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Mother-Goddess Parvati with her infant son Ganesha
Other names: Uma, Gauri
Sanskrit transliteration: Pārvatī
Affiliation: Devi, Tridevi, Mahadevi, Shakti, Sati
Abode: Mount Kailash, Manidvipa
Mantra: Oṃ Pārvatyāi Namaḥ
Mount Lion, tiger, bull
Parents: Himavan (Father); Maināvati (Mother)[4][5]
Siblings: Ganga (Elder Sister); Vishnu (Celestial Brother); Mainak (Elder Brother)[3]
Consort: Shiva
Children: Ganesha (Son); Kartikeya (Son)

Parvati (Sanskrit: पार्वती, IAST: Pārvatī), Uma (Sanskrit: उमा, IAST: Umā) or Gauri (Sanskrit: गौरी, IAST: Gaurī) is the Hindu goddess of power, nourishment, harmony, devotion, and motherhood. She is Devi in her complete form.[6][7][8] She is the principal goddess of Hindus and complete incarnation of Mahadevi. She is one of the central deities of the Goddess-oriented sect called Shaktism. Along with Lakshmi and Saraswati, she forms the Tridevi.[9]

Parvati is the wife of the Hindu god Shiva. She is the reincarnation of Sati, the first wife of Shiva who immolated herself during a yajna (fire-sacrifice).[10] Parvati is the daughter of the mountain king Himavan and queen Mena.[11] Parvati is the mother of Hindu deities Ganesha and Kartikeya. The Puranas also referenced her to be the sister of the river goddess Ganga and the preserver god Vishnu.[3][12] She is the divine energy between a man and a woman, like the energy of Shiva and Shakti.[13]

Parvati is generally portrayed as a gentle, nurturing mother goddess, however is associated with several warrior and terrible forms of goddesses like Durga, Kali, the ten mahavidyas and Navadurga.

Parvati is an embodiment of Shakti. In Shaivism, she is the recreative energy and power of Shiva, and she is the cause of a bond that connects all beings and a means of their spiritual release.[14][15] She is also well known as Kamrupa (one who give a shape to your desire) and Kameshwari (one who fullfill your all desires). In Hindu temples dedicated to her and Shiva, she is symbolically represented as the argha. She is found extensively in ancient Indian literature, and her statues and iconography grace Hindu temples all over South Asia and Southeast Asia.[16][17]

Etymology and nomenclature

Further information: Hindu literature

Parvata (पर्वत) is one of the Sanskrit words for "mountain"; "Parvati" derives her name from being the daughter of king Himavan (also called Himavat, Parvat) and mother Mainavati.[10][11] King Parvat is considered lord of the mountains and the personification of the Himalayas; Parvati implies "she of the mountain". Aparneshar Temple of Mantalai, Udhampur in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is considered as the birthplace of Parvati and site of Shiv-Parvati Vivah.[18]

Parvati is known by many names in Hindu literature.[19] Other names which associate her with mountains are Shailaja (Daughter of the mountains), Adrija or Nagajaa or Shailaputri (Daughter of Mountains), Haimavathi (Daughter of Himavan), Devi Maheshwari, and Girija or Girirajaputri (Daughter of king of the mountains).[20]

Shaktas consider the Parvati as an incarnation of Lalita Tripurasundari. According to Lalitopakhyana of Brahmanda Mahapurana, Parvati, Lakshmi, and Saraswati are the three incarnations of Lalita.[21] Two of Parvati's most famous epithets are Uma and Aparna.[22] The name Uma is used for Sati (Shiva's first wife, who is reborn as Parvati) in earlier texts,[which?] but in the Ramayana, it is used as a synonym for Parvati. In the Harivamsa, Parvati is referred to as Aparna ('One who took no sustenance') and then addressed as Uma, who was dissuaded by her mother from severe austerity by saying u mā ('oh, don't').[23] She is also Ambika ('dear mother'), Shakti ('power'), Mataji ('revered mother'), Maheshwari ('great goddess'), Durga (invincible), Bhairavi ('ferocious'), Bhavani ('fertility and birthing'), Shivaradni ('Queen of Shiva'), Urvi or Renu, and many hundreds of others. Parvati is also the goddess of love and devotion, or Kamakshi; the goddess of fertility, abundance and food/nourishment, or Annapurna.[24] She is also the ferocious Mahakali that wields a sword, wears a garland of severed heads, and protects her devotees and destroys all evil that plagues the world and its beings.

The apparent contradiction that Parvati is addressed as the golden one, Gauri, as well as the dark one, Kali or Shyama, as a calm and placid wife Parvati mentioned as Gauri and as a goddess who destroys evil she is Kali. Regional stories of Gauri suggest an alternate origin for Gauri's name and complexion. In parts of India, Gauri's skin color is golden or yellow in honor of her being the goddess of ripened corn/harvest and fertility.[25][26]


The word Parvati does not explicitly appear in Vedic literature.[29] Instead, Ambika, Rudrani and others are found in the Rigveda.[29] The verse 3.12 of the Kena Upanishad dated to mid-1st millennium BCE contains a goddess called Uma-Haimavati, a very common alternate name for Parvati.[29] Sayana's commentary in Anuvaka, however, identifies Parvati in the Kena Upanishad, suggesting her to be the same as Uma and Ambika in the Upanishad, referring to Parvati is thus an embodiment of divine knowledge and the mother of the world.[19] She appears as the shakti, or essential power, of the Supreme Brahman. Her primary role is as a mediator who reveals the knowledge of Brahman to the Vedic Trideva of Agni, Vayu, and Varuna, who were boasting about their recent defeat of a group of demons.[30] But Kinsley notes: "it is little more than conjecture to identify her with the later goddess Satī-Pārvatī, although [..] later texts that extol Śiva and Pārvatī retell the episode in such a way to leave no doubt that it was Śiva's spouse.." [IAST original].[29]

Sati-Parvati appears in the epic period (400 BCE–400 CE), as both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata present Parvati as Shiva's wife.[29] However, it is not until the plays of Kalidasa (5th–6th centuries) and the Puranas (4th through the 13th centuries) that the stories of Sati-Parvati and Shiva acquire more comprehensive details.[31] Kinsley adds that Parvati may have emerged from legends of non-aryan goddesses that lived in mountains.[20] While the word Uma appears in earlier Upanisads, Hopkins notes that the earliest known explicit use of the name Pārvatī occurs in late Hamsa Upanishad.[32]

Weber suggests that just like Shiva is a combination of various Vedic gods Rudra and Agni, Parvati in Puranas text is a combination of wives of Rudra. In other words, the symbolism, legends, and characteristics of Parvati evolved fusing Uma, Haimavati, Ambika in one aspect and the more ferocious, destructive Kali, Gauri, Nirriti in another aspect.[19][33] Tate suggests Parvati is a mixture of the Vedic goddesses Aditi and Nirriti, and being a mountain goddess herself, was associated with other mountain goddesses like Durga and Kali in later traditions.[34]

Iconography and symbolism

Parvati, the gentle aspect of Devi Shakti, is usually represented as fair, beautiful, and benevolent.[35][36] She typically wears a red dress (often a sari), and may have a head-band. When depicted alongside Shiva she generally appears with two arms, but when alone she may be depicted having four. These hands may hold a trident, mirror, rosary, bell, dish, goad, sugarcane stalk, or flowers (such as a lotus).[8] One of her arms in front may be in the Abhaya mudra (hand gesture for 'fear not'), one of her children, typically Ganesha, is on her knee, while her younger son Skanda may be playing near her in her watch. In ancient temples, Parvati's sculpture is often depicted near a calf or cow – a source of food. Bronze has been the chief metal for her sculpture, while stone is the next most common material.[8]

Parvati and Shiva are often symbolized by a yoni and a linga respectively. In ancient literature, yoni means womb and place of gestation, the yoni-linga metaphor represents origin, source or regenerative power.[37] The linga-yoni icon is widespread, found in Shaivite Hindu temples of South Asia and Southeast Asia. Often called Shivalinga, it almost always has both linga and the yoni.[38] The icon represents the interdependence and union of feminine and masculine energies in recreation and regeneration of all life. In some depictions, Parvati and Shiva are shown in various forms of sexual union.[38]

In some iconography, Parvati's hands may symbolically express many mudras (symbolic hand gestures). For example, Kataka — representing fascination and enchantment, Hirana — representing the antelope, the symbolism for nature and the elusive, Tarjani by the left hand—representing the gesture of menace, and Chandrakal — representing the moon, a symbol of intelligence.[citation needed] Kataka is expressed by hands closer to the devotee; Tarjani mudra with the left hand, but far from the devotee.

If Parvati is depicted with two hands, Kataka mudra—also called Katyavalambita or Katisamsthita hasta—is common, as well as Abhaya (fearlessness, fear not) and Varada (beneficence) are representational in Parvati's iconography. Parvati's right hand in Abhaya mudra symbolizes "do not fear anyone or anything", while her Varada mudra symbolizes "wish-fulfilling".[39] In Indian dance, Parvatimudra is dedicated to her, symbolizing divine mother. It is a joint hand gesture, and is one of sixteen Deva Hastas, denoting the most important deities described in Abhinaya Darpana. The hands mimic motherly gesture, and when included in a dance, the dancer symbolically expresses Parvati.[40] Alternatively, if both hands of the dancer are in Ardhachandra mudra, it symbolizes an alternate aspect of Parvati.[41]

Parvati is sometimes shown with golden or yellow color skin, particularly as goddess Gauri, symbolizing her as the goddess of ripened harvests.[42]

In some manifestations, particularly as angry, ferocious aspects of Shakti such Kali, she has eight or ten arms, and is astride on a tiger or lion, wearing a garland of severed heads and skirt of disembodied hands. In benevolent manifestations such as Kamakshi or Meenakshi, a parrot sits near her right shoulder symbolizing cheerful love talk, seeds, and fertility. A parrot is found with Parvati's form as Kamakshi – the goddess of love, as well as Kama – the cupid god of desire who shoots arrows to trigger infatuation.[43] A crescent moon is sometimes included near the head of Parvati particularly the Kamakshi icons, for her being half of Shiva. In South Indian legends, her association with the parrot began when she won a bet with her husband and asked for his loincloth as victory payment; Shiva keeps his word but first transforms her into a parrot. She flies off and takes refuge in the mountain ranges of south India, appearing as Meenakshi (also spelled Minakshi).[44]

Symbolism of many aspects for the same goddess

Parvati is expressed in many roles, moods, epithets, and aspects. In Hindu mythology, she is an active agent of the universe, the power of Shiva. She is expressed in nurturing and benevolent aspects, as well as destructive and ferocious aspects.[45] She is the voice of encouragement, reason, freedom, and strength, as well as of resistance, power, action and retributive justice. This paradox symbolizes her willingness to realign to Pratima (reality) and adapts to the needs of circumstances in her role as the universal mother.[45] She identifies and destroys evil to protect (Mahakali), as well as creates food and abundance to nourish (Annapurna).

From being born as a human, showing determination and perseverance in marrying Shiva (who preferred being an ascetic), to realizing with the great effort her true power and potential, awakening the Adishakti in herself, and becoming a goddess venerated by the Trimurti and the rest of the entire universe, Parvati inspires a person to embrace their human strengths and flaws, and utilize them to achieve their highest potential, to live life with their head held up high.


Several Hindu stories present alternate aspects of Parvati, such as the ferocious, violent aspect as Shakti and related forms. Shakti is pure energy, untamed, unchecked, and chaotic. Her wrath crystallizes into a dark, blood-thirsty, tangled-hair Goddess with an open mouth and a drooping tongue. This goddess is usually identified as the terrible Mahakali (time).[46] In Linga Purana, Parvati undergoes a metamorphosis into Kali, at the request of Shiva, to destroy an asura (demon) Daruk. Even after destroying the demon, Kali's wrath could not be controlled. To lower Kali's rage, Shiva appeared as a crying baby. The cries of the baby arouse the maternal instinct of Kali who reverts to her benign form as Parvati. Lord Shiva, in this baby form is Kshethra Balaka (who becomes Rudra Savarni Manu in future).[47]

In Skanda Purana, Parvati assumes the form of a warrior-goddess and defeats a demon called Durg who assumes the form of a buffalo. In this aspect, she is known by the name Durga.[48] Although Parvati is considered another aspect of Sakti, just like Kali, Durga, Kamakshi, Meenakshi, Gauri and many others in modern-day Hinduism, many of these "forms" or aspects originated from regional legends and traditions, and the distinctions from Parvati are pertinent.[49]

According to Shaktism and Shaivism traditions, In Devi Bhagavata Purana, Parvati is the lineal progenitor of all other goddesses. She is worshiped as one with many forms and names. Her form or incarnation depends on her mood.

• Durga is a demon-fighting form of Devi, and some texts suggest Parvati took the form of Durga to kill the demon Durgamasur. Durga is worshiped in nine forms called the Navadurga. Each of the nine aspects depicts a point in the life of Parvati. She as Durga is also worshiped as the slayer of the demons Mahishasura, Shumbha, and Nishumbha in Shakta traditions. She is worshipped as Ashtabhuja Durga in the Bengali states, and as Kanakadurga in the Telugu states.
• Shakambari or Satakshi are two of the forms Parvati assumed to defeat Durgamasura. The former is the Goddess of vegetables and organic food, while the latter is said to have replenished the earth's water bodies with Her tears during a great drought.
• Kali is the most ferocious and true form of Parvati, as the goddess of time and change, representing raw power and courage, and the ultimate dissolution. Kali is worshiped as Bhadrakali in the south and as Dakshina Kali in the north. She is worshiped as Mahakali all over India. She is a member, and also the source of Tridevi. She is the feminine aspect of Parabrahman, as she is the progenitor of all primal energies. She is the active form of Adishakti. She represents tamas guna, and she is beyond the three Gunas, in that she is the material form of the void darkness in which the universe comes to exist, and in the end, everything dissolves into her. She is the "Kriya Shakti" of the Trishakti and the source of the other Shaktis. She is the Kundalini Shakti that resides deep within the core of every existing life form.
• In the form of female shaktis of various major male deities, Devi manifests as Saptamatrikas: Brahmani, Vaishnavi, Maheshwari, Indrani, Varahi, Kaumari, Chamunda (or Ashtamatrikas when depicted along with Narasimhi/Pratyangira, Vinayaki being an additional matrika. Varuni, Yami have also been suggested to be part of this pantheon sometimes.
• Tripura Sundari, despite being the 3nd Mahavidya, is the most worshiped form of Devi right after Kali and Durga. She is consider a complete physical form of Adi Parashakti. Lalita Sahasranama is a collection of the 1000 names of Devi Lalitha and is used in Her worship in the Sri Vidya sampradaya of Tantra.
• Bala Tripurasundari, the child form of the goddess Tripura Sundari, representing the playful and innocent nature of children, as well as their ceaseless potential.
• Brahmari Devi is the six-legged bee incarnation of Parvati, which she assumed to kill the demon Arunasura, according to the Devi Bhagavata Purana.
• Nanda Devi/Ekanamsha is the daughter of the cowherd Nanda and his wife Yashoda. Parvati/Yogamaya/Vishnumaya was born as their daughter in the Dvapara yuga to protect Her brother Lord Krishna and admonish the demon Kansa. She is famously worshiped as Vindhya-Vasini.
• Kaushiki, sometimes addressed as Chandika is a manifestation of Parvati; she is white in color, has eight arms, and rides a lion, she is worshipped with the famous Devi Suktam and Narayani Stuti. She is the main deity of the Devi Mahatmyam, considered to be the most important Shakta text. It is read privately or in huge gatherings every Navaratri in Her honor.
• 52 Shakti Peethas suggests all goddesses are expansions of the goddess Parvati. Each of the peethas was formed when a part of Goddess Sati's body fell on earth. Sati being the previous incarnation of Parvati isn't separate from Her.
• There are multiple local goddesses called Grama Devis who are worshiped in famed temples all across India. Many of them are believed to be the incarnations of Parvati. These are all regional manifestations of the Divine Mother, often invoked to protect the village from epidemics and famine.
• Meenakshi, the Goddess with eyes shaped like fishes. She is the Queen of Madurai and is said to have been born to the devout childless queen and king of the region. She was born with 3 breasts, which were prophesied to disappear when She would meet Her husband-to-be. Eventually, She met Shiva and returns to Kailasa as Parvati.
• Kamakshi, Goddess of love and devotion. She is indifferent from the Supreme Goddess Tripura Sundari
• Vishalakshi, the Goddess who awaits Her beloved. Her temple is in Varanasi wherewith ever opened eyelids, she waits for Her husband, Lord Shiva.
• Akhilandeshwari, found in coastal regions of India, is the goddess associated with water.[50]
• Annapurna is the representation of all that is complete and of food. Parvati is said to have assumed this form to teach the inhabitants of Kailasa the value of food. She resides in Kashi as the wife of Lord Vishwanatha.
• Mahagayatri, the Devi associated with the Vedas and the knowledge that they house.
• Navadurga, The nine forms of Durga: Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri, Siddhidhatri.
• Dasa Mahavidya, the ten tantric manifestations of Devi: Mahakali, Tara, Tripura Sundari, Bhuvaneshwari, Bhairavi, Bagalamukhi, Dhumavati, Chinnamasta, Matangi, Kamala.


The Puranas tell the tale of Sati's marriage to Shiva against her father Daksha's wishes. The conflict between Daksha and Shiva gets to a point where Daksha does not invite Shiva to his yagna (fire-sacrifice). Daksha insults Shiva when Sati comes on her own. She immolates herself at the ceremony. This shocks Shiva, who is so grief-stricken that he loses interest in worldly affairs, retires, and isolates himself in the mountains, in meditation and austerity. Sati is then reborn as Parvati, the daughter of Himavat and Mainavati,[5] and is named Parvati, or "she from the mountains", after her father Himavant who is also called king Parvat.[51][52][53]

According to different versions of her chronicles, the maiden Parvati resolves to marry Shiva. Her parents learn of her desire, discourage her, but she pursues what she wants. Indra sends the god Kama – the Hindu god of desire, erotic love, attraction, and affection, to awake Shiva from meditation. Kama reaches Shiva and shoots an arrow of desire.[54] Shiva opens his third eye in his forehead and burns the cupid Kama to ashes. Parvati does not lose her hope or her resolve to win over Shiva. She begins to live in mountains like Shiva, engage in the same activities as Shiva, one of asceticism, yogin and tapas. This draws the attention of Shiva and awakens his interest. He meets her in disguised form, tries to discourage her, telling her Shiva's weaknesses and personality problems.[54] Parvati refuses to listen and insists on her resolve. Shiva finally accepts her and they get married.[54][55] Shiva dedicates the following hymn in Parvati's honor,
I am the sea and you the wave,
You are Prakṛti, and I Purusha.
– Translated by Stella Kramrisch[56]

After the marriage, Parvati moves to Mount Kailash, the residence of Shiva. To them are born Kartikeya (also known as Skanda and Murugan) – the leader of celestial armies, and Ganesha – the god of wisdom that prevents problems and removes obstacles.[10][57]

There are many alternate Hindu legends about the birth of Parvati and how she married Shiva. In the Harivamsa, for example, Parvati has two younger sisters called Ekaparna and Ekapatala.[23] According to Devi Bhagavata Purana and Shiva Purana mount Himalaya and his wife Mena appease goddess Adi Parashakti. Pleased, Adi Parashakti herself is born as their daughter Parvati. Each major story about Parvati's birth and marriage to Shiva has regional variations, suggesting creative local adaptations. The stories go through many ups and downs until Parvati and Shiva are finally married.[58]

Kalidasa's epic Kumarasambhavam ("Birth of Kumara") describes the story of the maiden Parvati who has made up her mind to marry Shiva and get him out of his recluse, intellectual, austere world of aloofness. Her devotions aimed at gaining the favor of Shiva, the subsequent annihilation of Kamadeva, the consequent fall of the universe into barren lifelessness, regeneration of life, the subsequent marriage of Parvati and Shiva, the birth of Kartikeya, and the eventual resurrection of Kamadeva after Parvati intercedes for him to Shiva.

Parvati's legends are intrinsically related to Shiva. In the goddess-oriented Shakta texts, that she is said to transcend even Shiva, and is identified as the Supreme Being.[20] Just as Shiva is at once the presiding deity of destruction and regeneration, the couple jointly symbolize at once both the power of renunciation and asceticism and the blessings of marital felicity.

Parvati thus symbolizes many different virtues esteemed by Hindu tradition: fertility, marital felicity, devotion to the spouse, asceticism, and power. Parvati represents the householder ideal in the perennial tension in Hinduism in the household ideal and the ascetic ideal, the latter represented by Shiva.[46] Renunciation and asceticism is highly valued in Hinduism, as is householder's life – both feature as Ashramas of ethical and proper life. Shiva is portrayed in Hindu legends as the ideal ascetic withdrawn in his personal pursuit in the mountains with no interest in social life, while Parvati is portrayed as the ideal householder keen on nurturing worldly life and society.[54] Numerous chapters, stories, and legends revolve around their mutual devotion as well as disagreements, their debates on Hindu philosophy as well as the proper life.

Parvati tames Shiva with her presence.[46] When Shiva does his violent, destructive Tandava dance, Parvati is described as calming him or complementing his violence by slow, creative steps of her own Lasya dance.[59] In many myths, Parvati is not as much his complement as his rival, tricking, seducing, or luring him away from his ascetic practices.[59]

Three images are central to the mythology, iconography, and philosophy of Parvati: the image of Shiva-Shakti, the image of Shiva as Ardhanarishvara (the Lord who is half-woman), and the image of the linga and the yoni. These images that combine the masculine and feminine energies, Shiva and Parvati, yield a vision of reconciliation, interdependence, and harmony between the way of the ascetic and that of a householder.[60]

The couple is often depicted in the Puranas as engaged in "dalliance" or seated on Mount Kailash debating concepts in Hindu theology. They are also depicted as quarreling.[61] In stories of the birth of Kartikeya, the couple is described as love-making; generating the seed of Shiva. Parvati's union with Shiva symbolizes the union of a male and female in "ecstasy and sexual bliss".[62] In art, Parvati is depicted seated on Shiva's knee or standing beside him (together the couple is referred to as Uma-Maheshvara or Hara-Gauri) or as Annapurna (the goddess of grain) giving alms to Shiva.[63]

Shaiva's approaches tend to look upon Parvati as the Shiva's submissive and obedient wife. However, Shaktas focus on Parvati's equality or even superiority to her consort. The story of the birth of the ten Mahavidyas (Wisdom Goddesses) of Shakta Tantrism. This event occurs while Shiva is living with Parvati in her father's house. Following an argument, he attempts to walk out on her. Her rage at Shiva's attempt to walk out manifests in the form of ten terrifying goddesses who block Shiva's every exit.

David Kinsley states,
The fact that [Parvati] can physically restrain Shiva dramatically makes the point that she is superior in power. The theme of the superiority of the goddess over male deities is common in Shakta texts, [and] so the story is stressing a central Shakta theological principle. ... The fact that Shiva and Parvati are living in her father's house in itself makes this point, as it is traditional in many parts of India for the wife to leave her father's home upon marriage and become a part of her husband's lineage and live in his home among his relatives. That Shiva dwells in Parvati's house thus implies Her priority in their relationship. Her priority is also demonstrated in her ability, through the Mahavidyas, to thwart Shiva's will and assert her own.[64]


Parvati is portrayed as the ideal wife, mother, and householder in Indian legends.[66] In Indian art, this vision of the ideal couple is derived from Shiva and Parvati as being half of the other, represented as Ardhanarisvara.[67] This concept is represented as an androgynous image that is half man and half woman, Siva and Parvati respectively.[65][68]

Ideal wife, mother, and more

In Hindu Epic the Mahabharata, she as Umā suggests that the duties of wife and mother are as follows – being of a good disposition, endued with sweet speech, sweet conduct, and sweet features. Her husband is her friend, refuge, and god.[69] She finds happiness in the physical, emotional nourishment and development of her husband and her children. Their happiness is her happiness. She is positive and cheerful even when her husband or her children are angry, she's with them in adversity or sickness.[69] She takes interest in worldly affairs, beyond her husband and family. She is cheerful and humble before family, friends, and relatives; helps them if she can. She welcomes guests, feeds them, and encourages righteous social life. Her family life and her home is her heaven, Parvati declares in Book 13 of the Mahabharata.[69]

Rita Gross states,[38] that the view of Parvati only as ideal wife and mother is incomplete symbolism of the power of the feminine in the mythology of India. Parvati, along with other goddesses, is involved with a broad range of culturally valued goals and activities.[38] Her connection with motherhood and female sexuality does not confine the feminine or exhaust their significance and activities in Hindu literature. She is balanced by Durga, who is strong and capable without compromising her femaleness. She manifests in every activity, from water to mountains, from arts to inspiring warriors, from agriculture to dance. Parvati's numerous aspects state Gross,[38] reflects the Hindu belief that the feminine has a universal range of activities, and her gender is not a limiting condition. Parvati is seen as the mother of two widely worshipped deities — Ganesha and Kartikeya, as well as some other regional deities including a goddess named Ashokasundari.


Hindu literature, including the Matsya Purana, Shiva Purana, and Skanda Purana, dedicates many stories to Parvati and Shiva and their children.[70] For example, one about Ganesha is:

Once, while Parvati wanted to take a bath, there were no attendants around to guard her and stop anyone from accidentally entering the house. Hence she created an image of a boy out of turmeric paste which she prepared to cleanse her body and infused life into it, and thus Ganesha was born. Parvati ordered Ganesha not to allow anyone to enter the house, and Ganesha obediently followed his mother's orders. After a while Shiva returned and tried to enter the house, Ganesha stopped him. Shiva was infuriated, lost his temper, and severed the boy's head with his trident. When Parvati came out and saw her son's lifeless body, she was very angry. She demanded that Shiva restore Ganesha's life at once. Shiva did so by attaching an elephant's head to Ganesha's body, thus giving rise to the elephant-headed deity.[71][72]

Parvati in culture


Teej festival

Teej is a significant festival for Hindu women, particularly in the northern and western states of India. Parvati is the primary deity of the festival, and it ritually celebrates married life and family ties.[73] It also celebrates the monsoon. The festival is marked with swings hung from trees, girls playing on these swings typically in a green dress (seasonal color of crop planting season), while singing regional songs.[74] Historically, unmarried maidens prayed to Parvati for a good mate, while married women prayed for the well-being of their husbands and visited their relatives. In Nepal, Teej is a three-day festival marked with visits to Shiva-Parvati temples and offerings to linga.[73] Teej is celebrated as Teeyan in Punjab.[75]

Gauri Festival

The Gowri Habba, or Gauri Festival, is celebrated on the seventh, eighth, and ninth of Bhadrapada (Shukla paksha). Parvati is worshipped as the goddess of harvest and protectress of women. Her festival, chiefly observed by women, is closely associated with the festival of her son Ganesha (Ganesh Chaturthi). The festival is popular in Maharashtra and Karnataka.[76]

In Rajasthan, the worship of Gauri happens during the Gangaur festival. The festival starts on the first day of Chaitra the day after Holi and continues for 18 days. Images of Issar and Gauri are made from Clay for the festival.


Another popular festival in reverence of Parvati is Navratri, in which all her manifestations are worshiped over nine days. Popular in eastern India, particularly in Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand and Assam, as well as several other parts of India such as Gujarat, with her nine forms i.e. Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayini, Kaalratri, Mahagauri, Siddhidatri.[77]

Gauri Tritiya

Another festival Gauri Tritiya is celebrated from Chaitra Shukla third to Vaishakha Shukla third. This festival is popular in Maharashtra and Karnataka, less observed in North India, and unknown in Bengal. The unwidowed women of the household erect a series of platforms in a pyramidal shape with the image of the goddess at the top and a collection of ornaments, images of other Hindu deities, pictures, shells, etc. below. Neighbors are invited and presented with turmeric, fruits, flowers, etc. as gifts. At night, prayers are held by singing and dancing. In south Indian states such as Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, the Kethara Gauri Vritham festival is celebrated on the new moon day of Diwali and married women fast for the day, prepare sweets and worship Parvati for the well-being of the family.[78]


Thiruvathira is a festival observed in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It is believed that on this day, Parvathi met Lord Shiva after her long penance and Lord Shiva took her as his wife.[79] On this day Hindu women perform the Thiruvathirakali accompanied by Thiruvathira paattu (folk songs about Parvati and her longing and penance for Lord Shiva's affection).[80]


Attributed to Khushala The Gods Sing and Dance for Shiva and Parvati (late 18th century)
From sculpture to dance, many Indian arts explore and express the stories of Parvati and Shiva as themes. For example, Daksha Yagam of Kathakali, a form of dance-drama choreography, adapts the romantic episodes of Parvati and Shiva.[81]

The Gauri-Shankar bead is a part of religious adornment rooted in the belief of Parvati and Shiva as the ideal equal complementing halves of the other. Gauri-Shankar is a particular rudraksha (bead) formed naturally from the seed of a tree found in India. Two seeds of this tree sometimes naturally grow as fused and are considered symbolic of Parvati and Shiva. These seeds are strung into garlands and worn, or used in malas (rosaries) for meditation in Saivism.[82]


Ancient coins from Bactria (Central Asia) of Kushan Empire era, and those of king Harsha (North India) feature Uma. These were issued sometime between the 3rd- and 7th-century AD. In Bactria, Uma is spelled Ommo, and she appears on coins holding a flower.[83][84] On her coin is also shown Shiva, who is sometimes shown in the ithyphallic state holding a trident and standing near Nandi (his vahana). On coins issued by king Harsha, Parvati and Shiva are seated on a bull and the reverse of the coin has Brahmi script.[85]

Major temples

See also: Shakti Peetha

Parvati is often present with Shiva in Saivite Hindu temples all over South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Some locations (Pithas or Shaktipeeths) are considered special because of their historical importance and legends about their origins in the ancient texts of Hinduism.[86][87]

Each major Parvati-Shiva temple is a pilgrimage site that has an ancient legend associated with it, which is typically a part of a larger story that links these Hindu temples across South Asia with each other.

List of temples

Some temples where Parvati can be found include:

• In Karnataka : Chamundeswari Temple Mysore, Horanaadu Shri Annapurneshwari Temple, Kolluru Shri Mookambika Devasthana, Sigandooru Shri Chowdeshwari Devi Shivamogga
• in Andhra Pradesh: Maanikyambika Bhimeswara Temple, Vijayawāda Kanaka Durga Mata Temple
• in Kerala:Annapurneshwari Temple, Cherukunnu, Attukal Bhagavathy Temple, Chakkulathukavu Temple, Chengannur Mahadeva Temple, Oorpazhachi Kavu, Irumkulangara Durga Devi Temple, Valiya Kavu Sree Parvathi Devi Temple, Sri Kiratha Parvathi Temple Paramelpadi, Korechal Kirathaparvathi Temple, Nedukavu Parvathy Devi Temple, Karthyayani Devi Temple, Varanad Devi Temple, Veluthattu Vadakkan Chowa Temple, Thiruvairanikulam Mahadeva Temple, Ardhanariswara Temple and Kadampuzha Devi Temple
• in Madhya Pradesh: Parvati Temple
• in Maharashtra: Tulja Bhavani Temple
• in Meghalaya: Nartiang Durga Temple
• in Tamil Nadu: Meenakshi Amman Temple, Kamakshi Amman Temple, Sri Siva Durga Temple, Thirukkadaiyur Abirami Amman temple, Thirumeyachur Lalithambigai temple, Bannari Amman Temple, Samayapuram Mariamman Temple, Thiruvanaikaval Akilandeswari temple, Thiruvalangadu Kali temple, Vekkali Amman Temple, Mutharamman Temple, Kulasekharapatnam, Tiruverkadu Devi Karumariamman Temple, Nellaiappar Temple, Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Masani Ammam temple, Mandaikadu Bhagavathi temple, Gomathi Amman, Punnainallur Mariamman
• in Tripura: Tripura Sundari Templein Tripura: Tripura Sundari Temple
• in Uttar Pradesh: Vishalakshi Temple, Vishalakshi Gauri Temple and Annapurna Devi Temple

Outside India

Sculpture and iconography of Parvati, in one of her many manifestations, have been found in temples and literature of Southeast Asia. For example, early Saivite inscriptions of the Khmer in Cambodia, dated as early as the fifth century AD, mention Parvati (Uma) and Siva.[88] Many ancient and medieval era Cambodian temples, rock arts and river bed carvings such as the Kbal Spean are dedicated to Parvati and Shiva.[89][90]

Boisselier has identified Uma in a Champa era temple in Vietnam.[91]

Dozens of ancient temples dedicated to Parvati as Uma, with Siva, have been found in the islands of Indonesia and Malaysia. Her manifestation as Durga has also been found in southeast Asia.[92] Many of the temples in Java dedicated to Siva-Parvati are from the second half of 1st millennium AD, and some from later centuries.[93] Durga icons and worship have been dated to be from the 10th- to 13th-century.[94]

Derived from Parvati's form as Mahakali, her nipponized form is Daikokutennyo (大黒天女).

In Nakhorn Si Thammarat province of Thailand, excavations at Dev Sathan have yielded a Hindu Temple dedicated to Vishnu (Na Pra Narai), a lingam in the yoni, a Shiva temple (San Pra Isuan). The sculpture of Parvati found at this excavation site reflects the South Indian style.[97][98]

Bali, Indonesia

Parvati, locally spelled as Parwati, is a principal goddess in modern-day Hinduism of Bali. She is more often called Uma, and sometimes referred to as Giriputri (daughter of the mountains).[99] She is the goddess of mountain Gunung Agung.[100] Like Hinduism of India, Uma has many manifestations in Bali, Indonesia. She is the wife of deity Siwa. Uma or Parwati is considered as the mother goddess that nurtures, nourishes, grants fertility to crop and all life. As Dewi Danu, she presides over waters, lake Batur and Gunung Batur, a major volcano in Bali. Her ferocious form in Bali is Dewi Durga.[101] As Rangda, she is wrathful and presides cemeteries.[100] As Ibu Pertiwi, Parwati of Balinese Hinduism is the goddess of earth.[100] The legends about various manifestations of Parwati, and how she changes from one form to another, are in Balinese literature, such as the palm-leaf (lontar) manuscript Andabhuana.[102]

Related goddesses

Tara found in some sects of Buddhism, particularly Tibetan and Nepalese, is related to Parvati.[103][104] Tara too appears in many manifestations. In tantric sects of Buddhism, as well as Hinduism, intricate symmetrical art forms of yantra or mandala are dedicated to different aspects of Tara and Parvati.[105][106]

Parvati is closely related in symbolism and powers to Cybele of Greek and Roman mythology and as Vesta the guardian goddess of children.[10][107] In her manifestation as Durga, Parvati parallels Mater Montana.[10] She is the equivalent of the Magna Mater (Universal Mother).[18] As Kali and punisher of all evil, she corresponds to Proserpine and Diana Taurica.[108]

As Bhawani and goddess of fertility and birthing, she is the symbolic equivalent of Ephesian Diana.[108] In Crete, Rhea is the mythological figure, goddess of the mountains, paralleling Parvati; while in some mythologies from islands of Greece, the terrifying goddess mirroring Parvati is Diktynna (also called Britomartis).[109] At Ephesus, Cybele is shown with lions, just like the iconography of Parvati is sometimes shown with a lion.[109]

Carl Jung, in Mysterium Coniunctionis, states that aspects of Parvati belong to the same category of goddesses like Artemis, Isis and Mary.[110][111] Edmund Leach equates Parvati in her relationship with Shiva, with that of the Greek goddess Aphrodite – a symbol of sexual love.[112]


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• Kinsley, David R. Hindu Goddesses: Vision of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Traditions. University of California Press. 1986. (ISBN 81-208-0379-5)
• Vans Kennedy, Researches Into the Nature and Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology; Published 1831; Printed for Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green; 494 pages; Original from Harvard University; Digitized 11 July 2005 [1]
• William J. Wilkins, Uma – Parvati, Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Puranic; Republished 2001 (first published 1882); Adamant Media Corporation; 463 pages; ISBN 1-4021-9308-4
• Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty, Śiva, the Erotic Ascetic
• Charles Coleman, Mythology of the Hindus
• Karen Tate, Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations
• Srivastava, A. L. (2004). Umā-Maheśvara: An iconographic study of the divine couple. Kasganj, U: Sukarkshetra Shodh Sansthana.

Further reading

• Pereira, Jose. "ŚIVA AND PARVATI AT DICE: IDENTIFICATION OF A PANEL AT ELEPHANTA." Proceedings of the Indian History Congress 21 (1958): 117–25.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

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Part 3 of 3

Nandi (Hinduism) [Nandikeshwara] [Nandideva] [Nantikēcuraṉ/Nantitevar, Isvara's "gatekeeper"]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/22/22

b) ff. 1-12 Tirikālacakkaram.

The Puvanacakkaram deals with the measurement of the earth by Nantikēcuran. The Tirikālacakkaram (‘revolving wheel of the three times’) contains a summary of South Indian cosmology and mythology. It is ascribed to Tirumūlattēvar (Jeyaraj, p.330).

-- The Bayer Collection, A preliminary catalogue of the manuscripts and books of Professor Theophilus Siegfried Bayer, acquired and augmented by the Reverend Dr Heinrich Walther Gerdes, now preserved in the Hunterian Library of the University of Glasgow, by David Weston, 2018

68 According to cittar tradition, Tirumūlar, the early Śaiva mystic and author of the Tirumantiram, is said to have been the disciple of an alchemist named Nantikēcuran.
Alchemical Nantikecuran, by Librarian

Tirumūlar is also closely connected to Tiruvāvaṭutuṟai, where he took physical form by entering the body of a cowherd and composed the Tirumantiram. It is, however, not clear that an ascription to this early Tirumūlar is intended in Ziegenbalg’s account of the work. Zvelebil gives the briefest details of an undated Tirumūlatēvar, ascribing to him three works: the Tirumantiramālai, Tirumūlatēvar pāṭalkaḷ and Vālaippañcākkara viḷakkam. Tirumantiramālai is in fact the full title of Tirumūlar’s Tirumantiram and hence the distinction between the work which Zvelebil ascribes to Tirumūla Tēvar and Tirumūlar’s own work is not clear. We have not been able to identify copies of the Tirumūlatēvar pāṭalkaḷ and Vālaippañcākkara viḷakkam, but the title of the latter suggests a work on the five-syllable nama-civāya mantra. There are a number of works of this kind, with different titles, closely associated with the Tiruvāvaṭutuṟai maṭam. Whether Tirumūlar or Tirumūla Tēvar is intended, an association with Tiruvāvaṭutuṟai certainly cannot be ruled out.

69 Moreover, as noted above (35), Koppedrayer emphasizes the importance of the idea of a lineage, beginning on Mount Kailasa and transmitted through Nantikēcuran, or Nantitēvar, in the self-understanding of the Tiruvāvaṭutuṟai maṭam. She notes that when referring to themselves corporately: “the ascetics living in the matam at Tiruvavatuturai… use such phrases as the Tirukailai paramparai, the lineage [descending] from Mount Kailasa.” Discussing the multiple accounts of the Tiruvāvaṭutuṟai kailasa paramparai, she notes that while they differ in their details “early references to the seminal figures simply cite Namaccivaya, Meykantar, and Nanti, yes, always Nanti on Mount Kailasa.”

-- Bibliotheca Malabarica, by Will Sweetman with R. Ilakkuvan, Institut Francais de Pondichery, 2012

Nandi in a zoo-anthropomorphic form
Affiliation: Mount of Shiva
Abode: Mount Kailash
Consort: Suyasha[1]

Nandi (Sanskrit: नन्दि) also known as Nandikeshwara or Nandideva is the bull vahana of the Hindu god Shiva. He is also the guardian deity of Kailash, the abode of Shiva. Almost all Shiva temples display stone-images of a seated Nandi, generally facing the main shrine.

According to Saivite siddhantic tradition, he is considered as the chief guru of eight disciples of Nandinatha Sampradaya, namely, Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana, Sanatkumara, Tirumular, Vyagrapada, Patanjali, and Sivayoga Muni, who were sent in eight different directions, to spread the wisdom.[2]

Nandinatha Sampradaya is a denomination of Shaivism sect of Hinduism that places great importance on the practice of yoga. It is related to the broader Nath Sampradaya. Living preceptor and 163rd head of the Nandinatha Sampradaya's Kailasa Parampara is Bodhinatha Veylanswami. It is most popular among Tamil Hindus.

The Nandinatha Sampradaya traces its beginning to at least 200 BCE. Its founder and first known spiritual preceptor was Maharishi Nandinatha. Nandinatha is said to have initiated eight disciples, Sanatkumar, Sanakar, Sanadanar, Sananthanar, Shivayogamuni, Patanjali, Vyaghrapada, and Tirumular, and sent them to various places to spread the teachings of Shaiva Siddhanta. Though some of these disciples were sent as far as China to spread the Shaiva Siddhanta philosophy of their Guru, the work of two is especially important.

Patanjali is remembered as the author of the Yoga Sutras. This crucial text is one of the most widely quoted and respected texts on the practice of Yoga. Its translations are studied today in Yoga Centers throughout the world. Most of the mystical, Sanskrit vocabulary of Yoga teachings are first codified in this text. The Ashtanga Yoga (eight-limbed) process of Yoga comes from this text. The text contains a spiritual blueprint for using the physical body to yoke consciousness to the Divine source.

Tirumular authored the Tirumantiram, which is a well known Tamil text. The Tirumantiram is still chanted in Tamil Nadu. It covers a wide variety of topics and illuminates much of the esoteric mystical insight of this Sampradaya. It illustrates the life style and moral conduct advocated by this tradition. It provides much insight into the mystical meditations and tantras (techniques) valued by the Nandinatha Sampradaya. It places great emphasis on repetition of the panchakshara (or five lettered) mantra: Om Namah Shivaya

-- Nandinatha Sampradaya, by Wikipedia

The Cham Hindus of Vietnam believes that when they die, the Nandi will come and take their soul to the holy land of India from Vietnam.

