How Jesus the Himalayan yogi is used as a conversion ploy – David Frawley

Issa (Jesus) and Giant's Head by Nicholas Roerich (1932)

Acharya David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri)In India today, the image of Christ as a yogi is not used by Christians to honor the teachings of Yoga. Jesus as a yogi is a new form of conversion propaganda employed by those who do not follow Yoga at all, but use the story to subvert a deeper questioning of their motives and the biases of their theologies. – Dr David Frawley

The Jesus in India Story

In the nineteenth century, Hindu gurus and Western mystics, while examining teachings of the Gospels about non-violence and turning the other cheek, came to the conclusion that Jesus must have been a yogi who visited India.

The Ahmadiyya movement: a new nineteenth century sect of Islam centered in Kashmir, added much to the idea. They claimed their founder, Mirza Gulam Ahmad, was in fact Jesus reborn to fulfill the prophecies of Islam. Ahmadiyyas taught that Jesus survived his ordeal on the cross and went to Kashmir where he was later buried.

Stories of Jesus in India became popular, with claims of secret teachings found in ancient monasteries confirming this, though no such documents seem to have ever been verified.

Apollonius of TyanaMysticism in the Greco-Roman world

There are certainly mystical teachings in early Christianity, particularly in unorthodox and syncretic Gnostic sects, that have Vedantic and Buddhist affinities. But these can be found in all the literature of the Greco-Roman era with its many combinations of mystical teachings from Greece, Egypt, Persia and India. The entire Greco-Roman world was exposed to teachings from India through an extensive mercantile trade and travel.

Apollonius of Tyana, who also lived in the first century CE, was a miracle working mystic like Jesus, famous for having travelled to India to study with its great gurus. Some scholars claim that the Jesus and Apollonius stories were at times confused. Even the great Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinus in the third century CE made an abortive effort to travel to India, indicating that the mystical journey to India was a common theme of the Greco-Roman world. This means that a yogic influence existed in the mix of contemporary teachings that Christianity came out of.

Compounding the issue is the ongoing debate about the historicity of Jesus. The Jesus story that mainstream Christianity accepts of the four Gospels was not finalized and made authoritative until the fourth century. Yet these gospels do not agree as to the timing of the birth of Jesus. Actual historical records of the Christians of the first century are limited and questionable.

Modern scholarship does not accept the Jesus in India story, though it does accept that mystics like Apollonius traveled to India. No major Western scholars, religious or not, place Jesus in India during any period of his life.

Jesus & KrishnaYogi Jesus as a conversion ploy

To date, no major sect of Christianity outside of India, including the Catholic Church, regards the Jesus as a yogi story as more than fantasy or heresy. However, Christian groups in India do circulate the Jesus as yogi story to aid their efforts to convert Hindus.

In India today, the image of Christ as a yogi is not used by Christians to honor the teachings of Yoga. Jesus as a yogi is a new form of conversion propaganda employed by those who do not follow Yoga at all, but use the story to subvert a deeper questioning of their motives and the biases of their theologies.

Missionaries tell uninformed Hindus that Jesus was a yogi or the avatar Kalki (a ploy Muslim missionaries use for Mohammed). But they do not direct people to honor Yoga teachings or Yoga gurus as well. Rather they say that since Christ was a great yogi, you can gain everything spiritually by converting to Christianity and do not need the rest of Yoga. They quote Hindu gurus praising Jesus but do not praise these gurus or their teachings in turn. Some Christian priests in India formally study Yoga or Vedanta, not to follow these teachings, but to aid in communication for converting Hindus, using Hindu concepts for their advantage, like Jesus as a yogi.

If Christians want to honor the image of Christ as a yogi, let them first use it in Rome or in any other major Christian country or church! Otherwise it is dishonest. Let them honor Yoga, not simply Jesus, and the Hindu background of the Yoga tradition.

Jesus the YogiSubversion of Hindu practices

The Christ as yogi image is combined with an entire range of missionary subterfuges. Missionaries take Hindu bhajans to deities like Rama, Krishna or Shiva and substitute the name of Jesus. A Christian form of Bharat Natyam has been invented, with traditional Hindu dance forms as offerings to Jesus. Hindu pillars or stambhas are placed in front of churches in South India as if these were types of Hindu temples. Churches perform aratis to Jesus rather than the usual Christian rituals. Mother Mary is made to resemble Hindu Goddesses in her depictions. Such practices are used to draw people away from their Hindu roots and make them receptive to conversion.

Rather than affording a greater respect for Hindu and Buddhist teachings, the Jesus as a yogi story is sadly becoming one of the main conversion ploys in the country.

We must be very clear about this fact: Regardless of whether Jesus was a yogi (which remains debatable) the exclusion and conversion based theology and practices of Christianity must be understood along with their consequences. The idea of only One True God, church, savior, or scripture, a single life for the soul, with sin and salvation to heaven and hell are contrary to Yoga philosophy, which aims at Self-realization, a state of unitary awareness beyond body and mind, time and space.

Unfortunately, when one exposes Christian conversion efforts today, some Hindus rush to the defense of the church under the response that Jesus was a yogi! They forget to note that whether Jesus was a yogi, the churches do not honor or represent the tradition of Yoga. If it is Yoga that people want to learn, it will not happen in the churches or by the priests, but by true Yoga gurus in the traditions of Sanatana Dharma, which remain abundantly available today. – Swarajya, 24 May 2016

» Dr David Frawley is a Vedacharya and includes in his unusual wide scope of studies Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedanta and Vedic astrology, as well as the ancient teachings of the oldest Rigveda. Contact him at vedanet@aol.com.

Christian Yoga?

Islam and Christianity share ‘idea of conquest’, says Pope Francis – Stephanie Kirchgaessner

Pope Francis

Stephanie Kirchgaessner“It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest,” Francis said. – Stephanie Kirchgaessner

Islam and Christianity share an inherent “idea of conquest”, and those who refer to Europe’s roots as Christian often veer into colonialism, Pope Francis said in a wide-ranging interview about the the migration crisis and the ability of Christians and Muslims to live together harmoniously.

Speaking to the French Catholic newspaper La Croix, the Argentinian pope also hailed the election of Sadiq Khan in London, saying that a Muslim mayor personified the idea of integration within Europe.

The pope said it was “fair and responsible” to ask whether Europe had the capacity to accept millions of refugees from the Middle East and Africa. But he said it was more important to ask why there were so many, pointing to war, the unfettered free market, unemployment, the arms trade, underinvestment in Africa and income inequality.

He appeared to reject any link between Islamic extremism within Europe and Islam itself. Instead, he condemned the way in which migrants were “ghettoised” rather than integrated into society.

“In Brussels, the terrorists were Belgians, children of migrants, but they grew up in a ghetto. In London, the new mayor took his oath of office in a cathedral and will undoubtedly meet the Queen. This illustrates the need for Europe to rediscover its capacity to integrate.”

He said integration was even more necessary today than in the past because of the “grave problem” of Europe’s declining birth rate, saying a “demographic emptiness is developing”.

When he was asked why he never referred to Europe’s roots as Christian—he has often spoken of Europe having a multicultural identity—Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, said he spoke of roots in the plural because there were so many.

“When I hear talk of the Christian roots of Europe, I sometimes dread the tone, which can seem triumphalist or even vengeful. It then takes on colonialist overtones,” he said. Christianity’s contribution to the culture was of service—of “Christ in the washing of the feet”—and not a “colonial enterprise”, he Constantine the Greatsaid.

When Francis was asked by La Croix whether fear of Islam was justified in Europe, he said people’s real fear was of Islamic State. He then drew parallels between perceptions some non-Muslims may have of the Islamic faith, and of Christianity.

