Sages of the New Covenant
The Bible talks about two types of Body of Christ:
On May 28, 2008 the newly elected Constituent Assembly declared Nepal a Federal Democratic Republic, abolishing the 240-year-old monarchy. Till then the Nepal King was believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu when he was alive during his reign over the kingdom. He was considered a god on earth. On the 11th day after death it was believe that he would return to the heavenly abode of Vishnu.
Crucial in this process where the king transcends from this world to heaven is the katto-ritual whereby a Brahman priest eats a small part of the king’s body. The Funeral Priests are a special group of Brahmans – Mahabrahmans. The specialist that conducts the ritual is not only acting in service for the deceased’s soul and family, the Funeral Priest himself becomes the prêt or pitr– the deceased’s soul – and he is worshipped as the deceased. Even before the chief mourner shaves his head, the Mahabrahman should be shaved as if he was the prêt himself. The Funeral Priest is also consubstantial with the deceased.
The Nepali royal and aristocratic funerals are the most explicit rituals in this regard (Ref. Parry, J. 1980. Ghosts, Greed and Sin: The Occupational Identity of Benares Funeral Priests. Man 15: 88-111), and particularly the katto-ritual whereby a Brahman priest eats parts of the king’s body. “Katto ” means literally “something not worth eating” (Ref. Shrestha, A. M. 2001. The Dreadful Night. Royal Carnage at Nepalese Royal Palace. Kathmandu: Ekta Books.). Traditionally it is a part of the dead body, and in particular the brain, which is eaten. The katto-priest is seen as a “sin eater”. By eating the “uneatable” the priest becomes declared as an outcaste, and he is banned and chased out of Kathmandu valley. The ceremony ensures the salvation of the king’s soul, and the deceased’s body takes spiritual form on this day. For King Birendra, Durga Prasad Sapkota served pitr. In the picture, Durga Prasad Sapkota is being taken to the jungles to be left an outcaste in a elephant, after receiving the gifts, in addition to money. Swamiji remembers he was paid Nepalese rupees equivalent to £8,000.
The role of the Mahabrahman is crucial because he enables the soul to cross towards the other world. The gifts to the Funeral Priest are in fact a symbolic representation of the gifts to the deceased, or more correctly, they are identical because the idea is that the departed receives the gifts in the next world. The ideal gift is all the standard requirements needed for use in daily life for one year – everything from food, clothes, furniture, money, and so on. This has its rationale in the idea that the Funeral Priest is the deceased at the moment he receives and accepts the gift.
Jesus didn’t ask the apostles to become a pitr so that His Soul would go to God; instead Jesus participated in the katto ritual of the entire humanity, so that the Old Adam in every human being could die. Eucharist is not a katto-ritual, for Jesus; He doesn’t require any katto-ritual, as He is resurrected, so that the New Adam in each and every human being could be resurrected.
In John 2:1-11, we read of the first miracle Jesus performed at Cana, where the water became wine. It was not a symbolic transformation of water turning wine. The guest who participated in the wedding feast did not drank a virtual wine; but an actual wine. The water became the wine. When Jesus organized Lord’s Supper, neither did the bread turn into flesh nor did the wine turn into blood, though Jesus is capable of transforming them into flesh and blood. Jesus did not institute any such mystery ceremony theophagy. Theophagy is a word of Ancient Greek origin that means "the feeding on a god" or "eating/devouring god" . Hence there is no need to attribute transubstantiation to the bread (in most of the churches uses the wafer discs) and wine / grape juice that is served to the communicants in the church. Attributing transubstantiation would amount to the Greek pagan belief of theophagy.
