THEOSOPHY, Vol. 48, No. 4, February, 1960
(Pages 176-182; Size: 20K)
LEAFLETS FROM ARYAN HISTORY(1)
THE Theosophical Adepts deny most emphatically to Western science any knowledge whatever of the growth and development of the Indo-Aryan race which, "at the very dawn of history," they have espied in its "patriarchal simplicity" on the banks of the Oxus. Before our proposition concerning the old Greeks and Romans (as descending from "Atlantis") can be repudiated, or even controverted, Western Orientalists will have to know more than they do about the antiquity of that race and the Aryan language. And they will have to account for those numberless gaps in history which no hypothesis of theirs seems able to fill up. Notwithstanding their present profound ignorance with regard to the early ancestry of the Indo-European nations, and though no historian has yet ventured to assign even a remotely approximate date to the separation of the Aryan nations and the origins of the Sanskrit language, they hardly show the modesty that might, under these circumstances, be expected from them.
Placing as they do that great separation of the races at the first "dawn of traditional history," with the Vedic age as "the background of the whole Indian world" of which confessedly they know nothing, they will nevertheless, calmly assign a moderate date to any of the Rig Vedic oldest songs, on its "internal evidence." And in doing this, they show as little hesitation as Mr. Fergusson when ascribing a post-Christian age to the most ancient rock-cut temple in India, merely on its "external form." As for their unseemly quarrels, mutual recriminations, and personalities over questions of scholarship, the less said the better.
"The evidence of language is irrefragable," as the great Oxford Sanskritist, Max Müller, says. To which he is answered, "Provided it does not clash with historical facts and ethnology." It may be -- no doubt it is, as far as his knowledge goes -- "the only evidence worth listening to with regard to ante-historical periods." But when something of these alleged "prehistorical periods" comes to be known, and when what we think we know of certain supposed prehistoric nations is found diametrically opposed to his "evidence of language," the "Adepts" may be, perhaps, permitted to keep to their own views, even though they differ with those of the greatest living philologist. The study of language is but a part -- though, we admit, a fundamental part -- of true philology. To be complete the latter has, as correctly argued by Böckt, to be almost synonymous with history. We gladly concede the right to the Western philologist who has to work in the total absence of any historical data, to rely upon comparative grammar, and take the identification of roots lying at the foundation of words of those languages he is familiar with, or may know of, and put it forward as the result of his study and the only available evidence. But we would like to see the same right conceded by him to the student of other races, even though these be inferior to the European races, in the opinion of the paramount West; for it is barely possible that, proceeding on other lines, and having reduced his knowledge to a system which precludes hypothesis and simple affirmation, the Eastern student has preserved a perfectly authentic record (for him) of those periods which his opponent regards as ante-historical.
The "Adept," therefore, has little if anything to do with difficulties presented by Western history. To his knowledge -- based on documentary records from which, as said, hypothesis is excluded, and as regards which even psychology is called to play a very secondary part -- the history of his and other nations extends immeasurably beyond that hardly discernible point that stands on the far-away horizon of the Western world as a landmark of the commencement of its history. Records made throughout a series of ages, based on astronomical chronology and zodiacal calculations, cannot err. Hence the main question at issue is to decide which -- the Orientalist or the "Oriental" -- is most likely to err. The "English F.T.S." has choice of two sources of information, two groups of teachers. One group is composed of learned Ethnologists, Philologists, Anthropologists, Archeologists and Orientalists in general. The other consists of unknown Asiatics belonging to a race which, notwithstanding Mr. Max Müller's assertion that the same "blood is running in the veins [of the English soldier] and in the veins of the dark Bengalese," is generally regarded by many a cultured Western as "inferior." A handful of men can hardly hope to be listened to, especially when their history, religion, language, origin and sciences, having been seized upon by the conqueror, are now disfigured and mutilated beyond recognition, and who have lived to see the Western scholar claim a monopoly beyond appeal or protest of deciding the correct meaning, chronological date, and historical value of the monumental and paleographic relics of his motherland.
It has little, if ever, entered the mind of the Western public that their scholars, until very lately, worked in a narrow pathway obstructed with the ruins of an ecclesiastical, dogmatic Past. That they have been cramped on all sides by limitations of "revealed" events coming from God, "with whom a thousand years are but as one day," and who have thus felt bound to cram millenniums into centuries and hundreds into units, giving at the utmost an age of 1,000 to what is 10,000 years old. All this, to save the threatened authority of their religion and their own respectability and good name in cultured society. And even when free themselves from preconceptions they have had to protect the honor of the Jewish divine chronology assailed by stubborn facts; and thus have become (often unconsciously) the slaves of an artificial history made to fit into the narrow frame of a dogmatic religion. No proper thought has been given to this purely psychological but very significant trifle.
