Dearly beloved in Christ,

We all are participating in an ecumenical gathering. When we think of ecumenism, it is a matter of fact that, at least around two decades back, it was improbable for a Bishop from a different denomination of Christian Church to address in a congregation of this type. Even though all the Metropolitans of Syrian Christian traditions have a uniform outward appearance as there is no much difference in their dress code, it is a mere reality that they are representing vivid congregations of Christianity. But as we all know, we all bear the vision of same Lord, in all sense. We all confess the same creed of Nyssa and Constantinople. These Creeds are very specifically important matter in our true faith.

In spite of the fact that we belong to Marthomite Church, Orthodox Church, Catholic Church or in any other denomination of Christian Churches, we undeniably proclaim and profess the same true faith of God's Church. This faith is handed over by our Lord through the Apostles and traditionally relayed through generation to generation. Further, we proclaim that the Church is Apostolic in nature, Church is Catholic in nature and the Church is holy. This is the basic characteristic of the Church.

Even though we do not stress on the word ecumenism, as we proclaim the same truth, we all belong to a one unified Church. That is what we repeatedly confess through the creed. Structurally we see diversities, but internally all are one because we all preach about same main theme, Jesus Christ. Whichever denomination of Christian Church we belong to, we do not claim that we believe in different Gods. We all have the same essential doctrine and same sharing of faith in one God.

The real ecumenism is to reach Jesus Christ who is 'The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world'. We should capitalize the thought that even though the Churches are vivid, we are the partakers of the same faith and the same paternity. The Church should be able to see the world as one exactly as Jesus had seen the world as one. In a society where we upheld love as the basic value, the religious proliferation should not upsurge. We are called to become the living stones of Christ's Church. The basics of unity is the continuous Grace of Christ. In order to maintain the noble culture of the Vedic heritage of India, we have to learn the lessons of unity. Christ called us to be in communion with another. Our attitude should dictate and reflect a common desire for greater Christian unity. The cardinal ministry of the Church is to reach Jesus Christ.

[H.G. Kuriakose Mar Savarios who was consecrated as a Bishop in Damascus by the Patriarch of Antioch on January 15, 2004 is the Head of the Malankara Knanaya Church. He is the fourth head of the Knanaya Syrian community and successor of Grand Metropolitan of the East, Abraham Mar Clemis who expired in September 2002. Mar Savarios is the only bishop for this congregation.]

[Ecumenical Meeting - Maramon Convention-2004]
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Jesus Christ presents himself as the real bread of life, which is the cardinal message of this Scripture Verses. The chapter opens with the miracle of feeding the 5000 with five loaves and two fishes. People were so happy with the miracle that they wanted to make him a king but Jesus departed to the mountain on the other bank of the sea. But people were in no mood to leave him; they followed him. Seeing the people’s misguided enthusiasm after seeing the miracle Jesus corrects them saying, “Labor not for the food that perishes but for the food that endures last, which the Son of Man will give you,” v 27. Jesus draws their attention to more serious subject of the necessity to believe in Him who is sent by God. Moses gave them Manna in the wilderness according to what they believe but Jesus corrects them saying Moses did not give them bread from heaven but His Father in heaven gives them true bread from heaven. Then He said that the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world, v 33.

People are now really exited and said to Jesus, “Lord, give us this bread always,” v 34. People reached the climax of expectation of the bread, not knowing well what they were talking about. Now Jesus introduces Himself as the bread of life. Whosoever comes to Him shall never hunger nor thirst. Jesus said that He is doing the will of God and that is not to loose any but raise all in the last day. The people could not understand what Jesus meant for they could not see him anyone more than the son of Joseph and Mary. Jesus said no one comes to Him unless drawn by the father. No one but He who came from God has seen the father. Some thoughts: People were not interested in anything more than their physical need. As ever before, today also man is more craving for physical rather than spiritual enrichments.

We often ascribe more importance to genealogy, family status, etc and fail to discern the greatness in people. What makes people great, high birth or qualitative life is a good fuel for thought. Jesus is revealing His oneness of Essence, Nature and Will with Father. In other words He reveals His true identity claiming deity, which is coequal to Father. Those who saw Him only as the son of Joseph and Mary were at a disadvantage that the Father has not drawn them to believe. According to John disbelieving in Jesus is condemnation. Paul says except by Holy Spirit no one say Jesus is Lord, 1 Cor 12:3.

These days many are led to believe there are many ways and Christianity is one among the many, etc. but Bible says Jesus is not one among the many but the only way. St. John recorded seven statements by which Jesus Christ declared His deity that is; He was one with God the Father. They are:
  1. “I am the bread of life,” 6:35.
  2. “I am the light of the world,” 8:12.
  3. “I am the door,” 10:9.
  4. “I am the good shepherd,” 10:11.
  5. “I am the resurrection,” 11:25.
  6. “I am the way, the truth and life” 14:6.
  7. “I am the true vine,” 15:1.

Bread of life: The word, ‘Bread’ generally denotes the staple food, the basic necessity for sustenance of life. Thus the staple food of all animate beings, both plant and animal kingdom is bread and has special reference to human consumption. By claiming Jesus, as bread He implied that without Him one could not sustain life rather, He was indispensable for the human life. He is not simply bread but bread of life; the true bread, the living bread, the heavenly bread and thus expounded its eternal dimension. He is necessary not only for life in this world but also for life eternal. Luke’s saying of eating bread in the kingdom of God indicates messianic banquet, 14:15.

The name: It has many names. “Breaking of bread” and “The Lord’s Supper” are the terms used for Eucharist in the Bible. Lord commanded to do it in His remembrance and so the apostles were very eager to do it as often as they could. In other words, one of the basic purposes of their assemblage was to ‘break the bread.’ Concept about ‘bread of life’ culminated in the establishment of Holy Eucharist. ‘Eucharist’ means thanksgiving. Mor Ignatius Noorono of Antioch first employed this term, then it appeared in ‘Didache’ (the advise of the twelve apostles to the Gentiles) and then it came to be widely used because Jesus gave thanks to God, the Father at the Last supper, Mat 26:27, 1 Cor 11:24.

Certain congregational factions confuse it with Agape meal, which was held immediately before the ‘breaking of bread,’1 Cor 11:20. Agape meal became extinct as corruption crept in as also due to practical reasons, in due course of time. Present ‘Burksa’ is symbolic reminiscence of agape in ancient times. Again, Agape was full-fledged meal and commonly shared without formal liturgy. Probably the name ‘Holy Communion’ (Koinonia), widely used in western churches, is derived from Agape meal. ‘Anaphora’ is another name for Eucharist in Greek, which means ‘offering.’

