With the globalization of an obscure sect that existed within Judaism, the Christian Bible has become one of the most studied and research texts in modern history. Yet, despite numerous generations of scholars pouring over the compendium of Biblical writings, there remains numerous questions about the life of Jesus.
Most notable his life from age 12-33, but there are numerous other apparent conflicts including a remarkable similarity with elements of ‘Wars of the Jews’ as well as a marriage between a person, image or concept of Jesus with various qualities procured the world’s older religions. As an example, it is commonly known amongst scholars that Jesus was not born on December 25th; in reality this was a common day amongst ancient civilizations for celebrating the culmination of the Winter Solstice celebration.
This celebration had a primary focus on the deity of one’s choice. A careful examination of religious teachings reveals that little is really known about Jesus or his teachings, and scholars do acknowledge that Christianity borrowed some concepts from other ancient religions, as an example easter which was a pagan holiday and is the reason rabbits are still a part of the celebration.
Additionally, ancient Christianity ‘borrowed qualities or attributes’ from the Vedic deity Mitra which was the concept of the ‘Divine Friend’ that permeates Christianity to this day, but in the modern age this acquisition of attributes has been expanded to include Krishna and even Prajapati.
It is most interesting that this parallel is at times propagated by a small number of Hindu teachers, and the association of the Vedic Prajapati is commonly used as an attempt to portray Christianity as sort of a creator of Hinduism and pre-date Christianity to an earlier era which is simply false. Additionally, another rational may be the purpose of creating a spiritual typology aligning Christian and Hindu theologies, which simply does not exist.
We have seen this appear with absurd suggestions that the Vedas are a Christian text and more recently in Southern India, the equally absurd suggestion that Jesus created the Surya Namaskar.
One of the most pressing issues facing biblical scholars is actual evidence of the life of Jesus. One criticism is pertaining to the name of Jesus which ironically cannot be found in any significant writings of the time, which would make sense as Jesus is not a Jewish name, therefore, there would be an absence of the name; as the name for Jesus was Yeshua.
While the actual name for Jesus (Yeshua) is a common name for that age and geographic region, it has proven to be no easy task to find actual documentation of Yeshua from the period Yeshua (Jesus) was believed to live.
Strangely, there is a surprising lack of references within Greek, Roman or Jewish records referencing Jesus. In fact, there is considerable debate as to any location being identified as Nazareth i.e. Jesus of Nazareth, with the latest theory being that Nazareth must have been a small village of 2-4 families.
In fact, references to Jesus as a physical person appear in only one ancient writing to any degree and that is still somewhat limited- ‘The Wars of the Jews’ by Josephus. Scholars throughout history have noted similarities between ‘The Wars of the Jews’ and the story of Jesus to some degree, a modern debate has emerged centering upon the question if this was an effort by the Romans to control the apoplectic Jewish sicarii, who were quite violent and rebellious from a Roman perspective.
Other views have suggested that the information about Jesus was added later to create a historical record. Likewise, there have been attempts by scholars to ‘fill in the gaps’ that have been fiercely debated, these attempts to whitewash and change records are often attributed to bad science with a nefarious religious agenda. As an example, several scholars historically have attempted to resolve some of these issues by changing only a few key words in texts to secretly resolve issues regarding a historical Jesus.
This has led to my theory of Jesus being a Proto-image´ for the formation of religion with numerous agendas such as promoting a Roman agenda while vilifying the followers of Judaism. Even a casual read of the teachings of Jesus will reveal an occasional pro-Roman position and an almost anti-Judaic view. This conflict between Christianity and Judaism has been reflected historically in the relationship between the Catholic Church and Judaism.
It appears clear that the Romans developed an interest in the formation of Christianity to meet a political as well as social agenda. My suspicion is that the Flavian era discovered that the masses can be more easily controlled through religion than through military means, this management of the masses through religion is not only more easy to do but is rather cost effective, as military campaigns require considerable financial resources. The proto-image has been a powerful image throughout history, but a more correct definition for the modern age would be the Proto-image psychological disposition.
The proto-image is an image that is designed to appear psychologically to the masses. This has appeared frequently within Christianity, commonly manifesting simplistically in various visual cues such as a white Jesus, a black Jesus, blue-eyed Jesus to various ethnic variables included in the imagery of Jesus. I have even witnessed an image of Jesus dressed as a Hindu on the cross with Hindu women dressed in sari’s standing around.
This establishes the first basic psychological requirement, namely to establish a connection by way of the visual cultural identification. The second psychological requirement is to identify an obligation to the image, for the world the proto-image creates a psychological feeling of debt, as the image that someone died for you can easily create a feeling of a psychological debt and moves one further from the proto-image psychological disposition and more towards dogma, but we will explore that shortly.
