The true story behind Valentine’s Day – Katherine DeFonzo

St Valentine

Katherine DeFonzo“The association of St. Valentine with romantic love can in many ways be traced to the poetry of medieval writers, the most notable among them being Geoffrey Chaucer. In his poem ‘The Parliament of Fowles,’ it is on St. Valentine’s Day that the birds choose their mate before the arrival of Spring. … The association of gift-giving with Valentine’s Day has been attributed to the court culture of seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe, and this association was only strengthened as the Industrial Revolution transformed society and allowed American and Europeans easier access to commercial goods.” – Katherine DeFonzo

Claudius IIThe most appropriate response to this question might be to ask which St. Valentine one has in mind. It is somewhat unclear exactly which Christian saint is being commemorated on Valentine’s Day, a holiday that has become increasingly secular over time. Two early Christian martyrs named Valentine are thought to have died on February 14th, yet many other martyrs from this time period shared this name. One reasonable explanation is that several legends surrounding saints with this name have come to be celebrated collectively on the day we now know as Valentine’s Day.

Contemporary accounts suggest that Valentine was a priest who lived during the reign of the “cruel” Roman Emperor Claudius II (A.D. 210 – A.D. 270). According to legend, Valentine, going against the wishes of the emperor, helped arrange marriages for soldiers. This St. Valentine was subsequently sentenced to death and executed as a result of his actions.

Another story tells of a judge who converted to Christianity after Valentine restored his blind daughter’s sight. When Valentine tried to convert Claudius to Christianity, a religion the emperor was determined to suppress, Valentine was put to death. A similar story places Valentine in prison in Rome and describes him as receiving many letters from Roman children. Among them was the jailor’s blind daughter, whom he also cured.

It is possible that the association of Valentine’s Day with love is rooted in a tradition dating back to pagan Rome. For many years, Romans had held celebrations in honor of the goddess Juno in anticipation of the Feast of Lupercalia, an annual festival honoring the gods of fertility. This feast eventually came to include a tradition that involved young men being paired for a year with a woman whose name they drew out of an urn. There is evidence that many centuries later a similar practice had become common in eighteenth century England. In both instances, it was thought that the men and women who were paired together might eventually marry. Whatever the influence of these celebrations on our modern tradition, by A.D. 49[6] it had become associated with Christianity when Pope Gelasius gave the day official recognition.

The tradition of sending Valentine’s Day cards is likely rooted in another legend attributed to the saint who supposedly sent a letter to the jailor’s daughter. It was signed, “From Your Valentine.” The first known Valentine’s Day card was sent around six hundred years ago by Charles, Duke of Orleans, who wrote to his wife while in the Tower of London. Although the average card purchased at Hallmark might not have such a story attached to it, receiving one still brings people joy centuries later.

Geoffrey ChaucerThe association of St. Valentine with romantic love can in many ways be traced to the poetry of medieval writers, the most notable among them being Geoffrey Chaucer. In his poem “The Parliament of Fowles,” it is on St. Valentine’s Day that the birds choose their mate before the arrival of Spring. Chaucer possibly chose to set his poem on this day in order to commemorate another St. Valentine from Genoa whose feast day fell in May. The association of gift-giving with Valentine’s Day has been attributed to the court culture of seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe, and this association was only strengthened as the Industrial Revolution transformed society and allowed American and Europeans easier access to commercial goods [see reference for India].

Because so little is known with certainty about the life of St. Valentine and it is difficult to be sure which Valentine is being referenced in many legends, the Catholic Church removed him from the General Roman Calendar following Vatican II in 1969. Although Valentine’s Day is no longer celebrated as an exclusively religious holiday, recalling the story of the individual or individuals who inspired this holiday reminds us of its long and rich history.- History News Network, 9 February 2016

» Katherine Defonzo is a sophomore at Fordham University and History News Network intern. 

Lupercalia

Lupercalia was a very ancient pre-Roman pastoral festival, observed on February 13 through 15, to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. Lupercalia subsumed Februa, an earlier-origin spring cleansing ritual held on the same date, which gives the month of February (Februarius) its name. Pope Gelasius I—who was pope from March 492 to his death in November 496—suppressed the Pagan festival and Christianised it by associating it with a martyred priest Valentine of Rome who was said to have received a rosary from the Virgin Mary. — Editor

Kids starved and beaten for not reciting Bible verses in illegal Christian shelter – Abhishek Anand

Emmanuel Seva Group

Abhishek Anand“The mother, whose complaint with a children’s helpline led to the raids, said she was approached by one Joshua Devraj at a Delhi hospital around three years ago. ‘He said he will raise my children and make them IAS officers. He forced us to circulate pamphlets and copies of the Bible in public places but never paid us,’ she said. … Their ordeal has not ended even after being rescued. The woman said the shelter’s employees came to her house on Tuesday night and threatened to take her three children back. ‘They pelted stones at our house and beat us up with batons. They fled when the neighbours gathered,’ she said.” – Abhishek Anand

Forcibly converted to Christianity, hung by the wrists from a ceiling fan, starved for days and beaten mercilessly for failing to recite Bible passages—this is what a nine-Emmanuel Seva Groupyear-old boy said he had to endure at an illegal shelter.

He was among 30 children, all from poor families, rescued on December 29 after police raided two homes run by the Emmanuel Seva Group [also known as Charity Seva Groupsee more] in Greater Noida and Meerut. The child, who along with his younger sister and brother had been confined to the home for three years, said their stay was like a “jail term” during which his name was also changed.

“I was allowed to meet my parents once a month for only 15 minutes. The only thing I was taught was the Bible. They forced me to memorise its passages,” the boy told HT on Thursday and added that the children were forced to consume buffalo meat and “paraded” before potential donors.

“They gave us good clothes whenever visitors came. They made us stand in line and recite Bible passages. Faltering meant a beating with sticks and belts later,” he said. “Once the guests left, the shelter in-charge snatched away our clothes, sweets and gifts and we were back in rags again.”

His 11-year-old sister said the children were forced to sleep on a dirty floor that was littered with rodent droppings.

“They never allowed us to step outside. We were not given food for three days at a stretch if we forgot a Bible passage.”

“A case was registered at the Bisrakh police station following the raid. The children complained they were tortured and beaten up for not following the orders of the caretakers. We are investigating whether the organisation had permission to run a shelter home. Three persons, including the caretaker of the shelter home, have been detained and are being questioned. We are investigating the claims of the rescued children,” said Ashwani Kumar, in-charge, Bisrakh police station.

Their mother, whose complaint with a children’s helpline led to the raids, said she was approached by one Joshua Devraj at a Delhi hospital around three years ago. “He said he will raise my children and make them IAS officers. He forced us to circulate pamphlets and copies of the Bible in public places but never paid us,” she said.

Their ordeal has not ended even after being rescued. The woman said the shelter’s employees came to her house on Tuesday night and threatened to take her three children back. “They pelted stones at our house and beat us up with batons. They fled when the neighbours gathered,” she said.

“The victim’s mother had approached us on December 28. We contacted the police and conducted a raid at Naya Haibatpur village in Bisrakh area. It was found that a shelter home with the name of Emanuel Sewa Group was operating illegally. Seven children were kept there in squalid and untidy condition. The children were also found to be malnourished. A subsequent raid was conducted at the shelter home of the same organisation in Meerut from where 23 children were rescued,” said Satya Prakash, programme manager, FXB Suraksha NGO.

Satya Prakash further said, “The complainant said she was not allowed to meet her children for months and told us that they might have been shifted to some other place. After we conducted a raid, it was found that her children were lodged at an illegal shelter home of the same trust in Dehradun. Following the raid, the children were brought back to Greater Noida.”

He said the children revealed that they were being served cockroach-infested food and were forced to live in a substandard condition.

“Most of them are malnourished and sick. They need proper medication and care. We are in talks with their family members. They will be sent back to their homes soon,” Satya Prakash said.

When contacted, accused Joshua Devraj accepted that a raid was conducted at his shelter homes but refused to comment on the issue.

“Yes, raids were conducted but I can’t tell you much about it. I will comment on this issue later,” he said. – Hindustan Times, 8 January 2016

Emmanuel Seva Group

Emmanuel Seva Group‘Forced to eat cockroach-infested food:’ Children rescued from Emmanuel Seva Group shelter – Abhishek Anand

The children who were rescued from the alleged illegal shelter home near here recounted that their stay at the place was like a jail term where they were punished with lashings and forced to eat cockroach-infested food.

Ram (9), whose name was changed to Rohan Masih during his stay there, said, “I was allowed to meet my parents for only 15 minutes once a month. The only thing I was taught during my stay there was the Bible. They forced me to read it and recite hymns from it.”

He said the caretakers at the shelter home would put on a show as if they took good care of the children whenever donors came.

“Whenever visitors came to meet us for donation, they gave us good clothes to wear and asked us to stand in a queue and recite hymns from the Bible, failing which we would be subjected to severe punishment which included beating with sticks and belts,” he told HT.

