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Yukteswar's Holy Science: Its Foundations
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You can approach the main ideas of Hindu Sankhya philosophy and other Indian philosophies through textbooks, but a seal cannot [e.g. Him, Ins, Ith, Sf, Wo].

Foundations of Yukteswar's Work

A First Overview

The yogi Swami Yukteswar, (1) although he thought he was not well versed versed in Hindu scriptures, wrote a book called Kaivalya Darsanam: The Holy Science in the 1890s. It is on "(2) the underlying basic unity between the Christian and Hindu scriptures" (3) by use of "parallel references" that the inspired (4) sons of God had spoken (5) the same truths, although "sectarian differences" would have it otherwise. [Ay, chap. 36]

Yukteswar selected passages from (6) a form of the Sankhya philosophy of Sanatan Dharma ("The Eternal Righteousness", Hinduism), and seasoned the treatise with 18 selected passages from the Gospel of John and 14 from the Book of Revelation in the Bible, and four more passages.

Let us look at these points, for the sake of a beginner's overview:

  1. Study the scriptures first, then write about them. You can escape many errors that way. Make sure the texts you use, are representative and that your coverage is not bad.
  2. There are well over a hundred self-contradictions in the Christian Bible. And Hindu scriptures differ in their outlooks too. A said underlying unity is hard to come by when the "truths" in either camp often are gainsaid in either camp, of course.
  3. There are good and proper ways to juxtapose passages and compare them. A fit way evolves from "We'll find what we find", but not ideally from "Show it as told to you."
  4. "Sons of God" is a term with many meanings. It goes undefined. A bad researcher and scholar shies away from defining his key terms. Is it the Bible's barnasha that is suggested? Heaven knows.
  5. As for "same truths", some expressions are look-alikes, from different settings, and with different connotations, and so on. One had better take into account the original settings, or whole passages of the quotations that are used, to combat swindling with lore. Besides, there are contradictions to handle well too. Does Yukteswar stand for fair treatment of Bible passages, or for the admitted fact that there are deep-going differences among Hindu philosophies? (Quick answer: "Far from it.")
  6. Sankhya is one of six traditional Hindu philosophies, dharshans. They differ among themselves. Yoga practice is not dependent on Sankhya, although the Yoga darshan (philosophy) has much in common with it. There is one difference, though. Yoga dharshan reckons with a God, Ishwara. Traditional Sankhya does not. However, Yukteswar's Sankhya does. It is theistic. And most yoga proponents nowadays favour Vedanta. (There are many forms of Vedanta as well).

The beginner's overview is ended. You can look up in EB (Encyclopaedia Britannica) or WP (Wikipedia) and find articles on subjects above. Both sources are online. And there are good books to study above those two sources. Further, the unity spoken of in old Vedic texts, by such terms as "Ekam sat" (Oneness is), is not as good as the unity experienced by some in deep meditation. The expressions about something is not the thing in itself, not das Ding an sich.

Shovelling On

The premises of Yukteswar's book Kailvalya Darsanam: The Holy Science are studied further down. Sound background information may be needed for making heads and tails of dealing adequately with the topics at hand. Yukteswar tried, but failed. He had no Internet.

Sankhya philosophy

The very ancient Sankhya philosophy used to be atheistic, with no room for a God. However, Sankhya with a God in it came to be developed in time too, and it is this theistic Sankhya that Yukteswar uses. Where Sankhya differs from Sankhya there is no basic unity, not even there. Also, Advaita Vedanta says something different about "God and woman and man" and the ultimate Reality than traditional Sankhya, and this should be made clear.

Two main conclusions of his book were grafted onto Yukteswar. He did not think twice about the two main conclusions he was enjoined. However, to scrutinise hypotheses and main assertions forms part of scientist schooling. This learning is needed for writing acceptable works in a lot of fields, also among scholars. Further, what Yukteswar was enjoined to tell does not hold water. (1) There is very little basic unity even among Hindu scriptures. If you have not made heads and tails of that simple fact, you are as good as waylaid. (2) Even though the six orthodox philosophy systems of Hinduism have in common that they accept the divinity and immense authority of the hoary Vedas, do Christian scriptures do that? No. [Wo]

Incredible mission, incredible solution.