While the world is currently witnessing a mass exodus from the church amongst western peoples, evidenced by churches closing and numerous church properties being sold globally, especially in Europe, there is also prolific loss of churches occurring in the United States, as well. While the current exodus from the church is quite obvious, ironically, it is due the proto-image psychological disposition that is most responsible and likely the driving force for the exodus in modern western society.
The proto-image psychological disposition group is a rejection of the other Christian groups, the formal church or dogma of the church. This group ignores all contrary statements relative to their particular view, emotional need and attachment to the proto-image of Jesus, in essence allowing Jesus to be whatever they wish with disregard for any conflicting message that violates their individual proto image concept.
This group will ignore violent actions of the church littered throughout history, and psychologically believe that the action of the institution of the church is somehow separate from the man (Jesus), while ignoring the violent message found in the Bible and associated with Jesus. Some examples would include:
‘Violence is mine…´(Deut. 32.35)
‘Think not that I come to send peace on earth; I come not to send peace but a sword.’ (Matthew 10.34)
‘For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law’ (Matthew 10.35)
‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth’ (Exodus 21:24)
‘Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.’ (Luke 12:51)
‘I have come to bring fire on the earth…’ (Luke 12.49)
To compensate for these violent messages, the proto-image psychological disposition devotee must project their own interpretation upon the Biblical teaching based upon their own proto-image view, again often based in little to no study of the language, languages of translation (such as Greek), people, era, translation or other quality used to justify a rational.
To state it in blatant terms, they simply make up their own meanings to conflicting passages. These groups typically focus on such statements as love, turn the other cheek and various examples of forgiveness, while ignoring comments attributed such as, and I paraphrase, I am the only way to the father.
Some might argue that this is in reality a division between fundamentalist and more secular views, certainly there would be some degree of truth to this, and certainly there is nothing wrong with embracing love or turn the other cheek, it becomes more of a conflict between following dharma and the desires of the ego.
This has ultimately resulted in a hybrid or pseudo Christianity which is commonly reflected in the ‘new-age’ movement. Ironically, the new-age movement is largely based on snippets of Hinduism and to some degree Buddhism combined with the Jesus proto image.
The proto-image psychological group is powerfully influenced by samskaras, often the by-product of being raised within a Christian tradition or having joined a tradition and creating numerous latent impressions within the mind. These impressions are repeated and reinforced to such a degree that often one loses discrimination between impressions and desire for factual realization of the latent impressions.
In other words, a false belief must be made believable. It is the samskaras that in essence demand reconciliation within the mind of the student of spirituality, but the latent impressions are so strong within the field of the mind that the only easy reconciliation is a proto-image that is heavily modified to ones comfort zone.
From a Hindu and Vedic view, Christianity would be viewed as adharmic teachings or asuric dharmas. Due to the lack of any compelling evidence of the existence of Jesus, aside from a requirement of blind faith that this is true, one must wonder if there was really a Jesus and if so to what extend did he really involve himself in teaching. In reality, modern Christianity is more akin to the teachings of Paul than Jesus; ironically, Paul did not personally know Jesus or receive the teachings directly from him. For Christianity to expand through conversion of Hindu’s, it has also embraced and was an originator of the proto-image.
What does this mean for Hinduism?
Of all the forces supporting the proto-image in India, it is through teachers within Hinduism that the proto-image is becoming most prolific. An example is a conversation I had with a Swami residing in India. He was trained by a well known and established sampradaya within India.
He publicly stated that ‘the teachings of Jesus were 100% compatible with Hinduism.’ I found this strange, and questioned how he reconciled Jesus’ statement that he was the only way to the father, which is contradictory to most Hindu beliefs. After considerable debate, in private the Swami confessed he had never read the Bible and knew little to nothing of the teachings of Jesus.
I was shocked by such a confession, and it beacons the question ‘why would such a statement have been made?’ if one had never read the teachings of Jesus. While I cannot speak of what was truly within the heart of the Swami, one must wonder if financial motivations and the prospect of western dollars was a temptation to strong to resist. Or possibly there were some other motivations, but clearly making such a statement would clearly be adharmic and appealing to the proto-image psychological group.
The Jesus proto-image is problematic for Hinduism. As questions as to if Jesus really existed are becoming more common and evidence to support his physical presence is lacking in the current archeological and historical records. If the image of Jesus is not real, not correct and the reality is that Jesus is only a psychological proto-image, the ramifications for Hinduism are rather severe.
