Brahmacharya, Good Friday and Easter

In Hinduism, the Brahmacharya phase is referred to as the second phase of human life. It is also known as Dwija, which means second birth. Often the life cycle of a bird is used as an example for Dwija. The bird is born the first time as an egg and then a second time when it hatches into a bird.
Brahmacharya is derived from the word ‘Brahma’ which signifies God or the ultimate reality and ‘Char’, which means to follow or practice. During the Dwija phase, as the word Brahmacharya implies, the individual is in a quest for personal realization of Brahma. If we go back a few centuries during the Brahmacharya phase, the child between the ages of six to fifteen starts living with their teacher or otherwise known as a guru. They perform household chores for him while learning many things. These places were called ‘Gurukula’, and are similar to that of a boarding school.

An individual is introduced into the Brahmacharya phase of life through a sacred thread ceremony known as ‘Upanayanam’. A white thread is placed across their torso during this ceremony, as seen on the Priests in Hindu temples. In Southern India, this sacred thread is known as poonal(poo-nool) and in Northern India, it is referred to as janav. During the Upanayanam, the child is taught the secret mantra know as ‘Brahma-Updesh’ (Brahma meaning God and Updesh meaning advise). The mantras are to be chanted several times following their morning bath and evening meal. These and several other rituals are taught to help the person lead a devout and pure life.

Analyzing it further, Dwija is a human method of entering into this phase of life when one is to realize God. In this phase, the pursuit of God is the key factor. Personally, after practicing these rituals for a few years, I began to wonder how long it would take for me to find God. I then began to ask several senior Brahmins in my immediate circle to see if and when they had encountered God. To my surprise, they informed me that I should be focusing on the pursuit and really encouraged me to concentrate on the journey, not on reaching the goal. This response dissatisfied me greatly. The thought of never connecting with God resulted in a feeling of deep emptiness. I desired all the more to meet with God. Therefore, I thought I would increase my chances to encounter God by intensifying my daily practices and involving myself in yoga and meditation. However, after several years of this, I became internally, more conscious of my emptiness than ever before.

This spiritual hunger phase of life reminds me of an encounter Nicodemus had with Yehsu or Jesus. Nicodemus comes to Jesus one night and says, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him”. In reply, Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again”. Jesus continues and says, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and Spirit(Pavitra Atma).

Jesus later elaborates how only the Spirit of God can initiate this new birth. In fact, this new life that God begins is called eternal life. This is similar to the concept of Jeevan Mukti, which is attaining eternal life while you are still alive. When we read this it seems like Jesus is asking us to go back and get the Upanayanam, in the right manner. The right manner of being the one that is initiated by God Himself. How is this possible? In fact, this is exactly what Nicodemus asked Jesus: “How can this be?”.

In response, Jesus explains how God loved the world so much that He allowed Jesus to become the sacrifice for all our sins(Prayaschit for all our Karma). Now, whoever believes in God’s approach, will not perish but have eternal life. The day that Jesus died for our sins/karma is remembered today as Good Friday. His death became the means by which mankind can receive eternal life when they believe. Since His death is able to compensate for all our unrighteousness(adarma), the only act that is left is on our end is to believe and surrender our lives to Jesus. Surrender of our life to Jesus is essentially dying to our Self and living for Jesus. When a person does this, God begins a new life in them.

Are you ready for the true spiritual journey, which is initiated by God himself? Interestingly, the beginning of this new life is also a parallel to the resurrection Sunday(celebrated as Easter), when Jesus came back to life in the same body (in a glorified state).

For this reason, the real Good Friday(Jesus dying for us) and Easter(Jesus raising from the dead), we are able to begin God’s version of the Brahmacharya phase. This is done by believing(by-living) in God’s work. This is done by total surrender to Jesus(your personal Good Friday), followed by receiving the New Life he offers(your personal Easter).