New Testament Anaphora is the pinnacle culmination of the Levite offerings. Clement of Rome was the first Apostolic Father to designate the title, ‘Offering’. Bread and wine we offer in the liturgy represents the fruit of our labor. In fact the faithful offer themselves wholeheartedly in purity to the will of God. Thus the priest’s prayer during preparation (Tooyobo), “Grand us in meaningful service, to offer ourselves to Thee a living and acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to thee… and become Thy clean and spotless sheep” is intensely personal, sublime and meaningful. In Syriac it is, “Koorobo” derived from “Kareb” that means to come near, touch, etc. God comes to humanity and humanity touches God in the Eucharist and hence Koorobo, is very apt. It is also called “sacrifice”, another name for offering. Sacrifice should not be construed as a repetition of ‘the once and for all sacrifice’ that Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross for the atonement of the sin of the whole world and of all ages but as partaking in reality the great redemption that Jesus Christ achieved for us.

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15. Blessed are those who can see God in others and in themselves; for they can love and respect others and have self-respect.

Every one is created in the image of God and has infinite potentialities. Hence we have to love and respect people as God's own children.

St.Paul says, "Whatever your tasks, work heartily as serving the Lord and no men." (Col. 3:23) Respecting others as if God were in their place is the highest respect we can think of. If we try to give this kind of respect, we will be respected back in a similar way. This mutual respect is to be maintained in all circles. This will solve all problems in families and other societies.

The Hindu custom of greeting with folded hands and bowing down saying "namaste", is a way of worshipping God in the other person. This spirit of respect is to be maintained in all our dealings. Self-respect also will help us to respect others. Then, earth will become a heaven.

Prayer: O Lord, help us to respect one another, as your own children.

16. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness by identifying themselves with the needy; for they shall be filled." (St. Matt. 5:6)

The intensity of one's joy in the welfare of others, depends on the intensity of one's love for them. Our Lord's whole life was an example for whole-hearted love. Bon Hoeffer, the great German theologian spoke of our Lord as "The man of others." Hence there was the fullness of joy in the life of our Lord. We also should have this kind of hunger and thirst for the welfare of others. Just imagine the zeal of a hungry man in eating and drinking.

A very good example for the hunger and thirst for righteousness is Abraham Lincoln, who worked for the freedom of the slaves and was killed by his enemies.

Prayer: Grant us O' Lord, to see others as your children, and to love them with the whole of our heart, soul and mind.

17. Blessed are those who humble themselves before God and men; for they will be exalted.

Our Lord says, "For all who exalt themselves, will be humbled and those who humble themselves, will be exalted." (St. Luke 14:11) If anyone tries to exalt himself/herself by proclaiming his/her good deeds and achievements, and by revealing the weakness and sins of others in contrast, others will be tempted to find out his/her shortcomings and to humiliate him/her. On the other hand, if anyone humbles oneself by refusing to speak of one's good deeds and tries to speak about good things of others, people will be tempted to exalt him/her by speaking about his/her good things.

Prayer: Grant us O' Lord the spirit of humility and respect in all our dealings with people.

18. Blessed are those who count others as better than themselves; for they shall be sincerely loved and respected by all.

St. Paul says, "In humility regard others as better than yourselves." (Phil. 2:3). In reality, some people may be lower than us. But we have to respect them as if they are better than we are. Just imagine a person respecting others who are poor, foolish and indecent, as if they are richer, more intellegent and more decent. Then the response will be whole-hearted respect, because, the deepest craving in man, is the craving for appreciation. St. Paul again says "Out-do one another in showing honor" (Rom. 12:10) Our Lord showed the respect for His disciples by washing their feet (St. John 13:5) He says "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentile and lowly in heart" (St. Matt. 11:29)

Prayer: O Lord, grant that we may respect others, as if they are better than ourselves.


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In the ever-recorded history of mankind, woman has never tasted the fruits of equal status and equal opportunities that which she can afford today. All the worldwide religions cherished the same attitude of keeping her as a pawn of man’s whims and fancies. Even God’s chosen races, Judaism and Christianity, and even Jesus didn’t come forward to salvage her from the plight of her onward struggle for independence and emancipation during the dark ages of her so- called never ending miseries. It is a fact that women have been subjected to various kinds of brutalities and inhuman treatments ever since the dawn of history, while she used her tongue as a double - edged sword for offensive and defensive purposes, together with her tears. It is not the salvation providing religions that have blessed her with the fruits of equality and fraternity but the proletarian working classes and their unions helped her lately to be on equal footing with man in every arena of life.

Despite the religions of the developing and underdeveloped countries still allegedly try to keep her as men’s slaves under the pretext of religion, it is the goodwill of the developed nations, which carved out the opportunities for her to be in par with the rights of man. The birth right of equal pay for the same job done by man and woman paved the way for alleviating her rights into every vista of life, wrestling down the rulers and the ruled to treat every one within the same framework on the principle of equality and equal opportunities, irrespective of religion, ethnicity and sex. Although these are only the bubbles of apparent signs of freedom bequeathed from labour unions, all such achievements are made possible by the blessings of a ‘god beloved by women’ (Dan.11: 37). Eden being the genesis of all our woes, our eyes are always focused towards it.

There was a time when there was no woman at all, an age is coming in the future when there is no more woman left. Basing on Darwin’s Theory of Origin of the Species, the modern theologians construe that the day referred to in the creation theory does not confine to a single solar day (Gen.1: 5;Ps.90: 4) for all those 7 days. If so, is it right to assume that Adam lived an aeon before the creation of Eve without ‘eating the forbidden fruit’, the commandment given to him by God? Despite God breathed into Adam’s nostrils, there is no indication that He breathed into Eve’s, nor is there any evidence of giving the commandment to her about the gall fruit before her fall from grace. God neither spoke nor given any commandment to her before the fall. The blessing of them to have children (Gen.1: 28) can only be treated as an introduction to the narration of creation drama, followed by different stages in the creation of man and woman in chapter 2. This is the Hebrew style of exposition rather than treating it as a gig jaw puzzle of compiling the narrative from different writers. While the incident of eating the fruit was given in the 2nd chapter, blessing of them to have children in the 1st chapter is out of place and ridiculous because they could procreate children only after the eyes of their nakedness was opened by eating the forbidden fruit, as delineated in the 3rd chapter.

The portrayal of creating man first and woman later is also authenticated in the introduction (1:27). “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them”. The creation of Eve is from the rib and its flesh of Adam, whereas man is formed from the dust of the earth. It is likely that it was easy for God to create Adam and Eve together from the dust at the same time, but the creation of Eve from the marrow and blood of Adam was to accomplish the complementing partnership and support needed for him and a source of help for God in the propagation of the species, in case man was succumbed to the poisonous fruit. Complementarities don’t mean equality; no one is entirely equal among the 600 billion people wandering over the earth now. Human beings are biologically equal in a peripheral sense, but not as individuals. Seemingly it may be true to say that life was transmitted to Eve not from God’s breathing into her nostrils but from Adam’s body (transplantation) cells, as it happens in every conception thereafter, so that they may live in complementing partnership for the procreation of the race till the Heavenly mansions are replenished for the loss of Lucifer’s rebellion against God.