And once the guest left after donating money, clothes and sweets, the centre in-charge would tell us to wear rags again and none of the gifts would be given to us, Ram said.

As many as 23 children were rescued recently from the shelter home Emanuel Seva Group in Naya Haibatpur village in Bisrakh area of Uttar Pradesh, which functioned like a forced conversion centre.

Ram’s sister Jaya (11), who was also rescued from the shelter home, said the caretakers used to force her to sleep on a dirty floor which was covered in rodent droppings.

“The food they used to give us was infested with cockroaches. There were more cockroaches than food in the kitchen,” she said.

She further added that they were never allowed us to step outside the shelter home.

“Sometimes, when we forgot lines from the Bible, we would not be given food for two-three days as punishment,” she said.

Ram also said he was forced to eat buffalo meat and when he refused, he was suspended from the ceiling and thrashed black and blue with a stick.

Ram’s other sister Preeti (6) was also rescued in the raid and all three children were rescued after three years at the shelter home. The police raided the home following a complaint from Ram’s mother Neetu.

Neetu said she met head of the shelter home Joshua Devraj at a hospital in Delhi where he offered to help the family.

“He asked us to stay at his accommodation. He said he would raise my children and make them IAS officers. He forced us to circulate pamphlets and copies of the Bible in local trains and other public places,” said Neetu. “For three years, he used us to publicise his organisation, but didn’t give us a penny. When he did not allow us to meet our children, we approached the NGO and the police,” she said.

She said that some employees of the shelter home came to her house on Tuesday night to demand her children back. (All names changed) – Hindustan Times, 8 January 2016

» Abhishek Anand is the principal correspondent at Hindustan Times in Noida.

Emmanuel Seva Group

Jesus

Hinduism is the hope of the world – Jay Jina

Surya DevaPeople of India

Jay Jina“The monotheisms are not going to volunteer to give way for a level playing field. So, apart from Hindus reclaiming their identity and working by example to practically show that there are alternatives for people to tread their own paths to truth and peaceful coexistence, the self-professed liberals, particularly outside India will have to get off the pot and put some skin in the game. … A good start would be for the economic development of India to continue unimpeded. Yes, those inimical to progress will do all in their power to prevent this, but those who claim to be real liberals and progressives have to open their eyes and realise that economic progress and prosperity are the most effective road to peace and a potent antidote to fundamentalism.” – Jay Jina

Obama also has a Christian agenda for South AsiaIntolerance has been in the news these past several months, from a pontificating president who bowed to religious despots in their backyard the very day after lecturing the democratic unwashed untermensche of India about how to treat minorities,[1] the sustained tirade of the scandalous “award wapsi” brigade over the Bihar polls, and more recently by the framed up interrogation of a BJP spokesman by a reactionary Islamist with a record of misogyny, homophobia, and outright discrimination, using his position in the media to impose his preconceived notions, which, at their core, profess that some people are less human than others because of their religion.[2]

To see how all of these, together with endless one-eyed editorials and op-ed pieces in the western bastions of liberalism at the BBC, Guardian, and the NYT, not to mention the long going saga over “caste legislation”[3] fuelled by the increasingly insignificant Church of England in collusion with their rather unexpected friends at the Secular Society in the UK, it would appear to Spielberg’s E.T., fresh off his spaceship, that some new and poisonous evil had surfaced on a previously peaceful planet. And that this evil incarnate was distinctly polytheistic, pagan Hindu. Vamsee Juluri neatly sums up this seemingly viral effect that Hindus and India seem to have had in 2015 in “Year of Living Intolerably”.[4]

Let’s momentarily ignore the loss of millions of lives as a result of violent regime change and displacement of despotic though previously stable rule in Iraq and Libya which had held together disparate groups of people at relative peace with each other within established national borders.

Let’s also dismiss the plight of the Yazidis, Kurds, and assorted minorities who suffer rape, beheadings and worse under the cosh of fundamentalists in the Middle East, or the atrocities in Paris, about which some intellectually challenged liberals navel gazed on BBC Newsnight, a flagship current affairs program, and surmised the attacks as drug wars between gangs or being caused by the racist nature of the French capital.[5]

Sigmund FreudLet’s Pretend

Let’s instead pretend that the various social problems of the planet faces can be cured by a mode of multiculturalism that trumps hard-fought liberties and civic mores which have taken centuries to evolve and in their stead, run with a “free for all” where some of those who at one time may have campaigned for workers rights, stood for gender equality, and advocated an end to LGBT and racial discrimination, there now seems to be a situation where some now openly support homophobic, misogynist segregationists, all in the interests of what they call diversity and inclusion.

In effect, there is the endorsement of a form of multiculturalism which, in seeking to protect certain cultures, privileges only some versions of it: usually from the most vocal and regressive elements, and which hinders adjustment to the changing environment with the resultant outcome being the opposite of that which was desired in the first instance.[6]

Instead of expanding the shared space between cultures, the result is the promulgation of the worst aspects of difference between peoples living within isolated cultural silos with ever sharper fissures between the “me” and “mine” on the one hand, and the alien “other” on the other.

Amidst all this, Jonathan Kirsch’s book, God against the Gods,[7] is an apposite account of the threats that monotheisms in all their religio-politico-ideological forms, still continue to pose to human evolution towards a safer, fairer, more just global society.

Kirsch cogently argues that far from being the upholder of ethics and morality which it considers its USP and sole preserve, Monotheism in its various hues has always found it difficult to put into practice the kind, gentle words encapsulating “respect for the stranger” and “love thy neighbour”. In fact, he starts the book with an epigraph from Sigmund Freud who said “Religious intolerance was inevitably born with the belief in one god”.

Kirsch traces the advent of monotheism from Pharaoh Akhenaton to the various prophets and kings of Judaism and their millennium long struggle for supremacy over the more refined and diverse pagan Greco-Roman classical culture of the Mediterranean and near east.

In a show of monotheist totalitarianism and in order to destroy the power of the priests, Pharaoh Akhenaton (reign 1353–1336 BCE) decreed the elimination of worship of all gods in favour of only one, Aten, and with the Pharaoh himself as the sole interceder on earth. This proved unsuccessful as the people returned to their old polytheistic ways soon after Akhenaton’s death.

Yahweh / JehovahThe Only True God

The challenge was next taken up by the Jews, the challenges of whose prophets and kings over several centuries to impose monotheism and the primacy of the Only True God (OTG) on the chosen people is well documented in the Old Testament. This clash is played out between OTG and Polytheism within the civilizational milieu of a rich Greco-Roman tapestry and also as an intra-Judaic struggle between the rigorists and the assimilationists.

After centuries of struggle, with various forays into zealotic orthodoxy led by personages like Moses, Joshua, and Ezekiel which included strict punitive sanctions including death for those of the flock who disobeyed the laws of the OTG, all the way to the Masada partisans, infamous for their martyrdom to the last man, woman and child, the rigorists were defeated by the military might of the Roman legions in Judea thus forcing the Jewish people to reach an accommodation with the greatest empire in the known world of the time.

Thereafter, an assimilated Judaism flourished in the farthest reaches of the pagan realm of Imperial Rome, not unlike the way in which Judaism has assimilated into all corners of the modern world.

All was well until an upstart off-shoot cult of Judaism rose on the scene in the early centuries of the common era, and a long, bloody clash ensued between this cult and the reigning pagan power of Pax Romana—a breach of the peace that had hitherto existed between the myriad peoples of the Roman Empire.

This new cult, which, after an internecine war over self-identity, defeated the Judaists within its ranks and shed its connections to Judaism by rejecting circumcision and Jewish dietary laws (both of which made it easier to win adherents, being less painful and tastier on the palate), came to be known as the “soldiers of Christ” and Christians.

In their zeal to be “different”, these early Christians displayed what looks similar to various minority, victimhood tendencies on show prevalent even to this day. They explicitly refused to respect the polytheist norm “that all modes of worship are to be respected” and challenged the role of paganism with its diverse deities as a unifying characteristic upon which citizenship and Pax Romana were founded.

Visible means by which they did this was to display outright hostility towards the religious and civic emblems of Rome, even attacking and destroying pagan shrines; refusing to participate in the Pax Deorum—Peace of the Gods, praying for the prosperity of the Empire, lest such behaviour pinch the sensibilities of their cuckolded, jealous OTG.

In this regard these early Christians considered civic duty an act of apostasy and were little different from the rigorists and zealots of the Old Testament—just like Joshua hundreds of years before, this new breed of worshippers of OTG would not countenance any form of compromise and instead became “holy warriors” to preserve the purity and exclusivity of their new faith.

How different are they from those today who would not pay respects to an anthem or flag or who consider that emblems and insignia of their ancient or even new homelands should be modified to suit the sensitivities of one or other of the hues of OTG?

