If Jesus is the son of God, how can he die? Why should he die?
“A son of god is a god, no matter how you look at it, and since he was the son of a god, he couldn’t die.” – this was one posting recently found in the Hubpages discussion forums; it was posted to contradict the belief that Jesus is the son of God.
Though such arguments or any reply to them cannot be “scientifically” or logically explained without some form of faith, this subject – whether Jesus is indeed God and if so how can he die can be explained from a different religious point of view. Again it cannot be termed scientific or cent percent logical, but another religious system, namely, Hinduism offers explanation on this. Those of you Christians (who are believers, or born-as-Christians but remain non-believers) can take a look into this for whatever is worth.
Hinduism has two approaches to the creation, existence of the world and God’s role in it.
The dualistic approach (Dwaita) -God and His creations are two
In this school of philosophy, God and his creation are two different identities. God is all powerful, all encompassing, all-knowing. He is without form as well as with form. He is real and his creation is also real. Out of his sweet divine will, he creates the world and all living beings, he nurtures and support them all and again out of his divine will, he destroys them. It’s all his divine play. By virtue of his infinite power, he can take any name and form and out of his infinite compassion, he makes himself available in name and form for the sake of his devotees. He is the protector of Dharma (righteousness) and destroyer of the evil.
Everything in the physical world is made of 5-elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether). Everything in this perceptible world has a beginning, growth and an end. Anything made of the 5-elements of the earth has to decay and die. Death is not an end to one, who is bound to the attractions of the world, who is not prepared to abandon everything for the sake of God. As long as this bondage is there, people have to undergo the cycles of birth and death again and again and go through the cycles of pleasures and pains, life after life.
The goal of human beings is to know him, to surrender to him and after death, to be near him. He being the creator, is the father of all. While he has created the pleasures in this world for his children to enjoy, he has also kept the pain together as the second side of the same coin. In this scheme of divine play, he seems to derive joy in keeping people ignorant of their lineage. He seems to enjoy being a mute spectator to see people running behind sensual pleasures, in quest of wealth, in accumulating and hoarding, in trying to live longer and enjoy better and in the process end up with lots of suffering too. He seems to watch in joyous abandon, people forgetting Him, people questioning his very existence or people negating Him altogether. He also accepts those who seek his help in acquiring the fleeting things in this world in exchange for lasting peace and tranquility.
He is also gracious enough to reveal the truth behind all his divine drama, to such of those who can understand the hopelessness of this divine magic of things and seek to know Him, the magician. Thus He is most amenable to those who love, adore and be devoted to him. Those who ignore the pleasures of the world, accept the pains of the world too as parts of God’s scheme of things and seek to derive joy only in their contemplation of God are the ones most dear to him. Only such people, upon death attain the abode of God and they escape the cycles of rebirth.
Hinduism in this dualistic school of philosophy says that God descends to earth in Human from time to time to show the right path of salvation most suited to the times, to protect the good people, to punish the evil doers and to give joy, succor and salvation to his true worshipers and believers. When God comes in human form, he is called an Avatar. Such an avatar is one of the greatest manifestations of God, visible and comprehensible to human beings. But, an avatar is also bound by the rules as well as the limitations of His creation, namely the physical world.
Jesus Christ, from the point of this Hindu philosophy is an avatar. He was a knower of God. Unlike ordinary mortals who are ignorant, he was aware of his origin with God. That’s why he declared “I am the son of God”. He knew that at the exalted level, He and His father are one.
Jesus, thus, as the son of God, is God. Jesus, as a person in Human body knows pretty well that he, in essence is not the body. His divine nature thus is not affected by all that pain and suffering inflicted to his body. He had no ill-will to the evil doers who punished his body. At the death of his physical body, his soul merged with its source and the “Father and son became one”.
The creator and the created are one!
The Non-dualistic approach (Advaita) (God and his creation are one)
In this school of philosophy, the entire creation and cosmos is illusory, transient, namely Maya. Only God alone exists and this God (called Brahman in Upanishads*) is all pervading, infinite, all comprising, without beginning and end, beyond name and form. God has not created anything. God simply exists as everything, by the power of his Maya, since nothing including maya can ever be exclusive of him.
