THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT
The issue of divine graces, as a precondition for action and achievement, is as old an issue as Satan started to peep through the heart of Adam and Eve. This is intimately related to law of karma, which is the most composite thing on the earth. It is impossible to enumerate all the factors, like it is impossible to do so in relation to the dynamics of modern economy. Nobody can explain exactly when and why market will fall and when it will rise but still there are certain divine rules(amidst all mathematical theory of projections and probability), as implemented through human being and society, which govern all these things. However some generic conclusions can be drawn and it has been being attempted by all schools of Religion and Metaphysics since the time of very awakening. Firstly Let us have a brief look at the journey of both the oriental and occidental schools of philosophy. Though most of what is being written below is trivial yet it should be seen in the perspective of socio-cultural evolvement of the two cultures. There is nothing new, exotic, esoteric, or scholarly about it. So please bear with me till the ending part. I have highlighted the parts which contain some new and worth reading text. Some of the statements are paradoxically akin to forbidden fruit of knowledge. Because this is the crux of all race (i.e. competition) and there is no point in revealing the secret of race.
In oriental cultures Religion has been the pivot of social life, right from the beginning, in whichever form it might be. In India it started with Rig Veda (6000 BCE) as devoted to worshiping the elements of nature in an effort to allude the fact that it is the life in inanimate which transforms itself into thoughtful life with myriads of its shades. By 2500 BCE the composition of all the 4 Vedas was complete and onward the text was carried ahead by oral tradition until the time of Maurya Dynasty ( the first worth mentioning Indian empire under Chandragupta Maurya in around 320 BC), that is just after Alexander’s conquests and return from India. Alexander’s opened the gate for intercourse between oriental and occidental culture. Chandragupta II(also known as Vikramaditya) of Gupta Dynasty(395 AD- next to Mauryan empire), fixed Indian Calendar system called Vikarmi era(Samvat for year)which originally started from 57BC on first day of the lighted fortnight of the month of March(14-27 March). Prior to this another calendar system called ‘Shaka era” started by a Shaka king Kushan in 78 AD starting on Ist Vaisakha (13-14th April:Sun entry into sidereal Zodiac)) was already in use. Both were originally luni-sidereal, but now Shaka official as luni-tropical year (starting on vernal equinox day) has replaced the old one. For Religious purpose Vikarmi Samvat is used and for Official purpose Shaka (official) is used.
In around 530 BC Lord Buddha, son of a Shaka king, propounded a religion which was an extension of Hinduism, yet it was free from the abstract nature of the latter. Buddhism laid emphasis on right action, right means and right intention. It suggested eight fold path to Nirvana (salvation) and prescribed mid-path as the best path for a happy and successful life. However it believes in rebirth. Ashoka the great, grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, after being moved by a massacre in Klinga war, introduced Buddhism in India and devoted his life to its cause. However it could not go much ahead because of Hindu stronghold. But by then the focus had been shifted towards the fact that source of all knowledge regarding human existence & happiness lies in following the creed of ‘Know thyself’ which is essence of Astrology. In fact Astrology had started to take shape by 2000 BC. Around the same time the longest epic of world Mahavarta was composed which highlighted the philosophy of Disinterested action or Detachment through an appendage called Gita(celestial song). As per Gita ‘attachment’ with good or bad, whatsoever, is the source of all trouble in life. The cure to all trouble and suffering lies in assimilating the blend of the three Yogas in life , namely- Bhakti Yoga (devotion), Gyan Yoga (knowledge) and Karm Yoga(detached action). It was basically synopsis of the realization of Astrological truths as reflected through the course of life of all human beings. However there is no mentioning of Astrology in Mahavarta, but the father of the Author of Mahavarta fixed Vedic Astrology as a science of prediction. Astrology attained its height after Alexander’s time under the influence of Greek culture. (By around the same time the approach of “know thyself” came to be known as Hermeticism in Greek Culture as introduced in 5th century AD through Hermetic Treatise.) The underlying faith was that it is a science of soul which helps in self realization and thereby in rectification of desires. Astrological dispositions, through the instrument of horoscope, primarily embodies law of karma, leaving the impression of world being a preordained play bound by one’s own sense of action. Meaning thereby law of karma prevails but still it happens in a predetermined manner. However defeat of Kaurva in Mahavarta war, estimated to be an impossible event, came as major shock to the majority. The Hindu psyche could never reconcile itself with the same, and always remained in search of an alternative to Lord Krishna, to this date. In an effort to appease their own animal instinct, this often appeared in form of conjuring up amorous or other quaint images around the same. In that course two other streams of philosophy ruled over the socio-cultural state of affairs. Hindu scriptures called Puranas (hundreds with different names) highlighted the various shades of human psychology through the mythological stories envisioned around planetary consciousness and asterism. Another stream of scriptures called Upnishads(more than 200) dealt with law of karma, moral code of conduct and Divine order & justice. ‘Gita’ is regarded to be last Upnishad.
