The phenomenon and ideology of devil worship in India

It appears that that India is seeing more cases of alleged devil worship and black magick within the last few years, leading to reports of “Satanic cults” springing up within the country. Because of this it is of some value to take a look at what exactly these cults believe. Do they actually represent a form of Satanism as is being reported, or is it simply a form of edgy spiritism that utilizes Satan for its own ends? Are we dealing with a serious philosophical or spiritual tradition here, or just something that a few deranged individuals do for fun?

To start with, let’s take a look at the extent of the phenomenon in question. It’s not clear, but there has been increasing coverage of stories of devil worship since at least 2013, centering around the regions of Kerala and Nagaland. At one point the Vatican news outlet Agenzia Fides claimed that Nagaland was host to around 3,000 teenage devil worshipers in the summer of 2013. In 2014, in the Christian majority region of Meghalaya, the local government has started carrying out night patrols in an attempt to police so-called Satanic activities, with particular attention being paid to graveyards based on the belief that devil worshipers gather in graveyards in order to conduct their rituals at night. Particular concern is often paid to Kerala, where apparently a number of bizarre ritualistic crimes have taken place over the years, sparking concern of a rise of so-called Satanism in the region. Notable activities reported within Kerala include theft and/or desecration of communion bread for the purposes of performing a Black Mass, desecrations of churches, and even murders. What is interesting to note about Kerala is that it is considered the most literate and progressive state in India, which suggests that the rise of black magick and devil worship isn’t confined to the poor and religiously and socially backwards parts of the country.

But just what does this phenomenon represent as a broad system? Media reports on the subject will often talk of it in the context of “Satan worship” or “Satanic cults”, but having scoured said reports, I am unsure what this is based on. VICE actually did an article on the subject a few days ago in which Zeyad Masroor Khan investigates one group of people engaged in some sort of black magick in the city of Aligarh, located in the state of Uttar Pradesh. For Khan, the supposed “Satanism” described in India . In fact, here is what Khan makes of the overall philosophy of the group:

“The philosophy of the “blood brothers” is based on a combination of ideas derived from Satanic literature, religious texts, paganism, the popular art and fortuities—the sign that they say universe keeps throwing to them about the existence of forces that created it.”

In other words, it’s a hodge-podge of what appear to unrelated concepts, brought together by either the vague sense of a search for esoteric knowledge and power, affinity with darkness (not to mention dark music such as black metal), and possibly a proclivity towards superstition. It also seems to be more decadent than the Satanism you find here in the West, with members of the black magick group frequently taking illicit drugs whilst studying their philosophy.

Some members of the group have a different interpretation than others. Here is what is described of the conception of Satanism held by one of the members of the Aligarh black magick group, who goes by BlackLeg.

“For him, Satanism is not “a religion”. “In its essence, it’s about worshipping yourself,” he said. He said there’s no conflict between his beliefs and those of his religious girlfriend.

BlackLeg’s philosophical view of Satanism contrasts with some of the things V said his group participated in. “We did everything,” V told me, “from desecrating holy books to asking people to stand on the Quran, to test their devotion. Some of us did that, while the weaker ones refused.””

Apparently some members of the group are more inclined to the LaVeyan, philosophical angle of Satanism, while others (possibly the majority) are into actual black magick coinciding with a vague of theistic worship of the infernal pantheon – I say vague because I know most theistic Satanists I know actually have a guiding spiritual philosophy or ideology underpinning their belief system, and because of the lack of information surrounding their actual beliefs.

This, of course, is just one group, in what might be the only article I’ve seen that actually attempts to go into detail as to what the Indian devil worshipers believe. The rest of the articles I’ve come across make no real attempt to articulate the kind of “Satanic” belief system they think they’re dealing with.