It appears that a large number of teachers have seemed to need to align themselves with Jesus in order to come to the west and teach, some have even proclaimed to reveal ‘secret teachings of Jesus’ or special insight into the teachings of Jesus. In reality, this is a rather sad commentary for Hinduism, as it seems to imply that the teachings of Hinduism cannot stand upon their own without help from Christianity.
This is certainly not the case, as Hinduism is the last remaining teachings of the great Dharmic traditions! Likewise, this action does a disservice to western students as it strengthens samskaras within their own minds, further trapping them in the world samsara.
While the proto-image is a method of exodus in the western church, it has the exact opposite effect in India as it is a tool for conversion. But for the Hindu, the proto-image is an appealing image that makes the process of conversion easier and much more simplified, as the nature of the proto-image is to appeal psychologically to people by design. Likewise, Hinduism has been accommodating to the image of Jesus, but if the image is merely a proto-image and nothing else, it would question the levels of realization of some teachers as they would have demonstrated an inability to not see through the illusionary proto-image.
A compelling recognition of this proto-image was actually made by Gandhi, who said, ‘I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.’ But something more insidious is hiding in such statements, a potential assumption of Jesus that is more akin to a psychological proto-image. So the Hindu begins the journey into Christianity through the proto-image, then a further conversion takes place, one that moves past the proto-image.
After indoctrination into Christianity with the proto-image, the convert is slowly manipulated away from the proto-image and more into the dogmatic teachings of church, masterfully moving the Indian convert away from proto-image psychological disposition and more toward the dogmatic position of the church.
For the Hindu, this has opened a floodgate of missionary activity and has begun a process of implanting Christian samskaras within the Hindu mind. It is the purposeful application of samskaras that is most insidious.
In the west, they have a saying, ‘once a Catholic, always a Catholic’ which recognizes the powerful force that samskaras have within each mind. Once the samskaras are planted within the mind, these samskaras prove difficult to remove; as a number of Hindu’s that studied in Christian schools appear almost as Christian apologists. It requires tremendous iccha shakti (will-power) to free oneself from these powerful samskaras, yet, certainly there are Hindu’s that are able to stand against these impressions. Therefore, this process of implantation of the proto-image begins in the Christian based schools in India.
Hinduism faces a difficult path in the long term, if it does not recognize the hidden adharmic nature of the proto-image theory and begins to deepen the honoring of its own teachings regarding samskaras.
Likewise, Hinduism must tap into its own teachings to explain the appeal of the proto-image, as it is understood that we are in the Kali Yuga, in this yuga the dharmic teachings become largely ignored, and spiritual belief is given to false concepts and ideas.
As westerners that have embraced the proto-image psychological disposition leave the church, relatively few actually identify themselves as Hindu. Despite the fact that many are practicing some form of Hinduism or at a minimum a hybrid Hinduism. In reality, they are practicing more what is known as ‘eclectism’, which is disorganized mixture of various religious views and beliefs. The fact is that this group is taking Hindu teachings and concepts or dharmic concepts preserved by Hinduism and are repackaging them as something separate from dharma and not part of Hinduism.
Some have even been so bold to state they are ‘improving them’, yet one must ask how can one ‘improve’ dharma? This mentality of ‘improving’ is prolific within yoga, but is spreading to other areas of Hinduism and even to the relationship with the deities. As I have encountered numerous westerners that profess to worship Ganesh, as an example, yet have no concept or understanding of Hinduism. It is common to see icons in yoga studios now, but few appear to know what a murthi is.
This will ultimately result in a pseudo-theology that is based upon the whims of the ego and samskaras rather than the realization of the Rishi’s. But the greater threat to Hinduism is far more reaching, as the greater threat to the religion is re-importation of a westernized Hinduism or pseudo-theology back into India. In fact, this may ultimately prove to be a greater concern to India than Christianity, but the two combined are a powerful force facing modern Hinduism.
The solution is quite simple. We need the leaders of Hinduism, the Brahmins, the Swami’s, Paramahansa’s, the Yogi’s and Baba’s to come out and embrace the masses with knowledge and tools to understand the illusions of the proto-image. This needs to not just be taught to wealthy Hindu’s, or the growing middle class within India, it needs to be taken to villages and the poor as well.
Just as Krishna instructs Arjuna to perform his duty within the Bhagavad Gita, the dharmic leaders must begin to perform their duty on deeper levels. We have entered a time where each of us is standing in ‘Dharmakshetre, Kurukshetre’ or in the field of dharma and in the field of the kuru’s. As it is the duty of all dharmic teachers to preserve and protect dharma. It is important for each and every Hindu man, woman and child to remember–“ Dharmo rakshati rakshitah” (One who protects Dharma is protected by Dharma).
By Shiva Das