There is an element of mystery in Eve’s creation; it is a play within the play of creation, casting an enigma of diversity and contradiction in the temperamental capriciousness of her make-up mentally and physically. Her physical growth, unlike men, depends on giving birth children, for example mammary glands and other internal system, together with comes to the inner maturity and development. As femininity is meant only for this plane, her vibrations of thought mainly linger around this material realm as the centre of attraction that helps her to bring up her children and care her husband. As there is a craving of imperfection in her, she aspires to supplement it with the proximity of man from where she originated, for which she adds ornaments and cosmetics for attraction of attention with a vivacious thirst of togetherness with him.

As the qualities of womanliness, such as: love, compassion, devotion and patience, are also sucked out of Adam for the formation of woman, he also has a yearning to cleave with her always to complement his deficiencies. Sexual urge is the common denominator given to both to come together for the perpetuation of the species. Thus man is created as an instrument in the process of worshipping God, whereas Eve’s role is to enhance a conducive, spiritual climate in Adam and in his progeny, which apparently is the key for her salvation. “He for God, and she for God in him”(John Milton). There is a clear-cut formula for God in the creation of Nature, man and woman, and a pre-set role prescribed for them. Writing millions of pages cannot solve the puzzles and riddles that conglomerate with in the creation theory. We have to plough out the reasons behind the mysteries of not allowing woman to be a celebrant of the Divine Mysteries till towards the latter part of the 20th century.

The testimonies of St.Paul who was raised to Paradise to experience the bliss of the celestial bliss are of immense importance. “Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty”(I.Tim.2: 13-15;Eph.5: 22-33). “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord”. He also claims that he delivered to us what he received from God (1.Cor.11: 23). The H. church has been practicing what the Fathers “have heard, seen, looked upon and touched with our hands (1.Jn.1: 1;Acts.4: 20), concerning the word of life”. These Fathers are the ‘insiders’, as in the words of Jesus. He says to the insiders, “To you has been given the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables; so that they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand; lest they should turn again, and be forgiven”(Mk.4: 11-12). While the Lord gives the secrets to the insiders, He gives the emanations of the same in parables only to the outsiders. The insiders are the holy people who produce the fruits of the Spirit of God and receive the gifts of the H. Spirit (1.Cor.12; Gal.5). “Not all men can receive this, but only to those to whom it is given”, says Jesus. Those outsiders should implicitly obey the Fathers and prophets (Lk.16: 29-31); contrary to this can only lead to the path to Hades (Jas.3: 1).

The keynote of our life is to grow to mature Heavenly manhood, “ ...because they are equal to angels and are sons of God”(Lk.20: 36). “...until we all attain to the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to the mature manhood... (Eph.4: 11-17). The only begotten Son is our lodestar there (Eze.1: 26) by taking His birth as a man. All the angels are men (Eze.1: 5). The fallen angel Lucifer is also a man. “Is this the man who made the earth tremble...”(Is.14: 16)? The Lord says that the dead are like angels in Heaven, as are like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Mt.22: 29-32). There is no femininity in Heaven; it is confined only to the terrestrial life, the short gap arrangement of 7000 years is only a dot in timelessness. While Satan seduced woman to defeat God at the very outset of their battle after the creation of man, the Omniscient and Omnipotent God used the same weapon of nakedness in diffusing the power of Death (opening the eyes of nakedness) that besieged the first parents by taking His birth as Son of God in the second Eve. The femininity given to woman is to replenish the earth by being in union with her husband, so as to nurture and care her family members who could serve God, church and society at large fruitfully. He is the giver, and she the recipient in their aspiration of reciprocating each other for the completion of God’s work.

Woman attains to mature manhood either by having complementing union with her husband in true faith (1.Tim.2: 15) or by being in close association with the celestials. There is only manhood and sonship in Heaven (Rom.8: 23;Mt.5; 9,45); hence the 2nd Heaven, church, should be immune from all kinds of sexual affinities and transactions. While the sun represents manhood, woman for moon (Mt.13: 43) revolves around the sun for the culmination of manhood. Ideal motherhood and Christian complementing partnership is the narrow track for the attainment of eventual mature manhood to woman because she brought Death to mankind by becoming a ploy of Satan. The church Fathers are of the opinion that the hand that touched the forbidden fruit is forbidden to grasp the fruit of the Tree of Life (H.Eucharist). Man’s masculinity and manliness doesn’t give any guarantee for the metaphorical sonship and mature manhood or ‘maleness’ of Heaven; let Judas be a lesson for our life. While masculinity, not manhood, is also circumscribed to this earth, Heavenly sonship and mature manhood devoid of sexual propensity is entirely a different connotation in the celestial planes. As Christ is the head of the church, man is only the head of the family in this world.

Dina, the only daughter of Jacob, was excluded from the other 12 tribes of Israel. Aaron and his only male children of the Levite family were segregated for the service at the Altar. Even the animals that sacrificed at the altar were only males. The commandment given to Eve by God that she will give birth children with labour pain is not at all altered. God doesn’t like to be present at the place of sacrifice where His enemy’s ammunition of sex and its flavours are exhibited. God is not happy with the monthly time clock of women and its routine biological fluctuations and rhythms that affects the sanctity during the time of celebrating the worship (Lev.15: 25-30). The conception and birth of the Word Incarnate in the virgin (before the onset of biological clock) is only an example. To hide the nakedness of Jesus on the cross an all-pervading darkness swallowed up the landscape. A woman is permitted to come to the place of worship only after 40 days of childbirth (Lev.12). Despite man also is not immune from such defilements; he is comparatively safer than the other one (Lev.15; 1-18). “You shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it”(Exo.20: 26). St.Mary who gave forth Jesus and Mary Magdalene who made the first testimony of Jesus’ resurrection were neither selected as apostles nor were invited at the time of institutionalizing the H.Eucharist.

Jesus and the apostles had many women associates and disciples. Apostleship and discipleship are of remote poles. Parish is one thing and the parish school is another thing. No liturgical duties have been assigned to a woman so far despite there were prophetesses and deaconesses doing other works of God at some stages. It is likely that deaconess’ position was abolished because of eventual sexual corruption at holy places. Woman’s service at the altar has been a sacrilege till now. As woman being the centre of attraction for various reasons, her celebration may distract the attention of many, inviting the diabolical forces there. This is the predicament in the decision-making venues, too. The worship should not become a place of animal magnetism of the flesh. Beware; her upper part of the body is also a part of the genital therapy. To look at a person with the lust of the eye is also a derision (Mt.5: 28). Where there is a magnet and iron filing, togetherness is automatic and spontaneous.

