“Bare is the back of the brotherless man.”
– Burnt Njal’s Saga ; Iceland, 13th Century
Every year on August 15th, we publish a tribute-piece for the Independence Day of India. This year, we elucidate the concept of India as the world’s ‘Last Integral Aryan Civilization’ [a phrasing coined by my associate, Aldo Rapace] – and seek to describe and explain what that means for those of us out here in the broader Indo-European-isphere who are committed to the resurrection (the ‘decolonization’, some might say) of our own more loka-lized Indo-European mythoreligious traditions.
Previous installments have included ‘Bharat Mata And The Indo-European Deific of National Identity’, and last year’s ‘On The Gates Of Somnath Temple’.
The former looked at the Mountain Queen deity of the Indo-Europeans – showing how the modern-day figure of Bharat Mata [‘Mother India’] is a direct continuance of this – rather than, as is occasionally asserted, some much more recent invention for political convenience. And also how a careful analysis shows us that the same Goddess is also hailed amongst the Norse, Hittites, Phrygians, Greeks, and others besides (and even forms the iconic basis for many modern ‘national personifications’ in Europe today). The Mother Goddess of the Indo-Europeans.
In other words, it took a more theologically infused look at something which we have long known – that the Indo-European Peoples come from a common origin. That the clearest modern-day expression of those roots and archaic understandings is to be found in the still-living Indo-European mythically-infused culture of today. And that even though we may have wandered far from that Urheimat over the preceding millennia – that the Indo-Europeans of today have a shared heritage from the past, shared belief in the present, and shared Godly Guidance into the future. IF we choose to hear this and to acknowledge it, of course. For even a mirror itself will not show you your face if you are determined not to see it therein.
This latter concept – the notion of people insistently NOT seeing the essential and enduring mythoreligious coterminity of the Indo-Europeans, because they would prefer to cleave to some personal headcanon and a supremacist agenda – formed one of the key themes of 2019’s article. Entitled “On The Gates of Somnath Temple”, it used a vignette from the British dominion of India in the 19th century to illustrate how this mindset can work – and why it’s something to be avoided. The particular example in question being Lord Macaulay’s impassioned rant in the British Parliament against the ‘Brahmanical Religion’, declaring that it had nothing in common with the polytheistic religion(s) of Greece and Rome which he had a certain rose-tinted enthusiasm for (Macaulay being somewhere between a Classicist and a Classical fanboy), and therefore that the British Empire should favour the ‘Mahometans’, the Muslims, against the Hindus as a matter of official policy. Because, in his view – and those of any number of others over the years – the Muslims, at least, were Abrahamic Monotheists and therefore of far closer values to the British than the ‘Brahmanical’ Hindus.
A moment’s consideration is all that is required to reveal the escalating tide of insouciant ridicularity contained in such sentiments … and yet they carried weight. Persuasive weight, if not perhaps, substantive. Rhetorical statements in Parliament are regrettably often like that. Yet the reasons why his spurious accusations found purchase were twofold:
Firstly, because the British had, themselves, at some point long ago stopped being ‘integrally’ Indo-European in their values, their beliefs, their mythology and their religion. Residual elements remained, and as Tolkien and Chesterton could admirably demonstrate, it was certainly possible to weave both the Indo-European past with the realities of the relatively more recent history and present of the Anglo-Saxons and the British more broadly into a viable, unified whole. But by and large, the British perspective represented by Lord Macaulay both could not and would not bring itself to acknowledge that what they saw in India, in Hinduism, was not only something closely related to them … but something which was, in its own way, a more authentic window in upon their own more distant ancestral past.
This ties closely into the second reason why the views represented by Macaulay that sad day in Parliament proved so potent – because they were a useful, convenient fiction for entirely artificially distinguishing the polytheistic paganisms of the Greek and Roman past which formed the foundational bedrock for “Western Civilization”, from the ‘paganism’ of India … which was now the colonial subject whose culture had to be suppressed in order to render it compliant.
Indeed, to bring both of these two points together, it is interesting to note that Lord Macaulay specifically calls out with horror in his speech the specter-spectacle of British troops and other Imperial personnel engaging with Hinduism – becoming, even if in some small ways and upon a temporary basis … somewhat Hindufied. Becoming less ‘Christian’ in the process. Becoming, we might suggest, even despite their being the occupying, colonizing power, somewhat ‘decolonized’ from their own mental strictures of near two millennia of being something else.
In any case, whereas the 2018 article sought to evoke the sense of shared heritage of the Indo-Europeans, by exploring this via our Mother Goddess ; and whereas the 2019 article sought to illustrate what the denial of this heritage could look like and why it was manifestly a-historic …
The 2020 devotional tribute piece brings forth another area again. How this (mainly mythoreligious) shared heritage of the Indo-Europeans has continued – has its last living branch, its last main trunk, in India. And what this means for all of those of us who are committed to the resurrection of this heritage outside and beyond of India. How we can, should, and must regard this , the Last Integral Aryan Civilization.
