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Obligations of an Ahmadi

Hinduism (Nasir Ward) I recall reading on one occasion that if anyone wanted to know what the old Graeco-Roman was like, they should go to India. Hinduism, the main religion of the sub-continent, is an amalgam of gods, goddesses and beliefs bound together by a framework of myth and legend. Although Hinduism may date from remote antiquity, it must not be thought that the Hinduism of today represents in its entirety the Hinduism of the ancients. B eing one of the older religions, Hinduism has been prone to more additions and adjustments than most, an effect produced by the religion and culture of those who have erected a military and political influence over the Hindus. Just what original Hinduism was like, what theory and teaching lay behind its tenets we cannot say with any certainty. The Hindus, no more than the Buddhists, were capable of establishing adequate chronology and what is sometimes passed off as reliable dating by Hindus to add antiquity to their scriptures, should not be given too much credulity. The original texts of the Vedas are no more in existence than the original texts of the Buddha’s teaching. No one can say with any hope of certainty who was Krishna, Rama or any other of the Hindu pantheon. When they lived, if at all, is equally impossible to prove. Like all early Indian history it can only be dated by occasional reference to outside events. One or two pieces of information can be gleaned from the general confusion. For example the placing of Yavonas (Greeks) among the heroes of the Aryans indicates this was more likely to have been done after substantial contacts with the Greek kingdoms in the 2nd century B.C. Tracts referring to astrology are also likely to have been produced after this date as the Indian astrological charts are merely copies of the Greek, as we have seen previously. A religion which was so decayed in the 6th century B.C. when Buddha felt compelled to inaugurate his own to replace it, cannot have existed as an independent entity up to the present day in its original form. For some time it received vitality from the teachings of the Buddha and from those of the Greeks in North-West India, but this could not long preserve the ritualistic formalism into which dying religions tend to fall. The letter of the law replaced the spirit. In this description, of course, we are talking about the 18 REVIEW OP RELIGIONS general level of religious observance of the Hindus rather than changes which occurred in the theory of Hinduism as such. Yet, with the coming of Jesus to India, Hinduism was able to graft onto its trunk a new branch which eventually dominated the tree. The religious system which we know in the present day is not that of the first Hindus. It was derived mainly from the teachings of Christ, who like the case of the Buddha, was accepted by many of the Hindus of that era. As in all cultural transference, Jesus was reduced to an Indian setting by a Hindu mentality which thought it recognised something of its own in him. The main books of the Hindus consist of the Vedas, which probably formed the basis of the original teaching of Hinduism, though they have obviously been added to considerably over the years; the Ramayana, an epic story in the Greek mould, and the Mahabarata, a collection of stories and tales, in which is to be found the epic poem Baghwad Gita. There are others, naturally, but these represent the main religious texts. However, one thing must be borne in mind when dealing with these; as in the instance of Christianity, the Hindus have personified their concepts into gods. The ignorant have contrived to produce several thousand of these by now and have reduced the metaphorical and allegorical meanings attached to their lives into a literal explanation. The common mind, unable to grasp metaphysics, considered thes’e concepts as physical entities, so producing by this process an amalgam of nonsensical jibberish. To evince any semblance of meaning from Hinduism, the stories and identities of the gods should be treated in the same way as the Greek mystery cults. They were enactments to create a visual effect for a symbolic meaning and were not meant to be taken literally which idea the Hindus proceeded to do in ignorance. The hero of many Hindu stories is Krishna, a word which means ‘dark’ according to some authorities, “pure or sacred” according to others. Krishna is not far from being Christna or Christ, a word which would have the second of the given meanings. Whether there was an original Krishna we have no way of knowing, but there certainly was a second or original one, at the time of Christ. The reasons for this we shall come to in a moment. First let us look at the effect the Greeks had on Hinduism, some of which we have seen already. The Ramayana, a collection of stories dealing with the