Study hints for grasping the Holy Science

This survey derives from the very useful AIR-BOC.

Author: Yukteswar (1855-1936) was a Hindu swami and kriya yogi in the line of Babaji and Lahiri Mahasaya. Sides to his life are laid bare in the remarkable Autobiography of a Yogi by his disciple Paramahansa Yogananda. There are other works that show sides to Yukteswar too. One, called Paramhansa Swami Yogananda is by Yukteswar's disciple Sailendra Dasgupta [Psy], and another book by Dasgupta is the work Kriya Yoga and Sri Yukteswar.

Identity: Yukteswar wrote a little book as he was asked to., Its overall scope was set before he started on it, and its main conclusions too. He came up with a work of theistic Sankhya philosophy first and foremost (common, atheistic Sankhya leaves out a "God"). Christianity is hardly covered at all; and not on its own inherent, jumbled terms. Some thirty Bible passages are used as scanty highlighting end quotations of some of the book's many sections. If these end quotations were removed, most of the value of Yukteswar's work could still remain. This goes to show it is not a Christian piece of work. The work is accepted by some Hindus, and largely unknown among Christians.

Readers: Yukteswar's book was first published among Hindus, folks who knew him and spread his little book somewhat too. They wrote in well-mannered ways of it, but not very much, as far as I know. Yukteswar handed over the book to his disciple Yogananda when Yogananda was sent to the West to spread kriya yoga and its peculiar bonds. Yukteswar asked him to let the book serve as his teaching-foundation the West. Arriving in Boston in 1920, Yogananda started his Self-Realization Fellowship by letting a dentist see Light during Christmas-time. Some would say, "Dentists and bright light go together", but . . .

The Fellowship has been headquartered in Los Angeles since 1925, and publishes Yukteswar's book among others.

Background: The author was a householder Hindu who turned swami after writing the book. The book reflects theistic Sankhya, whereas Sankhya normally is without any "God". The book was written as a bridging attempt between Hinduism and Christianity, but on Sankhya terms; not particularly Christian terms. It reflects the ancient, syncretic, mixing fare typical of Hinduism. Christianity on the other hand wants to be an exclusive religion, one that makes disciples of Jesus of "all the nations" Those halting verses are forged, later additions to the gospel, shows Joseph Wheless.

A spurious gospel addition
Duck Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you [contrary to the requirements of Gentile Christians in Acts 15 and 21:25]. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." [Matthew 28:18-20]

For-Jews-only-Jesus (of such as Matthew 15:24) apparently changed his mind after Jews had him brutally killed . . . Joseph Wheless goes into and documents sides to what he finds are main forgeries at the end of Matthew.

So all is not as clear-cut as can be when it comes to background premises that the later guru was to deal with.

When Yukteswar wrote his book, India was governed over by the British, and Bangladesh and Pakistan were parts of it. Yukteswar had got formal education in the British-governed educational system at that time. Swami Yukteswar, born in the Serampore suburb of Calcutta, got his education in an English school, and after he had passed the Entrance Examination of the Calcutta University, he got admitted in a College for higher studies. However, his formal education was cut off one day when he had been attending a lecture in a class on Physics. The teacher was explaining the functions of the human eye, and Yukteswar could not understand just how an inverted image formed on the retina could not be seen as erect, but upside down. He stood up and asked the teacher, and asked him again, and then the teacher got irritated and said, "First go to the Medical College, then come to my class." The teacher's remark provoked Yukteswar to drop the class and the College for good. However, he got permission to attend classes on such as Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Physiology, Anatomy at the Calcutta Medical College. He attended various classes in the Medical College for about two years. [Cb; Ky; Yb]

Serampore, where he grew up and settled, was a centre of Christian missionaries back then. As a native of Serampore, Yukteswar came in close contact with some of them. As a result he became conversant with Christian evangelists and parts of their teachings. [Ky, "Kriya"]

And then, after he had become a disciple of the kriya guru Lahiri Mahasaya and been initiated in his laborious kriya yoga system, he was asked to write a book on (a) the underlying basic unity between the Christian and Hindu scriptures" and (b) show that "the inspired sons of God have spoken the same truths."

