I have reason to think there are a lot of people in power in India who believe being a pagan polytheist is something to be ashamed of and below par compared with monotheists who have made homes in the Indian subcontinent. Most Hindu temples in India have proven to be milch cows under the control of state governments, while churches and mosques are free and often controlled by foreign institutions. How does one explain the little regard the highest democratic institutions in India have for native polytheistic religious traditions and the glaring prejudice against them vis-à-vis the monotheists?
It certainly looks like we Indian pagans have obviously overstepped the world of renaissance with #MeToo, Gender Equality, Political Correctness and all those things that underscore our lately enlightened status, which we discovered we also have after learning these things from the monotheist West. The tragedy is, in the process, we pagans have lost our inherent sense of proportion, decorum, spirituality and ethical obligations along with our native cultural legacy and heritage. Are we shedding the last vestiges of our uncompromising paganism and its diversity? Are we finally succumbing to the monocultural paradigm of Western Christian civilisation?
What is so special about the monotheist monocultural model vis-à-vis a polytheist diversity model? Being a secular state, don’t we have to treat both on par legally, rationally or experientially? The monotheist prejudice dominates in every sphere in India, even though there is no evidence to suggest that monotheism as is currently practised has any kind of advantage over the polytheistic model. In India, where polytheists still persist in large numbers, there is a great indication of a fault line in collective religious consciousness. This can be discerned in the ongoing campaign against polytheistic traditions and culture conducted by a new breed of reformists whose spirit the Indian judiciary has imbibed. This insider campaign for monotheist paradigm solemnly supplements and strengthens the global evangelising enterprise called Joshua Project floated by Western monotheists to annihilate the polytheistic world. The polytheistic world is traditionally designated as the Satan’s stronghold by the Bible-thumpers. On the missionary map, it is further marked as the “10/40 window”, a term coined by a Christian missionary strategist named Luis Bush to describe a rectangular region of Africa and Asia that lies between ten and forty degrees north of the equator and is home to the majority of non-Christians who resist conversions to Christianity.
What is perhaps of the most interest for Indians is the fact that Communism, politically and culturally, is part and parcel of the same Abrahamic monotheist framework. Here, the party replaces the “god in heaven” and the party commands are like the dictates of the church. The Kerala Communist government’s intensive campaign for breaking the customs at Sabarimala temple is a case in point. The deeply spiritual collective worldview of the diverse Indian pagans has been replaced by the “stomach” paradigm, as the late Swami Nirmalananda Giri famously pointed out in a talk. The insatiable stomach is the symbol of the materialistic greed of the consumerist society that has become the bane of modern civilisation and equally shared by atheistic Communists and monotheistic Capitalists.
Even before monotheist invaders began to civilise the polytheist and animistic Indians, the native cultures showed signs of corrosion due to the sheer age of the civilisation and had become weak and clueless to combat the belligerent features of the new era. Physically and tactically they were ill-equipped to face the mindless violence and aggression unleashed upon them by the new breed of religionists who challenged all that was held sacred and civilised by them at that time. Notwithstanding the prevalence of barbaric ritual traditions among fringe groups such as blood sacrifices that were once universal to the human species, the pagan Indians were generally refined and highly civilised compared to the Christians and Muslims who lived anywhere at the time, just as most pagan people were around the world who perished in the fire and fury reserved in the Abrahamic books for the infidels and kaffirs.
Centuries of systematic indoctrination and propagation of the monotheist worldview in India undertaken by the colonial enterprise and carried on by the native governments after independence undermined the Indian sensibility. It tried its best to crush our cultural certitude so much so that our own strongpoints of rational knowledge, emotional intelligence, humane interactions and all-encompassing worldviews made us weak and ineffectual as a cultural group. Our traditional multi-dimensional approach to spirituality and the various streams of Indian religious traditions that cater not only to the super intelligent man who lives on air and fire, but also to the common man who is more focused on mundane matters of the world, became a handicap. Gradually, a spurious rationality infatuated with a fake and dishonest monotheism has gained ground in the Hindu mindscape so much so that the ancient pagan civilization is on the verge of extinction today. The attack on the Sabarimala tradition by the Supreme Court and the Communist state government and the murderous intrusion of the American missionary into North Sentinel Island are the latest in a long series of events against the pagans that distinctly evidence the still persistent, general intent of monotheist belligerence.
Gods of yore and the present
The ancient Greeks and the Romans came to India to trade or to learn, like the once great Arabs and Persians, but their later progeny came with swords and guns not only to trade but to make the earth a kingdom of bloodlust, animosity and separatism by peddling their half-baked, capital “G” god whom they found in Moses’ books. Cultures and traditions were mown down and destroyed in the name of monotheism, as if it carried any more rational force than polytheism. The unity of the Abrahamic god as the bearded father in heaven who punishes those who go against his commands and wishes seems to many to have some kind of indiscernible superior edge over the Hindu pantheon of ancient gods and goddesses who actually symbolise phenomenal forces. The myth of the imperceptible capital “G” god and the myth of the perceptible forces of nature existent in human life (devas) have intertwined to muddle the brains of the invariably confused elite among our own species.