Lord’s Supper is the only festival initiated by Jesus for His disciples and is similar to the Onam festival of Kerala, which the people of Kerala celebrate as requested by the benevolent King Mahabali. Malayalees celebrate Onam in memory of King Mahabali. Jesus asked his disciples to participate in the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Him, just to renew the New Covenant of having become Immanuel Conscious. In Genesis 14: 18, we read of “Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine … “ to Abram after the fight he had in Syria from Cherdlaomer. From this it is evident that it was customary to exchange bread and wine with guest, particularly to denote the message of peace. Jesus’ exhortation: "This do in remembrance of me," was an invitation to the apostles present at the table, to preserve their recollections of him and of their life with him. It was just a fellowship meal before parting, which became the covenantal meal for the future relationship with God through the remembrance of Jesus.
It is an irony some churches refuse to serve the Dev Prasad (Eucharist) to the followers of Jesus from the other denominations. Swamiji has cautioned those church leaders to have a change in their policy, lest they shall be condemned by God for not exhibiting the radical love of towards their neighbors. The brothers in Shanthivanam (Satchitananda Ashram) do not discriminate people based on their church affiliation to serve the Eucharist. They give Dev Prasad to everyone, who willingly comes forward to renew their covenant with God, by remember Jesus, by participating in the Holy Communion.
There are twenty one verses by which the apostles have tried to equate Jesus and the Church as Body of Christ. The following are some of them:
“Now you are Christ's body, and individually members of it." (1 Corinthians 12:27)
“For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12: 4&5)
“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.) (1 Corinthians 12:12)
To understand the constitution of the Body of Christ, let us try to understand the concept through the following verses:
“Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, neither slave nor free, but Christ is all in all.” (Colossians 3: 10 & 11)
“for as many of you are were baptized into Christ have out on Christ. There is neither Jew or Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you all one in Christ Jesus”. (Galatians 3: 27 & 28).
In these verses, the word – SLAVE – not only refers the one who is under the bondage of a person or authority; but also the one who is a spiritual slave. St Paul in his letter to Colossians says:
“And you have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge According to the image of Him who created him. “ (3: 10)
From this verse, one can understand that those who have become a New Adam are in possession of the renewed knowledge (NOT A NEW KNOWLEDGE) that they are created in the image of God and in the likeness of God. One who is Immanuel Conscious is FREE from the maya / mithya (illusion) and a-sat (untruth) of the Old Adam. Logically we could say that those who doesn’t become ‘Immanuel Conscious”, still remain a spiritual slave. But the Body of Christ is inclusive of those who are spiritually still a slave.
Jesus referred that He is way. What is the meaning of this? Jesus Christ died a human and resurrected in divine form. Similarly, by part-taking in the death of Jesus Christ, (by participating in the Lord’s Supper), the following things happens:
The above process is called Immanuel-Konsciousness©. In Immanuel-Konsciousness©, the Old Jacob do not die and the New Jacob do not get resurrected; rather the Old Adam dies and the New Adam gets resurrected. This makes Jesus universal, not restricted to Judaism. Jesus is the means and way, transcendence to all the descendants of Noah, who are scattered all over the world having various religious affiliations. Hence, in the Body of Christ, we will have all the religious groups, including Christianity. But the pre-requisite to be part of the body of Christ is not a church membership, but an acknowledgement to the following:
The items listed 2 and 3 are done by participating in the Lord’s Supper (renewal ritual to the New Covenant with God, by remembering Jesus).
