A Hindu Travels Back in Time

Very nice post from India Land of Rapes, one of my favorite commenters. He shows how a fictional Hindu is hired by a Hindutvadi organization to go back in time to research the early days of the Hindu religion. The organization he works for says that Hinduism has existed unchanged in India for from anywhere from 8,000-50,000 years.
Our time-traveler finds that this is nonsense as he travels back in time, he finds that the religion that is supposedly “Hinduism” is no longer recognizable as late as 2,000 years ago. Hinduism is a name given the religion by the British and it is really just the name for the many pagan religions that Indians have practiced in India since Time Immemorial. There is no monolithic Hinduism, particularly in a secular (time-constant) sense.
Who are modern day Hindus? Or Indians? — They are hybrids
Hindutva paints them as some unique group, but they are not – they are slaves, immigrants and mostly settlers
Hinduism is not some mythical old cult existing since 9,000 years ago as some Hindutvas paint – it’s a unique new cult, co-opting some Buddhism and other traditional values.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is a powerful organization founded on the belief that the Hindu religion is eternal and unvarying, that it has existed in India for thousands of years (the VHP’s chronological estimates vary between 8,000 and 50,000 years), and that its essence has never been affected by any foreign influence or borrowing. Hinduism is unique to India, and India is a uniquely Hindu country: such is the logic of the VHP. And yet, occasionally, the VHP is assailed by a sense of doubt.
It is all very well to thunder at Muslims and Christians in self-congratulatory public meetings, its leaders say to themselves, but it would be nice to have some proof with which to fight off the scoffing scientists. And so, as documents recently made available to researchers reveal, the high command of the VHP decided to sponsor a time travel project, sending a fact-finder back to the glorious Vedic age to collect evidence of how the ancestors of the Hindus performed their rituals, worshiped their gods, and conceived of their relationship to the Divine.
Thus a card-carrying member of the VHP, a Hindu of impeccable credentials, embarked on a pilgrimage through time, back to 1500 BCE. He must have been very excited at the prospect of seeing with his own eyes the Golden Age of his belief, when the tenets of Hinduism were still untainted by any alien influence. Landing on the banks of the Indus, he immediately sets out on a walk, eager to visit the temples of the area, to pay his respects to the gods, magnificently carved in stone, and to celebrate the sunset with the time-honored ritual of the aarti.
Our contemporary Hindu searches in vain. He encounters some herdsmen, but none of them has heard of his supreme god, Shiva. Vishnu does ring a bell, but only as one of the names of the sun god. He stumbles from one shock to another: the mention of the loving Krishna provokes anger, for Krishna, they tell him, is a cattle-raider, the enemy of their chief god, Indra. And when he asks about Ganesha, most popular of today’s deities, they nearly chase him away—that dangerous trouble-maker, they whisper, can only be appeased by tribal shamans from the forest on the far side of the river.
Eager to mollify his new friends, the perplexed guest asks about their gods. The ancients rattle off a long list — Varuna, Mitra, Agni, Kubera and others—but to him these are vague names, shadowy figures, either forgotten or demoted, as in the case of Kubera, to goblin status.
I will find consolation in a temple, our time-traveler thinks to himself, but the locals do not understand his request. The word ‘mandir’ is foreign to them, as is ‘murti’. Where the heck are you from? they ask with growing suspicion. Are you one of us at all? After much to and fro, they lead him to a temporary altar by the river, around which several men are seated. But he can make no sense of their shamanic rituals of purification and praise; he does not know the guardian spirits and fertility goddesses that they are worshiping.
