The Great Pillar of Fire In Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism
Posted in the Buddhism Forum
#1 Oct 4, 2013
The "Pillar of Fire" is described in the Holy Books of three major world religions, Buddhism of course in the Maha Ummaga Jataka, in Hinduism as the "Anala Stambha" in the Shiva Purana, and in the Torah (Exodus 13:21-22) of Judaism a The Lord is described as guiding the Israelites as a Pillar of fire at night.
In all three texts the fiery pillar represent the supreme most God. However, in Buddhism since he has not become Buddha yet, we are told the fiery pillar extended up to the Brahma world, but after Buddha's complete enlightenment we can assume this pillar is now beyond any definable limit as it was in the Hindu story, since lord Buddha is called Apamano, without limits!
In Judaism, the Pillar of fire is called "The Lord", however the size and whether or not it had limits in height are never mentioned.
Here are the excerpts from each text:
Maha Ummaga Jataka
Now when the Bodhisatta was conceived in his mother's womb the king saw at dawn the following dream: four columns of fire blazed up in the four corners of the royal court as high as the great wall, and in the midst of them rose a flame of the size of a fire-fly, and at that moment it suddenly exceeded the four columns of fire and rose up as high as the Brahma world and illumined the whole world; even a grain of mustard-seed lying on the ground is distinctly seen. The world of men with the world of gods worshipped it with garlands and incense; a vast multitude passed through this flame but not even a hair of their skin was singed.
O king, a fifth sage will be born who will surpass us four; we four are like the four columns of fire, but in the midst of us there will arise as it were a fifth column of fire, one who is unparalleled and fills a post which is unequalled in the world of gods or of men."
Here Buddha defines the fiery pillar as all knowing wisdom.
In Indian religion the fiery pillar - this time an endless one is described in the Shiva Purana:
The Hindu scripture Shiva Purana describes in its first section, the Vidyeshwar Samhita, the origin of the lingam, known as Shiva-linga, as the beginning-less and endless cosmic pillar (Stambha) of fire, the cause of all causes. Lord Shiva is pictured as emerging from the Lingam – the cosmic pillar of fire – proving his superiority over gods Brahma and Vishnu. This is known as Lingodbhava. The Linga Purana also supports this interpretation of lingam as a cosmic pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. According to Linga Purana, Shiva लि 29;्ग& #2306; liṅgaṃ Shiva Lingam or Shiva Pindi is a complete symbolic representation of the formless Universe Bearer - the oval shaped stone is resembling mark of the Universe and bottom base as the Supreme Power holding the entire Universe in it. Similar interpretation is also found in the Skanda Purana: "The endless sky (that great void which contains the entire universe) is the Linga, the Earth is its base. At the end of time the entire universe and all the Gods finally emerge in the Linga itself." 
In Torah or aka Old Testament of Judaism we also have a similar pillar of fire, however we are not told of the size:
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night; (21) He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people (Exodus 13:21-22).
#2 Oct 7, 2013
Now let's look at the Pillar of fire in a Buddhism:
four columns of fire blazed up in the four corners of the royal court as high as the great wall, and in the midst of them rose a flame of the size of a fire-fly, and at that moment it suddenly exceeded the four columns of fire and rose up as high as the Brahma world and illumined the whole world; even a grain of mustard-seed lying on the ground is distinctly seen. The world of men with the world of gods worshipped it with garlands and incense; a vast multitude passed through this flame but not even a hair of their skin was singed.
1) Every person of great wisdom is a pillar of fire.
2) Buddhas are infinite pillars of fire - no end to their wisdom is discernible.
3) Boddhisatvas have pillars of fires which exceed all others in the universe and reach as high as the Brahma worlds.
The pillar of fire of Bodhisatva's are worshipped by gods and men.
People can enter into this pillar without being hurt. This light reveals almost everything, it's a fire of wisdom.
When we take refuge in Buddha- we are taking refuge in this fiery pillar of wisdom.
Here in the Theragatha, this perfect fire of Lord Buddha is what allows us to see and discern what is correct and incorrect, described by his disciple, Kankharevata,
Theragatha I.3 -- Kankharevata
of the Tathagatas,
like a fire ablaze in the night,
giving light, giving eyes,
to those who come,
subduing their doubt.
#3 Oct 22, 2013
Here is something else, Buddha is an entirely different and unparalleled post in the world of Gods and men!
In the MahaUmmaga Jataka:
"fills a post which is unequalled in the world of gods or of men."
This is what defines this column of fire!
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