The distinction between the Abrahamic god and the ancient gods and goddesses of the Hindus is very stark and strongly demarcated from each other. The god of the Bible is a male chauvinist and in a vain effort to become unique and singular, he derides other gods and forbids his followers from worshipping other gods. This god appears only before a select few of his devotees and whose existence always remains hearsay (gospel) to his followers. For these followers in turn, the chief holy duty is to go after non-believers with guns, knives and guile and convert them at any cost. The “great mandate” of their scriptures, the Bible, exhorts all Christians to go all over the world and convert every non-Christian. With regard to non-believers, the Koran shares similar mandates with the Bible.
The chief “monotheist” ritual is the blood sacrifice offered to the god by his followers. Archetypically this blood sacrifice is of the son of Abraham commanded by the biblical god. Jews and Muslims enact this sacrifice through concrete slaughter of sheep or some other animal on important religious occasions. It is said the more devote among the Bible-thumpers in earlier times used to sacrifice their first born children. In Christian scriptures, the blood sacrifice is reflected in the prototypical crucifixion of Jesus, which is purportedly the sacrifice staged by his father, who is the self-same monotheist god of the old book. In actual Christian sheep life, the sacrifice constitutes the gathering in prayer halls and churches from time to time for the ritual cannibalistic meal of their god Jesus, which is termed transubstantiation. It is invariably the gory enactment of the blood sacrifice, no matter how well it is ethereally clothed and covered in music and incense smoke to make it palatable to the peace-loving modern populace who post goodies on Facebook and WhatsApp.
The Hindu pagans, on the contrary, concentrated traditionally on the prescribed rules and collective duties to society. Their religious rituals comprise such a wide spectrum that blood sacrifice, an atavistic echo of the primeval fertility rites, was practised only by a minute section of the populace at the time the monotheists entered the country. Since the society was organised according to occupation and ethnicity, each group nurtured their singular customs and traditions. In many cases these traditions overlapped and the people involved interacted in rituals as well as customs. The wide spectrum of these rituals and customs and their interactions go beyond the scope of this article and descriptions are omitted here. Every group – ethnic, religious or occupational – had the right to follow their original and peculiar traditional practices and these rights were safeguarded by the rules of the land, the Dharmasastras, which were amended according to the zeitgeist. The rare cultural and religious diversity that one still sees in India is a result of this traditional safety net around ethnic groups that is now being dismantled step by step by monotheist missiologists and bomb makers in connivance with ignorant legislators and judges. Cultural predators had no say in ancient India and the cultural assets of every group were well protected until the monotheists entered the country with their “great mandate”.
The general characteristic of the Hindu pagans was the progressive trend in evolution of spiritual practices and philosophy side by side. The four Vedas, the Upanishads, the two epics and the myriad puranic literature were the result of progressive evolution of the human species that can be distinctly evidenced internally. The upward trend in society was defined by increasingly refined ethical actions and day to day hygienic habits. By expunging blood sacrifices and through sattvic diet and behaviour many groups progressed through ahimsa (non-violence) and intensive penance and these groups were honoured by the rest.
Worship of the Hindu polytheists and global monotheists
The archetypal place of worship of the original monotheist is a place of slaughter and consumption. This is described in Moses’ book as the altar for “burnt offering” (Genesis 8:20), where the animal is slaughtered. And the butcher who slaughtered the animal offering became the priest. The Christian church is a modification of the slaughterhouse where Jesus is symbolically butchered again and again at regular intervals and the blood and flesh shared by the congregation. The Bible proclaims very distinctly that the monotheist god is most satisfied with blood sacrifice (Genesis 4:2-5). The church or mosque has been a place for the followers to gather regularly to sing praise of their god and perform blood sacrifice, symbolically as well as literally.
In contrast, since ancient times, most pagan groups worshipped by communion in natural spots like sacred groves, mountaintops and water bodies (theerthas). Lighting the lamp in shrines in sylvan ambience was a prime characteristic feature of the polytheist pagans in India. Among the Hindu populace were philosophers, man and woman, and many of these were atheists such as the materialists called Charvakas. Buddhists and Jains also did not worship any god but observed strict ethical principles and monastic traditions. Every kind of guy had the opportunity and freedom to pursue his traditions, duties and privileges. The common working man for his part was freed from all spiritual restraints and disciplines to undertake the mundane matters of society and also to enjoy material life. And the simple shrines in natural spots formed the primary spiritual interface of the common folk.
The tantric temple worship of the Hindus headed by the Brahmans could be called a unique development in the religious history of the Indian polytheists and a turning point in pagan spiritual evolution. It differed from the simple shrines of the animists and was distinguished by esoteric knowledge. The Hindu temples developed through a synthesis of the Vedic worship with another complementary Indic stream called Tantra, lately described by some as the Dravidian stream (as opposed to the Aryan).