Meanwhile in order to lay thrust on the concept of ‘ill wishes’ and ‘well wishes’ as an earning of one’s own action, the concept of Abhishap(curse) and Vardan(sanction) was introduced. But, thankfully enough, it was interpreted as the power of only great souls or holy people. By 5 century AD Astrology had became an integral part of religion. But thrust on Astrological prognostication and prescription were basically born out of this faith in ‘Know thyself’ approach.
It goes to the credit of oriental culture that, but for a few odd incidents of blasphemy, religion always remained a venerated occupation. So there are few incidents of victimization on such grounds. However the conflict among various faiths, like Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam, is another story. What lacked primarily was the motivation to conquer nature in order to expand the vista of human enterprises to ensure all around well-being. Consequently all religious dictates went on becoming superstition to be perpetuated only for temporal gains of a few. Caste system as introduced in the time of Vedas itself remained the prime vehicle of cultural journey. Of course in the beginning it was based on astrological realizations regarding one’s worth but later on it went on becoming an institution based on heredity. This noble scheme conversely led to the perpetuation of a feudal setup all around. It served as a prop to the policy of divide & rule of the native king and satraps as well as that of foreign rulers. Now religion is confined to only rituals, and the cast system is almost defunct or is being preserved in the name of only assigning surname to males. (Husband of PM Indira Gandhi and so her son PM Rajiv Gandhi was Persian.) Though strength & quality of will-power followed by mutuality of interest & sentiment is undoubtedly the final index as to who will become what, yet at the social plane what is being preserved in the name of ‘knowing’ are two things. First, what brings money and second, the capacity to preempt the competition through whatever means it is possible.
Then let us recount in brief the story of occidental part of culture for the enlightenment of a reader in oriental part. In occidental culture there were two streams of development in this respect. One was the Greek stream and other was Israeli’s stream. The two finally merged, by the effort of St. Paul after the death of Christ, to give birth to Christianity and Roman Empire. The things started with the work of Greek philosophers poets like Homer in around 8th century BC. These are mythological stories written in epic form. Homer’s ‘Iliad (siege of city of Troy-a city of Asia Minor where Trojan war happened)’ and ‘Odyssey(wandering of the Hero Odysseus after Trojan war and return to his homeland Ithaca )’ are still regarded to be milestone in this respect. Prior to that though primitive kind of realization in the sphere of Astronomy and Astrology was underway, yet God was an abstraction. There was no systematic school of thought in this respect. Regarding God, a faith was prevalent that there are several deities (called Olympians such as Zeus, Hermes etc.), who all live on the mountain Olympus and served as their controller and protector, that they ruled over different elements of nature and human psychology. But practically it served as an instrument of exploitation for the sake of livelihood of a few enlightened. People were made to believe in afterlife and salvation. Much venerated Oracles (a divine platform) of Delphi (a center of shrines in old time Greece like those in Tibet) stand testimony to it. Then came Socrates, around 390 BC, who laid thrust on the sense of right and wrong by applying the yardstick of reasoning, not simply because who said what. He emphasized the importance of knowledge through self realization & reasoning. He was put to death on the charge of subversion by the order of the king. This was followed by the dialogues titled ‘Phaedo’ of his disciple Plato in which he tried to record the philosophy of Socrates who himself never wrote anything.