Woman being the weaker sex ( 7), her place at the altar become a focus of attraction, the abomination of desolation. A recent research revealing that man in his make- up is more prone to heart attack than woman unlock the truth that man and woman are created for the fulfillment of God’s specific assigned duties at various spheres of life. Despite both are the products of the flesh and blood; their formation is of different formula and for diverse means and purposes, like water that exists in different forms as ice, frost and steam. While one is the progenitor, the other one is the genitor. The impracticalities of the multi-faced biological ups and downs and theological impossibilities for a woman to be a celebrant divorces her from the essential purposes meant by the Creator (1.Cor.4: 7). Those who want to have more evidences to plunder into a more critical study read my book, ‘Is the ordination of woman a sin?’(5th volume of the Abomination of Desolation series comprising of 12 volumes).

Feminism is the agenda of secularism, not of the church. “When you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place, let the reader understand and let those...”(Mt.24: 15). The ‘gods of women’, as portrayed by prophet Daniel (Dan.11: 37) and alluded by Jesus above, are the deities of feminism, the women’s Liberation Movement and female ordination, the last sign of the Lord’s coming. The clerics offer the H.communion in every church while standing. Apart from female clergy there are gay celebrants, another face of the abomination of desolation, who lead and feed the flock with ‘leavened bread, the bread and wine of the Pharisees and Sadducees’. “Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together”(Mt.24: 28). When the life-giving Spirit of God doesn’t brood within the bread of the altar, it remains as simple bread, the lifeless body.

The portrayal of Antichrist taking his seat in the temple of God (2.Thess.2: 4) and the abomination of desolation, female and gay clergy, standing in the holy place are staggering examples of how God locks mysteries and unlocks at the ripeness of time. The 4 empires (Dan.7: 3-8; 2:29-45) represented by 4 animals (lion, bear, leopard and a 10- horned ferocious one) in Daniel’s dream finger point to for king Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian empire, the Roman empire, the British empire and the Communist Soviet empire. These are detailed in the first volume (The 2nd coming of Jesus on the basis of Daniel’s prophesy) of my book, The Abomination of the Desolation series. The eagle is a part and parcel of these animals. The lion is the king of the animals, and the eagle the king of the birds; they are the ferocious predators preying upon all the animals and birds. “The first beast was like a lion and had eagles’ wings (Dan.7; 4), the wing of abominations employed by one who makes everything desolate”(Dan.9: 27). The wings of abominations are sexual profligacy and female clergy.

The lion in the dream is the Antichrist (Beast), which gains more power and vehemence in the vacuum that created by the collapse of the 4th empire, and the female and gay clergy stand for abominations. While the abominable clergy celebrates the mysteries it remains as mere bread due to the absence of the Spirit of God. Desolation means emptiness and abomination stands for hateful or wicked things. This desolator, symbolically narrated as a Beast (Rev.13) from Babylon (the combined areas of the present Iran and Iraq),‘the man of lawlessness who opposes and desolates and exalts himself against every so-called god,...proclaiming himself God”(2.thess.2.3-4) is the Antichrist, the embodiment of the sum total of all the bestial personifications of all the animals of the prophet’s dreams. This so-called god, Antichrist the ruler of the whole world, is the ‘one beloved by women’ whose lethal weapon is feminism and female ordination that allows the man of lawlessness to take his seat in the temple of God. ‘The son of perdition’ who disarmed the garment of glory in Eden by making Eve as a ploy for his cunning devices for defeating God, hires feminism and female priesthood at the consummation of time so as to make the temple as a place of desolation of the Spirit of God.

If the female priesthood does not take its roots in the Orthodox and Roman churches, the churches that believe in the transformation of bread and wine as the Body and Blood of Christ in the natural process, the Antichrist will honour the god of women in those churches in the first year of his rule. Hence the Antichrist is the lion, the vulture the abomination of desolation of feminism and same-sex union, nurtured by both genders.

A section of womenfolk of few churches demand only the equal participations in the area of attending the parish General Body and the right to have equal status in the decision making venues, not as celebrants, knowing well that such associations in parish life can certainly lead to varied types of sexual immoralities adversely affecting individuals, families and the parish life as a whole. If priesthood is not their goal, why shouldn’t they respect and obey their husbands’ decisions? ( 5-6).

Allowing all the adult members of the same family attending the meetings is very detrimental because the big families in size, wealth and influence will prod over the meek-hearted and low-income believers to their ruin. The grim face of money withers away the roots of our faith. In this age of female sex power, the virgin faith is already molested by the inter-denominational, inter-religious and dating marriages and inter-cultural affinities even under the present set-up. They already reached to the 3rd step in the ladder of their progress. The first step was to take the baptized girls to the Sanctuary for additional blessings at the altar. After mounting the 2nd step of equality in attending all the meetings in some parishes they climbed to the third step of reading the Bible lessons and serving the Communion by the push given by the clergy and the laity. The same thing will happen as in the other denominations that proceeded step by step from equal participation to priesthood, and from there to bishopric and so on. No one can curtail this upsurge while the feminists and their lobbying groups hailing from both sexes and all walks of life yell out and thrust forward to breakdown all the assuming strong and iron walls of separation that have been erected by a so-called minority group of male chauvinists for the exploitation of women for all these time.

It is proved beyond doubt that the fiery dart of Satan who plucked away Eve from God and Adam is exhilarated again for a while by using the same means of tricking the modern Eves. Despite the Beast reigns the whole world for 7 years with a wrenched hand, “ the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and posses the kingdom for ever, for ever and ever”(Dan.7: 18). During the Last Judgement, the Shepherd segregates us as sheep and goats, not as men and women as womanhood comes to extinction by then forever, though the form and appearance may remain the same (Rev.12: 1).

Love is the lingua franca in Heaven. Human beings that created in the image and likeness of God are also expected to speak in the same language. The derogatory language of sexism, feminism, and male chauvinism...are all alien stuff imported from another plane. I am not writing with a prejudiced view, despite there are hundreds and hundreds of blasphemous books, like: The word According to Eve by Cullen Murphy, A History of God and The Gospel According to Woman by Karen Armstrong, God, A Biography by Jack Miles and The Female Eunuch by Germane Greer, shedding debris and shrapnel of sacrileges and profligacy all around the global markets. Any discrimination, any exploitation, any malice against anybody is a sin. Trespassing the tradition of only man serving at the altar since the cradle of history is a rebellion triggered by the passion of the flesh. The church hierarchy should be quite conversant with what all filths are shredded into the community by the humanists and civil libertines. Female priesthood has been a forbidden fruit (abomination of desolation) from the onset of time. ‘To know thyself’ is the real aim of life. This can be achieved only by living in tune with the assigned natural and ethical roles of life prescribed by Nature and God. Rebellion against Nature and the Creator will crash-land into the territory of the fallen angels who bequeathed the same fate in the antiquity. “ I AM WHO I AM”(Exo.3: 14).

