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BY TANIA BHATTACHARYA
Following the process of Christianization, Europe underwent a period generally regarded as its dark age. It was a time, when the collective knowledge of its ancients, be it in the Mediterranean, or further north, among the Celtic Druids, who had ushered in Europe’s earliest classical civilization of Stonehenge; was retreating in the face of advancing religious indoctrination. Unlike its polytheistic predecessor though, which had encouraged the spirit of inquiry, the new faith placed utmost importance on dogma, and its propaganda, in the process snuffing out much of what Paganism had bestowed upon Europe; referring to its Arts, Sciences, and the Athletics.
Modern Christian Europe, is largely not confounded by the presence of a rich classical history, existing simultaneously with Christianity, an evangelizing religious path, that had looked askance at the very classicism that today, Europeans have embraced as their own. So, while British schoolchildren sing defiantly in praise of their national icon, the first century Queen Boudicca, a Pagan Celtic heroine who had valiantly fought off the Roman legions on the island; they feel no dichotomy in extending the same goodwill to King Wenceslas, a Christian Slavic monarch, who had been assassinated due to a collusion between his Pagan mother Drahomira, and younger brother Prince Boleslas, both of whom had refused to abandon the polytheism of their forefathers.
When the sun of the western classical era was on its descent, with Judeo-Christianity gradually wearing it down, some fundamental changes were made to the collective psyche of the hitherto polytheistic Europeans. Those negative changes have held strong right up to the present times. Perfectly good and decent historical personages from the pagan past have been reviled, and been turned into despicable figures, simply by affecting a string of historical falsifications. In this article, I shall address three such incidents.
EMPEROR RAMSES II
Among a long list of pharaohs, a few of them women, that ruled over Upper and Lower Egypt, till the region was conquered by the Romans, the name of Ramses the Second, is a stand-alone exemplar. He was born and raised in the Egypt of the nineteenth dynasty of kings, in the era of the thirteenth century before the first. In recent times, the classical heritage of that country has come under attack from Islamic hardliners including Mohammad Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. It seems as if only the secular, and authoritarian dictators of Egypt, have the good intention of maintaining intact, and renovating, the ancient wealth of their ancestors.
Even though structurally apart, there are many parallels which can be drawn between the Kemetic pagan religion of Egypt; and India’s Vedic Hinduism. Simple folk are more likely to grasp this glaring truth, as opposed to scholars, who are too busy etching out the chasm between cultures, and as a result, eventually missing the forest, for the trees.
Sergey Glazenap, a prominent Soviet astrophysicist, made a note about Indians during the First World War. He observed, that when the Indian soldiers – then fighting on the side of Britain – were returning back home after the cessation of hostilities, they had to pass through Egypt. Glazenap writes, that the simpletons, once they had chanced upon the reliefs of the Egyptian deities, had immediately fallen on their knees, praying to them, saying, that those gods were the same as the ones they were accustomed to worshipping in India.
The above is a historical incident and a reminder, of the common thread which runs through all Polytheism. Separated through time and space that these religions are, they are nevertheless of equal respect to fellow worshippers within the Pagan sphere of life. It therefore would make sense, if the ordinary Hindu took an interest in the history and ancient ethos of global paganism, but unfortunately that has never been the case. It appears, that the average Hindu, is too cozy, wrapped up in the nuances of their own faith, to explore those that belong to fellow pagan communities.
Ramses the Second was the only known Egyptian ruler, who could extend the borders of ancient Egypt, maintain peace and stability; and mend relations with his neighbouring Hittites. The latter are the progenitors of Vedic Hinduism. Asia Minor’s Hittites have been West Asia’s most significant homegrown monarchy, that practised an indigenous religion.
Ramses the Second’s name was destined to remain untainted, that is, until it became intertwined with that of a famous religious philosopher, who was supposedly a contemporary. The person being referred to, is the Messiah of the Jews, Moses. For millennia, Jews and Christians have claimed, that Moses and his followers were expelled from Egypt by Ramses the Second, after the former had endured many calumnies and injustices at the hands of the latter. Following the expulsion, it is supposed, that Moses and his people, then wandered the deserts forty days and forty nights.