But what do we mean by that evocative-sounding phrase, the “Last Integral Aryan Civilization”? Why did I not choose to phrase it as the last integral Indo-European civilization, perhaps?
Well, there are three elements here. The first of which being that word “Last”. It implies ‘singularity’. The only one remaining. Which is not to deny that others once existed – outside of museums and books, even – nor is it to deny that others might come back into reconstructed, resurrected being again. Only to assert what is unambiguously the fact – that nowhere else do we see the ancient ways and the ancient belief directly carried forward and immanent in the way they are, today, in India and in Hinduism. Various other Indo-European religious revival efforts do exist around the globe today, and some of them claim that they have managed to resuscitate (rather than outright resurrect) the Indo-European belief of their peoples via expansive extrapolation from what is still preserved in folk-ways and other such source-materials. There is some merit to this approach, insofar as folk-materials can preserve authentic elements of belief which are not necessarily so prominent in the ‘high culture’ preservations of statuary or secondarily-reproduced scriptural extracts which provide our remaining windows on some of these now-largely-dead cultures and customs.
But in every major example which I am aware of, the ‘reconstruction’ from folk-ways is both insufficient in the absence of other, more authoritative ancient materials for their ‘anchoring’ (including, where possible, an active ‘living tradition’ for their interpretation); and usually finds difficulty handling the inevitable non-Indo-European influence upon these folk-materials which has accrued over time. A good example of which is provided by the ‘Assianism’ followed by some of those who claim heritage from the Caucasus and the Alans, the Scythians of old. Nobody denies that their heritage is there – nobody denies that they have some rather intriguing materials found in their folk-beliefs which likely descend from these sources. But their interpretation paradigm, which attempts to make use of Christian and Zoroastrian elements for reconstructive purposes – has produced something which is significantly divergent from what we know of ancient Scythian religion. It is, in short, something else – something other than what it may so often claim to be.
Another example is provided to us by the Germanic / Nordic religious revival movements. These may often have good people doing good work – and are probably one of the most prominent movements worldwide for the resurrection of a now-dead (or, perhaps we should say – now-dormant) Indo-European ethos and religious belief. But the source-materials which we have are fractured, fragmented, missing so many vital elements which are severely difficult for us to replicate even when we know that they should be there, and with other elements which are almost impossible to interpret now in their absence, The major theoretical debates in these spheres today concern just how much of this or that swathe of material in Snorri Sturluson’s efforts, or other sources from the Viking Age or shortly after, are the result of misunderstandings by the compilers or the insertion of Christianized or otherwise polemical elements. It is not impossible for the resurrection of the Nordic mythoreligious sphere to occur, of course – and here at Arya Akasha we are proud to work in a supportive and consultative role to assist people ‘midst that particular milieu who request our aid with matters Indo-European – but it is a capacious uphill battle. And it is not something which could really be easily done in the absence of the fruits of the Vedic Tree. Meanwhile, elsewhere in some other quarters, people try and pretend at religion by filling in the gaps with what can most charitably be described as ‘Wiccanry’ – oft with added ‘Placenta’ characteristics.
Only with Hinduism, is the religion not an exercise in ‘reconstruction’, and are we in possession of the ritual corpus and other vitally necessary elements for there to be a living tradition … without any of these being mediated via the occlusionary lense of secondary transmission by those well outside the ethos in question. We may have the occasional spurious academic analysis which imputes frankly bizarre readings onto things, we may have some Christian historical accounts of actually-existing Hinduism from the historical period, and we may even have some relatively recent ‘Neo-Vedanta’ style ‘religious reform’ efforts which seem to produce almost deliberately more ‘Abrahamic’ style Hinduisms (I hardly need to name the names) … but we also have the authentic religion.
Which renders all of the three contaminations aforementioned peripheral at best. An academic making strange and controversial claims in order to bolster their career … has no bearing upon the rites actually conducted in a Temple. A historical account may be interesting, but thanks to the fact we still have the primary elements and practice intact, we can often see how the foreign recounter has gotten the wrong end of the stick about something. The various ‘Reform’ movements of the past two to three hundred years, while they do exist, are largely ignored. White people may become Hare Krishnas – but hugely prevalent amidst Indians, they are not. Arya Samaj is often actively derided for attempting to push overtly spurious interpretations of our scriptures.
We are protected, in short, not only by the internal completeness and coherency of our belief – but also via the vitality of our heritage. Which renders acts of ‘projection’ or strategic ‘erasure’ by other, outside forces a far more difficult prospect than their similar endeavours against various other historical Indo-European mythoreligious strands. Trying to tell a Brahmin who has devoted his life to the understanding of his faith what it is that he (should) believe, when he is standing right there in front of you … is a far more difficult prospect than projecting a spurious reconstructive of what is not said onto a museum-piece statue of a Greek priest, for example.