Grossly misleading outlooks need to be refuted. Whose will will find a way? Compare "Where there is a will, there is a way." Is such a will in space? I think not. But with deals with time to operate in time-and-space.

Existential pondering aside, Hindu scriptures do not agree among themselves as to whether there is one self or many selves, and second, Christianity does not stand for atheism, unlike ancient Sankhya. There is room for both extremes and some middle ground in life. As for forgeries, they need to be dropped for the sake of genuineness and fair play. Suffice to say for now that Yukteswar's theistic Sankhya work represents a good part of Hinduism, and that he disregards the common "Jesus on top"-claiming Christianity based on a later-added, forged command at the end of the Gospel of Matthew. [More]

Other literature to check up: Hindu scriptures are many and of somewhat different outlooks. A survey:

Sankhya philosophy is enumerative in that it seeks to show how the world is made from the material level and subtler, finer ones. Good proof of the various claims is missing; that is one of the hallmarks of general, all-round philosophy. If good proofs of tenets are secured, they should be part of the scientific enterprise. An Introduction to Indian Philosophy contains some material on atheistic Sankhya. Wikipedia hosts an article on Sankhya (Samkhya) too. You could say Yukteswar explores the general stands and outlooks of Sankhya, and throws in very little from the Bible. This is fairly way documented (below). Yukteswar's book is a religious-philosophical treatise, with some faulty astrology added in the introduction.

Of criticism and critics: Criticism of Yukteswar's book has been sparse. This could be a result of its gnomic style, lack of references apart from a few dozens of Bible passages, and the abstruse nature of its subject chosen, apart from its being little known. And you need to know about Sankhya to evaluate it fitly. Among Hindus in India, the comments are few. Yet after the book was made known through its American publishers, Self-Realization Fellowship, glowing and foolish praise of it has surfaced among comments on Amazon.com for some time. We look into that:

There is a difference between saying you like a book for some reason or other, and hailing its author as divine, faultless and all that, for how can you recognise that someone is divine unless you "have it in you"? Accordingly, is Yukteswar-praise subtly masked self-glorification fit for snub gangs or not? At any rate, on Amazon.com there have been commenters on The Holy Science who first said they did not understand it, and then went on to hail Yukteswar as Divine Wisdom incarnated, with very typical signs of guru reverence as they are established in the Self-Realization Fellowship - the publishers - and its circles by now.

Loudly to praise something you do not understand, that could be crazy drivel. At least it is very foolish. "It is difficult to grasp in many places but his wisdom and clarity are unmatched," is a mild variant and "You really get the feeling that here is someone who knows the answers to the most difficult questions, the thorniest problems" is another. A third says the book "is so small, yet so rich with wisdom that I must frankly say that most of it went over my head and probably will for a long time to come. The faultless spiritual vision of Swami Yukteswar pierces many mysteries."

The glorifiers are very likely sect members or friends of the sect. Some advocates of the book dislike that Yukteswar's old calculation error, where he applies Manu's cycle of 24.000 to the Platonic Year of 25.770 years without discerning the difference (!), comes out in the open. For each Platonic Year he gets 1.770 years further off the "mark" - and that is not helpful at all. However, a faith is verily involved and quite drowns sobering information. You can see for yourself.

With these highlights in mind, it may be easier to evaluate the Amazon synopsis (or yak-yak) furnished by the publishers, Self-Realization Fellowship:

"This . . . treatise explores parallel passages from the Bible and the Hindu scriptures to reveal the essential unity of all religions [the aim was there, but the carrying out is of Hinduism]. Swami Sri Yukteswar, the revered guru of Paramahansa Yogananda, outlines the universal path that every human being must travel to enlightenment [, a claim that today's Christians say is false.] He, also, explains [idiosyncratically] the vast recurring cycles of civilization, affording [his idiosyncratic] understanding of history and the ever-changing panorama of turbulent world events. [Hinduism's yugas (or world cycles) are faultily explained by Yukteswar, however.] Truly a book uniting East & West - [- in what sort of errors?] showing explicitly the underlying parallels between the Bible and the Bhagavad-Gita. [Not ideally: For example, Jesus in the Bible says the soul can be destroyed, and Bhagavad Gita says it cannot. [Matthew 10:28, see also Luke 12:4-6; Matthew 5:29; opposed to Ak 297] Provides a concise [and error-ridden] explanation of the recurring cycles of civilization [to the degree there are any and they are correctly gauged]. THE HOLY SCIENCE and its author Swami Sri Yukteswar, the guru of Paramahansa Yogananda, are featured in the best selling spiritual classic, Autobiography of a Yogi."

