India- Land of religions

All pervasive Religion

By George Merlo Pallath

In India religion is the biggest holy cow. From the moment we are born, we are labeled as Hindu, Muslim, Christian or whatever. This branding we must carry throughout our life. We are named based on our religion. We dress based on our religion. We eat food based on our religion. When we join a school, college, everything is based on this branding. At no point in our life we can escape from this branding. All are required to carry this branding or label as a cross. We are known and understood on the basis of this branding. It becomes a part of our personality, character and culture.

Religion is all pervasive and plays an important part of all Indians life. His emotions, beliefs, the way he sees other humans, our whole outlook on life are governed by religion. A major part of an average Indian’s life is spent for religious beliefs, rites and rituals. An average Indian relies on their beliefs in  various Gods to realize their dreams. To an average Indian, his beliefs are as real or more real than reality. For many it borders on the schizophrenic world of illusions and make believe. The various religious groups and sects use these techniques of collective hypnosis to increase their number of followers. It is an extension of the deep rooted tribal mentality inside each one of us. We tend to see ourselves as belonging to one tribe or other and this leads to tension, violence and confrontation. It is a case of associating one’s personal ego with the tribe. Ultimately this tribal mentality is the root cause of all intolerance in this world. More people have been killed, maimed, raped and tortured in the name of religion than all the other conflict and strife in this world. Even though religion and spirituality must go hand in hand, the reality is otherwise. All places of worship are now focused on business and materialism. Crores being spent on gold covering of deities, footsteps, flag posts.

These religious peddlers have an easy job. Convince their followers about the life after death, they may call it heaven or something else. This promise of a better life after death is the biggest motivation for the ordinary people to follow one religion or other. The religious peddlers can rest easy that none of these followers are going to come back and sue them for breach of promise or deficiency in service. It is the best business that anyone can do. Promise the heaven and people are willing to make astronomical donations and none will come back to complain about anything.

stairway to heaven

Stairway to Heaven

All religions thrive on the psychological fears and insecurities of the people. The biggest fear of all humans is the fear of death and the fear of the unknown. To overcome this and to offer some sort of solace to the fearful masses, some resourceful individuals have created the myth of heaven and hell. This simple carrot and stick management principle has proved its effectiveness in controlling the minds of the masses for the last 2000 years.

One of the most successful religions ever invented is Christianity which uses this approach very effectively and has succeeded in building up the biggest religious base in the world. Muslims also follow suit with their promise of heaven with unlimited fun and happiness. The Hindus believe in Karma and the cycle of birth & rebirth till all the accumulated stains are removed and the soul of the individual soul merges with the universal soul or Paramatma. The unprecedented success of the organized religion in controlling the minds of the people is a case study in creating mass delusion. The most successful amongst Christianity is undoubtedly the catholic church with its Pope as their religious head who derives his power directly as the descendant of St. Peter who was ordained as the leader of the masses by Jesus himself. Since Jesus is the son of GOD, the Pope derives his power in a direct channel from GOD himself. As the principal middlemen between the supreme GOD and the masses, the catholic church has built up immense power, prestige and wealth in the process.

Now the new age offshoots of the Pentecost/ protestant churches has started challenging the traditional hold of the catholic church over the masses. The competition is hotting up. The new age cult religions preach that there is no necessity for a middle man to pray to GOD, they do not believe in mother Mary or the numerous saints. They advocate the direct approach. Cut out all red tape. When you can directly talk to GOD, why the necessity for all the middlemen?  GOD it seems is suddenly much more close and personal. Moreover they also preach that anyone who becomes their member is automatically entitled to the ultimate club called “Heaven”. Their members will automatically go to heaven while the rest of humanity will be wandering around in the wilderness called “purgatory”. This is akin to shop “A” offering 20% discount while shop “B” offers 50% discount to their customers. To the customers who were originally going to shop “A”, the offer of shop “B” is very attractive and all of them have started to visit shop “B”. Like shop “B” the new age cult groups which indulge in aggressive marketing strategies, interactive prayer forms and offers attractive posthumous benefits  are seeing a surge in their followers.

