Wednesday, June 3, 2009

"It is really very simple"

David Frawley reviews Stephen Knapp's
Crimes Against India And The Need to Protect its Ancient Vedic Tradition

Hinduism remains the most attacked and under siege of all the major
world religions. This is in spite of the fact that Hinduism is the most
tolerant, pluralistic and synthetic of the world's major religions.
Hindu gurus have more than any other religious teachers in the world
tried to find an underlying unity of religion to create peace in
humanity. Yet though Hindu gurus have called for respect for all
religions, leaders of other religions have not responded in kind by
offering any respect for Hinduism. Instead they have continued to
promote their missionary agendas and plan the conversion of India to
their beliefs.

Why is Hinduism still so much a target of missionaries and
the media? It is really very simple. Hinduism is the largest of the
non-conversion, non-proselytizing religions and so offers the greatest
possibilities for conversion. It is the vulnerability of Hinduism that
makes it a target, not the fact that Hindus are trying to convert or
conquer the world for some hostile belief.

After Christianity and Islam, Hinduism is the world's
largest religion and the largest of the non-Biblical traditions. India,
where most Hindus reside, has the most open laws allowing in foreign
religious groups. While missionaries are virtually banned in China and
in Islamic countries, in India they are often tolerated, respected and
given a wide scope of activity. Since Christianity is in decline,
particularly in Europe, it has a need to find new converts for which
India is one of main potential locations, particularly as a
comparatively high percentage of Hindu converts are willing to become
priests and nuns. Pope John Paul II in a trip to India some ten years
ago spoke directly of looking for a "rich harvest of souls in the third
millennium in Asia", specifically India.

Yet most Hindus and groups sympathetic to them are not aware
of this "siege on Hinduism" that continues unrelenting as part of the
multi-national missionary business. In this context, the book of Stephen
Knapp, Crimes Against India: and the Need to Protect its Ancient Vedic
Tradition, is very timely, well written and well documented. The siege
on Hinduism has been going on since the first Islamic armies and
Christian missionaries entered India as he clearly delineates and has
continued in various forms, violent, subversive or even charitably

While people know the history of the genocide of the Jews by
the Nazis, the greater and longer genocide of Hindus by Islamic invaders
is hardly noticed. Even the genocide in the Bangladesh War of 1971, in
which most of the several million killed were Hindus, is not
acknowledged as a religious genocide. While people know the history of
the Inquisition and the burning of witches in Europe and the genocide of
Native Americans by Christian invaders, they don't realize that India
has a similar history in parts of the country like Goa. Knapp fills in
these gaps and makes these connections.

More importantly, people don't realize that questionable
conversion tactics are still being used in India today, where in the
South, the rate offered for conversion is around twenty thousand rupies,
going up and down with the economy! They also don't realize that it is
now American Evangelicals of the Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson line --
the religious right that brought George Bush to power -- that is
spearheading conversion activity and church building in South India,
pouring billions into the country.

Yet Knapp's book is not just written to make us aware of
this assault on Hinduism and its many dangers. He also provides a way
forward, showing how Hindu Dharma can be revived, better taught, better
communicated and more widely shared with the global audience, which is
becoming progressively more receptive to Hindu teachings of Yoga,
Vedanta and respect for nature. He documents the Hindu renaissance and
the modern Hindu movement, which though small is growing rapidly as a
Hindu response to this denigration of its venerable traditions. He shows
that Hindus are not responding in terms of becoming another intolerant,
exclusivist missionary cult. They are organizing themselves in terms of
teaching, service and spiritual practices.

The book is well worth reading and will show any open minded
person the Hindu side of a millennial debate on religion that has so far
largely excluded the Hindu point of view. That Knapp is a western born
Hindu adds to his credibility and conviction. He is not simply defending
a tradition handed down by his family or his culture, but one that he
has embraced from deep spiritual conviction and profound inner

One hopes that readers in India will listen to his voice and that those
outside of the country will recognize the Hindu plight along with the
other forms of oppression going on in the world. Religious minorities at
a global level are still under the assault of religious majorities,
which have long been armed with petrodollars, high technology and
control of the media. Yet as the book demonstrates, the tide is
beginning to turn.

[The above is a review of Crimes Against India: and The Need to Protect its Ancient Vedic Traditions, a book by Stephen Knapp. The review was written by David Frawley, and is reproduced here without any changes.]

"My religion is connection."

