By Sri Nandanandana Dasa
More connections between Christianity and the Vedic culture can be recognized as follows:
The ancient Vedic custom of applying ash or sandalwood paste to the body is still retained by Christianity in the observance of Ash Wednesday. The so-called “All Soul’s Day” is an exact translation of the Vedic observance of Sarva Pitri Amavasya, the day fixed by tradition for the worship of all deceased ancestors.
Another Christian tradition derived from Vedic origins is that of having and ringing bells in the churches, especially before or during worship. In Vedic temples it is often seen where bells are rung during worship and when pilgrims enter the temple, announcing their entrance. Christian churches also ring bells to announce the beginning of worship. The word “bell” comes from the Sanskrit bal which means strength. This is in reference to the idea that ringing a bell adds force to the voice of prayer in invoking divinity.
When the Christians say “Amen” at the end of their hymns or to emphasize something, what they are saying is a corrupted form of “Aum” or “Om,” which is a standard form of Vedic meditation and name of the Supreme Being.
While we are on the topic of words used in Christianity that are derived from Sanskrit, the Catholic term “Madonna,” another name for Mother Mary, comes from the Sanskrit Mata Nah, meaning “Our Mother.” This is also derived from the great Vedic Mother Goddess. Thus, Mother Mary was a reference not only to the mother of Jesus alone, but a reference to the Goddess, mother of all humanity. Furthermore, the European term of “Madam” is a soft pronunciation of the Hindu term mata or mataji, which also means “Mother.”
The term “vestry” in referring to the room in churches in which holy clothes are kept comes from the Sanskrit word vestra, meaning clothes. Even the word “psalm” with a silent “P” comes from the Sanskrit word sam or sama which means holy and serious sacred songs, hymns or chants, as found in the Sama-veda.
Other Christian links with Sanskrit words can be found in the name Bethlehem, which is the English mispronunciation of the Sanskrit Vatsaldham, which means “the home (town) of the darling child.” The Sanskrit term Nandarath is linguistically connected with Nazareth. Nandarath means Nanda’s chariot, and King Nanda was the guardian at whose village he nurtured Lord Krishna (sometimes pronounced as Chrisn, and later Christ in some regions).
The Christian term “Satan” and the Islamic term “Shaitan” both are derived from the Sanskrit term Sat-na, which means non-truth, falsehood, or fraudulence. The Christians who explain the term “Devil” as a fallen angel should realize that the word is derived from the Sanskrit terminology which signifies a fallen Deva.
At the beginning of the book of John in the New Testament, it states,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
This is actually a verbatim translation of the Vedic Sanskrit mantra: “Prajapatirvai idamagraasit, tasya vag dvitiyaa asit, vag vai paramam Brahma.”
The Holy Spirit in Christianity is called Paramatma in Sanskrit, or Parakalate. In Greek the word is Paraclete. This is the God of that spiritual knowledge which is revealed or descended, or the Veda, which is spoken through the prophets (Sanskrit purohitas) . Veda is Yeda in Hebrew, the word God uses for His Self-revelation in Exodus of the Old Testament. Veda in Greek is Oida, and Aidos, from which the English word idea is derived. The term oida is used for God’s/Christ’s Sel-revelation in the New Testament. Thus, the Vedas, the Old and New Testament, and the related scriptures are but part of one continuous revelation of God.
Dr. Venu Gopalacharya also points out in his book, World-Wide Hindu Culture (pp. 158-9), that in the book of Genesis, Chapter 22, God told Abraham that he and his wife, Sarah, would be blessed and God would,
“make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. . . and through thy seed, shall all nations be blessed because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
Dr. Venu Gopalacharya explains, “Abraham and Sarah [Sarai] refer to [or was derived from] the Indian version of Brahma and Sarasvati. This indicates that this is an abridgement of some of the versions in the Indian Puranas referring to ‘Brahma and his consort as the first aspects of the Supreme Lord or His agents of creation and offering sacrifices [or performing austerities].’ In the commencement of the book of Genesis, the sentence, ‘In the Beginning, God created the heaven and the earth, and the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God moved upon the waters.’ This is similar to the Vedic Puranas stating that MahaVishnu or Narayana was lying on Adisesha in the ocean, [who is] the original source from which Brahma comes into being. The killing of Abel by his brother for the sacrifice of animals refers to the slaying of Asuras by the Devas, their own brothers, due to the difference of opinion about the mode of offering sacrifices or worshiping God.
“Just as Indian Puranas were compiled to glorify a particular aspect of the Supreme Lord as Vishnu, or of Shiva, Durga, Ganesha, etc., the Old Testament deals with ‘Yahwe,’ an aspect of the angry god Rudra. As the word ‘Rudra’ means a weeping god, the Jews for worship use weeping before the wailing wall of the ‘Dome of the Rock’ within the temple of Harmahesh Sri (called by Judaic religionists as Haram Esh Sheriff) in the old city of Jerusalem, i.e., Yadusailam. The Jews spell the name of the city as ‘Yerushalayim,’ of which the Sanskrit synonym is Yadu Ishalayam, which means the temple of the Lord of the Yadus [the descendants of Lord Krishna’s clan].
“Dr. S. Radhakrishnan has informed in his book, Pracya Mattu Paschatya Sanskriti, that the Greeks asserted that the Jews were Indians whom the Syrians called Judea, the Sanskrit synonym of which is Yadava or Yaudheya, and the Indians called them Kalanis, meaning orthodox followers of the scripture.”
This information certainly provides serious insights into the relationship between the early Jews, Christians, the Bible, and the Vedic culture. I could go on pointing out more Eastern traditions that influenced or were adopted and preserved in various levels of Christianity, but this should be enough for now.
Admin: All references from Sri Nandanandana Dasa are included below for all parts of the post, so anyone can go and look them up.