The Star of The Magi

the-star-of-the-magi

star-of-the-magiPromote PeaceThe appearance of comets, brilliant objects, and other luminous bodies in the sky at various times have awakened the curiosity and occupied the minds of astronomers and scientists, and have been the object of research in history. One unique Star, ‘The Star of The Magi’ as the one announcing the birth of the Christ child however has been of extraordinary importance and an object of research and inquiry in the annals of Astronomy.

The ‘Star of the Magi’ also known as the ‘Star of David’ is  an unmistakable object in all pictures, paintings, catacombs, in all Christian sarcophagi, drawings and literary expressions, in the representations of the birth of Christ and brought to focus in the Season of Christmas.

Who were the Magi? What was the phenomenon of the Star? The Star in the Christian imagination was the first divine missionary to the world and the Magi the first to acknowledge divinity of the new-born child. It is very common to style the Magi as Holy Kings, and in almost every picture and painting they are presented as such. The only evangelist who speaks of them is St. Matthew, but does not speak anything of their royal dignity. Neither do the Fathers of the church speak of them as such. The opinion that they ‘kings’ spread among the Christian people seems to be based on verse 10 of ps.71. ” The Kings of Tarshish and the islands shall offer presents and the kings of the Arabians and of Seba shall b.ring gifts,” symbolically stated during the Feast of Epiphany, but this has no historical value.

According to Bede the Venerable, there were three of them, Melchoir, old and white haired, with a long beard and long hair, wearing a tunic. He offered gold to the Christ child, acknowledging kingship. The second Gaspar was a beardless youth, dressed in a Mylenian tunic, red mantle and hyacynthine shoes. he offered frankinsence, acknowledging him as God, for such a gift is offered to divinity. The third one of olive complexion with a goodish beard, was called Balthasar. he displayed a purple tunic and wearing Mylenian shoes. he offered the Lord myrrh, making a profession of faith in his death as the Son of man.

The Country of the Magi  According to the church Fathers the Magi came from the Oriental regions. When they spoke of the Star to King Herod, they said they saw it ‘ente anatole’ meaning they saw the Star on the eastern side of the sky or in the east. Geographically, the ‘east’ is all the land east of the River Jordan. But there is much difference of opinion as to where exactly was the country of the Magi. Some believe it to be Chaldea. Others Mesopotamia, still others Arabia. That the Magi came from Persia has had the most supporters.

The word ‘magoi’ as it is used by St. Mathew does not mean that they were Magi in the dubious meaning of the word: that they were devoted to witchcraft or they were diviners or interpreters of the occult, rather that they were learned men.

The Star of The Magi  Much has been discussed about this Star. In early times Origen had thought it was very likely a Comet. Others like St. John Crysostom, believed that the Star was created by God for the specific purpose of bringing the gentile nations to the feet of His newly born son. According to him it was not a star at all, but an invisible power that looked like a star. He gives four arguments. Firstly no star followed such a route, for stars moved from east to west, but this star was going from North to South, as it was the position of Palestine in relation to Persia. Secondly the Star appeared both day and night. Thirdly on account of the way it shone, at times it shone, other times it went out. Finally it was unique by its brilliancy, for if it was in the high sky, it could not guide the travelers.

The Star a Conjunction of planets Accorring to Kepler the great Astronomer a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, at the time may well have made up the Star. The birth of ‘messias’ as ‘The expectation of the nations’ was well awaited by all nations both east and west. In the Avesta of the Persians a ‘Savior’ as one who will lead humanity to its primitive state of happiness was eagerly looked forward to. In India the Mahabharatha narrates world events in the form of yugas in which there were four. In each of these truth suffered a great se back and the powers by which men could communicate with heaven were withdrawn and they could not lift themselves up from the earth, and it was necessary for God himself to come down to earth to lift them up. The Jews had the tradition of the announcing star in the prophecy of Balaam, “……And the Star will shine from the east…. and this is the Star of the messias.

Similar traditions existed among others. According to an Indian prophesy in the Mahabharatha, the aooarition of Kalki the restorer of the primitive age of perfection Kreta yuga will appear when Sun and Moon and Brahaspathi (Jupiter) will appear in conjunction. The age of iniquity (kali Yuga) will be replaced by an age of perfection, when truth, justice and peace will prevail. Brhaspathi was considered a divinity by Indian rishis, and it was this star that guided them to the divine child in Jerusalem. Those acquainted with the prophesy of the star would undoubtedly be searching the skies and the heavens constantly for the heavenly phenomenon of “The Star” and follow it to the place where they would end their quest.

