The Historical Approach
With the previous short articles we intended to provide the traditional hindū readers with the first critical tools to understand the general situation of Western Civilization.
Further details will be provided with next contributions, in this case referred to a particular field or period. By gathering this information, our readers will be able to dissolve the intricate knots that make Western Civilization so difficult to understand1. The first noticed anomaly is that we must resort to History in order to describe Western Traditions.
On the contrary Sanātana Dharma doesn’t need any historical tool to be described. This is because metaphysical knowledge is the source, the centre and the end of Hinduism, which is by nature eternal, intuitive, comprehensible, and “atmic”2 (Italian adj. “attimale” from subs. “attimo”, i.e. “without time”).
Such knowledge certainly existing at the beginning of Western Civilization, has only left some literary trace. Western people, having lost their metaphysical knowledge, have been imprisoned by the becoming, the action, the movement. Hence, their views confined to the cosmological spatial-temporal sphere have to be forcedly considered only in their historical development.
The same sacred texts of Western Religions of the last millennia are nothing else than Tales. Indeed Greeks have considered the Iliad and the Odyssey Poems as sacred books, being respectively the story of Troy War and of the hero Odysseus travels3.
The Sibylline Books, the Romans sacred texts, were only interpretive instruments for oracle purpose. For this reason, in the imperial era, Virgil’s Aeneid Poem practically assumed the function of sacred book. This epic as well as the Greek poems, were the tale of the exploits of Troyan hero Aeneas, whose descendants had been the founders of Rome4.
Similarly, also in Semitic branch of Western Religions, sacred texts are predominantly of historical matter. The Bible Old Testament is the history of the Jewish people from the creation of Adam, the first man, to the 6th century B.C. The New Testament, the Gospel, is the story of Jesus Christ’s life and his mission among the Jews. The Qur’an is the story of prophets from Adam to Muhammad5. In all these sacred texts of the Semitic branch of Western Tradition, which Muslims define Abrahamic Religions, we can find a few lines on ritual, moral and law, where some symbolic components occasionally appear, but the narrative of their respective revelations throughout history is prevalent in them.
With the passing of centuries, the importance attributed by Western people to historicism has become a real obsession. What it is not attested by written documents it is like it doesn’t exist.
On the base of the scientific conception invented by Western people according to their beliefs, written documents are the indisputable proof of truth, as if the writing could not be manipulated reporting lies, attesting falsehood, transmitting ignorance.
Indeed, as soon as historiography became a secular dogma, history has been increasingly and shamelessly falsified for the benefit of the dominant ideologies.
A qualitative leap has been the discovery of the printing machine which has allowed to the capillary diffusion of historical falsification through mass media. At present this increasing trend systematically manipulates the general mentality with the use of new technologies.
The historical method uses the philological science, created to attain the easiest manipulations from written texts. Everyone knows that when the philologists don’t understand a sentence due to misunderstanding, incompetence or disagreement, they declare it as an “interpolation”.
Another instrument of historical falsification is to questioning the document paternity. When Tradition declares that a book has been written by a famous author, they often decreed questionable his authorship through philological instruments. To this purpose, the text is compared with other works written of the author pointing out all the unusual words and syntactic forms. On this base the text is declared apocryphal, and the author’s name is preceded by the prefix: “pseudo”. This is sufficient to discredit the text as false loosing in this way any credibility.
Historians and philologists do not care at all if the text is consistent with the contents of the other compared books and with the thought of the author. But if indeed a text is truly consistent, what is the importance if it has been written by one or another person? In this way many important treatises of Śaṃkara and of other authors have been declared unreliable.
Of course, philological investigation doesn’t allow us to inquire the previous history of humanity before the writing onset. For this reason archaeology has become the second alleged objective source of historical information.
For the proto-historical times before the invention of any graphical system, alphabetical or not, the documentation of “material culture” is used. This formula declares the weakness of archaeology as historical research instrument. In fact, through the “material culture”, at most, it is possible to infer the technological level reached by ancient mankind but nothing concerning his intellectual knowledge.
In Indian rural villages we could met many wise men of the most sublime knowledge, dwelling in sun-baked brick houses, with beaten earth floor and straw roofs, that archaeologists would consider houses of primitive, or of those brutish “hominids” invented by paleoanthropology.