“It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest,” he said.

He said it was important for Christians to ask themselves whether an “overly western model of democracy” has been exported to countries such as Iraq, where a strong government existed before military intervention led to the ousting of Saddam Hussein. Francis also pointed to Libya, where he quoted someone as saying recently: “We used to have one Gaddafi, now we have 50”.

He said the co-existence between Christians and Muslims was still possible, pointing to his native Argentina, pre-war Central Africa, and Lebanon as models.

When asked about the role religion ought to play in society and government, Francis strongly backed the separation between church and state, saying states must be secular, although they also needed strong laws guaranteeing religious freedom and needed to ensure individuals, including government officials, had a right to conscientious objection.

“If a Muslim woman wishes to wear a veil, she must be able to do so. Similarly, if a Catholic wishes to wear a cross,” Francis said. “People must be free to profess their faith at the heart of their own culture not merely at its margins.” He then expressed a “modest critique” of France, saying the country’s laws exaggerate laïcité—the separation between church and state.

“This arises from a way of considering religions as subcultures rather than as fully fledged cultures in their own right. I fear that this approach, which is understandable as part of the heritage of the Enlightenment, continues to exist. France needs to take a step forward on this issue in order “to accept that openness to transcendence is a right for everyone,” he said. – The Guardian, 17 May 2016

Goa Inqusition

OLD GOA : Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and backsliding Christian victims of the Goa Inquisition stand with their hands nailed to posts as a Portuguese padre reads out their alleged crimes and a Portuguese nobleman on a horse watches. They will be burned at the stake later in Old Goa’s central square and their confiscated lands will be shared between the Portuguese nobles and Roman Catholic Church. The Inquisition was called to Goa by St. Francis Xavier, a Portuguese-employed Spanish missionary whose hatred of Hindus and Hinduism amounted to an obsession. He was known to Tamil Hindus as the  Scourge of the Coromandel Coast.

Truth and political correctness – Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth“The rishis enquired into truth. ‘Religion’ in the sense of imposing a fixed doctrine was inconceivable for them. Debates on what is true were held in which women, too, participated. The question revolved around how to make life meaningful and fulfilled. The answer they found was: the purpose of life is to discover the truth about ourselves.” – Maria Wirth

Some years ago, on a visit to Germany, I met with a few friends from primary school times. Two of them I hadn’t seen for over 50 years, but we were quickly familiar again after we got used to our new (elderly) look. The conversation veered to the Turks in town, around 600 of the overall 6000 inhabitants. “Most of them are not integrating into our society and some buy up houses right in the centre of the town”, a former classmate said.

I mentioned that I have become very wary of pious Muslims ever since I read the Quran. Those who believe in earnest what is written there will never see non-Muslims as equals. They are simply not allowed to. They will have to strive to gain majority wherever they live and then bully us others into submission, if we are lucky not to be killed.

There was silence for a while. Then one friend, a confident, feisty woman, said: “Maria, I think like you do. But I wouldn’t have dared to say what you just said.”

Her comment brought home the power of mass media. For decades ‘political correctness’ has been drummed into us all over the world and many have internalized what they are supposed to say and what not. And maybe we did not even notice that we have voluntarily surrendered the right to free speech which is considered one of the greatest plus points of modern democracies.

It is even worse and more complicated. The right to free speech is there, but the right to speak the truth is under threat. The right to free speech even allows expressing offense and falsehood provided it is aimed at the ‘politically correct’ groups of people. In such cases, free speech is often amplified because mainstream media will gladly broadcast it all over the world.

An example was the false accusation that ‘Hindu extremists’ were behind the gang rape of a nun. Hindus were not given a hearing. They were shouted down in TV studios by Christian representatives and left-liberals. A bishop and Vatican Radio also went ahead blaming Hindus without any proof. When the Bangladeshi Muslim culprits were caught, the damage to the image of Hindus was done and it was not corrected. No case of hate speech was slapped on those Christian representatives. Not even an apology was made.

Who can be freely attacked and who not is one of the incomprehensible features of political correctness. In spite of the fact that Hindus were victims under Muslim and British rule for centuries with millions of them having been killed; in spite of the fact that Hindus never went on the offensive in the name of their gods, they and their tradition are today fair game for verbal attacks which could be termed as hate speech but is hardly ever prosecuted as such. The same seems to apply for Jews. Anti-Semitism is again on the rise in the West and not only among the Muslim population there. It is prominent in universities and hidden in mainstream media.

In contrast, Muslims and Islam are generally exempted from verbal attacks in spite of the fact that mainly Muslim boys become terrorists and in spite of the fact that over the past 1400 years, Muslims were more often aggressors, not victims. The reason is that the motto “Islam is a religion of peace” is the politically correct view and cases of ‘hate speech’ are slapped quickly on those who say otherwise. However there is no further debate on why or whether Islam is indeed a religion of peace except for general claims that Islam exhorts its followers to be good human beings.

In a balanced debate it would become clear that Hindu Dharma (the open-minded, tolerant Hinduism does not deserve an ‘–ism’ as postfix) is a better option for a harmonious, peaceful living together of people of diverse natures, because Islam and Christianity require first all to convert and profess belief in their fixed, yet unproven doctrines before homogenous ‘peace’ can be established. Diversity of opinion is not allowed.

Yet this balanced, unbiased debate never happens. It is studiously avoided. Instead, those who stand up for Hindu Dharma are vilified as ‘Hindu fundamentalists’ and those who stand up for Islam or Christianity are paraded all over the news channels as persons of the ‘correct’ insight. Do you hear in public discourse that “Hinduism is a religion of peace”? You may have never heard it. And if you say it privately, politically correct persons will immediately remind you of the ‘atrocious caste system’.

Many truthsHow have we reached such a state where we cannot have a meaningful debate on what is true any longer? Has truth been thrown out of the window? It almost seems like that. I realized only recently that the ‘correct’ line is now apparently that there is no truth as such. Rather, there are so many truths. Whatever somebody thinks is his truth.

A German friend said exactly this, when I mentioned that it is a sad state of affairs that nowadays it needs courage to speak the truth, especially when it comes to Islam. “There is no truth as such”, he replied. I was taken aback. If truth is not taken any longer as the guiding star, we can as well pack up and stop living.

I tried to make my friend see that though the absolute Truth—that what truly is—cannot be put into words, it nevertheless is present. On another, lower level, a lie is definitely not the truth, even if somebody believes in it. Steadfastly ignoring certain important facts to create a different perception of an issue is also dishonest and akin to a lie. “Satyam vada, dharam chara” is an ancient Indian advice—speak the truth, do what is right.

Is it so difficult to find out whether the politically correct view is truthful or not?

Let’s take for example the concern to empower women. It’s a worthy concern. But what has happened in the name of feminism and gender equality clearly went overboard and has become harmful.

“Why should I move to the place where my husband gets a job? Why should he not stay where I have my friends?” was a major issue in the early years of feminism in the West. So the discord started right after marriage because one of the two had finally to give in and if it was the wife, she would grudge it, now being aware of ‘gender inequality’.

Further, in the name of gender equality, unequal laws were enacted which favoured women and put men not only at a disadvantage, but in danger to land in jail because their side of the story simply does not count. It is apparently assumed that women are always angels and men always beasts, which is clearly not true. As a consequence, men and women are not anymore complementing each other but opposing each other, and in western societies the family system went bust. Many people there feel lonely and lost, yet the creed of feminism is still adhered to by the politically correct.

Should there not be a genuine debate on this issue? Yet it is not happening. Why is any criticism of feminism shouted down by the so-called opinion-makers in the media? Do they want a defunct society for whatever reason?