What distinction can one possibly draw between these shrine destroyers and the barbaric acts of Ghazni at Somnath, Ghor across the Indian plains, or the Bahmani sultans’ blood lust at Vijayanagar? Anyone see the close parallels with the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas or Palmyra?

Constantine the Great: : He is the father of Christian Europe and one of history's most murderous men.Christian Propaganda Value

The early Christians learnt and exploited the impact of terror on a civic populace as also the propaganda value of victimhood and martyrdom to the fullest, much of which still continues to be recycled under totalitarian monotheisms of various hues even today be they religious or political in nature.

The response of the generally tolerant pagan establishment of the Empire to this was to persecute what was a visible minority. The punishments included various forms of torture, being fed to wild animals as well as crucifixions.

In a circular way, the Christian zeal was a necessary prerequisite for Christian martyrdom and the martyrs fuelled the next waves of zeal and martyrdom, though Edward Gibbon, for example, characterised the worst atrocities as “extravagant and indecent fictions” invented to inspire the faithful.[8]

As Kirsch himself notes, it is a truism that (even imagined) oppression is an ideal breeding ground for “true belief” to flourish whereas the seductive influences of peace, freedom and prosperity are far more dangerous to the survival of fundamentalism.[9]

This went on till the early part of 4th century CE, during which time, the Christian cult came close to being totally eliminated. However, by a fate of coincidence, a Roman pagan general who history knows as Constantine the Great entered the scene, and by a convoluted sequence of events more to do with prevailing realpolitik than with articles of faith, rose to the become Emperor and ended the persecution of the Christian cult and so began their rise in status and influence in the Empire.

Julian the ApostateChristianity Destroys Classical Civilizations

During this period, further internecine feuds ensued within the monotheistic Christian fold over which the emperor sought to broker peace among the believers at the famous Council of Nicaea but fundamental doctrinal controversies (which pagans would have found rather inane) still festered for decades after Constantine’s death and are still some of the reasons for schisms between various Christian sects.

This swing towards what became an exclusivist monotheist creed and the official religion of the Roman Empire culminated in Theodosius (347-395 CE), effectively becoming the head of the world’s first totalitarian empire underpinned by the dogmas of orthodox Christianity and the criminalization of paganism as well as all other forms of religious practice and belief.

However, this was not before Julian, “the Apostate” (331-363 CE), nephew of Constantine and the last Pagan emperor of the Roman Empire nearly won the day for polytheism and diversity.

Though brought up as a Christian, he had the good fortune to learn about the diverse, classical, ancient, syncretism-filled cultural heritage of the centuries old Roman Empire, and grew up to prove himself an excellent military commander, where, despite being outnumbered, he achieved crushing victories in Gaul over the Alamanni in 357 CE at the Battle of Argentoratum. In 360 CE Julian was declared Augustus by his troops at Lutetia, Gaul (modern-day Paris).

Constantine’s inspirations from the symbol of the cross of his adopted religion led him to brutality towards pagans and rivals alike; by contrast, Julian’s exposure to the diversity and “mix-n-match” of polytheism marked a peaceful ascent to Emperor, from where, in his brief tenure, he once again reaffirmed the ancient beliefs of the Empire, restored religious freedoms and challenged the monopoly of Christianity in the civic space of the Empire. Unfortunately, Julian lost his life in battle in 363 CE in an ambitious campaign against the Sassanid Empire of Persia.

The Roman Empire went through much turbulence led by several weak and vain leaders, on the inexorable road to terminal decline. Fuelled by an explosive cocktail of Church, State and Mob acting as instruments of terror, Rome disintegrated ending the glory of Classical Civilization and the Roman Empire and the advent of a thousand years of cultural darkness across Europe.

Just two examples serve to illustrate the destructive effect of monotheistic zeal: the murder of the philosopher Hypatia and the destruction of the library at Alexandria. It is ironic that the same zeal for OTG led to the murders of scores of unnamed philosophers and the razing to dust of the Academy at Nalanda in Bihar.

And yet, the cabal of “eminent” historians, without the guts of an Edward Gibbon, have been peddling lies in the name of their own monotheism of sham Nehruvian secularism?

Julian and polytheism lost: Constantine and monotheism won. What a cruel mirror these two Romans hold only to reflect India’s Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb? What might India have become and how might monotheisms have reached an accommodation with pagans and polytheists, had Dara Shikoh prevailed?[10] What trouble and strife of the past 300 years might have been avoided by humanity? If only.

History of IndiaEminent Historians

Have any of their “eminences” polluting the corridors of History faculties an iota of grey matter to ponder on these questions and build an objective, positive narrative that could unleash the potential of a truly syncretic India as opposed to the “chicken tikka” version[11] where the underlying culture is disparaged while despotic, murdering monotheists like Aurangzeb are feted?

Where the collective pagan, pantheistic, polytheistic, atheistic but above all, Dharmic fabric that constitutes the major core of Indian society can fully contribute in “defining India”? Where, the negative narratives of Caste, Cow and Idolatry which the colonist western, racist, proselytizing monotheists have imposed on the Indian narrative whilst at the same time appropriating Indic ideas like Ayurveda, Yoga, and Meditation practices as if they were their own, are repaired with contrition and respect?

The polytheistic pagans of Rome readily adopted the OTG as part of their pantheon and accepted the worshippers of OTG as equals. How similar is this to modern-day Indians—Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs—who crowd the narrow streets to pay homage and offer prayers at the Sufi shrines around India?

How is it possible that no one bats an eyelid, that Ajmer’s Adhai Din Ka Jonpda at the site of the shrine to Moinuddin Chisti, looks so like a temple that it must have been one, but that it’s acceptable for people of all faiths to gather and offer prayers in their own way? How else can one explain that Sufi music—ostensibly founded on Indic raga and meter and not something imported into India by the monotheistic invaders—still holds an emotional connection with the soil and people of India?

In contrast, the custodians of the OTG at the Vatican, after centuries of destruction and pillaging, today, in a show of blood curdling triumph, brazenly prostitute the sacred statuary and holy objects of the vanquished infidels within its unholy walls (one has to pay to enter).

Nobel Peace Prize potential candidates Pope Francis and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon talk during a meeting at the United Nations in New YorkWill the Pope Assure the Safety of Non-Christians?

By a rather ironic twist, in its naked show of victory over the polytheists, the Vatican “celebrates” the classical pagan culture which it was instrumental in destroying. Among the relics—nowadays granted pride of place in the holiest bastion of this OTG, stand beautiful works of art and antiquity—row upon row of any number of Greek, Roman and Egyptian deities.

The most telling is the disgustingly triumphal display of Cybele, the Great Mother of the Gods whose earliest worship was in Phrygia and Lydia, which had spread to Greece by the 5th century BCE and later to Rome where she also came to be known as Artemis and Diana. It’s as if the papal hierarchy is mocking the infidels with its superiority in a morbid gallery of false gods and abominations.

Would the Pope or his church, assure all Pagan peoples of the world that their sacred artefacts are safe in their own shrines, that they will never sanction their destruction or relocation as “works of antiquity and primitive art” in the house of loot and plunder in Rome?

Let’s make it simple: When will the Vatican stop obfuscating and sign the UN Convention on Human Rights?[12] Or is one to take it that some members of the human race are lesser human than others, and that, in fact, yet some others are non-persons, without any rights, fit for purging of their abominations and idolatry?

Would the Church of England admit to and end the prejudices that their church holds within its own doctrines and assure Hindus that, as a religious body, it fully respects the right to religion for all peoples and stop the assault on Dharma under the guise of “caste”?

Indeed, would the leader of any church or any other group of monotheist followers of OTG anywhere, assure not just the last pagans and humanists of the world but also adherents of competing versions of OTG, that their cultures, traditions, way of worship, sacred places, spaces, art, and imagery are safe? That they are part of the common human legacy that should be respected and given the space to live and the air to breathe? Is there a world politician with the courage to give their citizens this promise?

As a reviewer of Kirsch’s book on Beliefnet notes,[13] Kirsch himself acknowledges “that traditional monotheists generally dismiss his writing out of hand as uninformed and anti-faith. Yet he insists that he is a ‘Jewish monotheist.’”

Kirsch further fully acknowledges “that polytheists—including pre-Christian Romans—can be as brutish as fervent monotheists (his preferred term for fanatical fundamentalists). The only difference between violent polytheists and violent monotheists is that the former kill to gain political control and the latter Jonathan Kirschkill to assert theological dominance. However, the difference is subtle but important: Polytheists sought control over the public sphere alone; monotheists sought control over private thoughts as well.”

