Easter and Yoga

Miss M. Jacobs, Bihar Education Service (Retd.)

According to orthodox Christian belief Christ was crucified on Good Friday. Three days later on Easter Sunday he came back to life and this is known as his resurrection. There have been similar other examples among yogis who have come back to life after temporary death. Adi Shankaracharya of 7th century A.D. is recorded to have left his physical body for a month and then re-entered it. One recent yogi, Sri Ramana Maharshi of Tamil Nadu, would often go into the state of samadhi and transcend body consciousness for a few minutes. In this period his heart would stop completely (as checked by doctors) and the body would remain virtually dead. However, he would come back to life after a few minutes. Such examples show that it is possible for a person to come back to life after he is reported dead by clinical standards. Some historians maintain that Christ came down from the cross and thereafter lived in seclusion for a number of years.

Some saints interpret the crucifixion as renunciation of individual ego and resurrection as being symbolic of divine grace and a new spiritual birth. Orthodox Christians also fast on Good Friday as crucifixion is symbolic of austerity or tapasya and feast on Easter Sunday to rejoice the advent of Grace.

The Bible says that Jesus rose from the grave on the third day at dawn facing east and hence that Sunday was known as Easter Sunday. Dawn is the period called Brahmamuhurta in Sanskrit and is known to be beneficial for all types of spiritual activity, as the power of the 'All Pervading' is especially active at this timer. Also east is the direction that represents new life and spiritual awakening. Hence the resurrection at dawn is in accordance with all the principles of yoga.

All over the world the calculation of the date of Easter Sunday is noteworthy. The full moon day after March 21st is marked and the Sunday after this full moon day is celebrated as Easter Sunday, the time when the sun enters Aries, the sign of Mars. The emphasis of all these factors is on prana or vitality. According to the Bible also Sunday is the day when God started the creation and said, 'Let there be light'. Thus the rising of Christ on Sunday, a few days after March 21st, also coincides with the influx of greater heat, light and vitality in the northern hemisphere in which Christ lived. A change in the environment is conducive to a spiritual rebirth within us also.

Taking all the above points into consideration, I do not find it out of place to suggest that the resurrection can be an internal event for all believers, when the principle of divinity within us rises from the grave of suppression and disbelief. Hence we can also call Easter the festival of internal freedom.