When I had finished school in the late 1960s, feminism just started in Germany. If I wanted to be ‘modern’ now, I was suddenly supposed to make a career and as compensation, I didn’t need to know how to cook and could decide whether I wanted children, as it was “my body”.

I remember that some feminists then were even fighting for girls to be included in the 18-months long military training that was obligatory for boys at the age of 18. Many women, including me, did not agree with those feminists, but we had no voice, whereas their voice was heard loudly almost daily in the media. Brainwashing is usually associated with fascist, communist or religious ideologies, but it seems, media, too, are willing henchmen to support it and how effective they are!

Let’s take another example: religion is seen as sacrosanct and freedom of religion is guaranteed in the UN Charter. Yet a clear definition of religion is lacking. Should we not have a closer look at religions regarding what is true about them and what cannot possibly be true? This debate also is not happening. Instead it is politically correct to project Islam as a religion of peace and Christianity as a religion of love, and Hinduism as a loose collection of cults which have many flaws that need to be corrected, preferably by western experts of “South Asia”.

This is turning truth on its head. But why is it done? Do the powerful, influential, wealthy religions of peace and love (both of them gained the huge number of followers through violence and indoctrination) sense that they will be losing out when there is a genuine debate? Hindus would have the upper hand because their tradition is based on philosophy (= love for wisdom) and not on coercion into blind belief.

The insights of the rishis keep being vindicated by modern science and are open to direct, personal experience in this life, provided one purifies one’s inner perception. The followers of the dogmatic religions, however, have to wait till they are dead until they know whether it was true or false what the priests or mullahs told them.

The rishis enquired into truth. “Religion” in the sense of imposing a fixed doctrine was inconceivable for them. Debates on what is true were held in which women, too, participated. The question revolved around how to make life meaningful and fulfilled. The answer they found was: the purpose of life is to discover the truth about ourselves.

Let’s bring truth into our lives and stand by it. Let’s not be swayed by political correctness or other types of indoctrination. Ultimately truth alone is victorious—and maybe it sounds strange, but I am convinced that truth is alive. If it is honoured, it will foster you.

Satyameva Jayate! – Maria Wirth Blog, 17 April 2016

» Maria Wirth is a psychologist and author who lives in Uttarakhand.

Yyagnavalkya & Maitreyi

St Teresa: The hypocrisy of it all – Jayant Chowdhury

Pope Francis

Writer“The National Catholic Reporter says the crisis facing the Catholic Church is the “largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in Church history”. A 2009 Pew study said that since the 1960s, four American-born Catholics left the Church for every one who has converted. This decline in the number of western Catholics has been more than made up by new Catholic converts among the Hispanics, Africans and Asians. … Hence, the need to showcase miracle cures in Brazil and India in order to lure more and more people from these countries and regions into the Catholic fold.” – Jayant Chowdhury

Narendra ModiA little over a year ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was reported to have claimed at an event at a private hospital in Mumbai that cosmetic surgery and transplants was practiced in ancient India, and that stem cell technology and in-vitro fertilisation were also known to Indians thousands of years ago. His “preposterous” claims drew immediate ridicule from many, with good reason. The “left-liberal” brigade went hammer and tongs against Modi and the Hindutvavadis.

But the brigade’s supposed scientific, rational and logical credentials vanish quite quickly in some cases. Late last week [Dec 2015], the Vatican endorsed a miraculous cure in December 2008 of an unnamed man in Brazil who had a brain tumour and attributed it to the intercession of the “Blessed Teresa of Kolkata”. This has cleared the path for sainthood for Mother Teresa. Earlier, in September 1998, another such miraculous cure of a tribal woman in West Bengal’s South Dinajpur district led to the beatification of the Albanian nun.

Monica BesraAccording to the Catholic Church, the tribal woman, Monica Besra, was suffering from an ovarian tumour and medical intervention was fruitless. Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity then placed a medallion bearing Mother Teresa’s image on her abdomen and prayed for her recovery. Besra later said that she saw a ray of light emanating from the medallion and fell unconscious; when she awoke the next morning, the tumour was gone. Doctors who were treating her claimed she had an abdominal cyst caused by tuberculosis and medicines cured her of the cyst.

Fr Brian KolodiejchukThe Brazilian man’s miraculous cure, as claimed by the Vatican, is even more dramatic. He was suffering from a viral brain infection that resulted in multiple abscesses and by December 2008, he had gone into a coma due to accumulation of fluid around his brain and doctors were preparing for surgery to remove the fluid. Reverend Brian Kolodiejchuk, who was spearheading the cause for canonization of Mother Teresa and has been investigating and endorsing these ‘miracles’ attributed to Mother Teresa, told the media that 30 minutes before the Brazilian man was to be wheeled into the operation theatre, he regained consciousness, sat up and was without any pain! The Vatican attributed this cure to prayers for Mother Teresa’s intercession by the man’s wife who, at the time of his scheduled surgery, was at her parish church praying alongside her pastor.

The silence of the left-liberal brigade on these ridiculous claims by the Catholic Church is, to put it mildly, deafening. But then, the double standards of this section is well-known and well-documented. Criticising Hindus for their “blind beliefs” in rituals and rites is par for the course. But silence is their golden medium when it comes to other religions. It is perfectly fine for a Muslim to light candles at a dargah to seek the intercession of a particular pir, but try explaining to them the significance and rationale behind a Hindu ritual, and they’ll scoff at you and dismiss you as a regressive retard.

But a Monica Besra’s or a Brazilian man’s miraculous cures raises no eyebrows among “rationalists”. After all, there is no Hindu seer involved, but the Pope is a powerful western symbol of credibility.

Mother Teresa MedalThat aside, there are some important questions that need to be answered by the left-liberals and all those celebrating the imminent canonisation of Mother Teresa. One, would they recommend that medallions bearing Mother Teresa’s image be, from now on, placed on all patients across the world having abdominal tumors for instant cures or that the spouses of critical patients ought to pray to Mother Teresa for intercession for miracle cures? Can the Vatican guarantee cures? If Mother Teresa could cure Monica Besra or the Brazilian man, surely the millions of ill and ailing all over the world can be similarly cured. After all, saintly figures surely don’t discriminate and bless all equally. Now, at long last, there is hope for critically ill patients all over the world. When medicines fail, turn to the Mother! Hallelujah!

There is one more very important question that begs an answer. Why has the Vatican been so keen on beatifying and then canonising Mother Teresa? It must be remembered that as per conventions of the Catholic Church, a five-year waiting period is observed before the process of beatification of a prominent faithful is initiated. Mother Teresa died on 5 September 1997 and in early 1999, Pope John Paul II waived the five-year waiting period and allowed the immediate opening of the beatification cause. Mother Teresa was beatified on 19 October 2003, making hers the shortest beatification process in modern history. The canonisation process—investigating miracles attributed to Mother Teresa and choosing the most prominent and ‘authentic’ one—started immediately after that.

Why this rush to make Mother Teresa into a Saint? The answer: India is where the market for conversions is largest. It must be remembered that Monica Besra and her family converted to Christianity after her miracle cure. And her husband, Selku Murmu, confessed that after the conversion, they became richer than their neighbours—they were given money to buy a plot of land, renovate their hut, get their children admitted to schools and for clothes and provisions. Their improved lifestyle lured many other families in their tiny of village of Dhulinakod to convert to Christianity.

