Tuesday, October 23, 2007


CALVARY- A POLITICAL MURDER.By Benjamin 17/04/2003 At 13:43
Last Sunday (April 14) Deccan herald carried an article written by me entitled: CALVARY- A POLITICAL MURDER. A Hindu brother has responded to it in this morning's (April 17) Deccan Herald
Dear friends, Last Sunday (April 14) Deccan herald carried an article written by me entitled: CALVARY- A POLITICAL MURDER. A Hindu brother has responded to it in this morning's (April 17) Deccan Herald. I wish, my fellow pseudo-secular- Christians and their leaders, who waste no opportunity to bash Hindus,take some time off and try to understand how their Hindu neighbours and Hinduism itself look at Christ. P.N.BENJAMIN Calvary: A political murder P N BENJAMIN relives the sentiments associated with Good Friday and recalls the message of Christ that preaches true concern and care for fellow beings A FRIDAY noon, almost two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ was crucified on Calvary, the hill outside the city of Jerusalem. (Calvary in its Latin origin means ‘the place of a skull’). Being nailed to two pieces of wood and abandoned to the torment of a lingering death was a particularly inhuman form of punishment reserved by the ancient Romans for the worst criminals. Christ’s real crime was simply that he spoke the truth, which is intolerable to all forms of authority – but especially ecclesiastical. By what he said and did, he exposed men who, in the name of institutional religion, wielded power without moral sanction. Christ had to be killed because the truth he said threatened the very foundation of their system of power, privilege and profit. Christ was a carpenter who at thirty had suddenly burst upon the national stage as the very embodiment of an oppressed people’s liberator. Like rain on parched ground, the poor soaked in all he said and did. The hungry saw in him who would share with them the last crust of bread. To the homeless he was the most homeless of all. Didn’t he say once referring to himself: “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head”? He preached compassion but knew it was costly. He would touch a leper forced out of the village. He would disclose to a prostitute grieving over her fallen state the encompassing love of God which could raise her to a woman’s rightful place in the world. The New Testament shows that Christ’s life was a continuous struggle with the powers-that-be, whether religious or political. The challenges he posed before the authority came out clearly in his cleansing the Temple. He drove out the buyers and sellers and overturned the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple. He accused the authorities of reducing what was meant to be a house of prayer into a den of thieves. In other words, using religion as a means of exploiting the people. In the Temple, Caiaphas was the high priest. Generations of plotting and the disappearance of Jewish monarchy had led to piling up of power in his hands, making him pre-eminent. Wasn’t it preposterous that Jesus should describe the Temple as a “cave of robbers”? Was he not ridiculing Caiaphas? Such a direct attack was bound to provoke a counter-attack from the guardians of the Temple. Hence, their question: “By what authority are you doing these things?” Power, when threatened, always ends in violence. In another way too, Jesus posed a threat to the political powers of the chief priest. Equally subversive was Christ’s radical criticism of the Jewish Law. And in a society in which religious and political power legitimised each other, any attack on the first was also an attack on the second. The priests formed the core of support to the Roman rule. Any threat therefore to the authority of the Jewish State would have acted against the interests of Rome. And we have seen that both the teachings and practices of Jesus condemned the Jewish authorities. Therefore all the political forces in Palestine had an interest in getting rid of the young prophet from Galilee. It was Passover, the greatest of the Jewish festivals and masses of Jews had gathered in the Holy City to commemorate their deliverance from Egypt well over a thousand years earlier. In Palestine, Pontius Pilate was governor, a weak ruler and therefore an arrogant and cruel representative of Rome who held the Jews in contempt. But, he was afraid of them too. Pilate was camping in Jerusalem ready to march his legions against any outbreak of violence by a people who refused to see the majesty of the Roman peace and hankered after freedom. When Pilate asked Christ whether he was King of Jews, he replied: “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth”. Pilate, no fool, was impressed. “What is truth?” he muttered, and went out to the Chief Priest’s men to tell them that he found no fault in Christ, and to suggest that he should be released on the occasion of the Passover. No! they shouted, No! Give us Barabas! – a Jewish partisan who was also due to be crucified. Pilate shrugged and gave away; it didn’t matter much to him either way. How surprised he would have been to know that this obscure affair would keep his memory alive centuries after the Roman Empire he served had ceased to exist. What subsequently happened on Calvary was nothing but a cold-blooded political murder. Some of those who later wrote about Jesus Christ would absolve Rome of responsibility for this demonic display of human injustice. Christ did not know when he lived on earth that before he had been long dead and lip service continued to be paid to him, men would be killing other men in his name, casting themselves as Caiphas of every new generation. Institutional Christianity has brought to the world not peace but a sword. Christianity’s ostensible devotees remain divided. Hostilities and humiliating divisions prevail in Christian churches and institutions, which have become battlegrounds and areas of strife and fratricidal conflicts, in ways often hidden from public view. But, Christian simplicities persist among some. There are those who serve their fellow humans at much suffering and loss to themselves. Saintliness has not altogether been thrown overboard. It shows itself in some unheard of persons in unheard of places. Outwardly unrecognisable, inwardly they have been known to be remade in the image of Christ. The three Kerala Catholic nuns staying behind in Iraq to serve the child victims of the most inhuman war unleashed on that country by the US and UK is a case in point. Christ asks for no sentimental mourning from Christians on this Good Friday – no beating of breasts or strident wailing. “Weep not for me, you daughters of Jerusalem”, he had said then. He says it still: “Wash one another’s feet. Not with the waters of Ganga or Cauvery, but with true human concern and care”.


Beyond religion (17 TH APRIL, Deccan Herald) Sir, This refers to ‘Calvary: The Political Murder’ (DH, April 13). The writer has elucidated the difference between the institution Christianity and the message and personification of Jesus Christ, who had nothing but love and compassion in abundance for the entire humanity transcending the borders of nations. That is why Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa went into ‘samadhi,’ the moment somebody uttered the name of Jesus. Paramahansa Yogananda, another Hindu monk, who composed many hymns on Jesus, had them sung in all his sat sangh gatherings, though most of his devotees were Hindus. Raja Ram Mohan Roy, the great reformer and founder of Brahmo Samaj, was an ardent devotee of Jesus, yet he remained Hindu. All these show that there is no need for one to be baptised to belong to Jesus the Christ or to accept him as the saviour. As the author rightly reminds us, it is a historical fact that the institution Christianity was the creation of Roman imperialism and therefore, it is but natural for it to have the traits of expansionism, with the enthusiasm of a conqueror. There are millions who kneel down before Jesus, without any need for changing one’s faith to be accepted by Jesus, the Master. S K Aravindan, Bangalore

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