West Dumps Toxic Stuff
Kamal Nath has NOT finally caved in, after putting up a courageous fight for the last 4 years. Kamal Nath’s position, for the last 4 years, (correctly), was, “The Indian farmer can compete with the American farmer, but not with the U.S. Treasury.” But under the carrot of the US-India Nuclear deal, the fear was that US would probably get their way at the trade talks.
But there are 3 imports of the past that has caused India tremendous harm. India’s (and the world’s) problem can be laid at the doorstep of these 3 imports – including widespread corruption which causes so much anguish. These three imports continue to be in use widely across India – and remain unidentified. No barriers have been put up against these specific imports – and nothing is being done against such future imports.
The 3 Imports
These 3 dangerous imports are WORDS. Religion, Slavery and Free. These three imported words are at the root of modern India’s problems. Does this strike as an exaggeration?
Historically, India had no religions. Modern religions are a construct of the Middle East – and given birth to the 3 major religions of the world. Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In India, the belief structure centres around Dharma – धर्म.
The difference between dharma and religion? Major!
For one, religion is about worship – and there are many others differences. Method of worship (how you worship), object of worship (what you worship), frequency of worship (e.g. every Sabbath; five times a day), language of worship (what you say, in which language), etc.
The cornerstones of modern religions from the Desert Bloc are One God, One Book, One Holy Day, One Prophet (Messiah), One Race, One People, One Country, One Authority, One Law, One Currency, One Set of Festival – the root of most problems in the world. From this Oneness, we get the One Currency, One Language logic – a fallacious syllogism. Once you accept One, you will accept all others.
Indian worship practices are infinite. Even non-worship to is acceptable – for instance, the Charvaka school of Indian philosophy was atheistic and did not prescribe worship. Structure and deviation from worship practices are a non-issue in Indian dharmic structure. Dharma has no equivalent in the ‘Desert Bloc’ vocabulary of religions. Dharma is the path of righteousness, defined by a matrix of the contextual, existential, moral, pragmatic, professional, position, etc. Dharma is more than moral and ethics.
The really big difference is the holy books – Judaism, Christianity and Islam have one Holy Book each. No deviations. Indian dharma tradition has thousands which are more than 1000 years old – at last count.
And What Is Dharma?
That is the question that all Indian rishis, munis, holy texts, folklore try and answer.
There are many Indian texts on the path of Dharma – the Bhagwad Geetha (most famous), the Shanti Parva (dharma of kings), the Upanishads. Gautama Buddha established the Dharmapatha (now known as Dhammapada – the Path Of Dharma). It is Dharma that Indians belief systems focus on – and worship is only a (in some cases no) part of it. Buddhism focussed on the Dharma-chakra – a virtuous cycle of right actions leading to greater goodness in the world. This is represented in the Ashoka pillar – adopted by modern India as its symbol. Buddha in India, was another, in a long line of teachers.
Colonial narrative traces the destruction of Takshashila in 499 AD, by the Hunas (Western history calls them White Huns, Romans called them Ephtalites; Arabs called them the Haytal; The Chinese Ye Tha). Western ‘historians’ have ascribed the fall of Takshashila, in 499 AD – supposedly, at the jhands of White Huns, a Central Asian, nomadic tribe, roaming between Tibet to Tashkent, practicing polyandry.
Mohammed Bakhtiar Khilji destroyed the Universities and schools of Nalanda, Vikramshila, Odantapura and Jagddala around 1200 AD. This marked the destruction, persecution and decline in Indian education, thought and structure. Believers in Indian faith systems stopped coming India. ‘Consumers’ of ideological products from the ‘Indian Thought Factory’, were left with Desert Bloc alternative products. Buddhism soon became a religion outside India.
Religion is about founders and followers. Judaism had Moses, Christianity had Jesus and Islam had Mohammed. The founders of the ‘desert religions’ exhorted their converts to follow them and promised them deliverance.
Dharma is everyone’s concern, timeless – and has no founder. Gautama Buddha did not set out to establish a religion. He was interested in establishing the Dhammapada. So, did Mahavir. As did Guru Nanak. The definition (legal, conceptual, theological) of Indian dharmic systems as religion by outsiders created divides where none existed. There is no Hindu religion. We strangely call ourselves Indians. Why are we calling ourselves by a name given to us by others. We have our own name to call ourselves by.
Islam In India
The largest concentrations of Islamic believers in India (were able to establish Islamic worship systems) are in Bengal, Kerala, Gujarat and Kashmir – which did not witness large scale invasions from Persia and Arabia. These 4 areas were ruled (either completely or largely) by Hindu kings. There is significant evidence that Islamic beliefs in these 4 areas came through trade – Gujarat, Kerala and Bengal were major port cities where Arab traders were frequent visitors and settlers. Kashmir was the hub of the ancient Silk route.
