Friday, June 26, 2015


183. Doctor Manocha. Part One


A man of God died on December 21, 2014. His name was Kundan Lal Manocha. He was in his early eighties. He was my friend since 1983.

He was born in present Pakistan, which was British India at that time. After partition of India in 1947, into present India and Pakistan, the family lived in a refugee camp for about six months. Life was harsh. They were many persons in each tent. There was a blind person in their tent. Sometimes, unknowingly, he would spit in their food, or on other people.

Young Manocha was bright and got admission in medical college. After a while, his father was unable to pay tuition fee. One day a classmate saw him weeping on a bench outside the principal’s office. On enquiry he told his classmate that he was waiting outside to inform the principal that he was going to quit the school. His classmate belonged to a rich family. He agreed to pay his tuition fee. During that time he had two absolutely true dreams which I have described in blog 4; one regarding his marks in premedical examination, and the other about the questions in next day’s anatomy examination.

After becoming a doctor, once he went to distant Calcutta with a bunch of friends for few days for some professional engagement. Just for enjoyment, one evening they took a boat ride in river Ganges and to nearby gardens. Somebody asked them whether they wanted to see the nearby room where the great saint Sri Rama Krishna had lived about seventy years ago. With not a spiritual thought in their heads the noisy young men agreed. As he entered the small room a sudden shiver went through his body. There were other visitors in the room. Everybody was silent, as if they too had experienced something. That experience left an imprint on him.

He found a Guru. He used to refer to him as Bathinda-waalay (from Bathinda). Years later, the now dead Guru came in his dream and said that he had not given him a mantra ( a spiritual incantation ), and gave him a mantra.

Once he went to Vrindavan, the holy town of Lord Krishna. He saw the murti ( idol) of Krishna from a distance. It appeared to him as that of an animal. He mentioned this fact to his Guru, who replied that to a select few the Lord appeared in this form.

On another visit to Vrindavan, his pocket was picked. He found himself penniless in a town far from home. He was filled with fear and anxiety. Suddenly a man addressed him. He said, “Doctor Sahib, how are you doing?” He belonged to the same village where Dr. Manocha was posted as a physician. Dr Manocha told him his story. The man told him not to worry, and gave him enough money to go back. That incident was an eye-opener: in an instant God can make you helpless, and in an instant He can give you back your security. Furthermore, the pickpocket’s needs were also met; maybe he was in desperate need of money.

I met him in a hospital in U.S.A, where he was working as a pulmonary specialist. At retirement, he had achieved the highest rank possible for a physician. He was acting in charge of all the physicians, nurses and dentists working in the hospital. His life was worldly, without any touch of spirituality, except some puja (religious practices) and yoga. During that period, one day he was talking with a hospital employee, named Edith, who was a religious/spiritual lady. She told him that before sleep if one prays for something, and opens one’s Scripture at that point, and then leaves the open book under one’s pillow, the prayer is answered. Dr. Manocha prayed for something (he did not remember what) and put the Gita under his head. He had an obscene dream that night. He reported back to Edith. She said that when a purulent wound is lanced, pus and blood come out first; he should do it again. He repeated the procedure the next night. He had a marvelous supernatural dream, which I have narrated in blog 5. For the sake of continuity I will narrate it, briefly, again.  In the dream he was taken to Puri, India, where Lord Jagannath’s temple is located. He saw an octagonal pool over there. He was dunked in the pool, and was thus spiritually purified. He could, even now, visualize the pool, the blue water with foam on it, and could feel somebody’s hand behind his neck. He had never been to Puri before. Ten year later, he went to India, and went to the temple in Puri. He wanted to verify whether there really was an octagonal pool. After some initial despair he found the pool of his dream, except the water. The guide told him, that this was Lord’s pool. Since Lord does not need water, they had left some water in it just as a token.


To be continued

Friday, June 19, 2015

182. Jesus and the Historians. Part four



Josephus, the Jewish historian, ( see blog 180) is very thorough and truthful about such persons. I quote:


Judas, a Gaulonite, (1) of a city whose name was Gamala, who, taking with him Sadduc, (2) a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them to a revolt, who both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty; as if they could procure them happiness and security for what they possessed, and an assured enjoyment of a still greater good, which was that of the honor and glory they would thereby acquire for magnanimity. They also said that God would not otherwise be assisting to them,……… there were also very great robberies and murder of our principal men. This was done in pretense indeed for the public welfare, but in reality for the hopes of gain to themselves; whence arose seditions, and from them murders of men, which sometimes fell on those of their own people, (by the madness of these men towards one another, while their desire was that none of the adverse party might be left,) and sometimes on their enemies; a famine also coming upon us, reduced us to the last degree of despair, as did also the taking and demolishing of cities; nay, the sedition at last increased so high, that the very temple of God was burnt down by their enemies' fire. Such were the consequences of this, that the customs of our fathers were altered, and such a change was made, as added a mighty weight toward bringing all to destruction, which these men occasioned by their thus conspiring together; for Judas and Sadduc, who excited a fourth philosophic sect among us.


