Category Archives: Theology

‘Nationalism is not a mere political programme; nationalism is a religion’

So, ultimately, what was true nationalism? Who were the real revolutionaries, those who had an inner vision of what the British really represented, those who knew what was the genius of India and how it was destined to be great again? Once more, we have a wrong understanding of nationalism, because we are induced in error by the West’s opinions about it.

In Europe, nationalism means external revolutionary movements, revolutionaries, materialism. But India’s greatness has always been her spirituality, her strength was always founded upon her spirit’s hold. Not only her Brahmins, but also her Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras even, drew their heroism from that fountain. Thus in India, the nationalist movement, the reawakening of India’s soul started at the source, in her spirit.

Sometimes a nation’s soul is more predominant in one region, in one particular culture. In India’s early Independence movement, it was Bengal which held high the light of reawakening. This has often been forgotten and justice should be done again. Thus, in Bengal, there was born a man who could not read and write a single word. A man without intellectual training, a man who would be considered totally useless by Britishers, or Westernised Indians.

But this man’s inner strength was so great, his truth so radiating, that from all over India, educated and uneducated, rich and poor, they came to the temple of Dakshineshwar in Calcutta and bowed at the feet of Shri Ramakrishna. The work of salvation, the work of raising India out of her lethargic sleep had begun.

Narendarnath Dutta, later known as Swami Vivekananda, was the brightest disciple of Ramakrishna, and a true son of India. He was the first spiritualised Indian political leader, an ardent Hindu, who was not afraid to call for Hinduism’s adaptation to the modern world. He was also the first to inspire in the Western world a certain respect towards Hinduism, because of his education and his forceful personality.

But the man who was the true visionary of an Independent India, the man who worked most of all for her liberation, the man who was a yogi, a saint, an avatar has been mostly ignored by history. Others, who played only a superficial role and did not have a millionth of his vision took the forefront. That man of course was Sri Aurobindo.

Born on August 15, 1872 in Calcutta, he spends his first years at Rangpur (now in Bangladesh) and at the age of 5 is sent to Loreto Convent school in Darjeeling. His father, who wants him to have a thorough Western education, packs him to England, where he enters St Paul’s school in London in 1884 and King’s College, Cambridge in 1890.

Sri Aurobindo is a brilliant student and passes the ICS, but ‘fails’ to appear for the riding test and is disqualified. After 13 years in England Sri Aurobindo returned to India on February 6, 1893 at the age of 20. He joined the Baroda State Service from 1897 to early 1906 and taught French and English at the Baroda college, before eventually becoming its principal. It was at that time that he started writing a series of articles, “New lamps for Old”, in the Indu Prakash, a Marathi-English daily from Bombay.

Sample of his early writings: “I say of the Congress that its aims are mistaken, that the spirit in which it is proceeding is not a spirit of sincerity and whole-heartedness and that the methods it has chosen are not the right methods, and their leaders in whom it trusts, not the right sort of men to be leaders. In brief that we are at present the blind led, if not by the blind, at least by the one-eyed. (Rebirth of India, page 10).

From 1900 onwards, Sri Aurobindo realised that passive resistance, constitutional agitation “A La Congress”, was not the right path to achieve an Independent India. In the true spirit of a yogi, he re-enacted the Bhagvad Gita’s great message: that violence is sometimes necessary, if it flows from Dharma — and today’s Dharma is the liberation of India. Thus he began contacting revolutionary groups in Maharashtra and Bengal and tried to co-ordinate their action.

One should remember that at that time, and indeed until Independence, violence against the oppressive British was not organised; it was the work of a few individuals or a sudden outburst of uncontrolled anger and that the famous freedom fighters of the Congress only went to jail because they were passive resisters. At Sri Aurobindo’s initiative, P Mitter, Surendranath Tagore and Sister Nivedita formed the first Secret Council for revolutionary activities in Bengal. But action was accompanied by inner vision: “While others look upon their country as an inert piece of matter, forests, hills and rivers, I look upon my country as the Mother. What would a son do if a demon sat on her mother’s breast and started sucking her blood? I know I have the strength to deliver this fallen race. It is not physical strength — I am not going to fight with sword or gun, but with the strength of knowledge” (India’s Rebirth, page 16)

In 1905, the terrible Lord Curzon partitioned Bengal. This divide-and-rule move was meant to break the back of Bengali political agitation and use the East Bengal Muslim community to drive a wedge between Hindus and Muslims, a policy that was to culminate in India’s Partition in 1947. Bengal responded to its partition with massive and unanimous protests in which many personalities took part, such as Rabindranath Tagore, Surendranath Banerjee, Bipin Chandra Pal… The ideal of Swadeshi, which called for the boycott of British goods, spread widely.