But let us move on to the next element – the ‘Integrality’. Now what is meant by this is quite simple. The Indo-European mythoreligion is not some peripheral element adhered to by a small minority within the more general populace. It is right there – as the majority faith of the countryside. Indeed, it even goes further than that and has influenced the beliefs of other religions, the actual minority communities, who have come into contact with it. Various Parsis in India, for example, apparently having forgotten the three thousand year old war in which their forebears broke away from the prevalent Indo-Iranian religious orthodoxy by choosing to rebel against the Gods … will now quite comfortably integrate homage for Hindu deities in their now-native land. Just as with those British personnel Lord Macaulay was up-in-arms about, near two centuries ago – Bharat has ‘re-civilized’ these migrants in some small yet pertinent way.
But this ‘integrality’ is not simply a case of majoritarian notional adherency – if it were, then you could viably term various Western states to be ‘integrally Christian’ ones. A rather skin-deep and unhelpful analytical claim. Rather, it is meant that the religion and its values, its being, is given priority and pride of place – active expression – within the state, within the nation. So we have Bharat Mata prayed to as a Deity – as we explored in the 2018 article upon the subject for India’s Independence Day that year, this is not only a direct carrying forward of the Hindu mythology around Devi Durga-Parvati to the literal heart of the Indian nation (indeed as the Indian Nation) … but it is a directly cognate expression to the ‘national personifications’ of various Western European countries today. It is just that the Indians have remembered that this is a Goddess , and most of the Western countries have thought that theirs are but icons for a postage stamp. Symbols, in other words, lacking in substance, lacking in essence, lacking in ethos – lacking in vitality even if they have some common currency in the modern day.
We also have legal recognition, legal personhood given to Sacred Rivers (a development also occurrent here in New Zealand). As opposed to in the West, where the only non-human entities to be granted legal personhood are corporations and trusts. Even leaving aside the ecological, environmental protective underpinning motivations for the legal recognition of the Ganges, the Yamuna, and other elements … which of these two paradigms sounds more healthy to you?
The Ram Mandir dispute (and its eventual, successful resolution just recently) also provides such a window in upon this perspective. To provide a brief synopsis of the issue for readers – the site in Ayodhya once held an incredibly holy Ram Temple consecrated as the location of His Birth; it was demolished several hundred years ago by the Mughals to make way for a Mosque; and later in the 20th century, various actions were taken by Hindu political and religious groups to take the site back for the reconsecration and reconstruction of the place as a Ram Temple once more. It is, I suppose, our version of the Hagia Sophia – if the Hagia Sophia were situated in a majority Christian country, and had recently been allowed by supreme court verdict to be turned back into an Eastern Orthodox Church from a Mosque.
If we look back at some of the previous jurisprudence upon the subject – we see the Allahabad High Court making a three-way division of the land in question. One part to a Ram-worshipping sect of (sometime martial artist) holy men; one part to a Sunni Muslim charity board; and one part to the God Ram Himself – Who had both legal personhood, and legal representation for the proceedings. Which then resulted in the interesting if brief specter of the Ram worshipping sect contemplating launching a lawsuit against the God Ram for full custody of the site – something that was quickly withdrawn in light of the .. implications of such a course of action.
The most recent Supreme Court decision upon the matter has clarified the outcome further – vesting the whole site in the custodianship of a Government-run trust, whose job it is to construct and administer a new Ram Mandir [Temple] upon the site, and to operate on behalf of the God Ram in so doing.
Now why do I say this is healthy? Because consider the alternative – think of how things are in various more Westerly climes.
In much of Europe, if some ancient pagan holy-site or barrow-mound is discovered, or even when it is bulldozed to make way for a road-way … it is a matter of archaeology, or perhaps planning permissions. It is hardly even ‘archaeology’ – it is more ‘paleontology’ a lot of the time, because what has been dug up is petrified and can hardly even be viably cloned as it is from so long ago and so far away in terms of revivification potential for the modern day. Even for the dominant Christian faiths there, there is a similar treating of the whole thing as a mere matter of convenience – ‘smoothing the pillow for a dying concept’, to reference something from my own country’s regrettable history.
Meanwhile, in India, it is a matter of life and death. The Government actually gets involved, and goes all the way to have the site reconsecrated, rebuilt, and restored to active worship. The Gods are granted legal recognition, legal protection, legal representation – to ensure that Their Case, Our Cause, is properly heard.
In short … this is Living Tradition rather than dim folk-memory and dismissive academia.
And we say that this is ‘Integral’ Aryan Civilization precisely because these concepts are quite literally held Sacred. They are not idle museum-curios or the proverbial ‘old wives tales’ to be safely ignored and discarded as convenient by the psepho-political winds of happenstance. They are at the Heart, and They are as the Heart of the whole.