What the Monotheists Think about Pagans

Kirsch may well be right about the rationale of traditional monotheists dismissing his arguments. The question though arises: isn’t this something that secularists also have persistently chosen to do? It is instructive to compare the world views of monotheists and pagans/polytheist vis-a-vis each other (much of it derived from Kirsch’s book):

What monotheists thought/think of and how they react to pagans and polytheists:

  • Believe in the superiority of OTG; all others are false gods or disparagingly still “false idols”, a parade of the horrible, those who worship any other than the OTG are at best “lost” and need to guided on the one right path, and at worst, are an abomination, dark, demonic idolaters, morally deficient guilty of harlotry, sorcery, black magic;
  • Regard pagans and polytheists with fear, loathing and contempt: peaceful coexistence is a one way street—if you are not one of us….
  • It is not sufficient to have belief in OTG, but there are rules on the accepted mode of worship which are to be followed;
  • OTG demands absolute obedience: he is jealous, wrathful and vengeful, he doesn’t abide competition; when bad things happen (especially to the non-believers, it is divine retribution);
  • Clear delineation between who is “one of us” and who is “the other.”

What pagans and polytheists (the religions of the high culture of classical Greco-Roman civilization and of Hinduism) thought/think of and how they react to monotheists:

  • Religious plurality, a spongy mass of tolerance and tradition;
  • Not only tolerance, but acceptance of multiple deities and respect for multiple paths to the truth;
  • Acknowledging the “Unknown Gods” as evidenced in abundant archaeological finds of shrines from the Roman Empire and also in Hinduism, for example the Narasimha pillar at Chennakesava Temple, Halebid;
  • With or without assistance of priests/priestesses and no interceding prophets;
  • Co-existence of gods and goddesses in one place, no concept of divine retribution for non-pagans;
  • Accepting of the OTG and their worshippers as equals, not sense of the “other”;
  • Seeing the world as holistic including all life forms—pray for the health, happiness, safety, security, justice, mercy, and a decent life for all.

Throughout its history, the Roman Empire had attracted all faiths from all corners of the known world—the Greco-Roman deities co-existed with the worship of the gods and goddesses of Egypt, Persia, Sumeria, Phrygia and Lydia. They even accommodated the “strangest of all”, the monotheist Jews and later, the sect of Judaism that morphed into orthodox Christianity.

It is perfectly evident that the war between monotheism (or should it more correctly be monotheisms?) and polytheism is still raging.

Even if India, the last bastion of polytheism and paganism, as Krishen Kak explains in his piece,[14] was to be converted, the war will still rage between the competing and conflicting claims of the multiple factions claiming to speak for OTG.

Therefore, if the pagan Roman Empire could accommodate the followers of two groups of OTG, why is it not possible that the contemporary world can also accommodate the ways of life and multiplicities of belief including OTG, polytheist, and none? One can’t simply “un-invent” god, so let’s be practical. After all, is this not what the pseudo-liberals claim to crave?

But for this to be possible, it is logical to conclude that accommodation can only be reached by an admission of contrition and developing mutual respect that extends not only among followers of the various shades of OTG, but transcends to include those who may be pagan, Hindu, atheist, non-theist, pantheist, Buddhist, or whatever.

Mother IndiaIndian Culture is Hindu Culture

The doomsayers who have been parroting about India’s intolerance need to wake up and realise that India has lived with and survived assaults from multiple monotheisms and yet retains much of its “pagan” culture. Let’s call it what it is: Hindu culture, accepting of diversity and easy on the senses which, sets India apart from its neighbours. These neighbours, who in the space of three generations have literally cleansed their domains of the abomination, the heathen and the idolater, and yet failed to find a sense of identity with which they can be at ease.

It is definitely not the “chicken tikka” statist diktat version of Nehruvian secularism which sets India apart and offers hope for humankind—for far from showing how to deal with the ongoing war of God against the Gods, this hollow version of how society ought to function has aggressively sought to deny the ambient pagan culture an iota of legitimacy in the civic space whilst granting special privileges to monotheisms.[15]

The monotheisms are not going to volunteer to give way for a level playing field. So, apart from Hindus reclaiming their identity and working by example to practically show that there are alternatives for people to tread their own paths to truth and peaceful coexistence,[16] the self-professed liberals, particularly outside India will have to get off the pot and put some skin in the game.

To adapt what Rod Liddle mockingly referred to as “these silly mares” of liberalism and turn it into a positive, they will need to snap out from “… navigate(ing) their way through life on such slender mental resources, …” refrain from being so “… stupid because they do not see the world as it really is, but only as they would wish it to be,” and get a “handle on reality,” coming out their slumberous “… state of denial.”

Some of these “mares” are for sure beyond redemption, but one can live and work in hope and expectation, targeting those that have the capacity to turn on their dormant intellects for the greater good. For, the alternatives are not appealing; the stakes are too high to let the lunatics run the asylum.

Make In IndiaA good start would be for the economic development of India to continue unimpeded. Yes, those inimical to progress will do all in their power to prevent this, but those who claim to be real liberals and progressives have to open their eyes and realise that economic progress and prosperity are the most effective road to peace and a potent antidote to fundamentalism.

Indians, comprising a sixth of humanity, with a millennium old experience of the battle of God against the Gods offer the best hope for resolving this vexing question. The battle isn’t over yet, in fact it’s only just begun. On India’s success depends the world’s capacity to overcome this conundrum. Those who impede India’s economic and social development do so at a greater peril.

As the Roman philosopher, Symmachus said, “What does it matter by which wisdom each of us arrives at the truth?”[17] and observe how it rings in total consonance with the Rig Veda phrase, “ekaṁ sad viprā bahudhā vadanti” translating to “There is one (ekam) Reality (sat), about which wise persons (viprā) in various ways (bahudhā) speak (vadanti).[18] — IndiaFacts, 5 January 2015

» Jay Jina is a UK-based third generation NRI. Besides pursuing a professional career as a European IT director with a multinational and a part time university academic, Jay’s interests span history, current affairs, the Indian Diaspora and the history and politcs of science.

References

  1. Obama smacks down India for religious intolerance, says Gandhi would have been shocked, Times of India, 5 February 2015, “Obama smacks down India for intolerance….” at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Obama-smacks-down-India-for-religious-intolerance-says-Gandhi-would-have-been-shocked/articleshow/46141742.cms
  2. Vamsee Juluri, “Why I think Ram Madhav’s Al Jazeera interview was framed” at http://www.dailyo.in/politics/modi-ram-madhav-akhand-bharat-pakistan-al-jazeera-interview-rss/story/1/8163.html
  3. Jakob De Roover and Sarah Claerhout, The Caste Connection on the Sacred Foundations of Social Hierarchy, University of Ghent, Belgium, at https://www.academia.edu/19752142/The_Caste_Connection_On_the_Sacred_Foundations_of_Social_Hierarchy
  4. Vamsee Juluri, “The Year of Living Intolerably”, at http://swarajyamag.com/magazine/the-year-of-living-intolerantly/
  5. Rod Liddle, “The political wisdom of people who don’t even know what a circle is” in The Spectator, at http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/01/the-political-wisdom-of-people-who-dont-even-know-what-a-circle-is/
  6. Wikipedia article on “Multiculturalism”. See in particular the section on opposition to multiculturalism at  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiculturalism#Opposition
  7. Jonathan Kirsch, God against the Gods: The History of the War between Monotheism and Polytheism, Penguin Books, 2004
  8. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 1, Chapter 16, at  http://www.ccel.org/g/gibbon/decline/volume1/chap16.htm#chri
  9. Jonathan Kirsch, quote from page 74 of God against the Gods: The History of the War between Monotheism and Polytheism, Penguin Books, 2004
  10. Abraham Eraly, The Mughal Throne: The Saga of India’s Great Emperors, London, Phoenix. Quote from p. 336: “India was at a crossroads in the mid-seventeenth century; it had the potential of moving forward with Dara Shukoh, or of turning back to medievalism with Aurangzeb.”
  11. I used the term “chicken tikka masala” to describe the so-called “ethical Foreign Policy” cooked up the chicken tikka masala that is the multi-culti flavour of Britain today: Just like the nondescript dish that goes by that name in the UK, naa yahaan ka, naa wahaan ka, or to put it bluntly, neither fish nor fowl. The term applies for the secularist idea of syncretism too. See http://indiafacts.co.in/pseudo-secularism-uk-style-lessons-india/
  12. Concordat Watch, “How the Vatican evades human rights obligations through Canon Law, diplomatic immunity and other dodges” at http://www.concordatwatch.eu/topic-47307.834
  13. Book review of “God against the Gods” (author unidentified) on Beliefnet at http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/Books/2004/05/One-God-To-Bind-Them-All.aspx?p=3
  14. Krishen Kak, “Hindus are the Last of the Pagans” at http://indiafacts.org/hindus-are-the-last-of-the-pagans/
  15. There are various examples of dispensation of privilege for religious minority, for example the Haj subsidy, the independence of places of worship and perhaps, most openly invidious of all, the status of “missionary” as a visa category for entry into India. In each of these cases, the comparative position for the “majority” belief system is overtly discriminatory: Hindus do not even get adequate protection for the Amarnath Yatra, Hindu temples are under state control often with antipathetic administrators imposed against the wishes of the temple stakeholders, and even small attempts at reversion of poor sections back to Hinduism get blown out as workings of Hindu “fascism”.
  16. Vamsee Juluri, “Rearming Hinduism”, Westland, 2015. This little volume to my mind reads as a succinct and balanced manifesto protecting and projecting all that is of value about Hindu Dharma. It deserves to be widely read and merits being made required reading for all undergraduates in India and those outside India with an interest in India.
  17. Charles Freeman, The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason, Pimlico, London, 2003. The line is a quote from the 4th century philosopher,
  18. Graham Schweig, Translation of Rig Veda 1.164.46. on the Dharma Civilization Foundation website at http://www.dcfusa.org/many-truths-of-the-one-reality/

 

Trishul

Of course Hindus won’t go to hell! – Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth“People need to become aware that prophesizing eternal hell was a strategy to frighten their own followers into submission and to justify using force to either convert or wipe out those who ‘insult the Supreme Power and don’t accept the only truth.’ This claim of ‘hell for unbelievers’ is about power and influence and has nothing to do with eternal truth or morality.” – Maria Wirth

Dalits for Equal Rights in ChurchesSome time ago, a news item caught my attention: Dalit Christians had filed a complaint with the United Nations against the Vatican because of caste-based discrimination of the Catholic Church in India. The complaint was filed with the UN Information Centre at New Delhi.