While the people are all assured of heaven after they die, their leaders are already enjoying heaven here itself. Their leaders are laughing all the way to the bank, where their coffers are overflowing with money. They whizz around the world in private jets and own extensive estates and mind boggling assets. Recently a high profile preacher from Kerala was under scrutiny by the law enforcement authorities of USA & India for cheating his donors. The wealthiest persons on this planet are the GOD peddlers. The self proclaimed GOD MEN. They have exclusive knowledge of the secret stairway to heaven.

The biggest irony is when these new age cult groups criticize the belief of the catholic church in Mother Mary & saints, but these groups also rely on beliefs like “Virgin Birth” & “resurrection” which are highly controversial and questionable. Beliefs are beliefs. Beliefs cannot ever be a substitute for reality. One Belief cannot ever be said to be more real or truer than another belief.

It seems the easiest way to become a millionaire is to start selling religion. Promise the masses heaven or assure them of resurrection or life after death. Nobody will be coming back from the dead to question them or file criminal or civil case against them. They can rest assured that the dead will stay dumb. Lead the masses on false promises, make them feel that they are chosen, transport them into a world of delusions. Anyway the whole world is “Maya”. Let the holy spirit enlighten them and make them cough out their hard earned money, ride their imagined fears and insecurities, drive their emotions, and laugh all the way to the bank. May the beliefs carry them all the way to heaven. Let me conclude by quoting the Thailand tourism slogan “ If you want to go to heaven after death, pray. if you want to enjoy heaven while alive come to Thailand.” The choice is ours.

who are the real anti nationals?

Who are the real anti Nationals?
By George Merlo Pallath

Is it the Maoists
Even though the colonial masters went away, for the poor of India, freedom remains elusive. Successive governments failed to implement policies to protect Dalits and tribal groups from discrimination and violence. They bear the entire burden of the caste system of segregation, exploitation and discrimination in India. More than 40% of the land in rural areas are owned by less than 5% of its population. A crime is committed against a dalit in India every 18 minutes. 3 dalit women are raped every day. 13 dalits are murdered every week. 27 cases of atrocities against dalits filed every day. Likewise the adivasis. They are the poorest of the poor. Almost 62.5% of adivasi children drop out of schools before matriculation. A shocking 41.5% of dalits live under the official poverty line, whereas 49% of adivasis are under the poverty line. Thousands of villagers were rendered homeless to make way for creating national parks to protect animals. The adivasi girls were sexually exploited by the Government officials and landlords. Caste discrimination , abject poverty and the official apathy towards the plight of the poor are the main reasons for the rise of naxalism and later Maoism in Bihar, U.P, A.P, Telengana, Bengal & Orissa. Feudalism is another big factor that contributed to the rise of naxalism and now the Maoism. The marginalized, landless poor of rural India and the adivasis fighting for survival are the base for the Maoists who believe in armed rebellion against the establishment. Maoists are leading a class war against the greedy landlords and money lenders who had usurped their lands and the clueless government machinery who support them.
After 7 decades of independence, in the name of development, to make way for commercial forestry, dams, mines, there has been massive destruction of adivasi land, forest and water resources, along with total degradation of their moral fabric of their fragile society. Again, due to the high levels of corruption, greed and nepotism of the ruling class and the upper castes along with the crony capitalists, the adivasis and the tribals have been driven out of their homeland, rendered homeless. More than 20 million tribals have been displaced in the name of development. All this massive exploitation and neglect naturally made fertile ground for the Maoists to grow and they continue to grow unabated. It will continue so long as the exploitation and neglect by the govt. continues.
Is it the critics of the govt. and govt. policies, the likes of Kanhiyia Kumar, Jignesh Mevani, Rohit Vemula, Aundhadhi Roy, Hardik Patels . Are we not living in the world’s largest democracy. Is not the freedom of expression one of our guaranteed constitutional rights as per Article 19 of the Indian constitution. Then why the govt. is so sensitive about criticism? Is this govt. so intolerant and afraid of criticism so as to brand all its critics as anti nationals and slap the outdated sedition charges against them.
The Indian Penal Code has several sections introduced by the British to suppress criticism and freedom of expression. One such is section 124A which has been misused extensively to suppress the so called opponents of the govt. The vaguely worded sedition, criminal defamation, and hate speech laws were used to harass and prosecute those expressing dissenting, unpopular, or minority views. In October, authorities in Tamil Nadu state arrested a folk singer under the sedition law for two songs that criticized the state government. The same month, Gujarat police arrested Hardik Patel, who is spearheading protests to demand quotas in education and government jobs for his community, and charged him with sedition in two separate cases.
Colonial laws are being used to stifle freedom of expression in our post colonial, professedly democratic era.
Paranoid about its desire to crush any sort of dissent, the BJP government in Gujarat is now toying with the idea of bringing in one more law to nip its critics in the bud. If passed, it will allow the police to pick up any citizen merely on ‘suspicion’ – the law proposes to grant immunity from prosecution to the police and the administration for doing so.
By arresting merely on suspicion, the government wants to crush all dissent and take away the minimum human rights to express one’s views.

