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 (2) on the fictitious basic unity between "the Christian and Hindu scriptures" (3) by use of "parallel references" [read: fragments] that the inspired [?] (4) sons of God had spoken; (5) the same truths, although "sectarian differences" would have it otherwise. [Yogananda 1998, 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 passages from the Gospel of John and 14 from the Book of Revelation in the Bible, and four more passages.
Have a look before you conclude:
EB (Encyclopaedia Britannica) and WP (Wikipedia) have articles on many of the subjects above. There are good books to study in addition to those two sources.
Further, there is a unity spoken of in old Vedic texts, by such terms as "Ekam sat" (Oneness is). In other words, "It's all the same to me," said the boy, he was about to get a beating. (Proverb)
Existential unity is experienced by some in deep meditation - as das Ding an sich.
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 was not studied in the Vedic scriptures, he said; he had no Internet and no access to later-written books on so many subjects.
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.
This survey derives from the often 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 , and another book by Dasgupta is the work Kriya Yoga and Sri Yukteswar.
Identity: Yukteswar wrote a little book as he was asked to do by a stranger he once met. 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. What sayings of Christianity is in Yukteswar's book, is 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 his book 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 perhaps not very much. Yukteswar handed over the book to his disciple Yogananda when Yogananda was sent to the West to spread kriya yoga and its peculiar more-than-one-life 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 Bright Light at Christmas Eve and into Christmas Night.
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. But he did not renounce his inherited property for getting into the swami order. Not him. 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 a bit 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" because of a Missionary Command or two that are called spurious - forged, much as Joseph Wheless shows.
Other literature to check up: Hindu scriptures are many and of somewhat different outlooks.
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. He does not tell he was asked to include astrology in the book, but did it all the same.
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 stupid praise of it has surfaced among comments on Amazon.com for some time. We look into that:
There is some difference between saying you like a book for some reason or other, and hailing its author as divine, faultless and all that. Why? 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 more likely than not?
At Amazon.com there have been commenters on The Holy Science. Silly praisers dominate the reader comments of the book. Among the "reviews" are: "It is difficult to grasp in many places but his wisdom and clarity are unmatched. (Michael Haigh)" And Eric S. Lloyd writes "Sri Yukteshwar in my opinion has been severly under-praised." And another: "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."
Now, how can a person who does not understand a work, feel qualified or fit to judge the author's vision as "faultless"? [Source: Amazon.com; Books: The Holy Science. Page accessed May 7, 2003]
They seem to want something, these proselytes. Clutter-flatter is plainly unpleasant. First to say one does not understand a work and then go on to hail the author as Divine Wisdom incarnated, is a sign of something that was established by Yogananda and secretaries of the Self-Realization Fellowship - the publishers - and various circles.
"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 might well be 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" - whioch is not helpful at all. However, by a faith a sectarian, panegyrical presentation of Yukteswar is "sold" and fit information unwelcome, probably.
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. A good try: The common factors and men and women. People of faiths, different faiths. A faith consists of ideas. Ideas may be superseded, but to transcend them is vastly better. Also, to be able to compare well, there is a need to study Hinduism on its own terms, with reference to its own background too. The Vatican Counsil advocates a sensible approach to Hinduism also.
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 is presented as an accomplished yogi by disciples, but it is also told that his guru did not find him worthy of confidence (!). [Truth will out] But according to things he told his disciple Yogananda, 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, they are counted as only one passage here:
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 . 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:
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? Such 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 three canonical 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. 
As for his Sanskrit passages (in Devanagiri), Yukteswar does not offer any reference to the sources of any of them. However, in newer, SRF-published versions of the book, English translations are supplied, but no references to Sanskrit works cited - not so far.
In Yukteswar's book, the Sanskrit sutras and Yukteswar's elaboration of and comments on them are the main thing and Christian passages are additionals, as suggested by this: The main value of his book may be experienced as just as good without them. Yukteswar settled on seasoning his elaborations 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 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
Whatever a stranger claimed and asked Yukteswar to write a book about, there is no basic unity among several religions. [Autobiography, chap. 36; Au 294].