It made me feel that a suggestion I had made in an earlier article was maybe not so outlandish and actually worthwhile. I had suggested that Hindus, Buddhists and others could file a complaint with the UN against Christianity and Islam, because Christianity considers non-Christians as heathen and Islam non-Muslims as infidels, and both these religions claim that heathen and infidels are unworthy of the grace of the Supreme Power and will be thrown into hellfire where they will suffer excruciating pain for all eternity. “Idol-worshippers”—Hindus are labeled as such—are the worst of the lot in the eyes of those religions.

In the Bible, Mathew (13: 49-50) states:

“This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous  and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The Quran (22:19-22) gives a more detailed description of the torture that awaits infidels:

“But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them, boiling fluid will be poured down their heads. Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron. Whenever, in their anguish, they would go forth from thence they are driven back therein and (it is said unto them): Taste the doom of burning.”

Hindus generally have no malice towards other faiths and don’t expect others to have malice towards their own faith. They readily pay respect to Bible and Christianity or to Quran and Islam without knowing what they contain. Usually they don’t even notice that their respect is not reciprocated.

Jihadi with a Koran and AK 47 However, there are also those who know the content, but prefer to ignore unacceptable passages. One reason may be that they of course don’t take them seriously and can’t imagine that anybody takes them seriously. Unfortunately, they underestimate the power of indoctrination, especially in childhood. It is not only the ISIS types who believe—and act on it. I know from own experience that children believe what they are told and many don’t question this belief even as adults.

Another reason may be that they don’t want to draw attention to those divisive, discriminating passages in books that are considered holy by the majority of the world’s population. They fear they could remind “believers” of their duty to fight the “unbelievers” or rather the “wrong believers” as Hindus are great believers in the Supreme and certainly not unbelievers.

However, this attitude won’t work today, as the content of Quran, Bible and other scriptures is readily available on the net. It is easy to access any verse of the Bible or Quran. ISIS spread their views on the internet. The radicalization among Muslim youth often happens via the net. A cleric in a German mosque who had banned radicalized youth and declared ISIS as un-Islamic was described as an “old, confused man”, by a German Turk, who “knew” that ISIS is following the Quran. How did he know? “I and my friends have read the Quran”, he declared. His friends are fighting for ISIS.

I didn’t make the suggestion to complain to the UN because I expect much action from the UN. I made the suggestion mainly, because in this way the issue would hopefully come into mainstream discourse. People, including Christians and Muslims, need to realize how absurd and divisive this claim of “eternal hell for unbelievers” is.

The gravity of the situation needs to sink in: every second child in the world is taught that Hindus (and others) are not equal in the eyes of the Supreme God, and the child is likely to believe it. In fact, the child is taught that the Supreme hates those others so much that they will burn for all eternity in hellfire if they don’t mend their ways and join the believers on the right path. Sri Krishna, Sri Rama, Sita, the Rishis, Swami Vivekananda, Baba Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Mata Amritanandamayi, Narendra Modi, Aishwarya Rai, Sachin Tendulkar … just name them, each and every Hindu who ever lived—none will find mercy with the Highest. They all are thrown into the “blazing furnace”.

HellPeople need to become aware that prophesizing eternal hell was a strategy to frighten their own followers into submission and to justify using force to either convert or wipe out those who “insult the Supreme Power and don’t accept the only truth”.  This claim of “hell for unbelievers” is about power and influence and has nothing to do with eternal truth or morality.

If a small, crazy sect would claim that all others will burn in hell, one would understand if nobody takes note of such nonsense. But it is not a small sect that makes this claim. This claim is contained in the doctrines of the two most powerful religious institutions on earth with almost four billion followers. Mercifully, many Christians especially in Europe don’t believe it anymore, but it is part of the Christian dogma.

Is one allowed to call this claim nonsense – in the age of quantum physics where it is known that ultimately all is connected and nothing is separate?

Strangely, Hindus keep quiet. They may hope it goes away. It won’t go away without those who are demeaned in this unacceptable manner putting their foot down. Why should those who benefit from this claim give it up as long as nobody objects?

The Church had once to give in to protests: it lost the power to punish heretics and even had to allow Christians to leave the Church. Ever since, the Church lost many of its flock and the west came out of the Dark Age, but the damage was done nevertheless: arrogance and a feeling of superiority was already ingrained in the people and nature had been divested of its sacredness and still is treated as a slave to be exploited.

The dogmatic religions uprooted people from their pagan societies and made them slowly but surely arrogant, self-righteous and convinced that they are meant to rule the world in the name of their god. Would colonialism in its brutal form have been possible without the mindset that Christians are superior to the native heathen? Would Muslim invasions have been so cruel without the mindset that Allah wants them to smite the necks of infidels till all worship is only for Allah?

Today’s most pressing problem, Islamic terrorism, has its roots in the claim that infidels are rejected by Allah. ISIS, Boko Haram and others consider it their sacred duty to rid the earth of such scum.

Christianity stopped killing heathen but still does great harm in so-called “unreached areas” for example in India, where it deceives, threatens and lures people away from their tolerant, inclusive tradition into an arrogant, divisive mindset.

Some followers of Islam still kill. They are called Islamists instead of Muslims. But as long as the Quran contains verses that seem to be exhortations to kill infidels, and no official correction is made that these verses refer only to history, there is insincerity in the claim that they are not Muslims. On one hand we condemn those youth in the strongest terms and on the other, we revere the scripture which they claim to follow.

Donald TrumpWhen Donald Trump declares that he won’t allow Muslims into the USA if he becomes President, he may cater to a populist sentiment among Americans but this is no solution. A better strategy would be to make Muslims disown certain passages in the Quran. At the same time, Christians must be made to disown certain passages in the Bible. Blind belief that the Supreme has revealed the truth only to Jesus or only to Mohammed must be allowed to be questioned without putting one’s life in danger.

The Pope said recently in Africa “Christians and Muslims are brothers”. It sounded more like “Let’s live and let live”. Yet when the Pope was in India, he didn’t make such conciliatory statement. He said “we will plant the cross in Asia”. Why? Did he think the “mild” Hindus won’t object to their own demise? Or did he behave like a bully to put Hindus on the defensive?

If Christianity really had the better truth, it would be okay. But this is not the case. The supremacy that the Church claims has no basis except in blind belief. In the same way, the supremacy that Islam claims has also no basis except in blind belief. Both faiths can’t challenge each other. A debate between Christianity and Islam would go like this:

Christianity: “We alone have the full truth”

Islam: “We alone have the full truth.”

Christianity: “God has revealed the full truth through his son Jesus”

Islam: “Allah has revealed the final truth through Prophet Mohammed.”

Christianity: “All have to worship God, the father, via his son.”

Islam: “All have to worship Allah.”

However, in one point both agree: “Heathen and infidels need to disappear from the earth.”

In contrast, ‘Hinduism seeks to propagate the collective wisdom and inspiration of centuries and has room for all forms of beliefs’ (according to the Supreme Court). It offers a profound philosophy. It can bring to the table the wisdom of the ancient Rishis that has never been disproven. This wisdom points to the absolute truth, which dogmatic religions are ignorant of: Truth is not a belief based on thoughts. It is what we all truly are—thought free, blissful awareness.

BlasphemyOne would expect that humanity in the 21st century has outgrown blasphemy laws. This is not the case. Not only is there no pressure on countries that have blasphemy laws to abandon them, but—unbelievable, but true—there are attempts by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to bring the whole world under a blasphemy law.

Several nations, like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, have petitioned the UN to make defamation of Islam a crime. And even President Obama and Hillary Clinton supported a resolution (Istanbul Process 16/18) to curb “Islamophobia“. Efforts to go further and ban criticism of Islam are surely still on.