National Catholic ReporterAt a time when the Catholic Church’s appeal in the developed west is declining sharply, the Vatican has realised that it needs to increase its appeal among the people in the developing world—Latin America, Africa and Asia. This realisation has been spurred by statistics which show that Hispanics and Latin Americans make for a greater share of the Catholic population. The National Catholic Reporter says the crisis facing the Catholic Church is the “largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in Church history”. A 2009 Pew study said that since the 1960s, four American-born Catholics left the Church for every one who has converted. This decline in the number of western Catholics has been more than made up by new Catholic converts among the Hispanics, Africans and Asians. And this is where the Vatican now wants to concentrate. Hence, the need to showcase miracle cures in Brazil and India in order to lure more and more people from these countries and regions into the Catholic fold.

The Catholic Church will now highlight the miracle cures of Monica Besra and the Brazilian man to showcase to people across Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America the power of its saints. Imagine the powerful message of a Catholic ‘saint’ who possesses miraculous healing powers that the Catholic Church can send across to a poor, illiterate tribal in India. That message, backed by enticements like money and provisions and free education for kids, is what the Vatican knows will bring in more and more converts.

Mother Teresa, whose contributions and work are mired in controversies, will most likely be used by the Vatican to proselytise more and more people in the developing world. But India’s left-liberals are perfectly at ease with this; it’s only ‘ghar wapsis’ that get their goat. – Swarajya, 15 December 2015

» Jayant Chowdhury is an avid observer of and commentator on politics and society in Bengal and north-eastern  India.

Mohan Bhagwat

See also

How the Grinch vandalised Vasantotsava – Bharavi

Emperor Julian 'the Apostate' presiding at a conference of Christians.

Man Sitting Under Tree IconNoise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid. – Mark Twain

In an earlier missive inspired by ‘Dr. Seuss’ and Mr. Grinch, Esq., we had recounted at some length the circumstances that led to our festival of Mithra-Jayanti (or the winter solstice) being caricatured as Jesus’ birthday, and how the Christmas turkey serves as an apt metaphor for misappropriated Pagan usage.[1] As if getting your knickers in a knot over your date of birth weren’t inconvenient enough, as Gen. (Retd.) V. K. Singh can testify to, the story of Jesus just keeps going on and on like the perpetually perambulating Energizer bunny.[2]  Thus, the confusion extends to Jesus’ death too, and unfortunately and irritatingly throws our Vernal (i.e. spring-related) festive observances quite out of gear, again due to the Christmas turkey effect.[3]  As we noted earlier, Jesus’ alleged resurrection after the crucifixion has the rather prosaic explanation that he was taken down from the cross before he really gave up the (holy?) ghost, and most probably spent the remainder of his earthly life hiding from Romans and Roman-law-abiding Jews.[4] The alert reader will kindly excuse us for citing ourselves thrice in four sentences in a manner more becoming of an eminent secular historian rather than an inoffensive Pagan hack. We reassure you that this is mere accident, not apostasy, and solely meant to indicate that ‘Mithra-Jayanti’ and the ‘Christmas turkey effect/metaphor’ can be understood only if you take the trouble to refer to our thoroughly (externally) referenced previous epistle[5] to fellow heathens. (There we go again! Sorry!)

PaganismJesus, having failed in his stated mission as the redeemer of the Jews, tried to cover up for his failure by craftily postponing all his important work to the indefinite future, specifically when everyone would have accepted his messiahood, or at least heard about it, and the world would end. This very conveniently evaded the very important business of re-establishing the kingdom of Israel and rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, but his schismatic followers were too busy to notice his cunning abdication of the essential function of a Jewish messiah. Julian, the apostate Roman emperor who publicly announced his own ‘ghar wapsi’ (homecoming) into ancestral Hellenism after renouncing Christianity, and reigned as the last of the Pagan Roman emperors, did promise the Jews that he would rebuild their temple. Unfortunately, he died during his Persian campaign before he could fulfill his promise. Of course, this attempt to revive Paganism and rehabilitate Judaism in its ancestral land, aimed at rendering the Galilean messiah unemployable in his essential function led to impromptu performances of St. Vitus’ dance[6] by the emperor’s former co-religionists, for example Cyril of Alexandria:[7]

However who is it that has entered into war against the glory of Christ? They are legion, those who at various periods have let themselves go at this foolishness, driven by the perversity of the devil; but none as went far as Julian, who damaged the prestige of the Empire by refusing to recognize Christ, dispenser of royalty and power. Before his accession to the throne, he was counted among the believers: he had even been admitted to Holy Baptism and had studied the Holy Scriptures.

Indian Pagans note that purva-paksha is a sound technique, and uttara-paksha a powerful follow-through—Cyril’s testimony should be proof of that.

Jesus depicted as a Hindu YogiAnyway, to be fair to Jesus, he did not directly say that the end of the world was in the indefinite future. Rather, perhaps during his alleged secret wanderings in India,[8] he had the heaven-sent opportunity to learn at the feet of seasoned Indian bureaucrats, who definitively demonstrated that the best way to manage armies of importunate applicants for this-and-that was to assure them that the desired outcomes were expected ‘any time now’. And that’s what keeps his followers all agog with anticipation, generation after generation. Jesus’ misleading and evasive prophecies must have greatly riled our Saint Kabir no end, annoying him enough to vehemently preach the opposite extreme, exhorting people to carry out tomorrow’s work today, for the deluge could happen tomorrow, which only confuses the matter further.[9] This, we daresay, is an overlooked instance of possible Christian influence on nirguNa Hindu saints, if only in terms of annoyance and irritation, that has somehow escaped generations of lynx-eyed historians much better-qualified and -informed than ourselves.  As for ourselves, we humbly prefer to adhere to all reasonable deadlines and excuse ourselves from the rest.  

So, to pick up our main story, the early Jesuolators had problems with the celebration of the arrival of spring among mankind, and the propensity of hastily-christianized Gentiles to display symptoms of relapse into Paganism in lock step with the Spring equinox. Also, it must be noted that the Jewish festival of Passover, commemorating the hurried flight of Jews from Egypt, happened to coincide with the spring festivities as well, making it an occasion for facile backsliding not only by converted Gentiles, but also converted messianic Jews. It is rather obvious that it does not take revelation, prophecy or the fear of hell to induce people to celebrate spring, and different tribes and races have been doing so in their own ancestral ways since times immemorial. “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” goes the old adage, and that’s exactly what the early Christian “fathers” did. Or, to extend our own metaphor, if you don’t have a turkey of your own, you can always grab and stuff your neighbour’s.

Adonis-Tammuz Pagans should recognize that necrolatry and ritual cannibalism do not really go with spring, unless Jesus is another God of the crops or vegetation like the syncretic Syriac deity Adonis-Tammuz. Interestingly, Queen (or ‘Saint’) Helena, mother of the benighted ‘Saint’ Constantine determined the location of Jesus’ birth, three centuries after his purported birth, through the medium of a dream—Christian worthies haranguing Indian Pagans over Sri Rama’s photo identification and proof of domicile, please note. Not unexpectedly, the so-called “Grotto of Nativity” is founded on a shrine of Adonis-Tammuz, whose death was ritually mourned, and whose resurrection was triumphantly celebrated—just the kind of Christmas turkey that could supply a cavity (cf. ‘grotto’ above) for stuffing with Jesus’ extravagant claims.[10] The British votary of Jesus, Bede, styled ‘the venerable,’ who wrote in England of the eighth century C.E., inadvertently demonstrated that even time could not cure the Church of this kleptomaniac tendency of turkey-snatching. He alluded to a northern Goddess Eostre (cognate with Indo-European Goddesses of dawn—Roman Aurora, Greek Eos and Vedic Ushas) in whose honour feasts were held during Spring by (extinct) Pagans,[11] a dead giveaway. Owing to such haphazard and reckless turkey-snatching over centuries and across vast swathes of territory, Jesuolators are mired today in the so-called ‘Easter Controversy,’[12] or the inability of Jesuolatrous sects to agree on the ‘correct’ date of the said festival.  That’s pretty much expected when you haphazardly extend the already strained notion of the exclusivity of God, Son and Book, to Stolen and Stuffed Turkeys of multi-ethnic pedigrees.  

