man has individuality and is a person, but his creator doesn’t have individuality and is not a person. How can the creator be less than the creations?

    In the Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 8, a comprehensive description of God is given:

     

    “A person in knowledge knows the Personality of Godhead as the greatest of all, whose body, mind and soul are non-different (He has a body but it is not made of blood, veins, etc. as ordinary human beings; His Body is made of eternity, knowledge and bliss in a specific form that is transcendental to any material influence), who is omnipotent (meaning He has unlimited powers and can doing anything He wills without any limitation, and can transform matter into spirit and spirit into matter, as He desires), who is omniscient (He knows everything past, present and future), who awards everyone according to what they desire and deserve but also can give his mercy to anyone whether they deserve it not, who is the greatest Personality of all (no one is equal to or greater than Him), who is completely self-sufficient (He can supply unlimited needs to others but is never in need of anything Himself), who is antiseptic meaning He can absolutely purify anything or anyone that comes in contact with Him, who is prophylactic (means His association is so powerful that He can protect His sincere servant desiring to please Him from sin).”

     

    From this verse it is not possible that anything God has created can be greater or in any way more than Him. To say that God is not a person implies that people in this world that are persons and possess a body (even if the body is a temporary material body) have something that God doesn’t. This makes God less than His own creation. Therefore, He cannot be the greatest of all. Such an incomplete understanding of God is unacceptable.

     

    Origen’s understanding that the individual soul can undergo transmigration from one material body to another until he reaches pure consciousness of love of God and is liberated from the cycle of birth and death was correct. However, some of his other ideas based on Platonic philosophy was rejected along with transmigration of the soul. Christianity has maintained a personal concept of God by accepting the absolute divinity of Lord Jesus. However, Christianity did not fully understand the inconceivable and simultaneous oneness and difference that Lord Jesus taught. I will discuss this in more detail.

     

    The oneness that Lord Jesus spoke of does not mean that He and His Heavenly Father are the same Person. This misconception has been adopted by many modern Christians. Without proper understanding, it is possible to come to this mistaken conclusion. One must have a certain level of spiritual purity to understand this subject. This purity is attained by becoming free of lust, anger, greed, illusion, envy and madness through dedicated prayer and respect for all life. One must give up unnecessary killing and violence on others and oneself by avoiding meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex. Through constant prayer, unselfish, dedicated acts of devotion to God and avoidance of sinful activities, one is blessed by God to understand this subject. Spiritual knowledge is revealed to the strict practioner by the mercy of God. It is not a mechanical academic process. Therefore, to understand the following words of Christ requires purity of body, mind and spirit:

     

    “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”

     

    This sense of “oneness” that Lord Jesus conveys in this passage is that of qualitative oneness just as the sparks of fire are one with the fire. Yet, sparks of fire are not one as far as quantity is concerned, for the heat and light present in the sparks is not equal to that in fire. Therefore, Lord Jesus directly says,

    “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

     

    Lord Jesus is careful to explain qualitative oneness and quantitative difference between His Father and Himself. One who has attained the proper stage of purity can understand the oneness Lord Jesus is talking about in terms of seeing everything as the energy coming from God. Since there is no difference between the energy and the energetic, there is the sense of oneness. For example, from the analytical point of view, heat and light are different from fire, however, there is no meaning to the word “fire” without heat and light. In the synthesis, heat, light and fire are the same. Lord Jesus’s Father is the source of everything just as the Sun in this universe is the source of all light, heat and energy. Lord Jesus emphasizes this in terms of knowledge and teaching coming from His Father. He says:

     

    Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24- He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

     

    We can understand the “oneness” as the acceptance of the teaching coming originally from Jesus’ Father through Lord Jesus to His apostles and to all humanity. Lord Jesus puts all the stress on this point,

     

    “If you love me, you will obey what I command …. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him…. If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me…  If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I ….  but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me…”

     

    These words of Lord Jesus make a distinct difference between Jesus and his Father and at the same time demonstrate the oneness by the total acceptance by Jesus of His Father’s teaching and will.

     

    “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work…”

     

    Jesus demonstrates the oneness experienced by the sincere servant of God who never deviates from following the instructions of the Heavenly Father. Father and son are one because the son completely obeys the Father. If you meet the son, you will know the father because the son perfectly represents the Father by his submission to the will of the Father. Satan disobeyed the Father and later convinced Adam and Eve to also disobey the will of the Father. Jesus came to demonstrate the power and glory of accepting totally and following the will of the Father and thus defeat death and repeated birth in this material. By following Jesus, we can again regain our natural position of eternal life and happiness.

     

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