From Darkness Into the Glorious Light
God's Sacrificial Love Revealed In Vedanta and the Bible
"Asato ma sat gamaya (From illusion lead me to the Truth);
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya (From darkness lead me to Light);
Mrityur ma amritam gamaya (From death lead me to Immortality)".
(Bryhad Aranyak Upanishad 1.3.28)
This familiar prayer has been recited by my
Hindu friends for centuries. It expresses the universal hunger for a way of escape from spiritual emptiness, spiritual uncertainty, and spiritual death. This prayer was taught by the
sages who recognized that spiritual Truth eluded them; that they were imprisoned by spiritual darkness; and that they needed eternal life (immortality). The sages recited
this prayer continually, even as they continued to develop many philosophies, rituals, and personalities which they hoped would provide the answer to this prayer. They had also heard a mysterious story of
one sure way to immortality (Mukti) through God the Creator. They wrote this story in the Vedantic texts. Yet we are left to wonder if they ever recognized
the person who could satisfy this quest for Truth, Light, and Immortality. While the sages knew some of the fundamental attributes of such a person, their
writings never identified him, leaving us with many unanswered questions about the welfare of our own soul after death. Graciously, God has provided the
answers so that we might know our eternal destiny with certainty, and a glimpse of that glorious truth is presented in the Vedas.
Today, our Hindu pundits teach that, if we serve our karmic duty in life, we will become one with the great Divine Spirit (Brahma) after hundreds, thousands,
or even millions of reincarnations. They teach four pathways which can shorten this reincarnation journey. Still unsure of these efforts, however, they eagerly
add any and all other philosophies and deities to their religious beliefs in order to establish the dubious claim of universality. Included are even such
unscientific theories such as Darwinian evolution which insists that there is no Supreme Being. They teach that sin does not exist, and that there is neither
heaven nor hell. Their followers, mostly illiterate or not having access to their Holy books, trustingly embrace all these teachings. And still they are all driven
to chant this same prayer again and again as the hunger persists, yet not realizing that the Vedas and Upanishads (the foundations of Hindu religious
thought) disagree with their Pundits' teachings! These religious texts teach us about sin, heaven, hell, salvation from hell (mukti), and one exclusive way to
salvation. Almighty God had graciously allowed the Vedic writers a glimpse of the same mystery of salvation that He had given to the prophets of Israel in those days, and so the one clear path to
mukti lies hidden in the Vedas and Upanishads.
Universal Hunger for Mukti
One might reasonably ask: "Is there need for such a thing as salvation from the penalty for sin?" The answer is found in the depth of every sincere heart: yes.
Sin is breaking God's Law. We may not have killed, stolen, or committed adultery, as far as others can see. But while man looks upon the outward
appearance, God looks at the heart. There He sees that the thoughts and intents of the heart of man are evil continually. The only reason the "good
person" does not act these evil thoughts out is because of fear of the law. But, God knows and we know that we have sin in our inner being. So,
acknowledging our sin nature is not an intellectual issue but rather a moral issue: it takes a conscious lie to deny it. Every honest person will confess his
natural inclination to do the undesirable. One sins because one is a sinner inwardly. Sin is performed in the heart of man before it is performed outside
the body for all to see and hear. Jesus said that while men evaluate one another by their outward appearance (observable deeds), God looks at the heart
(inner, hidden deeds)! God has placed in us a code of spiritual laws in the form of the conscience. When we violate these laws, we stand before God
condemned. This condemnation brings a sense of spiritual emptiness and misery because sin separates us from the one Holy God of the universe. We
attempt to satisfy this spiritual void by doing good deeds and acquiring material and intellectual wealth, all to no avail.