How is then the existence of this world, the cosmos, the innumerable living creatures that we see, feel and coginize around us came in the first place? If God has created them, where from did he get the materials? If a potter is to make a pot, he needs clay. Who made the clay? If God has to create this world made of 5-elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether), where from did he get these? If those elements existed earlier for the use of God for creation, then is there a power other than God that created them?
So, it leads to the idea that God became all these and he exists as an indweller in all these. It means every living being is potentially divine because it’s God who is the indweller.
So, the non-dualistic philosophy says that each one of us, essentially in our soul (Atman), is none other than God but the only problem is that we are covered by the ignorance of maya that prevents us from knowing our true nature. Since maya is also part of God, this school suggests that it’s the God’s own will, whim and fancy, his own inexplicable divine play, that has made him become all these, that makes each soul to identify itself with body and ego, that makes every soul to forget his true infinite nature. An un-evolved soul of this nature is called jivatman.
Everything in the “created” sphere including the human body is made of the 5-elements (earth, water, air, fire and ether) and anything made of these is subjected to beginning, evolution decay and death. The human body thus shall perish one day, but not the soul within. This soul, even after death, is not freed of maya , until the time the soul comprehends and attains the truth of its nature, that it’s essentially God. Until then, it undergoes the cycles of births and death in this world of maya.
That one’s real essence is his soul (atman) and that this atman is nothing else but Brahman (God) is the ultimate spiritual knowledge to be attained by every human being. By shunning worldly pursuits that are illusory, by constant contemplation of one’s true nature and through the guidance of a Satguru (A spiritual teacher of the highest order) or by the will of the Supreme, a jivatman one day realizes the ultimate truth. After contemplation, striving and by getting the dine grace, some attain it at the time of death; a few outstanding seekers attain the status even when physically alive. Those who realize that their atman is nothing but God when physically being alive are called “Jivan Muktas” in Hinduism. Such realized souls live in this world purely for the sake of giving spirutal guidance and solace to others. They see none other than God (or Atman) in everything around.
Thus in the above light, Jesus Christ is a realized soul; he is a jivan mukta. He has found his true identity with God; in that sense, he is the son of God — as long as he is bound to the human body. He knows pretty well, like all realized souls, that he is not the body; but the physical body is bound by the rules of the creation. It has to die one day. On that day, the body perishes, but his soul merges with the infinite that is God. “The father and the son become one” at the death of the physical body.
How to explain Jesus’ resurrection from Hindu point of view
Again, from Hinduism point of view, Jesus’s death and resurrection can be explained. In Hinduism it is called Yoga Samadhi.
In the deepest state of meditative union with God (yoga samadhi)a yogi’s external symptoms of living, namely breathing, heart pulse etc stop. The duration of stoppage can vary depending on the spiritual power the yogi has.
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, a great spiritual master used to remain in such a state of samadhi over several minutes, several times in a day. Mata Amritanandamayi, a living saint had remained in that state for about 8 hours during her youth and everyone thought she had passed away.
In Jesus’ case it remained quite longer.
Practitioners of Hatha Yoga, a specific yogic discipline in India, are capable of burying themselves under the earth for several days and they would come back alive. It is more of a very disciplined and fine-tuned yogic practice with excellent mastery of Pranayama (breathing control). Many Hatha Yogis may not even be spiritually evolve people, and several schools of Hinduism will not consider Hatha Yoga as a worthy practice for true spiritual unfoldment.
Further, spiritually evolved saints can manifest in front of people in physical form, even after they had left their mortal body. Swami Vivekananda saw his master Ramakrishna Paramahamsa on several occasions at crucial times of difficulties in his life, long after the death of Ramakrishna.
Paramahamsa Yogananda, a very popular Hindu saint at the west used to mention in his book “The autobiography of a yogi” about his Guru’s Guru, Mahavatar Babaji whom he met physically at Benares. This Guru is believed to be living in the Himalayas for more than a couple of centuries and is said to be visible only to his disciples and devotees.
The crux of the Hindu system is that a physical body in this earth is bound to die a physical death one day, whatever be the extra-ordinary miracles associated with the great spiritual masters. What is important is that a physical death is not the end of the soul of such masters who have found true identity of their Atman with God.
Since I am explaining these from a Hindu perspective, it may not go well with christian beliefs of some schools and that’s quite natural. The purpose of the article is not to undermine Jesus Christ in any way, but to give a fresh light to Jesus Christ’s life from a different angle.