Sunday, 17 November 2019

European Paganism, Hinduism, & Sanatana Dharma

European Paganism, Hinduism, and Sanatana Dharma are the topics discussed in the below quote which I transcribed on August 27th 2016. This is from a radio interview with Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya that he did on December 31st 2013 with Robert Stark on The Stark Truth on Counter-Currents Radio. 

Following the below block quote, which I put together from segments of the interview, you will find a fuller discussion which I transcribed, but that is still only a small segment of the full interview which you can listen to in the links at the end of this transcription.

Nikarv Leshy Sanghrajkara


“When I speak about Dharma, again it’s not tied to what we call quote unquote, Hinduism, it’s not tied to something Eastern, Asian, Indian, etc… So truthfully what’s interesting is if we were to try to equate Dharma with something that we could understand today, it would be not be todays Hinduism, it would not be todays India. Rather what it would be would be, indeed, ancient European paganism. I tell people this all the time that Dharma is really synonymous with Asatru, with Odinism. It’s synonymous with Greco-Roman paganism. Dharma and pre-Christian European paganism are one. They are the same thing… I would say that Hinduism today is certainly a watered down outgrowth of Dharma. But the two are not synonymous. Sanatana Dharma is pure Dharma spirituality, whereas what we call Hinduism today is just a hodge-podge of many, many, more recent ideas, that maybe started off as Dharma, but it no longer is today, unfortunately… I avoid that term at all costs [Hinduism] for a variety of reasons. First of all it’s not an accurate term. The word Hindu, the dual terms Hindu and Hinduism, really have zero meaning. They are words that are very recent, really only about 350 years old. They are not words that are found in the scriptures of the Tradition. Rather, I like to refer to this Tradition either as the Vedic Tradition or even more as Sanatana Dharma, which is the term that you find in the scriptures of this Tradition. The term Sanatana Dharma is quite beautiful actually if you know the translation. What it means is, the Eternal Natural Way… the term Dharma itself is a philosophical term. It’s not a sectarian term. The word Dharma itself is translated very simply as Natural Law. That what the term means. And what is meant by natural law is simply the idea that when we look at the Cosmos around us, it is a Universe, a World that is full of meaning and that has inherent principles that are their imbedded within the very structure of the Universe. And those principles can be known. That in a nutshell is Dharma. That’s what the word means. Now with that understanding, all of the ancients believed in Dharma. And when it comes to, for example, the Western world, really most if not all of the ancient European civilisations and cultures shared this worldview. I mean, anyone who is a Classicist, anyone who understands ancient Europe will readily agree to this, that the ancient Greco-Romans, that the ancient Germanic tribes, the ancient Celts, the ancient Slavic pagans, all of these pre-Christian cultures basically shared in the exact same worldview that I just explained - as the translation and meaning of Dharma – that it is Natural Law… Everyone has heard of the term Dharma, but truthfully, sadly, very few people know what it actually means… I’m very much the opposite of a hippie. I can’t stand hippies actually. There are many stereotypes about Vedic spirituality and that’s definitely one of them, this idea that it’s tied to liberalism, to hippy culture. That it’s tied to hedonism, that it’s tied to the whole anti-revolution that you could say took place in the 60’s. No, that is not in any way the case whatsoever, actually. The truth of the matter is, is that it’s certainly in America it has very much been taken over by this sort of mind-set which is unfortunate. But the truth is Sanatana Dharma itself is radically traditionalist in outlook. There is nothing hippyish whatsoever about it. It’s a Path that believes very strong in virtue, in the idea of upholding ethics. It does not believe in the idea of relative ethics, that you just make up rules as you go along. It believes very strongly in the idea of hierarchy. Radical hierarchy actually. In fact, there is no religion on earth that expresses the healthy concept of hierarchy more so than Sanatana Dharma. Sanatana Dharma is also radically anti-egalitarian. It’s as radically anti-egalitarian actually as any philosophical system on the face of the earth possibly can be. So no, it’s not some liberal hippy sort of fantasy as many people tend to think”

- Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya, 
December 31, 2013,
The Stark Truth, Counter-Currents Radio.

The fuller discussion...

Acharya: “Essentially I wanted to know why I am here, what is the meaning of everything that I see around me. Is there some sort of meaning beyond the empirical, beyond my senses, and more, is there a God. That was especially something that was very important for me to try to discern…”

Stark: “Were you brought up in any particular religion?”

Acharya: “…I wasn’t really brought up in any religion, so this was really my first spiritual inkling… And I just began searching, basically, through all of the scriptures of the world. First off, because I knew that that was where the answers were, and especially the answer to the question, is there a God and what is the nature of God… I began reading first starting with the Western scriptures. I began reading the Bible, I read the Old Testament, and then the New Testament. I had a copy of the Qur’an that I read as well. I read different Buddhist works. I read the Tao Te Ching, and many other books. But finally I came across what is called the Bhagavad Gita. And the Bhagavad Gita is the most important scripture of the Vedic Tradition of what is called Sanatana Dharma.”

Stark: “And I notice you said Vedic. Rather, you don’t like to use the word Hindu.”

