Sages of the New Covenant
Asurya nama te loka andhena tamasa'vrtah;
Tams-te pretya-bhigacchanti ye ke catma-hano janah
There are worlds (loka) known (nama) such (te) to be sunless (asu¯ rya) and fit for demons. They are enveloped (a'vrtah) in darkness (tamasa), such as what the visually impaired (andhena) experiences. Those who have devoid of Self-awareness can be equated to those (ke catma-hano janah) who are committing suicide (of their soul) and are doomed to enter (a-bhigacchanti) those worlds after death (te pretya).
The third mantra talks about a place called asu¯ rya, a place which is devoid of light. In the Bible this place is referred as: Hell, which is one of darkness. Could such pace exist in this ever expanding universe? This was a valid question in the Past; but not anymore. The recent studies in astronomy prove the existence of ‘black holes’ in the universe.
A black hole is a region of space-time from which gravity prevents anything, including light, from escaping. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform space-time to form a black hole. Around a black hole, there is a mathematically defined surface called an event horizon that marks the point of no return. The hole is called "black" because it absorbs all the light that hits the horizon, reflecting nothing, just like a perfect black body (tamasa), in thermodynamics. Quantum field theory in curved space-time predicts that event horizons emit radiation like a black body with a finite temperature. This temperature is inversely proportional to the mass of the black hole, making it difficult to observe this radiation for black holes of stellar mass or greater. Thomas Sotiriou, a physicist of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste claims that black holes are way “dirtier” than previously believed and the presence of hair makes it fit for demon habitation.
When we read about God’s creation, we get to know that prior to the creation of Sun (light); the darkness was on the face of this Earth (Gen. 1:2). Light is very essential for making things alive, which is why, God first created Light. A place that is devoid of light will be a lifeless place; hence it is certain that asu¯ rya, a sunless place will reverse the place to a pre-creation state, which is without form and void.
When Jesus was crucified on the cross, there prevailed supernatural darkness (Matt. 27: 45), as Sun was darkened (Luke 23:45) to remind the humanity about the Darkness that few are going to enter into after the ‘Final Judgment’. According to St Peter, the Sun turning into darkness (Acts 2:20) is an indication that the ‘World coming to an end’ (Acts 2:17).
The words used Jesus to describe asu¯ rya is: OUTER DARKNESS (Matt. 8:12). If there is an ‘outer darkness’, then there must be an “Inner Darkness”! Inner darkness engulfs a Soul of the sinner, during their earthly-life itself. Awareness about one’s ‘Soul’ and conscious effort on the part of an individual bring about a change in his / her Soul and bring LIGHT to the soul. This is the illumination spirituality talks about.
According to Zoroastrian, the souls that do not cross the Chinvat’ Bridge or the Bridge of Requitor, will hurled into infernal darkness. 'Chinvat' Bridge and Bridge of 'Requitor' refer to the final judgment. Those who overcome ‘Druj’ or Falsehood and choose ‘Asha’ or Truth are capable of crossing this bridge. In other words, those who have not liberated themselves from Maya or Illusion, which limits one’s Self-awareness, would be hurled into infernal darkness. On these lines, this Sloka affirms that those who are not aware of their Self, go to sunless (asu¯ rya – place devoid of light) place after their death.
What is this Self-awareness?
Many wrongly believe that Self-awareness is: knowing the mistakes of previous birth. But the true Self-awareness is as follows:
I have dealt in detail about the first point in my interpretation to the 1st Sloka; hence I am not going to touch upon it here. Those who want to understand better this concept; I suggest that you read my commentary for the first mantra once again.
To drive home the second point, let me attempt with the ‘Parable of Talents’ (Matt. 25: 14-30). In this Jesus brought parallel of Kingdom of Heaven to a man travelling to a far country. In this parable, the Master identified the business-skills of each one and accordingly divided his savings, so that they would take care of his business during his absence. The tragedy was: the one who received one talent (approximately 384,000 US$) did not realise his business-skills and buried the money without investing and returned the money to the Master without multiply the wealth with the seed money that was given to him, though the Master expected him to multiply one more talent with the seed money that was given to him.
The seed money given by the Master to stewards can be compared to the talents / skills given to each and every one of us. This parable is great warning to all of us. God has given us different talents to everyone – may be many talents to some, few talents to others and may be limited to one with very few. If we have not come to the awareness of our latent talents and use it for creating a better World, then it amounts to sinning. If we don’t use God given talents, we too will be cast into the ‘outer darkness’ like the unprofitable servant. In this regard, we can have Nick Vujicic (Watch his Testimony) as role model and escape the ‘outer darkness’ and enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
The third point could be understood better from 13th chapter of 1 Corinthian, which teaches us the need to face the truth about ourselves in relation to God (1 Cor. 13:12), our relationships with one another and the implications of our behavior is a particular situation. The entire chapter explicitly addresses the Maya (illusion) and Awareness in details. The following are some of the verses:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and the angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understanding all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove the mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. – Cor. 13: 1-3
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love”.