For instance, in the case of a 2013 UACN article titled “Satan worshippers suspected in theft in Kerala church“, the main source of suspicion of Satanism on the part of by local church authorities is the disappearance of communion bread, which is suspected to be proof of Satanists using it to perform a Black Mass. To be fair, it does sound like something the Church of Ahriman would do (though they ultimately returned the communion wafer they stole in order to avoid a lawsuit by the Oklahoma City Archdiocese), but on its own this is not much evidence of Satanism, and we have only a plausible guess to the motives of the incident. Another UACN article, dated to 2012, claims that Satanists attacked a church in Mizoram. What does this attack have to do with Satanism you might ask? Apparently because police found a stack of burned Bibles and, I shit you not, a large A sign signifying anarchy. Yep. It’s that lame. Any Satanist worth their salt will tell that this does not necessarily equate to an actual Satanic ritual. Ironically, the article points out the advice of experts who implicitly hint that the activities of these youths are not influenced by a coherent Satanic philosophy, but largely by Western pop culture, particularly horror moves. Unfortunately, this is also interpreted from the Christian lens as being the influence of celebrities who, allegedly pray to Satan in order to gain fame, wealth and power – which, let’s face it, is about as sensible as Paul Joseph Watson’s claims about Pizzagate and the Illuminati.

In a 2017 article from Firstpost, the main subject is a man murdering his family members so as to “detach” their souls from their bodies, supposedly to free them. The man was also said to be involved with astral projection, which police suspect to be tied to Satan worship. In no way is it actually established what connection there is to Satanism or even Satan worship at all. The only thing vaguely related is the discussion of the communion bread theft incident from earlier. Also discussed is the selling of consecrated hosts stolen from churches. The fact that it seems that it is Christians who are selling the hosts suggests that the connection to Satan worship is not quite so clear cut. The article brings up the concept of “Satan worship” several times but does not seem capable of attaching to the various crimes to any coherent phenomenon of Satanism. In fact, within the same article you can find similar black magick practices within Hindu cults which suggest that what Indian media refers to as “Satan worship” is actually just a kind of Hindu black magick that has been around for centuries, just that I guess some people decided to dress it up in some vague diabolism lifted from horror movies. Perhaps the only thing actually connecting these things to Satanism or Satan worship is either the general loose conception of black magick, long held to be part of the doctrine of Satan, or the blasphemy associated with some of the actions, such as the stealing and selling of consecrations, which surely are the sign of Satanic activity according to India’s Christian population.

Sometimes even the police in India have trouble believing the whole angle of “Satan worship”. In the case of a murder committed by Cadell Jeansen Raja, police doubted his claim that he was a Satan worshiper and had him referred to a psychiatrist, who noted his interest in paranormal beliefs and concepts and suspects him to be living in his own reality, but otherwise the interrogation was said to be ongoing. Police also suspect that his murder was actually motivated not by supernatural belief, but instead by revenge. They say that Raja’s stories about his beliefs regarding astral projection, Satan worship and the paranormal were fabrications, and that his real motivation was his desire to avenge a long period of neglect by his family and a personal suspicion that his father was cheating on his spouse with other women. Raja is currently admitted to a mental hospital in Oolampara.

In an ironic twist, there is something that, in a loose sense, you could interpret as “demon worship” that occurs in India that is also entirely part of the expansive Hindu religion! In the small village of Peringottukara, located within the Thrissur district of Kerala, locals worship a deity named Kuttichathan through special and costly pujas and sacrifices overseen by holy men in order to gain prosperity and dispel black magic. The name Kuttichathan means “little ghost”, sometimes interpreted as “little demon” or “little imp”, and he does sometimes get interpreted as a demon. However, Kuttichathan also seems to be the name of a deity named Vishnumaya, a deity of wealth, magic and illusions. Vishnumaya is held to be a son of the deity Shiva, born of carnal union between Shiva and a human woman named Kulivaka, and he acquired his name because he took the form of the deity Vishnu using his magic. The closest thing to “devil worship” in India is Hindu worship centered around a demigod born from one of the supreme deities, though it is suspected by some that the pujas devoted to him are part of a money-scheming by religious ideologues preying on the gullible.

So, there you have it. The phenomenon of “Satan worship” in India is not a coherent movement of Satanism, but the appropriation of folk black magick for either rebellious or criminal ends, and in at least one case it’s just a convenient pretext to hide someone’s real motives for committing horrible crimes. In one case it’s a strange intersection of gothic and extreme metal subculture, occult philosophy, Indian black magick, drugs and general teenage rebellion. Many cases are mysterious acts of blasphemy that have less to do with authentic Satanism and more to do with youthful rebellion. There is no guiding ideology behind this phenomenon. I suspect the charge of “Satan worship” is an invention of both Indian media and Christians.

