Happy Yuletide (or Christmas)!

By: Prashant Parikh

All I Want for “Christmas”, is ‘Yule’
https://prashantparikh.wordpre ss.com/2016/12/25/yule-not- christmas/

 

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Aside from wishing my friends a Happy Yuletide, I also take this occasion to pray for the resurrection (bad pun) of faiths/cultures that have been methodically minimized, maligned by, and misappropriated into the dominant and expansionist monotheistic systems most prevalent today.

My Guru, Pujya Swami Dayananda ji spoke highly of the need to protect ancient traditions and their heritage from disappearing (be it the grand Pyramids of Egyptians or the colorful Creation Myths of the Mayans).

In light of the same, and in hope that we keep them alive in our living memory, I wish to share some background on the lovely festival ‘Yule’, of the Germanic people whose celebrations have been variously connected to the Norse God (the capitalized ‘G’ should not be exclusive to only one cult) ‘Odin’, and the Anglo Saxon ‘Modraniht’, the traces of both of which, over the centuries, have all but vanished. Their remnants have been repackaged into a multitude of festivities we associate today with Christianity (this includes, Christmas and Easter ), but whose antecedents date even further back, beyond the historical era. Thus, too, Yuletide (a festival dismissed pejoratively as “pagan”/”heathen”) morphed into Christmas-tide (or ‘Christmas time’).

Quoting a sentence from Pūjya Swāmi Dayānanda ji’s groundbreaking speech- Conversion is Violence: 
///Aggressive religions have no God-given right to destroy ancient faiths and cultures///

Regrettably, this is precisely what has happened to indefinitely many pagan/heathen faiths around the globe, and continues, with equal vigor, even in India (Hindus, too, are considered heathens), to our art-forms and cultural symbolisms, by the Missionary bodies.

Picking just one example to illustrate: Here, in some village in South India, while depicting the ‘Ratha Kalpanā’ (imagery of the chariot), Missionaries have supplanted Krishna with Jesus. One of the horses has even been re-imagined as a reindeer- antlers and all!

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Since the time of the European Renaissance, and the rise of the Secular movement in Europe during the Middle ages, Christian Missionaries lost their power to stamp out native cultures, as they did so well during the Crusades, and also later during the Inquisition (just prior to the Renaissance movement) and Witch-hunts (which continued on for a period of time). This reformation Christianity underwent was not a voluntary one, but a means of survival, in the new political milieu they found themselves facing. In time, they perfected new methods of subjugation, which took the following form:

1) Denigrate what pagan traditions one can
(Embodied in the writings of Wendy Doniger, Sheldon Pollock, Jeffrey Kripal, Paul Courtwright, the hoardes of British and German ‘Indologists’ during the Colonial rule in India, and so on…)

2) ‘Digest’ and re-package what one cannot
(As seen in the ‘Ratha Kalpanā’ imagery, or examples where the Iśāvāsyopaniśad is presented as being written in praise of Jesus (since the Hindi word for ‘Christian’ in India is ‘Isāi’, Iśā Upaniśad was a sly attempt to re-cast it as “Christian” (evidently funny to us, but it finds many believers in India, especially in the rural/poor/uneducated pockets of society)))

Quoting Pūjya Swāmi Dayānanda ji further:

The world’s religions can be categorically said to be either aggressive or non-aggressive. Each religion has a certain promise in the form of an ultimate goal. Their faithful people try to live the prescribed life and reach the promised goal. Neither they nor their clergy are out to bring the people of other religions to their flock. Zorastrians follow their religious tradition without attempting to convert anybody to their religion. This is true with the followers of the Jewish tradition, Vedic religion (now known as Hinduism), Shintoism, Taoism and the many other religions of various tribes in the world. I call these religious traditions non-aggressive because they do not believe in aggressive conversion.

Then there are religions like Christianity, whose theologies, containing a number of basic non-verifiable beliefs, advocate conversion. Evangelism and proselytization are sacred commitments of the entire cadre of the highly organized clergy. The clergy-inspired laity are not any less committed to conversion. They are zealous in their mission of preaching and conversion. In their zeal, the end more often than not justifies the means. From the days of the Inquisition, every attempt recorded in history to stop their program of conversion only stoked their flame of zeal.