The

   The Magi as ṛsis (Wise Men) of India

How did they come to know that the messias was born out of India? And born precisely in the land of Israel among the Jewish people. A strong tradition exists that the Magi were men from India. The wise men of India ṛsis were men well acquainted with the language of the stars and the planets, who intrepidly decided to go in search of the avatara, incarnation of the divinity. In their fervent search they made inquiries from the Jews who lived in western parts of India. They started their journey in February in the 7th year before the Christian era, the 747th of the foundation of the city of Rome and 3109th of the Kali yuga in Indian calculation, as they beheld Brahaspathi in conjunction with sun and moon an extraordinary phenomenon in the sky. They travelled westwards into Persia and Syria. They travelled in the night as Brahaspathi illuminated them and lead them as the guiding star. Travelling west they entered Afganistan through the Khyber Pass. They did not lose sight of the ‘Star.’ In Alexandria they saw the star always in the east and many had seen it and talked about. According to Babylonian thought the planet Jupiter signified “Peace on Earth” and Saturn the sign of “Goodwill to men, and the triumph of justice.” They forded the two rivers Tigris and Euphrates, and in the plains of Mesopotamia they had new signs in the stars of heaven, which denoted the rank and family of the child as a’carpenter’ and so not clothed in pomp and ceremony. The avatara was going to be a spiritual king ‘vidyaraja’ much in accordance with Indian conceptions.

The end of the journey was not far off. Crossing the Jordan north of the Dead Sea at Jericho, they came to Jerusalem. The ‘Star’ continuously shining before them from the west, showing them the way. Crossing many a mountain and desert they reached the south eastern gate of Jerusalem, where before them rose the walls of the temple.

What joy must have filled their breasts? They had been on foot for one whole year, travelling through desert, scaled mountains, forded rivers, visited numberless cities, undergone the discomfort of varying climates, eating strange food, and sometimes being in peril of their lives.

There were Guards keeping watch at the Gates of the City. One of the ‘Wise Men’ questioned the guards. “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” This artless question disconcerted the Guards and asked the strangers where they came from. “From Bharatha, India” they replied. “We journeyed here for one year to find this infant, for we have seen His Star in the east and are come to adore Him.” Soon the news spread throughout Jerusalem of the new comers and “all Jerusalem was troubled by the news.”

The ṛsis in Jerusalem

The ‘Wise Men’ found lodging in Jerusalem and came to the Temple square many times to look for the Star but it had disappeared and they were greatly disturbed. After a few days Herod summoned the strangers to his palace and questioned them about the circumstances of their journey and its cause. They told him about the apparition of the Star. Herod wished to know what it had to do with the Infant born King of the Jews. The Indians said, according to their ancient scriptures, the Star Brahaspathi in conjunction with Sun and Moon marks the time of the birth of the child. This created great fear in the mind of Herod, for he felt the “born King of the Jews,” was of the line of David and would therefore be the lawful heir to the throne. Astute as he was he gave no sign of fear or alarm but dismissed them saying he would reply later.

Having discussed with the doctors of the Law, Herod came to know the place of birth as Bethlehem of Judea and after ascertaining from the pilgrims the time of the appearance of the Star, Herod proclaimed the Order to destroy all infants under the age of two to make sure that the pretended king would be slaughtered.

Having made the plans he invited the pilgrims in secret and announced that according to their prophets the place would be Bethlehem of Judea. He advised them to note well the place where the child dwelt, so that he could himself go there to adore him. The Indian sages, who knew no deceit, believed him, and a message from heaven was necessary to save the life of the child.

   The Star of Bethlehem    

The devout ṛsis left Jerusalem the same evening for their final destination. But the star was not seen anywhere. After learning that Bethlehem was six miles down South, and being shown the way they started with ineffable bliss to walk the six miles. Soon they found the road to Bethlehem and one of them hoping to espy the Star of the Lord, saw it clearly shinning above in the horizon.

The happiness of the Magi could well be imagined. In the morning of the third day after they had left Jerusalem they saw the Star stationery over the western horizon of the village of Bethlehem. Entering the house they found the Infant in the arms of Mary his mother and throwing themselves on the ground they adored Him, and offered Him the traditional gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The Divine Infant regarded them steadily with the eyes of a child. But His providence had long designed and long awaited this visit. From ages everlasting he had ordained that the Star should be announced, to that multitudinous and spiritual minded nation, and moved the hearts of these ṛsis to be led by His Light.

 

 

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