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samedi, 20 décembre 2014

La renaissance orientale

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LA RENAISSANCE ORIENTALE
 
Son apport à la philosophie et la spiritualité occidentale

Rémy Valat
Ex: http://metamag.fr

schw9782228910569.jpgLes éditions Payot viennent de rééditer La Renaissance Orientale de Raymond Schwab, le livre de référence sur les débuts et l’impact des études indiennes et orientales sur les sociétés européennes aux XVIIIe et XIXe siècles. Raymond  Schawb (1884-1956) était un authentique humaniste aux multiples facettes : il était traducteur (il pratiquait l'hébreu, le hongrois et l'anglais), romancier et poète. L’Orientalisme a été précédé par un mouvement précurseur, dit pré-indianiste, mouvement animé par des missionnaires ou des fonctionnaires portugais, italiens ou français (en particulier, Anquetil-Duperron, 1731-1805) puis par le pouvoir colonial britannique établi dans la péninsule indienne. Pour ce dernier, l’intérêt linguistique était considéré comme une arme politique pour asseoir sa domination sur le pays.

La société de Calcutta, créée par William Jones en 1784 rassemblait des hauts-fonctionnaires du pouvoir colonial, souvent des juristes, épris de culture indigènes. On leur doit les premières traductions des textes sacrés indiens, en particulier la Bhagavad-Gîtâ par Charles Wilkins (1784), mais aussi les premières parutions scientifiques sur la culture indienne et les premiers pas de l’archéologie, de la numismatique et de l’épigraphie dans le sous-continent. Guidés par des intérêts politiques, l’Angleterre se désintéresse rapidement des études orientales, l’Orientalisme sera essentiellement un mouvement français et allemand (en particulier le mouvement indo-germanique). 

En France, le Directoire fonde l’École des Langues Orientales Vivantes (actuel Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales – INALCO) en 1795 ; cette création précéde de peu l’expédition de Bonaparte en Égypte qui donnera une impulsion significative aux études orientales et en particulier l’égyptologie. L’Orientalisme est en quelque sorte un avatar des guerres napoléoniennes puisque Alexandre Hamilton (1762-1824), officier de la Royal Navy et ancien membre de la Société Asiatique de Calcutta, s’est trouvé assigné à résidence à Paris au moment de la rupture de la paix d’Amiens. Cet officier, qui étudiait des textes indiens conservés au département des manuscrits bénéficia de la bienveillance et de la solidarité scientifique d’érudits de la Bibliothèque Nationale. Reconnaissant, Hamilton leur enseigna la langue sanskrite.

Parmi ces passionnés et privilégiés se trouvait le philosophe et écrivain allemand Friedrisch Schlegel, qui sera l’un des animateurs du « Cercle d'Iéna » et du romantisme allemand. La première chaire de sanskrit sera créée quelques années plus tard au Collège de France en 1814 : Eugène Burnouf, qui a fondé la Société asiatique en 1822, y professera à partir de 1832. Eugène Burnouf a contribué au développement des études bouddhiques en Occident, il a notamment traduit l’un des plus beau texte du bouddhisme : le Sutra du Lotus (1852). Des bancs des universités, l’orientalisme se répand dans les mouvements littéraires et philosophiques, les plus grands auteurs français y ont été sensibles (Alphonse de Lamartine, Victor Hugo, Honoré de Balzac, Edmond Michelet, Saint-Simon, Gérard de Nerval, Gustave Flaubert, les Parnassiens, les symbolistes....).


La Renaissance Orientale : un ouvrage capital pour saisir les représentations et les interprétations des cultures asiatiques par les Européens et leur apport à la philosophie et la spiritualité occidentale.
La Renaissance Orientale , de Raymond Schwab, Editions Payot ( réedition) , 688 pages, 32€.

vendredi, 24 octobre 2014

Alain Daniélou’s Virtue, Success, Pleasure, & Liberation

Alain Daniélou’s Virtue, Success, Pleasure, & Liberation

By Collin Cleary 

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com

Alain Daniélou
Virtue, Success, Pleasure, and Liberation: The Four Aims of Life in the Tradition of Ancient India [2]
Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1993.

danndex.jpgOne hears a great deal today about “multiculturalism,” and the multicultural society. We (i.e., we Americans) are told that ours is a multicultural society. But, curiously, multiculturalism is also spoken of as a goal. What this reveals is that multiculturalism is not simply the recognition and affirmation of the fact that the U.S.A. is made up of different people from different cultural backgrounds. Instead, multiculturalism is an ideology which is predicated on cultural relativism. Its proponents want to convince people that (a) all cultures are equally good, rich, interesting, and wholesome, and that (b) a multicultural society can exist in which no one culture is dominant. The first idea is absurd, the second is impossible.

The apostles of multiculturalism are moved less by a genuine desire to “celebrate diversity” than by a hatred for Northern European culture, which is the semi-official, dominant culture of America. Indeed, multiculturalists generally nurture the most naive and simplistic ideas of what a culture is. Their conception of “culture” is fixated at the perceptual level: culture is costume,music, dance, decoration, food. What is essential to culture, however, is a certain Weltanschauung: a view of the world, and of human nature. It is in their response to these world views that multiculturalists reveal their true colors, for they tolerate and permit only those elements of a culture’s world view that do not conflict with liberal ideology.

Out of one side of their mouths, the multiculturalists tell us that one cannot judge a culture, that morality is culturally relative, that cultures are not better or worse, just “different,” and that we must revel in these differences. Thus, the English do not drive on the “wrong” side of the road, merely the left side. But when it’s not a matter of traffic laws, but a matter of severed clitorises, then the other, louder side of the multiculturalists’ mouths open, and they tell us that this sort of thing isn’t just different, it’s evil. In addition to this, one also sees that multiculturalism involves a relentless trivialization of important cultural differences. Thus, college students are encouraged to see religion almost as a matter of “local color.” Isn’t it wonderful that the Indians cook such spicy food, and worship such colorful gods! Isn’t it all terribly charming? They are further encouraged to view religion as a thoroughly irrational affair. Rather than encouraging an appreciation for different faiths, what this produces is a condescending attitude, and resistance to taking the claims of religion seriously when they conflict with the “rational” agenda of modern liberalism.

Indeed, multiculturalism is so anti-cultural that one is tempted to see behind it an even deeper, more sinister agenda. Perhaps the whole idea is to deliberately gut the world’s cultures, reducing their differences to matters of dress and cuisine, and to replace those earthborn guts with a plastic, Naugahyde culture of secularism, scientism, and egalitarianism. Why? Because real, significant cultural differences make it very hard for our corporations to do business overseas and to sell their wares. Solution: homogenization masquerading as “celebration of diversity.” The multiculturalists are right when they declare that de facto, the United States is a multicultural society. But there has never been a multicultural society in the history of the world in which there was not one dominant culture which provided a framework allowing the others to co-exist. To the multiculturalist, the unacknowledged framework is modern liberalism. I will assume that I do not have to rehearse for my readers the many arguments for why modern liberalism is untenable as a long-term societal framework.Where should we look, then, for a framework for a multicultural society? Why not look to the Indian caste system? It was the caste system that allowed Aryan and non-Aryan to co-exist peacefully in India for centuries.

The liberals will immediately object that the caste system is oppressive and unjust. In Virtue, Success, Pleasure and Liberation, however, Alain Daniélou argues that the caste system is actually a supremely just and peaceful arrangement. It is just because it is built on a recognition of real human difference; a “celebration of diversity,” if you will. Aristotle held that justice is treating equals equally, and unequals unequally. If people are not the same, then it is a mistake to treat them as if they are. The caste system is built on the idea that some human beings are born to work, others to fight and lead, and others to pray. The caste system gives to each human being a place, a community, a code of ethics, and a sense of identity and pride. Daniélou points out that although the system involves hierarchy, each level of the hierarchy is regarded as intrinsically valuable and as essential. Each plays a role that is regarded as important and indispensable. Thus, it is the caste system which truly affirms that different groups are merely different, not better or worse.

Is Daniélou whitewashing the caste system? Consider the words he quotes from the Mahabharata: “There is no superior caste. The Universe is the work of the Immense Being. The beings created by him were only divided into castes according to their aptitude.” But what of individuals born to the wrong caste? For example, what of a child born to the merchant class who shows aptitude to be a priest or scholar? Such things happen. Daniélou tells us that exceptional individuals are allowed to live “outside” the caste system, and are accepted as valuable members of the society as a whole. Modern society is structured on the premise that everyone is exceptional and can make up his mind what he wants to do. Given that sort of freedom, most people get lost — as witness the modern phenomenon of the “slacker,” or the flotsam and jetsam going in and out of psychiatrists’ offices every day.

Despite what I have said, this book is not a treatise on the caste system, but on the four things that all human lives must possess or achieve in order to be complete. In discussing virtue, success, pleasure, and liberation, Daniélou quotes extensively from ancient Indian texts, offering us an abundance of excellent advice about how to understand life and to live well. Indeed, this is really a book about how to lead a truly human life. Daniélou places the four aims in a cosmic context, showing how the same fourfold division is present in all levels of reality. It is present, of course, in the four castes (worker/artisan, producer/merchant, warrior/aristocrat, priest/scholar), and in the four stages of biological development (childhood, youth, maturity, old age), the four seasons, the four elements, the four races of humanity (black, yellow, red, white), the cycle of ages (yugas), the four bodily functions (digestion, assimilation, circulation, excretion), and the four points of the compass (in this order, significantly: south, east, west, north).

This is an excellent companion volume to Daniélou’s The Myths and Gods of India [3].

Source: Tyr, vol.. 1 (Atlanta: Ultra, 2002).

 


Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2014/10/virtue-success-pleasure-liberation/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Virtue.jpg

[2] Virtue, Success, Pleasure, and Liberation: The Four Aims of Life in the Tradition of Ancient India: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005IQ6AVY/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005IQ6AVY&linkCode=as2&tag=countecurrenp-20&linkId=2SMLM6Q3BGWZDR7W

[3] The Myths and Gods of India: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005PQUZ3G/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005PQUZ3G&linkCode=as2&tag=countecurrenp-20&linkId=7R45BK5EQM4HKVC3

Alain Daniélou’s The Myths & Gods of India

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Alain Daniélou’s The Myths & Gods of India

By Collin Cleary

Ex: http://www.counter-currents.com

Alain Daniélou
The Myths and Gods of India [2]
Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1991.
(Originally published as Hindu Polytheism by Bollingen Foundation, New York, 1964.)

Typically, those who profess an interest in what might be called “Indo-European spirituality” gravitate toward either the Celtic or Germanic traditions. The Indian tradition tends to be ignored. In part, this is because present-day Indians seem so different from us. We think of their culture and philosophy as “Eastern,” as alien. Physically, the Indians look very different from those of European descent (though higher caste Indians tend to look very European, right down to lighter skin and hair, and sometimes blue eyes). But if we wish to rediscover the religion and traditions of our ancestors, what better place is there to begin than with India? The oldest Indo-European texts are the Vedas, after all. To be sure, it is hard to separate what comes from the ancient Aryans in Indian religion, myth, and mysticism, and what was contributed by the indigenous peoples conquered by the Aryans. But the same problem exists with respect to the Celtic and Germanic traditions. In addition, we know far more about the culture and religion of the ancient Aryans who invaded India, than we do about the culture and religion of the Celts and the Vikings. For one thing, more ancient texts survive in India. Therefore, anyone wishing to re-construct the “old ways” must become deeply immersed in all things Indian.

It is a cliche to state this in a review, but I write the following with total sincerity: if you read only one book on Hinduism, it must be Daniélou’s Myths and Gods of India. Indeed, it is hard to imagine why one would need to read any other. Danielou’s account of Hinduism is exhaustive, profound, and detailed. The book contains, first of all, cogent arguments on behalf of polytheism.

It details the Indian cosmogony and cosmology; the nature of Space, Time, and Thought; the nature of Brahman and Maya. Daniélou gives a complete description of every major Hindu divinity in terms of his or her function, myths, and symbolism. He details the minor gods and genii. He discusses the theory behind Mantras and Yantras. There is even extensive coverage of ritual, and the manner in which the gods must be worshiped. Alain Daniélou was born in 1907 in Paris. He was a true Renaissance man, trained in music, painting, and dance. He gave recitals and exhibited his paintings. Daniélou was also an avid sportsman: a canoeing champion, and an expert race-car driver.

He was also homosexual. Daniélou and his gay lover ventured to India, traveling around in a deluxe, Silverstream camper imported from southern California, photographing erotic sculpture. They later settled down in a Maharajah’s estate on the banks of the Ganges and devoted themselves to Sanskrit, Hinduism, music, and entertaining. Daniélou gradually “went native” and stayed in India many years. In time, he became known throughout the world as an authority on Indian music and culture. He published works dealing with Hindu religion, society, music, sculpture, architecture, and other topics. It was Daniélou, more than anyone else, who was responsible for popularizing Indian music in the West (among other things, he was the “discoverer” of Ravi Shankar). Daniélou died in 1994.

The Myths and Gods of India is a delight to read, but it can also be treated as a reference work for those needing a clear and accurate account of various gods or Hindu religious concepts. For the student of Inda-European culture, the book is a treasure trove. Indeed, those who are familiar with the Inda-European comparativist school of Georges Dumézil, Jaan Puhvel, and others, will get the most out of this book. I will offer a few brief examples here.

Daniélou writes on page 27 that “Human beings, according to their nature and stage of development, are inclined toward . . . different aspects of the Cosmic Being. Those in whom consciousness is predominant worship the gods (deva); those in whom action or existence predominates worship genii (yaksha) and antigods (asura); and those in whom enjoyment or sensation predominates worship ghosts and spirits (bhuta and preta).” This suggests, of course, the Inda-European tripartition identified by Dumézil. On page 66 we learn that Soma was “brought to earth by a large hawk,” just as Odin, in the form of an eagle, brought mead to the JEsir. On page 87 we are told that “The earth is also represented as a goddess, or as a cow that feeds everyone with her milk. She is the mother of life, the substance of all things.” What can this remind us of, except the Norse Audumla?

There also seem to be parallels between Agni (the god of fire) and Loki. Like Loki, Agni is an outcast among the gods. Daniélou tells us further that, “The fire of destruction, Agni’s most fearful form, was born of the primeval waters and remains hidden under the sea, ever ready to destroy the world” (p. 89). This is reminiscent of the Midgard Serpent, the progeny of Loki. Page 151:
“When Vishnu sleeps, the universe dissolves into its formless state, represented as the causal ocean. The remnants of manifestation are represented as the serpent Remainder (Sesa) coiled upon itself and floating upon the abysmal waters.”

Daniélou tells us (p. 92) that “the sun . . . is envisaged [by the Hindus] under two aspects. As one of the spheres, one of the Vasus, the physical sun is the celestial form of fire, of agni. As the source of light, of warmth, of life, of knowledge, the solar energy is the source of all life, represented in the twelve sons-of-the-Primordial-Vastness (Adityas), the twelve sovereign principles.” In Futhark (pp. 51-52), Edred Thorsson tells us that “The sun was known by two special names in the North . . . Sol represents the phenomenon, while sunna is the noumenon, the spiritual power residing in the concept.” Also, the “twelve sons-of-the-Primordial-Vastness” immanent within the solar energy must remind us of the twelve sig-runes that make up the Wewelsburg “sun-wheel” of Karl Maria Wiligut.

Page 99: “When the gods were receiving the ambrosia of immortality, the Moon [Soma; equivalent to Mead] detected the anti-god Rahu disguised as a god. Because of the Moon Rahu had to die, but although his head was severed from his body, he could not truly die, for he had tasted the ambrosia. His head remained alive.” Mimir?

Page 103: “Rudra, the lord of tears, is said to have sprung from the forehead of the Immense-Being (Brahma) and, at the command of that god, to have divided himself into a male form and a female form . . . “Athena?

Page 103: “The Maruts (immortals) are a restless, warlike troupe of flashy young men, transposition in space of the hordes of young warriors called the marya (mortals). . . . They are the embodiment of moral and heroic deeds and of the exuberance of youth.” Maruts = Einherjar; Marya = Indo-European Männerbünde. Page 104: “The Maruts are the friends of Indra, the wielder of the thunderbolt . . .” Thor? Page 110: Indra’s thunderbolt is “shaped like a mace … ”

Page 111: “Indra had been the deity worshiped among the pastoral people of Vraja.” Again, just as Thor was.

Page 118: Varuna “is the ruler of the ‘other side,’ of the invisible world.” He is “said to be an antigod, a magician.” Odin? Page 119: “He catches the evildoers and binds them with his noose.” Criminals sacrificed to Odin were hung. Varuna also “knows the track of birds in the sky,” just as Odin knows the track of Huginn and Muninn.

Page 132: The god of death is named Yama, which means “Twin” (Ymir). “Yama’s brother is the lawgiver, Manu, who shares with him the title of progenitor of mankind.” Yama “owns two four-eyed dogs with wide nostrils . . . They watch the path of the dead.” What can this remind us of except the Greek hellhound, Cerberus?

Page 138: “In contrast to the gods, the antigods [asura] are the inclinations of the senses which, by their nature, belong to the obscuring tendency, and which delight in life, that is, in the activities of the life energies in all the fields of sensation.” This is an accurate description of the Norse Vanir. Asura is cognate with Aesir, so, oddly enough, the term shifts meaning either in the Norse or the Indian tradition.

Page 159: The four ages (yugas) are represented as white (the golden age), red, yellow, and black (the dark age). The stages of the alchemical process (as represented in the West) are black, white, yellow, and red.

Pages 243-45 detail the Upanishadic account of creation out of the primal man Purusha: “He desired a second. He became as large as a woman and man in close embrace. He divided himself into two. From him arose a husband and a wife. Hence it is that everyone is but half a being. The vacant space is filled by a wife.” This is extraordinarily similar to the account of the creation of
men and woman given by Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium. The world is then created out of Purusha’s body-just as the world is created out of Ymir’s body in Norse myth. “The virile member was separated; from this virile member came forth semen and from semen the earthly waters.” This is identical to the account of the creation of the ocean in the Greek myth of the sacrifice of Ouranos by Kronos.

The account of the hero Kumara/Skana (pp. 297-300) is strikingly like the saga of Sigurd, and also similar in some respects to the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach. The “essences” (apsaras; pp. 304-305) are “water nymphs, eternally young women who are the courtesans and dancers of heaven.” Rhine Maidens? “They are depicted as uncommonly beautiful, with lotus eyes, slender waists, and large hips. By their languid postures and sweet words they rob those who see them of their wisdom and their intellect.” Sirens? “One can master them by stealing their clothes while they bathe. They choose lovers among the dead fallen on the battlefield.” Valkyries?

The above merely scratches the surface of this immensely rich text, which demands careful study and multiple readings.

 


Article printed from Counter-Currents Publishing: http://www.counter-currents.com

URL to article: http://www.counter-currents.com/2014/10/alain-danielous-the-myths-and-gods-of-india/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.counter-currents.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/MythsandGodsofIndia.jpg

[2] The Myths and Gods of India: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0892813547/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0892813547&linkCode=as2&tag=countecurrenp-20&linkId=IH7O6QJKVC7I7LVQ

vendredi, 10 octobre 2014

Bhagavad-Gîtâ - Le Chant du Bienheureux

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Bhagavad-Gîtâ: le Chant du Bienheureux

108 pages. Traduit du sanskrit par Emile Burnouf et présenté par le Pr. Jean Haudry.

Elément central du Mahâbhârata, connu pour être la plus grande épopée de la mythologie hindoue, la Bhagavad-Gîtâ (« Chant du Bienheureux ») est un des écrits fondamentaux de l’Hindouisme qui s’inscrit dans la tradition héroïque indo-européenne.

Il s’agit d’un dialogue dans lequel le Seigneur Krishna, 8e avatar de Vishnou, tend à dissiper le doute chez le kshatriya Arjuna au moment d’une bataille qui risque de faire nombre de morts parmi ceux que ce dernier aime.

Composé de 18 chapitres et vraisemblablement rédigé entre les Ve et IIe siècles av. J.-C., l’intérêt capital de ce texte sacré tient du fait qu’il invite à dépasser le brahmanisme sans le répudier pour autant.

Au-delà de toutes les sensibilités spirituelles, la Bhagavad-Gîtâ nous enseigne avant tout la dévotion et le détachement pour lesquels le verset II.38 semble parfaitement convenir : « Tiens pour égaux plaisir et peine, gain et perte, et sois tout entier à la bataille : ainsi tu éviteras le péché . »

Pour commander auprès des Editions du Lore: http://www.ladiffusiondulore.fr/antiquite/379-bhagavad-gita-le-chant-du-bienheureux.html

mardi, 09 septembre 2014

Inde : vers le grand conflit hindouistes/islamistes

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Inde : vers le grand conflit hindouistes/islamistes

Al Qaïda et le califat du sous-continent indien

Jean Bonnevey
Ex: http://metamag.fr

Revendiquant depuis près de 20 ans son autorité sur les jihadistes du monde entier, Al Qaïda est en perte de vitesse. Fragilisé par l’émergence de l’EI en Syrie et en Irak, le réseau fondé par Oussama ben Laden  tente de revenir en ouvrant un nouveau front.

Cette nouvelle branche est nommée en anglais « Qaedat al-Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent » (« Al-Qaïda en guerre sainte sur le sous-continent indien »). Elle est déjà active en Afghanistan et au Pakistan, sous l’autorité du Pakistanais Assim Oumar, un Pakistanais lui-même subordonné au mollah Omar, le chef des talibans afghans. La création d'«al-Qaida en guerre sainte sur le sous-continent indien» est le fruit de deux ans de travail, précise al-Zawahiri. Le chef du mouvement islamiste, déclare que la naissance d’Al-Qaïda en Inde est une bonne nouvelle pour les musulmans « de Birmanie, du Bangladesh, de l’Assam, du Gujarat, d’Ahmedabad et du Cachemire » afin de faire face à l’ «injustice » et à l’ »oppression ». Le chef de la nébuleuse islamiste entend mener le combat pour faire renaître un califat sur des terres considérées comme musulmanes par Ayman al-Zawahiri.

On sait peu de choses sur le chef de la nouvelle branche indienne d'al-Qaida. Assim Oumar lit assurément le pachto, la langue du peuple pachtoune, qui forme l'ossature du mouvement taliban. Mais il parle et écrit surtout en ourdou, langue nationale du Pakistan, qui se rapproche de l'hindi indien. Turban de charbon enroulé autour de la tête, barbe hirsute, Assim Oumar apparaît dans des vidéos de propagande diffusées notamment par al-Qaida. «Pourquoi les musulmans de l'Inde sont-ils totalement absents du jihad», s'interrogeait-il l'an dernier dans une vidéo en ourdou diffusée sur internet par Al-Qaida. Il appelait les jeunes musulmans indiens à faire preuve «d'honneur» et de «zèle» afin que l'Inde soit dirigée à nouveau par sa minorité musulmane et non sa majorité hindoue. «Ne forcez pas les infidèles à prononcer la profession de foi... C'est à eux de décider s'ils veulent devenir musulman ou continuer à pratiquer leur ancienne religion. Mais puisque cette planète est celle d'Allah, il est nécessaire d'y établir le système d'Allah», disait-il en ourdou. Ses allocutions sont truffées de références à l'empire moghol, musulman, qui a régné sur l'Inde du 16ème à la moitié du 19e siècle, et au califat ottoman. Il appelle ainsi à un «renouveau» islamique en Inde, au moment où les djihadistes prennent le contrôle des régions entières de l'Irak et de la Syrie.
 
Par cette déclaration, Al Qaïda remobilise ses forces, alors que l’Etat Islamique, qui a crée un califat avant elle, ne cesse de multiplier les actions et s’est sérieusement implanté en Irak, territoire de création d’Al Qaïda par Abou Moussab al Zarkaoui, tué par les forces américaines en 2006. Suite à la diffusion de la vidéo, les services de renseignement indiens ont demandé aux gouvernements provinciaux de plusieurs Etats de se placer en état d'alerte.

«Nous prenons le sujet très au sérieux. De telles menaces ne peuvent être ignorées», a déclaré à l’AFP une source des services de renseignement indiens. «Nous avons demandé aux Etats, en particulier au Gujarat, au Madhya Pradesh, à l’Uttar Pradesh et au Bihar, de se mettre en état d’alerte». Déjà actif en Afghanistan et au Pakistan, Al-Qaïda revendique depuis longtemps avoir autorité sur les jihadistes qui luttent pour rétablir un califat sur les terres considérées comme musulmanes.

«C’est un coup publicitaire qui montre un certain désespoir, car l’EI est désormais la vraie menace mondiale», estime Ajit Kumar Singh, du groupe de réflexion Institute of Conflict Management, dont le siège est à New Delhi. «C’est une bataille pour la suprématie entre Al-Qaïda et l’EI». Parmi les Etats cités dans la vidéo par Ayman al-Zawahiri, le Cachemire, seul Etat indien en majorité musulman, est depuis longtemps en proie à un mouvement séparatiste, mais les représentants de ce dernier soulignent que la nébuleuse jihadiste ne joue aucun rôle sur ce territoire.
 
 

mardi, 20 mai 2014

Modi et le nouvel empire des Indes

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Le tsunami hindouiste : un événement mondial majeur
 
Modi et le nouvel empire des Indes

Jean Bonnevey
Ex: http://metamag.fr

L’occident, fasciné par l’image de Gandhi et le mythe du libérateur anti-colonialiste non violent d’une Inde opprimée par les Anglais, a toujours cultivé le culte d’une dynastie démocratique et laïque, celle des Nehru Gandhi. Au delà des clichés de la récupération politique, des scandales et des échecs, la dernière élection marque objectivement la fin d’une mainmise d’un clan sur le deuxième pays le plus peuplé du monde. C’est la sanction d’années de ralentissement économique, d’effacement politique, de retard vis-à-vis de la Chine et d’humiliations face au Pakistan et au terrorisme musulman.


L’Inde signe une volonté de retour en force qui va changer l’équilibre du sous-continent indien, de l’Asie et du monde. La plus grande démocratie du monde est également le plus grand pays païen de la planète, la seule grande puissance nucléaire non monothéiste, comme on l’oublie trop souvent. « Le Congrès a réalisé une mauvaise performance, nous devons beaucoup réfléchir sur cette défaite cuisante. En tant que vice-président du parti, je me tiens responsable  », a dit Rahul Gandhi aux journalistes réunis dans la capitale indienne. Agé de 43 ans et héritier de la famille Nehru-Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi est le fils de l'ancien Premier ministre Rajiv Gandhi et de l'actuelle présidente du Congrès Sonia Gandhi. En tant que candidat du parti à la Primature, il a affronté Narendra Modi, candidat du principal parti d'opposition, le Parti Bharatiya Janata(BJP), aux élections générales. Félicitant le BJP pour sa victoire écrasante, Sonia Gandhi, idole déboulonnée, a dit que « gagner et perdre font partie de la démocratie, nous respectons le verdict » . Cependant, elle a ajouté que « nous espérons également que le nouveau gouvernement ne va pas compromettre l'unité du pays » .


Le nouveau pouvoir indien est démocratique, mais sous surveillance des Usa car nationaliste. Mais les indiens n’en ont que faire. L’immense victoire du parti nationaliste hindou de Narendra Modi lors des législatives en Inde s'est jouée, comme prévu, sur des questions de politique intérieure et notamment celle de la relance d'une économie en berne. Mais ce succès pourrait aussi aboutir à replacer le pays sur la scène internationale. Le Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) et le futur chef du gouvernement vont d'abord concentrer leurs efforts sur une nécessaire relance de la croissance. Les relations commerciales et économiques avec les Occidentaux auront à coup sûr une incidence sur la politique que va devoir mener Narendra Modi. Avec la Chine dont l'économie est désormais quatre fois plus importante, le déficit commercial indien s'établit à 40 milliards de dollars,  faute à la politique d'exportation menée par Pékin et un certain immobilisme indien.


Les données de l'équation diplomatique ont  changé récemment au détriment de l’Inde: la Chine affiche ses ambitions de grande puissance et les Etats-Unis lorgnent de plus en plus du côté de l'Asie quand ils évoquent leur avenir, tout en se retirant d'Afghanistan. L’Inde de Modi sera plus active. L’Inde va devoir affirmer plus clairement son statut de puissance régionale.


Le principal sujet de préoccupation concerne les relations avec le voisin pakistanais à propos du Cachemire, région à majorité musulmane dont Islamabad revendique la possession. Les services pakistanais du renseignement et de la sécurité considèrent  le président Modi comme un adversaire potentiel et le tenant d'une ligne dure dans les relations bilatérales. « Modi a toujours pris parti contre le Pakistan », rappelle un haut responsable de la défense. « La politique indienne va être beaucoup plus musclée avec lui . »


En politique, les nationalistes convergent sur une idée: la « hindutva », c'est-à-dire la «  hindouité » : le conservatisme social, le rejet de l'influence occidentale, le nationalisme économique par l'autosuffisance, l'affirmation aux frontières, et surtout et avant tout l'hostilité envers l'islam. Sans doute est-ce par sage précaution que Modi vient déjà d'être invité par Nawaz Sharif, Premier ministre du Pakistan ! Tout est là, pour la paix régionale. La relation New Delhi-Islamabad déterminera le niveau de tension dans cette Asie du Sud. Narendra Modi,  a été au pouvoir comme ministre en chef de l'État du Gujarat depuis 1998. En 2002, un pogrom anti-musulman eut lieu principalement dans la mégapole d'Ahmedabad, un millier de morts, surtout musulmans, face à l'indifférence de la police gujarataise. Mais il y eut, avant cela, des violences anti-hindoues de la part de fanatiques musulmans.

 

Dossier_Inde.jpg

Le terrorisme musulman est un défi majeur pour l’Inde avec de nombreux attentats très meurtriers depuis des années. Des groupes seraient liés à des organisations islamistes basées au Pakistan, le Lashkar-e-Taiba et le Jaish-e-Mohammed, luttant contre la présence indienne au Cachemire. Mais des diplomates indiens et étrangers pensent que le géant asiatique, devenu la 10ème puissance économique mondiale, est désormais la cible de groupes islamistes locaux et non plus seulement d'organisations venues du Pakistan ou du Bangladesh voisins. Pour le terrorisme islamiste comme pour le Pakistan ou la Chine la donne vient de changer radicalement dans le sous-continent indien.


Illustration en tête d'article : Narendra Modi saluant ses partisans après la victoire.

En savoir plus : lire nos articles consacrés aux élections en Inde :Les élections les plus longues du monde ont débutéUn cas particulier : le BiharLes musulmans courtisés et Maladresse de Rahul Gandhi ,premiers sondages sortis des urnes. 

 

dimanche, 05 mai 2013

Semitic Monotheism

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S. Gurumurthy:

 

S. Gurumurthy argues that the monotheistic Semitic religions of what he calls "the West" brought intolerance to India. Traditionally, Gurumurthy argues, Indian culture was characterized by a liberal pluralism stemming from the polytheism of Hindu beliefs.

 

In the history of human civilization there have been two distinct ways of life -- the eastern and the Semitic. If we look at the history of India and of its people on the one hand and at the history of Semitic societies on the other, we find a glaring difference. In India the society and individual form the center of gravity, the fulcrum around which the polity revolves, and the state is merely a residuary concept. On the other hand, in the Semitic tradition the state wields all the power and forms the soul and the backbone of the polity. In India, temporal power was located in the lowest units of society, which developed into a highly decentralized social network. This was the very reverse of the centralized power structures that evolved in the Semitic tradition of the West. We had decentralizing institutions, of castes, of localities, of sects belonging to different faiths; of groups of people gathering around a particular deity or around a particular individual. Society was a collection of multitudes of self-contained social molecules, spontaneously linked together by socio spiritual thoughts, symbols, centers of pilgrimage, and sages. In the West the most important, and often the only, link between different institutions of the society was the state.

 

THE RESIDUAL STATE

 

Of course, the state also existed in India in the past, but only as a residual institution. It had a very limited role to perform. Even the origin of the state is said to be in the perceived necessity of an institution to perform the residual supervisory functions that became necessary because a small number of people could not harmonize with the rest in the self- regulating, self-operating and self powered functioning of the society. The state was to look after the spill-over functions that escaped the self-regulating mechanisms of the society. The Mahabharata, in the Santiparva, defines the functions of the state precisely thus. The state was to ensure that the one who strays away from public ethics does not tread on others. There was perhaps no necessity for the state at one point in our social history. The evolution of society to a point where certain individuals came to be at cross purposes with the society because of the erosion of dharmic, or ethical values, introduced the need for a limited arbiter to deal with "outlaws" who would not agree to be bound by dharma. That task was entrusted to the state. This appears to be the origin of the state here. So the society or the group, at whatever level it functioned, was the dominant reality and the state was a residual authority. The society had an identity distinct from the state. Social relations as well as religious and cultural bonds transcended the bounds of the state.

 

DHARMA VS. SOCIAL CONTRACT

 

People in the Semitic society, on the other hand, seem to have burdened themselves with the state the moment they graduated from tribalism and nomadic life to a settled existence. Thus the Semitic society never knew how to live by self-regulation. People never knew how to exist together unless their lives were ordered through the coercive institution of the state. The concept of self-regulation, the concept of dharma, the personal and public norms of action and thought that we have inherited from time immemorial, did not have any chance to evolve. Instead what evolved, for example in the Christian West, was the "social contract" theory of the state. And this became the basis of the nation state that dominated during the era of Western hegemony. But even before that, a mighty state, a nation-less state, had already evolved in the West. It was a state that cut across all nations, all societies, all ethnicities, all faiths, all races. This was the kind of state developed by the Romans. The statecraft of the Romans purveyed power and power alone. Later, after the collapse of the nationless state, tribal nationalism began to be assertive. This nation state, whose power was legitimated according to socio-religious criteria, became the model for the Semitic society. Far from being an arbiter, the state became the initiator, the fulcrum of the society.

 

STATELY RELIGION

 

Western society thus became largely a state construct. Even geography and history began to follow state power. In the scheme of things, the king symbolized total power, the army became crucial to the polity, and the police indispensable. The throne of the king became more important than the Church, and his word more important than the Bible, forcing even the Church to acquire stately attributes and begin competing with the state. That is why the first Church was founded in Rome. Because of the social recognition of state power and the importance that it had acquired, religion had to go to the seat of the state. That is how Rome, and not Bethlehem, became the center of Christian thought. The Church developed as a state-like institution, as an alternative and a competing institution. The Church began to mimic the state, and the Archbishop competed with the King. And finally religion itself became a competitor of the state. Naturally there were conflicts between these two powerful institutions -- between the state and the Church, and between the King and the Archbishop. Both owed allegiance to the same faith, the same book, the same prophet -- and yet they could not agree on who should wield ultimate power. They fought in order to decide who amongst them would be the legitimate representative of the faith. And, in their ^ght, both invoked the same God. The result was a society that was at war with itself; a society in which the stately religion was at war with the religious state. The result also was centralism and exclusivism, not only in thought, but also in the institutional arrangements. Out of such war within itself -- including between Christianity and Islam -- Semitic society evolved its centralist and exclusivist institutions that are now peddled as the panacea for the ills of all societies. As the monotheistic civilization rapidly evolved a theocratic state, it ruled out all plurality in thought. There could not be any doubt, there could not be a second thought competing with the one approved and patronized by the state, and there could not even be a second institution representing the same faith. The possibility of different religions or different attitudes to life evolving in the same society was made minimal. No one could disagree with the established doctrine without inviting terrible retribution. Whenever any semblance of plurality surfaced anywhere, it was subjected to immediate annihilation. The entire social, political and religious power of the Semitic society gravitated toward and became slowly and finally manifest in the unitary state. Thus single-dimensional universality, far more than plurality, is the key feature of Western society. The West, in fact, spawned a power-oriented, power-driven, and power-inspired civilization which sought and enforced thoughts, books, and institutions.

 

GUARDIAN SAGES

 

This unity of the Semitic state and the Semitic society proved to be its strength as a conquering power. But this was also its weakness. The moment the state became weak or collapsed anywhere, the society there also followed the fate of the state. In India, society was supported by institutions other than the state. Not just one, but hundreds and even thousands of institutions flourished within the polity and none of them had or needed to use any coercive power. Indian civilization -- culture, arts, music, and the collective life of the people guardianship of the people and of the public mind was not entrusted to the state. In fact, it was the sages, and not the state, who were seen as the guardians of the public mind. When offending forces, whether Sakas or Huns or any others, came from abroad, this society -- which was not organized as a powerful state and was without a powerful army or arms and ammunition of a kind that could meet such vast brute forces coming from outside -- found its institutions of state severely damaged. But that did not lead to the collapse of the society. The society not only survived when the institutions of the state collapsed, but in the course of time it also assimilated the alien groups and digested them into inseparable parts of the social stream. Later invaders into India were not mere gangs of armed tribes, but highly motivated theocratic war-mongers. The Indian states, which were mere residues of the Indian society, caved in before them too. But the society survived even these crusaders. In contrast, the state-oriented and state-initiated civilizations, societies and cultures of the West invariably were annihilated with the collapse of the state. Whether the Romans, the Greeks or the Christians, or the later followers of Islam, or the modern Marxists -- none of them could survive as a viable civilization once the state they had constructed collapsed. When a Semitic king won and wiped out another, it was not just another state that was wiped out, but all social bearings and moorings of the society -- all its literature, art, music, culture and language. Everything relating to the society was extinguished. In the West of today, there are no remnants of what would have been the products of Western civilization 1500 years ago. The Semitic virtue rejected all new and fresh thought. Consequently, any fresh thought could prevail only by annihilating its predecessor. At one time only one thought could hold sway. There was no scope for a second.

 

EASTERN PLURALISM

 

In the East, more specifically in India, there prevailed a society and a social mind which thrived and happily grew within a multiplicity of thoughts. "Ano bhadrah kratavo yantu visatah" ("let noble thoughts come in from all directions of the universe") went the Rigvedic invocation. We, therefore, welcomed all, whether it was the Parsis who came fleeing from the slaughter of Islamic theocratic marauders and received protection here for their race and their religion, or the Jews who were slaughtered and maimed everywhere else in the world. They all found a secure refuge here along with their culture, civilization, religion and the book. Even the Shia Muslims, fearing annihilation by their coreligionists, sought shelter in Gujarat and constituted the first influx of Muslims into India. Refugee people, refugee religions, refugee cultures and civilizations came here, took root and established a workable, amicable relationship with their neighborhood. They did not -- even now they do not -- find this society alien or foreign. They could grow as constituent parts of an assimilative society and under an umbrella of thought that appreciated their different ways. When first Christianity, and later Islam, came to India as purely religious concerns, they too found the same assimilative openness. The early Christians and Muslims arriving on the west coast of India did not find anything hostile in the social atmosphere here. They found a welcoming and receptive atmosphere in which the Hindus happily offered them temple lands for building a church or a mosque. (Even today in the localities of Tamilnadu temple lands are offered for construction of mosques). It was only the later theocratic incursions by the Mughals and the British that introduced theological and cultural maladjustments, creating conflict between the assimilative and inclusive native ways of the East and the exclusive and annihilative instincts of Islam and even Christianity. Until this occurred, the native society assimilated the new thoughts and fresh inputs, and had no difficulty in keeping intact its social harmony within the plurality of thoughts and faiths. This openness to foreign thoughts, faiths and people did not happen because of legislation, or a secular constitution or the teachings of secular leaders and parties. We did not display this openness because of any civilizing inspiration and wisdom which we happened to have received from the West. Yet, we are somehow made to believe, and we do, that we have become a somewhat civilized people and have come to learn to live together in harmony with others only through the civilization, the language, the statecraft and the societal influence of the West! It is a myth that has become an inseparable component of the intellectual baggage that most of us carry.

 

SURVIVING THE SEMITIC ONSLAUGHT

 

Religious fanaticism, invaded us and extinguished our states and institutions, our society could still survive and preserve its multidimensional life largely intact. Our survival has been accompanied, however, with an extraordinary sense of guilt. In our own eyes, we remain a society yet to be fully civilized. This is because, as the state in India quickly became an instrument in the hands of the invaders and colonizers, we were saddled not just with an unresponsive state, but a state hostile to the nation itself. A state-less society in India would have fared better. Such a paradox has existed nowhere else in the history of the world. When we look at the history of any other country, we find that whenever an overpowering alien state came into being, it wiped out everything that it saw as a native thought or institution. And if the natives insisted on holding on to their thought and institutions, then they were wiped out. But the Indian society survived under an alien and hostile state for hundreds of years, albeit at the price of having today lost almost all initiative and self confidence as a civilization.

 

GIVE ME YOUR PERSECUTED

 

How did the assimilative Hindu cultural convictions fare in practice, not just in theory and in the archives? This is probably best seen by comparing the Iranians of today with the Parsis of India. A few thousand of them who came here and who now number 200,000 have lived in a congenial atmosphere. They have not been subjected to any hostility to convert, or to give up their cultural or even racial distinction. They have had every chance, as much as the natives had, to prosper and evolve. And they did. They have lived and prospered here for 1500 years, more or less the same way as they would have lived and prospered in their own lands, had those lands not been ravaged by Islam. Compare an average Parsi with an average Iranian. Does the Persian society today display any native attributes of the kind that the Parsis, living in the Indian society, have managed to preserve? One can ^nd no trace of those original native attributes in the Iranian society today. That is because not only the native institutions, native faiths and native literature, but also the native mind and all vestiges of native originality were wiped out by Islam. That society was converted and made into a uniform outfit in form, shape and mental condition. On that condition alone would Islam accept it. What Islam did to the natives in Egypt, Afghanistan and Persia, or what Christianity did to the Red Indians in America, or what Christianity and Islam did to each other in Europe, or the Catholics did to Protestants, or the Sunnis did to Shias and the Kurds and the Ahmedias, or what the Shias did to the Bahais, was identical. In every case the annihilation of the other was attempted -- annihilation of other thoughts, other thinkers and other followers. The essential thrust of the Semitic civilizational effort, including the latest effort of Marxist monotheism, has been to enforce uniformity, and failing that, to annihilate. How can the West claim that it taught us how to lead a pluralistic life? If you look at history, you find that they were the ones who could not, and never did, tolerate any kind of plurality, either in the religious or the secular domain. If it has dawned upon them today that they have to live with plurality, it must be because of the violence they have had to commit against themselves and each other. The mass slaughter which the Western society has been subjected to by the adherents of different religious thoughts and by different tyrants is unimaginable, and perhaps they are now sick of this slaughter and violence. But the view we get, and are asked to subscribe to, is that the "civilized" West was a peaceful society, and that we brutes down here never knew how to live at peace with ourselves and our neighbors until liberated by the literate. What a paradox!

