Text torture

Due to power cut I couldn’t hear the entire talk by Sri Suki Sivam this morning in Sun TV on his Christmas message.  But he not only gave a wrong interpretation but also claimed that that is the deep meaning of the word uttered by Jesus.  As I didn’t hear the entire program I cannot give the entire context of his talk.

When Jesus said that ‘Let the dead bury the dead’, what He actually meant was not about some physical death but about those who is not awakened to their conscience—was the interpretation that Sivam gave.  To prove his interpretation, as usual he quoted few illustration given by Oso.  Well my point is not  to question or criticize Sivam’s right to read any message on any saying of any great gurus and acharyas but to highlight the way this kind of text torture was carried on in our Indian tradition to almost all scriptures.

To those who know Muktiveda (Bible) I need not explain the context of this saying by Muktinath (Jesus).  The main thrust of that command by Muktinath to His disciple is about the cost of discipleship.  Here Muktinath was not even questioning or denying the duty of a son to bury his dead father, but to point out the excuse that the disciple gave when the Lord was talking about the cost that one has to pay to follow Him.  For those who do not know the context I have to take few extra words to tell about it.  In Jewish customs, when a person is dead, the body will be embalmed and wrapped and put in a cave.  After several months (sometimes more than a year), then the son has to collect the bone from the left over of the body and put in a small  box and then bury it in stone  chamber in a (family) cave.  The burying the dead is not like that we do in India, but real burial as per the custom of the Jews will take more than a year.  So when the Lord gave the command to follow Him, one of his listeners (or disciple) gave the excuse that he would follow Him after the burial of the dead will be completed as per the custom.  Then the Lord says, ‘Let the dead bury the dead and you follow me’.  Here Muktinath is not talking about any ‘inner awakening of conscience’, as claimed by Sivam.  There is no point in saying then what does it mean by ‘let the “dead” bury the dead’, which means that how could the Lord talk about those who ‘live’ as ‘dead’ bury the dead.  Therefore what He talks here about the unawakened conscience of the living person.  But such kind of reading of the statement which is a rhetorical statement to point out the excuse given by the disciple and not to point out the ‘dead’ nature of the living person.  Missing the entire context of the message, if we begin to give (our) interpretation on any word will not present the whole truth of the text.

After giving this interpretation, Sivam continued to explain Muktinath’s famous saying of ‘Father forgive them as they know not what they are doing’.@  By that time the power again went and I couldn’t hear further.  So I have to infer what Sivam would have told.  ‘As those people who crucified Him were not awakened to their conscience, they know not what they are doing.  Therefore Muktinath, who has an awakened conscience asked God the Father to forgive them.  And this is the lakshana of the awakened conscience’….etc.

Reading not the whole scripture and not considering the textual, theological and historical context, giving any kind of interpretation on any scripture is one of the mark of Indian civilization.  If anyone points out the wrong in it, then he will be branded as a fundamentalist who upholds their particular religious/theological/philosophical tradition more dear than to have a noble awakened conscience to go deep for the true spiritual meaning.  But such superficial (artificial) reading of a text may serve the purpose of a speaker for that occasion but will never awaken either the conscience or reason beyond listening again one more Christmas message but this time in a novel way by a Hindu who represent the tradition of ‘text torturing’ in our Indian civilization.


Kumbakonam (camp)

December 25, 2012

@  Even the saying of the Lord from the cross should be understood in the total context  other sayings that He uttered  from the cross like ‘I am thirst’; ‘God, God why you have forsaken me; etc. (this is known as the seven sayings of the Lord from the cross).