JESUS CHRIST – THE SAVIOUR

It is likely that Jesus was born not later than 4 B.C., the year of King Herod’s death. Jesus’ crucifixion was probably in A.D. 29 or 30. (The term Christ is actually a title, not a proper name; it comes from the Greek Christos, meaning the anointed one; in the Bible it is the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew word Messiah.) Information about Jesus is in some ways scant, in other ways plentiful. Although such ancient historians as Tacitus and Suetonius mention him, as does the Jewish Talmud, the only detailed information comes from the New Testament. There are a few other ancient accounts of Jesus’ life, called Apocryphal Gospels because of their poor historical reliability; and in 1946 a Gospel of Thomas, actually a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus, was discovered in Upper Egypt. But none of these sources adds significantly to the New Testament. The letters of Paul are the earliest biblical records that tell about Jesus. But the four Gospels by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, although written later, used sources that in some cases go back very close to the time of Jesus.EARLY YEARS

Jesus first came to general attention at the time of his baptism, just prior to his public ministry. He was known to those around him as a carpenter of Nazareth, a town in Galilee, and as the son of Joseph (John 6:42). Matthew and Luke report that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a town near Jerusalem, famous in Jewish history as the city of David. They further report that he was miraculously born to the Virgin Mary, although they both curiously trace his Davidic ancestry through Joseph, to whom Mary was betrothed.

Little is known of Jesus’ childhood and youth. But about the year A.D. 28 or 29 his life interacted with the career of John the Baptist, a stormy prophet-preacher who emerged from the wilderness and called on the people to repent and be baptized. A controversial character, he was soon jailed and killed by Herod Antipas, the puppet ruler of Galilee under the Roman Empire. Jesus heard John’s preaching and joined the crowds for baptism in the Jordan River. Following his baptism Jesus went into the desert for prayer and meditation.

It is clear that Jesus had some consciousness of a divine calling, and in the desert he thought through its meaning. The Gospels report that he was tempted there by Satan as to what kind of leader Jesus would choose to be – a miracle worker, a benefactor who would bring people what they wanted, a king wielding great power. Jesus accepted a harder and less popular mission, that of the herald of the kingdom of God.GALILEAN MINISTRY

Returning from the desert, Jesus began preaching and teaching in Galilee. His initial proclamation was similar to John’s: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15; Revised Standard Version). This message was both frightening and hopeful. It told people not to cling to the past, that God would overthrow old institutions and ways of life for a wonderful new future. This future would be especially welcomed by the poor, the powerless, the peacemakers. It would be threatening to the rich, the powerful, the cruel, and the unjust.

Jesus attracted 12 disciples to follow him. They were mainly fishermen and common workers. Of the 12 it seems that Peter, James, and John were closest to Jesus. Peter’s home in Capernaum, a city on the Sea of Galilee, became a headquarters from which Jesus and the disciples moved out into the countryside. Sometimes he talked to large crowds. Then he might withdraw with the 12 to teach only them. Or he might go off by himself for long periods of prayer. On one occasion he sent out the disciples, two by two, to spread the message of God’s kingdom.

THE MIRACLES

The records concerning Jesus report many miracles. Through the years there have been great disagreements about these reports. For centuries most people in civilizations influenced by the Bible not only believed literally in the miracles but took them as proofs that Jesus had a supernatural power. Then, in an age of rationalism and skepticism, men often doubted the miracles and denounced the reports as fraudulent.

Today, partly because of psychosomatic medicine and therapy, people are more likely to believe in the possibilities of faith healing. The Bible candidly reports that on some occasions, when people had no faith, Jesus could do no mighty works. People were especially skeptical in his home-town, where they had known him as a boy (Mark 6:1-6). However, usually the Gospels report the healings as signs of the power of God and His coming kingdom.

TEACHINGS OF JESUS

Jesus taught people in small groups or large gatherings; his sayings are reported in friendly conversations or in arguments with those who challenged him. At times he made a particularly vivid comment in the midst of a dramatic incident. The starting point of his message, as already noted, was the announcement of the coming of the kingdom of God. Since this kingdom was neither a geographical area nor a system of government, it might be better to translate the phrase as “God’s reign.”