 

TEMPORAL POWER

 

The foundation of the Semitic system is laid on temporal power. For acceptance and survival in this system even religion had to marry and stick to temporal authority at the cost of losing its spiritual moorings. It was with this power -- first the state power, which still later was converted into technological power -- that the Christian West was able to establish its dominance. This brute dominance was clothed in the garb of modernity and presented as the civilization of the world. The aggressively organized Western society, through its powerful arm of the state, was able to overcome and subordinate the expressions of the self- governing decentralized society of the East that did not care to have the protection of a centralized state. Our society, unorganized in the physical sense, although it was much more organized in a civilizational sense, had a more evolved mind. But it did not have the muscle; it did not have the fire power. Perhaps because of the Buddhist influence, our society acquired disproportionately high Brahmatejas, Brahminical piety and authority, which eroded the Kshatravirya, the temporal war-making power. So it caved in and ceded temporal authority to the more powerful state and the statecraft that came from outside. The society that caves in is, in terms of the current global rules, a defeated society. This society cannot produce or generate the kind of self-confidence which is required in the modern world.

 

DYNAMIC CHRISTIANS, STAGNANT MUSLIMS

 

The nation-state was so powerful, that other countries, like India, could not stand against it. And when the nation-state concept was powered by religious exclusivism it had no equal. When religion acquired the state, the church itself was the first victim of that acquisition. Christianity suffered from the Christian state. It had to struggle not only against Islamic states and Islamic society, but also against itself. As a consequence, it underwent a process of moderation. First, it experienced dissent, then renaissance through arts, music and culture. Thus Christianity was able to overcome the effect of theocratic statecraft by slowly evolving as a society not entirely identified with the state. First the state began to dominate over the Church on the principle of separation between the religious and temporal authorities. The result was the evolution of the secular state. Thus the King wrested the secular power from the Archbishop. Then through democratic movements following the French Revolution, the people wrested power from the King. Later commerce invaded public life as the prime thrust of the Christian West. The theocratic state abdicated in favor of a secular state, the secular state gave way to democracy and later democracy gave way to commerce. Then power shifted from commerce to technology. And now in the Christian West, the state and the society are largely powered by commerce and technology. The Christian West today is even prepared to give up the concept of the nation-state to promote commerce fueled by technological advance. Look at the consolidation that is taking place between Mexico, Canada and the United States of America around trade, and the kind of pyramidal politico economic consolidation that is taking place in Western Europe. All this is oriented towards only one thing West.

 

ISLAM REMAINED UNCHANGED

 

While the Christian West has evolved dynamically over the past few centuries, the story of Islam is one of 1500 years of unmitigated stagnation. There has never been a successful attempt from within Islam to start the flow, so to speak. Anyone who attempted to start even a variant of the mainstream flow -- anyone who merely attempted to reinterpret the same book and the same prophet -- was disposed of with such severity that it set an example and a warning to anyone who would dare to cross the line. Some, who merely said that it was not necessary for the Islamic Kingdom to be ruled by the Prophet's own descendants were wiped out. Some others said that the Prophet himself may come again -- not that somebody else might come, but the Prophet himself may be reborn. They were also wiped out. The Sunnis, the Shias, the Ahmedias, the Bahais -- all of whom trusted the same prophet, revered the same book and were loyal to the same revelation -- were all physically and spiritually maimed. From the earliest times, Islam has proved itself incapable of producing an internal evolution; internally legitimized change has not been possible since all change is instantly regarded as an act of apostasy. Every change was -- and is -- put down with bloodshed. In contrast, the Hindu ethos changed continuously. Though, it was always change with continuity: from ritualistic life, to agnostic Buddhism, to the Ahimsa of Mahavira, to the intellect of Sankara, to the devotion of Ramanuja, and finally to the modern movements of social reform. In India, all these changes have occurred without the shedding of a single drop of blood. Islam, on the other hand retains its changelessness, despite the spilling of so much blood all around. It is the changelessness of Islam -- its equal revulsion towards dissent within and towards non-Islamic thoughts without -- that has made it a problem for the whole world.

 

ISLAM IN INDIA

 

The encounter between the inclusive and assimilative heritage of India and exclusive Islam, which had nothing but theological dislike for the native faiths, was a tussle between two unequals. On the one side there was the inclusive, universal and spiritually powerful -- but temporally unorganized - native Hindu thought. And on the other side there was the temporally organized and powerful -- but spiritually exclusive and isolated -- Islam. Islam subordinated, for some time and in some areas, the Hindu temporal power, but it could not erode Hindu spiritual power. If anything, the Hindu spiritual power incubated the offending faith and delivered a milder form of Islam -- Sufism. However, the physical encounter was one of the bloodiest in human history. We survived this test by fire and sword. But the battle left behind an unassimilated Islamic society within India. The problem has existed since then, to this day.

 

ISLAM, INDIA AND THE CHRISTIAN WEST

 

The Hindu renaissance in India is the Indian contribution to an evolving global attitude that calls for a review of the conservative and extremist Islamic attitudes towards non-Islamic faiths and societies. The whole world is now concerned with the prospect of extremist Islam becoming a problem by sanctifying religious terrorism. So long as the red flag was flying atop the Kremlin, the Christian West tried to project communism as the greatest enemy of world peace. It originally promoted Islam and Islamic fundamentalism against the fanaticism of communism. The West knew it could match communism in the market-place, in technology, in commerce, and even in war, but it had no means of combating communism on the emotive plane. So they structured a green Islamic belt -- from Tunisia to Indonesia -- to serve as a bulwark against Marxist thought. But that has changed now. When communism collapsed, extremist Islam with its terrorist tendencies instantly emerged in the mind of the Christian West as the major threat to the world.

 

HINDUS SURVIVED MUSLIM INVASION

 

We must realize that we have a problem on hand in India, the problem of a stagnant and conservative Islamic society. The secular leaders and parties tell us that the problem on our hands is not Islamic fundamentalism, but the Hindutva ideology. This view is good only for gathering votes. The fact is that we have a fundamentalist Muslim problem, and our problem cannot be divorced from the international Islamic politics and the world's reaction to it. To understand the problem and to undertake the task of solving it successfully, we must know the nature of Hindu society and its encounter with Islam in India. As a nation, we are heckled by the secularist historians and commentators: "You are caste-oriented, you are a country with 900 languages, and most of them with no script," they say. "You can't even communicate in one language, you don't have a common religious book which all may follow. You are not a nation at all. In contrast, look at the unity of Islam and its brotherhood." But the apparently unorganized and diverse Hindu society is perhaps the only society in the world that faced, and then survived, the Islamic theocratic invasion. We, the Hindu nation, have survived because of the very differences that seem to divide us. It is in some ways a mind- boggling phenomenon: For 500 to 600 years we survived the invasion of Islam as no other society did. The whole of Arabia, which had a very evolved civilization, was run over in a matter of just 20 years. Persia collapsed within 50 years. Buddhist Afghans put up a brave resistance for 300 years but, in the end, they also collapsed. In all of these countries today there remains nothing pre- Islamic worth the name save for some broken down architectural monuments from their pre-Islamic past. How did our society survive the Islamic onslaught? We have survived not only physically, but intellectually too. We have preserved our culture. The kind of music that was heard 1500 years ago is heard even today. Much of the literature too remains available along with the original phonetic intonations. So the Indian society continued to function under a hostile occupation even without a protective state. Or rather, we survived because our soul did not reside in an organized state, but in an organized national consciousness, in shared feelings of what constitutes human life in this universe that happens to be such a wonderfully varied manifestation of the divine, of Brahman.

 

HINDUTVA AS INDIA'S ANCHOR

 

The assimilative Hindu cultural and civilizational ethos is the only basis for any durable personal and social interaction between the Muslims and the rest of our countrymen. This societal assimilative realization is the basis for Indian nationalism, and only an inclusive Hindutva can assimilate an exclusive Islam by making the Muslims conscious of their Hindu ancestry and heritage. A national effort is called for to break Islamic exclusivism and enshrine the assimilative Hindutva. This alone constitutes true nationalism and true national integration. This is the only way to protect the plurality of thoughts and institutions in this country. To the extent secularism advances Islamic isolation and exclusivism, it damages Hindu inclusiveness and its assimilative qualities. And in this sense secularism as practiced until now conflicts with Indin nationalism. Inclusive and assimilative Hindutva is the socio-cultural nationalism of India. So long as our national leaders ignore this eternal truth, national integration will keep eluding us.

 

Center for Policy Studies, Madras.
1993.

dimanche, 24 février 2013

ON THE EURASIAN ROOTS OF INDIAN SPIRITUAL TRADITIONS

 

ON THE EURASIAN ROOTS OF INDIAN SPIRITUAL TRADITIONS

Kashmir Shaivism and Slavic-Russian Mysticism

Acharya Peter Wilberg

Ex: http://granews.info/

1.       Historical Introduction and Background

This essay will seek to show that here is no more profound and powerful counterpart and complement to Indian wisdom traditions than Slavic-Russian Mysticism and its relation to Nordic-Arctic climate and culture. There is now both archaeological and linguistic evidence to show that  the Vedas and Upanishads and Tantras (including those of Kashmir Shaivism) all had their roots in a highly advanced pre- or proto Indo-European and Arctic civilisation covering the entire area known as Eurasia and with centres not only in the Indus Valley but in many other ancient civilisations such as Sumeria and also Russia and the Arctic.  This pre-historic or ‘primordial’  civilization was founded by ruler priests and teachers from other planets and/or planes of consciousness called ‘Urs’ in the Nordic-Arctic region (‘Ur’ being cognate with the German prefix ‘Ur-’ which means ‘primordial’ – and recalling also both  the Urals in Russia and the name of the Sumerian city called Ur, Uru or Urim. 

According to Levashov (The Untold History of Russia)

“Urs became tutors and guides to the rest of the people. They protected an initially rather small number of settlements of ‘ordinary’ people both from wild nature and ‘biped predators’. Urs trained people and helped them to master primary technologies, and gave them the knowledge necessary for them at that moment as well as knowledge that would be called for only in millennia.

Urs taught them and gave them into the charge of a special caste of keepers – volkhvs[1], who in due time were to convey conserved knowledge, having carried them through millennia and preserved as much of it as possible.

For this purpose those keepers-volkhvs received two runic alphabets, each of them was used by volkhvs of different levels of initiation. Those alphabets were da’Aryan and h’Aryan letters[2].

The memory of Urs, the teachers, has remained in language, for example, in the word ‘cult-ur-e’, which means a system of moral and spiritual concepts, which were transferred by Urs to their wards, the Ruses.

The two-caste system of the ancient Slavs reverberated in the names given them by their neighbours. For instance, the majority of Asian neighbours called an inhabitant of the Slavoniс-Aryan Empire as ‘ur-rus’, uniting the self-names of these two castes in a single word. Even now many Asian neighbours call Russians in the old fashioned manner, as ‘Urruses’.

There was a time when the names of the Slavonic tribes were formed by the addition of prefixes to the root ‘rus’, reflecting distinctive features of these tribes of Ruses, for example, Et-rus-can, P-rus-sian. The prefix ‘et’ before the self-name of Ruses means ‘elucidated Ruses’ – the carriers of highcult-ur-e. The proof of their existence has been found in the north of Italy in the form of inscriptions on stones and works of art. The name ‘Prussian’ meant ‘Ruses of Perun’[3], their other self-name was Venedas[4] (bellicose tribes of western Slavs), was kept in the self-name of the territory where they lived up to the 19th-20th centuries even after the German (gothic) tribes seized this land in 9th-10th  centuries A.D. The gothic tribes destroyed the majority of Prussian-Slavs, assimilated the rest amidst them and borrowed their name. After that one of the German tribes that lived on this territory began to call themselves ‘Prussians’; in the 19th century they played a key role in the merger of German tribes into a united state.

During the thousands of years of history of the Slavs, who initially had a united culture and language, the formation of self-names of the different Slavonic tribes was influenced by different factors. In the Urs’ time all Slavonic tribes have the second name ‘Ur-rus’. After the Urs’ disappearance their functions had to be distributed between their wards, Ruses.

This led to the formation of several castes: a caste of Volkhvs, carriers of knowledge and traditions; a caste of professional warriors, defenders from external enemies; a caste of handicraftsmen, grain-growers and cattlemen. At the top of all castes was a patrimonial aristocracy.

After the Urs’ disappearance, Ruses added to the common tribal name (Rus) one or another prefix reflecting their basic type of activity (Et-rus-can, P-rus-sian).”

The ancient pre- or proto-Aryan civilisation that Levashov describes, with a caste system clearly similar to that of Vedic civilisation, was essentially a Eurasian civilisation with multiple centres, not only in the Indian sub-continent, but also in Sumeria (whose language was neither Indo-European nor Semitic), Babylon and Assyria, the Egyptian Middle Kingdom, Minoan Crete, Troy and Mycenae – and as recent  discoveries show it also had centres in Russia and the Arctic. Evidence for this was found in 1987, when archaeological discoveries were uneathed in the Southern Urals (the so-calledARKAIM site) of an earlier ‘Arctic’ civilisation. This was referred to by Herodotus, Hesiod, Homer and Pindra as Hyperborea (‘beyond the North Wind’ or Boreas) and by Virgil as Thule. It corresponds also to Asgard – the land of the Norse gods or Aesir, one of the nine worlds unified by the world tree called Yggdrasill  and described in the Nordic Eddas as the abode of the  god Odin and his wife Frigg and the site of his fortress – Valhalla. What has since come to be known as the Slavic Vedasshare a similar script to Sanskrit, similar scriptures to the Vedas, and similar sagas to the Eddas – describing a migration south from the Arctic as climatic conditions changed from temperate to glacial.  The singular of aesir is ás related  to the  Sanskrit word asura – referring to the ‘anti-gods’ opposed to but inseparable from their half-brothers, the celestial sura – known in Sanskrit as devasor ‘shining ones’ (from the root *diw meaning “to shine”).

What united all the centres of this proto-Indo-European or Eurasian civilisation was both the ‘pillar’ connecting Sky (ARKA) and Earth (IM)  - also one important meaning of the Shivalingam – and theswastika/svastika symbol  found in so many ancient cultures. This is now understood not as a solar or sun symbol alone but as representing a spiralling or spinning galaxy. In this context it is interesting to note that the Slavic svastika symbol, called kolovrat means ‘spinning wheel’ – just as the Sanskrit chakra also means a ‘wheel’ which turns or spins.   

Neither svastika nor kolovrat essentially symbolise the sun however. For ancient Eurasian religious cultures worshipped the pole star rather than the sun – that star, close to the constellation of the bear (URSA) which lights up the darkness of the night sky and points us North i.e.  towards the planet Nibiru from which the Sumerian ruler-priests were thought to have come, toward the pole star – and toward the giant ‘black hole’ or ‘black sun’ at the very centre of our galaxy around which both the earth and the entire solar system turns or ‘spins’.  All the different geographical centres of the Eurasian civilisation however were seeded and guided long ago in the past by the advanced knowledge of their extra-terrestrial ruler priests or Urs. Conversely however, the rebirth in Russia of a future Eurasian culture and civilisation - one that will replace the currently dominant global capitalist culture of the U.S.A. - was anticipated by the German theosophist Rudolf Steiner. One of the chief current advocates of spiritual-political Eurasianism in Russia is Aleksandr Dugin – erstwhile organiser of the now-banned National Bolshevik Party and National Bolshevik Front in Russia, and founder of the Eurasia Party – now called Eurasia Movement and now leader of the International Eurasian Movement. 

“In principle, Eurasia and our space, the heartland Russia, remain the staging area of a new anti-bourgeois, anti-American revolution …The new Eurasian empire will be constructed on the fundamental principle of the common enemy: the rejection of Atlanticism, strategic control of the USA, and the refusal to allow liberal values to dominate us. This common civilizational impulse will be the basis of a political and strategic union.” Dugin —The Basics of Geopolitics (1997)  
 

2. The Metaphysics of Light and Darkness

As early as 1903, Lokamanya Bâl Gangâdhar Tilak (then proprietor of the Kesari and the Mahrattanewspapers, author of the Orion or Researches into the Antiquity of the Vedas) wrote a book presenting evidence of clear reference to an ‘Arctic Homeland’ in the Sanskrit Vedas and Zoroastrian Avestas.  This in turn formed the basis of a work by J.G. Bennett (metaphysical interpreter of the ‘4th Way’ spiritual movement of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky) entitled ‘The Hyperborean Origin of Indo-European Culture’.  A key argument that Tilak offers are numerous temporal indications in the Vedas of a ‘year’ in which, as is the case above the Arctic circle, the sun rises only once – making it the equivalent of a ‘day’. Nordic-Arctic countries in general are influenced culturally and psychologically by long periods of sunless winter darkness, interspersed with only brief summers in which the sun shines through the night.

This brings us to the central metaphysical theme of this essay – namely that there is no more profound and powerful counterpart  and complement  to both the Vedas, Upanishads  and Kashmir Shaivism itself than Slavic-Russian Mysticism and its relation to Nordic-Arctic climate and culture.

For whereas Kashmir Shaivism places special emphasis on the ‘light’ of awareness, Russian mysticism and even the Russian Orthodox Church has always emphasised the ‘darkness’, ‘dark light’ or ‘luminous darkness’, as expressed in the blackness of the night sky and long winters, rather than the blue sky of summer. Inward depth and darkness of soul go together, just as outward expansiveness of soul goes together with light.

“The divine darkness is not the kind of blackness we experience stumbling into an underground room with no lights. This darkness is a positive reality that helps us to discover God, and hence is called “luminous.” Although it sounds like a contradiction in terms, a luminous darkness is one filled with God’s presence, and by faith, the soul can begin to perceive God in darkness. In fact, the closer that God comes to the soul, the more intense the darkness becomes; it is then that all other things of this world are cleared away. The soul looks up to the Lord and never ceases to desire him.”

St. Gregory of Nyssa

If, as in Kashmir Shaivism, we understand God (Shiva) as ultimately identical with awareness as such or ‘pure awareness’ – and awareness as the ultimate sole reality (what I call The Awareness Principle) then we must also recognise that awareness itself is first and foremost an awareness of the ‘dark’ realm of ‘non-being’ constituted by infinite potentials of awareness – infinite potential consciousnesses or ‘beings’.  It is the very awareness of these potentials that ultimate leads to their actualisation and birth – like the birth of stars in the darkness of the cosmos.

Similarly, The Awareness Principle understands the key Kashmiri Shaivist term Spanda as a primordial tension (German ‘Spannung’) that literally spans the dark realm of potentiality (symbolised by the blackness of Ma Kali) and the light of awareness by which alone all things actual – including the sun and stars – become visible.  Spanda can be compared to a stretched string or ‘monochord’ strung between the twin poles of dark potentiality and illuminated actuality. The chord not only has a fundamental tone – the OM sound or Omkara, but also countless harmonics – each a unique tonal quality or ‘colouration’ of awareness. The Awareness Principle also recognises the universe as amultiverse – a multitude of parallel space-time universes all of which open up like bubbles of space and light within the darkness of a wholly non-extensional ‘space’ of potentiality. For just as light and ordinary ‘extensional space’ are inseparable, so also are ‘intensional’ space and darkness. Within any space-time universe light is what rays out from a centre towards a cosmic circumference, like light raying out from stars in the night sky. Darkness or ‘dark light’ on the other hand, is ‘light’ raying in from that cosmic circumference we behold as the blackness of the night sky itself and its ‘luminous darkness’ – illuminated at all times by the pole star.

According to the colour theory of both Goethe and Steiner, redness is light beheld through darkness. Blueness, on the other hand is darkness behold through light. Hence the two colour poles of the spectrum of darkness and light are red and blue. As the blue-throated one, Shiva has come to be associated with blue.  Yet as we know, one of the principal Vedic gods associated with Shiva isRudra – which is cognate with words such as ruddy or reddish. Similarly the syllable ‘rus’ in Russia is a proto-Slavic word for both bear and ‘reddish-haired’, cognate with ursus or ursa – the constellation of the Bear whose name combines the words ‘ur’ and ‘rus’.  Furthermore, the Slavic ‘s’  in ‘rus’ corresponds to the ‘d’ in the name Rudra itself, which also means ‘to howl’ – like a bear or wolf. Indeed, the Sanskrit ‘Shiva’ may itself be a loan word from the Tamil-Dravidian civa – meaning ‘red’ or ‘angry’. Blue and red have become of course powerful colour symbols in politics. Communists or those on the political left are ‘reds’. Conservatives or those on the political right on the other hand, are signified by the colour blue. Interestingly, since the collapse of the Soviet Union the flag of the Russian Federation is no longer purely red but red, white (the colour of the anti-Bolshevik ‘White Russians’) and… blue.  But let us return to Levashov:

“At the end of the 20th century, people got access to the Slavoniс-Aryan Vedas, which contained a lot of very interesting information that was vainly ignored by modern science. These unique manuscripts translated into modern Russian reveal that last glacial age was a consequence of the war between the Great Russenia and Antlania[5] (Atlantis). This war happened more than 13,000 years ago. Then people moved large distances of planetary scale by means of Vaitmans  [Sanskrit Vimanas]. So, those mysterious rhombic platforms on the three-dimensional map of Western Siberia are nothing else but landing grounds for Vaitmars. The last Vaitmars [travelers in the Vaitmans] left our planet Midgard-Earth about 3500 years ago when the Night of Svarog[6] began.

There is another interesting document – the Book of Veles. The last records in it were made by volkvs of Novgorod at the end of the 10th century. This book covers more than 20,000 years of Slavic history.

To learn something useful is always welcome, but did it happen like this in reality? Let us remember, that in the middle of the 11th century (according to the Christian calendar) a daughter of Jaroslav Mudry, princess Anna became the French queen. Arriving from the «wild» Kievan Rus, the princess did not consider that arrival as entering into civilized Europe but considered Paris a big village. This has documentary acknowledgement in the form of her letters.  She brought with her to the remotest depth of the provinces, which France was then, a part of the library, some books from which returned to Russia only in the 19th century and were found in the library of Mr. Sulakadzaev. It was he who made the first translation into modern Russian of the Book of Veles, which was composed of wooden plates with runic letters on them. After Sulakadzaev’s death his widow sold the greater part of his library to the Romanovs, and after that nobody heard anything about these books. The most interesting fact is that after the appearance of these copies, all originals without exception have disappeared – they either were burned down in bonfires of the inquisition, having been declared as heretical books, or were lost in ‘accidental’ fires and epidemics ‘affecting’ all ancient libraries.The libraries of Alexandria, Athens, and Tzargrad (Constantinopol), along with the Etruscan library in Rome, were burned down almost simultaneously. The libraries of Yaroslav I the Wise (978-1054) and Ivan IV the Terrible (1530-1584) disappeared without a trace. All originals were burned or disappeared, while the copies made from them so «opportunely» have been kept and cherished. Old books were destroyed; new ones were written. They were adjusted so that in new ‘history’ there was no any mention about the Slavonic-Aryan Empire. The period of history before the 10th century in Europe was declared as dark, barbarous centuries, which were illuminated by the light of education brought with the culture of the Sacred Roman Empire.”

Note firstly that the 10th century marked both the apotheosis and the beginning of the decline of Kashmir Shaivism. Note also that the very term ‘dark ages’ places a negative connotation on darkness. Then again, the Bible itself  (Genesis 1) admits that ‘darkness was over the surface of the deep’ even before God said ‘Let there be light’ and supposedly created heaven and earth.  Still today, however, inner knowing or gnosis is associated almost exclusively with ‘illumination’ or ‘en-lightenment’. This is paradoxical given that modern scientific and atheistic ‘rationalism’ had its source origin in the European ‘Age of Enlightenment’.  Yet the modern scientific mode of ‘rationality’ it gave rise to however, is now confronted with an ‘occult’ mystery that threatens to undermine its entire theoretical framework – the mystery of what physicists and cosmologists term ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ – whose nature is completely unknown but which is nevertheless acknowledged to make up 90% of the mass and two thirds of the ‘mass-energy’ of the universe. Levashov:

“…the last record in the Book of Veles and christening of Kievan Rus falls on the same time – the end of the 10th century according to contemporary chronology … What are these Days and Nights of Svarog? These words are mentioned in the Slavonic-Aryan Vedas quite often. It is time to understand what these concepts mean. There are several types of star accumulations in our Universe, such as spiral and spherical galaxies, star nebulas, etc. Our Sun is located in one of four sleeves of our spiral galaxy, in the «backyards» of this sleeve. Every spiral galaxy rotates around its nucleus while traveling on the star roads of our Universe. Seven primary matters form our Universe. The so-called, physically solid matter, which everybody is used to see as galaxies, nebulas, stars, planets, etc., appeared as a result of the merging of these primary matters in the areas of space, where necessary terms for this merging were observed. As proved by ‘scientists’,’physically’ solid matter makes only 10% of the whole matter of the Universe, and the rest (90%) is so-called ‘dark matter’. However, they do not specify what this “dark matter,” which can not be registered by any known modern scientific tool, is; we will forgive them this ‘insignificant misunderstanding’ and will move on to business.”

The galactic ‘nucleus’ that Levashov refers to is recognised to be a huge ‘black hole’ – itself a portal linking our universe to other universes in the ‘honeycomb’ plurality of multiple universes or ‘multiverse’. The types of ‘primary matter’ that Levashov refers to are what is now ‘scientifically’ termed ‘dark matter’. He refers also to the ‘psi-generators’ used in early civilisations, and those which he himself employs as medium of both healing and natural growth and regeneration. These he sees as “made of dark matter” and therefore essentially neither detectable by or requiring any technical or physical instrumentation, except as outward symbols for the subjective manipulation of the dark matter in its different forms.

The Awareness Principle understand the forms of ‘dark matter’ that Levashov refers to as specific potentialities and qualities of awareness - and their dark power or ‘energy’ as the capacity or power (Shakti) for the actualisation of these potentials – itself released by interaction with the invisible lightof awareness (Paramashiva). On the physical plane, this interaction plays itself out as an interaction between solar and earthly magnetism – what we call ‘magnetism’  being itself a bipolar spatial flow pattern of the all-pervasive ‘aether’ of pure awareness known in Sanskrit as Akash.

In modern translations the tantric term Shakti is almost invariably translated as ‘energy’. A closer translation would be ‘power’ or ‘power of action’ (Shak). Indeed this translation of Shakti accords with the root meaning of the term ‘energy’ itself – not as some ‘thing in itself’ but as pure action – the actualisation of those powers or potentialities of action latent in space itself as the ‘aether’ of pure awareness. What I call ‘The Awareness Principle’ is the metaphysical understanding that awareness is ultimate reality – that ultimately ‘awareness is everything’ and ‘everything is awareness’. The Awareness Principle stands in direct contrast to ‘The Energy Principle’ shared by modern science and ‘New Age’ pseudo-science alike – namely the principle that ‘energy is everything’ and ‘everything is energy’. As a ‘Theory Of Everything’ (TOE) ‘The Energy Principle’ is a highly questionable one, resting as it does on an unquestioned notion of energy as some ‘thing in itself’, a notion that is at the same time a distortion of its root meaning as that ‘formative action’ (energein) through which all forms are actualised in awareness. Pure awareness then, like the seeming emptiness of space itself, is no mere formless void but a plenum of formative potentials.  ‘Energy’ in the root sense is the actualisation of these potentials – the emergence of form from the apparent formlessness of space.

The Sanskrit term akash is translated both as ‘space’ and ‘aether’, sometimes spelled ‘ether’. It is understood in Indian thought as pervaded by countless basic units or “animations of consciousness” (Seth) which constitute the very ‘air’ or ‘breath’ of awareness called Prana – and the quintessence of air as such. The Sanskrit term prana is etymologically cognate with the Latin-derived terms ‘spirit’ and ‘spiral’ (from spirare – ‘to breathe’). It is also cognate with the root meanings of the Greek words for ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ – pneuma (meaning air or wind) and ‘psyche’ (‘vital breath’). To be ‘spiritual’ in the root sense of this word therefore, is to be capable, quite literally, of a wholly different type of re-spiration or breathing – a type of whole body ‘transpiration’ of the clear, luminous expansiveness of the space around us – not through our lungs alone but through every pore of our felt body surface. It is the long-lost experience of breathing the clear, luminous ‘air’ or ‘aether’ of awareness itself that lies concealed behind both the otherwise wholly vague Western notion of ‘spirit’, as well as different classical and modern-scientific notions of a cosmic ‘aether’. Its secret is that invisible breath or ‘air’ of awareness (Prana) that pervades the entirety of space (Akash), both the space around us and the space which pervades and makes up by far the largest proportion of each and every atom of ‘matter’. This space vibrates with spanda – the fundamental tensing spanning the realm of the potential and the actual, together with the vibration of the actual within the potential and of the potential within the actual. Spanda is also what resounds with the inner sound ‘OM’. Hence also the association in Indian thought of the Akash with the element of sound or vibration. The double meaning of the Sanskrit Akash as both ‘space’ and ‘aether’ goes together with the Greek meaning of the word aether itself – as that ‘upper’, less gaseous, purer and thus morespacious air of the sort we breathe at Himalayan mountain summits – or in Nothern polar regions such as the Arctic.  For aether was the ‘higher air’ breathed by the gods themselves in their uppermost abode – whether we call this Olympus, Hyperborea, Thule or Asgard.

Dark Forces?

“I’m not the Devil. I’m much, much older. I watched the beginning and I will see the end. I am the dark behind all the stars. I am the dark inside you all.”

…from the screenplay of the film ‘Event Horizon’

The Greek word Khaos refers to a gaping dark void or chasm. It is cognate with Sanskrit Kha andAkash – referring to space itself, understood as the womb of all things – including the gods. In contrast, the Sanskrit kala means ‘time’ As such it is connected with the name of the great black Indian mother goddess Kali (kal – black / kala – time). Metaphysically, she can be understood as both, the ultimate temporal circumference or ‘event horizon’ of this spatial womb (kala – time) and as an ultimate ‘black hole’ or ‘singularity’ at its heart. Put in other terms, the realm of pure potentiality symbolised by Kali is a realm of unbounded inwardness – an inwardness that cannot be perceived by looking out from some localised centre of consciousness in space, but only by looking inwards from an infinite periphery, circumference or ‘horizon’ of awareness.

If the actual physical universe is a realm of spatial and material extensionality, then the primordial realm of potentiality is a non-extensional realm – a realm of pure intensionality. As such, it is made up not of extensional material bodies in space-time but of pure intensities of awareness in an unbounded ‘time-space’. The massive density of intensities that constitute this realm of unbounded inwardness – deified as Kali – find manifestation only through gravitational densities of matter so great, that they have collapsed themselves into ‘black holes’ with a so-called ‘singularity’ at their core. In physical-scientific terms, a black hole is ‘black’ because at its ‘event horizon’ the gravitational pull of the ‘singularity’ is so great as to bend space itself around itself – allowing no light-information to escape  – only sound in the form of a fundamental tone (the primordial sound of silence known as the Omkara or ‘OM’ sound).

From a metaphysical perspective however, the apparent outer surface of every visible body in space is also an event horizon. For like the visible outer surface of the human body, every ‘physical’ body conceals an unbounded and invisible psychical interiority along with invisible psychical ‘events’. These can never be perceived from without, no matter to what degree the physical interiority of the body is opened up and physiologically examined. For, what we perceive as fleshly bodies, cells and organs too are but outer surface appearances or ‘event horizons’ concealing an invisible psychicalinteriority and invisible psychical events.

When the crew on board the fictional movie spaceship  called ‘Event Horizon’ start ‘hallucinating’ terrifying images of bodies invisible to others (and later perceive each other’s bodies in horrific form) is this because they have entered ‘hell’ in the Christian sense or because, under the influence of the ship’s black hole, they have also unconsciously penetrated the event horizon of their own and each other’s bodies – perceiving events and images within their otherwise invisible psychical interiority in outward bodily form? The root meaning of ‘hallucinate’ is ‘to wander’. The crew’s ‘hallucinations’ are an expression of their wandering into and within the realm of ultimate inwardness associated with the primordial “agony” of creation as described in ‘The SETH Material’ by Jane Roberts – in which what Seth calls ‘All That Is’ (in essence the ultimate and universal awareness) sought a way to release all the potential consciousnesses embraced but still contained in His nebulous, dreamlike awareness into that state of autonomous actuality or being into which they “clamoured to be released”.   

In reality then, every outwardly perceived body is an Event Horizon. And at the core of all material bodies is a ‘black hole’ or “Singularity of Awareness”. This singularity at the core of all material bodies is both a central point (Sanskrit Bindu) and a central tone linking that unit of extensional matter to all other bodies through that dark, intensional realm of unbounded inwardness and inexhaustible potentiality that “flows through and forms all matter”.

This flow is that of the higher air or aether of awareness itself in its twin but inseparable aspects of light and darkness. Darkness is the in-flow of an invisible and wholly translucent ‘light’ of awareness from the cosmic circumference towards a centre just as light is the outward radiance of that invisible light of awareness from a centre. If we learn to sense the entirety of ‘empty’ cosmic space above and surrounding the entire surface of our heads and upper bodies, we can come to to experience ourselves breathing in its innate aetheric vitality of that invisible light and feel its countless centres – each of which have the character of miniature, light-emitting ‘white holes’ – revitalising the inner spaces within every atom, cell and molecule of our body.

If, on the other hand, we sense our lower bodies and let awareness flow inwards from our abdominal surface towards the singularity of awareness at its centre – or a few inches below and behind our navel – we will experience that inner space of our abdomen or hara (Japanese) as filled with inner darkness or blackness. Each out-breath can then be experienced as both an inward and downward flow of a ‘dark light’ of awareness – one that not only rays inwards from the abdomen or toward itshara centre or tanden but also flows downwards from our lower body and abdominal centre to yet lower centres. This dark inward and downward flow of awareness ultimately reaches and roots down below the very ground beneath our feet and  towards the fiery core of the earth itself. Here we contact the ‘dark force’ known in occult literature as Vril or Kundalini – the fire of awareness that then rises from that molten and fiery core – whose spinning is known to be responsible for the earth’s magnetic field.

The felt surface of our bodies then, both unites and distinguishes two spaces or fields of awareness – one extending outward and upward to a heavenly cosmic circumference, the other downward and inward towards a bodily and earthly centre or ‘singularity’ of awareness. The relationship between these two different flows of awareness is essentially a relation between the invisible space or light of awareness in its dual character – as both light and darkness. It also finds expression as the relation between polar or axial magnetism on the one hand and ‘spherical’ magnetism or ‘magnetospheres’ on the other. Thus, like the earth itself, the body has both axial magnetic poles (North and South)  and a ‘magnetosphere’ – the outer surface or ‘event horizon’ surrounding the black hole at its gravitational centre and the fiery core into which it can lead – demonised as the ‘underworld’ or ‘hell’ in both religious mythology and science fiction. The word ‘hell’ however derives from the German Halle (hall) and the verb hallen – to echo or resound, as the  Omkara does from within the event horizon of a black hole.  Polar axial and vertical dimensions of light and darkness, space and gravity, electricity and magnetism are all expressions of axial and vertical flows of awareness – corresponding to the Shivalingam and the vertical axis of kundalini within our body of awareness.  On the other hand, spherical dimensions of light and darkness, space and gravity, electricity and magnetism – all express spherical boundaries, spaces and centres of awareness.

Beyond space, time and ‘space-time’

Time too has a spatial dimension – including a spherical one and not just a linear one. Like a sphere, time (Seth) has an outside and an inside. Behind and beyond ‘space’ ‘time’ and ‘space-time’ as physicists conceive it is a “spacious present” (Seth).  This is ‘space-time’ understood and experienced as a spherical time-space of awareness embracing and yet ‘outside’ all ‘space-time’ universes and embracing also all actual and potential pasts and futures – both of the cosmos and of human civilisation. The interweaving of the actual and potential in the realm of dreams and mythical possibilities – like the interweaving of dreams and mythologies that opens up new possibilities for humankind – are themselves nothing mythical but the ‘dreamtime’ and very loom or tantra of time-space. It finds expression today in the mythological history, credible actuality and futural possibility of the civilisation called ‘Eurasia’ – with both its multiple geographical centres and its single axial pole – pointing to the pole star and to the ‘black hole’ at the centre of our spinning galaxy or kolovrat.

Dream-Land

By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named Night,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule –
From a wild weird clime, that lieth, sublime,

Out of Space – out of Time.

Edgar Allen Poe 1844

3. Personal Postscript

I might not have come to write this piece were it not for the fact that, lying down on my mother’s sofa one afternoon in the late seventies or early eighties – and despite being wholly ignorant of what was then the still-undiscovered ARKAIM site -  I entered a hypnagogic state in which I experienced the strong but invisible presence of Rudolf and Marie Steiner beside me. Accompanying this, I had a most vivid and lucid dream of an isolated citadel of the future – from within which I found myself peering out at a vast steppe land, one which I knew from the Steiners to be somewhere in Russia – and the centre of a future civilization.

Links:

ARKAIM – ancient Russian city

Michael Kosok  The Singularity of Awareness

Peter Wilberg  THE AWARENESS PRINCIPLE

Peter Wilberg TANTRA REBORN – ON THE SENSUALITY AND SEXUALITY OF THE SOUL BODY

P.Wilberg  EVENT HORIZON – TERROR, TANTRA AND THE ULTIMATE METAPHYSICS OF AWARENESS

J. G. Bennett – THE HYPERBOREAN ORIGIN OF THE INDO-EUROPEAN CULTURE

Lokamanya Bâl Gangâdhar Tilak – THE ARCTIC HOME IN THE VEDAS

Levashov – THE UNTOLD HISTORY OF RUSSIA

INTERNATIONAL EURASIAN MOVEMENT

THE NATIONAL PEOPLES PARTY U.K.

INTERVIEW WITH ALEKSANDR DUGIN SaveFrom.net

EVENT HORIZON – the film

THE BOOK OF VELES


[1]A Volkhv is a cleric, the Supreme priest, and a keeper of ancient sacred texts.

[2] Da’Aryan and h’Aryan characters (letters) are two of four kinds of writing of the Great Race: da’Aryan Trags, h’Aryan Runes, Sviatorussians Images (bukvitca, runica, cherty and rezy) and Russenian Molvitca.

[3] Perun was the god-patron of all soldiers, the defender of the land and the clan of SviatoRuses (Russians, Byelorussians, Asts, Lits, Lats,  Latgalls, Zemgalls, Polans, Serbs, etc.)

[4] Venedas were inhabitants of the Great Venea where Clans and tribes of Venedas migrated. It corresponds to the territory of modern Western Europe.

[5] Antlania was an island in the Atlantic Ocean where Slavonic clan of Ants was lodged. Then their land began to be called as Ant-lan, i. e., the Land of Ants. Ancient Greeks named it Atlantis and its inhabitants – atlantes (modern Ukrainians; U-krai-ne means in Russian outskirts («krai») of the Land of Holy Race).

[6] The Night of Svarog, according to Slavonic tradition, is the name of a dark difficult time when our solar system passes through spaces of the Dark Worlds; or Kali-Uga in Aryan or Indian tradition.

vendredi, 23 novembre 2012

Inner Revolutions and Kindred Souls

 

Inner Revolutions and Kindred Souls:
A Review of Indo-Europe Rising and Atoms of Kshatriyas

by Gwendolyn Taunton

Ex: http://shunyarevolution.wordpress.com/

“Of all that is written, I love only what a person hath written with his blood. Write with blood, and thou wilt find that blood is spirit.” — Nietzsche

Azsacra Zarathustra’s work always makes for an interesting read, and his latest books (Indo-Europe Rising and Atoms of Kshatriyas are no exception. Since these books are related in terms of content, I will review them both together in this article). In these texts Azsacra Zarathustra continues to expand on the themes developed in earlier works and a number of concepts presented in these titles are covered extensively and explained in earlier books. As such, I would to stress here that Zarathustra’s work can be intellectually challenging for beginners and people whom are not well versed in traditional metaphysics and philosophy. Therefore it is essential for readers to familiarise themselves with his earlier works in order to understand his writing in the full context. Azasacra Zarathustra: Creator of ShunyaRevoution and Absolute Revolutionis recommended as an introductory text for those who are unfamiliar with the concepts introduced by Zarathustra. For those who are already loyal readers, no such introduction is required and they will thoroughly enjoy immersing themselves in the pages of his latest writing.That being said, like Nietzsche whom I quoted above, I have no time for the idle readers — and it is the readers who appreciate different ideas and perspectives who will experience the greatest rewards from Zarathustra’s books. Here, at last we see some new ideas emerging in Traditionalism — rather than reciting Traditionalists, Zarathustra develops of some of their ideas — and challenges them when need be. In this regard, Zarathustra’s latest book Indo-Europe Uprising is unapologetically addressed to the Hindu and European Traditions (which are linked by linguistic and religious heritage).

It is from this perspective that they need to be understood — the revolution and uprising of which he writes is one rooted in tradition and spirituality, and is not politically motivated. It is a revolution that is rooted deep in the roots of the psyche of India and Europe, and like all good books it speaks not to the head but direct to the heart and to the blood. The Absolute Revolution is an interior one, not an exterior revolution — thus like Krishna’s instructions to Arjuna, it is a spiritual process. This instruction to the Ksatriya is echoed in Zarathustra’s works, who like Evola adopts the perspective that the Ksatriya caste has its own set of spiritual teachings which differs from that of the religious code of the Brahmins. This is readily supported by the Upanisads, to which Ksatriya authorship is attributed, and even to the Buddha who was born into the Ksatriya caste. It is to those people who identify with the Ksatriya role (for caste is not determined by birth in his works, but by temperament and natural inclination) that Zarathustra addresses his works and expounds the theory of the Shunya Revolution; an interior and psychological process weaving together thoughts from Hinduism, Buddhism and Nietzsche — all of which Zarathustra does not merely cite, but actively develops upon, adding new teachings to the old ones to develop a new level.