A man dressed up as Kuttichathan as part of a theyyam (a kind of ritual performance)

Mythological Spotlight #2: Shukracharya

 

Shukracharya as depicted by Pieter Weltevrede 

Description

In Indian mythology, Shukracharya is the guru and preceptor of the Asuras (the antigods of Hindu myth) and one of the Navagrahas of Hindu astrology. The Navagrahas are a group of deities associated with the planets, the Sun and Moon, and the north and south lunar nodes, and Shukracarya was the deity associated with the planet Venus, which is sometimes believed to be the most benevolent astrological influence. As the lord of the planet Venus, he was associated with pleasure, romance, wealth,  jewellry, reproduction, comfort, passion, art, music, dance, love, and the spring season, and he presides over Fridays. Shukracharya also goes by the name of Asuracharya, due to him being the guru of the Asuras. Shukracharya also seems to be a devotee of the deity Shiva, and by performing penances or austerities to Shiva he gained the power of the Sanjivani Mantra, a magical formula capable of resurrecting the dead. Shukracharya is described as handsome, as being of agreeable countenance, and as being proud of his knowledge and spiritual power, but also as having a hatred for the devas and the deity Vishnu, and as the guru of the Asuras he is at odds with a being known as Brihaspati, the guru of the devas associated with the planet Jupiter.

History

Shukracharya was said to have been the son of Bhrigu, who was one of the seven great sages or Saptarishi and is credited with being the father of Indian astrology. At some point in his life he went on to study the Vedas under a sage named Angirasa, but was repulsed by what he saw as favoritism towards Brihaspati, who happened to be one of his sons, and decided to study under a sage named Gautama (not to be confused with Siddhartha Gautama) instead. After the time in which Shukracharya learned the Sanjivani Mantra, Brihaspati become the guru of the Devas. Due to Shukracarya’s hatred of the devas, and his hatred of Vishnu (due to the latter’s killing of Shukracharya’s mother), he become the guru of the Asuras. In this capacity, Shukracharya would use the power of the Sanjivani Mantra to revive the armies of the Asuras. The Devas would kill the Asuras, but Shukracharya would revive them.

Shukracharya would come to be the advisor of many Asura kings, including Mahabali, Jalandhara, and Vishiparva. When Vishnu incarnates as Vamana in the story of Mahabali, Shukracharya instantly recognizes Vamana as Vishnu and tries to warn Mahabali about Vamana, but Mahabali did not listen and chose to grant Vamana’s request, leading to him being crushed by Vamana when he becomes gigantic in size. Shukracharya is also the one who appoints Jalandhara as king of the Asuras after seeing his power, and tells Jalandhara of how Vishnu deceived the Asuras out of their right to some gems that were churned out of the ocean, inspiring him to go to war with the devas.

The Devas were, naturally, feeling threatened by Shukracharya’s knowledge and power, particularly his power to resurrect the dead. After pressured their guru Brihaspati to come up with a way to resurrect their armies, but Brihaspati told them that he did not know any formula that could do this. Brihapati’s son, Kacha, offered to go to Shukracharya in order to learn the art of resurrection and the Devas allowed him to do so. Shukracharya could not send Kacha away for seeking to learn the Sanjivani Mantra, so he accepted him as his disciple and allowed him to stay in his ashram, and in return Kacha served Shukracharya with all his heart. However, over time, the Asuras knew of Kacha and became suspicious, sensing that Kacha was sent from the Devas so that they could learn the Sanjivani Mantra and resurrect their armies in battle. So they killed Kacha, but Shukracharya figured out this had happened and resurrected him, and every time Kacha was killed he would be resurrected. After six attempts, the Asuras killed Kacha again, this time powdering his bones and mixing it in Shukracharya’s favorite drink (somarasa), and so when Shukracharya drank it he unwittingly ingested the mortal remains of Kacha. Eventually, Shukracharya realized what had happened, and initially lamented that he could not resurrect him this time. But his daughter Devayani, who had fallen in love with Kacha, persisted, and eventually he chanted the Sanjivani Mantra and sprinkled water on his body. Kacha was resurrected, but he tore out of Shukracharya’s stomach in order to come back to life. Shukracharya died, but since Kacha had learned the Sanjivani Mantra, he was able to revive Shukracharya. Having completed his studies, and having become frustrated with the Asuras killing him constantly, he requested that Shukracharya allow him to leave, which he did. Kacha was now able to teach the Sanjivani Mantra to the devas, but he could not use it himself due to being cursed by Devayani for rejecting her offer of marriage.