It was at this time that B C Pal launched the famous English daily, Bande Mataram. Sri Aurobindo joined it and soon became its editor. Day after day, he jotted down his vision and tried to instil fire and courage in the nation through its pages. What was true nationalism for Sri Aurobindo?

“Nationalism is not a mere political programme; nationalism is a religion that has come from God; Nationalism is a creed which you shall have to live.. If you are going to be a nationalist, if you are going to assent to this religion of Nationalism, you must do it in the religious spirit. You must remember that you are the instruments of God… Then there will be a blessing on our work and this great nation will rise again and become once more what it was in the days of spiritual greatness. You are the instruments of God to save the light, to save the spirit of India from lasting obscuration and abasement…” (Bande Mataram)

But Sri Aurobindo had to fight against the Congress Moderates (who, it must be remembered came out openly for complete Independence only in 1929) of whom he said: “There is a certain section of India which regards Nationalism as madness and they say Nationalism will ruin the country. They are men who live in the pure intellect and they look at things purely from the intellectual point of view. What does the intellect think? Here is a work that you have undertaken, a work so gigantic, so stupendous, the means of which are so poor, the resistance to which will be so strong, so organised, so disciplined, so well equipped with all the weapons science can supply, with all the strength that human power and authority can give… (Bande Mataram)

Sri Aurobindo was very clear in what was demanded of a leader of India: “Politics is the work of the Kshatriya and it is the virtues of the Kshatriya we must develop if we are to be morally fit for freedom (India’s Rebirth, page 19). Or: “What India needs at the moment is the aggressive virtues, the spirit of soaring idealism, bold creation, fearless resistance, courageous attack”. (India’s Rebirth, page 22)

But if the Moderates dismissed Sri Aurobindo as a ‘mystic’, Lord Minto, then viceroy of India, made no such mistake, calling him, “the most dangerous man we have to deal with at present”. Thus Sri Aurobindo was arrested on May 2, 1908, following a failed assassination attempt on a British judge by a nationalist belonging to his brother’s secret society. Sri Aurobindo spent a year in jail, which proved to be the turning point of his life as he went through the whole gamut of spiritual realisations. When he came out, the nationalist movement had nearly collapsed and he set about giving it a fresh impetus, launching a new English weekly, the Karmayogin, as well as a Bengali weekly, Dharma.

This following is an extract from his famous Uttarpara speech, where he speaks of his spiritual experiences in jail: “Something has been shown to you in this year of seclusion, something about which you had your doubts and it is the truth of the Hindu religion. It is this religion that I am raising up before the world, it is this that I have perfected and developed through the rishis, saints and avatars, and now it is going forth to do my work among the nations. I am raising this nation to send forth my word…When therefore it is said that India shall rise, it is the Santana Dharma that shall rise. When it is said that India shall be great, it is the Santana Dharma that shall be great. But what is the Hindu religion? It is the Hindu religion only, because the Hindu nation has kept it, because in this peninsula it grew up in the seclusion of the sea and the Himalayas, because in this sacred and ancient land it was given as a charge to the Aryan race to preserve through the ages. That which we call the Hindu religion is really the eternal religion, because it is the universal religion which embraces all others. If a religion is not universal, it cannot be eternal. A narrow religion, a sectarian religion, an exclusive religion can live only for a limited time and limited purpose…I say no longer that Santana Dharma is for us Nationalism… Santana Dharma IS Nationalism” (India’s Rebirth, page 46)

In mid-February 1910, news reached that the British had again decided to arrest Sri Aurobindo and close down the offices of the Karmayogin. By that time Sri Aurobindo had the vision that India was free; for the external events are always preceded by an occult happening, sometimes long before they become fait accompli.