The Sanskrit word nandi (Sanskrit: नन्दि) has the meaning of happy, joy, and satisfaction, the properties of divine guardian of Shiva- Nandi.[3]

It is recently documented, that the application of the name Nandi to the bull (Sanskrit: Vṛṣabha), is in fact a development of recent syncretism of different regional beliefs within Saivism.[4] The name Nandi was widely used instead for an anthropomorphic door-keeper of Kailasha, rather than his mount, in the oldest Saivite texts in Sanskrit, Tamil, and other Indian languages. Siddhantic texts clearly distinct Nandi from Vṛṣabha. According to them, Devi, Chandesha, Mahakala, Vṛṣabha, Nandi, Ganesha, Bhringi, and Murugan, are the eight Ganeshwaras (commanders) of Shiva.[5]

History and Legends

The worship of Shiva and Nandi can even be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization time-period. The famous 'Pasupati Seal' depicts a seated figure, which is usually identified as Shiva, and there were many bull-seals found in Mohenjo daro and Harappa, which led to conclusion of the researchers, that Nandi worship has been a long standing tradition for many thousands of years.[6]

Nandi is described as the son of the sage Shilada. Shilada underwent severe penance to have a boon– a child with immortality and blessings of Lord Shiva, and received Nandi as his son. Legends say that Nandi was born from a Yajna performed by the Shilada. Nandi grew as an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and he performed severe penance to become his gate-keeper, as well as his mount, on the banks of river Narmada, near Tripur Tirth Kshetra in present-day Nandikeshwar Temple, in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.

Nandi got the divine-knowledge of Agamic and Tantric wisdom taught by Shiva, from goddess Parvati. He could teach that divine-knowledge to his eight disciples, who are identified as the progenitors of Nandinatha Sampradaya, namely, Sanaka, Sanatana, Sanandana, Sanatkumara, Tirumular, Vyagrapada, Patanjali, and Sivayoga Muni. These eight disciples were sent in eight different directions of the world by Nandi, to spread this knowledge.[2]

Many other puranic tales are available about Nandi. One describes his conflict with Ravana, the antagonist of Ramayana. Nandi cursed Ravana (the demon King of Lanka), that his kingdom would be burnt by a forest-dweller monkey (Vanara), since he behaved in a restless manner, just like a monkey,while waiting to meet Shiva. Later, Hanuman burned Lanka when he went in search of Sita, who was imprisoned by Ravana in Ashok Vatika.[7]

The ancient Tamil text Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam mentions another story in which Nandi is incarnated as a whale.[8] It says that Parvati lost her concentration while Shiva was explaining the meaning of Vedas to her. Parvati, then incarnated as a fisher-woman to atone for her lack of concentration. To unite his master and his beloved-wife, Nandi took the form of a whale and started to trouble the people. Fisher-woman Parvati's father declared that the man who would kill the whale would marry his daughter. Later, Shiva took the form of a fisherman and killed the whale, and received Parvati in her previous form.

Agamas describe him in a zoo-anthropomorphic form, with the head of bull and four hands, with antelope, axe, mace, and abhayamudra. In his mount form, Nandi is depicted as a seated bull in all Shiva temples, all over the world. This form has been found even in Southeast Asian countries including Cambodia.[9]

The white color of the bull symbolizes purity and justice. Symbolically, the seated Nandi faces the sanctum in Shiva temples and represents an individual jiva (soul) and the message that the jiva should always be focused on the Parameshwara. From the yogic perspective, Nandi is the mind dedicated to Shiva, the absolute. In other words, to understand and absorb light, the experience, and the wisdom is Nandi, which is the guru within.[10]

Nandi Flag

Nandi Flag, the official flag of Hindu Saivites all over the world.[11][12]

Nandi flag or Vrshabha flag, a flag with the emblem of seated bull is recognized as the flag of Saivism, particularly among Tamil community all over the world. Nandi was the emblem of historical Tamil Saivite monarchs, such as Pallava dynasty and Jaffna Kingdom.[13] Several campaigns to aware the Saivites about their Nandi flag is carried out continuously during the Shivaratri session, particularly among Tamil community of Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu, and diaspora.[14]

The nandi flag used nowadays was designed by Ravindra Sastri of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, according to the request and guidance of S. Danapala, a Sri Lankan Saivite personage, in the 1990s. The first Nandi flag was hoisted in 1998, at Colombo Hindu College at Ratmalana, Sri Lanka.[15][16] Following years, It was declared as the official Saivite flag in fourth International Saiva Siddhanta Conference, held in Zurich in 2008.[12] Nowadays, Tamil Saivites, especially in Sri Lanka, Canada, Australia, UK, South Africa, and Switzerland, hoist the flag in all religious and cultural festivals.[12][15][16] Nandi flag was declared as the official Hindu flag of Sri Lanka.[17][18]

See also

• Kamadhenu
• Cattle in religion
• Gavaevodata, the primordial cow in Zoroastrianism
• Nandi is also a village and it's a Gram panchayat of Janpad Panchayat Katangi, Balaghat (MP)


1. Gopinatha Rao, T. A. (1997). Elements of Hindu Iconography, Volume 2. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 213. ISBN 9788120808775.
2. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (2003). Dancing with Siva: Hinduism's Contemporary Catechism. Himalayan Academy Publications. ISBN 978-0-945497-89-9.
3. "Monier Williams' Sanskrit-English Dictionary". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
4. Gouriswar Bhattacharya, (1977), "Nandin and Vṛṣabha", Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Supplement III,2, XIX. Deutscher Orientalistentag, pp. 1543–1567.
5. Sabaratnam Sivacharyar, Dr.S.P. Shrimat Kamigagamah Purva Pada (Part One). USA: The Himalayan Academy, Kauai Adheenam. pp. 4:471–500.
6. R. C. Dogra, Urmila Dogra (2004). Let's Know Hinduism: The Oldest Religion of Infinite Adaptability and Diversity. Star Publications. ISBN 9788176500562.
7. Jayantika Kala (1988). Epic Scenes in Indian Plastic Art. Abhinav Publications. p. 37. ISBN 9788170172284.
8. Indian Association for English Studies (1995). The Indian Journal of English Studies, Volume 34. Orient Longmans. p. 92.
9. "Shiva and Uma on the Bull Nandi". The Walters Art Museum.
10. Vanamali - (2013). Shiva: Stories and Teachings from the Shiva Mahapurana. ISBN 978-1-62055-249-0.
11. DBS.Jeyaraj (2013). Reviving Practice of Hoisting 'Nandi' (Crouched Bull) Flag As Hindu Festivals and Functions.
12. Kalabooshanam Chelvathamby Manickavasagar (2008). "Fourth International Saiva Siddhantha Conference and the Glory of Nanthy Flag". The Island. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
13. Rasanayagam, Mudaliyar (1926). Ancient Jaffna, being research into the History of Jaffna from very early times to the Portuguese Period. Everymans Publishers Ltd, Madras (Reprint by New Delhi, AES in 2003). பக். 390. ISBN 81-206-0210-2.
14. "Hiduism Today, (2008), Hindu Campaigns for Restoration of Nandi Flag Tradition". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
15. Taṉapālā, kalāniti., Ciṉṉatturai., (2013), "Nantikkoṭi ēṟṟīr! Koṭikkavi pāṭīr!", Omlanka Publication.
16. Ciṉṉatturai taṉapālā, (2008), "nantikkoṭiyiṉ mukkiyattuvamum perumaikaḷum", Manimekalai Publication.
17. "Nanthi Flag to Maithripala Sirisena". Retrieved 5 March 2017.
18. "Minister Swaminathan urged to Provide Nanthi Flags to Temples, Societies". Retrieved 5 March 2017.


Wheel of time
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/22/22

Drawn milk doesn’t return to the breast.
Churned butter doesn’t return to the butter-milk.
The broken conch’s sound and the beings don’t re-enter the body.
The blossomed flower and the fallen half-ripe fruit never return to the tree.
The dead are never born [again]. Never, never, never.

-- Sivavakkiyar Biography, by

[G]reat caution should be exercised while giving historical and biographical information on the Siddhas. Besides, the Siddhas were adepts who could enter another body at will. Thus, it is difficult to say “who is who” let alone give a biographical account of them.

Since there is a close similarity between some stanzas of Sivavākkiyam and those of Tirumalisai Alwar’s Tirucchandaviruttam it is believed that Sivavākkiyar and Tirumalisai Alwar may be one and the same person....

Further, when the soul and the body separate, the soul does not die. It takes up another body....

When one performs this antharyāga of raising the kundalini sakti, one overcomes the cycle of births and deaths.

-- Sivavakkiyam -- Songs of a Spiritual Rebel, by Dr. Geetha Anand and Dr. T.N. Ganapathy

"Dirigala Sakkaram [Tirikalaccakkaram]: a mathematical description of the seven under-worlds, the seven upper worlds, and the fourteen seas. Also a description of their paradise, the Kailascum [Kailasa], the seat of Ispiren [Isvara] and of the many hundred thousand gods; of Magumeru [Mahameru], a golden mountain penetrating all the fourteen worlds, where all the holy prophets (i.e., each of the fourteen cycles of a yuga has a presiding Manu figure] are supposed to live....This book is the basis of all other Malabari [Tamil] books since it lays down the principles on which they are based. If the scholars in Europe got a chance to read it they would hear strange and unprecedented things. Once I had it in mind to translate this work into German but I could not help wondering whether this was really advisable. It would cause a lot of unnecessary speculation and only distract people from more important things....The secrets this book contains were disclosed by Ispiren [Isvara) to his wife Parbadi [Parvati], she in turn disclosed them to Nandigeschuren [Nandikesvara] [Nantikecuran!], the door-guardian of Ispiren [Isvara]. He disclosed them to a great prophet by the name of Dirumuladewer [Tirumula Tevar], who disclosed them to the whole world. This happened in the first world-era; since then the world has been destroyed three times, but it is said that every time fourteen prophets [i.e., Manus] survived who passed this book, together with many others, to posterity."

-- South Indian literary culture, Excerpt from "Genealogy of the South Indian Deities: An English translation of Bartholomaus Ziegenbalg's original German manuscript with a textual analysis and glossary, by Daniel Jeyaraj

The wheel of time or wheel of history (also known as Kalachakra) is a concept found in several religious traditions and philosophies, notably religions of Indian origin such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, which regard time as cyclical and consisting of repeating ages. Many other cultures contain belief in a similar concept: notably, the Q'ero Natives of Peru, as well as the Hopi Natives of Arizona.


Main articles: Yuga Cycle, Manvantara, and Kalpa (aeon)

In Hindu cosmology, kala (time) is eternal, repeating general events in four types of cycles. The smallest cycle is a maha-yuga (great age), containing four yugas (dharmic ages): Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dvapara Yuga and Kali Yuga. A manvantara (age of Manu) contains 71 maha-yugas. A kalpa (day of Brahma) contains 14 manvantaras and 15 sandhyas (connecting periods), which lasts for 1,000 maha-yugas and is followed by a pralaya (night of partial dissolution) of equal length, where a day and night make one full day. A maha-kalpa (life of Brahma) lasts for 100 of Brahma's years of 12 months of 30 full days (100 360-day years) or 72,000,000 maha-yugas, which is followed by a maha-pralaya (full dissolution) of equal length.[1]


Main article: Kalachakra

The Wheel of Time or Kalachakra is a Tantric deity that is associated with Tibetan Tantric Buddhism, which encompasses all four main schools of Sakya, Nyingma, Kagyu and Gelug, and is especially important within the lesser-known Jonang tradition.

The Kalachakra tantra prophesies a world within which (religious) conflict is prevalent. A worldwide war will be waged which will see the expansion of the mystical Kingdom of Shambhala led by a messianic king.


Main article: Ajiva

Within Jainism, time is thought to be a wheel that rotates for infinity without a beginning. This wheel of time holds twelve spokes that each symbolize a different phase in the universe's cosmological history. It is further divided into two equal halves having six eras in them. While in a downward motion, the wheel of time falls into what is known as Avasarpiṇī and when in an upward motion, enters a state called Utsarpini. During both motions of the wheel, 24 tirthankaras come forth to teach the three jewels or sacred Jain teachings of right faith, right knowledge, and right practice, then create a spiritual ford across the ocean of rebirth for humanity.[2][3]

Ancient Rome

The philosopher and emperor Marcus Aurelius saw time as extending forwards to infinity and backwards to infinity, while admitting the possibility (without arguing the case) that "the administration of the universe is organized into a succession of finite periods".[4]: Book 5, Paragraph 13 

Modern usage


In an interview included with the audiobook editions of his novels, author Robert Jordan has stated that his bestselling fantasy series The Wheel of Time borrows the titular concept from Hindu mythology.[5]


Several episodes of the American TV series Lost feature a wheel that can be physically turned in order to manipulate space and time. In a series of episodes during the fifth season, the island on which the show takes place begins to skip violently back and forth through time after the wheel is pulled off its axis.

See also

Eternal return
• Kalachakra
• Wheel of the Year


1. Gupta, Dr. S. V. (2010). Hull, Robert; Osgood, Jr., Richard M.; Parisi, Jurgen; Warlimont, Hans (eds.). Units of Measurement: Past, Present and Future. International System of Units. Springer Series in Materials Science: 122. Springer. pp. 6–9 (1.2.4 Time Measurements). ISBN 9783642007378.
2. Bhattacharyya, Sibajiban (1970). Buddhist Philosophy From 350 to 600 A.D. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 3. ISBN 9788120819689.
3. Dundas, Paul (2003). The Jains (2 ed.). Routledge. p. 20. ISBN 9781134501656.
4. Aurelius, Marcus (2011). Meditations. Robin Hard. Oxford [England]: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-957320-2. OCLC 757023454.
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Dara Shikoh [Shukoh] [Shucoh] [2]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 2/20/21

In the early progress of researches into Indian literature, it was doubted whether the Vedas were extant; or, if portions of them were still preserved, whether any person, however learned in other respects, might be capable of understanding their obsolete dialect. It was believed too, that, if a Brahmana really possessed the Indian scriptures, his religious prejudices would nevertheless prevent his imparting the holy knowledge to any but a regenerate Hindu. These notions, supported by popular tales, were cherished long after the Vedas had been communicated to Dara Shucoh [Shikoh], and parts of them translated into the Persian language by him, or for his use. [Extracts have also been translated into the Hindi language; but it does not appear upon what occasion this version into the vulgar dialect was made.] The doubts were not finally abandoned, until Colonel Polier obtained from Jeyepur a transcript of what purported to be a complete copy of the Vedas, and which he deposited in the British Museum. About the same time Sir Robert Chambers collected at Benares numerous fragments of the Indian scripture: General Martine [General Claude Martin]: at a later period, obtained copies of some parts of it; and Sir William Jones was successful in procuring valuable portions of the Vedas, and in translating several curious passages from one of them. [See Preface to Menu, page vi. and the Works of Sir William Jones, vol. vi.] I have been still more fortunate in collecting at Benares the text and commentary of a large portion of these celebrated books; and, without waiting to examine them more completely than has been yet practicable, I shall here attempt to give a brief explanation of what they chiefly contain.

-- Essays on the Religion and Philosophy of the Hindus, by Henry Thomas Colebrooke, Esq.

The Specter of Spinozism

Couplet's digest of the esoteric doctrine of Fo evoked an echo in Europe whose amplitude cannot be understood without taking into account the theological and philosophical climate of the late seventeenth century that Paul Hazard (1961) labeled "the crisis of European conscience." Here we glance only at a single aspect of this "crisis," namely, the early reception of Spinoza's thought and its role in publicizing what was portrayed as the Buddha's "inner" doctrine. Since Spinoza's writings were still insufficiently known, the term "Spinozism" will be used to designate Spinoza's philosophy as it was perceived at the time. To my knowledge, the Swiss theologian and publicist Jean Le Clerc (1657-1736) was the first European to see a link between Spinozism and Fo's esoteric doctrine. In his extensive review of Confucius sinarum philosophus in the widely read Bibliotheque universekke et historique (1688) he boiled this doctrine down to three points:
The inner doctrine -- which one never divulges to ordinary people because of the need, as these philosophers say, to oblige them to stick to their duty through the fear of hell and similar stories -- is indeed, according to them, the solid and genuine one. It consists in establishing as the principle and end of all things a certain emptiness [vuide] and a real nothingness [neant reel]. They say that [1] our first parents have come from this emptiness and return to it after death, and that the same applies to all humans: all dissolve into this principle at death; [2] that we along with all elements and creatures form part of this emptiness; [3] that therefore only a single and same substance exists which differs in individual beings only by virtue of the qualities or the interior configuration, like water that always remains water regardless of its form as snow, hail, rain, or ice. (Le Clerc 1788:348-9)

Immediately after this interesting summary, Le Clerc advises "those who would like to find out more about the philosophy of the Indians and the Chinese, which is not very different from the system of the Spinozists, if one can say that they have one" to inform themselves in the travel account of Bernier (p. 349). Le Clerc thus first triangulated the Buddha's "inner" doctrine with the information supplied by Prince Dara's pandit (as found in Bernier) and Spinozism. Since Spinozism was at the time equivalent to atheism and sympathizers risked their jobs or even their lives, this was an explosive charge. The origin and significance of this link would lead too deep into issues connected with the history of philosophy and will be discussed elsewhere, but in our immediate context it is of interest to note that replacing this "emptiness" by Spinoza's "substance" and "qualities or configuration" by "modification" suffices to arrive at Le Clerc's conclusion that the Buddha's inner doctrine is "not very different" from Spinozism. This line of argument was taken up and amplified by Bayle in the famous "Spinoza" and "Japan" articles of his Dictionnaire (1702). Thus the "inner" teaching of Buddhism with its Japanese Zen roots, the Sufi-Vedanta-Neoplatonic amalgam of Prince Dara as reported by Bernier, and the Spinozism that frightened Europe's churchgoers and theologians entered into a fateful alliance with tremendous repercussions. All of a sudden, much of Asia from Persia and India to China and Japan appeared as a gigantic motherland of atheism, and the philosophies of India and China became relevant to the burning questions and controversies of Europe. Bayle denounced the Buddha's teaching of a single substance with manifold configurations (Bayle 1702:3.2769; Couplet 1687:xxxi) and called it more absurd than Spinoza's philosophy:
If it is monstrous to assert that plants, beasts, and men are really the same thing, and to ground such an opinion on the pretension that all particular beings are not distinct from their principle, it is even more monstrous to utter that this principle has no thought, no power, and no virtue at all. Yet this is what these philosophers say when they place the supreme perfection of that principle in its inaction and absolute repose. . . . Spinoza was not so absurd: the unitary substance admitted by him is always acting, always thinking; and not even his most general abstractions could enable him to divest it of action and thought. (Bayle 1702:3.2769)

Couplet shocked his European readers by asserting that this extremely widespread and ancient esoteric doctrine firmly rejects central Christian doctrines such as divine providence, a future state with reward and punishment, and an immortal soul and thus has also no place for a savior (1687:xxxii). Instead it advocates reaching happiness by "chimerical contemplations," and according to Couplet, it even formed a sect for this purpose. He calls this sect Vu guei Kiao, the sect of nonaction [nihil agentium secta]."6 Founded about the year 290 C.E., this sect is said to be similar to the Indian gymnosophists (p. xxxii). In China it became so successful that even some of the most eminent men of the empire "adopted this insanity" and habitually "spent several hours without any movement of body and mind," declaring that such insensibility made them happier (pp. xxxii-xxxiii). As an illustration Couplet mentions the case of the twenty-eighth successor of Xaca, a man called Ta mo (Ch. Damo, Bodhidharma) who spent "a total of nine years facing a wall" and during the entire time "did nothing other than contemplate this chimerical principle of his, emptiness and nothingness [vacuum & nihil]" (p. xxxiii). For Couplet this "sect of the contemplators [contemplantium Secta]" was "engulfed in the most profound atheism" (p. xxxiii); but Bayle, who quoted some of Couplet's explanations and called it "the sect of idlers or do-nothings [la secte des oiseux ou des faineans]," wondered whether its doctrine of nothingness was correctly described. If these illustrious men of China really believed that "the nearer a man comes to the nature of tree trunk or a stone, the greater his progress and the more he is like the first principle into which he is to return," how did they conceive this principle of nothingness?
I tend to believe that either one does not correctly express what these people understand by Cum hiu [Ch. kongxu, emptiness] or that their ideas are contradictory. Some would have these Chinese words signify emptiness and nothingness [vuide & neant, vacuum & inane] and have fought against this sect pretending that nothingness [le neant] is the principle of all beings. I cannot persuade myself that this captures the exact sense of the word nothingness, and I imagine that it means something like when people say that there is nothing in an empty suitcase . . . . I believe that by that word they meant more or less what the moderns call space [espace]. (Bayle 1702:3.2770)

Couplet's link of this originally Indian "interior" doctrine to a popular "sect of contemplators" in China and to Indian gymnosophists was much noted and cited, starting with Le Clerc (1688) and Bernier (1688). Was Ta mo [Bodhidharma], the twenty-eighth successor of the Indian founder of the esoteric doctrine, the transmitter of this Indian doctrine to China? And what texts were associated with this transmission? For Diderot, writing fifty years after Bayle, this esoteric teaching of the "Budda or Xekia" was not transmitted via texts but rather, as in the Buddha's deathbed confession scene, by word of mouth to a select few. If in China this Indian system had formed the basis of a famous sect of contemplators, so Diderot thought, it was "very likely" that in Japan it also "gave birth to a famous sect" (Diderot 1751:754). He was thinking of the Japanese Zen sect described by Engelbert Kaempfer:
It teaches that there is only one principle of all things; that this principle is bright and luminous, incapable of accretion or diminution, without form, sovereign and perfect, wise, but without reason or intelligence resting in perfect inaction and supremely tranquil like a man whose attention is fixed on one thing without thinking of anything else. They also say that this principle is in all particular beings and communicates its essence in such a manner that they form the same thing with it and dissolve in it when they are destroyed. (p. 754)

By the mid-eighteenth century a vision of a twofold pan-Asian religious movement was thus well established. Much of the information about its doctrine -- which purportedly represented the teachings of Fo alias Xaca alias Xekia alias Budda -- was based on data and legends reported from Japan and China by Jesuit missionaries. Its inner doctrine was associated with sects of "contemplators" in both countries and linked to the deathbed instruction of an Indian founder figure (Fo, Shaka, Buddha) and to transmitter figures who in the first centuries of the common era brought this teaching from India to China (the Chinese ambassadors with the Forty-Two Sections Sutra; Bodhidharma). But the connection with Spinozism was not the only booster hurling Asia's "inner" doctrine into European consciousness. A second booster was its association with quietism, which was one more hot-button theme of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century theology, and a third the link with the Kabbala.

Bernier's Asian Mysticism

Kircher's China Illustrata (1667) chapter on "The Ridiculous Brahmin Religion and the Teachings About the Origin of Man" begins with the statement that "the brahmins take their origin according to the Indian writers from Cechian or Xaca" and ends with a passage that soon acquired fame throughout Europe as the essence of the Indian theory of creation:
They say that a spider is the first cause, and he created the world by spinning a web with the threads coming from his stomach. Then he formed the heavenly spheres and he rules everything until the end of the world, which he will cause by pulling back into himself all of the threads in his web. (Kircher 1987:145)

Kircher collected information about Asian religions from diverse sources, but the input of his fellow Jesuit Heinrich ROTH (1620-68), a native of Augsburg and longtime resident of India, was crucial. Roth was one of the European missionaries who studied Sanskrit long before the British colonialists, and Kircher claimed that Roth "took these doctrines mainly from their arcane books" (p. 147). Some of these doctrines sounded rather familiar to those who had read about Fo's esoteric doctrine:
They say the universal is the nature of that supreme being itself. The particular is nature divided by particles into the variety of things. From this they conclude that there can be no generic or specific distinction of created things, but that everything is one and the same being. The natural universe is distinguished by particles, some of which may take the figure of a man, others a rock, and yet others a tree, and so on. They say that the matter worn by these particles is only a deception. (p. 148)

But Kircher's explanations were imbedded in such a plethora of disjointed facts and arguments that many readers may have remembered little more than the central narrative of an impostor called Xaca whose Brahmin missionaries spread from their base in India and eventually infected the whole of Asia with their pestilent idolatry.

In the year 1667 when Kircher's China Illustrata was published, another acquaintance of Fr. Roth, the French medical doctor and philosopher Francois BERNIER (1620-88) sent a long letter from Persia to Paris about "the superstitions, strange customs, and doctrines of the Indous or Gentiles of Hindoustan." Four years later, when this letter appeared in print as part of his Travels in the Mogul Empire, Bernier was already a man whose fame reached far beyond the frontiers of his native France. From 1654 he had traveled in Asia, first in Palestine and Syria, then in Egypt, and he subsequently sojourned for no less than eight years in India (1659-67). After his 1659 arrival in Surat during the succession struggles of the sons of the Mogul rulers Shah Jahan, he was for a short time the medical doctor of the crown prince, Mohammed Dara Shikoh (1615-59), the very man who commissioned and supervised in 1657 the Persian Upanishad translation whose Latin rendering Anquetil-Duperron was to publish under the title of Oupnek'hat in 1801 (see Chapter 7). After Prince Dara's execution (1659), Bernier worked at the court of a rich Indian named Daneshmend-khan and spent several years with one of India's most excellent scholars who had played a central role in Prince Dara's Upanishad translation project. Bernier reported,
My Agah [lord], Danechmend-kan, partly from my solicitation and partly to gratify his own curiosity, took into his service one of the most celebrated Pendets in all the Indies, who had formerly belonged to the household of Dara, the eldest son of the King Chah-Jehan; and not only was this man my constant companion during a period of three years, but he also introduced me to the society of other learned Pendets, whom he attracted to the house. (Bernier 2005:324)

Prince Dara had been interested in Sufi mysticism since his youth and had authored several books about this subject (App 2007). For him the Upanishads represented the esoteric essence of the Vedas, and he argued that a Koran passage mentioning a "hidden book that none but the purified can grasp" (Quran 56:78) referred to the Upanishads. They represent God's original revelation as transmitted to initiates, which is why Dara gave his translation the title Sirr-i akbar, that is, the Great Secret.8 Prince Dara's (and Bernier's) pandit, who had been instrumental in explaining this secret to Dara, was versed both in Sufism and Indian philosophy and spoke Persian. Bernier's Persian was so good that he could translate philosophical texts by Rene Descartes and Pierre Gassendi into that language. Though unable to read Sanskrit, he thus found himself in the enviable position of receiving first-hand information about the secret doctrine of the yogis and Sufis from one of the most learned Indians."
The trance, and the means of enjoying it, form the grand Mysticism of the sect of the Jauguis [Yogis], as well as that of the Soufys. I call it Mysticism [Mystere], because they keep these things secret among themselves, and I should not have made so many discoveries had it not been for the aid of the Pendet, or Indou Doctor whom Danechmend-kan kept in his pay, and who dared not conceal anything from his patron; my Agah, moreover, was already acquainted with the doctrines of the Soufys. (Bernier 2005:320)

Europeans suspicious of the reports by missionaries and by uneducated travelers were understandably delighted to get more trustworthy and objective information from Bernier, the learned disciple of the philosopher Gassendi. To judge by the number of Bernier quotations and references in other books, it is clear that the data from Prince Dara's pandit elicited pronounced interest among European readers. In particular, the spider allegory that is mentioned in the Upanishads was frequently cited and is an example of the influence of native informants. Bernier wrote about "the secret of a grand cabal that has lately made great noise in Hindustan because certain pandits or Gentile doctors have used it to infect the minds of Dara and Sultan Sujah, the two elder sons of [Moghul emperor] Shah Jahan" (Bernier 1699:2.163). What kind of infection was this? It was the doctrine of "a world-soul, of which they want our souls and those of animals to be part" (p. 163). Bernier calls this "the almost universal doctrine of the Gentile Pendets of the Indies" and regards it as "the same doctrine which is held by the sect of the Soufys and the greater part of the learned men of Persia at the present day" (Bernier 2005:346).
[They] pretend that God, or that supreme being whom they call Achar (immoveable, unchangeable), has not only produced life from his own substance, but also generally everything material or corporeal in the universe, and that this production is not formed simply after the manner of efficient causes, but as a spider which produces a web from its own navel, and withdraws it at pleasure. The Creation then, say these visionary doctors, is nothing more than an extraction or extension of the individual substance of God, of those filaments which He draws from his own bowels; and, in like manner, destruction is merely the recalling of that divine substance and filaments into Himself. (p. 347)

Individual beings are thus not real, and "the whole world is, as it were, an illusory dream, inasmuch as all that variety which appears to our outward senses is but one only and the same thing, which is God Himself" (p. 347).

But apart from a Persian Sufi book entitled "Goul-tchen-raz, or Garden of Mysteries," Bernier could not name any textual sources containing this doctrine. The "extremely old" Indian Beths (Vedas) in "four sacred books" that according to the Indians were "given to them by God," and the Purane, which Bernier portrays as "an abridgment and interpretation of the Beds" (p. 335), were not available to him. He describes the Vedas as being "of great bulk" and "so scarce that my Agah, notwithstanding all his diligence, has not succeeded in purchasing a copy" (pp. 335-36). In this respect Bernier was dependent on Prince Dara's pandit and on Fr. Roth whose explanations were prominently featured in Kircher's China illustrata. Bernier rarely mentions regions of Asia to the east of India; but in 1688, shortly before his death, he read Couplet's Confucius Sinarum Philosophus (1687) and published a paper about the "Quietism of the Indies." In it he connects his Indian Yogis and Fakirs with Couplet's Chinese sect of contemplators and furnishes the following explanation of the "mystery of the cabal" that he had written about two decades earlier:
Among the different Fakirs or idolatrous religious men of the Indies, there are some that are commonly called yogis which is something like saints, illumined ones, perfect ones, or men who are perfectly united with the sovereign Being, the first and general Principle of all things .... Above all they are engulfed in contemplation, and I say engulfed because they push themselves so much into it that they reportedly spend hours in ecstasy. Their outer senses seem without any activity, and they pretend to see the sovereign Being as a very bright and inexplicable light, with an inexpressible joy and satisfaction followed by contempt and complete detachment from the world. (Bernier 1688:47-48).

Bernier's explanations indicate that he regarded the doctrine of Sufis, Indian Yogis, and Fakirs as largely identical with that of Couplet's sect of contemplators:
Their ancient books teach that this first principle of things is very admirable; that it is something very pure, in their own words, and very clear and subtle; that it is infinite; that it cannot be created [engendre] nor corrupted; that it is the perfection of all things, sovereign perfection; and, what needs to be noted, [that it is] in perfect repose and absolute inaction -- in a word, in perfect quietism. (p. 48)

As in the familiar descriptions of the esoteric teaching of Shaka/Fo, this first principle is said to be without any action and understanding and so on. Perfection consists in becoming exactly like this principle through "continuous contemplation and victory over oneself" (p. 49). Once all human passions are extinct, there is no more torment, and "in the manner of an ecstatic, one is completely absorbed in profound contemplation" and achieves "divine repose or quietism, the happiest state to be hoped for" (p. 49). It is only logical that the Buddhist "bonzes" and the Wuwei jiao ("secta nihil agentium" or sect of do-nothings) of Couplet's preface are thus presented as the Far Eastern cousins of Bernier's Yogis and Fakirs. Bernier mentions Couplet's Ta-mo (Bodhidharma) -- who brought this teaching from India to China and "looked at a wall for nine whole years" -- as a perfect example of this "mental illness" (p. 50). However, this "illness" is found not only in Asia but also, though with less extravagance, in the West: for Bernier, all quietism is characterized by "this abyss of contemplation, this great inaction, this great union of our soul with God," whether it is professed by the Spanish divine Miguel de MOLINOS (1628-97), by the Sufis of Persia, or by "the Joguis of the Indies, the Bonzes of China, or the Talapois of Siam" (pp. 50-51).

In Bernier's reflections on quietism, we see the outlines of a mysticism that transcends East and West. It is likely that in this respect Bernier was inspired by Prince Dara via his pandit, which once more points to the crucial role of native informers in the genesis of modern Orientalism. But contrary to their exalted idea of universal esotericism, Bernier regarded the "quietisms" of East and West as similarly suspect. Though it "might be more a case of exaggerated devotion and of extravagance," he wrote, the idea of a world soul "approaches atheism" because it envisions "a corporal God, and therefore a divisible and corruptible one" (Bernier 1688:51). But Bernier's critique was instrumental in connecting the "inner teaching" of Fo/Shaka with the practices of Sufism and Indian ascetics and putting a pan-Asian "quietism" with Indian roots on the map. At the end of his life, Bernier used Couplet's presentation of Fo's "inner teaching" to characterize Indian Yogis and Sufi mystics, yet he remained unable to furnish any textual evidence from India other than what was decades ago included in the books of Henry Lord (1630) and Abraham Roger (1651).

Both in Diderot's article on "the philosophy of the Asians in general" and in that on the "Brahmins" Bernier plays a central role. The first cites Bernier's entire passage about emanation with the spider allegory (Diderot 1751:1.752) and identifies it not only with the teaching of "Persian Sufis whom he [Bernier] names cabalistes" but also with "the doctrine of the Pendets, heathen of the Indies" (p. 753) and "the doctrine of Xekia" whose esoteric teaching of "the origin of things through emanations from a first cause" also influenced Jewish kabbalists and their idea of "En-soph or the first infinite being which contains all things" and "distributes itself through emanation" (p. 754).

-- The Birth of Orientalism, by Urs App

Dara Shikoh
دارا شُکوہ
Shahzada of the Mughal Empire
Padshahzada-i-Buzurg Martaba
Miniature portrait of Dara Shikoh c.1640
Born: 20 March 1615[1], Ajmer, Rajputana, Mughal Empire
Died: 30 August 1659 (aged 44)[2], Delhi, Mughal Empire
Burial: Humayun’s Tomb
Spouse: Nadira Banu Begum
Issue: Sulaiman Shikoh; Mumtaz Shikoh; Sipihr Shikoh; Jahanzeb Banu Begum
Full name: Muhammad Dara Shikoh
House: Timurid
Father: Shah Jahan
Mother: Mumtaz Mahal
Religion: Islam

Dara Shikoh (Persian: دارا شِکوہ‎), also known as Dara Shukoh, (20 March 1615 – 30 August 1659)[1][3] was the eldest son and heir-apparent of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.[4]


Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram (Persian: شهاب‌الدین محمد خرم‎; 5 January 1592 – 22 January 1666), better known by his regnal name, Shah Jahan (Persian: شاه جهان‎, lit. 'King of the World'), was the fifth Mughal emperor, and reigned from 1628 to 1658. Under his reign, the Mughal Empire reached the peak of its cultural glory. Although an able military commander, Shah Jahan is best remembered for his architectural achievements. His reign ushered in the golden age of Mughal architecture. Shah Jahan commissioned many monuments, the best known of which is the Taj Mahal in Agra, in which is entombed his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

The Taj Mahal (/ˌtɑːdʒ məˈhɑːl, ˌtɑːʒ-/; lit. 'Crown of the Palace', [taːdʒ ˈmɛːɦ(ə)l]) is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the southern bank of the river Yamuna in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (reigned from 1628 to 1658) to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself. The tomb is the centrepiece of a 17-hectare (42-acre) complex, which includes a mosque and a guest house, and is set in formal gardens bounded on three sides by a crenellated wall.

Construction of the mausoleum was essentially completed in 1643, but work continued on other phases of the project for another 10 years. The Taj Mahal complex is believed to have been completed in its entirety in 1653 at a cost estimated at the time to be around 32 million rupees, which in 2020 would be approximately 70 billion rupees (about U.S. $956 million). The construction project employed some 20,000 artisans under the guidance of a board of architects led by the court architect to the emperor, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri.

The Taj Mahal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 for being "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage". It is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and a symbol of India's rich history. The Taj Mahal attracts 7–8 million visitors a year and in 2007, it was declared a winner of the New 7 Wonders of the World (2000–2007) initiative.

-- Taj Mahal. by Wikipedia

His relationship with Mumtaz Mahal has been heavily adapted into Indian art, literature and cinema. He owned the royal treasury and several precious stones such as the Kohinoor, worth around 23% of the world GDP during his time, and has thus often been regarded as the wealthiest Indian in history.

Shah Jahan is considered the most competent of Emperor Jahangir's four sons. Jahangir's death in late 1627 spurred a war of succession, from which Shah Jahan emerged victorious after much intrigue. He put to death all of his rivals for the throne and crowned himself emperor in January 1628 in Agra, under the regnal title "Shah Jahan" (which was originally given to him as a princely title). His rule saw many grand building projects, including the Red Fort and the Shah Jahan Mosque. Foreign affairs saw war with the Safavids and conflict with the Portuguese, and positive relations with the Ottoman Empire. Domestic concerns included putting down numerous rebellions, and the devastating famine from 1630-32.

In September 1657, Shah Jahan fell seriously ill. This set off a war of succession among his four sons in which his third son, Aurangzeb, emerged victorious and usurped his father's throne. Shah Jahan recovered from his illness, but Emperor Aurangzeb put his father under house arrest in Agra Fort from July 1658 until his death in January 1666. He was laid to rest next to his wife in the Taj Mahal.

-- Shah Jahan, by Wikipedia

Dara was designated with the title Padshahzada-i-Buzurg Martaba ("Prince of High Rank")[5] and was favoured as a successor by his father and his older sister, Princess Jahanara Begum. In the war of succession which ensued after Shah Jahan's illness in 1657, Dara was defeated by his younger brother Prince Muhiuddin (later, the Emperor Aurangzeb). He was executed in 1659 on Aurangzeb's orders in a bitter struggle for the imperial throne.[6]

Dara was a liberal-minded unorthodox Muslim as opposed to the orthodox Aurangzeb; he authored the work The Confluence of the Two Seas, which argues for the harmony of Sufi philosophy in Islam and Vedanta philosophy in Hinduism. A great patron of the arts, he was also more inclined towards philosophy and mysticism rather than military pursuits.
The course of the history of the Indian subcontinent, had Dara Shikoh prevailed over Aurangzeb, has been a matter of some conjecture among historians.[7][8][9]

Early life

Dara's brothers (left to right) Shah Shuja, Aurangzeb and Murad Baksh in their younger years, ca 1637

Muhammad Dara Shikoh was born on 11 March 1615[1] in Ajmer, Rajasthan.[10] He was the first son and third child of Prince Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram and his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal.[11] The prince was named by his father.[12] 'Dara' means owner of wealth or star in Persian while the second part of the prince's name is commonly spelled in two ways: Shikoh (terror) or Shukoh (majesty or grandeur).[13] Thus, Dara's full name can be translated as "Of the Terror of Darius" or "Of the Grandeur of Darius", respectively.[13] Historian Ebba Koch favours 'Shukoh'.[13]

Dara Shikoh had thirteen siblings of whom six survived to adulthood: Jahanara Begum, Shah Shuja, Roshanara Begum, Aurangzeb, Murad Bakhsh, and Gauhara Begum.[14] He shared a close relationship with his older sister, Jahanara. As part of his formal education, Dara studied the Quran, history, Persian poetry and calligraphy.[15] He was a liberal-minded unorthodox Muslim unlike his father and his younger brother Aurangzeb.[15]

In October 1627,[16] Dara's grandfather Emperor Jahangir died, and his father ascended the throne in January 1628 taking the regnal name 'Shah Jahan'.[17]

Nur-ud-din Muhammad Salim[4] (Persian: نورالدین محمد سلیم), known by his imperial name Jahangir (Persian: جهانگیر) (31 August 1569 – 28 October 1627), was the fourth Mughal Emperor, who ruled from 1605 until his death in 1627. His imperial name (in Persian) means 'conqueror of the world', 'world-conqueror' or 'world-seizer' (Jahan: world; gir: the root of the Persian verb gereftan: to seize, to grab).

-- Jahangir, by Wikipedia

In 1633, Dara was appointed as the Vali-ahad (heir-apparent) to his father.[18] He, along with his older sister Jahanara, were Shah Jahan's favourite children.[19]


The marriage of Dara Shikoh and Nadira Begum, 1875-90[??]

Wedding procession of Dara Shikoh, with Shah Shuja and Aurangzeb behind him. Royal Collection Trust, London.

During the life time of his mother Mumtaz Mahal, Dara Shikoh was betrothed to his half-cousin, Princess Nadira Banu Begum, the daughter of his paternal uncle Sultan Parvez Mirza.[20] He married her on 1 February 1633 at Agra; midst great celebrations, pomp and grandeur.[21][20] By all accounts, Dara and Nadira were devoted to each other and Dara's love for Nadira was so profound that unlike the usual practice of polygyny prevalent at the time, he never contracted any other marriage.[21] The imperial couple had seven children together, with two sons, Sulaiman Shikoh and Sipihr Shikoh and a daughter Jahanzeb Banu Begum, surviving to play important roles in future events.[21]

A great patron of the arts, Dara ordered for the compilation of some refined artwork into an album which is now famous by the name of 'Dara Shikhoh Album.'[22] This album was presented by Dara to his 'dearest intimate friend' Nadira in 1641.[23]

A Prince in Iranian Costume by Muhammad Khan
British Library Add. Or. MS 3129, f.21v
Copyright © The British Library Board

A high-quality version of this image can be purchased from British Library Images Online. For more information email

This manuscript is a fine example of Moghul mastery of painting and calligraphy and dates from the 17th century.

The Dara Shikoh album is a collection of paintings and calligraphy assembled during the 1630s by Dara Shikoh (1615-59), the eldest son of the Emperor Shah Jahan (1628-58, the builder of the Taj Mahal), and presented to his wife Nadira Banu Begum in 1641-42.

The album follows the typical Moghul album format and has alternate openings of pairs of calligraphic specimens and paintings, all mounted within gold-painted borders, and is bound in tooled and gilt covers. It is one of the few Moghul albums to have survived almost complete.

Dara Shikoh himself was executed in 1659 by his younger brother Aurangzib, who had emerged victorious in the wars waged between Shah Jahan's four sons. After Nadira Banu's death, the album was taken into the royal library and the inscriptions connecting it with Dara Shikoh were deliberately, but fortunately not completely, erased. One painting in the album is signed and dated by the artist Muhammad Khan AH 1043 (or AD 1633-1634).

The young man wearing the elaborate turban favoured in the Iranian court of Isfahan is pouring wine from a Moghul jewelled gold flask into a similarly ornamented cup.

-- Dara Shikoh album, by British Library

Dara had at least two concubines, Gul Safeh (also known as Rana Dil) and Udaipuri Mahal (a Georgian or Armenian slave girl).[24] Udaipuri later became a part of Aurangzeb's harem after her master's defeat.[25]

Military service

As was common for all Mughal sons, Dara Shikoh was appointed as a military commander at an early age, receiving an appointment as commander of 12,000-foot and 6,000 horse in October 1633. He received successive promotions, being promoted to commander of 12,000-foot and 7,000 horse on 20 March 1636, to 15,000-foot and 9,000 horse on 24 August 1637, to 10,000 horse on 19 March 1638, to 20,000-foot and 10,000 horse on 24 January 1639, and to 15,000 horse on 21 January 1642.