This could be explained with the following analogy. The Divine sprout of Adam was engulfed by sand and dust of a-sat (untruth) and maya / mithya (illusion) and remained buried inside. The sprout required rain to soften the soil. Hence in its own effort to stay alive, the sprout branched into different roots to source the nourishment and water. These roots are the various religious leaders, who made the spiritual quest during their life time on Earth. But none of these roots could push the tender shoot outside the ground, though some progress was made. What was needed was a rain to soften the ground. The rain came in the form of Anne and Joachim who brought forth the immaculate birth of Mary. The rain of Anne and Joachim softened the earth, while the immaculate womb of Mary gave the spiritual nourishment to the half human half Divine child, so that He would free the entire humanity from bondage of spiritual ignorance. When Jesus took baptism, he became Immanuel and graduated to a new level – fully human and fully Divine. When this had happened, the plant became a tree and started bearing fruits and in the process each fruits (human beings) become Immanuel. The following picture would better explain this process:
This tree is nourished by all the roots and each root here refer to different religions. As long as, the root is alive and attached to the bole (Immanuel), they are part of the tree in entirety. There were few ancient roots which were dead and gone. Such roots can be compared to the ancient religions of Babylon and Egypt and all others religions, which are not in practice. The trunk of Immanuel is supported and nourished by these various roots, which are called: Vedic, Abrahamic and by other names. In order to bear fruits, every root supplies nourishment to the tree. There may be branches to the trees in the similar manner we have various religions like: Christians, Manichæans, Vaishnavites, Saivites, Muslims, Shiks , Bahá'í. Mormons and Jehovah Witness. But the fruits cannot be differentiated like: Vedic fruit, Shaivite fruit, Vishnavite fruit, Judaic fruit, Christian fruit, Islamic fruit, Baha’i fruit, Buddhist fruit, Sikh fruit and Jainism fruit. All fruits are in the same image and in the similar likeness, because all nourishments supplied by the roots passes through the common trunk - Immanuel, who put the Old Adam to death and made the New Adam to resurrect in all the human beings. This truth is evident in the following verse:
“ only in Him is there salvation; for all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved” (Acts 4:12).
In Jesus, the whole of humanity and all creations enter into the presence of God. Each fruit is an Immanuel. There is no Vedic Immanuel, Shaivite Immanuel, Vishnavite Immanuel, Judaic Immanuel, Christian Immanuel, Islamic Immanuel, Baha’i Immanuel, Buddhist Immanuel, Sikh Immanuel and Jainism Immanuel. When Immanuel-Konsciousness© is realized by all the people, there will be no more divisions like Chinese, Indian, European, Non-European, North American, South American, Arab, African, Asian and Australian. Immanuel-Konsciousness© is going beyond all artificial labels created by the human mind according to the need of a particular time. This is very clear from the following verse:
“The name of Jesus Christ is beyond all names (Philippians 2:9).
In India, three philosophcal systems were developed based on the teachings of the Upanishads, Bramha Sutras and the Bhagavat Gita, which are as follows:
Jesus fits very much in all these three school of religious thoughts. The following verses would substantiate my statement:
When Jesus Christ is inclusive, even in Indian philosophy, Body of Christ would include not only the Abrahamic faiths; but also other faiths as well.
We come to know of the blessing of God on Abram in Genesis Chapter 12. Later in the 14th chapter we come across the blessings given by Melchizedek to Abram. Abram lived at the end of the Old Kingdom in Egypt. In the days of the Abram, the cult of Jupiter was prominent in the Salem. Melchizedek, the High Priest was a worshipper of Jupiter. [Ref.: F. Horton, The Melchizedek Tradition (Cambridge University Press, 1976).] The meaning of the name Melchizedek is “Zedek is [My] King.” Zedek, as said, is the name of the planet Jupiter, remaining so in the astronomy of the Jews in later ages. In the Talmud Zedek refers to Jupiter. [Ref.: W. M. Feldman, Rabbinical Mathematics and Astronomy (New York, 1931)]. Zedek also has the meaning of “righteousness” or “justice.” , Hebrew 7:2 attributes “king of peace”, as the meaning.
Melchizedek was a descendant of Noah. It is a mystery why Paul gave this following description of Melchizedek: “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually". (Hebrew 7:3). Based on this verse, there is a tendency to transubstantiate God with Melchizedek. If Abraham had seen God in the form of Melchizedek, then what is specified in the Gospel: “No one has seen God at any time. …” (John 1:18) would become untrue. Even if we have to accept this one of the several Freudian slips in the Bible, it does not gel with the following episodes:
Even if we have to agree that Bread and Wine is an Covenantal meal, the meeting of Melchizedek took place, not later God made covenant with Abram. The meeting of Melchizedek took place before God’s Vision to Abram (Genesis 15:1). Once again when God appeared before Abram, He introduced as: “I am El Shaddai” (Genesis 17:1). If King of Salem (Melchizedek) was God, then, why would He introduce Him ‘El Shaddai’?
