Friday, 27 November 2020

jumping jehoshaphat

Albeit only tenuously connected with the title epithet and expression, this day marks the veneration of saints and martyrs Barlaam and Josaphat, the former the tutor engaged for the emendation and education of the latter, a young Indian prince and unquestionably based on the life and subsequent enlightenment of the Gautama Buddha, Siddhฤrtha.

Trying to make the predictions that his son would become a Christian (the gospel having been brought to the sub-continent by Thomas the Apostle) null and invalid by isolating him, Josaphat—the Arabic name Bลซdhasaf ultimately derived from the Sanskrit term Bodhisattva—converted after meeting the hermit Barlaam and sustained his father’s rage, whom eventually relented and abdicated, transferring power to his son, whom in turn relinquished it all and went away to live with his spiritual guide. The phrase that we are brought to originated in the nineteenth century with the particularly American affection for minced oaths, later echoed by Bugs Bunny’s nemesis Yosemite Sam and invokes rather a king in Judea (whose name is probably epithetical, meaning God has judged)referenced in the biblical book 2 Chronicles who implored his army to remain strong and steadfast insofar as the battle was not theirs but God’s, and once they are winning, he jumps in righteous jubilation. Josaphat’s father also became a disciple of Barlaam. As much as a skeleton of a narrative these stories are everyone (though not discounting the anchoring details in every one), the Buddhist version that Christianity co-opted seems far more persuasive and one not for astonishment but rather for aspiration.