On 10 September 1642, Shah Jahan formally confirmed Dara Shikoh as his heir, granting him the title of Shahzada-e-Buland Iqbal ("Prince of High Fortune") and promoting him to command of 20,000-foot and 20,000 horse. In 1645, he was appointed as subahdar (governor) of Allahabad. He was promoted to a command of 30,000-foot and 20,000 horse on 18 April 1648, and was appointed Governor of the province of Gujarat on 3 July.[26]

As his father's health began to decline, Dara Shikoh received a series of increasingly prominent commands. He was appointed Governor of Multan and Kabul on 16 August 1652, and was raised to the title of Shah-e-Buland Iqbal ("King of High Fortune") on 15 February 1655. He was promoted to command of 40,000-foot and 20,000 horse on 21 January 1656, and to command of 50,000-foot and 40,000 horse on 16 September 1657.

The struggle for succession

Dara Shikoh with his army[27]

On 6 September 1657, the illness of emperor Shah Jahan triggered a desperate struggle for power among the four Mughal princes, though realistically only Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb had a chance of emerging victorious.[28] Shah Shuja was the first to make his move, declaring himself Mughal Emperor in Bengal and marched towards Agra from the east. Murad Baksh allied himself with Aurangzeb.

At the end of 1657, Dara Shikoh was appointed Governor of the province of Bihar and promoted to command of 60,000 infantry and 40,000 cavalry.(roughly equivalent to general)

Despite strong support from Shah Jahan, who had recovered enough from his illness to remain a strong factor in the struggle for supremacy, and the victory of his army led by his eldest son Sulaiman Shikoh over Shah Shuja in the battle of Bahadurpur on 14 February 1658, Dara Shikoh was defeated by Aurangzeb and Murad during the Battle of Samugarh, 13 km from Agra on 30 May 1658. Subsequently, Aurangzeb took over Agra fort and deposed emperor Shah Jahan on 8 June 1658.
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Part 2 of 2

Death and aftermath

Humayun's Tomb, where the remains of Dara Shikoh were interred in an unidentified grave.

After the defeat, Dara Shikoh retreated from Agra to Delhi and thence to Lahore. His next destination was Multan and then to Thatta (Sindh). From Sindh, he crossed the Rann of Kachchh and reached Kathiawar, where he met Shah Nawaz Khan, the governor of the province of Gujarat who opened the treasury to Dara Shikoh and helped him to recruit a new army.[29] He occupied Surat and advanced towards Ajmer. Foiled in his hopes of persuading the fickle but powerful Rajput feudatory, Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Marwar, to support his cause, Dara Shikoh decided to make a stand and fight Aurangzeb's relentless pursuers but was once again comprehensively routed in the battle of Deorai (near Ajmer) on 11 March 1659. After this defeat he fled to Sindh and sought refuge under Malik Jiwan (Junaid Khan Barozai), an Afghan chieftain, whose life had on more than one occasion been saved by the Mughal prince from the wrath of Shah Jahan.[30][31] However, Junaid betrayed Dara Shikoh and turned him (and his second son Sipihr Shikoh) over to Aurangzeb's army on 10 June 1659.[32]

Dara Shikoh was brought to Delhi, placed on a filthy elephant and paraded through the streets of the capital in chains.[33][34] Dara Shikoh's fate was decided by the political threat he posed as a prince popular with the common people – a convocation of nobles and clergy, called by Aurangzeb in response to the perceived danger of insurrection in Delhi, declared him a threat to the public peace and an apostate from Islam. He was assassinated by four of Aurangzeb's henchmen in front of his terrified son on the night of 30 August 1659 (9 September Gregorian). After death the remains of Dara Shikoh were buried in an unidentified grave in Humayan's tomb in Delhi.[35][36] On 26 February 2020 the government of India through Archaeological Survey of India decided to find the burial spot of Dara Shikoh from the 140 graves in 120 chambers inside Humayun's Tomb. It is considered a difficult task as none of the graves are identified or have inscriptions. [37]

Niccolao Manucci, the Venetian traveler who worked in the Mughal court, has written down the details of Dara Shikoh's death. According to him, upon Dara's capture, Aurangzeb ordered his men to have his head brought up to him and he inspected it thoroughly to ensure that it was Dara indeed. He then further mutilated the head with his sword three times. After which, he ordered the head to be put in a box and presented to his ailing father, Shah Jahan, with clear instructions to be delivered only when the old King sat for his dinner in his prison. The guards were also instructed to inform Shah Jahan that, “King Aurangzeb, your son, sends this plate to let him (Shah Jahan) see that he does not forget him”. Shah Jahan instantly became happy (not knowing what was in store in the box) and uttered, “Blessed be God that my son still remembers me”. Upon opening the box, Shah Jahan became horrified and fell unconscious.[38]

Intellectual pursuits

A page from the Majma-ul-Bahrain, Victoria Memorial, Calcutta.

Dara Shikoh is widely renowned[39] as an enlightened paragon of the harmonious coexistence of heterodox traditions on the Indian subcontinent. He was an erudite champion of mystical religious speculation and a poetic diviner of syncretic cultural interaction among people of all faiths. This made him a heretic in the eyes of his orthodox younger brother and a suspect eccentric in the view of many of the worldly power brokers swarming around the Mughal throne. Dara Shikoh was a follower of the Armenian Sufi-perennialist mystic Sarmad Kashani,[40]

Single Leaf of Shah Sarmad (centre) seated with Shahzada Dara Shikoh

Sarmad Kashani or simply as Sarmad (ca 1590–1661) was a Persian speaking Armenian mystic and poet who travelled to and made the Indian subcontinent his permanent home during the 17th century. Originally Jewish, he may have renounced his religion to adopt Islam. Sarmad, in his poetry, states that he is neither Jewish, nor Muslim, nor Hindu.

-- Sarmad Kashani, by Wikipedia

as well as Lahore's famous Qadiri Sufi saint Mian Mir,[41] whom he was introduced to by Mullah Shah Badakhshi (Mian Mir's spiritual disciple and successor). Mian Mir was so widely respected among all communities that he was invited to lay the foundation stone of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by the Sikhs.

Dara Shikoh (with Mian Mir and Mullah Shah Badakhshi), ca. 1635

Baba Sain Mir Mohammed Sahib (c. 1550 – 22 August 1635), popularly known as Mian Mir or Miyan Mir, was a famous Sufi Muslim saint who resided in Lahore, specifically in the town of Dharampura (in present-day Pakistan). He was a direct descendant of Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab.
Omar (/ˈoʊmɑːr/), also spelled Umar /ˈuːmɑːr/; Arabic: عمر بن الخطاب‎ ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb [ˈʕomɑr-, ˈʕʊmɑr ɪbn alxɑtˤˈtˤɑːb], "Umar, Son of Al-Khattab"; c. 584 CE – 3 November 644 CE), was one of the most powerful and influential Muslim caliphs in history. He was a senior companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He succeeded Abu Bakr (632–634) as the second caliph of the Rashidun Caliphate on 23 August 634. He was an expert Muslim jurist known for his pious and just nature, which earned him the epithet Al-Farooq ("the one who distinguishes (between right and wrong)"). He is sometimes referred to as Omar I by historians of early Islam, since a later Umayyad caliph, Umar II, also bore that name.

Under Omar, the caliphate expanded at an unprecedented rate, ruling the Sasanian Empire and more than two-thirds of the Byzantine Empire. His attacks against the Sasanian Empire resulted in the conquest of Persia in less than two years (642–644). According to Jewish tradition, Omar set aside the Christian ban on Jews and allowed them into Jerusalem and to worship. Omar was eventually killed by the Persian Piruz Nahavandi (known as ’Abū Lu’lu’ah in Arabic) in 644 CE.

Omar is revered in the Sunni tradition as a great ruler and paragon of Islamic virtues, and some hadiths identify him as the second greatest of the Sahabah after Abu Bakr. He is viewed negatively in the Shia tradition.

-- Omar, by Wikipedia

He belonged to the Qadiri order of Sufism. He is famous for being a spiritual instructor of Dara Shikoh, the eldest son of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. He is identified as the founder of the Mian Khel branch of the Qadiri order. His younger sister Bibi Jamal Khatun was a disciple of his and a notable Sufi saint in her own right.

Mian Mir was a friend of God-loving people and he would shun worldly, selfish men, greedy Emirs and ambitious Nawabs who ran after faqirs to get their blessings. To stop such people from coming to see him, Mian Mir posted his mureeds (disciples) at the gate of his house.

Once, Jahangir, the Mughal emperor, with all his retinue came to pay homage to the great faqir. He came with all the pomp and show that befitted an emperor. Mian Mir's sentinels however, stopped the emperor at the gate and requested him to wait until their master had given permission to enter. Jahangir felt slighted. No one had ever dared delay or question his entry to any place in his kingdom. Yet he controlled his temper and composed himself. He waited for permission. After a while, he was ushered into Mian Mir's presence. Unable to hide his wounded vanity, Jahangir, as soon as he entered, told Mian Mir in Persian: Ba dar-e-darvis darbane naa-bayd ("On the doorstep of a faqir, there should be no sentry"). The reply from Mian Mir was, "Babayd keh sage dunia na ayad" (So that selfish men may not enter).

The emperor was embarrassed and asked for forgiveness. Then, with folded hands, Jahangir requested Mian Mir to pray for the success of the campaign which he intended to launch for the conquest of the Deccan. Meanwhile, a poor man entered and, bowing his head to Mian Mir, made an offering of a rupee before him. The Sufi asked the devotee to pick up the rupee and give it to the poorest, neediest person in the audience. The devotee went from one dervish to another but none accepted the rupee. The devotee returned to Mian Mir with the rupee saying: "Master, none of the dervishes will accept the rupee. None is in need, it seems."

"Go and give this rupee to him," said the faqir, pointing to Jahangir. "He is the poorest and most needy of the lot. Not content with a big kingdom, he covets the kingdom of the Deccan. For that, he has come all the way from Delhi to beg. His hunger is like a fire that burns all the more furiously with more wood. It has made him needy, greedy and grim. Go and give the rupee to him."...

According to Tawarikh-i-Punjab (1848), written by Ghulam Muhayy-ud-Din alias Bute Shah, Mian Mir laid the foundation of the Sikh shrine Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple), at the request of Guru Arjan Dev. This is also mentioned in several European sources, beginning with The Punjab Notes and Queries. Even the Report Sri Darbar Sahib (1929), published by the Harmandir Sahib temple authorities, have endorsed this account.

However, this legend is unsubstantiated by historical evidence. Sakinat al-aulia, a 17th-century biography of Mian Mir compiled by Dara Shikoh, does not mention this account. It appears only in the later accounts, and may have been invented to strengthen the Sikh-Muslim relationship.

After having lived a long life of piety and virtuosity, Mian Mir died on 22 August 1635 (7 Rabi' al-awwal, 1045 according to the Islamic Calendar). He was eighty-eight years old.

His funeral oration was read by Mughal prince Dara Shikoh, who was a highly devoted disciple of the Saint.

-- Mian Mir, by Wikipedia

Dara Shikoh subsequently developed a friendship with the seventh Sikh Guru, Guru Har Rai.
Guru Har Rai, the Seventh Guru (Early-18th-century Pahari painting)

Guru Har Rai (Gurmukhi: ਗੁਰੂ ਹਰਿ ਰਾਇ, pronunciation: [gʊɾuː ɦəɾ ɾaːɪ]; 16 January 1630 – 6 October 1661) revered as the seventh Nanak, was the seventh of ten Gurus of the Sikh religion. He became the Sikh leader at age 14, on 3 March 1644, after the death of his grandfather and the sixth Sikh leader Guru Hargobind. He guided the Sikhs for about seventeen years, till his death at age 31.

Guru Har Rai is notable for maintaining the large army of Sikh soldiers that the sixth Sikh Guru had amassed, yet avoiding military conflict. He supported the moderate Sufi influenced Dara Shikoh instead of conservative Sunni influenced Aurangzeb as the two brothers entered into a war of succession to the Mughal Empire throne.

After Aurangzeb won the succession war in 1658, he summoned Guru Har Rai in 1660 to explain his support for the executed Dara Shikoh. Guru Har Rai sent his elder son Ram Rai to represent him. Aurangzeb kept Ram Rai as hostage, questioned Ram Rai about a verse in the Adi Granth – the holy text of Sikhs at that time. Aurangzeb claimed that it disparaged the Muslims. Ram Rai changed the verse to appease Aurangzeb instead of standing by the Sikh scripture, an act for which Guru Har Rai is remembered for excommunicating his elder son, and nominating his younger son Har Krishan to succeed him. Har Krishan became the eighth Guru at age 5 after Guru Har Rai's death in 1661. Some Sikh literature spell his name as Hari Rai...

Guru Har Rai had brothers. His elder brother Dhir Mal had gained encouragement and support from Shah Jahan, with free land grants and Mughal sponsorship. Dhir Mal attempted to form a parallel Sikh tradition and criticized his grand father and sixth Guru Hargobind. The sixth Guru disagreed with Dhir Mal, and designated the younger Har Rai as the successor.

Authentic literature about Guru Har Rai life and times are scarce, he left no texts of his own and some Sikh texts composed later spell his name as "Hari Rai". Some of the biographies of Guru Har Rai written in the 18th century such as by Kesar Singh Chhibber, and the 19th-century Sikh literature are highly inconsistent.

Guru Har Rai provided medical care to Dara Shikoh, possibly when he had been poisoned by Mughal operatives. According to Mughal records, Guru Har Rai provided other forms of support to Dara Shikoh as he and his brother Aurangzeb battled for rights to succession. Ultimately, Aurangzeb won, arrested Dara Shikoh and executed him on charges of apostasy from Islam. In 1660, Aurangzeb summoned Guru Har Rai to appear before him to explain his relationship with Dara Shikoh.

In the Sikh tradition, Guru Har Rai was asked why he was helping the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh whose forefathers had persecuted Sikhs and Sikh Gurus. Guru Har Rai is believed to have replied that if a man plucks flowers with one hand and gives it away using his other hand, both hands get the same fragrance...

He started several public singing and scripture recital traditions in Sikhism. The katha or discourse style recitals were added by Guru Har Rai, to the sabad kirtan singing tradition of Sikhs. He also added the akhand kirtan or continuous scripture singing tradition of Sikhism, as well as the tradition of jotian da kirtan or collective folk choral singing of scriptures.

-- Guru Har Rai, by Wikipedia

Dara Shikoh devoted much effort towards finding a common mystical language between Islam and Hinduism. Towards this goal he completed the translation of fifty Upanishads from their original Sanskrit into Persian in 1657 so that they could be studied by Muslim scholars.[42][43] His translation is often called Sirr-e-Akbar ("The Greatest Mystery"), where he states boldly, in the introduction, his speculative hypothesis that the work referred to in the Qur'an as the "Kitab al-maknun" or the hidden book, is none other than the Upanishads.[44] His most famous work, Majma-ul-Bahrain ("The Confluence of the Two Seas"), was also devoted to a revelation of the mystical and pluralistic affinities between Sufic and Vedantic speculation.[45] The book was authored as a short treatise in Persian in 1654–55.[46]

The library established by Dara Shikoh still exists on the grounds of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Kashmiri Gate, Delhi, and is now run as a museum by Archaeological Survey of India after being renovated.[47][48]

Patron of arts

A Prince in Iranian Costume by Muhammad Khan. Dara Shikoh Album, Agra, 1633–34.

He was also a patron of fine arts, music and dancing, a trait frowned upon by his younger sibling Muhiuddin, later the Emperor Aurangzeb. The 'Dara Shikoh' is a collection of paintings and calligraphy assembled from the 1630s until his death. It was presented to his wife Nadira Banu in 1641–42[49] and remained with her until her death after which the album was taken into the royal library and the inscriptions connecting it with Dara Shikoh were deliberately erased; however not everything was vandalised and many calligraphy scripts and paintings still bear his mark. Among the existing paintings from the Dara Shikoh Album, are two facing pages, compiled in the early 1630s just before his marriage, showing two ascetics in yogic postures, probably meant to be a pair of yogis, Vaishnava and Shaiva. these paintings are attributed to the artist Govardhan. The album also contains numerous pictures of Muslim ascetics and divines and the pictures obviously reflects Dara Shikoh's interest in religion and philosophy.[50]

Dara Shikoh is also credited with the commissioning of several exquisite, still extant, examples of Mughal architecture – among them the tomb of his wife Nadira Begum in Lahore,[51]

Tomb of Nadira Begum

-- Tomb of Nadira Begum, by Wikipedia

the Shrine of Mian Mir also in Lahore,[52]

Mian Mir's shrine is one of the most important Sufi shrines in Lahore

-- Shrine of Mian Mir, by Wikipedia

the Dara Shikoh Library in Delhi,[53]

Dara Shikoh Library

Dara Shikoh was the most-liked son of the Mughal Emperor of Shah Jahan. He was be convinced to be the successor to the Mughal throne. Like father Shah Jahan, Dara Shikoh also reveal a keen interest in architecture. He made a abode of his own near the Kashmiri gate, which housed the greta Dara Shikoh Library. Once a private library of Mughal Prince, today recline on the verge of decay, with in the campus of Ambedkar University Delhi. The library has been transformed into a makeshift museum under the protection and care of the Archeological Survey of India. The library was trusted to be of multiple purposes during the Mughal era. Dara Shikoh who was supposed to replace the throne was killed by his stepbrother, Aurangzeb, during the time of battle for the throne. Since then the library has become of least importance. This very day, it doesn’t exhibit books but it steadily does narrate the chronicles of Mughal Era.

The library is believed to be constructed during the year 1643 during the rule of Shah Jahan. Dara Shikoh on his own overlooked the construction of the library. After Shah Jahan’s illness and inability to rule it, a war broken out between all the sons of Shah Jahan. This was a usual practice to decide the inheritor of the throne. Shah Jahan’s favourite son who was Dara Shikoh was believed to be the next king. Although, he got defeated by Aurangzeb, who went to rule the Mughal empire. After Dara Shikoh’s death, the library was ignored. Historians believe that after prince’s death the library was hand over to Portuguese governess of the Mughal children, Donna Juliana. It was later bought by Nawab Safdarjung in the 18th century. After that the complex was later turned into a British residency captured by Sir David Ochterlony. After this the complex has been turned into a municipal school. Although, the surrounding Mughal complex was later situated to the Ambedkar University Delhi, within which Library lies. In the year 2011, the Delhi Government which was led by Sheila Dixit merged with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) to renovate the library into a state museum. The museum reflects 2,200 artefacts and remains from the Mughal era including coins and statues.

-- Dara Shikoh Library, by Sushant Travels

the Akhun Mullah Shah Mosque in Srinagar in Kashmir[54]


Akhund Mullah Shah Masjid or Akhoon Mullah Masjid or Dara Shikoh Masjid, known as Mala Shah Mashid in Kashmiri, is a mosque built by Dara Shikoh in 1649 for his spiritual mentor. Located in Srinagar, it is a mosque inside a mosque. The prime sanctuary is entirely separated from the main building through a courtyard that surrounds it. There is a stone lotus that crowns the podium of the mosque.

-- Akhund Mullah Shah Masjid, by Wikipedia

and the Pari Mahal garden palace (also in Srinagar in Kashmir).[55]


Pari Mahal, also known as The Palace of Fairies, is a seven-terraced garden located at the top of Zabarwan mountain range, overlooking the city of Srinagar and the south-west of Dal Lake in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It is an example of Islamic architecture and patronage of art during the reign of the then Mughal Emperor khan Shah Jahan.

The Pari Mahal, or Palace of Fairies, was built as a library and residence for the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh in the mid-1600s. Dara Shikoh was said to have lived in this area in the years 1640, 1645, and 1654. It was further used as an observatory, used for teaching astrology and astronomy. The gardens have since become the property of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Pari Mahal has also been used as a top-secret interrogation centre and as a base for high-level bureaucrats.

-- Pari Mahal, by Wikipedia

In popular culture

• The issues surrounding Dara Shikoh's impeachment and execution are used to explore contradictory interpretations of Islam in a 2008 play, The Trial of Dara Shikoh,[56] written by Akbar S. Ahmed.[57]
• He is also the subject of a 2010 play called Dara Shikoh, written and directed by Shahid Nadeem of the Ajoka Theatre Group in Pakistan.[58]
• Dara Shikoh is the subject of the 2007 play Dara Shikoh, written by Danish Iqbal and staged by, among others, the director M S Sathyu in 2008.[59]
• He is also a character played by Vaquar Sheikh in the 2005 Bollywood film Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story, directed by Akbar Khan.
• Dara Shikoh is the name of the protagonist of Mohsin Hamid's 2000 novel Moth Smoke, which reimagines the story of his trial unfolding in contemporary Pakistan.[60]
• The television series Upanishad Ganga had two episodes titled "Veda – The Source of Dharma 1" and "Veda – The Source of Dharma 2", featuring Dara Shikoh played by actor Zakir Hussain.[61]
• Gopalkrishna Gandhi wrote a play in verse titled Dara Shukoh on his life.[62]
• Bengali Writer Shyamal Gangapadhyay wrote a novel on his life Shahjada Dara Shikoh which received Sahitya Academy Award in 1993.[63]
• Assamese writer and politician, Omeo Kumar Das wrote a book called Dara Shikoh: Jeevan O Sadhana.
• Uzbek writer Hamid Ismailov wrote a novel called A Poet and Bin-Laden the second part of which devoted to the life of Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb.
• An Assamese novel, Kalantarat Shahzada Dara Shikoh, was written by author Nagen Goswami.
• "Dara Shikoh" – a poem by poet Abhay K published in 2014 lamented the fact that there were no streets named after Dara.[64]
• New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) changed Dalhousie Road's name to Dara Shikoh Road on February 6, 2017.[65]
• In 2016 Bharatvarsh TV series, Rohit Purohit played the role of Dara Shikoh.
• In The 2017 novel 1636: Mission to the Mughals he is one of the central characters.
• Ranveer Singh has been cast as Dara Shikoh in the upcoming Karan Johar directorial Takht, stated for a 2020 release.
• Dara Shikoh award awarded by Indo-Iranian society. The award includes a sum of Rs. 1 lakh, a shawl and citation. Sheila Dixit former Delhi CM (1998–2013) was a recipient in 2010.

Full title

Padshahzada-i-Buzurg Martaba, Jalal ul-Kadir, Sultan Muhammad Dara Shikoh, Shah-i-Buland Iqbal


Shah Jahan Receiving Dara Shikoh

• Lahore 1635–1636
• Allahabad 1645–1647
• Malwa 1642–1658
• Gujrat 1648
• Multan Kabul 1652–1656
• Bihar 1657–1659


Ancestors of Dara Shikoh



• Writings on Sufism and the lives of awliya (Muslim saints):
o Safinat ul- Awliya
o Sakinat ul-Awliya
o Risaala-i Haq Numa
o Tariqat ul-Haqiqat
o Hasanaat ul-'Aarifin
o Iksir-i 'Azam (Diwan-e-Dara Shikoh)
• Writings of a philosophical and metaphysical nature:
o Majma-ul-Bahrain (The Mingling of Two Oceans)[78]
o So’aal o Jawaab bain-e-Laal Daas wa Dara Shikoh (also called Mukaalama-i Baba Laal Daas wa Dara Shikoh)
o Sirr-e-Akbar (The Great Secret, his translation of the Upanishads in Persian)[79]
o Persian translations of the Yoga Vasishta and Bhagavad Gita.

See also

• Majma-ul-Bahrain
• Mughal–Safavid War (1649–1653)
• Akbar
• Nur Jahan


1. The Jahangirnama : memoirs of Jahangir, Emperor of India. Freer Gallery of Art, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in association with Oxford University Press. 1999. p. 461. ISBN 978-0-19-512718-8.
2. Sarkar, Sir Jadunath (1972). Sir Jadunath Sarkar birth centenary commemoration volume: English translation of Tarikh-i-dilkasha (Memoirs of Bhimsen relating to Aurangzib's Deccan campaigns). Dept. of Archives, Maharashtra. p. 28.
3. Awrangābādī, Shāhnavāz Khān; Shāhnavāz, ʻAbd al-Ḥayy ibn; Prashad, Baini (1952). The Maāthir-ul-umarā: being biographies of the Muhammādan and Hindu officers of the Timurid sovereigns of India from 1500 to about 1780 A.D. Asiatic Society. p. 684.
4. Thackeray, Frank W.; editors, John E. Findling (2012). Events that formed the modern world : from the African Renaissance through the War on Terror. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO. p. 240. ISBN 978-1-59884-901-1.
5. Khan, 'Inayat; Begley, Wayne Edison (1990). The Shah Jahan nama of 'Inayat Khan: an abridged history of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, compiled by his royal librarian : the nineteenth-century manuscript translation of A.R. Fuller (British Library, add. 30,777). Oxford University Press. p. 4. ISBN 9780195624892.
6. Mukhoty, Ira. "Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh's fight for the throne was entwined with the rivalry of their two sisters".
7. "India was at a crossroads in the mid-seventeenth century; it had the potential of moving forward with Dara Shikoh, or of turning back to medievalism with Aurangzeb".Eraly, Abraham (2004). The Mughal Throne : The Saga of India's Great Emperors. London: Phoenix. p. 336. ISBN 0-7538-1758-6.
"Poor Dara Shikoh!....thy generous heart and enlightened mind had reigned over this vast empire, and made it, perchance, the garden it deserves to be made". William Sleeman (1844), E-text of Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official p.272
8. Dara Shikoh
9. Dara Shikoh Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, by Josef W. Meri, Jere L Bacharach. Routledge, 2005. ISBN 0-415-96690-6. Page 195-196.
10. Mehta, Jl (1986). Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. p. 426. ISBN 9788120710153.
11. Nath, Renuka (1990). Notable Mughal and Hindu women in the 16th and 17th centuries A.D. Inter-India Publications. p. 113. ISBN 9788121002417.
12. Khan, 'Inayat; Begley, Wayne Edison (1990). The Shah Jahan nama of 'Inayat Khan: an abridged history of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, compiled by his royal librarian : the nineteenth-century manuscript translation of A.R. Fuller (British Library, add. 30,777). Oxford University Press. p. 6. ISBN 9780195624892.
13. Koch, Ebba (1998). Dara-Shikoh shooting nilgais: hunt and landscape in Mughal painting. Freer Gallery of Art, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. p. 43. ISBN 9789998272521.
14. Sarker, Kobita (2007). Shah Jahan and his paradise on earth: the story of Shah Jahan's creations in Agra and Shahjahanabad in the golden days of the Mughals. K.P. Bagchi & Co. p. 187. ISBN 9788170743002.
15. Magill, Frank N. (2013). The 17th and 18th Centuries: Dictionary of World Biography. Routledge. p. 69. ISBN 978-1-135-92414-0.
16. Schimmel, Annemarie; Schimmel (2004). The Empire of the Great Mughals: History, Art and Culture. Reaktion Books. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-86189-185-3. jahangir october 1627.
17. Edgar, Thorpe; Showick, Thorpe. The Pearson General Knowledge Manual 2018 (With Current Affairs & Previous Years' Questions Booklet). p. C.37. ISBN 9789352863525.
18. Sarkar, Sir Jadunath (1972). Sir Jadunath Sarkar birth centenary commemoration volume: English translation of Tarikh-i-dilkasha (Memoirs of Bhimsen relating to Aurangzib's Deccan campaigns). Dept. of Archives, Maharashtra. p. 12.
19. Koch, Ebba (1998). Dara-Shikoh shooting nilgais: hunt and landscape in Mughal painting. Freer Gallery of Art, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. p. 7. ISBN 9789998272521.
20. Sarker, Kobita (2007). Shah Jahan and his paradise on earth: the story of Shah Jahan's creations in Agra and Shahjahanabad in the golden days of the Mughals. K.P. Bagchi & Co. p. 80. ISBN 9788170743002.
21. Hansen, Waldemar (September 1986). The peacock throne : the drama of Mogul India. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 121. ISBN 9788120802254.
22. Koch, Ebba (1998). Dara-Shikoh shooting nilgais: hunt and landscape in Mughal painting. Freer Gallery of Art, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. p. 29. ISBN 9789998272521.
23. Mukhia, Harbans (2009). The Mughals of India. Wiley India Pvt. Limited. p. 124. ISBN 9788126518777.
24. Krieger-Krynicki, Annie (2005). Captive Princess: Zebunissa, Daughter of Emperor Aurangzeb. ISBN 978-0-19-579837-1.
25. Kishori Saran Lal (January 1988). The Mughal harem. Aditya Prakashan. p. 30. ISBN 9788185179032.
26. Sakaki, Kazuyo (1998). Dara Shukoh's Contribution to Philosophy of Religion with Special Reference to his Majma Al-Bahrayn (PDF). OCLC 1012384466.
27. "Dara Shikuh with his army". 17th Century Mughals & Marathas. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013.
28. Sarkar, Jadunath (1984). A History of Jaipur. New Delhi: Orient Longman. pp. 113–122. ISBN 81-250-0333-9.
29. Eraly, The Mighal Throne : The Saga of India's Great Emperors, cited above, page 364.
30. Hansen, Waldemar (9 September 1986). The Peacock Throne: The Drama of Mogul India. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 9788120802254 – via Google Books.
31. Francois Bernier Travels in the Mogul Empire, AD 1656–1668.
32. Bernier, Francois (9 September 1996). Travels in the Mogul Empire, AD 1656–1668. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 9788120611696 – via Google Books.
33. Chakravarty, Ipsita. "Bad Muslim, good Muslim: Out with Aurangzeb, in with Dara Shikoh".
34. "The captive heir to the richest throne in the world, the favourite and pampered son of the most magnificent of the Great Mughals, was now clad in a travel-tainted dress of the coarsest cloth, with a dark dingy-coloured turban, such as only the poorest wear, on his head, and no necklace or jewel adorning his person." Sarkar, Jadunath (1962). A Short History of Aurangzib, 1618–1707. Calcutta: M. C. Sarkar and Sons. p. 78.
35. Hansen, Waldemar (1986). The Peacock Throne : The Drama of Mogul India. New Delhi: Orient Book Distributors. pp. 375–377. ISBN 978-81-208-0225-4.
36. Sarkar, Jadunath (9 September 1947). "Maasir-i- Alamgiri (1947)" – via Internet Archive.
37. "Believed to be Inside Humayun's Tomb, Dara Shikoh's Burial Site Set to Make Experts' Panel 'Walk in Dark'".
38. Manucci, Niccolao (1989). Mogul India Or Storia Do Mogor 4 Vols (Vol 1). Set. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors (P) Limited. pp. 356–57. ISBN 817156058X.
39. The Hindu see for example this article in The Hindu.
40. Katz, N. (2000) 'The Identity of a Mystic: The Case of Sa'id Sarmad, a Jewish-Yogi-Sufi Courtier of the Mughals in: Numen 47: 142–160.
41. Dara Shikoh The empire of the great Mughals: history, art and culture, by Annemarie Schimmel, Corinne Attwood, Burzine K. Waghmar. Translated by Corinne Attwood. Published by Reaktion Books, 2004. ISBN 1-86189-185-7. Page 135.
42. Khalid, Haroon. "Lahore's iconic mosque stood witness to two historic moments where tolerance gave way to brutality".
43. Dr. Amartya Sen notes in his book The Argumentative Indian that it was Dara Shikoh's translation of the Upanishads that attracted William Jones, a Western scholar of Indian literature, to the Upanishads, having read them for the first time in a Persian translation by Dara Shikoh.Sen, Amartya (5 October 2005). The Argumentative Indian.
44. Gyani Brahma Singh 'Brahma', Dara Shikoh – The Prince who turned Sufi in The Sikh Review[permanent dead link]"the reference in Al Qur’an to the hidden books – ummaukund-Kitab – was to the Upanishads, because they contain the essence of unity and they are the secrets which had to be kept hidden, the most ancient books."
45. Arora, Nadeem Naqvisanjeev (20 March 2015). "Prince of peace" – via
46. "Emperor's old clothes". Hindustan Times. 12 April 2007.
47. Dara Shikoh's Library, Delhi Archived 11 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine Govt. of Delhi.
48. Nath, Damini (8 February 2017). "Battling time, Dara Shikoh's Library cries out for help" – via
49. Dara Shikoh album British Library.
50. Losty, J P (July 2016). "Ascetics and Yogis in Indian Painting: The Mughal and Deccani Tradition": 14.
51. Nadira Banu's tomb A view of Nadira Banu's tomb
52. Mazar Hazrat Mian Mir Archived 2 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine entertaining description of the monument and its history
53. Dara Shikoh Library Archived 21 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine description of Dara Shikoh library
54. "Ancient Monuments of Kashmir: Plate XII". Kashmiri Overseas Association, Inc. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
55. "Google Image Result for".[permanent dead link]
56. ‘The Trial of Dara Shikoh’ – A Play in Three Acts Text of the play with an Introduction by the author.
57. Published as Akbar Ahmed: Two Plays. London: Saqi Books, 2009. ISBN 978-0-86356-435-2, ‘The Trial of Dara Shikoh’ – A Thought-Provoking Play Archived 15 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine A review of the play.
58. Ajoka’s Dara – an ancient story of modern day proportions Archived 14 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Daily Times (Pakistan), 19 April 2010
59. "For king and country". The Hindu.
60. Hamid, Mohsin. (2000). Moth Smoke. p. 247.
61. "Episode-guide". Retrieved 27 August 2016.
62. "Dara Shukoh". Goodreads. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
63. "Movie Mogul, Maybe". Retrieved 25 March 2018.
64. Dara Shikoh and other poems The Caravan, May 1, 2014
65. "Dalhousie Road renamed after Dara Shikoh: Why Hindutva right wingers favour a Mughal prince". 7 February 2017.
66. Kobita Sarker, Shah Jahan and his paradise on earth: the story of Shah Jahan's creations in Agra and Shahjahanabad in the golden days of the Mughals (2007), p. 187
67. Sarker (2007, p. 187)
68. Jl Mehta, Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India (1986), p. 418
69. Mehta (1986, p. 418)
70. Frank W. Thackeray, John E. Findling, Events That Formed the Modern World (2012), p. 254
71. Thackeray, Findling (2012, p. 254)
72. Mehta (1986, p. 374)
73. Soma Mukherjee, Royal Mughal Ladies and Their Contributions (2001), p. 128
74. Mukherjee (2001, p. 128)
75. Subhash Parihar, Some Aspects of Indo-Islamic Architecture (1999), p. 149
76. Shujauddin, Mohammad; Shujauddin, Razia (1967). The Life and Times of Noor Jahan. Caravan Book House. p. 1.
77. Ahmad, Moin-ud-din (1924). The Taj and Its Environments: With 8 Illus. from Photos., 1 Map, and 4 Plans. R. G. Bansal. p. 101.
78. MAJMA' UL BAHARAIN or The Mingling Of Two Oceans, by Prince Muhammad Dara Shikoh, Edited in the Original Persian with English Translation, notes & variants by M.Mahfuz-ul-Haq, published by The Asiatic Society, Kolkata, Bibliotheca Indica Series no. 246, 1st. published 1929. See also this Archived 9 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine book review by Yoginder Sikand,
79. See the section on his Intellectual Pursuits.


• Eraly, Abraham (2004). The Mughal Throne: The Saga of India's Great Emperors. Phoenix, London. ISBN 0753817586.
• Hansen, Waldemar [1986]. The Peacock Throne: The Drama of Mogul India. Orient Book Distributors, New Delhi.
• Mahajan, V.D. (1978). History of Medieval India. S. Chand.
• Sarkar, Jadunath (1984). A History of Jaipur. Orient Longman, New Delhi.
• Sarkar, Jadunath (1962). A Short History of Aurangzib, 1618–1707. M. C. Sarkar and Sons, Calcutta.

External links

• Bernier, Francois Travels in the Mogul Empire, AD 1656–1668
• Gyani Brahma Singh, Dara Shikoh – The Prince who turned Sufi[permanent dead link] in The Sikh Review
• Manucci, Niccolo Storia de Mogor or Mogul Stories''
• Sleeman, William (1844), E-text of Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official
• Srikand, Yoginder Dara Shikoh's Quest for Spiritual Unity
• Dara Shikoh Library
• The Dara Shikoh Album British Museum Online Gallery
• Majmaul Bahrain by Dara Shikoh English translation with original Persian text [1]
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Tue Apr 26, 2022 11:58 pm

by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/26/22

... Raymond Schwab's La renaissance orientale and studies on the history of the Western encounter with Asian religions such as Henri de Lubac's La rencontre du bouddhisme et de l'Occident presented an utterly confusing mass of data arranged according to modern notions such as "Buddhism" or "Hinduism" and to modern geographical units such as "India" or "China."

A major reason for this confusion was the fact that the primary sources seem to come from a different world where such neat delimitations do not exist. They tend, for example, to distinguish between esoteric and exoteric "branches" of a pan-Asian religion or to connect the creeds of various countries of "the Indies" to some descendant of Noah....

One of the ideas repeated in countless European sources about Asian religions is the distinction between "outer" or "exoteric" and "inner" or "esoteric" forms. It was already used in early Christian literature, for example, by Eusebius of Caesarea and Lactantius, to characterize heathen creeds around the Mediterranean. But its roots lie in ancient Greek views of Egyptian religion where Egyptian priests are said to have encoded secret esoteric teachings in hieroglyphs while feeding the outer, exoteric bark of religion to the people. This idea gained renewed popularity in the Renaissance when texts attributed to Hermes Trismegistos ("hermetic texts") were translated into Latin and portrayed as vestiges of ancient Egyptian "esoteric" monotheism. In Europe, this inspired proponents of ancient theology (prisca theologia) like the seventeenth-century Jesuit Athanasius Kircher as well as many missionaries....

After the discovery of America and the opening of the sea route to India at the end of the fifteenth century, new challenges to biblical authority arose. It was difficult to establish a connection between hitherto unknown people and animals and Noah's ark.... Our case studies show different ways in which Europeans tried to rise to such challenges: missionaries who attempted to incorporate ancient Asian cultures and religions into Bible-based scenarios; others who tried to move the starting shot of biblical history backward to beat the Chinese annals...

As early as the mid-sixteenth century, Jesuit missionaries also linked this distinction between exoteric and esoteric doctrines with phases of the Buddha's life. In 1551 Japanese Buddhists informed the Jesuit brother Juan Fernandez, who spoke some Japanese, that the founder of their religion, Shaka, "also wrote books so that they would pray to him and be saved." But at the age of 49 years, so Fernandez reported, Shaka had suddenly changed his approach and confessed that "in the past he had been ignorant, which is why he wrote so much." Based on his own experience Shaka thereafter discouraged people from reading his old writings and advocated "meditation in order to learn about oneself and of one's end". In the first comprehensive report about Buddhist sects and doctrines that reached the West (the Sumario de los errores of 1556), certain Buddhist texts were thus associated with specific sects, and Shaka was said to have dismissed his earlier writings: "They said that many people followed him and that he had 80,000 disciples. And ultimately, after having spent 44 years writing these scriptures, he said that nothing of that was true and that all was fombem (Jap. hoben, expedient means]"

However, Matteo Ricci's 1615 description of the sect of "sciequia or omitofo" (Shakya/Amitabha) and the corresponding Japanese teaching of "sotoqui" (Jap. hotoke, that is, buddhas) shows no trace of such a fundamental distinction between expedient and true teaching and exhibits little familiarity with Buddhism's "multitude of books" that, according to Ricci, "were either brought from the West or (which is more likely) composed in the Kingdom of China itself" (Ricci 1615:122)....

But after Ricci's death in 1610 and the publication of his view of Chinese religions by Trigault (1615), Ricci's critic Joao RODRIGUES (1561-1633) applied the distinction between exoteric and esoteric teachings more broadly to all three major religions of China and linked it to the ancient use of symbols in the Middle East and Egypt (see also Chapter I).... For Rodrigues this common root was lodged in Mesopotamia and associated with Zoroaster and the evil habit of the elites to mislead the common people by hiding the true doctrine under a coat of symbols....

Rodrigues's ideas and scholarship burrowed their way into the minds of other missionaries. One of them was the Milanese Cristoforo BORRl (1583-1632) who lived in Saigon from 1610 to 1623. His report about Cochinchina, published in 1631, gave the distinction between the exoteric and esoteric teachings of Buddhism a fateful twist. He reported that Xaca had immediately after his enlightenment written books about the esoteric teaching:
Therefore returning home, he wrote several books and large volumes on this subject, entitling them, "Of Nothing;" wherein he taught that the things of this world, by reason of the duration and measure of time, are nothing; for though they had existence, said he, yet they would be nothing, nothing at present, and nothing in time to come, for the present being but a moment, was the same as nothing.

He argued likewise about moral things, reducing everything to nothing. Then he gathered scholars, and the doctrine of nothing was spread all over the East. However, the Chinese were opposed to this doctrine and rejected it, whereupon Xaca "changed his mind, and retiring wrote several other great books, teaching that there was a real origin of all things, a lord of heaven, hell, immortality, and transmigration of souls from one body to another, better or worse, according to the merits or demerits of the person; though they do not forget to assign a son of heaven and hell for the souls of departed, expressing the whole metaphorically under the names of things corporeal, and of the joys and sufferings of this world". While the Chinese gladly received the "external," modified teaching of Xaca, the teaching of nothing also survived, for instance, in Japan in the dominant "gensiu" (Jap. Zen-sha, Zen sect). According to Borri, it was exactly this acceptance in Japan that had the Buddha explain on his deathbed that the doctrine of nothingness was his true teaching:
The Japanese and others making so great account of this opinion of nothing, was the cause that when Xaca the author of it approached his death, calling together his disciples, he protested to them on the word of a dying man, that during the many years he had lived and studied, he had found nothing so true, nor any opinion so well grounded as was the sect of nothing; and though his second doctrine seemed to differ from it, yet they must look upon it as no contradiction or recantation, but rather a proof and confirmation of the first, though not in plain terms, yet by way of metaphors and parables, which might all be applied to the opinion of nothing, as would plainly appear by his books

Of course, Borri's tale lacks all historical perspective and has the Buddha make decisions based on events (the introduction of Buddhism to China and Japan) that happened many centuries later. But for people who have no idea of the history of this religion, its attribution of motives to the founder must have sounded believable, and Borri's book was one of the early works on East Asia that was widely read and translated. This story, in my opinion, forms the kernel of the Buddha's "deathbed confession" tale. Borri appears to have spun it on the basis of information from Japan, from Rodrigues, and possibly also Vietnamese informants, in order to make sense of the different teachings of this religion whose founder is Xaca = Buddha....

Instead of first teaching about emptiness and subsequently "accommodating" Chinese or Indian sensibilities in a manner that resembles the Jesuit mission strategy
, the founder of Buddhism was exposed as a liar and fraud who never told anyone about his nihilism and for forty-nine years preached an "exterior" doctrine he did not believe in....It combined elements from Jesuit letters and reports from Japan (particularly those regarding the Zen sect), Valignano's catechism, Rodrigues's reports, and Borri's and de Rhodes's tales and molded them into an easily understood deathbed confession story that not only exposed the founder's profound character flaw but also furnished a simple classification scheme for variants of his religion....