There’s not much more for me to say other than there are some who believe that Shukracharya is the same as Allah, the supreme being of Islamic belief, but that seems like it’s basically the same as saying Freemasonry is the same thing as Baal worship, and there’s no evidence of any link between Shukracharya and Allah. Also, the people who make the claim also try to point out that the mythological Asuras are in fact referring to Muslims. You don’t need me to tell you that that’s down right nutty.

Conclusion

Shukracharya seems like an interesting character, and he seems to have been very powerful and influential among the Asuras. That he was able to see through Vishnu’s tricks is pretty telling with regards to how intelligent he must have been. I find it very interesting that a being associated with love and benefic influences is also a being intensely motivated by his hatred toward Vishnu and the devas, and he seems to have been happy to impart his knowledge to those who seek it in earnest, even when it was someone who was helping the enemy (though he may not have known that). It’s also funny that such a being was associated with Venus. I’m not saying Shukracharya was the Indian equivalent of Lucifer, but there’s a lot about Shukracharya that I think can be related to Lucifer, if perhaps superficially. All-in-all, I think there’s a lot about him to be interested in.

What the fuck is happening in India?

You won’t believe what I’ve heard of recently out of India. In a village in the Baghpat district of India, a girl named Meenakshi and her younger sister have been “sentenced” to rape by an all-male council who seems to be operating outside of India’s legal system. They’ve ordered that the girls be raped, their faces blackened, and that they be paraded naked, apparently as “punishment for their brother eloping with a married woman from a higher caste, and the two girls in question are fleeing the village and pleading for protection from India’s Supreme Court.

There’s absolutely everything wrong with what’s going on here. The most obvious of these things is that sexual violence is apparently something people use to punish people, which no civilized or well-ordered social system would ever allow. The fact that it’s an all-male council ordering this also clearly reeks of misogyny. Then there’s the fact the council claims it is enforcing an “eye-for-an-eye form of justice”, which seems wrong to me for at least two reasons: (1) the principle of lex talionis (eye for an eye justice) doesn’t apply if you’re “punishing” someone who didn’t commit a crime instead of someone who did commit the crime, and most crucially (2) why the fuck is adultery considered a criminal offence, let alone one that can be punished with the sexual violence the council describes? But what’s really striking is that these village councils are operating completely outside the legal authority of the Indian government, which would make their rulings entirely extrajudicial in nature. According to Amnesty International, who are running a petition in order to ensure that the girls are protected, there are a number of village councils (referred to as Khat Panchyats) across India that are unelected and operate outside of India’s legal system, and are often run by older men from dominant castes who prescribe rules for social behavior and interaction. India’s Supreme Court condemns these councils as “kangaroo courts” and their rulings are deemed illegal, but apparently that doesn’t mean much because these councils continue to operate in rural areas of India and continue to carry out their decisions outside the legal authority of India’s government, and to me this means that India’s government is more powerless to do anything about these councils than it should be.

An Indian cartoon illustrating pretty much what is going in parts of India.

This is something that can’t be allowed to continue, and the worst thing about it is this not the only time something like this has happened in India. In January of last year, a village tribunal in West Bengal decreed that a 20-year old woman be sexually assaulted by 12 people as “punishment” for falling in love with a man from outside of the community and then failing pay a fine of 50,000 rupees imposed by the village council. Four years earlier, in the same area, village elders ordered a young woman to strip naked and walk before large crowds for having relations with a man from a different caste. In July that same year, a village from the state of Jharkhand ordered the rape of a 14-year old girl after her brother was accused of assaulting a married woman. As a matter of fact, sexual violence in general is a serious problem in India, one that gained major exposure after an incident in 2012 where a young girl was gang-raped and left to die in Dehli, and unfortunately one that India’s government has been accused of having a poor track record of dealing with. Despite promising to crack down on rape and sexual violence and despite strengthening rape laws, the Indian government hasn’t done a lot to prevent women from having to fear for their lives, especially in rural villages where the government doesn’t seem to be doing a lot about the village councils who operate outside the legal authority of the government. In the case of the latter, the problem is that these councils operate on old forms of tradition that view women not as individuals, but as representations of the “honor” of a man or a community, a horrible view that seems to have gone unchanged in rural parts of India.

Some conclusions regarding Hinduism and my own beliefs

I’ve been reading a book about Hinduism, specifically the difference between Judeo-Christian thought and “dharmic” thought, and I am reminded of a few things.