What is of special interest in Zarathustra’s latest book, is that it offers a new model of Tradition which places emphasis on the ties between Europe and India, in contrast to the older Traditionalist model which favours the Abrahamic Traditions of Christianity and Islam. In terms of the history of religion, this perspective is academically correct as Vedic India and the old gods of Europe come from the same religious family, the Indo-European genus of religion. Christianity, Islam (and also Judaism) originate instead from Abraham, and form a triad which scholars refer to as the Abrahamic Tradition. The remaining Traditions fall under the rubric of Taoic, Dharmic (Hindu), Pagan (European) and Shamanic. Recent developments in the studies of religion such as the reconstruction of the Proto Indo European language and consequential dialect shifts suggest that the Dharmic Traditions and the Pagan Traditions stem from a common heritage in the pre-Vedic era, thus indicating that they are in fact related, and therefore the association of India with Europe is a genuine one which is easily backed up by historical facts.  The bond between the Hindu Tradition and the European Tradition is therefore a natural one which is rooted deep in the past where it has existed since the dawn of history. The Indo-Europe Uprising of which Zarathustra writes is one which unites both Hinduism and the indigenous spiritual traditions of Europe at the core of this ancestry, and therefore it is a  shared kinship between two cultures. This is the new element of Traditionalism which speaks to the Hindu and Pagan audiences, who have previously been under represented in Traditionalism and have previously occupied only a secondary role to that of the Abrahamic Traditions. Also of interest here is that Zarathustra correctly identifies Tibet as having a religious connection with Hinduism and it is included as part of the theory — thus forming a religious triad of its own as part of the Indo-European Tradition: Hinduism, the European Traditions, and Buddhism.

Into this vision of a shared ancestral past is woven an intricate dialogue of Ksatriya mysticism, the metaphysical state of emptiness and the detachment from the karma-phalam advocated by Krishna. These Hindu and Buddhism thoughts are then coupled with the ideas of Europe’s greatest thinker and philosopher, Freidrich Nietzsche to create a perspective which is not only unique and original, but also profoundly Indo-European in this combination. Much of Nietzsche’s thought expresses an admiration for the Vedic past, and he too advocated the warrior temperament above that of the priest, for he saw it as a more vital mode of life and being, rather than the mode of renunciation which represents a withdrawal from life rather than engaging and conflicting with it head on. It is obvious that Zarathustra is highly influenced by Nietzsche, but he does not merely cite Nietzsche’s works — rather he develops on them by adding layers of mysticism and spiritual development drawn from the esoteric doctrines of India and Tibet, to develop a new teaching for those who identify themselves as Kstariya, in order to fight the great internal war and overcome the flawed human nature which separates them from the numinous essence of the divine which is the great spiritual uprising and the esoteric doctrine of the Absolute Revolution and the forms the Atoms of Ksatriyas.

Gwendolyn Taunton was the recipient of the Ashton Wylie Award for Literary Excellence in 2009 for her work with Primordial Traditions and is a well-known author on Hinduism and Heathen/Pagan Traditions:  Her most recent work is ‘Mimir — Journal of North European Traditions’:

http://numenbooks.com.au/books/spirituality_books/mimir_-_journal_of_north_european_traditions.aspx

dimanche, 20 novembre 2011

India's only communalist A short biography of Sita Ram Goel

India's only communalist
A short biography of Sita Ram Goel

Ex; http://koenraadelst.voiceofdharma.com/

Koenraad Elst

1. Is there a communalist in the hall ?

A lot of people in India and abroad talk about communalism, often in grave tones, describing it as a threat to secularism, to regional and world peace. But can anyone show us a communalist? If we look more closely into the case of any so-called communalist, we find that he turns out to be something else.

sitaramgoel.jpgCould Syed Shahabuddin be a communalist? After all, he played a key role in the three main "Muslim communalist" issues of recent years: the Babri Masjid campaign, the Shah Bano case and the Salman Rushdie affair (it is he who got The Satanic Verses banned in September 1988). Surely, he must be India's communalist par excellence? Wrong: if you read any page of any issue of Shahabuddin's monthly Muslim India, you will find that he brandishes the notion of "secularism" as the alpha and omega of his politics, and that he directs all his attacks against Hindu "communalism". The same propensity is evident in the whole Muslim "communalist" press, e.g. the Jamaat-i Islami weekly Radiance. Moreover, on Muslim India's editorial board, you find articulate secularists like Inder Kumar Gujral, Khushwant Singh and the late P.N. Haksar.

For the same reason, any attempt to label the All-India Muslim League as communalist would be wrong. True, it is the continuation of the party which achieved the Partition of India along communal lines. Yet, emphatically secularist parties like the Congress Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have never hesitated to include the Muslim League in coalitions governing the state of Kerala. No true communalist would get such a chance.

On the Hindu side then, at least the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, "National Volunteer Corps") could qualify as "communalist"? Certainly, it is called just that by all its numerous enemies. But then, when you look through any issue of its weekly Organiser, you will find it brandishing the notion of "positive" or "genuine secularism", and denouncing "pseudo-secularism", i.e. minority communalism. Moreover, in order to prove its non-communal character, it even calls itself and its affiliated organizations (trade-union, student organization, political party etc.) "National" or "Indian" rather than "Hindu". The allied political party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, "Indian People's Party"), shows off the large number of Muslims among its cadres to prove how secular and non-communal it is. Even the Shiv Sena shows off its token Muslims. No, for full-blooded communalists, we have to look elsewhere.

There is only one man in India whom I have ever known to say: "I am a (Hindu) communalist." To an extent, this is in jest, as a rhetorical device to avoid the tangle in which RSS people always get trapped: being called "communalist!" and then spending the rest of your time trying to prove to your hecklers what a good secularist you are. But to an extent, it is because he accepts at least one definition of "communalism" as applying to himself, esp. to his view of India's history since the 7th century. Many historians try to prove their "secularism" by minimizing religious adherence as a factor of conflict in Indian history, and explaining so-called religious conflicts as merely a camouflage for socio-economic conflicts. By contrast, the historian under consideration accepts, and claims to have thoroughly documented, the allegedly "communalist" view that the major developments in medieval and modern Indian history can only be understood as resulting from an intrinsic hostility between religions.

Unlike the Hindutva politicians, he does not seek the cover of "genuine secularism". While accepting the notion that Hindu India has always been "secular" in the adapted Indian sense of "religiously pluralistic", he does not care for slogans like the Vishva Hindu Parishad's advertisement "Hindu India, secular India". After all, in Nehruvian India the term "secular" has by now acquired a specific meaning far removed from the original European usage, and even from the above-mentioned Indian adaptation. If Voltaire, the secularist par excellence, were to live in India today and repeat his attacks on the Church, echoing the Hindutva activists in denouncing the Churches' grip on public life in christianized pockets like Mizoram and Nagaland, he would most certainly be denounced as "anti-minority" and hence "anti-secular".

In India, the term has shed its anti-Christian bias and acquired an anti-Hindu bias instead, a phenomenon described by the author under consideration as an example of the current "perversion of India's political parlance". Therefore, he attacks the whole Nehruvian notion of "secularism" head-on, e.g. in the self-explanatory title of his Hindi booklet Saikyularizm: râshtradroha kâ dûsra nâm ("Secularism: the Alternative Name for Treason"). The name of India's only self-avowed communalist is Sita Ram Goel.

2. Sita Ram Goel as an anti-Communist

Sita Ram Goel was born in 1921 in a poor family (though belonging to the merchant Agrawal caste) in Haryana. As a schoolboy, he got acquainted with the traditional Vaishnavism practised by his family, with the Mahabharata and the lore of the Bhakti saints (esp. Garibdas), and with the major trends in contemporary Hinduism, esp. the Arya Samaj and Gandhism. He took an M.A. in History in Delhi University, winning prizes and scholarships along the way. In his school and early university days he was a Gandhian activist, helping a Harijan Ashram in his village and organizing a study circle in Delhi.

8185990239.jpgIn the 1930s and 40s, the Gandhians themselves came in the shadow of the new ideological vogue: socialism. When they started drifting to the Left and adopting socialist rhetoric, S.R. Goel decided to opt for the original rather than the imitation. In 1941 he accepted Marxism as his framework for political analysis. At first, he did not join the Communist Party of India, and had differences with it over such issues as the creation of the religion-based state of Pakistan, which was actively supported by the CPI but could hardly earn the enthusiasm of a progressive and atheist intellectual. He and his wife and first son narrowly escaped with their lives in the Great Calcutta Killing of 16 August 1946, organized by the Muslim League to give more force to the Pakistan demand.

In 1948, just when he had made up his mind to formally join the Communist Party of India, in fact on the very day when he had an appointment at the party office in Calcutta to be registered as a candidate-member, the Government of West Bengal banned the CPI because of its hand in an ongoing armed rebellion. A few months later, Ram Swarup came to stay with him in Calcutta and converted him as well as his employer, Hari Prasad Lohia, out of Communism. Goel's career as a combative and prolific writer on controversial matters of historical fact can only be understood in conjunction with Ram Swarup's sparser, more reflective writings on fundamental doctrinal issues.

Much later, in a speech before the Yogakshema society, Calcutta 1983, he explained his relation with Ram Swarup as follows: "In fact, it would have been in the fitness of things if the speaker today had been Ram Swarup, because whatever I have written and whatever I have to say today really comes from him. He gives me the seed-ideas which sprout into my articles (...) He gives me the framework of my thought. Only the language is mine. The language also would have been much better if it was his own. My language becomes sharp at times; it annoys people. He has a way of saying things in a firm but polite manner, which discipline I have never been able to acquire." (The Emerging National Vision, p.1.)

S.R. Goel's first important publications were written as part of the work of the Society for the Defence of Freedom in Asia:

·        World Conquest in Instalments (1952);

·        The China Debate: Whom Shall We Believe? (1953);

·        Mind Murder in Mao-land (1953);

·        China is Red with Peasants' Blood (1953);

·        Red Brother or Yellow Slave? (1953);

·        Communist Party of China: a Study in Treason (1953);

·        Conquest of China by Mao Tse-tung (1954);

·        Netaji and the CPI (1955);

·        CPI Conspire for Civil War (1955).

Goel also published the book Blowing up India: Reminiscences of a Comintern Agent by Philip Spratt (1955), who, as an English Comintern agent, had founded the Communist Party of India in 1926. After spending some time in prison as a convict in the Meerut Conspiracy case (1929), Spratt had come under the influence of Mahatma Gandhi, and ended as one of the best-informed critics of Communism.

Then, and all through his career as a polemical writer, the most remarkable feature of Sita Ram Goel's position in the Indian intellectual arena was that nobody even tried to give a serious rebuttal to his theses: the only counter-strategy has always been, and still is, "strangling by silence", simply refusing to ever mention his name, publications and arguments.

An aspect of history yet to be studied is how such anti-Communist movements in the Third World were not at all helped (in fact, often opposed) by Western interest groups whose understanding of Communist ideology and strategy was just too superficial. Most US representatives starkly ignored the SDFA's work, and preferred to enjoy the company of more prestigious (implying: fashionably anti-anti-Communist) opinion makers. Goel himself noted in 1961 about his Western anti-Communist contacts like Freda Utley, Suzanne Labin and Raymond Aron, who were routinely dismissed as bores, querulants or CIA agents: Communism was "opposed only by individuals and groups who have done so mostly at the cost of their reputation (...) A history of these heroes and their endless endeavour has still to be written." (Genesis and Growth of Nehruism, p.212)

3. Sita Ram Goel and the RSS

gagon.jpgIn the 1950s, Goel was not active on the "communal" battlefield: not Islam or Christianity but Communism was his priority target. Yet, under Ram Swarup's influence, his struggle against communism became increasingly rooted in Hindu spirituality, the way Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's anti-Communism became rooted in Orthodox Christianity. He also co-operated with (but was never a member of) the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, and he occasionally contributed articles on Communism to the RSS weekly Organiser. In 1957 he contested the Lok Sabha election for the Khajuraho constituency as an independent candidate on a BJS ticket, but lost. He was one of the thirty independents fielded as candidates by Minoo Masani in preparation of the creation of his own (secular, rightist-liberal) Swatantra Party.

In that period, apart from the said topical books in English, Goel wrote and published 18 titles in Hindi: 8 titles of fiction and 1 of poetry written by himself; 3 compilations from the Mahabharata and the Tripitaka; and Hindi translations of these 6 books, mostly of obvious ideological relevance:

·        The God that Failed, a testimony on Communism by Arthur Koestler, André Gide and other prominent ex-Communists;

·        Ram Swarup's Communism and Peasantry;

·        Viktor Kravchenko's I Chose Freedom, another testimony by an ex-Communist;

·        George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

·        Satyakam Sokratez ("Truth-lover Socrates"), the three Dialogues of Plato centred round Socrates' last days (Apology, Crito and Phaedo);

·        Shaktiputra Shivaji, a history of the 17th-century Hindu freedom fighter, originally The Great Rebel by Denis Kincaid.

There is an RSS aspect to this publishing activity. RSS secretary-general Eknath Ranade had asked Goel to educate RSS workers about literature, and to produce some literature in Hindi to this end. The understanding was that the RSS would propagate this literature and organize discussions about it. Once Goel had set up a small publishing outfit and published a few books, he had another meeting with Ranade, who gave him an unpleasant surprise: "Was the RSS created to sell your books?" Fortunately for Goel, his friend Guru Datt Vaidya and son Yogendra Datt included Goel's books in the fund of their own publishing-house, Bharati Sahitya Sadan. This is Goel's own version, and Ranade is not there to defend himself; but Goel's long experience in dealing with the RSS leadership translates into a long list of anecdotes of RSS petty-mindedness, unreliability and lack of proper manners in dealing with fellow-men.

In May 1957, Goel moved to Delhi and got a job with a state-affiliated company, the Indian Cooperative Union, for which he did research and prospection concerning cottage industries. The company also loaned him for a while to the leading Gandhian activist Jayaprakash Narayan, who shared Goel's anti-Communism at least at the superficial level (what used to be called "anti-Stalinism": rejecting the means but not the ends of Communism).

During the Chinese invasion in 1962, some government officials including P.N. Haksar, Nurul Hasan and the later Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, demanded Goel's arrest. But at the same time, the Home Ministry invited him to take a leadership role in the plans for a guerrilla war against the then widely-expected Chinese occupation of eastern India. He made his co-operation conditional on Nehru's abdication as Prime Minister, and nothing ever came of it.

In 1963, Goel had a book published under his own name which he had published in 1961-62 as a series in Organiser under the pen name Ekaki ("solitary"): a critique of Nehru's consistent pro-Communist policies, titled In Defence of Comrade Krishna Menon. An update of this book was published in 1993: Genesis and Growth of Nehruism. The serial in Organiser had been discontinued after 16 installments because Eknath Ranade and A.B. Vajpayee feared that if any harm came to Nehru, the RSS would be accused of having "created the climate", as in the Gandhi murder case.

In it, Goel questioned the current fashion of attributing India's Communist-leaning foreign policy to Defence Minister Krishna Menon, and demonstrated that Nehru himself had been a consistent Communist sympathizer ever since his visit to the Soviet Union in 1927. Nehru had stuck to his Communist sympathies even when the Communists insulted him as Prime Minister with their unbridled scatologism. Nehru was too British and too middle-class to opt for a fully authoritarian socialism, but like many European Leftists he supported just such regimes when it came to foreign policy. Thus, Nehru's absolute refusal to support the Tibetans even at the diplomatic level when they were overrun by the Chinese army ("a Far-Eastern Munich", according to Minoo Masani: Against the Tide, Vikas Publ., Delhi 1981, p.45.), cannot just be attributed to circumstances or the influence of his collaborators: his hand-over of Tibet to Communist China was quite consistent with his own political convictions.

While refuting the common explanation that the pro-Communist bias in Nehru's foreign policy was merely the handiwork of Minister Krishna Menon, Goel also drew attention to the harmfulness of this policy to India's national interests. This critique of Nehru's pro-China policies was eloquently vindicated by the Chinese invasion in October 1962, but it cost Goel his job. He withdrew from the political debate, went into business himself and set up Impex India, a company of book import and export with a modest publishing capacity.

In 1964, RSS general secretary Eknath Ranade invited Goel to lead the prospective Vishva Hindu Parishad, which was founded later that year, but Goel set as his condition that he would be free to speak his own mind rather than act as a mouthpiece of the RSS leadership; the RSS could not accept this, and the matter ended there. Goel's only subsequent involvement in politics was in 1973 when he was asked by the BJS leadership to mediate with the dissenting party leader Balraj Madhok in a last attempt at conciliation (which failed); and when he worked as a member of the think-tank of the Janata alliance before it defeated Indira's Emergency regime in the 1977 elections. As a commercial publisher, he did not seek out the typical "communal" topics, but nonetheless kept an eye on Hindu interests. That is why he published books like Dharampal's The Beautiful Tree (on indigenous education as admiring British surveyors found it in the 19th century, before it was destroyed and replaced with the British or missionary system), Ram Swarup's apology of polytheism The Word as Revelation (1980), K.R. Malkani's The RSS Story (1980) and K.D. Sethna's Karpasa in Prehistoric India (1981; on the chronology of Vedic civilization, implying decisive objections against the Aryan Invasion Theory).

4. Sita Ram Goel as a Hindu Revivalist

hsus.jpgIn 1981 Sita Ram Goel retired from his business, which he handed over to his son and nephew. He started the non-profit publishing house Voice of India with donations from sympathetic businessmen, and accepted Organiser editor K.R. Malkani's offer to contribute some articles again, articles which were later collected into the first Voice of India booklets.

Goel's declared aim is to defend Hinduism by placing before the public correct information about the situation of Hindu culture and society, and about the nature, motives and strategies of its enemies. For, as the title of his book Hindu Society under Siege indicates, Goel claims that Hindu society has been suffering a sustained attack from Islam since the 7th century, from Christianity since the 15th century, this century also from Marxism, and all three have carved out a place for themselves in Indian society from which they besiege Hinduism. The avowed objective of each of these three world-conquering movements, with their massive resources, is diagnosed as the replacement of Hinduism by their own ideology, or in effect: the destruction of Hinduism.

Apart from numerous articles, letters, contributions to other books (e.g. Devendra Swarup, ed.: Politics of Conversion, DRI, Delhi 1986) and translations (e.g. the Hindi version of Taslima Nasrin's Bengali book Lajja, published in instalments in Panchjanya, summer 1994), Goel has contributed the following books to the inter-religious debate:

·        Hindu Society under Siege (1981, revised 1992);

·        Story of Islamic Imperialism in India (1982);

·        How I Became a Hindu (1982, enlarged 1993);

·        Defence of Hindu Society (1983, revised 1987);

·        The Emerging National Vision (1983);

·        History of Heroic Hindu Resistance to Early Muslim Invaders (1984);

·        Perversion of India's Political Parlance (1984);

·        Saikyularizm, Râshtradroha kâ Dûsrâ Nâm (Hindi: "Secularism, another name for treason", 1985);

·        Papacy, Its Doctrine and History (1986);

·        Preface to The Calcutta Quran Petition by Chandmal Chopra (a collection of texts alleging a causal connection between communal violence and the contents of the Quran; 1986, enlarged 1987 and again 1999);

·        Muslim Separatism, Causes and Consequences (1987);

·        Foreword to Catholic Ashrams, Adapting and Adopting Hindu Dharma (a collection of polemical writings on Christian inculturation; 1988, enlarged 1994 with new subtitle: Sannyasins or Swindlers?);

·        History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1989, enlarged 1996);

·        Hindu Temples, What Happened to Them (1990 vol.1; 1991 vol.2, enlarged 1993);

·        Genesis and Growth of Nehruism (1993);

·        Jesus Christ: An Artifice for Agrression (1994);

·        Time for Stock-Taking (1997), a collection of articles critical of the RSS and BJP;

·        Preface to the reprint of Mathilda Joslyn Gage: Woman, Church and State (1997, ca. 1880), an early feminist critique of Christianity;

·        Preface to Vindicated by Time: The Niyogi Committee Report (1998), a reprint of the official report on the missionaries' methods of subversion and conversion (1955).         

Goel's writings are practically boycotted in the media, both by reviewers and by journalists and scholars collecting background information on the communal problem. Though most Hindutva stalwarts have some Voice of India publications on their not-so-full bookshelves, the RSS Parivar refuses to offer its organizational omnipresence as a channel of publicity and distribution. Since most India-watchers have been brought up on the belief that Hindu activism can be identified with the RSS Parivar, they are bound to label Sita Ram Goel (the day they condescend to mentioning him at all, that is) as "an RSS man". It may, therefore, surprise them that the established Hindu organizations have so far shown little interest in his work.

It is not that they would spurn his services: in its Ayodhya campaign, the Vishva Hindu Parishad has routinely referred to a "list of 3000 temples converted into or replaced by mosques", meaning the list of nearly 2000 such cases in Goel, ed.: Hindu Temples, vol.1. Goel also published the VHP argumentation in the government-sponsored scholars' debate of 1990-91 (titled History vs. Casuistry), and he straightened and corrected the BJP's clumsily drafted White Paper on Ayodhya. But organizationally, the Parivar is not using its networks to spread Ram Swarup's and Sita Ram Goel's books and ideas. Twice (1962 and 1982) the RSS intervened with the editor of Organiser to have ongoing serials of articles (on Nehru c.q. on Islam) by Goel halted; the second time, the editor himself, the long-serving arch-moderate K.R. Malkani, was sacked along with Goel. And ideologically, it has always turned a deaf ear to their analysis of the problems facing Hindu society.

Most Hindu leaders expressly refuse to search Islamic doctrine for a reason for the observed fact of Muslim hostility. RSS leader Guru Golwalkar once said: "Islam is a great religion. Mohammed was a great prophet. But the Muslims are big fools." (Delhi ca. 1958) This is not logical, for the one thing that unites the (otherwise diverse) community of Muslims, is their common belief in Mohammed and the Quran: if any wrong is attributed to "the Muslims" as such, it must be situated in their common belief system. Therefore, Goel's position is just the opposite: not the Muslims are the problem, but Islam and Mohammed.

In the Ayodhya dispute, time and again the BJP leaders have appealed to the Muslims to relinquish all claims to the supposed birthplace of the Hindu god Rama, arguing that destroying temples is against the tenets of Islam, and that the Quran prohibits the use of a mosque built on disputed land. In fact, whatever Islam decrees against building mosques on disputed property, can only concern disputes within the Muslim community (or its temporary allies under a treaty). Goel has demonstrated in detail that it is perfectly in conformity with Islamic law, and established as legitimate by the Prophet through his own example, to destroy Pagan establishments and replace them with (or turn them into) mosques. For an excellent example, the Kaaba itself was turned into a mosque by Mohammed when he smashed the 360 Pagan idols that used to be worshipped in it.

Therefore, S.R. Goel is rather critical of the Ayodhya movement. In the foreword to Hindu Temples, vol.2, he writes: "The movement for the restoration of Hindu temples has got bogged down around the Rama Janmabhoomi at Ayodhya. The more important question, viz. why Hindu temples met the fate they did at the hands of Islamic invaders, has not been even whispered. Hindu leaders have endorsed the Muslim propagandists in proclaiming that Islam does not permit the construction of mosques at sites occupied earlier by other people's places of worship (...) The Islam of which Hindu leaders are talking exists neither in the Quran nor in the Sunnah of the Prophet. It is hoped that this volume will help in clearing the confusion. No movement which shuns or shies away from truth is likely to succeed. Strategies based on self-deception stand defeated at the very start."

Goel's alternative to the RSS variety of "Muslim appeasement" is to wage an ideological struggle against Islam and Christianity, on the lines of the rational criticism and secularist politics which have pushed back Christian self-righteousness in Europe. The Muslim community, of course, is not to be a scapegoat (as it is for those who refuse to criticize Islam and end up attacking Muslims instead), but has to be seen in the proper historical perspective: as a part of Hindu society estranged from its ancestral culture by Islamic indoctrination over generations. Their hearts and minds have to be won back by an effort of consciousness-raising, which includes education about the aims, methods and historical record of religions.

5. Conclusion

One of the grossest misconceptions about the Hindu movement, is that it is a creation of political parties like the BJP and the Shiv Sena. In reality, there is a substratum of Hindu activist tendencies in many corners of Hindu society, often in unorganized form and almost invariably lacking in intellectual articulation. To this widespread Hindu unrest about the uncertain future of Hindu culture, Voice of India provides an intellectual focus.

The importance of Ram Swarup's and Sita Ram Goel's work can hardly be over-estimated. I for one have no doubt that future textbooks on comparative religion as well as those on Indian political and intellectual history will devote crucial chapters to their analysis. They are the first to give a first-hand "Pagan" reply to the versions of history and "comparative religion" imposed by the monotheist world-conquerors, both at the level of historical fact and of fundamental doctrine, both in terms of the specific Hindu experience and of a more generalized theory of religion free from prophetic-monotheistic bias.

Their long-term intellectual importance is that they have contributed immensely to breaking the spell of all kinds of Christian, Muslim and Marxist prejudices and misrepresentations of Hinduism and the Hindu Revivalist movement.

mardi, 09 novembre 2010

Invocation aux Dieux

« Je me souvins de ma visite à la Godafoss, dans le nord de l’Islande, en juin 1947.

On m’avait dit que quelque temps après l’an 1000, un homme nommé Thorgeir, qui était un «godi» — un prêtre des dieux nordiques — dans la région de Ljosvatn, au nord de l’Islande, devint un chrétien. Et que, comme démonstration spectaculaire de son allégeance à la nouvelle foi étrangère — et peut-être, dans son esprit, comme un «exemple» — il avait pris les images des anciens dieux et les avait publiquement jetées dans la chute d’eau de la rivière Skjalvantaflyot, connue depuis lors sous le nom de Godafoss: la Chute d’Eau des Dieux.

Profondément émue, je m’étais rendue sur les lieux, et je me tenais devant la chute d’eau et je pensais à ces dieux — Odin, et Thor, et Baldur le Beau et les autres, que mes ancêtres vikings adoraient jadis — gisant, depuis plus de neuf cents ans au fond des eaux glacées de la Skjalvantaflyot, attendant l’aube des temps nouveaux, la grande Renaissance Païenne; nous attendant nous, m’attendant moi. J’avais apporté avec moi un papier sur lequel j’avais copié les paroles que le poète français Leconte de Lisle avait mis dans la bouche d’un dieu nordique s’adressant au doux Jésus, venu pour renverser son pouvoir:

… Tu mourras à ton tour:
J’atteste par neuf fois les Runas immortelles.
Tu mourras comme moi, Dieu des âmes nouvelles,
Car l’homme survivra! Vingt siècles de douleurs
Feront saigner sa chair et ruisseler ses pleurs
Jusqu’au jour où ton joug, subi deux mille années
Fatiguera le cou des races mutinées;
Où tes temples, dressés parmi les nations,
Deviendront en risée aux générations;
Et ce sera ton heure!

–Leconte de Lisle, Poèmes Barbares, «Le Runoïa»

Mon bras droit tendu vers l’Orient, j’avais récité ces vers, et ensuite jeté le papier dans la cataracte grondante. Et ensuite — bien que je n’avais pas encore repris espoir; bien que le désastre [de 1945] avait, à mes yeux, retardé, peut-être pour des années et des années, la grande Renaissance païenne de mon rêve — j’avais parlé aux anciens dieux. «Dieux du Nord, frères des dieux védiques que l’Inde vénère encore», avais-je dit, «dieux aryens, dieux de ma race, vous savez que pendant toute ma vie j’ai défendu les valeurs que vous incarniez jadis dans le cœur de vos adorateurs. Oh, quel que soit le destin que vous me réservez, vous que les ancêtres de ma mère invoquaient au milieu des éclairs et du tonnerre, sur les vagues furieuses de la Mer du Nord, aidez-moi à ne jamais cesser de combattre pour nos grands idéaux; à ne jamais cesser de combattre pour le culte de la jeunesse, de la santé, de la force, pour le culte du Soleil — pour votre vérité, notre vérité — où que ce soit dans le monde, jusqu’à ma mort!»

Et ayant dit cela, j’avais senti courir un frisson glacé le long de mon dos, et j’avais été submergée par la conscience d’une solennité infinie, comme si je venais d’être l’instrument d’un rite préparé et attendu depuis longtemps; comme si les dieux nordiques, rejetés par leur prêtre Thorgeir, avaient réellement attendu mon geste symbolique. Il était 10h30 du soir mais il faisait plein jour, comme c’est naturel en juin sous cette latitude. Et je m’étais soudain souvenue que c’était le 9 juin, le septième anniversaire du jour où, également à 10h30 du soir, un brahmane, représentant de l’aryanité la plus à l’Est, avait pris ma main dans la sienne au-dessus du feu sacré et m’avait donné son nom et sa protection. Et j’avais senti que ma visite à la Chute d’Eau des Dieux, et mon geste symbolique en un tel jour, avaient un sens dans l’invisible; qu’il y avait là davantage qu’une simple coïncidence. Maintenant, je me souvenais de cet épisode, qui prenait, à la lumière de l’histoire entre ces deux années, une valeur symbolique plus grande que jamais. «Dieux du Nord, dieux des forts», pensais-je, «dieux aryens, enseignez-moi ce détachement sans lequel il n’y a pas de force véritable, pas d’efficacité durable! Faites de moi un témoin digne de votre vérité — de notre vérité. Débarrassez-moi de toute faiblesse!»

Savitri Devi.

lundi, 18 octobre 2010

Ayodhya ou l'honneur perdu des historiens...

 

Ram-Janam-Bhoomi-Ayodhya.jpg

 Koenraad Elst:

Ayodhya ou l’honneur perdu des historiens

 

Dans la querelle historique entre les prédicateurs islamistes et le reste du monde, il y eut un grave moment de crise, lorsqu’il s’est s’agi, pour les premiers, de contester la légitimité d’un temple hindou ou d’une mosquée musulmane à Ayodhya. Cette querelle a connu son apogée entre 1986 et 1992. L’édifice contesté s’est retrouvé sous les feux des médias quand des militants hindous l’ont rasé le 6 décembre 1992.

Ayodhya est un important centre de pèlerinage hindou. Selon la tradition, c’est le lieu de naissance du héros Rama, incarnation du dieu Vishnou. Un temple y avait été édifié jadis et, plus tard, il fut remplacé par une mosquée, construite à partir de 1528 selon une inscription sur le portail d’entrée. La mosquée se trouvait donc là depuis plus de quatre siècles. Dans l’architecture de cette mosquée, on avait inclus des colonnes provenant de l’ancien temple, afin de bien mettre en exergue la victoire de l’islam sur le paganisme indien. En 1885, les Hindous entamèrent une procédure, afin de récupérer le site mais en 1886, un juge britannique a tranché comme suit : « C’est grave qu’un temple ait été détruit pour édifier cette mosquée, mais vu que cela s’est passé il y a plusieurs siècles, il est trop tard désormais pour y remédier ». En 1934, les autorités britanniques font fermer la mosquée à la suite d’émeutes organisées par les fidèles de la religion hindouiste. En 1949, les Hindous placent un autel avec des effigies de leurs dieux dans l’édifice. En 1950 commence un nouveau procès où les Hindous, puis, plus tard, les Musulmans, vont exiger que le site leur soit octroyé.

A titre temporaire, le tribunal, en charge de juger l’affaire, n’a ordonné que quelques mesures pratiques. Pendant une seule journée par an, un prêtre hindou pouvait avoir accès à l’édifice, y officier et y pratiquer les rituels traditionnels. De ce fait, l’édifice  se trouvait rouvert en tant que temple hindou. Les Hindous, cependant, voulaient, sur le site de la naissance de Rama, un véritable temple de leur religion, construit selon des critères architecturaux propres à la tradition indienne, ce qui impliquait la destruction de la mosquée musulmane. Quand la mosquée s’y trouvait encore, les Hindous ont décidé de placer la première pierre du futur nouveau temple, précisément à la date du 9 novembre 1989, le jour même où tomba le Mur de Berlin.

Négationnisme

Cet acte symbolique a eu lieu avec l’approbation du Parti du Congrès, alors au pouvoir. Celui-ci procéda à un véritable maquignonnage, en prévoyant d’accorder une grande faveur aux Hindous et un éventail de petites faveurs pour les Musulmans (notamment  la réforme de la législation sur le divorce, en l’infléchissant dans un sens carrément musulman). Les intellectuels de gauche, dominants dans les secteurs académiques, ont entamé, à ce moment-là, une campagne pour un « sécularisme dur » ; il faut savoir que la notion de « sécularisme », en Inde, équivaut à la notion de « multiculturalisme » que l’on cherche à imposer en Occident. Le « sécularisme » multiculturel indien a pour corollaire automatique le soutien à l’islam. Dans le cadre de cette campagne séculariste, multiculturaliste et islamophile, l’intelligentsia de gauche a commencé à nier de manière systématique et à grands renforts de discours tonitruants le récit hindou, qui se voulait reflet de la réalité historique, sur la destruction effective du temple. Ce qui avait fait jusqu’alors consensus et qui se basait sur le témoignage unanime de nombreuses sources, a été, du jour au lendemain, considéré comme une aberration et comme le produit d’une « propagande haineuse des fondamentalistes hindous ».  

Les médias indiens et, à leur suite, les médias de la planète entière, ont adopté cette vision négationniste. Les historiens se sont tenus cois ou se sont pliés à la ligne que leur dictait leur parti. Un indianiste néerlandais qui, peu de temps auparavant, avait effectué des recherches à Ayodhya même, et avait confirmé dans l’un de ses ouvrages la thèse de la destruction du temple de Rama, fut accusé de faire le jeu des fondamentalistes hindous et se récusa misérablement. L’Encyclopaedia Britannica, dans son édition de 1989, rappelait encore les faits et expliquait sobrement et sans emphase que le temple avait été détruit, a changé son fusil d’épaule dans ses éditions ultérieures et évoqué les « affirmations des fondamentalistes hindous ».

A la fin de l’année 1990, le gouvernement invite les deux parties à mandater des savants et des érudits pour participer à un débat. Les représentants de la partie musulmane sont arrivés sur le podium de discussion totalement impréparés, tout en étant sûrs et confiants que leurs adversaires n’allaient évoquer que des « mythes ». Malheureusement pour eux, les défenseurs de la partie hindoue sont arrivés munis d’un dossier bien étayé de documents historiques et de rapports d’archéologues, qui confirmaient les anciennes thèses, qui avaient toujours fait consensus. Après le débat, l’alliance musulmane-marxiste des adversaires de la thèse du temple ont encore composé vaille que vaille un opuscule qui devait servir de réponse aux Hindous. Dans ce petit ouvrage, ils n’avancent pas le moindre fait qui soit en mesure de contredire le scénario mis en avant par les Hindous ou qui pourrait constituer l’amorce d’un scénario alternatif. Leur argumentaire se bornait à essayer de minimiser les preuves pourtant patentes avancées contre eux, en n’en sélectionnant que quelques-unes et en ne les présentant que de manière schématique, tandis qu’ils laissaient la grande majorité des arguments de leurs adversaires sans la moindre réponse. Les médias ont passé totalement sous silence cette victoire hindoue dans la querelle où, pourtant, les défenseurs de l’iconoclasme musulman ont été mis échec et mat.

La preuve par l’archéologie

Et pourtant, fin septembre 2010, la vérité a éclaté au grand jour. Le jeudi 30 septembre 2010, le tribunal d’Allahabad a enfin prononcé ses conclusions dans cette affaire qui traîne maintenant depuis plus de soixante ans. L’affaire avait rebondi lorsque le gouvernement du premier ministre Narasimha Rao avait demandé à la Cour Suprême de donner son avis sur le fonds historique de la question. Au contraire du grand public qui ne s’abreuve qu’aux journaux, Rao était parfaitement bien au courant du résultat du débat entre experts et il s’attendait à ce que les juges du plus haut tribunal indien, après étude du dossier, donnassent raison à la thèse des défenseurs du temple, afin que l’on puisse enfin procéder à la reconstruction de celui-ci et que la question en suspens soit réglée. La Cour Suprême a transmis l’affaire au Tribunal d’Allahabad, qui, lui, n’a eu qu’une envie : se débarrasser de ce dossier fort épineux.

Les juges d’Allahabad ont donné pour mission à l’instance principale des archéologues indiens, l’ « Archeological Survey of India » (ASI), de procéder à des fouilles extrêmement précises. En 2003, l’ASI mettait à jour les soubassements d’un vaste édifice ancien qui, vu le nombre d’objets d’art à fonction cultuelle qui y furent exhumés, ne pouvait être rien d’autre qu’un temple. Ces fouilles ont confirmé les résultats de travaux archéologiques antérieurs et corroboré les témoignages offerts par d’innombrables documents : et, bien entendu, sur le site préalablement présumé du temple de Rama, contesté par les Musulmans, il y a bel et bien eu un temple.

Koenraad ELST.

(article paru dans « ‘ t Pallieterke », 6 octobre 2010).

jeudi, 16 septembre 2010

In Memoriam: Jean Varenne (1926-1997)

jean_varenne-f86c2.gifArchives de SYNERGIES EUROPEENNES - 1997

 

In memoriam:

Jean Varenne (1926-1997)

 

Indianiste célèbre dans le monde entier, explorateur de l'Inde védique, Jean Varenne replaçait ce formidable héritage indien-védique dans la culture indo-européenne, dont les cosmogonies védiques, objets de sa thèse de doctorat, étaient une expres­sion sublime. Les amis de l'Inde éternelle, qui sont nombreux parmi nous, nombreux à avoir explorer cet immense fond de sagesse, nombreux à avoir fait un pélérinage là-bas, sur les rives du Gange ou sur les hauteurs de l'Himalaya, connaissent très bien l'œuvre de Jean Varenne, qui fut un de leurs maîtres. Jean Varenne est l'auteur d'une quinzaine d'ouvrages sur l'Inde ancienne, depuis Cosmogonies védiques jusque Aux sources du Yoga, ou sur l'Iran préislamique, avec Zoroastre et Zarathustra et la tradition mazdéenne. IL nous lègue là un formidable corpus, pour étayer, dans la sérénité, notre vue-du-monde traditionnelle. Jean Varenne nous a quitté silencieusement en juillet dernier, sans que la presse français ne rende l'hommage que méritait ce grand savant, qui fit vraiment honneur à son pays et qui était sans doute l'homme capable de rap­procher l'Inde non alignée de la France sortie de l'OTAN, une politique que la Vième République après De Gaulle a négligée honteusement, pour se vautrer dans un occidentalisme vulgaire. Comme pour le politologue Julien Freund, disparu en sep­tembre 1993, les canailles incultes du journalisme parisien n'ont pas cru bon de saluer dignement cet indianiste hors pair. Notre collaborateur Pascal Garnier a eu le bonheur et la joie d'être l'un de ses étudiants. En hommage à son professeur, il a rédigé ce texte spontané et amical, au-delà de la vie et de la mort:

 

JVdicoHind.jpg«C'est avec stupéfaction que j'ai appris le décès de notre ami Jean Varenne. J'avais connu Jean Varenne au cours de sa der­nière année d'enseignement à l'Université de Lyon III en 1986-87, alors que je préparais ma licence d'histoire. Pour moi, Jean Varenne était plus qu'un simple professeur, c'était aussi le Président du GRECE et le directeur de la revue éléments, organe d'un milieu que j'apprenais à connaître à l'époque. Chose étrange pour un si grand savant  —en dehors des cours d'histoire des religions et d'histoire de l'Inde que je suivais, il était professeur de sanskrit—  c'était un pédagogue remarquable ayant une facilité déconcertante à expliquer d'une manière simple des concepts compliqués. Je n'avais jamais pu observer auparavant chez aucun professeur une telle gentillesse et une telle sérénité: il arrivait les mains dans les poches, sans aucune note et parlait pendant deux heures sans jamais se tromper dans le déroulement de son plan et toujours avec une grande jovialité, prompt aussi à répondre aux interrogations des étudiants d'une manière décontractée: il adorait ce jeu, l'immense puit de cul­ture qu'il était n'étant naturellement jamais pris en défaut. C'est grâce à lui que j'ai découvert un certain nombre d'auteurs comme Mircea Eliade ou Louis Dumont, dont la lecture a été capitale pour ma formation. Je n'ai jamais pu comprendre com­ment la mouvance néo-droitiste n'a pas donné dans ses structures une place plus importante à cet homme serein, simple, immensément cultivé, calme et posé. Jean Varenne passait partout, tant chez ses pairs de l'université que chez les gens simples. Cette mouvance, où il a pourtant assuré une présidence hélas formelle et “décorative”, aurait améliorer son image de marque, serait sortie de la psycho-rigidité et de la forfanterie de faux savants qui l'ont hélas trop souvent marquée. Je retien­drais à jamais l'image du savant souriant et débonnaire, qui parlait avec tant d'aisance et d'élégance, qui était reconnu au ni­veau international, qui était célébré par l'UNESCO, qui, fait quasi unique, aimait la vie et donnait de la culture une image si originale et attrayante à la fois. Car ses cours étaient aussi le reflet de sa personnalité riche et brillante, mais qui a pu susciter chez certains esprits médiocres pas mal de jalousie. Peu en sont capables, mais, lui, c'était un professeur qui savait faire un travail métapolitique intelligent...» (Pascal GARNIER).

 

mardi, 27 avril 2010

Le monde du tantrisme indien

couple-01.jpgArchives de SYNERGIES EUROPEENNES - 1999

Le monde du tantrisme indien

 

Analyse : Helmut UHLIG, Das Leben als kosmisches Fest.

Magische Welt des Tantrismus, Gustav Lübbe Verlag, Bergisch Gladbach, 1998, 304 p., ISBN 3-7857-0952-8.