Sri Aurobindo then received an ‘Adesh,‘ an inspiration that he must go to Pondichery, then under French rule. He settled there, with a few disciples, the number of whom slowly swelled, until it became known as the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. He wrote all his masterpieces and devoted the remaining of his life to bringing down what he called the “supramental manifestation on the earth”. The great Sage passed away on 5 December 1950.

Hinduism, true Hinduism was for Sri Aurobindo the basis for India’s past greatness, it was also the essence of nationalism, the means of liberating India and ultimately the foundation of the future India. Unfortunately, the leaders of the Indian National Congress did not have the same vision. Of these leaders, history has mostly remembered two, the most famous of all: Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi.

" Did Buddhism Harm India ? "

Source: http://www.francoisgautier.com

There is little doubt that Buddha came at a time where Hinduism had got bogged down in too much philosophical talk, rituals and casteism – it would need much later a Shankaracharya to give it again a new impetus – and Buddhism offered a simple way out of human misery to anybody, whatever their caste and social status. This may explain why at the beginning of our era, the entire northern and eastern India was practicing Buddhism. Unfortunately, after Buddha’s death, his followers and disciples gradually made of Buddhism a religion of rigid tenets, do’s and don’t, which not only diminished Buddhism’s popular appeal, but also may have harmed India. This harm has two facets: non-violence and Maya.

Many Buddhists like to believe that Buddhism disappeared from India, because it was slowly “swallowed” back by Hinduism at the hands of the vengeful Brahmins, who had lost their principal source of income with the self-liberation methods of Buddha. But the truth could be entirely different. Hinduism of the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita always held “ahimsa” as one of its highest spiritual values, but at the same time understood that violence can sometimes be necessary to defend one’s border’s, women and children, in a word that Might has to protect Dharma. Which is why, until Buddhism made of non-violence an uncompromising, inflexible dogma, India’s borders were not only secure, but extended from Afghanistan to Kanyakumari. But when Ashoka embraced Buddhism, India’s great protecting armor, which had worked for milleniums, had been breached.

As the first Muslim invasions started submerging India in the seventh century, Hinduism was able to initially withstand the extremely violent onslaught of Islam, thanks to its tradition of Kshatriyas, the warriors; but contrary to what History books say, Buddhism was literally wiped-off the face of India in a few centuries, as it REFUSED to oppose any resistance. For the Muslim soldiers, Buddhists, who adored statues and did not believe in Allah, were as much Infidels as the Hindus, and they razed every single Buddhist temple (and also Jain, as the ruins below Fathepur Sikri have proved) they encountered, burnt all the precious libraries (Buddhist philosophy, particularly of the Shankya School, had shone like a beacon of light on the entire Western world much before Christ and was quoted till the late 19th century by western philosophers like Nietzche) and killed tens of thousands of monks, without encountering any resistance. This is why you cannot find a single trace of Buddhist structures today in India, save for a few stupas, which were too cumbersome to be destroyed.

The second unfortunate legacy which Buddhism gave to India is Maya. “Everything is illusion, everything is misery, misery, misery, Buddhists said – and still say today – and the sooner you get out of it by attaining Nirvana, the better. Fine. But Hinduism had always taught that the Divine is concealed in all things, animate and inanimate and that every aspect of life has to be conquered by the Spirit: even the Asura is a fallen Angel, doing unknowingly God’s work. Hence Hinduism had addressed itself to all aspects of life, from the Mundane, as brilliantly shown in Khajurao, to the subtle spiritual planes which stand one after the other above Mind.

In contrast, Buddhism came and said : “Just leave Matter and take refuge in Buddha”. And as result, because Buddhism has had a subtle influence on Hinduism, India started disdaining Her physical envelope, Her very body and material sheath, India’s yogis started withdrawing more and more in their caves, its people neglecting their surroundings, its leaders forgetting about Beauty. And the result is there today for everybody to see: an ugly India, full of trash and refuse, with very little sense of aesthetics left; cities unplanned, polluted, crowded, hideous; a people who says it worships its Mighty Himalayas and Sacred Ganges, but which has allowed the former to be nearly completely deforested and the latter to be so polluted, that sometimes it is not even fit for bathing. And Indians cannot put all this on account of poverty, because its rich people are probably the most guilty, often not caring for anything and anybody beyond their own doorstep.