The publishers' synopsisis contains rubbish.

This concludes the AIR-BOC survey.

Christian and Hindu scriptures, what do they have in common?

We might do worse than reflect on whether or to what degree there is an underlying basic unity between Christian and Hindu scriptures. To be able to compare all right, there is a need to study Hinduism on its own terms, with reference to its own background too. The Church advocates a sensible approach to Hinduism as well.

in Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust. . . .

The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which . . . reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. . . .

The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that . . . they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found [in such as Hinduism and Buddhism]. [◦Nostra Aetate, 1965, point 2]

Saying, "There is a right way of doing it, a wrong way, and the way of the Army." If it helps health and is safe to practice, it is hopefully good in the long run also. There are books on Hinduism for beginners and further, great stories, fables, proverbs and maxims, and philosophical systems that in part intermingle.

Major works, gurus, sages and readers in Hinduism

Sleep on it

Yukteswar never changed the formative ideas he was given, even in the face of a fair study's mounting evidence - he did not correct faulty notions he was asked to write a book on top of. It helps to consult one's pillow, to sleep things over and wake up with great solutions to one's problems. It is common practice to sleep on matters to arrive at better decisions. We should remain awake to that feat. During sound sleep the brain functions are refreshed, whereas loss of sleep makes us unable to think for ourselves. It comes by degrees, Jim Horne explains in Sleepfaring. [Sjs 75-76]

Yukteswar's Hinduism

Yukteswar is presented as an accomplished yogi by disciples. He accorded with Babaji's notions completely, and although he did not have perfect confidence in himself for the task, he set out to write a book to abide by what he had been told.

How did he compose his little book? How did he structure it to get to grasp with his given task and its deep-set problems? Apart from his astrology-founded Introduction and his Conclusion, he offers Sankhya thinking - and Sankhya is one of six orthodox philosophical systems of Hinduism: He most often starts his chapters and sections with Sanskrit verses, elaborates on them, and may or may not add a few Bible passages to compare with. An approximate check shows he uses 85 Sanskrit sutras, 34 passages from the New Testament, and 2 from the Old Testament - give or take a couple of passages: When Yukteswar uses several verses from the same Bible chapter, with or without the use of ellipses, I have counted them as one passage only.

Chap 1: 13 Sanskrit sutras + 17 New Testament passages

Chap 2: 22 Sanskrit sutras + 2 Bible passages

Chap 3: 33 Sanskrit sutras + 13 New Testament passages

Chap 4: 12 Sanskrit sutras + 6 New Testament passages

IN SUM: 85 Sanskrit sutras and 36 Bible passages.

Yukteswar's Bible passages: 18 passages from the Gospel of John, 14 from the book of Revelation, 2 from two different Letters, and 2 from the Old Testament.

According to Felix Just there are 7956 verses in the whole New Testament [1]. It suggests how representative or not Yukteswar's verses could be unless they hit the mark of what the Christian message of salvation is about very, very well. There are reasons to say they do not: One reason is that both John and Revelation are not very typical of the whole New Testament. Another and still better reason is that there are far too few Bible passages in Yukteswar's slim text to capture the whole gamut of New Testament outlooks. Third, Yukteswar does not mention themes of the gospels on their own terms, that Christians seek to sort out in several books. One such book is What Jesus Said About It by Henry Koestline [We].

A tentative fraction: 36 passages with a few verses in each, in average yields 140 verses. The figure is approximate. 140 (Yukteswar's selected verses) divided by 7956 (the whole Christian message of the Bible), shows that he makes use of barely 0.2 percent of all the Bible verses, give or take.

Such a low, low percentage raises questions about the validity of Yukteswar's selected passages. How representative are they for Christianity, how well do they get to the said core issues for Christians? What commands are there, are there any rules of discipleship? Any disclosure? What faith is talked of? Is there room for forgiveness? What kind of judgement is spoken of? Kingdom, love, prayer, salvation? These issues matter to many.