Like Rodrigues and Borri, Kircher used this division as a tool to bring order into East Asia's idolatries....

Why, then, one might ask, does La Croze call the Malabar heathendom an "idolatry" with "false gods" and a "cult of idols"? Because he saw it as a degenerated form of religion, a form that at some point had replaced the ancient monotheism that probably came straight from Noah's ark to India. The vestiges of this ancient monotheism were found, according to La Croze, in the Vedam and the books of the Gnanigol. But how did this degeneration take place -- and why were the Gnanigol so critical of the Brahmans, the very guardians of the Veda? We have seen that Ziegenbalg, who also believed in an original monotheism and a subsequent degeneration, put the blame on the devil and the Brahmans. But La Croze, more ingenious and more interested in history, cooked up an elaborate scheme to explain it all. His scenario begins, like Ziegenbalg's, with an age of pure monotheism whose heirs are the Gnanigol. Instead of the devil, La Croze saw the reason for the decline of this pure original religion in two migrations that invaded India. The first was by the "Nation of Sammaneens" and the second by "the Brahmans who recognize that their cult in Malabar followed that of a certain people that they regard as heathen and that they call the Nation of the Sammaneens" (491).


Since questions related to the genesis and authorship of the Ezour-vedam will be discussed in Chapter 7, the focus is here on Voltaire's role in its rise to fame. Whatever the intentions of its authors were, it was Voltaire who almost single-handedly transformed some missionary jottings from the South Indian boondocks into the "world's oldest text," the Royal Library's "most precious document," and (as a well-earned bonus for the promoter) into the Old Testament of his deism! So far, there is no evidence of any influence of this text before Maudave and Voltaire. But soon after Maudave's manuscript got into Voltaire's hands, the Ezour-vedam's brilliant career began. For Voltaire it was, for a few years, a potent weapon to undermine biblical authority and to attack divine partiality for Judeo-Christianity. It was no Jesuit missionary but rather Voltaire, the missionary of deism, who trumpeted extraordinary claims into the world about the Ezour-vedam's authenticity, antiquity, and supreme value. Paulinus a Sancto Bartholomaeo saw this quite clearly when in 1791 he called the Ezourvedam "the notorious gift from the most learned prince of philosophers, Voltaire" -- a poisoned gift "that found its way into the Royal library in Paris, or rather which he pressed upon them to use it as the foundation for his own philosophical superstructure" (Rocher 1984:16). It was a calculated move on the Indian flank of Voltaire's war against "l'infame," and as we will see in the remainder of this book, it was rather successful in inciting European enthusiasm for India as the cradle of civilization and preparing the ground for "indomania."

-- The Birth of Orientalism, by Urs App


A New Manuscript: BN Fonds Francais 19117

In the meanwhile, no one seems to have noticed the existence, in the Bibliotheque Nationale, of a third manuscript of the EzV. The catalogue: Ancien Saint-Germain Francais III. Nos. 18677-20064 du Fonds Francais (by L Auvray and H. Omont, Paris: Leroux, 1900), has the following entry: "19117, 'Zozur Bedo'; traduction francaise du YADJOUR VEDA,4c livre des Vedas. En huit livres. XVIIe-XVIIIe. Papier. ) 58 pages. 208 sur 205 millimetres. Cartonne. (Saint-Germain, Harlay 515.)." This is, indeed, another copy of the EzV, in eight books.

The manuscripts of the Harlay family were donated, by Achille IV de Harlay (died 23 July 1717) to Louis-Germain de Chauvelin (1685-1762), on 11 August 1716. The condition attached to the donation said that the manuscripts should stay with de Chauvelin and his male descendants until one of them died without further male descendants "revetus de charge de judicature." [Google translate: load bearing judicature.] At that time the manuscripts were to become the property of the Benedictines of the abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pres. Chauvelin not only allowed the members of the [Benedictine] Order to use the materials while he still held the usufruct; he also enriched the collection with documents which were his own full property. On 19 March 1755 he decided to transfer the collection to Saint-Germain, together with those manuscripts of which he himself was the owner. The manuscripts were transferred from the castle of Grosbois to the abbey. They remained a special fund while deposited there, until they were transferred, together with the other manuscripts of Saint-Germain, to the Bibliotheque Nationale, in 1865. There the entire collection was integrated into the "Troisieme Serie" of the Fonds Francais: manuscripts 15370 to 20064.

These data do not entirely solve the problem of the origin of the third EzV manuscript. The donation of 11 August 1716 was accompanied by a catalogue which is, however, lost, with the result that it is no longer possible to ascertain which particular manuscripts were added to the collection by de Chauvelin. We can only presume that the EzV did not belong to the original collection of 1716, and that it was one of the latest additions; it is no. 515 in a collection of altogether 519 items. But, even then, the third EzV manuscript must have belonged to the collection by 1755, five years before Maudave brought his copy to Europe.

The principal problem that remains unsolved in all this is that in two handwritten catalogues at the Bibliotheque Nationale, manuscript "Harlay 515" is described as "Melanges cont. 110. pieces": in the "Catalogue des manuscrits de Monsieur** [Chauvelin]",91 and in the "Catalogue des mss. de la bibliotheque de feu Mre Achilles de Harlay, premier president du Parlement de Paris, passes depuis dans la bibliotheque de feu messire Louis- Germain Chauvelin, ancien garde des sceaux, et actuellement dans la bibliotheque de l'abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Pres, a Paris, 1762."92 [Google translate: Catalog of mss. of the library of the late Mre Achilles de Harlay, first Speaker of Parliament of Paris, since passed in the library of the late Messire Louis-Germain Chauvelin, former Keeper of the Seals, and currently in the library of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, in Paris, 1762.]

Even assuming that the EzV manuscript did belong to the private collection of Louis-Germain de Chauvelin on 19 March 1755, it is no longer possible to investigate how and when he acquired it. The important fact is that it is the oldest EzV manuscript in Europe, even though no one ever took notice of it. It also shows that the terminus ante quem [Google translate: term before he] for the composition of the EzV, which until now was 1759 -- the time when Maudave left India --, has to be advanced with at least five years and possibly by more than that.

-- Ezourvedam: A French Veda of the Eighteenth Century, Edited with an Introduction by Ludo Rocher

Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, "speaking in defense") is the religious discipline of defending religious doctrines through systematic argumentation and discourse.[1][2][3] Early Christian writers (c. 120–220) who defended their beliefs against critics and recommended their faith to outsiders were called Christian apologists.[4] In 21st-century usage, apologetics is often identified with debates over religion and theology.


The term apologetics derives from the Ancient Greek word apologia (ἀπολογία).[1] In the Classical Greek legal system, the prosecution delivered the kategoria (κατηγορία), the accusation or charge, and the defendant replied with an apologia, the defence.[5] The apologia was a formal speech or explanation to reply to and rebut the charges. A famous example is Socrates' Apologia defense, as chronicled in Plato's Apology.

In the Koine Greek of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul employs the term apologia in his trial speech to Festus and Agrippa when he says "I make my defense" in Acts 26:2.[6] A cognate form appears in Paul's Letter to the Philippians as he is "defending the gospel" in Philippians 1:7,[7] and in "giving an answer" in 1 Peter 3:15.[8]

Although the term apologetics has Western, primarily Christian origins and is most frequently associated with the defense of Christianity, the term is sometimes used referring to the defense of any religion in formal debate involving religion.

Apologetic positions

Baháʼí Faith

Main article: Baháʼí apologetics

Many apologetic books have been written in defence of the history or teachings of the Baháʼí Faith. The religion's founders wrote several books presenting proofs of their religion; among them are the Báb's Seven Proofs and Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i-Íqán.[9] Later Baháʼí authors wrote prominent apologetic texts, such as Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl's The Brilliant Proof and Udo Schaefer et al.'s Making the Crooked Straight;.[10]


One of the earliest Buddhist apologetic texts is The Questions of King Milinda, which deals with the Buddhist metaphysics such as the "no-self" nature of the individual and characteristics such as of wisdom, perception, volition, feeling, consciousness and the soul. In the mid-19th century, encounters between Buddhists and Christians in Japan prompted the formation of a Buddhist Propagation Society.
Around 1863, newly arrived in Japan, Charles changed his surname to Pfoundes, learned Japanese and developed a passion for studying Japanese customs and culture. He subsequently made a career for himself as an East-West middleman, based mainly in Japan but with a thirteen-year period (1879-1892) in London where he gave innumerable talks on Japan and other topics and in 1889 founded the ‘Buddhist Propagation Society’; the first-ever Buddhist mission to the West (Bocking et al. 2014). As far as we know Charles never met, nor indeed wanted to contact, his brother Elam or his father James after he left them in Ireland in 1854. He did however spend time, though hardly quality time, with his mother on several occasions. In 1874 Caroline travelled to Tokyo, where Pfoundes held a responsible position in a major shipping company. That visit ended, according to Caroline’s later testimony in a Dublin courtroom in 1877, with Charles forcibly taking from her all the money she had brought with her to Japan, so that she was obliged to rely on the assistance of friends to get home. Caroline was in court because Charles, who in 1877 was travelling the world prior to settling, as he planned, in London, had visited Caroline in her own home in Dublin in May 1877 when she was in her early 60s and physically assaulted her when she did not give him back some Japanese ornaments he wanted. In October he returned and threatened to attack her again if she did not give him some papers. Pfoundes only avoided jail by paying sureties to keep the peace towards his mother for 12 months (‘A Strange Case’ 1877; ‘Extraordinary case’ 1877).

-- Mrs Pounds and Mrs Pfoundes: A Futuristic Historical Essay in Honour of Professor Ursula King [Charles James William Pounds Pfoundes] [Excerpt], by Brian Bocking

Up until recently it has been widely accepted that the British monk Ananda Metteyya’s (Allan Bennett) founded and organized the first Buddhist mission to the West in London in 1908. Recent collaborative research by historians in Japan and Ireland however has shown that this assumption needs to be revised. In fact it was not Theravadian but rather Japanese Mahayana Buddhists who were the first to try to teach Buddhism in the West. In 1889 the Japanese-sponsored Buddhist Propagation Society (BPS) of Japan launched a mission to London led for three years by the Irish-born Buddhist Captain Charles Pfoundes. The Buddhist Propagation Society had chosen a particularly opportune time to send its mission. Gilbert and Sullivan’s Japanese-themed opera The Mikado was running to record crowds in London and several exhibitions of Japanese art in London and Paris had created a fascination in things Japanese.

-- The hidden history of Buddhism in the West [Charles Pfoundes], by Bhante Dhammika of Australia

Early Buddhist missions to the West: the conventional history

In April 1908 the Rangoon-ordained Buddhist monk Ananda Metteyya (Allan Bennett, 1872-1923) arrived in London with a party of Burmese sponsors. Ananda Metteyya‘s very presence in the capital, as a yellow-robed, shaven-headed monk demonstrating by example that it was (just) possible for a European to follow the strict vinaya regime in Edwardian London, aroused a good deal of interest in the press and among the public. In addition to preaching by example, Ananda Metteyya -- not a gifted orator -- delivered some talks on Buddhist thought and practice and gave interviews to the press.1 Within six months he was en route back to Burma.2 This visit is commonly regarded as the epochal first Buddhist mission to Europe, and for many writers marks the 'real' beginning of Buddhism-as-a-lived-religion in the UK.3

While Ananda Metteyya‘s 1908 mission to London has long been identified as a starting-point for the story of 'Buddhism in Britain', students of Western Buddhism are by now well aware that it was not the first Buddhist mission to the West. Japanese Buddhist missions, oriented mainly towards expatriate Japanese but with active Western adherents, had developed in California from 1899 onwards4 and these West Coast missions are now considered by scholars to be the earliest Buddhist missions to the West (Tweed 2000).

In this article, we set out to demonstrate that the first London Buddhist mission was in fact established in 1889, predating even the Californian missions by a decade. From 1889 to 1892, the Irish-born Japanese Buddhist Charles J. W. Pfoundes (1840-1907) headed an official Buddhist mission known as the 'Buddhist Propagation Society'. This was based in Westminster, operated throughout London and its suburbs and was the first and indeed only foreign outpost of the Kaigai Senkyo Kai (lit. 'Overseas Propagation Society' but normally translated 'Buddhist Propagation Society'), an initiative of a group of reformist Jodo Shinshu (True Pure Land) Buddhists based in Kyoto.

The Buddhist Propagation Society in London and Pfoundes' role in it were of course known to, and publicised by, his Buddhist sponsors in Japan at the time5 and at least one contemporary Japanese account6 was available to Notto Thelle, who in 1987 wrote:
The Society for Communication with Western Buddhists (Obei Bukkyo Tsushinkai) was founded in 1887; it was later reorganized as the Buddhist Propagation Society (Kaigai Senkyo Kai, literally Overseas Missionary Society), under the leadership of Akamatsu Renjo. Its purpose was to propagate Buddhism in the West, through missionaries and publications. A branch office was established in London in 1890, and a journal was published, entitled Bijou of Asia [Ajia no hōshu].

…[a]nother Western Buddhist, C. Pfoundes, also supported Japanese Buddhists against Christianity. He had first come to Japan in the 1860s as an officer in the British navy and remained for about twelve years, of which he reportedly spent seven or eight years in Buddhist temples. As an admirer of the ancient Japanese civilization and of Buddhism, he had dedicated much of his time to lecturing on Buddhism in the United States (1876-1878) and in England (1878-1893). He served as secretary of the London branch of the Buddhist Propagation Society and came to Japan again in 1893 at the invitation of his Buddhist friends. In his many meetings he appealed to the national sentiment and attacked Christian missionaries for slighting Buddhism and despising Japan as a barbarian country. Both Olcott and Pfoundes left Japan after controversies with their Japanese sponsors.

Thelle deserves credit for drawing attention to Pfoundes, who had remained unnoticed by other scholars, but Thelle had only limited information, some of which has been superseded by recent discoveries. For example, Pfoundes did not leave Japan after his return from London in early 1893 but remained there, resident and working in a variety of roles in the port city of Kobe where he died in 1907 and is buried in the foreigner‘s cemetery.7 Thelle portrays Pfoundes as little more than a transient foreigner, a pale version of the exotic Theosophical 'White Buddhist' Olcott, but in fact by 1890 Pfoundes had become a fierce opponent of Theosophy. Far from being a transient visitor like Olcott, Pfoundes spent a total of 26 years of his life in Japan and in 1899 even applied for Japanese nationality (Ruxton 2008, Bocking 2013). Ironically, it is because Pfoundes did not return to London but instead died alone in Kobe that his pioneering activities on behalf of Buddhism in the West were forgotten, while Ananda Metteyya‘s brief visit almost two decades later came to be remembered, through his later colleagues in London, as the 'first' Buddhist mission to the capital.

Beyond Thelle‘s brief depiction, Pfoundes' name has been remembered elsewhere but for a quite different reason. A collection of his newspaper columns on diverse aspects of Japanese art, folklore and customs was published by The Japan Herald in Yokohama in 1875 under the title Fuso mimi bukuro or A Budget of Japanese Notes. This work, similar to and subsequently overshadowed by Basil Hall Chamberlain's Things Japanese: Being Notes on Various Subjects Connected with Japan (1890), remains widely available and is still cited occasionally in modern scholarship, for example by Hendry (1981).

With the very recent advent of digital technologies which enable searches for lost fragments of information across thousands of local newspapers, popular magazines and archive collections, many new details of Pfoundes' remarkable life have now come to light.8 In 2013, Bocking offered a first brief biography, based on some of this new evidence (Bocking 2013). That article was however concerned mainly with Pfoundes' activities between his return to Japan from London in 1893 and his death in 1907. Of the putative 'London Buddhist Mission' Bocking could say at the time only that:
[a]bout this time [the early 1890s] Pfoundes became the London representative of the modern Jodo Shinshu-backed Japanese Buddhist missionary society the Kaigai Senkyo Kai, in which role he reportedly warned the young scholar Takakusu Junjiro away from the London Theosophists and hence towards Max Muller (Akai 2009, 190); a significant Weberian moment in the history of Japanese Buddhology, if so. The other activities, if there were any, of Pfoundes' London Japanese Buddhist outpost remain undocumented; perhaps an unwritten - and very early - chapter in the history of Buddhism in the UK.

Further research since 2013 has generated a great deal of new material specifically on the BPS in London, and the present article attempts to write that 'unwritten‘ chapter, at least in outline9.

The role of Mr Okazaki Hideki, a researcher from Matsue who had become interested in Pfoundes' connections with that city, should be acknowledged here. Mr Okazaki first found (in Nakanishi, 1892) a reproduction of the decorative 2-sided leaflet in Japanese and English used by Pfoundes in London to advertise the 'Buddhist Propagation Society‘.10 With confirmation that the English name of Pfoundes' London organisation was simply the 'Buddhist Propagation Society‘ and with his name and address indicating that the BPS had more than a nominal presence in London, we began searching new sources and were able to unearth numerous fragmentary references to the BPS in newspapers and magazines of the time and to uncover the remarkable extent of Pfoundes‘ engagement in Buddhist missionary work in London.

-- The First Buddhist Mission to the West: Charles Pfoundes and the London Buddhist mission of 1889 – 1892, by Brian Bocking [Buddhist Propagation Society]

In recent times, A. L. De Silva, an Australian convert to Buddhism, has written a book, Beyond Belief, providing Buddhist apologetic responses and a critique of Christian Fundamentalist doctrine.[11] Gunapala Dharmasiri wrote an apologetic critique of the Christian concept of God from a Theravadan Buddhist perspective.[12]


Main article: Christian apologetics

The Shield of the Trinity, a diagram frequently used by Christian apologists to explain the Trinity

Christian apologetics combines Christian theology, natural theology,[13] and philosophy to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, to defend the faith against objections and misrepresentation.

Christian apologetics has taken many forms over the centuries. In the Roman Empire, Christians were severely persecuted, and many charges were brought against them. J. David Cassel[14] gives several examples: Tacitus wrote that Nero fabricated charges that Christians started the burning of Rome.[15] Other charges included cannibalism (due to a literal interpretation of the Eucharist) and incest (due to early Christians' practice of addressing each other as "brother" and "sister"). Paul the Apostle, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and others often defended Christianity against charges that were brought to justify persecution.[16]

Later apologists have focused on providing reasons to accept various aspects of Christian belief. Christian apologists of many traditions, in common with Jews, Muslims, and some others, argue for the existence of a unique and personal God. Theodicy is one important aspect of such arguments, and Alvin Plantinga's arguments have been highly influential in this area. Many prominent Christian apologists are scholarly philosophers or theologians, frequently with additional doctoral work in physics, cosmology, comparative religions, or other fields. Others take a more popular or pastoral approach. Some prominent modern apologists are Douglas Groothuis, Frederick Copleston, John Lennox, Walter R. Martin, Dinesh D'Souza, Douglas Wilson, Cornelius Van Til, Gordon Clark, Francis Schaeffer, Greg Bahnsen, Edward John Carnell, James White, R.C. Sproul, Hank Hanegraaff, Alister McGrath, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, Peter Kreeft, G. K. Chesterton, William Lane Craig, J. P. Moreland, Hugh Ross, David Bentley Hart, Gary Habermas, Norman Geisler, Scott Hahn and RC Kunst.[17]

Notable apologists within the Catholic Church include Bishop Robert Barron,[18] G. K. Chesterton,[19] Dr. Scott Hahn, Trent Horn, Jimmy Akin, Patrick Madrid, Kenneth Hensley,[20] Karl Keating, Ronald Knox and Peter Kreeft.

John Henry Newman (February 21, 1801 – August 11, 1890) was an English convert to Roman Catholicism, later made a cardinal, and beatified in 2010. In early life he was a major figure in the Oxford Movement to bring the Church of England back to its Catholic roots. Eventually his studies in history persuaded him to become a Roman Catholic. When John Henry Newman entitled his spiritual autobiography Apologia Pro Vita Sua in 1864, he was playing upon both this connotation, and the more commonly understood meaning of an expression of contrition or regret.

Christian apologists employ a variety of philosophical and formal approaches, including ontological, cosmological, and teleological arguments.[21] The Christian presuppositionalist approach to apologetics utilizes the transcendental argument for the existence of God.[22]

Tertullian was a notable early Christian apologist. He was born, lived and died in Carthage. He is sometimes known as the "Father of the Latin Church". He introduced the term Trinity (Latin trinitas) to the Christian vocabulary[23] and also probably[citation needed] the formula "three Persons, one Substance" as the Latin "tres Personae, una Substantia" (itself from the Koine Greek "treis Hypostaseis, Homoousios"), and also the terms Vetus Testamentum (Old Testament) and Novum Testamentum (New Testament).

Latter-day Saints

Further information: Mormon studies § Apologetics

There are notable Latter-day Saint apologists who focus on the defense of Mormonism, including early church leaders such as Parley P. Pratt, John Taylor, B. H. Roberts, James E. Talmage and more modern figures such as Hugh Nibley, Daniel C. Peterson, John L. Sorenson, John Gee, Orson Scott Card, and Jeff Lindsay.

Several well-known apologetic organizations of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, such as the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (a group of scholars at Brigham Young University) and FairMormon (an independent, not-for-profit group run by Latter Day Saints), have been formed to defend the doctrines and history of the Latter Day Saint movement in general and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in particular.


Deism is a form of theism in which God created the universe and established rationally comprehensible moral and natural laws but no longer intervenes in human affairs. Deism is a natural religion where belief in God is based on application of reason and evidence observed in the designs and laws found in nature.[12] The World Order of Deists maintains a web site presenting deist apologetics that demonstrate the existence of God based on evidence and reason, absent divine revelation.


Hindu apologetics began developing during the British colonial period. A number of Indian intellectuals had become critical of the British tendency to devalue the Hindu religious tradition. As a result, these Indian intellectuals, as well as a handful of British Indologists, were galvanized to examine the roots of the religion as well as to study its vast arcana and corpus in an analytical fashion. This endeavor drove the deciphering and preservation of Sanskrit. Many translations of Hindu texts were produced which made them accessible to a broader reading audience.

A range of Indian philosophers, including Swami Vivekananda and Aurobindo Ghose, have written rational explanations regarding the values of the Hindu religious tradition. More modern proponents such as the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi have also tried to correlate recent developments from quantum physics and consciousness research with Hindu concepts. The late Reverend Pandurang Shastri Athavale has given a plethora of discourses regarding the symbolism and rational basis for many principles in the Vedic tradition. In his book The Cradle of Civilization, David Frawley, an American who has embraced the Vedic tradition, has characterized the ancient texts of the Hindu heritage as being like "pyramids of the spirit".


'Ilm al-Kalām, literally "science of discourse",[24] usually foreshortened to kalam and sometimes called Islamic scholastic theology, is an Islamic undertaking born out of the need to establish and defend the tenets of Islamic faith against skeptics and detractors.[25] A scholar of kalam is referred to as a mutakallim (plural mutakallimūn) as distinguished from philosophers, jurists, and scientists.[26]


See also: Jewish polemics and apologetics in the Middle Ages

Jewish apologetic literature can be traced back as far as Aristobulus of Paneas, though some discern it in the works of Demetrius the chronographer (3rd century BCE) traces of the style of "questions" and "solutions" typical of the genre. Aristobulus was a Jewish philosopher of Alexandria and the author of an apologetic work addressed to Ptolemy VI Philometor. Josephus's Contra Apion is a wide-ranging defense of Judaism against many charges laid against Judaism at that time, as too are some of the works of Philo of Alexandria.[27][28]

In response to modern Christian missionaries, and congregations that "are designed to appear Jewish, but are actually fundamentalist Christian churches, which use traditional Jewish symbols to lure the most vulnerable of our Jewish people into their ranks",[29] Jews for Judaism is the largest counter-missionary organization in existence, today. Kiruv Organization (Mizrachi), founded by Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi, and Outreach Judaism, founded by Rabbi Tovia Singer, are other prominent international organizations that respond "directly to the issues raised by missionaries and cults, by exploring Judaism in contradistinction to fundamentalist Christianity."[30][31]


Some pantheists have formed organizations such as the World Pantheist Movement and the Universal Pantheist Society to promote and defend the belief in pantheism.[32]

Native Americans

In a famous speech called "Red Jacket on Religion for the White Man and the Red" in 1805, Seneca chief Red Jacket gave an apologetic for Native American religion.[33]

In literature

Plato's Apology may be read as both a religious and literary apology; however, more specifically literary examples may be found in the prefaces and dedications, which proceed many Early Modern plays, novels, and poems. Eighteenth century authors such as Colley Cibber, Frances Burney, and William Congreve, to name but a few, prefaced the majority of their poetic work with such apologies. In addition to the desire to defend their work, the apologetic preface often suggests the author's attempt to humble his- or herself before the audience.[34]

See also

• Christian apologetics
• Dawah
• Existence of God
• Kalam
• List of apologetic works


1. "ἀπολογία". Blue Letter Bible-Lexicon. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
2. "Apologetics". The Advent. Retrieved 24 September 2016.
3. "apologetics". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 5 October 2016.
4. Cross, F. L., ed. (2005). "Apologists". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press.
5. Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, κατηγορία and ἀπολογία[permanent dead link]
6. "Acts 26:2". Blue Letter Bible. 19 September 2016.
7. "Phl 1:7". Blue Letter Bible. 19 September 2016.
8. "1Pe 3:15". Blue Letter Bible. 19 September 2016.
9. Smith, Peter (2000). "apologetics". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 39–40. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
10. "Making the Crooked Straight, by Udo Schaefer, Nicola Towfigh, and Ulrich Gollmer".
11. De Silva, A. L. (1994). Beyond Belief, a Buddhist Critique of Fundamentalist Christianity (PDF). Three Gems Publications, ebook link at Buddha Dharma Education Association Incorporated, also. ISBN 978-0-6462-1211-1.
12. Dharmasiri, Gunapala (1974). A Buddhist critique of the Christian concept of God : a critique of the concept of God in contemporary Christian theology and philosophy of religion from the point of view of early Buddhism. Colombo : Lake House Investments – via WorldCat.
13. Brent, James. "Natural Theology". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 10 March 2015.
14. J. David Cassel. "Defending the Cannibals: How Christians responded to the sometimes strange accusations of their critics." "Defending the Cannibals". Archived from the original on 2011-08-21. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
15. Tacitus, Annals XV.44
16. "Why Early Christians Were Despised". Christianity Today (Church history timeline). Retrieved 21 September 2016.
17. Catholic Education Resource Center: The Scott Hahn Conversion Story Archived July 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
18. "Page Not Found - Word On Fire". Archived from the original on 2015-02-08. Retrieved 2015-02-09. {{cite web}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
19. Chesterton, G K (2008). The Everlasting Man. Radford: Wilder Publications. p. 180. ISBN 978-1604592467.
20. "Kenneth Hensley - Catholic Apologetics Academy".
21. Coulter, Paul (2011-05-10). "An Introduction to Christian Apologetics". Bethinking. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
22. Apologetics: A Justification of Christian Belief John Frame-Joseph Torres - P&R Publishing - 2015 p. 67f
23. A History of Christian Thought, Paul Tillich, Touchstone Books, 1972. ISBN 0-671-21426-8 (p. 43)
24. Winter, Tim J. "Introduction." Introduction. The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008. 4–5. Print.
25. Madeleine Pelner Cosman, Linda Gale Jones, Handbook to Life in the Medieval World, p 391. ISBN 1438109075
26. Clinton Bennett, The Bloomsbury Companion to Islamic Studies, p 119. ISBN 1441127887.
27. John Granger Cook (2000) The Interpretation of the New Testament in Greco-Roman paganism p.4., Mohr Siebeck Verlag, Tuebingen, Germany
28. "APOLOGISTS". Jewish Encyclopedia. 1906.
29. Simon Schoon, "Noachides and Converts to Judaism", in Jan N. Bremmer, Wout Jac. van Bekkum, Arie L. Molendijk. Cultures of Conversions, Peeters Publishers, 2006, ISBN 978-90-429-1753-8, p. 125.
30. About Us, Outreach Judaism website. Accessed January 9, 2011.
31. J. Gordon Melton, "The Modern Anti-Cult Movement in Historical Perspective", in Jeffrey Kaplan, Heléne Lööw. The Cultic Milieu: Oppositional Subcultures in an Age of Globalization, Rowman Altamira, 2002, ISBN 978-0-7591-0204-0, p. 285, note 4.
32. "The Pantheist Credo". World Pantheist Movement.
33. "Red Jacket on the Religion of the White Man and the Red by Red Jacket. America: I. (1761-1837). Vol. VIII. Bryan, William Jennings, ed. 1906. The World's Famous Orations".
34. "Apology". Britannica Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 14 July 2011.

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Thu Apr 28, 2022 6:01 am

Part 1 of 4

Noble lie [Pious Fiction] [Pious Fraud] [Pious Invention]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/27/22

... Raymond Schwab's La renaissance orientale and studies on the history of the Western encounter with Asian religions such as Henri de Lubac's La rencontre du bouddhisme et de l'Occident presented an utterly confusing mass of data arranged according to modern notions such as "Buddhism" or "Hinduism" and to modern geographical units such as "India" or "China."

A major reason for this confusion was the fact that the primary sources seem to come from a different world where such neat delimitations do not exist. They tend, for example, to distinguish between esoteric and exoteric "branches" of a pan-Asian religion or to connect the creeds of various countries of "the Indies" to some descendant of Noah....

One of the ideas repeated in countless European sources about Asian religions is the distinction between "outer" or "exoteric" and "inner" or "esoteric" forms. It was already used in early Christian literature, for example, by Eusebius of Caesarea and Lactantius, to characterize heathen creeds around the Mediterranean. But its roots lie in ancient Greek views of Egyptian religion where Egyptian priests are said to have encoded secret esoteric teachings in hieroglyphs while feeding the outer, exoteric bark of religion to the people. This idea gained renewed popularity in the Renaissance when texts attributed to Hermes Trismegistos ("hermetic texts") were translated into Latin and portrayed as vestiges of ancient Egyptian "esoteric" monotheism. In Europe, this inspired proponents of ancient theology (prisca theologia) like the seventeenth-century Jesuit Athanasius Kircher as well as many missionaries....

[T]his notion of esoteric and exoteric teachings allied itself with sixteenth-century reports about Japanese Buddhism and became one of the dominant ideas about Asian religions.... Having heard of this Buddhist distinction in the second half of the sixteenth century, the missionaries to Japan used it to classify the Buddhist sects of that country. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, a long-time resident of Japan, Joao Rodrigues, first applied it to all three major religions of China (which today are called Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism). In the 1620s, the Italian Jesuit Cristofo to Borri in Vietnam used the esoteric/exoteric distinction to characterize two phases of the Buddha's life and to classify religious movements in India, Vietnam, China, and Japan. In the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, this distinction became not only the most conspicuous feature of the Buddha's biography (the story of his deathbed confession)...

A fundamental factor in the premodern European discovery of Asian religions is easily overlooked just because it is so pervasive and determines the outlook of most discoverers: the biblical frame of reference. All religions of the world had to originate with a survivor of the great deluge (usually set circa 2500 B.C.E.) because nobody outside Noah's ark survived. In Roman times, young Christianity was portrayed as the successor of Adam's original pure monotheism, thus stretching its roots into antediluvian times....

After the discovery of America and the opening of the sea route to India at the end of the fifteenth century, new challenges to biblical authority arose. It was difficult to establish a connection between hitherto unknown people and animals and Noah's ark.... Our case studies show different ways in which Europeans tried to rise to such challenges: missionaries who attempted to incorporate ancient Asian cultures and religions into Bible-based scenarios; others who tried to move the starting shot of biblical history backward to beat the Chinese annals...

[F]rom the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, the doctrines of emanation and transmigration constituted a crucial link between East and West extending from Japan in the Far East ... authors identified transmigration as a most ancient and universal pre-Mosaic teaching concerning the fall of angels before the creation of the earth -- a teaching that in their view forms the initial part of the biblical creation story that Moses omitted. They regarded human souls as the souls of fallen angels imprisoned in human bodies who have to migrate from one body to the next until they achieve redemption and can return to their heavenly home....

[T]wo significations of Buddhist doctrines, an exoteric or outer one for the simple-minded people and an esoteric or inner one for the philosophers and literati ...

[W]hen Ricci in [1582] moved with another Italian missionary, Michele Ruggieri, to Canton and then to Zhaoqing in South China... the two Jesuits adopted the title and vestments of the Chinese seng -- that is, they identified themselves and dressed as ordained Buddhist bonzes. Even their Ten Commandments in Chinese contained Buddhist terms; for example, the third commandment read that on holidays it was forbidden to work and one had to go to the Buddhist temple (si) in order to recite the sutras (jing) and worship the Master of Heaven (tianzhu, the Lord of devas). Ruggieri's and Ricci's first Chinese catechism, the Tianzhu shilu of 1584-the first book printed by Europeans in China -- also brimmed with Buddhist terms and was signed by "the bonzes from India" (tianzhuguo seng) (Ricci 1942:198). The doorplate of the Jesuit's residence and church read "Hermit-flower [Buddhist] temple" (xianhuasi), while the plate displayed prominently inside the church read "Pure Land of the West" (xilai jingdu). As can be seen in the report about the inscriptions on the Jesuit residence and church of Zhaoqing (Figure 1), Ruggieri translated "hermit" (xian), a term with Daoist connotations, by the Italian "santi" (saints), and the Buddhist temple (St) became an "ecclesia" (church). Even more interesting is his transformation of the Buddhist paradise or "Pure Land of the West" into "from the West came the purest fathers." This presumably referred to the biblical patriarchs, but it is not excluded that a double-entrendre Jesuit fathers from the West) was intended.

Nine years later, in 1592, when Ricci was translating the four Confucian classics, he decided to abandon his identity as a Buddhist bonze (seng); and during a visit in Macao, he asked his superior Valignano for permission also to shed his bonze's robe, begging bowl, and sutra recitation implements. The Christian churches were renamed from si to tang (a more neutral word meaning "hall"), and in 1594 the final step in this rebranding process was taken when Ricci received Valignano's permission to present himself and dress up as a Chinese literatus. It was the year when Ricci finished his translation of the four Confucian classics, the books that any Chinese wishing to reach the higher ranks of society had to study. In Ricci's view, these books contained unmistakable vestiges of ancient monotheism. In his journals he wrote,
Of all the pagan sects known to Europe, I know of no people who fell into fewer errors in the early stages of their antiquity than did the Chinese. From the very beginning of their history it is recorded in their writings that they recognized and worshipped one supreme being whom they called the King of Heaven, or designated by some other name indicating his rule over heaven and earth .... They also taught that the light of reason came from heaven and that the dictates of reason should be hearkened to in every human action....

Ricci and his companions focused on cozying up to the Confucians. On November 4, 1595, Ricci wrote to the Jesuit Father General Acquaviva: "I have noted down many terms and phrases [of the Chinese classics] in harmony with our faith, for instance, 'the unity of God,' 'the immortality of the soul,' the glory of the blessed,' and the like". Ricci intended to identify appropriate terms in the Confucian classics to give the Christian dogma a Mandarin dress and to illustrate his view that the Chinese had successfully safeguarded an extremely ancient knowledge of God. The portions of Ruggieri and Ricci's old "Buddhist" catechism dealing with God's revelation and requiring faith rather than reason were removed, while topics such as the "goodness of human nature" that appealed to Confucians were added. Ricci systematically substituted Buddhist terminology with phrases from the Chinese classics.... It was not a catechism in the traditional sense but a praeparatio evangelica: a way to entice the rationalist upper crust of Chinese society and to refute the "superstitious" and "foreign" forms of Chinese religion (such as Daoism and Buddhism) by logical argument while interpreting "original" Confucianism as a kind of Old Testament to Christianity. Ricci's "catechism" was thus not yet the Good News itself but a first step toward it. It argued that Chinese religion had once been thoroughly monotheistic and that this primeval monotheism had later degenerated through the influence of Daoism and Buddhism. In Ricci's view Christianity was nothing other than the fulfillment of China's Ur-monotheism.

Ricci decided to cast this preparatory treatise in Renaissance fashion as a dialogue between a Western and a Chinese scholar who discuss various aspects of Chinese religion. Ricci's Western scholar analyzes Daoist, Buddhist, and Neoconfucianist beliefs and practices and proceeds to demolish them by rational argument, thus exposing their inconsistency and irrationality....

When the first copies of Ricci's True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven arrived in Japan, one of Valignano's erstwhile novices, Joao RODRIGUES(1561-1633), studied it with much interest. Having arrived in Japan in 1577 at the young age of 16, he had at the turn of the seventeenth century already spent a quarter-century in the Far East and had become the best foreign speaker, reader, and writer of Japanese in the Jesuit mission. He had become not only procurator of the Japan mission but also court interpreter for Japan's autocratic ruler Tokugawa leyasu.... When Ricci's Chinese books made their way to Japan, Rodrigues thus was one of the few people capable of studying and criticizing them. He noticed a number of "grave things":
These things arose on account of the lack of knowledge at that time and the Fathers' ways of speaking and the conformity (as in their ignorance they saw it) of our holy religion with the literati sect, which is diabolical and intrinsically atheistic, and also contains fundamental and essential errors against the faith.

Rodrigues's early doubts about Ricci's view of Confucianism as a vestige of primeval monotheism were reinforced when he spent two entire years (June 1613-June 1615) traveling in China "deeply investigating all these sects, which I had already diligently studied in Japan". His "three sects of philosophers" are Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism, which Rodrigues not only studied in books but also through extensive field research: "To this end I passed through most of China and visited all our houses and residences, as well as many other places where our men had never been so far"....

Contradicting Ricci, Rodrigues maintained that all reigning religions of China, including Confucianism, were fundamentally atheist and thus incompatible with Christianity....
... Fr. Matteo Ricci worked a great deal in this field and did what he could, but, for reasons only known to Our Lord, he was misled in this matter. All these three sects of China are totally atheistic in their speculative teaching, denying the providence of the world. They teach everlasting matter, or chaos, and like the doctrine of Melissus, they believe the universe to contain nothing but one substance.

The disappearance of Rodrigues's religion report is very likely due to his fierce opposition to a Ricci-style accommodation with Confucianism that was the central bone of contention in the controversy about Chinese Rites that filled so many book shelves from the mid-seventeenth century onward. The whole question of the acceptability of Confucian rites depended on Confucianism's pedigree. If it could be traced to monotheism, as Ricci thought it could, then its ancient rites posed hardly a problem. But if Rodrigues was right and Confucianism's inner doctrine was pure atheism (complete with eternity of matter, lack of a creator God, and absence of providence), then any rite connected to such a religion was to be condemned.

In his letters from China and some of his printed works, Rodrigues identified all three major religions of China as descendants of ancient heathen cults of the Middle East. While Ricci viewed Confucianism as a child of original monotheism and the Chinese literati as relatively free from heathen superstition prior to the influence of Daoism and Buddhism, Rodrigues envisioned a very different pedigree reaching back to Chaldean diviners:
There does not seem to be any other kingdom in the whole world that has so many [superstitions] as this kingdom [of China], for it appears that all the ancient superstitions that ever existed have gathered here, and even modern superstitions as well. The sect of Chaldean diviners flourishes here. The Jesuits call it here the Literati Sect of China. Like them it philosophizes with odd and even numbers up to ten and with hieroglyphic symbols and various mathematical figures, and with the principal Chaldean deities, Light and Darkness, and these two deities are called the Virtue of Heaven and the Evil of Earth. This sect has thrived in China for nearly four thousand years, and it seems to have originated from Babylon when those people came to populate this kingdom.

Daoism, by contrast, was identified as "the sect of the Magicians and Persian evil wizards" that "seems to be a branch of the ancient Zoroaster" and Buddhism as "the sect of the ancient Indian gymnosophists" that spread all over Asia but had Egyptian roots since it professes "a part of the doctrine of the Egyptians"... For Rodrigues, all three Chinese religions thus had their roots in the Middle East: Confucianism in Mesopotamia, Daoism in Persia, and Buddhism in Egypt.

Since no one except Noah and his family had survived the great deluge, all three religions could not but have their ultimate origin with someone on the ark. The usual suspect was Ham, the son of Noah who had seen his father naked while drunk and whose son Canaan had been cursed by Noah (Genesis 9:25). According to Rodrigues, the Chinese people were descendants of Belus who "is the same as Nimrod, the grandson of Ham" who began to reign just after the confusion of tongues in Babel. The Chinese settled in their land after traveling "from the Tower of Babel straight after the Confusion of Tongues" and were "the first to develop ... astrology and other mathematical arts and other liberal and mechanical arts" (Rodrigues 2001:355). Especially the "science of judicial astrology" that Chinese Confucians still practice "after the fashion of the Chaldeans with figures of odd and even numbers" was "spread throughout the world by Ham, son of Noah" (p. 356). All this led Rodrigues to the expected conclusion:
According to this and the other errors that they [the Chinese] have held since then concerning God, the creation of the universe, spiritual substances, and the soul of man, as well as inevitable fate, the Chinese seem to be descendants of Ham, because he held similar errors and taught them to his descendants, who then took them with them when they set off to populate the world.

But how did such knowledge reach China? As Noah's descendants dispersed to populate the world after the Confusion of Tongues in Babylon, "the wiser families" according to Rodrigues took along such knowledge (and possibly also books) and proceeded to spread them throughout the world. In some places this knowledge was lost, but in others (like China) it was preserved (p. 378). If the transmission of genuine religion extended from God via Adam, Seth, and Enoch to Noah, how about the antediluvian transmission of false religion?
In addition to this astrological truth acquired through experience by the good sons of Seth, the wicked sons of Cain invented many conceits, innumerable superstitions, and errors .... they would commit many evil deeds and offences against God with the encouragement of the devil, to whom they had given themselves. For as it is written about him [Ham] and Cain, they were the first idolaters in the world and inventors of the magical arts. As he was evilly inclined, Ham, the son of Noah, was much given to this magical and judicial art, which he learnt from Cain's descendants before the Flood.

While the Chinese had safeguarded some useful scientific knowledge and the use of writing (p. 331) from the good transmission and thus had possibly managed to develop the world's earliest true writing system (p. 350), their religions, including Confucianism, unfortunately carried the strong imprint of Ham and the evil transmission. Rodrigues knew little about India, which he had only briefly visited on the way to Japan as a teenager. For him India's naked philosophers or gymnosophists and the Brahmans were all "disciples of Shaka's doctrine" (p. 360), and since Shaka (Shakyamuni Buddha) had "lived long before them," it was from him that they had learned such mistaken doctrines as that of a multitude of worlds (p. 360)... Rodrigues thus regarded all three religions of China as descendants of the Hamite line that ultimately goes back to Cain, the slayer of his brother Abel. Though Buddhism was transmitted via India and reached China later than Confucianism and Daoism, it had the same ultimate root and atheist core....