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Like it or not, though not often publicly said, actual reason for most in-law feud, quarrels, torture, separations and divorces is the ugly toad-dowry. More aggravating fact is that women often take lead in persecuting their own kind to extract money and materials. Our people no matter how well educated, highly placed or where they live, live in the backwaters of Kerala dowry culture and cannot bid farewell to this most heinous monster. Despite high literacy level in Kerala and popular movements against dowry and women’s liberation from kitchen to high-tech executives our vast majority faithful still live in the past. Even after satisfying all compatibility standards marriage will be unpleasant without handsome dowry! Dowry demand is proportionate to education, profession, employment, appearance and family status. If the boy is doctor, engineer, pharmacist, professional, etc demand is higher. Gulf-employment in the late 60s and 70s were dream of most parents and there was scrambling rush to get their daughters married to Gulf employed at any cost. This spiraling dowry trend reached skyrocket level that created too many hardships to ordinary people. A study of 3000 Gulf-wives in Calicut showed that 90% of them suffered serious mental disorders.

Then the rush was shifted to US immigrants. The same yardstick applies to girls too. If a girl is beautiful, professional, etc bargaining power of parents are more. Employment enhances the bargaining power and better chances of selection. Main idea behind preference to employed partner also is steady and long-term income instead of a fixed lump-sum payment. Thus marriage has become the most ugly barbaric commercial business. If the bride does not bring expected level of dowry, the in-laws especially mother-in-law and sister-in-law brainwashes the boy to distract more money employing various modus operandi including mental and physical torture. Truth behind most unsolved stove blasts, suicides, etc is unceasing torture for dowry. What happens here is relegating womanhood to a substandard commercial commodity, which is an affront to the very principle of equality in creation and a deterioration of morality.

Birth of a girl was considered disfavor even in Vedic times and yet there was no discrimination on the basis of sex. Manu, the Hindu Lawgiver, who set forth rights and duties of women says, “They should not prove false to each other till death.” Women had the right for peaceful living in the husband’s house, say Hindu scholars.

Kerala Government and Supreme Court banned the dowry long back making it illegal to offer and receive. The paradox is, while most secular organizations welcomed the government and court actions, the so-called Christians stood against it. They interpreted it as an encroachment on privacy but the fact was that they were worried about loosing their income. Churches miserably failed to educate the biblical principle of tithing in order to sustain and instead embraced the most unbiblical and unethical way of extracting dowry percentage, which unjustly taxed numerous less-fortunate people. Churches refuse “Desakuri” without giving “Pasaram,” percentage of dowry. There are numerous instances of victimizing poor people on this score. Rival church denominations exploited this rigidity to their advantage.

Though court established equal rights law for male and female on parent’s property Christians never carried out it. The famous Mary Roy case verdict set at rest equal rights for parent’s properties with retrospect effect on marriages that took place after 1956 but the Church and leaders are still nostalgic to implement it. So it is the church that encouraged this most immoral and unchristian custom for their survival. Now they renamed it, Sthree-avakasam (woman’s right!) but the boat is still in the same old spot and no woman ever got her rightful share. Unless there is social awakening rather uprising against the evils of dowry among male members of society no law or verdict could ever bring relief to women, dowry victims. While Hindu woman and her children are treated affectionately in father’s house Christian woman experiences the opposite.

But it is unfair to think women alone are dowry victims. While urban boys would choose rural girls urban girls would never prefer rural boys. Parents of employed girls and who could afford handsome dowry would always choose boys with higher level of education and employment status. There is a myth in our society that man should be one step higher than woman in education and employment, preferably economically independent. As a result the poor and middle class boys are at a disadvantage and economic disparity widens.

How this unchristian system engrossed the Indian Christians beyond correction? Dr Vatsala Rao says it was popular in Brahmins community that started giving share value of family property as alternative to dividing family properties. Later, all other communities adopted it. This may not be relevant to Kerala Hindus because matriarchal (Marumakkathayam) system was prevalent among them, especially Nair majority, where women had lineage rights. Though there are several instances where parents part with decent amount as dowry the concept of equal share-value was never a viable practice. Economic consideration is good as seed money to start the basic institution of marriage, not vile in itself, but it has become a fatal cancer of society because of misuse and the real victims are the lower middle class and the poor, both men and women alike. Even in Jewish community where women were considered lesser to men bridegroom gave money or material to bride’s parent called bride-gift as in the case of Isaac to Rebecca. Even now such system is prevalent in villages of Nepal and elsewhere. Neither in Old Testament nor in New Testament nor in the writings of apostolic fathers we find any reference to support dowry. Thus it is absolutely unbiblical and immoral but who would stop it!

There is another downside of the coin. Dave was prospective candidate for marriage. He argued for a whole night to convince his parents not to ask dowry. Parents argued that girl’s party would consider it a weakness if we do not demand dowry. Later it was proved that the parents were right because that is the mind-set of most people in our culture. Dave got a proposal from a well to do family. When the question of dowry came up Dave’s father said, “Do what you like for your daughter. We have no demand.” They doubted something wrong with the boy, why an educated and decently employed one will forgo dowry, and went for a full-scale inquiry about Dave’s job status, social status, conduct, etc. The enquiry turned out favorably. Marriage was conducted without much fanfare. Except that they met the immediate minimum expenses neither gave dowry nor gave portion of property. Those who speak high principles should be willing to forgo both dowry and share that is, one should be happy even when one does not get a farthing; that is the lesson. Dave practiced what he preached. The first thing Dave’s wife said after marriage was, “You made a big mistake. You should have asked dowry. Father was ready to give if asked for it,” etc. The fact is, all women like to receive either dowry or property. But Dave does not have any regret till today nor mistreats his wife. The family had 5 acres fertile land and 2 acres paddy field in a high marketable area. Both sons are married and live in a foreign country. Father suffered a mild stroke in 1996. Older son went to native place and first thing he did after father’s recovery was to take him stealthily to sub-registrar and execute partition deed between brothers. This father wept saying, “My son took me to coffee shop, made me sign partition deed as he wrote, did not even read it to me, bribed Rupees 10,000 (100x100) to sub-registrar. Everything was pre-arranged and over in 5 minutes. Sub-registrar did not ask even one question. He tore the Will I wrote, and did not keep provision for mother.” etc. This guy’s family is known prayer warriors in his parish. This leads one think what kind of Christianity we profess when we fail to evoke sense of fairness and compassion to one’s own parents and siblings.

