THE FUNDAMENTAL BELIEFS OF BRAHMANISM IN CHRISTIANITY — S. T. Krishnamacharya
The Path – March 1894
Moksha Shastra, or the Science of Emancipation or Salvation, is divided into three kinds; namely, Karma Yoga, Gnana Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga. This three-fold division is found in the Buddhistic writings. It is not unknown to the New Testament writers. We read in I Corinthians, chapter xii, 8: "To some is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit".
2. To all of these systems the observance of the moral and ceremonial laws is necessary. The Ten Laws are called by the Brahmins the Dasa Dharma; they are called by the Buddhists the Dasa Sila; by the Christians they are called the Ten Commandments.
3. According to the Brahmins the cause of Samsara or the misery of rebirth is Avidya or Ignorance. The Buddhists believe in the same doctrine. In Christianity we find a similar notion. We read in Ephesians, "We are alienated from God through ignorance and vanity of our minds".
4. To dispel ignorance the Brahmins and the Christians agree that we must renounce selfishness and the love of worldly objects.
5. The cause of misery, according to the Brahmins, is Avidya, which is defined in the Yoga Philosophy as the mistaking of non-eternal, impure, and painful things for eternal, pure, and pleasurable things. It is the mistaking the carnal for the spiritual, or the loving of the worldly objects instead of the soul. An allusion to this doctrine of the Yoga Philosophy is found in the New Testament. In Colossians, chap, ii, we read, "Why as though living in the world are ye subject to the ordinances? Touch not, taste not, handle not; which are all to perish with the using, after the commandments and doctrines of men; which things have, indeed, a show of wisdom in humility and neglecting the body". In Romans we read that the cause of sin is the phronema sarkos, or the lust of the flesh. We are told that the carnal mind is in enmity against God and cannot please God. The Greek phrase phronema sarkos is in Sanskrit sarirabhimana.
6. The universal laws of Causation and Evolution, which play a very important part in the writings of the Brahmans and Buddhists, are not opposed to the doctrines of Christianity.
7. The word which Sanskrit and Pali writers use to express Rebirth by Karma is punarganmo. In the New Testament we find the word paliggenesia is used to express Regeneration. As the word paliggenesia (Regeneration) is a derivative of the Sanskrit word punarganma, we may presume that the New Testament writers used the Greek word paliggenesia (regeneration) to express the doctrine of Rebirth by Karma.
8. Brahmins and the Buddhists are all opposed to a belief in blind faith or simple dogmas. We read in the New Testament, "Prove all things and hold fast to that which is good".
9. Bhakti Yoga or the doctrine of Sanctification by Faith plays a very important part in the Sacred Books of the Brahmins and the Buddhists. In the New Testament pistis (Faith), which is a derivation of Bhakti, plays the same important part.
10. The definition of Yoga according to the Yoga philosophy is the suppression or stopping of the constant changes of the mental states. In the New Testament we are told that the Soul finds rest when it is in a blissful state. Christ says "Take up my yoke and you will find rest". This is simply a translation of the second Sutra of the Yoga philosophy.
11. The doctrines of the Sermon on the Mount are beautifully summed up in the Yoga philosophy. According to it the surest way to attain enlightenment is:
1. To love happiness.
2. To pity the miserable.
3. To take pleasure in the practice of virtue.
4. To disregard vice.
12. The following two stanzas, which have been taken and translated by the Buddhists and Christians, beautifully express the truths of Brahminism.
1. To abstain from evil, and to be constantly virtuous; to do good and to lead an excellent life; this is in fact the surest way to obtain emancipation.
2. Let no one do to another that which he will not like to be done unto himself. This, in short, is the duty or virtue which is binding upon all, though one may practice other things or not.
13. India was not an unknown land to the early Christians. There was some sort of commerce between Palestine and India. According to Eusebius and other early Christian Church historians, there were Christian churches in India, founded by St. Bartholomew and St. Thomas at Calimine. The word Calimine may be derived either from Chola Mane or Kairanini or Triplicane near Madras. The Syrian Christians of India call their Saint Marthoma. The word Christ may be derived from either of the two Sanskrit words, Chrishna or Sreshta. In the New Testament the word Chrestos is translated "easy", as in the phrase "my yoke is easy". As every one knows, there is a good deal of resemblance between the lives of Chrishna and Christ.
14. In the New Testament the word Gospel does not always mean the life of Christ. When used by Christ himself the word must mean something other than his own life. The Greek word which is translated Gospel is euaggelion and literally means a good message. It exactly corresponds to the Sanskrit word agama used in the Yoga philosophy in a similar sense. The Sanskrit word used in the Yoga philosophy to express "universal" is savanabhumna or that which belongs to all countries or kingdoms. Therefore the Gospel of the Kingdom which Christ preached is he Universal Moral Laws. Again, the phrase "Gospel of the Kingdom" exactly corresponds to the Sanskrit phrase "Raja Vidya" used in the Bhagavad-Gita. Again, the Greek word which s translated angel is aggelos. This word exactly corresponds to he Sanskrit word Sma Agatos or Sugatas or Tathagatas or Mahatmas or those who bring good news. It is thus clear that while Buddha reached the Four Noble Truths or Chatur Vyahas, Christ preached the Gospel of the Kingdom, or the Universal Moral Laws or Yamas.