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A biblical response

The Da Vinci Code: Reviving Religious Sex?

By Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi
Guest Writer “By communion with woman, man could achieve a climactic instant when his mind went totally blank and he could see God [within him].”

Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code
Doubleday, New York, 2003, pp. 308-9


Girls, girls, girls: Reviving religious sex

Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code is on solid historical ground when it claims that the Judeo-Christian tradition suppressed goddess worship and sexual mysticism. When St. Paul embarked on his missionary journeys in the first century, many of the West’s pagan temples were filled with prostitutes. At one time, for example, Corinth’s temple to goddess Aphrodite employed as many as a thousand prostitutes. Prostitution was considered socially respectable and religiously purifying. Adultery, on the other hand, was punishable because it was an economic offense ― taking someone else’s property (wife).

Today, red light districts in many Western cities demonstrate that socially, economically, and politically, prostitution is, once again, an acceptable if not respectable profession. However, it still lacks the religious sanctity that Christianity had removed. For decades, religious movements such as Tantra, goddess spirituality, and the Church of Satan, have tried to provide religious sanction to sex outside marriage, as well as to transform “public women” into goddesses. In the 1970s and 80s, Indian guru, Osho Rajneesh, wrote that Jesus taught sacred sex as the path to "super-consciousness" (becoming divine). Rajneesh’s followers remained on the fringes of American consciousness but terms such as “chakras” and “tantra” became a part of the mainstream vocabulary, popularized by celebrities such as actress Shirley McLaine (Going Within) and physicist-turned-mystic, Fritjof Capra (The Tao of Physics). Brown’s novel represents the latest incarnation of sexual mysticism. Its film version has the potential to turn this movement into a significant tsunami.

Praise the Lord…and pass the condoms!

The Da Vinci Code promotes salvation through sex more effectively than its predecessors because it is an engaging novel. It teaches "sacred sex" not on the basis of Pagan philosophy, Jungian psychology, or quantum physics, but by invoking the authority of Jesus – albeit a Gnostic rather than Jewish Jesus.

Those unfamiliar with the rituals of "sacred sex" may not realize that the novel alleges that Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples was a sexual ritual: the “Cup” (Chalice) that Jesus offered to his disciples was the vagina of Mary Magdalene. In Tantra, this ritual is called Yoni Chakra Puja or Swadhistana Sattva – the worship of the second chakra, that is, the vagina. Tantra calls the feminine fluid, Amrita – goddess’ “nectar”, “sacred water”, “healing elixir”, “the fountain of youth”. Hardcore Tantriks (even in America) drink menstrual blood for its healing powers and, because “it transmits knowledge”. The blood from the first menstrual flow of a virgin is the most coveted magic potion of all.

It is easy to miss the point of Brown’s interpretation of Leonardo’s painting of the Last Supper because Brown follows the tantrik tradition of using suggestive rather than explicit language. Tantra believes that the knowledge of truth is to be experienced: it has nothing to do with words, thoughts, or beliefs. Therefore, Tantra’s language, called sandhbhasha, is designed to mislead the non-initiate, while giving clues and symbols to the initiate, who navigate through tantrik texts in the same manner as a cryptologist or symbologist does in Brown’s novel.

Eve and the serpent

Dan Brown debunks the biblical story of the fall of Adam and Eve to do what the serpent did in the Garden of Eden ― offer the “apple” of secret “knowledge” (Gnosis) to help men and women realize their divinity. The novel asserts that great men such as Newton and Leonardo Da Vinci were Grand Masters of a secret society called the Priory of Sion that practiced the path of sexual mysticism taught by Jesus himself. In the novel, Newton’s legendry apple is the ultimate code word that reveals the sexual secrets, allegedly suppressed by the Roman Catholic Church for seventeen hundred years.

Paul – the liberator of women?

The historical irony is that in the pagan world many goddess-worshipping women flocked to Paul because they heard him preach a gospel that liberated women from sexual exploitation in the name of religion. Within a few centuries the Christian movement sent pagan “religious” sex into oblivion. As a result, for fifteen hundred years or so, the West has held that matrimony is holy, that the only sacred expression of sex is within marriage, and that the work of the Holy Spirit includes turning "the hearts of fathers to their children” away from a pursuit of selfish pleasure to building strong families.

An impotent tsunami. . . ?