Tragedy in our society is that we seldom have in-laws who mutually accommodate and live in harmony as Christian witnesses. In one case in-law-parents and siblings were extremely passive. But the new daughter-in-law understood that her husband was inefficient and developed contempt about his job status and started behaving erratically, abused husband, siblings and parents for everything. The henpecked husband shortly became mere toy in her hands. Abuse, profane language, disrespect to parents, sibling quarrel, etc made the house a hell within short period. It is essential that both mother-in-law and daughter-in-law understand and cultivate mutual respect, love, care, submission, cooperation, forgiveness and reconciliation to build a peaceful Christian home. This could be achieved only by obedience to biblical moral and ethical principles of interpersonal relationship. Let Naomi and Ruth be guide in our homes. Man must have manliness and woman should have womanhood instead of arguing and rushing to establish rights and privileges. Son should take initiative to find a solution and if needed should get help from parish priest or professional counselor. Bible says, “Cleave unto the wife and honor the parents.” This means, he ought to be judicious, compassionate, just, fair and impartial. Absence of Christian virtues is the root of all problems, seek and follow them.


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[Late Dr. Paulose Mar Gregorios is considered as one of the greatest philosopher, theologian, thinker and religious personaility of the past century after swami vivekananda. The text is based on the Profile of Late Dr. Paulos Mar Gregorios and his speech in Chicago Nov, 1989 at the inaugural address of the centennial of the World Parliament of religions published by Delhi Orthodox Center.}



Mar Gregorios will be remembered by the Church as a modern teacher of their ancient faith, and by the reading public for the many books and papers he wrote in several languages, particularly in English and Malayalam. The recurring themes of his writings reflect the quest for truth and love, freedom and creativity, peace and justice.

He was not for other-worldly mysticism which ignored man's sinful reality; nor was he impressed by secular humanism that was unconcerned about 'the source of our being.' As he wrote his book Cosmic Man, The Devine Presence with reference to the teachings of Gregory of Nyssa, 'Thought is not scholastic to the extent of eleiminating the element of mystery; but then neither is it an unintellectual mysticism' (p. xviii).

Mar Gregorios was of course sensitive to the need for urgent response to human suffering compounded by many-sided poverty. Of this, his modest efforts for stonecutters of Tughlakabad in Delhi and the orphaned boys at Thalakodu in Kerala are examples. What concerned him more basically was the futility of 'swabbing the floor without closing the tap.' He wanted the socio-economic system that regularly reproduced poverty to be altered. This explains his life-long interest in politics. He was not in politics but of politics.

Whenever he found time, he dialogued with the leaders of both the political Right and Left. Not surprisingly, he had a better wavelength with the latter. He held up a mirror to them to show how India, in particular, was impoverished not only for historical reasons but also by an ecological crisis and the so called 'secularization.'

Way back in 1978, he stated in his book, The Human Presence, 'The affairs of the world are largely in the hands of people who are expert at making money, waging war and playing politics', and proceeded to present 'An Orthodox view of Nature.' On Secularism, so fashionable among some intellectuals, he was equally clear and sharp. In a recent essay, he wrote: 'Secularism creates communal conflict because it brutally attacks religious identity, while pretending to be tolerant of all religions. It claims to be neutral towards all religions, equidistant from them, but it refuses to acknowledge itself as basically a religious ideology with a powerful propaganda machine' (India International Centre Quarterly, 22-1/1995).

In his book, Enlightenment: East and West (1989), he develops a critique of European Enlightenment. He asks the elight in India, who have so easily borrowed from the liberal humanism an technological civilization of the West, to step back and take a second look:

"We need to face all three forms of European Enlightenment now confronting us - Enlightenment of liberalism, imperialist pragmatism, and socialist humanism. We have to learn from all these, but critically so. ....The better values of European Enlightenment are embodied in socialism, but we need to deepen them by putting them on a more secure and more transcendental foundation. ....We have the (spiritual) resources hidden away among our people to meet the challenge. They are waiting for some new light that can quicken their creativity. This new light can not come from top down. The job of our elite is to enable our people to become the co-authors od a new enlightenment.

The book was acclaimed in the West.

Mar Gregorios did not share the view that all religions said same thing, but agreed that religions had common elements. Therefore, inter-religious dialogue for cooperation had untapped potential. During his 20 years in Delhi, he had extremely cordial and productive relations with the spiritual leaders of the Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, Jain and Sikh religions.

Mar Gregorios had an abiding interest in education, which he maintained through children's easy access to him, through the schools run by the Church, and by interaction with educationalists besides working as the Principal of Theological College. Also, he was for reviving the tradition of women's active involvement in church affairs.

Illness during the closing years of his life seemed to have re-activated his interest in 'holistic health and healing.' He organized a major International seminar in February 1995 in Surajkund (near New Delhi). The papers prepared for it, including those by him, and its report (on which he was personally working in his last days) are valuable for the alert public as well as for medical practitioners from the different systems of healing. Bringing them together to re-examine their assumptions was a purpose which the consultation substantially achieved. Mar Gregorios sought a healing touch to a wounded society.


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The Most Rev. Dr. Alexander Mar Thoma was born on 10th April 1913 in Kuriannoor, a fertile village on the Pampa river wedged between Maramon and Ayiroor, two important centres of reformation. The baby was pet-named Chandy or Kunjachen. His father was Rev. M.C. George of Maliekkal and his mother was Aleyamma of Angilivelil, Maramon. Rev. M.C. George was a leading clergyman of the Marthoma Church. Kunjachen had five siblings: four sisters and a brother.

His father, Rev. M.C. George, passed away when the young Kunjachen was just 10 years old. This was turning point in his life. Being the eldest son, he had to assume responsibility for the family at a tender age and stand by his god-fearing mother in the struggle to bring up six young children under economically strained circumstances. He was sketched this early period of his life in his autobiography, "under the shadow of God's grace". It is an amazing book that testifies to the world on how he lived all his life under cover of God's grace.

Kunjachen did his schooling in Kuriannoor and Kozhencherry. He was voracious reader of books in Malyalam and English and his reading list was very wide which included religious books as well. Through the help of a maternal uncle he was able to proceed to University studies at Maharaja's College, Ernakulam and he passed the intermediate examination in first class. While at Ernakulam he was in the habit of attending lectures of Hindu scholars and gurus, as he was keen to understand Hinduism in order that he can discuss religion with his fellow students, many of who were Hindus. Thus began his abiding interest in interfaith understanding.