Is it the exponents of freedom of expression who fight for freedom to speak, write, paint, take pictures and generally to express themselves . In any self respecting democracy, every person has the right to hold any opinion she/he chooses and to give effect to it also, so long as, in doing so, they do not use or advocate physical violence against anybody.
But freedom of expression is a dangerous term these days. Being committed to its cause can get you killed, like the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ cartoonists. Or, you could be hounded so viciously you might even announce your own death as a writer, like Perumal Murugan. And you can be forced to go underground, like the bold woman editor of an Urdu newspaper. The list is growing alarmingly every week. Freedom is a pie, but every slice does not taste the same. Freedom without responsibility would lead us into anarchy. “Still the artistes, film makers, writers, poets must have the freedom to express their creativity even if it is criticizing the govt. or any particular social aspect like religion or caste.
‘An intelligent, culturally aware, aesthetically evolved citizenry must take an uncompromising stance against bigotry and thought control.’
Artistes have long been at the receiving end, often violently so, of the intolerant mob. Balbir Krishan, whose art echoes his homosexuality, faced a violent attack in Delhi; M. F. Hussain had to be in exile in his twilight years after facing death threats; Taslima Nasreen is still unable to find sanctuary in India; Salman Rushdie’s permission to speak at a literary festival in Jaipur was withdrawn at the penultimate moment; the Mumbai University withdrew Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey from its curriculum; a statue of Dadoji Konddev was spirited away overnight from its prominent location in Pune’s Lal Mahal; Joseph Lelyveld’s book Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India was banned in quick succession by the Gujarat and central governments. We have a long, ignominious history of abject prostration before intemperate, anti-intellectual mobs.
Indians are increasingly touchy, thin skinned, intolerant, and humourless nowadays. Especially the extremists. India is presently ranked 133rd out of 180 countries in a global freedom of the press index. According to Ramachandra Guha, the eight threats to freedom of expression in India are outdated laws, imperfections in our judicial system, the rise of identity politics, the complicity of the police, the pusillanimity of the political class, the dependence of the media on Govt. Advt. the dependence of the media on commercial advt’s, and finally the ideologically driven writers, editors, artists and film makers.
Is it the crony capitalists like the Adani’s, Ambanis and Jindals who have benefitted immensely due to their connections and affiliations with those in power. These ‘crony capitalists’ have flourished due to their connections in the government and political class. They have manipulated and exploited their influence and money power to get plum deals in core industries like mining, infrastructure, construction, energy, telecom, defence, etc. In the latest list released by the Economist for 2016, India ranks 9th on the Crony Capitalism Index. As Raghuram Rajan, the former RBI Governor said “ Most of the billionaires in India did not derive their wealth from IT or software, but from land, natural resources, govt. contracts and licences obtained or cornered by manipulating the govt. machinery or by bribes, influence and money power. India is an oligarchy next only to Russia.
The Vedanta group is owned by Anil Agarwal whose net worth is estimated at 5.5 Billion. The Orissa Govt. bent over backwards to allow the Vedantha group to acquire over 6000 acres of land ostensibly to put up a university. But the real ulterior motive is the 1.82 million tonnes of thorium bearing monazite along the Orissa coastline. It is dubbed as the biggest land grab in India. Vedantha group was favoured since they funded the 2004 & 2009 election campaign of the BJD party.
