Priestcraft, Money & Power
Inspired by 'Shaivism and the Phallic World' by B. Bhattacharya
In the Satya Yuga we would have all known that we are the One. Therefore this business of priestcraft holding us captive in fear, while engaging in the extortion of our worldly wealth, could not have existed. Inevitably as the frequencies of Time moved ever further into their descent and the solidification of matter (as Rene Guenon terms it), we humans became trapped in dogma in the clutches of greedy unscrupulous priests. Consciousness as Truth went the proverbial six-ways-from-Sunday!
I have often wondered what happened in India during the middle ages as the frequencies of Time in this current Kali Yuga continued in bringing human consciousness into its ongoing descent and fragmentation. When I read what follows from Volume II in 'Shaivism and the Phallic World' by Mr. B. Bhattacharya, I was keenly impressed by his understanding of the relationship between priestcraft and worldly power — the way "money lends power, and power demands respect."
Throughout written history this fact of life has never changed; and even now we see the arrogance of the powerful today whose monumental and yet fragile egos demand respect and adulation bordering on worship. Fame is a ravenous state. I would venture to compare today's financial wizards with the priests of ancient times. Priestcraft has its time-honored patterns, which are intentionally obfuscated in arcane technical terms. The impenetrable use of inscrutable terms in language is little more than a complex shell game used to prohibit the ordinary common man - who is often just desperate to keep food on the table, in fear of debt and losing their jobs - from ever really understanding how they are being deceived, used and robbed.
Thus I have copied these pages for you to read, not only because they give us real scholarly insight into India's history — but also serve as an exemplary template for priestcraft and greed in any time or any country. Jesus threw the money lending banksters out of the temple. Think of the cathedrals that were built all over Europe — and the indecent behavior of priests with innocent children in the west even today. The names and flavors may be very different, but the forms are the same.
"We shall see that with the passage of time the Vaishnavas [who worshipped Vishnu] had split into two main sections ... Ultimately ...under the dynamic leadership of Ramanuja (1017-1137) ... The growth and development of the Sri-Vaishnavas had been fantastically rapid and total. The personality and devotion of Ramanujacarya [acarya means teacher], his devotional and spiritual impact had been able to take over from every other sect the leadership for the Vaishnavas, finally and most convincingly.
"There was no acrimony, bloodshed, fight or war. The transfer of leadership was effected by the intellectual acumen of Ramanuja, which had almost dislodged the monistic Vedantism of Sankaracarya, looked upon as a back-door admission of Buddhism, from popular affection.
Kings required influential Gurus
"The southern peninsula of India was at the time divided into a number of kingdoms ruled by various powerful rulers. Each of them vied with the other in expansionism, in which the emphasis on the religious forms, with the support of an influential Guru, came most handy.
"Each King appeared to have his patron saint; and chief minister, or very much like one. All of these Kings were made to grant huge property rites and holdings dedicated to the patron saint and his temple. These properties had their own system of management and administration, which continues to this day.
"Kings have been dislodged by an independent [democratic] India; but neither the priests, nor their property-rights carried in the name of the deities [have been dislodged]. The common man so educated and following the lead from the royals, made tremendous sacrifices in making their utmost offerings to their beloved deities.
"The way these deities 'lived' within their temples proved to be much more lavish that the ways of the royalties. Their temples were destined to be the treasury of the nation in terms of gold, jewelry and precious stones. Temples of gold, supported on golden pillars were not uncommon in those days, and are not totally absent even now.
"It could be surmised how tempted any foreigner became to ravage such dead treasury enmassed at a centre; and through this senseless accumulation of material glory much of India's later and continuous hardship under foreign domination was actually brought upon her people. ..."
[Interesting that here the suggestion is made that these vast accumulations of treasure actually brought about the invasions and conquest of India.]
"Naturally, all this property, endowments, cash and commercial interests called for efficient management. The priests became more powerful than the Kings; temples looked substantially more solvent than the rulers of the land, who were often found to be the debtors to the credit-lending temple gods.
Money lends power, and power demands respect.
"Under the circumstances the position of the priest was held in greater respect than that of the king. Money lends power, and power demands respect. A king could be changed, even executed — not a priest. Not only he, but the entire Brahmana class stood absolutely secured against any form of extreme punishment, which remained the share for the poor laboring multitude.
"In thinking of the priests and the temples of this period of history of India (the author says: and to a very significant extent even in modern India!), one could be reminded of the Babylonian society in its decay... 'Babylonia remained in effect a theocratic state, always under the thumb of the priests ... Certain lands were made to pay tribute... Priests were also the greatest financiers in Babylonia.'
"From age to age the wealth of the gods tempted again and again devastating attacks, followed by holocaust. The gods, temporarily done to death, came back in other forms; so did the priests. The cultures too died — but their shadows...revived other cultures.