He got a scholarship to the Union Christian College, Alwaye - an ecumenical educational institution - born of the pioneering efforts of the leaders from Jacobite, Mar Thoma and Anglican churches. His scholarship covered only the college fees but a generous cousin, daughter of Rev. A.V. George of Anglican Church, provided the funds for his boarding expenses. Kunjachen (M.G. Chandy) was attracted to Gandhian ideals and simple living at this time, which he followed all his life.

After his graduation he had to seek employment to support the family and he wanted to be a teacher. After various efforts he secured a teacher's job in the CMS College High School, Kottayam, where he later became the boarding master. A former resident, Jacob, of the hostel recounts an interesting incident during the days of the Second Word War when food was scarce. The narrator of the story, a boarder in the student's hostel, complained mildly of the insufficient portions of steamed-plantain (ethaka). The response from the boarding master, M.G. Chandy was, he should, rather than throwing away the thick plantain skins, scrape and get the most out of it, and make up the shortage of food. Jacob used to narrate this story with good humour and affection in later life to point out the economy and simple life of his teacher who became the Metropolitan. At CMS School and College in addition to regular lessons he taught yoga as a relaxation and physical exercise for the boys.

After 12 years' work as a teacher both in the CMS High School and College, he was desirous of doing a post-School and College, he was desirous of doing a post-graduate degree for advancement in the teaching profession. At the same time Metropolitan Abraham Mat Thoma, who was a friend of his father, persuaded Chandy to join a theological college. He had reservations, as he was not sure to commit himself to priestly work as implied. After careful deliberation and prayer he agreed with the Metropolitan to proceed for theological studies at United Theological College., Bangalore in 1945. There he met Mr. Philip Oommen who was to be consecrated with him a bishop in 1953. There was a Marthoma community in Banglore at that time and it was found necessary to provide a priest to care for their pastoral needs. Metropolitan Abraham Mar Thoma persuaded him to accept the ordination for serving the Marthoma Congregation in Banglore and continue his studies, which he agreed to, to be known thereafter as Rev. M.G. Chandy.

As a clergyman and theological student he did certain unusual things like organizing a fellowship group, which met under a tree in Cubbon Park, known jocularly as "Fellowship under the tree". Further he assisted in the formation of the Hoskote Ashram. While he was the clergyman at Banglore he was also able to witness the great ecumenical commitment of Indian Churches in the formation of Church of South India (CSI) in 1947.

He wanted to continue theological studies and had an offer of admission from Union Theological Seminary, New York. But he did not have the required finances. His younger brother came to his rescue by providing his traveling expenses. Rev. Chandy booked a cheap passage in a Chinese cargo ship from Colombo to New York. He took the STM degree from Union Theological Seminary and started his Ph.D studies at the Hartford Seminary where his doctoral thesis was on "A study of the vision of God in Bhagavat Geetha."

On his return to Kerala he was appointed the vicar of the Manganam Church and within a year he became the principal of the Mar Thoma College, Thiruvalla which was just being established. So he had to be involved in all the detailed planning for buildings, access road, all equipment and the library, as well as the collection of the required funds. He was able to do that very successfully and thus laid the foundation for a prestigious college, the first organized by the Marthoma Church.

While he was serving as Principal he was called to accept consecration as Bishop. The background of the Episcopal selection is described in Chapter X. He was consecrated with Rev. P. Thomas and Rev. Philip Oommen on 20th May 1953 and they were given Episcopal names. Rev. M.G. Chandy became Alexander Mar Theophilus; Rev. P. Thomas was given the name Thomas Mar Athanasius, and Rev. Philip Oommen became Philipose Mar Crysostum. Alexander Mar Theophilus was the senior of the three in age. He became Suffragan Metropoltan in 1973. Metropolitan Juhanon Marthoma died on 27th September 1976 and Saffragan Metropolitan Alexander Mar Theophilus was consecrated as Metropolitan Alexander Mar Thoma, 19th Mar Thoma, on 23 October 1976 at M.T. Seminary, Kottayam.

Thirumeni was first and foremost a bishop, a disciple of Jesus Christ. St. Paul said, in the Church God has put all the places: in the first place Apostle, in the second place prophets, and in the third place teachers. Apostles, Prophets and Teachers are given pride of place in Church and it is rare, very rare indeed, that all these gifts can be found in one man. But Alexander Mar Thoma was such a man; there was a true combination of all these three ministries in his life.

He was an Apostle; an Apostle, by definition, is one who is sent. St. Luke normally applies the title "Apostle" to the Twelve, though he recognizes Paul and Barnabas too as Apostles. Hence the Apostolic office will always be primarily an office representing God in Christ. From the beginning, this office was held by Bishops, the primary leaders of the Church founded by the Apostles. This biblical image of the Bishop as a pastor, which means a shepherd, is a recurring one. So the model of a Bishop will always be that of a good shepherd as is described in St. John's Gospel. Our Lord said to Peter, "Fed my sheep". This was a mandate that was one is given to all successors of the Apostles. The Metropolitan, the 19th Mar Thoma, was in that understanding an Apostle sent by Jesus Chris. He was called to lead the Church; called to send others into the vineyard for evangelical work; called to know when to correct others and when to overlook lapses. He was called to share the joys and sorrows of his people. Above all he was called to put he Kingdom of God before everything else. A Bishop is a man of God. It troubled Thirumeni when he saw the Church attacked, his own people quarrelling, or the young turning away from the teaching of the Church.

He was also to the Old Testament tradition of a 'voice crying in the wildernesses' such as Isaiah and Jeremiah. Jesus transformed this gift of prophecy in his guidance to his Apostles and gave leadership roles within the Christian community and within the society as a whole. Thirumeni was a man of vision who saw the social implications of the Gospel, the theology of liberation. His stand against alcoholism, his support for the Dalit community and the voiceless sections of the society were all examples of his prophetic ministry. At an age when most of us want to retire, put our feet up and have an easy life, Thirumeni was struggling, agonizing other how the Gospel can be proclaimed in a modern way, in an Indian way, to non-Christians in India without upsetting sensitiveness and dignities of other religions. Nearly a hundred years ago Sadhu Sunder Singh pointed out how India rejected Christianity in a Western Cup and emphasized the need to offer 'the water of life in an Eastern bowl'. Thirumeni understood the meaning of this aspect of evangelism more than anyone else did and this was reflected in his Study of Bhagavad Gita, simple lifestyle and fondness for Christian Ashrams.