Now it must be acknowledged, of course, that India is not perfect in these matters. And I say that out of love. After all, as somebody once pithily observed – the insistence that qualifiers be added to this feeling, that it be idealized, render it something other than ‘actually-existing’, a lot of the time. Or, as the man himself put it .. it was like saying “I love my mother, drunk or sober”. Something that almost misses the point by getting tangled up in the last three words, at the expense of the former four. His full sentiment, in fact, adds the following – “No doubt if a decent man’s mother took to drink he would share her troubles to the last; but to talk as if he would be in a state of gay [‘happy’] indifference as to whether his mother took to drink or not is certainly not the language of men who know the great mystery.” And his point, in part, was that such a sentiment was necessary in his own native land “for the frustration and overthrow of a deaf and raucous Jingoism”. Carl Schurz, the German nationalist revolutionary (and thence, political exile following the fall-over of a certain other exercise in national liberation occurrent in the year 48 of a century – in this case, the 19th) put it more succinctly: “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” But I digress.
As applies India’s difficulties that I may speak to here, they may prove instructive for us out here in the broader Indo-European sphere; and they chime in most strongly with something another figure dear to me born upon this day (indeed, exactly the same day and the same year as the Republic of India), my father, The Reverend Rolinson (often affectionately referred to by associates of mine as ‘The Rev.’) has often observed. Namely, that there is a risk, when there is limited ‘separation of Church and State’. Not necessarily, as is commonly suspected, of some sort of ‘corruption’ of the State by the Church and bending of the secular institution to the wiles and the wills of the ecclesiastical. But rather, that the religious sphere finds itself subordinate to, and prevailed upon all the more effectively by secular authority (with its differing understandings and motivations) precisely because there is now not this barrier between the spheres – the would-be ‘interloper’ already has his proverbial foot well inside the door.
There are tangible instances we may draw from to illustrate this point quite directly, as applies India. Many Temples are, in effect, under state administration. That means that the state has significant say over who is (or is not to be) appointed as a priest there, and is able to amply supplement its taxation-revenues by drawing forth from the donations made to these houses of the holy. It has also been observed by some that the corresponding duty which this should entail – that of actually actively providing for the maintenance and upkeep of what are often quite ancient buildings in need of repair … is not so forthcoming as one would think it should be.
Further, as the recent controversy over Pashubali [‘animal sacrifice’] directly demonstrated – where you have secular legal authorities of the state wading into theological matters, it brings with it not only the risk that they may be wrong in their interpretative understanding … but also that their wrongness upon the decision may be legally binding. Although having said that, the actual trajectory through the courts of at least some of these initiatives shows the other side of things, too – where legal decisions or force of political opinion may get involved to attempt to block something, appeal to a higher court may successfully induce a blocking of the blockers. Such an occurrence was on display with last year’s Indian Supreme Court ruling, which overturned the previous High Court decisions that had sought to put an end to the practice (and it is interesting to note that a recent push to prosecute priests engaged in the proper performance of these ancient rites … was in fact initiated by a BJP MP – ostensibly, from the party of self-appointed protectors of the Hindu religion). So in that particular Supreme Court case, efforts by state authorities to have a practice outlawed were initially successful in those lower courts precisely because they managed to induce the Justices therein to rule that the rituals in question were ‘unnecessary’ – and, perhaps more worryingly as a general sentiment, to rule that our religion ought to wish to “reform” itself so as not “to be shackled to dogma, superstition and unfounded beliefs”.
As we can quite plainly see, this sets up an incredibly risky environment wherein a court is asked to rule upon what is or is not an authentic religious practice – and not for some peripheral enthusiasts, but as applies the actual practice and custom of proper and orthodox religious authorities whose expertise quite literally spans millennia … and may do so upon decidedly spurious grounds. Because in the case I have quoted from just now, it is quite clear that the belief was not “unfounded” – it was founded upon the tradition, it was founded upon the scripture, it was founded upon something far more archaic, ancient and enduring than a few lines of self-congratulatory ruling from a human judge in a modern-day secular law court. And, had it been unchallenged at the higher level, it would have created a legal absurdity wherein quite apart from Muslim animal slaughter in a religious context being a protected act but the Hindu rites not – that to kill an animal to consume its flesh, even on the grounds of a Hindu temple would have been perfectly legal … but the moment this was done for a sacrifice, it should become a crime.
Now I do not say any of this because I am at all keen upon the notion of animal sacrifice. Lest there be any doubt – I am not. I do not like the idea, I do not have any desire to see it performed, and I am very thankful that it is unlikely to ever occur in my presence. Indeed, I am extraordinarily grateful that within the arcane and archaic skeins of our faith we also have the various ritual understandings which enable us to make alternative forms of offering. Yet none of that abjures the fact that it is a legitimate and well attested practice for those sampradayas who do engage in it. And that the attempted efforts by some particular sects or groupings or even individuals within the broader Hindusphere to utilize secular authorities to suppress the much more archaic traditions of others ought be fiercely resisted. For that was another development which had become bound up in all of this – pushes from certain more ‘universalizing’ or if you like ‘homogenizing’ forces to try and make use of the machinery of state to facilitate their subsummation of their ‘rivals’.
