« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
son of Vasudeva and Devaki. There are, however, even in what seem to be the earliest accounts of him, probable gleanings from the Bible story gathering about the legends of his infancy. For instance, the raja Kansa, the father of Devaki, being warned that a son of Devaki would be his destroyer, when he heard the child was born, “ordered that all the worshippers of Vishnu, young and old, should be slain; and commanded his warriors to make search for all young children throughout that country, and to slay every male child that possessed strength and vigour.” To avoid such danger, Vasudeva took the babe Krishna, as soon as he was born, in a basket used for winnowing corn, across the River Jumna to Gokula. On crossing the river, the waters of which were very high, the babe “stretched forth his foot, and the waters were stayed, and became shallow and fordable." At Gokula, Krishna was exchanged for the daughter of Yasodâ, the wife of a cowherd named Nanda, and so was saved from the evil designs of Kansa. Here it was in the house of Nanda that Krishna was brought up. Some have thought that the name Goshen suggested Gokula, both words meaning a cowhouse; but I do not think that we need suppose that the writer of the Purâna was learned in the literal meaning of Egyptian names. It may, however, be added, as perhaps worth notice, that the tribe of the Yâdavas, to which Krishna belonged, although by marriage he is made to be related to the Kauravas and Pândavas, who were Kshatriyas, was a tribe of shepherds or cowherds.
19. Krishna is introduced in the Mahâbhârata, together with his elder brother Balarâma, as a Prince of that Yâdava tribe ; and his royal city is said to be Dwaraka. They are there called “the amorous Krishna and wine-drinking Balarama.' Krishna afterwards describes himself in a speech as being, with his family, “equally related to the Pândavas and Kanrayas." There is no tracing of his pedigree in the course of the poem proper.
The Purânas heighten the picture of divinity according to Hindu ideas. Thus the Bhâgavata-Purâna says the marks of Vishnu were discerned on Krishna at his birth; the Vishnu-Purâna that he descended, adored by the gods, and entered into the womb of Devaki, that he might become the saviour of the world. And in this way, each succeeding story, as in the case of the later Buddhist accounts of Gautama, adds fresh adornments to supplement the meagre notices of his origin as found in the Mahâbhârata, with the object, as it seems to me, of approximating the divine character of Krishna as nearly as possible, according to the demands of the Hindu
imagination, to the divinity of Christ, as preached by the Christians.
20. If, on the other hand, supposing it to be granted that the Bhagavad-Gîtâ was written previously to the commencement of the Christian era, we seek, as many have done, for doctrines there that may have been appropriated by the New Testament writers, waiving, of course, for the moment, all the evidence for the truth of their record, how much is it possible to find that could have been appropriated ? There are, indeed, ideas and expressions which have a resemblance to Christian ideas and expressions. There is the idea of incarnation. But could the picture of the charioteer, with the universe in his stomach, have been the germ of such a picture of the incarnate God as we have in the New Testament? We can only express astonishment that any sane mind could ever have given birth to such a suggestion. The truth is, that there is. only one point common to the two pictures, the person of Christ, and the person of Krishtia, and that is the bare fact of the incarnation of the Deity. Then there are the doctrines of forgiveness, faith, love, and union through faith with the divine, but these are set among speculations as to the soul aud its environments, where they are plainly seen to be additions, unconformable to the other doctrines of the poem ; they exist, like parasites on the forest trees, beautiful enough in themselves, but, having no roots in the common ground, they stand among the words of Krishna without reasons for their existence, or ends to be accomplished: while they are most utterly, as I have shown, incongruous with the character of Krishna, as set forth in other parts of Mahâbhârata.
The same doctrines in the New Testament are placed between antecedents and consequents, which both illustrate and enforce them; they form perfect parts of a perfect whole, and are fully explained both as to their reasons and ends. Moreover, they breathe the very essence of His character who enforced them. To try to build up the edifice of Christian doctrine from the isolated likenesses to some of its teachings which we find in the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, is like trying to build a house of sand, though it be true that every grain of sand is a stone in miniature.
21. With regard to the other accounts of Krishna in the Purânas, and elsewhere, they are so evidently subsequent, and some of them long subsequent, to the commencement of the Christian era, that the question of indebtedness, if there be any, solves itself.
22. It will, of course, be asked--and this is a matter of great
upon India ?
interest and importance--what grounds have we for believing, even allowing that the Bhagavad-Gîtâ was composed after the first century A.D., that the Christian story had taken any hold
I may here refer to what I have already suggested on this point in a former paper on Buddhism; but it will be well to note one or two points here also in evidence.
1. There is a fair amount of evidence that St. Thomas was the Apostle of India: namely, the tradition of the Christians that still exist on the Malabar coast; their early connexion with Edessa, and the fact that they still own the Patriarch of Merdin; the account in the Syriac document called The Teaching of the Apostles (ante-Nicene Library, vol. xx.), that “ Thomas was the guide and ruler of the Church which he had built in India, in which he also ministered there;” the Acts of Thomas, of which, though it is apocryphal, we should observe that the writer had nothing to gain in sending the Apostle to India, but much to gain, if the Apostle whose name he forged was well known, at the time he wrote, as having been the Apostle of India.
2. Then there is the testimony of Eusebius, that Pantanus, the predecessor in the chair of the catechetical school at Alexandria, and tutor of Clemens Alexandrinus, found a gospel of St. Matthew in India, when he went there as a missionary in the second century.