But of the fourth sect of Jewish philosophy, Judas the Galilean was the author. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty, and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. ………. (Antiquities of the Jews; 18:1:1; 18:1; 6)

If Jesus was a rebellious Jew, why did Josephus not mention him as such? What he said about Jesus, I have already quoted in blog 180.( 18:3:3). Tacitus the Roman historian wrote about Christus (Jesus Christ), the following:

Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus.( Annals 15;44 )

He also did not mention him as a violent revolutionary!

Jesus was clear about the role of state and religion. The story of taxes to Caesar is mentioned in Gospels. ( Mark 12;13-16; Mathew 22:15-21; Luke 20:20-25). Let me quote:

……Is it right to pay the imperial tax[a] to Caesar or not?”18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

(Mathew 22:15-21)

This is the clearest example of Jesus stating that the citizens should not interfere with the functions of Roman government. The obligations which were due to God were separate. Religion was a personal affair. To give different interpretation to this episode, which Aslan does, is a classic case of not accepting the obvious, an accusation he throws at other scholars on page 239.

Why is the author trying to recast Jesus’ character, from a man of peace to a revolutionary? While, as a matter of fact, he states on page 120, that whether Jesus himself believed the zealot doctrine is not known. But he seems to have embraced it completely.

He makes two astonishing statements. On page 155 he states that all one needs to know about Jesus of Nazareth is present in one fact: that he was crucified by Rome. That is all that is required. Who he was and what he was, and why he was crucified is evident in that fact!

On page xx he declares that the historical Jesus who he uncovered made him a more committed disciple of Jesus of Nazareth than he ever was of Jesus Christ! This mote thinks that he did not gain anything but lost a lot.

He does not realize the implications of what he is saying. Jesus of Nazareth which he uncovered would have been nothing but a minor Jewish revolutionary who was crucified; like others such as Hezekiah the bandit, Simon of Peraea, Judas the Galilean and many more.

Jesus Christ of gospels is an entirely different person. His message of love and peace; his noble, unflinching, painful death; his awe-inspiring miracles; and his repeated appearances after his death, are the features which the author has simply ignored.

By his meticulous hard work the author has produced a thought provoking book. I wish, at the end of the book, he had stated what he now believed about Jesus.


  1. Zealot___The life and times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan. Published by Random House, 2013


Friday, June 12, 2015

181. Jesus And The Historians. Part three


We were discussing the five arguments which Aslan furnished to support the notion that Jesus thought that  the aims of his revolution could not be achieved without violence. Please read blogs 179-180 first.

  1. Kingdom of God ( heaven ) did not necessarily mean that it had to be established on earth, in Palestine, in near future. As a matter of fact, nowhere did Jesus specify the geographical nature or the time of this kingdom. Look at these statements:

43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. [44] [a] 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. [46] [b] 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, (Mark 9:43-47)

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is[a] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”( Mark 10:23-25)

Any impartial person, after reading these passages, will conclude that Jesus is referring to heavens, because he is contrasting it with hell: those who enter life, after stumble, with one foot, one hand, one eye; go in kingdom of God; two feet, two hands, two eyes; are thrown into hell. Rich people, in general, usually have a better life, in this world, than the poor, because their money can buy all the comforts which poor lack, then, if kingdom of God refers to this world then why Jesus said that it was impossible for rich to enter it.

I chose passages from Mark, because that is the earliest gospel, there are similar passages in other gospels. For example, “ …..that many Gentiles will come all over the world and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob….” (Mathew 8:11; Luke 13:28-30)). These prophets had died long time ago!

The author has a different take in this matter. He thinks that ‘kingdom of God’ and a ‘call to revolution’ are simply interchangeable terms. He further adds that Palestine was under Roman occupation. There was no other way to freedom except use of force.( page 120). Jesus agreed ( according to Aslan ) with the zealots that a change of whole system of government was needed, which included political. ( page 121)

There are passages in gospels which state that the kingdom of God is near, which can be interpreted as pointing to a violent rebellion, throwing the Romans out ( as happened few decades later), and establishing a new society based on new principles. Maybe, Jesus understood that his noble death ( which he predicted was going to happen ) and resurrection will result in a moral revolution in human beings. Persons like Peter, Paul, Stephens, and James (brother of Jesus) did achieve Kingdom of God in this world.


