The St. Matthew cover story for Rosslyn chapel

While it is now known that the designers of Rosslyn chapel, William Sinclair and Sir Gilbert Hay, were Ebionites, I have remained confused about why Rosslyn was dedicated to St. Matthew. So I did some digging and found some very enlightening connections to India and the Vedas.

In common with the Nazarenes and the Gnostic-Ebionites, the Pharisaic Ebionites used a recension of the Gospel of St. Matthew, which they termed the "gospel according to the Hebrews." It was a Chaldee version written in Hebrew letters, afterwards translated into Greek and Latin by Jerome, who declared it identical with the "gospel of the Twelve Apostles" and the "gospel of the Nazarenes" (see Herzog, R
eal-Encyklopädie, "Apokryphen d. N. Test." p.520, ed. 1877). In the Ebionite " gospel" the section corresponding to the first two chapters of St. Matthew were omitted, the supernatural character of the narrative being contradictory to their views about the person of Jesus Christ. 

The Gnostic Ebionites, of which I think the Sinclairs and Hay were adherents, were indeed of the Essene mystery school. They saw Matthew as descended from Mosaism (doctrines of Moses and Hebrews) which was descended from something much older. Jesus and Moses were in one class of prophets while David and Solomon were in another class. Like the Dualist Cathars, they believed in a universal battle or perhaps balance between good and evil. 


But of most significance to our recent work, it seems Matthew was connected to the Vedic Upanishads and Buddhist Sutars through Saint Thomas, also known as "didymos Judas thomas" (meaning "twin Judas twin") who died in Madras, India. 

***************

Saint Thomas and the Gospel of Matthew
When Saint Thomas returned to Israel after spending some years in northern India, his fellow-disciple Saint Matthew gave him a copy of the Gospel he had written in Aramaic. (It was Saint Luke who translated the Gospel of Saint Matthew into Greek.) Taking it back with him to south India, Saint Thomas taught his disciples from it, and it became the fundamental holy scripture of the Ishanni (Saint Thomas) Christians. Actually, the only two “Christian” writings considered authoritative by the Ishannis for many centuries were the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Thomas. This was because the Essenes–to whom Saint Thomas, like Jesus, had originally belonged–considered that the Hebrew texts of what we now call the Old Testament had been corrupted and could not be completely trusted as guides in spiritual life. The other four Gospels and the epistles of Saint Paul and the other Apostles were also considered not to be of absolute authority by the Ishannis, although they would read them and extract from them what they felt was true. Following the example of Jesus and Saint Thomas, they based their spiritual study on the Vedic Upanishads and the Buddhist Sutras in addition to the two gospels of Matthew and Thomas.
**************

The writings of Thomas were excluded from the Christian Bible and is considered Gnostic while the writings of Matthew ARE in the Bible, thus the reason Rosslyn was dedicated to St. Matthew. it was a cover to get the support of the Church while secretly linking through Thomas "the twin" (of Isha), to Moses / Solomon and ultimately Indian Vedic beliefs.


**************


Generally, Gnostics hold that salvation of the soul comes from a quasi-intuitive knowledge of the mysteries of the universe and of secret formulae indicative of that knowledge. One of the key formulae has to do with Venus and apparently the pentagonal StarKey.

**************

The Christ-in-Self concept was Indian and rooted in the teachings of Isha or Ishannis, taken from the much older Babylonian god Ishtar, Sumerian Inanna and Semitic goddess Astarte - all associated with the planet Venus. In India, the Isha teachings developed into the cult of Shiva:

**************


Ancient records of the life and teachings of Isha in India as well as that of his ‘twin’ Thomas (Judas) have been studied and attested for. According to the Nathanamavali tantra, “Isha Natha [Natha also meaning ‘Lord’] came to India at the age of fourteen. After this he returned to his own country and began preaching. Soon after, his brutish and materialistic countrymen conspired against him.” After his presumed death through crucifixion he returned to India and “established an Ashram in the lower regions of the Himalayas [Kashmir] and established the cult of the linga [Shiva] there.”

[Note: This suggests that Thomas was Jesus’ (or Isha’s) twin and may well be one source of the resurrection myth since Thomas returned to India after Jesus’ crucifixion.]