The Sufi movement was Kashmir’s contribution and held sway over the large parts of Islamic believers. It is also these 4 geographies that were the least affected by the invasions of Mahmud Of Ghazni, Mohhammed Of Ghor, Timur, et al. These were also the provinces that were the most distant from the Muslim Delhi sultanates – and possibly had seen the least of proselytizing forces. Hence, the belief that Islam was spread in India largely by force is a possibly false.
It was this Indian ambivalence (even indifference) towards forms of worship which made it easy for any form of worship to take roots. It is also the reason why the sub-continent and Indic nations (i.e. the sub-continent and Indonesia) have today the largest followers of Islam.
Thus India has no religions in the ‘desert bloc’ sense of the word – and all Indians are believers in Dharma. And the path of Dharma is for each to discover and follow.
India must uproot the very word religion. We must understand the difference between dharma, religion and mazhab. Religion divides – dharma unites. Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism Sikhism were not, but in the danger of becoming religions. The Colonial Governments made these Indic dharmic quests into religions. Which Indian text describes its followers as Hindus? Did Guru Nanak call his disciples Sikhs. India has allowed outsiders to label us and dictate our response as per those labels.
Indian languages have no word for religion.
India has no word for slave either.
The word गुलाम ghulam is an import. दास dasa is an attendant, or a servant – but not a slave. Draupadi was a daasi to the Queen of Virat desh. The Pandavas became daasas at the Court of Viraat. Raja Harishchandra became a daasa to a Chandala. These were kings who became daasas. Nala, (Damayanti fame), the King of Nishada, became a daasa – but not a slave.
Slaves are sold and bought – involuntarily. There were organized markets for slaves in slave empires; organized traders of slaves (a famous one being the Barbarossa Brothers). Slavery (capture, kidnap, sequestration, transport, trade and transfer, re-capture of human beings) continued in the “desert bloc” till the 20th century. In the Indic territories, it was an inherited institution – and last seen in the Hittite rule around 1000BC.
Faced with West Asian reluctance to give up slavery, Indo Aryan rulers disengaged politically from West Asia and Middle East from around 1000 BC. Possibly, the slave revolt of Egypt by Moses itself was a result of the liberalising laws of the Hittites. Hence the fade out of the Indic rule from the Middle East – but the continuation of Buddhist influences, trade and peoples contact.
Reformers In India
After the slave revolts in the Middle East, India was witness to major renewal movements. More than a 100 Bodhisatvas and 24 Jain Tirthankaras were major figures in India’s renewal after the slave revolts in the Middle East. Modern history, influenced by Western historiography, recognizes only the “ahimsa twins” – Gautama Buddha and Vardhamana Mahavira. The “ahimsa twins” – Gautama Buddha and Vardhamana Mahavira were both princes of royal blood – Prince Siddharth and Prince Mahavira.
Initial adherents to the Buddhist camps were rulers. Their methods of proselytizing was also aimed at the ruling class. Ashoka The Great sent missions with his daughter Sanghamitra to Sri Lanka – where Buddhism was established. The logic – slavery could exist with State protection. Indic teachers of dharma focussed on the rulers to ensure that slavery did receive state patronage.
Guru Nanak Dev came from from the upper caste family and his focus was to end fueding on the basis of caste and creed. His first converts were from upper class families cutting across religions – and hence the opposition from some of the Mughal Kings.
Gandhiji was from the upper caste and the first item on his reform agenda was end to the “bhangis” carrying faecal refuse on their heads. His initial focus was social reform and less of anti-British activities.
Half the world today follows Indic religions and culture. The other half follows the “desert religions”. The development trajectories of these two halves has been significantly different. The motivations, behavioural and acceptable civilisational norms for these blocs are different – and mostly opposite.
Slavery In India
Slavery in (Greater) India, disappeared from about 1000 BC. Zilch. Nyet. Non. Nada, nada, 否, nr, nein, Αριθ, いいえ, 아니다, não.
While the Levant and the Occident continued with slavery for the next 3000 years, till 1900 AD, in India (referring to the Greater India, including the Hittites and Mitannis) after 1100 BC, slavery vanished. Compared to the retributive and vengeful Hammurabi’s code, the Indic rulers of Middle East (the Hittites, Mittanis and Elamites) already had a more liberal and humane legal system.
