The True Signficance of Christmas

Christmas is named after Christ. This is the birthday of Lord Jesus, the Saviour Christ, the Yogi of the East. He was born in a stable at Bethlehem, of Mary and Joseph, the obscure village carpenter. Mary and Joseph made the stable a home for Christ, the King, the Prince of Peace. The birth of Jesus is celebrated all over the world as the sacred Christmas.

Lord Jesus was an embodiment of mercy, love and humility. He was an apostle of non-violence and peace. His body was crucified, but his voice has been speaking through the centuries.

The message of Christmas is the message of universal love. It is the message of ineffable divine glory and splendour. The message of Christmas is the message of peace and goodwill among all nations.

Christmas is more than a day of rejoicing and festivity. It is a day for realizing the Christ-consciousness or cosmic consciousness. It is a day for remembering the noble deeds of Lord Jesus and his sacred life of pristine purity. Christmas comes and Christmas goes, but let the spirit of Christmas be ever with you all.

Merry-making is not Christmas at all. Christmas does not consist in ringing bells and singing songs, exchanging mutual gifts and sending Christmas cards, and in enjoying rich repasts and heavy dinners and eating cakes.

Christmas is a state of spiritual awakening. To realize the Kingdom of Heaven within yourself, to hold communion with the Lord in the chambers of your heart, to regain your lost divinity, to attain Christ-consciousness or cosmic consciousness, to love all, to include all in the warm embrace of your love is real Christmas.

Realize the spirit of Christ. Walk in the footprints of Christ. Dive deep into the heart of Jesus. Ever seek to express, in your daily life, love, joy and peace. Imbibe Christ’s message of love and sacrifice. Manifest the latent Christ within you. Follow the Sermon on the Mount. Attain God-consciousness. Live in the spirit of Christ’s teachings. Annihilate this little self-arrogating personality and melt yourself in Christ or the Universal Soul. This is real Christmas.

All wish to enter the Kingdom of God. But how many of you possess the real spirit of Christ ? How many of you are real Christians ? How many of you follow the teachings, precepts and doctrines of Christ ? How many of you love your neighbours as your own self ? Those who are endowed with purity of heart, humility, universal love, generosity and nobility – they only can attain the Kingdom of God or supreme peace and immortality.

The spirit or heart of Christ is seriously lacking in the vast majority of persons. The love of Christ is badly wanted. What is Christmas without love, mercy and purity ? Everybody wants to exploit his neighbour. One nation wants to destroy another nation. Is this Christmas ? Is this the teaching of Christ ?

Real Christmas never comes and goes. It is eternal. Feel the spirit of Christmas not only on one day, but throughout the year. Every day is a Christmas day for a real follower of Christ, for a thirsting aspirant. May you all walk the path that Jesus laid out! May you all be living embodiments of the Sermon on the Mount! May you realize the Kingdom of God within you here and now!

Sources: This article is an excerpt from the following books by Swami Sri Sivananda:

1. Lives of Saints.
2. Life and Teachings of Lord Jesus. 


"The Kingdom of Heaven is Within You" by Swami Krishnananda

(Spoken on Christmas Eve in 1972)

Grammar is the fundamental of linguistic science. Likewise, these sections of the Gospel according to Matthew, called the Sermon on the Mount, are considered to be the grammar of religious science – which means to say, the basic principles of the development of a religious consciousness can be gathered from these pithy, pointed, significant sayings of Christ that are embodied in these sections. The development of consciousness or the direction of the religious instinct in us is towards a purpose. Every activity has an end in view. There is an aim and a purpose behind the movement of even our mind and consciousness, let alone our bodily activities or social advocacies.

As on this particular occasion today we are supposed to contemplate and infuse into our personalities the true religious spirit as the great mastermind would like us to have it, enshrining it in our hearts, it would be befitting for us as seekers of Truth on our path to go a little deeper into the secrets of these religious principles or doctrines as embodied in the gospel sections mentioned already.

There are apparently enigmatic instructions, impractical suggestions and difficult disciplines when we actually go through these stimulating instructions. Most of you, if not all, must have read these parables and thought over them profoundly.