But what, you may wonder, is behind this business of bunnies, hiding eggs and sending children on an egg-hunt? The fertility symbolism of the egg is there for all to see, and the rabbit is said to be associated with Goddess Eostra. In modern times, the egg-hunt is certainly welcome relief for harried parents who have to come up with ideas to keep their offspring gainfully occupied for a while and guard them from television and video games whose effect on children is comparable to that of Circe on Ulysses’ men.[13] Moreover, the egg-hunt has the additional merit of informing the thoughtful and sensitive treasure-hunting cherubs that their elders’ waiting for Jesus’ ‘second coming’ is very similar to the act of searching for rabbit’s eggs. We hope the little egg-hunters and their parents will eventually undergo their own spiritual renewal by the rediscovery and renaissance of their Genius, in the ancient and holy sense of the word. We offer them the words of remembrance, exhortation, hope and renewal expressed by the Pagan polymath Thabit ibn Qurran al-Harrani, even as he led a physically precarious but intellectually productive existence in the Pagan enclave of Harran (situated in modern Turkey)[14] in the 9th century C.E., ironically preserved for us by the Syrian Christian scholar Bar Hebraeus:[15]

Thabit ibn Qurran al-HarraniWhereas many submitted to the false doctrine under torture,[16] our ancestors held out with the help of God and came through by a heroic effort; and this blessed city (i.e. Harran) has never been sullied by the false doctrine of Nazareth (i.e. Jesuolatry). Paganism, which used to be the object of public celebration in this world, is our heritage, and we shall pass it on to our children. Lucky the man who endures hardship with a well-founded hope for the sake of Paganism! Who was it that settled the inhabited world and propagated cities, if not the outstanding men and kings of Paganism? Who applied engineering to the harbors and the rivers? Who revealed the arcane sciences? Who was vouchsafed the epiphany of that godhead who gives oracles and makes known future events, if not the most famous of the Pagans? It is they who blazed all these trails. The dawn of medical science was their achievement: they showed both how souls can be saved and how bodies can be healed. They filled the world with upright conduct (cf. śeela) and with wisdom (cf. jñAna), which is the chief part of virtue (cf. dharma). Without the gifts of Paganism, the earth would have been empty and impoverished, enveloped in a great shroud of destitution.”  

References

  1. Bharavi (2015); How the Grinch Stole Mithra-Jayanti; Bharata Bharati.
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2LfH7hG5UE
  3. Bharavi (2015); How the Grinch Stole Mithra-Jayanti; Bharata Bharati.
  4. Bharavi (2015); How the Grinch Stole Mithra-Jayanti; Bharata Bharati.
  5. Bharavi (2015); How the Grinch Stole Mithra-Jayanti; Bharata Bharati.
  6. Rapid and uncoordinated jerking of face, hands and feet, generally due to bacterial causes, but exacerbated in the above cases due to intracranial super-infection by Jesus.
  7. Contra Julianus (Against Julian), written by Cyril, Archbishop of Alexandria. It was admiringly presented to Theodosius the Jesuistic Tyrant who dealt the death-blow to the traditional religions across the Roman empire, and famously terminated the Olympic games, until their revival in modern form in 1896.
  8. These, and other details of his alleged wanderings in the Indo-Tibetan region so beloved of deluded Hindus, were painstakingly fabricated by a Crimean Jewish trickster named Nikolai Notovitch in 1894, who also claimed for good measure that he was a Russian aristocrat. This cock-and-bull story was unfortunately and recklessly recycled and given wider currency by Swami Abhedananda, a disciple of Swami Vivekananda. Today, ‘Jesus in India’ is, very fittingly, a ‘zombie lie’ that will rest only with the demise of either Hinduism or Christianity, whichever occurs first.
  9. kAl kare so Aj kar, Aj kare so ab. pal me parlay hoyagi, bahuri karoge kab. Now, if it’s indeed the deluge tomorrow, shouldn’t you just let your hair down party today, while you still can? Well, that’s precisely what Jesus advocated when he referred to “the lilies of the field.”
  10. See Chapter 32 titled The Ritual of Adonis of Sir James Frazer’s monumental The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religon.
  11. Bede, The Reckoning of Time, dated to the eighth century C.E.
  12. The World Council of Churches decided in 1997 to harmonize the dates of Easter among various Churches. In 2001, the fortuitous coincidence of Easter dates according to both western and eastern churches was practically taken as a divine portent for settling the controversy, but subsequent implementation and adherence has been nonexistent.
  13. Briefly, Circe transformed Ulysses’ men into swine.
  14. Thanks to its location, Harran was buffeted by “Love” from the west and “Peace” from the east.
  15. See: The Melammu Project – The Heritage of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East.
  16. The real implication, we infer, of the oft-quoted phrase “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mark 12.31). After all, a perceived Christian heretic will fare no better than an unrepentant Pagan, as centuries of impartial ‘Neighbourly Love’ in Europe and elsewhere have demonstrated, resulting in the syncretic Christian practice of the torture of bodies with prayers for the souls within the said bodies.

Easter

 

Is canonising Mother Teresa the Vatican’s strategy to gain ground in India? – Sandeep B.

Mother TeresaMother Teresa & Charles Keating“You urge Judge Ito to look into his heart—as he sentences Charles Keating—and do what Jesus would do. I submit the same challenge to you. Ask yourself what Jesus would do if he were given the fruits of a crime; what Jesus would do if he were in possession of money that had been stolen; what Jesus would do if he were being exploited by a thief to ease his conscience?… You have been given money by Mr. Keating that he has been convicted of stealing by fraud. Do not permit him the ‘indulgence’ he desires….”

This was Paul Turley, the Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles and Charles Keating’s co-prosecutor, replying to Mother Teresa who had written a letter to Judge Lance Ito who was about to hand out a damning sentence to Keating who in turn had duped millions of America’s small investors inducing them to invest in his Ponzi schemes.

Now why would Mother Teresa of Kolkata write to a US judge in this manner? Because Charles Keating was her friend and benefactor who had bestowed 1.25 million dollars (in the 1980s).

Needless, Mother Teresa never replied to Turley. Charles Keating was punished with ten years’ imprisonment.

Last week, Pope Francis announced that Mother Teresa would finally be canonised as a saint on September 4 this year. That date marks the 19th death anniversary of the 20th century’s Nobel Prize-winning Catholic nun.

Mother Teresa also represents a timeless phenomenon rooted in the human psyche: of the willing sacrifice of reason at the altar of packaged piety.

The criticism of Mother Teresa hinges typically around these themes:

  • Her fanatically rigid views on abortion, contraception and divorce;
  • Her methods of caring for the sick and the dying at her hospice in Kolkata, as also baptising the dying—who were barely in a state to give consent—so she could take one more step to be “united with Jesus.” (Brian Kolodiejchuk: Mother Teresa: Come be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta);
  • The suspicious management of the enormous sums of money her Missionaries of Charity received;
  • Her friendships with all manner of wealthy—but shady—characters, dictators and the like to whom she awarded character certificates of Godliness in return for the favours and money she received from them while overlooking, even justifying their unsavoury deeds.

Christopher HitchensThese revelations were first uncovered by her most vocal and famous critic, the late Christopher Hitchens in his seminal The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice.

