November 28, 2023

Ancient India – The Land of Knowledge

FORTY years ago, expounding Theosophical tenets, W. Q. Judge called them “Echoes from the Orient.” His words convey a deeper truth than is generally understood: Modern Theosophy verily is but the echo of the Occult Voice of the Orient.

Time was when the ancient continent of Asia, from Fo-Kien to Baku, lived by the same religious truths which united tribes and races and nations into a harmonious whole. The universal Wisdom-Religion was the root of that mighty Tree on which in later times grew the branches of the Zoroastrian, the Chaldean, the Egyptian religions; this takes us back ages before Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad tried to teach the eternal truths. Before the Vedas existed, that Wisdom-Religion, the Bodhi-Dharma, the Source of (Brahma)nical lore, was.

Not without good reasons the Hindus call theirs the Eternal Religion, Sanatana Dharma. Properly speaking, that title by right can belong only to the Mother Source of all religions, viz., Theosophia or the Wisdom-Religion; but of all exoteric faiths the Brahmanical is the one which approximates most nearly to the original; the first-born of the Aryan family of religions, it bears a very close resemblance to the Mother.

First, of all Asiatic cultures only that of old India survives as a living reality.

Says Mr. Judge:

Of all the old races the Aryan Indian alone yet remains as the preserver of the old doctrine. It will one day rise again to its old heights of glory” (Ocean of Theosophy, p. 85).

This is a striking fact, and its meaning becomes clearer when the student of H.P.B.’s Secret Doctrine notes that India became and still is the home of the parent-stock of the Aryan Root-Race which started on its eventful journey a million years ago. Four sub-races of the Fifth Root-Race, the Aryan, have run their course, and at present the fifth sub-race is in the ascendant.

During these million years the root-stock has been the Foster Mother of the sub-races, nourishing with her hoary culture the daughter-races in many Western lands. It began with Egypt:

Egypt and India”, says H.P.B. (Isis Unveiled, I, p. 515), “were the oldest in the group of nations; and … the Eastern Ethiopians — the mighty builders — had come from India as a matured people.

The following is from the same book (II, p. 435):

“…we are prepared to maintain that Egypt owes her civilization, commonwealth and arts — especially the art of building, to pre – Vedic India, and that it was a colony of the dark-skinned Aryans, or those whom Homer and Herodotus term the eastern Æthiopians, i.e., the inhabitants of Southern India, who brought to it their ready-made civilization in the ante-chronological ages, of what Bunsen calls pre-Menite, but nevertheless epochal history.

We must remember in this connection, that the peoples of Southwestern and Western Asia, including the Medes, were all Aryans. It is yet far from being proved who were the original and primitive masters of India. That this period is now beyond the reach of documentary history, does not preclude the probability of our theory that it was the mighty race of builders, whether we call them Eastern Æthiopians, or dark-skinned Aryans (the word meaning simply “noble warrior,” a “brave”). They ruled supreme at one time over the whole of ancient India, enumerated later by Manu as the possession of those whom our scientists term the Sanskrit-speaking people.”

Similarly “Babylonian civilization was neither born nor developed in that country. It was imported from India, and the importers were Brahmanical Hindus” (Isis Unveiled, I, p. 576). And again, “The Babylonians … got their wisdom and learning from India” (Secret Doctrine, II, p. 566). And so the deduction (Isis Unveiled, I, p. 584):

Can there be any absurdity in the suggestion that the India of 6,000 years ago, brilliant, civilized, overflowing with population, impressed upon Egypt, Persia, Judea, Greece, and Rome, a stamp as ineffaceable, impressions as profound, as these last have impressed upon us?
And again (Isis Unveiled, II, p. 361):

…all the knowledge possessed by these different schools, whether Magian, Egyptian, or Jewish, was derived from India, or rather from both sides of the Himalayas.

The process continues: in some few hundred years more the sixth sub-race will become the pioneer; it will flower in America from the seeds which have been, and are being, sown. Another 25,000 years and the seventh sub-race will come into being, when alone the Aryan Fifth Root-Race will have completed the great drama of its evolution (Secret Doctrine, II, p. 445). It is obvious that the cyclic rise of India is contemporaneous with the rise of each of its daughter sub-races.

Every time India rises to the crest of the wave in grand creative activity, she radiates the energy of wisdom, which fructifies a new civilization; then follows the period of preservation, during which India guards her hoard of knowledge, waiting and watching for another hour of cyclic rising, while within her borders the struggle of existence goes on. Thus there are dynamic and static periods in Indian history, and of the latter Mr. Judge says this (Ocean, p. 9):

Turning to India, so long forgotten and ignored by the lusty and egotistical, the fighting and the trading West, we find her full of the lore relating to these wonderful men of whom Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Solomon are only examples. There the people are fitted by temperament and climate to be the preservers of the philosophical, ethical, and psychical jewels that would have been forever lost to us had they been left to the ravages of such Goths and Vandals as western nations were in the early days of their struggle for education and civilization.