The religious aspirant is a more serious person than any other serious person in the world because nothing can be more serious to us than religion. It is life and death to us, and we know how serious this matter could be to any person. How is religion is a matter of life and death, the alpha and omega of our lives? It is because of the fact that we do not understand the grammar or the fundamentals of the religious science that we regard religion as a kind of avocation, as a kind of practice among the many practices to which we are accustomed in our day-to-day existence. But, unfortunately for us and to the glory of the great saints and sages who have told it to us, religion is not an avocation. It is not a vocation, it is not an activity of ours, and we cannot say that we have no time to be religious. We may have no time to do a job, we may have no time to go to a particular place, we may have no time to go to a school or a college, but we cannot say we have no time to be religious because religion is a state in which we are, and by which we conduct ourselves in life. It is something like saying we have no time to breathe or we have no time to be, no time to exist. No one would say this because while temporal activities in the world of space and time require time and space, the enshrining of the religious spirit within oneself does not require space and time. It is something supernormal, supernatural, superphysical.

In these few minutes there is no opportunity to discuss in detail what Christ told us in the Sermon on the Mount. I will only give you one short enigmatic, baffling, and mysterious truth which he spoke to us, on which most people may not have thought properly. “Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” We are on the borderland of the Kingdom of Heaven. From where has it come, and how is it at hand? What is meant by ‘kingdom’? It is a vast stretch of land, a large area of space gloriously ruled by an emperor; that is perhaps what we mean by a kingdom. Now, how can Christ say that it is at hand? And he makes it worse by saying that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us. Matters become worse because a kingdom cannot be within us. It is impossible to conceive such a statement as having any meaning at all. If I say that France is in your heart or India is in your head, what does it mean? It will convey no sense to you. You will think that it is nonsense. But this wonderful nonsense was spoken to us by Christ. “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” How could this be? How could such a doctrine be inculcated and carry any significance?

Here is the very rock bottom of the religious consciousness. This is a very short statement of an eternal truth, a precise enunciation of a reality that is undying. The greatest truths are always enigmatic because they are so simple. That which is very simple is more difficult to understand than that which is acutely and logically presented. The simpler we become, the more difficult we are to understand. The most simple of beings is God Himself, and therefore we cannot even see Him.

Such spiritual precepts as these come to us as vivifying elements, energizing tonics, infusing into our spirit the light of God, and giving us the message from the far heavens. The word ‘heaven’ and the word ‘kingdom’ – the Kingdom of Heaven which is so significant in this biblical chapter – is of eternal significance. Its significance is not merely historical, linguistic or scriptural. It is a spiritual significance. And these incarnations, these masters that abounded through the centuries on this Earth plane, spoke the language of Eternity through the tongue of the human being. That is why we are unable to understand the hidden meaning behind these spiritual precepts. You may be speaking in the Hebrew tongue, or in Latin or in English, but you may be conveying an eternal message which cannot be limited to the linguistic formula of spoken words.

“Thy Kingdom come.” “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” These are impossible to understand by an ordinary mind. Though they carry a grammatical sense, a dictionary meaning, their spiritual connotation cannot be easily grasped by the commonsense mind of the human being because they purport to convey that which is super-temporal in the language of the temporal, the spatial, and the limited.

When Eternity is carried through the vehicle of temporal language, we have an enigma before us. What is called a spiritual knotty point is only this much: the eternal verity carried to us though the vehicle of temporality. If it is purely the temporal truth that is conveyed, we will understand it. The three angles of a triangle make two right angles. It is easy to understand. You know what it means because I am only giving you a temporal truth through temporal language. Two and two make four. Yes, you understand what I mean. But if I say that the Kingdom of Heaven is within you, you will wonder what I am saying, what I mean, because this is not a temporal truth that is being enunciated. This is something beyond the ken of human perception, conception and calculation; and nevertheless, it is given to us in language, so we are scratching our heads through the scriptures. As they say, only a Shakespeare can understand a Shakespeare. Perhaps only a Christ can understand a Christ, and not others.

In our Sanskrit we also have a similar statement: devo bhutva devam yajet. We have to worship God by being God. Otherwise we cannot worship Him because we cannot be on a different pedestal from the being of God and then worship Him in truth, in spirit. As the Christ would say, in Spirit; and Bhagavan Sri Krishna would say, tattvataha, in Reality. We know God in Spirit or in Reality, comprehend Him as He is through a faculty within us which can be regarded as akin to His nature. This is the meaning of knowing God in Spirit, in Truth.

