This is one of the most confusing parts of Christianity – the story of the Beast and his number. Vedas are filled with what modern people think is mythology and allegory but they actually make perfect sense to someone raised in that tradition. Beast story makes no sense at all.
They call it a prophecy but why? There always have been plenty of self-proclaimed seers in history, why make this particular book a part of New Testament? Jesus didn’t teach any of that and there aren’t any other books that describe visions of the future like Revelation does. It was the last book to be accepted in the canon precisely because of the doubts about its authenticity and relevance. Maybe it should be the first one to be dropped, too.
Culturally, however, it’s all over the place now, too late to scrap it as delirious ramblings. Now all non Christians have to prove that they are not followers of the False Prophet and that their religions are not inspired by Satan to lead people away from Christ.
We, as Hare Krishnas, need to explain why our God is black. Some Christians are still fixated on that – we worship the black god while their Jesus is the Lord of Light. Something is not right here.
I don’t know what to tell them. If they mean to say that all light in the universe comes from God and our Krishna is black so He can’t be a source of illumination then there’s no easy answer to that. Krishna doesn’t illuminate the universe, Sun does.
The source of transcendental light is brahmajyoti which is the light emanating from Krishna’s body but it’s not exactly like that because to create and illuminate the spiritual world He expands Himself into other forms, like Balarama and then Chaturvyuha, that’s where the light comes from. Krishna Himself, as resident of Vrindavana, does not illuminate anything but the hearts of His devotees. He’s too busy playing and He lets His expansions manage the lighting.
All of this is way too much for the average doubting Christian to digest, however. They used to having one God to rule us all but Krishna isn’t even a God, He’s a cowherd boy having the best time of His life. If we talk about their concept of God then we have to come down to the level of Lord Vishnu or maybe even Lord Brahma.
Then there’s the matter of Satan. In popular Christianity he is the one complementing God. God is good, Satan is bad, God is light, Satan is darkness, one cannot really exist without the other. Krishna is nothing like that, He is complemented only by His devotees. If we are looking for good vs evil fights then it’s again down to Lord Vishnu or even demigod levels and again, suras and asuras don’t complement each other.
They fight with each other from time to time but devotees are transcendental to their affairs and the best ones can actually be found in demonic camps – think Prahlada or Bali Maharaja.
This is what we often forget ourselves, too – that as devotees we should be indifferent to good or evil equally. Satan, or demons, aren’t God’s enemies, they can be His devotees performing thankless tasks for the Lord’s pleasure.
Without Hiranyakashipu there wouldn’t the Prahlad or Lord Nrisimha, without Ravana there wouldn’t be Ramayana, without Kamsa and others Krishna wouldn’t have any heroic deeds to perform and remember Him by. Without Abhumanyu and other gopis’ husbands there wouldn’t be that extra excitement of rasa dance.
There’s also the fact that both demigods and demons draw their power from the same source – Vishnu. Demons don’t admit it as generally they are non-devotees but that’s where the power actually comes from. Hiranyakashipu and Ravana wouldn’t be able to conquer the universe on their own, they both sought blessings of Lord Brahma who, in turn, gets them from Lord Vishnu.
Here’s an idea – if you are a demon bent on ruling everything you see then try to get Lord’s blessings anyway. Without Lord’s power and beauty you won’t achieve much and won’t impress anyone. That’s what the most famous demons in history did and even though they were killed by Vishnu those were glorious deaths in the battle, in service of the Lord. Or would you rather prefer quiet, peaceful end and being remembered only for your annoyances?
Our Vedic “beasts” are not the creatures of the dark, would the one bearing number 666 stand up and also seek Lord’s blessings of power and beauty?