Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Of Judas and Satan

Ever since Gospel of Judas has come to light, a section of the christian orthodoxy is shaken up and is finding it hard to wake up to it. It may be a problem with organised religions. What is written in the book is believed to be absolutely true and any small piece of actuality unearthed that undermines the writing becomes a threat. Nevertheless, it has brought forth a motif, similar to one I was contemplating to write in the Indian context-- that of duty, of dharma and kartavya, and of sacrifice.

In this gospel, Judas is the closest disciple of all the other disciples to the Christ. He even chides others for not knowing the designs of the Messiah. And the other disciples are jealous of Judas. In the end, Jesus himself spells out to Judas on what is to be done to save the world and warns him that this will actually incur the wrath of all the followers. Yet, Judas passes the test, truly comprehends the orders of his master, and delivers Him to the Romans, in spite of his damnation at the hands of the other followers. He is branded as a traitor, though he is not actually one... he is just acting at the behest of his Lord and Master whom He loves and understands. Hmm!

There is a more beautiful concept, more fundamental to the christian myth, not history that I had come across earlier. That of the psyche of Satan himself. About two years ago, I watched the wonderful DVD "The Power of the Myth" by Joseph Campbell, the brilliant mythologist, and he explained the behaviour of Satan in a wonderful way. I am not sure of the sources, but according to one as cited by him, Satan is not exactly the "embodiment of evil", who seeks to destroy everything that is good in the world, a la Morgoth of the Tolkien's Middle Earth. Satan, like Morgoth was the greatest of the angels of God, but when God created Man and declared that Man shall be the most beloved of all of His creations, the character of Satan takes a very curious twist. In his childishly jealous love towards his Lord, he felt that Man has to be ensnared into evil so that Man falls from the grace of God and he could have God's love again, and so Satan is Man's enemy, not the arch-enemy of God directly. A beautiful, though dangerous, thought.

Now, there are two ways to look at it--

1) Christ loved Judas and others were jealous of Judas, and relegated him to a lower status. Similarly, God loved Man and Satan was jealous of Man, and made sure that Man did not stay for long in the Garden of Eden. So here, Satan is symbolised by the other disciples and the Adam/Eve by Judas.

2) There is one more way to look at it ... Judas might actually be an avatar of Satan, in a different way--vilified by the world which has absolutely no idea about the grand design of the God for the universe, Satan might just be doing his duty. And what is this duty? Just as Judas sought to end something good, Satan tried to currupt the hearts of people. The result of ending something good is what is called as 'The Change'. The 'Good', is always associated with a fantastic idea of utopia, where things dont change, stuck in an all pervading constancy. Change on the other hand is the fundamental nature of the dynamic universe and that which brought forth life from non-life. No wonder that constancy doesnt exist in the universe. While the Garden of Eden might be a superlative idea of perfection, denying change is denying that very thing that created the universe, for creation itself is a change. Many things that God thought for the Earth, had to come about in some way, and Satan may be the instrument that causes change that God wanted. As Merovingian puts it, everything in the universe happens due to causality. The interplay of Satan and God, could be viewed as cause and effect. What is reassuring, and probably makes us feel safe in this theory, is that though the cause is the mysterious Satan, the effect is always the benevolent God.

The gospel of Judas has been found of late. It may be that a gospel of Satan will also be found sometime in future, and it may be then that mankind will truly understand the wisdom of Satan. This is exactly why I love the ending of the movie "Bedazzled" where God and Devil are playing chess. I guess Satan has the white pieces.


yadbhavishya said...

And probably Man is someone who thinks he is moving the pieces on his computer while that game is on!

If logic serves right, then Satan is the enemy of Man, and 'God' who is in a wordly way, a 'creation' of Man. So it follows that anti-god = pro-satan.

Hence anybody who is not one of us is with them, as morpheus puts it. Thats cruel man, even if its logic.

Gandaragolaka said...

How very interesting... God is a creation of Man, whereas Satan is not?

Kaliyugam... People are afraid of Satan more than they worship God.

aina ivanni manakenduku...

Pingu said...

Very interesting..

Random Walker said...

i totally like the concept of satan treated as God's pet angel who's jealous. very curious post.

Gandaragolaka said...


I absolutely go bonkers about that word! A class word!