The unchallenged right of controlling the assets
"Ramanuja's intelligence at once grasped the potential power underlying the concentration of human will around the temple. A good hold on the temples would give his organization the real hold needed for the propagation of his religious ideas. Thus through his tremendous organizational skill he took over almost all the religious properties and holdings with the unchallenged right of controlling the assets.
"But he left the area of worship and worship alone, within the temple and its sanctum sanctuary, to the charge of the Vaikhanasas [who focus on ritual and the worship of Vishnu], thus acknowledging their superior rights as guardians of the deity. They still conduct the worship...but little is known of the Vaikhanasa priests who are studiously kept within the precincts to conduct the actual service within the nave of the temple."
"Thus worship and humble attention to the god's imaged form through worship (Arcâ), and submissive total dedication are the basic contribution of the Vaikhanasas.
"Although the Vaikhanasas attribute their scriptures and canons to such authorities as Bhrigu, Marici, Atri and Kashyapa...it appears that Atri himself has other thoughts:
— When Veda decays, people depend on the Smritis ['remembered' meaning the wisdom that was held in memory - as opposed to the 'directly heard' of Shruti]: when they fail even to conform to the Smritis, they fall on the Puranas; falling short of the demand of the Puranas, they become attached to lands and commerce; when they fail even to remain straight in this, then they take course to the Bhagavata Dharma (Vaishnavism). —
"Bhagavata Purana itself speaks scurrilously of the way of worship (Arcâ) in IV.29.22: 'I am in every being, all the time; yet people ignore me, the Self, and depend on worship for their Liberation.' This is indeed pouring butter into ashes."
B. Bhattacharya: "It was a fatal day for the people, and for the popular interest to have chosen for the instant sweets of compromise on the basis of an instant religion of commercial give-and-take arrangements with the gods. The ethics of Vedic times, the ethics of Yoga and Vedanta, the ethics of bygone sacrifices and trainings of generations were all washed away, gradually, but surely, in the interest of class and clan."
In 'Rigveda for the Layman' the author Shyam Ghosh documents the decline of the original Wisdom Knowledge encoded in the Rigveda and directly experienced by the Rishis. Shyam Ghosh states that the dilution of the wisdom thoughts in the Rigveda were caused by the Yajur and the Artharva Vedas, and further "confounded by the several Brahmanas [the Satapatha-Brahmana, etc.], which made the reality more and more difficult for the common man to comprehend as time passed by, and particularly when the priests began exploiting the common man's ignorance for their own benefit century after century." [For example no lower castes were permitted to learn Sanskrit.]
It was the Upanishads and the Aranyakas that sought to preserve the sublime pure thoughts of the Rigveda. Shyam Ghosh feels that the Bhagavad Gita, which is the distillation of the Upanishads, "presents the thoughts of the Rishis in a most understandable form."
Ghosh says that the decline continued as the succeeding generations of Brahman priests claimed to be the only knowledgeable persons and "began creating a mystic and fanciful picture of the Rigveda thoughts in order to keep the layman happy and ignorant. They deviated more and more from the sublime and abstract ideas as expressed by the Rishis, and concentrated more and more on rituals and idol worship." In others words they created a lucrative business for themselves, just as the priests in the west demanded payment in the form of indulgences which were said to expiate sin.
Muni Narayana Prasad
Interesting that Muni Narayana Prasad states something very similar in his book 'Karma and Reincarnation' as he elucidates the origins of the notion of karma. When those who were ignorant, meaning they did not remember that they themselves were the One expressing in this universe, persisted in asking what happens after death — Muni Narayana Prasad says this:
"To pacify them [the ignorant], the Rishis [gurus] of India gave answers to the question which could be understood by those who are in the world of the unreal [the temporal illusory hologram]. The stories in scriptures concerning life after death are to be taken as belonging to the world of the unreal. None of them forms part of the teaching proper of the scriptures."
The Brahman priests of course required payment for the elaborate rituals they performed. All priestcraft east & west relies on fear to maintain and assure job security.
"A swarm of evils..."
Shyam Ghosh continues to observe the decline: The allegories in the Brahmanas led to the "further dilution of Rigveda thoughts when the priest created and recreated a host of deities to suit the prevailing mood of the ignorant laity. Thus misinterpreting many of the Rigveda hymns, they introduced the notion of castes, animal sacrifices, widow burning, and a swarm of other evils that bedevil the Hindu society today."
Ghosh notes that these priestly perversions are a global phenomena and the priests in the west were "equally eager to exploit the ignorance of others and thus gain power for themselves. There also, the priests created all kinds of personified figures and recommended to the ignorant mass several rituals...the Western priests too developed their own power and then began dominating large populations."
Ghosh mentions the fact that it was the Popes who initially ordered the Crusades and suppressed all heresy by means of the Inquisition, by which any man or woman could be arrested and in a secret trial "tortured to extract a confession before being condemned and burned to death...The Inquisitions were responsible for thousands of deaths of innocent men and women."