Agni Purana and a supplement to the Vishnu Purana named Vishnudharmottara proclaim that the fruits of the Vedic yajnas can be achieved by temple worship. The merging of the two predominant streams of Indic knowledge, Nigama (Veda) and Agama (Tantra), led to the creation of all prominent temples all over the Indian subcontinent and beyond. The Dharmasastras also mention a third method of consecration for worship, lokachara (tradition of the people), which is a combination of the aforementioned two and the peculiarities of locality, time and authorities. The Jagannath temple in Puri and the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple are classic examples of the third kind. Generally the Hindu temples were created for atmartha (for the benefit of individuals along with their family or community) and parartha (for the benefit of the collective society) originally for temporary purposes, but gradually they became permanent structures.
These temples also highlight the stark difference between the pagan gods and goddesses and the monotheist god and establish their contrasting positions. The particular deity in the pagan temple is created, as it were, by the human whereas the monotheist god creates the human and commands sacrificial worship from the human. The Tantric practice of pranapratishtana (breathing life into the murti) and the Vedic ceremony of opening the eyes of the deity with a needle complete the consecration in the Hindu temple for the purpose of worship, whereas according to the book of the fake monotheists the god breathes life into the human made of dust so that he worships him.
In contrast to the uniform monotheist prayer halls and butcher tables, the Hindu temples were as diverse as hand-made mosaic tiles and followed a wide variety of traditions and modes of worship, dictated by the authority that consecrated them. These were custom-made deities and spaces made to fulfil specific purposes and reflected various spiritual stages of human life that determined individual progress of the atman. The Hindu deities, which are conceptually derived from natural elements, are carved or created observing the Agama texts such as Silpa-sastra (science of sculpturing) and conjured up (avahana or summoning) by specialists using esoteric techniques. Then the localised deity is consecrated and installed for special purposes or for the general welfare of society as a whole. The acquisition of the sculpturing and tantric skills followed laborious years of study and Spartan discipline. These occupations are the exclusive realm of specific groups including the Brahmans.
Conflicting worldviews and concepts
With the advent of alien “monotheist” gods like Jesus and Allah and the mushrooming of churches and mosques in India, the non-phenomenal transcendental god who hated phenomenal devas became an issue for all concerned. On the one hand the pagans were looked upon as fresh raw material for the religion of the monotheist god, and on the other hand Hindu temples were viewed as a place where the Satan, the antagonist of the monotheist god, held sway. To make their prejudice authentic, the missionaries and Islamists pointed to their foreign books. The injunctions against idolatry and non-believers that pepper the Abrahamic texts were enough to make these wealthy temples the object of robbery, loot and arson. Since the temples hoarded the wealth of a land or region, stealing a people’s treasury also became all at once a lucrative spiritual activity for the early Christians and Muslims who arrived in India.
While the Christian and Islamic converts went on a spree around the globe annihilating spiritual traditions different from theirs and indiscriminately killing and colonising all sorts of creatures for material benefit, the Indian polytheists, in contrast, were accommodative of cultures and belief systems and saved the extinction of religious groups such as the Zoroastrians. The excuse the monotheists gave themselves for this atrocity was the irrational and non-experiential Weltanschauung presented by the Bible, wherein the capital “G” god created the globe and its creatures and gifted all of it to those of the human species that worshipped him. The benefactors of the monotheist god were taught by their butcher-priests that all other gods on earth are “false gods” or the “devils”.
The monotheist tradition in Europe, which was touted as a successful model for a “civilised” world, gave rise to peculiar concepts such as human rights and animal rights and a whole breed of pseudo-sciences that were absolutely unnecessary in a different cultural milieu. The scriptural injunctions against non-believers and the female gender (lesser than the male, being made from his rib) by the monotheistic god unleashed violence against non-believers and females of the species. European Christian history is heavily dotted with exemplary cruelty against other peoples and women. Just the fact that all men from this monotheistic tradition at one time or the other could lawfully beat their women for disobedience, thanks to the biblical origin myth, speaks in clear terms where the macho attitude comes from in the modern times.
When the polytheist traditions of ancient worlds fell one by one in a matter of decades or at the latest by few centuries, the monotheist spiritual enterprises, as it were, faced stiff resistance in India because of the strict organisation of labour and security of diversity guaranteed by the ancient society. Spiritual topics were exclusively handled by Brahmans who stonewalled the missionaries. Conversion to Christianity was rare and happened only among the folks who remained the farthest from the Brahmans.
However, encircled by a globally overwhelming monotheist world, India still remains the battleground of high intensity spiritual warfare, as proved time and time again by the aggressive manoeuvres of enemies from without and within, as demonstrated by the attack on the North Sentinelese by the suicidal American missionary John Allen Chau and the lopsided Supreme Court judgement in the Sabarimala women entry case and the subsequent aggressive action by the Communist state government.
Featured Image: Times of India