Bhagavan Das on the Evils Of Nationalism
THE PLATONIC GOOD AND THEOSOPHISTS ON NATIONALISM VERSUS INTERNATIONALISM
Liberals in H.P.B.’s time were different than today. They had nationalist and patriotic fervor, and were yet considered cosmopolitans, romanticists, lovers of antiquity, and romanticized the Golden Ages of ancient civilizations. Today, they have conceded to give these qualities alone to their adversaries, who accuse them incessantly of not loving their country, or not being patriotic, while discarding and scorning all things of old for the doctrine of progressivism. Like Thomas Paine, sure, some saw themselves as “citizens of the world,” but like that oft quoted line of Paine, he still believed in the concept of national sovereignty, and the history of peoples sharing a spiritual destiny.
Bhagavad Das, witness to some historical changes in his time, is seeing that nationalism has degenerated. Bhagavan Das states in the section EVILS OF NATIONALISM:
“There can be no more worse hell than war. In accordance with the realization of this fact, which is indeed obvious to eyes not blinded by those same evil motives, youth movements have been afoot for sometime in many western countries. They are intended to bring up the new generation in the purer moral and spiritual atmosphere of internationalist and humanist feeling, in place of nationalism. This ‘nationalism,’ useful while simply defensive and self-helping, and while duly subordinated to humanism, has now degenerated into something very offensive and aggressive and other-harming. Indeed it is now nothing else than vulgar bullyism on a large scale, inherently barbarous and unregenerate, and provocative of more and more murderous conflicts.”DAS 29
Unfortunately for Bhagavan Das, he does not live into the 1960s. As of today, the same he says of nationalism has happened in turn to internationalism. Internationalism has lost its face of humanism, and merely represents universal planetary Western-style identity dominating and forcing itself on the world in the name of democracy.
Modern spirituality is largely seen as a Leftist agenda in the 20th century, and people of this thinking were very active and dogmatic in their internationalist and globalist agendas. The fact is, whether through nationalism or internationalism, things gone accounted for have been achieved in their name, that have caused harm and changed the course of history. Having criticized the latter myself led me to bring up the views of Bhagavan Das, a Theosophist on his views of nationalism versus internationalism.
However, Dr. Bhagavan Das is not only interested in the social and political upliftment of India, he was mainly interested in showing the essential unity of the principles of ancient religion.
“Such Universal Religion has been provided for us, by the Scriptures of the Nations; and such a Scheme of Socio-Individual Organisation, by the Vedic Scriptures in particular, as fundamental part of Religion; because Religion, to justify itself, must be of help and service everywhere, must secure, for the human being, the maximum possible, of Happiness Here as well as Hereafter.”BHAGAVAN DAS, THE ESSENTIAL UNITY OF ALL RELIGIONS, P. XXIII.
Although, in our attempts to retreat to mystical subjectivism, we have forgotten, or have not learned how politically-minded these people were. How much they were dedicated to beliefs they each believed could better society. So, each of them thought differently. Blavatsky involved directly and intimately with Italian nationalism and Garibaldi and Mazzini (called by some scholars pre-fascist and a political terrorist of guerilla tactic) of the Risorgimento for example. One of H.P. Blavatsky teachers and associate, the Polish Jewish Kabbalist, under the pseudonym of Max Théon was a political idealist, his wife, Alma Théon (born Mary Ware and later known as The Mother) tells us in her writings. He desired to mould society on the basis of Plato’s republic.
This desire to model society after these ideas is in so many of both ancient and modern Platonic writers. Hence, they carry a political, moral and spiritual vision of The Good, and organizing society central in the Platonic ideal. So, here also in the very book of Bhagavan Das, The Essential Unity of All Religions, he is directly writing about what constitutes Good Government and what should the role and functions of government be. He is living in the age of Indian nationalism. Spiritual movements were definitely not apolitical.
Annie Besant was political from the beginning before Theosophy. This did not stop once she was a Theosophist. Alice Bailey, a former Theosophist, was political. Her books contain plenty of political ideas and proposals.
As American writer Rebecca Solnit wrote, “politics is pervasive. Everything is political and the choice to be “apolitical” is usually just an endorsement of the status quo and the unexamined life.” Perhaps, not everything is political, surely, but that was Besant’s outlook. I simply know, that we cannot say the ideas were not political, since Besant and Leadbeater sought to construct the idea of a World Government headed by what they called a “World Teacher.” This was not the original theosophical mission, but to explain how that got there, we must mention the political dimension of these ideas.
Alice Bailey formulates the entire internationalist idea of the “New World Order” in the 1920s in her books long before George H.W. Bush’s 1991 Speech. However, because people have not studied the history, and carry a dangerous misconception that Alice Bailey and Annie Besant are continuations of the ideas of the woman (H.P.B.) they claim gave them authority, though she did not and it can be proven she did not, any person is able to fill in the gaps with conspiracy. Therefore, I cannot run and say ‘there is no politics there. We do not discuss politics.’ It is a lie.
Besides the topic of Socialism, all of this was the sole critique I made of Dr. Bhagavan Das. Other than this, his writings are great and informative.
The thinking of Bhagavan Das is to my mind natural given the long history, culture and many religions, orders and sects living side-by-side in India. This thinking however did not appear to translate well in Western European and American culture because its history mostly deals with the contention between Christian denominations and sects, especially American culture.
This attempt in the modern Western economy produced a superficial popular demand for a general spirituality that has become through the 60s commercialized, and a mockery. Then, they say of Theosophy, that it is merely a petri-dish of religions. The mistakes the Post-Blavatsky Theosophical Society made did nothing to help against this perception. Theosophist, W.Q. Judge warned this would happen and did not welcome the prospect of such a future and the exploitation of the West in the form of Eastern spirituality, which unfortunately, to the waste of his eloquent speech came true. We cannot leave it as unfortunate as it has developed thus far, which means we must continue developing Western notions of religion and spirituality. But we cannot do this halfway deluding ourselves, that we’re above what happens in the world, and the effects our ideas may have upon them.