However the candle which Socrates lit is still the guiding light of western culture, though in initial stage of Renascence (14-17 AD) it was a little superstitious in approach that mathematical or probabilistic reasoning was being assigned for even judicial pronouncements. Meaning thereby there was too much of thrust on mathematical reasoning even on the issue which falls in the realm of only providence or is dependent on the strength of person’s will-power. “”In 1699 the British mathematician John Craig used probability( a mathematical theory given by Pascal) to vindicate the truth of scripture and to forecast the end of time, when, due to the gradual attrition of truth through successive testimonies, the Christian religion would become no longer probable. As per Pascal himself if there is a God (Pascal assumed he must be the Christian God), then to believe in him offers the prospect of an infinite reward for infinite time. However small the probability, provided only that it be finite, the mathematical expectation of this wager(bet) is infinite. .An English clergyman, Joseph Butler, in his very influential book ‘Analogy of Religion’ (1736), called probability “the very guide of life”. The issue was finally winded up by the English philosopher John Stuart Mill(1843) who called the trend as “the opprobrium of mathematics,” arguing that one should seek more reliable knowledge rather than waste time on calculations that merely rearrange ignorance.”
Meanwhile after the death of Christ Old Testament, a summarized view of the faith of Jews as deduced from their Scripture called Tanakh and Torah, followed by New Testament was introduced. The two clubbed together went to make Christianity. Christianity laid thrust on the moral code of conducts, accompanied with faith in God, for social order & well-being. Christ was anointed as Son of God, born as Son of man, irrespective of the abstract nature of God, to emancipate mankind from all worldly agonies. The credit for introducing Christianity goes to John the Baptist who declared that in keeping with Jewish wish & prophecy the new Messiah had incarnated. However it assumed its name in 30 AD in the area around Palestine that is present day Israel. Jesus Christ, born 4BC, was a Jew by birth. Christianity stands on its holy book ‘Bible’ consisting of two parts-Old and New Testament. Old Testament is group of books of Jewish origin where the religion took birth as a part of Roman Empire after crucifixion of Christ by a Roman emperor. This goes to represent the religious part of Bible as a message of Christ to the world. Old Testament is a summarized view of the faith of Jews as deduced from their Scripture called Tanakh and Torah. New Testament consists of four parts-Gospels, Acts, Epistles and Book of Revelation. Those are written by various later stage adherents. These primarily surround around the story of life of Christ, spread of Christianity and Prophecies for the future. In 404 AD the Latin version of Bible was completed by Jerome.
The initial stage followers of Christianity were called Catholics. Catholics were subjected to a prolonged period of persecution in the hand of Romans, for around 400 years. Finally in 313 AD King Constantine accepted and converted to Christianity. Romans were still finding it hard to digest it. In 330 AD Constantine redesigned the city called Byzantium in Greece and renamed it as Constantinople to serve as the new capital of Roman Empire and declared Christianity to be official religion of the empire. In 398 AD, after the demise of Constantine, there came a split in Roman Empire on the issue of moving the capital to Byzantium. (Old Roman Empire, or western wing, spanned between 27 BC- 476 BC (or say 50 BC to 476 BC if Julius Cesar is also taken into account).) The eastern part known as Byzantine Empire that came into being in 398 AD after a split up from a Latin speaking Roman Empire was named after its capital Byzantium in Greece. Though row over accepting Christianity was one of the major causes of split up but Christianity started to find its acceptance all over Empire and finally emerged as a major power center through Rome based Churches. Greek speaking Eastern part, that is Byzantine Empire, continued to exist even after the fall of Rome based Roman Empire (Western) in 476 AD and still existed at the time of Holy Roman Empire. Holy Roman empire was a revival of old Roman Empire(Western) by the backing of Church in Rome spanning between 962 AD-1806 AD ,starting with Charlemagne(a French King) in 773 AD but Otto, a German King conquering entire northern Italy, was crowned to be the first Emperor in 962 AD. Actually Charlemagne saved the Pope of Rome from a threat by the king of Lombardy in Italy. In Holy Roman Empire the role of the Church’s Pope was central to power politics. All emperors have to be crowned by the consent of Pope in Rome. In 1074 AD the Popes of Byzantine Empire and Roman Empire excommunicated each other and another school of Christianity called Eastern Orthodox Church of Greece came into being. In 1076 Pope Gregory VII in the capacity of supreme spiritual leader deposed Henry IV from kingship of Roman Empire. Pope’s supremacy prevailed followed by a series of 8 Crusades under their command and sponsorship. In 1095 Pope Urban II called for a holy war, first crusade, to win back Jerusalem, the birth place of Christ, from Palestinian Muslims for Christians and finally won it. They built a church on Mount Calvary in Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified. In second crusade in 1149 Muslims captured Damascus but could not win back Jerusalem. In third crusade, 1182, Christians again lost Jerusalem. In fourth crusade, 1206, Romans reached and ransacked Constantinople, the capital of Byzantine Empire, and installed their own king but they could not reach Palestine. So this continued until in 1273 AD Rudolf I of Habsburg family of Austria won the throne and became emperor. But Papal supremacy continued until it was finally challenged under the Reformation movement, subsequently leading to division of Roman Christianity into Catholicism and Protestantism.