Modern archaeology has unearthed some revealing facts about the aforementioned folklore. To begin with, there were next to no Jews that were residing in the Egypt of Pharaoh Ramses. It is now known, that the myth of the Jewish exodus, was given its final contours around the fourth century BCE, after taking inspiration from facets of Judaic legends, that had been in place thirty three hundred years ago. The motive for the myth-making, seems to be political, an effort that was made with an eye to uniting the Jewish people into a monolithic force. Moreover, the forty days and nights of wandering in the Sinai desert, have been disproven completely. Presumably, the same desert was used by many communities as land routes, in the intervening period of time, so for Judeo-Christian religious pundits to claim, that the exodus is a historical fact, based on certain ancient bone fragments found in the desert, is not only fallacious, but displays a degree of mischievousness.
Ralph Lewis MD, author of Finding Purpose In A Godless World, himself an author, and a contributor to Psychology Today, has painstakingly disproven the circumstances involved in the story of Exodus. He is one among a growing number of rationalists, who have come forward armed with historical titbits, that rubbishes all the claims made by Judeo-Christian theologists concerning Exodus.
The sufferer in the end, however, has been none other, than the pristine image of Pharaoh Ramses the Second, that has been soiled for millennia together. What an incredible tale of character assassination! The poor ruler’s reputation deserves a thorough cleansing! Over the past few centuries, many Egyptians as well as other Arabs, have been complaining about what the Judeo-Christian West, had done to their beloved emperor of bygone times.
EMPEROR JULIAN…THE GREAT
The most important figure in the history of the Holy Roman Empire, is not Charlemagne, as mistakenly imagined, but the first ever Roman emperor, who had not only converted to Christianity, but who had made it his official state religion, and punished Paganism, by making its public worship, illegal, throughout the length and breadth of Europe, as also within Rome’s colonies in West Asia and North Africa. This king had been Constantine. History, always perceived in the west, through Jesus rimmed glasses, has bestowed upon him the epithet of ‘The Great’, in a gesture of gratitude.
The decision was made in haste it seems, for not only was Constantine a demonic personality, who went out of his way to remove the last vestiges of Roman Polytheism from its natural homeland; he found no contrariety in retaining the pagan honorific of Pontifex Maximus, or the Chief Priest of Rome, complete with a coronation ceremony that was held annually, by placing a helmet fashioned after the sun god Sol Invictus, upon the head of the emperor.
It seems to be the case, that political expediency was the chief worry of Constantine. As John Canning mentions in ‘100 Great Lives’, Constantine could not afford alienating the multitudes of Romans including his own elite, Praetorian Guards, who were still polytheistic to the hilt. Those same political persuasions had made him concoct a story about seeing a flaming cross in the sky, inscribed with the words ‘By THIS, Conqueror!’ which he had then interpreted as a command from the almighty, instructing him to embrace the new faith. No one would be inclined to believe such poppycock in our present day and age, but seventeen hundred years ago, such stuff was taken seriously. It is altogether a different matter, that Constantine ‘the great’ had embarked soon, on a campaign of liquidation; having his own wife and son, murdered; and excommunicating the Arian sect of nascent Christianity. He truly converted to Christianity only on his deathbed, allowing himself the liberty to kill, imprison, torture, and expel at will, during his ambiguous phase. His new religion had promised him a clear track to heaven, for which all he had to do, was to ask to be forgiven of his lifetime of sins, and undergo a final baptism. The whole scenario, is enough to churn the stomach of the modern legal system.
A few generations into the line of Constantine’s household, a male child was born, who was named Julian. Tutored in the purple to become a general and a king, and an emerging man of letters, Julian took the throne as emperor of Rome, in the middle of the fourth century AD. This particular ruler of Rome, was a complete antithesis of his earlier, blood ancestor, Constantine ‘the great’, and perhaps remains the most significant Caesar to have been instated, after Augustus, and Augustus’ grand-uncle Julius, in the first century.
