Neopagan Revival Through Hinduism

satyameva jayate nānṛtaṁ, satyena panthā vitato devayānaḥ, yenākramantyṛṣayo hyāptakāmā, yatra tat satyasya paramaṁ nidhānam - Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.6

Truth alone triumphs; not falsehood. Through truth the divine path is spread out by which the sages whose desires have been completely fulfilled, reach where that supreme treasure of Truth resides.

Created by Jijith Nadumuri at 20 Jun 2013 10:44 and updated at 29 Jun 2013 12:20

This article addresses the issues related to the revival of neo-paganism and what Hinduism, being the largest and oldest surviving polytheist tradition, can do to support and contribute to this revival. Contemporary Paganism, Modern Paganism or Neopaganism is a collective term referring to a variety of contemporary religious movements, particularly those which are derived from the various historical pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe. The challange before neo pagans is that although they do share commonalities, contemporary Pagan religious movements are diverse and no single set of beliefs, practices, or texts are shared by them all. Neopaganism is a synthesis of historical practice and modern innovation drawing influences from pre-Christian, pre-Islamic folkloric and ethnographic sources. Another issue is the diversity of approach used for the revival. Many follow a spirituality which they accept as entirely modern, whilst others attempt to reconstruct or revive indigenous, ethnic religions as found in historical and folkloric sources as accurately as possible. Polytheism, animism, and pantheism are common features in Pagan theology.

Challanges of Hinduism

Lack of awareness of Hindus

Hindus generally are unaware of the various neo Pagan movements that are happening all around the world. They don't know that these new traditions that are emerging or re-emerging worldwide are their allies and that providing mutual assistance enhances the survival prospects of all the polytheistic traditions including Hinduism.

Belief that Hinduism is Monotheistic

A large section of Hindus are conditioned by the centuries long influence of Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam, into thinking that Hinduism is a monotheist religion. They mistake the concept of the Universal Onenes expressed as Aum or Brahman as an indication of Hindu monotheism. But far from being like the Abrahamic monotheism which consider polytheism as a gross error or sin and which wants to abolish diversity , this Hindu concept of Universal Oneness (Brahman) actually celebrate diversity and upholds polytheism. Hindu concept of Brahman is thus correctly termed as monism (beleif in Universal Oneness) and not as monothiesm (belief in one God, excluding or rejecting other gods). Hindu sages like Sankaracharya who upheld the oneness of everything as Brhaman based on the Hindu school of thought called Advaita Vedanta, did not try to abolish worship of many gods. Instead he encouraged it even further by composing hymns in praise of various gods and goddesses. Because he was convinced in the unity in diversity concept unlike Abrahamic prophets like Muhammad who tried to achieve unity by destroying the diversity.

Influence of Abrahamic religons

Hindus are generally unaware of the influence Abrahamic religons like Christianity and Islam are applying on Hinduism and Hindu thought. They are also unaware of the agenda of these religions to slowly convert every Hindu into their fold in the pretext of inter-faith dialogs, cultural digestion (copying of Hindu culture and traditions into Christianity, for example, to slowly digest and destroy Hinduism) and other such tactics. This Hindu society can be considered now to be existing in a kind of slumber. Only after awakening this society to make it aware of the dangers that are surrounding it, can Hinduism focus on activities like actively supporting and strengthening the emerging neo pagan traditions that are Hindu-like which can complement Hinduism in the broader task of transforming the world by uplifiting it spiritually and making it closer to the mother nature where humans once again look at nature with respect and reverence rather than as the raw material which can be exploited to satisfy human greed. Abrahmaic religions view nature as deviod of divinity because they conceive God to be beyond nature. They consider worshiping nature as against God because only god is worthy of worship, not nature or elements in nature which are mere God's creation. Hinduism on the other hand consider divinity (god) to be pervading the nature. Hence as per it, worshiping nature or elements in nature is same as worshiping divinity (god). Current human population predominantly believe in Abrahamaic religions and hence look down upon nature, unable to recognize the divinity existing in the nature, in its rivers, mountains, sky, rain, fire and air. Hindus worshiped mountains and rivers. River Sarasvati and Ganga were deified and worshiped. Today, Hindus coming under the influence of Abrahamic religions are turning away from this tradition. They are polluting their rivers and mountains. Sarasvati as a river dissapeared. Now Ganga too is fast depleting due to continuous pollution, daming and sand mining. Hindu political leaders are unable to recongnize Ganga as a goddess worthy of worship and veneration but consider it as the raw material for enhancing material progress.

Challanges of Neo Pagans and how Hinduism can help

Lack of traditional continuity

Neo Pagan traditions are often based on some historical polytheistic traditions like Hellanic polytheism, Roman paganism, Celtic traditions, Arabian polytheism, Wiccan, Shamanic practices and the like. Due to prolonged suppression under Abrahamic religion very little of the ancient traditions are preserved. Hinduism can provide the necessary traditional continuity where ever it is lacking in neo pagan cultures.

Need to find unifying elements

Currently neo pagan movements are diverse and spread across the globe. In order to survive as a vibrant community unifying elements of pagan traditions that connect it with Hinduism and serve as the bedrock foundation for pagan traditions need to be identified. Worship of nature, respect and adoration of nature and belief in the single divinity appearing in diverse form are some of the elements of thought that unifies all neo pagan cultures with Hinduism.