First, from what I have read, the sattvic or “selfless” state is still idealized above even the rajasic or tamasic states, considering that, if you aren’t selfless/sattvic, you are encouraged to live by codified rules set for you and seek the guidance of a spiritual master who is sattvic. Coupled with the Krishna stories, which emphasis the utilitarian ideal of the common good, the implication is that thinking on your own terms and not having to listen to a guru or God is discouraged unless you are “selfless”, not thinking on your own interests. To me, this is hypocritical for a religion that supposedly believes in mankind’s own divinity and spiritual potential. Even if each individual has one’s own unique path, that is not influenced by you in traditional dharmic ideas, it’s influenced by your “karma” or actions taken in a past life. But at least you get to choose what deity you want to worship, or even none at all, and often in Hinduism.

Second, I am reminded of the other ideas I do not believe in; reincarnation, the idea that we are burdened by the actions of some past live you might not even have ever heard, the idea that justice is distributed by the universe, and the idea of the falsehood of the self (which to me also spits on the idea of karma as a self-made destiny since how do you make your own choices if there is no individual self?). I also seem to question their concept of Atman, which should refer to inner self but actually refers not to any individual spiritual self or immortal soul, but posits that the “real” self is actually God rather than any individual self. There is another idea I learned was present in Hinduism. I have my doubts regarding another idea I learned was central to Hindu belief. Apparently, they believe that the cosmos is possessed of an integral unity, no separate essences, entities, or objects. I feel it may be more likely that there isn’t a unity of all things. Even if there is something that connects all things, that doesn’t still say there is unity between all things, just a common origin.

Third, in my continuous attempts to integrate Hindu (and even Buddhist) ideas and lore, I feel like I’m trying to move forward too fast instead of sitting down to enjoy my current spiritual perspective (the perspective of a spiritual core self that you yourself fight to preserve until the day, and of the inner world shaped by you and how the outer world affects and inspires you). I could incorporate anything I want that inspires me, so why not be comfortable with images, aesthetics, and entities that come from a system that I don’t necessarily subscribe to, or need to subscribe to, and they wouldn’t necessarily have to represent those systems anyway.

One last thing about the book I read: I feel that while it does offer an enlightening perspective towards Hindu or dharmic ideas, that same perspective actually leads me to only more disconnect to these ideas. The author also seems far too unfair with his perspective on the West, a little pompous on his perspective on the East too. Not all of Western ideas are based on Judeo-Christian ideas, in fact the West is capable of potent antidotes for Judeo-Christian ideas and hypocrisy, and not just atheism either. The author seems to think any unity created by the West is purely synthetic. Yes, we aren’t always united in the right way or for the right reasons, but even if it was, all unity, in both West and East, is not to last. All unity falls apart eventually, sometimes slowly sometimes fast. But why put so much emphasis on cohesion and harmony anyway? Does anyone ever stop to think that maybe putting cohesion as the highest ideal is actually a foolish idea?

Vishnu, the Buddha, the devas, and Hindu lore

In India, Buddhism is not very popular despite the fact that it originated there. Part of the reason is the fact that Hinduism seems to have adapted the story of the Buddha, Siddartha Gautama, into its own lore. Specifically, there is a Hindu belief that the historical Buddha was the ninth avatar of the deity Vishnu, who is said to preserve the universe and protect its balance.

Different reasons are put forward for why Vishnu assumed the form of Buddha within this theory. Some believe Vishnu was promoting the idea of ahimsa (non-violence) in this form, others believe Vishnu wanted to see if people would remain faithful to the Vedic dharma, and there’s a story in the Puranas which suggests that Buddha was born to delude and confuse the enemies of the devas by preaching “false views” and thus weaken them. You could say this was a ploy to convert Buddhists into the Hindu tradition, but you could also say it was a smear campaign against Buddhism (which was viewed as a nastika or heterodox religion) on the part of orthodox Hindu thinkers.

Vishnu and his ten avatars (Dashavatara), including the Buddha.

The Puranic interpretation is the one I find odd. Why would the gods, who are supposedly interested in the truth, go out of their way to deliberately deceive humans, let alone demons, for any reason? How’s it any different from how, in Christian tradition, God apparently lets Satan and his demons “mislead” his own creation? In modern Hindu lore, the gods (or devas) chose the path of truth and their enemies (the asuras) supposedly chose falsehood (in reality it’s about Hindu ideas of spirituality versus materialism), and to me it often just seems like a worthless conflict. Think about it: although there are sometimes genuinely evil deeds punished by gods, usually it’s just either the gods trying to maintain hegemony over the world under the guise of preserving righteousness and the balance, or a mere morality tale of Hindu/Brahmanist social and spiritual ideas defeating materialism and godlessness.