There is something superhuman in the human being, an element which carries the spark of God. There is an element of divinity in the human being which can be regarded as the passage of the mortal to the immortal. There must be some connecting link between us and God so that we may reach Him. If there is absolutely no relationship between us and God, the question of reaching Him does not arise. If we want to reach one place from another place, there must be a road connecting the two places. Now, what is the road or the path or the passage or the link between us and God? Space, time, objects? Nothing of the kind because we say God is infinite, and therefore the question of space does not arise. And what is it in us that can be called similar in character and texture to the being of God – body, mind, senses? Nothing, because the body perishes, the senses are distracting, the mind is fickle. All these are limited to the logical and mathematical boundary of calculation and causation in space and time. If God is infinite, the “I am” or the “I am that I am” is another enigmatic statement. “My name is I am that I am.” What is meant by this? This supernormal peculiarity which can alone be regarded as a connecting link between man and God is present in man – of which he is oblivious, to which he closes his eyes every day on account of attachment to the bodily encasement and being confounded by sensory apparitions. Attraction, colour, sound and motion keep us active. What is the world? Colour, sound, motion – this is the world, and if we deduct these three factors from the world, the world does not exist for us. And we cannot equate any of these principles with God-consciousness.

The Kingdom of Heaven is the being of God. It is not a spatial expanse like Asia, Europe or America. It is not a continent that we call the Kingdom of God. It is the being of God that is the Kingdom of God. This is a very unusual expression of Christ, to give us a truth which is eternal. The Kingdom of God, inasmuch as it is the very being of God, has to be where God is.

A clergyman was giving a discourse and, in a very commonplace way, began to speak on God. He said, “God is in heaven, my dear friends. All should be well with the world.” God is in heaven. Then one of the interested devotees from the audience got up and said, “Who created heaven?” The clergyman said, “God created heaven.” “Where was God before He created heaven?” No answer for this. If you say that God is in heaven and God also created heaven, where was He before He created it? There must be some other place. And who created that place? Well, now you come a cropper.

This is the difficulty in understanding scriptural truths that convey eternal meaning. We always think in terms of our country, our society and our way of looking at things, but the spiritual envisionment of values or the spiritual way of looking at things is different altogether, which is really the beginning of the development of the religious consciousness within us. Religion is nothing but the rising of God-consciousness within us. It is not churchgoing or bell ringing that we call religion. It is not an activity that we do, as in an office or a factory. It is a spirit that rouses itself within us that we call religion. It is a new kind of awakening and a new life that dawns in our hearts. It is a state of being, to put it precisely and concisely.

Now, this being the true connotation of the highest reaches of religion, and religion being the way to God, as we usually put it, and God being infinite, spaceless and timeless, and the Kingdom of God being identical with the being of God, we would be very near the possibility of understanding what could have been meant by the statement, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” We are almost coming near the truth of what this statement was, or is. The being of God is within you – that is the meaning of “the Kingdom of Heaven is within you”. And what is meant by the being of God or the existence of God? This again, to us, is a temporal concept. To us, to be or to exist is to occupy some place. If we occupy some area, we say we exist, but God’s existence does not occupy a place or a space.

We have to meticulously brush aside our usual prejudiced way of thinking when we begin to think seriously in a religious fashion. Occupation of a space or locality does not necessarily mean existing. The idea of existence in the human mind is limited to space and time, but God’s being, as we have already accepted, is super-spatial, non-spatial, and there is nothing of that kind in us except some invisible principle which we cannot easily designate in our language. It is not body because body occupies place, it is not mind because mind thinks in terms of place and time, and it is not the senses because they are only doing what the mind does, and vice versa. What else have we which is akin to God’s nature, which can be regarded as a passage to God or the way to God, by which profundity of meaning in us we are able to comprehend this dictum of Christ?

Usually we can see nothing within us other than the body, the senses and the mind, but if we go a little deeper into this structure of our being, we will realise that we cannot be the body because we think that there is a body, and the thinker cannot be identified with the body. Body and mind cannot be identified with each other because when we say, “I think that I have a body”, the thinker cannot be identified with the object that is thought. Then are we the thought? Here I am reminded of the great cogito ergo sum of Descartes: I think, therefore I am. I think the body; therefore, I have a mind and I think; and because I think, I must be. If I am not, I will not be thinking. So I am first, then I think, and I think there is a body. All these paraphernalia of perceptions come later on, but the fundamental acceptance here is that I am.

How do we know that we are? Now, this question has no answer. How do we know that we are? This is an intuition in us. It is not a perception. It is not a thought in our mind because the question of how we know is itself a mental activity, and so the answer to this question will also be a mental activity. But there is something behind the mind: I am. God said, “I am that I am.” This is what the Book of Genesis tells us. And we also say “I am”. So there is something common between us and God. The I-amness in us and the “I am that I am” in God are similar in nature, and so we can reach God who is “I am that I am” through the real “I am” in us – not the body. We cannot climb to God though the body and the senses and the objects of the world.

