One of my favourite myths from the Hindu – and more especially, Shaivite – legendarium, is that which surrounds Kaal Bhairava. Not merely because it is there are some cool happenings within it, or because we see one of the two best-presented incidences of an Axe as a Roudran Theological Argument [the other, of course, being the not-entirely-unrelated Humbling of Daksha by Veerabhadra] … but because contained within it are some incredibly important, indeed *foundational* principles of Hindu theology, cosmology, and ethics. And, from there, seriously resonant elements for any other Indo-European mythoreligious creed.
It is not quite ‘all and everything’; but properly considered, it contains some of the most practical, as well as abstract wisdom for us here in the Modern Age – just as it did for the ancient bearers of Indo-Aryan mythocivilization so many centuries before. Indeed, in the absence of much of the surrounding ethical corpus that would have been immediately available to the latter, it shines even brighter ‘midst the darkness of the current age by comparison.
But this series is not going to be focused exclusively upon that particular legend. Although it will draw from it as its prime inspirational kernel, and one of three comparative ‘case-studies’ in Indo-European religious ethics. Which we’ll also use to *briefly* examine some quite important concepts therein – vital knowledge for the properly pious soul.
Now, before we go any further, it’s probably necessary to provide a bit of an introduction to several of the lesser-known terms that’ll be at play here.
Terms And Perspectives
The first of these, is a pair – ‘Consequentialist’ and ‘Deontological’ approaches to morality. The former focuses upon ‘outcomes’ as making things right; the latter, instead holds ‘rights’, ‘rules’, ‘duties’ and ‘laws’ to be what makes something intrinsically moral or otherwise. There is an obvious tension here, but more on that later.
The second, is also a pair – ‘Natural Law’ and ‘Legal Positivism’. The former meaning that law is something a priori and ‘above’ its subjects and enforcers; the latter, that law is, effectively, what the given sovereign *says* it is, or is to be.
These concepts are all things I ran into many years ago during my legal training … but which have acquired a fresh relevancy in the course of many ethical debates about the nature of the Law – and, for that matter, the Lore – within an Indo-European mythoreligious context in later life.
Now, for those of you who already have a bit of a background in our theology as Indo-Europeans, you’ll probably be looking in askance as to what … at least half of the above are actually doing invoked here.
One of the core fundaments of the Indo-European world view is the abiding belief in Divine Order. Whether we term this Dikaiosune, Orlog [‘Supernal Law’/Outside-Above-Beyond Universe Law], or Rta – the notion that the Cosmos has an underlying Order to it (or, rather, that the Order has an overlaid Cosmos *to It*), is right there in our mythology. It is one of the key reasons why we oppose demons – because they are seeking to undermine and usurp this Order, to replace with the iniquity and the false “order” of their own.
So therefore, rightaway, we can see that fundamentally … we are Natural Law advocates. And that means we are Deontological in scope.
Except here’s the funny thing – a) part and parcel *in* a lot of said Natural Law and Deontology … is the notion that one should be – to a certain point, and that point is rarely entirely one hundred percent – following the commands of one’s sovereign; and b) that just as ‘hard cases make bad law’ here in the mortal realm, so too do certain more complex situations create a bit of a headache [occasionally rather literally] when it comes to the attempted application of nice, clean, pure, and clear-cut [er … again, occasionally rather literally – it’s a *really* sharp Axe!] Over-Law to our intractable actually-existing situations.
Each of these three scenarios, drawn from an array of Indo-European mythologies, illustrates just such a ‘complex situation’ ; and provides ensconced within it, a deepa ethical maxim, in addition to the conventional one, which should hopefully help us *all* to live a more pious life via their Light. [This is, as I really should probably stop doing, a Proto-Indo-European derivative pun, due to “Lewk” also providing the root for a Sanskrit term for, well, a realm under legal dominion – “Loka”]
So, with that in mind … on with the Show! [Again, Shaivite-Shakta theological point around the unfurling Universe as being akin to a Dramateurgic script, replete with song and dance numbers.]