Thus India will live fulfilling her mission till the whole of the Aryan Race has discharged its Dharma to the God of Time. In the fascinating story of India’s hoary past, which, says H.P.B., is part of the Great Record, her cyclic rise to eminence, her influence at the birth of new sub-races, etc., are all described.

Allegorical reflections of that Record are to be found in what is called Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Religion — which title is not altogether correctly understood by Hindus themselves. This is one real reason why that title belongs to the religious lore of old India: in the Occult History of Aryavarta is to be found the history of the entire Aryan Root-Race with its seven sub-races.

Secondly, it is a well-known fact that even in extant Hinduism, every soul finds its own especial nourishment. From fetishism, through polytheism and pantheism to the highest and the noblest concept of Deity and Man — in Hinduism the whole gamut of human thought and belief is to be found. For every class of worshiper and thinker Hinduism makes a provision; herein lies also its great power of assimilation and absorption of schools of philosophy and communities of people.

And another aspect of this phase consists in the power old India wields in impressing the mind of distant countries, and mouldering the heart of foreign cultures. To the real India there are no aliens, for whatever others believe and think is to be found in some phase of Hindu religious philosophy. Of her spiritual commonwealth it can truly be said that it encompasses the whole world. There is not a philosophy, a science or a magical art of Chaldea, Persia, or Greece whose original counterpart cannot be traced to some Sanskrit source. Says H.P.B. in Isis Unveiled, I, p. 620:

Name to us any modern discovery, and we venture to say, that Indian history need not long be searched before the prototype will be found of record.

Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Religion, has narrowed down to a creed, because during the last many centuries this reality of its touching the wide spaces of earth and encompassing many cycles of time has not been rightly perceived. As genuine Theosophy gains ground in the world, this old and forgotten view of Sanatana Dharma will be more and more recognized. When in America the time arrives for the sixth sub-race to function as a race apart, her sustenance will come from India as in ages gone by it came thence to Egypt and Ethiopia and Babylonia and Greece and Rome.

H.P.B. calls India “that old initiatrix” and bearing in mind the kinship between old Egypt and modern America, to which Mr. Judge makes more than one pointed reference, the student is called upon to ponder over this statement from Isis Unveiled, I, p. 589:

…we affirm that, if Egypt furnished Greece with her civilization, and the latter bequeathed hers to Rome, Egypt herself had, in those unknown ages when Menes reigned, received her laws, her social institutions, her arts and her sciences, from pre-Vedic India; and that therefore, it is in that old initiatrix of the priests — adepts of all the other countries — we must seek for the key to the great mysteries of humanity.

With all this in view Mr. Judge wrote in The Path for February, 1891:
If I were convinced by any reasonable proof or argument that Palestine was ever the cradle of our civilization or philosophy, or other than the seat of a people who are the true exponents of a fine social materialism, I would advocate great attention to her records. But it is not a single small nation we should look to.

The fountain head is better than a secondary receptacle, a mere cistern that takes the overflow from the source. The fountain is old India, and to that the members of the Theosophical Society who are not only desirous of saving time but also of aiding the sages of the past in the evolution of doctrines which, applied to our great new civilization, can alone save it from failure, will bend themselves to the task of carrying out our second object — the investigation of Aryan literature, religion, and science.

We must prepare. There are men in India to-day who are qualified and willing to aid in translating works hitherto untranslated, in collecting that which shall enable us to disseminate and popularise true doctrines of man’s life and destiny. Time is very short and cannot be spent by all of us in learning Sanskrit…

Let us then get ready to use the material in the ancient storehouse of India, treasures that no man can be called a thief for taking, since the truths acquired by the mind respecting man’s life, conduct, constitution, and destiny are the common property of the human race, a treasure that is lost by monopoly and expanded by dissemination.

How very close the mind of Judge was to the great mind of H.P.B. in all matters is once again to be seen by comparing the above with that which follows:

“…it is to India, the country less explored, and less known than any other, that all the other great nations of the world are indebted for their languages, arts, legislature, and civilization (Isis, I, p. 585).”

No wonder then why H.P.B. called India:

“The Alma-Mater, not only of the civilization, arts, and sciences, but also of all great religions of antiquity” (Isis, II, p. 30.)”

Bearing this in mind let us see what we can learn from Aryavarta of old.

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