Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Garments of Christ – Spiritual Significance

As we approach the end of the holy week and the events of Good Friday loom large in our minds, it is important to understand the spiritual significance of certain events. Let us first look at the dining scene of the last supper. The Gospel of John captures the scene in the following words:

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist”……..
John 13:3-4

Then comes the torture and shame Christ was subjected to.
“They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.”………
Mark 15: 17-20

Finally, the scene at the crucifixion.
“When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let's not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let's decide by lot who will get it.”…………John 19:23-24

In these three incidents we see the casting away of the garment or change of garment in the final act in Christ’s life.
In the first case there is a voluntary casting away of his garments to indicate to the disciple that when one is engaged in the work of the spirit all external coverings are to be cast away. In humility, when we are engaged in life empowering work, all external trappings are a hindrance. The significance of the washing of the disciple’s feet by the spiritual master authenticates the egalitarian status of all creation in the eye of the creator.

In the second incident, Christ is robed with a purple garment, which was a regal colour. The garment is invested on Christ only for a very short duration. This signifies that all worldly power is short lived. Purple also signifies, as adjective, something ‘shocking and profane’. It is a colour that is to be avoided by anyone who desires effective communication. In a regal state there is always a one way communication but in a divine dialogue there is a fully participatory two way communication. In the final preparation Christ is given back his original simple robe, signifying the untainted nature of Christ in his own incarnate nature.

Finally, we come to Calvary where Christ is disrobed. The four shares that the Gospel writers mention carry a deeper meaning. Christ in his final hour readies to shed his four physical attributes which are
annamaya (gross), pranamaya (subtle), manomaya (mental) and vignanamaya (intellectual) koshas (garment or covering). His core of existence, the anandamaya kosha, a garment where there is no beginning or end, a seamless existence, can not be divided or destroyed and it passes on for a final merger with the Father.

Let us, especially in the next few days, meditate on the wonderful and deep messages left to us in this Christ legacy through the words of the Gospel writers and reap a good spiritual harvest.

Love to you all


  1. Donning a new dress and casting away the ones being weorn is beautifully correlated and explained.
    From annamaya to anadhamaya is a deeply transforming journey which we should continuously attempt to practise unmindful of it's success or failure.

  2. SS, thanks for the feedback. The last sentence is very important as one life time may not be enough for higher realization.