THEOSOPHY, Vol. 56, No. 5, March, 1968
(Pages 145-152; Size: 25K)
(Number 5 of a 36-part series)

THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME(6)

PAGAN ROOTS: THE TRINITY

FOLLOWING the Christian dogmas seriatim, if we concentrate our attention upon one which provoked the fiercest battles until its recognition, that of the Trinity, what do we find? We meet it, as we have shown, northeast of the Indus; and tracing it to Asia Minor and Europe, recognize it among every people who had anything like an established religion. It was taught in the oldest Chaldean, Egyptian, and Mithraitic schools. The Chaldean sun-god, Mithra, was called "Triple," and the trinitarian idea of the Chaldeans was a doctrine of the Akkadians, who, themselves, belonged to a race which was the first to conceive a metaphysical trinity. The Chaldeans are a tribe of the Akkadians, according to Rawlinson, who lived in Babylonia from the earliest times. They were Turanians, according to others, and instructed the Babylonians into the first notions of religion. But these same Akkadians, who were they? Those scientists who would ascribe to them a Turanian origin, make of them the inventors of the cuneiform characters; others call them Sumerians; others again, respectively, make their language, of which (for very good reasons) no traces whatever remain -- Kasdean, Chaldaic, Proto-Chaldean, Kasdo-Scythic, and so on. The only tradition worthy of credence is that these Akkadians instructed the Babylonians in the Mysteries, and taught them the sacerdotal or Mystery-language. These Akkadians were then simply a tribe of the Hindu-Brahmans, now called Aryans -- their vernacular language, the Sanscrit(1) of the Vedas; and the sacred or Mystery-language, that which, even in our own age, is used by the Hindu fakirs and initiated Brahmans in their magical evocations. It has been, from time immemorial, and still is employed by the initiates of all countries, and the Thibetan lamas claim that it is in this tongue that appear the mysterious characters on the leaves and bark of the sacred Koumboum.

Jacolliot, who took such pains to penetrate the mysteries of the Brahmanical initiation in translating and commenting upon the Agrouchada-Prikshai, confesses the following: "It is pretended also, without our being able to verify the assertion, that the magical evocations were pronounced in a particular language, and that it was forbidden, under pain of death, to translate them into vulgar dialects."(2)

Those who have seen a fakir or a lama reciting his mantras and conjurations, know that he never pronounces the words audibly when preparing for a phenomenon. His lips move, and none will ever hear the terrible formula pronounced, except in the interior of the temples, and then in a cautious whisper. This, then, was the language now respectively baptized by every scientist, and, according to his imaginative and philological propensities, Kasdeo-Semitic, Sycthic, Proto-Chaldean, and the like.

Scarcely two of even the most learned Sanskrit philologists are agreed as to the true interpretation of Vedic words. Let one put forth an essay, a lecture, a treatise, a translation, a dictionary, and straightway all the others fall to quarrelling with each other and with him as to his sins of omission and commission.... We quite agree with Professor Whitney that "the truism, that [for European critics?] it is far easier to pull to pieces than to build up, is nowhere truer than in matters affecting the archæology and history of India."

Babylonia happened to be situated on the way of the great stream of the earliest Hindu emigration, and the Babylonians were one of the first peoples benefited thereby.(3) These Khaldi were the worshippers of the Moon-god, Deus Lunus, from which fact we may infer that the Akkadians -- if such must be their name -- belonged to the race of the Kings of the Moon, whom tradition shows as having reigned in Pruyay -- now Allahabad. With them the trinity of Deus Lunus was manifested in the three lunar phases, completing the quaternary with the fourth, and typifying the death of the Moon-god in its gradual waning and final disappearance. This death was allegorized by them, and attributed to the triumph of the genius of evil over the light-giving deity; as the later nations allegorized the death of their Sun-gods, Osiris and Apollo, at the hands of Typhon and the great Dragon Python, when the sun entered the winter solstice. Babel, Arach, and Akkad are names of the sun. The Zoroastrian Oracles are full and explicit upon the subject of the Divine Triad. "A triad of Deity shines forth throughout the whole world, of which a Monad is the head," admits the Reverend Dr. Maurice.