The rest of Jesus’ teaching followed from this message about the reign of God. At times he taught in stories or parables that described the kingdom or the behavior of people who acknowledged God’s reign. Perhaps the most famous of his many parables are those of the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan. At times he pronounced ethical commandments detailing the demands upon men of a loving and righteous God. At times Jesus taught his disciples to pray: the words that he gave them in the Lord’s Prayer are often used today. Jesus’ teaching was a subtle teaching, and often it was directed to the needs of a particular person in a specific time and place. Therefore almost any summary can be challenged by statements of Jesus that point in an opposite direction. One way to explore the dynamics of his teachings is to investigate some of its paradoxes. Five are worth mentioning here.First, Jesus combined an utter trust in God with a brute realism about the world. On the one hand, he told men not to be anxious about life’s problems, because God knows their needs and will look out for them. So if men trust God and seek His kingdom, God will look out for the rest of their needs. Yet, on the other hand, Jesus knew well that life can be tough and painful. He asked men to give up families and fortunes, to accept persecution out of faithfulness to him, thus promising them a hard life.Second, Jesus taught both ethical rigor and forgiveness. He demanded of men more than any other prophet or teacher had asked. He criticized the sentimentalists who call him “Lord, Lord” but do not obey him, and he told men that, if they are to enter God’s kingdom, their righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, who made exceedingly conscientious efforts to obey God’s laws. He told men not to be angry or contemptuous with others, not to lust after women, and not to seek revenge but to love their enemies. Yet this same Jesus understood human weakness. He was known as a friend of sinners who warned men not to make judgments of others whom they consider sinful. He forgave men their sins and told about a God who seeks to save sinners.

Third, Jesus represented a kind of practicality that offends the overly spiritual-minded; but he also espoused an expectation of a future world (God’s reign) that will make the attractions of this world unimportant. As a worldly man, he wanted to relieve hunger and sickness. He wanted no escape from responsibility into worship. He taught that sometimes a man would better leave church and go to undo the wrongs he has done. But with this attention to the world was coupled the recognition that men are foolish to seek security and happiness in wealth or possessions. They would do better to give away their riches and to accept persecution. Jesus promised – or warned – that God’s reign will reverse many of the values of this world.

Fourth, Jesus paradoxically combined love and peace with conflict. His followers called him the Prince of Peace, because he sought to reconcile men to God and each other. He summed up all the commandments in two: love for God and love for men. He refused to retaliate against those who had harmed him but urged his followers to forgive endlessly – not simply seven times but seventy times seven. Yet he was not, as some have called him, “gentle Jesus, meek and mild” he attacked evil fearlessly, even in the highest places.

Fifth, Jesus promised joy, freedom, and exuberant life; yet he expected sacrifice and self-denial. He warned men not to follow him unless they were ready to suffer. But he told people to rejoice in the wonders of God’s reign, to celebrate the abundant life that he brings.

VIEWS OF HIS CONTEMPORARIES

To some people Jesus was a teacher or rabbi. The healing ministry did not necessarily change that conception of him, because other rabbis were known as healers. But Jesus was a teacher of peculiar power, and he was sometimes thought to be a prophet.

Jesus certainly was a herald of the kingdom of God. But then a question arises: was he simply talking about God and his reign, or did he have some special relationship to that kingdom? Those who heard Jesus were frequently perplexed. In some ways he was a modest, even humble man. Instead of making claims for himself or accepting admiration, he turned people’s thoughts from himself to God. But at other times he asked immense loyalty of his disciples. And he astonished people by challenging time-honored authority – even the authority of the Bible – with his new teachings. He was so audacious as to forgive sins, although men said that only God could do that.

There was also the question whether it was possible that Jesus was the Messiah. For generations some of the Jewish people had hoped that God would send a king, an heir of the great King David of past history, who would undo the oppression that the Jews suffered, would reestablish the glorious old kingdom, and would bring justice. Some expected even more – that a divine savior would come and inaugurate a radical transformation of life.

Various reports in the New Testament lead to various possible conclusions. Today some scholars think that Jesus never claimed to be the Messiah. Others feel that he clearly did. But there was one occurrence that is especially interesting. Once, in the neighborhood of Caesarea Philippi, a city north of the Sea of Galilee (Mark 8:27-30), Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do men say that I am?” They gave various answers: John the Baptist, Elijah, or another of the prophets. Then Jesus asked, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “You are the Christ [Messiah].” Jesus’ answer was curious, for “He charged them to tell no one about him.”