– 1 Cor. 13:13.
Many Christians are happy about their Spiritual gifts like ‘Speaking in tongues’, ‘Prophecy’, ‘Spiritual Knowledge’, ‘Faith in God’, ‘Charity’ and ‘Divine Mortification’ and start believing that they are godlier than the others. St Paul considers those gifts as Maya (deceptive / useless), if the spiritually-gifted person does not demonstrate love in all his / her dealings. From this chapter that we understand, if we do not use our ‘Spiritual Gifts” out of sheer love for others, then too we would at the threshold of getting casted into the hell (asu¯ rya).
The fourth point could be learnt from the life of King David. King David was engulfed with Maya (ignorance), thinking that as a king he could take anyone’s wife, by killing her husband. But the very same King David was a different person after meeting Prophet Nathan, who facilitated his awareness, which is why King David had said: “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. “ (Psalms 51:2).
The sin that we commit need not be as diabolical like that of King David. I have come across many people trying to tarnish the image of others in Facebook. According to Jesus, even character assassination itself a great sin, which we see from the following verses:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For what you judge, you will be judged; and the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Matt. 7:1-5
From the above verse, one can understand the following:
This Sloka equates those who have devoid of Self-awareness to those who are ventured to commit suicide and are doomed to enter dark world after their death. The following are some of the biblical verses that talks on similar lines:
“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him (lack of Self-awareness) which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
– Matt. 10:28
“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” – Matt. 16:26-27
In the Bible, we come across one person, who had become aware of his Self. He is Dismas, the thief who hung in the cross by the side of Jesus Christ. We observe his awareness while rebuking Gestas by saying:”Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:40 & 41). When this awareness dawned on him, he got the immediate reward, as Jesus Christ immediately said: “Assuredly, I say to you today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43). Getas died along with Dismas without overcoming the Maya that had bound him, which prompted him to pass sarcastic comments on Jesus like: “If you are the Christ, save Yourself and us’ (Luke 23:39). We have reasons to believe that Getas’ soul must have been casted into darkness ( asu¯ rya -sunless place)
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” – Luke 23:34
This is what Jesus said when He was crucified by the Roman soldiers. In this verse, the important words are ‘they do not know what they do’. Jesus here emphasizes their nil-awareness level of the soldiers regard to Jesus’ “Divine Commission” to redeem the humanity. What was extended to the Roman soldiers was special as they didn’t have the chance to identify the “Christ” in Jesus. We need to be a seeker to raise our awareness level. The rising anti-thesis for the Good News of Jesus Christ itself evidences that the Good News have been announced to most of the people in this world, probably with some exceptions of some remote tribal population. Hence, no one can seek mercy like the one that was extended to the Roman soldiers, who crucified Jesus, though St Paul too has said that the judgment of God is according to light / awareness (Rom. 2: 9-10).
Generally, the outer darkness is thought to be hell; however, many Christians associate the outer darkness more generally as a place of separation from God or from the 'metaphorical wedding banquet' that Jesus is expected to have upon his Second Coming. In the "parable of the Marriage Feast” (Luke 22: 1-14), the Self-awareness is referred as the ‘Wedding Garment’; and those who are devoid of this wedding garment are ordered to be cast away into the outer darkness.
I remember an incident that happened during my ALSTOM days. We had a farewell party for one of our Top Management Member (Director). The invitation to the party did mention about 'semi formal' dressing and the party of conducted in one of the colonial days club Madras Club. I was arranging the party. As guests started arriving the manager of the club came and told one of the Senior Executives (General Manger) to go back and come in full-sleeved shirt. He approached me; I was helpless. I waited for the man on whose name the party is fixed at the club. When he arrived, I narrated the problem to him. He said that male guest in Madras Club will be allowed only with full-sleeved shirts only - Rules that is being followed more than a century cannot be deviated for deviant guest. Finally executive who has come in half-sleeves had to go to a near-by garment out-let and buy a new shirt and participated in the event. Mere invitation to a marriage does not mean that you will be allowed to participate with your shabby dress. The host would expect you to come neatly dressed. Proper dressing to the "Marriage Feast" is becoming aware of the Self, and correcting our deviate life-course. With mere invitation letter from the sponsor you cannot enter another country. First you need a Passport to apply for VISA. The possession of a passport is the "Wedding Garment", that Luke 22: 1-14 talks about.
The Sanskrit expression asu¯ rya, has another meaning too – that is: undivine (asurya), a place which is fit for the habitation of demons. Form this Sloka, one could be conclusive that due to lack of Self-awareness, people deviating from their ‘divine plan’ are committing suicide of their soul, and in the process their Soul qualifies ito enter into the dark worlds which are covered in blind darkness after their death.
The result of an ignorant interference with the right manifestation of the One in the multiplicity is declared to be an involution in states of blind obscurity after death.
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Sages of the New Covenant