Julian was a figure of depth and consistency of character. He married only once, and remained loyal to his wife till the time that she died during childbirth. Contemporary historians, and multiple sources at that, testify that Julian had been a virgin, and a complete celibate till his wedding, and that following his status as a widower, never took interest in women in a romantic sense, even though he was of marriageable age. This tall figure of Roman history, made a mark upon its annals, by emerging as a writer, a philosopher, a general, and a ruler, all at once. Displaying a tenderness toward the Jewish population that had sought refuge during his tenure, he was immortalized by them as ‘Julian, the Hellene’. It can be considered the misfortune of Rome and its people, that Emperor Julian was assassinated while fighting against the Persians, one of the mortal enemies of ancient Rome, akin to Carthage, once upon a time.
If one contrasts the two figures of Roman history, namely, Constantine and Julian, it is not difficult to determine just who trumps the other over every aspect of creativity, humanism, and progress. Yet, it is remarkable, that Julian has gone down in history, not simply as ‘Emperor Julian’, but as ‘Julian the Apostate’. His crime? Julian was an avowed polytheist. Despite having been reared as a Christian, he had renounced the religion in his early youth, and sought to return Rome, to its ancestral, native, system of beliefs. He might very well have achieved it, had he lived out his entire lifetime. This, and this alone, earned him the downright derogatory epithet of ‘Apostate’.
Any person with an iota of judiciousness can see for themselves, just who among the two notable characters of a post-Christian Rome, deserved to be denigrated. It wouldn’t be too far-fetched for the champions of secularism to demand, that Constantine be stripped of his honorific, and Julian be adorned with one. It wouldn’t be too much to ask for, if Constantine ‘the great’ were to be reduced to a mere ‘Emperor Constantine’; and Julian ‘the apostate’, were to be elevated to ‘Julian, the Great’.
The symbol of the swastika, denotes the cycle of reincarnation. According to the theory of the transmigration of souls, a soul particle – a very small physical particle corresponding to the ‘quark’ of Physics – must pass through the animate world by incarnating into every type of life form from the simplest (plankton, for example) to the most complex (humans), in order to understand and empathize with all living conditions experienced by each singular organism. Once the knowledge and empathy is complete, the soul particle can escape mortality and rise to the plane of immortals. Reincarnation was an idea implicit in all the ancient belief systems of the world which looked upon it as a given truth.
The latent symbolism of the Swastika holds, that a person may wander off from the centre – which symbolizes the origin of all truth – in any of the four directions. However, the good news is, that he or she, will never fall off the arms of the swastika. He or she will ultimately always find one’s way back, to the centre. The wanderings of an individual constitute the duration of his or her, innumerable lifetimes on earth. The centre of the swastika, is an allegory for salvation from the mortal world.
This beautiful symbol ought to be rescued from the negative imagery that has been forced upon it, by the Anglo-American-Zionists on the one hand and the Communists-Islamists on the other, who continue to connect it with Nazism and Fascism.
It is about time, that the swastika was revamped and given its due place in the scheme of things. It is an eternal and holy symbol, which has been recognized over all races and in all parts of the world. The symbol is thoroughly rooted in pagan allegory, pertaining to reincarnation. Most communities that use it today, are not aware of its real significance, but display it nevertheless.
Contrary to popular belief, the swastika is not limited to South Asia, and its Hinduism, and Buddhism. The symbol has been found on Greek vases excavated by German archaeologist Heinrich Schleimann, on Black African weights and measures used by the Ashante tribe, in Iran’s Gilan region dated to be three thousand years old; on Native American rugs and clothing, and on Buddhist temples in China. As recently as the Second World War, it was used by a Chinese Red Cross style humanitarian organization.
In addition to the Sacred Labyrinth, a maze with a centre, the Swastika was identified by Hellenic civilization, as symbolic of the cycle of reincarnation. Once again, it needs to be clarified, that reincarnation is not limited to South Asian religions. It is a concept that was present among all the polytheistic identities of yore, and is being revived as a concept, at the hands of revivalist, western pagans.
Modern Europe, is a gift of its classical age. A little generosity toward that era, is certainly forthcoming.
"In India, to be born as a man is a crime, to question a woman is an atrocious crime, and this all because of those women who keep suppressing men in the name of feminism."