Thirumeni was very proud of his 'Indianness'. Once, in 1982, this writer had the privilege of escorting Thirumeni for an evensong at Wedminister Abbey at the invitation of Archbishop Runcie and the Bishop of Southwark, Ronald Bowlby. We were expected to be at the Abbey at 3.45 PM for vesting, but on the way, police near the Westminister Bridge, because of some rational protest marc, stopped us. I was beginning to panic a bit. But had the presence of mind to tell one of the police officers that I had with me in the car the head of the Indian Church and that he is a guest of Archbishop of Canterbury for the evensong at the Westminister Abbey. Therefore, it is very important that he should be allowed to be at the Abbey for the evensong at 3.45 PM. The officer called his supervisor on the mobile. I heard him saying with a typical English sarcasm that he had to stop the car of a very colourfully dressed Indian Chief in his full Royal regalia and his Royal Highness the Indian Chief is saying that he wants to be at the Abbey for the evensong at 3.45 PM. His supervisor officer asked him to apologize to Thirumeni and instructed him to give us immediate motorcycle escort. They stopped all the traffic in the Parliament square and White Hall for our sake, and two motorcycle out-riders escorted us to the Westminister Abbey in time for the service. To cap it all, at the end of the service Thirumeni gave his benediction in Malyalam at this truly international ecumenical service.

Thirumeni always enjoyed the humour of this incident when ever I had the opportunity to remind him of this in later years. He was indeed a great Indian chief, a title given to him on the Westminister Bridge by a London police officer. He was thinking all the time how Christian faith can speak to the needs of our world. He lived and worked under the divine grace all his life, "kripayude thannalil". The role of the prophet is not to e a crystal gazer, like the fortuneteller, but to interpret the signs of the times; to facilitate the action of God here and now so to point to the future. He did this so well and so regularly through his monthly letters in the Tharaka. They were real treasures. It was this prophetic vision with which Thirumeni supported and gave all the encouragement to Zacharias Thirumeni to create a Christian Ashram at Santhigiri. Thirumeni knew fully well that the 'carrot and stick' kind of evangelism has no place in India now and is fast approaching for us to adopt an Ashram-based evangelical ministry.


[Excerpt from the book 'Glimpses of Marthoma Church History' authored by Zac Vargese Kanisseril and Mathew Kallumpram.]

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Long time ago, before Christ, there was a Rabbi in ancient Judea by the name Solomon, who was very famous for his wisdom, honesty and generosity. Every Sabbath day, many youngsters, both men and women of Judea, after worshipping Yahweh, gathered in the shade of the trees of Synagogue to hear and discuss with Solomon whose wisdom they appraised as comparable to that of Wise King Solomon. Rabbi Solomon was so scholastic to answer any questions of the Youngsters with reference to the Holy Scriptures. Yohanes, Martha, Ezekiel, Esther, and Ahaz were some of the active participants of the group discussions with Rabbi. Esther, a young girl, summarized all the sweet discussions with Rabbi day to day as follows:



Today Martha began the discussion with an interesting question.

Martha:Rabbi, after my brother's death, I have frequently had the thoughts of heaven and hell. I have heard people saying that we will go either to heaven or to hell according to our deeds. If it is so, this world must be a place to test our character. In fact, the prospect of going to heaven makes me happy, but the chance of being pushed to hell makes me tremble with fear. What do you think about it?

Rabbi: It is from Persians that we received the idea of heaven and hell, and it provides a good example of how people of different cultures influence one another. I hope you are familiar enough with the history to know that we were a part of the Persian Empire for about 200 years. In our history, we have had a chance to come into contact with several others such as Egyptians, Babylonians and Greeks. Always it gave us a chance to learn a lot from them. But it has never been a one way affair. They too have learnt a lot from us.

Just as our ancestors compared the world to a large farm, Persians compared the world to a large building of three rooms, one upon the other--heaven at the top, hell at the bottom, and earth at the middle. Heaven is a place of perfect good and bliss, hell is a place of utter evil and misery, and earth is a place of both good and evil, as it is influenced by both heaven and hell.

This metaphor was further elaborated as follows. Heaven and hell are kingdoms, ruled by God and Satan respectively. Both kingdoms, with elaborate military power, are always at war with each other. Obviously, earth is the battleground, and the fight is mainly for human beings. Both kingdoms try their best to persuade people to join their sides. People decide to join either the forces of good or of evil, and accordingly, their souls fly either to heaven or to hell after death. But the ultimate victory will be to heaven. Sometime in the future, the kingdom of hell will be utterly destroyed by the kingdom of heaven.

This is a very useful metaphor which makes it clear that our world is a battleground of good and evil. In our day-to-day life, we frequently meet with situations in which we have to choose between good and evil, and we feel the force of the conflict within us. Such abstract things like good and evil are difficult for us to grasp. A metaphor like this serves to give them a concrete form.

The fear of hellfire and the belief in the reward of heaven can be used to encourage people to do good, and to avoid evil. However, if the fear of hell persists, it can cause a great deal of harm because fear makes our mind inactive and sick. So, fear of hell may be given in small dosage as a medicine but should not be given in overdose. Similarly, belief in the reward of heaven is useful only until people realize that something done for a reward cannot be really good.

This metaphor presents the conflict between good and evil in our world in a concrete form. However, some people make the mistake of thinking that the world is really a building of three rooms, and that there are two equal, opposing forces in the world. This idea is similar to saying that there are two Gods in the world--a good god and an evil god. Though this idea is getting popular, our ancestors would not agree with it.

We understand their view in the first three chapters of Genesis. According to our ancestors, the world is basically good because God created it good. Man, being a part of the world, is also good. Man, created in the image of God, is as free as God to choose good or evil. But, unlike God, man is in need of growth to maturity. He commits errors because of his immaturity and ignorance. All the evil we see in the world is because of this. It is nothing but a transitory phenomenon. When humankind grows to maturity, the world will once again become perfectly good as it was at the beginning. Thus according to our ancestors, history moves in a circle--it begins in good, and ends in good.

The history of humankind moves from simplicity to complexity. Thousands of years ago, when there were only a few people in the world, they had a very simple life. The world was like a Garden of Eden for them. They lived by eating fruits and by drinking water from streams. Occasionally, they might have eaten meat, too. They didn't cultivate any crops. They didn't even care to cover their naked body. It was a carefree life, and they enjoyed it. Life became more complex when their number increased, and also when they came into contact with other groups of people with different ways of behavior. Consider our own life. It is highly complex, and so we can't enjoy it. On the one hand, our life is much better than that of our ancestors--we cultivate crops, we dig wells for water, we have better dress and shelter. On the other hand, we lack something great that they had--simplicity. Ours is not a carefree life. What is the use of having everything in the world if we cannot enjoy life?

Can the humankind ever regain that lost carefree life? In fact, this has been our topic of discussion all these days. What the humankind needs is a carefree life--an enjoyable life. That is why we have discussed the basic questions of human existence. If we understand what makes our life complex, we can simplify it to some extent, and make it enjoyable.

We all thanked the rabbi for such an interesting discussion.

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