 

Né en 1922 et décédé en 1997, Helmut Uhlig, historien de l’art, a été pendant toute sa vie fasciné par l’Inde. On lui doit des ouvrages remarqués sur des thèmes aussi diversifiés que la route de la soie, sur le Tibet, sur l’Himalaya, sur l’Anatolie, sur la Grande Déesse, sur le bouddhisme et le tantrisme, etc. Jochen Kirchhoff vient de publier son dernier livre sur le tantrisme, resté inachevé, en le complétant d’une postface remarquable, branchant les réflexes mentaux que nous enseignent les voies tantriques sur les acquis de la physique et de la biologie contemporaines.

 

Premier constat d’Uhlig : le monde occidental est atomisé, handicapé psychiquement. Les Occidentaux et les Asiatiques qui les imitent vivent désormais dans un monde d’illusions et de falsifications, où l’esprit de carrière, l’envie, l’obsession de l’avoir et l’orgueil tiennent le haut du pavé. Il écrit (p. 9) : «…l’homme a perdu son fonds originel (Urgrund) religieux et noumineux, est victime d’une attitude purement matérialiste et pragmatique, qui domine le monde occidental, qui a ses racines intellectuelles dans cette vita activa, issue de l’esprit greco-romain et du christianisme paulinien». Exactement comme Evola, il constate que ce double héritage de l’hellénisme (qui n’est pas la Grèce dorienne des origines, précisons-le ! !) et du paulinisme distrait dangereusement l’homme, qui devient incapable de saisir le noumineux : «Ce sont des éléments que nous pouvons considérer comme des représentations originelles de l’esprit et de la dignité humains qui, au cours des millénaires, n’ont rien perdu de leur force, de leur signification et de leur pouvoir fondateur de sens. Nous les résumons sous le concept de “tantrisme”, un concept encore et toujours mystérieux, à la fois magique et cosmique» (p. 10). Le tantrisme est donc la religiosité qui se réfère immédiatement au “vécu primordial” (Urerlebnis), et n’est nullement cette pâle caricature que certains tenants du New Age et de la spiritualité de bazar en font. Le boom ésotérique de ces récentes années a fait du vocable “tantrisme” un article de marché, une fadeur exotique parmi tant d’autres. Ceux qui l’emploient à tort et à travers ne savent pas ce qu’il signifie, n’en connaissent pas la profondeur.

 

«Je vais tenter dans ce livre d’aborder et de révéler le tantrisme comme un phénomène cosmique, comme l’un des vécus primordiaux de l’homme. Ce qui est nouveau dans mon approche du tantrisme, c’est que je ne vais pas le réduire à ses manifestations historiques, comme celles qui nous apparaissent dans l’espace culturel indien et himalayen mais je vais poser la question des origines et de la puissance de la pensée et du vécu tantriques. Car je crois que, dans le tantra, se cache l’un des phénomènes primordiaux de l’Etre de l’homme. Ainsi, mon texte est une tentative de retrouver la trace de ce phénomène primordial et de sa constitution cosmique, de la rendre visible, car, dans les dernières décennies du deuxième millénaire, elle acquerra une importance toujours croissante et une puissance réelle, y compris pour le monde occidental» (p. 11). Ensuite, il précise son approche du noumineux : «Il existe des aspects de la réalité qui ne sont ni spatiaux ni temporels. Ils n’ont pas de dimension historique. Ils agissent (wirken), mais restent pour nous invisibles, ils viennent du Tout, du cosmos, et sont reconnaissables de multiples manières» (p. 19).  

 

C’est en 1960 que Helmut Uhlig débarque pour la première fois en Inde. Le Brahmane qui le reçoit et le guide lui déclare, quelques jours après son arrivée : «Nous les Indiens, nous sommes assez tolérants. Le mot de Yahvé qu’on trouve dans la Bible : “Tu n’auras pas d’autres Dieux que moi”, personne ne le comprend ici. Et personne ne le suivrait d’ailleurs, vu le très grand nombre de Dieux qui sont enracinés dans la psyché de notre peuple. C’est aussi la raison pour laquelle les missionnaires chrétiens ont à peine été acceptés en Inde» (p. 14). Le culte de Shiva et des autres divinités indiennes prouve combien profondément enracinée dans l’âme hindoue est la propension “à être toujours bien disposé à l’égard de tous les Dieux à la fois, à ne pas se couper d’eux” (p. 21). D’où la religiosité tantrique repose sur une acceptation du monde tel qu’il est dans sa pan-imbrication (Allverflechtung), où monde visible et invisible sont unis par mille et un fils (de tapisserie). Uhlig en conclut que des éléments tantriques ont été présents dans toutes les religions primordiales. Mais cette idée centrale de pan-imbrication de tout dans tout est difficile à expliquer et à comprendre, surtout pour les Occidentaux, habitués à penser en termes de césures et de cloisonnements. Le terme “tantra” lui-même dérive d’une racine étymologique, tan, qui signifie “élargir”, “accroître en dimension et en étendue”. Quant à tana, cela signifie tout à la fois “fils” (au pluriel) et “étendue”. Tantawa signifie “fait de fils”, “tissé”. Le tantrisme indique donc ce qu’est la texture du cosmos : un tapis immense fait de milliards et de milliards de fils (p. 28).  Uhlig : «Nous ne pouvons comprendre et juger correctement le tantrisme que si nous nous libérons de l’emprise des commandements et des principes qui nous sont conventionnels et que l’Etat et la religion ont imposés chez nous depuis la fin du moyen âge. Les critères de valeurs que nous a transmis le christianisme clérical, notamment la doctrine des catégories du bien et du mal, du moral et de l’immoral, troublent notre regard et le grèvent de préjugés, ne nous permettant pas d’entrer dans le monde tel que le saisit et le réalise le tantrisme. Cela vaut surtout pour le jugement que porte l’Occident sur la sphère sexuelle, ses formes d’expression et ses pratiques. Les relations sexuelles entre les personnes ne sont soumises à aucun tabou dans le tantrisme, car elles y sont considérées comme des fonctions centrales et naturelles, qui sont effectivement traduites en actes. Pour la plupart des auteurs occidentaux, qui ont écrit sur le tantrisme depuis une centaine d’années, la sexualité tantrique a suscité d’âpres critiques, formulées dans une terminologie chrétienne, dévalorisant tout ce qui touche à la sexualité. Ainsi, le tantrisme a été dévalorisé sur le plan éthique, ses cultes ont été diabolisés ; les textes critiques des Occidentaux ne tentaient même pas de comprendre le contexte du tantrisme» (pp. 26-27). Cela vaut également pour le contre-mouvement, où une mode pro-tantrique, portée par des oisifs californiens ou des décadents des beaux quartiers de Londres, a superficialisé les dimensions sexuelles, les faisant basculer dans un priapisme vulgaire et une pornographie bassement commerciale. Le tantrisme ne vise nullement à favoriser une promiscuité sexuelle de nature pornographique, à transformer la Cité en lupanar, mais, plus fondamentalement, à appréhender les secrets les plus profonds de la conscience humaine. Uhlig rend hommage au premier Européen, Sir John Woodroffe (alias Arthur Avalon) qui a traduit et explicité correctement les textes tantriques, si bien que les Indiens adeptes du tantrisme le considèrent comme un sauveur de cet héritage.

 

Les pratiques tantriques ont un lointain passé, affirme Uhlig, y compris hors d’Inde. La religiosité visant à appréhender les plus profonds secrets de l’âme humaine se retrouve partout : elle a été occultée par le christianisme ou la modernité. Ainsi, pour Uhlig, est tantrique le mythe sumérien d’Inanna et Tammuz, où une hiérogamie est réalisée au sommet d’un zigourat à huit niveaux (dans bon nombre de traditions, sauf dans le judaïsme pharisien et le christianisme, le “8” et l’octogone indiquent l’harmonie idéale de l’univers ; cf. le château de Frédéric II de Hohenstaufen, Castel del Monte, les Croix de Chevalier inscrites dans un motif octogonal de base et non sur la croix instrument de torture, les plans des églises byzantines, de la Chapelle d’Aix/Aachen ou de la Mosquée El-Aqsa à Jérusalem, le Lotus à huit feuilles de l’initiation à la Kalachakra ou “Roue du Temps”, la division de l’orbe terrestre en quatre fois huit orientations chez les navigateurs scandinaves du haut moyen âge ; pour Marie Schmitt, la religion pérenne privilégie l’harmonie du “8”, les religions coercitives et messianiques, le “7”).

 

Revenons au mythe d’Inanna et de Tammuz. Dans la chambre hiérogamique se trouvent simplement un lit, avec de belles couvertures, et une table d’or. Il n’y a pas l’image d’un dieu. L’essentiel du culte vise la préservation et la revitalisation de la fertilité. Ce culte a frappé les Israélites lors de la captivité babylonienne, ce qui s’est répercuté dans le texte du fameux “Chant des Chants”, où, en filigrane, il ne s’agit nullement de Yahvé, mais bel et bien d’une hiérogamie, tendrement sexuelle et sensuelle. Martin Buber l’a traduit, restituant sa signification originelle, au-delà de toutes les traductions “pieuses”. Pharisaïsme et christianisme paulinien/augustinien s’ingénieront à occulter ce “Chant des Chants”, joyeuse intrusion pagano-tantrique dans l’Ancien Testament. Ainsi, en 553, lors du deuxième concile de Constantinople, Théodore de Mopsuestia, interprète “sensuel” du “Chant des Chants” est banni, son interprétation ravalée au rang d’une hérésie perverse. «… les zélés pères de l’église ont tout fait pour combattre les interprétations mystiques du “Chant des Chants” : à leur tête Origène, suivi plus tard de Bernard de Clairvaux, de Bonaventure et de François de Sales, qui ont rivalisé pour en donner une interprétation dépourvue de fantaisie, fade» (p. 71). «Ici se révèle l’un des fondements de l’attitude anti-naturelle du christianisme, qui détruit l’holicité des sens et de l’Etre, qui débouche sur un ascétisme qui condamne les corps, et auquel l’église tient toujours, puisqu’elle continue à imposer le célibat des prêtres. Non seulement cela a conduit à faire perdre toute dignité aux prêtres, mais cela a rejeté la femme dans les rôles peu valorisants de la séductrice et du simple objet de plaisirs. La dégénérescence de l’antique union sacrée des corps, don de soi à l’unité mystique, dans la vulgaire prostitution en est le résultat, car la femme n’est plus considérée que comme une prostituée» (p. 71). En revanche, Inanna/Ichtar était la déesse des déesses, la reine et la conductrice de l’humanité entière. Ce passage du rôle primordial de “déesse des déesses” à celui de vulgaire prostituée constitue le fondement de l’âge sombre, du Kali Yuga. Il y a assombrissement parce que le culte de la Reine Conductrice est progressivement ignoré, parce qu’il n’y a plus d’hiérogamie sacrée possible car tout accouplement est désormais démonisé.

 

Enfin, après avoir exploré le tantrisme dans toutes ses dimensions, Uhlig rend hommage à Plotin (pp. 214-222). Plotin était également opposé à la gnose et au christianisme, rejetant leur “religiosisme”, leurs simplismes de “croyeux”, hostiles à la philosophie grecque. Plotin commence sa quête en 233, année où il rencontre le philosophe Ammonios Sakkas, dont il sera l’élève pendant onze ans. Pendant cette période, à Alexandrie, il entre en contact (tout comme Origène !) avec des représentants de la spiritualité persane et indienne. Leurs enseignements le fascinent. Si bien qu’il veut aller à la rencontre de leur culture. Il suit l’Empereur Gordien III dans sa campagne contre les Perses, espérant atteindre leur pays et découvrir directement leur religion. Uhlig écrit à ce propos (p. 218) : «L’historiographie de la philosophie en Europe n’a consacré que trop peu d’attention à ce fait et n’a jamais étudié l’influence indienne sur la philosophie de Plotin». Gordien III est assassiné en 244 sur les rives de l’Euphrate par un de ses généraux. Plotin doit fuir vers Antioche puis vers Rome. Son enseignement influence la famille impériale. Il est holiste comme sont holistes les enseignements tantriques. Ses Ennéades évoquent une Gesamtverwobenheit (un tissage cosmique), très proche de la vision tantrique originelle. L’élimination violente des filons néoplatoniciens et plotiniens dans la pensée européenne a commencé par l’horrible assassinat d’Hypathie, philosophe néoplatonicienne d’Alexandrie, par une foule de chrétiens furieux et délirants qui ont lacéré son corps et en ont traîné les lambeaux dans les rues. Elle se poursuit par l’occultation systématique de ces traditions dans nos principaux établissements d’enseignement. Cette élimination est aux sources du malaise de notre civilisation, aux sources de notre nervosité et de notre cinétisme insatiable, de nos désarrois, de notre incapacité à nous immerger dans l’organon qu’est le monde. La tradition néoplatonicienne chante, comme les filons panthéistes et pélagiens celtiques, la “merveilleuse variété” du monde et de la nature (poikilè thaumatourgia). «Il y a aussi des dieux dans la cuisine», disait Héraclite à des visiteurs inattendus, qui l’avaient trouvé près de son feu, sur lequel cuisait son repas.

 

Dans sa postface, Jochen Kirchhoff nous rappelle les exhortations de David Herbert Lawrence dans son plaidoyer pour les religiosités païennes et cycliques, intitulé Apocalypse (1930). Pour Lawrence, il fallait retourner à la cosmicité, raviver nos rapports avec le cosmos. Ensuite, Kirchhoff rappelle les tentatives de Nietzsche de restaurer les dimensions extatiques et dionysiaques de l’Etre pour les opposer au christianisme, ennemi de la vie. L’Etre doit être une “fête cosmique”, entièrement, sans partage, sans dualité.

 

Kirchhoff explore ensuite toutes les possibilités de restaurer la vision tantrique du monde (la pan-imbrication) via les pratiques sexuelles, complétant et actualisant ainsi La Métaphysique du sexe et Le Yoga tantrique d’Evola. Il salue un ouvrage à succès de Margo Anand dans les milieux “New Age” (The Art of Sexual Ecstasy. The Path of Sacred Sexuality for Western Lovers) mais constate rapidement les limites philosophiques de la démarche de cet auteur. Le New Age a produit peu de bonnes choses en la matière. Le travail de Margo Anand est bon, écrit Kirchhoff, utile pour une thérapeutique sexuelle, mais reste superficiel, ne permet pas un approfondissement philosophique et métaphysique. Quant à l’Américain Franklin Jones (alias “Da Free John”, “Da-Love Ananda” ou “Adi Da”), il a poussé la caricature du tantrisme jusqu’au ridicule (cf. son ouvrage le plus connu : Dawn Horse Testament). Finalement, le freudo-marxiste Wilhelm Reich a élaboré une théorie et une thérapeutique de l’orgasme plus valable (Kirchhoff est moins sévère qu’Evola), car sa vision de la bio-énergie ou orgon était au moins omni-compénétrante. Kirchhoff souligne toutefois bien la différence entre les rituels sexuels tantriques et l’obsession moderne de la performance (orgasmique ou non, mais toujours multi-éjaculatoire).  Car, dit-il, «il existe des rituels tantriques qui freinent effectivement l’orgasme féminin comme l’orgasme masculin, visant de la sorte une prolongation contrôlée ou un retardement de celui-ci pour atteindre des objectifs (spirituels) supérieurs ou pour obtenir un accroissement du plaisir» (p. 278). En effet, poursuit-il, l’orgasme et/ou l’éjaculation masculine mettent un terme à l’étreinte sexuelle, limitant la durée du plaisir et des caresses partagés. Retenir ses énergies (et son sperme) permet de jouir du plaisir sexuel et de donner à la femme davantage de joie. C’est dans cet exercice, cette ascèse (ce yoga), que réside la qualité inégalée du tantrisme sur le plan sexuel, le hissant très au-dessus du stupide priapisme rapide et bâclé que nous servent les médias contemporains, véhicules de la pornographie populaire.    

 

Mais c’est dans la physique moderne que Kirchhoff place ses espoirs de voir réémerger une vision tantrique de l’univers. Depuis la consolidation de la physique quantique, le monde apparaît à nouveau comme “pan-imbriqué”. Dans les colonnes d ’Antaios, Patrick Trousson avait déjà démontré l’étroite similitude entre les acquis de l’antique mythologie celtique et ceux de la science physique actuelle. Kirchhoff répète ces arguments, citant Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (Zeit und Wissen, 1992), Frithjof Capra (Le Tao de la physique), le physicien indien Amit Goswami (qui a comparé la philosophie du Vedanta et les acquis de la nouvelle physique), le théoricien systémique Ervin Lazslo, le biochimiste Rupert Sheldrake, etc. L’essentiel dans cette physique est de refuser les dualismes segmenteurs, de réfuter les pensées de la césure.

 

En philosophie, Kirchhoff cite l’Américain Ken Wilber (Eros, Kosmos, Logos. Sex, Ecology, Spirituality), qui lutte contre tous les réductionnismes et les dualismes. Wilber est influencé par le bouddhisme tantrique, mais aussi par les Vedanta.

 

Le livre d’Uhlig nous dévoile de manière très didactique tous les aspects de la merveilleuse vision du monde tantrique. La postface de son ami Kirchhoff nous ouvre de très larges horizons : en physique et en philosophie. La lutte d’Uhlig (et la nôtre…) contre les mutilations de la pensée n’est pas terminée. Mais nos adversaires doivent désormais savoir une chose : nos arsenaux sont mieux fournis que les leurs…

 

Detlev BAUMANN.  

 

samedi, 30 janvier 2010

Manu as a weapon against egalitarianism: Nietzsche and Hindu political philosophy

nietzsche-e-schopenhauer.jpg

Manu as a weapon against egalitarianism:

Nietzsche and Hindu political philosophy

 

Dr. Koenraad Elst

 

 

Introduction

 

Friedrich Nietzsche greatly preferred the ‘healthier, higher, wider world’ of the Hindu social code Mânava-Dharma-Shâstra (‘Code of Human Ethics’), also known as Manu-Smrti (‘Manu’s Classic’), to ‘the Christian sick-house and dungeon atmosphere’ (TI Improvers 3). We want to raise two questions about his eager use of this ancient text:

 

Firstly, a question of historical fact, viz. how correct was Nietzsche’s understanding of the text and the society it tried to regulate?  The translation used by him suffers from some significant philological flaws as well as from interpretative bias, to which he added an agenda-driven reading of his own.

 

Secondly, to what extent did Nietzsche’s understanding of Hindu society play a role in his socio-political views? At first sight, its importance is quite limited, viz. as just an extra illustration of pre-Christian civilization favoured by him, as principally represented by Greece. Crucial pieces of Manu’s worldview, such as the centrality of a priestly Brahmin class and the notion of ritual purity, seem irrelevant to or in contradiction with Nietzsche’s essentially modern philosophical anthropology. To others he didn’t pay due attention, e.g. Manu’s respect for asceticism as a positive force in society, seemingly so in conflict with the Nietzschean contempt for ‘otherworldiness’, resonates with subtler pro-ascetic elements in Nietzsche’s conception of the Übermensch. Yet, a few specifically Indian elements did have a wider impact on his worldview, especially the notion of Chandâla (untouchable), to which however he gave an erroneous expansion unrelated to Manu.

 

 

1. What is the Manu-Smrti?

 

Friedrich Nietzsche greatly preferred the ‘healthier, higher, wider world’ of the Hindu social code Mânava-Dharma-Shâstra, the ‘Textbook of Human Ethics’, also known as Manu-Smrti, ‘Manu’s Classic’, to what he called ‘the Christian sick-house and dungeon atmosphere’ (TI Improvers 3). In a letter to his friend Peter Gast, he wrote:

 

This absolutely Aryan testimony, a priestly codex of morality based on the Vedas, of a presentation of caste and of ancient provenance – not pessimistic eventhough priestly – completes my conceptions of religion in the most remarkable manner. (KSA 14.420)

 

To his mind, the contrast between Manu’s classic and the Bible was so diametrical that ‘mentioning it in one breath with the Bible would be a sin against the spirit’ (AC 56). So, at first sight, he was very enthusiastic about this founding text of caste doctrine, though we shall have to qualify that impression. We want to raise two questions about his use of this ancient text, one of historical accuracy and one of the meaning Nietzsche accorded to this acknowledged source of inspiration in his view of society. But first of all, a few data about the Manu-Smrti must necessarily be stated before we can understand what role it could play in Friedrich Nietzsche’s thinking.

 

 

1.1. Manu, the patriarch

 

There is no indication that Nietzsche had much of an idea about who this Manu was after whom India’s ancient ethical code had been named. In Hindu tradition as related in the Veda and in the Itihâsa-Purâna literature (‘history’, comparable to Homer or to the Sagas, and ‘antiquities’, i.e. mythohistory comparable to Hesiod or the Edda), Manu was, through his numerous sons, the ancestor of all the known pre-Buddhist Indian dynasties. He himself is often described as a ‘son of Brahma’, though his full name, Manu Vaivasvata, implies that he was one of the ten surviving sons of Vivasvat, himself a son of Sûrya, the sun.

 

During the Flood, Manu had led a party of survivors by boat up the Gangâ to the foothills of the Himâlaya, then founded his capital in Ayodhyâ. His son Ikshvâku founded the ‘solar dynasty’ which retained the city of Ayodhyâ. Ikshvâku’s descendent Râma, hero of the Râmâyana epic, ruled there. The Buddha belonged to a minor branch of the same lineage, the Shakya clan which was so jealous of its noble ancestry that it practised the strictest endogamy. The later Gupta dynasty, presiding over India’s ‘golden age’, likewise claimed to be a branch of the solar dynasty. Another of Manu’s sons, Sudyumna, or alternatively his daughter Ilâ, founded the ‘lunar dynasty’ with capital at the Gangâ-Yamunâ confluence in Prayâga. His descendent Yayâti established himself to the west in the Saraswatî basin, present-day Haryânâ, where his five sons founded the ‘five nations’, the ethnic horizon of the Vedas.

 

Yayâti’s anointed heir was Puru, whose Paurava nation was to compose the Rg-Veda, the foundational collection of hymns to the gods. The Vedic age started with the Paurava king Bharata, after whom India has been named Bhâratavarsha or just Bhârat (as on India’s post stamps). In his clan, dozens of generations later, an internal quarrel developed into a full-scale war, the subject-matter of the Mahâbhârata, the ‘great (epic) of the Bhârata-s’. A key role in this war, which marked the end of the Vedic age, was played by the fighting brothers’ distant cousin Krishna, a descendent of Yayâti’s son Yadu. Yet another son of Yayâti’s, Anu, is said to be the ancestor of the Asura-worshippers, i.e. the Iranians, who were at times the enemies of the Deva-worshipping Vedic people..

 

So, Manu is known as the ancestor of all the Ârya people (vide §1.2), preceding all the quasi-historical events reported in Sanskrit literature. The account by Seleucid Greek ambassador Megasthenes of Hindu royal genealogy, where Manu is identified with Dionysos, times his enthronement at 6776 BC (Arrian: Indica 9.9, Pliny: Naturalis Historia 6.59, in Majumdar 1960 223 and 340), an intractable point of chronology that we must leave undecided for now.

 

The Vedic seers repeatedly call Manu ‘father’ (1.80.16, 1.114.2, 8.63.1) and ‘our father’ (2.33.13), and otherwise mention him over a hundred times. They pray to the gods: ‘May you not lead us far from the ancestral path of Manu’ (8.30.3).  They address the fire-god Agni thus: ‘Manu established you as a light for the people’ (1.36.19).  The Vedic worship of ‘33 great gods’ (often mistranslated as ‘330,000,000 gods’, koti meaning ‘great’ but later acquiring the mathematical sense of ‘ten million’), mostly enumerated as earth, heaven, eight earthly, eleven atmospheric and twelve heavenly gods, is said to have been instituted by Manu (8.30.2). Moreover, one common term for ‘human being’ is manushya, ‘progeny of Manu’.

 

Because of his name’s prestige, the ancient patriarch is also anachronistically credited with the authorship of the Manu-Smrti (‘Manu’s Recollection-Classic’) or Mânava-Dharma-Shâstra (translatable as both ‘Manu’s Ethical Code’ and ‘Human Ethical Code’), a text edited from slightly older versions in probably the 1st century CE. Friedrich Nietzsche exclusively refers to Manu as the author of the Mânava-Dharma-Shâstra, seemingly unaware of his legendary status as the progenitor of the Ârya-s.

 

 

1.2. The Code of the Ârya-s

 

For at least two thousand years, the word Ârya has meant: ‘noble’, ‘gentleman’, ‘civilized’, and in particular ‘member of the Vedic civilization’. The Manu Smrti uses it in this sense and emphatically not in either of the two meanings which ‘Aryan’ received in 19th century Europe, viz. the linguistic sense of ‘Indo-European’ and the racial sense of ‘white’ or ‘Nordic’. Thus, MS 10.45 says that those outside the caste system, ‘whether they speak barbarian languages or Ârya languages, are regarded as aliens’, indicating that some people spoke the same language as the Ârya-s but didn’t have their status of Ârya. As for race, the Manu Smrti (10.43f.) claims that the Greeks and the Chinese had originally been Ârya-s too but that they had lapsed from Ârya standards and therefore lost the status of Ârya. So, non-Indians and non-whites could be Ârya, on condition of observing certain cultural standards, viz. those laid down in the MS itself. The term Ârya was culturally defined: conforming to Vedic tradition.

 

But at least in the two millennia since the Manu Smrti, the only ones fulfilling this requirement of living by Vedic norms were Indians. When, during India’s freedom struggle, philosopher and freedom fighter Sri Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950) wrote in English about ‘the Aryan race’, he meant very precisely ‘the Hindu nation’, nothing else. In 1914-21, together with a French-Jewish admirer, Mirra Richard-Alfassa, he also published a monthly devoted to the cause of India’s self-rediscovery and emancipation, the Ârya. In 1875, a socially progressive but religiously fundamentalist movement (‘back to the Vedas’, i.e. before the ‘degeneracy’ of the ‘casteist’ Shâstra-s and the ‘superstitious’ mythopoetic Purâna-s) had been founded under the name Ârya Samâj, in effect the ‘Vedicist society’. If the word Ârya had not become tainted by the colonial and racist use of its Europeanized form Aryan/Arier, chances are that by now it would have replaced the word Hindu (which many Hindus resent as a Persian exonym unknown to Hindu scripture) as the standard term of Hindu self-reference.

 

Against the association of the anglicised form ‘Aryan’ with colonial and Nazi racism, modern Hindus always insist that the term only means ‘Vedic’ or ‘noble’ and has no racial or ethnic connotation. This purely moral, non-ethnic meaning is in evidence in the Buddhist notions of the ‘four noble truths’ (chatvâri-ârya-satyâni) and the ‘noble eightfold path’ (ârya-ashtângika-mârga). So, the meaning ‘noble’ applies for recent centuries and as far back as the Buddha’s age (ca.500 BC), but not for the Vedic age (beyond 1000 BC), especially its earliest phase. Back then, against a background of struggle between the Vedic Indians and the proto-Iranian tribes, the Dâsa-s and Dasyu-s, we see the Indians referring to themselves, but not to the Iranians, as Ârya; and conversely, the Iranians referring to themselves, but not to the Indians, as Airya (whence Airyânâm Xshathra, ‘empire of the Aryans’, i.e. Iran). And if we look more closely, we see the Vedic Indians, i.e. the Paurava nation, refer to themselves but not to other Indians as Ârya. So at that point it did have a self-referential ethnic meaning (Talageri 2000 154 ff.).

 

Possibly this can be explained with the etymology of the word, but this is still heavily under dispute. Köbler (2000 48 ff.) gives a range of possibilities. It has been analysed as stemming from the root *ar-, ‘plough, cultivate’ (cfr. Latin arare, aratrum), which would make them the sedentary people as opposed to the nomads and hunter-gatherers; and lends itself to a figurative meaning of ‘cultivated, civilized’. Or from a root *ar-, ‘to fit; orderly, correct’ (cfr. Greek artios, ‘fitting, perfect’) and hence ‘skilled, able’ (cfr. Latin ars, ‘art, dexterity’; Greek arête, ‘virtue’, aristos, ‘best’), which may in turn be the same root as in the central Vedic concept rta, ‘order, regularity’, whence rtu, ‘season’ (cfr. Greek ham-artè, ‘at the same time’). Or from a root *ar, ‘possess, acquire, share’ (cfr. Greek aresthai, ‘acquire’), an interpretation beloved of Marxist scholars who interpret the Ârya class as the owner class.  Or, surprisingly, from a root *al-, ‘other’ (cfr. Greek allos and Latin alius, ‘other’), hence ‘inclined towards the other/stranger’, hence ‘hospitable’, like in the name of the god Aryaman, whose attribute is hospitality. It is the latter sense from which the ethnic meaning is tentatively derived: ‘we, the hospitable ones’, ‘we, your hosts’, hence ‘we, the lords of this country’. The linguists are far from reaching a consensus on this, and for now, we must leave it as speculative.

 

At any rate, the form Ârya, though probably indirectly related with words in European languages, exists as such only in the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family. The common belief that Eire as ethnonym of the westernmost branch of the Indo-European speech community is equivalent with Ârya, is etymologically incorrect, as is the eager linkage of either with German Ehre, ‘honour’. This is one reason why the use of the English word ‘Aryan’ for the whole Indo-European language family was misconceived and has rightly been abandoned.

 

The main point for now is that the legendary Manu was the patriarch and founder of Vedic or Ârya civilization. His name carried an aura, so the naming of a far more recent book after him was merely a classic attempt to confer more authority on the book. The name of the book’s real author or final editor is unknown, but he must have lived at the very beginning of the Christian age. Older versions of the Dharma-Shâstra-s have been referred to in the literature of the preceding centuries, citing injunctions no longer extant in the classical versions. This confirms to us moderns, though not to the disappearing breed of traditionalist Hindus, that the law codes including Manu’s are products of history, moments in a continuous evolution, rather than an immutable divine law laid down at the time of creation.

 

 

1.3. Is the Manu Smrti a law book?

 

In 1794, Bengal Supreme Court judge Sir William Jones (1746-94), discoverer or at least herald of the kinship of the Indo-European languages in 1786, translated the Manu Smrti in English. Soon the British East India Company made the Manu Smrti the basis of the Code of Hindu Law in its domains, parallel with the Shari’a for Muslim Law. Colonial practice was to avoid trouble with the natives by respecting their customs, so British or British-appointed judges consulted the MS to decide in disputes between Hindus. But this was the first time in history that the book had any force of law.

 

It is an important feature of the Manu Smrti that it explicitly recognizes that laws are changeable. That doesn’t mean that anything goes, for the right to amend the laws is strictly confined to Brahmins well-versed in the existing law codes (12.108), so that they will preserve the spirit of the law even while changing its letter. Nonetheless, this provision for change helps to explain why Hindus have been far more receptive to social reform than their Muslim compatriots, for whom Islamic law is a ‘seamless garment’: pull out one thread and the whole fabric comes apart. On the other hand, this openness to reform never led to serious changes in social practice until the pressure from outside became immense, viz. under British colonial rule with its modernizing impact. But at least the principle that the Manu Smrti was perfectible and changeable was understood from the start and is implied in its classification as a Smrti, a man-made ‘memorized text’ or ‘classic’, or Shâstra, a man-made ‘rule book’, in contrast with the Shruti literature (‘glory’, often mistranslated as ‘heard text’ in the sense of ‘divinely revealed text’, like the Qur’ân), i.e. the Vedas, which had by then been exalted to divine status, and which don’t have the character of rule books but of hymns addressed to the gods.

 

Manu (as we shall call the anonymous author) explicitly acknowledges the validity of customary law: ‘He must consider as law that which the people’s religion sanctions’ (7:203). Much of what he describes was nothing but existing practice. Until the enactment of modern laws by the British and the incipient Indian republic, the final authority for intra-caste disputes was the caste pañchâyat (‘council of five’), for inter-caste disputes the village pañchâyat, in which each local caste was represented and had a veto right. These councils were sovereign and not formally bound by the Manu Smrti or any other Shâstra-s, though these could be cited in the deliberations by way of advice.

 

Apart from Manu’s own Shâstra, there were quite a few rival texts written with the same purpose. In anti-Hindu polemics arguing for the utter inhumanity of the caste system, Manu is often accused of laying down the rule that ‘if an untouchable listens attentively to Veda recitation, molten lead must be poured into his ears’ (because his unclean person would pollute the Vedic vibration, with detrimental consequences for the whole of society…). This rule is nowhere to be found in Manu. Yet it is authentic, but it is from the less prestigious Gautama-Dharma-Sûtra (12.4). The most famous Dharma-Shâstra apart from Manu’s is probably the one credited to Yajñavalkya, the Vedic philosopher who introduced the crucial notion of the Self (âtman) in the Brhadâranyakopanishad. But here again, the extant text, more streamlined and contradiction-free than Manu’s, is a number of centuries younger than its purported author.

 

Though not law books stricto sensu, these Shâstra-s (presented exhaustively in Kane 1930 ff.) do communicate a legal philosophy and directive principles for how people should conduct themselves in society and how rulers should organize it. Their most striking feature when compared with modern law, though not dissimilar to most pre-modern law systems even in West Asia and Europe, is that they allot different rights, prohibitions and punishments to different classes of people. In particular, and to Nietzsche’s great enthusiasm, it thinks of the social order in terms of the varna-vyavasthâ, approximatively translated as the ‘caste system’.

 

Thus, the murder of a Brahmin is punished more heavily than the murder of a low-caste person. For theft, a high-caste person received a heavier punishment than a low-caste person (Gopal 1959 190). And in a rule to which Friedrich Nietzsche alludes (14[176] 13.362), a labourer is not punished for drunkenness, but a Brahmin is, because according to Nietzsche, ‘drunkenness makes him sink to the level of the Shudra’. From the Hindu viewpoint, the rationale for the latter rule was more probably that a drunken Brahmin might desecrate the Vedas by reciting them in a jocular or mocking manner, which would be highly inauspicious, whereas a labourer’s loss of self-control is less consequential. So, while Manu is unabashedly non-egalitarian, Nietzsche overdoes this focus on inequality because he doesn’t empathize with other, religious considerations that were crucial to Manu.

 

In Manu’s view, everyone has to do his swadharma, ‘own duty’, which implies distinctive rules as well as privileges. This is not conceived in an individualistic sense (as in Nietzsche’s Zarathustra calling to ‘walk the one road no one can walk but you’) but as one’s caste duty. It is mostly because of its casteism that the Manu-Smrti is abhorred by Indian and Western egalitarians, and that it was admired by pro-aristocratic thinkers such as Nietzsche.

 

 

1.4. Reconciling Vedic theory with Hindu practice

 

In his letter to Peter Gast of 31 May 1888, Nietzsche called the Manu-Smrti ‘a priestly codex of morality based on the Vedas’ (KSA 14.420).  Manu’s understanding of ‘Vedic’, like that of modern Hindus, and like Nietzsche’s borrowed idea, is not certified by scholars as historically Vedic. More than a thousand years had elapsed between the final edition of the Vedas and the composition of the Manu-Smrti, and society had evolved considerably. One of Manu’s self-imposed tasks was to offer justification from the Veda-s, then already an old and little-understood corpus, for the mores and social ideals of his own day.

 

Nietzsche thought these ancient laws, Manu’s as much as Moses’, were endowed with authority through the pious lie of divine sanction. In fact, Manu does not claim a divine origin for his code the way Moses did, but the distinction is only technical; the attribution of the MS to the ancient patriarch and the mere fact of its use of the sacred Sanskrit language gave it a religious aura. Manu was a great trend-setter for the later and current Hindu tendency to back-project all later Hindu practices (e.g. idol-worship, astrology) and beliefs (e.g. in reincarnation, inviolability of the cow) unhistorically onto the Vedas. In particular, Manu’s account of caste relations has no precedent in the Vedic corpus, which apparently reflects the simpler social structure of a simpler age.

 

The Rg-Veda, and then only its youngest book, mentions the four varna-s (castes) as springing from the different body-parts of the Cosmic Man: the Brâhmana from his face, the Kshatriya from his upper body, the Vaishya from his lower body, the Shûdra from his feet (RV 10.90.12).  It is thus literally a corporatist explanation of society, with the social classes united in purpose as the limbs of a single body, similar to the corporatism found in Titus Livius’ account of Menenius Agrippa’s speech against class struggle, and in Saint Paul (1 Corinthians 12). This founding text is of course quoted approvingly by Manu (1:93).

 

However, the Rg-Veda doesn’t yet mention the really operative units of Hindu society, the thousands of jâti-s, or endogamous groups. Nor does it link the varna-s to hereditary profession, another important feature of caste. It is merely stated that these four functions exist in late-Vedic society, as they do in most developed societies. Presumably, just as the relation between the sexes was demonstrably more flexible in the Vedic as compared with the classical Hindu period (Altekar 1959), the relations between the social strata was likewise not as rigid yet. The Manu Smrti marks the phase of crystallization of the system of caste segregation.

 

The notion of inborn ritual uncleanness or untouchability (asprshyatâ) doesn’t figure in the Rg-Veda either. That is why modern Hindu social reformers could appeal to the Rg-Veda as scriptural justification for abolishing untouchability. The first apparent mention of untouchables is probably in the Chândogya Upanishad (5.3-10), where the Brahmins Uddâlaka Gautama Aruni and his son Shvetaketu find that they don’t know the answer to questions about life after death on which a prince has quizzed them. They go to the king who tells them that his own Kshatriya caste wields power thanks to the secret knowledge which until then they never shared with the Brahmins, viz. that man reincarnates. At once he adds the retributive understanding of reincarnation: ‘Those who are of pleasant conduct here, the prospect is, indeed, that they will enter a pleasant womb, either the womb of a Brahmin, the womb of a Kshatriya, or the womb of a Vaishya. But those who are of stinking conduct here, the prospect is, indeed, that they will enter a stinking womb, either the womb of a dog, or the womb of a swine, or the womb of a Chandâla’ (5.10.7).  

 

In theory, the meaning of Chandâla in this early context is open, it could be an ethnonym for some feared or despised foreign tribe (arguably the Kandaloi mentioned in Ptolemy’s Treatise on Geography 7.1.66) which got incorporated only later as a lowly caste. However, the term’s appearance in contrast with the explicitly named upper castes indicates that it already refers to an unclean or untouchable caste. By Manu’s time, the Chandâla’s or ‘fierce’ untouchables (possibly a folk etymology for what was originally a non-Sanskritic ethnonym) were an established feature of Hindu society. They were also called avarna, ‘colourless’, ‘without caste pride’. But it would be wrong to translate this as ‘casteless’, for they too live in endogamous jâti communities.

 

Nowadays, jâti is often infelicitously translated as ‘subcaste’, but ‘caste’ would be more accurate, i.e. endogamous group. The British colonizers initially translated this term as ‘tribe’ (as in ‘the Brahmin tribe’), which inadvertently held the key to the jâti-s’ historical origin. As a general rule, jâti-s originated as independent tribes that got integrated into the expanding Vedic society, whose heartland was limited to the region around present-day Delhi. It was part of the Brahminical genius to let them keep or even strengthen their separate identities, founded in their endogamy, all while ‘sanskritizing’ them, i.e. bringing them into the Vedic ritual order (somewhat like the Catholic Church facilitated the christianization of the Pagans in the Roman Empire by integrating some of their customs and institutions). Secondarily, some specific jâti-s originated by division (or, in the modern age, fusion through intermarriage) of pre-existing jâti-s.

 

The four varna’s were originally not endogamous by definition. They were hereditary, but only through the paternal line, as we see in a number of inter-varna couples in the Vedic literature and the epics. A man could marry a woman from any caste (though preferably not from a higher caste), she would move into his house and his varna community, and their children would naturally become part of their father’s varna. However, intermarriage between varna-s also went out of use, and Manu reports the practice but expresses his disapproval. The effective unit of endogamy was the jâti, not the varna, but since most jâti-s were classified under one of the varna-s, any inter-varna marriage would be an inter-jâti marriage and hence forbidden. While a hypergamous marriage between a higher-born man and a lower-born woman would be frowned upon but often tolerated (though least so in the Brahmin caste), a hypogamous union was strictly out of bounds: ‘If a young girl likes a man of a class higher than her own, the king should not make her pay the slightest fine; but if she unites herself with a man of inferior birth, she should be imprisoned in her house and placed under guard. A man of low origin who makes love to a maiden of high birth deserves a corporal or capital punishment’ (MS 8.365f.).

 

Hindu reformists often claim that caste was never hereditary, and that the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, the most authoritative source in everyday Hinduism, edited in about the same era as the MS, defines a person’s varna by his guna, ‘quality, aptitude’ and karma, ‘work’ (4.13). But those criteria are not given in opposition to heredity, on the contrary: in terms of work and aptitude, people in pre-modern societies tended to follow in their parents’ footsteps, statistically speaking. Moreover, the Gîtâ itself is explicit enough about the understanding of caste identity as hereditary and implying endogamy. When its hero Arjuna shies away from battle and displays a failing in the martial quality (guna) befitting a warrior, his adviser Krshna does not tell him that by guna he clearly isn’t a Kshatriya and hence free from military duty, but instead tells him to overcome his doubts and do his Kshatriya duty, for regardless of his personal traits he just happens (viz. by birth) to be a member of the Kshatriya caste.

 

When the two argue opposing positions regarding the justice of waging the fraternal war, they do so with reference to the same concern, viz. the need to avoid varna-sankara, roughly ‘mixing of castes’. Both say that the other’s proposed line of action, viz. fighting c.q. avoiding the war, would lead to the ‘immorality of women’ and thence to breaches of caste endogamy. (BG 1.41-43, 3.24).  When in a society two opposing arguments are based on the same value, you know that that value is deeply entrenched in that society,-- i.c. caste as an hereditary communal identity guarded by endogamy.

 

 

2. Nietzsche’s understanding of the text

 

Friedrich Nietzsche didn’t share the enthusiasm for all things Indian evinced by many of his contemporaries. Thinkers critical of Christianity from Voltaire to Arthur Schopenhauer and Ernest Renan had been using the glory of Indian civilization as a counterweight against the ideological influence which Christianity still wielded even among nominal unbelievers. Indology had been arousing a lot of interest in its own right, but was also instrumentalized in Europe’s self-discovery and self-glorification through the study of the Indo-European language family and the presumed civilization underlying its original expansion. Moreover, there was always the titillating element in India’s exotic features, charming or horrifying, such as the much-discussed custom of widows’ self-immolation (satî). All this seems to have left Nietzsche cold. At any rate none of it figures in his published works, except for his references to Manu’s thinking on caste.