Still, even here there are instructive inspirations for us out here in the broader Indo-European realm. The reaction to these latter efforts included persons from an array of traditions which do not practice the rites in question, nevertheless choosing to stand up in defence of those traditions who do, precisely to protect the principle of the thing – that Hinduism is a ‘broad’ faith that does not act like, say, the Catholic Church post-Constantine to have a central ‘authorization’ body and thence declare internal differences of understanding and practice (within reason) to be ‘heretical’ simply because of that fact (or, perhaps more to the point, the significant emergence of a distinct ‘Anglicanism’ in no small part due to the needs – political and otherwise – of the king of England at the time, Henry VIII). This is not to say that there is no such thing as ‘Heresy’ nor ‘Blasphemy’ within a Hindu context – contra to what some persons may wish to believe (for even amidst the Living Faith, there is this inordinate temptation to define our ethos at least as much by pointed, jeering rejection of aspects of another religion, rather than by what our religion actually is on its own terms), there most assuredly are; although a fuller explication upon these is a matter for another time.
No, the lesson for us out here in the broader Indo-European sphere is that it is possible to have exactly this – multiple, overlapping creeds with a shared focus and essence-tial unity of essence amidst diversity of expression … without either treading upon each other’s toes, nor having to all be in absolute lock-step in order to be all marching in the same (general) direction and motivated by avowed common purpose.
A perhaps more useful paradigm is that we find in New Zealand, per our own recent Supreme Court jurisprudence on another and decidedly unrelated matter. Here, we have developed an array of specialized and locally appropriate understandings of the ‘Common Law’ concept that enable – indeed, mandate – Judges to take into consideration certain spheres other than black-letter law. In the particular case that I am thinking of, Tikanga Maori [‘Maori Custom’]. Although in this instance, taking it into consideration for a non-Maori New Zealander – who had died while a rather important case concerning his reputation had still yet to be decided. In Tikanga Maori, as with various other traditional value-systems about the world, the ‘reputation’ [an imperfect translation for the Te Reo’s succinct encapsulation of an entire sphere as ‘Mana’ – which also, importantly for our legal purposes, can mean ‘standing’] of a man does not cease simply because he is dead – in no small part because the Mana of an individual man is not truly his own, but is intimately and intrinsically bound up with that of his family, clan, community, and context.
In some ways, it is a directly resonant understanding with various values that are entirely endogenous to the Indo-European sphere – indeed, at the time, I recall writing a piece looking at one of these, drawn from the Nordic/Germanic corpus: “Deyr fé, deyja frændr, / deyr sjalfr it sama, / ek veit einn, / at aldrei deyr: dómr um dauðan hvern.” Which, to quote in translation, works out as “Cattle die, kinsmen die, / the self will die the same; [but] I know one thing which never dies: the judgement [‘Doom’] upon each dead [man]”; in concert with the closing lines of the preceding verse of the Havamal [‘Sayings of the High One’ – i.e. Odin], it is clear that it is the ‘reputation’, the ‘renown’ (the actual translation of Orðstírr is along the lines of ‘Glory-Words’ – although the judgement that is the Dómr (‘Doom’) also implicitly encompasses negative besmirchments upon the man’s record as well) which is being spoken of here.
The reason why I invoke this exemplar is not because it presents an intriguing instance of something I seem to keep finding in my homeland – wherein a Maoritanga element presents a positive and resonant understanding which also helps us to get an Indo-European one (re-)introduced into our law, culture, and (ostensibly-secular) customs (and this is something that we have also seen with something that I had mentioned many paragraphs earlier – around providing legal personhood to rivers, to support their environmental protection, for instance). Although it is also most definitely that. No, I invoke this here because it is a demonstration of how things should be working – the ‘supra-legal’ sphere of tradition and metaphysical value informing and guiding the otherwise hard-nosed legal practice. Helping to improve it, and yes ‘reforming’ it to make it simultaneously more ‘human’ and yet more than human. Not, as we had seen via those High Court cases in India, the law and its inveterate practitioners wading ill-equipped into a theological matter, getting things around the wrong way, and upending things via their suborning of literal millennia of tradition and heritage to decidedly temporal political prevarications. I have no doubt that there are comparable instances from Indian law where similar instances of this proper ‘balance’ has been actively maintained, likewise.
However, that particular New Zealand Supreme Court case is also usefully illustrative as applies another element far more directly germane to the question we are here answering – namely, why it is that we refer to India as the Last Integral Aryan Civilization on the planet.
How so? Consider the word “Aryan”. What does it mean.
