Why I Critiqued Bhagavan Das On The Evils Of Nationalism
Any mention or criticism of Bhagavan Das in THE IRONY OF APOLITICISM, is not reflective of the author’s view about the work and life of Dr. Bhagavan Das, whose main three volume-length books remain guides for me. I was critiquing the ‘fallacy of apoliticism,’ and the Post-War Foreign Policy and socio-religio-political mentality known as internationalism — a mindset, that for many decades in the twentieth-century seemed self-evident. The world order is stagnant, and the world leaders know this, but continue. I oppose the idea as obsolete and merely having proven a farcical ideology in international relations existing alongside the American unipolar hegemony, or the “New World Order,” as expressed by the American neoconservatives that became reality after 1991. It had also interwoven with emergent alternative spirituality movements in the last century that gave rise to a very superficial religiosity, a false global sense of spirituality and millenarianism, that is more characteristic of Alice Bailey’s internationalist political ideas and the New Age movement, which has nothing to do with a genuine revivalism of the philosophy and movement of Plotinus the Modern Theosophists aimed for. The characterization of borders, sovereignty, and nationalism as evil and the cause of human division is still a notion believed today on the basis of deconstructionism and is destructive to cultures. I adopt the theory of mulipolarity, as in Eurasism, ergo as opposed to unipolarity, hegemonic globalism, Caesarism; and thought the message and mission of the early nineteenth-century Theosophists express values more suited to a multipolar world order, rather than the post-war internationalist and globalist world order as existing today. Giving an example from the section EVILS OF NATIONALISM, Bhagavan Das states:
“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. Unlike others, we do not have to define these ideas under liberal, traditionalist, or conservative. The nineteenth-century Theosophists cannot be seen through such a lens. It is a similar dilemma with Friedrich Nietzsche whose critiques of modernity fascinate thinkers on the Left and Right. To our knowledge, no Far-Right thinker, or traditionalist reactionary today uses H.P. Blavatsky’s writings or Theosophical Literature to appropriate. Instead, they use Evola, because of his racial doctrine, which they will find no affirmation for in H.P.B.’s writings. Yet, there are ways of thinking modern Theosophical Thought in general, that might not appeal to solely the Left thinker and the Liberal. People pick what they choose, and this has hurt the Theosophical Idea in the world. Liberals in H.P.B.’s time were different than the moderns. They had nationalist and patriotic fervor of spiritual pedigree. They were also cosmopolitans, romanticists, lovers of antiquity, and romanticized the Golden Ages of ancient civilizations. Like Thomas Paine, some saw themselves as citizens of the world, but like Paine in this oft quoted out-of-context passage, believed in the history of peoples with a spiritual destiny. The contemporary entirely looks this over, deconstructing the idea — he believes in no such destiny! One-by-one, the ideas that were the basis of a nation lose meaning.
Now, it is as if, they hold that there is nothing much from the past to preserve and utilize to mould future generations. At a point, this immediately clashes with Theosophy. Theosophists want the stories of the past and peoples to be known and be preserved. The Theosophist embodies nobility, that which he or she may learn from class, culture, or spiritual discipline. Identifying as a “Liberal” is fairly modern in the 19th century, and it actually wasn’t until the early 20th century that Left and Right denoted political affiliation in Britain and the U.S. People then probably think, if I am not Liberal or a Leftist, I cannot think like a Theosophist, and this is a very odd development over the century. The terms left wing and right wing were not widely used until after 1960. Yet this is how people think today. One scholar aligns Theosophical notions with Nietzsche and eternal return, and another with Leftists and modern witches, and they are both confused. That proves how confused people are in trying to align Theosophy on the spectrum, as they tried with Nietzsche. It is best to avoid this, but be aware of the fact that modern spirituality is largely seen as a Leftist agenda in the 20th century, and were very active and dogmatic in their internationalist and globalist agendas.
Having criticized the latter myself, led me to bring up the views of Bhagavan Das, a Theosophist on his views of nationalism versus the internationalist theory — as a person critical and highly skeptical of the latter. 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.
THE GOOD: SOCIO-POLITICAL IDEALS OF OCCULTISTS AND PHILOSOPHERS
In our attempts to retreat to mystical subjectivism, we have forgotten, or have not learned how politically-minded these people were. But, each of them thought differently, and this is not explained to you by some researchers and conspiracists. Blavatsky involved directly and intimately with Italian nationalism and Garibaldi and Mazzini (called by some scholars pre-fascist) of the Risorgimento for example . . . I cannot leave my readers with that! — with what certain books and documentaries have given them. I must dig into the history more for detail. 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. There is nothing wrong with them holding political ideas. But the point is, the desire to model society after these ideas is in so many Platonic writers, ancient and modern; and hence they carry a political, moral and spiritual vision of The Good and organizing society central in the Platonic ideal. You cannot even think of it in a Conservative vs Liberal (Right vs Left) way. It is something beyond these and predate it, but it is not apolitical. We find this with the Renaissance philosophers, the Rosicrucian movement in Europe, etc. 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. In the world is the struggle of man, of bodies, but as much and subtly, the struggle in the world of ideas; and so, the early Theosophists, especially the Maha-Chohan seems to clearly understand this. The 19th century Theosophists outlook show their belief that there’s a battle of ideas on the earth, that early priesthoods and institutions have produced exoteric religions for humanity, but that there is a network of secret fraternities who have preserved and possess archaic records and knowledge of pre-historic origin, that may upset the entire balance of how we view everything and therefore history and religion included. The cause underlying the effort to bring this knowledge forth is to ameliorate humanity, and they do believe their cause under true theosophíā must win. Although they call this a forlorn hope. They write with urgency, noting that the future of humanity depends on such knowledge and ethic they expound on, but it must be gradually instilled. As far as a correct understanding of what that teaching is, people have not willed themselves, or been able to learn it well, due to the many factors I often explain that produces more confusion.
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. 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 perhaps Besant’s outlook. I simply know, we cannot say the ideas were not political, as mentioned elsewhere, Besant and Leadbeater wrote of a World Government headed by The World Teacher in their writings and lectures. This was not the original theosophical mission, but to explain how that got there, we must explore 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, but did not and can be proven she did not, the conspiracist is able to fill in the gaps with lies. Therefore, I cannot run and say ‘there is no politics there. We do not discuss politics.’ How would I be able to challenge what has been said of Theosophy in this area?
Besides the topic of Socialism, all of this was the sole critique I made of Dr. Bhagavan Das. I do not necessarily oppose everything he writes.
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 or mix-up. 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.