Mystic Mantra: Seated on high

Columnist  | Francis Gonsalves

Opinion, Oped

Kings in the Bible are also pictured as enthroned with honour and majesty.

In the Bible, God is “seated on high” upon a heavenly throne and the risen Christ is “seated on the throne of his glory” and “at the right hand of God”. (Photo Courtesy: theholybiblebook.com)

Said Einstein: “A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does one need to be happy?” Have lived life “fruitfully” with passion for writing and playing the violin, I agree with Einstein. Well, almost; since, with current elections and defections, politicians are worried, wondering: Who will occupy that chair? Who will win that seat?

Throughout history, chairs, seats and thrones are not just furniture, but symbols of special roles, power and authority. Deities are often depicted upon thrones. In the Bible, God is “seated on high” upon a heavenly throne and the risen Christ is “seated on the throne of his glory” and “at the right hand of God”.

Kings in the Bible are also pictured as enthroned with honour and majesty. The magnificent court of King Solomon impressed the queen of Sheba so much, for it included “the seating of his officials” at mealtimes. And, when exiled King Jehoiachin is released from prison, he is given “a seat above the seats of other kings who were with him in Babylon”.

According to the Ramayana, when Kaikeyi wanted her son, Bharat, to sit on the throne instead of the exiled Ram, Bharat was aghast and tried his best to coerce Ram into returning to Ayodhya as king. Upon Ram’s refusal, Bharat begged of Ram to give him his padukas (sandals), which he placed at the foot of the throne to announce that it was Ram, not he, who was actually ruling.

In Jesus’ time, seats were assigned according to socio-religious hierarchies. The scribes and Pharisees were said to “sit on Moses’ seat” representing their authority as interpreters of the law. Unfortunately, so proud were they of their knowledge, that they assumed holier-than-thou attitudes and despised others. Jesus often condemned their hypocrisy and highhandedness.

Today, Catholics celebrate the feast of “St. Peter’s Chair” signifying acceptance of papal primacy and authority. With Jesus’ declaration to Apostle Peter: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church… whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth,” it’s believed that Jesus desired that the successors of Peter — the popes — would exercise servant-authority over the Church.

Being a chairperson or elected to occupy a political seat is, indeed, an honour. Simultaneously, it also brings great responsibility. It’s okay to aspire for some chair or to aim to occupy some seat. However, as one moves higher up in hierarchies, it’s good to remind oneself that one must also bend down to serve others. With servant-leaders, Einstein’s words will ring true: Those seated at tables and upon chairs will live fruitful lives — sweet as the symphony of a hundred violins.

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