life of Rama has several similarities with the epic poems of Homeric times, though naturally it is not an exact copy. One or two examples may suffice to show a reasonable comparison. Rama is sent for by the king to see if he is worthy of marrying his daughter Sita. To do this he must draw and fire the huge bow which no-one had proved capable of firing before. Rama draws the bow, surpasses the other claimants who are discomfited in the process, marries Sita as a reward and eventually aquires a kingdom. In this there is more than a passing similarity to Odysseus, who returning to his home in disguise discovers various princes in his house attempting to win the hand of Penelope, his wife. Without revealing HINDUISM 19 his identity he strings his great bow, which only he could do, and despatches the suitors one after the other, finally revealing himself to Penelope and re-claiming her as his wife, together with his kingdom. Allowing for cultural differences and the work of the centuries, the story is essentially the same. In another part, Sita has been carried off as a prisoner by the rather unpleasant god, Ravana. She is held captive in a forest and during her captivity the processes of nature cease to function. The natural laws do not operate. Hanuman, the monkey god, went by Rama, flies through the air and effects of rescue of Sita, whereupon the world is put to rights once more. This seems to be a copy of the story of Persephone, the daughter of Demeter, who was kidnapped by Pluto, the god of the underworld and held captive in his kingdom. Demeter, goddess of the earth, mourns her daughter’s loss, ceased to peform her duties and the natural laws no longer operate. Eventually she is told where her daughter is and is allowed by the gods to reclaim her. The earth then returns to normal when Persephone returns. The lesser gods of the Hindus, therefore, appear to be little more in the main, than copies of the Olympians acquired through contact with the Greek kingdoms and Greek traders on the Alexandrian run. No culture has proved itself unable to resist the Greeks, whether it is Roman Christian, or Hindu. It was only to be expected that along with Greek architectural skills, military expertise, astronomy and astrology, coinage and language, the Indians should have taken the Greek religious system. It has, however, been considerably extended since that time. The original so called Vedic gods, have been superseded and transformed by the later trinity of Brahma, Vishu and Shiva with Krishna assuming a greater importance, if in fact he existed as such before. The stories themselves are usually of a primitive and bloodthirsty nature, but occasionally we glimpse a spark of truth through the jungle. However, it is with the later trinity that we should concern ourselves at the moment for these were produced in this form by the direct teachings of Jesus assimilated into Hinduism. Briefly, the Hindu system comprises Brahman, the Supreme Being, the Lord of All; from him emanate three spirits, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Vishnu is from time to time manifested, or incarnated in various forms. Generally speaking, ten Avatars or manifestations as people are described. These are: 1. Matsya, as a fish-man. This will also be his last manifestation according to some. 2. Kurm, as a tortoise. 3. Varaha, as a boar. 4. Nara-Sing, as a man-lion. 5. Vamuna, as a dwarf. 20 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 6. Parasu-Rama, as a hero, but imperfect man. 7. Rama-chandra, a hero and perfect man. 8. Krishna—Son of the Virgin Devaki, manifested by Vishnu. 9. Buddha—another incarnation of Vishnu. 10. One yet to come. Whether or not these Avatars existed as real people is problematical, but for the sake of argument let us assume they did. These people then, were manifestations of Vishnu, one part of the Hindu trinity, virtually an exact copy of the Gnostic-Essene cosmonology. In the Hindu system Brahman corresponds to the Unknown God whom no man has seen according to the Gospel of John. From the Unknown God, or Supreme Being emanate the Christian Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Father being the Creator. Christ, the Son, or Christos the Spirit, manifested himself in Jesus, those causing a union between the heavenly and the earhly man. Throughout history Christos has been incarnated in various persons and was in existence before the creation of the world. This was the belief of Eusebius and the early Christians. It was not Jesus, but the spirit Christos who had existed from all time and was of the same substance as the Father. It was not Jesus, but Christos who descended from heaven to become incarnated. The later Christians confused the two and reversed the order, so that to their mind Jesus had been pre-existent. This made a nonsense of not only the whole metaphysical system but of the concept of