Finally, historiography is not even able to consider the most direct document of human intelligence: the oral transmission. This tradition conveyed from generation to generation cannot be affected by the woodworm or flooded by rivers. However, keeping the content intact, it is able to assume minimal adjustments in order to be adapted to the changing of time. This perennial transmission is the Sanātana Dharma itself which, for its conservation and adaptability, benefits of seer Veda Vyāsa’s function.
Oral tradition cannot be replaced by the recordings offered by contemporary technologies, because the recipient of the transmission must be qualified. Moreover, the unconsciousness of technological tools, and the intellectual shortage of the profane interviewer do not allow any understandable passage of the message. See, for example, the publication of interviews to Śrī Rāmaṇa Maharṣi, as evidence of the impossibility of profane transmission.
Back to our main subject, we suppose it will now be clear to our Indian readers why, from next chapter, we will explain Western Tradition, its decadence and corruption using historical means.
This is because the West, since its emersion from prehistory, had already lost the sense of eternity and was already struggling in its self-imposed cobweb of becoming.6 It was inevitable that this mental attitude would have produced the theory of Darwinian evolutionism.7
So we will begin illustrating the history of Western world from primordial ages, as the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Jews and the Celts regarded it, and then coming step by step to our time. In this way we will see the rise and fall of Empires, the splendour of disappeared Religions, the vicissitudes of ethnic and social upheavals. We will consider the birth and the decadence of civilizations, their corruption and overturning in a real devilish sense over millennia.
We will mostly describe the increasingly difficult survival of initiatory organizations, some of them remaining till now, and the persecutions they had to suffer. Whenever the opportunity is presented, we will relate or compare similar situations to those of Hinduism.
First we should like to inform our readers that even in the Greek-Roman primordial civilization, time was considered not developed in a rectilinear way, but in historical cycles chained one another.
The poet Hesiod (7th century B.C.) in his book “Works and Days” tells that originally a Golden Age (satya yuga) had been. Then the Gods created a pure and perfect human race, difficult to be distinguished from them.
Time, however, inexorably flowed downward and the second Silver Age (treta yuga) began. The men of that era did not have all the virtues of the golden generation. They began to feel equal to gods and to act arrogantly, refusing to perform sacrifices.
Thus the Bronze Age (dvāpara yuga) began. Mankind divided into two races: Giants, violent and rebel against gods, and Heroes, pious men, but ready to fight against wicked people who had began to populate the earth. Giants were exterminated by Gods and Heroes. But at last also Heroes disappeared, dying in the great wars of the late Bronze Age. A deluge went down flooding the whole the earth and, then the present Iron Age (kali yuga) began; thereafter evil reigned and humanity became petty, vicious and weak.
We begin now the narration of Western Tradition from Golden Age and the divine humanity of primordial Time.
Devadatta Kīrtideva Aśvamitra
- At the end of our historical overview we will also treat of America as the Extreme West. However, these former colonies of the various European Kingdoms formerly hadn’t any autonomous traditional importance; on the contrary they assumed a decisive anti-traditional active and dissolving role since their independence from the European motherlands.
- We will use this neologism, in absence of a similar a term in English. The Italian “attimo” (from Greek ἀτμός, read atmòs) derives from the same etymology of ātman, and refers to a state free from time constraints. Instead, “instant” means “insistent” and “moment” is a syncopated form of “movement”: both these two synonyms represent a minimal fraction of time
- Also India has two epics (Itihāsa), Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata. However, they are not part of Vedic literature, the highest category of sacred texts or śruti. Moreover, being smṛtis, the Itihāsas are focussed on the doctrinal preparation of kṣatriyas and not of brāhmaṇas. Nonetheless, unlike Iliad and Odyssey, Itihāsas contain sections dedicated to wisdom, such as Bhagavad Gītā and Yogavāsiṣṭha. In the Greek Epics we can find only symbolic elements of some interest.
- However, in the sixth book of Aeneid, the descent of Aeneas to the dead Kingdom has important implications of initiatory-mysteric nature.
- Among the great civilizations only Hinduism has the vision of eternity and the consciousness that time is is inside the Cosmos
- In modern times, this obsession has literally invaded every field of study: no one learns art, thought, literature, philosophy, religion, etc., but only history of art, history of thought, history of literature, history of philosophy, history of religion, and so on.
- We will comment later on this contemporary dogmatic belief.