While Rodrigues fought against the ancient theology of Ricci and other Jesuits in China, a similar battle unfolded on the Indian subcontinent. In India, too, missionaries who were convinced that India's ancient religion belonged to the evil transmission fought against colleagues who believed that India had once been strictly monotheistic. The latter saw it as a land of pure primeval monotheism that, alas, had in time become clouded by the fumes of Brahmanic superstition. The most famous Jesuit in India to hold the latter view was Roberto DE NOBILl (1577-1656)...

On the losing side of the rites controversy, which came to a peak one century after Ricci in Voltaire's school years, were those who agreed with his idea that the ancient Chinese had from remote antiquity venerated God and abandoned pure monotheism only much later under the influence of Persian magic (Daoism) and Indian idolatry (Buddhism)
. They liked to evoke Ricci's statement about having read with his own eyes in Chinese books that the ancient Chinese had worshipped a single supreme God. In order to explain how this pure ancient religion had degenerated into idolatry, they cited Ricci's Story about the dispatch in the year 65 C.E. of a Chinese embassy to the West in search of the true faith (Trigault 1617:120-21). Instead of bringing back the good news of Jesus, the story went, the Chinese ambassadors had stopped short on the way and returned infected with the idolatrous teachings of an Indian impostor called Fo (Buddha). In the following centuries, this doctrine had reportedly contaminated the whole of East Asia and turned people away from original monotheism....

Ricci's extremist successors, the so-called Jesuit figurists, sought to locate the ancient monotheistic creed of the Chinese not just in Confucian texts but also in the Daoist Daodejing (Book of the Way and Its Power) and of course in the book that some believed to be the oldest extant book of the world, the Yijing (or I-ching; Book of Changes)....

The Jesuits of the Ricci camp thought that since genuine monotheism had existed in a relatively pure state at least until the time of Confucius, their role as missionaries essentially consisted in reawakening the old faith, documenting its "prophecies" regarding Christ, identifying its goal and fulfillment as Christianity, and eradicating the causes of religious degeneration such as idolatry, magic, and superstition. Ritual vestiges of ancient monotheism were naturally exempted from the purge and subject to "accommodation."

By contrast, the extremists in the victorious opposite camp of the Chinese Rites controversy held that -- regardless of possible vestiges of monotheism and prediluvian science -- divine revelation came exclusively through the channels of Abraham and Moses, that is, the Hebrew tradition, and was fulfilled in Christianity. This meant that the Old and New Testaments were the sole genuine records of divine revelation and that all unconnected rites and practices were to be condemned
. From this exclusivist perspective, the sacred scriptures of other nations could only contain fragments of divine wisdom if they had either plagiarized Judeo-Christian texts or aped their teachers and doctrines....

After the discovery of the Americas ("West Indies") (1492) and the exploration of the "East Indies" following Vasco da Gama's circumnavigation of Africa and arrival in India (1498), the possibility of finding pre-Mosaic texts containing vestiges of God's revelation in other civilized regions had to be considered seriously. Following the lead of Epiphanius, who had first identified the Brahmans as descendants of Abraham and Keturah (Paulinus a Sancto Bartholomaeo 1797:63), Guillaume Postel ([510-81) speculated in his interesting book De originibus (On the Origins) that the Indian Brahmans ("Abrahmanes") are direct descendants of Abraham (Postel 1553b:68-69). Postel was the first to suggest that India might harbor extremely ancient scriptures that could finally bring "absolute clarity" to the Mosaic narrative. He thought that India was a land in which "infinite treasures of history and antediluvian books are hidden" and surmised that Enoch's books could be found there.... Though it remained unclear what texts and doctrines this oriental lineage of Abraham had actually transmitted or produced, the tantalizing possibility remained in the air that a kind of alternative (and possibly more ancient) Old Testament could exist in India....

[ I]n Voltaire's time there were still supporters of this rather effective way of incorporating the Indians (and other Asians linked to them) into the biblical lineage. One of them was Isaac Newton, who wrote in his famous Chronology that was studied by Voltaire,
This religion of the Persian empire was composed partly of the institutions of the Chaldaeans, in which Zoroastres was well skilled, and partly of the institutions of the ancient Brachmans; who are supposed to derive even their name from the Abrahamans, or sons of Abraham, born of his second wife Keturah, instructed by their father in the worship of ONE GOD without images, and sent into the east, where Hystaspes was instructed by their successors.

Another supporter of Postel's hypothesis was the Jesuit Jean Venant Bouchet (1655-1732), one of the major contributors to the large collection of Jesuit mission letters entitled Lettres edifiantes et curieuses, which was required reading for men like Voltaire, Abraham Hyacinthe Anquetil-Duperron, Constantin-Francois Volney, William Jones, and anyone interested in Asia and its religions.... these letters mark the onset of a gradual shift from interest in China -- which had dominated the second half of the seventeenth century and the first decades of the eighteenth century -- to the focus on India promoted by Voltaire ...

Voltaire's Sermon des cinquante, the earliest print of which has been backdated to 1749, is something like a prayer book of a society of fifty "pious and reasonable learned people" who meet every Sunday, pray together, and then listen to a sermon before dining and collecting money for the poor....

My brothers, religion is the secret voice of God who speaks to all human beings; it must unite them all, not divide them. Thus any religion that belongs only to a single people is false. Ours is in principle the religion of the entire universe; because we venerate a Supreme Being, like all nations do; we practice the justice which all nations teach, and we reject all the lies that the peoples accuse each other of. In agreement with them about the principle that unites them, we differ from them with regard to everything that makes them fight. The point that unites all people of all times must necessarily be the unique core of truth, and the points in which they differ, the standards of the religion must be in accordance with morality, and it must be universal like morality. Thus any religion that offends morality is necessarily false. It is under this double perspective of perversity and falsity that in this discourse we will examine the books of the Hebrews and those who have succeeded to them.

This pamphlet is Voltaire's deist manifesto, whose beginning already indicates that it entails a harsh indictment against Jewish and Christian exclusivism. It is an impassioned plea against the sects of Moses and Jesus and all their superstitions, divisions, hatred, persecutions, and brutality, and ends with a call to return to a pure, united religion:
Oh my brothers! can one commit such outrages against mankind? Have not our fathers already relieved the people from transubstantiation, the veneration of creatures and bones of the dead, and from oral confession, indulgences, exorcisms, false miracles, and ridiculous images? Have not the people become accustomed to be deprived of such superstition? One must have the courage to take some further steps. The people are not as idiotic as one might think. They will easily accept a wise and simple cult of a unique God that, we are told, the sons of Noah professed and all the sages of antiquity practiced, as all scholars in China accept.

Voltaire was a convinced deist, and the deists' creed was thoroughly inclusive: not just those born into a certain region or era or religion had received God's revelation but all humankind. True religion thus had to be natural religion, that is, the religion that God had poured into the heart of every human being. For this religion, the concept of universal consent was crucial, as the beginning of Voltaire's sermon shows: all nations and men belong to God's axis of good. Voltaire was not only in search of a universal history but also of a universal religion; and as soon as he embarked on his quest for a universal history during the 1740s, he also began to examine the religions of the world, particularly those of ancient Asia. Thanks to the writings of Ricci and his successors, he found that in China a pure veneration of God without any superstition and accompanied by excellent morality had once existed. However, as in other countries, this initial purity had become adversely affected through priestcraft and "the superstition of the bonzes" (Pomeau 1995:158). Voltaire was not interested in a simple extension of the biblical narrative to other countries, as was the case with the figurists in China or Father Bouchet in India who sought a link to a "good" son of Noah. That would have been tantamount to letting the Jews and their exclusivist divinity continue monopolizing human origins. For him it was not a question of the transmission of exclusively revealed truths or of the plagiarism of sacred scriptures in the sole possession of one people. Voltaire's eye was set on a true universal religion, a pure theism forming the root of all creeds....

Voltaire's search for vestiges of ancient monotheism thus formed part and parcel of his quest for a universal history that began in earnest in the 1740s....

When Voltaire in the early 1740s set out to write his Essai sur les moeurs et l'esprit des nations et sur les principaux faits de l'histoire depuis Charlemagne jusqu'a Louis XIII (which in the following will simply be called Essai) ... it irked him no end that a few rather insignificant nations around the Mediterranean Sea had hijacked the early history of humankind....

Voltaire wanted to collect what his predecessors had neglected in order to furnish a truly universal history of "the customs of man and the revolutions of the human spirit". The first draft chapters of this new history dealt not with Adam and creation but with China and India...

From 1745 to the end of his life, Voltaire used the term "Bracmanes" or "Brachmanes" for the ancient clergy of India and "Bramins" for their modern successors. In 1745, he accused both the "Bonzes" (Buddhist clergy) and Brachmanes of fostering superstition, believing in metempsychosis or transmigration of souls and thus "spreading mindless stupidity [abrutissement] together with error": "Some of them are deceitful, others fanatic, and several of them are both;" and all "still prod, whenever they can, widows to immolate themselves on the body of their husbands".

We have already encountered several avatars of the idea that priests believe in a secret "inner" doctrine while misleading the people with "outer" lies and superstitious practices... Thus, it is by no means surprising that he adopted this very scheme in his 1745 portrait of Indian and Chinese religions. With regard to the Indians, Voltaire wrote,
These Brahmins, who maintain the populace in the most stupid idolatry nevertheless have in their hands one of the most ancient books of the world, written by one of their earliest sages, in which only one Supreme Being is recognized. They preserve with great care this testimony that condemns them....

Voltaire here probably amalgamated information about two Indian books from a letter of January 30, 1709, by Father Lalane included in the Lettres edifiantes et curieuses collection. The first concerns a book called Panjangan that proves the Indian recognition of one supreme being. ... Father Lalane wrote,
Based on the evidence from several of their books, it seems evident to me that they [the Indians] formerly had quite distinct knowledge of the true God. This is easy to see from the beginning of a book called Panjangan whose text I have translated word for word: "I venerate this Being that is subject neither to change nor anxiety [inquietude]; this Being whose nature is indivisible; this Being whose simplicity does not admit of any composition of qualities; this Being who is the origin and the cause of all beings and who surpasses all in excellence; this Being who is the support of the universe and the source of the three-fold power."

The second refers to the Veda, which Father Lalane described as follows:
The most ancient books, which contained a purer doctrine and were written in a very ancient language, were gradually neglected, and the use of this language has entirely disappeared. This is certain with regard to the book of religion called Vedam, which the scholars of the land understand no more; they limit themselves to reading it and to learning certain passages by heart, which they then pronounce in a mysterious manner to dupe the people more easily.

For Voltaire's China the same distinction applied. On one hand, he was enchanted with China's "morality, this obedience to the laws joined to the veneration of a supreme Being" that "form the religion of China, of its emperors and scholars [lettres]". In the 1745 Essai fragments, Confucius is said to have "established" this religion "which consists in being just and benevolent [bienfaisant]" and conveyed "the sanest ideas about the Divinity that the human spirit can form without revelation". As Voltaire did not believe in any divine revelation other than the laws of nature, reason, and the moral principles in everyone's heart, it is clear that in 1745 he regarded this idealized Confucianism as the model of a religion. On the other hand, China also had its superstitions for the masses. Sects like the cult of "Laokium" (Laozi; Daoism) that "believe in evil spirits and magic spells [enchantements]" and "the superstition of the Bonzes" who "offer the most ridiculous cult" to the Idol Fo (Buddha) are certainly not to the liking of the "magistrates and scholars who are altogether separate from the people." But these members of the elite who "nourish themselves with a purer substance" nevertheless insist that superstitious sects "be tolerated in China for use of the vulgar people, like coarse food apt to feed them". In Voltaire's religion there was no tolerance for intolerance.

Unlike the scattered chapters published in 1745, the 1756 Essai was the first complete version that Voltaire submitted to the public. ...

The most striking change in the Essai's India chapter is found at its end where Voltaire eliminated two passages that were cited above. The first is about the bonzes and brachmanes who spread mindless stupidity and are deceitful, fanatic, or both; and the second is about the brahmins who maintain the populace in the most stupid idolatry even though they safeguard a book that recognizes a supreme being. In place of such critique, Voltaire in 1756 almost justifies the Brahmins:
It would still be difficult to reconcile the sublime ideas which the brahmins preserve about the supreme being with their garrulous mythology [mythologie fabuleuse] if history would not show us similar contradictions with the Greeks and Romans. ...

For some reason, in this unlikely place Voltaire included new information on India...

Voltaire was now informed about some of the most striking features of Asian religions. He saw "almost all peoples steeped in the opinion that their gods have frequently joined us on earth": Vishnu had gone through nine incarnations, and the god of the Siamese, Sammonocodom (Buddha), reportedly took human form no less than 150 times. Voltaire noted that the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans had very similar ideas, and he sought to interpret this "error" amiably and monotheistically:
Such a rash, ridiculous, and universal error nevertheless comes from a reasonable feeling that is at the bottom of all hearts. One feels naturally one's dependence on a supreme being; and the error which always joins truth has almost everywhere caused people to regard the gods as lords who came at times to visit and reform their domains.

Another characteristic common to many religions is identified as atonement: "Man has always felt the need for clemency. This is the origin of the frightening penances to which the bonzes, brahmins, and fakirs subject themselves". For the Indian cult of the lingam, he also found Mediterranean counterparts in "the procession of the phallum of the Egyptians and the priapus of the Romans" . Voltaire thought it "probable that this custom was introduced in times of simplicity and that at first people only thought of honoring the divinity through the symbol of the life it gave to us". These interpretations show how eager Voltaire was to find vestiges of monotheism even in ideas and cults that not so long ago would have elicited harsh words of condemnation or ridicule. Now he not only tried to interpret them as signs of ancient monotheism but also pointed to an ancient source:
Would you believe that among so many extravagant opinions and bizarre superstitions these Indian heathens all recognize, as we do, an infinitely perfect being? Whom they call the being of beings, the sovereign being, invisible, incomprehensible, formless, creator, and preserver, just and merciful, who deigns to impart himself to the people to guide them to eternal happiness? These ideas are contained in the Vedam, which is the book of the ancient brachmanes. They are spread in modern books of the brahmins.

Voltaire then hints at the source of this information: "A learned Danish missionary on the coast of Tranquebar" who "cites several passages and several prayer formulae that seem to come from straightest reason and purest holiness." .... it appears that Voltaire got all this information from the book published in 1724 by Mathurin Veyssiere de LA CROZE (1661-1739)...

La Croze, a former Benedictine monk who had converted to Protestantism, had read early accounts of the sacred scriptures of India, the Vedas, and his status as Prussia's royal librarian helped him get access to a treasure trove of recent information on India's religions.
These were the unpublished manuscripts of the German Lutheran missionary Bartholomaus ZIEGENBALG (1682-1719), who in 1706 had arrived in South India as India's first Protestant missionary and spent thirteen years in the Danish enclave of Tranquebar on India's southeastern coast (Tamil Nadu). Just two months after his arrival, Ziegenbalg proclaimed in a letter what was to become the tenor of his extensive studies of Hinduism: "They have many hundreds of gods yet recognize only a single divine Being as the origin of all gods and all other things". This assertion of ancient Indian monotheism was not only repeated and documented in Ziegenbalg's manuscripts but also found its way into two of Voltaire's major sources, namely, La Croze (1724) and Niecamp (1745).

Near the beginning of La Croze's investigation about the "idolatry of the Indies," Voltaire read that "in spite of the grossest idolatry, the existence of the infinitely perfect Being is so well established with them [the Indians] that there is no room for doubt that they have preserved this knowledge since their first establishment in the Indies" (La Croze 1724:425). Calling the Indians "one of the oldest people on earth," La Croze thought it "a very probable fact that in ancient times they had a quite distinct knowledge of the true God and that they offered an inner cult [culte interieur] to him which was not mixed with any profanation"
. To find out more about this, La Croze suggested, one would have to get access to the Vedam, "which is the collection of the ancient sacred scriptures of the Brachmanes". In the Vedam "in all likelihood one would find the antiquities [Antiquitez] which the superstitiously proud Brahmins conceal from the people of India whom they regard as profane". Consequently, the Brahmins (the modern successors of the ancient Brachmanes) introduce ordinary people only to "the exterior of religion enveloped in legends [fables] that are at least as extravagant as those of Greek paganism". According to La Croze, the Vedam, which can be read only by Brahmins who are its guardians, "enjoys the same authority with these idolaters as the Sacred Writ does with us". Always following Ziegenbalg's and his fellow missionaries' manuscripts, La Croze quoted a passage "from one of the [Indian] books" about God whom the Indians call "Barabara Vistou, that is, the Being of Beings" (p. 452).29 La Croze did not identify this book, but Voltaire must have been so impressed by the information about the monotheistic Vedas that, in the 1756 Essai, he jumped to the conclusion (Voltaire 1756:3.206): "These ideas are contained in the Vedam, which is the book of the ancient brachmanes." In fact, the ideas mentioned by Voltaire -- "the being of beings, the sovereign being, invisible, incomprehensible, formless, creator, and preserver, just and merciful, who deigns to impart himself to the people to guide them to eternal happiness" -- were culled in almost identical sequence from a longer passage in La Croze, which reads as follows (words taken over by Voltaire are italicized):
The infinitely perfect Being is known to all these gentile pagans. They call it in their language Barabara Vastou, that is, the Being of Beings. Here is how they describe it in one of their books. "The Sovereign Being is invisible and incomprehensible, immobile and without shape or exterior form. Nobody has ever seen it; time has not included it: his essence fills all things, and all things have their origin from him. All power, all wisdom, all knowledge [science], all sanctity, and all truth are in him. He is infinitely good, just, and merciful. It is he who has created all, preserves all, and who enjoys to be among men in order to guide them to eternal happiness, the happiness that consists in loving and serving him." (La Croze 1724:452)

With regard to the lingam cult Voltaire also followed La Croze and indirectly Ziegenbalg. La Croze had explained that "the lingum ... is a symbolic representation of God ... but only represents God as he materializes himself in creation," while Voltaire speculated that this cult "was introduced in times of simplicity and that at first people only thought of honoring the divinity through the symbol of the life it gave to us".

At this point, Voltaire leaned toward India as the earliest human civilization (1756:1.30) and believed that the most ancient text of this civilization was called Vedam and contained a simple and pure monotheism. So he must have been elated when a reader of his 1756 Essai, Louis-Laurent de Federbe, Chevalier (later Comte) DE MAUDAVE (1725-77), wrote to him from India two or three years after publication of the Essai. Maudave had left in May 1757 for India and in 1758 participated in the capture of Fort St. David and the siege of Madras (Rocher 1984:77). While stationed in South India, Maudave had gotten hold of French translations from the Vedam and decided to write a letter to Voltaire. Having read the Japan chapter of the 1756 Essai, he knew how interested Voltaire was in finding documentation for ancient Indian monotheism through the Vedam. In the margin of a page of his Ezour-vedam manuscript (which he later passed on to Voltaire), Maudave scribbled next to two prayers to God: "Copy these prayers in the letter to M. de Voltaire" (p. 80). Though these prayers are not found in the extant fragment of Maudave's letter, it is likely that Maudave included them in order to document the existence of pure monotheism in the Vedam. The second major point of Voltaire's 1756 Essai that Maudave addressed in his letter was the cult of the lingam. In his discussion, Maudave quoted the Ezour-vedam as textual witness and offered to send Voltaire a replica of a Linga and a copy of the Ezour-vedam.

Maudave's letter to Voltaire described the Ezour-vedam as a dialogue written by the author of the Vedas: "This Dialogue presupposes that Chumontou is the author of the Vedams, that he wrote them to countervail the empty superstitions that spread among men and, above all, to halt the unfortunate progress of idolatry" (p. 49). Maudave also specifically mentioned the author of the text's French translation: "Its author is Father Martin, the former Jesuit missionary at Pondichery" (p. 49). Since this missionary had died in Rome in 1716, Maudave must have thought that the translation from the Sanskrit original was about fifty years old. This missionary connection clearly disturbed Maudave. First of all, a strange agreement with Christian doctrine made Maudave suspicious about the quality of the translation. More than that, he let Voltaire know that his doubts were specifically connected with the tendency of the translator's Jesuit order to find traces of their own faith in just about every part of the world -- in Chinese books, in Mexico, and even among the savages of South America (p. 80)! Maudave had carefully studied the Jesuit letters including those of Calmette that announced the dispatch of the four Vedas to Paris and wrote the following about their content to Voltaire:
This body of the religion and regulations of the country is divided in four books. There is one at the Royal Library. The first contains the history of the gods. The second the dogmas. The third the morals. The fourth the civil and religious rites. They are written in this mysterious language which is here discussed and which is called the Samscrout.

What puzzled Maudave above all was that this information about the content of the Vedas was in total contradiction with what he saw in the Ezourvedam. He wrote to Voltaire that the Ezour-vedam was a dialogue between two Brahmes, one of whom "believes in the religion of the Indies" while the other "defends the unity of God". Maudave thought "this dialogue assumes that Chumontou is the author of the Vedams and that he wrote them to remedy the vain superstitions that spread among men and above all to stop the unfortunate progress of idolatry". The Chumontou of the Ezour-vedam was both a fierce critic of rites and seemed to be the author of the Vedams. Maudave observed, "Here there is a very manifest contradiction since one book of the Vedams contains all the religious rites of which the cult of God forms a part"....

He was suspicious of some kind of foul play and continued:
In spite of this [contradiction], I admit that the manuscript is quite singular. But I find in it propositions about the unity of God and the creation of the universe that are too direct and too conforming to our sacred scriptures to have complete trust in the fidelity of the translation. If you have some interest in seeing this manuscript, I will have it copied and will send it to you....

On the occasion of Maudave's visit to Voltaire in late September or early October 1760, Voltaire received the Ezour-vedam along with an additional text called Cormo-Vedam....

In 1762 Voltaire's nephew, Abbe Vincent Mignot, mentioned the Ezourvedam in two of his five papers read at the Royal Academy of Inscriptions about the ancient philosophers of India. He thought that India had been inhabited earlier than Egypt but traced both the Indian and Egyptian religions back to the plain of Shinar (Sennaar) near the landing spot of Noah's ark. For Mignot the Ezour-vedam proved the early presence of monotheism in ancient India; in support of this view, he quoted one of its prayers: "You are the savior, the father, and the lord of the world; you see everything, you know everything, you rule over everything". But some readers of the Ezour-vedam manuscript also noted a number of strange passages that betrayed a Western author. For example, Anquetil-Duperron remarked that Chumontou "does no more than to confront them [Indian legends] with the doubts of a philosopher who cannot be held to represent the religion of India" and detected some passages that clearly stemmed from a European. But as early as 1762, Abbe Mignot made the connection between the Ezour-vedam and the monotheistic "gnanigol." In one of his papers on the ancient philosophers of India, he described these Indians as modern successors of the ancient Brachmans. They are "intimately convinced of God's oneness" and are regarded as "the sages and saints of India" who "openly reject the cult of idols and all superstitious practices of the nation in order to worship only God whom they call 'Being of beings' [l'etre des etres]". In 1771 Anquetil-Duperron published his opinion that the text's author was one of these "Ganigueuls" or "gnanigol" described by Ziegenbalg and La Croze, and this opinion was later supported in the preface to the Ezour-vedam's first printed edition of 1778 where Sainte-Croix informed the readers:
Everywhere in the Ezour-Vedam we find the principal articles of the doctrine of the Ganigueuls ... and therefore one cannot doubt that it was a philosopher of this sect who composed this work. A man immersed in the darkness of idolatry reports, under the name of Biache, the most accepted fables of India and exposes the entire system of popular theology of this country. The philosopher Chumontou rejects this mythology as contrary to good sense, or because he has not read of it in the ancient books, and expounds the fabulous accounts in a moral sense .... Responding to the questions of Biache, the Ganigueul philosopher explains the doctrine of the unity of God, creation, the nature of the soul, the dogma of punishment and reward in a future state, the cult appropriate for the supreme being, the duties of all states, etc....

Four years after the Ezour-vedam's 1778 publication, Sonnerat described it as "definitely not one of the four Vedams" and as "a book of controversy, written by a missionary of Masulipatam" who "tried to reduce everything to the Christian religion". In 1784, Gottfried Less wrote that the text reminds us of the Bible, must be based on that source, and is distinctly European and specifically French both in content and expression. Barely eight years after the Ezour-vedam's publication and Voltaire's death, August Hennings claimed that "today no one believes any longer in the authenticity of the Ezurvedam"....

The Ezour-vedam is set up as a conversation between Chumontou (Sumantu) and Biache (Vyasa). Like Ricci's Western scholar, Chumontou presents himself as a reformer who wants to restore primeval monotheism to its pristine purity. The interlocutor Biache represents the degeneration of primeval purity into idolatry, polytheism, and priestcraft. Many of the themes discussed in the Ezour-vedam show such a strong Christian slant that one readily understands why Maudave wrote to Voltaire from India that he found the manuscript strange because it reminded him so much of the Bible and conformed so suspiciously to Jesuit mission strategy. A good example is the following explanation by Chumontou about the difference between man and animal that could hardly be more un-Indian:
In creating man, God has created everything for his use. The animals have been created to serve him. Trees, plants, fruit, the different foodstuffs and in the end everything on earth has been made to cater to his needs. The distress and pain that animals feel is inseparable from their state since they are made to serve man; but they are not a [karmic] effect or consequence of sin. Here is why: the punishment of sin is eternal in its nature but the distress that animals feel is only temporary. Trees, etc., do not have a soul and are thus incapable of committing sins. However vile and despicable man may be, he has a soul and is always endowed with reason. He has a propensity for sin, commits it, and after death he reaps eternal punishment. Likewise with virtue: a good man practices it during his life; and the moment of death is the happy instant when he begins to taste the fruit [of virtue] and to enjoy it in all eternity....

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Part 2 of 4

If Maudave "was puzzled by the French Ezour-vedam to the point of doubting its authenticity" (Rocher 1984:80), Voltaire's reaction on receiving the text from Maudave in the fall of 1760 is even more puzzling.... [S]hortly after Maudave's visit, Voltaire wrote in a letter that he was going to establish contact with the Indian translator ("my brahmin") and joked that he hoped that this Brahmin would be more reasonable than the professors at the Sorbonne. Four months later, when he had thoroughly studied the text and expressed his confidence that he could "make good use of it," he described the translator as a "Brahmin of great esprit" who knows French very well and who produced "a faithful translation". In July 1761, at the time when he had decided to add a new chapter to the Essai about the Ezourvedam and then to present his copy of the manuscript to the Royal Library in Paris, he claimed that Maudave had received the Ezour-vedam from a Brahmin who was a correspondent of the French Compagnie des Indes and had translated it. After sending the manuscript to the Royal Library, Voltaire for the first time located this Brahmin translator in Benares, the center of Brahman orthodoxy. He repeated this last version until he encountered Holwell's work and learned that the Shastah was far older than the Vedam and its commentary, the Ezour-vedam. ... Holwell claimed that the Vedam contained the relatively corrupt teaching of South India, whereas his Shastah was expounded by the orthodox Brahmins of Benares in the north. In 1769, after having read this, Voltaire once more changed his translator Story. Since (according to Holwell) Benares and Northern India are the home of the ancient Shastah and Southern India that of the far younger Vedam, Voltaire came up with a new narrative: the man who had translated the Ezour-vedam from the sacred Sanskrit language into French was now suddenly no more an orthodox successor to the oldest Brachman tradition from Benares but rather a mysterious "old man, 100 years of age" who was "arch-priest [grand pretre] on the island of Seringham [Cherignan] of Arcate province" in South India -- a man "respected for his incorruptible virtue" who "knew French and rendered great services to the Compagnie des Indes". One would expect such a rare creature -- an eminent old Brahmin heading a huge clergy who wrote perfect French and rendered great services to the colonial administration -- to turn up somewhere in the French colonial records; but Rocher failed to find any trace of this man, even though, according to Voltaire, he had been a witness for the chevalier Jacques Francois Law in his conflict with Joseph Francois Dupleix.

What are we to make of this? Today we know, thanks to the efforts of many scholars, that Voltaire's Ezour-vedam was definitely authored by one or several French Jesuits in India, and Ludo Rocher has convincingly argued that the text was never translated from Sanskrit but written in French and then partially translated into Sanskrit. Consequently, there never was a translator from Sanskrit to French -- which also makes it extremely unlikely that any Brahmin, whether from Benares in the north or Cherignan (Seringham) in the south, ever gave this French manuscript to Maudave. Whether Maudave was "a close friend of one of the principal brahmins" and how old and wise that man was appear equally irrelevant. Voltaire's story of the Brahmin translator appears to be entirely fictional and also squarely contradicts the only relevant independent evidence, Maudave's letter to Voltaire, which named a long-dead French Jesuit as translator and imputed Jesuit tampering with the text. Since it is unlikely that Maudave would arbitrarily change such central elements of his story when he met Voltaire, the inevitable conclusion is that Voltaire created a narrative to serve a particular agenda and changed that Story when the need arose....

A few months later, when Voltaire knew what use he was going to make of the manuscript, he portrayed the Ezour-vedam not as a simple commentary but as "the Gospel of the ancient brachmanes" and "the most curious and most ancient book that we possess, except for the Old Testament whose sanctity, truth, and antiquity you know".... he even claimed that the Royal Library regarded his "very authentic" Ezour-vedam manuscript as "the most precious monument it possesses"!

The new fourth chapter of the 1761 Essai, "On the Brachmanes; of the Vedam; and the Ezourvedam," begins with Voltaire's influential assertion about the antiquity of Indian culture and religion:
If India, of which the entire earth is dependent and which alone is not in need of anybody, must, on account of this very fact, be the most anciently civilized region, then it must also have had the most ancient form of religion. It is very likely that for a long time this religion was the same as that of the Chinese government and consisted only in a pure cult of a supreme Being, free of any superstition and fanaticism.

This oldest religion of the world was "founded by the Bracmanes" and subsequently "established in China by its first kings". Voltaire portrayed this religion as if it were his own: since it was built on "universal reason", it "had to be simple and reasonable," which was easy enough since "it is so natural to believe in a unitary God, to venerate him, and to feel at the bottom of one's heart that one must be just". Long before Alexander's India adventure, this pure, original monotheism began to degenerate when the cult of God "became a job" and the divinities multiplied; but even under the reign of polytheism and popular superstition, a "supreme God was always acknowledged" and is still venerated today....
I have in my hands the translation of one of the most ancient manuscripts in the world; it is not the Vedam which in India is so much talked about and which has not yet been communicated to any scholar of Europe, but rather the Ezourvedam, the ancient commentary by Chumontou on the vedam, the sacred book which was given by God to humans, as the Brahmins pretend. This commentary has been redacted by a very erudite Brahmin who has rendered many services to our Compagnie des Indes; he has translated it himself from the sacred language into French....

Voltaire in the 1761 Essai for the first time published eight "quotations" from the Ezour-vedam.... one would expect faithful quotations from the sacred scripture. But already Voltaire's first two "quotations" prove such expectations wrong.... Voltaire presents both passages as continuous quotations from the Ezour-vedam that supposedly furnish "the very words of the Veidam" rather than those of two interlocutors.... In the Ezour-vedam ... Chumontou does not quote anything but simply responds to Biache's questions. To maintain his fiction, Voltaire had to omit not only the questions but also phrases (for example, those before the "four different ages") that clearly show this text to be part of a conversation. The Ezour-vedam "quotation" beginning with "At the time when God alone existed" shows that he systematically misled his readers: the text that Voltaire presents as a continuous quotation from the Ezour-vedam actually shrinks eight pages of the Sainte-Croix edition to a fraction of their original volume. Some of Voltaire's additional changes are stylistic; but the majority is clearly related to content that Voltaire chose to omit or add for a variety of reasons. For example, he cut the Ezour-vedam's explanation that after the creation of time, water, and earth, "the earth was completely submerged" and omitted God's order "that the water retract on one side and that the earth become stable and solid". This passage did not please Voltaire who opposed theories of universal flood and models of earth formation that involved total submersion in water. Likewise, Voltaire did not like the idea that God created three worlds, which is why he eliminated the information about the superior, inferior, and central world. The idea of monogenesis and primitive man's god-given wisdom also bothered him; thus, he omitted the Ezour-vedam's "In creating him he endowed him with extraordinary knowledge and put him on earth in order to be the principle and origin of all other men." The presentation of Adimo as father of Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu and of their birth from his navel and flanks certainly fit the agenda of the Ezour-vedam's Jesuit author(s) who wanted to highlight the absurdity of Indian mythology; but this was very much contrary to Voltaire's intention of presenting the wisdom of the Vedam as somewhat conforming to a deist's ideal of rationality. Therefore, he drastically demoted Adimo from father of India's three supreme gods to father of "Brama who was the legislator of nations and the father of the brahmins."...

This pattern of Voltaire's editorial policy is repeated in much of the rest of his "quotations" from the Ezour-vedam. A passage that explains the origin of the four Indian castes is falsely portrayed by Voltaire not as Chumontou's commentary but as "one of the most singular pieces from the Vedam".... Voltaire decided to omit about half of the Ezour-vedam's text (which, of course, was no Vedic quotation at all). Another flagrant example is Voltaire's fifth excerpt, which is a hodgepodge from the Ezour-vedam's sixth and seventh chapters presented as a continuous citation from the Vedam....
The Vedam continues and says: "The supreme Being has neither body nor form," and the Ezourvedam adds: "All those who ascribe him feet and hands are insane." Chumontou then cites the following words of the Vedam: ...

However, in the text of the Ezour-vedam all this forms part of Chumontou's conversation. Once again, Voltaire's transmutation forced him to eliminate all phrases proving that Chumontou was not citing the Veda but simply talking to Biache. Thus, he had to delete statements like "That's what the Vedam teaches. The sun which you have divinized is no more than a body". More than half of the Ezour-vedam's text in this supposedly continuous quotation suffered the same fate. Instead of a faithful presentation of "Vedic" text, Voltaire's readers thus got a blatantly tendentious pastiche of conversation fragments taken from two different chapters of a "commentary" containing not a single genuine quotation from the Veda.

In contrast to the Ezour-vedam, which in Voltaire's 1761 Essai was massaged until it fit Voltaire's idea of ancient monotheism and could please a deist, the "Cormoredam" (which is a misprint for Cormovedam) is severely criticized as a product of degeneration. This second text that Voltaire received from Maudave was presumably also donated to the French national library. In his 1761 Essai, Voltaire describes it as follows:
The Brahmins degenerated more and more. Their Cormoredam, which is their ritual, is a bunch of superstitious ceremonies that make anybody who is not born on the banks of the Ganges or Indus laugh -- or rather, anyone who, not being a philosophe, is surprised about the stupidities of other peoples and not amazed at those of his own country. As soon as an infant is born, one must recite the word Oum over him to prevent his being unhappy forever; one must rub his tongue with consecrated flour, say prayers over him, and pronounce at each prayer the name of a divinity. Subsequently one must put the infant outside on the third day of the moon and turn his head toward the north. The minute detail is immense. It is a hodgepodge of all the lunacies with which the senseless study of judicial astronomy could inspire ingenious but extravagant and deceitful scholars. The entire life of a Brahmin is devoted to such superstitious ceremonies. There is one for each day of the year....

Voltaire's description of the Cormo Veidam has a perfect match in another Pondicherry text, the "Zozochi Kormo Bedo," whose first part is entitled "Rite of the Ezour Vedam". According to the Jesuit Jean Castets, this part features detailed descriptions of rites (including those required at the birth of a male child) as well as long lists of prescribed/ auspicious or prohibited/inauspicious activities on particular days of the year.

Bowing to Voltaire's will, the Ezour-vedam thus became a monument of a protodeist's monotheistic Ur-religion (primeval religion), while the Cormo-Vedam had the role of representing what India's deceitful clergy is catering to the superstitious masses. Voltaire's commentary shows to what degree he identified with the reformer Chumontou:
The ancient purity of the religion of the first Bracmanes survived only with some of their philosophers; and they do not make the effort to instruct a people that does not want to be taught and does not merit it either. Disabusing it would even carry a risk; the ignorant Brahmins would rise up, and the women attached to their temples and their little superstitious practices would cry heresy. Whoever wants to teach reason to his fellow citizens is persecuted unless he is the strongest; and it almost invariably happens that the strongest redoubles the chains of ignorance instead of breaking them.

In the years between the publication of the 1761 Essai and the Homelies of 1767, Voltaire continued to exploit the Ezour-vedam for his purposes. Chapter 13 of the Defense de mon oncle (1767) is the last statement of his views before the effect of Holwell set in. Here the Ezour-vedam is called "the most precious manuscript of the Orient" that "indisputably is from the time when the ancient religion of the gymnosophists began to be corrupted" and represents "apart from our sacred scriptures the most respectable monument of faith in the unity of God". Voltaire once more presented the first two of his sanitized quotations from the Ezour-vedam and defended his absurd argument from the Philosophie de l'histoire (1765) that the Ezour-vedam had to stem from the period before Alexander because its place names are not Greek-influenced....

His selection of a few fragments of the Ezour-vedam and his very invasive editing of them lead one almost to suspect that he sensed Jesuit involvement and perhaps even relished the thought of surreptitiously perverting their fundamental intention. The student and enemy of the Jesuits, it turns out, had a missionary agenda of his own. He, too, was eager to advocate ancient monotheism and to denounce its later degeneration. But for him such degeneration included not just the theology of the "stupid Brahmins" but rather the infame itself: Judeo-Christianity, complete with its cruel God, deluded prophets, plagiarized texts, degenerate clergy, intolerant worldview, and parochial conception of history....

The editors of the Annual Register of 1766 published part of Voltaire's Philosophy of History in English translation, and in that very issue Voltaire discovered lengthy excerpts from a text that soon was to replace the Ezour-vedam in his propaganda war: the so-called Shastah of Bramah contained in John Zephaniah Holwell's Interesting historical events. The review of Holwell's book mentioned that he had spent thirty years in Bengal and procured "many curious manuscripts relating to the philosophical and religious principles of the Gentoos, particularly two correct copies of their Bible, called the Shasta". Having lost both the originals and his translation at the capture of Calcutta in 1756, Holwell "recovered some MSS. by accident" during his last eight months in Bengal. This enabled him to repair his loss "in some degree" and to present the hitherto best account "of the religion of the Gentoos, both in its original simplicity, and its present corruption". After an outline of the content of the Shastah's creation story and Holwell's genealogy of Indian sacred literature, the Annual Register's anonymous reviewer (Edmund Burke) included the entirety of Holwell's translation from the Shastah along with his lengthy report of the burning of a widow....

Voltaire first mentioned this new source in the Homily on Atheism, which is an early effort on his second front. After stating flatly that "we must begin with the existence of a God" and that this "subject has been treated by all nations", Voltaire lectures his atheist readership that "this supreme artisan who has created the world and us" is "our master" and "our benefactor" because "our life is a benefit, since we all love our life, however miserable it might get". Thus, "one must recognize a God who remunerates and avenges, or no God at all." For Voltaire there was no middle ground: "either there is no God, or God is just". To support his radical theism, Voltaire always used the argument of universal consent: "all civilized people [peuples polices], Indians, Chinese, Egyptians, Persians, Chaldeans, Phoenicians: all recognized a supreme God". And it is exactly here that the sacred literature of such people as Holwell's ancient Indians came in handy. Voltaire wrote,
The Indians who boast of being the oldest society of the universe still have their ancient books that according to their claim were written 4,866 years ago. According to them, the angel Brama or Abrama, the envoy of God and minister of the supreme Being, dictated this book in the Sanskrit language. This sacred book is called Chatabad, and it is much more ancient than even the Vedam that since such a long time is the sacred book on the banks of the Ganges. These two volumes [the Chatabad and the Vedam], which are the law of all sects of the brahmans, [and] the Ezour-Vedam which is the commentary of the Vedam, never mention anything other than a unique God..

As an illustration of universal consent on monotheism, Voltaire presented the first section of his newly found "oldest" text, Holwell's Chartah Bhade Shastah, which "was written one thousand years before the Vedam" and ''treats of God and his attributes". But, as seen in Table 4, already Voltaire's first quotation from this oldest testament shows that he had not abandoned his efforts to improve on supposedly genuine ancient texts.

As with the Ezour-vedam, Voltaire molded the text to suit his views; but since Holwell's text had already appeared in print, the changes needed to be a bit more subtle. Voltaire did not like that the God of Holwell's Shastah rules the world by providence and replaced "providence" by "general wisdom." As he was intent on proving the existence of God to atheists, he transformed the Shastah's prohibition to inquire into "the essence and nature of the existence of the Eternal One" into one that concerned only "his essence and his nature." As a Newtonian, he was -- unlike Holwell -- in favor of exploring the laws of nature; thus, the prohibition to inquire "by what laws he governs" was not acceptable to him and had to be eliminated. Since Voltaire missed God's goodness in Holwell's Shastah text and firmly believed in divine punishment and reward, he replaced Holwell's "mercy" by "goodness." Finally, Voltaire's religion focused not on base self-benefit but rather on devoted worship of God and excellent morality...

In 1774 Voltaire published another translation of this text. It was destined for a different public, and Voltaire had heard that a French translation of Holwell's Shastah had in the meantime appeared in Amsterdam. Voltaire's new translation proves that the changes in his first translations were not due to the level of his knowledge of English. Rather, as is also evident from many letters containing very different portrayals of particular events depending on the addressee, Voltaire was extremely adept at tailoring information to fit specific needs. As if to prove this last point, Voltaire published one more translation in 1776 that again edits out the Shastah's prohibition to inquire about God's existence.

After his discovery of Holwell's Shastah, Voltaire's interest in the Ezourvedam abruptly ceased. It had done its duty and was rather unceremoniously dismissed before it was even published. The article on the Ezour-vedam in Voltaire's Questions sur l'encyclopedie of 1771 is exceedingly short; in fact, almost the only information it offers is a joke about Adimo and his wife. Voltaire, whose critique of such monogenetic tales invented by pigheaded Brahmins has already been mentioned, asked the reader whether the Jews had copied their Adam and Eve story from the Indians or the Indians their Adimo story from the Jews -- only to add sarcastically a third possibility: "Or can one say that both have originally invented it and that the beautiful minds have met?". While the Ezour-vedam passed into oblivion because the Veda is only "a recent law given to the brachmanes 1,500 years after the first law called shasta or shasta-bad', Voltaire turned into an ardent champion of Holwell's Shastah whenever the argument required it. In his letter to Bailly of December 15, 1775, he calls the fragments of the Shastah that were "written about 5,000 years ago" nothing less than "the only monument of some antiquity that is extant on earth"....

