Introduction

Gururbrahmā, Gururviṣṇuḥu, Gururdevo Maheśvaraḥa,
Guruhusākṣāt Param Brahma Tasmai, Śrigurave Namaḥa

Glory to the Guru, whose teachings allow us to see the rope beyond the snake appearance; glory to the Guru who teaches us how to distinguish ourselves from the body, the mind, the ego; glory to the Guru who helps us to realize that we are the Absolute Non-dual Reality. What we are about to write could not be true without the previous instruction and approval of the Guru. Glory to the Guru, to the Paramguru1 and to the Parameṣṭhi Guru2, inexhaustible sources of unfailing knowledge.

Three gurus of śaṃkarian Vedānta, on different occasions and in different locations in India, had asked us to write a series of articles on the traditions that had succeeded one another in the West. Above all, they wished us to explain to them the reasons why, by departing from all traditional attitudes, the West had become so aggressive towards the civilizations of others for several centuries. The purpose of military aggression of conquest and economic aggression of exploitation was sufficiently clear to them, being motivated by reasons of crude greed. What was incomprehensible to the initiatic authorities of Hinduism was the motive of missionary activity, especially that of the different Christian denominations. In fact, the similar Islamic proselytism was already known to them and more easily explained, since India had suffered such virulence for the long period of thirteen centuries. In India, Muslim missionaryism has the declared purpose of forcing those whom they consider “idolaters” to convert on pain of death. In its brutality, Islamic proselytism is at least brazenly clear in its means and aims. What instead remain unexplained are the motivations, the propaganda practice and the aims of the Christian missionaries3. Apparently the motivations are dictated by the desire to bring the “glad tidings” to the unfortunate populations that have not been benefited by the Christic revelation and therefore live in the “natural” state, deprived of any contact with the divine. Although they appear to be based on a disconcerting gullibility, they are nonetheless contradicted by the ends that are stubbornly pursued. The aims of Christian propaganda are reduced, in fact, to the divulgation of the material and technological superiority of the atheistic civilization coming from the West, which the missionaries validly represent, and the systematic demolition of tradition. The instruments, then, used for such a dissemination of profane conceptions, worsen the general picture of missionary activity: the deceptive conviction, the systematic lie, the philanthropic blackmail, the protean mimesis. The other point that the Svāmīs had declared incomprehensible to them was the active collaboration between missionary activity and the penetration of communism among the natives. Following all logic, Christian religious organizations and parties of various Marxist inspiration should have been on opposite sides. Instead, the collaboration seemed close and cordial, to the point that in those islands of India where conversions were rampant, communist parties invariably came to power. Evidently in the western civilization there was something that escaped them, a tumor hidden behind a flourishing appearance, which however spread from there like a metastasis to contaminate the bodies of other people’s traditions. In future developments of the From Cosmos to Chaos series we will deal with missionaryism and these related topics when we get to the modern and contemporary era. Lastly, they complained that they knew nothing real about the situation of traditions in the West. Some elementary information about ancient Greece and Rome had come to them as well, despite the fact that they had been trained in traditional Sanskrit knowledge in āśrama and gurukula. They had grasped that in those ancient civilizations there was a mythology, sacrificial rituals, a priesthood by birth, consecrated rulers, all of which echoed a similarity to the Vedic tradition. And they were surprised, regretful, that there were no longer worshippers of the ancient gods in any corner of the West. Why the drastic uprooting of ancestral traditions? One of the three gurus, particularly intrigued, had tried to learn more and had come to know Dante and Eckhart, and had recognized in them the traces of a metaphysical knowledge, not far from the Vedānta. However, they were aware that the sources they had access to were not reliable: most of the publications still circulating in India about classical antiquity or the Christian Middle Ages are those of the colonial era, which mainly magnify the “progress” of the West and the British “empire” in particular. In those books the presence of white, Anglo-Saxon, liberal and Protestant racial superiority according to nineteenth-century evolutionism is still central, leaving little room for Latin and Greek civilizations. At most, there is some reference to Athenian democracy and Roman law, largely filtered through romantic rhetoric. To browse more academic texts (i.e. richer in data, which does not mean that they are more reliable) one must draw from university or public libraries, where one must show a degree, better if a PhD, to access the consultation. So they are unobtainable for those who have studied with a paṇḍita, guru, or ācārya. The other Indian publications on the West are produced by vivekānandian, aurobindian, theosophist or Gandhian circles and publishing houses, of no doctrinal depth, but dripping with holistic love, equality between religions, universal peace. The other sources of information are missionary and Marxist. All three of these masters, who have never met each other personally, asked us to write a series of articles in order to have a fairly comprehensive overview of the ancient Western traditions, myths, sacrifices, cosmological and metaphysical doctrines, external and initiatory. They asked us to specify which details are similar or even identical to those of India, and which are the basic differences. And again: that we explain the advent of monotheism and the suppression of the Olympic religions and mysteries; to clarify what was the place of Christianity in the view of the Oriental traditions. But above all, they wanted to be made aware of the reasons that have made the West deviate from its traditional march to the point of becoming a true anomaly, a concrete danger for the existence of other traditions with its spread over the entire globe. We could not satisfy the first request4: those were the days when the computer was an object of science fiction movies, nor did we have any publishing house available to support that effort. The second incitament, on the other hand, came from a prestigious Pīṭha that gathered many saṃnyāsin and brahmacārin. The only practical difficulty was that the Svāmījī wanted us to publish the articles in the Hindī language; however, we had a number of people willing to cooperate, so the difficulty could have been overcome. In this case the human element became lacking. Commitments of ordinary life made collaborations fade, making everything more difficult. So at the stimulus of the third guru it was decided to break the delay and publish a series of articles in English on this site, with the indicative title of From Cosmos to Chaos. The contributors, this time, were taken with enthusiasm and in the short period of a year and a half the thirty-three chapters were published. After some initial work, warning the reader of the main differences between the European traditions and the Sanātana Dharma, these began to outline the history of the Primordial Tradition from its earliest traces in Greek literature, to cover the development of the mystery traditions, the origins of monotheisms, with particular attention to the birth of Christianity, to the establishment of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor. As can be easily seen from the above, the didactic setting chosen was designed for easy reading by the Hindū initiatic authorities and all those who, like them, having embraced a path of renunciation since adolescence, wish to have at their disposal, immediately, clear traditional data, regardless of the pedantic references required by academic studies. Moreover, the point of view deliberately assumed is one of an initiatic nature. For this reason, we do not worry at all about any erudite critics for the “unscientific” method we have adopted, nor will we take care of objections coming from dogmatic followers of monotheistic essoterisms.

Gian Giuseppe Filippi

  1. The master of the guru, the penultimate in the initiatory chain (paramparā) [Editor’s note].
  2. The master of the paramaguru [Editor’s note].
  3. To be precise, the Catholic Church and the countless Reformed sects that originated from it. This excludes the Eastern Churches which, although open to proselytizing Christic teachings, ignore missionary aberration altogether.
  4. A few years later Tadātmānanda Sarasvatī Svāmījī left the body, and this finally dropped that demand.