The movie is not out yet: the novel, although riveting, fails to motivate readers to join secret societies or to go on line to obtain the services of goddesses because its conclusion is disappointing. In the end we do not find the main characters blissfully experiencing their divinity; nor do they discover the "long suppressed documents" that might prove Brown's suggestion that Jesus was a practicing mystic of the Tantrik variety. Instead, at the moment of the hero's final enlightenment, he is alone in Paris, kneeling . . . not in a Cathedral but . . . near a modern glass pyramid where the sacred bones of Mary Magdalene are allegedly hidden.

The grand anti-climax comes when we learn that it is not the Roman Catholic Church but the Priory of Sion that has hidden these sacred relics from public. And who has suppressed the documents allegedly discovered by the Templar Knights centuries ago beneath the Jerusalem temple? Once again ― the culprit is not the Church! The novel’s “good” characters suppress the truth: the Grand Masters of the Priory of Sion, Newton, Leonardo, and the Curator of the Louvre. Ironically, it is the apparent villain who gets the Grand Master murdered because the villain alone is passionate about revealing the liberating and enlightening truth to the general public. The confusion of moral categories has more to do with the philosophy of sexual mysticism than with the writer’s skill.

Trapped in the maze of sexual mysticism

Although Brown’s rhetoric of sexual enlightenment is pervasive, the reader gets lost in a philosophical maze because of a problem inherent in sexual mysticism. Normal sex is about the dualism of male and female enjoying each other. On the other hand, "mystical sex" is about experiencing one’s own completeness, unity, or “divinity”.

Embracing the dualism of Yin-Yang means more than embracing the equality and union of male and female: it also means embracing the dualism of good and evil, light and darkness, truth and falsehood. It leaves no room for ultimate salvation or victory of good over evil. That’s why at the end of the novel the reader is confused about who the villain really is? Who is good? Who is suppressing the truth? Perhaps the novel’s agenda is deeper: subverting the very concepts of "villainy" and "truth" and by implication destroying the West’s traditional moral clarity regarding good and evil, corruption and integrity!

Kundalini Yoga, from which Brown occasionally draws, tries to resolve the problem of dualism by postulating that every human being is both male and female. The classic version of this philosophy says that female energy (Kundalini Shakti) lies dormant and coiled up like a serpent at the bottom of one’s spine. Male energy (Shiva) lies at the seventh chakra (the crown on the head). The mystic experience consists in awakening one’s female energy through secret techniques, often with the help of a teacher/sexual partner. As the energy rises up and passes through various chakras, the yogi goes through many psychic experiences. The yogi realizes his/her divinity or completeness when one’s female energy merges with one’s male energy. At this point one is neither male nor female, s/he is androgynous – one, complete, simultaneously male and female, divine.

Monism denies not only the dualism of male and female, but also the dualism of good and evil. As Rajneesh used to say, our perception of dualism is the sickness of our minds. Reality is one; all perception of duality, including good and evil, is illusion. Under British rule in India in the 19th century, Tantra had to go underground, because it required tantriks to embrace evil – including kidnapping, raping, and killing – in order to rise above good and evil.

A yogi who has realized his/her completeness, renounces marriage because marriage assumes one’s finiteness: I am male, not a female (or vice versa). Therefore, I need a wife (or husband). Rajneesh taught that the yogi or tantrik uses a heterosexual or homosexual partner only as a ladder. He has to abandon the ladder (sexual partner) once he has reached his goal – his divinity, completeness.

Nothing but a good time: Plato, Paul, and Dan

Plato recommended that in his utopian Republic, the ruling guardians should not be burdened with responsibilities for children and wives. They should not marry, but have wives in common. How do you get women to love you if you do not offer security to them and to their children? Love was not Plato’s concern: neither for a woman, nor for a child. He was interested in building utopia. He had no revelation and no moral absolutes. Therefore, his utopian end justified manipulation and murders, as did Nazism and Marxism. Plato asked philosophers to invent sacred ceremonies, clever myths, and poetry to manipulate the best women to have sex with the best men in order to breed a superior race. To ensure the best upbringing for the children, they should be put in the care of professionals. There was no need for parents even to know their children, and utopia required that all the inferior children be discarded.