Not Divided = Not Conquered

Noted author, teacher, and all-around BNP, T. Thorn Coyle recently wrote in her blog: "My religion is connection." I couldn't possibly say it better myself, so I won't try. But I will try to say what those four simple words mean to me.

My religion is connection. That's why I bother with arguing against "Pagan Monotheism" and "the spiritual two-party system". It's also why I criticize Ronald Hutton for his claim that the only thing that modern Paganism and ancient Paganism have in common "is the name". It's also why I argue against the claim that Socrates, Plato, and other ancient Pagan philosophers weren't really Pagans. It's also why I reject the idea of Paganism as an "ethnic" or "European" religion (some kind of "indigenous religion" for white people).

My religion is connection. Paganism never died: modern Paganism is connected to the Paganism of the past, and through that connection I am connected to my past. As a Pagan I feel a spiritual kinship with all those who worship the life force inherent in all of Nature, who understand that the Earth Herself is alive, as are the Moon, the Sun, the Stars - even Space itself. I feel a kinship with all those who embrace the erotic, sexual, life-affirming world-view in which there is no such concept as "dead matter". There is nothing dead in the Cosmos. Life and Consciousness pervade the whole Universe.

My religion is connection. The ancient Orphic Hymn to Aphrodite calls the Goddess of Love "the all-connecting Lady". Love is the force that binds the Cosmos together, that binds everything to everything else. To paraphrase the great modern Hindu sage Swami Vivekananda, the whole world is filled with the Divine, not with sin.

My religion is connection. There is nothing excluded from Paganism. Kabbalah is not too Jewish for Paganism, nor is Isis is too African, or Cybele too Asian, or Athena too philosophical. Paganism does not pit Celt against Roman against Hellene against German. Nor does it pit philosopher against peasant, man against woman, "the elite" against "the people", gay against straight, right against left.

Because Paganism is a religion of connection it is inherently ethical - there is nothing that I can do to anyone or anything that does not directly impact on me. There is nothing that happens anywhere in the Cosmos that does not directly impact me.

Because Paganism is a religion of connection it is inherently Magical. The interconnectedness of all things is a Great Mystery, but one which is not closed to us. Through study leading to knowledge and prayer leading to inspiration we can learn how to pull on the threads of Indra's Net in one place in order to create the intended effect somewhere else.

Because Paganism is a religion of connection, there is no part of me that is not of the Gods. Nor is there anything of the Gods to which I cannot aspire. The whole Universe is filled with Goddesses, Gods, Daemons, Nymphs, Sprites, Dakinis, Bodhisattvas, Spirits of every kind - of which the human soul is also one kind.

Awareness of the interconnectedness of everything is a luminous key that unlocks and throws wide the doors of consciousness. Without this key those doors remained closed, forming an impassable gate, a limiting barrier rather than an entryway to the limitless. In every culture throughout human history there have been those who have found this key, sometimes discovering it on their own, but most often it is passed from warm hand to warm hand as the great gift of Initiation. This knowledge is never lost from humanity, but even among those who know some know more and some less - and even those who know the most are able to communicate that knowledge to others only with great difficulty. But the Golden Thread is unbroken.

Out of curiosity young Lucius dabbled in Magic, and tried to turn himself into an owl thinking it would be fun to fly about for an evening. But because he did not know what he was doing, instead he turned himself into an ass, and, worse, was unable to regain his human form. For a long time he suffered hardship and abuse as a lowly ass, but when his time of testing and trials was nearing an end he purified himself and called upon the Queen of Heaven, The Goddess of a Thousand Names, Isis. She appeared to him, and the Divine Vision granted to Lucius is immortalized in the writings of Apuleius. And those words, in turn, were repeated in Cornelius Agrippa's descriptions of the Goddesses Luna and Venus, written over 13 centuries later during the great Pagan flowering of the Renaissance. And these words continue to stir Pagan hearts and minds to this day.

Isis commanded Lucius to seek out the sacred procession of the Goddess, and to join that procession even though he was still trapped in the body of an ass, "for all the people by My commandment shall be compelled to give thee place." And once in that procession he was to seek out the Priest, to whom the Goddess would send a vision, telling him to carry a garland of roses. And Lucius must, without doubt or fear, go right up to the Priest and pretend as if he were going to kiss the Priest's hand, but then instead to "snatch at the roses, and thereby put away the skin and shape of an ass."

So mote it be.