It is true that Buddhism has nearly completely disappeared from the subcontinent (**), but its rigid spirit endures in subtle ways: Mahatma Gandhi was no doubt influenced by Buddhist non-violence when he refused Churchill’s proposal in 1943 for a Commonwealth status after the Second World War, if India collaborated with the Allies’ efforts against Japan and Germany; or when he constantly gave-in to Muslim intransigence, thereby precipitating India’s Partition. Today, we see that the enemies of a dharmic India often use Buddhism as a weapon, whether it is the much hyped Ambedkar, who advocated conversion of Dalits to Buddhism, as he himself showed, or Indian intellectuals such as Prafulla Bidwai, or Aundhadi Roy, who borrow from Buddhist Thought to show why India should not have the atom bomb (and let itself wipe-out by Pakistan or China, who have no such qualms).

We see also, in a country like Sri Lanka, a very militant Buddhism, chauvinistic in its promotion of Sinhalese interests and anti-Hindu in its persecution of Sri Lankan Tamils. We notice too that new avatars of Buddhism, such as the remarkable Vipassana movement of Shri Goenka, have not fully lost their anti-Hindu slant and are still proponing a very rigid non-violence (see next article).

FRANCOIS GAUTIER

* Western historians like to call Emperor Ashoka “the Great” and India chose at Independence his three lions trademark as its symbol. But was he that great ? He went from being an extremely cruel emperor to a rigidly non-violent one, not a very balanced metal attitude for a religion which always promotes the “Middle Path”

(**) Tibetan Buddhism seems to have evolved its own identity and certain degree of plasticity, which makes it today the most popular form of Buddhism in the West, thanks in greater part to the present Dalai-lama’s unique charisma.

” Did Buddhism Harm India ? ”

There is little doubt that Buddha came at a time where Hinduism had got bogged down in too much philosophical talk, rituals and casteism – it would need much later a Shankaracharya to give it again a new impetus – and Buddhism offered a simple way out of human misery to anybody, whatever their caste and social status. This may explain why at the beginning of our era, the entire northern and eastern India was practicing Buddhism. Unfortunately, after Buddha’s death, his followers and disciples gradually made of Buddhism a religion of rigid tenets, do’s and don’t, which not only diminished Buddhism’s popular appeal, but also may have harmed India. This harm has two facets: non-violence and Maya.

Many Buddhists like to believe that Buddhism disappeared from India, because it was slowly “swallowed” back by Hinduism at the hands of the vengeful Brahmins, who had lost their principal source of income with the self-liberation methods of Buddha. But the truth could be entirely different. Hinduism of the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita always held “ahimsa” as one of its highest spiritual values, but at the same time understood that violence can sometimes be necessary to defend one’s border’s, women and children, in a word that Might has to protect Dharma. Which is why, until Buddhism made of non-violence an uncompromising, inflexible dogma, India’s borders were not only secure, but extended from Afghanistan to Kanyakumari. But when Ashoka embraced Buddhism, India’s great protecting armor, which had worked for milleniums, had been breached.

As the first Muslim invasions started submerging India in the seventh century, Hinduism was able to initially withstand the extremely violent onslaught of Islam, thanks to its tradition of Kshatriyas, the warriors; but contrary to what History books say, Buddhism was literally wiped-off the face of India in a few centuries, as it REFUSED to oppose any resistance. For the Muslim soldiers, Buddhists, who adored statues and did not believe in Allah, were as much Infidels as the Hindus, and they razed every single Buddhist temple (and also Jain, as the ruins below Fathepur Sikri have proved) they encountered, burnt all the precious libraries (Buddhist philosophy, particularly of the Shankya School, had shone like a beacon of light on the entire Western world much before Christ and was quoted till the late 19th century by western philosophers like Nietzche) and killed tens of thousands of monks, without encountering any resistance. This is why you cannot find a single trace of Buddhist structures today in India, save for a few stupas, which were too cumbersome to be destroyed.