Paul’s Gospel won the Roman Empire partly because pagan practices made women insecure, leading them to practice abortion and infanticide. This practice had two consequences relevant to this theme: the pagan population declined relative to the Christian population and religiously sanctioned sexual promiscuity turned insecure pagan women into slaves in their own homes, without status and without dignity. These goddess-worshipping women turned to Paul’s preaching, partly because the religion of the Bible condemns sexual promiscuity in both men and women. It exalts responsible fatherhood as a godly virtue and a spiritual blessing (Genesis 17). The Bible says that God’s original blessing in making us male and female was so that we may be “one flesh” in order to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth to manage it as God’s vice-regents.

Contemporary West is beginning to resemble the promiscuous Roman Empire – marked with easy adultery, divorce, and abortion. The troubled conscience of our generation is happy to buy religious peace that requires no repentance, preferably through a religiosity that justifies its life-style. Most men would be quite happy to consider a woman a goddess, if she gives him sex and enlightenment without the hassle of marriage and children!

The devil inside

The goddess worshipping ancient world oppressed women, just as they are oppressed today in the post-Christian West. Why didn’t the goddess of feminine power, Kali or Shakti, inspire a women’s liberation movement in Hindu India that burned teen-age widows as “sati”? Why do goddess worshipping Indian women today abort or kill their unborn or newborn daughters? Sadly, in some parts of India, the male-female ratio has reached 1000-800!

The question is: Why do men and women oppress the female? Is it because we are gods and goddesses or is it because we are “sinners”: good creatures gone wrong?

When I was six or seven years old, I stole some water chestnuts. When confronted, I said that a friend, who got them from a pond, gave them to me. My story did not amuse my father. He wanted me to be truthful. I insisted that I was truthful. Disappointed, he asked me to take him to my generous friend or to the pond. I made him walk for over an hour, hoping that he would give up. He kept walking, hoping that I would confess and ask forgiveness. His exhortation, patience, frustration, anger, love, and discipline did not help me. I only learned stubbornness. By the time I was a teenager, lying and stealing had become habits. What or who would save me from my sin? Dan Brown says that I need sex with a goddess: orgasm is the “prayer” I need to experience.

The Bible teaches that our problem is moral: we were created good but we have become sinners. Therefore we need a savior: someone who would forgive our sin and deliver us from its power and consequences. Mysticism, on the other hand, teaches that our problem is not moral but metaphysical – that is, we are ignorant of our divinity. We are God, but we have begun to live at a lower, rational level at which we perceive ourselves to be finite – e.g., male rather than female (or vice versa). We need to rise above rationality to a state of mystical, thought-less, wordless experience of our divinity. Self-realization is an experience of our oneness with the feminine (or the masculine) as well as everything else.

But is it a tsunami . . .?

The sexual revolution of the last generation shook merely the foundations of Western family. In comparison, Brown’s mysticism is a tsunami. It goes way beyond the beaches to the heart of the West’s culture. It takes the West’s ongoing intellectual and cultural degeneration to a whole new depth. For example it is obviously true that the Roman Catholic Church could become stronger by becoming more transparent. But how do you build transparent societies?

The Protestant movement built the West’s transparent culture by submitting human power to the authority of the written word: an objective document that was open and available to all. The pioneers of the Protestant Reformation were university professors. They did not believe the Bible because the Catholic Church said that it was God’s word. They submitted everything to the Scriptures because Jesus lived and “died according to the Scriptures.”

In contrast, Brown’s mysticism demolishes the authority of all words – be they words of Scriptures, creeds, covenants, or constitutions. It replaces the authority of written words with the hidden authority of secret societies. Would neo-pagan secret societies communicating in codes, symbols, and riddles help anyone build transparent culture? Pagan priests lost to Christianity in the first place because they used the promise of salvation as a cover for the sexual abuse of women and men. Brown’s novel makes him into a neo-pagan priest who sells his mumbo-jumbo on the authority of Harvard and Oxford, but following his teachings will only to turn us as individuals into confused prostitutes, called gods and goddesses.

It will lead the West into the kind of bondage suffered, because of a very similar philosophy, by my country, India, for thousands of years.

More from The Davinci Code: A Biblical Response

(1) For a longer version of this article please visit:
(2) The above article is the summary of a lecture Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi will deliver at 7.30 P.M. on Monday May 22, at the Hollywood Presbyterian Church, 1760 N. Gower St., Hollywood California 90028.
(3) DVD and CD copies of the lecture will be available through BOM International (323-606-5249). Inquiries about the lecture and media orders can be sent to

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