British poet, playwright, and writer, Samuel Johnson, once angrily retorted while discussing a girl who had converted from the Anglican Church to Quakerism “The heathens were easily converted, because they had nothing to give up; but we ought not, without very strong conviction indeed, to desert the religion in which we have been educated.”
‘Nothing to give up’
The heathens had nothing to give up.
That may not entirely be true. They did. From the greatest schools of Greek civilization to temples, to large libraries (like the one in Alexandria), to their Gods and science of Aristotle and Archimedes; all was destroyed in the name of “one true god”.
So it wasn’t as if there was nothing for the Greek pagans to “give up”.
There was. A lot.
Actually there was a lot for the whole humanity to give up as well.
A price with was ultimately paid by both, the Greeks and humanity.
What was destroyed in the two centuries after the advent of Constantine in the name of Christianity, could not be recovered until almost the 20th century!
So why did the pagans have “nothing to give up.”
It is just that the Greek pagans with deep rooted spiritual ways and Gods, were made to believe so – that there was really nothing to give up anyway.
What started with abuse, firmed up by discriminatory laws and fascist policies was closed off by destruction of the greatest temples that the Western civilization ever saw. With the retort – “if your Gods are true, they will save themselves.”
Even that sounds familiar doesn’t it?
Secularism is not a choice between gods for the exclusivist
To uproot the whole edifice that produced Plato, Aristotle, Archimedes and the amazing sculptors, required a plan that was extensively diabolical.
While even the last few ‘pagan’ orators kept harping on inclusiveness and oneness of gods and humans, the Christian way – specifically exemplified by Augustine – was very clear, very firm.
As much as the pagans were perfectly able to consider Jesus as another deity in their pantheon of Gods, the Christians had no such confusion.
For the latter, it was not a choice between one God and another. The choice for the Christians was between their god and the pagans’ Satan!
It wasn’t really a matter of choice. It was a battle of good vs evil. Pagans’ Gods were evil and Satanical, while they had the “one true god”. So the larger majority had to be delivered.
That is the fight that pluralism fundamentally faces from the self-righteous exclusivists.
When the latter are a few, they will always appeal to the pluralistic ways of the former to get their space, while they make their way with their pointed and unwavering hate-speech cloaked as faith. As their service to their god.
Even when the pluralists ways are mocked and denigrated, no one complained. Once the ascendancy happens, the aggression became starkly naked and open.
In 324 AD, Constantine had taken the reign of the Roman Empire. Immediately the laws were created to subjugate the ‘pagans’. By 356 AD, it had become illegal to worship images and ‘pagans’ were now described as ‘madmen’.
History and faith
The difference in approaches to life and clarity was obvious in how Herodotus (called “Father of History” by Cicero) approached history and how Eusebius, (called the “Father of Church History” for writing the Ecclesiastical History, On the Life of Pamphilus, the Chronicle and On the Martyrs) looked at the role of history.
While for Herodotus, history was an inquiry as he called it while writing The Histories; for Eusebius, it was propaganda and a weapon. He was guided by hate for the ‘others’ and the conviction of upholding that was dear to his ‘faith’ as the true history.
“I myself have read the writings and teachings of the heretics, polluting my soul for a while with their abominable notions, though deriving this benefit: I was able to refute them for myself and loathe them even more.”Eusebius, The Church History
The same pattern was followed by the Christian missionaries who wrote the ethnographic and sociological accounts of India. The idea was not to write India’s account. But an account that was suitable to Christians. For conversion.
Brahman as the obstacle
The main obstacle in that endeavor were the Brahmans. So, the whole effort was to vilify them. As Reverend M.A. Sherring did in his book “Hindu Tribes and Castes”.
The main goal of these missionaries cloaked as historians and ethnographers? “Destroy Brahmanism, root and branch…” – utterly annihilate it.
It’s their work that Indian society – and Brahmans – are still reaping. The language, the rhetoric of today’s anti-Brahman movements is uncannily similar to that used by Sherring.
Obstacle to imperialism is the one vilified
Brahmans were the keeper of the traditions and learned in word and language. They were, therefore, the toughest to convert. Not amenable to change or conversion.
They, therefore, became the target for every European who wrote an account despite the fact that caste was not really a standard reality of India prior to the British.
For example, the explanation of Indian society by Arrian, the Greek historian in 100 AD, spoke of a very different reality, which had no relationship to the castes that the Christian missionary historians shouted hoarse about.
While the edifice of Dharma was being broken down with the weapon of “Caste System”, the Hindu was being made to believe in the uselessness of his own civilization.
Until he would have reached a point, where there was “nothing to give up”.
The vilification of the toughest obstacles to imperialist objectives continues to today. All these years, what was thought to have been a successful project – shaming the Hindu and demonizing the RSS – suddenly seemed to have come undone. An unlikely resurgence of the civilizational ethos happened in 2014.
In today’s India, therefore, the equivalent of the Greek pagan “madmen” are those who support the political leader who wants to stand up for India – PM Modi.
All his supporters are now being targeted as Bhakts.
And openly the mainstream journalists and so-called intellectuals are abusing with the innuendos like “cow-urine” etc in order to create a constituency that can further carry on the social lynching.
Once the Brahmans, now the Modi supporters.
The target and the mission is clear. At the end of it, “the Heathen/Hindu will have nothing to give up”. At that time, the temples, the spiritual work, the Gurus, the Gods and the literature can be targeted. Unabashedly and with impunity.
War of perspectives and narratives
Romans invented and harnessed the power of rhetoric and brain-washed mobs. Christians of the 4th century fine-tuned it and used that power via powerful, slick and dark narratives. Narratives that only had to weaponize the masses. Once the masses believed something, then that target could be righteously annihilated. In full public view and with the consent of the masses. Masses, that were hitherto, part of the victimized group. They were now separated and divided merely with the power of the narrative!
Once the Brahman was demonized in the narrative and humiliated in everyone’s mind, he could be righteously subjugated and marginalized. Ditto with the RSS and now the Modi supporters.
What is happening today with respect to the violence and abuse in the name of opposing the laws in India is a way to fast-track that conditioning of the masses. What the Christians of the 4th century achieved within a 100 years, the current Western and Islamic mafia spearheaded by the “liberals” like Democrats in US polity and George Soros in US industry – aim to do just that. In a much shorter time, if they can help it.
Because, very soon, if they are successful, we will have “nothing to give up”.
Featured Image: A Page from the manuscript Seventy-two Specimens of Castes in India, – an album was compiled by the Indian writing master at an English school established by American missionaries in Madura, and given to the Reverend William Twining