As a result, many religions with their unique cultures have disappeared, leaving behind only mammoth relics, like the ones in Greece and Mexico. The loss of such great living cultures of the world is the mark of success for the zealous of the aggressive religions. The truth is that where there should be a sense of guilt and remorse, there is a sense of achievement and pride. Many leaders of non-aggressive traditions think that the charity of the missionaries is designed to neutralize any protest from the native religious community. One cannot totally dismiss their thinking.

Religious conversion by missionary activity remains an act of violence.

At times I have to convince myself to remain silent, and at least pretend to be Politically Correct, especially in esteemed forums such as these where I understand people peacefully gather to reflect upon Self Knowledge- but that does not serve any good in giving shape to an informed cultural narrative. And truly, reading Pujya Swamiji’s resoundingly clear message, and seeing all that he accomplished (and in some cases what he began, but could not complete- such as the appeal to the Pope to cease Conversion activities in India- which the Pope bluntly refused to do) this seems pretty high on the priority list of Important Conversations to Have. What prompted this message and the stream of thoughts that followed was an innocuous and well-intentioned, but in my humble opinion, a mistaken “Christmas” greeting from a good friend, in a group catering to students of Vedānta, to whom I consequently addressed this lengthy E-Mail response, which I now present as an Article.

On a lighter, and more Hopeful note, I am delighted to share news about the first Viking Temple, in over a 1,000 years, that is being constructed in Iceland. I would love to view photos of the final product!

http://www.history.com/news/fi rst-viking-temple-in-1000-year s-coming-to-iceland

Hope to see this trend continue, and for the subjugated native traditions to rise from their graves (another bad pun), one after another, all around the world.

Yule greetings to one and all!

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stephanie Ellison
    Dec 26, 2016 @ 18:11:28

    “(As seen in the ‘Ratha Kalpanā’ imagery, or examples where the Iśāvāsyopaniśad is presented as being written in praise of Jesus (since the Hindi word for ‘Christian’ in India is ‘Isāi’, Iśā Upaniśad was a sly attempt to re-cast it as “Christian” (evidently funny to us, but it finds many believers in India, especially in the rural/poor/uneducated pockets of society)))”

    You have me confused here about the Iśopaniṣad! I woke up with a start at 5 AM when I saw the reference to this text. Are you saying that this text, esp. by Śrī Aurobindo, is a Christian-planted document?? I had to pull it up, as I hadn’t read this book yet, and I found lots of references to Jesus and questionable ideas about Jesus in relation to Sanātana Dharma. It is my strong feeling that a text and its commentaries, to keep it pure, undiluted, untainted, is not to have the mixture with Abrahamics, esp. Christianity, because it didn’t exist at the time or it wasn’t known to the area where a given text was given. And even if a later work was written during a time when Christianity came to be known, there is still no reason to mix the two together. Abrahamism is from a desert culture, one where one is destroying the environment (desertifying), the environment is considered hostile. There is no attempt to understand why nature has come to be hostile to the people, never mind an attempt to rectify the living practices and rebuild nature. THAT has come from science, which came from India!

    Why do you think that churches, masjids, and synagogues as sacred spaces for followers are REQUIRED and NOT OPTIONAL? Sanātanis in general consider the WHOLE WORLD to be a sacred space, as all of it is part of Brahman, all different aspects of Brahman. The rivers and lakes, the trees, the plants, many places where one goes to worship (natural places with no boundaries crossed out with the foot saying, “Do not cross”), and so on. This has frustrated the Abrahamic invaders to no end when they found they could not wipe out the heathen, the infidel Indic religions and knowledge bases. They did not understand that Brahman can be worshipped in myriad forms ANYWHERE; in the forest, in the home, in the temple. Christians, for instance, consider the church only to be a sacred space. It is one thing to have a bible at home and read it regularly, pray at times (meals, arising, and bed time, and other occasions), and conduct yourself as a Christian, but it is NOT enough as it is generally a requirement to have a church because that is the only sacred space where services can be considered holy and the authoritative scripture can be protected from the profane world that exists outside of the church.