 

The extant literature on the understanding of Manu in Nietzsche’s work is limited in quantity. This is logical, given that Nietzsche’s own discussion of Manu amounts to only a few pages in total. In a short but important paper, Annemarie Etter (1987, further built upon by Berkovitz 2003 and 2006, Smith 2006, Bonfiglio 2006; while Lincoln 1999 101-120 seems to have worked independently on the same theme) draws attention to the poor quality of the Manu Smrti translation which Nietzsche used, viz. the one included in Louis Jacolliot’s  book Les Législateurs Religieux: Manou, Moïse, Mahomet (1876), to be discussed here in §2.4. But apart from flaws in the text version used by Nietzsche, there are three more sources of distortion in his understanding of caste society, viz. Manu himself, Jacolliot’s personal additions to his translation of the received text, and Nietzsche himself.

 

 

2.1. Errors in Manu

 

The Manu Smrti is usually referred to, especially by its modern leftist critics in India, as the casteist manifesto pure and simple. This is fair enough in the sense that there is no unjustly disregarded anti-caste element tucked away somewhere in Manu’s vision of society; the text is indeed casteist through and through. However, the scope of the Manu Smrti is broader, dealing with intra-family matters, the punishment of crime, the king’s (in the sense of: the state’s) duties, money-lending and usury, et al. Matters are further complicated by the fact that the text itself contains contradictions, e.g. allowing niyoga or levirate marriage (9.59-63) only to disallow it in the next paragraph (9.64-69, as pointed out by Kane 1930.I.331); recommending meat-eating on certain ceremonial occasions (5.31-41) yet imposing strict vegetarianism elsewhere (5.48-50); describing the father as equal to a hundred Vedic teachers, then reversing this by calling the teacher superior to the father (2.145f.).

 

Part of the treatise’s self-imposed mission was to reconcile ancient Vedic injunctions, then already obsolete, with social mores actually existing in India around the turn of the Christian era. This seriously muddles Manu’s account of caste, e.g. first allowing a Brahmin man to marry a Shûdra woman (2.16, 3.12f.), as was clearly the case in the Vedic age, then prohibiting the same (3.14-19).

 

In order to fit the observed reality of numerous jâti-s into the simple Vedic scheme of four varna-s, Manu develops a completely far-fetched theory that each jâti originated from a particular combination of varna-s through inter-varna marriage. This makes no historical or logical sense. In fact, many jâti-s were tribes whose existence as distinct endogamous groups predated the Vedic age, let alone the MS’s age, and even the more recently originated jâti-s didn’t come into being the way Manu suggested.

 

Manu despises the lowest jâti-s not on account of race, nor ostensibly because of unclean occupations, but because they were born from sinful unions. Most of all he condemns the marriage uniting people from the varna-s at opposing ends of the varna hierarchy and thus most contrary to the ideal of varna endogamy. Not always consistently, but the general thrust of his teaching on endogamy is clear enough. And as if in punishment for their parents’ sins, the children of inter-caste unions became the people performing the lowliest and most unclean tasks.

 

The Dharma-Shâstra–s give a completely far-fetched theory of the origins of the castes, e.g. the Gautama-Dharma-Shâstra (4.17) relays the view that the union of a Shûdra woman with a Brâhmana, a Kshatriya or a Vaishya man brings forth the Pârashava c.q. the Yavana (‘Ionian’, Greek or West-Asian) and the Karana jâti. Likewise, Manu claims that ‘the Chandâla-s, the worst of men’ are the progeny of a servant father and a priestly mother (10.12).  Clearly, the Chandâla-s were looked down upon already, mainly because of their unclean labour (any work involving decomposing living substances, esp. funeral work, sweeping, garbage-collecting, leather-work), possibly also because of a memory of them as originally being subjugated enemy tribes, decried for having first terrorized the Ârya-s and thus ‘deserving’ their reduction to the lowliest occupations. Manu then used this existing contempt in his plea against caste-mixing, by depicting the latter as the cause of the well-known degraded state of the Chandâla-s.

 

Here, Manu gives in to a typically Brahminical (or intellectuals’) tendency of subjugating reality to neat little models, in this case also with a moralistic dimension. Practice of course is both simpler and more complicated than Manu’s model of caste relations. Low-castes are typically the children of low-castes, not of mixed unions between people of different higher castes. And children of mixed unions do not form new castes, they are accepted into one (usually the lower) of the two parental castes. But Nietzsche is not known to have taken an interest in such historical and sociological detail, neither for its own sake nor for the purpose of giving a verified groundwork to his Manu-based speculations.

 

 

2.2. Manu and race

 

In one respect, Manu’s idea of blaming social disorder on intermarriage seemed attractive to Western readers in the late 19th century, for it agreed with one of the tenets of the flourishing race theories, viz. that race-mixing has a negative effect on the individuals born from such unions. Better a negro than a mulatto, for the latter may have inherited a share of ‘superior’ Caucasian genes, but he will be plagued by an internal conflict between the diverging ‘natures’ of the two parent races. Likewise, the promiscuous servant woman described by Manu may have felt flattered by the interest her Brahmin lover took in her, but for her offspring it would have been better if she had restricted her favours to someone of her own caste. So, a pure low-caste ends up superior to a mixed offspring of high and low castes.  While it remains absurd to posit that sweepers and funeral workers (the lowest castes) came into being as children of unions between priests and maidservants, or between the princess and the miller’s son, Manu’s little idea resonated with a cherished belief of Nietzsche’s contemporaries.

 

In another respect, though, this contrived idea of Manu’s, and Nietzsche’s injudicious acceptance of it, conflicts with 19th -century racial thought. It was then generally believed that the ‘Aryan race’ had invaded India, bringing the Sanskrit language and proto-Vedic religion with them, then subjugated the natives and locked them into the lower rungs of the newly-invented caste system, a kind of apartheid system designed to preserve the Aryan upper castes’ racial purity. (For a critical review of this theory, vide Elst 2007).

 

In that connection, the reading of varna, ‘colour, social class’, as referring to skin colour, was upheld as proof of the racial basis of caste. To put this false trail of 19th -century race theory to rest, let us observe here that neither the Rg-Veda nor the Manu Smrti connects varna to skin colour. The term varna, ‘colour’, is used here in the sense of ‘one in a spectrum’, just as the alphabet is called varna-mâla, ‘rosary of colours’, metaphor for ‘spectrum (of sounds)’. So, the varna-vyavasthâ is the ‘colour system’, i.e. the ‘spectrum’ of social functions, the role division in society. Just as the existence of social classes in our society doesn’t imply their endogamous separateness, the Vedic varna-s were not defined as endogamous castes.

 

Physical anthropology has refuted the thesis of caste as racial apartheid long ago (Ghurye 1932), refuted at least according to the scientific standards of the day. Today the science of genetics is fast deepening our knowledge of the biological basis of caste, including the migration history involved in it. As the jury is still out on the genetic verdict, we cannot use that fledgling body of evidence as an argument in either sense here. But the use of colours as a purely symbolical, non-racial marker of social class is attested in several other Indo-European-speaking societies, the closely related Iranian society but also the distant and all-white Nordic class society of jarl (nobleman) with colour white, karl (freeman) red, and thraell (serf) black, as described in the Edda chapter Rigsthula.

 

In the predominant racialist view of the 19th century, the lowest castes were the pure natives, the highest the pure Aryan invaders, and the intermediate castes the mixed offspring of both. But Manu’s view, though often decried as ‘racist’ in pamphlets, is irreconcilable with this, for it classifies the lowest castes as partially the offspring, even if the sinful offspring, of the highest castes. The caste hierarchy as conceived by him is not a racial apartheid system. As an aspiring historian of caste society, Manu may have been seriously mistaken; but if read properly and not judged from simplifying hearsay, he was not an ideologue of racial hierarchy.

 

However, though the castes may not have originated as genetically distinct groups, their biological and social separation by endogamy over a number of generations was bound to promote distinctive traits in each. Nietzsche sees Manu’s proposed task as one of ‘breeding no fewer than four races at once’ (TI Improvers 3), each with distinct qualities. As a classicist, Nietzsche was certainly aware of the eugenicist element in Plato’s vision of society and he hints at the similarity with Manu: ‘[…] but even Plato seems to me to be in all main points only a Brahmin’s good pupil’ (letter to Peter Gast, KSA 14.420).  As for the medieval European society with its division in endogamous nobility and commoners: ‘The Germanic Middle Ages was geared towards the restoration of the Aryan caste order’ (14[204] 13.386).  Indeed:

 

Medieval organisation looks like a strange groping for winning back those conceptions on which the ancient Indian-Aryan society rested,- but with pessimistic values stemming from racial decadence. (letter to Peter Gast, KSA 14.420)

 

It was mainly European nostalgics of the ancien régime who got enamoured of the caste system. Yet, the rising tide of modern racism also managed to incorporate its own analysis, unsupported by the Hindu sources, of the Hindu caste ‘apartheid’ as a design to preserve the ‘Aryan race’. Nietzsche remained aloof from that line of discourse.

 

 

2.3. Manu, priest-craft and legislation

 

One element in Manu which isn’t easy to fit into Nietzsche’s viewpoint, is his pro-Brahmin bias. On the one hand, Nietzsche couldn’t fail to appreciate the determination of a whole society to set aside resources for a separate caste fully devoted to spiritual and intellectual work. Could a non-caste society have achieved the Brahminical feat of transmitting the Vedas and the ancillary texts and sciences through several thousands of years’ worth of all manner of turmoil?  On the other hand, he couldn’t muster much enthusiasm for a system placing the priestly class on top.

 

Manu is candid and explicit about this: ‘The priest is the lord of the classes because he is pre-eminent, because he is the best by nature, because he maintains the restraints, and because of the pre-eminence of his transformative rituals’ (10.3).  In theory, and because it was Brahmins who did all the writing, the Brahmins were the highest caste, and Nietzsche doesn’t seem to question this. But the tangible power in Hindu society lay with the Kshatriya-s, the counterpart of the European aristocracy, which enjoyed Nietzsche’s sympathy far more than any priestly group. For all his sympathy with Manu’s vision, Nietzsche had to criticize Manu’s ‘priest-craft’, debunking it as just a ploy for wresting power:

 

Critique of Manu’s law-book. The whole book rests on a holy lie: […] Bettering man – whence is this purpose inspired?  Whence the concept of the better?  We find this type of man, the priestly type that feels itself to be the norm, the peak, the highest expression of humanity: out of itself it takes the concept of the ‘better’. It believes in its superiority, and wants it in fact: the cause of the holy lie is the will to power. (15[45] 13.439)

 

Nietzsche, however, fails to question Manu’s implicit and explicit claims for Brahminical legislative authority. Through the format of his book, Manu creates an impression (which Nietzsche swallowed whole) that he is laying down a law, but when read more closely, his work proves in fact to be more descriptive than normative, not a law book but rather a treatise on existing social norms and values. ‘Manu prohibits X’ should in most cases be replaced with ‘Manu disapproves of X’ or ‘Manu notes that X is prohibited’. The many contradictions are also quite misplaced in a law book, but perfectly normal in a treatise dealing with the sometimes irregular or conflicting customs in a living society and with ideals versus realities. Moreover, Manu enjoins the ruler to restrain his zeal for law-making and instead respect existing customs in civil society. Manu’s treatise is antirevolutionary, holding off all revolutionary changes whether imposed from above or from below.

 

Therefore, it bears repeating that Manu with his limited ambitions was not a law-giver gate-crashing into society to impose his own designs. Once caste went out of favour, Manu and the Brahmins were often blamed for having created and imposed the caste system. Yet in fact, as B.R. Ambedkar, a born untouchable who became independent India’s first Law Minister, observed, it was quite outside their power to impose it:

 

One thing I want to impress upon you is that Manu did not give the law of caste and that he could not do so. Caste existed long before Manu. He was an upholder of it and therefore philosophized about it, but certainly he did not and could not ordain the present order of Hindu Society […] The spread and growth of the caste system is too gigantic a task to be achieved by the power or cunning of an individual or of a class […] The Brahmins may have been guilty of many things, and I dare say they were, but the imposing of the caste system on the non-Brahmin population was beyond their mettle. (Ambedkar 1916 16) 

 

Ambedkar held that castes had evolved from tribes, self-contained communities that maintained their endogamy and distinctness after integrating into a larger more complex society. This continuity has been confirmed from the angle of anthropological research (Ghurye 1959). Nietzsche speaks of the caste system as a grand project of breeding four different nations, but the system simply didn’t come about as the result of a project. Then again, Manu’s choice to preserve and fortify a system already in existence, was also a ‘project’, the alternative being to allow for negligence in caste mores ending in the mixing of castes, of the kind that in the 19th and 20th century started drowning the distinctive identity of the European nobility through intermarriage with the bourgeoisie.

 

Yet, in other places, Nietzsche drops the idea of a ‘project’ and acknowledges that Manu’s caste scheme is little more than an explicitation and perhaps a radicalization of an entirely natural and spontaneous condition. Like seeks like, people avoid intermarriage with foreigners or with people located much higher or much lower in the social hierarchy, so there is a natural tendency towards endogamy (jâti). Even more natural is the differentiation of social classes (varna) in duties, rights and privileges, i.e social inequality:

 

The order of castes, the highest and dominant law, is only the sanction of a natural order, a law of nature of the first rank, over which no arbitrariness and no ‘modern idea’ has any power. (AC 57).

 

In Nietzsche’s books, this counts as a plus for Manu: the Hindu lawgiver didn’t go against the way of the world, whereas Christianity intrinsically militates against nature.

 

 

2.4. Jacolliot’s errors

 

When Nietzsche quotes Manu in his Antichrist and Twilight of the Idols, and in loose notes from the same period (Spring 1888), it is from the French translation by Louis Jacolliot, included in his book Les législateurs religieux, Manou, Moïse, Mahomet (Paris 1876). He says so himself in his letter to Peter Gast. Colli and Montinari  remark that ‘the book of Jacolliot about the Indian Law of Manu made a big, indeed exaggerated impression on him’ (6.667). 

 

Jacolliot had served as a magistrate in Chandernagor, a small French colony in Bengal (later he also served in Tahiti), and claimed to have travelled ‘all over India’ in the 27 months he spent in the country. In his attempts at scholarship, he was an amateur and inclined to far-fetched speculations, especially tending to derive any and every philosophy and religion in the world from Indian sources. In his own account, he made his translation with the help of South-Indian pandits. The text from which they worked (and which is apparently lost) was fairly deviant, missing more than half of the standard version, and was apparently already a Tamil translation from Sanskrit. Though his travel stories were very popular among the greater reading public, Jacolliot was not taken seriously by the philologists, finding himself openly denounced as a crackpot by such leading lights as Friedrich Max Müller.

 

Some parts of Jacolliot’s rendering, including two passages quoted by Nietzsche, do not appear in the standard version of the text. Moreover, in his list of ‘protective measures of Indian morality’ (in TI Improvers 3), Nietzsche makes the additional mistake of quoting as Manu’s text what is in fact a footnote by Jacolliot. This faulty reading is so significant for Nietzsche’s thought that we will consider it separately in §2.5.

 

Etter notes that until 1987, for a whole century, no Indologist seems to have noticed the textual errors in Nietzsche’s quotations from Manu, though at least Nietzsche’s friend Paul Deussen and later Winternitz (1920) did care to mention Nietzsche’s enthusiasm for Manu. Doniger (1991 xxii), though unaware of Etter’s work, does note a faulty quotation (in Antichrist 56) from Manu 5.130-133, where Nietzsche cites Jacolliot’s non-Manu phrase: ‘Only in the case of a girl is the whole body pure’, as illustration of Manu’s sympathy for women. However, she doesn’t look in a systematic way into the problem of Nietzsche’s source text. This indicates that the eye of the Indologists had not been struck by any serious injustice done to Manu’s message by Nietzsche. Even if the letter of his text was flawed, it did nevertheless carry the gist of Manu’s social vision.

 

So we shouldn’t make too much of his reliance on a distorted text version, at least in so far as he deals with Manu’s ideology of caste. Indeed, as we shall see, Nietzsche’s faulty understanding of a particularly strange claim made by Jacolliot does not pertain to Manu’s own subject-matter, the caste system, but to a subject entirely outside Manu’s horizon, viz. a supposed role of emigrated Chandâla-s in the genesis of West-Asian religions.

 

One reason why, in spite of relying on Jacolliot’s flawed translation for quotation purposes, Nietzsche doesn’t do injustice to Manu’s thought, is that he must have been familiar with Manu’s outlook through indirect sources. Indo-European philology was a hot item in 19th century Germany, partly because it had ideological ramifications deemed useful in the political struggles of the day. Indocentrism was most strongly in evidence in Arthur Schopenhauer, a principal influence on Nietzsche. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had propagated Kâlidâsa’s play Shakuntalâ in Germany. Even G.W.F. Hegel (1826), by no means an Orient-lover, had written a comment on the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, including reflections on the caste system.

 

So, it is likely that Nietzsche had had a certain exposure to the then-available knowledge of the caste system as outlined by Manu. In particular, he may have already been exposed to Johann Hüttner’s German translation (Die Gesetze des Manu, Weimar 1797, based on William Jones’s English translation, 1796), at least indirectly. If only through his Indologist acquaintances and through general reading, he must have acquired  a broad outline of Manu’s caste philosophy.

 

Nietzsche’s preference for Jacolliot’s over more scholarly Western editions of the MS is a bit of a mystery. He had sufficient training in and practice of philology, as well as philologist acquaintances, to see through Jacolliot’s amateurism. This strange error of judgment remains unexplained, short of the rather sweeping solution of seeing it as a prodrome of his loss of sanity, which befell him only a year later.

 

 

2.5. Jacolliot and the Jews

 

There is one very serious mistake in Jacolliot that seems to have made an important difference to Nietzsche’s thought: his far-fetched speculation that the Chandâla-s left India in 4000 BC (Jacolliot dates the Manu-Smrti itself to 13,300 BC!) and became the Semites. The point here is not the eccentrically early chronology. The exact age of the Vedas was a much-discussed topic, still not entirely resolved, and dating at least the Rg-Veda to beyond 4000 BC, as against Max Müller’s estimate of 1500 to 1200 BC, was not uncommon even among serious scholars like Hermann Jacobi (1894). The point is the alleged Indian and low-caste origin of the ‘Semites’.

 

Nietzsche hesitates whether to believe Jacolliot on this:

 

I cannot oversee whether the Semites have not already in very ancient times been in the terrible service of the Hindus: as Chandalas, so that then already certain properties took root in them that belong to the subdued and despised type (like later in Egypt). Later they ennobled themselves, to the extent that they become warriors […] and conquer their own lands and own gods. The Semitic creation of gods coincides historically with their entry into history. (14[190] 13.377f.)

 

To the ignorant reader, this hypothesis is strengthened considerably by Jacolliot’s additional claim, uncritically quoted in full by Nietzsche (TI Improvers 3, referring to the demeaning features of Chandâla existence enumerated in Manu 10.52), that the Chandâla-s were circumcised. This is based on a mistranslation of daushcharmyam in a verse (MS 11:49) which strictly isn’t about Chandâla-s but about the karmic punishment for the student who has slept with his guru’s wife, either in this or a former lifetime. The mistranslation first appeared in a commentary on Manu by Kullûka from the 13th century, when Northern India had been conquered by Muslims. The word means ‘having a skin defect’ but was reinterpreted as ‘missing skin (on the penis)’, hence ‘circumcised’. The medieval Hindu commentator’s purpose clearly was to classify Muslims as contemptible Chandâla-s. Some Hindu scribes were very conscientious in rendering texts unaltered, others felt it would be helpful for the reader if they updated the old texts a bit, which seems to have happened in this case.

 

An anomaly in Nietzsche’s reference to male circumcision as an alleged link between the Chandâla-s and the Jews is that he extends the alleged Chandâla observance of ‘the law of the knife’ to ‘the removal of the labia in female children’ (TI Improvers 3). Female circumcision, in origin a pre-Islamic African tradition, is a common practice in some Muslim communities. Among South-Asian Muslims, it is rare but not non-existent. However, it is not a Jewish practice, certainly not among the Ashkenazi Jewish communities Nietzsche knew in Germany, and it is not part of the commandments in Moses’ law. So, his own assumption that the Chandâla-s (with whom Kullûka associated the Muslims) practised female circumcision should have put him on guard against the deduction of a connection with the Jews.

 

At one point in his unpublished speculations about Manu’s caste rules, Nietzsche actually uses the term ‘circumcised one’ where the context indicates that he means someone at the bottom end of the caste hierarchy:

 

The killer of a cow should cover himself for three months with the skin of this cow and then spend three months in the service of a cowherd.  After that he should make a gift to the Brahmin of ten cows and a bull, or better even, all he possesses: then his fault will have been evened off.  He who kills a circumcised one, purifies himself with a simple sacrifice (whereas even killing a mere animal demands a penitence of six months in the forest, unshaven). (14[178] 13.363)

 

Through Jacolliot’s clumsy translation, this seems to refer to the authentic passage listing the different punishments for killing people belonging to different social classes, as well as for killing different categories of animals (MS 11.109-146).  There, for instance, the punishment for killing a member of the servant class is candidly evaluated as rather unimportant: it is fixed at one-sixteenth of the punishment for killing a priest (11.127). Nietzsche’s information that a cow-killer should cover himself with the cow’s skin as part of his penance is also correct (MS 11.109). That killers doing penance should live in the forest unkempt and with matted hair is stipulated in MS 11.129. So, in broad outline, Nietzsche is conveying a genuine tradition. However, this passage from Manu doesn’t specify any particular level of punishment for the case of untouchables, the lowliest subset within the ‘servant’ class. Even conceding that Nietzsche correctly renders Manu’s general intention in allotting only a minimal punishment for the killing of people with minimal standing in the caste hierarchy, the fact remains that the authentic passage contains no reference to ‘skin-defective’ people, let alone to Kullûka’s and Jacolliot’s interpretation of that term, viz. ‘circumcised ones’. But Nietzsche had genuinely interiorized the notion that Indian low-castes in the first century CE were circumcised. In calling them ‘circumcised ones’ off-hand, he treats the alleged circumcision of the Chandâla-s as a given.

 

Compounding this important mistake, Nietzsche (TI Improvers 3) further quotes from Jacolliot’s Manu version an insertion by the medieval commentator to the effect that the Chandâla-s used a right-to-left script, allegedly because writing from left to right like in the Sanskritic script, and even the use of the right hand, was forbidden to them. Like circumcision, the leftward script is a feature of Muslim culture. But to confuse matters further for Nietzsche, both features are also in evidence among the Jews, whose alphabet has a common origin with the Arabic one. Joining the dots, Nietzsche concludes that: ‘The Jews appear in this context as a Chandala race’, and explains the Jewish people’s alleged priestly leanings from their supposed origins as a class of underlings of the Hindu priestly caste, ‘which learns from its masters the principles by which a priesthood becomes master and organizes society’ (letter to Peter Gast, KSA 14.420).

 

As an exercise in genealogy, this hypothesis of Nietzsche’s is highly unconvincing. If something is to be explained about the Jews by their purported provenance from specific Indian low-castes, wouldn’t it be more logical, and certainly simpler, to let them continue the cultural features of low-caste life, as is effectively the case with the Gypsies?  Conversely, if the Jews had to be of Indian origin and if they were suspected of ‘priest-craft’, shouldn’t they rather be descendents of the Brahmin caste? 

 

The question is all the more poignant when we consider that the idea of a Jewish-Brahmin connection was already quite ancient. In his plea Contra Apionem (1.179) the Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus quotes Aristotle’s pupil Clearchos of Soli as having claimed that Aristotle had been very impressed once with the discourses of a Jewish visitor, and more so with the steadfastness of his dietary discipline, and had concluded that in origin the Jews had been Indian philosophers. A similar claim is found in the Hellenistic-Jewish philosopher Aristoboulos. So, two millennia before Nietzsche, an Indian origin was already ascribed to the Jews. (A Brahminical connection is still attributed to the Jews in today’s India, both by Hindu nationalists who believe everything of value originates in India and invoke the superficial phonetic similarity between ‘Brahma/Saraswati’ and ‘Abraham/Sarah’, and by low-caste activists whose anti-Brahminism borrows the rhetoric of international anti-Semitism, attacking the Brahmins as ‘Jews of India’, e.g. Rajshekar 1983 2.)

 

Unlike Jacolliot, Nietzsche was interested in Judaism and its purported Chandâla origin mainly as an angle from which to attack Christianity. As Lincoln (1999 110) observes,

 

he came to be infinitely more critical of Christianity than of Judaism, and he saved some of his most scathing contempt for those (like Wagner, Bernhard Förster, and others of the Bayreuth circle) who were only anti-Semites in the narrowest sense, that is, Christians who failed to realize that everything wrong in Judaism was amplified and exacerbated in Christianity.

 

So, in Nietzsche’s view, the alleged Chandâla traits, especially resentment against the noble and the successful, though carried over by Judaism, were in fact at their most powerful and noxious in Christianity:

 

Christianity, which has sprung from Jewish roots and can only be understood as a plant that has come from this soil, represents the counter-movement to every morality of breeding, race or privilege:- it is the anti-Aryan religion par excellence: Christianity the transvaluation of all Aryan values, the victory of Chandala values.  (TI Improvers 4)

 

Though not very important in quantity, the Chandâla statements in Nietzsche’s work have made a mark on his whole anthropology, with the Chandâla as the lowest extreme in the range of human diversity. Sentences like the one just quoted corroborated the emerging dichotomy of ‘Jewish’ and ‘Aryan’, which was by no means intrinsic to the concept of ‘Aryan’ even after its somewhat distortive adoption into European languages from Sanskrit. They also helped make Nietzsche’s image as an incorrigible anti-egalitarian who burdened the lower classes with a caste-like inborn inferiority. Even if his anti-egalitarianism was not of the racist or anti-Semitic kind, it was nonetheless in sharp conflict with the rising tide of liberalism and socialism. Any ‘leftist Nietzscheanism’ was thereby forever doomed to a contrived denial or uneasy management of this contradiction between the freedom-loving element in Nietzsche and his condemnation of certain communities to a permanent position of contempt. That is one reason why Monville (2007) speaks of ‘the misery of leftist Nietzscheanism’. As his book’s reviewer in the Belgian Communist Party paper Le Drapeau Rouge (Oct. 2007) sums it up: ‘This German philosopher was openly racist and endowed with a remarkable and odious contempt for the social condition of the losers in the caste struggle.’

 

 

2.6. Nietzsche’s errors

 

Nietzsche has been accused of being very selective in what he retained and quoted from the Manu Smrti, especially its most un-Christian pieces of praise for the female sex, e.g. that all good things including access to heaven ‘depend upon a wife’ (MS 9:28). On that basis, he waxes eloquent about the woman-friendliness of the Hindu sages:

 

I know no book in which so many gentle and nice things are said to women as in Manu’s law book; these old greybeards and saints have a manner of being kind to women that has perhaps not been outdone. (AC 56)

 

The quotations are by and large genuine, but ought to be counterbalanced by far less flattering quotations from the same text. Wendy Doniger (1991.xxi) chides Nietzsche for this one-sided representation and quotes Manu (9.17): ‘The bed and the seat, jewellery, lust, anger, crookedness, a malicious nature and bad conduct are what Manu assigned to women.’ 

 

However, Nietzsche’s selectiveness doesn’t really misrepresent Manu’s attitude in what was to him the relevant issue, for this much remains true, that Manu genuinely values the role of women as wives and mothers. They were not equal with men (‘It is because a wife obeys her husband that she is exalted in heaven’, 5.155), just like in most other cultures, and Manu too considered them fickle and untrustworthy and what not, but fundamentally they were a very auspicious part of the cosmic order. The good thing about women was not their equality with men, which would have been a ridiculous notion to Manu just as it was to Nietzsche, but that they provided pleasure in life and perpetuated the species. For the same reason, sex is treated in a matter-of-fact manner because even if a delicate subject with problematic ramifications in day-to-day human relations, in essence it is an auspicious cornerstone of the cosmic order. Nietzsche contrasts this with an alleged woman-hating and anti-sexual tendency in Christianity as well as in Buddhism.

 

On the whole, Nietzsche does justice to Manu’s view of man and society. His main error does not consist in false or mistaken assertions about Manu’s position, only in a limited grasp of the Indian historical context. He was too much in a hurry to enlist Manu in his own ideological agenda to familiarize himself with the actual reality as well as with the philosophical background of caste society.

 

 

3. Nietzsche’s use of Manu

 

To what extent did Nietzsche’s idealized view of Hindu caste society play a role in his views of socio-political matters and of religion?

 

 

3.1. Favourable contrasts with Christianity

 

For Nietzsche, Manu’s vision contrasts favourably with Christianity in several specific respects. Firstly, its goal is not to deform mankind and clip its wings, but to ‘breed’ it, to direct its natural growth and evolution in a certain direction. Consistently with this difference in goals, there is a different approach: while Christianity ‘tames’, Manu ‘breeds’, i.e. he manipulates natural tendencies in a chosen direction. He does not destroy but shapes up. He shows no resentment against the existing order but tries to preserve and ‘improve’ it (AC 56f.).

 

Secondly, Nietzsche applauds Manu’s candid acceptance and promotion of inequality, which follows naturally from an acceptance of life:

 

And do not forget the central point, the fundamental difference between it and every type of Bible: it lets the noble classes, the philosophers and warriors, stand above the crowd; noble values everywhere, a feeling of perfection, saying yes to life,- the sun shines over the entire book. All the things that Christianity treated with its unfavourable meanness, procreation for instance, women, marriage, are here treated with seriousness, with respect, with love and trust. How can you really put a book into the hands of children and women when it contains that mean-spirited passage: ‘To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife and every woman her own husband: it is better to marry than to burn.’ [Paul: 1 Cor.6:2-9 - KE] (AC 56)

 

Thirdly, he welcomes Manu’s intolerance towards pessimism: even the ugly and lowly are part of the world’s perfection. There is no need to ‘cure’ the world of their presence, they are given a place somewhere in the system.

 

Fourthly, asceticism is present in Brahmanism as much as in Christianity, but its outlook and motivation is radically different. It does not stem from nor aim at life-denial, it is the joy of the strong who thereby feel and enjoy their strength of character. It is significant that the ascetic tradition originated in the martial Kshatriya caste, to which the Buddha and Mahâvîra Jîna, founders of the surviving ascetic sects of Buddhism and Jainism, belonged by birth. The Indian ascetic’s striving is of the heroic type, seeking to achieve liberation by conquest of the self, not by imprecating divine favours. His celibacy is not a matter of prudery or distrust of sexuality, but of preserving one’s sexual energy and of not diluting masculine standards by symbiosis with women and children.

 

And whereas these ascetic traditions would still fail to earn Nietzsche’s full approbation because of their hostility to the worldly vale of tears (though their assumption of suffering as the profound nature of all experience might also resonate with the sceptical-pessimist streak in Nietzsche), the Brahminical ascetic tradition as expressed in the Upanishads bases its inner quest on the perception of joy as the intrinsic nature of all experience. According to the Taittiriya Upanishad (2.5), the innermost level of consciousness, underneath the physical, energetic, mental and intellectual ‘sheaths’ covering the Self (âtman), is the sheath consisting of bliss (ânandamaya kosha):

 

Verily, other than and within that one that consists of understanding [= the intellect – KE] is a self that consists of bliss. […] Pleasure is its head; delight, the right side; great delight, the left side; bliss, the body; Brahma, the lower part, the foundation.

 

So, the level of consciousness into which the yogi sinks when he stills his thought processes, is one of natural bliss. This illustrates how asceticism as a practice of profound self-mastery need not be based on a sense of tiredness and loathing of the world. The focus in this case is not on the painful experiences from which yoga delivers us, but on the joy which is ever-present and can be awakened further by yoga. To complete this more positive conception of asceticism, Manu does not define the ascetic as one who rejects family and society (the way the Buddha did, or the way Christian monks do), nor as one who spurns normal life for the ascetic life; but as one who completes normal life with an ascetic phase, one who fulfils his social duties first and then, in middle age, crowns his career with the promotion to the ascetic’s lifestyle:

 

When a man has studied the Veda in accordance with the rules, and begotten sons in accordance with his duty, and sacrificed with sacrifices according to his ability, he may set his mind-and-heart on freedom. (MS 6.36)

 

Eventually, Nietzsche never got farther than a mere glimpse of this alternative view of asceticism, which contrasts so promisingly with the Christian one of self-punishment. He was locked in his European freethinker’s struggle with the Christian heritage. In the brief months of mental clarity that remained, he didn’t find the time or the appetite to explore the potential help that Hindu thought could have offered him in resolving his very European questions.

 

 

3.2. Goddamn this priest-craft

 

Anything good that may have sprung from Manu has come about thanks to the cunning schemes of Hindu priest-craft, for Nietzsche invariably a vector of the ‘lie’. Given Nietzsche’s views on ‘the uses and drawbacks of truth for life’, the use of this despised priest-craft becomes acceptable because it ends up serving the aims of life rather well. That’s better than the alleged life-denying impact of the Christian lie, but it’s still a lie. Only with that limitation can we say Nietzsche was enthusiastic about Manu.

 

While Christianity keeps its flock in check with promises and threats of the consequences in the afterlife, Manu achieves the same control with promises and threats of the karmic results in the next incarnations. That at least was and is the common view, and Nietzsche was not sufficiently versed in the subject to know and point out that among Hindu classics, Manu stands out by making only  a limited use of the reincarnation doctrine and actually making much more reference to the promise of achieving, or the threat of withholding, access to swarga, ‘heaven’. Numerous times heaven is held up as reward, hell as punishment, only rarely is karma invoked, e.g. an unfaithful wife will be reborn as a jackal (9.30). This afterlife with heaven and hell is the old view of the Vedas, where the heroes go to some kind of exuberant paradise, the way the Greek warriors went to the Elysean Fields, the Germanic ones to the Walhalla, or the Islamic jihâd fighters to Jannat where numerous houri-s (nymphs) shower them with their attentions. By contrast, the notion of reincarnation was a later Upanishadic and Shramanic (i.e. monastic, principally Jain and Buddhist) innovation. Both views of the hereafter get mixed up in Manu, e.g. the punishment for perjury is that the culprit is ‘helplessly bound fast by Varuna’s ropes for a hundred births’ (8.82, meaning he will suffer dropsy during that many incarnations, vide Doniger 1991 160), but also that he ‘goes headlong to hell in blind darkness’ (8.94).

 

From Nietzsche’s distant viewpoint, however, this made little difference, for either way, priests were exploiting supernatural beliefs about people’s invisible fate after death to impose their law on their people: ‘Reduction of human motives to fear of punishment and hope for reward: viz. for the law that has both in its hand’ (14[203] 13.385).

 

In this respect, Nietzsche classifies Manu along with Moses, Confucius, Plato, Mohammed as just another religious law-giver, i.e. an immoral liar who tricked his society into a certain morality by means of a pious fantasy. They were all the same, e.g.: ‘Mohammedanism has learned it again from the Christians: the use of the hereafter as organ of punishment’ (14[204] 13.386).

 

It is the way of priests to present the mos maiorum, or whichever innovation they wanted to introduce into it, as divinely revealed:

 

A law book like that of Manu comes about in the same way as every book of law: it summarizes the experience, shrewdness and experiments in morality of many centuries, it draws a conclusion, nothing more. (AC 57)

 

To prevent further experimentation by communities affirming their human autonomy,

 

                a double wall is set up […]: first, revelation, that is the claim that the reason behind the law is not of          human provenance, has not been slowly and painstakingly looked for and discovered, but instead has a               divine origin, [arriving] whole, complete, without history, a gift, a miracle, simply communicated…     And second tradition, that is the claim that the law has existed from time immemorial, that it is                 irreverent to cast doubt on it, a crime against the ancestors. The authority of the law is founded upon       the theses: God gave it, the ancestors lived it. (AC 57)

 

Therefore, Nietzsche rejects a certain anti-Semitic rhetoric then common in ex-Christian circles, and pleads that in this respect, the Aryan Manu is no better than the Semitic Bible, whose priestly vision actually had Aryan origins:

 

There is a lot of talk nowadays about the Semitic spirit of the New Testament: but what one calls by that name is merely priestly,- and in the Aryan law book of the purest kind, in Manu, this type of ‘Semitism’, i.e. priestly spirit, is worse than anywhere.  The development of the Jewish priestly state is not original: they got to know the blueprint in Babylon: the blueprint is Aryan. If the same returned to dominate again in Europe, under the impact of the Germanic blood, then it was in conformity with the spirit of the ruling race: a great atavism. (14[204] 13.386)

 

Once, in an unpublished note, Nietzsche expresses a healthy modern scepticism towards the pious caste order with its touch-me-not-ism:

 

[…] the Chandala-s must have had the intelligence and the more interesting side of things to themselves. They were the only ones who had access to the true source of knowledge, the empirical. Add to this the inbreeding of the castes. (14[203] 13.386)

 

So, to the modern man Nietzsche, the uptight purity rules against inter-caste contact and the distance which the upper castes kept from activities that would get their hands dirty, remains too stifling for comfort. While generally inclined towards the aristocratic system, he did not want to spend his energies campaigning against class- or race-mixing, unlike many Europeans and Americans during the century preceding 1945. Indeed, his ‘genealogical’ speculations largely aimed at disentangling the different components of Europe’s culture and value system, for he was fully aware of the mixed character of the European civilization and nations. In the caste system, he admired the elitist spirit, but not to the extend of trying to uphold its obsessive purity rules in modern society. And while caste ensured stability, a condition cherished by priestly types, Nietzsche was temperamentally more favourable to scenarios of upheaval. In that respect, the modern world was more congenial to him than medieval European or ancient Indian hierarchies, which he preferred to admire from a comfortable distance.

 

 

3.3. The racism Nietzsche didn’t borrow from Manu

 

In Nietzsche’s day, racism was a fully accepted and even dominant paradigm. Nietzsche himself was not its champion or its mastermind, but neither did he stand as a rock against the racially-inclined spirit of the times. The term ‘race’ had a wider range of meanings then, from ‘family’, ‘clan’ and ‘nation’ to phenotypical ‘race’ to the ‘human race’ (exactly the range of meaning that jâti has in colloquial Hindi). In Nietzsche’s case, it only rarely seems to have the fully biological sense that was gaining ground then:

 

His not infrequent use of the expressions ‘classes’ and ‘estates’ along with ‘races’ strengthens the suspicion that Nietzsche saw the ‘Aryans’ and ‘Semites’ in the first place as social units, rather as ‘peoples’ or societal ranks, less as ‘races’ in the modern sense. They are what they are because they have lived in specific ‘environments’ for a long time. (Schank 2000 60)

 

Nietzsche shows some knowledge of the findings of Indo-European philology, especially the theories about the wanderings of the ‘Aryans’ and the resultant substratum effect of pre-Indo-European native languages on the language of the Indo-European settlers (Schank 2000 54). Thus, non-Indo-European roots borrowed from lost substratum languages account for nearly 30% of the core vocabulary in Germanic and nearly 40% in Greek, and the differentiation of Proto-Indo-European into its daughter languages is partly due to the respective impact of different substratum languages on its dialects. Nietzsche fully accepted the then-common view that the native Europeans had adopted their Indo-European languages from tribes immigrating from the East, an Urheimat located anywhere between Ukraine and Afghanistan.

 

Early in the 19th century, this line of research originally had a fairly Indocentric focus, with India itself being the favourite Urheimat, but as India’s status declined from a mystical wonderland to just another colony, the preferred homeland moved westward. The quest for the early history of Indo-European was interdisciplinary avant la lettre in that it brought proto-sociological insights into its historical-linguistic speculations. Thus, what is now called the ‘elite dominance’ model of language spread, in which the dominant Indo-Europeans imparted their language to the substratum populations, included considerations of the caste system.

 

The Hindu caste system was widely interpreted in racial terms, viz. apartheid between Aryan conquerors and pre-Aryan natives. Likewise, the situation of the Greeks in Greece, with a vocabulary including numerous pre-Indo-European loanwords and the coexistence of free Greeks with a lower class of helots and slaves, was commonly understood as reflecting the subjugation of a native race by the superior invading Aryan race. Nietzsche accepted this racial scenario to an extent in the case of Europe, but most remarkably did not apply this paradigm to Indian society. Adopting Manu’s view, he saw the difference between high and low castes as not being one between superior and inferior races, but between pure and mixed lineages: ‘good proper marriages bring forth good children; a bad one, bad ones’ (14[202] 13.385). To Manu, good marriages are endogamous marriages, e.g. a marriage between two low-caste people is good.

 

It is only in a very loose sense of the term that Manu could still be described as a racist, viz. in the sense that he did derive people’s rights from the kinship group to which they belonged. These groups need not be distinguished by phenotypical traits, as races in the modern conception are, but just like races they are communities to which one belongs through birth. That is why recent UN campaigns against racism have tended to include casteism as a peculiar case of racism.

 

Where Nietzsche did (unsystematically) espouse ideas that were later incorporated in the prevalent racist discourse, he definitely didn’t get them from Manu. Thus, the notion of the ‘blonde Bestie’, which, according to Lincoln (1999 104 ff.), cannot be uncoupled from racial thought, has nothing whatsoever in common with Manu’s view of mankind. Firstly, Nietzsche goes along with the then-common identification of ‘Aryan’ with ‘blond’, as when he speaks of ‘the blond, that is Aryan, conqueror-race’ (GM I 5). This idea was totally unknown to Manu, who may well never have seen a blond person in his life yet lived in the centre of what he called Ârya society. But let us add that Nietzsche doesn’t go all the way in this identification of blondness with superiority, for in the same paragraph he goes on to include the warrior aristocracies from Arabia and Japan.

 

Secondly, Nietzsche’s glorification of the unbridled norm-breaking wildness as a privilege of the conquerors and ruling class, personified as the ‘blond beast’, is without parallel in Manu or the other masterminds of Hindu civilization. In Nietzschean terms, Manu stands for the ‘Apollinian’ values of order, balance, clarity and stability, not at all for the disruptive ‘Dionysian’ exuberance of the ‘blond beast’.