3. There are also the Christian crosses at Madras and Kottayam, with Pahlavi inscriptions; and the royal grants to early Christians inscribed on copper-plates, which also contain signatures in Pahlavi characters, showing that the Christians had in the early centuries of the Christian era already attained a position of considerable importance. The connexion between India and Persia is too long a subject to dwell upon here ; but it was evidently very early, as in the sixth century the Indian Panchatantra was known in Persia. The Christian influence of Persia, too, may have been greater than is often supposed; for, if Mr. Thomas's translation of the Hajiâbâd inscription is correct, even Sapor I., in the fourth century A.D., must have been favourable to Christianity, if not a Christian himself (Early Sassanian Inscriptions).
23. It is worth mentioning, too, in connexion with Persia, that in the history of Manes, or Mani, there is a singular illustration of how the story of Jesus Christ was adopted by other religions. Manes identified Christ with the Persian Mithras, giving Christ the character of Mithras, and Mithras the character of Christ; so that, as in the case of Krishna, Christ was degraded by the attributes of Mithras, and Mithras exalted by the attributes of Christ.
24. It may also be added that Max Müller shows that India may have been much more indebted to the outside world than has often been thought, in the early centuries, by proving that “the knowledge of Greek astronomy, and even of Greek astronomical terminology, came to India not later than the fifth century." He quotes the actual, Greek names of the zodiacal divisions in their Sanscrit corruptions, as given by Varahamihira, who died in 587 A.D. (India, p. 526). This, too, should help to diminish any previous scepticism as to the possibility of Christianity also having reached and influenced the Hindu by that time.
25. In conclusion, then, there is, so far as I can discern, no indication in the early accounts of Krishna of the fact postulated by Mr. Proctor, that the Hindus were adopting the universal sun-myth theory, the chief characteristics of which all over the world, and in all time, according to Mr. Proctor, were that the God was born of a virgin, his birth-place a cave, the herald a star, his presents gold and frankincense, &c. None of these peculiarities belong to the Krishna of the BhagavadGîtâ. The only title that he has to be ranked as a sun-god is that he represents Vishnu, whose tri-vikrama, or three steps over the heavens, is explained as denoting, to quote Professor Monier Williams, “the threefold manifestations of light in the form of fire, lightning, and the sun, or as designating the three daily stations of the sun in his rising, culmination, and setting."
26. The addition of the name “ Jezeus” to Krishna, which I find in one of Mr. Proctor's articles in Knowledge, as also in a published lecture, by a Mr. H. J. Browne, delivered at Melbourne in 1884, has no warrant from any Hindu book that I am acquainted with ; it bears no resemblance to any of the many names by which Krishna is commonly denoted in India, and it is not possible for it to be a transliteration, or even an approach to a transliteration, of any imaginable combination of letters, either in Sanscrit or the dialects of South India. I have been curious to trace its origin, but have so far failed. It looks like an extremely modern attempt to assimilate the name of Krishna to that of Christ Jesus. But at present I must acknowledge it to be a puzzle.*
* Mr. Proctor writes, in reply to a question as to the authority for the name of Jezeus, “ Like my correspondent, I am unable to understand the modern use of this epithet, which I have used as I found it, supposing it might be a form of one of the thousand names of Krishna'-with some of which I am not familiar.
Knowing absolutely nothing as to the real source of the epithet, but recognising it as an impossibility in connexion with any Indian language, I venture the suggestion that it may have
27. But we do not wonder that MIr. Proctor seems somewhat shaky about his authorities, when we read that, “ in each case" of the many avatars of Vishnu,“ the new-born God had a virgin mother.” The first avatar was a fish, the second a tortoise, the third a boar, the fourth a man-lion, the fifth a dwarf. Whether these were lusus naturce, or whether we are to understand a virgin fish, a virgin tortoise, and a virgin pig, we are not told. A virgin mother of a dwarf would have been feasible. But these strange facts are not to be found, I believe, in the Hindu books. Neither are many other of the supposed facts, by which the theory of the universal adaptation of the solar myth, as the origin of all religious worship, is supported, to be found in what ought to be taken as the proper authorities. When the solar-myth does appear —and we do not question that the worship of the sun did greatly affect early religion-it appears as a degradation of the true, or an addition to the past, as when Manes identified Christ with Mithras, and placed his dwelling in the sun. And wherever we can really find the distinct account of a lirginmother, birth in a cave on December 25th, a herald star, songs of angels, and presents of gold and frankincense, &c., at the birth of a professed incarnation of Deity, it will be in the romancing that took place, as in the later accounts of the Buddhists, for instance, after the commencement of the Christian era.
28. It must remain--at least, for the present-an open question whether Krishna was a purely imaginary person, or whether such a name occurred in the original legends of the war of the Mahâbhârata, as denoting the charioteer of Arjuna. If the latter, it is to be observed that the Yâdava tribe, to which, in the Puranas, Krishna is said to have belonged, is traced in the Mahâbhârata to Yadu, the son of a Kshatriya râjah, Yayâti, and Devayani, the daughter of a Brahman. Now the names of Yadu and Turvasu, brothers, are both mentioned in the Rig Veda as ancestors of the Aryan race. The name Yadu is, therefore, a very ancient
On the other hand, the tribe of Yadavas, which is said to be historical, would appear to have been a nomad tribe of Vaisyas—the third, or lowest, caste of the Aryan people. Here, then, the descent of the tribe from the son of a
been borrowed from some ancient Latin writing, in which, because of the close resemblance between the story of Krishna
and that of Christ, Krishna is called Jezeus.
But I should say the chances must be very heavy against this guess being correct."--(Knowledge, Dec. 1886.) The italics are my own. Mr. Proctor here does not say where he “found this epithet Jezeus applied to Krishna.