Why, if he accepted the designation, did he want it kept a secret? One persuasive answer often given is that Jesus was radically revising the traditional idea of the Messiah. If the people thought he was the promised Messiah, they would demand that he live up to their expectations. He had no intention of becoming a conquering king who would overthrow Rome.

Jesus, who knew the Old Testament well, had read the Messianic prophecies. He had also read the poems of the suffering servant in Second Isaiah, the unknown prophet whose writings are now in Isaiah, chapters 40-55. These tell of a servant of God and man, someone despised and rejected, who would bear the cost of the sins of others and bring healing to them. It may be that Jesus combined in his own mind the roles of the Messiah and the suffering servant. The undeniable fact is that his life and character were of such a sort that they convinced his followers he was the Messiah who, through his suffering love, could bring men a new experience of forgiveness and new possibilities for human and social life.

PASSION WEEK

Soon after Peter’s confession Jesus led his disciples to Jerusalem in an atmosphere of gathering crisis. On the day now known as Palm Sunday he entered the city, while his disciples and the crowds hailed him as the Son of David, who came in the name of the Lord. The next day Jesus went to the Temple and drove out the money changers and those who sold pigeons for sacrifices, accusing them of turning “a house of prayer” into a “den of robbers.” This act was a direct challenge to the small group of priests who were in charge of the Temple, and they clearly resented it. During the following days he entered into controversies with the priests and authoritative teachers of religion. Their anger led them to plot to get rid of him, but they hesitated to do anything in the daytime, since many people were gathered for the feast of Passover.

On Thursday night Jesus had a meal with his disciples. This meal is now reenacted by Christians in the Lord’s Supper, the Mass, or the Holy Communion. After the meal Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where he prayed alone. His prayer shows that he expected a conflict, that he still hoped that he might avoid suffering, but that he expected to do God’s will. There into the garden one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, led the priests and the temple soldiers, who seized Jesus. That same night Jesus’ captors took him to a trial before the temple court, the Sanhedrin. Several evidences indicate that this was an illegal trial, but the Sanhedrin declared that Jesus was a blasphemer deserving death. Since at that time only the Roman overlords could carry out a death sentence, the priests took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea.

Pilate apparently was reluctant to condemn Jesus, since it was doubtful that Jesus had disobeyed any Roman laws. But as the ruler of a conquered province, Pilate was suspicious of any mass movements that might become rebellions. And he also preferred to keep the religious leaders of the subjugated people as friendly as possible. Jesus, as a radical intruder into the conventional system, and believing that obedience to God sometimes required defiance of human authority, represented a threat to both the Sanhedrin and the Romans. Pilate thus ordered the crucifixion of Jesus. Roman soldiers beat him, put a crown of thorns on his head, and mocked him as a fraudulent king. Then they took him to the hill Golgotha (“the Skull”), or Calvary, and killed him as an insurrectionist. Pilate ordered a sign placed above his head: “King of the Jews.” Among the “seven last words,” or sayings, from the cross are two quotations from Jewish psalms, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Psalms 22:1) and “Into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Psalms 31:5); and the especially memorable “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). That same day (now known as Good Friday) Jesus was buried in a cavelike tomb.

THE RESURRECTION

On Sunday morning (now celebrated as Easter), the Gospels report, Jesus rose from the dead and met his disciples. Others immediately rejected the claim of the resurrection, and the controversy has continued through the centuries.

The New Testament states very clearly that the risen Christ did not appear to everybody. “God … made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead” (Acts 10:40-41). Among those who saw Jesus were Cephas (Peter), the 12 disciples, “more than five hundred brethren at one time,” James, “all the apostles,” and finally Paul. Other records tell of appearances to Mary Magdalene and other women and of a variety of meetings with the disciples both in the Jerusalem area and in Galilee. The four Gospels all say that the tomb of Jesus was empty on Easter morning, but Paul never mentions the empty tomb. None of the records ever tells of an appearance of the risen Christ to anyone who had not been a follower of Jesus or (like Paul) had not been deeply disturbed by him.

The evidence is very clear that the followers of Jesus were absolutely convinced of his resurrection. The experience of the risen Jesus was so overwhelming that it turned their despair into courage. Even though it might have been easier, and certainly would have been safer, to regard Jesus as dead, the disciples spread the conviction that he had risen, and they persisted in telling their story at the cost of persecution and death. Furthermore they were sure that their experiences of Jesus were not private visions; rather, as in the statement quoted above, they “ate and drank with him.” The faith in the resurrection (and later the ascension) of Jesus, despite differences in interpretation and detail, is a major reason for the rise and propagation of the Christian faith.