Feminism, a worldwide movement that started to establish, define and defend equal rights for women in all sections- economically, politically, and socially. India, being a patriarchal society gives a gender advantage to the men in the society thus, Indian feminists sought to fight against the culture-specific issue for women in India. Feminism itself is nothing but a simple movement that pursues equal rights for women (including transwomen) and against misogyny both external and internal. It states nowhere that women should get more wages than men, that women deserve more respect than men, that's pseudo-feminism.
Pseudo feminists state that women deserve more respect and rights, any other gender deserves no respect. They feel that women should be the ones ruling the world and at higher positions. When feminism takes a turn for extremities it becomes pseudo-feminism and people who label themselves as feminists will bash anyone who speaks against even the wrongdoings of a woman. They'll bash women who're wife and sisters for not speaking up and support any women criticizing political leaders even if it's completely irrational. This is where hypocrisy and pseudo-feminism merge with each other.
They take advantage of the rights given to women to protect themselves to threaten other genders. The rights given to women are supposed to make them feel reassured that they can reach out to the judiciary if their rights are being hampered not to threaten to make the victim sound like the culprit.
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Indian Feminist Movement has made significant progress however, even in the modern world women are still unsafe and are discriminated against when it comes to getting a job, land ownership, and access to education. While filling the official papers it is still asked "Wife of /Daughter of:….."
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family. Such injustices make feminism such an important movement, gender equality is worth fighting for to create a safe environment for women. Feminists over the years have been criticized for focusing on the rights of privileged women and not giving equal representation to poorer and lower caste women, which has led to separate caste-specific feminist organizations and movements.
Some notable milestones in the Feminist Movement
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy campaigned against Sati Pratha (practice in which a widow sacrificed herself by sitting atop her deceased husband's funeral pyre) and child marriage
- Savitribai Phule started the first school for girls at Bhidewada in Pune city in 1848.
- In 1972, SEWA, the biggest trade union for women was set up by Ela Bhatt for women working in the informal sector.
- The Chipko Movement was launched and led by women in 1973.
- #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and abuse was started in 2006 and revived in the year 2015.
People in India still continue the practice of sex-selective abortion, abandoning the girl child, not letting girl child study instead they should learn household chores, they are seen as a burden to the family.Unsplash
Feminism is often misunderstood as pseudo-feminism and hence, becomes the target for public hatred and is accused of wronging other genders under the façade of feminism. It is misunderstood by Indians as female domination instead of gender equality. Indian society and Indian feminists believe that only men are perpetrators of a heinous crime like rape and they refuse to even recognize the men who say they were raped and it's the toxic masculinity in the society that believes how can a woman rape a man? Reality is different from what we believe, women can be the perpetrator too, women threaten to file a case of domestic violence, or sexual assault against innocent people just to fulfill their ego.
Thankfully feminism and pseudo feminism are two separate concepts and feminism is just about equality and not judgment. Indian society and feminists actually need to understand the difference between the two and stop tarnishing the Feminist Movement as a whole.
Keywords: Feminism, World, India, Pseudo-Feminism, Gender
Kerala is a land of many good things. It has an abundance of nature, culture, art, and food. It is also a place of legend and myth, and is known for its popular folklore, the legend of Yakshi. This is not a popular tale outside the state, but it is common knowledge for travellers, especially those who fare through forests at night.
The legend of the yakshi is believed to be India's equivalent of the Romanian Dracula, except of course, the Yakshi is a female. Many Malayalis believe that the Yakshi wears a white saree and had long hair. She has a particular fragrance, which is believed to be the fragrance of the Indian devil-tree flowers. She seduces travellers with her beauty, and kills them brutally.
Yakshi idol in Veroor, Sri Dharamashastha temple Image source: wikimedia commons
The Yakshi is believed to live in a palm tree which can appear like a palace. Victims are taken here before they are killed. Travellers on highways are often advised not to stop near heavily forested areas, or speak to anyone who closely resembles a Yakshi. Some believe she can change form, while other hold to the belief that she doesn't. after securing her victim, the only trace left behind is body parts like hair, nails, and teeth.
They say, like other ghosts, a Yakshi's feet will not touch the ground. This is something to look out for. Mysterious deaths have been reported across the rural areas in Kerala, and all these have been attributed to the legend.
