The British author GK Chesterton once presciently observed, “Even in an empire of atheists, the dead man is always sacred.” Indeed, a dead man has always been a very convenient instrument in the toolkit of victorious empires. They can attribute an expedient reason for his fall, castigate his motives, rationalize their intentions for snuffing him out, appropriate his goods, and move on to the next target while reducing him to a mere statistic in their version of history and maybe accord him a place in a museum that glorifies the empire. Yes, this has been the bedrock of the strategy of the aggressors from the White White West – more so from the last 2000 years, since the aggression got legitimized with a ‘go forth and multiply’ commandment.
If you scratch the surface here and search for a pattern, you might find something peculiar. Let me begin with Pope Francis’ tour of Canada last year, which he described as the “penitential pilgrimage,” apologizing to the indigenous people for the pain and suffering caused by the Church-run residential schools, where generations of indigenous children were forcefully removed from their homes and admitted to the church-run schools. And, yes, he did not forget to mention that then-governments funded those schools to assimilate the indigenous people into Canadian Christian society – one such government was that of Pierre Trudeau, father of current PM Justin Trudeau. He conveniently forgot to mention the litany of sexual abuses and murders at the hands of the Church – a sad truth that the recent discovery of mass graves uncovered there. This was not the first papal apology tour by far. In a 2015 trip to Bolivia, Francis confessed to “many grave sins committed against the native people of America in the name of God,” and later, in 2018, he expressed deep regrets for the coverup of the Church’s role in the abuse of minors. Mind you, popes before him, too, had acknowledged the Church’s role in Africa’s slave trade and the extermination of six million Jews in WWII.
With so many apologies coming up, it is natural for us Indians to look for an apology, too, especially for the Goan Inquisition of 1545, unleashed by Francis Xavier, who, in his letters to Rome, described his fury at his inability to convert “heathen” Hindus. Indeed, his letters reveal his pathological rage, hatred, and disgust at Hindus – especially Brahmins, for refusing to convert. In a bigoted rant, he raves at how Hindus consider God as black because they are black themselves. He was disgusted that they were as black as possible. To him, Hindu idols smelled horrible and “seem to be as dirty as they are ugly and horrible to look at.” And what was the Church’s response? Well, they canonized him and made him a Saint for his illustrious work. No apologies here! But then, maybe the Pope was moved by the plight of children in Canada? And perhaps distressed by the deaths of millions of Jews and hence the expression of regret? Not quite!
Let me introduce you to Ms. Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, who operated a global supermarket that retailed children in Kolkata, wherein she manufactured evangelized orphans out of parented Hindu children and exported them across the world at a fat premium. And, if we talk about her other venture that provided health care for the terminally ill, her ramshackle spartan hospices refused to offer any medication to relieve the pain of those on the death bed but instead provided a “ticket to St. Peter” or baptized 29,000 out of 59,000 departing destitutes. Yes, the world knows her as Mother Teresa. And, she too was never reprimanded – but canonized instead by the Vatican – not surprising considering she amassed huge funds in the name of the dying and sent more than 99% of them to the Vatican for proselytization. This might shock you, but today, St Francis Xavier and Mother Teresa are the proud co-patrons of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kolkata.
The point of bringing up these three disparate examples here is to demonstrate only a template. The Church and its attendant ecosystem in the West will only apologize to those indigenous people who’ve been completely converted and absorbed into Christendom. Like the Canadian natives now, who will be given sizable reparations, donations to create museums of their lost culture, an esoteric graded course or a Chair in a University nearby, and probably a theme park to preserve what has been lost forever. However, India, which, unfortunately for the Church, has survived its machinations, gets none of these goodies. Meanwhile, the West will keep the soul-harvesting, going in places where traditional religions like Hinduism survive while apologizing after the decimation has been completed.
The A-strategy of West’s value chain growth
It took four centuries for Christianity to come out of the desert and convert Rome – the pinnacle of an ancient pagan civilization. From then on, the march of the West into relevance, affluence, and opulence has always been through appropriation and arrogation. Besides plundering and looting everything that came in the way of their new religion, the West also chose to sequester and annex everything noteworthy in ancient religions that it decimated.