Statistics have developed since his time. Various ways of sampling exist: Random samples, stratified samples, and so on. Yet when it comes to qualitative estimates of the worth of different Bible words, statistics hardly fit. In such cases, trained Bible scholars may help us to judge the relative validity and perhaps also usefulness of this and that Bible saying.

To sum up, Yukteswar chose some passages from John and not quite as many from the Book of Revelation, and used them to "season" his explanation of Sankhya. In some places the relevance of his appended, unexplained Bible passages hang in a thin thread. Observe, for example, that the Gospel of John reflects a Christian tradition that is different from that of the other gospels. It was rejected as heretical by many individuals and groups within the early Christian movement, and was used extensively by the Gnostic Christians. It is the gospel least referred to by many liberal Christians. They typically regard John as containing few or none of Jesus' actual sayings. Conservative theologians on the other hand erroneously and dogmatically believe the gospels are error-free text. [2]

As for his Sanskrit passages, he has dropped giving any reference to the sources of them.

In Yukteswar's book, the sutras and Yukteswar's elaboration of and comments to them is the main thing and Christian passages are more or less secondary stuff, as shown by this: The value of his book may be experienced as just as good without them. Yukteswar settled on seasoning his elaboration on just one form of Hindu philosophy, Sankhya, with New Testament passages that capture neither the length, breadth and depth of the New Testament nor the Christian tradition. The slender book he once wrote, has those flaws compared to his whole task and all the variegated Hindu literature and the whole New Testament.

The overriding prospect he was given to carry out, that mission, as he called it, is not of this world, and that is the main thing. [Ay, Hos 4]

Basic, relevant information offers help

Yukteswar might have done better if he had not rallied in wrong directions from the onset, but he did not appear to have free will in the matter: Babaji asked him politely to write the book, etched out how he wanted it, and what to arrive at, such as "basic unity", "same truths". And then Babaji told, "Whatever the Lord has made me say is bound to materialize as truth." It appears that Babaji did not ask, but claimed divine authority to "sweep Yukteswar away" accordingly. But for all he claimed, there is no such basic unity and not the same truths, and that is it. [Autobiography, chap. 36; Au 294].

Now for a survey:

  1. There is not one Hinduism, but many variants and facets, and they differ. Hinduism is very variegated. Klaus K. Klostermaier's A Survey of Hinduism. offers a sympathetic survey of it, and it often pays to be informed, and even handsomely. [Sf].
  2. Christian scriptures consist of much divergent material too, but if we restrict ourselves to the New Testament's gospels, a few things stand out at once: Jesus said there is no salvation except from the Jews; he allowed no other master than himself; he persistently told his followers were sick people; he came for Jews only; and salvation was something to be freely given, not something to work for.

    These vital points of Jesusism, are professed by Self-Realization Fellowship - although not so much in deeds as by lip service - in their Aims and Ideals. They claim a guru line from Babaji through Lahiri Mahasaya, Yukteswar and Yogananda, and have included Krishna too since the seventies. Jesus is said to be one of the SRF gurus, one of their Christs, but see whether or how far they actually live up to his commands. Christianity, on the other hand, has a different deal; it arrived with the Holy Spirit after the death of Jesus, brought with it greater freedom than Jesus gave, and soon included non-Jews, contrary to the Jesusism of Jesus. He said he had come for Jews only, taught very little to others, and was rejected by his target audience in the end.

    Further, the claim of Christianity to be the exclusive way to God, that salvation is the gift of God falling on you, can hardly or never be reconciled with the Hindu scriptures, who allow and advocate self-help by yoga methods and guru help straight into Hindu salvation, moksha, freedom-bliss. Such a delicate goal of life may be understood in more than one way. Yukteswar holds up the Sankhya idea of "Aloneness" as the towering end goal.

  3. In Christianity all followers are called children of God and gods, and as for the "inspirations" of Jesus, self-maiming for very little is one them, as expressed in the form of some of his commands. All Hindu scriptures do not turn that rabid. Further, what "inspired sons of God" in Hinduism teach, differs and conflicts.

Do you want to end up all alone? Could that be the good goal of Christian salvation, really?