 

 

3.4. The antisemitism Nietzsche didn’t borrow from Manu

 

Nietzsche did not posit a simple division of the world’s religions in two categories, such as ‘Abrahamic’ vs. ‘Pagan’. Even in typologically similar and genealogically related religions, he sees the opposition between deeper psychological tendencies. Thus, both the ‘Aryan’ and the ‘Semitic’ religions show the same division in ‘yes-saying’ and ‘no-saying’ attitudes:

 

What a yes-saying Aryan religion, born from the ruling classes, looks like: Manu’s law-book. What a yes-saying Semitic religion, born from the ruling classes, looks like: Mohammed’s law-book, the Old Testament in its older parts. What a no-saying Semitic religion, born from the oppressed classes, looks like: the New Testament, in Indian-Aryan terms a Chandala religion. What a no-saying Aryan religion, grown up among the ruling classes, looks like: Buddhism. It is perfectly in order that we have no religion of oppressed Aryan races, for that would be a contradiction: a lordly race is either on top on going extinct. (14[195] 13.380f.)

 

Note that his judgment of the Jewish Old Testament, with its wars and love stories, is less negative than that of the Christian New Testament. Not that he failed to share some of the common opinions about the Jews, e.g. that they are only middlemen, not creators: ‘The Jews here also seem to me merely “intermediaries”/“middlemen”, they don’t invent anything’ (KSA 14.420).  He also seems to have seconded the ancient view that the Jews were motivated by hatred of the rest of mankind:

 

These measures are instructive enough: in them we have at once the Aryan humanity, wholly pure, wholly original,- we learn that the concept of ‘pure blood’ is the opposite of a harmless concept.  On the other hand, it is clear in which people this hatred, the Chandâla-hatred of this ‘humanity’, has been eternalized, where this hatred had become a religion, where it has become genius. (TI Improvers 4)

 

And though Judaism was less harmful to man than Christianity, the latter’s Chandâla resentment has ‘sprung from Jewish roots and is only understandable as a plant from that soil’ (TI Improvers 4).

 

Yet, it bears repeating here that Nietzsche refused to conclude from these common opinions that an anti-Jewish mobilization as envisaged by the rising (self-described) anti-Semitic movement was necessary or even desirable. In a letter to Theodor Fritsch, a declared anti-Semite, he stated:

 

Believe me: this terrible eagerness by tedious dilettantes to speak up in the debate on the value of people and races, this subjugation to “authorities” which are rejected with cold contempt by every thinking mind […], these continuous absurd falsifications and applications of the vague concepts ‘Germanic’, ‘Semitic’, ‘Aryan’, ‘Christian’, ‘German’ -- all this could end up seriously infuriating me and bringing me out of the ironic benevolence with which I have so far watched the virtuous velleities and phariseisms of the contemporary Germans. -- And finally, what do you think I experience when the name Zarathustra is uttered by anti-Semites? (KSA 14.420f.)

 

On the other hand, Nietzsche’s linking the Jews with the lowly Chandâla-s, though borrowed from Jacolliot (and unknown to  Manu), remains largely his own original contribution to modern anti-Jewish thought. Many things had been said against the Jews, but that one was quite new. It is simply counter-intuitive. If at all Jews, with their distinctive dress and hairdo and cumbersome ritual observances, had to be linked with any Hindu castes, then the purity-conscious and ritual-centred Brahmins (apart from the money-savvy Vaishyas) would seem a more logical choice.

 

Chandâla-s are the people who do deeply unclean work involving intimate contact with decomposing substances. While notions of clean and unclean exist in many cultures, the specific institution of untouchability is peculiar and is foreign to most societies, probably including the ancient Vedic society of North India. Its origin arguably lay in the Dravidian-speaking society of South India, where the lowest caste is called the Paraiya-s, famously anglicised as Pariah. According to Hart (1983 117):

 

Before the coming of the Aryans […] the Tamils believed that any taking of life was dangerous, as it released the spirits of the things that were killed. Likewise, all who dealt with the dead or with dead substances from the body were considered to be charged with the power of death and were thought to be dangerous. Thus, long before the coming of the Aryans with their notion of varna, the Tamils had groups that were considered low and dangerous and with whom contact was closely regulated.

 

The Jews, far from seeing themselves as similarly unclean, had their own set of cleanliness rules protecting their religious personnel from polluting contacts. Thus, the hereditary priestly clan, the Kohanim, have to stay away from funerals to protect their religious charisma from the uncleanness of death. Nor are they allowed to marry converts to Judaism, let alone non-Jews. There is nothing Chandâla-like about this pattern, which closely resembles the Brahmanical attitude. Conversely, orthodox Judaism practises a certain discrimination, though nothing quite as deep and permanent as with the Indian untouchables, against people doing unclean work.

 

Thus, it has been argued that Saint Paul, who made his living as a tent-maker working for the Roman army and frequently using animal skins, became so eager to renounce Jewish law precisely because by occupation he was unclean under that law (Wilson 1999 43). Even today, missionaries recruiting converts among the Dalit-s (‘broken’, oppressed, the current self-designation of  militant ex-untouchables) and trying to make the Gospel relevant to their situation, typically tell them that the shepherds tending the cattle that was to be sent for sacrifice to the temple in Jerusalem, the ones who came to praise Christ in His cradle, were themselves barred from entering the temple. This way, they establish a parallel between Christianity’s superseding Moses’ law with the Indian convert’s emancipation from Manu’s law.

 

 

3.6. The politics Nietzsche doesn’t discuss

 

Nietzsche discourses in general terms about a system of law but doesn’t pay the least attention to the actual laws (or proposals of law, or law-recipes) enumerated in the Manu Smrti or implemented by rulers who took inspiration from this classic. Worse, he pays no attention to the institutions that make caste society possible, e.g. the authority vested in caste pañchâyat or intra-caste council governing caste matters and internal disputes; or in the village pañchâyat, the inter-caste council in which each caste, even the lowest, had a veto right. A consensus had to be reached between the castes, which meant in practice that the harshest discriminations were somewhat mitigated. (Likewise, the ruling council of ancient India’s ‘republics’, composed exclusively of Kshatriyas, had to decide by consensus.) 

 

Conversely, Nietzsche was apparently also unaware of the attempts to reform or abolish the caste system by the Ârya Samâj and other contemporaneous movements. In his own day, the institution of caste was under attack, both from low-caste rebels and from high-caste nationalists who sought to unite their nation across caste divisions. This led to a whole pamphlet literature by reformers and also by defenders of the old system, to court cases and legislative initiatives in British India. In short, for a student of the pros and cons of caste, there were plenty of revealing polemics with freshly mustered data for the taking. And there was an implicit appeal to take sides in that social struggle.

 

In spite of this, Nietzsche never discussed the actual politics of the caste system. In the ongoing debate on whether he was a political or a non-political thinker, his treatment of Manu weighs in on the side of the second position. His fondness for Manu was a purely theoretical position, less concerned with India’s quaint social divisions as with the underlying spirit of elitism and of accepting the inequality that nature has imposed on mankind.

 

 

3.7. The Übermensch connection

 

With his merely incipient knowledge of Hindu tradition, Nietzsche missed a number of links between his own philosophy and Hindu tradition. His friend Paul Deussen saw a resemblance between the notion of ‘eternal return’ and the Hindu cyclical view of the universe. He rejected Nietzsche’s ‘eternal return’, though, on grounds that are not specifically Hindu. Whereas Nietzsche deduced the inevitability of eternal return from the finiteness of the number of possible combinations of all particles in the universe, Deussen in his Erinnerungen an Friedrich Nietzsche (1901) argues against this that, on the contrary, ‘the game of evolution of the world will have infinite variations’ (quoted in Smith 2005 147).

 

Likewise, others have seen the potential conceptual kinship between Nietzsche’s notion of the Übermensch and the ‘awakened’ yogi:

 

Both understand human being as an ever-changing flux of multiple psychophysical forces, and within this flux there is no autonomous or unchanging subject (“ego”, “soul”). Both emphasise the hierarchy that exists or can exist not only among individuals but among the plurality of forces that compose us. For Nietzsche the pinnacle of that hierarchy is the Übermensch, a goal not yet achieved although a potential at least for some; for Buddhism that potential was attained by Shakyamuni Buddha, and at least to some degree by many after him, for it is a potential all human beings are able to realise. (Loy 1998 129)

 

In Hindu tradition, the sannyâsin or ascetic stands outside the caste order. In spite of all his regulations for a caste-based society, Manu provided for a position outside the caste order. Upon being initiated, the sannyâsin performs his own funeral rites, gives up his name and caste and family ties, and becomes free. That is the job of the Hindu ascetic: to be free. The only ‘work’ he is expected to do, is to subdue in himself all his weaknesses and attachments. The royal road to achieve this is yoga, i.e. quieting the mind, disciplining the monkeys of our thoughts.

 

The common denominator with Nietzsche’s ideal is self-overcoming, in combination with a spurning of the comforts and certainties of ordinary life. Nietzsche did not explore or develop this connection: ‘To use [the concepts of Übermensch and eternal return - KE] the way he did shows Nietzsche to have been oblivious of the obvious Indian parallels’ (Smith 2005 147). It could have saved him a lot of misinterpretation by admirers who conceived of the Übermensch in eugenic terms.

 

 

3.8. Missed opportunities regarding God

 

Deconstructing God and rethinking the universe as godless were among Nietzsche’s central projects. From Voltaire onwards, many European freethinkers had used India in their personal freedom-struggle as a reference for counterbalancing Christianity. In that light, it is surprising how Nietzsche failed to exploit data from the history of Hindu philosophy in his anti-Christian crusade.

 

In the period of the late-Vedic handbooks of ritual, the Brâhmana-s, i.e. the apogee of Brahmanical ritualism, the idea dawned on the ritualists that the gods they invoked weren’t really heavenly persons who were listening at the other end of the line and then responded to the human imprecations by granting the hoped-for boon, but mere name-tags for the unseen phases of the magical mechanism which led from the performance of the ritual to the materialization of the requested boon (Clooney 1997). This idea was theorized further by the Mîmânsâ school of philosophy. Likewise, the subsequent shift from ritualism to asceticism (tapas, ‘heat’) proclaimed man’s supreme power to subject the gods to his own will.

 

The point is illustrated in the life-story of many ascetics including the Buddha, where Indra and Brahma and the other gods come and congratulate him for achieving his awakening (bodhi). In many stories, the gods are afraid of the increasing power of the ascetic and send seductresses to make him abandon his practice. Tapas or asceticism is a Promethean exercise, in which man steals the gods’ thunder. The ascetic schools in the pre-Christian centuries were mostly inclined towards atheism. In the philosophical schools of Sâmkhyâ and early Vaisheshika, and in the non-Vedic school of Jainism, the gods disappear from sight.  The Manu-Smrti obliquely testifies to this climate of theism’s lowest ebb. That gods are worshipped is a fact which Manu acknowledges as part of the human landscape, but he hardly concedes any agency to them. The envisioned rewards and punishments for good or evil conduct are not conceived as handed out by a heavenly person, but rather as mechanical (karmic) results of one’s own actions.

 

Though Nietzsche never published any reflections on this genesis of a kind of atheism within the late-Vedic tradition, his Nachlass indicates he was summarily aware of it:

 

‘With God, nothing is impossible’, the Christian thinks. But the Indian says: ‘With piety [for] and knowledge of the Veda, nothing is impossible: the gods are submissive and obedient to them. Where is the god who can resist the pious earnestness and prayer of a renouncing ascetic in the forest?’ (14[198] 13.382)

 

Or, more forcefully: ‘The Brahmin is an object of worship for the gods’ (14[178] 13.363). Like modern man, the sages of India believed in themselves rather than in God.

 

However, in dealing with ancient Hindu atheism, Nietzsche would also have had to face the subsequent resurgence of theism. Not just in popular religion did theistic devotion (Bhakti) gain an all-India upper hand in the course of the first millennium CE, it also conquered philosophical systems which had started out as atheistic. Consider the increasing impact of a doctrine of a supreme God in the successively emerging schools of Sâmkhyâ (‘enumeration’ of the universe’s components), Vaisheshika (‘distinction-making’, atomism) and Nyâya (‘judgment’, logic):

 

It hardly had any access into the classical Sâmkhyâ system which at that time was already paralysing and declining. And the branch of the school which accepted the notion of a supreme God, did not attain any great importance. […] In [Vaisheshika - KE] we see clearly how the doctrine of a supreme God gradually forced its way and became established. […] The matter is again quite different with the youngest of these systems, the Nyâyah. In it the concept of God appears in the sûtras themselves and quickly gains importance. (Frauwallner 1955.35-36)  

 

Likewise, in Patañjali’s Yoga Sûtra, the non-theistic core text which describes yoga practice as a purely human endeavour, is overlaid with theistic additions to the extent that modern teachers of Hindu philosophy classify Yoga as a theistic system. Even Buddhism often ended up replacing its original emphasis on individual effort with devotional surrender to a quasi-deity like the Amitabha Buddha (‘of the infinite light’). The monistic Vedânta philosophy initially rejected the distinction between sentient beings down here and a supreme being up there, but in the Middle Ages, it developed theistic variants which are now completely dominant in numerical terms.

 

Modern Hindus who want to flaunt the liberal virtues of their religion, like to say that ‘a Hindu can even be an atheist’. That may be true in theory, but today, a Hindu is typically a devotional theist. So, in the polemic over the death of God, religious people could take heart from the Hindu precedent of God’s resurrection.

 

 

Conclusion

 

At first sight, the importance of Nietzsche’s discovery of the Manu-Smrti is quite limited, viz. as a collateral illustration of pre-Christian civilization glorified by him, principally represented by Greece but now also found to have flowered in the outlying Indian branch of the Indo-European world. Crucial pieces of Manu’s worldview, such as the centrality of a priestly class (Nietzsche’s sympathy being more with the martial aristocracy) and the notion of ritual purity, seem irrelevant to Nietzsche’s ultimately very modern philosophical anthropology. They are sometimes mentioned disparagingly, while other Hindu ideas are not given due attention, e.g. dharma as caste-specific duty. In particular, the transparently priestly character of Manu’s code, with its dangling of supernatural rewards (c.q. punishments) after death in order to keep people in line, is dismissed as but a variation on similar ‘tricks’ in the much-maligned Judeo-Christian tradition. Yet, a few specifically Indian notions did have a wider impact on Nietzsche’s worldview.

 

Principally, the notion of Chandâla became a cornerstone in Nietzsche’s view of mankind, representing the most lowly and contemptible type of man, who broods on revenge against superior types. In a far-fetched departure from Manu’s use of the term, he relates the concept of Chandâla to the psycho-sociological origin of the Jewish national character and thence to the psychology of resentment allegedly underlying Christianity. Secondly, Manu’s strict opposition to caste-mixing tallied with Nietzsche’s aristocratism, which values people’s genealogy and encourages the differentiation of mankind into specialized classes. In the spirit of the times, however, it was also susceptible to co-optation into the then-emerging racialist reading of human reality as well as of Nietzsche’s own work. But the philosopher never committed himself to any Manu-inspired politics.

 

Finally, Manu’s respect for asceticism as a positive force in society (though best left to a class of specialists, not a norm for all), seemingly so in conflict with Nietzsche’s contempt for ‘otherworldliness’, resonates with subtler pro-ascetic elements in Nietzsche’s philosophy, especially in his conception of the Übermensch. But this, along with the budding atheism in ancient Hinduism, was to remain one of the potential Hindu sources of inspiration that Nietzsche left unexplored.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Altekar, A.S., 1959, The Position of Women in Hindu Civilisation, 2nd ed., Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass (reprint 1995).

 

Ambedkar, ‘Babasaheb’ Bhimrao Ramji, 1916, ‘Castes in India. Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development’, in: Writings and Speeches, Bombay: Government of Maharashtra, 1989, pp.3-22.

 

Berkowitz, Roger, 2003, ‘Friedrich Nietzsche, the Code of Manu, and the Art of Legislation’, in: Cardozo Law Review, 24:3, pp.1131-1149.

 

Berkowitz, Roger, 2006, ‘Friedrich Nietzsche, the Code of Manu, and the Art of Legislation’, in: New Nietzsche Studies, 6:3/4 & 7:1/2, pp.155-169.

 

Bonfiglio, Thomas Paul, 2006, ‘Toward a Genealogy of Aryan Morality: Nietzsche and

Jacolliot’, in: New Nietzsche Studies, 6:3/4 & 7:1/2, pp.170-186.

 

Clooney, Francis, 1997, ‘What’s a god?  The quest for the right understanding of devatâ in Brâhmanical ritual theory’, in: International Journal for Hindu Studies, Aug. 1997, pp.337-385.

 

Daniélou, Alain, 1975, Les Quatre Sens de la Vie. Structure Sociale de l’Inde Traditionnelle, Paris: Buchet-Chastel (reprint 1984).

 

Doniger, Wendy, 1991, The Laws of Manu, London: Penguin.

 

Elst, Koenraad, 2007, Asterisk in Bhâropîyasthân. Minor Writings on the Aryan Invasion Debate, Delhi: Voice of India.

 

Etter, Annemarie, 1987, ‘Nietzsche und das Gesetzbuch des Manu’, in: Nietzsche-Studien, 16, Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter.

 

Frauwallner, Erich, 1955, ‘The original beginning of the Vaisheshika Sûtras’, in: Posthumous Essays, Delhi: Aditya Prakashan 1994, pp.35-41.

 

Ghurye, Govind Sadashiv, 1932, Caste and Race in India, Bombay: Popular Prakashan (reprint 1986).

 

Ghurye, Govind Sadashiv, 1959 (2nd ed.), The Scheduled Tribes, Bombay: Popular Prakashan (reprint 1995; first published as The Adivasis – So-Called, and Their Future, 1943).

 

Gopal, Ram, 1959, India of Vedic Kalpasûtras, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass (reprint 1983).

 

Hart, George L., III, 1980, ‘The Theory of Reincar­nation among the Tamils’, in Wendy Doniger (ed.), 1983, Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions, Indian reprint Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

 

Hegel, G.W.F., 1826, Ueber die unter dem Namen Bhagavad-Gita bekannte Episode des Mahabharata von Wilhelm von Humboldt, Berlin (tr. Herbert Herring, On the Episode of the Mahâbhârata known by the Name of Bhagavad-Gîtâ by Wilhelm von Humboldt, Delhi: Indian Council of Philosophical Research, 1925).

 

Jacobi, Hermann, 1894, ‘On the date of the Rgveda’, reproduced in K.C. Verma et al., eds., 1986, Rtambhara: Studies in Indology, Ghaziabad: Society for Indic Studies, pp.91-99.

 

Kane, Pandurang Vaman, 1930, History of Dharma Shâstra, vol.1, Pune: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (reprint, 1990).

 

Köbler, Gerhard, 2000, Indogermanisches Wörterbuch, 3rd ed., Innsbruck: Internationale Germanistische Etymologische Lexikothek (online).

 

Loy, David R., 1998, review of Robert G. Morison, Nietzsche and Buddhism (OUP 1997), in: Asian Philosophy, 8/2, pp.129-131.

 

Majumdar, Ramesh Chandra, 1960, The Classical Accounts of India, Calcutta: Firma KLM reprint 1981.

 

Monville, Aymeric, 2007, Misère du nietzschéisme de gauche: de Georges Bataille à Michel Onfray, Brussels: Éd. Aden.

 

Rajshekar, Vontibettu Thimmappa, 1983, Why Godse Killed Gandhi, Dalit Sahitya Akademy, Bangalore.

 

Ridley, Aaron / Norman, Judith, (eds.), 2005, Nietzsche, Friedrich: The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Idols, and Other Writings; Cambridge University Press.

 

Schank, Gerd, 2000, ‘Rasse’ und ‘Züchtung’ bei Nietzsche, Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter.

 

Sharma, R.N. (ed.), 1998, Manusmrti, Delhi: Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan.

 

Singh,  Kumar Suresh, 1999, The Scheduled Castes, 2nd ed., Delhi: OUP.

 

Smith, David, 2006, ‘Nietzsche’s Hinduism, Nietzsche’s India’, in: New Nietzsche Studies, 6:3/4 & 7:1/2, pp.131-154.

 

Wilson, Andrew Norman, 1997, Paul: the Mind of the Apostle, New York: W.W. Norton (Dutch tr.: Paulus, de Geest van de Apostel, Amsterdam: Prometheus, 1999).

 

Winternitz, Moriz, 1907, Geschichte der indischen Literatur (English tr. 1920, Motilal Banarsidass; reprint, Delhi 1987).

jeudi, 12 novembre 2009

L'"Arthasastra" de Kautilya: aux sources de la pensée politique indienne

kautilyas_arthasastra_and_social_welfare_idi618.jpgL'«Arthasastra» de Kautilya: aux sources de la pensée politique indienne

 

L'Arthasastra de Kautilya est un grand texte classique indien en sanskrit consacré à l'art de gouverner. Il fut traduit intégralement en anglais pour la première fois en 1915. Les éditions du Félin viennent d'en publier une partie en français. Gérard Chaliand écrit dans son avant-propos: «L'Arthasastra  est un monument considérable qui témoigne de la puissance et de l'originalité de la pensée politique indienne. L'Arthasastra est un traité sur l'Etat, le pouvoir et l'usage de la force. Ecrit matérialiste, pourrait-on dire, aux antipodes d'une conception théocratique, le traité de Kautilya pourrait être qualifié de machiavélien si l'anachronisme n'était flagrant, le discours indien précédant la réflexion du Florentin d'environ quinze siècles (...). Selon la tradition, le traité serait l'œuvre du ministre et conseiller du premier empereur de la dynastie des Maurya, contemporain d'Alexandre le Grand, qui régna au dernier quart du VIième siècle avant notre ère. En fait, la datation de l'œuvre est incertaine (elle varie du Iier avant au IVième après notre ère). On tend aujourd'hui à la situer aux alentours du Iier siècle. Bref, l'ouvrage a environ deux mille ans et son titre, Artha,  désigne la prospérité et sa recherche, quête éminemment matérielle, qui, pour l'Etat, consiste à acquérir et conserver richesse et puissance. L'Arthasastra, ou science du politique, est un traité comprenant quinze livres  —soit cinq cents pages—  dont on ne trouvera ici qu'une modeste partie, mais qui me semble essentielle si l'on veut saisir l'essence de ce chef-d'œuvre politique. Car l'Arthasastra  est à la naissance du politique ce que Sun Zi est à la naissance de la stratégie: une élaboration d'une originalité absolue» (J. de BUSSAC).

 

Kautilya, Arthasastra. Traité politique et militaire de l'Inde ancienne, Editions du Félin, 1998, 122 pages. 100 F.

 

mercredi, 11 novembre 2009

"Kamayani": mysticisme de la "bakhti"

12848.jpg«Kamayani»: mysticisme de la “bakhti”

 

Dans leur collection d'oeuvres représentatives, les éditions de l'UNESCO publient Kamayani de Jay Shankar Prasad (1889-1937). Nicole Balbir écrit dans sa préface: «Le mysticisme de la “bhakti”, ce partage direct de l'individu avec la divinité en l'approchant par l'amour en dehors du système de la caste et du rituel traditionnel, renforce l'approche non dualiste d'une certaine philosophie hindoue. L'âme individuelle fait partie intégrante de l'âme universelle. Ces caractéristiques se retrouvent dans l'épopée de Jay Shankar Prasad, Kamayani. Au milieu du XIXè siècle, le hindi, langue urbaine à peu près standardisée par rapport aux variétés régionales de la plaine indo-gangétique et dont le langage parlé, l'hindoustani, est commun aux musulmans et aux hindous, devient une langue littéraire à part entière. Le vocabulaire abstrait s'enrichit de mots sanskrits et de mots nouveaux formés sur la base du sanskrit pour exprimer des concepts abstraits. La prose se développe rapidement et donne naissance à des genres littéraires plus ou moins inspirés de l'Occident, tels essais, nouvelles, romans, etc. Cependant la poésie reste la grande favorite. Elle n'est plus nécessairement chantée ou psalmodiée, et, s'inspirant des poètes occidentaux par l'intermédiaire de l'anglais, elle utilise des mètres nouveaux. Il en est ainsi pour Kamayani. Sur le fond, on peut y déceler, bien qu'assez indirectement, l'influence venue de l'Occident illustrée par la fierté nationaliste en plein essor, une relation plus personnelle avec la nature environnante, l'idée plus chrétienne qu'hindoue de mettre l'Homme au centre de l'univers. Mais, clairement, l'œuvre plonge dans la philosophie hindoue et l'auteur, adepte du shivaïsme, reste fidèle à ses croyances. Sa culture sanskrite très authentique transparaît dans la plupart des images, métaphores et comparaisons qu'il utilise. Les ornements qui font la richesse poétique du kavya (poésie de haut niveau) en sanskrit sont pleinement employés, même s'il n'est pas toujours facile de les rendre perceptibles dans une traduction puisqu'ils sont intimement liés à la syntaxe, à la morphologie et à la phonétique de la langue source» (J. de BUSSAC).

 

Jav Shankar PRASAD, Kamayani, Editions UNESCO/Langues et mondes, 1997, 254 pages, 180 FF.

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mercredi, 29 juillet 2009

Réflexions sur le destin de Dara Shukoh

portrait_of_dara_shikoh_mf69.jpg

Réflexions sur le destin de Dara Shukoh

 

Un musulman peut-il être tolérant? Faire preuve de tolérance d’esprit? Etre sincèrement intéressé aux autres cultures? Oui, bien sûr, il existe indubitablement de tels musulmans. La seconde question que nous posons: quel a été leur sort?

 

Dara Shukoh (1615-1659) était le fils aîné de l’Empereur moghol Shah Jahan et de son épouse favorite Mumtaz Mahal. Lorsque celle-ci mourut à la suite de son quatorzième accouchement, son époux fit construire pour elle un superbe monument funéraire, en dehors de sa capitale Agra, le fameux Taj Mahal. Après l’achèvement du bâtiment, il fit trancher la main à tous les maîtres d’oeuvre de cette merveille architecturale, de façon à ce qu’ils ne puissent pas en reproduire de pareilles ailleurs. Le Prince héritier Dara Shukoh reçut une bonne éducation, large d’esprit, que nous aurions qualifié d’“humaniste” en Europe. Il devint adepte du soufisme, une branche mystique à l’intérieur de l’islam. Il était un élève du saint soufi Mian Mir de Lahore. En disant cela, je n’ai pas dit grand chose car le soufisme présente un vaste éventail de variétés et de tendances.

 

On dit souvent que le soufisme est plus tolérant et plus large d’esprit que l’islam ortohdoxe. C’est partiellement vrai. Certains soufis ont été d’effroyables fanatiques. Comme, par exemple, Mouïnouddin Tchichti  qui, en tant qu’espion, a préparé la plus sanglante invasion de l’Inde par Mohammed Ghori (en 1192). Même Faridouddin Attar, connu comme doux poète, a écrit un chant à la louange de Mahmoud de Ghazni, autre grand massacreur d’“infidèles”. Dara Shukoh lui, était d’une toute autre trempe. Il cherchait une base commune à l’hindouïsme et à l’islam. Dans ce but, il traduisit pour la toute première fois en persan les textes  qui forment le noyau de la philosophie indienne, les Upanishads (“l’enseignement confidentiel”). Il expliqua les conclusions de ses recherches dans un ouvrage intitulé “Madschma al-Bahrain”, ou “Le confluent de deux mers”. Oui, concluait-il, de fait, l’hindouïsme et l’islam dans sa variante soufie, sont une seule et même chose. Tous deux valorisent l’“unité de l’Etre”. En posant ces conclusions, Dara Shukoh donnait une base philosophique à la politique que menait la dynastie moghole depuis près d’un siècle: faire cohabiter dans l’harmonie hindous et musulmans en arrondissant les angles du principe musulman d’inégalité entre croyants et idolâtres. Contrairement au régime tyrannique et fanatique du Sultanat de Delhi (1206 à 1526), qui avait sans cesse été confronté à des révoltes hindoues et des vendettas entre divers partis musulmans, l’Empire moghol, à partir du grand-père de Dara Shukoh, Akbar (1556-1605), reposait sur un compromis avec les Hindous, notamment par l’abrogation de l’impôt de tolérance que devaient payer tous les non-musulmans, par l’autorisation de rebâtir les temples qui avaient été détruits et par l’intronisation de princes hindous dans l’appareil administratif de l’Empire. Ces princes devaient servir de contre-poids pour le régime du Padishah (l’Empereur moghol), qui avait bien des ennemis dans le camp musulman: certains seigneurs et les clercs les plus radicaux, sous la houlette de Ahmad Sirhindi (mort en 1624), qui condamnaient sa politique de compromis. Le plus jeune frère de Dara Shukoh, Aurangzeb, appartenait, lui, à l’école de Sirhindi. Aurangzeb fulminait contre la politique d’apaisement de Dara Shukoh, avec son principe de dialogue inter-religieux et sa valorisation de la spiritualité par-delà l’exotérisme des pratiquants. Aurangzeb reprochait également à son frère de pratiquer l’art de la peinture et de favoriser les arts de la scène. Reproduire le visage humain est explicitement interdit par la religion islamique, bien que les princes les plus éclairés l’aient toujours toléré, du moins tant qu’on ne cherchait pas à peindre ou dessiner Dieu ou le Prophète.

 

Aurangzeb était un homme de stricte obédience. Il fit tout ce qu’il put pour décourager des pratiques non islamiques comme le théâtre, la danse et la musique. Plus tard, quand il fut devenu Padishah, il congédia les musiciens de la cour; ceux-ci manifestèrent alors devant le palais, en trimbalant un cerceuil pour simuler l’enterrement de la Muse. Aurangzeb leur cria alors de l’enterrer bien profondément pour qu’il n’ait plus jamais à entendre parler d’elle dans l’avenir. Il voulait ainsi se montrer féal disciple du Prophète qui se bouchait les oreilles lorsqu’il entendait jouer de la musique. Ce fut donc Aurangzeb qui devint Padishah et non Dara Shukoh. En 1657, Shah Jahan tomba malade et, aussitôt, une querelle éclata entre ses quatre fils pour sa succession. Dara Shukoh, qui était l’aîné donc le prince héritier en titre, bénéficiait du soutien de son père. Dans un premier temps, il vainquit son frère, Shah Shuja, qui s’était proclamé Padishah. Mais il fut vaincu  à son tour le 8 juin 1658, lors de la Bataille de Samogarh, près d’Agra, où il faisait face aux troupes d’Aurangzeb. Dara Shukoh put prendre la fuite et commencer à lever une nouvelle armée lorsqu’un traître le livra à son frère. Les juges islamiques le condamnèrent à mort pour hérésie. On le couvrit de chaînes, on le promena à travers la ville pour l’humilier et on le tortura jusqu’à ce que mort s’ensuive. De sa propre main, Aurangzeb trancha la tête de Dara Shukoh, son frère, et l’envoya à leur père, qu’il avait fait enfermer dans une tour, où il resta les huit dernières années de sa vie, avec toutefois une faveur: il bénéficiait d’une vue sur le Taj Mahal. Le monument dédié à l’amour...

 

“Moestasjrik”/ “ ’t Pallieterke”  (Anvers, 21 juin 2006, trad. franç.: Robert Steuckers).

dimanche, 05 avril 2009

Tantra-Sangha: tantrisme en Russie aujourd'hui

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Archives de SYNERGIES EUROPEENNES - 1995

 

 

Tantra-Sangha: Tantrisme en Russie aujourd'hui

 

L'association religieuse tantrique “Tantra-Sangha” a été fondée en 1991 par un moine tantrique d'origine russe, Shripada Sadashivacharya, qui avait reçu sa consécration en Inde. Ont adhéré à la “Sangha” les adeptes russes du tantrisme classique, de forme shivaïte-shaktiste, et des éléments se réclamant du paganisme slave; ils sont présents dans toutes les grandes villes de Russie et des pays de la CEI.

 

Les tantristes russes retournent aux sources de la culture spirituelle russe, vers la religion de tous les anciens Indo-Européens et tendant d'enrichir la tradition païenne russe en s'appuyant sur la tradition hin­douiste-tantriste, qui en est fort proche. Ils essayent d'éviter deux travers extrêmes: 1) promouvoir une “renaissance” artificielle du paganisme slave, tel qu'il a été anéanti par le christianisme et 2) introduire l'hindouisme sans tenir compte des conditions spécifiques russes. Les hindouistes d'Inde, du Népal et des autres pays considèrent que les “Hindous russes” sont leurs véritables coreligionnaires.

 

Les tantristes adorent un dieu-père, Roudra, qui est en fait Shiva, et une déesse-mère, Shakti, dont la force est illimitée. Les éléments les plus anciens de ce double culte témoignent de l'antiquité véritable de cette religion et, en la pratiquant, les tantristes russes ont l'avantage de s'appuyer sur des sources ex­clusivement indo-européennes. Selon la tradition, effectivement, les adorateurs de Roudra sont venu de Russie en Inde, il y a 7000 ans. Ces adorateurs de Roudra sont les fondateurs de la tradition shivaïste-tantriste, religion des centaines de millions d'Indiens et de Népalais contemporains. Aujourd'hui, après l'effondrement du système marxiste et avec la déliquescence du christianisme, cette religion revient en Russie, pays qui fut jadis la patrie des Aryens d'Inde, avant qu'ils ne déboulent dans le sub-continent, au-delà de l'Indus.

 

La “Tantra-Sangha” coopère avec les organisations hindouistes et cherche à obtenir que l'on bâtisse à Moscou le premier temple hindouiste de Russie. L'association refuse tout contact avec les pseudo-tan­tristes qui ridiculisent le tantrisme en en faisant une sorte de “yoaga sexualiste”.

 

La “Tantra-Sangha” a une activité “missionnaire” et édite une revue, La Voie tantrique,  ainsi que des bro­chures et des livres. En 1992, deux communautés importantes, issues de la “Tantra-Sangha” étaient en­registrées officiellement à Moscou et à Nijni-Novgorod. L'activité de la “Tantra-Sangha” est pilotée par l'Ordre des Avadhoutas et le Gourou Shripada Sadashivacharya.

 

Anatoly Mikhaïlovitch IVANOV.

 

Adresse de la “Tantra-Sangha”, Tikhvinski per. 13-73, Moscou, Russie. Téléphone: (07) (095) 972.02.30. Cette adresse est également celle du temple. Pour toute correspondance, écrire: “Tantra-Sangha”, P.O.Box 70, Moscou 103.055, Rép. de Russie.

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lundi, 09 mars 2009

Les dieux magiciens dans le Rig Veda

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Archives de Synergies Européennes - 1994

 

Les dieux magiciens dans le Rig-Veda

 

Analyse: Patrick MOISSON, Les dieux magiciens dans le Rig-Veda, Préface de Jean Varenne, Arché/Editit, 1993, 512 p., 186 FF.

 

Rédigé à partir d'une thèse, cet ouvrage est parfaitement lisible et accessible et présente, en neuf cha­pitres, le thème de la magie au sein de la religion cosmique des Indo-Européens.

 

Le magicien, qu'il soit homme ou dieu, est celui qui contraint les forces impersonnelles à le servir: il peut le faire pour le bien, c'est la magie blanche; ou pour provoquer le mal, c'est la magie noire. Il agit à titre per­sonnel ou pour la collectivité. Il appartient, la plupart du temps, au groupe des brahman.

 

La magie s'inscrit dans le schème PENSÉE-PAROLE-ACTION. Le rite religieux permet d'établir un contrat avec le monde divin alors que le rite magique assujettit les forces surnaturelles sans l'intermédiaire d'un agent spirituel. L'opération magique est méditée, accompagnée d'incantations et exécutée avec un geste approprié, et est directement efficace. La distinction magie/religion en Inde est parfois floue. Mais les deux forment un ensemble structuré.

 

Le premier chapitre traite de la PAROLE. La Parole fracture l'être mythique “VALA” qui retient prisonniers les éléments de la création: aurores, soleil, feu, eaux primordiales, vie. La parole sacrée est une parole d'énergie. Son maître est Brhaspati, allié du dieu guerrier Indra, briseur de résistances. La parole, comme une flèche, peut tuer à distance en calomniant. Inversément, les dieux font naître des divinités par la louange: Agni (le Feu) et Indra.

 

La Parole se présente sous quatre formes: la parole formulée (la parole sacrée: brahman; la parole inspi­rée; la formule “mantra”; la voix); l'invocation; le cri; le chant. L'auteur met en rapport le “cri” avec les for­mules magiques des Runes. Odhinn est l'équivalent de Brhaspati. Au plan cosmique, la formule indo-eu­ropéenne est de “fendre la montagne par la formule pour délivrer la lumière cachée” (p. 83). Le schéma mythique renvoie à la naissance de la lumière aurorale hors d'une montagne assiégée par le chant. L'équivalent se rencontre chez les Celtes, avec la déesse BRIGIT, aurore liée à la parole et aux phéno­mènes lumineux; à Rome avec MINERVE; en Gaule avec BELISAMA, la très brillante.

 

Le chemin suivi par la Parole est représenté par Hermès et Pusan. Tous deux veillent sur les carrefours et patronnent les chemins: qu'ils soient habituels (la terre), obscurs (les morts), ou ceux de la parole (messagers des Dieux). Ils règnent donc sur la communication. Enfin, un parallèle est établi entre CARMENTA à Rome (Carmen désigne le chant magique) et VAC, la parole personnifiée.

 

Le second chapitre traite de la “parole de feu” et de la lutte contre la sorcellerie. Le symbolisme du Feu évoque, par analogie, la chaleur mystique, l'amour, la parole de feu blessante au niveau profane ou lan­çant la malédiction au niveau sacré. Deux feux coexistent: le feu brillant du jour, le soleil, la flamme du sacrifice; le feu sombre qui rougeoie dans les forges, dans les volcans, qui vit dans les braises. A ce dernier sont liés les sorciers, qui pratiquent l'art du mensonge et de la tromperie. Hommes de la ténèbre, les sorciers disposent de la MAYA. Les haines et le mépris sont le résultat de la parole des sorciers qui brisent l'esprit d'entente unissant le groupe. Le calomniateur hait la Parole sacrée. Ennemis déclarés du culte et de l'ordre social, les sorciers pratiquent la calomnie et l'imprécation. Lutter contre la sorcellerie impose de lutter contre l'individu fourbe qui tient un discours contraire à la vérité. Face à la parole de feu de la calomnie, les dieux guerriers interviennent en ayant recours à la massue. Cela vaut tant pour INDRA que pour THORR.

 

Le chapitre trois traite des médecins divins APOLLON et RUDRA et des confréries initiatiques:

- Tous deux possèdent un arc dont les flèches vont droit au but. Flèches qui désignent la Parole ou les maladies qui frappent ceux qui manquent à leur parole.

- Ils sont médecins et responsables des maladies, car celui qui dispose d'un poison en possède l'antidote.

- Ils sont liés à la lumière malgré leur aspect inquiétant.

- Ils promettent l'immortalité. Apollon règne sur les îles des Bienheureux; Rudra a des enfants “immortels”.

 

Le chapitre quatre étudie le couple MITRA-VARUNA. Tous deux appartiennent aux ADITYA, descendants de la déesse ADITI, la “non liée”, i.e. la LIBERTÉ. A Mitra (contrat) est associée la puissance de l'action menée avec habileté (le DASKA). Ils œuvrent pour le bien et pour refouler le mal. VARUNA est maître de la MAYA, magie des formes, puissance qui permet à la fois de reproduire par mimétisme, et de transformer par imitation.

 

MAYA est à mettre en rapport avec METIS, la première épouse de ZEUS. Zeus a épousé successivement: METIS, prudence, ruse; THEMIS, institution (= Mitra); MNEMOSYNE, mémoire, tradition, c'est-à-dire, Bonne pensée, Bonne parole, Vérité, l'équivalent de l'ordre cosmique hindou, le RTA.

 

L'auteur établit aussi clairement les rapports entre VARUNA et ROMULUS; VARUNA et ODHINN; VARUNA et LUG.

 

Un court chapitre cinq traite des dieux forgerons. TVASTAR est mis en correspondance avec Héphaïstos. Puis un long développement, le chapitre six, est consacré aux RBHU, les êtres qui gagnent l'immortalité. Ils renvoient aux ALFES, dont existent deux catégories: les Alfes clairs, et les Alfes sombres, les nains, qui mettent en œuvre le mensonge. Les Alfes sont liés au soleil. Ils luttent avec les ASES contre les géants et les nains. Les Alfes comme les RBHU jouent un rôle dans le cycle annuel. Leur fête a lieu à l'époque du solstice d'hiver. Et, dans le crépuscule des dieux, le Ragnarökr, les Alfes survivent aux dieux.

 

Les RBHU, comme les Alfes et les Héros grecs se situent à la charnière du monde divin et du monde hu­main.

 

Le chapitre sept est consacré aux ASVIN, exemple de jumeaux divins dont on trouve l'équivalent avec les Dioscures CASTOR et POLLUX. Ils sont aussi à rapprocher de BALDR et HÖDR. Le chapitre huit ras­semble les données concernant INDRA et les puissances magiques.

 

En conclusion (chapitre neuf), le monde indien a reconnu trois catégories de dieux:

- Les dieux garants d'une puissance magique: Varuna, Agni, Brhaspati.

- Les dieux non garants d'une puissance magique: Rudra, Tvastar, les Rbhu, les Asvin.

- Les dieux utilisateurs d'une puissance magique: Indra.

 

Les dieux magiciens sont liés au ciel nocturne (ou sombre) où règnent les Asura, maîtres des esprits. La grandeur et la richesse du polythéisme aparaissent dans l'absence de dualité simpliste. Alors qu'un mo­nothéisme banal oppose aspects religieux et aspects démoniaques, le polythéisme isole les forces malé­fiques, le désordre et le mensonge, mais reconnaît une complémentarité entre magie et religion.