In the late and middle 19th century, capture by British agents to capture indentured labour, (slave traders and slavery by another name) was also the reason, that possibly, the myth of ‘kaal-paani’ became prevalent and Indian traders preferred buyers to come to them. This also accounts for the system of unarmed combat that travelled with Buddhist monks to China – and became Chinese Kung Fu, or the Kalaripayattu (in Kerala) or the system of लठैद (combat practitioners using ‘lathis’ – bamboo sticks).
Slave Religions Promote Slavery
The 3 ‘desert religions’ instead of reforming slave societies, just enabled the transfer of slave titles. Freedom meant old slaves became the new slave masters. Slavery (capture, kidnap, sequestration, transport, trade and transfer, re-capture of human beings) continued in the “desert bloc” till the 20th century. Slavery was sanctioned by the religious authorities and books of these 3 ‘desert religions’.
Non-political Indian role in West Asia and Middle East continued to grow in terms of trade and learning. Babylon became a part of Alexander’s empire (and then the Roman Empire). This slave reform and distancing of Indic rulers from slave societies was led by Indian reformers like Buddha and Mahavira. This happened not around and after 500 BC as determined by Western dating logic (which needed to fit the Aryan Invasion Theory, The ‘evolution’ of Greek and Romans) – but around 1000 BC.
When the followers of Mani (a teacher of largely Buddhist teachings) were encouraging the slaves to revolt and declare themselves free, administrators of the teachings of the “Lord of lords, and King of kings.” (Revelation 17: 14) at the Council Of Gangra, 325 AD, approved of slavery. Arabs slave traders were active in Congo – till they were replaced by Europeans.
Slave Memory In Indian Society
By the 10th century, Slave memory faded out in India. The Indic word for slave owning cultures, asur, became disconnected with slave ownership. References in Indian classical literature about servitude – like the Harishchandra story.
Jataka stories (mainly considered as children’s stories in the West) are a reflection of social mores, realities- and also cautionary tales for adults. This Jataka story (click on the link) refers to a “demon’ (another word for a slave trader) and cautions travellers and merchants about slave traders. This ‘demon’ kidnaps the merchant – but leaves the goods behind. Similarly, the story of Bali, the righteous Asura king, who was sent to the patalaloka, by Vamana, makes sense, the moment ‘demons’ are defined as slave-owners and enslavers.
Historically, trade in India is governed by शुभ लाभ ‘shubh labh’ – and hence Indians have not been major players in drugs proliferation (unlike Japan, the West in which traded Opium in Korea and China) or in slave trade. In modern times, though a power in computing industry, India is not a big player in spamming or in software virus.
What Did This Do In India
3000 years ago, India went ahead and created a new economic model without slavery. The Occident and the Levant were using slaves till 20th century. Middle East’s labour laws even today smack of slave owner mentality.
Asuras as ‘dravidians’, ‘foriegners’ or ‘others’ is an Euro-interpretation – which seems xenophobic. This further dimmed Indian perception of slavery – and instead created divisions within Indians. On the contrary, asuras could even be Indians – and even righteous kings like Bali. The entire Ravana demonisation was not about Sita being abducted. The outrage was the ‘asuras’ i.e. slave traders, trading her.
Similarly, the story of Dadhichi, from whose bones the vajrastra was made to kill the ‘demon king’ Vritrasur. Dadhichi was a former king, son of Atharvan, and Vritrasur was a brahman who became an asura. Or the ‘Nahusha’ story, where a mere mortal was made Indra, to defeat the ‘demons’. This also adds another layer to the Rajput opposition to Mughals. And the Rajput women committing Jauhar. In modern era, India’s unceasing opposition to South African apartheid was another example.
Unremitting and unceasing opposition to slavery – that is what Indian history is about. In fact, there is no Sanskritic word for a slave. Ghulam is an imported word, daas /daasi is an attendant. Slavery as a concept does not exist. Similarly, the word free does not exist in Sanskrit.
There is no free lunch
The third major import is free. Sanskritic language and logic has no word for free. Muft, free, are all imported words. This has created a corrupt political system which keeps bribing voters with freebies. It has distorted trade with freebies. In Indian commercial practice, there were systems for giving away free. That was called “chakda” – which is ‘make good’. So if you bought 100 mangoes, you got 116 or 156 – as the local system was. To make good for defectives, rottens fruits and vegetables. But nothing was free.
So , when did this corruption start.
The answer goes back to 5000 years ago. When Sanskrit language was invented. Yes. Invented. And there is no Sanskritic equivalent for slave, religion, free. There is no Sanskrit word for these three imported words.
What! What Has Sanskrit Got To Do With This?