TO TOP

Christianity and Black Pudding

If you deal with a mess, first try to get to grips with the main facts and issues in it.

Common Christianity consists of an unclarified mixture of Jesusism and traditional Christianity. Jesusism has the gospels as its anchorage, and the much freer Christiany uses them and all the other material in the New Testament for some reason, although in very unclarified ways at times. However, Christianity's essential four requirements are spelled out in the Apostolic Decree, in Acts 15:23-29. [Cf. WP, sv. "Council of Jerusalem"]

In the light of this basis of Christianity, see how "good Christians" commonly have treated adulterers and compare with how they have treated lovers of blood pudding. Have you noted any difference so far? You never hear of US congressmen who get scandalised for eating blood pudding . . . It seems odd in the light of the Four Requirements of that Apostolic Decree, doesn't it? And if it does not seem odd, isn't that odd as well?

The Apostolic Decree makes it clear that a Christian is required to eat no blood food, and not to commit adultery. These two old requirements stand out as vital - but common church practice is much different, as a result of sabotage, one may conjecture. [See for example the material on Blood sausages and "Good Christianity" on-site. Also: [WP, sv. "Jesusism" and "Apostolic Decree"]

The Trouble with Jesusian Christianity

Yukteswar was asked to work on Christian scriptures, and not just the Jesusian ones (gospels). Salvation in Christianity means a man or woman is made acceptable to God by the Holy Spirit falling on him or her, and not by "lifting up the son of Man" by meditation, as Jesus was into. There was no 'Christianity' at the time of Jesus, though, only follower-Jews. The males of the harsh "Deal of Jesus" that drove away most of his chosen seventy disciples, were without foreskin and without the descended Holy Spirit, but not without enforced Sabbath rest . . . [WP, sv. "Jesusism"]

Jesusism as it is anchored today, was not even born when Christianity was growing strong. All the apostles and the Holy Spirit agreed to enjoin only four requirements on non-Jewish followers, the Christians, but all the gospel teachings of Jesus went unmentioned by them in that Apostolic Decree. It should come as no wonder, since the gospels most likely were composed several decades after the Apostolic Decree. So early Christians got saved without having gospels to believe in. That point may be overlooked rather easily. [Acts 15; cf. WP, sv. "Apostolic Decree"]

Yukteswar includes a bit from the Gospel of John in his "unity book", and that is okay if the other gospels are not vital to the Christianity of all the apostles and the Holy Spirit behind the Apostolic Decree. The written gospels came later.

Snapshot 1: Four Gospels

The majority view today is that Mark is the first Gospel, with Matthew and Luke borrowing passages both from that Gospel and from at least one other common source, lost to history. John was written last and shares little with the three other gospels, the synoptic ones.

The gospels were apparently composed in stages. Mark's traditional ending (Mark 16:9-20) was most likely composed early in the 2nd century and appended to Mark in the middle of that century.

The birth and infancy narratives apparently developed late in the tradition. Luke and Matthew may have originally appeared without their first two chapters.

Estimates for the dates when the canonical gospel accounts were written vary significantly; and the evidence for any of the dates is scanty. Because the earliest surviving complete copies of the gospels date to the 300s and because only fragments and quotations exist before that, scholars propose only likely ranges of dates for the original gospels as follows:

  • Mark: c. 6873, c 65-70. Mark has traditionally been associated with Peter's preaching in Rome, and it is well-suited to a Roman audience.
  • Matthew was probably written in Syria: c. 70100. c 80-85.
  • Luke: c. 80100, with most arguing for somewhere around 85. There is no agreement among scholars about the place of origin.
  • John: c 90-100, c. 90110, The majority view is that it was written in stages, so there was no one date of composition. A popular scholarly choice for the place of origin for the Gospel of John is Ephesus in Anatolia (now Turkey).

[Source: WP, sv. "New Testament", "Gospels"]

There were many more gospels and obscure thoughts circulating in the first few centuries than the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. All of the original copies of the four gospels in the Christian Scriptures have been lost. The gospels in the New Testament come from hand-copied replications removed from the originals. The oldest known surviving part of a gospel dates from about 125 CE. It consists of about 50 lines from the Egerton gospel -- one of the 40 or so gospels that never made it into the official canon.