 

Frédéric VALENTIN.

mardi, 10 février 2009

An European Pagan and Non Western Perspective

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An European Pagan and Non Western Perspective

Christopher Gerard

Dear Hindu Brothers and Sisters,

To begin with, I would like to pay tribute to Ram Swarup, a man of great importance to our Indian brothers as a sage of the Vedic renaissance, but also to me personally as a young European whom he welcomed so kindly.

To our Indian brethren I have nothing to teach about this remarkable man who played such an essential part in defending and explaining the Tradition. His friends have paid tribute to him with reverence: Sita Ram Goel (the courageous publisher of Voice of India, who ensured that the sage, who was ostracised for a time, could express his thought despite the censorship, hostility and indifference he faced), and David Frawley in his superb preface to the posthumously published work of Ram Swarup On Hinduism.(1) Your Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee rightly said that he was "a representative of India¹s rishi tradition in the modern age".

As for me, I can never adequately express my debt to Ram Swarup whom I first met three years ago. We had corresponded before I came to India, and I had published a long interview with him (and Sita Ram Goel and K.R. Malkani) on Hindutva, which was undoubtedly the first special issue published in French with the participation of intellectuals of the Vedic renaissance (2). Ram Swarup approved of the approach of my journal Antaios, which deals with the awakening of the native ­ Pagan - religions of Europe, and with freedom from the dogma of the Semitic religions and materialism. The first thing he did when he saw me was to put his hand on my shoulder as a father would and say, his eyes sparkling with kindness: "Ah, you are young, so you will be able to fight for a long time". This remark, coming from the old combattant that he was, who had actively fought the major deceptions of the century (colonialism, Marxism, anti-Hindu secularism, Christian missions, islamophilia, etc.), was a compliment. He seemed to trust the young foreigner who had come to meet him. It was above all a call to lucidity, a call to battle. Not a battle to be waged exclusively with the outside world, but also a battle against the enemy within, for the old sage knew that our worst enemy is within us and that our internal enemy is the most difficult to conquer. In the course of our long subsequent discussions, I came to appreciate the immense breadth of his culture, his generosity, and also his sense of humour. To have met a man of such human value is a privilege for which I cannot thank the Gods enough. It was Ram Swarup who gave me my first lessons in Sanatana Dharma. He encouraged me on the difficult path of rediscovering my identity which had been repressed first by the imprint of centuries of Christianity then with the stamp of materialism. It was he who, on the last occasion we met and when the time came to say goodbye, was able to find the right words to encourage and advise me to practice mental yoga so as to face up to a hostile or at the least an indifferent world. His friendship was both deep and dispassionate, and for this his influence was all the more striking. I have dwelt on these very personal considerations to show you how important this man was and remains for all those who strive for the restoration of the Dharma. Ram Swarup is an example to be followed, a true spiritual guide.

As a result of the contacts we had with Ram Swarup, Sita Ram Goel and so many other Hindu friends, our European group came to understand that we were not alone, and that our work found its echo at the other end of the continent. Let us now make a brief overview of the work of the Polytheistic journal Antaios that I have been directing since 1993. Mircea Eliade, a specialist on India, founded the review in 1959. In the 1920s, he had been a disciple of Surendranath Dasgupta, the well-known historian of Indian philosophy, and the German writer Ernst Jünger (a disciple of Nietzsche among others) who said in 1959: "a free world can only be a spiritual world". The periodical was published in German until 1971. Its objective was to combat Western nihilism by a return to classical sources. In 1993, a small group of us revived Antaios with the blessing of the venerable German writer Jünger, who remained interested in our work until his death in 1998 at the age of 103. He was our oldest reader. We are also followers of another great example : Alain Daniélou, the French indologist, initiated to traditional Shaivism in Kashi where he lived more than 15 years. Danielou devoted his entire life to the defense of Hindu Dharma. He was himself a follower of Swami Karpatriji. He worked with Karpatriji, translated some of his texts in several languages (and also translated in Hindi texts of René Guénon, for instance in Karpatriji¹s journal Siddhanta). In his passionate autobiography The way of the Labyrinth, Daniélou wrote these lines : " I tried to offer an insight into the profound values of this extraordinary civilisation, the only one of all the great civilisations of the ancient world that has survived, whose contribution, were it better known, could revolutionize modern thinking and bring a new Renaissance. This was probably why people are so afraid of it " (3). When I red these lines fifteen years ago, it was a sort of revelation. Since then , I have never forgotten Daniélou¹s fundamental message.

From its beginnings, the orientation of Antaios has been clearly pagan: to restore in Europe ­ and on other continents ­ the polytheist and non-dualist wisdom of the eternal tradition, which you refer to as Sanatana Dharma. This is not a new philosophical direction in Europe. Since Antiquity, and despite the censorship of Christianity, there have always been more or less hidden dissidents. Today, the Church has lost the total power it previously possessed, and thus it has become possible to challenge secular cultural and spiritual self alienation and to reaffirm, finally, after centuries of being in hiding, Paganism - that is to say the restoration of non conversion-based beliefs, non dogmatic approach, self- and God-realization, and wisdom such as Vidya, the way of knowledge. All this, which still exists in India despite Muslim, Christian and materialistic aggressions, also existed in Europe. But in Europe, the work of the missionaries has been successfully achieved: temples have been burnt or converted to other uses; holy books have been consigned to the flames; priests (our ³Brahmins²) have been killed, and our beliefs have been ridiculed. In summary, a veritable spiritual genocide, like all the initiatives in favour of conversion on the five continents by the protagonists of the one and only deity, i.e. the jealous God of the Monotheists.

How was pagan thought able to survive the catastrophe caused by the christianisation of Europe? To reinforce its hold over the minds of the people, the Church needed the help of the stalwarts of pagan thought and rituals. Thus, it appropriated for its own use ­ often superficially - the philosophy of Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus, the old festivals, rituals and symbols. Despite this, scholarly Christian priests were fascinated by the very pagan wisdom that they had persecuted, but which lived on in their memories (and their libraries) as a living reproach.

For serious students of Greek philosophy, particularly of the Pre-Socratic philosophers (Pythagorus, Empedocles), the link with Brahmanic thought is obvious: transmigration of the soul, concept of eternal return, importance of harmonics and primordial sounds, ascetic way of life, vegetarianism, etc. As our beloved Ram Swarup reminds us so well in his spiritual legacy "the Greece of Pythagoras, Plato and Plotinus has more in common with Hindu India than with Christian Europe" (On Hinduism, p. 98). Books have been written about the links between Greece and India : for instance R.Baine Harris ed., Neoplatonism and Indian thought (Delhi 1992). Greece and India, and also the Celtic world (the Celtic Druids are the cousins of the Brahmins) may be distant in space but they are close in spirit. Their origins are identical, since the brilliant Vedic and Hellenic civilisations go back to a common pre-Vedic and pre-Hellenic source. This was probably a polar source, as Lokamanya Bal Gangâdhar Tilak has capably demonstrated in his book which should be essential reading (and was partly written in prison because of his involvement in the Indian liberation movement) The Arctic Home of the Vedas (1903). The polar source explains the common structure of the Indo-European languages, from Lithuanian to Sanskrit, as well as obvious relationships between the indo-european mythologies, and between the archaic roman religion and the Vedic religion. For example, the sacrifice of the horse, which took place in Rome each October in honour of the god Mars, corresponds to the Vedic asvamedha in honour of Indra. A similar ritual of the sacrifice of a horse can be found in pagan Ireland. Let us be clear; this does not represent an Indian influence over Rome or Ireland, or a Roman or Irish influence over India, but a relationship due to a common origin, and one which dates back in time to when our common Indo-European (the term ³Aryan² is awkward to use in Europe because of its nazi connotations) ancestors still formed a single tribe (4).

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In his famous book Shiva and Dionysus, Daniélou demonstrates that between Lord Shiva and the Greek Dionysus, the pre-aryan gods of ecstasy and ways to harmony with nature and cosmos, there is a common link, a 6000 years old way to unity with the divine (5).

Among the ordinary folk, the old traditions survived with a very thin veneer of Christianity. Christianity (mainly Catholicism, more than Protestantism) has retained many pre-Christian traditions (6). Good examples are the feasts of the Nativity and that of St John, which correspond to the winter and summer solstices respectively. The title of "pope" comes from the liturgy of the mysteries of Mithra, an indo-iranian God honoured by the armies of Rome. There are many similar examples, which demonstrate that Europe is not fundamentally Christian any more than India is fundamentally Muslim or China fundamentally Marxist. All these alien ideologies have been imposed from the outside, and as such their trace will be washed away with time, like a bad painting on the hull of a ship.

If ancient India and ancient Europe both have common roots, so modern India and modern Europe are both faced with common threats. Threats to the ecosystem, climate changes, and other threats that mankind must face up to. But there is another threat, which springs from the Judeo-Christian way of thinking and is thus alien to our not-dogmatic, non-proselytising and tolerant tradition: the phenomenon of conversions. Conversion to the single model, be it the one God, the single party system or the single market, or the supremacy of any socio-political institution over the entire society.

Conversion to the one God, in the tradition of the religions of Abraham. Conversions that Christian missionaries want to impose on Indians crudely or by more subtle means. To some, the advantages of egalitarianism, more preached than practiced by Christians, are extolled. For others the civilizing character of conversion and the possibility to forget their ancestral inheritance (thus betraying their ancestors) is put forward. Manipulation by suspect persons such as Mother Theresa, all the devices of systematic anti-Hindu propaganda, have managed to make a considerable number of Hindus, who for long have but weakly defended their traditions against these deceptions, feel guilty. Fortunately, this period of alienation seems to have ended with the coming to power of people prepared to defend Hinduism (7). Let us hope that the harmful role of the Christian missionaries will soon be neutralised, both in India and elsewhere. Besides, our group is following with interest the work of the Hindu Vivek Kendra to defend Hindu traditions against missionary aggression and hate-propaganda (8).

Today in Europe, the danger no longer comes from the Catholic Church, for it has run out of steam.

Since the Council of Vatican II in the sixties, the Church has openly proved its decline : the sacred language ­ Latin (our " perfect " language)- has been neglected and all the old mantras disappeared from the Catholic pujas. The Catholic priests now turn their back to their God, i.e. to the East, looking to the assistance (i.e. to the West), which is complete inversion. Christianity is an historical religion with a beginning and thus an end. For us, followers of Sanatana Dharma, Eternal Tradition, this is absurdŠ but their conception of time is linear, not cyclic. So it is logic to say that the Christain reign will finish one day, as it started 2000 years ago. This cycle is slowly but firmly closing. This does not mean that the Church is not a danger anymore : it is still (politically, financially) powerfull. The declarations of the Pope about the so-called conversion (i.e. spiritual agression) of India can be interpreted as a political error (he was invited by " uggly " Hindu fundamentalists and insulted the whole Indian people. Can we imagine an Indian President urging the Italians to become followers of Shiva or Vishnu ?) but also as a sort of escape, out of reality for in the West, churches are getting unoccupied, day after day. The Church is now unable to find priests and must import African priests, often ignorant. Contemporary Christians are really ignorant : most of them believe in reincarnation, astrology, ignore hell and paradise, in a word they ignore everything about theology but are fascinated by Pagan heritage. Rather the main danger comes from the colonisation of our countries by immigrant Muslim North-African populations. One of our friends, the writer and sociologist G. Faye published a controversial book on this phenomenon. It has already caused considerable scandal in France, although this has been kept from te readers by the ³right-thinking² press. The phenomenon is that of massive immigration into the country by populations from Africa and the Maghreb (coming from the lower levels of the social hierarchy) and through births in the immigrant population. This is combined with an assault on Europe by an aggressive form of Islam, supported by foreign powers such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan (9). Our proximity to North Africa, where there is a rapid population increase, whilst in Europe the population is in decline, and the serious imbalance between the two sides of the Mediterranean, constitute serious threats and undermine Europe¹s cultural and ethnic homogeneity. Islamisation, particularly in France but also in Great Britain and Germany, goes hand in hand with this invasive immigration ­ and criticism of it is forbidden for fear of being accused of "racism" (a good example of cultural and political auto-alienation). Faye., who is also a Pagan, reminds us in his "shocking" book that Islam is "absolute and proselytising universalism with an imperative vocation to conquer the entire world". He is right. Islam, a religion born of the desert, is above all a religion that creates new mental, psychic and spiritual deserts; it is ethnically and politically imperialistic; and one which believes in universal conquest through violence, assisted by its ethics of exclusion and intolerance. We have seen this in IndiaŠ. But Europeans are not interested in the history of real India, Hindu India. Dazzled by Christian or Marxist ways of thinking, they prefer the fascination of Muslim India. A revealing example: the most popular French tourist guide to Delhi provides full information on the mosques in the capital, but practically nothing on the temples! Faye also reminds us that the Koran is above all a manual of subversive warfare, which nobody reads. Those who have read it know that the book justifies conquest in three stages:

1) Dar al Sulh: in this stage the Muslim community is a minority community and momentarily adopts a peaceful attitude all the better to dupe the infidel, who thus naively allows his soil to be proselytised. (According to Le Monde of 9.12.99, 50,000 French people have converted to Islam up till now). This is the position in Europe today.

2) Dar al Harb: the territory of the infidel becomes a war zone. Perhaps there is resistance to Islam, or perhaps the Muslim population has reached a critical mass. In Europe, we now see the first signs of a low-intensity civil war: ethnic disturbances (which are not reported in the press), and widespread rioting by the younger generations of North Africans (who foray out from their no-go areas).

3) Dar al Islam: Muslims dominate the population and infidels are at best tolerated (as dhimmis: " protected" and required to pay a special tax) and at worst expelled or massacred. This was visible in Algeria and Morocco following independence. And I will not insult you with an explanation on the situation in Pakistan and Bangladesh after partition and also the forcefull mass-conversion of defeated Hindus during 10th to 16th centuries in India.

Some imams have quite plainly stated that the objective, according to God¹s will, was to transform Europe into Dar al Islam. In all evidence, the coming century will see a second wave of Muslim expansion in the West. The first was successfully repulsed from the 8th century onwards. But to make such a statement in Europe today makes one liable to prosecution (and Faye has just been indicted). Politically correct dogma requires peaceful coexistence between cultures; this is an utopic view that a basic study of history (for example that of India) will destroy. A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting a very brave man, Ibn Warraq, in Paris, on the occasion of the publication of the French version of his book: Why I am not a Muslim. The book is the first criticism of substance of Islam. The author confirmed the facts to me. Another author, Pierre Gallois, a French Air Force General, instigator of the French nuclear deterrent and a specialist of military strategy, has just published a book with an evocating title: Le soleil d¹Allah aveugle l¹Occident (The West is blinded by the sun of Allah) (10). These authors warn us against the utopia of pacifism, and of the danger of remaining totally blind to Islam as a deadly threat to secular traditions.

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Another friend of ours, a political scientist and a specialist in geopolitics, and a follower of General Gallois, has published a book which also created a furor among ³right-minded thinkers² (11). His name is A. del Valle and his book demonstrates in a highly credible fashion that, in Islam, faith is indissociable from political theocracy. He further states that agressive Islamism is not "heretical" for it represents an application of the dogma of jihad, a traditional and perfectly legitimate dogma for Muslims. Moreover, del Valle proves that Islam, aggressive and expanding from Europe to India, has found an ally as formidable as it is surprising: the United States. For, ever since the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the Americans have armed and trained ­ often with the help of their Saudi ally ­ the toughest Islamic movements. Our friend also shows that Muslim fundamentalism cohabits perfectly with the most ferocious capitalism. In the scenario of a confrontation between civilisations predicted by a Pentagon analyst, S. Huntington, the USA would arm Islam against Europe, Russia and India. As a result of the Gulf War, the USA has total control over the oilwells of this strategic region. To justify their support to the state of Israel, they support for example the Muslims against the orthodox Slav block (Serbian war) in the Balkans. They approve the indiscriminate immigration of Muslims to Europe. They support the Turkish (neo-Ottoman) designs in Central Asia (against Moscow) and support Turkey in its bid to join the European Union. I will not lecture you on the role played by the Americans against Delhi in Pakistan, which America considers as one of its colonies: the aim, as in the case of Europe and Russia, is to weaken an emerging power, in this case India.

Conversion to the single party system, for example Marxism. The collapse of the USSR in recent history has clearly shown the limits of Marxism as a totalitarian doctrine, which cannot understand any other civilisation than its own. And yet, despite the human failures, the spiritual disasters, and the economic catastrophe it brought about, there are still many firm believers in Marxism whose theories continue to influence many people even in Europe. For instance, too many journalist or scholars are still infected with marxist dogmatism and intolerance. Marxism is clearly linked to Christianity : same premises (linear conception of time, refuge in outer worlds : celestial Jerusalem or communist paradise, totalitarian egalitarianism which condemns differences, inquisition and physicall elimination of any opposition, etc). Christian and marxist propaganda agree to demonize the old cast system, which preserved during centuries the identity of India against all exterior agressions. Due to this intellectual terrorism, it is now difficult to tell the truth about casts, which are an important part of India¹s genius. Authors like Daniélou or Dumont (in his book Homo hierarchicus) dare to say the truth : casts are inherent in human nature.

In today¹s context, the third form of conversion is, in my opinion, the most dangerous. It is the conversion to the single market which the media, as the agents of consumer propaganda, refer to as globalisation. Globalisation is not unavoidable, a sort of inevitable progress, which will bring peace and prosperity throughout the world as liberal propaganda maintains. Behind the concept of globalisation lies the United States of America¹s ambition to dominate the world economically, militarily and culturally. This is not "globalisation", but imperialism to colonise the world by any means. So-called "globalisation" means making the planet American. There is no such thing as "globalisation", which some represent as progress, others as fate, but an all-out offensive campaign run from Washington to impose North American models, which are but are universally-formatted specific characteristics, on the whole planet.

The mask of capitalism, today in full expansion, is what I would call humanitarian materialism. It dominates people¹s minds thanks to a gigantic mass violation of them. The media has become a propaganda machine using a clever mixture of stick and carrot to ³jam² the mind, and its purpose is to gain the acceptance in the mentally confused masses of the official credo: market democracy. As the American linguist Noam Chomsky describes it so well: "propaganda is to democracy what force is to a dictatorship, in effect its essence". And yet, there really is confrontation between different imaginary worlds; the North American realm of fancy against the other imaginary realms. This confrontation creates other tensions of a political and economic nature.

In this war of colonisation, Europe in the midst of political and economic unification, India in full expansion, and Russia in full decline, all constitute obstacles to America¹s hegemonistic strategy. In its overall strategy to weaken its opponents and gain overall control, Washington uses all available means: financial weapons (competition in the banking sector, rigged neotiations in the framework of the WTO), food resources (OGM), military pressure (Balkan War), espionage (Echelon network), cultural weapons (television, CNN, destabilising advertising: Coca Cola is more dangerous than the 6th Fleet). Humanitarian materialism postulates a necessary but fatal "freedom" of the individual from all his affiliations (race, class, profession, religion, and even sex with the exaltation of homosexuality) and turn him into a conditioned consumer, slave to the worst of masters, a faceless master: the market (12).

These three main threats, conquest by Islam, Christian missions and humanitarian materialism are all occurring simultaneously, and they are self-reinforcing. Protestant missions, whether in India or in South America or in Russia, prepare the coming of the American traders. Islamic networks are supported by Washington indirectly through its Sunni Saudi or Pakistani allies. The example of the oil kingdoms shows clearlyl that Muslim or Protestant fundamentalism is compatible with consumerism, as these ideologies postulate the tabula rasa or clean slate and consider all ancestral traditions as obstacles to be pushed aside.

What to do?

It would be silly to give up in despair, for the very fragile system described above - one based on illusion ­ Maya - (typical of the great dissolution of Kali Yuga), will only last for a short time. One of our masters, René Guénon, a traditionalist thinker, already said in 1927, in his famous The Crisis of the modern world : " confusion, error and darkness can win the day only apparently and in purely ephemeral wayŠ and nothing can ultimately prevail against the power of truth ". (13) Oscar Wilde once said that the United States had passed directly from a state of savagery to a state of decadence. For the successors of the great civilisations such as India and classical Europe, it is clear that our potential destiny of becoming an annex of the American market (Bible and Business) is unacceptable. Our work, and it is a noble task, is to restore the Dharma, each according to his own traditions.

In Belgium, Antaios is modestly working towards this end, as does Voice of India in Delhi and so many others (Hindu Vivek Kendra in Mumbai for instance). We have founded the Society of Polytheistic Studies to raise funds, support our journal Antaios and organise meetings. Our last meeting was in Paris with a lecture given by prof. Maffesoli, one of the most influent French sociologistŠ who is a Polytheist ! For the moment, we are just a minority, slowly growing, sometimes demonised or ignored by the press and the University (but in England there are some Pagan scholars). I myself plan to publish a Pagan manifesto in october : Parcours païen (Pagan Itinerary) (Ed. L¹Age d¹Homme, Lausanne) in the same publishing house than Ibn Warraq¹s book Why I am not a Muslim.

In Lithuania, the World Congree of Ethnic Religions has been created : it would be nice that Hindus become members of this association devoted to the defense of Paganism. WCER organises an annual meeting with people coming from Poland, Iceland, Russia, Belgium, France, etc. (www.wcer.org)

In France, a more radical movement (closer to RSS style) has started to be spoken about: Terre et Peuple. Its president, a professor of medieval history and a well-known indophile, has recently published a manifesto in which he calls upon Europeans to rid themselves of consumerism and nihilism, to rediscover their pagan origin (14), and to combat the development of Islam on the continent. These constitute the modest signs of a reaction to the deep crisis. There are others, much more important. The Seattle demonstrations; the coming to power, in the world¹s biggest democracy, of a party which openly dares to defend the Dharma; the still embryonic renaissance of native religions; and the interest in the environment worldwide: all these are signs of a reply to the disorder engendered by liberalism.

In the battle we find the same ennemy, our worse ennemy : our own weakness, our own ignorance and divisions.

We Resistance fighters all over the eurasiatic continent, from Ireland to India, need a large alliance against chaos and destruction, for the defense of Dharma, the noblest task for our generation.

Europeans can warn you against dangers of modernity and we can find in India an ally able to assist us in a return to our native culture ³out of the ruins of the West². Europe has to free itself from the West and re-discover its true identity, true to the Dharma. In this endeavour, the rediscovery of India and the ancient relatonship between the Vedic civilisation and the ancient Greek and Celtic civilisations will, for example, be of great assistance. As the philosopher Nietzsche said: "the man of the future will be the man with the longest memory". Ram Swarup, sage of the Vedic renaissance, says the same thing in his spiritual legacy. I shall quote it as my concluding remark: "The Ramayana and the Mahabharata can help in restoring this lost dimension". Let us follow in his footsteps and re-read the pre-Socratic Greek philosophers and the Upanishads of India to obtain our self-rediscovery.

We know that as we say in Latin " Vincit omnia veritas ". In your sacred language, you would say " Satyam eva jayate ". (15)

Thank you for your attention.

New Delhi, 22nd July 2000

The lecture was organised by Vishwa Adhyayan Kendra, held in Constitution Club, New Delhi, with prof L. Chandra and K.R. Malkani.

 

References:

(1) Ram Swarup, On Hinduism. Reviews and Reflections, Voice of India, Delhi 2000.

(2) Antaios X, Hindutva, Interviews with Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel (in French), Brussels 1996.

(3) A. Daniélou, The way of the Labyrint. Memories of East and West, New Directions Paperbook, New York 1987. First edition in 1981, in French.

(4) J. Haudry, The Indo-Europeans, Institut d¹Etudes Indo-Européennes, Lyon 1994. See also B. Oguibenine, Essays on Vedic and Indo-European Culture, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi 1998.

(5) A. Daniélou, Shiva and Dionysus, Inner Traditions Intern., New York 1984

(6) R. Fletcher, The Conversion of Europe. From Paganism to Christianity 371-1386 AD, Harper Collins, London 1997. And the remarkable work of two Pagan scholars: P. Jones & N. Pennick, A History of Pagan Europe, Routledge, London 1995.

(7) K. Elst, Psychology of Prophetism. A Secular Look at the Bible, Voice of India, Delhi 1993. See also Sita Ram Goel, Jesus Christ. An Artifice for Aggression, Voice of India, Delhi 1994 and, Defense of Hindu Society, Voice of India, Delhi 1994.

(8) A.V. Chowgule, Christianity in India. The Hindutva Perspective, Hindu Vivek Kendra, Mumbai 1999.

(9) G. Faye, La Colonisation de l¹Europe. Discours vrai sur l¹immigration et l¹islam, Aencre, Paris 2000.

(10) Ibn Warraq, Pourquoi je ne suis pas Musulman, L¹Age d¹Homme, Lausanne 1999. See also P.M. Gallois, Le soleil d¹Allah aveugle l¹Occident, Age d¹Homme, Lausanne 1998.

(11) A. del Valle, Islamisme et Etats-Unis. Une alliance contre l¹Europe, Age d¹Homme, Lausanne 1997.

(12) See Le Monde diplomatique, mai 2000: " L¹Amérique dans les têtes ".

(13) R. Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World, Indica Books, Benares 1999.

(14) P. Vial, Une Terre, un peuple, Ed. Terre et Peuple, Lyon 2000 email: terrepeuple@hotmail.com ).

(15) R. Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World, op. cit., p. 142.

[Public speech held in July 2000 in India, taken from SYNERGON, 10th September 2000]

vendredi, 21 novembre 2008

Savitri Devi: Hellénisme et hindouisme, la grande aventure

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Savitri Devi:

Hellénisme et hindouisme, la grande aventure

par Jean Mabire

Le goût très moderne pour le scandale et l’étrange peut parfois transfigurer les aventures intellectuelles les plus captivantes en trompeuse pâture médiatique. C'est ainsi que le livre de Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Hitler’s priestess, récemment traduit en français sous l’étiquette La prêtresse d’Hitler, risque d'attirer les amateurs d’ésotérisme de pacotille en dissimulant l’itinéraire absolument passionnant de cette Grecque, née en France, qui devait découvrir aux Indes le point d'ancrage d’une singulière croyance politico-religieuse.

Personne ne connaissait cette femme, auteur d’une vingtaine de livres, où un authentique chef-d’œuvre, L’Etang aux lotus, témoignage d’une fort poétique conversion, voisinait avec un portrait fabuleux du pharaon Akhenaton, fils du soleil s’il en fut, et des pamphlets d’une rare violence publiés après la guerre en éditions semi-clandestines.

Celle qui se faisait appeler Savitri Devi et épousa le militant nationaliste hindou Asit Krishna Mukherji devait, sur la fin de sa vie, fréquenter les milieux les plus extrémistes d’Europe et d’Amérique où elle passa pour une sorte d’illuminée.

Les chemins intellectuellement et spirituellement les plus insolites comme les plus dangereux qu’elle fréquenta par passion tout autant que par devoir, ne peuvent faire oublier les longues années où elle rechercha, toujours sincère, une sorte de foi indo-européenne exaltée, dont elle fut, plus qu’une prêtresse, un véritable « gourou », à la fois oriental et « polaire ».

L’hérédité est là. Implacable. Celle qui se fera un jour appeler Savitri Devi est née le 30 septembre 1905, dans le Rhône, d’une mère originaire de Cornouaille britannique nommée Nash et d'un père moitié italien de Londres [Lombardy—ed.] et moitié grec de Lyon, qui portait le nom de Portas. L’enfant reçoit le prénom de Maximiani, forme féminine hellénique de Maximien. En remontant fort loin dans le temps, elle pouvait se dire « nordique », Jutlandaise du côté maternel et Lombarde du côté paternel.

Elle était aussi « Barbare », influencée par les poèmes de Charles Leconte de Lisle, le dieu littéraire de sa jeunesse.

Curieusement, sa germanophilie remonte à un premier séjour en Grèce, où elle rêvait des Doriens sur les ruines de l’Acropole d'Athènes. De retour en France, elle devait acquérir la nationalité hellénique en 1928 par une démarche au consulat grec de Lyon, sa ville natale. De solides études la conduisent à un double doctorat en 1935, avec un essai critique sur son lointain compatriote Théophile Kaïris, poète et patriote, éveilleur du nationalisme hellénique, et une thèse sur La simplicité mathématique.

C’est tout à la fois une littéraire, une scientifique et surtout une passionnée aux élans fort romantiques. De son enthousiasme pour la Grèce, elle tire un engouement pour l’aventure indo-européenne qui la conduira en Inde, où elle découvre l'immense richesse d’une culture païenne pré-chrétienne.

Elle se veut désormais citoyenne de l’Âryâvarta, nom traditionnel des territoires aryens de l’Asie du Sud où elle va rechercher « les dieux et les rites voisins de ceux de la Grèce antique, de la Rome antique et de la Germanie antique, que les gens de notre race ont possédés, avec le culte du Soleil, il y a six mille ans, et auxquels des millions d’êtres vivants de toutes les races restent attachés ».

Au printemps 1932, à 27 ans, elle accomplit ce que Lanza del Vasto nommera un jour « le pèlerinage aux sources ».

Elle n’est pas une touriste mais une croyante. Elle va rapidement apprendre les langues du pays, l’hindî et le bengali, et vivre dans l’âshram de Rabîndranâth Tagore à Shantiniketan, dans le Bengale. Elle part ensuite comme professeur dans un collège non loin de Delhi, où elle enseigne l’histoire.

Maximiani Portas prend alors le nom de Savitri Devi, en l’honneur de la divinité solaire féminine.

En 1940, elle fait paraître à Calcutta son premier livre, L’Etang aux lotus, où elle raconte dans un style très lyrique sa « conversion » à l’hindouisme, à la fin des années trente. Ce livre, publié en français, est à la fois récit de voyage et longue quête spirituelle d’une jeune femme qui va désormais vivre illuminée par une foi qui ne la quittera plus jamais :

« Si j’avais à me choisir une devise, je prendrais celle-ci : Pure, dure, sûre, en d’autres termes :  inaltérable. J’exprimerais par là l’idéal des Forts, de ceux que rien n’abat, que rien ne corrompt, que rien ne fait changer ; de ceux sur qui on peut compter, parce que leur vie est ordre et fidélité, à l’unisson avec l’éternel. »

Dès la fin de 1936, elle s’est fixée à Calcutta, où elle enseigne à ses nouveaux « compatriotes » l’hindouisme, « gardien de l’héritage aryen et védique depuis des siècles, essence même de l’Inde ».

Tout naturellement, sa vision religieuse est aussi une vision politique et elle s’implique totalement dans le nationalisme hindou et notamment dans le mouvement de D.V. Savarkar. L’Inde n'est pas seulement une patrie, une future nation, c’est aussi une véritable Terre Sainte, celle des Védas, des dieux et des héros.

Elle écrit, cette fois en anglais : A Warning to the Hindus, où elle critique les influences chrétiennes et musulmanes, dans une optique à la fois païenne et anticolonialiste. Elle épouse alors Asit Krishna Mukherji, un éditeur hindou, assez anti-britannique pour s’affirmer pro-germanique.

Du combat culturel et religieux, elle passe, sous son influence, à la lutte clandestine dans le sillage du chef nationaliste Subhas Chandra Bose, qui rêve d’une armée capable de libérer les Indes, avec l’aide des Allemands et des Japonais.

Savitri Devi, devenue militante, n’en poursuit pas moins sa grande quête spirituelle. Elle se passionne alors pour le pharaon égyptien Akhenaton, époux de la reine Néfertiti et fondateur d’une religion solaire vieille de 3.300 ans.

Son penchant pour ce souverain, qu’elle nomme « fils de Dieu », se double d’un véritable culte de la Nature qui la conduit à prendre la défense des animaux dans son livre Impeachment of Man, critique radicale de l’anthropocentrisme.

Le livre paraît en 1945. Elle vient d’avoir 40 ans et décide de partir en Europe, où elle veut voir ce que devient l'Allemagne de la défaite. Elle séjourne d’abord à Londres et à Lyon. Puis elle se rend dans les ruines du IIIe Reich. Elle affirme vivre alors dans le « Kali-Yuga », l’Age de Fer, d’où repartira un nouveau cycle : Ages d’Or, d’Argent et de Bronze.

Elle défend la théorie des trois types d’Hommes : les Hommes dans le Temps, les Hommes au-dessus du Temps et les Hommes contre le Temps. Elle s’exalte de plus en plus et considère désormais Hitler comme un « avatar », une réincarnation des héros indiens de la Bhagavad Gîtâ !

Ses propos et ses brochures lui vaudront d’être emprisonnée à Werl par les autorités de la zone d’occupation britannique qui l’accusent de néo-nazisme.

Libérée en 1949, elle va désormais se partager entre l’Inde, l’Europe et l’Amérique, écrivant des pamphlets politico-religieux d’une rare violence : Défiance (1950), Gold in the Furnace (1953), Pilgrimage (1958), The Lightning and the Sun (1958).

Tandis que ses livres paraissent à Calcutta, elle parcourt le monde au hasard de ses obsessions et de ses amitiés, rencontrant, sans discernement, quelques rescapés de l’aventure hitlérienne et bon nombre de néo-nazis, souvent parmi les plus folkloriques.

Elle vit chichement de son métier d’institutrice et fera plusieurs séjours dans des asiles de vieillards indigents, alors qu’elle est devenue presque aveugle. Elle meurt chez une amie, dans un petit village anglais de l’Essex, le 22 octobre 1982, à l’âge de 77 ans.

Si le livre, assez hostile, que lui a consacré Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke la qualifie de « prêtresse d’Hitler », il aurait peut-être été plus juste de la présenter comme « prophétesse du New Age et de l’écologie profonde »


Publié dans la série de Jean Mabire, « Que lire ? », volume 7, 2003.

vendredi, 08 août 2008

Du symbolisme de la couleur safran en Inde

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Karlheinz WEISSMANN:

Du symbolisme de la couleur safran en Inde

 

Les productions de “Bollywood” bénéficient depuis un petit temps déjà d’un engouement certain en Occident. Mais cet intérêt intellectuel n’est pas exempt d’une ironie un peu grinçante: on se moque de ce cinéma indien quand il aborde des thèmes que les Indiens prennent au sérieux, thèmes que l’on juge “dépassé” dans cet Occident qui allie permissivité et progressisme. Raison pour laquelle, il s’avèrera intéressant d’observer quelles réactions suscitera une nouvelle série intitulée “La couleur safran” dans les cinémas allemands. La série traite d’un aspect fort peu connu de la lutte indienne pour la liberté contre la domination coloniale britannique, d’une part, et de l’ampleur de la corruption et de l’arbitraire politique en Inde à l’heure actuelle, d’autre part. “La couleur safran” symbolise dès lors la nostalgie que cultive le peuple indien pour l’autonomie sociale et politique et pour la préservation de ses héritages.

 

L’Inde est restée jusque aujourd’hui le principal producteur de safran, avec l’Arabie Saoudite et le Maroc. Cette plante, dans la tradition, n’a pas qu’une signification pratique, elle est aussi un symbole. Cet honneur qu’on lui réserve dérive certes de sa rareté et de sa grande valeur; elle était déjà connue et appréciée dans les grandes cultures de l’antiquité, y compris dans l’espace méditerranéen. C’était un produit typique de l’Asie.

 

La rareté, et donc la cherté, du safran explique pourquoi on ne l’utilise en grande quantité qu’à des occasions exceptionnelles et lors d’importantes cérémonies. Lors de certaines fêtes, les femmes indiennes remplacent la marque qu’elles portent généralement sur le front par une marque de couleur safran. Le riz est de cette couleur lors des repas de mariage ou lors des fêtes données en l’honneur des dieux. Seuls les dieux disposent du safran en abondance, ce qui explique pourquoi les dieux du panthéon hindou sont souvent représentés avec une peau de couleur safran. Ceux qui se rapprochent d’eux, surtout les ascètes sadhous, peuvent porter des robes de cette couleur divine. C’est cette tradition vestimentaire que les moines bouddhistes et les Sikhs ont repris à leur compte pour leurs effets traditionnels.

 

La couleur safran demeure néanmoins une couleur propre aux cultes hindous. Sur le drapeau national indien, la bande supérieure est de couleur safran et y représente la religion dominante de l’Union Indienne. Le blanc du drapeau est la couleur des bouddhistes et le vert celle des Musulmans. Les rapports entre ces trois grandes religions ont toujours été tendus. Beaucoup d’Hindous pensent aujourd’hui que l’Inde devrait être un “Hindustan”, car seule la tradition immémoriale aryenne devrait guider la marche de la nation. D’après les protagonistes les plus radicaux de cette vision, tout véritable Indien devrait suivre les préceptes de la religion héritée des ancêtres. 

 

Des groupes militants tels le “Shiv Sena”, l’ “Armée de Shiva”, argumentent de la sorte. On considère en Inde que leurs adeptes forment les “brigades safran” car ils défilent en portant des vêtements variant du jaune à l’orange, derrière des fanions consacrés aux dieux, également de couleur safran ou rouge. Ces fanions étaient déjà mentionnés dans le Bhagavadgita: aujourd’hui, on les orne de svastikas ou du signe désignant la syllabe sacrée “Om”, comme sur les temples. Certaines de ces formations militantes sont armées et leurs adversaires les désignent comme les “fascistes en safran”. On les accuse de perpétrer des attentats contre les Musulmans et les Chrétiens et de détruire des locaux ou des bâtiments appartenant à des adeptes de ces religions. Sur le long terme, ces actes de violence sont bien moins importants que le mouvement de fond qui “safranise” l’Inde, qui compénètre toute la société et que véhiculent ces groupes de militants hindouistes. Cet ensemble est coordonné par le “Sangh Parivar”, terme qui veut plus ou moins dire “la communauté nationale de tous les Hindous”, une organisation qui chapeaute un grand nombre de groupes et de formations et qui a été fondée en 1925 déjà, du temps de la colonisation britannique. Son influence croissante aujourd’hui s’explique parce qu’elle reçoit désormais l’appui et la protection du BJP au pouvoir (ou “Bharatiya Janata Party”). Le BJP, parti populaire hindou, s’est développé depuis que le Parti du Congrès a perdu de son influence; il est devenu la principale force politique à l’intérieur de l’Union Indienne. La croissance du BJP ne s’est pas soldée uniquement par un changement de parti au pouvoir mais surtout par une remise en question du concept de nation que Nehru et les autres chefs du Parti du Congrès avaient voulu promouvoir depuis l’indépendance de l’Inde. 

 

La “couleur safran” ne symbolise donc pas l’Inde en tant que concept géographique, territorial, en tant qu’entité étatique, mais indique une revendication identitaire portée par la religion et la culture, capable d’une virulence explosive.

 

Karlheinz WEISSMANN.

(article paru dans “Junge Freiheit”, Berlin, n°31-32/2006; trad. franç.: Robert Steuckers).

jeudi, 17 juillet 2008

Nehru et l'indépendantisme indien

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Luigi Carlo SCHIAVONE:

 

Jawaharlal Nehru et l’indépendantisme indien

Jawaharlal Nehru, l’un des pères du mouvement national indien, publia une autobiographie en 1936, avec, pour objectif, outre de narrer la vie de celui qui deviendra le premier leader de l’Inde indépendante, de faire comprendre au lecteur quels furent les prémisses qui ont incité le peuple indien à s’unir contre l’oppresseur britannique. En effet, quand Nehru parlait de l’impérialisme britannique, il disait: “il était naturel et inévitable que le nationalisme indien réagisse un jour contre la domination étrangère”; mais Nehru demeurait néanmoins déconcerté par les positions des milieux intellectuels indiens qui, à la fin du 19ième siècle, semblaient tous avoir pleinement accepté l’idéologie impériale britannique. Pour Nehru, il s’agit d’une déviance due à l’influence considérable qu’exerçait l’établissement britannique sur le peuple indien, par le truchement du système scolaire qui cherchait systématiquement à souligner les mérites des colonisateurs, en soulignant toujours les lacunes de l’antique savoir indien. C’est dans un tel contexte, écrivait Nehru, que les étudiants indiens n’avaient aucune base rationnelle, aucun instrument conceptuel valide selon les critères du rationalisme occidental, pour contester les leçons administrées par leurs maîtres britanniques, à moins de se contenter d’un retour consolateur au nationalisme religieux, parce que, ajoutait Nehru, “au moins, dans la sphère religieuse et philosophique, les Indiens ne devaient céder la première place à aucun peuple de la Terre ”.

Après avoir pris acte de la situation, les premiers noyaux de dissidents indiens commencèrent à jeter la suspicion et à examiner en profondeur les affirmations de leurs professeurs britanniques. Ils réussirent ainsi à créer une véritable anthologie originale de matériaux conceptuels anti-britanniques, rédigés par des auteurs au ton modéré. C’est ainsi que le nationalisme indien a réussi, au départ, à se doter d’un corpus de fond, en matières politiques et économiques.

Mais, en dépit de cet acte de défi, Nehru déplore que ce corpus contestataire mais modéré finissait par acquérir une fonction spécifique dans le système de fonctionnement du pouvoir britannique. Cette fonctionnalité de la première contestation indienne découlait tout simplement des positions libérales de la plupart des membres du Congrès National Indien qui ne cherchaient en général qu’une seule chose: obtenir les plus hautes charges sans comprendre qu’ainsi rien ne changerait; simplement, les représentants officiels du “changement”, en cas de désordres, auraient été protégés par ceux-là même qu’ils tentaient de mettre échec et mat. Par ailleurs, les paroles  critiques du leader Nehru à l’endroit des idées libérales sont bien claires: “L’idéologie libérale est incapable de comprendre l’idée de la liberté indienne dans la mesure où les positions de l’une et de l’autre sont fondamentalement irréconciliables”. La critique des jeunes étudiants nationalistes indiens aux“vieux messieurs” du système éducatif britannique, ne se limitait pas, toutefois, aux seuls établissements d’enseignement. Nehru entrevoyait dans les attitudes des Britanniques, à la fin du 19ième siècle, un fondement messianique, perceptible dans la conviction, autrefois partagée par d’autres peuples, de se prendre pour les “élus du Seigneur”, honneur accessible à tous ceux qui accepteraient de se faire encadrer par la classe dirigeante britannique, qui prétendait que son empire était l’instance représentatrice du Règne de Dieu sur la terre. Cette vision messianique justifiait la rudesse des punitions infligées dans les Dominions à tous ceux qui s’opposaient à la loi britannique.