The medical doctor Aroup Chatterjee followed Hitchens’ lead by writing the comprehensive Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict, containing extensive documentation to back up his damning critique about Mother Teresa.

The deceased American social commentator and Pulitzer-winning journalist Murray Kempton notes that Mother Teresa’s “love for the poor is curiously detached from every expectation or even desire for the betterment of their mortal lot and is concentrated upon accelerating their progress toward “the greatest development of the human life, to die in peace and dignity, for that’s for eternity.”

Both Hitchens and Chatterjee were committed atheists and had nothing to gain personally from these investigations about Mother Teresa.

After she was catapulted into instant worldwide stardom thanks to the BBC’s Malcolm Muggeridge’s documentary, Something Beautiful for God, she became sacrosanct, above the scrutiny of mere mortals. And her legend only grew until she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In her acceptance speech, she called abortion the “greatest destroyer of peace.”

Hitchens traces Mother Teresa’s elevation to uncritical holiness in these terms:

The rich world has a poor conscience, and many people liked to alleviate their own unease by sending money to a woman who seemed like an activist for “the poorest of the poor.” People do not like to admit that they have been gulled or conned, so a vested interest in the myth was permitted to arise, and a lazy media never bothered to ask any follow-up questions.

Equally, in his analysis of the Mother Teresa phenomenon he reminds us of the “elementary rules of logic, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.”

However, the most definitive—or damning—academic evidence that there was another side to Teresa’s piety and caring for the sick, poor, and the dying emanates from a study done by Professors Serge Larivée and Geneviève Chénard of the University of Montreal and Carole Sénéchal of the University of Ottawa.

The paper (abstract here; extracts here) titled Les côtésténébreux de Mère Teresa (The Dark Side of Mother Teresa) published in the March 2013 issue of the journal, Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses is the result of an “analysis of 287 documents covering covering 96% of the literature on the life and work of Mother Teresa of Calcutta (born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu), the Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun, 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner, and founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity (OMC).”

These documents include Mother Teresa’s own correspondences and letters but more on this in a bit.

Pope FrancisBecause the Vatican has now officially announced the date of her canonisation, it stands to reason to examine its long relationship with Mother Teresa.

If there’s one aspect of the Christian faith that the Vatican controls with an iron fist, it is the matter of hierarchy: unquestionable obedience at all times. Every bishop, priest, preacher, nun and mother must know his or her place at all times. The Vatican doesn’t permit unsanctioned or free agent Christian saints.

And so, when Teresa of the Loreto Sisters sought permission from her superiors in 1946 to start her own (new) order, her request was turned down by Archbishop Ferdinand Perier. After two years of incessant pleading, the Vatican finally gave its approval. Two months after this, she landed in Calcutta.

In 1962, at a gathering of Indian Catholics in Bombay, she strongly opposed the reforms initiated by the Second Vatican Council and called for “more work and more faith not doctrinal revision.”

Her belief in the core Christian doctrine was absolute and literal. As Hitchens notes,

Her position was ultra-reactionary and fundamentalist even in orthodox Catholic terms. Believers are indeed enjoined to abhor and eschew abortion, but they are not required to affirm that abortion is “the greatest destroyer of peace,” as MT fantastically asserted….

The Vatican was alarmed by her positions on abortion, divorce and contraception but could do little after Muggeridge’s work bestowed her with the stardom of piety on the global stage. And so it played along in her myth making.

University of Montreal’s research also uncovers a little-known fact about Mother Teresa: she had suffered from a personal crisis of faith at various points in her life. In her own words,

“For me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see,—Listen and do not hear—the tongue moves but does not speak.” “Such deep longing for God—and … repulsed—empty—no faith—no love—no zeal.—[The saving of] Souls holds no attraction—Heaven means nothing.” “What do I labor for? If there be no God—there can be no Soul—if there is no Soul then Jesus—You also are not true” … So many unanswered questions live within me afraid to uncover them—because of the blasphemy—If there be God—please forgive me—When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven—there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul.—I am told God loves me—and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul. Did I make a mistake in surrendering blindly to the Call of the Sacred Heart?” [sic]

Fr Brian KolodiejchukIronically, this was unearthed by Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the advocate appointed by Pope John Paul II to ascertain whether Mother Teresa could be canonised. Indeed, it was Father Brian, the Advocatus Dei (God’s Advocate) and not the Advocatus Diaboli (Devil’s Advocate) who declared her unfit for canonisation! The office of the Devil’s Advocate had been abolished by Pope John Paul II.

And so, by the Vatican’s own rules for canonisation, this fact of her questioning the faith should automatically disqualify Mother Teresa from being canonised. More damagingly, Archbishop D’Souza of Kolkata said that towards the end of her life, “her troubled and sleepless condition gave rise to such concern that she was subjected to an exorcism.”

Yet Pope Francis has given his green signal for her canonisation in September.

But there’s more.

Performing miracles is one of the huge bonuses that boosts one’s chances at being canonised. In Mother Teresa’s case, this materialised in the form of Monica Besra who claimed that a beam of light emerged from Mother Teresa’s picture and cured her of a cancerous tumour. However, it turned out that she had no cancerous tumour but a tubular cyst which was cured by prescription drugs, a fact confirmed by her physician Dr Ranjan Mustafi. Yet, the Vatican hasn’t interviewed Dr Mustafi but has upheld the “miracle” as true. And Pope Francis approved a second miracle in December 2015 which claims that in 2008, she cured a Brazilian man with multiple brain tumours “following the nun’s intercession.”

Which brings us back to Pope John Paul II who holds the record for canonising the maximum number of saints in the history of the Catholic Church. Total number of saints canonised from 1588 excluding those during John Paul II’s reign: 285. Total number of saints canonised by John Paul II: 480 in just 27 years.

John Paul II also simplified the Catholic Church’s established procedures for making saints. In Mother Teresa’s case, he shortened the beatification—the first step before canonisation—period. Until his time, a person could be nominated for beatification only after five years after his/her death. Mother Teresa was nominated for beatification just a year after her death, and was officially beatified in 2003.

John Paul II’s actions with respect to Mother Teresa needs to be viewed in a larger civilisational context. India is perhaps the only large nation in the world whose majority follows a non-Abrahamic religion: Hinduism.

John-Paul II: The Pope of Paedophiles.On Diwali 1999, John Paul II, known for his “fervor to expand the global influence of his Church” visited India and gave a call “to replenish the dwindling ranks of practicing Catholics in the West with Asian converts” by signing the Ecclesia in Asia, a document that exhorted the faithful for “reaping a great harvest of faith in Asia in the third Christian millennium.”

Christianity is all but dead in Europe, where church attendance is anywhere in the range of one or two per cent with several churches turning into pubs and restaurants. The additional threat of increasing Islamism, escalating Jihadi violence and frequent illegal immigration from Islamic countries is further pushing Christianity into oblivion.

Unlike the medieval Crusades, the Pope today doesn’t have the means or the authority, nor is the current political system in Europe structured to support the Christian religion in waging a physical war against Islam. And hence the lookout for newer places where the faith can find safe harbor by means of sustained conversions. With a population of 1.25 billion of which the majority is Hindu, India does offer an ample bounty.

Therefore, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to claim that Mother Teresa’s canonisation is part of the Vatican’s strategy to further deepen and widen its roots in India. For the large part, most Indians including non-Christians continue to uncritically accept—and even venerate—Mother Teresa as a saintly lady. An official canonisation would perhaps add additional muscle.

This should actually concern India: do we want to retain our civilisational roots that make India unique from the rest of the world or do we wish it to become a Christian outpost of the West like say, Philippines?