This is also why I barely take Hindu mythology seriously or with the level of religious devotion that may or may not be accidentally implied, and merely use or venerate Hindu gods as a pagan (while not actually worshipping them or providing externality to their existence) but not their mythologies, because in Hindu mythology the gods are mainly a vehicle for both a morality tale and a concept of an external god, since they are merely forms of God in Hindu tradition.

Why Gandhi is overrated

Those who have read my blog probably know me for rejecting and criticising the figures that everyone else takes up as their saints or social gods. Mother Teresa, The Dalai Lama,  even Jesus (assuming he physically existed). There’s also, among more recent figures, Pope Francis. Gandhi is no exception, for he is another figure who has been granted a halo by a society that seeks someone to say the things the masses want to hear.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is widely known for being a saint who championed non-violent resistance and his notorious hunger strikes and stern rejection of his own desires. He certainly fought against British colonial rule, but that alone will not make him a saint.

I’ve always seen him as nothing more than somebody with an artificial halo who is famous because he tells our people what they want to hear, on top being just another ascetic. But that’s the least of my problems with his image.

In South Africa, where he began a career as an attorney, he published articles supporting racial segregation, clearly indicative of him as a racist figure.  And he actually shared a bed with his two nieces, naked, supposedly in order to test his ability to resist the temptations of the material world.

Also, he was a hypocrite. For someone who advocated non-violence and pacifism, and for someone who opposed colonialism, Gandhi in 1918 agreed to actively recruit the people of India to fight during World War I, though in his defence he stated that he wouldn’t personally kill anyone and that he probably did it to for the cause of Indian independence. Even then though, while I should respect anyone’s willingness to fight for anything, in Gandhi’s case it just seems hypocritical.

Honestly though, my main problem with Gandhi is that, whether he intended it or not, he became a cult, and after he died he became even more of a cult for the masses who just seem to worship him. Everyone seems to think he changed the world, but he didn’t. In my opinion, all he did was sell peaceful protest to the world and preach pacifism, which we are now kinda high on. But that’s it. He didn’t do anything. All you see is world leaders spouting crap.

Detachment from the Hindu philosophy

I’ve been doing some research and some thinking, and I am realizing that there isn’t any hope for me and Hindu philosophy. I have had trouble reconciling Hinduism with individualism, and I think the reason for this is because individualism is simply not present in Hindu philosophy.

The first reason for this is because of the obvious values of devotion to God and self-abnegation or self-sacrifice. Individualistic philosophies place emphasis on the individual, and thus the self. Hindu philosophy, meanwhile, values the surrender of the self to God, the abandoning of desire and want, and the cessation of the self and the idea of the individual, and Hindu rishis often describe individualism as a path that leads nowhere, thus marking what is actually anti-individualism. I find that Hinduism’s emphasis on this idea of self-surrender inescapable, as is their emphasis on God, and I can’t find any hope of bringing individualism into it.

Then you have the concept of Dharma. If Hinduism is not a religion, then it is a way of life based on this concept of Dharma, which is about duty (which I have traditionally seen as an artificial moral obligation imposed by others), drawing close to the family and family traditions, and thus family values (which I see as little more than social conservatism), and sacrifice. Again, I find this easily contradicts the spirit of individualism, since individualism is about you, yourself, and your freedom to walk your own path, as opposed to following society, thus it goes against any communal attitudes. I don’t follow the traditions of my family, I follow what I believe and for myself.

The fact is, individualism isn’t very big in Indian philosophy, or that matter many Eastern societies. In the West, we are quite familiar with individualism as a philosophy which values the individual as free to walk his own path (though this is not to say Western society has always valued the individual, or even honestly values the individual today), but many Eastern societies such as India and China valued family and clan more than the individual (China in particular traditionally values social harmony over the individual). In Indian society, there was much importance given to family and the group, only rarely did the individual take centre stage.