St Paul’s name is prominent among those who tried to spread Christianity beyond its birthplace in keeping with Christ’s request during last supper. He spread it to the region like Greece and Asia Minor. Ii spread quickly through the Roman Empire after of conversion of King Constantine. European colonist spread it further to Africa, America and Australia in the wake colonialism. Though England being part of Roman Empire since the time of Claudius, 43 AD, has accepted Christianity in the wake of conversion of Constantine but with decline of Roman Empire in around 410 AD, when Rome was sacked by Visigoths, it became almost defunct. A missionary called St. Augustine from Canterbury again took Christianity to England during the time of first phase of Anglo Saxon rule in around 600 AD. He had to face tough opposition because Anglo Saxons had their own Gods.
Christ had come with a better solution with his “Love ethics” which, irrespective of interpretation or presentation by any sect, or offshoot, sums up the requirement of individual & social happiness. Nirvana or salvation is not a religious issue but is the requirement and aim of day to day life which can be attained through a harmonious & romantic balance of individual & social interest and realization of the truths of nature. Christ had realized that the greatest impediment in the way of social growth & happiness is all prevailing feudal attitudes of the society of the time (that is want of mutuality in familial and social affairs and disregard for each other’s ego and interest). All the gospels of Christianity are targeted towards this problem in story form. Rest let one pursue one’s own path as per one’s own realization and one’s own choice. The Biblical dictates, on the issues such as mortal & venial sins, are meant for putting religious lock on the things or issues of social relevance which an average person may not comprehend or appreciate in right perspective. But the essence is same as it is with almost all organized religions of the world.
Though metaphysically it is okay that Christ willingly invited Crucifix to wean away or to absorb the sins of society but this is really odd that the Godhood of Christ thrives upon his so dubbed resurrection. In Christianity It is regarded to be sin to don’t believe in resurrection of Christ. But if resurrection stands for appearing in flesh & bone even after death then question arises where he went after that. Ascending to heaven in flesh and bone does not carry any meaning, though in Mahabharta too such an imaginative allegory has been used in relation to Pandvas going to heaven. Either it was a dream or it was a hallucination kind of thing or Christ did not die at that time. St Paul’s sudden acceptance of Christianity from a non believer, on having realized the presence of Christ around even after the death is a pointer in that direction. (As per a few Indian scholars Christ did not die in crucifixion. But his well wishers forced him to flee away or to migrate to Central Asia, after wishing good luck to his closest follower & confidant named Mary. That later on he was reported to have been seen in Kashmir Valley also.) The Trinity is very much akin to Vedic’s concept of Brahma (Creator-the evolutionary force implied in super consciousness), Vishnu(conductor), Mahesh(destroyer the Shiva) as three forces of nature, as an integral unit, responsible for conceiving(Father the all pervading source) ,conducting(Son, a Saint like Jesus ,Rama, Krishna, Buddha ) and destroying or enjoying(The Holy spirit or Holy ghost). The Holy Spirit enigma is nothing but a pointer towards the purity of soul which passes through several incarnations of enjoyment in quest of salvation. The concept of salvation and its achievement is also not much different from the traditional oriental concept of the same, but for the issue of sale of salvation by clergy and indulgences in return of financial gratification. By 16 century Roman Catholics Church guided the European through their lives from Earth to Heaven. The officials had become rich and corrupt. After the initial protest against the same by a few scholars the things were finally tackled by Martin Luther, a German reformer in 1517 AD (under a Reformation movement as an aftermath of Renaissance from Italy, revival of the old literary & spiritual glory of Roman empire, starting in the beginning of 15th century) through Protestantism, as a modified and simplified form of the original Roman Catholicism. This branch lays stress on the authority of scriptures itself, rather than in clergy’s or Church’s interpretation of the Bible in Catholicism. The superstitious thing like doctrine of transubstantiation of Catholics, as per which the bread and wine used in Mass is converted into body and blood of Christ, was discarded. ‘Mass’ also known as Eucharist stands for a festival to commemorate the last supper of Christ with his