Checkout the ASCII Art, Wallpapers and Pictures of Jesus Christ in the below link. Extract the Files from WinRAR Archive. Please use Lucida Console font to view the ascii art in Notepad. Before that in Notepad go to Format and Uncheck the Word Warp and then Go to Font and Reduce the Font Size to 3 to 4 pt. Use only Lucida Console Font.

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BUDDHA – THE ENLIGHTENED ONE

Siddhartha Buddha was born a prince in Lumbini, Nepal, at the foot of Mount Palpa in the Himalayan ranges, in 560 B.C. He died at age 80 in 480 B.C. His father was Suddhodana, king of the Sakhyas. Because his mother, Maya, died seven days after his birth, he was raised by his foster mother, Maya’s sister Mahaprajapati.Siddhartha means “one who has accomplished his aim.” Gautama was Siddhartha’s family name. He was also known as Sakhya Muni, meaning an ascetic of the Sakhya tribe.

Upon his birth, astrologers predicted that upon achieving manhood, Siddhartha would become either a universal monarch (Chakravarti), or would abandon all earthly comforts to become a monk and a Buddha, a perfectly enlightened soul who would then assist all mankind to achieve enlightenment. His father, who desired his son to become a universal monarch, asked the astrologers what his son would see that might cause him to retire from the world. They replied: “A decrepit old man, a diseased man, a dead man and a monk.”

Doing his best to prevent his son from becoming a monk, Suddhodana raised him in luxury and indulgence and sought to keep him attached to sensual pleasure.

Guards were posted to assure that Siddhartha did not make contact with the four men described by the astrologers. He placed his son in a magnificent walled estate with gardens, fountains, palaces, music, dancing and beautiful women. Siddhartha married Yasodhara at age sixteen, who subsequently gave birth to their son, Rahula. Throughout these early years of his life, he knew nothing of the sufferings that were taking place outside his enclosure.

Then one day, desiring to see how the people in his town were living, he managed to get out of his walled enclosure accompanied by his servant, Channa. He came upon a decrepit old man, a sick man, and a corpse and he was shocked! Seeing their mortality, he realized that he also would one day become prey to old age, disease and death. He then met a monk who impressed him with his serenity and beauty. It was at this time that Siddhartha decided to renounce the material world with its luxuries and comforts, as well as suffering and pain, and take up a monastic life, realizing that “Worldly happiness is transitory.”

Siddhartha left his home forever, donning yellow robes and shaving his head, to take up Yogic practices. Seeking instruction from several hermit teachers who lived in caves in the neighboring hills, he practiced severe Tapas (austerities) and Pranayama (breath control) for six years, during which time he almost starved to death and became exceedingly weak. He finally realized that starvation did not serve his aims, as it would lead to the very conditions he was trying to surmount. At this point he decided to give up the extreme life he had been living, eat food in moderation, and take to the “middle path.”

Given food by a young woman, he sought a comfortable place to sit and eat it. He found a large tree, now known as the great Bo-tree, or Tree of Wisdom. Upon consuming the physical food, he realized that he was starved for spiritual nourishment. Going deep into meditation, he contemplated his journey with its temptations and desires but did not yield to them. The legends tell us that he came out of the meditation victorious, his face shining with illumination and splendor, having attained Nirvana. He got up and danced in divine ecstasy for seven days and nights around the sacred Bo-tree, after which he returned to a normal state of consciousness filled with incredible compassion for all. He had an overwhelming desire to share his illumination with humanity.

Thus at age 35, Siddhartha was a Boddhisatva (one who has achieved enlightenment but chooses to remain in this world who help those who are suffering). He expressed the experience of his Samadhi (state of consciousness in which Absoluteness is experienced attended with all-knowledge and joy; Oneness): “I thus behold my mind released from the defilement of sensual pleasures, released from the defilement of heresy, released from the defilement of ignorance.”

“The Buddha” (enlightened one) left his wondrous Bo-tree behind, venturing out into the world to teach others who were seeking Wisdom and Enlightenment. The subsequent teachings of The Buddha are the foundation of Buddhism.