  1. The author reconciles Jesus’ message of love and peace, to use of force against the Romans, by the  argument, that  his commands to ‘ love your enemies’ and ‘turn the other cheek ‘ did not apply to treatment of foreigners and outsiders but was meant only within the Jewish community. This is a preposterous argument and not worthy of discussion. Laws of God are the same for everybody.
  2. Author states that Jesus was crucified for the crime of  sedition. Sedition must be aimed against Roman state, because crucifixion was reserved for treason, sedition, rebellion and banditry. Therefore, author argues, that Jesus was promoting sedition. His point of view is probably correct. Jesus was a revolutionary, though a peaceful one, but Roman and Temple authorities considered him a threat. That does not make him a violent revolutionary but he might have been perceived as such. To make his point valid, author had to argue that the other two bandits crucified along with Jesus had to be resistance fighters too. There is no evidence to support it.
  3. Aslan contends that Jesus was calling for revolution with the use of force, because he was primarily a Jew, and Jews were rising up against Roman rule. Jesus could not have been unaffected. Palestine was seething with rebellion in the 1st century, which finally resulted in driving the Romans out in 66 A.D, and have a Jewish rule for four years. There were revolts near about Jesus’ time; Judas the Galilean, Fourth sect; etc.
    This is an indirect deduction without any evidence. Revolutionary Jesus is not mentioned in any of the four gospels, letters of Paul, and by Josephus or Tacitus.
    To be continued

Friday, June 5, 2015



 180. Jesus And The Historians. Part two


We were discussing whether Jesus had a trial before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.

Aslan thinks that the gospel writers and Paul were trying to absolve the Roman Governor for crucifixion by putting all the blame on the Temple Authorities, and by doing so were trying to please the Romans. Jews had risen in revolt against Romans and had been crushed. The Temple had been destroyed in 70 A.D. Jews had scattered in Roman Empire and were trying to live peacefully with other nations (mostly in Roman Empire) and that is why they were trying to absolve the Roman Governor .

It is surprising that Aslan does not quote an impartial writer, who had no axe to grind one way or the other. In the Antiquities of the Jews, Jewish historian Josephus, stated (Ant 18.3.3):

. Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, (9) those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; (10) as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day...”.

Did the author present any evidence that the trial never took place? In other words did he find any writing or tablet saying that Jesus was never tried before the Roman Governor?


Thus the author violated the basic principle of research by rejecting all the four gospels and the letter of Paul, despite the fact that Mark was in Rome, Mathew in Damascus, Luke in Antioch, John in Ephesus, and Paul in Rome or Macedonia. They were also separated in time.


Aslan goes one step further. He contends that the trial before Caiaphas also did not take place (page 157). He furnishes a variety of minor reasons, but no evidence. To him, ‘the most troublesome aspect’ was the verdict; Jesus was not stoned to death.  All the scenes must have   been concocted by the gospel writers.


The back cover of the book has an excerpt by Judith Shulevitz. It characterizes Jesus as a ‘ A violent revolutionary,’‘ A fanatical ideologue’, ‘Odd and scary’


I wonder if the author approved such language.

Aslan rejects the arguments regarding the peaceful nature of his message. He furnishes 5 arguments to support his contention that Jesus envisaged that the aims of his revolution could not be achieved without violence.

  1. He showed violent behavior in the Temple and instructed his disciples to buy swords (Luke 22:36-38). 
  2. Jesus was promising Kingdom of God ( heaven), on earth
  3. He meant peaceful behavior only towards Jews and not Romans
  4. First century Palestine was seething with revolution
  5. Jesus was crucified for sedition

Let us examine what the Synoptic Gospels, Josephus (a Jewish historian), and Tacitus (a Roman historian) have to say about this violent revolutionary.

  1. There is zero evidence that Jesus was a violent revolutionary. He was a revolutionary alright but not a violent one. His revolution was not directed against the Romans but against the base nature of human beings. He wanted to reform us. He wanted us to love our fellow humans, even our enemies. He was an idealist, with an unachievable message, because he advocated selflessness, whereas self interest is the basis of all human and animal voluntary behavior. Let me quote his famous message:

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[b] and hate your enemy.44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:38-44 )

"all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword".( Mathew 26:52)

Where is the evidence of violence? The author himself concedes as much. He writes that there was no evidence that Jesus himself openly advocated violent actions.( page 120)

Jesus was a human being. At least on three occasions he was overcome with emotions like all of us. Once in the Temple when he saw the deceit and the loot and overturned the tables of the money changers; second time in Mount of Olives before his arrest; and lastly just before his death, when he famously exclaimed, “ My God, my God, why have You forsaken me.” He was overcome with mercy on several other occasions.

The first two episodes are taken as evidence that Jesus was not a nonviolent person. May be he was not a pacifist, maybe he justified resistance against an enemy, but that is a far cry from advocating rebellion. Look at his life. Did he raise armies? Did his followers kill a single Roman soldier?

His distress before his arrest is heart wrenching, “33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba,[a] Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.” ( Mark 14:33-36).

 So what, if overcome with grief, he told his disciples to arm themselves with swords in their future journeys, so that they avoid what was going to happen to him in a short while. It is worth noting, that as the author mentions on page 124, Jesus knew his fate. He mentioned it to his disciples many times that he was soon going to be arrested, tortured, and killed. ( Mathew 16:21,17-22-23, 20:18-19; Mark 8:31, 9:31,10:33; Luke 9:22, 44, 18:32-33)”

To be continued