Christ, India and Yoga

From Bhakti Yoga Sagar, Volume Seven, Swami Satyananda Saraswati

When I met the Pope at the Vatican, he asked me how I would fit yoga, an oriental philosophy, with an occidental culture. He was speechless when I told him that Christianity was an oriental philosophy. Christ lived in India for twelve years – and the Pope asked me how an oriental science would ft with occidental culture!

Christ was not a European, Christ was a Jew. Christ was not a Christian, Christ was not a Protestant or a Catholic. Christianity is an oriental philosophy. Two thousand years ago a great man was born in the orient. His name was Jesus Christ. Most of you know the story. Near Christ’s birthplace there was a monastery belonging to the Essene sect. Fifty years before Christ was born that monastery had closed, but fiveyears before his birth it began functioning again.

Jesus was the son of a carpenter named Joseph. His mother’s name was Mary; we call her Mariam. One night Joseph had a dream that Jesus had been born from Mary’s womb without any sexual interaction having occurred. Ordinary people are born as a result of sexual interaction. But there are exceptions. Sri Rama was immaculate. We call such people incarnations of God. They are the effulgence of divinity, they are personificationsof divinity. The divine light entered into a woman’s womb and a son was born – Rama, Krishna or Christ.

Christ was immaculate like Sri Rama and Sri Krishna. Sri Rama was not born as a result of sexual interaction between Dasharatha and Kaushalya. Rama was born after Dasharatha performed the Putresthi Yajna in Ayodhya. Rishi Shringi conducted that yajna, as a result of which Sri Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna were born. So when you say ‘incarnation of God’ you mean that the child was born without sexual interaction between a man and a woman. That is how Christ was born.

Christ was not a European, he was a Jew. Buddha was not a Buddhist, he was a Hindu. Mahavir was not a Jain, he was a Hindu. I have studied history. I have studied Persian and Arabic. I have studied the Koran and the Hadith. I am a Hindu sannyasin. I have read the Bible many times. I have read all the bibles, oriental and otherwise. Knowledge is always beyond religion, beyond sex, beyond nationality, beyond civilization, beyond history. Knowledge is knowledge. Learn everything. Don’t say, “I am a Hindu, I won’t read the Bible.” Don’t say, “I am a Muslim I won’t read the Gita.” No, if the Bible has knowledge have it! If the Koran has knowledge have it!

Just as the philosophy of Christ was given to Europeans, similarly I gave yoga to Europeans. I did not do anything unusual. The spirit of Christ, the teachings of Christ, the knowledge and the message that he gave emerged from Varanasi. Christ spent time in Varanasi, in Kathmandu, in Puri. He spent time in Chennai, in southern India. There are written archives, but they are a part of history you will never be taught. We are not taught the right history, we are taught the history which is recognized and stamped by the ruling clan for their own political gain. This is the truth. What harm is there in saying that Christ lived in India? Why shouldn’t we get the credit for having a great man on our soil? I am talking to the church. Why don’t you give us the honour of having a great man, a historical personality, in our country? After all, geographically the world is one. Nationally, India is India, Italy is Italy, Germany is Germany, but geographically it is one earth. We have divided it.

Spirituality and Westerners

In South America the devotees go to church, light a candle and bow their heads. I went to the churches and spread the message of yoga. The church leaders came to see me and serve me. I gave them geru and spiritual names. They accepted and recognized me as a yoga guru from India. The fag of yoga started flutteringover South America. I had complete and unchallenged sway there. I repeat once again that victory is not achieved only by the sword.

There was a time when the sword was the most powerful weapon. Kings and chieftains used to establish their political supremacy on the strength of the sword. But Swami Vivekananda never used a sword and he registered his spiritual supremacy over the western world. Adi Shankara also established spiritual supremacy without using weapons.

Only a magician has the power to hypnotize the people but the art of magic is not unreal. What you see is not actually there. I was a different type of magician. I hypnotized the people by giving them something tangible. What is digvijaya? To hold sway everywhere amounts to wielding territorial power over a vast area. But in the present context sovereign power means the dominating of spiritual culture.

People from western countries wallow in wealth; they possess huge material wealth, they have scientificknowledge and are well equipped in all spheres of life. They are satiated; they have enough of everything. They are fully employed and don’t suffer from material want. In every respect they are affluentpeople, they have an excess of everything. They have nothing to worry about. Then what do they do?

After excessive material enjoyment they develop distaste for it all. Spiritual thoughts preoccupy their minds. Western people had become allergic to worldly enjoyments and were in dire need of something higher. They were in search of an alternative source of enjoyment. I understood their problem and took up the cudgels. I undertook the task of teaching spirituality to westerners and my efforts were successful.

—19 December 2001, Rikhiapeeth