In great inner turmoil, he proceeds to a sacrificial clearing in the forest, hoping at least to come across a familiar idol. But alas, there is not a single one there, only strange totems: instead of the mighty Shiva, he encounters a cobra; instead of the regal Vishnu, he finds a fish, a tortoise and a boar. And when the sun begins to set, he is all alone, and the locals give no sign of gathering for the congregational evening prayer that has been his daily spiritual fare for as long as he can remember. But the locals are hospitable, and after dinner (of which the less said the better), they sit around the fire with him, struggling to make conversation.
Seeking common ground, he narrates some of his most cherished myths as best as he can in his high-school Sanskrit, the story of Rama and Sita, the saga of the feuding Pandavas and Kauravas, the legend of the rival sisters Ganga and Parvati. His audience is entranced by such beautiful tales from foreign lands, not only because of his story-telling skills, but also because their ears have never been charmed by anything similar to this. Even the most central of Hindu concepts, which he idiomatically mentions in passing—the karma of his life—baffles his Vedic ‘ancestors’.
But there is one comforting moment, when they invite him to a sacrifice: the yagna. With enormous relief he casts the mix of sesame, clarified butter and kindling wood into the fire, to the chanting of Vedic verse. But his relief is short-lived. He is scandalized that the priests hand around a brew they call soma, and shocked by the readiness with which both women and men drink it, transporting themselves into states of dream. He is eager to return home, for he might as well have landed on the moon.
But the VHP does not give up so easily. OK, they exclaim, so we exaggerated by a millennium here and a millennium there, but that doesn’t prove anything. Our researcher must have missed the great Hindu unraveling by a sliver of time—we just have to send him out again. This second journey falls under a bad omen right from the start. Bereft of hopes and illusions, our Hindu is mortified by the thought of what else he might find in this most alien land of all—history. Traveling ahead in time from where he left off, he labors on desperately. His patience is sorely tested.
He has to overcome oceans of strangeness, to hack his way through jungles of disorientation. The forms of worship that he comes upon shock him with their earthiness and their lack of inhibition: the snake and the penis, the gnomes and goblins. Well, he says to himself, the temples must have been made of timber and brick, although he can’t quite imagine such constructions living up to the proclaimed greatness of Ancient India.
He reaches the 5th century BCE, the epoch of the great religious founders Gautama Buddha and Mahavira, who were born just a few miles apart in North India. The way he has been taught history, Buddhism and Jainism were offshoots of Hinduism, but he has not yet come across a Hinduism he can identify with, except for a few hymns and some rudimentary rituals. Branches without a trunk? He ponders over the puzzle, slipping further into the marsh of confusion when he realizes that the very first monuments he stumbles upon—towards the 2nd century BCE—are Buddhist, the domed stupas of Bharhut and Sanchi.
So if the Buddhists managed to build such impressive monuments in stone, why not the Hindus of that era? Soon after this, he comes across a glimmer of hope: a column, six majestic meters of sandstone, standing in Besnagar in Madhya Pradesh. It lacks any figural representation, but the eagle Garuda is perched on its top, a symbol of Vishnu, finally a sign that is known to our traveler.
Reading the inscription he learns that the column is the gift of a prominent ‘Bhagvat’, a worshiper of Vasudeva. Vasudeva! That is, Vishnu, a properly Hindu monument at last. Our time-traveler exhales—he is home. Overcome by emotion, he bows down, and his eyes fall on the inscription.
For God’s sake! The donor is a foreigner: Heliodoros, son of Dion. Our man sits down heavily, puts his head in his hands, and tries to understand this cruel blow of karma, this reversal of everything he has held holy. Apparently, this ambassador from the Greek kingdoms in the northwest (today’s Pakistan and Afghanistan) to the local court is the first documented Vaishnavite in history, the first known person to regard Vishnu as the Supreme God.