This inner misery and emptiness become clearly noticeable when we grieve a friend, for example. We know that only our friend's forgiveness or our payment
of a penalty can remove that guilt and restore the joy of friendship. In this same way, mankind has grieved God by committing acts which offend His holiness,
and only these same two measures can restore our peace with God: our payment or God's forgiveness. The problem with payment for sin is that it is a
death sentence on our soul: which means that our souls spend eternity in a state of eternal misery called Hell, and away from God's peaceful presence. The Bible teaches: "The soul that sins shall die
" (Bible: Ezekiel 18:20). The Kathopanishad 3:10_15 teaches that the soul will go "into the mouth of death". Man, whose hands are soiled with sin, cannot cleanse himself from sin
even though his intentions may be good. Soiled hands cannot produce good deeds compared with God's holiness. The Bible states it this way: "We are all
unclean, and all our good deeds are as filthy rags" (Bible: Isaiah 64:6). Therefore, we are left with only one alternative: we need God's forgiveness for
salvation. But the Bible gives us this exciting news: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (incarnation as a son), that
whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Both options are compared in Romans 6:23: "For the wages of
(payment for) sin is death; but the gift of God (forgiveness) is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord".
That will satisfy this hunger for Truth? What will remove our guilt and provide
peace with our Maker? What will provide us with assurance that we will go to His heaven?
The Answer: Only One Way
Notice in the verse above that only one path is mentioned for forgiveness:
namely, through Jesus the Christ. Who is He, and do the Vedantic texts point to Him? Just as in human courts, where only an innocent person can set a guilty
person free by paying the penalty for the crime (salvation), so too our sin can be forgiven and paid for only by a perfect person. But who is perfect? Only
God is. No human being is perfect. The Bible declares in Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God". The Apostle Paul, a
well-placed scholar of his day and a truthful and humble servant of God, explains in Romans 7:18_24: "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) no
good thing dwells ... For the good that I wish to do, I do not do: but the evil which I do not wish to do, that I do ... O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death
?" He rejoiced as he declared the answer in verse 25: "I thank God __ through Jesus Christ our Lord!" He experienced the power of Jesus Christ to overcome the tendency to sin. He
also declared it in Ephesians 2:4_5: "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, He
has made us alive again through Christ (by grace you are saved)". Speaking of Jesus, the Bible declares: "Neither is there salvation in any
other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we might be saved" (Acts 4:12). We shall see later that this same
message of the one exclusive Saviour lies hidden in the Vedantic texts also.
Many will question this idea of exclusivism. However, exclusivism is an integral part of our daily lives. Exclusivism is not necessarily negative or supremacist.
The medical specialist is exclusivistic in his practice. A woman is mother to her children exclusively. Certain diseases can be treated by a special procedure
exclusively. Nothing is wrong with true exclusivism. In the matter of salvation, the holy texts agree that it is through one way exclusively. To reject it for
whatever reason is to forfeit its benefits. Again, it is not an intellectual issue, but rather an issue of personal honesty and humility before God.
Sacrifice: The Price of Forgiveness
Almighty God states in the Bible (Romans 16:25_26) that He had declared the message of salvation to the ancient fathers of all people groups through
mysterious prophesies of the Scriptures. The people never understood the mystery, however, because it was beyond their realm of experience and
understanding. The message told about an omnipotent God who came in a perfect human body which He sacrificed for the sin of humanity; the sacrificed
body then came back to life (resurrection), conquering death and providing eternal life for His people. The idea of a dead body coming to life again by
itself was difficult to imagine, so people either ignored it or interpreted it as the soul going into the body of another person or animal at the time of birth
(reincarnation). However, the reality of resurrection became clear when God graciously revealed it in the life of Jesus the Christ. Hebrews 1:1_2 declares the same truth: "
God, who at various times and in different ways, spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, (God) has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son...".
Indeed, it is a mystery that God's love for wretched sinners would be so great that He would have compassion on us and provide a way to forgive our sins
and set us free from eternal Hell. Being perfect, only God Himself could love so perfectly! So He took human form (Jesus) by being born as a son of
mankind, and caused his blood to be shed as a sacrifice on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. This amazing love is described in the Bible: "Greater
love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). An even greater mystery of this loving sacrifice is this: the
innocent coming back to life after offering up himself for the guilty! It is the unimaginable power of His resurrection that can snatch you from the "mouth of death".
