By P. Soma Palan –
Pastor Jerome Fernando of the Glorious Church has exploded into the front page news in the Daily Mirror of 15th May 2023 and onwards, by his ignominious and inglorious utterances, derogatory of the Buddha and Buddhism, which has caused an uproar amongst the Buddhist majority of the country. The Government has reacted by asking the Criminal Investigation arm of the State to initiate inquiry into the matter. I do not know whether expressing a view on a founder of a religion is a criminal offence. I think it is more necessary that his views are rebutted on the Buddha and Buddhism by an intellectual response. To my mind expressing a true and objective view of a religious founder and religion does not amount to insulting and derogation. But if the views expressed with an intention of hate to vilify, disparage a religion, in comparison to one’s own, it is derogatory and insulting. In the latter sense, Pastor Jerome is disparaging and denigrating the Buddha and Buddhism, intentionally to elevate Jesus and the religion Christianity. In my view a critical response to counter the falsity of his statements is justified.
1. The falsity of his view on Enlightenment: As per the news Report, Pastor Jerome has stated that “to be enlightened, you need light. The name Buddha itself means enlightened one. So, what is greater, light or enlightenment? Jesus said I am the light of the world. So, I tell you now, Jesus didn’t say I am the enlightened one. No, Jesus came from a different wavelength. Jesus said I am the light of the world. So, I submit to you, the Buddha was actually looking for Jesus. This is why every Buddhist needs Jesus”. Pastor draws a distinction between light and enlightenment. That is, the two are separate qualities. But this is an erroneous conception. Enlightenment per se is light. It is not light in its literal sense but in its metaphorical sense. In Hinduism and by extension Buddhism, light means knowledge (vidya) and darkness means ignorance (avidya). By dispelling and overcoming darkness of ignorance the light of knowledge is attained. This state of attainment is Enlightenment. Therefore in Buddha, the Enlightened One, the supreme knowledge and light is one and the same. Enlightenment is realized by deep meditation. So, enlightenment comes from within and not from an outside Agent, Jesus. Pastor Jerome saying that “Buddha was looking for Jesus” displays his ignorance of history. Jesus didn’t exist in 500 years BC. Pastor Jerome’s notion that” Jesus is the light of the world” assumes that the world before his birth in 1st century CE was in complete darkness. The wisdom of the Hinduism contained in the Vedas and the philosophy of the Upanishads of the incomparable Rishis, predates millennia before Jesus.
2. Jesus the Light: Jesus was not the “light of the world” but the harbinger of darkness to the world. The outcome of Jesus and Christianity plunged Europe for decades in religious wars, the Crusades, in the name of religion. In the name of religion thousands of human beings were killed. Ironically, the very Rome which crucified Jesus, hijacked the Judeo Christian religion of mid-Asia, and became the centre and repository of Christian religion, The rise of the Vatican Papacy with Popes claiming direct succession of Jesus. The vices, corruption, evils and abuses of the Popes and the Church of Christendom during the Renaisance period, led to the Reformation spearheaded by Martin Luther and the break-up of the Church and the rise of several Protestant denominational Churches. The Reformation did not result in reform, but only broke the monopoly of power of a single Church and created several independent Protestant Churches. The evils and abuses were only broad based and shared by the Protestant Churches. This tradition is manifested and continues even to the present day, in the form of Evangelical Churches like that of Pastor Jerome’s Glorious Church. The infamous Papal Bulls of Popes imploring Columbus and Vasco da Gama (the Conquistadors) for the discovery new lands, supported by military power and followed by Priests, to conquer and convert the so-called non-Christian heathens to Christianity. The rest of the story is common knowledge, the vandalizing of temples, conversion at gun point the natives, taking shiploads of Africans to America in Slaves trade etc. That is how “light of Jesus “ was propagated in the Latin America, Africa , Asia and far East, and its demographic and territorial increase and spread, worldwide.
3. The story of the Buddha which happened 500 years before Jesus is well supported by irrefutable, independent historical evidence, unlike that of the Jesus, which is based on the Gospels of his disciples, written many years after his crucifixion. Modern Researchers and Scholars have exposed the fundamental belief of Christianity, the Resurrection and his Ascension to heaven. They have supportive evidence that Jesus survived the Crucifixion and healed, and found his way to Kashmir in India, where he lived and died at the age of 86. His tomb is still extant and is a veritable proof of this.
4. There is a missing period of Jesus in his youth from 14 years of age in the Bible. This covers the period of his sojourn in Kashmir, India and Tibet. Hinduism and Buddhism had a great influence on Jesus. Therefore, contrary to Pastor Jerome’s view, the opposite is true that Jesus was looking for spiritual “light” in Hinduism and Buddhism in Kashmir and Tibet, and returned to Jerusalem and began his preaching, ending in his crucifixion by the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate.
I refrain from referring to other blind and irrational beliefs of Christianity as I have only responded to the specific statement of Pastor Jerome free of malice and hate.