Sanskrit is an artificial, synthetic, revolutionary language – unlike all other languages in the world; which are Prakrit (natural and evolutionary). The next set of artificial languages came into this world after 5000 years later.
About 50-75 years ago, the next set of artificial languages were invented. These are the computer languages. Between the invention of Sanskrit and the computer languages , there was no other culture which created an artificial language system.
What Makes Sanskrit Special?
Sanskrit is nothing but a database system with millions of database tables and a system of linking concatenated data records. Every word is a table (I studied Sanskrit 30 years ago, and if I remember correctly, it is a 3 column x 8 row table). And all words then combine with each other as per these table rules. And all Indian languages (most European languages, too) are derived from Sanskrit. While most of us do not know Sanskrit or understand it’s structure consciously, we all use Sanskritic structures everyday.
India should put up trade barriers against such imports. Kamal Nath unfortunately cant do much about this. This is one thing that each one of us will have to do.
- Pope condemns Bangladesh working conditions as “slave labor” (news.yahoo.com)
- The Pope Called One Of The Foundations Of The Global Capitalism System ‘Slavery’ (businessinsider.com)
The Three Problems Of The Modern World
The world today is divided between those who see Westernization as a problem – and those who see Islam as the threat. Islam also sees Zionism as the other major problem.
To my mind these are two sides of the same coin. Nobody sees Buddhism or Hindusim as the same threat as Westernization or Islam. The 3 desert religions account for only half the world – yet seem to account for a greater proportion of modern problems than the number of people following the ‘Desert Bloc’ culture.
Two Elephants In The Room
Most analysis fail to detect (or is it mislead) the role of slavery and colonies – the twin-elephants in the room. For instance, this nearly 20-page analysis about Westernization and Modernization, mentions slave once and colonialism (related words included) twice. The very basis of post-medieval West has been slavery and colonialism. Western propaganda has made slavery, an invisible factor in their ‘success.’
And they are on the half way mark, on the erasure in popular memory, about the use of colonies for Western enrichment. For instance, a ‘respected’ commentator, Kishore Mahbubani, fatuously, talks about the seven pillars of Western success – without once mentioning slavery and colonialism.
On the other hand, there are those who allege, that Westernization has progressed the world. Take Theodore Von Laue’s essay (author of The World Revolution Of Westernization) which is inspired “by a humane and compassionate vision which most academic studies lack. Indeed, his study was motivated by his concern about contemporary sectarian strife, interstate conflicts, ecological disasters, superpower rivalry, and anti Western movements mired in nostalgia and resentment”.
It is the support of slavery and loot by the ‘Desert Bloc’ that is the root of the problem. For loot and slavery to ‘flourish’, looters and enslavers must share ‘common’ factors – like physical look, same religion, same or similar language, geography, etc. Hence, the importance of ‘assimilation’.
Respect For The Individual
While the West talks about the respect for the individual, facts are otherwise.
Members of the Catholic Church note with anxiety (and so does the its replacement, The State) that “the continued insistence that Hispanics will soon pass through the assimilationist melting pot and be American like us is not only false, but also harmful for our Hispanic sisters and brothers, and thus for the church”.
Another study to measure ‘assimilation’ notes “Mexican immigrants are assimilating more slowly than Italian immigrants did at the turn of the last century”. Similarly, expatriate populations in the Middle East have to live with disrespect and intolerance of non-Islamic religions.
Unlike the Indian social system, where differences are respected and encouraged, the position of the French Government, paraphrases the thinking of the ‘desert bloc’. The French expectation that “immigrants were supposed to blend harmoniously into society and not exist in separate communities” makes Westernization and Islamic Fundamentalism a problem for the rest of the world.
Across The World
From China, Li Changchun, a high chief in the Chinese Communist Party ideologue “has been sounding the alarm against alleged “Westernization and splittism” attempts by capitalistic demons. At a symposium to study the theories of Deng Xiaoping, the deceased paramount CCP leader, he called upon all communist comrades to strengthen the Marxist convictions, “Guard against foreign hostile machinations to Westernize and split China“
In Russia, “The West, the Western Europe, and the United States have been perceived to represent wrong and dangerous forces and values, a danger and threat to Russia, Russian people its religion, values and politics, and good life in general”. (from the book The Enemy with a Thousand Faces: The Tradition of the Other in Western Political and History By Vilho Harle).
A report from Russia informs Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who oversees external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, in a nationally televised sermon in 2005, said the reformers of the 1990s did not understand “that reform does not mean Westernization.”
In Pakistan, people feel that “In the name of development, a huge amount of Westernisation will take place, leading to the erosion of Islamic values and coming into existence of a new class of citizens”.