Heliodoros’ is hardly the exceptional case of an eccentric convert, as is proven by the coins dug up in the surrounding region. They are minted by Agathokles, an Indo-Greek ruler, and also dedicated to Vasudeva, the very first known image of this deity. Meaning ‘the Radiant God’, Vasudeva is a new kid on the block, a recent composite welded together from Pan, Dionysos and Indra.
But our traveler must traverse another two centuries before he finally encounters a Hindu iconic image of any kind: In Gudimallam, near today’s Madras, he stumbles upon a truly magnificent sculpture. One and a half meters high, this icon is widely regarded as the ‘earliest depiction of Shiva in Indian art’. Our traveler is further perplexed: the lingam is not an abstract symbol, but a rather realistic gigantic penis. The deity does not stand independently but steps out of the lingam, at the same time standing on the shoulders of a yaksha (a nature spirit), holding a water-pot in his left and an antelope in his right hand, an axe resting on his shoulder.
Even more confusing, the figure is devoid of any signs which usually identify this God: the trident in his hand, the river goddess Ganga in his locks, the snakes around his neck, and the bull Nandi behind him—in one word, a depiction sorely at odds with all later depictions. Even the dating (1 century BCE), though widely accepted by scholars, may be open to doubt.
It emerges from the connoisseurial mystique of stylistic comparison, particularly imprecise when there is hardly anything to compare it to, conducted by T. A. G. Rao in 1914 (a period when even the datings recognized the prevailing nationalist necessities, and it wouldn’t have been patriotic to dispute a century or two). After some reflection, the traveler shakes his head in doubt. Is he really standing in front of Shiva? Only when he reaches the Kushan period, in the 1st century CE, does the time-traveling Hindu breathe a sigh of relief.
In Gandhara he comes across an idol he can immediately accept as Shiva: he carries a trident and rides on the bull Nandi. In Mathura, he finds a sandstone sculpture of Vishnu; and in both Kushan centers he recognizes Skanda, the war-god and son of Shiva, a popular divinity among the Indo-Greeks. In the icon of Govardhana-dhara — the young god bearing the mountain—he recognizes his own Krishna at last!
But for the most part, the images show Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, many of them with faces like firangis. He wonders if there is some malfunction in his time machine. Where has the rest of Hinduism gone? Is this really India, or has he been sent somewhere else by mistake, to some kind of Buddhistan? He wants to check with the VHP control center, but the communication device has failed.
In a Kushan royal shrine, for the first time, he sees the now-popular icon of the goddess Durga locked in combat with a demon. Why do I see the Devi for the first time on my journey? he asks the Kushan custodian of the shrine. Well, says the custodian, I don’t know what you mean, you look and sound like a foreigner; but if you really want to know, this is our war-goddess Nanaia.
We brought her with us from Inner Asia, and now the locals are very happy with her. They bring her flowers; they sacrifice goats on her big feast day. We don’t discourage it. And although we would prefer her to be shown killing a bull, the local artists have been experimenting with a buffalo. And we say, why not, after all it is closer to their experience in this monsoon country, so let them sculpt her killing a buffalo-demon.
Our present-day Hindu spends the rest of the day in a daze. He avoids entering the other shrines he sees, not knowing what further surprises lie in store for him. But never mind, he tells himself, he is the first living Hindu to have gone back to the past and seen what it was really like. He can make a career out of his stories. He relaxes a little at the prospect.
When he finally makes it back to contemporary India, he presents his findings with great excitement to the VHP’s high command. He is promptly expelled from the organization, and his papers are publicly burned. Not for telling things that are untrue — the VHP leadership can hardly assert this claim against his testimony — but because he has dared to state, openly, facts that cannot be tailored to suit the myth-machine. You do not have to be historically correct to be condemned as a traitor, but in today’s India, large parts of which are dominated by the ideology of Hindutva, it certainly helps.