Toward the end of his life, in the Lettres chinoises, indiennes et tartares of 1776, Voltaire recapitulated his view of Indian sacred literature. The oldest source, "written in the sacred language during the present world-age by a king on the banks of the Ganges named Brama," is the holy Shasta-bad translated by Holwell and Dow; it is 5,000 years old. As much as 1,500 years later "another brachmane who, however, was not king" proclaimed the "new law of the Veidam". What Voltaire had long regarded as the world's most valuable and ancient sacred text, the Veda, was now presented as a much later product, a "new law" that Voltaire butchered as follows:
This Veidam is the most boring hodgepodge [fatras] that I have ever read. Imagine the Golden Legend, the Conformities of St. Francis of Assisi, the Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignace, and the Sermons of Menot [1506] all put together, and you will still only have a faint idea of the impertinence of the Veidam.

The Ezour-vedam, which Voltaire had long showered with praise as a commentary of the Veda that supposedly contained genuine Vedic quotations, was now elegantly moved to the realm of enlightened philosophy:
The Ezour-Veidam is a completely different thing. It is the work of a true sage who powerfully rises up against the stupidities of the brachmanes of his time. This Ezour-Veidam was written some time before Alexander's invasion. It is a dispute of philosophy against Indian theology; but I bet that the Ezour-Veidam receives no credit at all in its country and that the Veidam is regarded as a heavenly book....

Already in 1771, while Voltaire continued to trumpet the wonders of the Shasta-bad, he slipped an insidious couple of questions into his discussion of Indian sacred doctrine: "How could God provide a second law in his Veidam? Was his first one [in the Shasta-bad] therefore no good?" A year later he targeted Holwell's Shasta-bad when he joked about "novels [romans] about the origin of evil" whose "extreme merit" is that "there never was a commandment that one must believe them". Thus, even Holwell -- the man who according to Voltaire "had not only learned the language of the modern brahmins but also that of the ancient bracmanes, who has since written such precious treatises about India and who translated sublime pieces from the oldest books in the sacred language, books older than those of Sanchuniathon of Phoenicia, Mercury of Egypt, and the first legislators of China" -- even the heroic Holwell "cannot be trusted blindly". And in an aside that reveals for a moment his true opinion about Holwell's Shasta-bad, Voltaire mischievously added, "But at any rate he has demonstrated to us that 5,000 years ago the people living on the Ganges [Gangarides] wrote a mythology, whether good or bad".

However Voltaire evaluated such "oldest texts of the world," his conviction that India is the world's oldest civilization did not budge even when Jean Sylvain Bailly challenged it in a series of letters. They were published in 1777, one year before Voltaire's death, in Bailly's Letters on the origin of the sciences and of the peoples of Asia. Insisting that Holwell is "truth and simplicity in person" Voltaire used Holwell's Shastah to support his rejection of Bailly's argument for the Siberian origins of humankind. Whatever arguments Bailly pressed upon him, Voltaire politely but firmly clung to his idea and declined to change his view of India as the cradle of civilization. It was this opinion of his that, hammered into public consciousness through a ream of books and pamphlets, played a seminal role in turning the European public's gaze toward India and its religious literature....

Like Voltaire three decades later, La Croze was convinced that vestiges of early monotheism could be found in the Indies and that they would throw light on the earliest phase of human history:
Nothing ... should evoke more interest for them [the Indians] than to see that, in spite of the grossest idolatry, the existence of the infinitely perfect Being is so well established with them that there can be no doubt that they have preserved such knowledge since their first establishment in the Indies.

Whereas with the Greeks and Romans "the existence of the true God" was "known only to a small number of philosophers and played no role at all in the religion of the people," evidence from India indicated to La Croze that the Indians not only had pure monotheism in the remote past but preserved it ever since. Their antiquity far surpassed that of the Greeks:
One sees them form a large crowd [multitude nombreuse] from the centuries when Greek history begins to emerge from the darkness of ancient mythology, and this -- in combination with other reflections -- gives one the right to regard them as one of the most ancient peoples of the world.

While La Croze did not want to discuss the exact origin of this monotheism and found that it would be "badly managed erudition" to pinpoint exactly which son of Noah had transmitted his religion to the Indies, it is clear that the ark of Noah and the biblical creation Story loomed in the back of his mind. All signs indicated that Noah's pure religion had made its way to the Indies soon after the deluge and was preserved there:
One can even suppose, as a very probable fact, that in ancient times they had a quite distinct knowledge of the true God and that they worshipped him in an inner cult [culte interieur] that at the time was mixed with no profanation at all. Some of their sages who until today preserve this doctrine ... make this conjecture so probable that there seems to be no possible counterargument....

La Croze was convinced "that the ancient Indians had been colonies of Egypt" and that "the origin of the superstitions of the Indies must be attributed to those of the Egyptians with which they maintain to this day a surprising conformity". Among the superstitions mentioned by La Croze, we find not only "Egyptian-style" metempsychosis or transmigration of souls but also the mortifications that fascinated and repelled so many Europeans...

La Croze also saw an Egyptian origin of Indian phallic worship, animal worship, the distinction of castes, vegetarianism, and monasticism complete with tonsure and celibacy. All this convinced La Croze -- who as a Protestant of course also remarked on the Egyptian origins of Catholic monasticism and rites -- that Egypt is "the mother and the origin of ancient superstitions and of all sorts of errors and idolatries". If this was the source of a misguided cult that "the Bramines entertain for their own particular interests", they were also the guardians of an ancient monotheistic teaching that the priests kept hidden from the common people. This theme of an exoteric and an esoteric teaching (the latter of which is hidden and encoded by priests) was already present in Plutarch's book on Isis and Osiris and was widely regarded as a characteristic feature of Egyptian religion. In Kircher's misguided efforts to translate Egyptian hieroglyphs -- for example, in his Obeliscus Pamphilius of 1650 -- it played a central role, since his whole method rested on the dichotomy of exoteric and esoteric teachings and the idea that the latter represented primeval monotheism encoded in sacred symbols. ...

Already in Ricci's and de Nobili's time, around the beginning of the seventeenth century, the claim surfaced that the Vedas of India were the repository of ancient Indian monotheism. Of course, the approach of Nobili and his successors in the Jesuit Madurai mission was anchored in the idea that India had once been a land reigned by pure monotheism; but the locus classicus for the monotheism of the Vedas is the description in Diogo do Couto's Decada Quinta da Asia of 1612. Schurhammer has shown that Couto plagiarized the report by the Augustinian missionary Agostinho de Azevedo, but it was through Couto that this view of the Vedas as a monotheistic scripture, hidden by the Brahmans from the people to whom they preached polytheism, became popular. ... [A] summary by Philip Baldaeus will suffice:
The first of these Books treated of God and of the Origin and Beginning of the Universe. The second, of those who have the Government and Management thereof. The third, of Morality and true Virtue. The fourth of the Ceremonials in their Temples, and Sacrifices. These four Books of the Vedam are by them call' d Roggo Vedam, Jadura Vedam, Sama Vedam, and Tarawana Vedam; and by the Malabars Icca, Icciyxa, Saman, and Adaravan. The loss of this first Part is highly lamented by the Brahmans....

La Croze was certain that this would bring about a revolution in knowledge not only about India but also antiquity in general:
There is hardly any doubt that in this respect one could go much further if the Vedam, which is the collection of the ancient sacred books of the Brachmans, was translated into Latin or one of Europe's [living] languages. It is likely that one would find in it antiquities [Antiquitez] that the superstitiously proud Brahmins withhold from the people of the Indies whom they regard as profane and to whom nothing but the exterior [exterieur] of religion is conveyed, buried in fables that are at least as extravagant as those of Greek paganism.

For La Croze, the Vedas represented the monotheistic core of Indian religion that the Brahmans jealously guarded as a secret while feeding the exoteric surface to the crowds. But since this "interior" doctrine of the Vedas was still unknown, information from other sources was all the more important. As royal librarian of Prussia, La Croze could make use of a very broad range of publications, but as a linguist and philologist, he was partial to authors who could read local languages....

La Croze prized the information furnished by Bartholomaus ZIEGENBALG most highly: "He is preferable due to his accuracy and the care he took to report only what he had himself observed and what he read in the books written in a language that had become as natural to him as the one he sucked with his mother's milk" ...

While partly modeling his Genealogy of Malabar Divinities of 1713 on the lists of gods in the "Diwagaram [Tivakaram]", Ziegenbalg omitted the "symbol of Tamil religiosity," Murukan, from his list. Instead he began his Genealogy in the manner of a Christian theology book, with a chapter on "Barabarawastu" who in Ziegenbalg's view is "the supreme divine being and origin of all divinities", even though it is not listed in the Tivakaram. As natural monotheists, so Ziegenbalg thought, the Indians must since antiquity have worshiped a supreme divine being who was not just one god among others but rather the very origin of all gods and the world.
These heathen know by the light of nature that there is one God. This truth has not only been communicated to them by Christians but is so firmly implanted in their mind by the evidence of their conscience that they would regard it as the greatest impiety if they would learn that there are people in this world who do not posit a divine being who is the origin of everything, preserves everything, and reigns over everything -- the kind of atheism that has found entry even among Christians and particularly among learned people here and there.

Ziegenbalg compared such European atheists of the early eighteenth century with "heathen" Indians who are not only naturally monotheist but even profess faith in the very same God that the German pastors evoked in their sermons: "a God who created everything, reigns over everything, punishes evil, rewards good deeds, and who must be feared, loved, worshipped, and prayed to". The faith in this God had not only led the Indians to "establish a law and write many books of religion" but also to "introduce all kinds of sacrifices, build pagodas, and establish everywhere in their lands a formal service that in their opinion serves God". Because they relied exclusively on reason that "since the Fall is entirely misguided and spoiled," they eventually "let themselves be seduced by Satan in various ways." Nevertheless, from time immemorial, they fundamentally accept and worship an invisible divine being and have texts to prove this:
Such truth gained from the light of nature is not a recent thing with them but a very ancient one; they have books that are said to be more than 2000 years old. These form the basis of their opinions in these matters, and they hold that their religion is the oldest of all; it may have originated not long after the deluge. They not only believe in one God but have by the light of nature come so far as to accept no more than one single divine being as the origin of all things. Even though they worship many gods, they hold that all such gods have sprung from a single divine being and will return therein; so that in all gods only that single divine being is worshipped. Those among them who are a bit learned will defend this very obstinately even though they cannot deliver any proof of it.

The best among the Indians regard "this Barabarawastu, which means Highest Being or Being of beings" as an immaterial being without any shape. They have hundreds of names for it, for example "Savuvesuren, the Lord over everything; Niddia Anander, the eternally supreme one; or Adinaiagen, the first lord of all who is supreme"....

Ziegenbalg ... [says in] his introduction to Malabar Heathendom ...:
The fourth reason [for transmitting such information] is that teachers and preachers of atheism, which is fashionable among many in Europe, can be refuted through the principles of these heathen. Even though they are heathen, one will see consistently in these books that they believe in a divine Being who created all, reigns over everything, and eventually will reward virtue and punish evil; and that bliss awaits the faithful and damnation the evil. All of this, as a matter of fact, is denied by many Christians who rely on chance and live much worse than the heathen. ...

[W]ho were these Gnanigol, the authors of the Indian texts whose translations so much inspired Ziegenbalg, La Croze, and their readers?

When Ziegenbalg arrived in the small Danish colony of Tranquebar on the coast south of Madras (Chennai) in 1706, he first had to learn some Portuguese... he soon met an eminent native who seemed to be the answer to his prayers:...

It was this gifted man, Alakappan or Aleppa, who introduced Ziegenbalg to the intricacies of the Tamil language and to the vocabulary needed for his mission....

When Ziegenbalg and his associate Grundler needed more European support and were preparing for Ziegenbalg's journey to Germany, Denmark, and England, they paid Aleppa to write letters from exile in answer to the missionaries' questions....

Aleppa repeats what he apparently learned so well since his youth and discussed so many times with the missionaries:
The fact that God is a unique God [einiger Gott] is known and professed by all. ... We also say that among all [gods] there is only one who is the highest being, called at times Barabarawastu [Skt. paraparavastu, divine substance] and at times Tschiwen [Shiva], Tschatatschiwum [Skt. sadasiva, eternally graceful one], or Barabiruma [Skt. para-brahma, supreme Brahman]. This God has created all others, given each of them his duties and tasks, and ordered that they must be worshipped and prayed to. All of this is written in our law [Gesetz] and is commanded in old history books. Therefore it is among us everywhere customary to pray to the said persons. At the same time it is written in our books of law that God promised various modes of recompensation to those who worship such persons and accept them in faith and love.

The ordinary people of South India were thus depicted as fundamentally monotheistic, even though they had a tendency to worship the true God under different names and forms. But Aleppa also mentioned radical monotheists:
Other than that, there are also people among us who worship God the supreme being alone and always honor only this lord while they renounce everything in the world in order to keep contemplating God in their heart at all times. It is said of these [Gnanigol] that God unites with them and transforms them into himself [in sich verwandele], and also that they become invisible in the world....

He clearly tried to present his own religion in the best light and had adopted the Europeans' fundamental conviction that monotheism was good, while polytheism and idol-worship were evil and the devil's work. ...

During a phase of persecution in a neighboring region, a Jesuit missionary's library was stored in Tranquebar, and Ziegenbalg found himself suddenly in possession of much interesting materials that included a Tamil translation of the New Testament. This stroke of luck made him an heir to Jesuit research on terminology that had flourished since the days of Roberto de Nobili....

At this early stage he thus began to employ de Nobili's loaded terminology; for example, he often used the word Caruvecuran (Skt. sarvesvara, lord of all) for God. According to Jeyaraj , the twenty-six Tamil sermons of de Nobili contain many words picked up by Ziegenbalg -- for example, the Tamil words for God, angels, devil, world, man, soul, death, salvation, remission, and eternal life. Ziegenbalg's Tamil community was likely to learn, just like de Nobili's flock a century earlier, how important it is for manusan (Skt manusa, man) to avoid pavam (Skt. papa, evil), to embrace punniyam (Skt. punya, virtue), and to worship Caruvecuran (Skt. sarvesvara, lord of all) in the form of Barabarawastu (Skt. paraparavastu, divine substance) because there is no other path to the other shore (karai-erutal) of motcam (Skt. moksa, liberation).

Apart from terms for God such as Caruvecuran and Barabarawastu, the juxtaposition of jnana (knowledge, wisdom) and ajnana (ignorance) was particularly important for Ziegenbalg's view of Indian religions and his mission enterprise. The title of the first pamphlet from the brand-new Tamil mission press in Tranquebar reads: "The Veta-pramanam (Skt. vedapramana, Vedic norm) demonstrating that akkiyanam [ajnana] must be detested and how those in akkiyanam can be saved". In the very first sentence Ziegenbalg comes straight to the point: "We have come to you in order to save you from akkiyanam". Grafe summarizes the pamphlet's contents as follows:
(1) What is a-jnana? -- It is idol worship and moral perversion according to Rom. 1:21-32. (2) How a-jnana spread in this world. -- It did so because of the devil's deceit and men's guilt and not because of God. (3) There is much a-jnana in the whole of Tamilnadu. (4) How detestable a-jnana is. -- Because by a-jnana soul and body will be perverted and punished. (5) How God is helping those in a-jnana to be saved. -- Jesus Christ took upon himself the burden of a-jnana and delivers from ajnana saving soul and body. (6) What the things are which those who wish to be saved from a-jnana have to do .... (7) The trials and tribulations which those who give up a-jnana and enter the Church experience in the world for the sake of righteousness. (8) The benefits promised to those who give up a-jnana, accept true religion and stand in the Christian faith unshaken.

It is clear that Ziegenbalg used the word ajnana (ignorance) for sin, heathendom, and idolatry. On the other hand, ajnana (knowledge or wisdom) stood for monotheism and the acceptance of Jesus as savior. For Ziegenbalg, ajnana involves the veneration of false devas and the worship of vikrakams (Skt. vigraha, forms or shapes) made of earth, wood, stone, and metal. By contrast, jnana signifies the exclusive worship of Baribarawastu (Skt. paraparavastu, divine substance). The point Aleppa kept making in his apologetic letters was exactly that his native religion was fundamentally a monotheistic jnana, rather than a heathen ajnana, and it seems that he was highly motivated to help the missionaries find Tamil texts that proved exactly this point. The text that Ziegenbalg most often quotes to illustrate Indian monotheism was already used by de Nobili for the very same purpose: the Civavakkiyam, a fourteenth-century collection of poems by Civavakkiyar who belongs to the Tamil Siddha tradition....

Among the three Hindu religious paths to salvation (jnana, the way of knowledge; karma, the way of work; and bhakti, the way of devotion), the Siddhas emphasized the path of knowledge....

Siddha Civavakkiyar's work promotes civam mysticism and is critical not only of the worship of images and brahmans but also of the Vedas and Vedic practices....

Such Tamil Siddhas belonged to the class of men that Ziegenbalg referred to as "Gnanigol or the Wise".
"Gnanigol" is Ziegenbalg's transcription of the Tamil nanikal, which is the plural of nani (Skt. jnanin, a wise or knowing one). They are saints in the fourth path (pada) of Shaivite Siddhanta agama. Ziegenbalg called these four paths "Tscharigei" (carya, proper conduct), "Kirigei" (kriya, rites), "Jogum" (yoga, discipline), and "Gnanum" (jnana, knowledge). The Gnanigol are most frequently mentioned by Ziegenbalg, and quotations from their texts make up the bulk of his evidence for Indian monotheism. In the first chapter of his Genealogy, where he discusses the pure Indian conception of monotheism, Ziegenbalg explains:
One still finds here and there a few who destroy all idolatry [Gotzen-Wesen] and venerate this sole divine Being without images. Among them are those called Gnanigol or the Wise who have written only such books that lead exclusively to a virtuous life wherein only the sole God is to be worshipped. The most excellent among such books are: I) The Tschiwawaikkium [Civa-vakkiyam], in which polytheism along with many heathen errors is totally rejected in thoughtful verses and the worship of a single God is advocated. 2) The Diruwakkuwer, which treats of morality. 3) Nidisharum which presents some rules of life in in the form of parables. 4) Gnanawenpa which contains wisdom teachings and testimonies of the one God.

The book that leads this list, the Civavakkiyam, is also the one that Ziegenbalg most frequently adduced in his discussions of Indian monotheism. La Croze's argument for Indian monotheism, too, is almost entirely illustrated by quotations from Ziegenbalg's rendering of verses by Civavakkyar....

Though Ziegenbalg wrote that the two main divisions of Malabar heathendom are "again divided into four kinds that are found both among the followers of Shiva (Tschiwapaddikaren) and those of Vishnu (Wischrnupaddikaren)" his explanations show that these "kinds" are not subsects but rather "differens etats de la vie" (different stages of life), as La Croze put it. As we have seen, these four stages on the religious path are "Tscharigei" (carya, proper conduct), "Kirigei" (kriya, rites), "Jogum" (yoga, discipline), and "Gnanum" (jnana, knowledge); and according to Ziegenbalg, these stages are identical for the followers of Shiva and Vishnu. The observances at each stage are different. The first stage is for householders who cannot strictly follow the prescribed observances; the second for those who strictly follow outer observances, for example, clergy like "the Brahmanes, Pantaren, and Antigol"; the third for those who do not care about the many divinities and ceremonies but rather devote themselves single-mindedly to meditation, remain or become again celibate, and perform manifold austerities; and the fourth for those who have abandoned everything and reached "Gnanum or wisdom". This fourth and highest stage is that of the Gnanigol who have left behind all ignorance (ajnana) and who for Ziegenbalg represent the purest wisdom (jnana) of monotheism:
Those who have thus become Gnanigol not only consider the ways of the world as foolish but also every other thing in which people seek bliss. They reject the many gods that others revere so much; as one of them writes in a book called Tschiwawaikkium [Civavakkyiam]: You are nothing but lies, prayer-formulas are lies, the disciplines of erudition are lies. Bruma and Wischtnum [Brahma and Vishnu] are fabricated lies, and Dewandiren [Devendra] too. Whoever abandons the lusts of the flesh that seem sweet as honey, dies to that which seems beautiful to the eyes, and hates the habits of man while worshipping only the True supreme being: to him all of these things appear as false and full of lies.

Such saintly Gnanigol, Ziegenbalg emphasized, are found among both the worshippers of Shiva and those of Vishnu; "they lead a virtuous life after their fashion, worship only the supreme being of all beings, and lead their disciples and pupils toward a worship of God that is completely interior....

Interestingly, Ziegenbalg linked these four stages of the religious path to the four Vedas...
These heathens have among them four small books of law: 1. the Urukkuwedum [Rg veda]; 2. Iderwedum [Yajur veda]. 3. Samawedum [Sama veda]; 4. Adirwannawedum [Athatva veda]. From these four books of law originated the four kinds [Sorten] ... among the worshippers of Shiva and of Vishnu, that is, 1. Tscharigei; 2. Kirigei; 3. logum; 4. Gnanum. The first law (Veda), according to some, contains what the Tscharigeikarer or people of worldly professions ought to do in order to reach bliss through their worldly tasks.

The first Veda, according to Ziegenbalg's information, thus contained mainly "Mandirum [mantras] or prayer formulas" and the second Veda what was needed for those who wanted to be saved by works [Werckheilige]. The third Veda, "according to some," has the instructions for Yogic practices, and "the fourth book of law is said to contain everything which the Gnanigol who have reached wisdom and sainthood ought to perform and do."...

Ziegenbalg also came across some Indian religions that did not form part of Malabar heathendom and thus delimited it in one more way:
Apart from the above-mentioned sects [Shaiva and Vaishnava], there are several others among the East Indian heathens which the Malabarians entirely exclude from their religion, taking them for heathens while regarding themselves as a people with an extremely ancient religion and worship [Gottesdienst]. Apart from themselves, they enumerate six other religion-sects [Religions-Secten], several of which are said still to exist in faraway countries, while others among them were completely extinguished and absorbed into their religion. The first sect is called Putter [Buddhism] from which they say they have their poetry. The second sect is called Schammaner from which they got the art of arithmetic along with other arts and learning. The third sect is called Minmankuscher [Mimamsakas], the fourth Miletscher [mlecchas] or the sect of barbarians, the fifth Wuddaler, and the sixth Oddier....

Of particular interest in our context are the first two religions regarded as ajnana by the Indian informants and in texts consulted by Ziegenbalg. The Putter, also called "Buddergol" by Ziegenbalg, are said to have been expelled from India long ago. In recounting the ten transformations (Verwandlungen) of Vishnu, the missionary says about the sixth avatar: "Wegudduwa Awatarum, when he was born as a priest in the world, chased away the religion of Buddergol and Schammanergol, and had his twelve disciples, called Banirentualwahr, establish his religion everywhere".... Today we identify the Buddergol as Buddhists; but who were these Schammanergol? In Ziegenbalg's Malabar Heathendom there is little information about this "religion of the Schammaner" except that it was founded by a "Kanander by the name of Tschankuden" (p. 193), brought some arts to India, and was already long dead in Ziegenbalg's time. However, in the Genealogy of Malabar Divinities, Ziegenbalg goes into greater detail about the sixth transformation of Vishnu and summarizes what he found in a Tamil text:
There once were two nations called Buddergol and Schammanergol. They had a noxious religion and created evil sects. They blasphemed Vishnudom and Shiva's religion and forced the rest of the Malabars to take on their religion. Those who did not adopt it were much harassed. They neither put on Dirunuru [holy ash] nor Dirunamum [the Vaishnavite mark on the forehead]. They did not observe purity of the body. Though they worship images, they seemed to be of no religion. They did not differentiate between castes [Geschlechten] but regarded all as equally good. Thus all respect and esteem between high and low and between wise and unwise was effaced. They blasphemed the books of theology and wanted all men to like their ways.

It is noteworthy that Ziegenbalg again attributes a single religion to the Buddergol and Schammanergol "nations." This religion lacked some of the basic characteristics of Malabar heathendom and was opposed to (1) the worship of Vishnu and Shiva; (2) the display of their outward signs; (3) ritual bathing; (4) the division of castes; (5) the authority of Vedic scriptures; (6) the worship of cows; and (7) the idea that one belongs to the religion of one's fathers.... the attempt to convert people to another religion was also something that distinguished the Buddergol/Schammanergol religion from Ziegenbalg's Malabar heathendom; Indians were born into that religion rather than converting to it. According to Ziegenbalg, his Indian texts and informants thus regarded the Buddergol/Schammanergol religion not only as different from their Malabar heathendom but as opposed to it:
Their religion had no similarity with our Malabar religion nor with the moorish [Islam] and Christian religion; rather, it was the ruin [Verderb] of all religions. Therefore Vishnu wanted to exterminate it, adopted the shape of a human, joined them as if he were one of their priests, was with them for a long time, and ate and drank with them. Once he had well seen their doctrine and behavior [Wandel], he summoned his twelve disciples, called Banirentualwahr, and completely exterminated such religion....

[T]he Gnanigol described by Ziegenbalg appeared to La Croze as heirs of the world's oldest religion, the religion of Adam and Noah, who had safeguarded its pure "inner cult." But if the religion of the Gnanigol is the heir of the oldest religion of India, what is its relation to the Brahmans and the other Indian religions mentioned by Ziegenbalg? Given that the Gnanigol attacked central facets of Ziegenbalg's Malabar heathendom and fiercely criticized Vedic authority, the caste system, the Brahmans, etc., it was puzzling that they represent the fourth and highest stage of Malabar heathendom, are entrusted with the fourth Veda, and are revered by both of its great branches as saints....

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Part 3 of 4

Piecing information together mainly from Ziegenbalg's manuscripts and letters, [La Croze] came up with a comprehensive scenario that attempted to integrate all data and place Ziegenbalg's Malabar heathendom in a pan-Asian context....
The Malabar Heathendom [Paganisme du Malabar] has a great extension in the Indies. It is the ancient religion of the entire subcontinent West of the Ganges and of almost the entire Mogul empire or Indostan, where it certainly originated; of the kingdom of Bengala; of the island of Ceylon and several other places; to which one can add a part of Asian Tartary, the kingdoms of Aracan, Siam, Pegu, Laos, Cambodia, Tonkin, Cochin China, and even China and Japan. The religion of these last-mentioned places differs in various things from that of Malabar which is purer and, if I dare using that term, more orthodox. However, it has its origin in the same [Indian] locations....

This religion is characterized as an "idolatry" that centers on "the recognition and worship of three false gods under an infinity of different names" and is split into two main branches of which one worships Shiva and the other Vishnu...

La Croze goes on to describe this pan-Asian idolatry of Indian origin based on Ziegenbalg's information about Malabar heathendom and devotes no less than ten pages to the "Gnanigueuls [Gnanigol], i.e. the sages and saints ... who reject with scorn the cult of idols and all the other superstitious practices of their nation". La Croze uses numerous passages from Ziegenbalg's renderings of the Civavakkiyam and other Tamil Siddha texts to impress as strongly as possible on his readers that some pagans of the Indies not only had "much more sublime and correct ideas about the Divinity than most of the ancient Greeks and Romans" but even perfectly knew "the greatness and majesty of God" and possessed "the Vedam, which is the ancient Book of their Law" containing "these sublime ideas of God".

Why, then, one might ask, does La Croze call the Malabar heathendom an "idolatry" with "false gods" and a "cult of idols"? Because he saw it as a degenerated form of religion, a form that at some point had replaced the ancient monotheism that probably came straight from Noah's ark to India. The vestiges of this ancient monotheism were found, according to La Croze, in the Vedam and the books of the Gnanigol. But how did this degeneration take place -- and why were the Gnanigol so critical of the Brahmans, the very guardians of the Veda? We have seen that Ziegenbalg, who also believed in an original monotheism and a subsequent degeneration, put the blame on the devil and the Brahmans. But La Croze, more ingenious and more interested in history, cooked up an elaborate scheme to explain it all. His scenario begins, like Ziegenbalg's, with an age of pure monotheism whose heirs are the Gnanigol. Instead of the devil, La Croze saw the reason for the decline of this pure original religion in two migrations that invaded India. The first was by the "Nation of Sammaneens" and the second by "the Brahmans who recognize that their cult in Malabar followed that of a certain people that they regard as heathen and that they call the Nation of the Sammaneens".
It seems from the Malabar books that the Sammaneens were skilled because they [the Malabaris] acknowledge that all their sciences and arts came from that [Sammaneen] people. The migration of the Brachmanes must thus be posterior [coming after] to that of the Sammaneens; or they [the Brachmanes] felt the need of a reformation because the first principles of their religion had been corrupted by them [the Sammaneens] and the people had fallen into ignorance of the Sovereign God. This latter feeling seems most probable provided that what the Malabaris say is true, namely, that they regard their religion as infinitely more ancient than that of the Sammaneens whom they call in their language Schammanes.

This statement is a bit difficult to decode. La Croze's two alternative scenarios both see a pure monotheism that is corrupted by immigrant Sammaneens who brought culture to India. The two possibilities mentioned by La Croze concern only the Brahmans. In the first scenario these Brahmans migrated to India after the Sammaneens and were thus not yet present in India when the Sammaneens first flourished. In the second scenario the Brahmans had migrated to India before the arrival of the Sammaneens. Witnessing the degradation of the original religion through Sammaneen influence, they then pushed for a reform and eventually managed to expel the Sammaneens.[???] Since the Malabaris claim that their religion, that is, Malabar heathendom, is much more ancient than that of the Sammaneens, La Croze regards the second scenario with the Brahmans being the earlier immigrants as more likely.[???] But he is not quite sure because this would mean that the Brahmans were quite uncultured when they migrated to India.

Both of La Croze's scenarios offered a historical explanation in the golden age/degeneration/regeneration mould that was very popular in Europe since the Middle Ages and will be further discussed below. This mould also shaped the vision of many missionaries, for example, de Nobili and the Madurai Jesuits, Athanasius Kircher, and the Jesuit figurists in China. They saw themselves as restorers of a pure "golden-age" monotheism that had degenerated through the influence of Brahmans or an impostor such as Shaka (Buddha).... the explanation of the relationship between the Gnanigol and the Brahmans as well as the label of "idolatry" on the end result also called for another time-honored explanatory scheme: the distinction between exoteric and esoteric doctrines and practices. La Croze made copious use of all these elements to forge his scenario designed not only to explain the origin and history of the reigning religion of India but also the "idolatry" that had infected much of the Asian continent....

La Croze, like Kircher, saw Egypt as the ultimate source of many central elements of Malabar heathendom...Though La Croze does not discuss this, a "migration" of Brachmanes to India, regardless of its chronology, would thus probably have originated in Egypt and reached India via Persia....Though convinced of the "unity of God" and in possession of the Vedas containing this teaching, they treated it as an esoteric secret, safeguarded and used for their own advantage. Instead of teaching the original monotheist creed to the people, the Brahmans claimed, exactly like the Egyptian priests of Plutarch, that common people were incapable of grasping the truth and were in need of a "fabulous idolatry". Accordingly, they created for the people a cult of idols as grotesque as any that the world had ever seen.
It is also because of this pretended incapacity [of the common people] that the exterior cult was formed which the Brahmins entertain for their particular interests. The immateriality of God and materiality of the world, of which they could not comprehend the connection, made them take recourse to fables which gradually augmented to form a mythology that is much more loaded with monstrous circumstances than that of the ancient Greeks whose false gods, however dissolute they are represented are in no respect inferior to those of the Indies regarding obscenity, profanation, absurdities, and contradictions.

The Brahmans, while pretending to restore original religion, hid their pearl of truth under a heap of mythology drawn from various places and even put some biblical elements into the mix:
To come back to the Brachmans, one must admit that their absurd religion in both its cult and its mythology is far from excluding the idea of the infinitely perfect Being; it presupposes it everywhere and puts the label of paganism on all religions that do not agree with this. Besides, this religion has the marks of great antiquity. One finds in it distinct traces of the Law of Moses and histories that have a visible connection with those reported by our Sacred Writ.

Thus, the people were fed a mixture of truth and lie that was so powerful that all of India got intoxicated. While "having nothing very certain in their histories and no fixed epochs for events", the Brahmans propagated ideas about multiple worlds and their great age that are the apex of absurdity. The Gnanigol, outraged by all this, produced books "that are read even by the common people who, though they feel and recognize that there is only one God, remain stupidly in their idolatry". This explains the Gnanigol's opposition to Brahman authority and the wide dispersion of their texts. They were determined to expose the secret that the Brahmans, who belong to only the second stage of the religious path, are exclusive keepers of the Vedas and use religion for their own advantage. By contrast, the Gnanigol teachings and writings divulge the secret of the Veda, which contains "in explicit terms these sublime ideas about God".

But what was the role of the Sammaneens in all this? Who were they for La Croze? Based on Ziegenbalg's translation of the story of Vishnu's sixth transformation (which features the account of their extermination and displacement from India), La Croze adopted the view that the "two sects" of the Buddergol and Sammanergol share the same religion:
We will limit ourselves to report the sixth [transformation of Vishnu], which will throw some light on what we are seeking. It was in this apparition that Vishnu was born as a man called Veggouddova Avatarum and exterminated two sects that professed a pernicious religion, the Buddergueuls and the Schammanergueuls, that is to say, the worshippers of Budda and the Sammaneens whose religion was the same .... He [Vishnu alias Veggouddova] instructed twelve disciples and through them completely exterminated this religion.

How did La Croze come to identify the Buddergols as "worshippers of Budda"?...

This identification was a crucial corner piece in La Croze's puzzle. He noted that "it is difficult to assign a fixed epoch to this legislator" and that "the consulted authors are all at variance about this," but he detected some consensus that Boudda or Butta "precedes by several centuries the epoch that begins with the birth of our Lord". With regard to the geographical origin of this "legislator," La Croze concluded on the basis of information furnished by missionaries from Siam, Laos, China, Japan, and Vietnam that he likely hailed from a kingdom in the central Indies (milieu des Indes). La Croze thus concluded that the Boudda of the Greeks and Romans, the Sommona-Codom of Southeast-Asian missionaries, the Xe-kia of the Chinese, and the Xaca of the Japanese, all referred to the person worshipped by Ziegenbalg's Putters or Buddergols....

As a reader of Navarrete's Tratados of 1676 -- which were firmly based on Joao Rodrigues's research -- and much material on the conflict about the Chinese Rites, La Croze was well informed about the claim that the "legislator Boudda" or Fo, as the Chinese called him, taught two doctrines: an exoteric one for the common people and an esoteric one for the initiated. In the Latin translation of Alexander de Rhodes's Catechismus of 1651 (which was originally written in Vietnamese), he found the fascinating account of the son of an Indian king who married, retired into solitude after the birth of his only child, studied magic, and learned from demons "a doctrine to which he gave the name of Thicca, which is nothing but a veritable atheism":
When he began to insinuate to people this doctrine, which is entirely opposed to natural understanding [Lumieres naturelles], everybody took distance from him. Realizing this, he began on the advice of the demons of his teachers to envelop his doctrine in diverse fabulous narrations and to mix in the transmigration of souls and the cult of idols, suggesting to his disciples that they make him the principal object of worship, and tried to pass for the creator and preserver of heaven and earth .... His magic and fables served him with the [common] people to whom he only taught the cult of idols and metempsychosis; whereas the doctrine of atheism was only revealed to his most cherished disciples. It is to them that he uttered that nothingness [le neant] is the cause of all beings as well as the end which awaits all....

La Croze's translated de Rhodes's conclusion of 1651 as follows:
Thus, the doctrine of this idolatrous sect is double. The exterior [doctrine] consists in the cult of idols and in a great number of ridiculous fables; but the interior one, which is most detestable, is a veritable atheism that gives reins to all sorts of crimes. It is this religion that the philosopher Confucius calls in his books the doctrine of the barbarians....

La Croze thought that the Buddergol and Schammanergol professed the same religion. They were the ones who had brought culture to India and were the major cause of the degradation of original monotheism. In La Croze's eyes, their religion was similar to that of the Brachmanes except for one crucial point: whereas the Brachmanes had maintained monotheism as an esoteric teaching hidden from the people, the Buddergol/Schammanergol had in the course of time become atheists.
The testimony of the ancient authors that I cited as well as that of the Indian Brahmins makes it certain that these Sammaneens practiced the same abstinence [of meat] as today's Indians and that they believed, like them, in the transmigration of souls. They also had their idols, and it does not seem at all that their religion differed from that of the Brachmanes except for an important subject: the knowledge of an infinitely perfect Being.

Combining the information from Ziegenbalg and from many missionaries and travelers, La Croze thus concluded that the atheism of the Buddergol/Schammanergol was their distinguishing characteristic:
In effect, the kingdoms of Arekan, Pegu, Siam, Laos, and Cambodia, not to speak of Tonkin, Cochin China, China, and Japan, have a religion that is different from that of the Malabaris even though they agree on the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, the cult of idols, and some other superstitious opinions. But what I find singular is their absolute ignorance of the existence of God. With respect to the Siamese, whose religion is that of all the nations just mentioned, this is confirmed by the testimony of Mr. de la Loubere, one of the most judicious and learned travelers of our times....

According to La Croze, the atheism of the Buddergol/Schammanergol was "the principal reason why the Brahmins regarded the Sammaneens as pagans" ; and it also explains why they were, according to Ziegenbalg's sources, persecuted and finally driven out of India.

To sum up, La Croze's historical scenario featured an original pure monotheism with the Gnanigol as heirs; an invasion of the Buddergol/Schammanergol that introduced or strengthened idolatry and superstition and eventually degenerated into atheism; and a Brahmin reform movement that claimed to restore the ancient pure religion but in fact appropriated monotheism as a privileged secret teaching of the clergy while continuing to encourage idolatry, polytheism, and superstition among the people....

Questions about the origin of a religion and its founder are naturally of central importance for any historical and doctrinal definition.... Probably most influential before Couplet was Athanasius KIRCHER (1601-80).... Kircher attempted to unearth the Egyptian roots of all Asian religions. Transmitted to India, this Egyptian affliction eventually infected the whole of Asia. This is why Kircher's section on Indian religion in his China illustrata (1667) bears the title: "Brahmin institutions and how an Egyptian superstition passed by means of the Brahmins to Persia, India, China, and Japan, the farthest kingdom of the East".

Kircher imagined that a "crowd of priests and hieromants" from Egypt had in ancient times fled to India and "discovered that Hermes, Bacchus, and Osiris had preceded them there." Kircher's Egyptian connection explained why the Indians to this day venerate "Apis, or the cow" and believe in the Egyptian doctrine of "metempsychosis, or the transmigration of the soul". This "preposterous superstition" had infected the whole Orient by means of "an imposter known all over the East," namely, the Buddha. According to Kircher, this founder is known under different names in different countries: Rama in India, Xe Kian in China, Xaca in Japan, and Chiaga in Turkey. All of Asia's cults thus had their roots in Egypt...

For Kircher, the religions of China and Japan also had Egyptian origins and replicated the Egyptian "two truths" dichotomy of exoteric idolatry (superstition for the common people) versus esoteric doctrines for the clerical elite. Laozi's Daoism "corresponds to the Egyptian common people and magi", while "Xekiao" (Buddhism) employs, as we have seen, both esoteric and exoteric teachings and teaches "Egyptian" metempsychosis or transmigration of souls.
We note that in Kircher's scenario an impostor with the Buddha's biography was "the very sinful brahmin imbued with Pythagoreanism" and "the first creator and architect of the superstition".

According to Kircher the missionaries who transmitted the Buddha's creed from India to other parts of Asia were Brahmins. This meant that India was the sole Asian distribution center for the "preposterous superstition" that, in Kircher's view, is "not only found in the regions of India far and wide, but was also propagated to Cambodia, Tonchin, Laos, Concin China, as well as all of China and Japan". The biographical details of the "impostor" who from his Indian base "infected the whole Orient with his pestilent dogmas" leave no doubt about his identity: it is the very Xaca who was born in central India after his mother had a dream of a white elephant, etc., and whose disciples "can stop all activity to the point that no life remains"....

The essence of Jesuit knowledge about the religion of Foe (Ch. Fo, Buddha) in the second half of the seventeenth century is contained in the 106-page introduction of the famous Confucius Sinarum philosophus of 1687. ... and in particular its introduction signed (though not wholly written) by the Jesuit Philippe Couplet (1623-93) -- played a central role in the diffusion of knowledge about Far Eastern religions among Europe's educated class and created quite a stir. A review in the Journal des Sravans of 1688 shows that it was especially Couplet's vision of the history of Chinese religions that attracted interest. The anonymous reviewer ... calculated on the basis of the chronological tables in Couplet's book that the Chinese empire had begun shortly after the deluge -- provided that one use not the habitual Vulgata chronology but the longer one of the Septuaginta. The reviewer summarized Couplet's argument about the history of Chinese religions as follows:
Following this principle, Father Couplet holds that the first Chinese received the knowledge of the true God from Noah and named him Xanti [Ch. Shangdi, supreme ruler]. One must note that the first emperors of China lived as long as the [biblical] Patriarchs and that they therefore could easily transmit this knowledge to their descendants who preserved it for 2,761 years until the reign of Mim-ti [emperor Ming] ... who through a bizarre adventure strangely altered it.

This "bizarre adventure" was the introduction of Buddhism in China as related by Matteo Ricci, who had, with almost Voltairian guile, transformed the Forty-Two Sections Sutra's story of Emperor Ming's embassy to India in search of Buddhism into a botched quest for Christianity. In its course, the Chinese ambassadors supposedly stopped "on an island close to the Red Sea where the religion of Foe (this great and famous idolater of the East Indies) reigned" and ended up bringing Foe's idolatry instead of Christianity to China. The religion of Foe or Fo was thus seen as the major cause for the loss of true monotheism in China. ...

According to Couplet, the religion of Foe originated in Central India around 1000 B.C.E. Its founder, Xe Kia (whom the Japanese call Xaca), was the son of an Indian king whose wife Maya saw a white elephant in a dream, gave birth to the boy through her right side, and died soon afterward. This happened in 1026 B.C.E.