I still love Hindu mythology, lore, symbols, gods, and art, and still adore the force known to their culture as Shakti (which I find is related to the horned force, or the raw primal force, or Chaos), but I cannot subscribe to the Hindu philosophy and I cannot identify as Hindu. Ultimately I am a Satanist, and a pagan, because that is where my beliefs and philosophy lie, all I can do is venerate Hindu gods my own way, or in a much more pagan sense. And I like to think I still have a connection to the lore but not the philosophy. Although, I still have some interest in Tantra, and I have no major beef with Carvaka, despite its atheism and materialism (which I find to be rather dull especially for Indian philosophy).

Of course, it could be possible that those who wish to surrender themselves to a higher force simply have the wrong idea of how to approach the force of Shakti, as a dear friend of mine tells me.

The truth about the caste system

When talking about Hinduism and Hindu beliefs, people often mention the caste system, and often associate and lump the caste system in with Hinduism, as though it was actually religiously mandated. In reality, this is far from the truth.

The Indian caste system is actually a social idea, mandated by Indian society, not religion. It was never sanctioned by Hindu texts, despite what some in the West may believe. While Hindu texts do mention a system of social stratification that divides people based on class, work, and other things, it is merely described, not advocated or mandated. Some even think the caste system is an invention of the British colonialists, but this is debatable, and some question the idea as little more than revisionist history.

Not only is the caste system a societal creation rather than divine or religious mandate, and not associated with Hinduism, it’s also not even unique to India to begin with. Lots of societies had social stratification back then, and sadly still do today. In the Indian subcontinent alone, the idea of a caste system is also practiced by small groups of Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists, though keep in mind I do mean small groups.

The idea of caste being religiously or spiritually mandated probably comes from a major misunderstanding on the part of Westerners, particularly those who have confused social mandates with religious ideas.

Why India’s black magic ban is ridiculous

INDIA-RELIGION-CRIME-PROTEST
People mourning anti-superstition figure Narendra Dabholkar.

Lately an anti-superstition social activist named Narendra Dabholkar was killed in the city of Pune in India by unidentified gunmen while taking a morning walk. He was a rationalist, and campaigned against superstition, mysticism, spirituality, black magic, human and animal sacrifice, and fraudulent and exploitative religious/spiritual practices in the state of Maharashtra where he hailed from, and he was also a notable critic of India’s so-called “godmen” (so-called gurus and babas and self-styled ascetics who claimed to perform miracles and were revered by many). His death has been causing much grief, anger, and outrage among people in India; students marched in protest against the killing, and even local businesses closed in order to protest. This led to the Maharashtra state quickly introducing a ban on black magic in response to the outrage. But am I the only one who thinks the idea of a ban is ridiculous?

Think about this for a moment. The bill is being instituted to ban rituals, superstition, and black magic. How the hell do you expect to enforce that? The government in Maharashtra has basically rushed through emergency legislation, and according to local media reports, this is supposed to make it an offence to exploit people by offering rituals, charms and magical cures, and to practice black magic. You just can’t enforce it, because you can’t tell if any of it is real or made-up. There’s no way you can enforce a ban on any kind of magic or superstition. The only thing you can enforce is a ban on human and animal sacrifice, because at least there would be bodies to find and thus suspects.

And you know the Maharashtra government just rushed the bill in right after Dabholkar’s death and the surrounding outrage, so it just seems like the government is simply pandering to outrage.

It’s not like I don’t respect the idea of protecting people from the harm some superstition can do, but trying to solve these problems using legislation is not a good idea.

The corrupting effect of Abrahamic influence on Hinduism

In December of last year, I wrote a post attacking the prudishness in Indian society. In that post, I may have mentioned the influence of Abrahamic religions such as Christianity and Islam playing a role. Here, I am going to expand on this topic.

Often I hear of Hindu responses to various questions that seem to have a resemblance to Christian or Islamic reponses. These responses tend to talk of a supreme lord and faith in a higher lord.

This probably starts in the 13-16th centuries, when India was being invaded by Islamic territories, such as those instigated by the Moghul empire. Hinduism at that time was surely able to interact with Islam and Islamic ideas. This would affect the Hindu idea of God, or the gods, particularly gods like Vishnu. Vishnu was the preserver and maintainer of the universe in Hindu myth. These days, he’s often depicted as benevolent god with many aspects of a messianic or saviour figure, mainly in the form of his avatars. Vishnu sends an aspect of himself to the earth, sometimes born from human parents. There’s two avatars that immediately come to mind when it comes to this criteria: Krishna and Kalki, but especially Kalki.