Right undrestanding of gods and goddesses

There a lot of debate among the polytheists about the nature and reality of their gods and goddesses. Some consider them to exist historically as real as anything real, while some others consider them as imaginary entities without any reality. There are many other views that falls between these extremes. I consider the gods and goddesses to be existing in the collective human consciousness. They are as real as the words of a human language. Can we say that the words of a language really exist, say like a mountain or a tree? No. But they are vital for human existence and their usage is crucial for human communication. They exist in an idea-space. Gods and goddesses too are similar in nature, like words of language and numerals in mathematics. They are varied expressions of the powerful universal consciousness. They are abstract entities. It is true that some of the gods and goddesses are imagined or modeled based on a historically existed person (or persons) though it need not be so always. It is futile to search for historical and material existence of gods and goddesses. Yet a devotee is able to get a powerful expereince by invoking their favorite god or goddesses which are gateways into the powerful universal consciousness that express itself through all the conscious beings including us.

Another important fact worth noting is that, most of the polytheistic pantheon of gods and goddesses are inter-related. For example the connections of the Greek and Roman pantheon is well known where as the connections betwen Indian and Irish pantheon is less known though such connections exists. Most of the polytheist traditions have a set of trinity goddesses like the Lakshmi, Uma, Sarasvati of Hinduism, the Ilaa, Bhaarati, Sarasvati of the Vedic tradition, the Al-Ussa, Al-lat, Manat of the Arabian tradition, the Greek Aphrodite, Hera, Minerva and the Roman Venus, Juno, Athena. Most of the polytheist traditions have gods representing the king of gods like Indra, Zeus, Jupiter etc and most have deities representing fire, air, water, ocean, earth and sky. Thus a polytheist pantheon is often comparable to human language and the deities its principal words, making polytheist traditions a universal phenomenon of human collective consciousness.

Need for better imagery of gods and goddesses

Neo pagans often use images of gods and goddesses as they were depicted during pre-Christian era. Similarly Hindus had images of Hindu gods and goddesses that belonged to ancient periods. But unlike images of gods and goddesses of the pagans, Hindu imagery of gods and goddesses has undergone great transformation, starting with the emergence of printing press in 19th century. The images were enhanced to appear super realistic, well ornamented and clothed, with an aura surrounding their head. These images of Krishna, Durga and Shiva invoke great appeal and arose the feeling of devotion and great admiration. The neo pagans need to work on the existing images of their gods and goddesses in similar fashion to prevent them look like some ordinary human being and make them look truly divine, appealing and invoking the feeling of devotion. Nudity is to be avoided so that the feeling of devotion becomes predominant which help one to focus and unite with the universal consciousness without being perturbed by other feelings.

Need for a pagan Wikipedia

The dominant Wikipedia is often hostile to Pagan view point. A large amount of effort is needed to create and maintain pagan articles in Wikipedia preventing them from vandalism from editors adhering to Abrahamic view points. This necessitate the need to create pagan's own Wikipedia where neo pagans can create and maintain article related to paganism. Media Wiki software used to host Wikipedia can be used to create such Wiki sites with relative ease. Another software that can be used is Dokuwiki and Wikidot. There are several such Wiki site in the web created because of the biased editors of Wikipedia. Examples include JatWiki and AncientVoice.

Need for a virtual world of pagans

Pre-historic pagan sites of worship are all now occupied by Christian churches or Islamic mosques. It is not very easy to re-establish them. In order to get a sense of global pagan revival, a virtual world for paganism can be created similar to Second-Life architecture or using software like Unity engine. This virtual world will then contain all the former temples of pagans in their respective locations in the globe, such as the Roman and Greek temples and the ancient Arabian temple in Mecca, with all of its gods and goddesses. Such a virtual world will be an inspiration for all the polytheist traditions world wide.

Handling negative gods and goddesses

One of the important factor that needs great consideration when resurrecting old polytheist beliefs is that the gods and goddesses or rather the rituals for gods and goddeses invoking negativity needs to be avoided. Some examples are the gods and goddesses demanding rituals of human sacrifices, torture etc. For example in Hinduism, rituals involving unnecessary animal sacrifices, like mass killing of chicken, goat and other animals in temples and torture rituals like hanging men by roping through the back bone etc are being eliminated. These are replaced by worship of deity using flowers and food offerings.

Need for a polytheist historical framework

My analysis of Vedas, epics and Puranas of Hindus, the texts of Zoroastrians like Vendidad, Visperad, Yasts etc and the Greek literature reveals to me a three fold family of ancient polytheist cultures that spread to the whole of Indo-European speaking world, diverging from a common homeland which most likely was southern and central Asia, especially its north-western region, which now falls in Kashmir, North Pakistan, Afganistan and Tajikistan. These three groups are the Daityas, Danavas and the Adityas. The Daityas later moved to Iran and became the Zoroastrians. The Danavas later moved to Greece. The Danans mentioned in the Greek epic Iliad and Odyssey are a branch of these Danavas, so are the Irish Tuatha Dé Danann, the peoples of the goddess Danu. Goddess Danu is attested in the Vedas and is considered as the mother of the Danavas. The third group Adityas stayed in the homeland. They are hailed in the Vedas as Devas.

This is the Daitya-Danava-Aditya framework on which I am working on which can unify all the polytheist traditions world wide. This is just one example. Polytheist scholars are encouraged to work on similar frameworks which has the ability to explain various divergent polytheist traditions found world wide.

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