The deepest spiritual essence in us is known as “I am”. We call it light, we call it consciousness, we call it spirit. We do not know how to express it in language. And this Universal I-amness, this Universal “I am that I am”,  is God. And this Universal God who is the supreme “I am” also includes our individual “I am”, like a drop containing the ocean. The whole ocean is in the drop; the drop is in the ocean. Likewise, God is in us, and we are in God. So, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” is very clear. It does not mean that a country is within you, it is not a spatial expanse that is within you, it is the spirit that is within you; and if you seek it, everything shall be added unto you. Do not ask for things. When you get the ocean, you have already got the drop.

Why do you ask for a drop separately? “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” All your planes and cars, radios, tape recorders and computers – everything will come to you if you touch this bottom of being. You will be flooded with the resources of the cosmos. You will not be a poor person anymore. You will be the richest conceivable being. God is not a poor person. There cannot be anyone richer than God, and if you have a kinship with God, how can you be poor? The son of an emperor is not poor because he inherits the riches and the resources of the whole kingdom of his father.

Thus, wondrous, soul-enrapturing truths are given to us in these statements. “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” and by knowing it, “all these things shall be added unto you”. Blessed is that person who can grasp the meaning of this teaching, and blessed is he who can delve deep into the spirit of this teaching. Thrice blessed is that person who considers God thus as the only goal of life.

To bring the message of the Immortal, the Supreme Father, Christ came down to the Earth level. May his grace be upon you all. God bless you.


Jesus Christ According to Paramahansa Yogananda

One of the essential goals of Paramahansa Yogananda’s mission was “to reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna; and to show that these principles of truth are the common scientific foundation of all true religions.”

To the public at large, Jesus propounded a simple philosophy of faith, love, and forgiveness. He spoke often in parables, pregnant with timeless morals. But to his close disciples he taught deeper truths, truths that have their correspondence in the deepest metaphysical concepts of the more ancient yoga philosophy.

When his disciples questioned Jesus, “Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” he answered, “Because is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but them it is not given….Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand” (Matthew 13:10, 11, 13).

The full understanding of Jesus’ original teachings — including the fact that he bestowed on his disciples the esoteric techniques of yoga meditation — is revealed in Paramahansa Yogananda’s in-depth commentary on the Gospels: The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You.  In his Introduction to that work, Yogananda wrote:

“Jesus Christ is very much alive and active today. In Spirit and oc­casionally taking on a flesh-and-blood form, he is working unseen by the masses for the regeneration of the world. With his all-embracing love, Jesus is not content merely to enjoy his blissful consciousness in Heav­en. He is deeply concerned for mankind and wishes to give his fol­lowers the means to attain the divine freedom of entry into God’s Infinite King­dom.

He is disappointed because many are the churches and temples founded in his name, often prosperous and powerful, but where is the com­munion that he stressed — actual contact with God? Jesus wants temples to be es­tablished in human souls, first and foremost; then established outward­ly in physical places of worship. Instead, there are countless huge edifices with vast congregations being indoctrinated in church­ianity, but few souls who are really in touch with Christ through deep prayer and meditation.

“To reestablish God in the temples of souls through revival of the original teachings of God-communion as propounded by Christ and Krishna is why I was sent to the West by Mahavatar Babaji….

“Babaji is ever in communion with Christ; together they send out vibrations of redemp­tion and have planned the spiritual technique of salvation for this age.”


"Where Are You, O Saviour?" By Swami Sivananda

Jesus! Light of the world! My Saviour! Where are You?

For, in this dark hour when mankind rushes headlong towards its own destruction, there is urgent need for Thee!

Where are You, O Saviour? Have You not promised that You will never leave us comfortless and that You will come to us? This, indeed, is the time when you should reveal yourself to us so that we might follow You in peace and joy.

Alas, my Good Shepherd! Many of Thy sheep are lost. But, we don’t despair. How kind and gracious You are! You take a supreme delight in bringing the lost sheep back to the fold. Each lost sheep adds to Your delight. Come, come, there is great work and greater delight awaiting You.

Where are You, O Saviour? Temples have been built for You all over the world. Literally, there is no part of the globe where people do not profess to be Your followers. Truly, my Lord, the sun never sets over Thy Kingdom on Earth. But, alas, the very people who owe allegiance to You, have surrendered themselves to the evil hands of Satan. They seek to serve You on Sundays and mammon on the rest of the days.