It is not a word, contrary to pop-culture perceptions upon the subject, intended as a short-handed designator for a decidedly Northern European looking gentleman with blond hair and blue eyes. Not even close. That is a subversion, a co-option of the term – and I do not say that because there are few Indo-Aryans alive today or throughout much of history, who have been thusly complexioned .
Indeed, properly speaking, it is not even a word which connoted belonging – on the genetic level – to the Indo-European or more specifically Indo-Aryan ethnic sphere.
Rather than being an ethnonym – a term for an ethnos, and one’s belonging thereto … it was an ethonym – a term connoting one’s belonging to and participation in an ethos.
This is reflected not only in the contemporary and archaic utilization of the term amidst the Hindusphere – but also via its likely Proto-Indo-European roots. There are several not-necessarily-exclusive propositions for this – with the major one concerning PIE *h₂er-. What does this root entail? That which is ‘fitting’, that which is ‘right,’ that which is ‘proper’. And, of course, it turns into an array of ‘ordinal’ terms – indeed, quite literally: Latin ‘Ordo’ is from this same origin; as is Ancient Greek ἁρμονίᾱ (‘Harmonia’). It is, to my mind, utterly uncoincidental that Sanskrit ऋत (‘Rta’) – ‘Cosmic Law’, ‘Divine Order’ – should hail from this same archaic underpinning. After all, what is right and proper in the supernal and mythic sense – is what is in accordance with the Divine Law, Rta. And what an Aryan is is one who knows how to comport themselves in such a manner to be congruent with same. To ‘fit’ with it – and with their fellow Aryan, as part of this community of adherents and bearers (‘Bharata’, indeed – that is where the term comes from, ‘those who bear’; and most especially, those who bear the duty pertaining to the continuance of the Sacred Flame).
And hence, is ‘Noble’ in disposition and bearing precisely due to these facts. He or She is somebody in touch with their heritage – this specifically ‘Arya’ heritage – and does not simply know of it, but actively participates in its community and therefore, thence, its continuity. Thus the ‘Arya-Mleccha’ duality which we encounter in scripture. Mleccha, for those unaware, meaning somewhere between ‘dirty’ (like ‘Mala’) and more figuratively – possessing an ‘indistinct’ speech. Which matters, because the sine qua non requirement for meaningful participation in Vedic rites and community was, effectively, that – the ability to speak and therefore to engage. Given the immense potency of Sanskrit as the language of the universe, where mispronunciation of a single syllable could have dramatic consequences as attested in an array of mythic manifestations of same … this is not un-understandable. And, indeed, we can see rather similar ‘in-group’/’out-group’ points of distinguishing occurrent with the Ancient Greeks – our modern ‘Barbarian’ deriving from their perception that the non-Greeks spoke in a curious ‘Baa-Baa’ style fashion.
It is often presumed that “Mleccha” must necessarily have some sort of ethnographic component to its designation – however that is incorrect. We can demonstrate this via an analysis of the original usage of the term in its most archaic context – the Shatapatha Brahmana ritual manual (III 2 1). There, what we see is a direct contest between the Gods and the demons (A’Sura – not to be confused with the more archaic ‘Asura’; rather, ‘A’Sura’ is ‘Opposite of Sura – Opposite of Shining/Solar/Divine’) that is effectively a ‘ritual competition’ to secure the blessing and participation of the Goddess of Speech (with the demonic opposition, interestingly enough, appearing to potentially speak a rather differing Indo-Iranic language that is still, nevertheless, semi-intelligible to the Indo-Aryan Sanskrit hearers). It is presented as a template for human action – whereby the presiding (mortal) Priest takes the role of the relevant divine figure and ‘Calls’ to Her so as to empower the mortal ‘echo’ of the original mythic occurrence. A classic example, in other words, of what Mircea Eliade termed the “Eternal Return”, and what I often refer to as ‘Mythic Recurrence’, or ‘Mythic Resonance’. The fact that we can tentatively identify potential correlates for this mythic and ritual understanding in other Indo-European spheres reasonably far removed both geographically and chronologically from that of archaic Vedic India further goes to suggest that the original understanding for this ‘Mleccha’ term was not a mortal-ethnographic one of precise and pointed description. But rather, a more general referencing for that which was ‘outside’ the bounds of propriety and the community, the sacred and proper ‘enclosure’ of the ritual space and human sphere (of belonging, light, and life) for which it stood.
There is quite a bit more which can, should, and must be penned pertaining to the proper understanding of the term ‘Arya’ – including its potential correlates in other IE languages (and here, I am meaning in the structure of figurative usage and meaning – for direct linguistic cognates are rather lacking outside the exclusive Indo-Iranic sphere); but we shall, perhaps, leave all of that more detailed wrangling for another time.