Yet we all know how, rather than admit any relation between Sanskrit and the Gothic, Keltic, Greek, Latin, and old Persian, facts have been tampered with, old texts purloined from libraries, and philological discoveries vehemently denied. And we have also heard from our retreats, how Dugald Stewart and his colleagues upon seeing that the discovery would also involve ethnological affinities, and damage the prestige of those sires of the world races -- Shem, Ham and Japhet -- denied in the face of fact that "Sanskrit had ever been a living, spoken language," supporting the theory that "it was an invention of the Brahmins, who had constructed their Sanskrit on the model of the Greek and Latin." And again we know, holding the proof of the same, how the majority of Orientalists are prone to go out of their way to prevent any Indian antiquity (whether MSS, or inscribed monument, whether art or science) from being declared pre-Christian. As the origin and history of the Gentile world is made to move in the narrow circuit of a few centuries "B.C.," within that fecund epoch when mother earth, recuperated from her arduous labors of the Stone age, begat, it seems without transition, so many highly civilized nations and false pretenses, so the enchanted circle of Indian archaeology lies between the (to them unknown) year of the Samvat era, and the tenth century of the Western chronology.
Having to dispose of an "historical difficulty" of such a serious character the defendants charged with it can but repeat what they have already stated; all depends upon the past history and antiquity allowed to the Indo-Aryan nation. The first step to take is to ascertain how much History herself knows of that almost prehistoric period when the soil of Europe had not been trodden yet by the primitive Aryan tribes. From the latest encyclopaedia down to Professor Max Müller and other Orientalists, we gather what follows: they acknowledge that at some immensely remote period, before the Aryan nations got divided from the parent stock (with the germs of the Indo-Germanic languages in them), and before they rushed asunder to scatter over Europe and Asia in search of new homes, there stood a "single barbaric [?] people as physical and political representative of the nascent Aryan race." This people spoke "a now extinct Aryan language," from which by a series of modification (surely requiring more thousands of years than our difficulty-makers are willing to concede) there arose gradually all the subsequent languages now spoken by the Caucasian races.
That is about all Western history knows of its genesis. Like Ravana's brother, Kumbhakarna -- the Hindu Rip van Winkle -- it slept for a long series of ages a dreamless, heavy sleep. And when at last it awoke to consciousness, it was but to find the "nascent Aryan race" grown into scores of nations, peoples and races, most of them effete and crippled with age, many irretrievably extinct, while the true origin of the younger ones it was utterly unable to account for.
So much for the "youngest brother." As for "the eldest brother, the Hindu," who, Max Müller tells us, "was the last to leave the central home of the Aryan family," and whose history this eminent philologist has now kindly undertaken to impart to him -- he, the Hindu, claims that while his Indo-European relative was soundly sleeping under the protecting shadow of Noah's ark, he kept watch and did not miss seeing one event from his Himalayan fastnesses. And that he has recorded the history thereof, in a language which, though as incomprehensible as the Iapygian inscriptions to the Indo-European immigrant, is quite clear to the writers. For this crime he now stands condemned as a falsifier of the records of his forefathers.
A place has been hitherto purposely left open for India "to be filled up when the pure metal of history should have been extracted from the ore of Brahmanic exaggeration and superstition." Unable however to meet this program the Orientalist has since persuaded himself that there was nothing in that "ore" but dross. He applied himself to contrast Brahmanic "superstition" and "exaggeration" with Mosaic revelation and its chronology. The Veda was confronted with Genesis. Its absurd claims to antiquity were forthwith dwarfed to their proper dimensions by the 4,004 years B.C. measure of the world's age, and the Brahmanic "superstition and fables" about the longevity of the Aryan Rishis were belittled and exposed by the sober historical evidence furnished in "The genealogy and age of the Patriarchs from Adam to Noah," whose respective days were 930 and 950 years; without mentioning Methuselah, who died at the premature age of nine hundred and sixty-nine.
In view of such experience, the Hindu has a certain right to decline the offers made to correct his annals by Western history and chronology. On the contrary, he would respectfully advise the Western scholar, before he denies point-blank any statement made by the Asiatics with reference to what are prehistoric ages to Europeans, to show that the latter have, themselves, anything like trustworthy data as regards their own racial history. And that settled, he may have the leisure and capacity to help his ethnic neighbors to prune their genealogical tree. Our Rajputs, among others, have perfectly trustworthy family records of an unbroken lineal descent through 2,000 years "B.C." and more, as proved by Colonel Tod; records which are accepted by the British Government in its official dealings with them. It is not enough to have studied stray fragments of Sanskrit literature -- even though their numbers should amount to 10,000 texts, as boasted of -- allowed to fall into foreign hands, to speak so confidently of the "Aryan first settlers in India," and assert that "left to themselves in a world of their own without a past and without a future (!) before them, they had nothing but themselves to ponder upon," and therefore could know absolutely nothing of other nations. To comprehend correctly and make out the inner meaning of most of them, one has to read these texts with the help of the esoteric light, and after having mastered the language of the Brahmanic Secret Code -- branded generally as "theological twaddle."