In its first three centuries, Christianity did not even celebrate the birth of Christ. December 25, as the date of birth of Jesus, was based on the assumption that the conception of Jesus took place at the Spring equinox, which the Romans placed on March 25, and then added nine months. Also, the date neatly coincided with the celebration of Sol Invictus, aka the Sun God, and the Saturnalia revelry. “Some way or another, Christmas was started to compete with rival Roman religions or to co-opt the winter celebrations to spread Christianity, or to baptize the winter festivals with Christian meaning to limit their [drunken] excesses. Most likely all three.” Besides, in an essay titled “The Influence of the Mystery Religions on Christianity,” Martin Luther King Jr. noted that the place at Bethlehem, selected by early Christians as Jesus’s birthplace, was an early shrine of a pagan god, Adonis.
Mind you, the bio-historical analysis of 1st-century Palestinian Jews concludes that Jesus was probably a short man with “brown eyes, olive-brown skin and short black hair, likely bearded, and somewhat slim and muscular.” However, he was made white because the white evangelical churches, “unable to distinguish between politics and faith, created Jesus according to the image of the dominant people.”
Today, this practice of replacing pagan beliefs and motifs with Christianity and purposefully not recording the pagan history has been compared to the practice of ‘damnatio memoriae’ – condemnation of memory or historical negationism. Back then, this act was symptomatic of executing everybody that they had ‘othered’ in terms of belief systems and then conveniently usurping their highlights to ensure continuity with those who were annihilated and converted.
Once this business model of appropriation and arrogation received religious sanctity, the plunder and decimation of pagans took the Western hordes across continents in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Intercontinental expeditions were mounted, royal grants were given, and publicly listed companies were formed to acquire licenses for conquering new lands and robbing them mercilessly while simultaneously unleashing carnage on unsuspecting native citizens. All this was overlooked by the state and the Church as long as a part of the loot came to them, or the natives were forced into Christendom.
Even in America, the Native Americans were “not depicted for themselves but only in counterpart to White values, as metaphors in the struggle between savagery and civilization.” As is evident, the West’s approach was two-pronged here. First, the bold civilized warriors would swoop in first and exterminate the savages who were not seen as fit to cohabitate in the civilized annals of their history. Later, social scientists or liberal artists would move in to study, document, and paraphrase the lost culture in research journals, periodicals, and novels, with a sharp sense of drippy sentimentality and wistfulness. “If Whites regarded the Indian as a threat to life and morals when alive, they regarded him with nostalgia upon his demise— or when that threat was safely past.” And when the last threat was safely downgraded and herded into a reservation or a museum, they moved on to the next savage culture branded as demonic. This technique of extolling a dead civilization gave unbiased credibility to the West’s conquest, making them look enlightened, broadminded, and cultured for putting up with a savage gentry and eventually refining them into an acceptable denomination. Indeed, if the rampaging colonizers were the snakes, then the liberal scholars were the grass that hid them.
India’s Case in Black and White
Right through the ages, India has stood apart from the other global giant civilizations, with its economy that never depended on raiding, pillaging, and sacking other cultures for its growth and survival. With its time-tested fluid Varna system that organized the society around socio-economic capabilities, ancient India grew steadily through the ages, wherein every stakeholder in the value chain benefited under a strict dharmic code of governance. It was a win-win situation for everybody, entailing the build-up of material riches that gave this land the moniker of ‘sone ki chidiya’, aka the golden bird. You may not believe it now, but India and China accounted for nearly 80 percent of the world economy before the Industrial Revolution.
Naturally, India was a target of many invasions by Abrahamic hordes who could never build or sustain any cultural continuum in their own lands and had to depend on marauding and ransacking others to survive. It took a millennium of fighting before the West subverted India – the British in particular, who then proceeded to strip this glorious society of everything worthwhile for two centuries. It was not just the plunder they were keen on; India remained the last of the non-Abrahamic civilizations standing tall, and it irked the West no end. They had already subsumed the mightiest Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians, but India had remained unmoved.
Interestingly, while today we lament the division of Hindus into various castes, this very caste system, or rather, the ‘Varna’ system, prevented the annihilation of this Sanatan land. With Hindu masses neatly organized in various varnas for their work requirements, social interactions, and familial relations, it became very tough for the ruling elite and their missionaries to break up a fine-tuned society for decades to come. If American newspapers are to be believed, we have The Evening Star reporting in 1913 on how “Caste Of Indians a Heavy Obstacle,” where they had a “Returned Missionary Tells of Difficulties Which Have to Be Overcome.” Before that, in 1906, we have Salt Lake Herald lamenting how “Although England has ruled here for more than a century, and the Protestant missionary societies have spent upwards of a hundred million gold dollars in trying to make converts to Christianity, the mass of people still adhere to the ridiculous practices of the ancients.”