God. Unfortunately it continues with us to the present day. Krishna and the Avatars are manifestations within the same system, learned through the teachings of the incarnated Christos when he appeared among them in India. If we study the list of Avatars, a symbolic representation appears quite clearly. The first manifestation was that of Matsya, the fish-man. Curiously, this name is not unlike Messiah, also recognised as the fish. Not only was Jesus the one who taught his disciples to be fishers of men, his own symbol was Ichthyos, a fish. In the catacombs this is the main representation of Christ before the Christians degenerated into image making. His own sign was that of Jonah who was swallowed by the fish, returning from it alive and going back to his own people. The fish-man, Jesus, was also a symbolic representation of the Gnostics seen in an earlier chapter. If we take these Avatars as symbolic representations, then we can deduce some meaning from them. The first one is the fish, denoting the primitive level of man or mankind, swimming in the celestial ocean, or primeival soup. From it came the tortoise-man, a reptile crawling lowly on the earth, followed by a boar, a quadruped. After this came an Avatar who was half man, half lion showing the development from animals to human beings; then the dwarf, a primitive form of’mankind, succeeded by an imperfect man, a perfect man and Krishna the heavenly man. Last of all is the Buddha. HINDUISM 21 If we take it in this sense, then the manifestations are meant to show a kind of evolution, physical and spiritual. If Matsya is also the final Avatar, although some consider it to be Kalki, on a white horse, the whole of mankind will have returned to where it started to being a new cycle, or to reach its rightful home. Considering it as a metaphysical system, it shows in the same way as the Gnostics and Buddhists, the stages of purification of the soul, from the celestial ocean to matter which gradually becomes cast off, allowing the spirit or soul to return to its heavenly home. If this is the case, the Avatars are not all to be taken as real people. More likely they refer to one or two people only. However looking at the table or manifestations, it is obvious something is seriously wrong. Krishna, or Christos, is the peak of this system; he is the perfect human being, perfect physically and spiritually. There is no improvement to come after him. Yet we see the next Avatar is the Buddha. This cannot be correct; the system ends at its peak-Krishna. It cannot produce anyone higher than him. How then is the Buddha placed after him? If it refers to the original Buddha, then obviously those Hindus who accepted him as an Avatar, which is now a universal admission, would have left the Hindu religion and joined the Buddha, who broke away form it. They would in fact all have felt compelled to become Buddhists and Hinduism would have ceased to exist. That they did not, means that they did not at that time accept the Buddha as an Avatar. Unless they are now prepared to follow his teachings they still have not accepted him, except in name only. The original Buddha cannot come as an Avatar after Krishna for this very reason, nor is it possible in this system of spiritual development. To say the Buddha was higher than Krishna means Buddhism is higher than Hinduism and better at producing spiritual elevation in its adherents. What is referred to here is the second Buddha—Jesus. This is why the Hindus did not become Buddhists and why he appears as the last manifestation. Next to him in order is Krishna, the epitome of the system. Just as Jesus was the second Buddha, so too was he the second Krishna, the heavenly man of the Gnostics, and Paul or Marcion. He was the Adam Kadmon of the Kabbala, the manifestation of the divine, though not himself divine. This is why the Buddha is placed after him. The Hindus knew he had been recognised as a manifestation of the Buddha and to them he was the manifestation of Vishnu-Krishna. They had to recognise one with the other. Were it not so, the system would have finished with Krishna, its highest point, and we know the Hindus did not become Buddhists, in the main. The story of Krishna is compiled in the form of an epic poem, the Baghavad Gita—the Song of the Lord. This has been placed in the Mahabarata, probably an older collection of other stories, but it is quite different from it, dealing as it does with the intellectual theory of Hinduism, whereas the rest of the stories are purely narrative. It seems quite likely that this was originally a 22 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS separate work, placed in the Mahabarata at a later date, chronology in India being an inexact science. “I am the soul which exists in the heart of all beings; and I am the beginning and the middle, and also the end of existing things,” says Vishnu to Arjuna. