Christmas, the festival of jingle bells, plastic pines, polymer stars, carols and donations, is round the corner. As long as I lived in Delhi, the festival meant little more to me than a plastic Christmas tree and a plastic coated star. Now that I live in a place that will resonate with carols for a few days, I’m tempted to ask this question: What does Christmas mean to me?
Jesus was an enlightened person like the Buddha was. An evolved brain. One of the few persons who are born once in a few centuries [Sambhavami yuge yuge?] with a mutated brain.
Normal human beings are descendants of the ape. The ape continues to dominate our hearts though we have a slightly better brain which can do more things than the ape like learn the formula of (a+b)2. The heart didn’t evolve much. It carries all the savagery of the ape.
Jesus, like the Buddha and many others, tried to civilise that heart. This is what I love most about such people.
Take this story about Jesus. It’s from the Bible [John 8] but retold in my own way.
The religious leaders wanted to trap Jesus because they didn’t like his teachings which curtailed their powers over the people. Jesus was redefining religion and its laws. Jesus was liberating people from absurd traditions and rituals. Jesus was helping people to look within and discover god there, in their own hearts.
So the leaders laid a trap. They brought a woman caught in the act of adultery. According to the Jewish law, an adulteress must be stoned to death. Nothing happens to the adulterer, of course. Religious laws are usually made by man. It is Eve who ate the forbidden fruit first. She led Adam to sin. The woman is the incarnation of sin.
There she stood, dragged and bedraggled, amid a mob of bloodthirsty men who carried stones with them for the evening’s entertainment. She stood with her head bent down. She knew that many of the men who were clamouring for her blood had kissed her ruby lips not so long ago.
Jesus looked at the men. The leaders hurled the question at him. “What shall we do with this woman?”
If he let her go free, they would label him a law-breaker. If he punished her... Well, could he do that? Did he ever punish anyone really? Except the religious leaders themselves who converted the synagogue into a market of money-changers and animal traders? Punishing was not his way.
Jesus was watching the men. Looking into their eyes. He knew that many of them had shared the bed with this woman not so long ago.
“The one among you,” said Jesus slowly, looking into the eyes with a penetrating gaze, “who has not broken any law so far,” he paused for a dramatic effect – he was good at it really, “let him hurl the first stone at her.” He had pronounced the verdict. He continued to stare into their eyes. One after another.
One after another the stones fell to the ground. There were murmurings in the air.
The religious leaders were the last to leave. They had not carried stones; they carried knives in their hearts.
Jesus wished to clean their hearts. All hearts. “Man is not made for laws,” he declared boldly to a society which valued their laws more than anything else. Jesus sought to liberate the human heart from the clutches of rusted laws. “Love.” That was his only law.
That is the meaning of Christmas for me.
Wish you a different Christmas this time. If you like :)