Immediately after his birth, the boy took seven steps in every direction, pointed with one hand toward heaven and the other toward the earth, and said: "In heaven and on earth, I am the only one to be venerated".
At age 17 he married three women and had a son named Lo heu lo (Rahula). At age 19 he left his palace in order to do penance for causing his mother's death and practiced austerities with four Jogues (yogis); and at age 30 understood the essence of the first principle while in contemplation. At that moment "the disciple turned into Master and the man into God", and Foe began his teaching career, which was to last until his death at age 79. His teachings and miracles became widely known through many books and elegant works of art. He had as many as 80,000 disciples who missionized large parts of Asia. In China, where the religion arrived in the year 65 CE, his followers are called "Sem" and "Ho xam" (Ch. seng, monk; heshang, reverend); in Tartary "Lama sem" (Ch. lama seng); in Siam "Talepoii"; and in Japan "Bonzii". The religion of Foe thus spread all the way from Central India to Tibet and Tartary in the north, and Southeast Asia, China, and Japan in the east. According to Couplet, as many as 15,000 texts contain the doctrines of this religion, and the founder personally instructed his favorite disciple Mo o Kia ye (Mahakasyapa) to preface all books containing his doctrine by the words "Ju xi ngo ven: Sic ego accepi" (Ch. rushi wo wen, thus I have heard).

Foe also venerated a teacher called O-mi-to, who in Japanese is called "Amida." According to Couplet, O-mi-to is anterior [before] to Foe and lived in the Bengal region of East India where the Chinese priests locate the Elysian Fields called cim tu (Ch. jingdu, Pure Land). To gain the favor of these two "monsters" and be pardoned for their sins, the Chinese constantly recite "O mi to, foe" (Ch. Omituofo, Amida Buddha). Apart from Foe and O-mi-to, the Chinese followers of Foe are said to also venerate Quon in pu sa (Ch. Guanyin pusa, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva) and "inferior gods" such as the Lo han (Ch. luohan, athats).

Couplet's portrayal of Foe's doctrine begins with Foe's deathbed confession and the distinction between his long-held "exterior" teachings and the ultimate "interior" teachings. Foe's interior teaching, which is according to Couplet also propagated by the Indian gymnosophists, formed around 290 C.E. a Chinese sect called Vu guei Kiao (Ch. Wuwei jiao, the teaching of nonactivity). A further link between India and China is the "contemplantium secta" (sect of meditators) founded by Ta mo (Ch. Damo, Bodhidharma), the twenty-eighth patriarch after Xaca, who meditated only on "that chimerical principle of his, emptiness and nothingness [vacuum & nihil]" and ended in the gutter of atheism....

Louis Daniel LECOMTE (1655-1728) was one of the French Jesuits who was sent by the French king to China, studied Chinese, and advocated the view that China's ancient religion had once been "the veritable religion" and that, even after its fall into the darkness of idolatry, China had for millennia safeguarded "the knowledge of the true God" while Europe and almost the entire rest of the world were mired "in error and corruption". ... The fall into idolatry, according to Lecomte, was primarily due to two kinds of "superstition" that were introduced to China. The first was the teaching of "Li-Laokun ... who lived before Confucius," a "monster" with a "pernicious doctrine" who nevertheless "wrote several useful books about virtue, the discarding of honors, the contempt for wealth, and that admirable solitude of the soul that removes us from the world in order to make us exclusively enter into ourselves".

After some more discussion of Laozi and Daoism, Lecomte turns to the second superstition. It "dominates China and is even more dangerous and universal than the first" and "worships as the only divinity of the world an idol called Fo or Foe". This religion was brought to China from India in 65 C.E. and eventually became "a monstrous assemblage of all sorts of errors" including "superstition, metempsychosis, idolatry, atheism" and so forth. Lecomte furnishes rather detailed information about its founder from "the kingdom of India" who is said to have lived "more than a thousand years before Jesus Christ," and he mentions that this man was first called Chekia but took the name Fo at age 30 after having been "suddenly seized, as if penetrated by the divinity who gave him omniscience". After that "moment in which he became God," he gained many disciples who infected the entire Indies with his pernicious doctrine. Lecomte locates this religion of Fo in China, Japan, Tartary, and Siam and provides the appellations of its clergy: "The Siamese called them Talapoins, the Tartars Lamas or Lama-sem, the Japanese Bonzes, and the Chinese Hocham". Just before his death, this "chimerical God," having preached idolatry throughout his life, "attempted to inspire atheism":
Then he declared to his disciples that in all his discourses he had only spoken in enigmas; and that one would mislead oneself if one searched the first principle of things outside of nothingness [neant]. It is from this nothingness, he said, that everything has come; and it is into nothingness that everything will fall back. That is the abyss where all our hopes end.

This ultimate teaching of Fo became the basis for "a particular sect of atheists among the bonzes;" but there were also those who maintained idolatry, and a third group "attempted to combine them by making up a body of doctrine where they taught a double law which they call the exterior law and the interior law". Lecomte thus clearly envisioned the religion of Fo as a major religion of Asia with an Indian founder, a history of nearly 3,000 years, several sects, and much clergy in countries from India to Japan. However, instead of the name "Buddha," which is today more familiar to us, Lecomte uses the Chinese words Fo (Buddha) or Xekia (Shakya)...

[ B]ased on Ziegenbalg who had conflated the Sammanergol and Buddergol creeds into a single religion, La Croze used Shaivite critiques of the Jains to characterize the teachings of the "disciples of Budda":
These Sammaneens, disciples of Budda, blaspheme openly the religion of Vishnu and Ishvara [Shiva] and forced the Malabars to profess their [religion]. They neither apply red earth nor cow dung ash and do not at all observe the outer purification of the body through ablutions. Apart from having idols which they worship, they do not seem like a religion. This cannot mean anything other than that they neither knew nor worshiped the Lord of all beings. They regarded all men as equal and did not make any distinction between the different castes or tribes. They detested the theological books of the Brahmins and wanted that the world submit, willingly or by force, to their laws. They say that this religion neither resembled Mohammedanism nor Christianity. In a word, in their eyes this was an infamous and miserable sect.)

Shaivite literature critical of the Jains along with Tamil Siddha texts, translated by Ziegenbalg into German and applied to the "disciples of Budda" by La Croze, thus gave rise in Europe to the persistent idea that this religion was fiercely opposed to the caste system and that this opposition had played a role in its extinction in India as well as its dispersion to other Asian countries. But most important for La Croze was the allegation, reported by Ziegenbalg, that for the monotheistic Indians the creed of the Sammaneens did "not seem like a religion." La Croze concluded that they were atheists and established the link between these Indian "atheists" and that of Buddhists as described by de Rhodes (1651; Vietnam), Navarrete (1676; China), and de la Loubere (1691; Thailand)....

With regard to this religion of the "Sammaneens, the disciples of Budda," La Croze specified, partly based on Ziegenbalg, that it fought against the religion of Vishnu and Shiva and its customs, does not know God in spite of its veneration of idols, is opposed to castes, regards all men as equal, hates the theological books of the Brahmins, resembles neither Islam nor Christianity, and tries to convert people of other creeds. Though this pan-Asian religion agrees with that of the Malabaris about "the doctrine of transmigration of souls, the cult of idols, and some other superstitious opinions," its "absolute ignorance of God's existence" was for La Croze the most decisive feature. He found this atheism clearly expressed not only in the reports by de la Loubere, Borri, and de Rhodes but also in the last words that the founder had reportedly uttered shortly before his death:
During the more than forty years that I preached, I have never communicated my true feelings because I only revealed the outer and apparent meaning [sens exterieur & apparent] of my doctrine wrapped in diverse symbols. I saw all of this as falsities. Concerning the inner meaning that I always regarded as true, I presently declare that the first principle and the last end of beings is the primary matter [matiere premiere], which is chaos or emptiness [le Cahos ou le Vuide] beyond which nothing is to be sought nor hoped....

We have seen in the previous chapters that the Jesuits of the Japan mission already began studying the Japanese varieties of Buddhism in the 1550s.... In his letters from Yamaguchi of 1551, Cosme de TORRES (1510-70) distinguished several groups of Japanese heathens including worshipers of Shaka, Amida, and a sect called "Jenxus" (Jap. Zen-ska, Zen sect). According to Frater Cosme, who was the first European to mention this sect by name, Zen adepts teach in two ways [dos maneras]. The first is described as follows:
One way says that there is no soul, and that when a man dies, everything dies, since they say that what has been created out of nothing [crio de nada] returns to nothing [se convierte en nada]. These are men of great meditation [grandes meditaciones], and it is difficult to make them understand the law of God. It is quite a job [mucho trabajo] to refute them.

According to Fr. Cosme's subsequent letter of October 20, 1551, these men held that "hell and punishment for the evil ones are not in another life but in this one" and "denied that there is a hell after a man dies". Numerous adepts of the Zen sect, both priests and laymen, informed the Jesuit missionaries that "there are no saints and that it is not necessary to search for a way [buscar su caminho] since what had come into existence from nothing could not but return to nothing [que de nada foi echo, nao puede deixar de se comvertir em nadie]". When the missionaries tried to convince these representatives of Zen that "there is a principle that constitutes the origin of all other things," the Japanese are said to have replied:
This [nothing] is a principle from which all things arise: men, animals, plants: every created thing has in itself this principle, and when men or animals die they return to the four elements, into that which they had been, and this principle returns to that which it is. This principle, they say, is neither good nor bad, knows neither glory nor punishment, neither dies nor lives, in a manner that it is a "no" [de manera que es hum no].

Such views uncannily resemble the "internal teaching" described in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries... In contrast to the inner teaching, the second manner of teaching described by Frater Cosme seems to accept an eternal soul and transmigration:
There are others who say that souls [las animas] have existed and will exist forever and that with the death of the body each of the four elements returns to its own place, as does the soul that returns into what it was before it animated that body. Others say that, after the death of the body, the souls return to enter different bodies and thus ceaselessly are born and die again.

This teaching encapsulates essential elements of what later came to be known as the "exterior" teaching of Buddhism: an eternal soul and transmigration.... In the catechism of 1586, Alessandro VALIGNANO's entire presentation of doctrines and sects is based on the distinction between provisional (gon) and real (jitsu) teachings.

Today we know that various forms of this "gon-jitsu" distinction played a major role in the history of Buddhism. During the first centuries of the common era, when the Indian religion took root in China, various classification schemes (Ch. panjiao) were created by the Chinese[???] to bring order into a bewildering array of Buddhist doctrines and texts. Some made use of the Indian Buddhist "two-truths" scheme, which asserts that, apart from the absolute truth of the awakened, there is also a provisional truth designed to accommodate deluded beings and help them reach enlightenment.... A related distinction is that between exoteric and esoteric teachings (Jap. kengyo and mikkyo) that was promoted, among others, by the famous founder of Japanese esoteric Buddhism, Kakai. But in the sixteenth century most of this was unknown. However, through the inclusion of Valignano's catechism in Antonio Possevino's Bibliotheca selecta of 1593, the distinction between provisional and real (or exoteric and esoteric) teachings and sects in Japan gained a foothold in Europe among Jesuits, their students, and some sections of Europe's educated class.

As early as the mid-sixteenth century, Jesuit missionaries also linked this distinction between exoteric and esoteric doctrines with phases of the Buddha's life. In 1551 Japanese Buddhists informed the Jesuit brother Juan Fernandez, who spoke some Japanese, that the founder of their religion, Shaka, "also wrote books so that they would pray to him and be saved." But at the age of 49 years, so Fernandez reported, Shaka had suddenly changed his approach and confessed that "in the past he had been ignorant, which is why he wrote so much." Based on his own experience Shaka thereafter discouraged people from reading his old writings and advocated "meditation in order to learn about oneself and of one's end". In the first comprehensive report about Buddhist sects and doctrines that reached the West (the Sumario de los errores of 1556), certain Buddhist texts were thus associated with specific sects, and Shaka was said to have dismissed his earlier writings: "They said that many people followed him and that he had 80,000 disciples. And ultimately, after having spent 44 years writing these scriptures, he said that nothing of that was true and that all was fombem (Jap. hoben, expedient means]".

However, Matteo Ricci's 1615 description of the sect of "sciequia or omitofo" (Shakya/Amitabha) and the corresponding Japanese teaching of "sotoqui" (Jap. hotoke, that is, buddhas) shows no trace of such a fundamental distinction between expedient and true teaching and exhibits little familiarity with Buddhism's "multitude of books" that, according to Ricci, "were either brought from the West or (which is more likely) composed in the Kingdom of China itself"....

But after Ricci's death in 1610 and the publication of his view of Chinese religions by Trigault (1615), Ricci's critic Joao RODRIGUES (1561-1633) applied the distinction between exoteric and esoteric teachings more broadly to all three major religions of China and linked it to the ancient use of symbols in the Middle East and Egypt.... For Rodrigues this common root was lodged in Mesopotamia and associated with Zoroaster and the evil habit of the elites to mislead the common people by hiding the true doctrine under a coat of symbols....

Rodrigues's ideas and scholarship burrowed their way into the minds of other missionaries. One of them was the Milanese Cristoforo BORRl (1583-1632) who lived in Saigon from 1610 to 1623. His report about Cochinchina, published in 1631, gave the distinction between the exoteric and esoteric teachings of Buddhism a fateful twist.
He reported that Xaca had immediately after his enlightenment written books about the esoteric teaching:

Therefore returning home, he wrote several books and large volumes on this subject, entitling them, "Of Nothing;" wherein he taught that the things of this world, by reason of the duration and measure of time, are nothing; for though they had existence, said he, yet they would be nothing, nothing at present, and nothing in time to come, for the present being but a moment, was the same as nothing.

He argued likewise about moral things, reducing everything to nothing. Then he gathered scholars, and the doctrine of nothing was spread all over the East. However, the Chinese were opposed to this doctrine and rejected it, whereupon Xaca "changed his mind, and retiring wrote several other great books, teaching that there was a real origin of all things, a lord of heaven, hell, immortality, and transmigration of souls from one body to another, better or worse, according to the merits or demerits of the person; though they do not forget to assign a son of heaven and hell for the souls of departed, expressing the whole metaphorically under the names of things corporeal, and of the joys and sufferings of this world". While the Chinese gladly received the "external," modified teaching of Xaca, the teaching of nothing also survived, for instance, in Japan in the dominant "gensiu" (Jap. Zen-sha, Zen sect). According to Borri, it was exactly this acceptance in Japan that had the Buddha explain on his deathbed that the doctrine of nothingness was his true teaching:
The Japanese and others making so great account of this opinion of nothing, was the cause that when Xaca the author of it approached his death, calling together his disciples, he protested to them on the word of a dying man, that during the many years he had lived and studied, he had found nothing so true, nor any opinion so well grounded as was the sect of nothing; and though his second doctrine seemed to differ from it, yet they must look upon it as no contradiction or recantation, but rather a proof and confirmation of the first, though not in plain terms, yet by way of metaphors and parables, which might all be applied to the opinion of nothing, as would plainly appear by his books.

Of course, Borri's tale lacks all historical perspective and has the Buddha make decisions based on events (the introduction of Buddhism to China and Japan) that happened many centuries later. But for people who have no idea of the history of this religion, its attribution of motives to the founder must have sounded believable, and Borri's book was one of the early works on East Asia that was widely read and translated. This story, in my opinion, forms the kernel of the Buddha's "deathbed confession" tale. Borri appears to have spun it on the basis of information from Japan, from Rodrigues, and possibly also Vietnamese informants, in order to make sense of the different teachings of this religion whose founder is Xaca = Buddha....

Instead of first teaching about emptiness and subsequently "accommodating" Chinese or Indian sensibilities in a manner that resembles the Jesuit mission strategy, the founder of Buddhism was exposed as a liar and fraud who never told anyone about his nihilism and for forty-nine years preached an "exterior" doctrine he did not believe in
....It combined elements from Jesuit letters and reports from Japan (particularly those regarding the Zen sect), Valignano's catechism, Rodrigues's reports, and Borri's and de Rhodes's tales and molded them into an easily understood deathbed confession story that not only exposed the founder's profound character flaw but also furnished a simple classification scheme for variants of his religion....


But there is a third, extremely competent Jesuit Sinologist who remained in the shadows though his knowledge of Chinese far surpassed that of de Guignes and all other Europe-based early Sinologists (and, one might add, even many modern ones). His works suffered a fate resembling that of the man who was in many ways his predecessor, Joao Rodrigues (see Chapter 1) in that they were used but rarely credited. The man in question was Claude de VISDELOU (1656-1737), who spent twenty-four years in China (1685-1709) and twenty-eight years in India (1709-37)....

After his arrival in China in 1685, the linguistically gifted Frenchman made such fast progress in learning Chinese that even China's crown prince was astonished. In a letter dated January 20, 1728, De Visdelou remembers a scene from the year 1790:
When I was five years in China and had begun to devote myself to reading Chinese books for barely four years, emperor Kangxi ordered me and one of my companions to come from Canton to Beijing. We were directly led to the palace. The emperor was gravely ill, and we could not see him. The crown prince of the empire who conducted affairs in place of his father was told that a European had arrived who within four years had acquired knowledge of the canonical books and the classics. The prince soon appeared at the door asking where that foreigner was. Here he is, I answered, after I had prostrated in the manner of the land. The prince immediately ordered that a volume of the canonical book called Shujing be brought, i.e., the Canonical History. Opening it at random, he asked me to stand up and read it; I did so and explained it in the presence of several persons who accompanied the prince. Since the Chinese have a high opinion of themselves and their products, the prince was in admiration and said the following words: "Ta-ting, i.e., he understands very well." The crown prince did not leave it at this verbal testimony but also wanted to provide an authentic attestation, written in Chinese characters on a piece of satin one aune in length and half an aune in width. It said: "We recognize that this man from Europe is loftier in intelligence [lumiere] and in the knowledge of Chinese characters than the clouds floating above our heads, and that he is more profound in penetration and knowledge than the abyss on which we tread."

Seven years after this incident, de Visdelou dictated a few pages about the religions of China to the visiting Mr. Basset in order to explain the background of a regional persecution of Christians. Basset's notes made their way to Paris and into the hands of Father Le Gobien who edited and used them as introduction to his book about the edict of tolerance issued by the Chinese emperor (1698), which was then used by Bayle and Diderot. Already the first few lines show the extent and character of Le Gobien's editorial interference. He was an inclusivist in the line of Matteo Ricci who shared the opinion of the vast majority of Jesuits that the ancient religion of China (and Confucianism as its successor) had venerated the true God. De Visdelou, by contrast, was one of the few dissenters in the line of Joio Rodrigues who thought that ancient Chinese religion and Confucianism were forms of atheism. Already the initial paragraphs of de Visdelou's report as taken down by Basset were heavily edited by Le Gobien and exhibit an immense difference of opinion. De Visdelou only discussed modern Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism and lost no word about an ancient Chinese monotheism. The latter was added by Le Gobien, who claimed that this ancient Confucianism was still extant with the Chinese emperor as head...
De Visdelou's dictation text (c. 1696) [a]

I cannot dispense myself from providing a general idea of the different sects of China. Without this one would not understand the thinking of the Viceroy who compares them among themselves and with the Christian religion. It is sufficiently known that there are three principal ones of which the first is that of the philosopher scholars (l mean the modern philosophers, not the ancient ones). The second one is that of the brachmanes, and the third that of the bonzes.

The first is the dominant one ... [etc.]

The second sect which I call that of the brachmanes of China (they themselves take this name. Because the name of polomen, which they give to themselves, is the Indian brahmen travestied as Chinese, [and] because [this religion] has really been brought from the Indies to China by the brachmanes.) It has many names in China.

Le Gobien's published text (1698)

Since the history I write concerns only religion, I cannot dispense myself from providing to my reader a general idea of the different sects that are current in China. There are four principal ones.

The first is of those who, less by a feeling of piety than by respect for the ancients, recognize in the world a superior spirit, eternal, almighty, and much like the one known in the first centuries of the monarchy as the Lord of Heaven. It must be admitted that the number of these veritable worshippers is not very great, even though the Emperor is their head and has often declared that it was to God that he offered the sacrifices in the temples and not to those inferior and imaginary spirits with which the people is so ridiculously infatuated.

The second is the dominant one ... [etc.]

The third sect current among the Chinese can be called the religion of the Brachmanes or Bramenes, and they themselves call it by that name. Because Polomen, which is [the word] they use, is the Bramen of the Indians which they could not pronounce and that they apparently travestied in their language....

Claude de Visdelou got much unattributed exposure in Paris when Le Gobien's book on the Chinese emperor's edict (whose introduction, as we have seen, is a heavy-handed edition of de Visdelou's dictated words about Chinese religions) became the joint subject of a hearing at the Sorbonne on July 1, 1700. One of the five propositions that was condemned on October 18 of the same year was from Le Gobien's Histoire de l'edit de l'empereur de La Chine (1698) and the rest from Lecomte's Nouveaux memoires sur l'etat present de La Chine (whose 1698 edition also contained Le Gobien's book, as previously mentioned) and his Lettre au due du Maine sur les ceremonies de la Chine. The central point of contention of all five condemned propositions is exactly the "first religion" that Le Gobien had added to de Visdelou's report. De Visdelou, like Rodrigues before him, was familiar enough with Chinese literature and religion to realize that Ricci's and his successors' monotheistic idealization of ancient Chinese religion and of classical Confucianism was a pipe dream. He was also staunchly opposed to Bouvet's, Premare's, and Foucquet's attempts to somehow make the Yijing (Book of Changes), the Daodejing (Book of the Way and its Power), or other Chinese classics into a kind of Asian Old Testament where the Dao would appear as creator God and prophecies of lambs, sacrificed saviors, and virgin mothers abounded.

De Visdelou's opposition to such views and his willingness to furnish proofs from Chinese sources to those who fought such figurist and accommodationist fantasies eventually led to his consecration as a bishop, his ouster from China and the Jesuit order, and twenty-eight years of exile in southeast India. The French government did not allow him to return to France, and he was forced to spend the rest of his life (1709-37) in exile at the house of the French Franciscans in Pondicherry. There he used his large library of Chinese books to produce works, reports, and translations of rare quality.
Unlike his colleagues in the China mission, he could devote almost all his time to study, and unlike the scholars in Paris scavenging his work, he had twenty-four years of China experience under his belt and was arguably the most competent Western Sinologist of his time. Like Fourmont (his junior by seventeen years) and later de Guignes, de Visdelou was able to use sources not only in the major European languages and Chinese but also in Arabic and Persian. He was thus perfectly positioned to correct and supplement the famous Bibliotheque Orientale of seventeenth-century Europe's foremost Orientalist, Barthelemy D'HERBELOT DE MOLAINVILLE (1625-95), one of de Guignes's eminent predecessors as holder of the chair of Syriac from 1692 to 1695. De Visdelou remarked that d'Herbelot's Turkic, Arabic, and Persian sources contained much information about Central and East Asia that was either incorrect or questionable, and he decided to "redress the Mahometan histories in what they falsely assert about China and Tartary" by furnishing alternative or supplementary information from Chinese sources.

The resulting work by de Visdelou, written at the beginning of the eighteenth century, only saw publication in 1779. De Visdelou gave it a title that almost says it all:
Abbreviated history of Tartary, containing the origin of the people who appeared with verve in this vast land more than two thousand years ago; their religion, their manners, customs, wars, and the revolutions of their empires together with the chronological and genealogical sequence of their emperors; all of this preceded and followed by critical observations on several entries of the Bibliotheque Orientale. (1779:46)

His manuscript came in four tomes that -- according to the geographer Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville (1776:33) -- were sent from Pondicherry to the Academician and economic historian Jean-Roland Mallet.

D'Anville, whose New Atlas of China appeared in the year of de Visdelou's death (1737), appreciated de Visdelou's manuscripts for their precious information about many places in Central and North Asia whose Chinese names de Visdelou had managed to identify and whose descriptions from Chinese sources he furnished and expertly translated. D'Anville must have been particularly interested in de Visdelou's additions to d'Herbelot, his summary and translations from Chinese dynastic histories about the nations north and west of China, and his Latin translation of the history of the Mongols. If both the academician Mallet (who died in 1736) and d'Anville (member of the Academy of Inscriptions and Literature) had their hands on these precious manuscripts, it is likely that fellow Academy member Fourmont -- at the time the only man in Paris reputed to be expert in both Arabic and Chinese -- and/or his disciples de Guignes and Deshauterayes were also in the loop. Apart from his work on Tartary and the Mongols, de Visdelou had also sent an annotated translation of the Shujing (Classic of History; unpublished but used by Deshauterayes), an annotated translation of the eighth-century Nestorian stele of Xi'an (partly published by Voltaire's nephew Abbe Vincent Mignot in 1760), and a long letter about the Yijing or Book of Changes (used by Mignot in 1761-62 and published by de Guignes in 1770). De Visdelou's four-volume work on Tartary and the inserted manuscript with his annotated translation of the Nestorian stele somehow ended up in The Hague where Jean Neaulme, the well-known publisher of Voltaire and Rousseau, purchased them for 400 Dutch florins and communicated them to the bibliophile Prosper Marchand (c. 1675-1756) and others.

Jean Neaulme resided in Paris between 1740 and 1750 and sought the advice of specialists regarding its publication. In the course of this examination, the inserted small manuscript containing Visdelou's expertly annotated translation of the Nestorian stele of Xian was also discovered. Neaulme asked several professors for advice (the names s'Gravensande and de Joncourt are mentioned, p. iii); and if anybody in Paris would be consulted for this prospective publication involving Chinese as well as Arabic and Persian, it would have been Fourmont or his disciples de Guignes and Deshauterayes. Abel-Remusat and others had long suspected that de Guignes had used de Visdelou's Tartar manuscript; but only in the summer of 2008 did I find the conclusive proof of this among the papers of Fourmont at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. The Fourmont dossier contains dozens of pages in de Guignes's hand, copied word for word from de Visdelou's Tartar manuscript. The notes contain references indicating that these copies from de Visdelou's manuscript were very voluminous.

In 1751 de Guignes published a 24-page prospectus for a large work on the origin of the Huns and Turks (Memoire historique sur l'origine des Huns et des Turks, adresse a M. Tavenot) whose central argument and methodology eerily resemble those of de Visdelou's manuscript on the Tartars. In various places in his manuscript, de Visdelou had advanced the idea that the Xiongnu, a horse-mounted nomad people of the steppe that had for many centuries invaded and threatened the Chinese empire, might correspond to the people known to Europe as "the Huns." The first section of de Visdelou's Abbreviated History of Tartary in the same manuscript deals exactly with the empire of the Xiongnu and begins as follows:
The Toum-hou, or Oriental Tartars, recognize as first father of their nation Yen-yue, son of the emperor of China named Kao-sin who began his reign 2,432 years before the Christian era .... The Hioum-nou or Occidental Tartars (which may be the Huns whom the Greeks called [x] and the Romans Hunni) drew their origin from Chun-vei, son of a Chinese emperor of the Hia dynasty, which ended in the year 1767 before the Christian era.

De Visdelou then goes on to cite at length Chinese historians about the Xiongnu and concludes that this people (which the Chinese eventually labeled Hioum-nou [Xiongnu]) "may be those who appeared in Europe in the fourth century under the name of Huns".

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Part 4 of 4

De Guignes's Visdelou-inspired view that the Xiongnu are identical with the Huns formed the basis of his 4-volume magnum opus: Histoire generale des Huns, des Turcs, des Mogols, et des autres tartares occidentaux, & c. avant Jesus-Christ jusqu a present. It was an immediate success and received praise from many eminent men including Edward Gibbon, the author of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, who called it a "great history" and praised de Guignes for having "laid open new and important scenes in the history of mankind". Such interest was understandable since the hitherto isolated islands of Chinese dynastic histories and the history of the late Roman Empire received a connecting link that showed the origins of Europe in a new, far more global light.

But where did the Chinese and the Huns ultimately come from? De Guignes addresses this question at the beginning of his second volume. Like his teacher Fourmont, de Guignes's vision of origins was thoroughly biblical: "Only Moses has in few words reported the sequence of generations before the deluge, and it is a fact worthy of mention that the histories of all nations stop in unison around the times that approach this great catastrophe". As the fictions of antiquity-obsessed Egyptians and Chaldeans had supposedly all vanished under the gaze of critical scholars like Fourmont, it was now de Guignes's turn to confirm that the histories of the Chinese "do not at all contradict the account of Moses" but rather "indirectly confirm it".
The Huns do not seem less ancient than these famous people. They are mentioned in the history from the first beginnings of Chinese monarchy; they thus are part of those colonies that abandoned the plains of Shinar shortly after the deluge. One might be tempted to believe that these two nations [the Huns and the Chinese] stem from the same people.

Though de Guignes was reluctant to discuss topics without any base in some historical record, he developed a scenario that traced the course of the Chinese people from Shinar in Mesopotamia to Persia and along the Silk Road to China. Another colony turned north from Shinar toward Armenia where it split into a western and eastern branch. The first went on to form the ancient Europeans, whereas the second formed the Tartar nations including those that the Chinese from the Han period onward called Hiong-nou or Huns. These Huns had reportedly established an empire as early as 1230 B.C.E., and de Guignes spent much of the rest of his four volumes tracing their fate....

In 1758, just before the fourth and last volume of his History of the Huns went to press, de Guignes had the printer set the following stunning announcement on the last page of his work:
At the beginning of the second part of the first volume of this work, I made some reflections about the origin of the Chinese. I then believed that these peoples came directly from the plains of Shinar. New researches oblige me to change my view and to beg the reader not to pay any attention to what is said about this subject in the first two or three pages. The Chinese are only a rather modern colony of the Egyptians. I have proved this in a paper read at the Academy. The Chinese characters are nothing more than monograms formed by Egyptian and Phoenician letters, and the first emperors of China are the ancient Kings of Thebes....

How could an author who had just finished his 4-volume magnum opus, erected on the reliability of Chinese annals, rip out its foundation on the last page? It was by no means only a problem of "the first two or three pages," as de Guignes suggested. If the Chinese were a "rather modern colony of the Egyptians," then central pillars of de Guignes's argument like "the Huns were not less ancient than the Chinese who knew them even before the Hia Dynasty, which began its reign in 2207 before Jesus Christ" or "the establishment of the empire of the Huns must be dated to the year 1230 before Jesus Christ", crumbled to dust. What in the world had happened?...

The question of the relationship of Chinese religion to its supposed Egyptian origins was a central one. In 1775 de Guignes finally addressed it in a report, while admitting that this issue of religion was "the most difficult, the most important, and the least likely to furnish the kind of proofs I was looking for". In spite of Jesuit speculation about ancient Chinese monotheism, little was known about ancient Chinese religion, and the exoteric/esoteric division in Chinese religion was not specific enough to allow a clear identification of Egyptian origins.


The Forty-Two Sections Sutra

De Guignes had a kind of Bible for all things Chinese. Whether he was writing about Chinese history or religion, on virtually every page he either refers to or quotes from the Wenxian tongkao (Comprehensive examination of literature) compiled by MA Duanlin (1245-1322). Published after twenty years of work in 1321, this masterpiece of Chinese historiography soon became indispensable because it provided thematically arranged extracts from a very wide range of other Chinese works. Students preparing for China's civil service examinations sometimes memorized Ma's chapter introductions, and missionaries and early Western Sinologists appreciated the giant work because it furnished so much (and so judiciously selected) textual material from original sources.
One can say that this excellent work is by itself equivalent to an entire library and that even if Chinese literature would only consist of this work it would be worth the trouble to learn Chinese just to read this. It is not only about China that one would learn much but also a large part of Asia, and regarding everything that is most important and noteworthy about its religions, legislation, rural economics and politics, commerce, agriculture, natural history, history, physical geography, and ethnography. One only has to choose the subject which one wants to study and then to translate what Ma Duanlin has to say about it. All the facts are reported and classified, all sources indicated, and all authorities cited and discussed.

This was the work that men like de Visdelou and de Guignes always seemed to have at hand; and some China missionaries only appeared to be so well read because they failed to mention that Ma Duanlin was the source of their quotations from so many Chinese works (p. 171). It was in the Wenxian tongkao that de Guignes found much of the material for his History of the Huns, and the influence of this collection was so great that Abel-Remusat stated in 1829 that Ma Duanlin alone was at the origin "of the large part of positive knowledge that one has so far acquired in Europe about Chinese antiquity"....

In the introduction to his Buddhism sections, Ma Duanlin recounts the traditional story about the dream of Emperor Ming of the Han dynasty (re. 58-75 CE.) and the introduction of Buddhism to China. The emperor saw a spirit flying in his palace courtyard, was told that this had to do with an Indian sage called Buddha, and sent an embassy to India. Accompanied by two Indian monks, this embassy brought the Forty-Two Sections Sutra and a statue of the Buddha on a white horse back to China in 65 CE. The famous White Horse Monastery (Baimasi) was built near the capital Chang'an (today's Xian) in order to store this precious text and China's first Buddha statue....

[T]his Story turned out to be a classic foundation myth. Today we know that there is no evidence that such an embassy ever took place; that the oldest extant Story of Emperor Ming's dream had a man as leader of the ambassadors who had lived two hundred years earlier; that Buddhism was introduced to China before the first century of the common era; that the first references to a White Horse Monastery date from the third century CE.; and of course, as is the rule with such myths, that striking details -- such as the first Buddha image and the two Indian monks accompanying the white horse -- enter the game suspiciously late (here in the fifth century).

While this tale of the introduction of Buddhism to China is today regarded as a legend without any historical basis, the Forty-Two Sections Sutra itself has a reasonable claim to antiquity.... some of its maxims and sayings are documented from the second century onward and that some of the vocabulary of the text indicates (or wants to indicate) an origin in the first centuries CE. The scholarly consensus in Japan holds that the text as we know it stems not from the first or second century but is a Chinese compilation dating from the fifth century CE. that combined passages and sayings from a number of different Buddhist texts.

Twentieth-century research has also revealed that there are three major versions of this text. The first, included in the Korean Buddhist canon, appears to more or less closely reproduce the original fifth-century compilation and is here called "standard version." The version used by de Guignes, by contrast, first emerged around 800 CE. and contains some sections that are strikingly different from the standard version.

Since exactly these modified sections are of central importance for de Guignes's interpretation of "Indian religion," a bit more information is needed here. The book entitled Baolin zhuan ("Treasure Forest Biographies") of 801 -- which was the first text to include the modified Forty-Two Sections Sutra -- is known as a scripture of the Chan or Zen tradition of Chinese Buddhism. Rather than a separate "sect" in the ordinary sense, this was a typical reform movement involving Buddhist monks of a variety of different affiliations who had a particular interest in meditation and wanted to link their reform to the founder's "original teaching." For this purpose, lineages of transmission were created out of whole cloth, and soon enough the founder Buddha was linked to his eighth-century Chinese "successors" by a direct line of Indian patriarchs at whose end stood Bodhidharma, the legendary figure who fulfills the role of transmitter and bridge between India and China. Needless to say, all this was a pious invention to legitimize and anchor the reform movement in the founder's "original" teaching that supposedly was transmitted "mind to mind" by an unbroken succession of enlightened teachers reaching back to the Buddha. According to this very creative Story line, the Buddha once showed a flower to his assembly and only one member, his disciple Mahakashyapa, smiled. He thus became the first Indian "Zen" patriarch who had received the Buddha's formless transmission. Such transmission lineages had much evolved since their modest beginnings in genealogies of Buddhist masters of Kashmir and in Tiantai Buddhist lore. In the eighth century, Zen sympathizers tested a number of variants until, in the year 801, a model emerged that carried the day. This was the model of the Baolin zhuan featuring twenty-seven Indian patriarchs and the twenty-eighth patriarch Bodhidharma, the legendary founder of Zen whom Engelbert Kaempfer had depicted crossing the sea to China on a reed.

The partially extant first chapter of this "Treasure Forest" text presented the biography of the founder, Shakyamuni Buddha, and this chapter contained the modified text of the Forty-Two Sections Sutra. The setting is, of course, significant: the sutra is uttered just after the Buddha's enlightenment and thus constitutes the founder's crucial first teaching. This alone was quite a daring innovation that turned a collection of maxims, anecdotes, and rules into a founder's oration. But the ninth-century editor of the Baolin zhuan went one significant step further. Not content faithfully to quote the conventional text of the sutra, he changed various sections and added passages that clearly reflected his own reformist "Zen" agenda. This method of putting words into the founder's mouth was and is, of course, popular in many religions; but in this case it was a particularly effective ploy. Not only did the Buddha now utter things that furthered the editor's sectarian agenda -- and turned the text into a "sutra" -- but he said these things in his very first speech after enlightenment! And this speech formed a text that was not just any text but the reputedly first and oldest text of Buddhism and for good measure also the first one to make its way to China and to be translated into Chinese! What better pedigree and vehicle for reformist teachings could one wish for?

The Zen movement as a whole was crowned with brilliant success, as Ma Duanlin's list of Buddhist literature in fascicle 227 of his work shows: more than one-third of the eighty-three listed texts are products of the Zen tradition (for example, the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, Blue Cliff Record, and Records of Linji). The "Zen-ified" text of the Forty-Two Sections Sutra, too, was a smashing success. It became by far the most popular version of this sutra, was printed and reprinted with various commentaries, and in the Song period was even included as the first of the "three classics" (Ch. sanjing) of Buddhism. A copy of it found its way into the Royal Library in Paris, and this is the text de Guignes set out to translate in the early 1750s. It is worthy of note that it was exactly the most "Zen-ified" version of this text that served to introduce Europe to Buddhist sutras, that is, sermons purportedly uttered by the Buddha.

The difference between the three major versions of the Forty-Two Sections Sutra is of great interest as it exhibits the motives of their respective editors. For example, the end of section nine of the standard version reads as follows:
Feeding one billion saints is not as good as feeding one solitary buddha (pratyekabudda). Feeding ten billion solitary buddhas is not as good as liberating one's parents in this life by means of the teaching of the three honored ones. To teach one hundred billion parents is not as good as feeding one buddha, studying with the desire to attain buddhahood, and aspiring to liberate all beings. But the merit of feeding a good man is [still] very great. It is better for a common man to be filial to his parents than for him to serve the spirits of Heaven and Earth, for one's parents are the supreme spirits.

Whether one regards the portions of the text that are here emphasized by bold type as interpolations or not, their emphasis on filial piety clearly exhibits the Chinese character of this text and fits into the political climate of fifth-century China. The Imperial Zhenzong edition (Zen version A), which adopted a number of the "Zen" changes from the Baolin zhuan, leaves out part of the first phrase but also praises filial piety:
Feeding one billion saints is not as good as feeding one solitary buddha (pratyekabudda). Feeding ten billion solitary buddhas is not as good as feeding one buddha, studying with the desire to attain buddhahood, and aspiring to liberate all beings. But the merit of feeding a good man is [still] very great. It is better for a common man to be filial to his parents than for him to serve the spirits of Heaven and Earth, for one's parents are closest.

For a religion whose clergy must "leave home" (ch. chujia) and effectively abandon parents and relatives in order to join the family of the monastic sangha, this call for filial piety may seem a little odd; but this kind of passage certainly helped fend off Confucian criticism about Buddhism's lack of filial piety. Compared to the standard edition, the "imperial" edition (Zen version A) effectively sidelined the issue and made it clear that "feeding one buddha, studying with the desire to attain buddhahood, and aspiring to liberate all beings" is the highest goal. The Shousui text (Zen version B), by contrast, mentions not one word about filial piety and advocates a rather different ideal:
Feeding one billion saints is not as good as feeding one solitary buddha (pratyekabudda). Feeding ten billion solitary buddhas is not as good as feeding one of the buddhas of the three time periods. And feeding one hundred billion buddhas of the three time periods is not as good as feeding someone who is without thought and without attachment, and has nothing to attain or prove.

This goal reflects the agenda of the Zen sympathizer who edited the Forty-Two Sections Sutra around the turn of the ninth century and decided to put this novel teaching straight into the mouth of the newly enlightened Buddha. De Guignes, who used a "Zen version B" text, translated the part emphasized by bold type quite differently from my rendering above:
One billion O-lo-han are inferior to someone who is in the degree of Pie-tchi-fo, and ten billion Pietchi-fo inferior to someone who has reached the degree of San-chi-tchu-fo. Finally, one hundred billion Sanchi-tchu-fo are not comparable to one who no more thinks, who does nothing, and who is in a complete insensibility of all things.

This last passage played a crucial role in de Guignes's definition of the Samaneens and their ideal. He interpreted the different stages of perfection as stages of rebirth and purification. This conception lies at the heart of his view that the ideal Samaneens, who in the Zen version B text are credited with exactly such absence of discriminating thought and attachment, represent the ultimate stage of transmigration before union with the Supreme Being. Theirs is the "religion of annihilation" de Guignes found at the very beginning of the Sutra text where the Buddha says, "He who abandons his father, his mother, and all his relatives in order to occupy himself with the knowledge of himself and to embrace the religion of annihilation is called Samaneen". The corresponding standard text defines the Samaneens as follows: "The Buddha said: Those who leave their families and their homes to practice the way are called sramanas." The Zen text version A and also version B used by de Guignes, by contrast, have: "The Buddha said: A home-leaver or sramana cuts off all desire and frees himself from attachment, understands the source of his own mind, attains the Buddha's profound principle, and awakens to the doctrine of wu-wei." This "doctrine of wu-wei" (literally, "nonaction") was interpreted by de Guignes as "religion of annihilation." It was thus exactly the eight-character-phrase [x] ("know the mind / reach the source / understand the doctrine of wu-wei") that the Zen editor had slipped into the opening passage that inspired de Guignes to define the religion of the Samaneens as a "religion of annihilation." He found this ideal confirmed in other passages of his Forty-Two Sections Sutra....

An anonymous British reviewer once described de Guignes as a man who is "almost always wading through the clouds of philology, to snuff up conjectures."... But de Guignes's tendency to take some ambiguous drop of information and to wring earth-shattering torrents of conclusions from it is already in evidence in his very first translation from the Forty-Two Sections Sutra. His interpretation of the first word of the sutra's preface, as it happens, was just such a "cloud of philology," and the house of cards de Guignes built on this one-legged stool was of a truly astonishing scale. This was de Guignes's first attempt to come to terms with the content and history of the creed that he called "Indian religion" and to introduce the central and oldest text by this religion's founder...

De Guignes's translation of this preface makes one doubt his grasp of classical Chinese... the "subject-verb-past particle" structure should have suggested something like "XX having attained the Way ... " rather than de Guignes's wayward "the veritable law of the adoration of Chi only consists in ... " For de Guignes everything turned around this "adoration of Chi." In his view this "veritable law" consisted in "meditations, removal of one's passions, and in perfect apathy." Furthermore, de Guignes thought that this preface outlined a process through which those who practice this law "pass through the different degrees of sanctity" before reaching the greatest perfection, and used this as textual support for his conception of the Samaneens as the ultimate stage of the transmigration process. But ultimately de Guignes's interpretation hinged on the meaning of the first two characters that he translated as "adoration of Chi." The first character chi (which today is romanized as shi) usually means "century" or "world." But here it forms part of the compound shizun, which in Chinese Buddhist texts is one of the most common appellations of the Buddha. It literally means "the world-honored one" and is as common in Buddhist texts as in Christian texts the phrase "our savior" that, as everyone knows, refers to Jesus.... de Guignes did not realize this and explained the meaning of the first character chi or shi as follows:...
In the Indian system, the Chi or Hazarouan corresponds perfectly to this Eon of the Valentinians who pretend that the perfect Eon resides in eternity in the highest heaven that can neither be seen nor named. They called it the first principle, the first father.