Keywords: Legends, Yakshi, Urban legend, Ghost, Kerala, Myth, Vampire
The LGBTQ+ acronym stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and others. In India LGBTQ+ community also include a specific social group, part religious cult, and part caste: the Hijras. They are culturally defined either as "neither men nor women" or as men who become women by adopting women's dress and behavior. Section 377 of the India Penal code that criminalized all sexual acts "against the order of nature" i.e. engaging in oral sex or anal sex along with other homosexual activities were against the law, ripping homosexual people off of their basic human rights. Thus, the Indian Supreme Court ruled a portion of Section 377 unconstitutional on 6th September 2018.
But the question is, "was India always against homosexuality"? Has the concept of homosexuality being unnatural existed forever? No, in Indian history and Hinduism homosexuality has never been an offense, in fact in several instances it has been depicted how people embraced their identity, be it sexual identity or gender identity. Section 377 was brought to India by the British in 1862, while India was colonized. Even after the Independence, it was only in 2018 that the Supreme Court ruled it as irrational and illogical.
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Homosexuality in Ancient India
When Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in India, there was an uproar about it being a western ideology and liberalism. But in reality, homosexuality has existed since the time of the Vedas. The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association (GALVA) researched and discovered that it was around 3102 B.C. (during the Vedic Age) that homosexuality or non-normative sexual identity was recognized as "Tritiya Prakriti", or the third nature. Ancient India not only made mentions of homosexuality but accepted it as well.
Hinduism is the most vastly followed religion in India. Hinduism does not explicitly mention homosexuality however it does contain a homosexual theme and characters in its text. There have been various instances in our scriptures and texts that have introduced us to LGBT+ characters such as the androgynous form of Shiva and Parvati Ardhanariswara meaning "the half-female lord". One of the most popular and ancient texts on sexuality, eroticism, and emotional fulfillment of life, "Kamasutra" has a complete chapter dedicated to homosexuality and homosexual sex. Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities.
Numerous Hindu sculptures and temples have statues depicting homosexual activities. Facebook
Our Mughals were Queer
Mughals are often seen under the light of cruelty, rigid ethics, nobility, and polygamy. Simultaneously, Mughals are also the ones credited for the emergence of Sufism, abolished jizya tax, love beyond religion, classes, and gender.
In the Baburnama written in memoirs of our very first Mughal ruler Muhammad Babur, several instances documented Babur's infatuation and affection towards a teenage boy named Baburi. We also have multiple Persian couplets as evidence of Babur's affection for Baburi. Mughals engaged in homosexuality and pederasty, and they believed that later was a form of "pure love".
But as time passed homosexuality was suppressed more and more though people practiced it in secret if revealed they were punished. According to the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri Sharia-based text of the Mughal Empire, there is a common set of punishments for homosexuality, which could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
British Raj and Independence of India
In 1862, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code that criminalized homosexual sex came into force. Even after Independence in 1947, the section remained a part of the Indian Constitution. There were protests all over the country to give people of the LGBT+ community basic human rights but it was not until 2018 that The Supreme Court of India ruled the portion of Section 377 has unconstitutional and struck it off. One judge said the landmark decision would "pave the way for a better future.". With Section 377 gone are LGBT+ people allowed to fall in love freely? No, people are still afraid to love because of the stigma in our society when it comes to homosexuality; they are seen as lesser humans.
ALSO READ: Significant Support for Rights for LGBTQ+
Although the Supreme Court has decriminalized homosexual activities, same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country. Homophobia is still prevalent in India, and homosexual children would rather commit suicide than come out to society with their true identity, that's how harsh of a world we live in. Lacking support from family, society, or police, many gay rape victims do not report the crimes. In 1977, writer and Indian mathematician Shakuntla Devi published "The World of Homosexuals". It was the first study in the Indian context; the book contains interviews with homosexual men set in the years of Emergency. She wrote, "rather than pretending that homosexuals don't exist it is time we face the facts squarely in the eye and find room for homosexual people." We've had small victories in our fight against homophobia and getting LGBT+ community the rights they deserve as humans, but we still have a long and exhausting fight ahead of us.