The biggest black money case that has come up before the SIT is that of Gautam Adani, one of Modi’s closest aides. While bragging that he will bring back black money and distyribute it to the people @ Rs.15,000/- per person, he was zipping around the country in Adani’s private jet. Adani allegedly tookout over 5000 crores to tax havens using inflated bills for the import of power equipments. After Modi came to power, the officers were transferred, another officer was raided by CBI, two senior most officers were forced out of office, and the file was closed unceremoniously.
Jindals, celebrated billionaires in London & New York, they are the villains of India’s heartland, accused of plundering natural resources and playing havoc with the lives of the poor. The detailed report by the CAG says that the Jindal group was gifted a windfall of 1,86,000 crores in the allocation of coal blocks. The Supreme Court struck down the allocation in 2014. In the 1980’s the theory of the govt. was that its primary duty was towards the poor and disadvantaged. The new theory of this govt. is that a govt. which facilitates the market will benefit everyone. The effect is there for all to see in Raigarh and other areas like it where crony capitalists like the Jindals have bled the country to waste, made huge profits and destroyed the livelihood of the poor and disadvantaged. Big time business houses are the biggest beneficiaries of this govt. policy.
At the Krishna Godavari Basin, the Ambanis have been quietly cheating the govt. in the profit sharing agreement by inflating expenses and suppressing figures whereby, the public exchequer lost 1000’ s of crores of money.
Sahara Group, Subrata Roy collected more than 24,000 crores from the public. Illegally took the money abroad. Now in jail for fraud. The story of how the Govt. allowed one of the biggest loan defaulters, Vijay Mallya to escape from the country is still fresh in our minds. Likewise the case of the Winsome Diamonds M.D, Mr. Jatin R Mehta who owes more than 6000 crores to the public sector banks has now escaped abroad. More than 4000 Indian Millionaires have already migrated to other countries and Tax havens and taken citizenships there to escape from the Tax net here causing huge loss to the exchequer.
As quoted by former RBI Director Mr. Raghuram Rajan “It seems we have substituted the crony socialism of the past with crony capitalism, where the rich and the influential are alleged to have received land, natural resources and spectrum in return for payoffs to venal politicians.
By killing transparency and competition, crony capitalism is harming free enterprise, opportunity and economic growth of the country. And by substituting special interests for the public interest, it is harming the democracy and making the poor poorer.”
Is it the unscrupulous, divisive and corrupt politicians who indulge in dirty politics and use religion, caste and regional politics to divide and create fear phychosis amongst the people, indulge in promoting violence to gain their narrow political ends. Politicians like Azam Khan, fundamentalist groups like RSS, VHP, Mujahideen, Salafi muslims, wahabi muslims etc. Many political parties still gain electoral gains by using the people’s religious and casteist feelings.It is still a mystery on why the supreme court has not barred all political parties from exploiting religion and caste to gain votes.
Is it the religious fundamentalists who use religion to incite violence and hatred amongst the society. The 2002 Gujarat riots following the stage managed Godhra massacre, the latest cow vigilantism, where the alleged holy cow is being used as an excuse to beat, maim, kill and rape poor dalits and muslims. The fundamentalist muslim clerics who as a tribe refuses to blend in with the Indian social milieu, always sticking out like a sore finger in our society with their purdhas and 9th century personal law which allows the men to exploit women in all possible ways, treat the women as cattle, and also allows the men to divorce by issuing the triple talaq. Ironically even in Pakistan, the triple talaq has been banned as illegal.