“Comme les inquisiteurs du passé, ils se sentaient destinés à nous sauver, indépendamment du fait que nous le désirions ou non”. C’est avec ces mots que Nehru commence son chapître où il décrit les pratiques mises en oeuvre par les colonisateurs pour transformer l’Inde en le pays le plus brillamment adapté aux structures impériales anglaises. Sur le modèle britannique, les autorités coloniales avaient choisi un groupe d’Indiens, l’avaient formé, dans le but de soutenir les premiers balbutiements d’un Etat autonome; ces Indiens “homologués” étaient censés amener le pays au “self-government” et à la “liberté”, “mais, ajoute Nehru, auraient dû démontrer et garantir que ce self-government et cette liberté ne se seraient exercés que selon les desiderata des Britanniques”.

Au fil de son ouvrage, Nehru poursuit l’âpre critique qu’il adresse au système imposé à son pays par les colonisateurs anglais. Son analyse n’épargne personne, ni même l’immense majorité du peuple anglais, coupable, selon Nehru, de n’avoir jamais voulu véritablement comprendre l’Inde. Si l’on soulève le voile de misère et de déclin qui recouvre la terre indienne, considérée comme “la perle de la couronne britannique”, on  peut encore découvrir la royauté intrinsèque de l’âme d’une vieille nation qui a pérégriné à travers les âges, en vivant des jours de gloire et de décadence, tout en restant toujours liée et attachée à sa très ancienne culture, tirant des ressources profondes de celle-ci force et vitalité, les partageant avec de nombreux pays. En s’appuyant sur ce constat, le premier futur leader de l’Inde indépendante se lance dans une surprenante comparaison avec l’Italie. Selon Nehru, les deux pays sont fils d’une culture plurimillénaire où le concept de nation, malgré les innombrables difficultés ou vicissitudes malheureuses, n’a jamais disparu, même s’il s’est abreuvé à d’autres sèves au fil des siècles. Exaltant les dons de Rome et de l’Italie, Nehru leur reconnait le mérite d’avoir toujours été les principaux centres de culture en Europe; il attribue, dans la foulée, les mêmes mérites à l’Inde en Asie. Les deux pays, selon Nehru, présentent bien des similitudes, y compris dans les malheurs: il rappelle ainsi que Metternich définissait l’Italie comme une simple “expression géographique”; bon nombre d’émules de cet homme politique autrichien ont considéré l’Inde de la même manière.

Après cette parenthèse sur l’Italie, Nehru, dans son ouvrage, revient sur le sort de son propre peuple. Il explique, avec moults détails, combien étroit est le rapport ancestral entre les Indiens et l’idée de leur propre nation, révélant, dans ces explications, toute cette verve politique, qui est la sienne, et qui l’a toujours distingué de Gandhi. Nehru parle de la “Bharat Mata”, de la “Mère Inde”. Il rappelle à ses lecteurs l’Inde d’avant la colonisation où il y avait certes d’innombrables conflits entre castes mais où subsistait, intensément, un vif et puissant lien commun, dont les traces étaient encore perceptibles dans l’Inde de son temps. Ces liens forts permettent d’articuler une résistance grâce à leur vitalité intrinsèque et, ajoute-t-il, il serait erroné de croire que cette vitalité est telle uniquement parce qu’elle découle d’une tradition plurimillénaire: ses origines, il faut plutôt les retrouver dans ce principe de soutien mutuel qui soude la communauté indienne toute entière quand il s’agit de faire face à de puissantes influences étrangères. Mais toute cette vigueur, pourtant, n’a pas permis de conserver la liberté et l’unité politique, ni l’une ni l’autre de ces valeurs n’ayant été considérées jusqu’alors comme dignes de soutenir des efforts constants. C’est cette négligence qui est responsable des souffrances successives du peuple indien, négligence dont les sources doivent être recherchées dans un antique idéal indien qui n’a jamais glorifié les triomphe politique et militaire, a toujours méprisé l’argent et ceux qui l’accumulaient, en n’accordant honneur et respect qu’à ceux-là seuls qui servaient la communauté pour de maigres compensations congrues. Ces attitudes font que la communauté collabore au Bien Commun et l’honore, ce qui, selon Nehru, correspond à l’idéal socialiste, qu’il considère lui-même comme l’antidote au système capitaliste occidental. En effet, écrit-il, “il se pourrait bien que lorsque l’Inde se revêtira d’oripeaux nouveaux, parce que ses anciennes frusques sont usées et élimées, elle prendra pour modèle de ses nouveaux effets le mode socialiste de gérer la société, afin de la rendre plus conforme tant aux conditions actuelles qu’aux critères de sa pensée plurimillénaire. Les idées que l’Inde adoptera, elle devra les faire vivre et revivre sur son propre terreau”.

En août 1947, quand l’Inde accède enfin à l’indépendance, Nehru en devient le Premier Ministre et gardera cette fonction jusqu’à sa mort en 1964. Pendant toutes ces années, il a dû affronter une situation intérieure difficile, née des clivages profonds entre groupes ethniques et religieux et de la pauvreté chronique des zones rurales. Mais il a réussi, en même temps, a acquérir une grande popularité au niveau international, en se plaçant aux côtés de Tito et de Nasser, constituant ainsi, en quelque sorte, un triumvirat pour le mouvement des “pays non alignés”, patronant l’idée d’un Tiers Monde distinct de l’Est comme de l’Ouest, mouvement qui avait connu son apogée lors de la conférence afro-asiatique de Bandung en avril 1955.

Luigi Carlo SCHIAVONE.

(article paru dans le quotidien romain “Rinascita”, 15-16 septembre 2007; trad. franç.: Robert Steuckers).

 

 

 

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mercredi, 04 juin 2008

Les Hindous comme "païens indiens"

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SYNERGIES EUROPéENNES – BRUXELLES – MAI 2004
COMMISSION “TRADITIONS”

Les hindous comme "païens indiens"

Par Koenraad Elst

Définition historique de « Hindou »

Dans les écritures hindoues, le mot « hindou » est introuvable. Pourtant, longtemps avant que les spécialistes occidentaux s’assoient pour inventer des définitions de « hindou », le terme était déjà porteur d’un sens déterminé. La procédure normale devrait être d’entendre cette version originale en premier. Elle fut apportée en Inde par les envahisseurs islamiques, et signifiait : « païen indien ».

Le terme « Hindou » est l’équivalent persan du terme indo-aryen « sindhu », « rivière », « l’Indus ». L’équivalence est une simple application de la relation phonétique régulière entre les branches indo-aryenne et iranienne de la famille linguistique indo-européenne : l’initiale [s] est conservée en indo-aryen mais se transforme en [h] en iranien, alors que les terminaisons aspirées comme [dh] sont conservées en indo-aryen mais perdent leur aspiration en iranien. Les Iraniens utilisaient le mot Hindu pour désigner la rivière Sindhu et les pays et populations situées autour et au-delà du Sindhu. Aux Perses, les Grecs empruntèrent le nom de la rivière et en firent Indos et le nom des gens et en firent Indoi, d’où l’anglais Indus, India, Indian.

Les Indiens de l’Asie du Sud-Est ne furent jamais connus sous le nom d’« hindous », mais les Arabes, les Turcs, les Mongols et les autres étrangers du nord et de l’ouest adoptèrent le nom perse pour désigner l’« Inde » et les « Indiens », c’est-à-dire Hind en arabe, Hindistan en turc. Xuan Zang (Huen Tsang, 7ème siècle apr. JC), qui était entré en Inde en passant par l’Asie Centrale de langue perse, mentionne à de nombreuses reprises que le nom Xin-du (chinois régulier venant du perse Hindu [1]) ou, comme il le corrige, Yin-du, est utilisé en-dehors de l’Inde mais est inconnu à l’intérieur du pays, parce que les natifs l’appellent Aryadesh ou Brahmarashtra [2]. Comme le dit Sita Ram Goel : « On peut donc dire que le mot ‘Hindu’ a acquis une connotation nationale, depuis l’époque de l’Avesta, bien que cela le fut seulement aux yeux des étrangers » [3]. Dans les prochains paragraphes, nous résumons ses découvertes concernant la préhistoire de l’actuel terme hindu.
Quand le bouddhisme s’implanta en Asie Centrale, et que les temples bouddhistes furent construits pour le culte des statues de Bouddha, les mazdéens donnèrent aux fidèles de cette religion indienne le nom de but-parast, « adorateurs de Bouddha », par opposition au mazdéen âtish-parast ou « adorateurs du feu ». Le terme but-parast en arriva à signifier plus généralement « adorateur d’idole », car à l’époque des invasions musulmanes, but était devenu le terme générique pour « idole », d’où but-khana, « temple à idole », et but-shikan, « briseur d’idole ». Ils ne faisaient aucune distinction entre les différentes sectes basées en Inde, et à l’époque où les Arabes et les Turcs persianisés envahirent l’Inde, le mot but-parast était appliqué au hasard à tous les incroyants indiens. Voyant que les brahmanes avaient des cérémonies du feu tout comme les mazdéens, les musulmans incluaient occasionnellement les païens indiens aussi dans la catégorie âtish-parast, à nouveau sans se préoccuper des distinctions entre les différentes sectes.

Les envahisseurs musulmans donnaient parfois aux païens d’Inde le nom de « Kafirs », incroyants en général, c’est-à-dire la même désignation religieuse qui fut utilisée pour les polythéistes d’Arabie ; mais souvent ils les appelaient « hindous », habitants de l’Hindoustan, c’est-à-dire une désignation ethno-géographique. Ainsi, ils donnèrent un contenu religieux précis à ce terme géographique : un hindou est tout Indien qui n’est pas juif, chrétien, musulman ou zoroastrien. En d’autres mots : tout Indien « païen », c’est-à-dire un Indien qui n’est ni un croyant des religions abrahamiques ni un païen iranien, est un hindou. Dans sa définition de « paganisme indien », l’hindouisme inclut toute la gamme depuis le culte animal jusqu’à la philosophie moniste des Upanishads, et depuis le sacrifice sanglant de la Shakti jusqu’à la non-violence extrême des jaïns.

Le terme Hindu était utilisé pour tous les Indiens qui étaient incroyants ou adorateurs d’idoles, incluant les bouddhistes, les jaïns, les « animistes » et plus tard les Sikhs, mais en les distinguant des Indiens chrétiens (ahl-i Nasâra ou Isâî), juifs (ahl-î-Yahûd ou banû Isrâîl), mazdéens (ahl-i Majûs ou âtish-parast) et bien sûr des musulmans eux-mêmes. De cette manière, au moins à l’époque de Al Biruni (début du 11ème siècle), le mot Hindu avait une signification religieuse-géographique distincte : un hindou est un Indien qui n’est ni musulman, ni juif, ni chrétien, ni zoroastrien [4].

Un critère sans ambiguïté

Les hindous ne s’appelèrent jamais eux-mêmes « hindous » avant que les envahisseurs musulmans n’arrivent et ne les désignent par ce terme persan [5]. Il ne s’ensuit pas que ceux que nous appellerions hindous par rétrospective n’avaient aucun sens de leur unité culturelle pan-hindoue, comme certains pourraient le conclure hâtivement ; simplement que le terme hindou n’était pas encore en usage. De même, les hindous appelaient ces nouveaux-venus des Turcs, mais cela n’exclut pas la reconnaissance de leur spécificité religieuse en tant que musulmans. Au contraire, même Timur, qui déclara très clairement dans ses mémoires qu’il venait en Inde pour mener une guerre religieuse contre les Incroyants, et qui libérait les captifs musulmans d’une cité conquise avant de passer les hindous survivants au fil de l’épée, parlait de ses propres forces comme des « Turcs », une désignation ethnique, plutôt que comme des « musulmans » [6]. Il ne faut pas confondre le terme avec le concept : l’absence du terme hindou ne prouve pas la non-existence d’un concept énoncé plus tard comme « Dharma hindou ».

D’autre part, pour ceux qui maintiennent qu’il n’y avait pas d’identité hindoue auparavant, la genèse du label hindou devrait suggérer une analogie avec le récit séculariste de la genèse de la nationalité indienne : les Indiens n’existent pas, mais la nationalité indienne fut forgée dans le creuset de la lutte commune contre les Britanniques [7]. De même, si l’hindouisme n’avait pas existé auparavant, alors rien n’aurait été plus efficace pour créer un sens commun de l’hindouité que d’être attaqués ensemble par le même ennemi, britannique ou musulman. Comme l’écrivit Veer Savarkar : « Les ennemis [islamiques] nous haïssaient en tant qu’hindous, et toute la famille de peuples et de races, de sectes et de croyances qui florissaient d’Attock à Cuttack fut soudain individualisée en un seul Etre » [8]. Ce n’est pas historique dans ses détails, mais c’est néanmoins en accord avec une vision largement répandue de la manière dont les nations sont créées : par une expérience commune, comme l’expérience profondément impliquante d’une guerre contre un ennemi commun.

Ainsi, un hindou n’était par définition ni un membre des religions abrahamiques, ni du paganisme quasi-monothéiste perse (le mazdéisme, mieux connu sous le nom de zoroastrisme). Mais un bouddhiste, un jaïn, un membre d’une tribu, étaient tous inclus dans le domaine sémantique du terme hindou. Bien que les premiers écrivains musulmans en Inde notèrent une différence superficielle entre brahmanes et bouddhistes, appelant ces derniers les « brahmanes au crâne rasé », ils ne virent pas d’opposition entre « hindous et bouddhistes » ou entre « hindous et membres des tribus », et plus tard les souverains musulmans ne virent pas non plus d’opposition entre « hindous et sikhs ». Au contraire, Al Biruni classe les bouddhistes parmi les sectes hindoues idolâtres : il décrit comment les idoles de Vishnou, de Surya, de Shiva, des « huit mères » et du Bouddha sont adorées par les Bhagavatas, c’est-à-dire les mages, les sadhous, les brahmanes et les chamans [9].
Tous les Indiens qui n’étaient ni des parsis, ni des juifs, ni des chrétiens ni des musulmans, étaient automatiquement des hindous. Ainsi, la définition originelle de hindou est : un Indien païen. Depuis le premier usage du terme hindou en Inde, une définition claire en a été donnée, et pour chaque communauté on peut facilement décider si elle cadre avec cette définition ou non. Tant pis si vous n’aimez pas l’étiquette : si vous cadrez avec la définition, vous tombez dans la catégorie hindoue. Les hindous n’ont pas choisi d’être appelés hindous : d’autres ont conçu le terme et sa définition, et les hindous se trouvèrent simplement porter ce label et l’acceptèrent progressivement.

Comme dans les manipulations de catégories de recensement de E.A. Gait, cette définition implique un « test » par lequel nous pouvons décider si quelqu’un est un hindou, sans s’occuper de savoir s’il utilise ou accepte lui-même le label. La différence est qu’ici le test ne fut pas conçu ad hoc pour prouver un point. C’est une authentique définition, générée par la rencontre, dans la vie réelle, des envahisseurs musulmans avec leur Autre : les Indiens païens natifs.

Qu’est-ce que le paganisme ?

Le terme païen est généralement utilisé pour les gens n’appartenant pas aux religions abrahamiques: le judaïsme, le christianisme et l’islam. Mais mieux qu’une simple convention, il pourrait y avoir une définition du terme païen. Et cette définition est facilement suggérée par la signification basique du mot. Comme son équivalent germanique Heathen, le mot latin paganus signifie littéralement : rural. Le christianisme commença comme un mouvement strictement urbain, et c’est seulement après avoir pris le pouvoir dans l’Empire Romain en 313 apr. JC qu’il commença à conquérir les campagnes [10].

L’association de chrétien avec urbain, de païen avec rural, est plus qu’un simple accident historique. Il est parfaitement logique que le paganisme soit né dans un environnement naturel, longtemps avant que l’homme ne vive dans des cités, et que le christianisme se répande dans les cités, où une grande population était concentrée. La raison est que le paganisme est basé sur la réalité immédiate, sur l’expérience humaine de la vie cyclique, des puissances de la nature, des phénomènes célestes : n’importe qui vivant n’importe où peut être frappé d’émerveillement devant ces réalités. Par contraste, le christianisme est quelque chose qui n’a jamais été découvert par quiconque : vous devez en avoir entendu parler par quelqu’un, par des prédicateurs qui allaient sur la place du marché où ils pouvaient trouver une large audience.

Les systèmes de croyance basés sur la « Révélation divine » se répandirent d’abord dans les centres de population, où un message pouvait être communiqué. Dans les campagnes européennes, les croyances et les pratiques païennes (bien que n’étant pas les plus sophistiquées, celles-ci ayant disparu en même temps que les élites païennes, souvent les premières à être converties) continuèrent, parfois sous un habillage chrétien, jusqu’à ce qu’elles soient rendues démodées durant les deux derniers siècles, non par le christianisme mais par la modernité.

Dans une certaine mesure, la même relation a existé entre le bouddhisme et l’hindouisme : le bouddhisme prosélyte fut un phénomène urbain, en grande partie parce qu’il était dépendant du patronage des marchands, des princes et de la charité ordinaire, et des concentrations humaines pour le recrutement de nouveaux moines. Le bouddhisme est un peu un cas hybride. C’est une « religion naturelle » en ce que tout individu pouvait s’asseoir sous un arbre et découvrir le processus de méditation par lui-même. De cette manière, le paganisme en tant que « religion naturelle » ou « spiritualité cosmique » s’étend des rituels orientés vers la nature aux hauteurs de la méditation, excluant seulement les révélations exclusives du monothéisme prophétique.

D’un autre coté, l’expérience de l’Illumination est une expérience beaucoup plus rare que l’expérience du cycle de vie ou du cycle de l’année, et dans cette mesure, le bouddhisme devait être prêché et propagé. Pour ce trait missionnaire, et pour son désintérêt basique envers les panthéons (ni à vénérer ni à rejeter), le bouddhisme est souvent traité comme séparé du paganisme ; les auteurs chrétiens hésitent aujourd’hui à l’appeler païen [11].

Le paganisme peut ainsi être défini comme tout le spectre de la religion « cosmique » (ou « universalisme ») par opposition aux religions « révélées », dont le message n’est pas intrinsèque à l’ordre du monde. Le monothéisme prophétique désacralise le cosmos en concentrant exclusivement le sacré dans une déité extra-cosmique : « N’adorez pas le soleil et la lune, mais adorez Allah qui les a créés » [12]. Le paganisme voit le sacré dans des manifestations d’ordre cosmique, de puissance cosmique, de beauté cosmique. Si la religion est définie comme une question de croyance en une révélation divine, alors on devrait dire qu’il existe une culture hindoue, mais pas de religion hindoue. En effet, des indologues perspicaces comme Frits Staal ont remarqué qu’à la différence du christianisme et de l’islam, l’hindouisme n’est en aucune manière une « religion » dans le sens d’un « système de croyance » [13].

Le point a aussi été fait par de nombreux représentants du renouveau hindou et sera répété plusieurs fois dans ces pages, mais pour l’instant nous citerons une formulation de quelqu’un qui était un rénovateur hindou dans le sens le plus constructif tout en restant éloigné des polémiques : le regretté Ekkirala Krishnamacharya, physicien, éducateur et Kulapati (recteur) du World Teacher Trust de Visakhapatnam, centre lié à la Théosophie. A une question sur « l’ancienne religion de l’Inde », il répondit :
« Il n’y avait pas de religion dans ce pays, et les Indiens n’avaient pas non plus besoin d’une religion. Les anciens Indiens avaient un code de lois à suivre. Il était établi en accord avec diverses vérités à l’œuvre dans la nature. La loi d’existence de la nature et de sa création était observée dans tous ses détails et la loi à suivre était copiée en accord avec elle. Cela était appelé Dharma. Le terme signifie ce qui porte et protège. C’est ce qui porte et protège quand nous le suivons. L’homme est honoré quand il l’honore. Il reçoit protection quand il le protège. Cela fut transformé en une constitution appelée Bharata Dharma. C’était le chemin de vie communément accepté dans tout le pays. Toute tentative de religion est naturellement limitée et étroite si on la compare à cela » [14].
Ainsi, le Dharma est ici défini comme le simple fait de vivre en accord avec les lois de la nature. Nous pouvons accepter cela comme une définition générale même avant de discuter ce que ces lois pourraient être précisément.

Néanmoins, le terme général païen ne doit pas être pris pour indiquer une seule « religion naturelle » : à l’intérieur du champ des traditions païennes, il y a aussi d’importantes différences, par ex. du végétarisme au cannibalisme. La différence réside dans la perception grossière ou subtile de ce qui constitue précisément les lois de la nature, l’ordre cosmique (ce que les Vedas appellent Rita). A un niveau très primitif, on pourrait dire que la « survie du meilleur » ou « le gros poisson mange le petit poisson » est la loi de la nature devant être suivie : cela donne au paganisme une forme caricaturale [15]. A un niveau plus civilisé, disons celui de la philosophie grecque, une compréhension convenablement plus raffinée des lois de la nature et de l’éthique humaine concomitante est développée. La distinction à laquelle prétend l’hindouisme est que par le yoga il a affiné la sensibilité humaine et rendu l’homme réceptif aux lois cosmiques plus subtiles, telles que l’unité ultime de tous les êtres sensibles, d’où la nécessité de la dayâ ou karunâ, la compassion.

Païens et hindous

En tant que concept, le paganisme est une corne d’abondance avec des phénomènes très divergents. Quand nous faisons un survol de la scène « néo-païenne » dans l’Occident moderne, nous trouvons un vaste champ de tendances : depuis les imitations carnavalesques des druides et des sorcières jusqu’aux efforts intellectuels à l’authenticité historique certifiée, et s’étendant sur tout le spectre politique, des néo-nazis et des rénovateurs ethniques aux féministes, aux écologistes et aux anarchistes hippies, tout autour d’un noyau principal de chercheurs apolitiques [16]. La grande finesse de la philosophie du Védanta, ou de la philosophie grecque « païenne », n’est en aucune façon un héritage commun de toutes les traditions païennes.

Pourtant, on pourrait dire que toutes ont une inspiration commune, et certains penseurs hindous ont développé la position selon laquelle l’hindouisme devrait tendre la main aux autres cultures et mouvements païens. Ram Swarup appelle les peuples qui ont perdu leur héritage païen à cause de l’invasion chrétienne ou islamique à « faire un pèlerinage à travers le temps » pour redécouvrir leurs anciens dieux [17]. A la différence de la plupart des nationalistes hindous dont l’horizon est limité aux frontières de l’Inde, il montre aussi une certaine connaissance des mouvements en Occident explorant réellement une renaissance de la spiritualité pré-chrétienne [18]. Ces dernières années, le VHP [Vishva Hindu Parishad, Union Mondiale Hindoue] a tenté d’établir des contacts avec le néo-paganisme organisé, mais il est trop tôt pour parler de résultats solides.

Il semblerait que pour une coopération réelle, les eaux entre le néo-paganisme occidental et l’hindouisme soient encore très profondes. De nombreux néo-païens rejettent des éléments du christianisme qui se trouvent être chers aux hindous sérieux, comme la sobriété et la retenue en matière de moralité sexuelle, et connaissent souvent très mal les traditions hindoues d’ascèse et de méditation. Les néo-païens racistes ne seraient de toute façon pas très intéressés à rencontrer des immigrés hindous à la peau sombre, et les néo-païens de gauche sont découragés par les reportages de journaux sur les pratiques obscurantistes et les conditions non-féministes dans la société hindoue. Mais le rapprochement hindou-païen a certainement un potentiel et pourrait bien s’épanouir dans un futur pas trop éloigné.

Polythéisme et monothéisme

Le livre de Ram Swarup : The Word as Revelation : Names of Gods [La parole en tant que révélation: les noms des dieux] est ce que vous pouvez trouver de plus proche d’une apologie du polythéisme, bien qu’il fasse aussi une place au monothéisme. Dans certains écrits « néo-païens » occidentaux, nous trouvons un rejet explicite du monothéisme en faveur du polythéisme [19]. En plus de cela, les auteurs néo-païens acceptent la vision chrétienne selon laquelle le christianisme est monothéiste alors que le paganisme est polythéiste ; ils acceptent les termes d’un débat dans lequel le christianisme proclame sa supériorité.

Par contraste, les philosophes hindous qui connaissent leur tradition ne tombent pas dans cette dichotomie du « mono-poly » : « Dans cette approche plus profonde, la distinction n’est pas entre un Vrai Dieu Unique et de Nombreux Faux Dieux ; elle est entre une voie de culte véridique et une voie de culte erronée. Partout où il y a de la sincérité, de la vérité et du don de soi dans le culte, ce culte atteint le vrai autel, quel que soit le nom que nous pouvons lui donner et quelle que soit la manière dont nous pouvons le concevoir. Mais s’il n’est pas sans désir, s’il y a de l’ego, de la fausseté, de la vanité et de la tromperie en lui, alors il est inutile même s’il est offert au Vrai Dieu, théologiquement parlant » [20].

Ce n’est pas soit « un » soit « beaucoup », c’est les deux à la fois : « comme le monothéisme, le polythéisme aussi a son motif spirituel. Si le monothéisme représente l’intuition de l’homme pour l’unité, le polythéisme représente son besoin de différenciation. La vie spirituelle est une mais elle est vaste et riche dans son expression (…) seule une certaine forme de polythéisme peut rendre justice à cette variété et à cette richesse (…) Un pur Dieu monothéiste, sans le soutien d’éléments polythéistes, tend à devenir sans vie et abstrait » [21]. Ram Swarup argue que cela est implicitement admis par les religions monothéistes, qui réintroduisent la diversité dans leur Dieu unique en donnant 101 noms différents à Allah, en Le laissant « émaner » dans la création à travers les étapes de « l’Arbre de Vie » dans la Kabbale juive, ou en percevant en lui une Trinité, ou en l’entourant d’une Vierge Mère et d’une foule céleste d’anges et de saints.

Cependant, « le monothéisme n’est pas complet sans un motif spirituel. L’Esprit est une unité. Il n’adore rien de moins que le Suprême. Le monothéisme exprime, bien que d’une manière inadéquate, cette intuition de l’homme pour le Suprême. » [22]. Une partie de la critique monothéiste envers le polythéisme est aussi bien prise : « De même, des dieux purement polythéistes sans aucun principe d’unité parmi eux perdent leur cohérence interne. Ils se désagrègent et ne servent aucun but spirituel » [23].

Mais d’après Ram Swarup, l’hindouisme a depuis longtemps dépassé les maladies d’enfance du polythéisme, dont des panthéons plus faibles sont affligés : « L’approche védique est probablement la meilleure. Elle apporte l’unité sans sacrifier la diversité. En fait, elle apporte une unité et une diversité plus profondes hors de la portée du monothéisme et du polythéisme ordinaires. Elle ne fait qu’un avec l’approche yogique ou mystique » [24].

De même, Sri Aurobindo avait déjà écrit : « Le polythéisme indien n’est pas le polythéisme populaire de l’ancienne Europe ; car ici l’adorateur de nombreux dieux sait toujours que toutes ses divinités sont des formes, des noms, des aspects et des pouvoirs de l’Unique ; ses dieux viennent de l’unique Purusha, ses déesses sont des énergies de l’unique Force divine ». Il ajoute une brève défense de l’« idolâtrie » : « Le culte indien des images n’est pas l’idolâtrie venant d’un esprit barbare ou sous-développé, car même le plus ignorant sait que l’image est un symbole et un support et qu’on peut la jeter quand on a fini de l’utiliser » [25]. Des dévots de dieux non-hindous diraient probablement la même chose pour leur propre tradition. En tous cas, dans le cas d’une renaissance païenne à l’échelle mondiale, l’hindouisme peut prétendre à un rôle de leadership naturel.

Le paganisme en danger, l’hindouisme à la rescousse

En même temps que d’autres représentants du renouveau hindou, Shrikant Talageri place l’hindouisme dans un continuum mondial du paganisme : « L’hindouisme est le nom de la forme territoriale indienne du Sanâtanism [religion éternelle] mondial (appelons-le paganisme). L’idéologie de l’Hindutva devrait donc être une idéologie universelle », et les représentants du renouveau hindou devraient être « le fer de lance d’une renaissance, d’un rajeunissement et d’une résurgence mondiale du spiritualisme, et de toutes les religions et cultures du monde qui existaient dans le monde entier avant l’arrivée d’idéologies impérialistes comme le christianisme, l’islam, le fascisme, le marxisme, etc. » [26]. Un peu comme Moscou pour le mouvement communiste mondial, l’Inde deviendrait le centre mondial de la renaissance païenne.

Pour mettre cette solidarité païenne en pratique, les rédacteurs du journal Young India suggèrent de créer deux, trois ou de nombreux Ayodhyas : « Il y a quelque 600 ans il y avait un grand temple païen au pied d’une colline sacrée à Vilnius, la capitale de la Lituanie. Il fut démoli, le grand prêtre fut banni (certains disent, tué), et une cathédrale fut construite à la place. Nous appelons le pape à rendre le lieu aux païens de Lituanie qui sont les possesseurs originels et historiques légaux de ce site sacré. Nous appelons aussi le pape à ne pas approuver plus longtemps cette profanation. Cela ne peut pas plaire à son Seigneur, Jésus Christ dans les Cieux, qui abhorrait la profanation et l’occupation des lieux saints des autres » [27]. Ce n’est peut-être pas le genre de renaissance religieuse que le monde attend ; ce n’est du moins pas le centre d’intérêt de Talageri dans le paganisme mondial.

Par « paganisme », les représentants du renouveau hindou ne désignent pas seulement les formes indo-européennes (donc liées au Veda) de la religion pré-chrétienne : « Les aborigènes d’Australie, les Indiens Rouges d’Amérique, les païens pré-islamiques d’Arabie, les Nègres d’Afrique regardent vers la société hindoue avec attente et espoir. Ils sont pleins d’espoir parce que seule la société hindoue de l’Inde a pu survivre aux tueries conjointes de l’islam, du christianisme et du marxisme » [28].
Un article remarquable dans cette liste est « les païens pré-islamiques d’Arabie ». Ils n’existent plus depuis le 7ème siècle, et à la différence de l’Europe, on ne connaît aucun mouvement de renouveau païen en Arabie. Ce n’est donc peut-être rien de plus qu’un exercice symbolique, mais les rénovateurs hindous veulent rendre justice au paganisme disparu d’Arabie.

Il est très commun de mentionner les païens d’Arabie, les ennemis du prophète Mahomet, en termes purement péjoratifs. Que cela soit fait dans des écrits islamiques est prévisible ; que des sécularistes indiens en fassent autant n’est guère surprenant. Mais c’est aussi très commun dans les publications spécialisées occidentales, par ex. un célèbre islamologue hollandais écrit : « La religion arabe était un polythéisme primitif, pauvre en religiosité réelle » [29]. De plus, il prend aussi pour argent comptant l’affirmation islamique selon laquelle la religion arabe était une dégénérescence de ce qui était originellement un monothéisme prophétique fondé par Abraham à la Mecque, une forme originelle de l’islam : « A travers le temps, parmi les Arabes, ce monothéisme originel a dégénéré en paganisme : la vraie connaissance a été perdue » [30].

Face à ce quasi-monopole de la version islamique de la nature du paganisme arabe du passé, quelques rénovateurs hindous, en particulier Sita Ram Goel, ont tenté de reconstruire le point de vue des païens arabes. Le sujet est digne d’un traitement détaillé, car c’est incontestablement l’une des contributions les plus originales du renouveau hindou, d’une importance universelle pour toute compréhension de la carrière du prophète et de l’islam ; cependant, je me limiterai ici à quelques points généraux.

Loin d’être à l’origine une forme du monothéisme abrahamique, le paganisme arabe était une religion cosmique, se concentrant largement sur le ciel étoilé, tout comme sa religion-sœur « sémitique » de Babylone, ou comme la religion védique [31]. Les Arabes avaient un panthéon comparable à celui des anciens Grecs ou Hindous, incarnant des notions métaphysiques, cosmologiques et éthiques. Tout comme l’Inde, « la totalité de leur pays était recouvertes de temples et de sanctuaires abritant des centaines de divinités avec de nombreux noms et formes » [32]. Après avoir énuméré ce qu’on connaît réellement du paganisme arabe, ainsi qu’une liste des déités arabes, Goel conclut : « Les déités énumérées dans les pages précédentes pourront sembler trop nombreuses aux esprits sous le charme du monothéisme. Le fait, cependant, est qu’elles sont bien trop peu nombreuses et qu’elles représentent seulement ce qui a été sauvé par l’érudition moderne à partir des immenses ruines causées par l’islam » [33].

La déité principale de la Kaaba, le lieu saint national arabe, était une déité mâle de la lune, Hubal, qui présente de nombreuses similarités avec Shiva ; en particulier le fait que dans les temples de ces deux déités, la mûrti (idole) centrale est une pierre non-sculptée. S’il serait exagéré de dire que la Kaaba était un temple de Shiva (une position prise par l’historien excentrique P.N. Oak), il y a une indéniable parenté typologique entre l’hindouisme et le paganisme arabe.

Si nous considérons les Grecs et les Hindous polythéistes comme des civilisés, Goel, qui rejette la description aujourd’hui classique des païens arabes comme étant une « populace querelleuse s’adonnant au culte des idoles », nous enjoint d’y réfléchir à deux fois avant de considérer les païens arabes comme des sauvages ayant un besoin urgent de la mission civilisatrice de Mahomet : « Ce n’est rien de moins qu’une calomnie de dire que les Arabes pré-islamiques étaient des barbares dépourvus de religion et de culture, à moins d’entendre par religion et culture ce que les théologiens musulmans entendent » [34].

Les Arabes païens eux-mêmes, pour le moins, se considéraient eux-mêmes comme très religieux, bien que pas au sens de « croyants ». Goel cite la réponse d’un prince arabe au roi de Perse qui lui avait dit à quel point il considérait les Arabes comme inférieurs : « Quelle nation pourrait-elle être mise avant les Arabes pour la force ou la beauté ou la piété, le courage, la générosité, la sagesse, la fierté ou la fidélité ? (…) Il était si généreux qu’il aurait tué le chameau qui était sa seule richesse pour donner un repas à l’étranger qui venait à lui la nuit. Aucun autre peuple n’avait une poésie si élaborée ou un langage si expressif que les leurs (…) Ils étaient si fidèles aux ordonnances de leur religion que si un homme rencontrait le meurtrier de son père, sans armes pendant l’un des mois sacrés, il ne lui faisait aucun mal. Un signe ou un regard de leur part constituait un engagement qui était absolument inviolable » [35].

Encore une fois, nous ne pouvons pas entrer ici dans les détails, mais il est important de noter que cette tendance non-nationaliste à l’intérieur du mouvement du renouveau hindou pense en termes mondiaux. L’un de ses objectifs, bien que pour l’instant conçu comme éloigné et théorique, est la restauration en Arabie, sinon de son ancienne religion, du moins d’une certaine forme de religion non-prophétique pluraliste. Il faut noter à quel point cette tendance ambitieuse est éloignée de la psychologie défensive et sombre de « l’hindouisme assiégé », bien qu’elle soit largement exprimée par les mêmes individus.

Notes:

 

[1] La transcription chinoise , aujourd’hui prononcée comme un [sh] cérébral, vient souvent d’un /h/ fortement aspiré, /x/. En chinois moderne, le nom de l’Inde est devenu Yin-du, sur la base de la prononciation non-aspirée proposée par Xuan Zang lui-même.
[2] Surendranath Sen: India though Chinese Eyes, p.59.
[3] S.R. Goel: Hindu Temples, vol.2 (2nd ed.), p.396. Le chapitre concerné a aussi été publié séparément : Hindus and Hinduism, Manipulation of Meanings (1993).
[4] L’existence pré-moderne du terme « hindou » fut reconnue, devant une audience déçue d’indologues (qui enseignent et écrivent habituellement que l’hindouisme est une « construction orientaliste » récente) par le Prof. David Lorenzen, dans un article sur la définition de « hindou », lu lors de la Conférence sur l’Asie du Sud en 1995 à Madison, Wisconsin.
[5] Je renonce à discuter des diverses propositions excentriques par des hindous pour expliquer Hindu comme un mot sanscrit, à savoir que Hindu serait dérivé du sanscrit hîna, « humble » (comme dans Hînayâna, le « petit véhicule »), ou la petite idée de Xuan Zang selon laquelle il serait dérivé de indu, « lune ».
[6] Une traduction anglaise de l’autobiographie de Timur, Malfuzat-i-Timuri, est donnée dans Elliott & Dowson: History of India, vol-3, 389-477. De même, durant la guerre civile yougoslave, les Serbes appelaient les musulmans les « Turcs », bien qu’ils ne parlaient pas de gens parlant le turc mais de gens professant l’islam.
[7] Non que je croie à ce récit. Que la nationalité indienne soit née ailleurs que dans la lutte pour la liberté est impliqué par le fait que la nation indienne ne fut en aucun cas unie dans cette lutte : de nombreux Indiens collaborèrent de tout cœur avec les Britanniques. Mais cela ne nie pas non plus leur nationalité commune, tout comme la division des Français en collaborateurs et en résistants sous l’occupation allemande (1940-44) ne prouve pas la non-existence de la nation française.
[8] V.D. Savarkar: Hindutva, p.45.
[9] Al Biruni : India, vol. 1, p. 121. Il attribue la division des hommes en sectes à nul autre que Rama. Les « Mages » sont les Maga Brahmanes, qui sont en effet des adorateurs de Surya, le soleil ; les « huit mères » sont les ashta-Lakshmî, habituellement décrites en même temps que le Sri Yantra (quatre triangles avec la pointe en haut et cinq avec la pointe en bas, entrelacés), et adorées par ex. dans le temple de Kanchi Shankaracharya.
[10] Un autre sens parfois donné à paganisme, et pas approfondi ici, est l’attachement religieux à des éléments « matériels » comme les prescriptions rituelles, par opposition à l’accent mis par les chrétiens sur « l’esprit » (en morale, sur « l’intention ») ; selon ce critère, le pur bouddhisme Theravada n’est pas païen, alors que le judaïsme orthodoxe l’est ; l’hindouisme du Védanta n’est pas païen, alors que l’hindouisme tantrique l’est ; les formes les plus austères du protestantisme ne sont pas païennes, alors que le catholicisme l’est avec ses sacrements.
[11] Par un exemple typique, Karen Armstrong, ancienne nonne catholique et aujourd’hui fidèle de l’islam, s’appelle elle-même une « monothéiste free-lance avec une influence bouddhiste » (parlant avec Ludo Abicht à la radio flamande, 1996).
[12] Coran 41:37.
[13] F. Staal: Een Wijsgeer in bet Oosten, p. 107-108. De même, dans son livre Le Corps Taoïste, Kristofer Schipper a fait la même remarque sur le taoïsme.
[14] E. Krishnamacharya: Our Heritage, p. 16.
[15] Dans ce sens, le communisme et le nazisme pourraient tous deux être considérés comme des formes (séculières, pseudo-scientifiques) de « paganisme », comme cela est fréquemment fait dans les textes chrétiens, par ex. dans le document du Vatican sur la responsabilité chrétienne pour l’Holocauste, mars 1998. Je trouve cet usage déroutant et donc indésirable, mais le point valable est que les deux idéologies se basaient elle-mêmes sur les « lois de la nature » (comprises d’un point de vue séculier), plus précisément comme les « lois de l’histoire » dans le cas du communisme.
[16] See e.g. G. Harvey & C. Hardman: Paganism Today, Vivianne Crowley: Principles of Paganism; G. Harvey: Speaking Earth, Listening People.
[17] Ram Swarup: The Word as Revelation: Names of Gods, p. 132.
[18] Ram Swarup correspondait avec Prudence Jones, deux fois présidente de la Pagan Federation, et avec Gudrun Kristin Magnusdottir, païenne islandaise auteur du livre Odsmal, qui relie la religion Asatru germanique à la méditation transcendantale et à d’autres traditions orientales. Son article « Of Hindus, Pagans and the Return of the Gods » (Hinduism Today, oct. 1991) a été reproduit dans le magazine anarcho-païen californien Green Egg, Noël 1991 et à nouveau en mars 1998.
[19] Par ex. Alain de Benoist : Comment peut-on être païen ?, un aspect de la polémique « mono-poly » qui anima les salons parisiens autour de 1980, où Bernard-Henry Lévy défendait le monothéisme, bien qu’un « monothéisme sans Dieu » : Le Testament de Dieu.
[20] Ram Swarup: Word as Revelation, p. 129.
[21] Ram Swarup: Word as Revelation, p. 128.
[22] Ram Swarup: Word as Revelation, p. 126.
[23] Ram Swarup: Word as Revelation, p. 128.
[24] Ram Swarup: Word as Revelation, p. 128.
[25] Sri Aurobindo: Foundations of Indian Culture, p. 135.
[26] S. Talageri dans S.R. Goel: Time for Stock-Taking, p.227. Sanâtanism : d’après Sanâtana Dharma, la religion « éternelle », l’auto-dénomination de l’hindouisme.
[27] Young India, April 1998, dernière page ; souligné dans l’original.
[28] Mayank Jain: "Let us fulfil the Sardar’s mission", Organiser, 21-12-1997.
[29] J.H. Kramers: De Koran (Dutch), p.viii.
[30] J.H. Kramers: De Koran, p.x.
[31] S.R. Goel: Hindu Temples, vol.2, p.266 et p.273-296, avec référence à F. Hommel dans The First Encyclopaedia of Islam, vol.1, p.377 ff., et à Shaikh Inayatullah: "Pre-Islamic Arabian Thought", dans M.M. Sharif, ed.: A History of Muslim Philosophy, Lahore 1961.
[32] S.R. Goel: Hindu Temples, vol.2, p.294.
[33] S.R. Goel: Hindu Temples, vol.2, p.294.
[34] S.R. Goel: Hindu Temples, vol.2, p.272.
[35] Cité dans D.S. Margoliouth: Mohammed and the Rise of Islam, p. 2-3, et dans Goel: Hindu Temples, vol. 2, p. 270
Cet article constitue le chapitre II du livre de Koenraad Elst : « Who is a Hindu ? »
   

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