Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha
Jesus Christ - the Rebel of Rebels
November 1991 in Tamil Nation Print Fortnightly
"it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have
recourse, as a last resort, to
rights should be protected by the rule of law" -
Preamble to Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948
title of this column, The Rebel of Rebels is a transformed version of the title
of a Hollywood movie,
The King of Kings released some forty years ago. This movie, told the
story of Jesus Christ. During his life, Jesus was a rebel rather than a king .
He was not the first rebel of repute, to make his entry into this world. He have
been preceded by quite a few like Buddha and Socrates.
At his time, the total population of the world was
only between 200 and 300 million. In this century, when a rebel of
equal merit, with the name
Karamchand Gandhi, altered the history of this world, the
population of this globe has expanded to almost 4000 million. When
Gandhi himself had to lead the 300 million Indians, he gained
inspiration from his predecessor who was just living in the
periphery of the Roman empire two millennia ago.
So much has
been written about this Jewish rebel by so many in so different
contexts. I found, how Bernard Shaw description of the activities of
this Bethlehem rebel quite refreshing in many ways. Wrote Shaw:
"Jesus was from the point of
view of the High Priest a heretic and an impostor. From the
point of view of the merchants he was a rioter and a Communist.
From the Roman Imperialist point of view he was a traitor. From
the common sense point of view he was a dangerous mad man. From
the snobbish point of view, always a very influential one, he
was a penniless vagrant.
police point of view he was an obstructer of thoroughfares, a
beggar, an associate of prostitutes, an apologist of sinners,
and a disparager of judges; and his daily companions were tramps
whom he had seduced into vagabondage from their regular trades.
From the point of view of the pious he was a Sabbath breaker, a
denier of the efficacy of circumcision and the advocate of a
strange rite of baptism, a gluttonous man and a wine bibber. He
was abhorrent to the medical profession as an unqualified
practitioner who healed people by quackery and charged nothing
for the treatment.
"He was against the
priests, against the judiciary, against the military, against
the city (he declared that it was impossible for a rich man to
enter the kingdom of heaven), against all the interests,
classes, principalities and powers, inviting everybody to
abandon all these and follow him.
every argument, legal, political, religious, customary and
polite, he was the most complete enemy of the society of his
time ever brought to the bars. He was guilty on every count of
the indictment, and on many more that his accusers had not the
wit to frame. If he was innocent then the whole world was
guilty. To acquit him was to throw over Civilisation and all its
institutions. History has borne out the case against him; for no
State has ever constituted itself on his principles or made it
possible to live according to his commandments."
Bernard Shaw wrote the above cited commentary on Jesus in the
preface to his play on the Rocks (1933). It is also interesting
to note what Shaw had written in the same preface about the freedom
of press then (when India was ruled by the British) seems valid even
now, considering what had happened to the
founding editor of this paper.
have seen too many newspapers suppressed and editors swept away, not
only in Ireland and India but in London in my time..." observed the