The greatest of Indian Emperors King Ashoka embraced Buddhism in 353 BC after his stunning victory in the Kalinga war.Why would a stunning victory lead any King to renounce his religion and embrace another religion ?The heavy casualties in the war and the wailing of people who last their near and dear touched Ashoka’s warrior heart.’Oh !What have I done ! Am I not guilty of all this blood-shed ? ‘he should have felt.No more agony,no more war, the great King decided.He embraced Buddhism which advocated non-violence as its core teaching.
After embracing Buddhism, he felt that he had acquired something valuable in life which needs to be shared with all people and nations. He chose to send his own son Mahinda and daughter Sangamithra to the present Sri Lanka to spread Buddhism. He also erected edicts across the nation and appointed Buddhist monks to travel to Far East Countries and preach Buddhism. Thus Buddhism became the first missionary religion in the world.To day Buddhism has reached China, Thailand, Cambodia, as far as Japan. Among these countries, Thailand has the highest Buddhist population of 95%. Emperor Ashoka would be happy to hear this great news, had he been alive now. The Buddhism became the first successful missionary religion of the world. Incidentally, world’s first missionary religion was born in none other than our great India! O.K. What are the other missionary religions?
Major Missionary Religions
So now ,we know that a missionary religion is a religion that wants to share its spiritual revelations with all people of the world so that they are also benefited by the revelations. After the death of Gautama Buddha in BC 483 appeared the greatest among the missionary religions of the world.Yes, Christianity with a following of 2.7 billion people as on date, was born in the Middle East in AD 33 circa.It spread like wild fire across the globe,from end to end. Jesus Christ,the ‘founder’ of CY became the greatest name in the history of the world. The world history itself was divided into two eras BC ( Before Christ) and AD (Anna Domini).Islam which is the youngest among the missionary religions appeared 700 years later.
The global spread of Christianity
According to Wikipedia Christianity is the world’s largest religion practiced by 2.7billion people constituting 31 % of the global population.It all started with a dozen committed disciples of JC. Now , how did a dozen disciples of Jesus Christ achieve this great feat against all odds ?Behind this great feat,is the history of thousands of dedicated missionaries who laid their lives for sharing the gospel i.e, the teachings of Jesus Christ with the unreached .What made them dedicate all their life for this noble purpose?
Jesus Christ and His teachings
Jesus Christ ,believed to be the Son of God,was born to Mother Mary,in Bethlehem village of the present Israel.He was believed to be Son of God who took a human form and lived a sinless life during His worldly tenure. He showed to the world how any man can live a sinless life, obedient to the commands of the Father God’. He preached peace, love, obedience to authorities, forgiveness, submission to God in everything. Contrary to popular belief, JC did not’ find’ any religion. During his 33 years of worldly existence, He never talked about establishing any religion. In none of His conversations with His disciples, Jesus Christ ever talks about establishing a new religion. In fact the word ‘Christianity’ is not found in any of the four Gospels of JC.
After the death of Jesus Christ in AD 33, His disciples who followed his teachings were called as ‘Christians’ by others in Acts 11.26 of the Holy Bible. So the point one should realize is that JC was not for establishing any religion and His teachings are for every one ,not only for ’Christians’. He was working for establishing the’ Kingdom of God’ on this earth. For this purpose he asked all his disciples to go every where and make more ’disciples’.
Now who is a disciple of Christ ? A ‘disciple’ of Christ is one who ‘practises’ the teachings of JC in his real life.
A few of the core teachings are listed fellow for your information.
- Love every one.
- Forgive each other. Love your God with all heart and soul.
- Do not worry about anything.
- Do not be anxious about anything. Submit to God’s will.
- In all your actions glorify God only.
- If you help the poor you are lending to God.
- Do not be hypocrites.
- Purity of heart is more important that following orthodox practices.
- When you have two dresses. give one to the needy.
- If someone strikes you in one cheek, show him the other cheek.
- Forgive your enemies.
- Do not judge others.
The Ethical Content Of Jesus Christ Teachings.
From the forgoing it is clear that Jesus Christ wanted to make this world a world of his disciples who will practice all these ethical teachings in every day life. Eventually a world of Christian disciples would turn out to be a Kingdom of God in this world. He has talked only about change of heart and living a sinless life. As these teachings are universally applicable,the disciples of Jesus Christ carried it over to all the nooks and corners of the world. One of the disciples of Jesus Saint Thomas came all the way to India and preached the teachings of Jesus Christ in India in the southern part. Every Christian who accepted these teachings, could taste his goodness and started preaching to others. It is like somebody getting some rare gift and sharing it with others. Thus Christianity spread throughout the world and sharing has became the part of Christianity. As the preachings are ethically good,helping the poor and rejected,it found easy acceptance wherever preached.
By Sundar A.S.