"For from this Triad, in the bosoms, are all things governed," says a Chaldean oracle. The Phos, Pur, and Phlox, of Sanchoniathon, are Light, Fire, and Flame, three manifestations of the Sun who is one. Bel-Saturn, Jupiter-Bel, and Bel or Baal-Chom are the Chaldean trinity; "The Babylonian Bel was regarded in the Triune aspect of Belitan, Zeus-Belus (the mediator) and Baal-Chom who is Apollo Chomæus. This was the Triune aspect of the 'Highest God,' who is, according to Berosus, either El (the Hebrew), Bel, Belitan, Mithra, or Zervana, and has the name "the Father." The Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva,(4) corresponding to Power, Wisdom, and Justice, which answer in their turn to Spirit, Matter, Time, and the Past, Present, and Future, can be found in the temple of Gharipuri; thousands of dogmatic Brahmans worship these attributes of the Vedic Deity, while the severe monks and nuns of Buddhistic Thibet recognize but the sacred trinity of the three cardinal virtues: Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, professed by the Christians, practiced by the Buddhists and some Hindus alone.

The Persian triplicate Deity also consists of three persons, Ormazd, Mithra, and Ahriman. "That is that principle," says Porphyry, "which the author of the Chaldaic Summary saith, 'They conceive there is one principle of all things, and declare that is one and good'." The Chinese idol Sanpao, consists of three equal in all respects; and the Peruvians "supposed their Tanga-tanga to be one in three, and three in one," says Faber. The Egyptians have their Emepht, Eicton, and Phta; and the triple god seated on the Lotos can be seen in the St. Petersburg Museum, on a medal of the Northern Tartars.

Among the Church dogmas which have most seriously suffered of late at the hands of the Orientalists, the last in question stands conspicuous. The reputation of each of the three personages of the anthropomorphic godhead as an original revelation to the Christians through Divine will, has been badly compromised by inquiry into its predecessors and origin. Orientalists have published more about the similarity between Brahmanism, Buddhism, and Christianity than was strictly agreeable to the Vatican. Draper's assertion that "Paganism was modified by Christianity, Christianity by Paganism,"(5) is being daily verified. "Olympus was restored but the divinities passed under other names," he says, treating of the Constantine period. "The more powerful provinces insisted on the adoption of their time-honored conceptions. Views of the trinity in accordance with the Egyptian traditions were established. Not only was the adoration of Isis under a new name restored, but even her image, standing on the crescent moon, reappeared. The well-known effigy of that goddess with the infant Horus in her arms has descended to our days, in the beautiful artistic creations of the Madonna and child."

But a still earlier origin than the Egyptian and Chaldean can be assigned to the Virgin "Mother of God," Queen of Heaven. Though Isis is also by right the Queen of Heaven, and is generally represented carrying in her hand the Crux Ansata composed of the mundane cross, and of the Stauros of the Gnostics, she is a great deal younger than the celestial virgin, Neith. In one of the tombs of the Pharaohs -- Rhameses, in the valley of Biban-el-Molouk, in Thebes, Champollion, Junior, discovered a picture, according to his opinion the most ancient ever yet found. It represents the heavens symbolized by the figure of a woman bedecked with stars. The birth of the Sun is figured by the form of a little child, issuing from the bosom of its "Divine Mother."

In the Book of Hermes, "Pimander" is enunciated in distinct and unequivocal sentences, the whole trinitarian dogma accepted by the Christians. "The light is me," says Pimander, the DIVINE THOUGHT. "I am the nous or intelligence, and I am thy god, and I am far older than the human principle which escapes from the shadow. I am the germ of thought, the resplendent WORD, the son of God. Think that what thus sees and hears in thee, is the Verbum of the Master, it is the Thought, which is God the Father.... The celestial ocean, the ÆTHER, which flows from east to west, is the Breath of the Father, the life-giving Principle, the HOLY GHOST!" "For they are not at all separated and their union is LIFE."

Ancient as may be the origin of Hermes, lost in the unknown days of Egyptian colonization, there is yet a far older prophecy, directly relating to the Hindu Christna, according to the Brahmans. It is, to say the least, strange that the Christians claim to base their religion upon a prophecy of the Bible, which exists nowhere in that book. In what chapter or verse does Jehovah, the "Lord God," promise Adam and Eve to send them a Redeemer who will save humanity? "I will put enmity between thee and the woman," says the Lord God to the serpent, "and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

In these words there is not the slightest allusion to a Redeemer, and the subtilest of intellects could not extract from them, as they stand in the third chapter of Genesis, anything like that which the Christians have contrived to find. On the other hand, in the traditions and Manu, Brahma promises directly to the first couple to send them a Saviour who will teach them the way to salvation.