Amongst these who does the maximum damage to India as a nation and to the people of India. Who all qualifies to be dubbed as the real anti national? Is it the Maoists turned adivasis and dalits on whom the negative impacts of democracy has been thrust upon and the benefits have been kept away. Is it the critics of the govt. in the biggest democracy in the world, or is it the activists of freedom of expression as guaranteed by the constitution, or is it the crony capitalists , the biggest parasites in our society. They have bled this country blue and in the process become billionaire oligarchs. Is it the fundamentalist religious groups who are blinded by their conditioned beliefs and guided by their misplaced egos or is it the unscrupulous politicians who are like the wolves in sheep’s clothing, always pouncing on the opportunies and playing with their ill gotten power and wealth.

The great Indian Democracy

The Great Indian Democracy
The Indian Govt. is in the final stages of purchasing 36 Rafael Fighter jets for the Indian Air Force at a cost of 50,000/- crores. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90’s, Indian defense purchase almost ground to a halt. For almost a decade the purchases were meager. Suddenly the Kargil war started in 1999. After that India went on a shopping spree to purchase arms to modernize its defense forces. In the next decade, India purchased almost 60,000 crores of defense equipment’s from Israel alone. Now India is the biggest weapons importer in the world. India spends almost 10% of its GDP on defense purchase. Now we know why the Kargil war occurred. The world knows how much General Musharraf collected for starting the Kargil war , which kicked off a huge arms race in the sub continent. Who are the beneficiaries? The top echleons of both India and Pakistan benefitted. The arms dealers like the Choudhries and Nandas flourished, What if some young lives were lost? India could end up spending upwards of Rs.6,70,000 crores on importing arms and weapons this decade alone. Of course, India must have a modern well equipped army. Our jawans must be well protected. They must be provided with state of the art equipments. But we must also understand that nowadays wars are manufactured by those in power. The governments are manipulated and arm twisted into spending on military hardware by the middlemen.
We must also look at how little India spends on its health care and education for the masses, it becomes a glaring contrast. Our cities are choking on pollution. Child malnutrition is the highest in the world, about 42 % of the children are under weight. The country’s youth, the worlds largest, has slim chance of access to quality education, over 60% of its people do not have bathrooms, over 330 million Indians do not have sake drinking water. Thousands of its citizens are harassed and humiliated daily by oppressive and misogynistic institutions. Violence is a daily reality. India has become a very rich country of too many poor people. Over 56 % of the rural population does not have access to electricity. Almost 400 million Indians live without electricity.
A recent survey by the National Institute of Education and planning and administration ( NIEPA) founf that over one lakh of India’s elementary schools had only one classroom. In Bihar over 1200 schools have no buildings at all. Some 27% of these schools are single teacher schools with an average of 100 students each. India has a shortage of almost ½ a million teachers. Over 8 million primary school age children still do not attend school. Even though there are many private educational institutions mushrooming everywhere run by unscrupulous greedy businessmen, they are all out of reach to the poor. All these institutions demand exorbitant fees and deposits which the poor can ill afford. The quality of our engineers are suspect. The higher education institutions are not up to world standard. None of them are bracketed in the top 100 universities of the world. Our engineering and medical colleges are sub standard. Quantity and not quality are the norm.
Likewise the health sector, many multi national big business groups have invested in hospitals. But they are all confined to the urban cities. The rural poor still has to walk miles to reach any health centers. Apart from Kerala, where the govt. health centers and govt. hospitals provide good service to the poor, the rest of India is still very primitive and the poor is neglected. Some 66% of the rural people do not have access to critical medicines, while 31% will have to travel more than 30 km to avail themselves of any health care. Just 28% of of the Indians living in urban areas corner 66 % of the India’s hospital beds. Even the big hospitals are profit centric, exploiting the patients and collecting huge commissions. Scams are aplenty. Trafficking human organs by exploiting the poor are rampant.