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end,. . . I am the first and the last,” says Jesus to John (Rev. 1, 6, 17). The banyan tree, like that of the Buddha, was the tree under which Vishnu in one of his incarnations sat and taught his disciples the heavenly knowledge. It is the Arasa-Maram, the tree of knowledge and of life. In the Essene spiritual concept this same tree was placed in the middle of the garden, surrounded by the other trees. Foh-tchou, the teacher of the Buddha’s doctrines, sat under the tree Sung-Ming-Shu, the tree of knowledge and of Life to perform his miracles. This tree is on top of the mountain Kouin-long- sang on the border between China and Tibet. In the Biblical/Gnostic garden was the serpent, the symbol of wisdom, the earthly serpent being symbolic of earthly wisdom. To the Ophite Gnostics Jesus was represented as a serpent which had seven vowels over its head, standing for the seven heavens or layers through which the soul must pass to be purified. Vishnu rests on Amanta, the serpent with seven heads; Vishnu who manifests himself in the world as a representation of the divine light or essence, who manifests himself in some being whenever the world is falling into matter of ignorance. “He who follows me is saved by wisdom and even by works . . . .As often as virtue declines in the world, I make myself manifest to save it,” as it says in the Baghavad Gita. This is why another Avtar is expected, why another Buddha is to come, why Jesus speaks of the Paracletos who will instruct his followers in higher things. If Krishna was not crucified, he at least suffered a comparative fate in Indian terms. A hunter, pursuing his occupation, had the misfortune to pin Krishna to a tree with one of his arrows, thereby causing the death of the Saviour. Realising his mistake, he begs forgiveness of the dying Krishna, who replies, “Go through my favour, to Heaven, the abode of the gods.”. . .then the illustrious Krishna, having united himself with his own pure, spiritual, inexhaustible, inconceivable, unborn, undecaying, imperishable and universal Spirit, which is one with Vasudeva, abandoned his mortal body. Not only is the idea of being nailed to a tree, it would appear this is the gist of Christs’ forgiving the thief on the cross, who would that day be with him in HINDUISM 23 paradise. To complete the analogy, Krishna is often shown as a shepherd or surrounded by shepherds and was born of the virgin Devaki. In Moones’ “Hindu Pantheon,” the author made a collection of photographs and drawings taken from Hindu temples. Dr. Lundy in his “Monumental Christianity” also dealt with some of these plates. In Fig. 72 he shows Krishna apparently crucified, on in the position of crucifixion without the cross. There are nail marks in the hands and feet and a coronet with seven points on the head, while in others he is shown like Apollo, as the good shephered, or holding the “chank” in the form of a crucifix, which was not prevalent in Indian culture. Crucifixion was not used as a form of punishment in the sub-continent, therefore the cross has been omitted but the marks remain. The miracles of Krishna have in some places a strong resemblance to those of Jesus. In Mark and Luke there occurs the story of “Jairus’s daughter who had apparently died. Jairus begs Jesus to restore her to life which he does. In the Hari-purana, the daughter of King Angashuna is bitten by a snake and dies. Amid the mourning father and courtiers, Krishna approaches and is shown the body. “Why do you weep,” he asks, “do you not see she is only sleeping? she is sleeping I tell you . . . see, she moves, Kalavatti! Rise and walk!” Whereupon she recovers. Looking at the prophecies embodied in the Book of Revelations, we find the verses referring to the prophet who will come at the end of the present system of those who were writing: “I saw heaven opened, and saw a white horse, and he who sat upon the horse was called faithful and true . . . . And the armies of heaven followed him on white horses,” (Rev. 19, 11, 14). The Saviour of the Persian system, Sosiosh, will also appear upon a white horse, followed by his army of good spirits also riding white horses. He will appear when the forces of darkness seem to have engulfed the world. Compare with this Vishnu, who manifests himself when evil spreads in the world and threatens to overcome goodness. He will appear in his tenth manifestation riding on the white horse Kalki and will save the world, and on his head he wears several crowns, ” . . . and on his head were many crowns.” (Rev. 19, 12). As a matter of interest this figure to come in Revelations cannot be Jesus himself as he is the one who is making the prophecy. This other prophet would come at the end of the world, or at the end of the Kalying in Hinduism, which 24 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS means simply the end of that