From Africa, The Cape Times, confirms that “African traditons have been corrupted over many years by the influence of Western values, with its emphasis on materialism. The corruption is particularly marked in the urban areas of South Africa, where there has also been a breakdown of the family as the vehicle of traditional values.Mike Muendane, author of I am an African, said the corruption of African culture started a very long time ago. “We were told our cultures were inferior to Western cultures and we made the mistake of accepting that,” he said. With the Western cultures came the spirit of materialism and Africans lost their spirituality in the process.He said African children were being subjected to Westernisation. “We must claim back our children,” Muendane said”.
Researchers fear for languages using the same “standards applied to bird and mammal populations, professor Bill Sutherland of the University of East Anglia in England examined the threat to the world’s 6,800 languages. His findings – nearly 1,700 languages are either endangered, critically endangered or vulnerable – reported in the May 15 edition of the science journal, Nature. About 27 percent of the world’s languages are threatened, compared to about 9 percent of the bird population, his study shows. The foundation attributes the decline and total disappearance of some languages to urbanization, Westernization and the growth of global communications, which “diminish the self-sufficiency of small and traditional communities.”
South East Asian countries fear for their music and many “fear that Westernization and commercialization gradually tend to undermine cultural diversity in popular music, a reflection of the real changes and processes occurring in most societies over the past several decades”.
On The Other Side
The Cato Institute, a US think tank, announces that indeed, “a new specter is haunting America, one that some Americans consider more sinister than Marxism-Leninism,” according to Douglas E. Streusand. “That specter is Islam.” The rise of political Islam in North Africa, especially the recent electoral strength of anti-liberal Islamic fundamentalist groups in Algeria; the birth of several independent Moslem republics in Central Asia whose political orientation is unclear; and the regional and international ties fostered by Islamic governments in Iran and Sudan are all producing, as Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland put it, an “urge to identify Islam as an inherently anti-democratic force that is America’s new global enemy now that the Cold War is over.”
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger feels, today it is “radical Islam that threatens the already brittle state structure via a fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran as the basis of a universal political organization. Jihadist Islam rejects national sovereignty based on secular state models; it seeks to extend its reach to wherever significant populations profess the Muslim faith”.
In another report, Kissinger calls for a concurrent US-Russia policy for “countering Islamic Fundamentalism the united states and russia have a common interest in countering islamic fundamentalism and should attempt to pursue concurrent policies, former secretary of state henry kissinger has said. “the challenge of islamic fundamentalism is probably the dominant russian concern. russia’s leaders perceive afghanistan’s taliban and to a lesser extent iran and pakistan as threats to the newly independent states of uzbekistan, azerbaijan, kazakhstan, tajikistan and turkmenistan, formerly soviet republics, kissinger said. “furthermore, moscow fears that militant ideologies could stimulate irredentism in russia’s southern muslim provinces,” kissinger wrote in an article in the washington post . he said america had its own “concerns about the spread of fundamentalism towards saudi arabia, pakistan and the middle east.” “an effort should be made,” kissinger suggested in the article, “to achieve concurrent or at least compatible policies with russia on the middle east, including central asia, afghanistan, iran and, at least as far as russia is concerned, the balkans.” he, however, said there were clear limits beyond which neither country may be able to go. america cannot, in the name of opposition to islamic fundamentalism, acquiesce to russia’s methods for suppressing the upheavals in chechnya. nor can it be indifferent should islamic fundamentalism become a pretext to force the newly independent states of central asia buckle under russian strategic domination, he said” (sic).
On Islam in Russia, The New York Times (in 2001) reported the ‘rise in Islamic fundamentalism has concerned Russian officials, many of whom are wary of any religion that is not Russian Orthodoxy. The ongoing battle in Chechnya, whose rebels increasingly identify with Muslim extremists, has fueled anti-Islamic attitudes. Much of the concern has focused on the influence, in Chechnya and beyond, of money and ideology from Islamic countries”.
In Europe, Islamic fundamentalism is being dealt with differently the “French consensus was symbolised by the 80 per cent public support for the head-scarf ban, which started with little trouble in September. While many Muslims felt stigmatised, the Government took comfort from the approval of the ban … The left wing, which long shunned criticism of Islam as the stock-in-trade of Jean-Marie le Pen, the far-Right leader, now denounces the “totalitarian”, anti-feminist, antisemitic doctrines of the fundamentalists. Jacques Julliard, a leading left-wing commentator, said the Left’s longstanding tolerance had been used as “an agent for the penetration of Islamic intolerance” … The debate … now acknowledges failure of its (France) “republican” approach to integration whereby immigrants were supposed to blend harmoniously into society and not exist in separate communities” (ellipsis and bold letters mine).