For now, it is enough to know that in its most direct sense, ‘Arya’ refers to the Hindusphere – where these aforementioned proper understandings are still retained, and more than that … where they are still actively undertaken day in and day out (indeed, ‘by the hour’ – in the older sense of the term shown in Latin ‘Hora’ and Ancient Greek ‘ὥρᾱ’ (‘Hora’), that is likewise so bound up with propriety, lawfulness, and custom).
And as for why that is relevant? Well, our position is quite simple. The Indo-European Gods Are The Indo-European Gods. They did not somehow ‘ship of Theseus’ turn into other figures fundamentally distinct from Themselves at some various points on Their bearers’ journeying from the Proto-Indo-European Urheimat all those millennia ago. The Sky Father worshipped in modern-day Hindu India is the same God as the Sky Father worshipped in ancient Vedic Aryavarta is the same God as the Sky Father worshipped by the Andronovo in Central Asia is the same God as the Sky Father worshipped on the Pontic Steppe by the Yamnaya. The perceptions may have differed, differentiated, and developed – often in rather specific ways that should be noted and understood; but the essence underlying the expressions … these things are old, these things are true.
So, if the core of what it is to be ‘Arya’ is the proper supporting of, proper engagement with The Gods and associated religious conduct and understanding … without seeking to decontextualize the specifically Hindu Arya mechanisms for these things, it is nevertheless the case that what is preserved there are particular forms that are closely related to, and in many ways foundationally coterminous with, those of other Indo-European peoples and faith-perspectives of the past few thousand years from right across the expanse. If you have been following our work for some time, you’ll have seen me go into detail explicating some of these points of unitary coherency – and also demonstrating how the necessary resurrection of, say, specific Old Norse or Greek rites and religion would be enormously difficult without the Vedic comparanda to directly infuse or align it with. We would simply have little other than (semi-educated) guesswork and imagination with which to ‘fill the gaps’ otherwise.
India is the Last Integral Aryan Civilization, therefore, in dual senses – both because it is the land and the sphere where ‘Arya’ ways in the specifically Hindu sense are preserved, maintained, rendered immanent; yet also because Bharat – the Land of the Bearers – is where the last of the living fire of the Indo-European sphere all up is preserved. Not as embers, but as braziers and bonfires – or, more aptly, as havans, yagnas, diya lamps and in the hearts and minds of deepa-ly pious men [here meant also in the Proto-Indo-European sense of ‘Men’ – mental activity; whence not only ‘Men’ but also ‘Mantra’, and ‘Manyu’].
If ‘Arya’ means ‘Ours’ – ‘Our’ folkways, ‘Our’ religious belief and praxis, ‘Our’ sacred duty … and to each and all of us – then whilst most of the Indo-European sphere cannot directly say that the ‘Arya’ of the Hindusphere is indeed “ours” (for it is only the Hindus – of which, via adoption, I am one – who may truly state the term and its associated field(s) of meaning are Ours); the entire Indo-European sphere can, most definitely and demonstrably, feel that our Gods, our ways, our faith – is likewise living on, in a certain sense, therein.
I am aware, of course, that for many it may not feel as satisfying to ruminate upon that, as compared to a more ideal scenario of there somehow springing from the Heavens tomorrow, a fully functional and easily immersible Nordic or Greek IE religion – replete with all of the rituals, esoteric understandings, and other things that are so evidently missing in some or greater scope when we examine what we have from the relevant textual spheres. And I am pointedly not suggesting that in order to render proper and due homage to the Gods of one’s forefathers that one must first become a Hindu.
Only stating that which, to me, seems quite abundantly obvious.
In Europe, and the European IE spheres, we are in a situation of ‘our’ House, our ‘Houses’ (and as applies ‘Hof’ or ναός (‘Naos’), this is perhaps not entirely figurative in its saliency as a metaphoric designation) having long ago burned down. In order to meaningfully rebuild these houses – insofar as they actually can be – we must borrow from them both the planning and engineering expertise which they have maintained, ‘design features’, and various materials to assist in our own place’s more meaningful reconstruction. How else to ensure without painstaking risks of empty prevarication, that what we are (re-)building is actually authentic, authentically pleasing to The Gods Whom we are asking to once more come and visit us in this ‘House’, these ‘Houses’ amidst more Westerly climes. How else to ensure, in other words, that it works – and avoid the clearly attendant risks of having to re-engineer from scratch the relevant principles of structural engineering.
Their House – more than a ‘Nilaya’, a Fortress [‘Durga’, indeed] or a palace in its size and splendour, I should say – still stands; and we are fortunate to be able to shelter with our kinfolk to the East during the long, dark, time of our ongoing need.
And that naturally entails that we observe the ancient and proper rules of the Sacred Hospitality convention. That we are good and gracious guests, even – especially – with our somewhat distant (in terms of geography – never in terms of spirit) Kin.
Toward the outset of this (A)Arti-cle I had spoken of two of our previous Indian Independence Day tribute pieces, and their attendant subjects of focus.