Nations that have a majority Hindu, Buddhist or Atheist population like India, China, Japan, Thailand, etc. could join and not only throw a spammer into these efforts but actively weaken their case by demanding a stop to unacceptable claims. Though “idol-worshipping Hindus” are seen as most despicable, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Atheists also don’t pass muster in the eyes of Christianity and Islam.

ISIS child about to behead Teddy!It is high that time Hindus woke up. Filing a petition with the UN might make even Christians and Muslims aware that these claims are truly unacceptable and that Hindus are not the scum of this earth and have a right to exist.

UNICEF also should be petitioned that brainwashing of children into hatred for others is made a crime. The video of a child in ISIS land cutting the throat of his teddy bear as practice is horrendous. A lot of noise needs to be made about those petitions. Christianity and Islam must not get away with discrediting Hindu Dharma. Let there be a public discourse on which worldview is closer to the truth, and which religion has a better philosophical basis.

Actually it is so obvious even at a first glance: the choice is between brotherhood of all without any preconditions and fighting each other till all become uniform ‘believers’.

Let’s choose brotherhood of all. And please also include animals…. – Maria Wirth Blog, 22 December 2015

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

UN Blasphemy Law

How the Grinch stole Mithra Jayanti – Bharavi

Sunrise at Stonehenge on the Winter Solstice

Man Sitting Under Tree IconSo true is it that all transactions of pre-eminent importance are wrapped in doubt and obscurity; while some hold for certain facts the most precarious hearsays, others turn facts into falsehood; and both are exaggerated by posterity.” – Tacitus

How the Grinch stole Mithra Jayanti [1]

Greetings and good wishes to fellow Pagans, Heathens, Idolators, Polytheists, Pantheists, Animists, Henotheists and other non-monolatrous peoples on the occasion of the impending Winter Solstice.  This is the period of rejoicing when the Invincible Sun, Glorious Mithra, commences his travel toward the northern reaches of Mother Gaia.  As He bids farewell to the south, and sets His Luminous Visage northwards, we regard with awe and worshipful reverence his unwearying fidelity to the Great Law of Father Varuna.

As Pagans continue to cherish this magical time in their own unique ways handed down by revered ancestors of yore, their attention cannot but be called to parallel celebrations that superficially resemble their own.

The Abrahamic cultic theology under scrutiny mandates scorn for the Reborn Sun and advocates veneration for the birth of a human son nearly two thousand years ago, and promises the said son’s ‘second coming’ in the future.

When we closely analyse the Jewish purANa on which this interesting and widespread misunderstanding is based, things will become much clearer.  The Jewish purANas that form the nucleus form for this belief abound in accounts of much-revered and always-feared notables called ‘prophets’ but, all the same, do not enjoin celebrations of the birthdays of even one of them—not even major figures like Moses or Abraham.

Tanakh / Old TestamentAs the Jewish purANas posit a clear division between the creatOR and the creatED, there is simply no scope for such adulation.  Predictably, the said purANa is replete with much polemic and “direct action” against Pagan modes, places and objects of worship.  Thus, Pagan piety and observances are remorselessly placed at par with crimes such as theft and murder in this value system, leading to their eventual banishment or extirpation.

The Jewish people eventually established a kingdom, but it was short-lived, ground down by one imperial power after another, culminating in the Roman conquest.  This precarious existence naturally gave rise to hopes that eventually a redeemer, a ‘messiah,’ would arise from among them who would re-establish the lost kingdom and rebuild their ravaged temple.

Such a hope, as Pagans will recognize, is quite natural for humans and they generously grant every people their redeemer(s) as circumstances may require. However, what concerns us here is the contrived exclusivity and finality of the redemption that we have set out to investigate.

The cynosure of these birthday celebrations, a Jewish magician[2] named Jesus, claimed to be the “messiah” who would re-establish the Jewish state that had been overrun by mighty Rome.  He managed to acquire some legitimacy through the agency of a rather charismatic itinerant recluse named John the Baptist, who vouched for the authenticity of Jesus by momentarily immersing him in the Jordan river and proclaiming his messiahood.

Needless to say, such a claim would naturally be scrutinized, and even contested, from within any tradition. So, this was not accepted by the entire Jewish community. The more law-abiding (or Roman-fearing) among the Jewish leaders feared that the sins of this rabble-rouser would be indiscriminately and impartially visited on heads of the entire Jewish community by imperial Rome.

After all, the Jews were dealing with a pitilessly impartial war machine that could gaily “create a desert and call it peace,” as Tacitus put it. Therefore, he was condemned by the Jewish priesthood and handed over to the secular Roman authorities for punishment.

Jesus was thereafter crucified by the Roman authorities of Judea on charges of treason. However, it seems somewhat likely that Jesus was taken down from the cross shortly thereafter, allowing him to survive the gruesome ordeal, and even met his followers following a period of recovery.

Understandably, after this unfortunate episode, he could move around but only in secret. In order to keep some hope alive, at least within his inner circle, he prophesied of his own imminent “second coming” as a conquering hero.[3]  To make the occasion doubly fraught with portents and significance, he said that it would coincide with the end of the world—and that was nearly two thousand years ago.  Not surprisingly, this delay is a sore point with his followers because he has kept them waiting for centuries and generations ever since, presumably on grounds of the continued existence of the world.[4]

New TestamentThe above summary, embellished in the original sources with miraculous occurrences and pious homilies, is now well-established as an addendum to the Jewish purANa on which the contemporary creed of Christianity is based.

The theological explanation current for the ancient messianic failure among the adherents is that the self-proclaimed messiah will reappear only when the entire world acknowledges him as the said “messiah” or, at least, has had a chance to hear about his tall claims.[5]

As all humans are not believers in this prophecy or have not heard about this—i.e., “unreached peoples”—this becomes a tautology rather than a theology. However, in order to achieve the necessary uniformity of belief or universality in advertising in the hope of precipitating a second coming, there arises the famous “great commission” professed by the believers, who must, indeed inevitably must, compel people to “come in.”[6]

Had his ancient followers, most notably Saul (later Paul), but cared to introspect why any non-Jews—Greeks, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Aztecs or Australian Aborigines for that matter—should worry about a clearly Jewish messiah with a clearly defined role limited to the re-establishment of a Jewish state in its ancient range, there would have been no doubt, no religious argument and no fighting for among Jews to start with, and between Jews and Christians for centuries on end.

As an interesting aside, we point out that, nearer our own times, the Jewish state of Israel has been established with no messiah in sight, but the temple hasn’t been rebuilt, which compounds the confusion among the believers. Consequently, some orthodox Jews are opposed to Israel,[7] aligning with the adversaries of Israel, many of them latter-day Abrahamics of Christian or Islamic persuasion. To get back to our story, we can also discern in the new purANa the haphazard fusion of two distinct traditions—Jewish and Greek.

Jesus, whose birthday is claimed to fall during this time, is said to have been born of the union of Mary, a Jewish virgin, and the “Holy Ghost”—inadvertent if glaring evidence of reckless dabbling in the occult arts.

Indian Pagans may justifiably recognize the story as a variant of the story of Kunti of the Mahabharata who ignorantly used an incantation for fecundation given her by Rishi Durvasa, as a result of which she Isis-Horus / Mary-Jesusgave birth to Karna, the son of Surya—the Sun—but regained her virginity regardless.

Similar parallels may be found in several Pagan traditions if one but cares to look, e.g. the story of Perseus’ birth. However, by insisting on the exclusive and unique status of its particular instance of virgin birth, Christianity is predisposed to perceive witchcraft and black magic in the world around and has, for centuries on end, zealously striven to extirpate suspected witches by the expedient of incineration, but that is another story.

Observers of Christmas who are unfamiliar with European history are most likely to arrive at conclusions similar to that of the rough and ready Bushmen anthropologists, as documented in turn by a Canadian anthropologist, Richard B. Lee: “Praise the birth of white man’s god-chief.”[8]  This is only partially true, though.

As stated earlier, there’s nothing in the Jewish purANa or its Christian addendum that directs the faithful to praise anyone’s birth, leave alone celebrate it with revelry.  These outward celebrations are the result of Paul’s recruitment of Gentiles to provide the numbers required to shore up his schism against the mother religion.

Paul’s frank and winning strategy was to make sure that Christianity was “all things to all people.”[9]  But Gentiles will be Gentiles, and cannot be persuaded to live as observant Jews, giving up all their former ceremonial and observances, especially when the schismatic proselytizer is in a tearing hurry to gain converts and numbers on his side in a surreal anticipation of democratic vote-rigging by mobilizing ringers.

So, all agreeable forms and modes of worship and celebration were re-oriented (or more accurately, subverted) towards Jesuolatory, and tolerated so long as there wasn’t any suggestion of a co-equal partner to Jesus, such as Pan or Apollo, for instance.