Across South East Asia, it is reported “on 18 January 2007, the Philippines military killed 9 members of the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group after a fierce gun fight. This came two days after the Philippines elite Army Special Forces killed Jaenal Antel Sali, one of the top five Abu Sayyaf leaders wanted by the United States for a series of high-profile terrorist acts. Earlier in January, Army Scout Ranger soldiers killed BinangSali, head of the Abu Sayyaf- Urban Terrorist Group. Elsewhere, Indonesia has also stepped up anti-terror actions in Poso in Sulawesi, a place where militants have gained a foothold. The anti-terror squad raided a militant stronghold killing 9 suspected militants in a gun-battle and arresting 18 suspects. A large haul of bombs and weapons were also found in the hideout and seized”.
From North Africa, come reports about how ”The Governments keep close watch on all radical fundamentalists,” the diplomat said. ”The authorities first try and influence and control by providing money to the mosques and getting the leaders on their side. If that doesn’t work, they crack down.”
The complaint of “Westoxication” is a powerful expression by the non- West of its ambivalence towards modernity, and the urgent need to build a long-term separation of Westernization from modernization. The reshaping of the West as transcendental evil — “the West as Satanic Empire”
One Western, (of course), commentary states that Islamic Fundamentalism has “coincided with the demise of the colonial era, the retreat from empire, the liberation and independence of a host of former colonial states, the emergence of a world system centred on the United Nations, and more recently, the end of the cold war and the disappearance of the bipolar world of East and West”.
Of course, the writer seems to imply, (in the neo-con manner) that if the world had continued with colonies, and if 80% of the world was forced to be backward, these problems would not have occurred. This seems to be the logical corollary to this observation. Also, this commentary, does not recognize how the retreat from the empire left previously peaceful populations at each others throats. For instance, India and Pakistan, the entire Middle East, the fragile disequilibrium in Africa.
Thus, the world needs to understand that the root of the problem and also the solution is movement away from the civilizational values of the Deseret Bloc – based on slavery and loot.
500 years after the oppressive yoke of the Church was lightened, the BFAG Group of countries (Britain, France, America and Germany) arrogate all credit to themselves. Truth be told, the story is something else altogether.
Where does the story start?
Estranged relations between Rome and Constantinople, for many years, lead to the Schism of the 1054. Thereafter, the Roman Church lost all its Eastern mellowness and acquired dimensions of power, wealth, authority, persecution and bloodshed. 50 years later Rome started on its first of the many Crusades.
100 years after the Schism, Arnaldo da Brescia (in English, Arnold of Brescia), an Italian monk, and disciple of Pierre Abelard was the first to challenege the might of the Roman Church. After a few years of criticism of the ways of the Church (possibly from 1135), his first brush with Church authority came in 1139.
After the Second Lateran Council in 1139, he was forced into exile. He roamed from place to place – Zug (Switzerland), Paris, Zurich, Bavaria – and was finally allowed to return to Italy in 1143. On his return, he found a Rome in ferment. Romans found the yoke of Church very heavy and set up a Republican Commune, under the political leadership of Giordano Pierleoni, from a wealthy Jewish family.
The Republican Commune was short lived – and the Church soon regained its authority. For this, he was denounced as the “father of political heresies”. In what was to become a familiar routine, he was burned alive in 1156, and his ashes thrown into the Tiber.
The Roman Church, with the firm backing of the Roman Empire and subsequent rulers like Charlemagne, had become the most powerful authority in Europe. Arnaldo da Brescia’s opposition to Church involvement in European politics and the preoccupation of the Church in accumulation of wealth endeared him to no one.
“Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius” instructed the Abbot of Citeaux to his followers. In English that means ” Kill them all, God will know his own.” And 200,000 people were killed.
Cathars of Langudoc were Christians from Southern France (South of Loire Valley). They spoke the language of Oc, hence Languedoc – whereas Northern France langue d’oil spoke French.
They believed that there was evil in this world and Satan was doing his best to tempt people. Thus, they lived ascetic lives and did not marry (remember, the Bible says that women (Eve) was the cause of Original Sin and reason for downfall of Man (Adam) from the Garden of Eden). ‘Cathar’ is derived from the Greek work katharos (Pure). Cathar leaders were the parfaits (pure souls) and Cathar believers, called croyants, could have families.