The Mukti Mystery: A Life for a Life
Sin passed a death sentence on our soul. Justice demands death, so that whoever wishes to take our place must give his life. God's supreme justice also
requires a perfect substitute: anything less than a perfect man will not be fair exchange. A person with a death sentence cannot die in someone else's place.
In other words, it takes a righteous life to rescue a condemned life. Now, the Bible declares that "the life of the flesh is in the blood" (Leviticus 17:11); so,
to give one's life meant to drain one's life-blood. Such a blood sacrifice was a picture of God's perfect sacrifice. This is why the Bible says: "Without
shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin" (Hebrews 9:22). God gave to mankind a picture of this mysterious sacrifice for sins since the time of
Adam: an animal sacrifice, usually a spotless lamb or sheep or goat, was accepted in man's place. But these were only a picture of the true and perfect
blood sacrifice which God had planned. God described the perfect sacrifice through the Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 53:5_7: "But He (the Saviour) was
wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes (blood-letting punishment) we are healed (saved). We all like sheep have
gone astray; we have turned, everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him(self) the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and He was
afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter (as a sacrifice), and as a sheep before his shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth." Romans 5:8 declares: "
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us". This sacrifice is the only adequate payment for sins, as 1 John 1:5,7 assures us: "
God is Light and in Him is no darkness at all ... and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin" . God explained it to the prophets this way: "
The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement (payment) for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul" (Leviticus 17:11).
Many people groups have misunderstood this mystery but, in their hunger for
salvation, they have sought to practice it. They have sacrificed children, thinking that these are the perfect human beings spoken of in this mystery. This
mysterious perfect sacrifice is only one person: God Himself incarnated in the flesh. Human sacrifices must cease because the one spoken of in the
prophesies has already been performed for all mankind. No other sacrifice is acceptable. To reject it is to continue in condemnation before God.
The Mystery in Vedanta: A Self-Sacrifice
God had given to the Jewish prophets laws requiring the sacrifice of spotless animals as a symbolic picture of the one perfect sacrifice which was to come,
namely Jesus. As other people groups in the Mesopotamian period interacted with the Jewish people, they were exposed to this practice of animal sacrifice
as payment for sins, and they passed down this information to later generations by spoken or written stories. Thus, the Vedic philosophers wrote in the
Vedantic texts some of the teachings of the Jewish prophets concerning salvation through sacrifice. Therefore, it is not surprising that the main theme in
the Rg Veda and the Upanishads is the nature and purpose of only one supreme sacrifice known as the Purush Prajapati. This name is translated from Sanskrit as "the Lord of all creation who became Man"
(Sathpathbrahmana 10.2.2.1_2; Rg Ved Purushasukta 10:19). The character and actions of the Purush Prajapati establish the fact that he is a physical
personality rather than an impersonal "soul". His majesty is described in Rg Ved 10:90.1, ending with the term "atyatishtadasangulam" which means that
this supreme omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God limited Himself to "ten fingers" in His human form. Thus we see that the Purush Prajapati is not
a generic "self" but rather a physical person, as defined in Sanskrit dictionaries by Sanskrit scholars. He is not among the many mythical and even wicked
characters found in some traditions, but he is the Lord of all creation by definition.
This Purush Prajapati
is the one and only way to eternal life ("... Nanyah pantha vidyate-ayanaya": Yajur Ved 31:18). This Supreme Creator took a perfect human body (Nishkalanka Purusha
) and offered it up as a self_sacrifice (Brihad Aranyak Upanishad 1.2.8). He was symbolized by a spotless lamb which was the animal most commonly sacrificed in those days
(Maddyandiniya Sathpathbrahmana III). He is the only sinless human being, and only in knowing Him does one obtain immortality (Chandogya Upanishad 1.6:6,7). Acknowledging the sacrifice of the perfect
Purush Prajapati imparts eternal life (Kathopanishad 1, 3.8, 11). After giving Himself as the supreme sacrifice, He resurrected (not reincarnated) himself (Brihad Aranyak
Upanishad 188.8.131.52_5; Kathopanishad 3:15). By his resurrection, the Purush Prajapati conquered death and released sin's stranglehold on mankind. He will
return to earth only once more. At this point in its account, the Vedantic history of Purush Prajapati ends. Later we shall find out the rest of the exhilarating story!
