We must differentiate Christ from Christianity, Buddha from Buddhism, Krishna from Krishna Consciousness and so on and so forth. Each religion suffers this distorting influence by the Asura. Hinduism largely escaped this fate because of its background of Sanatana Dharma which allowed within itself the evolutionary principle beautifully indicated in the parable of Avatars and the idea of rebirth as also by accepting the Master as being greater than the Teaching (Sabdabrahmativartate) and multiplicity of paths and catholicity of approach. This, not being available to the middle East and the West, the natural corrective was lost. Though even there we see movements of revival wherein true seekers tried to find the core of a teaching, such as the Gnostics and the Sufis, but these were overwhelmed by the majority and hence could hardly escape extinction or some sort of distortion. This tendency of degradation of spiritual truths is far worse where religion is institutionalised. This is what has happened to the Khalsa Panth where the great and mighty teachings of Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Govind Singh are being used as a political tool and the average Sikh is either suffering it silently or else accepting it blindly. All such organised religions become tools in the hand of the Asura of falsehood who uses its shell for expanding his empire over earth and humanity and surely Christianity and Islam are two obvious examples. It is however equally true that if the seeking is genuine then even a darkest religion can yield its drop of light and the genuine seeker can use it to discover God who is everywhere. That is what the life of Sri Ramakrishna demonstrated.
However, what is being told here is not about the religion that followed Christ but the personality of Christ himself that, to use the Indian conception of Avatarhood, does suggest a manifestation of divinity. This manifestation of the Divine in humanity or in the guise of a human cloak has its action cutting through the human resistance and those who are ready awaken to the call and undergo the needed change. Unfortunately, this action is often least seen in the followers of an institutionalized religion that is erected in the name of the Divine being. It is an unseen and powerful action that changes humanity from within by shifting it in the direction that the Avatar had come to do. The advent of Christ did shift humanity from a semi-barbaric state where people were stoned and crucified to a more human approach due to the outflowing of piety, the growth of humanism and the urge towards individual liberty.
Of course, the aphorism mentioned is by Sri Aurobindo who apart from his profound yogic insights and knowledge had carefully and thoroughly studied history (as is evident in several of his writings, especially The Human Cycle) and knew the historical events and their aftereffects from inside out. But that belongs to the realm of revelation which can only be disputed by another revelation rather than the light of reason and its inadequate data. However, both Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna as also many other Hindu saints did accept Christ as a divine manifestation in the grand scheme of things and there is a fair amount of unanimity as far as Christ and his work is concerned. What Christianity did to Christ is another matter.
Let us conclude with two passages from the Mother as well as magnificent lines from Savitri.
“When Christ came upon earth, he brought a message of brotherhood, love and peace. But he had to die in pain, on the cross, so that his message might be heard. For men cherish suffering and hatred and want their God to suffer with them. They wanted this when Christ came and, in spite of his teaching and sacrifice, they still want it; and they are so attached to their pain that, symbolically, Christ is still bound to his cross, suffering perpetually for the salvation of men.”
“In the Essays on the Gita Sri Aurobindo mentions the names of three Avatars, and Christ is one of them. An Avatar is an emanation of the Supreme Lord who assumes a human body on earth. I heard Sri Aurobindo himself say that Christ was an emanation of the Lord’s aspect of love.
The death of Caesar marked a decisive change in the history of Rome and the countries dependent on her. It was therefore an important event in the history of Europe.
But the death of Christ was the starting-point of a new stage in the evolution of human civilisation. This is why Sri Aurobindo tells us that the death of Christ was of greater historical significance, that is to say, it has had greater historical consequences than the death of Caesar.”
Hard is it to persuade earth-nature’s change;
Mortality bears ill the eternal’s touch:
It fears the pure divine intolerance
Of that assault of ether and of fire;
It murmurs at its sorrowless happiness,
Almost with hate repels the light it brings;
It trembles at its naked power of Truth
And the might and sweetness of its absolute Voice.
Inflicting on the heights the abysm’s law,
It sullies with its mire heaven’s messengers:
Its thorns of fallen nature are the defence
It turns against the saviour hands of Grace;
It meets the sons of God with death and pain.
A glory of lightnings traversing the earth-scene,
Their sun-thoughts fading, darkened by ignorant minds,
Their work betrayed, their good to evil turned,
The cross their payment for the crown they gave,
Only they leave behind a splendid Name.