India has the one of the most skewed sex ratios in the world. According to statistics from UNICEF, more than 7,000 cases of female foeticide happen daily in the country – and since sex determination in India is a crime – reliable data on female foeticide is missing. Again, while in 1901 there were 3.2 million less girls than boys, according to the 2001 census, this gap has widened to 35 million. In the 2011 Census, data has shown that the child sex ratio in the country declined to 914 girls to 1,000 boys under the age of six.
According to UNICEF estimates, about 65% of rural Indians defecate themselves in the open. Sometimes on the road. Almost 600 million Indians mostly in rural areas are without toilets, a problem that is only in India. Even Bangladesh has declared that they have ended open defecation. In UP alone a staggering 77 % of the rural households do not have latrines. In Bihar it is almost 81%. The national average if 67% without toilets. There are more mobiles than toilets in India. This open defecation also exposes the women to grave risk of rapes.
Owning land is the most empowering asset a citizen can possess. This has been denied to women till now. According to landesa an international NGO, it is estimated that even though 85% of women are engaged in agriculture, only 13% own land of their own. In Bihar it is just 7%. It is a matter of shame for all Indians that more farmers have committed suicide than in any other countries of the world.
Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic. The poor and underprivileged live as rats. No other economy is growing as fast as India’s while simultaneously recording such low progress in reducing malnutrition, eradication of poverty, illiteracy and so on. In the global hunger index, India was ranked at the 55th trailing Sri Lanka and Nepal. In 2009, a planning commission of India study on the distribution of subsidized food item trough the PDS found that only 16 paise out of a One rupee reaches the targeted poor. The remaining 84% went to pay salaries and as leakages and bribes and commissions for the country’s bloated govt.
In its latest report, Mc Kinsey Global Institute says that almost 600 million Indians, or 56% of the Indian population lacks the means to meet their basic essential necessities like food, sanitation, health care, education, water housing, fuel and social security. Despite high growth, more than 3/4th of the Indian population are poor and vulnerable with a level of consumption just above the official poverty line. Inequality has only widened between the haves and have-not’s.
The poor and needy has no assess to the govt. machinery which is controlled by middlemen and politicians. Every aspect of the Indian society is based on dynastic rule. Even the judiciary is now propagating dynastic succession. The justice delivery system has been a big let down. The police and prosecution has proved to be inept and allows the culprits to escape. Convictions are rare especially where high profile personalities are involved. The rich get away with murder. The poor is treated shabbily.
In spite of the high levels of corruption, nepotism, favoritism, racism, casteism, persecution in the name of religion, inequalities and violence, the great Indian Democracy plods on like the proverbial bullock cart. In India there are more religious places of worship than educational and health care institutions combined. Indians still rely on beliefs and myths rather than on rational thinking. Indians love to live in the past. Religion is the biggest holy cow. In spite of the great advances in space, India still remains a cow republic in the eye of the world. The only way to solve this is to invest heavily in the education and health sector. Just the amount of commission and kickbacks in the weapons purchase is enough to provide 100 hospitals or 500 schools in the rural sector. Investing an amount equivalent to 10% of the defense budget in the rural sector will make India zoom up in the standard of life of our citizens. The primary duty of any govt. must be to provide the poor with an income and supporting the farmers who form the bulk of the Indian population. Till date none of the governments have done anything meaningful to help the poor and the under privileged apart from promises on paper. Farmers have taken the brunt of the burden. We need a government which is people friendly and supportive of the farmers. The landless must be provided with lands. The government must change, the system must change. After 68 years of independence, it is high time that this govt. gets its act together. We sorely need a government which promotes equality and protects its citizens rather than promoting divisions and sectarian violence. High time that our politicians start promoting our oneness instead of indulging in divisive politics. Only we can help ourselves and our brethren.