The Mysterious Names of Purush Prajapati
To summarize, the only purpose of the Purush Prajapati is to sacrifice His
life-blood to pay our penalty for sin and to impart to us eternal life. It is the only way to Heaven and the only way of escape from eternal Hell (Rg Ved
9:113.7_11; Rg Ved 4.5.5; 7.104.3). He is also called the one supreme Guru who destroys darkness because he is Light (Gurugeet 1:44,79). The Sanskrit word gu-ru
means far more than "teacher": it describes the destroyer of death and the giver of eternal life! (More detail is provided in our booklet "The
Supreme Guru: How will you recognize Him?"). The Advyayatarakopanishad 17, 18 declare him as the Supreme God (Param Brahma), the Supreme Way (Paragati), and the Supreme Wealth (Param Dhanam
). Guru is also called the Supreme Truth (Paravidya): there is only one Supreme Truth, and there is only one Supreme Way to it, as the Vedas teach. These are some of the many
titles given to the Purush Prajapati. Not comprehending these strange ideas, the Vedic philosophers proceeded to add their own philosophies and rituals which,
to this day, obscure this glimmer of Divine truth. The character and events concerning Purush Prajapati become meaningful only when viewed through the
life of the Lord Jesus: he portrayed the mystery of salvation which God had conceived even before He created the universe (according to both Vedas and Bible)!
What do the Vedas and Upanishads teach about Purush Prajapati being the Supreme Way (Paragati) to eternal life? There are four facets (maarg) of the
salvation experience. These are not four paths to salvation but rather four aspects of only one Supreme Way (Paragati). The Svetasvataropanishad 3:8 states this fact unambiguously: "
I know the (one) supreme Purush ... Only in knowing Him does one pass over death. There is no other path leading to eternal life". Yajurved 31:18 concludes the same in the Purushasukta: "...
No other way is known for eternal life. (Nanyah pantha vidyate_ayanaya"). What have been taught as four paths to salvation are really four necessary aspects of one's relationship
with the Purush Prajapati according to the Vedas. They are: (1) accepting the sacrificial work (karmamaarg) of one's sins being transferred to the Supreme Sacrifice; (2) knowing (gyanmaarg
) the Purush_Paravidya (the supreme Truth who liberates); (3) meditating upon Him (yogamaarg); and (4) devoting one's life to the Purush Prajapati (bhaktimaarg
) in gratitude for eternal life. The resurrected Purush Prajapati is returning to earth once more: according to the Vedas, this is the last Avataar
(human incarnation). Later we shall see why He is returning and what it means to you and me!
Traditional Hindu Thought & Vedas
You are probably already aware of the conflict between what we have been taught by Pundits and what the Vedantic texts teach. Traditionally, we have
been told that there is no such thing as sin (only positive and negative karma); that there is no eternal heaven or hell; that there is no final judgment (only reincarnation based on karma
); that all religions worship the same god; that all religions lead to the same god and destiny; that there is no one exclusive way
to God and salvation; and that good deeds earn us salvation. The Vedas teach exactly the opposite, as we have seen. When faced with this disservice to their
followers, many prominent Pundits in India and elsewhere have responded indifferently: "if we teach the Vedas, we cannot make a living"; or, "Hinduism
will not survive if we teach what is written"; or, "I did not know those things were in the Vedas". Many other Pundits, recognizing their own need to come to salvation through the evident Purush Prajapati
(Jesus the Christ), have found unspeakable joy as they called upon Jesus the Supreme Sacrifice for washing away of their sins and for assurance of an eternal home in heaven. My
friend, you are faced with the simple choice between traditional beliefs and the original text. An honest and earnest search for Truth (Sat) will lead to the
conclusion that our traditional Hinduism has no foundation in the Vedas, and therefore offers nothing more than man-made rituals without spiritual hope. Knowing more about the Purush Prajapati
will make your decision easier.