The four well-known gospels were canonised after Bishop Irenius (ca. 185) in Lugdunum (now: Lyons) had chosen to promote just them. There were also the Apocryphal gospels in circulation in the early church, the Non-canonical gospels, the Jewish gospels and the Gnostic gospels. So any canonised gospel literature was not found during the first few centuries. By the turn of the 400s, the Catholic Church in the west, under Pope Innocent I, recognised a biblical canon including the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. [WP, sv. "Gospels"]

Several early and more or less oral sayings, collections and accounts preceded the "canonical" Gospels. Some Christian scholars maintain that the gospels are inerrant descriptions of the life of Jesus, while other scholars conclude that the gospels provide no historical information about the life of Jesus. As for the Book of Revelation, that Yukteswar also found fit for his purpose, see Fact Sheet 1.

Fact-sheet 1: The Book of Revelation

  • Most scholars think that Revelation was written near the end of the 1st century. Revelation was accepted into the canon at the Council of Carthage of 397 AD. Revelation's place in the canon was not guaranteed, however, with doubts raised as far back as the 2nd century about its character, symbolism, and apostolic authorship. In the 4th century, Gregory of Nazianzus and other bishops argued against including Revelation because of the difficulties of interpreting it and the risk of abuse.
  • Modern biblical scholarship attempts to understand Revelation in its 1st century historical context within the genre of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature. Whereas Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-99) branded Revelation "the insanest of all books", Pope Benedict XVI remarked about the book during a discussion on 23 August 2006: "The seer of Patmos, identified with the apostle, is granted a series of visions meant to reassure the Christians of Asia amid the persecutions and trials of the end of the first century."
  • There is much in Revelation which harnesses ancient sources. John seems to be using his sources in a much different way to the originals. For example, John borrows the 'new temple' imagery of Ezekiel 40 to 48 but uses it to describe a New Jerusalem "which, quite pointedly, no longer needs any temple at all because the new city is now God's own dwelling-place."
  • Ian Boxall writes that the book of Ezekiel in the Old Testament provides the 'backbone' for Revelation. The order of chapters is not the same, though. John rearranges Ezekiel to suit his own purposes. It is the view of G. K. Beale that, however much use John makes of Ezekiel, his ultimate purpose is to present Revelation as a fulfilment of Daniel 7.

[See WP, sv. "Book of Revelation"]

Yukteswar chose Sankhya

Yukteswar settled on adding some passages from the Gospel of John and the little-understood Book of Revelation to his Sankhya exposition in response to what he was told to do by the very secretive yogi Babaji, to write about "the underlying basic unity between the Christian and Hindu scriptures". However, where is such a basic unity? At best, in the mind. But such an idea had better correspond with given facts or good data.

To come around, Yukteswar selected a variant of the Sankhya philosophy as his key Hindu scripture basis, but without even telling of the sources of the Sanskrit verses and lines he has used. I mention this most of all because the ancient Sankhya of the rishi (seer) Kapila is one of six orthodox Hindu philosophies is generally regarded as atheistic, but with a later theistic variant, which Yukteswar uses. Sankhya teaches salvation through knowledge of the dualism of matter and souls, and gives a list of parts of the process.

Snapshot 2: Sankhya

Sankhya is considered as one of the oldest philosophical systems in India. It is one of the six orthodox systems of Hindu philosophy. They have in common that they all recognise the authority of the Vedas.

Ancient Sankhya stands for a pluralistic spiritualism, without any place for a creationist God in it. The old Sankhya denies the existence of Ishvara (God), and maintains there is an intermingled duality between spirit/consciousness (Purusha) and matter (Prakriti).

However, a concept of Ishvara (God) was incorporated into the atheistic Sankhya viewpoint after Sankhya became associated with the Yoga Philosophy, the Pasupata and the Bhagavata schools of philosophy. This theistic Sankhya philosophy is described in the Mahabharata, Puranas and the Bhagavad Gita.

Purusha is the Transcendental Self or Pure Consciousness, eternal, pure consciousness. It remains pure, "nonattributive consciousness", we are told. Sankhya believes in a plurality of Purushas, unlike Advaita Vedanta and the Purva Mimamsa philosophy.

