Monday, October 14, 2013

The twice Born - a symbolic expression

The Upanishadic texts often refer to man of spiritual temper as a “Dvijotthama” (translated as “twice born”) and the Christian texts to the birth of Jesus as “Virgin birth”. It is interesting that across cultures the same metaphorical motifs point to the same meaning, though, their symbolism's tend to get distorted and misdirected within the narrow contexts when used in different institutionalized faiths. Let me explain:

All primitive mystical traditions speak of a physical birth through a mother’s womb and after a period of intellectual and cultural incubation within the social boundaries of the tribe, the young adult physically and psychologically is wrenched free from attachment to the mother and initiated into a larger role that he has to play in society, with new rules that are in consonance with observed laws of nature, procreation and the Universe as they knew it. A “Dvijotthama” then, is one who has shed his filial attachments ,puerile sense of individuality, and moved into a larger dimension of his inner self, where personal separation becomes blurred and his acts and words reflect the vibrations of a Cosmic tune. Like a butterfly breaking through the Chrysalis or a snake shedding its skin, the Twice-born is one who is begotten afresh, not physically this time, but inwardly with fresh intuitive wisdom and intelligence. The Christian metaphor of Christ being of “Virgin birth” points to the same meaning and interpretation. So, it does not undermine the spiritual significance of Jesus in any way to have been born of a physical mother, but his relinquishment of his narrow parochial, individual identity to embrace the cosmic self that makes him CHRIST : his ‘Virgin Birth’ into a newer, wider and deeper reality. In fact ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Babylonian civilizations in the near east as well as Aboriginal cultures in Africa and other parts had myths and rituals where this “subjective inner rebirth” was celebrated each time a young male reaches adolescence or a girl attains puberty. An interesting observation here would be that in a female: the physical change at the time of puberty brings along with it an inner maturity as a consequence; but not so with the male, who need to cleansed and molded anew through a ritualistic act of symbols to make up for lack of any great physical change in his appearance.

So these terms are universal symbols for physical birth and subsequent inner transformation. To lock them up in straight jacketed historical episodes and build theologies around it is a sure way of misinterpreting the deep inner significance of this ancient myths and motifs. My study gives me a great opportunity to look at these traditions with fresh eyes, and it amazes to me that these words and symbols have so much been twisted, turned and distorted in its symbolic relevance, that we have almost lost the virgin purity of these ancient motifs……

God bless…..

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