MithraAt this point, we must note that the worship of Mithra was widespread throughout the Pagan Roman empire, and several authors have remarked on how the festivities and traditional accounts associated with the solstice festival were eventually appropriated by the Church Fathers, who had to distinguish themselves from the Jews who would accept Jesus’ Jewishness, but not his messiahood.[10]

This would have been another instance of unconscious cultural exchange, what with neighbours attending each other’s festivities, but Christianity also denounced the more ancient Mithraic worship as being an imitation and profanation of their own latter-day cultic practices.

When Christianity was confronted with the greater antiquity of Mithraism, its own recent arrival on the scene, and the logic that only a succeeding event can imitate the preceding one, Christian apologetics displayed the limits that it could stoop to.

Justin Martyr proclaimed with chutzpah that “Demons”—presumably he was familiar with their ways, which raises inconvenient questions as well—had, in anticipation of Jesus’ arrival, spread similar accounts to confuse mankind![11]  Thus, the tenuous credibility of the alleged Saviour’s supposed birthday is salvaged by Demonic Intercession!

Given this history, we feel that the preparation of the Christmas turkey by American natives (not native Americans, in case you are confused) provides an apt metaphor for Christianity’s idea of an acceptable outcome from an “inter-faith encounter.”

Miraculously, the same metaphor extends to the post-Christian secularist’s condition as well, as we shall see. Christianity has effectively plucked, gutted and eviscerated several SuparNAs (golden eagles or Garudas) of Euro-Pagan traditions of their philosophies, theologies and metaphysics, hurriedly stuffed them all full of Jesus, and unrelentingly enforced the new “tradition” to the active exclusion and forced extinction of all others over centuries.

This patented behavior[12] is in keeping with the Christian assumption—also termed “doctrine”—of being the “only true religion” worshipping the “only true god” who sent to earth, monotonously and rather predictably, an “only begotten son” as well.

Now, when the western secularist outgrows Christianity, he hurriedly gets rid of the stuffing but then, something seems missing that is poetically described in certain egghead circles as a “god-shaped hole.”

There is generally no viable replacement in the immediate environs; and the original innards have been discarded as offal long ago.  Eventually and usually, the secularist finds a passable substitute in reckless consumerism, incidentally, incrementally and inexorably imperiling the planet[13] and, most ironically, hastening the arrival of something Christianity had been waiting for with bated breath for the last two thousand years—The Last Days![14]

So, the average western secularist proceeds to emulate the alleged demeanor of the lilies of the field that “toil not, and spin not”[15] and, without a thought about the morrow or greenhouse gas emissions, heads off to the nearest mega-sale, perhaps to procure finery and baubles that King Solomon of old was rumored to be arrayed in.

Thus, while most people await with feelings of eager anticipation the breaking forth of leaves from the sleeping buds of bare trees, Christian observance requires its adherents to cut down pine trees that, exceptionally among northern trees, stay green throughout winter.

Santa ClausThe trees, torn from their forest, are further desecrated by being used in homes as rough-and-ready shelves and coat-hooks on which are arranged several gaudy baubles and trinkets. Beneath this tree all manner of presents are placed. It is claimed that an elderly elf named “Santa Claus” is the source of this largesse, but we protest this completely baseless indictment of the Elfish Folk, the original “green party,” who cannot come anywhere near such a mutilated tree-stump without an attack of apoplexy.[16]

And when the uprooted tree slowly disintegrates, people complain about all the pine needles on the carpet, as if it were the poor tree’s fault. This is but the merest hint of Christianity’s inexhaustible fount of misunderstanding and calumny that has been refined to a fine art by centuries of practice and successful deployment, to the progressive detriment and eventual extinction of many of our sister communities in several lands, including their own ancestral ones.

As if this were not enough, the word “Claus”—in Santa Claus—offers clues about the less than wholesome essence of the entire business, regardless of the Elf’s portrayal as a lovable old man in folk paintings and popular cinema current in Christian lands, but actually derived from Scandinavian and Teutonic folklore.

Astute readers would have already smelled another stuffed and trussed Christmas turkey in the entire affair.  Anyway, the phonetic similarity of “Claus” to “Kali” (कलि, not कालि) strikes us as less than accidental, but we leave the detailed resolution of the issue to philologists of the school of imaginative linguistic analysis pioneered by the late Sri P. N. Oak.[17]

However, we are of the firm opinion that even if this were an entirely coincidental phonetic semblance, it is not without ominous significance.  Kali, discerning Indian Pagans will note, is the personified spirit of the current age of falsehood, that all followers of Rta assiduously guard against.

This is a very sensible precaution because, when Kali possessed the great and good king Nala of NishAda, he was induced to gamble away the kingdom, lose his own clothing, abandon his wife in a forest, and ended up as a palace cook. (We hazard a guess that parents harried by the unceasing demands of their offspring for presents, and their importunate caterwauling of carols to wheedle tidbits out of the audience during Christmas, would be tempted to follow suit, if only to obtain temporary relief and welcome distraction in some gainful employment.)

When parents realize that Claus promotes greed and avarice, not to mention rank disobedience and tantrums among infants, they will doubtless shudder to think of the kind of adults their children might grow into, and the kind of dotage they are condemning themselves to.[18]

Surya DevaThus, we aver that the festival of “Christmas” can be most accurately and faithfully understood by Pagans, especially Indian Pagans, as Mithra Jayanti—the (re)birth of the Sun (Mithra), a time to reaffirm ties with family and friends (mithra again, in Sanskrit), and to express in beautiful and fruitful ways our compassion towards human and non-human life-forms alike.

For, the object of our adoration, the Sun, is indeed the faithful and inseparable friend of all men, Heathen, Abrahamic or otherwise, and illuminates alike the paths of saints and sinners with a generosity rivaled only by that of Mother Gaia.

We pray to luminous Mithra and implore Him to illuminate the intellects of those held in thrall by modes of revelry hurriedly cobbled together during ancient historical crises.  We hope that He will truly empower all His troubled children with “the tolerance and gentleness of the mature mind, the quiet content of the unacquisitive soul, the calm of the understanding spirit, and a unifying, pacifying love for all living things.[19]

Surya Namaskar

References

1.  We profusely apologize to both Dr Seuss and Mr Grinch, Esq., for the appropriation and modification of the title of their much-loved book, and trust that they approve of this in a spirit of cross-cultural exchange.

2. The Greek sage Celsus (2nd century C.E.) claimed that Jesus learnt magical lore from the Egyptians. Celsus’ works were eventually burned by the conquering Church, but excerpts survive as quotations in Contra Celsum written by the Christian apologist Origen to refute Celsus.

3. For this insight, we are indebted to the Christian apostate Herman Sommers who suggested this scenario as the solution to the vexatious question of the author of the Book of Revelation of St. John the Divine in the Bible, based on psychopathological symptoms.  For the only summary of his findings available in English, see Elst K. (1993).  Psychology of Prophetism: A Secular Look at the Bible,  Voice of India, New Delhi, India.

4. The Bible, Matt. 24:34.

5. The Bible, Matt. 24:14, 28:19.

6. The Bible, Luke 14: 21-23, Matt. 28:16-20.

7. See, for instance, What is the Neturei Karta?

8. Lee, R. B., Eating Christmas in the KalahariNatural History 78:14-22 (1969).

9. The Bible, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

10. See, for example, Chapter 37 titled Oriental Religions in the West of Sir James Frazer’s monumental The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religon. 

11. “But those who hand down the myths which the poets have made, adduce no proof to the youths who learn them; and we proceed to demonstrate that they have been uttered by the influence of the wicked demons, to deceive and lead astray the human race. For having heard it proclaimed through the prophets that the Christ was to come, and that the ungodly among men were to be punished by fire, they put forward many to be called sons of Jupiter, under the impression that they would be able to produce in men the idea that the things which were said with regard to Christ were mere marvellous tales, like the things which were said by the poets. And these things were said both among the Greeks and among all nations where they [the demons] heard the prophets foretelling that Christ would specially be believed in; but that in hearing what was said by the prophets they did not accurately understand it, but imitated what was said of our Christ, like men who are in error, we will make plain.” The First Apology of Justin, Ch. LIV.

12. It has been given the rather innocuous-sounding name of “inculturation” to make it sound politically correct. For a detailed account, see Goel, S. R., Catholic Ashrams: Sannyasins or Swindlers, Voice of India, New Delhi (1994).

13. One estimate has it that, if British Christmas cards and wrapping paper (at 2011 levels) were collected and fermented, instead of being dumped into landfills, it would provide sufficient biofuel (ethanol) to power a double-decker bus to the moon and back, for 20 round trips.

• See Go to work on a Christmas card

• Also Five Festive Fossils

And remember, this estimate is just for one small island nation, Britain, and just for the stationery.