The second unfortunate legacy which Buddhism gave to India is Maya. “Everything is illusion, everything is misery, misery, misery, Buddhists said – and still say today – and the sooner you get out of it by attaining Nirvana, the better. Fine. But Hinduism had always taught that the Divine is concealed in all things, animate and inanimate and that every aspect of life has to be conquered by the Spirit: even the Asura is a fallen Angel, doing unknowingly God’s work. Hence Hinduism had addressed itself to all aspects of life, from the Mundane, as brilliantly shown in Khajurao, to the subtle spiritual planes which stand one after the other above Mind.

In contrast, Buddhism came and said : “Just leave Matter and take refuge in Buddha”. And as result, because Buddhism has had a subtle influence on Hinduism, India started disdaining Her physical envelope, Her very body and material sheath, India’s yogis started withdrawing more and more in their caves, its people neglecting their surroundings, its leaders forgetting about Beauty. And the result is there today for everybody to see: an ugly India, full of trash and refuse, with very little sense of aesthetics left; cities unplanned, polluted, crowded, hideous; a people who says it worships its Mighty Himalayas and Sacred Ganges, but which has allowed the former to be nearly completely deforested and the latter to be so polluted, that sometimes it is not even fit for bathing. And Indians cannot put all this on account of poverty, because its rich people are probably the most guilty, often not caring for anything and anybody beyond their own doorstep.

It is true that Buddhism has nearly completely disappeared from the subcontinent (**), but its rigid spirit endures in subtle ways: Mahatma Gandhi was no doubt influenced by Buddhist non-violence when he refused Churchill’s proposal in 1943 for a Commonwealth status after the Second World War, if India collaborated with the Allies’ efforts against Japan and Germany; or when he constantly gave-in to Muslim intransigence, thereby precipitating India’s Partition. Today, we see that the enemies of a dharmic India often use Buddhism as a weapon, whether it is the much hyped Ambedkar, who advocated conversion of Dalits to Buddhism, as he himself showed, or Indian intellectuals such as Prafulla Bidwai, or Aundhadi Roy, who borrow from Buddhist Thought to show why India should not have the atom bomb (and let itself wipe-out by Pakistan or China, who have no such qualms).

We see also, in a country like Sri Lanka, a very militant Buddhism, chauvinistic in its promotion of Sinhalese interests and anti-Hindu in its persecution of Sri Lankan Tamils. We notice too that new avatars of Buddhism, such as the remarkable Vipassana movement of Shri Goenka, have not fully lost their anti-Hindu slant and are still proponing a very rigid non-violence (see next article).

FRANCOIS GAUTIER

* Western historians like to call Emperor Ashoka “the Great” and India chose at Independence his three lions trademark as its symbol. But was he that great ? He went from being an extremely cruel emperor to a rigidly non-violent one, not a very balanced mental attitude for a religion which always promotes the “Middle Path”

(**) Tibetan Buddhism seems to have evolved its own identity and certain degree of plasticity, which makes it today the most popular form of Buddhism in the West, thanks in greater part to the present Dalai-lama’s unique charisma.

THE FERENGI’S COLUMN : THE HINDU ORIGIN OF CHRISTIANITY

Source: http://www.francoisgautier.com

The Pope is arriving in India on the 5th of November. Does he know that he may be stepping on a land from which Christianity originated ? Indeed, over the centuries, numerous historians and Sages have pointed out that not only Hinduism has had a predominant influence on Christianity, but that many of the Christian rites could be directly borrowed from Buddhist and Hindu India !

French historian Alain Danielou had noticed as early as 1950 “that a great number of events which surround the birth of Christ – as it is related in the Gospels – strangely remind us of buddhists and krishnaites legends”. Danielou quotes as examples the structure of the Christian Church, which resembles that of the buddhist Chaitya; the rigorous asceticism of certain early Christian sects, which reminds one of the asceticism of Jain and Buddhist saints; the veneration of relics, the usage of holy water, which is an Indian practice, or the word “Amen”, which comes from Hindu OM. Another historian, Belgium Konraad Elst, also remarks “that many early Christian saints, such as Hippolytus of Rome, possessed an intimate knowledge of Brahmanism”. Elst even quotes the famous Saint Augustin who wrote: ” that we never cease to look towards India, where many things are proposed to our admiration”. Unfortunately, remarks American Indianist David Frawley, “from the 2d century onwards, Christians leaders decided to break away from the Hindu influence and show that Christianity ONLY started with the birth of Christ”. Hence, many later saints began branding Brahmins as “heretics” and Saint Gregory set a future trend by publicly destroying the “pagan” idols of the Hindus.

