The Holy Grail and Eternal Life
The Holy Grail has been popularized in novels, such as The Da Vinci Code, and in film, such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and the Indiana Jones trilogy. Before the modern interpretations of the grail, there were plenty of stories and tales from every part of the globe that created and recreated their versions of what and where the grail came from. Modern and early depictions view the grail as some vessel of varying forms that holds special value, especially the gift of eternal life.
In the west, the general Christian belief is that the grail is the cup from which Jesus drank from during the Last Supper, and Joseph of Arimathea took to catch Jesus’ blood as he hung dying on the cross. Chretien de Troyes wrote the poem “Perceval, le Conte du Graal” (The Story of the Grail) sometime between 1180 and 1191 where he described the grail, not as a cup or chalise, but as a saucer. Later, around 1200, Robert de Boron wrote the poem “Joseph d’Arimathie” which was the first time the grail was associated with the Last Supper and the death of Jesus; this poem is also the first time we see the grail in the form of a cup.
According to Wolfram von Eschenbach, a German knight and poet who wrote “Parzival” in the first half of the 13th century, the grail was a stone vessel that prevented anyone who held it from dying within a week. With all of the literature written about the grail, it is important to note that it did not become The Holy Grail until late medieval writers romanticized the grail with their stories of chivalric knights who quested for The Holy Grail. Outside of the scope of literature, the grail is seen in folklore and mythology as well, such as with Celtic mythology that states the grail is a cauldron that gives life everlasting. No matter if the grail is a cup, a cauldron, saucer, or a stone, The Holy Grail is a vessel that bestows upon its owner the gift of eternal life. You can drink from the cup, eat from the cauldron or saucer, or hold the stone, they all grant the same thing.
The belief within Eastern religions is much different and more complicated than the stories that we have all come to know about the grail, here it is called The Serpent Grail. Those who believe in Eastern philosophical religions believe that it is not eternal life that we seek but enlightenment, as enlightenment will release us from the evils of the world by allowing one to cease reincarnation. Reincarnation is seen as a punishment for having to live life over and over and the only way to stop the cycle is to attain enlightenment, and attaining enlightenment for an Eastern believer is the same as gaining eternal life for a Western believer. A coiled serpent represents the process of attaining enlightenment and this is how it has been given the name The Serpent Grail.
The Holy Grail, in Eastern and Western religions, has connections through the belief in eternal life, as some scientists and scholars have done. While Jesus was hanging on the cross, there was a serpent pinned to a tree behind him, thus giving The Serpent Grail credibility in Christianity. A long time ago, it was thought that a snake’s venom had the ability to heal, a very powerful ability. The saliva of a snake was therefore highly sought after by healers from all over the world. Given this connection from scientists and scholars, we are able to see how this brings us back to The Holy Grail being something that is highly sought after, which also has the ability to heal and give eternal life, or the illusion of eternal life.
Even though a lot of what we know about the Holy Grail comes from fiction, a large number of people take it very seriously and find it very real, whether they are religious or not. Much of the theories, which are all just theories as no official grail has been located, come from people who study old texts about the grail, who study etymology, and of course, they study religion. Many people have claimed throughout history that they have found The Holy Grail but all have been , whatever form you believe to be the one, there will be no proof of its existence or that of eternal life.