In the end, no one grudges Mother Teresa’s canonisation. But then given how the Vatican has itself violated its own long-established processes of canonisation, the whole spectacle is both ironical and tragic. We call upon Christopher Hitchens who, writing about her beatification in 2003 summed it up the best:

What is so striking about the “beatification” of the woman who styled herself “Mother” Teresa is the abject surrender, on the part of the Church, to the forces of showbiz, superstition, and populism.

— Firstpost, 21 March 2016

Pope Francis

See also

  1. Mother Teresa and her millions – Susan Shields & Walter Wuellenweber
  2. How Mother Teresa became a saint – Christopher Hitchens
  3. To many critics, Mother Teresa is still no saint – Adam Taylor
  4. Mother Teresa defended notorious paedophile priest – Nelson Jones
  5. Mother Teresa was “anything but a saint” say research scholars – Kounteya Sinha

The Sati Strategy – Koenraad Elst

Sati

Koenraad ElstThe missionaries are responsible for associating Hinduism with Sati much more prominently than would be fair. The missionary assault on Hinduism dramatized the practice of Sati, which had been “an ‘exceptional act’ performed by a minuscule number of Hindu widows over the centuries”, of which the occurrence had been “exaggerated in the nineteenth century by Evangelicals and Baptist missionaries eager to christianize and anglicize India”. – Dr Koenraad  Elst

Sati: Evangelicals, Baptist Missionaries, and the Changing Colonial Discourse by Meenakshi JainMeenakshi Jain’s book ‘Sati’

After making history with her book on the Ayodhya controversy, Rama and Ayodhya (2013), Prof. Meenakshi Jain adds to her reputation with the present hefty volume Sati: Evangelicals, Baptist Missionaries, and the Changing Colonial Discourse (Aryan Books International, Delhi 2016). In it, as a meticulous professional historian, she quotes all the relevant sources, with descriptions of Sati from the ancient through the medieval to the modern period. She adds the full text of the relevant British and Republican laws and of Lord William Bentinck’s Minute on Sati (1829), that led to the prohibition on Sati. This book makes the whole array of primary sources readily accessible, so from now on, it will be an indispensable reference for all debates on Sati.

But in the design of the book, all this material is instrumental in studying the uses made of Sati in the colonial period. In particular, the missionary campaign to rally support for the project of mass conversion of the Indian Heathens to the saving light of Christianity made good use of Sati. This practice had a strong in-your-face shock value and could perfectly illustrate the barbarity of Hinduism.

Roop KanwarIndignation

In the preface, Prof. Jain surveys the existing literature and expresses her assent to some recent theories. Thus, Rahul Sapra found that Gayatri Spivak’s observations, e.g. that the 19th-century British tried to remake Indian society in their own image and used Sati as the most vivid proof of the need for this radical remaking, don’t take into account the changing political equation during the centuries of gradual European penetration. In the 17th century, European traders and travellers mostly joined the natives in glorifying the women committing Sati, whereas by the 19th century, they posed as chivalrous saviours of the victimized native women from the cruel native men. This was because they were no longer travellers in an exotic country and at the mercy of the native people, but had become masters of the land and gotten imbued with a sense of superiority.

Indians in large numbers, and especially the many indefatigable but amateurish “history rewriters”, tend to be defective in their sense of history, starting with their seeming ignorance about the otherwise very common phenomenon of change. When I hear these history rewriters fulminate against the West with its supposed evil designs of somehow dominating India again, it seems that in their minds, time has frozen in the Victorian age. Similarly here, there is not one monolithic Western view of Sati but, apart even from individual differences of opinion, there are distinct stages, partly because of the changing power equation and partly because internal changes in the Western outlook have influenced the Western perception of things Indian. So it takes a genuine historian to map out precisely what has changed and what not, and which factors have effected those particular changes.

Then again, It is of course interesting to realize the continuity between the present-day interference in Indian culture by Leftist scholars like Wendy Doniger and Sheldon Pollock and that of the British colonialists: “We know best what is wrong with your traditions and we come to save you from yourselves.”

In this respect, the changes in the Western attitude to Sati run parallel to that regarding caste. Until the early 20th century, caste was seen as a specifically Indian form of a universal phenomenon, viz. social inequality. Nobody was particularly scandalized when in 1622, the Pope gave permission to practise caste discrimination between converts inside the Church. Around the time of the French Revolution, the idea of equality started catching on, but only gradually became the accepted norm. At that point, it became problematic that people’s status was said to be determined by birth. In this case, determination by the inborn circumstance of being a woman, unequal in rights compared to men, and never more radically unequal than in committing Sati. After World War II the norm (henceforth called Human Rights) of absolute equality and increasingly of absolute individual self-determination made the tradition of caste and of Sati too horrible to tolerate. Therefore, the indignation about Sati is far greater today than when Marco Polo visited India. Today, Sati is already a memory, but the commotion around the exceptional Sati of 1987 gave an idea of the indignation it would provoke today.

William CareyEvangelization

In this case, an extra factor came into play to effect a change in British attitudes to Sati. In Parliamentary debates about the East India Company Charter in 1793, there was no mention yet of Sati though it had been described many times, including by Company eyewitnesses. But by 1829, Sati was forbidden in all Company domains. This turn-around was the result of a campaign by the missionary lobby.

Ever since the missionaries set out to convert the Pagans of India, they made it their business to contrast the benignity of Christianity with the demeaning atrocities of Heathenism. This was an old tradition starting with the Biblical vilification of child sacrifice to the god Moloch by the Canaanites. The practice was also attested by the Romans when they besieged the Canaanite (Phoenician) colony of Carthage. The Bible writers and their missionary acolytes present child sacrifice as a necessary component of polytheism, from which monotheism came to save humanity. And indeed, we read here how Rev. William Carey tried to muster evidence of child sacrifice too (but settled for Sati as convincing enough, p.178)

In reality, the abolition of human sacrifice was a universal evolution equally affecting Pagan cultures such as the Romans. In the case of Brahmanism, it is speculated that the Vastu Purusha concept (a human frame deemed to underlie a house) is a memory of a pre-Vedic human sacrifice. Even if true, fact is that in really existing Brahmanism, human sacrifice has not been part of it for thousands of years; if it had, we would be reminded of it every day. In this respect, Brahmanism was definitely ahead of the rest of humanity.

Not to idealize matters, we have to admit that, like the Biblical writers, who used the vilification of the child-sacrificing Canaanites as a justification to seize their land (and even to kill them all), Pagans who had left the practice behind equally used the reference to it to score political points. The Romans had practised human sacrifice within living memory and then abolished it, so they were acutely aware of it and tried to exorcise it from their own historical identity by rooting it out in conquered lands as well. (This is the same psychology as among modern Westerners who remember their grandfathers’ abolition of slavery and therefore feel spurred to support or engineer the “abolition of caste” in India.) Using that mentality, Roman war leaders would emphasize this phenomenon of child sacrifice among the Carthaginians to portray them as barbarians in urgent need of Rome’s civilizing intervention. Later Caesar would also demonize as human-sacrificers the Druids of Gaul, another “barbarian” country the Romans “liberated” from its own traditions after conquering it. Likewise, the Chinese Zhou dynasty justified its coup d’état (11th century BCE) against the Shang dynasty by demonizing the Shang as practising human sacrifice.

This way, Sati came in very handy to justify an offensive in India. Mind you, in a military sense India had partly been conquered already, and British self-confidence at the time was such that the complete subjugation of the subcontinent seemed assured. The offensive in this case was not military, its target was the christianization of the East India Company, to be followed by the conversion of its subject population. Around 1800, the Company was still purely commercial and even banned missionaries: their religious zeal might create riots, and these would be bad for business. So, the Christian lobby had to convince the British parliamentarians that the christianization of India was good and necessary, and therefore worthy of the Company’s active or passive support, namely to free the natives from barbarism. To that end, there was no better eye-catcher than Sati.         