gospel of St Thomas

Gospel of St. Thomas ( Didymus Judas Thomas)
as extracted from the book “ Jesus before the gospels by Bart E Ehrm
Even though Jesus was believed to have 12 disciples, there are only 4 gospels in the new testament which is very puzzling. Christians in Kerala believe that St. Thomas came here in the 1st century and evangelized the people here and converted them to Christians. But unfortunately the so called Christians in Kerala has never heard of the Gospel of Thomas. In the year 1945, the scholars found the gospel of Thomas . Reading this gospel will reveal why the early Christian theologians decided against including this gospel in the new testament. This gospel is more spiritual and stresses on understanding the teachings of Jesus rather than focusing on the virgin birth, resurrection and the church establishment. Unlike the canonical gospels, the gospel of Thomas is not a narrative of Jesus’s life, ministry, death and resurrection. It consists entirely of the sayings of Jesus. Altogether 114 quotes. Thomas does not speak of Jesus as the messiah, or the son of God. He simply calls Jesus as the “living Jesus”.
Another significant thing about this gospel is that it clearly mentions the name of Didymus Judas Thomas as the author unlike all the other gospels which are written by unknown authors according to the version of Mathew, Peter, Mark and John.
Thomas writes “ whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death”. For Thomas, understanding what Jesus really meant by his secret teachings is the way, probably the only way , to have eternal life. Salvation does not come by believing in Jesus’s death and resurrection, or by accepting his virgin birth, or by acknowledging that he is God who became a man. Salvation can be achieved only by interpreting what Jesus had said.
Many Christians believe that they will be the members of the future kingdom of God. But in the gospel of Thomas, he says that future rule and membership is not reserved for the disciples alone. It is open to anyone who seeks the meaning of Jesus’s words, finds it, realizes how disturbing it really is, and then marvels at the truth. Again he says “ Jesus said, the One who seeks should not stop seeking until he finds. And when he finds he will be disturbed; and when he is disturbed, he will marvel. And he will rule over all.
The gospel of Thomas clearly proves that Thomas had a clear understanding of the teachings of Jesus, teaching about the world, the people who are in it and how the people can find salvation. One recurring motif is that the material world is not a good place. This world is lifeless and dead. The One who realizes this will be able to escape and have life. He quotes Jesus “ the one who has come to know the world has. found a corpse, The world is not worthy of that person”
In the gospel of Thomas, this world is not portrayed as a good creation of the good God as presented in the book of Genesis. It is portrayed as a deeply impoverished place that is the realm of entrapment for human spirits who have the misfortune of living here. He is surprised on how the great wealth of the spirit has come to be trapped in the poverty of this material world.
When Jesus came into this world, he saw he humans in this poor state blinded , impoverished and unaware of their real being. Only by understand the truth can a person escape from living in this material realm. That can come only through the secret knowledge that Jesus provides. This knowledge is principally self knowledge., of who you really are as one who has come from the enlightened realm of God into this world. Those who do not realize this about themselves will never escape from this miserable realm. “When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are the children of the living father. Jesus said “ when you strip naked without being ashamed and take your clothes and place them under your feet like little children and stamp on them, them you will see the son of the living One and you will not be afraid.” Like children shedding their clothes, you must shed this body and follow Jesus to escape from this miserable world and experience everlasting life. If its bodily pleasure that makes you appreciate the body, then you should engage in self denial to keep yourself from being tied to the body and thus to this material realm.
Thomas therefore is seen as highly ascetic text, one that urges its readers to avoid the pitfalls of bodily pleasure in the light of the need to liberate the spirit from its material entrapment. The saying of Thomas in his gospel like sayings 1,3,5,16,18,39,46,56,67 etc focus on correct knowing and understanding. You must know what you are and what the world is. All this is revealed in the teachings of Jesus. Those who understand these teachings will not taste death.”
Thomas mocks at Jewish practices like fasting, Sabbath, etc. Saying 53 attacks the practice of circumcision by the Jews. “ if cutting off a baby’s foreskin were profitable, God would have had boys born without it in the first place.”
Saying 39 criticises the scribes and Pharisees for having the keys to the kingdom but they do not know how to enter the kingdom and also prevents anyone else to enter also.
In saying 3, he mocks at the Christians who believe that the kingdom is a physical place. If it is in the sky the birds will get there first. If in the water, the fish will beat you to it. In this gospel, the kingdom is an internal reality; within those who realize they are sons of the living father. Thus it is already spread over the entire Earth. In Saying 113 also, Jesus stresses that the kingdom is not a physical entity, it is here and now , but hidden from those who lack knowledge. Those who teach otherwise are false teachers.
From these sayings in the gospel of Thomas, one thing is clear. It is way different from the other gospels. The Gospel of Thomas is more spiritual than any other gospel. It focuses on the teachings of Jesus and stresses on understanding it and becoming aware of the reality about the spiritual world.
For a religion like Christianity with its focus on material worship in churches and keeping up the importance of the priestly class, this gospel is an anachronism and hence very wisely suppressed by the priestly class. The gospel of Thomas exhorts its followers to seek enlightenment.
From a reading of this gospel one thing is very clear. St Thomas has never visited Kerala or done any evangelical work here or converted anyone in India. Otherwise, it is absolutely sure that the early Christians in Kerala would have followed the teachings in the gospel of Thomas which is very much different from the other canonical gospels. St Thomas would have surely pushed his gospel teachings and led all the Christians here on a spiritual path to enlightenment instead of the present focus on worship, belief on virgin birth and resurrection and the material trappings. The Christians in Kerala has not even heard of the gospel of Thomas which clearly proves that the disciple of Jesus has never visited Kerala.
By George Merlo Pallath