Who Is He?
Which historical figure has demonstrated God's power, become a self_sacrifice, raised himself from the dead, loves sinners, provides the way to
heaven, and is returning one more time for those who are washed clean in His sacrificial blood? The Vedas and Upanishads present no such historical figure.
Does he exist? As we look across the landscape of human history, we find an identical account in the Holy Bible. Here, God presents Himself with this
uniqueness. He presents many more details of the salvation mystery and a glorious account of His incarnation, self_sacrifice, burial, victorious
resurrection, and joyous return for His people! He is Jesus the Christ, as the Apostle John ecstatically declares in 1 John 1:1_4: "That which was from the
beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of
life; (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was
manifested unto us;) that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship
is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full."
He is Jesus, whom history declares as the fulfillment of every divine prophesy
concerning the Saviour of mankind. Only Jesus matches perfectly the description of the unknown Purush Prajapati of the Vedic texts, and of the
Messiah (Saviour) and Lamb of God of the Jewish prophets. This is why only Jesus could authoritatively declare: "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life;
no man comes to the Father but by me" (John 14:6). He is the only answer to the sages' prayer for "Sat" (Truth), "Jyotir" (Light or visible Way), and "
Amritam" (Immortality or eternal life). This same Jesus said: "I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down
of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again" (John 10:17,18). History submits that "Greater love has no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). It was the Lord Jesus who lay down his life for our sins. The Bible calls Him by many other names such as Messiah and Christ
(Saviour), Emmanuel (God with us), the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Light of the World, the Resurrection and the Life, King of kings, and Lord of lords
. It is only the Lord Jesus who loves hell_bound sinners and reached down to us. It is only the Lord Jesus who can provide eternal life through His blood which He shed as payment for our
sin_cursed souls. It is the same Jesus who patiently waits for you to come to Him. Hear his tender, compassionate words in John 10:9_15: "I am the door:
by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture ... I am come that they might have life, and that they might
have it more abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep ... I lay down my life for the sheep".
Only The Whole Truth
Half-truths are whole lies: they are designed to deceive and they are dangerous. For this reason, when God speaks of truth, He means the whole
truth. Especially in critical matters, one needs to insure that one has the whole truth. And what issue is more critical than the future of your soul? Satan, the
enemy of your soul, hates the truth, and his best lies are the ones he sugarcoats with some truth. But while love rejoices in truth, enmity thrives on deception
(Bible: 1 Corinthians 13:6). God is the very embodiment of love (Bible: 1 John 4:8). God's truth is given to us through His love for us, and He seeks to bring us to salvation through it: "
You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free (from Hell)" (John 8:32). Wisdom dictates that incomplete information be uprooted when the whole truth emerges. God expresses it this
way in 1 Corinthians 13:9_11: "For we know in part and we teach in part. But when that which is complete comes, then that which is incomplete
must be done away with. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things
". The whole Truth concerning salvation has been presented in the New Testament (of the Holy Bible) in the person of the Lord Jesus. The partial account in the Vedas concerning salvation should stir one's
interest to seek out the identity of the Purush_Prajapati. In this way, one may find salvation (mukti) God's way and with total confidence. The Vedas point
only to the Lord Jesus as God incarnate and the embodiment of the perfect self_sacrifice for our sins.
To show this relationship clearly, the following side_by_side comparison is
presented. While there are many more points of agreement between the Biblical and Vedic accounts of salvation, only some major ones are given here
for brevity. Note that there are no points of disagreement concerning salvation: the Vedantic texts present only the mystery, while the Bible presents both the
mystery and the personal demonstration of the mystery.
Harmony in the Salvation Mystery