Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Great Love Story of Christmas

It’s three hours past midnight on December 25, 2010 and I decide to liberate Christmas from the habits and memories of childhood that surround this festival. Of course cakes and ale, crib and carols, appam and stew and the lunch spread I would not give up. But surely Christmas is more than all that, I tell myself.

What is it? Why is it what it is?

I pause and think – deeply.

And realize that Christmas is a celebration of love. Love born in a stable in Bethlehem some two thousand odd years ago, and culminated on the cross at Gogotha. Greater love this no man has than he who lays down his life for his friends.

It was a love that revolutionized human thinking. Guess I should qualify the term ‘human’ to European.

The love story from Bethlehem to Golgotha showcases a love that is







It’s a love that negates the ego.

The brutal civilizations of Europe did not understand this love fully then. It does not understand it today too. Nevertheless, it drove home some concepts superficially, and thus the violent games in the massive arenas of the “great ancient civilizations” eventually lost their legitimacy. The idea of human rights was sown in the European minds, though these rights continued to be violated.

This is what Christianization of Europe means. It’s a shift in the Weltanschauung of a people leading to a sea change in a brutal, depraved civilization. A worldview, which provided for human rights, saw its origins in that cradle in Bethlehem.

I sometimes wonder what would have been the fate of the colonized world if the European countries that colonized the Asian countries had not been touched by Christianity. Arenas that host the depraved gladiator games would have sprung up in every conquered nation, in addition to those brutal practices that were integral part of the barbaric civilizations of Europe.

It is this that we celebrate on the Christmas day, though we don’t pause over it long enough to realise it. We celebrate the love story began in Bethlehem that humanized the brutal civilizations of Europe which later undertook the brutal projects of colonization.

I shudder to think of the predicament of the colonies (which were bad enough) without the restraining hand of Christianity.

P S. It is a matter of immense pride to the Indian subcontinent that five hundred years before this great love story of Bethlehem began, it had produced a Buddha who fine-tuned the then existing Weltanschauung of the region with ahimsa, equity and compassion.


  1. Merry Christmas, Kochuthresiamma!

  2. Christmas, as you said, is a celebration of love - love of that man, Jesus, for the humanity. So, Christmas is not a celebration of Christians alone, but that of all those who value love and tolerance.

    Like all other religions, Christianity too has moved much farther away from its founding principles. Examples are too numerous to quote, but the first image that appears in my mind is that of the Spanish conquistadors, who in the name of God, plundered and devastated civilizations in the Americas. Christianity wiped out humanity in Americas; it tried to wiped out Jews in Europe. History is not something to be forgotten; it is a book of lessons to go back to, often, and correct our present course of life.

    'Fate of the colonies'? Conjecturing on what would have been is a pointless exercise. What 'is', is all that matter. One cannot say that 'colonies' would've been better off without Christianity or that Christianity has brought great fortune to the 'colonies'.

    "It is a matter of immense pride to the Indian subcontinent that five hundred years ... it had produced a Buddha" -?!! What, Ma'am, has this particular geographical region to do with Buddha? Or what has Bethlehem to do with Jesus? Bethlehem or Lumbini is just a dot in the planet. Why should Indian subcontinent be 'proud'? Why should we try to own Buddha? Why should Christians try to own Jesus?

    Great men, like great thoughts, belong to none, Ma'am. They are like Linux; Free Software. Upgrade from Windows to Linux, Ubuntu!

    Merry Christmas!

  3. The subtle essence of Christmas is the dawn of love, compassion , forgiveness and fearlessness in the face of insolence and power. The qualities that perhaps took shape in Bethlehem 2000 odd years ago is forgotten in the commercial and religious din of Xmas.
    Though Christ preached , love and compassion the men who took the faith to yonder lands have indulged in the most heinous of crimes in propagating the love Christ stood for. Be it in the colonies of Africa or the Americas Christian missionaries have raped and brutalized the native population in the most cruelest way. It was another form of barbarism and mayhem the civilsations of Europe practiced.
    And like Buddha Christ and his philosophy will remain etched at least in the minds of a few good men, and that will keep the world turning around.

  4. Not to forget about the crusades.

  5. @ Sujatha. Balachandran v, Anil Kurup & anonymous

    christmas and new year greetings.

    yes, there is no doubt that the worst crimes against humanity were committed by christian nations.that's why every christmas should be an occasion for introspection - to realise how much those who profess to be christians have been virtually repeating the crucifixion act thru history.

    nevertheless the introduction of a humane value system into europe cannot be denied. the europeon nations since christianization had been producing knowledge and phiosophies to rationalise the violation of the fundamental principles of xtianity. yes. xtianity as had been practiced/is being practiced has very little to do with the philosophy of its founder.

    Balachandran sir,you are right. true great men do not belong to any region. they belong to the world. but i'm afraid i haven't evolved enough to deparochialise myself intno internalising that idea. every little achievemet of my country makes me feel proud. guess i still have a long way to go.

  6. Greed and cruelty are instinct in all animals, but greatly more so among thinking animals. Might is right. So, everywhere in the world, be it among the white Caucasians, the brown Semitics or the yellow Mongolians or the Blacks in Africa or the tanned Dravidians, this is a truism. The more powerful you are the more aggressive you become. Wanton killings of all kinds, cross-national, intra-national and fraternal, had kept the population growth in check in all civilizations; and even communities have been wiped out. Today’s world is greatly more civilized and such killings have come down and the world population is growing at an exponential rate. The credit goes more to the softening influence of religions and the sobering experiences from the World Wars. When I quote religious influence here, I mean not only belief in God, but also belief in ethics, law & order etc. But the present improvement we see is a very recent phenomenon, a post-WW consequence.

    And, in those dark days, there appeared in this world, once in a blue moon, a philosopher of great stature, as a reaction to the surrounding violence. Hammurabl created a Code of conduct to control interpersonal violence by limiting retributive justice to the level of the damage suffered at the agressor’s hands. Today Hammurabi’s Code is perceived to be cruel; but in his days any minor offence elicited disproportionate vengeance, and his code came to the rescue of the perpetrator of the original crime. So, in his time, i.e., around BC 1950, Hammurabi was synonymous with compassion.

    Socrates was the apostle of ethics. Democracy was born from ethics. Law & Order was also conceived as a product of ethics. Detachment from worldly pleasures that led to interpersonal conflicts was emphasized by Buddha. Love for fellow humans was the motto of Christ. Gandhi combined both. Sree Narayana Guru’s themes too had evolved from similar sentiments.

    Therefore, I am inclined to believe that all atrocities against fellow humans has been softened because of the influence of these holy men. The Middle East of pre-Christian era destroyed itself. The Soviets destroyed their own kids. Islamic conquerors perpetrated their own cruelties. China’s history of internal violence is gruesome. And what about Japanese? Cambodia’s Pol Pot regime? We have no detailed information about the violence involved in the Indian colonization of South East Asia.

    The West could have been more savage without Christ. They unleashed brute force in the Americas, maybe because they faced stiff opposition from the freedom-loving original inhabitants. In India and South East Asia they faced no such resistance; so there was no genocide.

    On the whole, Madam, I am inclined to believe that history cannot be summarily judged. At any rate, it was not Christian spirit that made them violent; it is the other way round. It must have softened their violent temper.

  7. You have said it and I agree with the comments that all great men truly belong to the world. As you put so well, Christmas indeed is all about a love that began and ended humbly. Despite all the commercialization,it gives today's busy families a rare excuse to be together. I am glad to have this time for its own sake, appam and stew notwithstanding:-) Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year to you and yours.


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