Please follow and like us:
Tweet 20

18 thoughts on “A Hindu Travels Back in Time”

    1. in this my last post as Natsu, all i have to say is that i do have a new appreciation for Indian Brahmins, they are our closest South Asian siblings, i do hope they correct their bad ways, because that speak bad for them, the rich culture of India is product of them, India is poor ,yeah in part because the Castes they created, but mostly because the low IQ of Dalits, however i am not racist and i do recognize the rights of Dalits, India is better than Mexico, both are poor in economy, but India thanks to White Brahmins have a beautiful culture, but Mexico? lame, the Natives used to have a decent but not great culture, in the past, now the Mexicans have 0 originality, like Filipinos ,they are total copycats of Western culture, even in their names.

      1. You can’t blame the most oppressed and powerless people in India for most of India’s problems. What about the people running the country? What about the corruption at all levels? Poor agricultural land, rapid urbanization, the alleged indifference of the elites, the caste system? Of course dalits have low iqs. There are strong environmental reasons for that- they have not been allowed to develop or get educated. The left in Britain talks a lot about ‘social exclusion’. Its one of those pc buzz words/phrases. But the dalits really have been excluded and oppressed. So its no surprise they would have lower iqs.

  1. Really interesting article! Especially this part:
    “Our time-traveler finds that this is nonsense as he travels back in time, he finds that the religion that is supposedly “Hinduism” is no longer recognizable as late as 2,000 years ago. Hinduism is a name given the religion by the British and it is really just the name for the many pagan religions that Indians have practiced in India since Time Immemorial.”
    There is a prominent western scholar who makes a similar kind of argument but in regard to the caste system. See, ‘castes of mind: colonialism and the making of modern India’. http://www.amazon.com/Castes-Mind-Colonialism-Making-Modern/dp/0691088950 However, this is a huge subject so be careful about drawing any quick conclusions. (Dirks, by the way, also has the distinction of a world class mono-brow.)
    “Hinduism is not some mythical old cult existing since 9,000 years ago as some Hindutvas paint – it’s a unique new cult, co-opting some Buddhism and other traditional values.”
    If you look beyond the rituals and idols, to the more academic schools of Indian philosophy, to the metaphysics, you will find that one of the most popular and profound of these schools is Vedanta and arguably the most popular and profound sub-school of Vedanta is advaita Vedanta. This is, in my view, the peak of Hindu philosophy. And this, along with yoga, is the Hinduism of meditators and Brahmin scholars and keen western seekers. Advaita Vedanta, it turns out, is heavily influenced by Mahayana Buddhism!
    It is a pity that they didn’t follow Buddhism on the issue of caste. The following words are attributed to the Buddha: “Birth does not make one a priest or an outcaste. Behaviour makes one either a priest or an outcaste”

    1. By ‘yoga’, I refer to the whole spiritual and philosophical system, as expounded by Patanjali in the yoga sutras of Patanjali. However, it is the practical aspects of Yoga that are most popular- the physical and spiritual practices. In regard to metaphysics, in my experience, among Hindu gurus and seekers, Vedanta is held as the truth and as the deepest and highest form of Hindu philosophy.

      1. So, I guess, if I were to critique the quote above, I’d say ‘Hinduism’ is not just 1) “the name for the many pagan religions that Indians have practiced in India since Time Immemorial” but also involves at least the following: 2) the caste system, 3) impressive philosophical systems, involving 3a) metaphysical views of the ultimate nature of reality and the universe and 3b) belief in Samara, reincarnation, karma, and moksha* and 4) various spiritual practices, with the ultimate aim of reaching this goal. These various elements are melded together. Within this, one person might be devoted to a deity in the same spirit as the ancient pagans, while another interprets the deity as a manifestation of the ultimate reality. I doubt whether the average Hindu is too concerned with reaching the ultimate goal. Perhaps he is more concerned with improving his fortunes in this and future lives. Things are never simple.
        I do find interesting the notion that all of the variety of beliefs and practices in Indian civilization were subsumed by the British classification ‘Hinduism’ and solidified into a single religion. Then again, perhaps there is some merit and validity to this classification as it may take an outsider to see the commonality, the common features and history, whereas insiders with no wider view of the world would see the differences and focus on the variety.
        At what point in Indian history, how far back, would the time traveller recognise the main features of his religion? At what point did the Indian religious scene start looking like it does today?
        *Liberation from Samara obtained by ‘gnosis’- directly realizing the ultimate nature of reality and ones mind.

        1. At what point in Indian history, how far back, would the time traveller recognise the main features of his religion? At what point did the Indian religious scene start looking like it does today?
          Somewhere around 400BC would be my (non expert) guess. The Panchatantra (collection of non religious Sanskrit tales) was written around 300BC and contains elements that would be familiar to most modern day Hindus, such as caste, Karma, fatalism, and reincarnation. It does speak of certain outdated practices such as animals sacrifices that might have fallen out of favour due to Buddhist influence.