"It is from the lips of a messenger of Brahma, who will be born inKuroukshetra, Matsya, and the land of Pantchola, also called Kanya-Cubja (mountain of the Virgin), that all men on earth will learn their duty," says Manu (book ii., slokas 19 and 20).

The Mexicans call the Father of their Trinity Yzona, the Son Bacab, and the Holy Ghost Echvah, "and say they received it (the doctrine) from their ancestors." Among the Semitic nations we can trace the trinity to the prehistorical days of the fabled Sesostris, who is identified by more than one critic with Nimrod, "the mighty hunter." Manetho makes the oracle rebuke the king, when the latter asks, "Tell me, O thou strong in fire, who before me could subjugate all things? and who shall after me?" And the oracle saith thus: "First God, then the Word, and then 'the Spirit'."

Ideas on the transmigrations and the trinity of man, were held by many of the early Christian Fathers. It is the jumble made by the translators of the New Testament and ancient philosophical treatises between soul and spirit, that has occasioned the many misunderstandings. It is also one of the many reasons why Buddha, Plotinus, and so many other initiates are now accused of having longed for the total extinction of their souls -- "absorption unto the Deity," or "reunion with the universal soul," meaning, according to modern ideas, annihilation. The animal soul must, of course, be disintegrated of its particles, before it is able to link its purer essence forever with the immortal spirit.

In the writings of Paul, the entity of man is divided into a trine -- flesh, psychical existence or soul, and the overshadowing and at the same time interior entity of SPIRIT. His phraseology is very definite, when he teaches the anastasis, or the continuation of life of those who have died. He maintains that there is a psychical body which is sown in the corruptible, and a spiritual body that is raised in incorruptible substance. "The first man is of the earth earthy, the second man from heaven." Even James (3:15) identifies the soul by saying that its "wisdom descendeth not from the above but is terrestrial, psychical, demoniacal." Plato, speaking of the Soul (psuché), observes that "when she allies herself to the nous (divine substance, a god, as psuché is a goddess), she does everything aright and felicitously; but the case is otherwise when she attaches herself to Annoia." What Plato calls nous, Paul terms the Spirit; and Jesus makes the heart what Paul says of the flesh. In Adam came death, in Christ (resurrection), for it is he who first publicly taught mankind the "Noble Path" to Eternal life, as Gautama pointed the same Path to Nirvana. To accomplish both ends there was but one way, according to the teachings of both. "Poverty, chastity, contemplation or inner prayer; contempt for wealth and the illusive joys of this world."

"Enter on this Path and put an end to sorrow; verily the Path has been preached by me, who have found out how to quench the darts of grief. You yourselves must make the effort; the Buddhas are only preachers. The thoughtful who enter the Path are freed from the bondage of the Deceiver (Marâ)." (Dhammapada.)

"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction.... Follow me.... Every one that heareth these sayings and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man" (Matt. 7 and 8). "I can of mine own self do nothing" (John 5:30). "The care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word" (Matt. 13:22), say the Christians; and it is only by shaking off all delusions that the Buddhist enters on the "Path" which will lead him "away from the restless tossing waves of the ocean of life," and take him "to the calm City of Peace, to the real joy and rest of Nirvana."

We find even Irenæus, that untiring and mortal enemy of every Grecian and "heathen" heresy, explain his belief in the trinity of man. The perfect man, according to his views, consists of flesh, soul, and spirit....And Origen, in his Sixth Epistle to the Romans, says: "There is a threefold partition of man, the body or flesh, the lowest part of our nature, on which the old serpent by original sin inscribed the law of sin, and by which we are tempted to vile things, and as oft as we are overcome by temptations are joined fast to the Devil; the spirit, in or by which we express the likeness of the divine nature in which the very Best Creator, from the archetype of his own mind, engraved with his finger (that is, his spirit), the eternal law of honesty; by this we are joined (conglutinated) to God and made one with God. In the third, the soul mediates between these, which, as in a factious republic, cannot but join with one party or the other, is solicited this way and that and is at liberty to choose the side to which it will adhere. If, renouncing the flesh, it betakes itself to the party of the spirit it will itself become spiritual, but if it cast itself down to the stupidities of the flesh it will degenerate itself into body."

Plato (in Laws x.) defines soul as "the motion that is able to move itself." "Soul is the most ancient of all things, and the commencement of motion." "Soul was generated prior to body, and body is posterior and secondary, as being, according to nature, ruled over by the ruling soul." "The soul which administers all things that are moved in every way, administers likewise the heavens."