“This assertion is supported by two relics of Jesus which are presently in Kashmir. One is his staff, which is kept in the monastery of Aish-Muquan and is made accessible to the public in times of catastrophe such as flood or epidemics. The other is the Stone of Moses – a Shiva linga that had belonged to Moses and which Jesus brought to Kashmir. This linga is kept in the Shiva temple at Bijbehara in Kashmir. One hundred and eight pounds in weight, if eleven people put one finger on the stone and recite ‘Ka’ over and over, it will rise three feet or so in the air and remain suspended as long as the recitation continues ... In ancient Sanskrit ka means to please and satisfy – that which Shiva does for his worshippers ... When teaching in Israel, Jesus told the people “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold”, speaking of his Indian disciples ... Ancient records say that frequently Jesus was seen in South India and mistaken for Saint Thomas. He and Saint Thomas were sometimes seen speaking together ... Nearly all those who accepted the teachings of Saint Thomas were devout Brahmins ... It may sound odd, if not outright fantastic, that Lord Isha and Saint Thomas – both ‘foreigners’ would be preaching Vedic religion to the Indians but at that time only a minority of Indians were followers of the Vedas, most being either Buddhists or Jains, and often confused with them. Those who did honour the Vedas were nearly all mere ritualists, who knew nothing of their spiritual or metaphysical side, and even denied its existence ... So both Isha and Saint Thomas had a legitimate spiritual mission in India ... The Ishannis [followers of Isha] never referred to themselves as Christians. Only after tremendous persecution did the descendents of the Ishannis begin calling themselves ‘Saint Thomas Christians’...Many Ishannis conducted schools ... they also maintained shrines for the students in which images of the various deities were kept and worshipped ... It was the custom of all Ishannis to worship and make offerings in Hindu temples.”


“Myths and symbols are often closer to reality than ... so-called hard facts ... the truth behind the myth still exists. God once existed as mankind now envisions him. What he is now is not what the religions think he is. Yet once he was only what they think he is now. For in fact he did evolve, and was not complete, but represented a supreme will to BE from the beginning.”


What distinguished ‘Kashmir Shaivism’ from both earlier and contemporary forms of Shaivism was that the Kashmiri sages sought to give articulation to “the truth behind the myth”, even whilst acknowledging the sacred mythological tradition and its symbols. In Kashmir Shaivism, ‘Shiva’ is therefore not only a single mythic ‘god’ among others, but also the supreme God or ‘Lord’ (Ishvara). Above all he is the ‘Godhead’ – the ultimate truth or reality (Anuttara) behind all things and all beings – including all gods. That reality was understood as nothing other than Awareness as such (Chit/Chaitanya). In this very specific way Kashmir Shaivism continued the tradition of Advaita Ishvarada, “a general term that describes the philosophy of the Vedas and Shaiva Agamas, which believes simultaneously in the ultimate oneness of all things and in the reality of the personal Deity.” (www.gurudeva.org). Still today however, ‘Shiva’ tends only to be seen as one of the trinity of ‘Hindu’ gods or deities (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva) that make up the ‘threefold face’ or ‘Trimurti’. This is despite the fact that the name Shiva is not mentioned once in the Vedas, where his place is taken by ‘Rudra’ – the ‘reddening’ god of anger and destruction. In both Kashmir Shaivism and contemporary ‘orthodox’ Shaivism (Shaiva Siddhanta) as opposed to ‘Vaishnavism’ (the worship of Vishnu) there is no equivalent of the single incarnate ‘man- god’ of the sort represented by both Krishna and Christ. Nor, as in both Christianity and Krishna-worship, is either the Godhead or Supreme Deity identified with its human incarnation or ‘Avatar’. Instead
all beings are seen as incarnations or embodiments of Shiva as Godhead, understood as their innermost self (the awareness self or ‘Chaitanya-atman’ and divine source (the Divine Awareness).

**************


So, we find that Rosslyn is a temple to the Vedas (gnosis of Venus and sruti or "what is heard") and through this knowledge of self-awareness is gained access to the personal Deity. At the bottom of the Vedic hymns is the Upanishads, appendices that comment on the Vedas. The central concept in these is Vedanta.

**************

The goal of Vedanta is a state of self-realization or cosmic consciousness. Historically and currently, it is assumed that this state can be experienced by anyone, but it cannot be adequately conveyed in language. Vedanta is not restricted or confined to one book and there is no sole source for Vedāntic philosophy.


**************


Last Note:


J. Robert Oppenheimer, theoretical physicist and director of the Manhattan Project, also was a professed Vedāntist. In reference to the Trinity test in New Mexico, where his Los Alamos team tested the first atomic bomb, Oppenheimer famously recalled the Bhagavad Gita: "If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one. Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."


The Trinity name was likely a Vedic reference to the Trimurti and, in particular, Shiva as the destroyer.