spiritual system in both cases. He would appear when corruption had spread, spiritually, throughout the world, or more prosaically, the religious systems of the time were all decadent. Thereafter he would bring to an end the old order and institute another one, superior to it. Just as Christos, Krishna, or the Christ-Buddha was the end point of the old system, he who was to come would be the founder of a new one. It cannot be Christ, Krishna or Buddha physically, except for those who turn spirits into human beings. It had to be someone greater than they as a new order was to be introduced, with increased knowledge. That being, or manifestation was to be associated with, perhaps, horses, or more likely armies denoted by the followers of Sosiosh, the military picture of Vishnu and in Revelations, where a sword comes from the mouth of this divine manifestation. As the teachings of Buddha were to last 500 years, so too perhaps were those of the second Buddha. Each person, I am sure, can adequately form his or her own opinion as to this individual. Returning once again to the Book of Revelations, we find in the vision, round the throne, the four living creatures with multiple wings, one with the head of a lion, one an ox, one a human face and one like an eagle, praising the name of the Lord. (Adonai). Turning to Ezekiel, we find the same four creatures mentioned in his vision with the face of a lion, ox, man and eagle. Assuming Ezekiel and the compiler of the second part of the Book of Revelations are not the same person for the moment, these four creatures should have some significance. Carved on many Hindu temples we find the same four appearing in the same form with a slight variation. The creature with the human face is given the name of the goddess Adanari, surrounded by heads of the lion, ox, and eagle.* Once more, this is an anthropomorphised mistake. In Ezekiel and presumably Revelations, these four entities were in the wheel of the Adonai, whereas in Hinduism, with a slight variation in pronunciation, they have become creatures of Adanari; a case of turning concepts and words into gods. This vision has more than a passing significance. Ezekiel is said to have seen it in Iraq; he was instructed to go to the Israelites, who had rebelled against their lord, and bring them back to the true religion. This, by coincidence, was also the mission of Jesus, who according to the Book of Revelations, had the same vision of the creatures, and went to Iraq to the Israelites, there. Following his journey to India we find the same vision represented on Hindu temples, turned into a fictitious goddess Adahari, culled no doubt from the teachings of Christina, or by a twist of pronunciation, Krishna, to the Jews of that area. This is the same Krishna who was brought up by Shepherds, and whose birth was kept secret from the wicked king Kansa. The king, learning that the * Instead of four wings, Adanari has four hands. HINDUISM 25 child, Krishna, will be born, kills all the children and cowherds in an attempt to stop Krishna supplanting him. All this is done in true Herod style, whose personality in its essentials, comes out quite clearly-—he killed children (Herod killed his own) banned the worship of Vishnu (the true religion) and extended his kingdom by conquest, committing many crimes in the process. Krishna tells his father to take him to the house of Nanda, where he will be safe, or Egypt as the gospels state, while Kansa tries to find him. Krishna, the manifestation of Vishnu, was pursued by the tyrant of Mathura, performing miracles there. Christos, flees from Herod to Matarijah and performs his first miracles there in the Infancy Gospels. Krishna was later worshipped at Mathura. The rather mischievous exploits of Krishna are similar to those of Jesus in the infancy gospels, which of course are meant symbolically. It is Krishna who dies, accidentally shot under a tree, or pinned to it, who forgives his killer and who warns that the city will soon be destroyed advising the Yadavas to leave, or on that day they would see Jerusalem encircled by armies. It was Krishna, whose mother was an immaculate virgin, but who had eight children before she bore him; Mary, the immaculate bore several children as well as Jesus. The Hindus, recognising Jesus as a son of God, learnt their more recent metaphysical system from him, with Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva becoming changed into the present Trinity. Jesus was the physical manifestation of Vishnu, of the Spirit Christos, and through him they accepted also the Buddha. Give Thanks Have you anything to be thankful for: Friendship? A holiday? A happy horrje? Love of beauty? Work? * A fault conquered? Promotion? Forgiveness received? Wider usefulness? Difficulties overcome? Success in examination? Being able to help anyone? Thank God for any of these things now. (My Prayer Book)