"Soul then leads everything in heaven, and on earth, and in the sea, by its movements -- the names of which are, to will, to consider, to take care of, to consult, to form opinions true and false, to be in a state of joy, sorrow, confidence, fear, hate, love, together with all such primary movements as are allied to these ... being a goddess herself, she ever takes as an ally NOUS, a god, and disciplines all things correctly and happily; but when with Annoia -- not nous -- it works out everything the contrary."

In this language, as in the Buddhist texts, the negative is treatedas essential existence. Annihilation comes under a similar exegesis. The positive state, is essential being but no manifestation as such. When the spirit, in Buddhistic parlance, entered nirvana, it lost objective existence but retained subjective. To objective minds this is becoming absolute nothing; to subjective, NO-thing, nothing to be displayed to sense.

These rather lengthy quotations are necessary for our purpose. Better than anything else, they show the agreement between the oldest "Pagan" philosophies -- not "assisted by the light of divine revelation," to use the curious expression of Laboulaye in relation to Buddha -- and the early Christianity of some Fathers. Both Pagan philosophy and Christianity, however, owe their elevated ideas on the soul and spirit of man and the unknown Deity to Buddhism and the Hindu Manu. No wonder that the Manicheans maintained that Jesus was a permutation of Gautama; that Buddha, Christ, and Mani were one and the same person, for the teachings of the former two were identical. It was the doctrine of old India that Jesus held to when preaching the complete renunciation of the world and its vanities in order to reach the kingdom of Heaven, Nirvana, where "men neither marry nor are given in marriage, but live like the angels."


COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:

CONCEPTIONS OF DEITY

Christian writers, even of the most liberal sort, have never beenable to appreciate the piety of the pagan Romans: for instance, that veneration of the emperor which the patron of Virgil, Augustus, caused to be instituted as a policy of state. Cicero's two declarations, that the way to heaven is through service to one's fatherland, and that each is to know himself to be a god, set the mood for the later worship of the emperor, which Virgil supported in a prominent passage of his Aeneid, and Ovid too in his Metamorphoses.

No comparison is to be made of such an attitude of respect with the Christian deification of Augustus's contemporary, Jesus. For in the Christian view the world and its creatures are not suffused with divinity. The deification of Jesus marks a radical designation, far beyond anything possible where all things are in essence numina.

                                                                              --JOSEPH CAMPBELL

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THE CHRISTIAN SCHEME
PAGAN ROOTS: Rites and Ceremonial Dress
(Part 6 of a 36-part series)

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SIX (6) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:

(6) NOTE.--"The Christian Scheme," begun in November, 1967, is collated from the works of H. P. Blavatsky. It recounts the historical background and early development of Christianity.
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(1) Let us remember in this connection that Col. Van Kennedy has long ago declared his opinion that Babylonia was once the seat of the Sanscrit language and of Brahmanical influence.
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(2) "The Agrouchada-Prikshai, which discloses, to a certain extent, the order of initiation, does not give the formula of evocation," says Jacolliot, and he adds that, according to some Brahmans, "these formula were never written, they were and still are imparted in a whisper in the ear of the adepts" ("mouth to ear, and the word at low breath," say the Masons). --Le Spiritisme dans le Monde, p. 108.
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(3) Jacolliot seems to have very logically demonstrated the absurd contradictions of some philologists, anthropologists, and Orientalists, in regard to their Akkado and Semito mania. "There is not, perhaps, much of good faith in their negations," he writes. "The scientists who invent Turanian peoples know very well that in Manu alone, there is more of veritable science and philosophy than in all that this pretended Semitism has hitherto furnished us with; but they are the slaves of a path which some of them are following the last fifteen, twenty, or even thirty years.... We expect, therefore, nothing of the present. India will owe its reconstitution to the scientists of the next generation" (Le Genèse de l'Humanité, pp. 60-61).
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(4) Siva is not a god of the Vedas, strictly speaking. When the Vedas were written, he held the rank of Maha-Deva or Bel among the gods of aboriginal India.
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(5) Isis and Osiris are said, in the Egyptian sacred books, to have appeared (i.e., been worshipped), on earth, later than Thot, the first Hermes, called Trismegistus, who wrote all their sacred books according to the command of God or by "divine revelation." The companion and instructor of Isis and Osiris was Thot, or Hermes II., who was an incarnation of the celestial Hermes.
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