Modern day Roma Gypsies made their first mark in Europe in Provence. The richness of the Roma Gypsy music (originally, from India) overwhelmed the people of Southern France. The Languedoc whole heartedly, assimilated the Gypsies (then famous as troubadours) and their culture – warmly. Centuries later, Verdi wrote the Il Trovatore, in 1853, a story about the clash between the White Christian Spain and a band of Gypsies. Georges Bizet’s, Carmen, another opera about the love of a Spaniard and the Gypsy, Carmen, used Gypsy music and themes considerably – apart from the story itself. In 1859, Franz Liszt wrote, The Gypsies And Their Music In Hungary, a 450-odd page treatise on Gypsy music – and his Hungarian Rhapsody was based on Gypsy music.
In the bleakness of Europe, the French poet Voltaire, the English WB Yeats, lamented and longed for Provence and the richness of the Provencal culture, 500 years later. Modern French cuisine, wine culture and tradition took root in this very area – and survived in spite of the best attempts by the Church to exterminate it.
How Many People Were Killed?
The xenophobic Church, allied with Northern France and wrote one of the bloodiest chapters in blood and loot. Over the next 41 years, a mercenary group, varying between 10,000-50,000, was raised. They were tempted with an Papal offer that they could take whatever they could lay their hands on. ‘Finders keepers’ was the rule that Roman Church established. The marauders wasted the entire population of Provence. Its culture wiped out. The Cathars were burnt at the stake, tortured, and killed in many different ways. More than 200,00o people were killed.
Peter Valdes and The Poor Men Of Lyons
A troubadour tale of the death of the holy man, Alexis, in 5th century, in Edessa, Mesopotamia inspired Peter Valdes (Peter Waldo in English), a rich merchant from Lyons, France. This story of Alexis, travelled to France, from the Syriac region, Greek and Byzantine route (Roma Gypsies again?).
Peter Valdes, in 1173, circa, gave away a part of his wealth to his wife. From the rest of his wealth, he compensated those he had dealt with unfairly in trade. He spent a part of his wealth on scholars to translate the Bible to common French. Initially, Pope Alexander III gave The Waldensians permission to preach – subject to local priestly permissions. With time, his group grew and are today referred to as the Waldensians and the “The Poor Men Of Lyons”.
As the followers of the Valdes increased, permissions dried up. The Waldensians were labeled as schismatics. In 1184, Pope Lucius III excommunicated the “Poor Men of Lyons”. Persecution followed.
After one incident, eighty Waldensians were burnt alive. The rest escaped to Bohemia-Moravia (modern Czechoslovakia, in Gypsy wagons?). Many Waldensians escaped to northern Italy to avoid persecution in France. In yet another incident, the “Piedmont Easter” (1655), French forces massacred 1,700 Waldensian men, women, and children.
Valdes used his new found knowledge of the Bible to counter the Roman Catholic Church. His followers rejected many aspects of Roman Catholicism – like the priesthood, indulgences, purgatory, and praying to saints. Later, Waldensians, became followers of Bohemian reformer Jan Hus (who was burned at the stake in 1415). In 1532, the Waldensians, under the guidance of William Farel, an associate of John Calvin, integrated with the Protestant faith.
After the Albigensian crusades, the Church did not face any serious opposition. Britain, France, Germany quietly fell in line. But in the early 15th century, a courageous, new intellectual leader challenged Rome. And it started in Bohemia.
Bohemia, a small kingdom, (now a part of Czechoslavakia) discovered major silver deposits. The King Of Bohemia, Charles-I, invited Germans from nearby areas to expand trade and commerce. In 1419 King Wenceslas of Bohemia died. Emperor Sigismund, of Germany, a staunch Catholic of the Holy Roman Empire, inherited the Kingdom.
The first major successful revolt against the Church were the Hussite wars – a 100 years before the Martin Luther’s Ninety Five Theses (in 1517). Led by Jan Zizka. A small Czech Army, repeatedly defeated the Catholic Army from Germany. After 20 years of defeats, the Church was forced to negotiate. The trigger for this war was a University rector.
The Rector Of Prague
At the Charles University of Prague. The rector went by the name of Jan Hus. A supporter of Church Reform, he opposed many practices of the Roman Church. Hus was persuaded to attend the Council Of Konstanz (Constance) under the protection of the Emperor Sigismund. The Emperor refused to honour his promise of safe conduct and allowed Hus to be tried and then executed as a heretic. In 1415 John Hus was arrested and condemned to death by the members of the Council of Konstanz (Constance).
Bohemia was in uproar. Supporters of Hus made their displeasure plain. The protestors organised themselves , took the Chalice (Calyx) as their symbol and came to be known as Calyxtines. More than 500,000 died in the following unrest.