Lord, if a man loves You he will keep Your words, and, the Father will love him and You will come unto him and make Your abode with him. Today people remember Your name but have forgotten Your words—the comforting balm, the invaluable treasure, the fountain of bliss, the nectar of immortality, the philosopher’s stone, that transformed man into divinity.

You had given us Your great Commandment: “Love one another, as I have loved you,” and You have shown us by Your own life that You could (and did) give up Your life itself for our sake. Not only is such love vanishing from the face of the earth today, but in his greed, fear and hatred, man is ready to cut the throat of his brother. Where are You, O Saviour? Come, come: ere it is too late.

When will people realise that “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth?” When will they seek the Kingdom of God and let the other things be added unto them at His will? Can there be a warning, stronger and clearer, than Your words: “Take heed and beware of covetousness.”

Where are You, O Saviour? Come, come, and remind man that he has in his hands a stone with which he can get two fruits at one stroke. If only he understands aright, and practises Your precept: “Sell that ye have, and give alms, and provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heaven that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth,” he will not only achieve his own salvation, but will create harmony and peace around him and there will be brotherhood and prosperity in the world.

Where are you, O Saviour? Your children for whom you gave up Your life itself—the poor, the downtrodden, the faithful, the persecuted—are oppressed and are deprived of even the little they have. Their oppressors whom You sought to save through Your life-transforming Message of Love and Oneness, are once again straying away into the path of inequity. You have commended: “When thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and thou shalt be blessed.” But, everywhere we see feasts and festivities, dinners and garden parties to which only the friends and rich neighbours are invited! And, what do they do? In Your sage counsels were the seeds of peace and prosperity. Discarding them, they gather only to plot against each other, and together against a third. Come, O Saviour; now is the time for Your clarion call.

Lord! Forget not Your Promise: “Whatever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do.” In Your Holy Divine Name, I pray: Come, O Supreme Monarch of the world! Enthrone Yourself in the hearts of all men. Even as You said: without You nothing can be done.

Where are You, O Saviour! “Thou art where Thy Word is.” This have You revealed in Your luminous utterances: that You are one with Your Law. This Law is the Law of Unity, of Brotherhood, of Love, of Humility, of Forgiveness, of Righteousness, of Charity. I pray to You, on this Most Holy Day of Your Birth here: take Your birth once again in the hearts of all men and women all over the world and take Your birth in the form of this Divine Law. Thus would humanity be saved, and thus would Jesus, my Lord, the Son of God, be proclaimed as the Eternal Saviour.

Come, Prince of Peace! For Your Second Coming are Your chosen children, the saints and men-of-God all over the world, praying and waiting. Come in the form of Your fiery words. Come in the form of the Sermon on the Mount, every word aglow with Your Divine Light. Coming into man’s heart, let Your Word become the blood of his blood, breath of his life, soul of his soul. Only thus transformed into the very images of Your Word shall men regain the Eternal Life, Infinite Joy and Perennial Peace that passeth understanding.

On this Holy Christmas Night, may the Lord be reborn in the hearts of every man and woman in the whole world!

(Life and Teachings of Lord Jesus)

"What Christmas Means to Me?" by Swami Sivananda

Combining as it does, the joy of life and the Spirit of God, the festival of Christmas comes year after the approaching herald of a new year, with its sweet message and silent shifting of our attention, more and yet more to the spiritual pursuits in which alone consist man’s real peace, true progress, and everlasting glory.

Whether it was Jane Taylor or Watts who affirmed, “Lord, I ascribe it to Thy grace, and not to chance, as others do, that I was born of Christian race” it is no expression of any spirit of fanaticism but a humble acknowledgement of the excellent benefits that the genuine Christian way and style of life confers upon one; it is an eloquent tribute to the First Christmas divinely celebrated in the Christ’s crib one thousand, nine hundred and fifty-six years ago, a tribute paid by one who has reaped in experience the life-making fruits of the seeds sown by the birth of Christ.

Besides that elevation of sentiments that inspiration for the inmost spirit in man, that gladness of heart for all, Happy Christmas renews and revivifies in us splendid spiritual values, unyielding spirit of courage, hope, service and sacrifice, a wider and more profound meaning of life to live by. Nothing but a complete volume of weighty writing becomes necessary for any satisfactory narration of the Great Meaning that Christmas has always held for each of us.

May this Christmas bring to everyman on earth, immense happiness, persisting peace, a new strength, a long life of service, love, sacrifice and spiritual progress!

This message was written in 1956 for including in the special Christmas Issue of ‘The Guardian’, Madras.

(Life and Teachings of Lord Jesus)