In some ways, this year’s article endeavours to bring together the two themes. Emphasizing not only the shared mytho-religious and broader cultural heritage between the Indo-European peoples – but also the fact that only amongst the Hindus is the branch or tree of this heritage still truly living. This does not mean, of course, that other efforts at establishing living heritage are doomed to failure, or to denigrate those revanchist, resurrectionist projects presently in motion.
Simply to acknowledge that when it comes to the meaningful reproduction and protection of the Indo-European belief – we owe a fundamental and great debt to the Vedic tradition which has kept its fundaments and its flowerings alive down the ages for us to borrow from here in the modern day.
Now, I have used ‘we’ a fair few times in the preceding few paragraphs, and I must confess that it sits rather uneasily with me. This is not to deny that I am European, of course – how could I and why would I even want to do such a thing. Yet for me, when I speak of ‘Home’ in this religious sense … I do not feel that the ‘Home’ I belong to has burned down. Instead, my home is the one that I am living in, the one that has existed unbroken (even despite having been quite severely battered at times from without) all the way across thousands of miles and thousands of years from the Urheimat through to today. The Hindu one. I came to the world of religion proper thanks to my Indo-Nepali adoptive family – and in one of those curious twists of wyrd, came also to the study of matters Indo-European some time afterward. I try to make fairly active contribution to the maintenance, upkeep, protection, and – where necessary – restoration of my adoptive household. I am, after all, capaciously in Her debt for taking me in, all those years ago.
And one of these ways, as unorthodox as it might outwardsly seem to some, perhaps – is to attempt to foster these other Indo-European spheres to resurrect and to thrive, too. Something which shall benefit all of us – not just those groupings who are doing/being resurrected, nor only India (and the Hindusphere) Herself.
The Hindusphere may be the Last Living Branch of this once-mighty and, indeed, quite literally world-spanning Tree – yet while it is immensely glorious, and shelters so many within its boughs even by itself … I cannot help but imagine in wonderment what those ‘green shoots’ of (re-)new(ed growth in formerly withered heaths from the same roots, new leaves on old and knotted limbs, might one day begin to look like. What ‘Men of Ash’ might emerge from such a metaphorical HoddMímis Holt – when the ‘Ash’ in question is not only that of the Tree, and of the Spear, but also the Vibhuti [‘Holy Ash’ – utilized in ritual contexts for us here in the Hindusphere].
There is a particular verse from the RigVeda – ‘Krinvanto Vishvam Aryam’.
It in is RV IX 63 5, a line which I feel to effectively ‘sum up’ a vastly significant essence-tial truth of the Vedas; as there, it is set out that it is the performance of proper, pious – Arya – actions which strengthen the Divine, the Divine War Effort, and thus drive back the Peril.
Its meaning is, literally taken, quite simple – “[To] Make The World ‘Arya'”. Or, we might surmise, given what has previously been the dominant state of affairs all the way from India to Iceland – to Make the World Arya Again, once more, anew.
‘Arya’, I have already voluminously extolled the meaning(s) of elsewhere in this piece – it should need no (re-)introduction now.
We are bringing ‘Our Ways’ – the Right Ways, the Proper Ways, the literally Rite Ways – back out across the Loka again. And I say ‘Loka’ due to its ‘Light’ underpinning – it is from PIE ‘Lewk’, meaning ‘Light’ or ‘Shining’. Sanskrit लोक [‘Loka’] is a plane, a world, a sphere, a kingdom – and its people. It is a Realm Under Light – Dominion as far as the Light touches.
Krinvanto Vishvam Aryam – we may, in this case and context, not all that figuratively re-translate as “Help The [Other] Indo-Europeans Get Back To The Heritage Again”.
As applies the Hindusphere – some might suggest that we are ‘lucky’ to still have this bastion of flame with which to warm ourselves and begin to illuminate more broadly. It would be tempting to reply by observing that ‘luck’ is a curious way to express the sheer determination and sacrifice (both literal and personal) undertaken by millennia of Hindus to protect it so that it is still here for us today; although I would instead go for something simpler.
A Pandit at my Mandir, he came up with the ingenious idiomatic rendering for “Aum Namah Shivaya” in English as “Good Luck”. He was not incorrect. In that sense, we are indeed fortunate – for we have been Blessed. And I do not simply mean ‘we’ as in Hindus and the Hindusphere – I mean the Indo-European sphere all up.
For in truth, beheld in this particular way – India is not merely the ‘Last Integral Aryan Civilization’. Nor is She the Integral Aryan civilization – as in, the civilization that is integral to the concept of Arya. She is also, and irreducibly, the First Integral Aryan Civilization – both in terms of being the pre-eminent and primus inter pares of this kind … but also in setting the pathway for all the rest of us to follow.
भारत माता की जय !
जय हिन्द !