14. E.g. The Bible, 2 Timothy 3.

15. The Bible, Matt. 6:27-29.

16. Locating the exact reference for this assertion has been left to the reader as an exercise. As a clue, we suggest that the reader seek out Mr. Peter Jackson and Mr. Bilbo Baggins, authorities on Elfish Customs and Manners.

17. Sri P. N. Oak pioneered etymological derivations such as “Christianity” from “Krishna-neeti,” based on reasonable phonetic estimation of the widespread Anglo-Saxon penchant for mispronouncing polysyllabic Sanskrit words, daringly projected back into antiquity. Placing the tongue in the cheek while speaking can, on occasion, convert Krishna-neeti to Christianity, provided the aspirant tries hard enough with the lingua in the bucca, taking care to save the lingua from the dens. We politely state that Sri Oak’s derivations have never been satisfactorily disproven and excuse ourselves, but such a contention might be a logical fallacy in itself. Caveat emptor!

18. Concerning children, it’s quite a lot more than mere bad manners and greed for toys and sweets that the Christian Church has to answer for:

By The Numbers: The Catholic Church’s Sex Abuse Scandals

Clergy Gone Wild: Child Abuse

Pedophilia in the Church

The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption

• A very recent instance of the Church exploiting innocent children to delude adults: Disturbing Footage Of Toddler Being Used As Faith Healer. A Chennai church is projecting this young child as a deliverer of miracles.”

19. Durant, W., The Story of Civilization. Vol. 1, Our Oriental Heritage, Simon and Schuster, New York (1935).

Lessons from the Chennai floods for Kerala – C. I. Issac

Chennai Floods 2015

Prof C. I. Issac“Here in Kerala, the numbers and significance of the people who adore nature as ‘Mother’ is shrinking day by day. At the same time, the importance and influence of religions which advocate nature as a resource to alleviate the greed of man is also mounting day by day. The best example of this was the destiny of the Madhav Gadgil Committee Report and the role played by the bishops.” – Prof C. I. Issac

The main reason behind the disaster borne out of the unpredicted outburst of floods in Chennai was the humiliation of ‘Mother Earth’ by the regimes of the Metro City and Fort St. George for last three decades. This is not a topic confined to the Tamil Nadu state alone, but the warning of the times, the writing on the wall for the entire country, and specifically for the state of Kerala.

Kerala is the most densely populated state in India; according to the latest available data, the State’s density of population is 860 per square kilometre. A place with regular and recurring rainfall, it is now in the extra danger zone. Should a Chennai-like situation develop here, the depth and extent of the calamity could be far more disastrous than Tamil Nadu.  

Chennai Floods 2015The main reason for the present havoc caused by floods in Chennai is the creation of the greedy real estate and construction mafia. Related to this is the unscientific road construction along with the encroachment of creeks, backwaters and other traditional water-clogging areas by a highly influential section in the political class of Tamil Nadu.

These areas are vital mechanisms of nature, because while at the time of frantic and violent rain these creaks will drain-out the excess flood water, the rest will be absorbed by the lakes, backwaters and other traditional or natural water-storing areas. All these are now a panorama of bygone days in most of our cities. This write-up is concerned with the situation in Kerala. 

Kerala is the single largest metropolis of India with a population 33.3 million (2011 census), excluding expatriates. The repercussions from any sort of natural calamity in this ‘God’s Own Country’ (the land created by Lord Parasurama) will be far worse than Chennai.

This is because the topography and density of population in Kerala is entirely different from that in the rest of India. God created this land with all safety valves to overcome any such adverse situations that occur rhythmically in nature. Kerala has 44 west-flowing rivers and each river has 150 to 250 tributaries and 10 to 50 distributaries that embrace the sea; hitherto the backwaters also functioned as flood water managers.

It is a wonder that nature has provided such a fantastic device to a place with a landmass of 38,863 sq. km., and length is 580 km. This enabled Kerala to survive as a safe haven for human habitation all this time. But in recent decades, the flow of petro-dollars along with hawala money and counterfeits from the 1970s onwards, sabotaged the divine human-nature relations of Kerala.

Today, all the 44 rivers of Kerala have shrunk by 2/3 of their natural width. As many as 50 per cent tributary rivers have vanished. The banks of the backwaters are subject to encroachments in Cochin, Kumarakom (famous for its bird sanctuary), and so on in all the cities and towns of Kerala, all under the benediction of the ruling and opposition parties in the Legislative Assembly. 

One such encroachment of a backwater by a company run by an in-law of the Congress dynasty was unearthed by the visual media of Kerala. (I mention this instance only to show the power and impunity of persons who plunder nature and violate the law in this state). Under the umbrella of these administrative forces, several malls and resorts have mushroomed by acquiring government purambokku (government land belonging to none), river beds, shallow regions of backwaters and violating lease agreements in cities like Cochin.

In cities like Trivandrum and the like, the business communities are occupying roads and streets under the power of collective communal vote banks. All such violations have enjoyed the backing of both the ruling and opposition parties. This nexus has also worked to sabotage the genuine infrastructural projects of the state. What was the destiny of the Gadgil Commission ReportMadhav Gadgil Committee Report to save the Western Ghats? This is a well-known story, so I am not going to dwell upon it.

In the wake of havoc caused by the recent Chennai flood, the Chief Minister of Kerala announced that development means not two-storied buildings but skyscrapers. This response of the Chief Minister was in the light of the decision of the State Fire Department Chief to implement fire norms strictly in the case of flats, apartments, shopping malls and skyscrapers. This decision of the Fire Department opened a ‘wrestling platform’ in which doyens of the builder lobby met the State Fire Chief and the poor Fire Chief was knocked out.

The irony was that the (unfair) umpire on the platform was the Chief Minister of Kerala. The result was that the Chief of the State Fire Department lost his chair. And the State Cabinet decided to apply the 1994 State Municipal Building Rules by evading the existing National Laws and Acts relating to the building of skyscrapers in the state hereafter. A recent non-formal study says that 90 per cent of the big budget constructions since 2000 are going on in blatant violation of the vital norms of the State Building Rules. Yet all these hitherto construction violations were ratified by the authorities!

Here in Kerala, the numbers and significance of the people who adore nature as ‘Mother’ is shrinking day by day. At the same time, the importance and influence of religions which advocate nature as a resource to alleviate the greed of man is also mounting day by day. The best example of this was the destiny of the Madhav Gadgil Committee Report and the role played by the bishops.

One bishop went to the extent of threatening the State Government that “they have no hesitation to create another Kashmir in Kerala if they go with Madhav Gadgil suggestions.” Sadly, the impotent law making and implementing authority of the day in Kerala shut their ears and closed their eyes before this treasonable threat of the bishop, thereby revealing the destiny that lies ahead for ‘God’s own country’ in the days to come. – Vijayvaani, 8 December 2015

Lynn Townsend White Jr

Prof Lynn Townsend White Jr

“Hindus have been facing an unprecedented threat from conversions,” says Dr Subramanian Swamy

Virat Hindustan Sangam“People should vote for a Hindu-friendly party in future, if the world’s most ancient (Hindu) civilization are to withstand the onslaught of external forces. People should vote for a Hindu-friendly party in future, if the world’s most ancient (Hindu) civilization were to withstand the onslaught of external forces.” – Dr Subramanian Swamy

Cross Crossed-OutTerming that “induced religious conversions” as a threat to national integrity, senior BJP leader and Virat Hindustan Sangam (VHS) national president Subramanian Swamy said it was high time that an all-India law banning religious conversions was enacted, but with an exception that “reconversions were not banned”.

Participating in the national convention of the VHS here on Sunday, he said: “People should vote for a Hindu-friendly party in future, if the world’s most ancient (Hindu) civilization is to withstand the onslaught of external forces.”

The majority community (Hindus) must destroy the caste system and revive Sanskrit language to successfully thwart the expansionist agenda of other religions, he observed. On the occasion, Mr. Swamy recalled that the Hindu civilization was among the 46 ancient civilizations listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Kashmir: The forgotten conflict.“The Hindus have never discriminated against other religions, but it has of late been facing an unprecedented threat from conversions which are highly detrimental to democracy. The whole world raises a hue and cry when something happens to Muslims and Christians, but there is no one to espouse the cause of over five lakh Kashmiri Pandits who are living in exile in their own country,” he said.

Members of the Hindu community in Malappuram district of Kerala have complained that they could not hold a public meeting for 20 years. Such was the persecution of Hindus in India. This is not acceptable, he said.

“We should ensure that the Hindu population does not fall below the 80 per cent mark but that does not mean they should produce more children,” he observed, warning that “a danger was lurking in the form of the new caliphate named as the Islamic State.” – The Hindu, 7 December 2015

M. K. Gandhi

♦ Aggressive evangelism makes ‘ghar wapsi’ pale in comparison

“The Christian percentage of the Indian populace has grown by a staggering 150 per cent. In other words, India now has more Christians than any First World country aside from the United States and Russia according to Pew Research’s Religion & Public Life Project.” – Pawan Deshpande  
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