        2. The main features of Hinduism emerge from the Sunga period…precisely 185 BCE if carbon dating C14 results of Sunga monuments are true.
          Sunga period is known for conflict among Buddhists and Brahmins, Pushyamitra Sunga promoted Mainstream Brahminism.
          Buddhism almost disappeared during this period, The mainstream religion during Sunga Period is Brahminism, Buddhism is on verge of extinction (This is the prime period Buddhist Bhikkhus have moved out of India proselytizing East Asians, Theravada Buddhists moved to South and settled in Sri Lanka to escape Brahmin Inspired Pogroms against them).
          During this phase, several Buddhist books were burnt, Bhikkhus were Killed in Taliban Style by Useful idiots of Brahmins, this is not taught in mainstream curriculum of Indian schools as this will caste a great suspicion among Lower caste Buddhists about Upper castes.
          Its during this period..Brahmins Made “Ganges”- Ganga as holy river for Brahmin ritual practices like Cremation — Today Ganges is holy river of Hindus (River Indus almost forgotten or erased from history books).
          Early Brahminism is mostly ritualistic, with extended Sacrifices to please different Gods, Brahminism copied some Philosophical Aspects/Metaphysical aspects from Buddhism.
          Its actually Buddhism which emerged first not mainstream Hinduism, Brahmins Co-opted some Buddhist philosophies into their holy books.
          Modern Afghanistan, Pakistan and majority of India are indeed Buddhist, and there is no evidence of Caste system during Buddhist period.
          Caste emerged during Sunga Dynasty …The so called mainstream Hinduism that you see today is actually Brahminism with its rituals + Buddhist metaphysics and some Idols /mythical stories from Greek-Bactrian Rule.
          Hindutva leaders are actually British stooges (Just like Muslim Brotherhood ?), British gave these idiots some history, these lazy bums can’t even decrypt Ancient Brahmi script let alone Ancient Script written in Prakrit.
          Hindutva PR machine champions in creating myths, just like Joseph Goebbels, in fact Hindutva is inspired version of Goebbels PR. Hindutva brain is programmed to see flaws in everything western/Muslim, they can see conspiracies everywhere, perhaps RSS shakas (Training centers) Train them from childhood.
          Even after all this Propaganda, Hindutva leaders still stand in queue for US Visa , they send their kids to either UK or US at the same time they hate Macaulay, most Hindutva champions don’t even reside in India, they actually live in US, UK or some times in Australia, Canada — Mostly English speaking countries.

    2. White racism is a multi-coloured thing. Like a butterfly it has two wings. One is the right wing which hates blacks and jews. The left wing hates indians. Together these wings flutter over their enemies and domonise the people chosen as victims of of verbal abuse as much as possible. It is brilliant show ;but each wing is different. They look different and do not like each other. However they work together to show the colourful world of the white racist who views all others as inferior to his fluttering wings in the winds of the world which he rides on his his racist fantasy of supremacy in his racist fantasy world high in the sky.

      1. Fascinating use of metaphor with the butterfly.
        I take it your name is a metaphor also for a black hole perhaps. Such mighty dense sexual congress would be a trap for anything that got in its way, a remote for tv perhaps? Am I right Fat negroesses lesbian orgy time? Still it is a thought for play; where after the sexual congress the remote gets trapped and the orgy participants want to relax after the exertions and they can not find the remote. It got stuck under some fat somewhere! Give it whirl, write it and let us know how it turns out.

  2. Lindsay brilliant article shows the indepth research done by that clown. Lindsay i will tell you something just search google and you ll finmd the answer poda poolu, loosu koodhi

  3. whoever had written above article is befooling others. When that lad from VHP went in past, then how come he was able to communicate with people from 1500 BC, when the language at that point of time was totally different. If somebody wants proof of hinduism as the world’s oldest religion, reply me this this omment and I will

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)