Nor is it sufficient, if one would judge correctly of what the archaic Aryans did or did not know, whether or not they cultivated the social and political virtues, cared or not for history -- to claim proficiency in both Vedic and classical Sanskrit, as well as in Prakrit and Arya-Bhasha. To comprehend the esoteric meaning of ancient Brahmanical literature, one had, as just remarked, to be in possession of the key to the Brahmanical Code. To master the conventional terms used in the Puranas, the Aranyakas and Upanishads is a science in itself, and one far more difficult than even the study of the 3,996 aphoristical rules of Panini, or his algebraical symbols. Very true, most of the Brahmans themselves have now forgotten the correct interpretations of their sacred texts. Yet they know enough of the dual meaning in their scriptures to be justified in feeling amused at the strenuous efforts of European Orientalists to protect the supremacy of his own national records and the dignity of his science by interpreting the Hindu hieratic text after a peremptory fashion quite unique.
Disrespectful though it may seem, we call on the philologist to prove in some more convincing manner than usual that he is better qualified than even the average Hindu Sanskrit pundit to judge of the antiquity of "the language of the gods". That he has been really in a position to trace unerringly along the lines of countless generations the course of the "now extinct Aryan tongue" in its many and various transformations in the West, and its primitive evolution into, first, the Vedic, and then, the classical Sanskrit in the East, and that from the moment when the mother-stream began deviating into its new ethnological beds, he has followed it up. Finally, that while he, the Orientalist, can, owing to speculative interpretations of what he thinks he has learned from fragments of Sanskrit literature, judge of the nature of all that he knows nothing about -- i.e., to speculate upon the past history of a great nation he has lost sight of from its "nascent state," and caught up again but at the period of its last degeneration -- the native student never knew, nor can ever know, anything of that history. Until the Orientalist has proved all this, he can be accorded but small justification for assuming the air of authority and supreme contempt which is found in almost every work upon India and its Past. Having himself no knowledge whatever of those incalculable ages that lie between the Aryan Brahman in Central Asia, and the Brahman at the threshold of Buddhism, he has no right to maintain that the initiated Indo-Aryan can never know as much of them as the foreigner. Those periods being an utter blank to him, he is little qualified to declare that the Aryan, having no political history "of his own ..." his only sphere was "religion and philosophy ... in solitude and contemplation." A happy thought suggested, no doubt, by the active life, incessant wars, triumphs, and defeats portrayed in the oldest songs of the Rig-Veda.
Nor can he with the smallest show of logic affirm that "India had no place in the political history of the world," or that "there are no synchronisms between the history of the Brahmans and that of other nations before the date of the origin of Buddhism in India," for he knows no more of the prehistoric history of those "other nations" than of that of the Brahman. All his inferences, conjectures and systematic arrangements of hypotheses begin very little earlier than 200 "B.C.," if even so much, on anything like really historical grounds. He has to prove all this before he can command our attention. Otherwise, however "irrefragable the evidence of language," the presence of Sanskrit roots in all the European languages will be insufficient to prove, either that (a) before the Aryan invaders descended toward the seven rivers they had never left their northern regions; or (b) why the "eldest brother, the Hindu," should have been "the last to leave the central home of the Aryan family."
To the philologist such a supposition may seem "quite natural." Yet the Brahman is no less justified in his ever-growing suspicion that there may be at the bottom some occult reason for such a program. That in the interest of his theory the Orientalist was forced to make "the eldest brother" tarry so suspiciously long on the Oxus, or wherever "the youngest" may have placed him in his "nascent state" after the latter "saw his brothers all depart toward the setting sun." We find reasons to believe that the chief motive for alleging such a procrastination is the necessity of bringing the race closer to the Christian era. To show the "brother" inactive and unconcerned, "with nothing but himself to ponder on," lest his antiquity and "fables of empty idolatry," and perhaps his traditions of other people's doings, should interfere with the chronology by which it is determined to try him.
The suspicion is strengthened when one finds in the book from which we have been so largely quoting -- a work of a purely scientific and philological character -- such frequent remarks and even prophecies as: "History seems to teach that the whole human race required a gradual education before, in the fulness of time, it could be admitted to the truths of Christianity." Or again: "The ancient religions of the world were but the milk of Nature, which was in due time to be succeeded by the bread of life"; and such broad sentiments expressed as that "there is some truth in Buddhism, as there is in every one of the false religions of the world."
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(1) NOTE.--Collated from the writings of H. P. Blavatsky.
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