    In the Śrī Īśopaniṣad, either version by ISKCON, I don’t see references to Jesus or indications linking to him. I understand that this has an ISKCON feel to it.

    But, pointing to Śrī Aurobindo’s version… Just to indicate one instance of this shocking revelation (as I haven’t read Śrī Aurobindo’s works yet):

    “There are, as we know, three means of salvation; salvation by knowledge, the central position in Buddhism; salvation by faith & love, the central position in Christianity; salvation by faith & works, the central position in Mahomedanism. In Hinduism, the Sanatandharma, all these three paths are equally accepted.”

    This is a shocking misapplication of salvation to mokṣa. It is unbelievable when you examine it like this:

    Salvation means “to be saved” from something terrible, Hell, for instance. This is based on Original Sin, in which Adam and Eve committed this sin. From then on, everyone born as humans are cursed as sinners, Fallen Ones, and it becomes the imperative that a believer finds a way to save oneself in ONE LIFETIME to keep from going to hell.

    In Sanātana Dharma, there is no such thing as Original Sin or sinners, because that is not the view of the ātmā, which has been alive across MULTIPLE LIFETIMES to live through its desires and eventually find a way to wake up, burn up prārabdha karma, and learn the principle of not confusing your desires with someone else’s desires and taking them as your own (otherwise, you never burn through your own karma and keep coming back).

    Plain and simple, salvation and mokṣa are two completely different things explained by two completely different bases of thought.

    “Humanity, pity, chivalry, unselfishness, philanthropy, love of and self-sacrifice for all living things, the sense of the
    divinity in man, the Christian virtues, the modern virtues were fully developed in India at a time when in all the rest of the world they were either non-existent or existent only in the most feeble beginnings.”

    Christian, modern, and Hindu virtues are completely different in of themselves. Let’s remember that in Western civilization that there has always been this uncomfortable kludging of the Christian and scientific or classical Greek western thought within European civilization. In Christianity, there is no room for science, because it tends to contradict Christianity, such as the age of the earth, what animals and people looked like, what might have happened, etc. Secular values in Western civilizations tend to be a backlash against the Christian imposition upon social and private affairs of the individual. In Indic civilizations, there has ALWAYS been room in the dharmic religions for science – recall a text that can give you the value of pi to many decimal places through the recitation of the mantras via Vedic mathematics. There’s even Quantum Physics.

    “The Christian virtue of charity, the Pagan virtue of justice are the very sap and life of Vedantic morality.”

    There are at least a couple of instances like this.

    “Death, suffering & ignorance are circumstances of the mind in the vitalised body and do not touch the consciousness of the soul in vijnana, ananda, chit & sat. The combination of the three lower members, mind, life & body, is called therefore aparardha, the lower kingdom or in Christian parlance the kingdom of death & sin, the four higher members are called parardha, the higher kingdom, or in Christian parlance, the kingdom of heaven.”

    There are several instances where for some reason, Śrī Aurobindo keeps pulling back to Christianity to explain things in a Christian light. This book is obviously geared for a western, Christian audience. I’m glad that you wrote this article, alerting me to this because I would have read around 106 pages of the book to find out I wasted my time trying to read a book whose perspective of including Christ as an example and rephrasing into the Christian framework. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

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    • Authors of posts
      Dec 26, 2016 @ 19:32:13

      No, the author is not suggesting that Isopanishad is Christian-planted document. On the contrary, he says “Isa” + “Upnishad” = “Isopanishad” is being used by Christian Missionaries by playing on the similarity of sounds of the word “Isa” in Isopanishad with another Hindi word “Isa” (Isa Masih = Jesus Christ in Hindi and “Isa + i” (Isai = Christian in Hindi). There is no scope of confusion on your part because of what the author says. Regarding Sri Aurobindo: Please do not mix what Christian Missionaries proclaim Bible says with what Sri Aurobindo says when he refers to Christianity. He is emphasizing different means by following either of which human can elevate his consciousness to be able to have communion with Divine and refers to Christianity as putting an emphasis on one those many means. I intend to reply to your confusion by way of another elaborate article. Bear till then. Thanks for comment.

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