Acharya: “I avoid that term at all costs for a variety of reasons. First of all it’s not an accurate term. The word Hindu, the dual terms Hindu and Hinduism, really have zero meaning. They are words that are very recent, really only about 350 years old. They are not words that are found in the scriptures of the Tradition. Rather, I like to refer to this Tradition either as the Vedic Tradition or even more as Sanatana Dharma, which is the term that you find in the scriptures of this Tradition. The term Sanatana Dharma is quite beautiful actually if you know the translation. What it means is, the Eternal Natural Way. And this is the Tradition that I found myself attracted to after reading the Bhagavad Gita for the first time. And what struck me about the Bhagavad Gita, especially contrasting it to the Abrahamic scriptures that I read, again the Bible and the Qur’an, was that the image of God was something that was radically different. In the Abrahamic religions God speaks to us in a monologue. He talks to us, actually he dictates to us, he tells us what to do, he tells us what punishments will happen if we don’t do what he wants us do to, etc. But it’s a one way conversation. But in the Bhagavad Gita, what was fascinating is that it was a two way conversation. In the Bhagavad Gita it was a conversation between God and a warrior of all people…”

Stark: “Not necessarily a Prophet like Muhammad, just sort of an average guy.”

Acharya: “Yes, exactly. That’s the other thing that struck me was that the person that was having this in depth conversation with God was an average person. And specifically a warrior. He was someone who at the time he was alive, his name was Arjuna, he was considered one of the greatest warriors on earth. And yet he was having this conversation with God where they are discussing, truly, philosophy in the true sense of that term. They discussed in the Bhagavad Gita every philosophical issue pretty much that you can think of. Everything from ethics to metaphysics, to ontology, even touching on politics. Quite literally everything...”

Acharya: “Everyone has heard of the term Dharma, but truthfully, sadly, very few people know what it actually means…”

Stark: “There is kind of the stereotype of the hippie who goes to India and that goes back to the 60’s. And you wouldn’t say that was necessarily applies to you?”

Acharya: “I’m very much the opposite of a hippie. I can’t stand hippies actually. There are many stereotypes about Vedic spirituality and that’s definitely one of them, this idea that it’s tied to liberalism, to hippy culture. That it’s tied to hedonism, that it’s tied to the whole anti-revolution that you could say took place in the 60’s. No, that is not in any way the case whatsoever, actually. The truth of the matter is, is that it’s certainly in America it has very much been taken over by this sort of mind-set which is unfortunate. But the truth is Sanatana Dharma itself is radically traditionalist in outlook. There is nothing hippyish whatsoever about it. It’s a Path that believes very strong in virtue, in the idea of upholding ethics. It does not believe in the idea of relative ethics, that you just make up rules as you go along. It believes very strongly in the idea of hierarchy. Radical hierarchy actually. In fact, there is no religion on earth that expresses the healthy concept of hierarchy more so than Sanatana Dharma. Sanatana Dharma is also radically anti-egalitarian. It’s as radically anti-egalitarian actually as any philosophical system on the face of the earth possibly can be. So no, it’s not some liberal hippy sort of fantasy as many people tend to think”

Stark: “You said that there are similarities in the European Pagan Traditions. In Zoroastrianism, even some of the Native American religions. But there was a major break between Dharma and the Abrahamic faiths which are basically Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.”

Acharya: “Very true. Yes that’s very true. I discussed that in the Dharma Manifesto very, very, in depth. First of all, as far as Dharma itself, for myself, when I use the term Dharma, and again, I explain this very in depth and really for the first time ever in any book, but I explain this in the Dharma Manifesto, the term Dharma itself is a philosophical term. It’s not a sectarian term. The word Dharma itself is translated very simply as Natural Law. That what the term means. And what is meant by natural law is simply the idea that when we look at the Cosmos around us, it is a Universe, a World that is full of meaning and that has inherent principles that are their imbedded within the very structure of the Universe. And those principles can be known. That in a nutshell is Dharma. That’s what the word means. Now with that understanding, all of the ancients believed in Dharma. And when it comes to, for example, the Western world, really most if not all of the ancient European civilisations and cultures shared this worldview. I mean, anyone who is a Classicist, anyone who understands ancient Europe will readily agree to this, that the ancient Greco-Romans, that the ancient Germanic tribes, the ancient Celts, the ancient Slavic pagans, all of these pre-Christian cultures basically shared in the exact same worldview that I just explained - as the translation and meaning of Dharma – that it is Natural Law. So in my mind, but also within the book itself, the Dharma Manifesto, when I speak about Dharma, again it’s not tied to what we call quote unquote, Hinduism, it’s not tied to something Eastern, Asian, Indian, etc.”

Stark: “You would even say that Hinduism in India today is nothing to do with the Dharma.”

Acharya: “Very little. Yes, very little. I would say that Hinduism today is certainly a watered down outgrowth of Dharma. But the two are not synonymous. Sanatana Dharma is pure Dharma spirituality, whereas what we call Hinduism today is just a hodge-podge of many, many, more recent ideas, that maybe started off as Dharma, but it no longer is today, unfortunately.”

Stark: “India was invaded by Islam, and they adopted Abrahamic principles.”

Acharya: “Sure, yes. They definitely did, and in many ways, yes. There is a long list of ways in which the Islamic invasion certainly changed Vedic spirituality. But also just demographic changes that occurred. Ethnic changes that occurred. Linguistic changes. There are many changes that happened that changed how Sanatana Dharma was both understood and practiced in India and all throughout South Asia. So truthfully what’s interesting is if we were to try to equate Dharma with something that we could understand today, it would be not be todays Hinduism, it would not be todays India. Rather what it would be would be, indeed, ancient European paganism. I tell people this all the time that Dharma is really synonymous with Asatru, with Odinism. It’s synonymous with Greco-Roman paganism. Dharma and pre-Christian European paganism are one. They are the same thing.”


The full interview can be heard here:

See other interviews with Sri Acharyaji here:

Interview: Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya (Dec 31, 2013)

Interview Pt. 1/2: Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya (Nov 23, 2013)

Interview Pt. 2/2: Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya (Nov 30, 2013)

An American Guru: The Life of Sri Acharyaji (Documentary) Sep 13, 2013

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