In 1420, a 60 year old man, blind in one eye took charge – and took on the might of the Roman Church and Roman Emperors.
Over the next 12 months, he became completely blind. In the next 15 years, Zizka (and other Czech generals) defeated, many times, the combined armies of Germany, The Roman Church and others. His military strategy was studied for the next 500 years. Thereafter, the myth of military might of the Church was broken forever.
Jan Zizka allied himself with the Taborites (the radical Hussite wing). Zizka made Tábor in Bohemia into an armored and mobile fortress – the Wagenburgs. Sigismund tasted defeat at Visehrad (now a part of Prague) at the hands of Zizka (July, 1420) and the Taborite troops. Many anti-Hussite crusades were launched unsuccessfully against Zizka. One Catholic stronghold after another, fell. Zizka continued to command in person, though he had become totally blind in 1421.
In 1423 Zizka formed his own Hussite wing, while remaining in close alliance with the Taborites. In 1424, Zizka used his army, to lower tensions between the radical Taborites and the moderate Utraquists, whose stronghold was at Prague. He sent his armies to Prague to force the city to adhere to the anti-Rome /German policy. A negotiated armistice averted a civil war between the two Hussite factions. The outcome – a united attack on Moravia. The commander – Jan Zizka. On his death bed, Zizka, asked that his skin be used to make a drum that would lead his armies into battle.
Zizka ranks with the great military innovators of all time. Zizka’s army was made up of untrained peasants and burghers (townspeople). He did not have the time or resources to train these fighters in armament and tactics of the time. Instead they used weapons like iron-tipped pikes and flails, armored farm wagons, mounted with small, howitzer type cannons.
His armored wagons, led by the Taborites, in offensive movements, broke through the enemy lines, firing as they rolled, cutting superior forces into pieces. For defense, the wagons were arranged into a tight, impregnable barrier surrounding the foot soldiers – the Wagenburg (the wagon fort), as they came to be known. The wagons also served to transport his men. Zizka thus fully initiated modern tank warfare. Zizka’s experience under various commanders was useful. At the battle of Tannenberg (1410), Zizka fought on the Polish side , in which the famed German Teutonic Knights were defeated.
End Of The Inquisition
After the use of The Inquisition, at trial of Joan Of Arc (1431), Inquisitions became less credible and infrequent. The last Inquisition was the conviction of Savanorola. Jerome Savonarola – 1452-1498, lived in Florence, Italy. An outspoken critic of Papal authority and the immoral lifestyle of the clergy, he soon made enemies. The Roman Church offered him the position of a cardinal, which he refused. Finally, he was excommunicated, arrested and burnt to death.
Mythology as History
The principle of ‘Cuius regio, eius religio’ (meaning whose land, his religion; CRER) – the ruler decided his people’s religion, was used to settle Europe post-Hussite Wars and the ‘Reformation’, establishing the CRER principle to settle Germany, giving rise to the logic of ‘ubi unus dominus, ibi una sit religio’ (One ruler, one religion). Just in case someone had religious disagreement, the logic was they could well emigrate – (ius emigrandi). The target of these laws, principles and writings – the Jews and the Roma-Gypsies.
Jan Hus initiated the Vatican Church Reform and Jan Zizka broke the back of Papal authority – made possible by the alliance with the Taborites. The Czech successes, created room for the European ruling classes to confront the Vatican – for which they used the 95 Theses by Martin Luther (1517). Martin Luther’s Protestantism was less about religious reform and rabidly anti-Semitic and anti-Gypsy. His ‘acceptance’ by the European authorities, was based on his pandering to the political objectives of the European ruling houses against the Vatican. Espousing the Antisemitism and ‘anti-Gypsy cause’, Martin Luther earned his spurs from the kings and the Vatican, when he wrote in
1543 that Jews be placed ‘in a stable like the Zigeuner [Gypsies] so that they learn that they are not masters in our land’ (from Borders and travellers in early modern Europe By Thomas Betteridge, page 97)
The British break (1533-34) with the Holy Roman Church happened due to favors by the Papal office to the Iberian Empires – in matters of trade and colonial expansion, and the impediments to divorce of Henry-VIII at the behest of the Spanish rulers.
Today, the Germans and the British are loath to be reminded about the Czech Church Reform initiatives and the defeats at the hands of the Poles and Czechs. Western historiography about the Enlightenment and Renaissance, in Britain, France and Germany, leading to the reformation is ‘mythology as history’.
Of course, the role of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Byzantine Empire in the entire Czech saga is also worth re-examining. Were the Hussite Wars, a proxy war waged by the Eastern Church against the Vatican?