In fact, after Swami Vivekanand’s speech in Chicago in 1893, the situation had comically reversed in America, as we can see Madison Daily Leader of 1911 shouting of a “HEATHEN INVASION” worrying about how “While American missionaries are traveling to the far ends of the earth to make converts to Christianity, insidious ‘heathen’ propaganda, so it is claimed, is undermining our spiritual health.” The funniest reversal came in 1912’s New York Tribune’s cautioning on how “Oriental ‘Mystics’ Are Gathering in Force for Invasion of America” with the news byte on how “the boards of foreign missions may decide to send some of their evangelists to California – not to convert to Christianity immigrants from heathen lands, but to gather again into the fold thousands of native Americans who are straying into the temples of pagan gods and goddesses.”
Then again, racism based on color was practically non-existent till a century ago in Sanatan Bharat. It materialized in India only after the British ethnographer Sir Herbert Hope Risley – the father of scientific racism – sought to demolish our fluid Varna system and impose a rigid caste classification during the first census of 1901, using certain nasal measurements to divide us into Aryan and Dravidian races, as well as seven castes. It was tough for ancient Bharat to be racist, as even the most popular Gods in the Hindu pantheon – Shiva, Rama, and Krishna are dark-skinned; the very meaning of the word ‘Krishna’ or ‘Shyam’ is dark. Why, there is a Goddess known purely for her skin tone – Kaali. Even Mark Twain mentions in his travel diaries how “The darkest man is here the most highly esteemed and considered better than the others who are not so dark.” And that the Indian Gods and idols are black, while “their devils white as snow.”
Naturally, the efforts of the Western marauders and their attendant White missionaries had little success in soul-harvesting, except for a few notable successes at the top with pliable elites and the bottom where the dirt poor could be bought off for a bagful of rice. Besides, India’s animistic traditions of worship made it difficult for the masses to fall for a God that lived thousands of miles away, unlike their own who walked this very holy land. No wonder the Sanatan land continues to be an eyesore in the eyes of the White West that has repeatedly tried to make it their client state and failed.
Post-2014, India’s rise in the world based on equitable trade relations is, once again, making it difficult for the West to shake the Sanatan foundations. The COVID-19 vaccine supply scheme is a case in point, where India almost damaged the West’s economic models by resolutely refusing to exploit human deaths and extract massive profits from it. This noble act collapsed the principles of the West’s hegemony, where you need to lose for them to win.
A word to the Hindu wise
So, while we escaped the West’s determined annihilation during our centuries of turmoil under their yoke, the threat is not over. Mind you, it was under our own post-independence governments that we almost lost the animistic cultures of our North East, and the wolf is still lurking very much around our corner.
The question to ponder is: Are we still in danger as a civilization? Aren’t we awake enough now to take precautionary measures?
Let me present my case with Edward Watts’ seminal work – ‘The Final Pagan Generation,’ which tracks the lives of 4th-century Romans as Christianity was about to swamp them away. For generations, Romans had been raised with the gods of their ancestors. Watts describes how “these stories could create a living awareness of the gods that could regulate children’s behavior” and that “the sights and smells and sounds of polytheistic religion could be seen everywhere on Roman streets. The gods felt real.” Watts writes of earlier Romans as “the mid-fourth century’s silent majority” who couldn’t “imagine a world in which their traditional religious practices did not have a part,” even when Christianity began its rise there. But what changed things completely was the Roman Emperor Constantine’s secular Edict of Milan in 313, ordering the “official toleration” of Christianity, whose followers then grew intolerant of the old faith and began destroying their temples. But what proved fatal, according to Watts, was that moment in time when the old Romans “just stopped believing” as the “symbols that once cast a revered awe were now mocked” and evidently, “irony is fatal to belief.”
Let’s pause and reflect on the previous paragraph again. Do we see any parallels with the current state of Hinduism? You bet! All said, let me leave you here with a point to ponder: After the Romans became officially secular with their predominantly Abrahamic governing constitution, the ‘pagans’ or the old religious practitioners could not last a century or four generations before they were obliterated and confined to the footnotes in Western history. As a parallel, India too went secular in 1947; it’s 75 years already, and most of you reading this are Generation 3. Do your own math!
All said, let me sum it all up with this unambiguously candid observation, articulated by Samuel P. Huntington in his ‘The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order’: “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.”
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