disciples before Crucifixion. The issue of indulgence is simply a message that piety, compassion and forgiveness are the qualities which elevates a person to level of God’s son that is Jesus. Hence a contrite must be given a chance to improvise so that world may have faith on noble things of life essential for upward march of civilization. No matter whether it paves the way for salvation of the contrite or not, it does certainly ensure the same for the forgiver. The concept of Satan is there to forewarn the society about the destructive aspect of ghostly forces as a residual of initial stage of evolution the comeback of which, in new role model to enjoy the fruits of civilization, may pose threat to existence of mankind. Or it may be like a predator, our real forefathers, from jungle incidentally venturing into a city. Basically through such processes a saint is always trying, in addition to the realization of eternal truths, to learn and to overcome wrong tendencies within oneself as deposited in one’s psyche by one’s forefathers. I don’t think the holy cross can help a Satan from the menace of another Satan, though I don’t deny the metaphysical significance of the cross itself like that of fish. The controversy of literal and allegorical significance of preaching, gospels and dictates is ubiquitous vis-a-vis all religions. It is only the part of and the faith in Christ that can help us.
Just before the birth of Christ there took birth an empire called old Roman Empire( 30 BC) under the kingship of Caesar, followed by reign of Augustus, when Roman republic founded as a republic in around 500 BC was declared to be an empire encompassing Gaul(France) and Britain in its fold.
( J. Caesar and Augustus were venerated as God, and in their honor two months-Quintilus and Sextilus were renamed as July and August by adding 1 days extra to each of the two. To adjust the thing two days were deducted from February (as the year was tropical/vernal equinox falling in March) so it is 28 days now. Caesar started Julian calendar replacing the old Roman Calendar in 45 BC ,the latter itself was replaced by Christian Calendar in 530 AD which was further rectified by Johan Paul Gregory in 1530 and since then it came to be known as Gregorian Calendar).
Coming back to the issue of Roman Empire let us have a recapitulation. The empire drew all nobilities and Gods from Greek culture. Jews and Christian were equally persecuted. As mentioned in paragraph above, in 285AD king Diocletian organized Roman Empire into two halves-East and West. Then around 330 BC next king Constantine finally accepted Christianity as official religion, though amidst much opposition. He commanded, through Edict of Milan, to stop the persecution of Christians. He laid the foundation for Eastern wing of Roman Empire by setting up empire’s capital in city of Byzantine which was a Greek port near Egypt, and renamed it as Constantinople. Still in his lifetime the empire continued as one Roman Empire. After his death the empire was finally split up, in 395AD, into two wings. Eastern wing came to be known as Byzantine Empire. The western wing continued as true Roman Empire with center at Rome. But then in western wing Roman popes and Christianity started to gain power, ironically, and to have control over the emperors. Since then up to 1806 AD it had been history of Papal power (Pope’s Power) and Roman Empire which included Scandinavian region (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland etc. as a home place of Anglo Saxons who had their own gods earlier.). Eastern wing , hence Constantinople-a fully fortified city, had been target of Arabian siege for a long time starting around the time of Umayyad Dynasty (717 AD) of the Islamic Empire which has its capital at Damascus, a part of Persia(modern Iran/Ira region) but they could not wholly capture the empire. So the Eastern wing continued until it was finally captured by Ottoman Turk, another Muslim empire, in 1453 AD and Constantinople was renamed as Istanbul. Western wing continued up to 476 AD but then it came to end. For around 400 years it had been a dark age from the point of view Christianity. Later on Charlemagne the great(800AD) , as an emperor of France, defeated king of Lombardy(Italy) who was persecuting Pope Leo III of Rome. He thereby paved the ground for Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne implemented a mode of statecraft called ‘feudalism’ . This finally led to the concept of devolution of power. Holy Roman Empire was properly revived in 962 AD when king Otto of Germany, son of Charlemagne, defeated Lech of Italy. The pope of Rome who was neglected figure by then was highly pleased and designated the Otto as Holy Roman emperor. Later on in 1076 Pope of Rome overthrew King Henry IV and seized all power. Habsburg family of Austria started to rule over Holy Roman Empire but supremacy of church prevailed.