Theophany is a Greek term, which refers to the appearance of a deity to a human or other being; in Indian parlance it is called ‘avatar’. This term has been used to refer to appearances of the gods in the ancient Greek and Near Eastern religions. While the Iliad is the earliest source for descriptions of theophanies in the Classical tradition (and they occur throughout Greek mythology), probably the earliest description of a theophany is in the Epic of Gilgamesh. [Ref.: 1. Bulkley, Kelly (1993). "The Evil Dreams of Gilgamesh: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Dreams in Mythological Texts" and 2. Rupprecht, Carol Schreier, The Dream and the Text: Essays on Literature and Language. Albany, New York: SUNY Press. pp. 159–177; 163. ISBN 978-0-7914-1361-6.]
The hangover of the theologians to the Greek philosophy, made them to consider the following theophanic, in addition to the episodes connect with Abraham, Hagar and Moses:
But we don’t have any reasons to attribute anything special to these appearances other than to angelic visitations. But Melchizedek was a king of Salem in 2110 B.C. and he was not an avatar of God; he was not an angel even. Later his decedent King Adonizedek was killed by the sons of Judah (Joshua 10:1-8-14) and his team in 1405 B.C. In 1052 B.C., King David conquered their land by defeating the Jebusites. If Melchizedek was in any way connected with Yahweh, why would they fight with the kings of Salem?
Melchizedek was inspired by God to meet Abram as a messenger of peace. God sent Melchizedek to Abram, lest he follow the exclusivist ideology. Hence God brought the High Priest from the temple of Jupiter to bless Abram. Unfortunately in the religious history, the descendants of Abraham resort to exclusive ideology; as a result the followers of Isaac and Ismail are in constant conflict.
Similarly, the wise-men of the east who visited the baby Jesus based on the astrological predictions were Zoroastrian sages. Magi is a term, used since at least the 6th century BC, to denote followers of Zoroastrianism or Zoroaster. The earliest known usage of the word Magi is in the trilingual inscription written by Darius the Great, known as the Behistun Inscription. Visitation of Magis happened as Jesus is called the Prince of peace (harmony among all religions) and He is born not only for the Jews, but also for the entire humanity. Magis came and paid their respects to baby Jesus, because Jesus was not an exclusivist; but a universal archetype of an Immanuel.
In Acts 10 we read of a centurion in the Italian Regiment of the Roman army called Cornelius of Caesarea. He was a gentile and not a follower of Jesus; but a devout man and one who feared his God. With his entire household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to his God always. Then in the 3rd verse we see "About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!” And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.".
Cornelius was NOT praying to the God of the Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He was not even praying through Jesus Christ. Cornelius is a gentile; hence he has no connection with Yahweh. The Bible doesn’t say that he was worshiping Yahweh. As an Athenian it is a logical understanding that he must have prayed to Zeus. People have named the God according to their parlance. Hence, as a true devotee of Zeus, when he was worshiping; and his supplications had reached the God (who is common to all the descendants of Nyuha / Noah (Manu / Ziusudra / Akkadian Atrahasis / Utnapishtim). He was a pious man to the deity known to him. But the God - I AM THAT I AM, listened to him and Cornelius had the angelic vision. The visit of Peter happened later; not before the angelic vision..
The Entry of Melchizedek in the life of Abraham, the Visitation of the Magi to see baby Jesus and the Angelic Vision of Cornelius, denote that there is NO EXCLUSIVITY in the eyes of God.
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Sages of the New Covenant