Now for a survey:
◎ Do you want to end up all alone? Could that be the good goal of Christian salvation, really?
To deal with a mess, first grasp the basics.
See how "good Christians" commonly have treated adulterers and compare with how they have treated lovers of blood pudding and wrangled poultry. You never hear of US congressmen who get scandalised for eating blood pudding or wrangled poultry . . . It seems fallen or odd in the light of the Four Requirements of that Apostolic Decree, doesn't it? (Acts 15:19-29; 21:25) And if it does not seem odd and fallen, isn't that odd and fallen too?
This way of slaugthering poultry is far from kosher. Such "humanely" killed animals must be termed treif. Treif is an adaptation of the Hebrew word treifah. [◦Treif]
The Apostolic Decree makes it clear that a Christian is required to eat no blood food, no wrangled animals, and not to commit adultery. These three old requirements stand out as vital - but common church practice is much different - [Indeed]. Also: [WP, "Jesusism;" "Apostolic Decree"]
The Trouble with Jesusian Christianity
Yukteswar was asked to work on Christian scriptures, and not just the Jesusian ones (gospels with sayings for Jews only, according to Jesus (Matthew 15:24; 10:5-8; Vermes 2012). Salvation in Christianity means a man or woman is made acceptable to God by the Holy Spirit falling on him or her - not by "lifting up the son of Man," as Jesus was into. Kriya yoga is not told of there either. There was no Christianity at the time of Jesus, though, only Jewish followers of his. They were not many, just about 120 when he was executed. Most of his disciples left him too, a gospel tells. The harsh "Deal of Jesus" drove away most of his chosen seventy disciples. They were without foreskin and without the descended Holy Spirit [WP, "Jesusism"]Only twelve remained.
Jesuism as it is anchored today, was not even born when Christianity swelled. The apostles and the Holy Spirit agreed to enjoin only four requirements on non-Jewish followers, the Christians, and all the gospel teachings of Jesus went unmentioned by them in that Apostolic Decree. That is no wonder, since Jesus says explicitly in Matthew 15:24 and 10:5-8 that his teachings, salvation and healing ministry are for Jews only, and Gentiles were strictly left out.
Also, the gospels most likely were composed several decades after the Apostolic Decree. So early Christians got saved without gospels that teach such as "maim yourselves," "embrace poverty and pacifism" and so on. See how many of those who dare to call themselves followers of Jesus, who actually obey his many commands for Jews only . . . [Details, references]. Such points may be overlooked rather easily and there is much hypocrisy around. [Acts 15; cf. WP, "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 and John latest of the four gospels that made it into the Bible.
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, "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:
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 stranger he met, and who told him to write about "the underlying basic unity between the Christian and Hindu scriptures". Where is such a basic unity? At best, in the mind.
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. It may be worth noting that the ancient Sankhya of the rishi (seer) Kapila is one of six orthodox Hindu philosophies is generally regarded as atheistic. However, it has 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. Christian teachings offer nothing like Sankhya.
Yukteswar makes use of theistic Sankhya. Sankhya tells there are "many souls or Selves", whereas Advaita Vedanta says there is One. Advaita Vedanta seems to be the Hindu philosophy that most gurus adhere to in our time.
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, since the ancient Sankhya and Yoga Philosophies are as good as identical but for the different views on whether there is a God or not. [Wo].
Enumerative, theistic Sankhya (a more recent Sankhya variant) may be included in the Sankhya philosophy, and Yoga philosopy is one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophy. They do not agree with all the other six schools (darshans) about ultimate verities. Vedanta also contains subsets of schools with differing views. [WP, "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
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 allotted mission.
◎ 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 and Sankhya philosophy of Hinduism.
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.
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.
User's Guide ᴥ Disclaimer |
© 1999–2019, Tormod Kinnes, MPhil [Email]