The brilliant scholar KK Nair, whose pen name is Krishna Chaitanya, has this to say about Ramanuja and worshipping deities in 'The Betrayal of Krishna' — he quotes the Bhagavata Purana, III.29.22:
"Stupid and foolish is the life of the man who worships idols forgetting deity who indwells all things."
KK Nair prefers Ramanuja to Sankara. Ramanuja has 'human warmth in this thinking and ardor in his faith,' as opposed to Sankara's bookish and cold approach; and Ramanuja sees the world as real and does not indulge in the romantic sexual fantasy of the 6th century Alvar poets or the Bhagavata Purana. But in KK Nair's view, Ramanuja does not understand Krishna's message of self-reliance to Arjuna.
Ramanuja from Sri Bhashya II.3.40-41: "... action is not possible without permission on the part of the highest Self. ... The Lord, recognizing him who performs good actions as one who obeys his commands, blesses him with piety, riches, worldly pleasures, and final release ..."
As Nair says, 'Ramanuja's thought has already begun to adjust to conventional religiosity which expects rewards for virtue and abstains from transgression only due to fear of punishment.' Of course the argument has always been made that this is the only kind of religion that the so-called common man can understand. But this is not what Krishna says and it is his subtle and elusive thinking that has made the Bhagavad Gita endure and remain a monument to the dignity and inherent potential greatness of all men - and of course, women!
Even the worst can cross over...
"Vyasa believes in man's ability to defy deity and also gain the insight to align with him." According to KK Nair, we do have free will. Perhaps God wants to be recognized and loved in the same way that so many of us dream of finding the perfect love. Is it not logical that our deepest dreams would in some way reflect our Creator? God cloaks and veils Itself in Forgetfulness, the miasma of amnesia and delusion, as us — for the adventure of finding Itself once again.
But Ramanuja has left us to the whims of a deity who rewards and punishes and worse, needs ritual sacrifices. Here come the priests! "... ritualism returns in a flood. Sacrifices are claimed to be the means for a steady remembrance and ultimate knowledge of deity; sacrifices performed day after day..." — while Krishna in the Gita is happy with the smallest offering, a leaf or a flower, and is critical of those who sacrifice for reward. Krishna sees knowledge as the greatest sacrifice and through such knowledge asks Arjuna (BhG 4.36) to "see all creatures without exception within yourself and then within him, as the Creator that dwells in the Heart."
KK Nair: "A great text...is being changed into a primer for pious, conventional religiosity..."
Even Ramanuja himself questions the concept of the world as sport and writes:
Ramanuja also accepted the idea of grace as a kind of 'divine absolutism' and 'even the love for God does not emerge spontaneously in man...deity will decide on granting or withholding grace...and deity seems to demand abject surrender.' This is not consensual partnership and forgets Krishna's saying that man redeems himself by himself, man is his own sole redeemer, for oneself alone is one's friend or enemy.
"Ramanuja transfers the entire work to deity" by interpreting the verse where Krishna tells Arjuna to abandon all works and come to him (Bh.G. XVIII.66) as meaning the abandonment of all action. But KC/KK Nair explains that there is a difference between the abandonment of action, and Tyaga which is 'the surrender of personal advantages from action, and even the expectation of the sure fruition of action as basis of motivation.' In fact Krishna tells Arjuna that to renounce any action that should be done because it is painful or difficult is not right and is Tamasic delusional (Bh.G.XVIII 7-9).
God as our best friend!
Shaivism and the Phallic World, Volumes I & II, by B. Bhattacharya; Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, 1993.
This is a two-volume set that was first published in 1975 by Oxford and is now out of print. I believe it is still available at amazon. Mr. B. [Brajamadhava] Bhattacharya is one of my favorite Indian scholars. He has been a great teacher for me personally, thus I honor his wisdom and knowledge. Thank you!
The book cover says he was born in 1910 in Varanasi and did his M.A. from Allahabad University. He spent the best period of his life as a teacher in Guyana and Trinidad, the West Indies. His work of "The World of Tantra" is a unique contribution to Tantric traditions. He also wrote a wonderful book on Bhakti Yoga. Bhattacharya has been a reputed writer in Bengali prose and poetry, novels, stories, travelogues (30 titles).
Rigveda for the Layman, A critical Survey of One Hundred Hymns of the Rigveda, with Samhita-patha, Pada-patha and Word-meaning and English translation, by Shyam Ghosh; Munishiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., 2002.
Karma and Reincarnation, by Swami Muni Narayana Prasad; D.K. Printworld Ltd., New Delhi, 1993, 2006.
The Betrayal of Krishna, Vicissitudes of a Great Myth, by Krishna Chaitanya [KK Nair]; Clarion Books, New Delhi, 1991.
[KK Nair excerpts from]
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