Great Indian Sages, such as Sri Aurobindo, or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of the Art of Living, which is practised in more than 80 countries, have often remarked that the stories recounting how Jesus came to India to be initiated, are probably true. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar notes, for instance, that Jesus sometimes wore an orange robe, the Hindu symbol of renunciation in the world, which was not a usual practice in Judaism. “In the same way, he continues, the worshipping of the Virgin Mary in Catholicism is probably borrowed from the Hindu cult of Devi”. Bells too, which cannot be found today in synagogues, the surviving form of Judaism, are used in Church – and we all know their importance in Buddhism and Hinduism for thousands of years. There are many other similarities between Hinduism and Christianity : incense, sacred bread (Prasadam), the different altars around churches (which recall the manifold deities in their niches inside Hindu temples); reciting the rosary (japamala), the Christian Trinity (the ancient Santana Dharma: Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh), Christian processions, the sign of the cross (Anganyasa) etc…

In fact, Hinduism’s pervading influence seems to go much earlier than Christianity. American mathematician, A. Seindenberg, has for example shown that the Sulbasutras, the ancient Vedic science of mathematics, constitute the source of mathematics in the Antic world, from Babylon to Greece : ” the arithmetic equations of the Sulbasutras he writes, were used in the observation of the triangle by the Babylonians, as well as in the edification of Egyptian pyramids, in particular the funeral altar in form of pyramid known in the vedic world as smasana-cit (Seindenberg 1978: 329). In astronomy too, the “Indus” (from the valley of the Indus) have left a universal legacy, determining for instance the dates of solstices, as noted by 18th century French astronomer Jean-Sylvain Bailly : ” the movement of stars which was calculated by Hindus 4500 years ago, does not differ even by a minute from the tables which we are using today”. And he concludes: “the Hindu systems of astronomy are much more ancient than those of the Egyptians – even the Jews derived from the Hindus their knowledge “. There is also no doubt that the Greeks heavily borrowed from the “Indus”. Danielou notes that the Greek cult of Dionysos, which later became Bacchus with the Romans, is a branch of Shivaism : ” Greeks spoke of India as the sacred territory of Dionysos and even historians of Alexander the Great identified the Indian Shiva with Dionysos and mention the dates and legends of the Puranas “. French philosopher and Le Monde journalist Jean-Paul Droit, recently wrote in his book “The Forgetfulness of India” that ” the Greeks loved so much Indian philosophy, that Demetrios Galianos had even translated the Bhagavad Gita “.

Many western and Christian historians have tried to nullify this Indian influence on Christian and ancient Greece, by saying that it is the West, through the Aryan invasion, and later the onslaught of Alexander the Great on India, which influenced Indian astronomy, mathematics, architecture, philosophy – and not vice versa. But new archaeological and linguistic discoveries such as the mapping of the ancient Saraswati river by satellites, or the decipherment of the Indus script, have proved not only that there never was an Aryan invasion and that there is a continuity from ancient Vedic civilisation to the Saraswati culture, but also that Indian History has been considerably post-dated by British, or Birtish-related historians. The Vedas, for instance, which constitute the soul of present day Hinduism, have not been composed in 1500 BC, as dear Max Mueller arbitrarily decided, but may go back to 7000 years Before Christ… giving Hinduism plenty of time to influence Christianity and older civilisations which preceded it. Thus, instead of protesting the Pope’s visit, the VHP and other Hindu organisations should rather point out to him the close links which exist between Christianity and ancient India, which bind them into a secret brotherhood.

FRANCOIS GAUTIER

* This article gives the gist of a book, “The Indian Origin of Things”, by the same author.