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Jahnava Nitai Das

Bhaktivinoda Thakura on Christianity

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[someone posted this on another forum, so I thought I would post it here. It is not in reply to any thing posted here.]



Thinking about the virtues and faults of this world, some moralist

monotheists concluded that this material world is not a place of unalloyed

pleasures. Indeed, the sufferings outweigh the pleasures. They decided that

the material world is a prison to punish the living entities. If there is

punishment, then there must be a crime. If there were no crime, then why

would there be any punishment? What crime did the living entities commit?

Unable to properly answer this question, some men of small intelligence gave

birth to a very wild idea. God created the first man and placed him in a

pleasant garden with his wife. Then God forbade the man to taste the fruit

of the tree of knowledge. Following the evil counsel of a wicked being, the

first man and woman tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge, thus

disobeying God's command. In this way they fell from that garden into the

material world filled with sufferings. Because of their offense, all other

living entities are offenders from the moment of their birth. Not seeing any

other way to remove this offense, God Himself took birth in a humanlike

form, took on His own shoulders the sins of His followers, and then died.

All who follow Him easily attain liberation, and all who do not follow Him

fall into an eternal hell. In this way God assumes a humanlike form,

punishes Himself, and thus liberates the living entities. An intelligent

person cannot make sense of any of this.



To accept this mixed-up religion one must first believe these rather

implausible things: "The living entity's life begins at birth and ends at

death. Before birth the living entity did not exist, and after death the

living entity will no longer stay in the world of material activities. Only

human beings have souls. Other creatures do not have souls." Only extremely

unintelligent persons believe this religion. In this religion the living

entity is not spiritual in nature. By His own will God created the living

entities out of matter. Why are the living entities born into very different

situations? The followers of this religion cannot say. Why is one living

entity born into a house filled with sufferings, another living entity born

into a house filled with joys, another living entity born into the house of

a person devoted to God, and another living entity born into a wicked

atheist's house? Why is one person born in a situation where he is

encouraged to perform pious deeds, and he performs pious deeds and becomes

good? Why is another person born in a situation where he is encouraged to

sin, and he sins and becomes bad? The followers of this religion cannot

answer all these questions. Their religion seems to say that God is unfair

and irrational.


Why do they say that animals have no souls? Why do birds and beasts not have

souls like human beings? Why do the human beings have only one life, and,

because of their actions in that one life are rewarded in eternal heaven or

punished with eternal hell? Any person who believes in a truly kind and

merciful God will find this religion completely unacceptable.


The followers of this religion have no power to worship God selflessly. In

general their idea is that by cultivating fruitive work and speculative

philosophy one should work to make improvements in the material world and in

this way please God. By building hospitals and schools, and by doing various

philanthropic works, they try to do good to the world and thus please God.

Worship of God by performing fruitive work (karma) and by engaging in

philosophical speculation (jnana) is very important to them. They have no

power to understand pure devotional service (suddha-bhakti), which is free

of fruitive work and philosophical speculation. Worship of God done out of a

sense of duty is never natural or unselfish. "God has been kind to us, and

therefore we should worship Him." These are the thoughts of lesser minds.

Why is this not a good way to worship God? Because one may think, "If God is

not kind to me, then I will not worship Him." In this way one has the

selfish, bad desire to get God's kindness in the future. If one wishes that

God will be kind by allowing one to serve Him, then there is nothing wrong

with that desire. But the religion under discussion does not see it in that

way. This religion sees God's kindness in terms of one's enjoying a happy

life in this material world.


(From Tattva-viveka commentary)


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The reason they have explaination for these questions is that they have no clear philosophical understand of what the soul is.


Take the example from above of the fall from paradise story.The forbidden fruit that Adam ate was from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.God told him not to eat that fruit because if he did he would surly die.He tasted the fruit of that tree,(fell into duality consciousness)and died to his own transcendental nature.


But the present Christians generally take it that then Adam died and passed on the curse to all his descendents(humanity) and so we now have to die for his mistake.The original sin.


If they knew that, they the soul, was the one being spoken of here they would see that the original sin refers to their/our own personal desire to try to enjoy matter through exploitation in various forms.And that we each committed our own personal "original sin".


Anything we can do to help them understand that the body is not the self will be very helpful.




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I was delighted to learn that Bhakti Vinode Thakur had lambasted Christianity and put it in its right place. In fact, I received this from a friend this morning and ever since I have been in a state of delirium /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

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The "religion" referred to above is the religion of the Catholics. Protestants do not adhere to the doctrine of the "original sin". Both Catholics and Protestants doesn't have a clear concept of what the soul is and sometimes debate among themselves as to its reality.


But Christianity as taught by Lord Jesus Christ is different than what is being taught by the Catholics and Protestants. Jesus is teaching bhakti, love for God. Jesus is also teaching the eternality of the soul and that we are not the material body.

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I believe Catholicism is more prominent in India, as opposed to U.S. protestant churches. I dont have any statistics on this, but it is just an unscientific observation.


Does the Anglican Church hold similar views as the Catholic church?


Also, I think Bhaktivinoda's comments are in regards to modern Christians interpretation of the Bible. He is actually criticizing their philosophical misconceptions, and not the position of Christ.


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JNdas, thankyou for allowing me to share this joy with karthik_v.


The words of the masters are illuminating and transparent as Krsna's Himself.


I am very respectful of the philosophical mastery of Bhaktivinoda's commentary. And I hold with absolute awe the lucid psychoanalysis with which he discerns the mental underpinnings of Christianity.

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The part of Tattva viveka I really liked was where Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur said the concept of "Satan" was first taught by Zoaraster, but then his idea was picked up by the Jewish prophets, the Christians and Muslims. Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur goes on to say that "Satan" is an imaginary being who only exists in parables.


Also, do you know where I can find the full text of this translation (Kusakratha's translation) of Tattva Viveka?



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