In support of this view, de Guignes here referred to the famous two-volume Critical History of Mani and Manichaeism (1734/1739) by Isaac de BEAUSOBRE (1659-1738). Citing St. Irenaeus, Beausobre had characterized this Eon of the Valentinians as "invisible, incomprehensible, eternal, and alone existing through itself" and as "God the Father" who is also called "First Father, First Principle, and Profundity". Following Beausobre, de Guignes stated that these Christian heretics "admitted a perfect Eon, the Eon of Eons," and concluded without further ado that exactly this Eon of Eons "is the Chi of the Samaneens". For de Guignes and his readers this appeared to be solid textual evidence in support of a monotheistic interpretation of esoteric Buddhism...

De Guignes's 1753 paper on the Samaneens thus ended with a monotheistic bang.
Three years later, in the History of the Huns, he spelled out some of the implications. After having once more laid out his view of the exoteric and esoteric followers of Fo and described the Samaneen as a person who "is free of all these passions, exempt of all impurity, and dies only to rejoin the unique divinity of which his soul was a detached part", de Guignes explains the Samaneen vision of God...
This supreme Being is the principle of all things, he is from all eternity, invisible incomprehensible, almighty, sovereignly wise, good, just, merciful, and self-originated. He cannot be represented by any image; one cannot worship him because he is beyond any adoration, but one can depict his attributes and worship them. This is the beginning of the idolatric cult of the peoples of India. The Samaneen who is ever occupied with meditation on this great God, only seeks to annihilate himself in order to rejoin and lose himself in the bosom of the Divinity who has pulled all things out of nothing and is itself different from matter. This is the meaning that they give to emptiness and nothingness.

For de Guignes this sovereign Being, this "great God," is the one who in the "doctrine of the Samaneens or Philosophers has the Chinese name of Chi". This fact forms the core of de Guignes's conception of the real (monotheist) religion of Buddha. He even read a creator God into the last section of his 1756 translation of the Forty-Two Sections Sutra. That section contains a passage that compares the Buddha's "method of skilful means" (Ch. fangbianmen) to a magician's trick ([x]). Like a magician in his own right, de Guignes pulled nothing less than the creatio ex nihilo out of this simple phrase. He translated it by "the creation of the universe that has been pulled from nothingness [I regard as] just the simple transformation of one thing into another"...
I thought I had to report here the major part of this work that forms the basis of the entire religion of the Samaneens. Those who glance at it will only find a Christianity of the kind that the Christian heresiarchs of the first century taught after having mixed ideas from Pythagoras on metempsychosis with some other principles drawn from India. This book could be one of those false gospels that were current at the time. With the exception of a few particular ideas, all the precepts that Fo conveys seem to be drawn from the gospel....

de Guignes suggested that the purportedly oldest book of this religion was an apocryphal Christian gospel of gnostic tendency from the early first century C.E. In a paper read in the fall of 1753 he also argued -- possibly inspired by de Visdelou's annotated translation of the Nestorian stele that repeatedly made the same point -- that the Chinese had mixed up Nestorian Christians with Buddhists. Not content with this narrow argument based on the text of the stele, he grew convinced that the Chinese mixup of Christianity with Foism happened on such a scale that they even "gave Jesus Christ the name of Fo!'. In a sense, his theory about the Forty-Two Sections Sutra was a counterpart to the story line advanced by Ruggieri and Ricci that proposed that Emperor Ming's dream about a saint from the West had been about Jesus Christ and that the imperial embassy had mistakenly brought back the idolatry of Fo instead of the truth of Christianity. According to de Guignes, however, the Chinese ambassadors had imported a heretical kind of Christianity and fallen victim to the delusion that it was the religion of Fo.... when he revisited the theme two decades later, the Christian heresiarchs and the view of the Forty-Two Sections Sutra as an apocryphal gospel had vanished like a magician's doves and rabbits....

With regard to the history of de Guignes's "Indian religion," which, as we now know, consisted mostly of Buddhism, comparatively little solid information had hitherto been available in Europe....

For information on Buddhism and its history (which for him, of course, formed part of "Indian religion"), de Guignes profited mainly from Ma Duanlin's sections on Buddhism and from the famous travelogue by the Chinese monk Faxian (337-422), who had made a long pilgrimage via Central Asia to India....

Ma Duanlin described many important figures, events, and texts of Buddhism and provided an excellent survey of the history of Chinese Buddhism up to the thirteenth century....

But apart from a few texts including the Forty-two Sections Sutra, de Guignes enjoyed no access to Buddhist literature in Chinese and could thus not study the content of the texts that were listed with so much detail....

De Guignes's discoveries were invariably of a kind that stunned the public and seemed to provide answers to important questions....

de Guignes's last great endeavor was the debunking of India as cradle of all human culture....

The most important first step consisted in proving that Indian religion was not as old as the indomaniacs claimed....Since "these Brahmins as well as the Samaneens follow the same doctrine of Fo", de Guignes found that their religion cannot be older than 1122 BCE. According to Ziegenbalg and La Croze, the Samaneens had first brought culture to India, and de Guignes read a confirmation of this in a Chinese author who wrote, "Boudha, after having examined the character of the Indians and adapting and rectifying it, succeeded in instructing and civilizing these people". All this led to de Guignes's conclusion that around 1100 BCE the Indians were still "nothing but barbarians and brigands" and that any notion of India as cradle of human civilization was pure fantasy....

[R]eaders like Herder and Sainte-Croix had no trouble understanding de Guignes's overall notion of a huge pan-Asian religion of Indian origin that consisted of "interior" and "exterior" branches. In this vision the Samaneens represent the interior doctrine -- a doctrine that, according to de Guignes, had survived not only in India but also in other countries.

In the 1750s de Guignes had only mentioned the Yogic Anbertkend and the Forty-Two Sections Sutra as representatives of the interior teaching and failed to mention the Vedas. But in the age of growing indomania, he could not avoid this discussion... For the better part of his century, the reputation of the Vedas as the oldest texts of humankind had been slowly Guignes employed a secular historical approach involving no reliance on the Bible: he linked India's sacred literature to the Buddha. Drawing his data mainly from Jean-Francois Pons ... de Guignes projected his exoteric/esoteric divide on the sacred literature of India and divided it in two categories: (1) Inner (esoteric) Doctrine Religion of the Brachmanes/Samaneens; Main scriptures: the four Vedas; strictly monotheistic [vs.] (2) Outer (exoteric) Doctrine Religion of the people; Main scripture: Dharma shastram; polytheistic...

[H]ad not the Brahmins or polomen brought their religion to China, and could the Vedas not have formed part of their baggage of sacred scriptures? Scouring through Ma Duanlin's account of the introduction of Buddhism to China, de Guignes kept encountering the terms "small vehicle" and "great vehicle." ... For de Guignes these two terms signified the religion's exoteric and esoteric branches: "From the earliest times of the establishment of this religion, the opinions of the Buddha engendered two great sects." ...

But de Guignes was not content simply to translate Ma Duanlin ... Instead he presented very interesting information about the history and texts of Buddhism in a framework of speculation that gave it a sensational touch....The second mistake was his uncritical acceptance of the Buddha's supposed "deathbed confession" (of which the Chinese sources known to him contained no trace) and the identification of Buddhism's smaller and larger vehicle with the exoteric and exoteric branch of de Guignes's "Indian religion." But the third mistake was perhaps even more spectacular: on the basis of a slight similarity of epithet, de Guignes concluded that Shakyamuni Buddha was identical with the purported redactor of the Vedas, Vyasa.
This Che-kia or Schaka was the elder son of Tcing fan, King of the country called Kia-goei-goei; his mother was called Yeou-hie, and one recounts many fables about his birth. The name Che kia is, according to the Chinese, an Indian word that signifies very good, or very compassionate (Meng-gin); this is the same person whom Mr. Dow called Beass-mouni or Beas the inspired and whom the Indians, as he reports, regard as a prophet and philosopher who composed or rather collected the Vedas....

[H]e used the Ezour-vedam as proof that the teaching of the Vedas and of the Samaneens are identical: "The most perfect state taught by the Vedas, following the Ezour-vedam, is the same as that prescribed in the books of the Samaneens, which has me believe that these books are the same as the Vedas; it is a constant ... that the doctrine is identical". The Ezour-vedam's "total absence of passion in order to occupy oneself exclusively with the knowledge of God and the truth" is thus seen as matching the core teaching of the Forty-Two Sections Sutra. This suggested a link between the Vedas and the esoteric Buddhist scriptures that the polomen had brought to China and translated into Chinese.
It is obvious, according to these missionaries, that the four Vedas did not form a single unified textual corpus because they are not generally adopted [in both the north and south].... In India there are two doctrines, an exterior one which is the religion of the people and an interior one which is that of the philosophers. There is also a rather general consensus that the Adharvana-vedam -- to which Father Pons still gives the name of Brahma vedam -- is lost....

Among the great number of Indian books that were translated into Chinese, there is one that is regarded as the basis of this Indian religion, and it carries the title of Book of Brahma. In China it is the most important book of this religion, and several translations and innumerable commentaries of it have been made. This book seems to me to be the Brahmavedam that is lost in India; but I am tempted to believe, for reasons that I will develop below, that it must be different from the Adharvanavedam. Consequently one can suspect that all the Vedas can be found in China....

[T]he Prajnaparamita literature of early Mahayana Buddhism seemed to be the Vedas translated into Chinese....

-- The Birth of Orientalism, by Urs App


[Knight Gregoire of Fronsac] We had been sailing up the St. Lawrence River for 12 days when we brought up in our nets the strangest animal that I'd ever seen.


The Indians had spoken to me of their sacred fish, but I was sure that it was only a legend.


What I saw before me was a fish in the shape and size of a trout, but whose body was entirely covered with jet-black, fine fur.

[Jean-Francois of Morangias] [Laughs]


A furry trout? Sir, you must be joking.

[Knight Gregoire of Fronsac] No, sir.


[All exclaiming] Ah!


[Knight Gregoire of Fronsac] Salmo trutta dermopilla, from Canada.

[Man] Absolutely --


[Countess of Morangias] It's as soft as mink.


[Man] Can you eat it?


[Count of Morangias] Hmm, nature is extraordinary.

[Countess of Morangias] The water must be very cold.


[Duke of Moncan] That proves that the impossible is ... sometimes possible.

[Maxime des Forets] Well said.


[Monsieur Laffont] There's a discovery that must have earned you honors in the Royal Gardens.


[Jean-Francois of Morangias] But I doubt he deserves them.


However, I do recognize, sir, your talent for comedy.
Had I both my hands, I'd applaud you.


[Count of Morangias] Jean-Francois. Would you please be kind enough to excuse him, sir?

-- Brotherhood of the Wolf, directed by Christophe Gans

In politics, a noble lie is a myth or untruth typically of religious nature, knowingly propagated by an elite to maintain social harmony or advance an agenda. The noble lie is a concept originated by Plato as described in The Republic.[2]

In religion, a pious fiction is a narrative that is presented as true by the author, but is considered by others to be fictional albeit produced with an altruistic motivation. The term is sometimes used pejoratively to suggest that the author of the narrative was deliberately misleading readers for selfish or deceitful reasons. The term is often used in religious contexts, sometimes referring to passages in religious texts.

Plato's Republic

Main article: The Republic (Plato)

Plato presented the noble lie (γενναῖον ψεῦδος, gennaion pseudos)[3] in the fictional tale known as the myth or parable of the metals in Book III. In it, Socrates provides the origin of the three social classes who compose the republic proposed by Plato. Socrates speaks of a socially stratified society as a metaphor for the soul,[citation needed] wherein the populace are told "a sort of Phoenician tale":
...the earth, as being their mother, delivered them, and now, as if their land were their mother and their nurse, they ought to take thought for her and defend her against any attack and regard the other citizens as their brothers and children of the self-same earth...While all of you, in the city, are brothers, we will say in our tale, yet god, in fashioning those of you who are fitted to hold rule, mingled gold in their generation, for which reason they are the most precious—but in the helpers, silver, and iron and brass in the farmers and other craftsmen. And, as you are all akin, though, for the most part, you will breed after your kinds, it may sometimes happen that a golden father would beget a silver son, and that a golden offspring would come from a silver sire, and that the rest would, in like manner, be born of one another. So that the first and chief injunction that the god lays upon the rulers is that of nothing else are they to be such careful guardians, and so intently observant as of the intermixture of these metals in the souls of their offspring, and if sons are born to them with an infusion of brass or iron they shall by no means give way to pity in their treatment of them, but shall assign to each the status due to his nature and thrust them out among the artisans or the farmers. And again, if from these there is born a son with unexpected gold or silver in his composition they shall honor such and bid them go up higher, some to the office of guardian, some to the assistanceship, alleging that there is an oracle that the city shall then be overthrown when the man of iron or brass is its guardian.[4]

Socrates proposes and claims that if the people believed "this myth...[it] would have a good effect, making them more inclined to care for the state and one another."[5] This is his noble lie: "a contrivance for one of those falsehoods that come into being in case of need, of which we were just now talking, some noble one..."[6]

This story references the flaws of past societies.

Modern views

Karl Popper

Main article: Karl Popper

Karl Popper accused Plato of trying to base religion on a noble lie as well. In The Open Society and Its Enemies, Popper remarks, "It is hard to understand why those of Plato's commentators who praise him for fighting against the subversive conventionalism of the Sophists, and for establishing a spiritual naturalism ultimately based on religion, fail to censure him for making a convention, or rather an invention, the ultimate basis of religion." Religion for Plato is a noble lie, at least if we assume that Plato meant all of this sincerely, not cynically. Popper finds Plato's conception of religion to have been very influential in subsequent thought.[7]

Leo Strauss

Main article: Leo Strauss

Strauss noted that thinkers of the first rank, going back to Plato, had raised the problem of whether good and effective politicians could be completely truthful and still achieve the necessary ends of their society. By implication, Strauss asks his readers to consider whether it is true that noble lies have no role at all to play in uniting and guiding the polis. He questions whether myths are needed to give people meaning and purpose and whether they ensure a stable society in contrast to the more skeptical attitude which posits that men dedicated to the relentless examination of, in Nietzschean language, "deadly truths" can flourish freely, all the while concluding with an inquiry into whether there can be a limit to the political and epistemic absolutes. In The City and Man, Strauss discusses the myths outlined in Plato's Republic that are required for all governments. These include a belief that the state's land belongs to it even though it was likely acquired illegitimately and that citizenship is rooted in something more than the accidents of birth. Seymour Hersh also claims that Strauss endorsed noble lies: myths used by political leaders seeking to maintain a cohesive society.[8][9] In The Power of Nightmares, documentary filmmaker Adam Curtis opines that "Strauss believed it was for politicians to assert powerful and inspiring myths that everyone could believe in. They might not be true, but they were necessary illusions. One of these was religion; the other was the myth of the nation."[10]

Desmond Lee

Main article: Desmond Lee

"Plato has been criticized for his Foundation Myth as if it were a calculated lie. That is partly because the phrase here translated 'magnificent myth' (p. 414b) has been conventionally mistranslated 'noble lie'; and this has been used to support the charge that Plato countenances manipulation by propaganda. But the myth is accepted by all three classes, Guardians included. It is meant to replace the national traditions which any community has, which are intended to express the kind of community it is, or wishes to be, its ideals, rather than to state matters of fact."[11]

Allan Bloom

Main article: Allan Bloom

Translator Allan Bloom argued for a literal translation and interpretation of Plato's expression:
At Book III 414 Socrates tells of the need for a "noble lie" to be believed in the city he and his companions are founding (in speech). Cornford calls it a "bold flight of invention" and adds the following note: "This phrase is commonly rendered 'noble lie', a self-contradictory expression no more applicable to Plato's harmless allegory than to a New Testament parable or the Pilgrim's Progress, and liable to suggest that he would countenance the lies, for the most part ignoble, now called propaganda..." (ibid., p. 106). But Socrates calls it a lie. The difference between a parable and this tale is that the man who hears a parable is conscious that it is an invention the truth of which is not in its literal expression, whereas the inhabitants of Socrates' city are to believe the untrue story to be true. His interlocutors are shocked by the notion, but—according to Cornford—we are to believe it is harmless because it might conjure up unpleasant associations. This whole question of lying has been carefully prepared by Plato from the very outset, starting with the discussion with old Cephalus (331 b-c). It recurs again with respect to the lies of the poets (377 d), and in the assertions that gods cannot lie (381 e-382 e) and that rulers may lie (380 b-c). Now, finally, it is baldly stated that the only truly just civil society must be founded on a lie. Socrates prefers to face up to the issue with clarity. A good regime cannot be based on enlightenment; if there is no lie, a number of compromises—among them private property—must be made and hence merely conventional inequalities must be accepted. This is a radical statement about the relationship between truth and justice, one which leads to the paradox that wisdom can rule only in an element dominated by falsehood. It is hardly worth obscuring this issue for the sake of avoiding the crudest of misunderstandings. And perhaps the peculiarly modern phenomenon of propaganda might become clearer to the man who sees that it is somehow related to a certain myth of enlightenment which is itself brought into question by the Platonic analysis.[12]

Pious fiction


Religious context

• Mainstream historical interpretations of the Hebrew Bible (i.e. the Tanakh or the Protestant Old Testament) often consider much of the Tanakh/Jewish Bible to be a pious fiction, such as the conquests of Joshua[13] and the histories of the Pentateuch.[14][15][16] The Book of Daniel has also been described as a pious fiction, with the purpose of providing encouragement to Jews.[17]
• Mainstream historical-critical approaches often view stories in the New Testament such as the Virgin Birth, the Visit of the Magi to Jesus, and others, as pious fictions.[18]
• The Book of Mormon, one of the Standard Works of the Latter Day Saint Movement, has been described as a hoax or pious fiction, and it is not accepted as containing divine revelation by those outside the Latter Day Saint movement.[19]
• The Quran, the sacred text of Islam, has been described as a pious fiction by several authors.[20][21][22] The hadith, likewise, have been described as a collection of various pious fictions by several authors.[verification needed].[21][23]
• Dale Eickelman writes that Muslim jurists employ a pious fiction when they assert that Islamic law is invariant, when in fact it is subject to change.[24]
• The relationship between the modern celebration of Christmas and the historical birth of Jesus has also been described as such.[25][26][27]

Other contexts

• Fredrick Pike describes some morale-boosting efforts during the Great Depression as pious fictions.[28]

See also

• Alternative facts
• Big lie – Gross distortion of the truth
• Bokononism
• Fictionalism
• Lie-to-children
• Morality play
• Paternalism
• Paternalistic deception
• Plato's Laws
• Santa Claus


1. Aruffo, Madeline. "Problems with the Noble Lie." Archived 2017-05-17 at the Wayback Machine Boston University. Accessed 4 December 2017.
2. Brown, Eric (2017), "Plato's Ethics and Politics in The Republic", in Zalta, Edward N. (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2017 ed.), Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University, retrieved 2019-11-26
3. Translator Allan Bloom explains, "The word is generation which is, primarily, 'noble' in the sense of 'nobly born' or 'well bred'..." and refers to Plato's Republic 375a and 409c for comparison (p. 455 n. 65, The Republic of Plato, 2nd edition, New York: Basic Books, 1991).
4. Book 3, 414e–15c
5. Book 3, 415c–d
6. 414b–c
7. "Positive Liberty » Open Society VI: On Religion as a Noble Lie". Archived from the original on 2007-12-09. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
8. Seymour M. Hersh, "Selective Intelligence", The New Yorker, May 12, 2003, accessed June 1, 2007. Archived October 16, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
9. Brian Doherty, "Origin of the Specious: Why Do Neoconservatives Doubt Darwin?" Archived 2008-07-25 at the Wayback Machine, Reason Online, July 1997, accessed February 16, 2007.
10. The Rise of the Politics of Fear; Episode 1: "Baby It's Cold Outside"
11. Plato: The Republic, Penguin Classics, translated by Desmond Lee, p177
12. pp. xviii-xix, The Republic of Plato, 2nd edition, New York: Basic Books, 1991.
13. Borras, Judit, Jewish Studies at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, BRILL, 1999, p 117: ".. the overwhelming consensus of modern scholarship is that the conquest tradition of Joshua is a pious fiction composed by the deuteronomistic school …"
14. Pete Enns. "Briefly, 3 Edgy Things about How the Old Testament Works". Pete Enns. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
15. Pete Enns. "3 Things I Would Like to See Evangelical Leaders Stop Saying about Biblical Scholarship". Pete Enns. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
16. Stanley, Christopher, The Hebrew Bible: A Comparative Approach, Fortress Press, 2009, p 123: "Minimalists begin with the fact that the Hebrew Bible did not reach its present form until well after the Babylonian exile … most the that the story was formulated by a group of elites who wanted to justify their claims to dominate … In other words, the narrative [of the Hebrew Bible] is a pious fiction that bears little relation to the actual history of Palestine during the period it purports to narrate."
17. Carson, D. A. For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God's Word, Good News Publishers, 2006, p 19: "Many critics doubt that the account of Daniel 4 is anything more than pious fiction to encourage the Jews."
18. Jones, Maurice. New Testament in the Twentieth Century. p. 63.
19. Skousen, Royal, The Book of Mormon: the earliest text, Yale University Press, 2009, p x: "Outsiders generally consider this book [the Book of Mormon] a nineteenth-century hoax or pious fiction …"
20. Berkey, Jonathan P. (2008). The formation of Islam : religion and society in the Near East, 600-1800 ([Online-Ausg.] ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 286. ISBN 978-0-521-58813-3.
21. Jump up to:a b Crone and Cook, Patricia and Michael (1980). Hagarism: the Making of the Islamic World. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 277. ISBN 978-0-521-29754-7.
22. Luxenberg, Christoph (2007). The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran: a Contribution to the Decoding of the Language of the Koran. Verlag Hans Schiler. p. 349. ISBN 978-3-89930-088-8.
23. Brown, Jonathan (2011). The Canonization of al-Bukhari and Muslim: the Formation and Function of the Sunni Hadith Canon. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 431. ISBN 978-90-04-21152-0.
24. Eickelman, Dale, Muslim politics, Princeton University Press, 2004, p 26: "Emendations and additions to purportedly invariant and complete Islamic law (sharia) have occurred throughout Islamic history…. Muslim jurists have rigorously maintained the pious fiction that there can be no change in divinely revealed law, even as they have exercised their independent judgment (ijtihad) to create a kind of de facto legislation."
25. Michael White, L. (4 May 2010). Scripting Jesus: The Gospels in Rewrite - L. Michael White - Google Books. ISBN 9780061985379. Retrieved 2011-09-27.
26. Top 20 football chants (2006-12-21). "How December 25 became Christmas Day... - Features, Unsorted". Retrieved 2011-09-27.
27. ... 405481.ece[dead link]
28. Pike, Fredrick, FDR's Good Neighbor Policy: sixty years of generally gentle chaos, University of Texas Press, 1995, p 79:
"In the Depression era, a great many Americans, north and south of the border, succumbed to the pious fiction that underlay the Krausist-Areilist-Marxist nonmaterial rewards aspect of good neighborliness… Without the occasional seasoning of pious fictions, concocted by intellectuals who in their delusions of grandeur try to introduce elements of dream live into crude reality, might not the real world be a far more vicious jungle than it is?"
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#3)

Postby admin » Fri Apr 29, 2022 10:09 am

Takeover [Hostile Takeover]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/29/22

[W]hen Ricci in [1582] moved with another Italian missionary, Michele Ruggieri, to Canton and then to Zhaoqing in South China... the two Jesuits adopted the title and vestments of the Chinese seng -- that is, they identified themselves and dressed as ordained Buddhist bonzes. Even their Ten Commandments in Chinese contained Buddhist terms; for example, the third commandment read that on holidays it was forbidden to work and one had to go to the Buddhist temple (si) in order to recite the sutras (jing) and worship the Master of Heaven (tianzhu, the Lord of devas). Ruggieri's and Ricci's first Chinese catechism, the Tianzhu shilu of 1584-the first book printed by Europeans in China -- also brimmed with Buddhist terms and was signed by "the bonzes from India" (tianzhuguo seng) (Ricci 1942:198). The doorplate of the Jesuit's residence and church read "Hermit-flower [Buddhist] temple" (xianhuasi), while the plate displayed prominently inside the church read "Pure Land of the West" (xilai jingdu). As can be seen in the report about the inscriptions on the Jesuit residence and church of Zhaoqing (Figure 1), Ruggieri translated "hermit" (xian), a term with Daoist connotations, by the Italian "santi" (saints), and the Buddhist temple (St) became an "ecclesia" (church). Even more interesting is his transformation of the Buddhist paradise or "Pure Land of the West" into "from the West came the purest fathers." This presumably referred to the biblical patriarchs, but it is not excluded that a double-entrendre Jesuit fathers from the West) was intended.

Nine years later, in 1592, when Ricci was translating the four Confucian classics, he decided to abandon his identity as a Buddhist bonze (seng); and during a visit in Macao, he asked his superior Valignano for permission also to shed his bonze's robe, begging bowl, and sutra recitation implements. The Christian churches were renamed from si to tang (a more neutral word meaning "hall"), and in 1594 the final step in this rebranding process was taken when Ricci received Valignano's permission to present himself and dress up as a Chinese literatus. It was the year when Ricci finished his translation of the four Confucian classics, the books that any Chinese wishing to reach the higher ranks of society had to study. In Ricci's view, these books contained unmistakable vestiges of ancient monotheism. In his journals he wrote,
Of all the pagan sects known to Europe, I know of no people who fell into fewer errors in the early stages of their antiquity than did the Chinese. From the very beginning of their history it is recorded in their writings that they recognized and worshipped one supreme being whom they called the King of Heaven, or designated by some other name indicating his rule over heaven and earth .... They also taught that the light of reason came from heaven and that the dictates of reason should be hearkened to in every human action....

Ricci and his companions focused on cozying up to the Confucians. On November 4, 1595, Ricci wrote to the Jesuit Father General Acquaviva: "I have noted down many terms and phrases [of the Chinese classics] in harmony with our faith, for instance, 'the unity of God,' 'the immortality of the soul,' the glory of the blessed,' and the like". Ricci intended to identify appropriate terms in the Confucian classics to give the Christian dogma a Mandarin dress and to illustrate his view that the Chinese had successfully safeguarded an extremely ancient knowledge of God. The portions of Ruggieri and Ricci's old "Buddhist" catechism dealing with God's revelation and requiring faith rather than reason were removed, while topics such as the "goodness of human nature" that appealed to Confucians were added. Ricci systematically substituted Buddhist terminology with phrases from the Chinese classics.... It was not a catechism in the traditional sense but a praeparatio evangelica: a way to entice the rationalist upper crust of Chinese society and to refute the "superstitious" and "foreign" forms of Chinese religion (such as Daoism and Buddhism) by logical argument while interpreting "original" Confucianism as a kind of Old Testament to Christianity. Ricci's "catechism" was thus not yet the Good News itself but a first step toward it. It argued that Chinese religion had once been thoroughly monotheistic and that this primeval monotheism had later degenerated through the influence of Daoism and Buddhism. In Ricci's view Christianity was nothing other than the fulfillment of China's Ur-monotheism.

Ricci decided to cast this preparatory treatise in Renaissance fashion as a dialogue between a Western and a Chinese scholar who discuss various aspects of Chinese religion. Ricci's Western scholar analyzes Daoist, Buddhist, and Neoconfucianist beliefs and practices and proceeds to demolish them by rational argument, thus exposing their inconsistency and irrationality....

-- The Birth of Orientalism, by Urs App

In business, a takeover is the purchase of one company (the target) by another (the acquirer, or bidder). In the UK, the term refers to the acquisition of a public company whose shares are listed on a stock exchange, in contrast to the acquisition of a private company.

Management of the target company may or may not agree with a proposed takeover, and this has resulted in the following takeover classifications: friendly, hostile, reverse or back-flip. Financing a takeover often involves loans or bond issues which may include junk bonds as well as a simple cash offers. It can also include shares in the new company.



Further information: White knight (business)

A friendly takeover is an acquisition which is approved by the management of the target company. Before a bidder makes an offer for another company, it usually first informs the company's board of directors. In an ideal world, if the board feels that accepting the offer serves the shareholders better than rejecting it, it recommends the offer be accepted by the shareholders.

In a private company, because the shareholders and the board are usually the same people or closely connected with one another, private acquisitions are usually friendly. If the shareholders agree to sell the company, then the board is usually of the same mind or sufficiently under the orders of the equity shareholders to cooperate with the bidder. This point is not relevant to the UK concept of takeovers, which always involve the acquisition of a public company.


Further information: Corporate raid

A hostile takeover allows a bidder to take over a target company whose management is unwilling to agree to a merger or takeover. A takeover is considered hostile if the target company's board rejects the offer, and if the bidder continues to pursue it, or the bidder makes the offer directly after having announced its firm intention to make an offer. Development of the hostile tender is attributed to Louis Wolfson.[1]

A hostile takeover can be conducted in several ways. A tender offer can be made where the acquiring company makes a public offer at a fixed price above the current market price.[2] An acquiring company can also engage in a proxy fight, whereby it tries to persuade enough shareholders, usually a simple majority, to replace the management with a new one which will approve the takeover.[2] Another method involves quietly purchasing enough stock on the open market, known as a creeping tender offer, to effect a change in management. In all of these ways, management resists the acquisition, but it is carried out anyway.[2]

In the United States, a common defense tactic against hostile takeovers is to use section 16 of the Clayton Act to seek an injunction, arguing that section 7 of the act, which prohibits acquisitions where the effect may be substantially to lessen competition or to tend to create a monopoly, would be violated if the offeror acquired the target's stock.[3]

The main consequence of a bid being considered hostile is practical rather than legal. If the board of the target cooperates, the bidder can conduct extensive due diligence into the affairs of the target company, providing the bidder with a comprehensive analysis of the target company's finances. In contrast, a hostile bidder will only have more limited, publicly available information about the target company available, rendering the bidder vulnerable to hidden risks regarding the target company's finances. Since takeovers often require loans provided by banks in order to service the offer, banks are often less willing to back a hostile bidder because of the relative lack of target information which is available to them. Under Delaware law, boards must engage in defensive actions that are proportional to the hostile bidder's threat to the target company.[4]

A well-known example of an extremely hostile takeover was Oracle's bid to acquire PeopleSoft.[5]

As of 2018, about 1,788 hostile takeovers with a total value of US$28.86B have been announced.[6]


Main article: Reverse takeover

A reverse takeover is a type of takeover where a public company acquires a private company. This is usually done at the instigation of the private company, the purpose being for the private company to effectively float itself while avoiding some of the expense and time involved in a conventional IPO. However, in the UK under AIM rules, a reverse takeover is an acquisition or acquisitions in a twelve-month period which for an AIM company would:

• exceed 100% in any of the class tests; or
• result in a fundamental change in its business, board or voting control; or
• in the case of an investing company, depart substantially from the investing strategy stated in its admission document or, where no admission document was produced on admission, depart substantially from the investing strategy stated in its pre-admission announcement or, depart substantially from the investing strategy.

An individual or organization, sometimes known as a corporate raider, can purchase a large fraction of the company's stock and, in doing so, get enough votes to replace the board of directors and the CEO. With a new agreeable management team, the stock is, potentially, a much more attractive investment, which might result in a price rise and a profit for the corporate raider and the other shareholders.

A well-known example of a reverse takeover in the United Kingdom was Darwen Group's 2008 takeover of Optare plc. This was also an example of a back-flip takeover (see below) as Darwen was rebranded to the more well-known Optare name.


A backflip takeover is any sort of takeover in which the acquiring company turns itself into a subsidiary of the purchased company. This type of takeover can occur when a larger but less well-known company purchases a struggling company with a very well-known brand. Examples include:

• The Texas Air Corporation takeover of Continental Airlines but taking the Continental name as it was better known.
• The SBC takeover of the ailing AT&T and subsequent rename to AT&T.
• Westinghouse's 1995 purchase of CBS and 1997 renaming to CBS Corporation, with Westinghouse becoming a brand name owned by the company.
• NationsBank's takeover of the Bank of America, but adopting Bank of America's name.
• Norwest purchased Wells Fargo but kept the latter due to its name recognition and historical legacy in the American West.
• Interceptor Entertainment's acquisition of 3D Realms, but kept the name 3D Realms.
• Nordic Games buying THQ assets and trademark and renaming itself to THQ Nordic.
• Infogrames Entertainment, SA becoming Atari SA.
• The Avago Technologies takeover of Broadcom Corporation and subsequent rename to Broadcom Inc.



Often a company acquiring another pays a specified amount for it. This money can be raised in a number of ways. Although the company may have sufficient funds available in its account, remitting payment entirely from the acquiring company's cash on hand is unusual. More often, it will be borrowed from a bank, or raised by an issue of bonds. Acquisitions financed through debt are known as leveraged buyouts, and the debt will often be moved down onto the balance sheet of the acquired company. The acquired company then has to pay back the debt. This is a technique often used by private equity companies. The debt ratio of financing can go as high as 80% in some cases. In such a case, the acquiring company would only need to raise 20% of the purchase price.

Loan note alternatives

Cash offers for public companies often include a "loan note alternative" that allows shareholders to take a part or all of their consideration in loan notes rather than cash. This is done primarily to make the offer more attractive in terms of taxation. A conversion of shares into cash is counted as a disposal that triggers a payment of capital gains tax, whereas if the shares are converted into other securities, such as loan notes, the tax is rolled over.

All share deals

A takeover, particularly a reverse takeover, may be financed by an all share deal. The bidder does not pay money, but instead issues new shares in itself to the shareholders of the company being acquired. In a reverse takeover the shareholders of the company being acquired end up with a majority of the shares in, and so control of, the company making the bid. The company has managerial rights.

All-cash deals

If a takeover of a company consists of simply an offer of an amount of money per share, (as opposed to all or part of the payment being in shares or loan notes) then this is an all-cash deal.[7] This does not define how the purchasing company sources the cash- that can be from existing cash resources; loans; or a separate issue of shares.


In the United Kingdom

Takeovers in the UK (meaning acquisitions of public companies only) are governed by the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers, also known as the 'City Code' or 'Takeover Code'. The rules for a takeover can be found in what is primarily known as 'The Blue Book'. The Code used to be a non-statutory set of rules that was controlled by city institutions on a theoretically voluntary basis. However, as a breach of the Code brought such reputational damage and the possibility of exclusion from city services run by those institutions, it was regarded as binding. In 2006, the Code was put onto a statutory footing as part of the UK's compliance with the European Takeover Directive (2004/25/EC).[8]

The Code requires that all shareholders in a company should be treated equally. It regulates when and what information companies must and cannot release publicly in relation to the bid, sets timetables for certain aspects of the bid, and sets minimum bid levels following a previous purchase of shares.

In particular:

• a shareholder must make an offer when its shareholding, including that of parties acting in concert (a "concert party"), reaches 30% of the target;
• information relating to the bid must not be released except by announcements regulated by the Code;
• the bidder must make an announcement if rumour or speculation have affected a company's share price;
• the level of the offer must not be less than any price paid by the bidder in the twelve months before the announcement of a firm intention to make an offer;
• if shares are bought during the offer period at a price higher than the offer price, the offer must be increased to that price;

The Rules Governing the Substantial Acquisition of Shares, which used to accompany the Code and which regulated the announcement of certain levels of shareholdings, have now been abolished, though similar provisions still exist in the Companies Act 1985.


There are a variety of reasons why an acquiring company may wish to purchase another company. Some takeovers are opportunistic – the target company may simply be very reasonably priced for one reason or another and the acquiring company may decide that in the long run, it will end up making money by purchasing the target company. The large holding company Berkshire Hathaway has profited well over time by purchasing many companies opportunistically in this manner.

Other takeovers are strategic in that they are thought to have secondary effects beyond the simple effect of the profitability of the target company being added to the acquiring company's profitability. For example, an acquiring company may decide to purchase a company that is profitable and has good distribution capabilities in new areas which the acquiring company can use for its own products as well. A target company might be attractive because it allows the acquiring company to enter a new market without having to take on the risk, time and expense of starting a new division. An acquiring company could decide to take over a competitor not only because the competitor is profitable, but in order to eliminate competition in its field and make it easier, in the long term, to raise prices. Also a takeover could fulfill the belief that the combined company can be more profitable than the two companies would be separately due to a reduction of redundant functions.

Agency problems

Takeovers may also benefit from principal–agent problems associated with top executive compensation. For example, it is fairly easy for a top executive to reduce the price of his/her company's stock – due to information asymmetry. The executive can accelerate accounting of expected expenses, delay accounting of expected revenue, engage in off-balance-sheet transactions to make the company's profitability appear temporarily poorer, or simply promote and report severely conservative (i.e. pessimistic) estimates of future earnings. Such seemingly adverse earnings news will be likely to (at least temporarily) reduce the company's stock price. (This is again due to information asymmetries since it is more common for top executives to do everything they can to window dress their company's earnings forecasts.) There are typically very few legal risks to being 'too conservative' in one's accounting and earnings estimates.

A reduced share price makes a company an easier takeover target. When the company gets bought out (or taken private) – at a dramatically lower price – the takeover artist gains a windfall from the former top executive's actions to surreptitiously reduce the company's stock price. This can represent tens of billions of dollars (questionably) transferred from previous shareholders to the takeover artist. The former top executive is then rewarded with a golden handshake for presiding over the fire sale that can sometimes be in the hundreds of millions of dollars for one or two years of work. (This is nevertheless an excellent bargain for the takeover artist, who will tend to benefit from developing a reputation of being very generous to parting top executives.) This is just one example of some of the principal–agent / perverse incentive issues involved with takeovers.

Similar issues occur when a publicly held asset or non-profit organization undergoes privatization. Top executives often reap tremendous monetary benefits when a government owned or non-profit entity is sold to private hands. Just as in the example above, they can facilitate this process by making the entity appear to be in financial crisis. This perception can reduce the sale price (to the profit of the purchaser) and make non-profits and governments more likely to sell. It can also contribute to a public perception that private entities are more efficiently run, reinforcing the political will to sell off public assets.[citation needed]

Pros and cons

While pros and cons of a takeover differ from case to case, there are a few recurring ones worth mentioning.


1. Increase in sales/revenues (e.g. Procter & Gamble takeover of Gillette)
2. Venture into new businesses and markets
3. Profitability of target company
4. Increase market share
5. Decreased competition (from the perspective of the acquiring company)
6. Reduction of overcapacity in the industry
7. Enlarge brand portfolio (e.g. L'Oréal's takeover of Body Shop)
8. Increase in economies of scale
9. Increased efficiency as a result of corporate synergies/redundancies (jobs with overlapping responsibilities can be eliminated, decreasing operating costs)
10. Expand strategic distribution network


1. Goodwill, often paid in excess for the acquisition
2. Culture clashes within the two companies causes employees to be less-efficient or despondent
3. Reduced competition and choice for consumers in oligopoly markets (Bad for consumers, although this is good for the companies involved in the takeover)
4. Likelihood of job cuts
5. Cultural integration/conflict with new management
6. Hidden liabilities of target entity
7. The monetary cost to the company
8. Lack of motivation for employees in the company being bought
9. Domination of a subsidiary by the parent company, which may result in piercing the corporate veil

Takeovers also tend to substitute debt for equity. In a sense, any government tax policy of allowing for deduction of interest expenses but not of dividends, has essentially provided a substantial subsidy to takeovers. It can punish more-conservative or prudent management that does not allow their companies to leverage themselves into a high-risk position. High leverage will lead to high profits if circumstances go well but can lead to catastrophic failure if they do not. This can create substantial negative externalities for governments, employees, suppliers and other stakeholders.


See also: Golden share

Corporate takeovers occur frequently in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Spain. They happen only occasionally in Italy because larger shareholders (typically controlling families) often have special board voting privileges designed to keep them in control. They do not happen often in Germany because of the dual board structure, nor in Japan because companies have interlocking sets of ownerships known as keiretsu, nor in the People's Republic of China because the state owned majority owns most publicly listed companies.

Tactics against hostile takeover

There are quite a few tactics or techniques which can be used to deter a hostile takeover.

• Bankmail
• Crown Jewel Defense
• Golden parachute
• Greenmail
• Killer bees
• Leveraged recapitalization
• Lobster trap
• Lock-up provision
• Nancy Reagan Defense
• Non-voting stock
• Pac-Man defense
• Poison pill (Shareholder rights plan)
o Flip-in
o Flip-over
o Jonestown Defense
o Pension parachute
o People pill
o Voting plans
• Safe Harbor
• Scorched-earth defense
• Staggered board of directors
• Standstill agreement
• Targeted repurchase
• Top-ups
• Treasury stock
• Gray Knight
• White knight
• Whitemail

See also

• Breakup fee
• Concentration of media ownership
• Control premium
• List of largest mergers and acquisitions
• Mergers and acquisitions
• Revlon, Inc. v. MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, Inc.
• Scrip bid
• Squeeze out
• Successor company
• Transformational acquisition


1. Manne, Henry G. (2008-01-18). "The Original Corporate Raider". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2022-02-04.
2. Jump up to:a b c "What Is a Hostile Takeover?". The Balance. Retrieved 2022-02-04.
3. Joseph Gregory Sidak (1982). "Antitrust Preliminary Injunctions in Hostile Tender Offers, 30 KAN. L. REV. 491, 492" (PDF).
4. Badawi, Adam B.; Webber, David H. (2015). "Does the Quality of the Plaintiffs' Law Firm Matter in Deal Litigation?". The Journal of Corporation Law. 41 (2): 107. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
5. Oracle's Hostile Takeover of People Soft (A) - Harvard Business Review
6. "M&A by Transaction Type - Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances (IMAA)". Institute for Mergers, Acquisitions and Alliances (IMAA). Retrieved 2018-02-27.
7. "Japan's Tokio Marine to buy US insurer HCC for $7.5 billion in all-cash takeover". 10 June 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
8. "LexUriServ-PDF" (PDF).

External links

• Jarrell, Gregg A. (2002). "Takeovers and Leveraged Buyouts". In David R. Henderson (ed.). Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (1st ed.). Library of Economics and Liberty. OCLC 317650570, 50016270, 163149563
• Acquisition Financing
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