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KIRUBANANDA VARIYAR – A GOOD SPIRITUAL PREACHER

Thiru Muruga Kirupanandha Variyar, popularly known and reverently called Variyar Swamigal was born at Kangeyanallur, a small village on the northern bank of ‘Palar’ river. This village lies at a distance of 5 km between Vellore and Katpadi in Vellore District. This province is referred to as Thondai Nadu in Sangam literature.

His father Siva Thiru Mallayadasa Bhagavathar was well known for his discourses on ancient Purana & Ethics. He was a great scholar, his knowledge and wisdom in Purana, Ethics and literature were unlimited. Hence, he was conferred with the title “Puranethikasa Paarangathar”. He established ‘Thirupugazh Sabhas’ in each and every place to propagate “Thirupugazh” , the songs which spell the glory of god Muruga.

Madhu Shri Kanagavalli Ammaiyar, his mother was a noble, highly discipline calm, affectionate holy woman. She was always align with the thoughts of her husband. Her kindness and helping tendency towards mankind particularly towards poor was endless. His parents belong to Sengunthar group following Veerashaiva traditions (Primarily followers of Lord Siva). They had 11 children and swamigal was the fourth child.

Variyar Swamigal never stepped into any school. But his father Mallayadasar taught him education, Literature, grammar, music and instrumental music, particularly Veena, Swamigal started reading and learning texts at Third year of his age. Swamigal was capable of authoring Venbas (a sort of Tamil lyric) at his eighth year of age. At his 12th year he memorized ten thousand poems and authored texts like ‘Ashta Naga Bandham’, ‘Mayil’,’Vel’, and ‘Sivalinga Bandams’ which were too hard and a challenge for even highly learned scholars.

Variyar Swamigal married Amirtha Lakshmi, daughter of his maternal uncle at his 19th age. It is said that saints like Thiruvalluvar had no children since no sacred life was available to call them as ‘father’. So was the case in Variyar Swamigal also.

The motto of being a human in this world is to serve others before self. The people love other live for other, even the bone of kind people belongs to all other. So is a statement in Thirukkural and according to that, Variyar Swamigal toiled for others, for the people, for the world throughout his life span. It is said that one who sees a thousand crescents in his life has lived for a full span with entire fulfilment in all aspects of life. Thus Variyar Swamigal lived as a pearl representing the Pancha Boodhas. That is why he was born in this earth and attained eternal life in the space on 07.11.1993.

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SWAMI VIVEKANANDA – THE SPIRITUAL REVOLUTIONIST

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Swami Vivekananda, known in his pre-monastic life as Narendra Nath Datta, was born in an affluent family in Kolkata on 12 January 1863. His father, Vishwanath Datta, was a successful attorney with interests in a wide range of subjects, and his mother, Bhuvaneshwari Devi, was endowed with deep devotion, strong character and other qualities. A precocious boy, Narendra excelled in music, gymnastics and studies. By the time he graduated from Calcutta University, he had acquired a vast knowledge of different subjects, especially Western philosophy and history. Born with a yogic temperament, he used to practise meditation even from his boyhood, and was associated with Brahmo Movement for some time.During his travels all over India, Swami Vivekananda was deeply moved to see the appalling poverty and backwardness of the masses.Swami Vivekananda heard about the World’s Parliament of Religions to be held in Chicago in 1893. His friends and admirers in India wanted him to attend the Parliament. He too felt that the Parliament would provide the right forum to present his Master’s message to the world, and so he decided to go to America. Another reason which prompted Swamiji to go to America was to seek financial help for his project of uplifting the masses. Swamiji, however, wanted to have an inner certitude and divine call regarding his mission. Both of these he got while he sat in deep meditation on the rock-island at Kanyakumari. With the funds partly collected by his Chennai disciples and partly provided by the Raja of Khetri, Swami Vivekananda left for America from Mumbai on 31 May 1893. His speeches at the World’s Parliament of Religions held in September 1893 made him famous as an ‘orator by divine right’ and as a ‘Messenger of Indian wisdom to the Western world’. In June 1899 he went to the West on a second visit. This time he spent most of his time in the West coast of USA. After delivering many lectures there, he returned to Belur Math in December 1900. The rest of his life was spent in India, inspiring and guiding people, both monastic and lay. Incessant work, especially giving lectures and inspiring people, told upon Swamiji’s health. His health deteriorated and the end came quietly on the night of 4 July 1902.


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