Sankhya regards ignorance as the root cause of bondage and suffering. Once the eternal consciousness, jiva, becomes free of false identification and material bonds, moksha (inner freedom) follows. Some forms of Sankhya teach that moksha is attained by developing the higher faculties of discrimination by meditation and other yogic practices as prescribed in Hindu shastras (i.e., any of the sacred writings of Hinduism), including the Vedas.

Sankhya views of what happens to the soul after liberation vary a great deal, for the Sankhya view is used by many different Hindu sects and is rarely practiced alone.

[WP, sv. "Sankhya"]

Yukteswar makes use of theistic Sankhya, blissfully avoiding atheistic Sankhya. Hoary Sankhya does not allow for God, unlike theistic Sankhya. Sankhya further tells there are "many souls or Selves", whereas Advaita Vedanta says there is One. Advaita is the Hindu philosophy that most gurus adhere to, by the way. The idea of basic oneness in Hindu scriptures looks like a mirage.

Another of the six orthodox philosophical systems in Hinduism is called Yoga Philosophy. It is closely allied to Sankhya, but accepts there is a God. Accordingly, Yukteswar may be said to expound Yoga Philosophy too, since the Sankhya and Yoga Philosophies are very much similar [Wo]. Christianity, on the other hand, is sharply focused on a sheep-catching or sheep-making God of chosen ones.

Enumerative, theistic Sankhya and the Yoga philosophy are two of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy. They do not agree with all the other six schools (darshans) about ultimate verities. The difference between Sankhya and Advaita as to whether there are many selves or One, has been pointed out already. Another point that should not be overlooked, is that one and the same darshan (philosophical system), may contain many different views, as shown above for atheistic and theistic Sankhya. Vedanta also contains subsets of schools with differing views. [WP, sv. "Vedanta"] Also, there are many, many more scriptures of Hinduism than its six orthodox philosophies and their at times differing variants, or "schools". Compare: Hinduism: Literature

Thus, Yukteswar chose Hindu Sankhya philosophy to add Christianity passages to, but there are many Hindu philosophies that do not agree with Sankhya. Yukteswar settled on interpreting figurative Revelation passages as it suited his mission. If such an approach was street-smart, was is smart enough, all in all?

Consider to what degree freedom to think for oneself and settle on one's own conclusions is needed in satisfactory research and higher study.

The bulk of Yukteswar's message is rather common yoga lore, and attuned to the Sankhya philosophy of Hinduism.

Contents


Swami Sri Yukteswar writings and comments, Literature  

Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Philosophical Library, 1946. Online. [More]

Cb: Satyananda, Swami. A Collection of Biographies of 4 Kriya Yoga Gurus. Vol 1. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006. Also at Google Books.

EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Online or as yearly DVD. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2009.

Hos: Sri Yukteswar, swami. The Holy Science. 7th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1972.

Ins: Prabhavananda, sw: The Spiritual Heritage of India. 2nd ed. Vedanta. Hollywood, 1969.

Ith: Flood, Gavin: An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, 1996.

Ky: Dasgupta, Sailendra B. Kriya Yoga and Sri Yukteshvar. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse 2006.

Sf: Klostermaier, Klaus K. A Survey of Hinduism. 3rd ed. Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press, 2007.

Sjs: Horne, Jim. Sleepfaring: A Journey through the Science of Sleep. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Wo: Chatterjee, Satischandra and Datta, Dhirendramohan: An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. 7th ed. University of Calcutta. Calcutta, 1968.

Xm: Radhakrishnan, S. ed: The Cultural Heritage of India, Vol. 3. Rev. ed. Ramakrishna Institute. Calcutta, 1953.

Notes
  1. Felix Just, comp. "New Testament Statistics: Number of Chapters, Number of Verses in Each Chapter, Total Number of Verses, and Total Number of Words in each book of the Greek New Testament."
    catholic-resources.org/Bible/NT-Statistics-Greek.htm
  2. Robinson, B. A. "Christian Scriptures: Conflicts between the Gospel of John and the remaining three (Synoptic) gospels". 1996 to 2008. Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance / ReligiousTolerance.org.
    www.religioustolerance.org/chr_john.htm


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