Vishnu resting upon the naga king Ananta, with his wife Lakshmi.

Kalki is believed to be the tenth avatar of the deity Vishnu, but what stands out is that his story seems much more akin to the idea of Judgement Day seen in all three of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). Essentially, a demon named Kali (not to be confused with the goddess Kali) rules the earth and brings an age of “sin” and misery where people no longer worship God (or the gods) or remember the name of God (did people even remember the name of God before?), after which Vishnu sends an aspect of himself to be born on earth and grow up to destroy the evil being and bring a new golden age, where he will rule the earth for 1,000 years. Sounds familar? It’s the Christian story Judgement Day and the Thousand Year Kingdom, which also appears in Islam. You know, the one where God destroys the “wicked” world ruled by Satan and insititutes an age of peace, purity, and goodness (of course, we know what that really means).

The Last Judgement by Stefan Lochner, 15th century

The thing is, it came after Christianity and Islam were founded and during the time it was founded. The story of Kalki is contained in the Kalki Purana, which was written about 1,000 years after the Vishnu Purana, a body of texts containing stories about Vishnu as well as stuff about the Gupta empire, which was written in the 4th century. At the time the Kalki Purana was written, India was being invaded by Muslim territories, and was surely interacting with Abrahamic ideas.

Kalki, supposed avatar of Vishnu

Thus the story is an example of an Abrahamic influence on Hinduism, but it’s not really rooted in Hindu ideas, since not only does it fly in the face of their belief in life, death, rebirth, which logically would mean no final end, but it also ruins the point of Shiva being the destroyer who destroys the universe to leave room for creation. It just doesn’t fit in with Hinduism besides being a direct Hindu translation of the Abrahamic judgement day.

Judgement day wouldn’t be the only Abrahamic idea to leek into Hindu belief. I have also heard of an idea of Heaven and Hell crop up in Hindu thought, albeit in its own way. The early Vedic Hindus did not believe in such a concept, but it crept in later, most likely from exposure to, and interaction with, Abrahamic ideas. What’s stranger is that most people go to the abode of Yama to be judged, but if you follow Shiva or Vishnu you get an easier ride, or so I’ve heard. A kingdom or abode of God is even mentioned, sometimes referred to as Vaikuntha (the abode of Vishnu). This is also very Christian. Then we have the conflict of two beings known as devas and asuras. In Vedic Hinduism, devas and asuras were simply two kinds of gods are semi-divine beings with different domains who occasionally compete for the divine elixir known as soma. Asura was actually a title for gods, it meant “mighty”. Later on, the devas/gods would be associated with good, truth, and order, while asuras would be “demons, often lumped in with evil spirits called rakshasas, and represent evil, “sin”, falsehood, and chaos. This mainly comes from Zoroastrianism, but it has Abrahamic elements involved.

Devas and asuras pulling the serpent Vasuki.

There’s another trait of Abrahamic and Western morality that would corrupt Indian society and religion. Their hatred of sexual liberty and openness. Those following this site probably remember the link on the top of this article. Today, Indian society is choked up on traditional values at their worst and repression of sexual honesty and liberty, and they don’t even talk about AIDS. All this is claimed to be in service of “traditional Indian values” when it’s actually an affront to Hinduism, which is known for openness about sexuality. The self-appointed moral guardians aren’t defending the values of their country, they’re seeking to impose Western values, be it consciously or otherwise.

It’s hard to believe India cracks down on sex after making this.

And I think it has something to do with the British conquest of India. Britain in the 19th century was painfully prudish, and this sexual repression would naturally spill over into India when they took it over in 1858. They tried to censor the sexual part of Indian religion and cracked down on the sexual openness in Hinduism. And it’s worth noting that, in that time, Britain was still a Christian nation. The end result of this, and attempting to copy the West, has led to a degradation of Indian culture, the oppression of the youth, and the silencing of anyone who tries to talk about AIDS and sexual diseases. This is even worse when you consider the belief in self-denial, in the form of the belief in destroying the ego, self, and desire

And then there’s the monotheistic strands, involving a deity names Ishvara, or how some call one god The Lord, like Krishna (though that might just be ISKCON).

All in all, I have a respect for Hinduism, but I have no respect for the Abrahamic influences seeping into it, and what it’s transforming Indian society, and possibly turning Hinduism into.