Here I will skip a large part of Prof. Jain’s research, namely into the details of the specific intrigues and events that ultimately led to the success of the missionary effort. While these chapters are important for understanding the Christian presence in India, and while I recommend you read them, I have decided for myself to limit my attention for colonial history as it is presently eating up too much energy, especially of the Hindus. The study of colonial history is instructive and someone should do it, but for the many, it is far more useful to study Dharma itself, to immerse yourself in Hindu civilization as it took shape, rather than in the oppression of and then the resistance by the Hindus. India is free now and could reinvigorate Dharmic civilization, which is a much worthier goal than to re-live the comparatively few centuries of oppression.

Let us only note that the missionaries are responsible for associating Hinduism with Sati much more prominently than would be fair. The missionary assault on Hinduism dramatized the practice of Sati, which had been “an ‘exceptional act’ performed by a minuscule number of Hindu widows over the centuries”, of which the occurrence had been “exaggerated in the nineteenth century by Evangelicals and Baptist missionaries eager to christianize and anglicize India”. (p. xix)

Krishna

Many Hindus believe that Sati is an external contribution, probably triggered by the Muslim conquests. In reality, Sati is as old as scriptural Hinduism. Already the Rg Veda (10:18:7-8, quoted and discussed on p. 4–5) describes a funeral where the widow is lying down beside her husband on the pyre, but is led away from it, back to the world of the living. So it already provides a description of a Sati about to take place, as well as of the Brahmanical rejection of Sati.

Likewise, the Mahabharata, the best guide to living Hinduism, features several cases of Sati. Most prominent is the self-immolation by Pandu’s most beloved wife Madri. Less well-known perhaps is that Krishna’s father Vasudeva is followed on the pyre by four wives, and that Krishna’s death triggers the self-immolation (in his absence) of five of his many wives. But unlike Mohammed, Krishna need not be emulated by his followers. By contrast, Rama’s influence on the women in his life is not such that they commit Sati (on the contrary, his wife Sita comes unscathed out of the flames of her “trial by fire”),—and he counts as the perfect man, the model whose behaviour should serve us as exemplary.  

The oldest foreign (viz. Greek) testimony on Indian Sati reports on the death of an Indian general in the Persian army. His two wives fought over the honour of climbing his funeral pyre. Both had a case: one was the eldest, the other was not pregnant (whereas the eldest was, and should not deprive the deceased man of his progeny). So the authorities had to intervene, and they ruled in favour of the younger wife. It should be repeated, for the sake of clarity, that “favour” here really means the honour of committing self-immolation, as emphatically desired by the young widow.

Indeed, a woman wanting to commit Sati needed some will-power, for Hindu society did not take this as a matter of course. A per the many testimonies, she usually had to overcome the dissuasion from her family and from worldly or priestly authorities. (But rather than leading her away in chains for her own good, as modern psychiatrists would do, they give her the decisive last word.) That is why the first British report on the practice spoke of “self-immolation of widows”. Contrary to allegations of “murderous patriarchy” by modern feminists (who hold the same ignorant prejudices about Hindu culture as the average foreign tourist), women themselves chose this spectacular fate.

Contrary to a common assumption, the practice was not confined to the Rajputs or to the martial castes in general, where passion and bravery were prized. Prominent Hindu rulers like Shivaji Bhonsle and Ranjit Singh were followed on their pyres by a big handful of wives and concubines. Among the lower castes, like among the Muslims, life usually resumed and a widow soon remarried, not to let any womb go to waste. But nevertheless, a British survey in Bengal found that no less than 51% of Sati women belonged to Shudra families. Among the other upper castes, and among the majority of women even in the martial castes, widows would be confined to a life of service and asceticism. But no matter how rare the actual practice of Sati, it remained a glamorous affair, honoured among the Hindu masses with commerorative stones (sati kal) and temples (sati sthal).

Brünnhilde on the horse Grane rides onto Siegfried's funeral pyre.Hindu Sati?

Sati was not confined the Hindu civilization. It existed elsewhere, both in Indo-European and in other cultures. Rulers in ancient China or Egypt are sometimes found buried with a number of wives, concubines and servants. In pre-Christian Europe, the practice was related (directly, not inversely) to the status of women in society: not at all in Greece, where women were very subordinate, but quite frequently among the more autonomous Celtic women. Among the Germanic people, a famous case is that of Brunhilde and her maidservants following Siegfried into death. Yet Indian secularists preferentially depict Sati as one of the unique “evils of Hindu society”.

The only shortcoming is this wonderful book is not a mistake but a hiatus, less than a page long. One important point I would have liked to see discussed more thoroughly, is the question raised by Alaka Hejib and Katherine Young in their paper: “Sati, Widowhood and Yoga”. (p. xv-xvi) They see a ”hidden religious dimension: yoga; though neither the widow nor the sati was conscious of the yogic dimension of her life”. Indeed, “the psychology of yoga was instilled, albeit inadvertently, in the traditional Hindu woman”. Well well, yoga as the most consciousness-oriented discipline in the world is imparted unconsciously: “instilled, albeit inadvertently”. Prof. Jain reports this hypothesis but does not comment on it. So I will.

Naive readers may not have noticed it yet, but here we are dealing with as instance of a widespread phenomenon: the crass manipulation of the term “Hindu”. Every missionary and every secularist does it all the time: calling a thing “Hindu” when it is considered bad, but something (really anything) else as soon as it is deemed good. Many Hindus even lap it up: it is “instilled, albeit inadvertently”.

Thus, whenever Westerners show an interest in yoga, the secularists and their Western allies hurry to assure us: “Yoga has nothing to do with Hinduism.” (It is like with Islam, but inversely, for whenever Muslims make negative-sounding headlines, we are immediately reassured that these crimes “have nothing to do with Islam”.) There may be books on “Jain mathematics”, but never about “Hindu mathematics”, for a good thing cannot be Hindu. If the topic cannot be avoided, you call it, say, “Keralite mathematics” or fashionably opine that it “must have been borrowed from Buddhism”. So, yoga cannot be Hindu when its merits are at issue. However, when it is presented as something funny, with asceticism and other nasty things, then it can be Hindu, and even used as middle term to equate something else (something nasty, of course, like Sati) with Hinduism. So: Sati is Hindu!

In this case, the poor hapless secularists are even right. Sometimes even a deplorable motive, like their single-minded hatred for Hinduism, makes men speak the truth: Sati is Hindu. Sati is not Brahmanical: the Rg Veda enjoins continuing life rather than committing Sati, and the Shastras either don’t mention it or prefer widowhood, for which they lay down demanding rules. Many of the testimonies cited here mention Brahmanical priests trying to dissuade the woman from Sati. Not Brahmanical, then, but nonetheless Hindu, a far broader concept. A Hindu means an “Indian Pagan”, as per the Muslim invaders who first introduced the term in India. And indeed, Sati has existed in many countries but certainly in India, and it is not of Christian or Islamic origin, so it may be called Pagan. And so can the rejection of Sati. See?

This, then, makes for half a page that I would have done differently. The rest of this book, 500-something pages, is designed to stand the test of time. It will survive the flames that tend to engulf its topic: the brave Sati.

» Prof Meenakshi Jain is an Indian political scientist and historian. Currently  she is an associate professor of history at Gargi College, affiliated to the University of Delhi.

» Dr Koenraad Elst is a Flemish indologist and historian from Belgian who frequently visits India to lecture. He is a Voice of India author.

Sati Sthal

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