On the other hand around the time 5th century AD when Latin version of bible was written by Jerome, a scripture called Hermetic Treatise was introduced of course in Greece. This was the best thing that could have ever happened in the realm of metaphysics. But it did not carry much sense at social plane. It is regarded to be a document devoted to an Egyptian deity Thoth, also known as Hermes Trismegistus, which symbolized the presiding deity of moon, conceived as lord of wisdom., though Hermes is also associated with ‘mercury’ which is regarded to be presiding deity of acumen required for commerce. Hermeticism laid thrust on ‘Know Thyself-therein hid is the treasure of treasures’ approach.
The thing started to move in right direction in 14th century when Wycliff, Hus(of Bohemia) and John Kelvin started to rectify the things by starting the Puritan movement which culminated into Protestantism, under Reformation movement, as introduced by Martin Luther king of Germany. (If it may not be taken as an affront to one’s persuasion, I would say that unfortunately the tag has stuck to Christianity forever. Moreover abstract things like Religion cannot be preserved without little amount of blind faith.).By the time Church, amidst its three streams namely-Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Church had become citadel of power politics. The first blow to the monopoly of church came with the revolt of Tudor king Hennery VIII against the traditional hegemony of Church when he was refused to be granted permission for divorce. The king seized the authority of Church and gave it the name of Anglican Church which subscribed to Protestantism. Meanwhile Renaissance (rebirth) of Italy has taken over the things and there was all around movement against the traditional belief in religious dictates. 13th to 16the century AD was the period of revolt against the medieval belief where only a few privileged called Knights were regarded to be lord of wisdom , and that earthly life was less important than the afterlife . With Stuart king James I of England (1603 AD) (who occupied throne after the death of ever virgin queen Elizabeth I, daughter of Hennery VIII) there started the journey of not only modern Europe but in fact that of whole of the word. The important landmarks like Newton, Milton, Pascal, Akbar the great (India) etc. were born around the beginning of 17 century. The puritan movement reached to its height.
(Akbar annexed whole of India under his small empire without fighting a single war in his life, but for the one he fought to be the king. It was around this time that East India Company entered into India under a charter granted by Queen Elizabeth. The company was finally winded up in 1853 by the order of Queen Victoria leading to a full-fledged British rule for 100 years.)
In around a group of puritan British, known as Pilgrim Father, who did not subscribe to the old belief and authority of Catholic Church, left for a land under Mayflower ship pact, which later on came to be known as America. One of the pilgrims Johan Harvard started the first worth mentioning university of western world called ‘University of Harvard’. It was around the time when literary genius like John Milton was born. Milton was a revolutionary by heart and did not subscribe to the ways of the king Charles I, son of James I, as Holy Roman emperor. But he choose biblical path to pursue his aim and wrote ‘Paradise lost’ through which he tried to give metaphysical interpretation to the journey of mankind-starting from bliss of ignorance to agony of knowledge. He introduced Satan as the main instrument of knowledge as a consequence of desire, lust and self awareness. It is Satan which dreams around the different vista of pleasure and knowledge. But Satan’s negative trait of attachment and extremism finally leads to incarnation of Son of God. Satan is part of God but due to exuberance of thought stands to be expelled from heaven. Meaning thereby Milton tried to give a secular interpretation to the concept of religion through different allegories which encompasses all shades of human existence, and that a ruler must be aware of it.
Anyway personally I feel In short there are two things. Firstly, head and heart of both the parties of interest, should converge at a point for something to materialize. Therein lies the relevance of ‘law-of-karma’ or ‘sense of action’. A bad works man quarrels with the tool. The things are very composite and are also governed by the past action of both the parties.