What is called Paganism, heathenism, and polytheism is in fact the Natural religion of humanity. In areas where it has survived the onslaught of anti-human ideologies with their ego gods, it has retained its self-respecting name. In Japan it is Shinto, in Taiwan Confucianism And Taoism, and in India as Hinduism.
When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire under Constatantine, the natural humanistic beliefs were proscribed. With the spread of Christianity after the fall of Rome, the story was the same across Europe, the Maghreb and the former Roman Middle East.
The high philosophy of the Greeks, the ancient beliefs of ancient nations like the Armenians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Celts, Teutones, Norse, Slavs, and last of all, right up to the thirteenth century, the Lithuanians, fell to the rapacious jaws of iconoclastic and dogmatic Christianity.
Under both the dominant Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, manifestations of the natural religion was condemned as sorcery, Satanism, and witchcraft. The incineration of heretics at the stake replaced the pluralism which had been the standard of classicalist Europe under Celtic, Roman and Greek cultures. Schism and reformation brought no respite.
The Russian Orthodox church became perhaps the most backward and regressive of all Christian sects. Protestants saw veneration of icons and celebration of life as remnants of paganism which had to be stamped out. The Catholic multinational machine became even more zealous.
Yet this could not stem rationalism which stemmed from the Renaissance, a rediscovery of the classical past. Christ now paled in the shadow of a resurrected Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and Pythagoras. Voltaire saw that Confucianism made Chinese civilization every much as valid as Europe but without the inflexible dogmatism that made science a slave to the accursed one, the Church. Thomas Jefferson pondered whether the Christian deity was a god or a devil.
It was these rationalist ideas, which fueled the industrial revolution, made western states the most powerful, brought ideas of democracy and free thought, as well as toleration of pluralism in personal belief. It had nothing to do with Christianity, which now sought refuge in opposition or mutated form, seeking allies with Fascists, National Socialists, and Marxists, people for whom the very idea of personal belief was a complete anathema.
In Europe today Christianity presents a different face, of compassion, equality, multiculturalism, and interfaith pluralism. But this has not been the case throughout history. It is not even the case now in India. While the fundamentalist Christian propaganda machine, losing souls it once considered its private property in Europe, pumps out the blatant untruth of Hindus as Nazis, fundamentalists, and satanic followers in India, it is forgotten just how much damage Christianity did to the Paganism of Europe.
How many were burnt at the stake or killed by some other means? How many were forcibly converted by zealous crusaders like Charlemagne? How many temples were desecrated and turned into churches for the one ego god?
How many Pagan festivals were reincarnated as Christianity such as Christmas itself? Yet this is happening in India right now. In the northeast Christian inspired terrorists are wiping out the indigenous Hindus. Pope John Paul II had said (1999) that the future harvest lies in India, and that Hinduism should be annihilated where it contradicts the teaching of the church, which means that it will be annihilated per se, just as Paganism was in Europe.
The Pagans of Europe who have been told they must have nothing to do with the Hindu Nazis of India should ask themselves if they should believe an ideology which threw Europe under its dogmatic boot for almost two millennia, and yet now cries wolf in the face of resistance in India, the last refuge of what it calls paganism.
Due to the dominant narrative, anything Hindu is deemed as variously right-wing, fascist, fundamentalist and extremist. Yet it is that very same narrative which is itself racist and a hangover of colonialism. Just as the missionaries in India used to denounce Hinduism as demonic, Satan-worship, witchcraft and benighted heathenism, these aforementioned political condemnatory terms are nothing more than secularised versions of missionary discourse. By following the dominant narrative against Hindus, modern European neo-Pagans are unconsciously supporting the very same forces which wiped out their original ancient beliefs from the landscape. This is not least because what we call ‘secularism’ is an outgrowth of Christianity itself.
The propaganda machine pumps out a stream of stories that Hindu Nazis are persecuting Christians. But is it never asked just exactly what Christians are doing converting Hindus in India by fraud, force or bribery, desecrating Hindus shrines, and demanding heroic status for criminals like Francis Xavier. If anything these western neo-Pagans should be exposing this non-stop hate machine that claims Hinduism has the same demonic intolerance which Christian martyrs suffered under the pagan Roman Empire. Belgium’s Koenraad Elst writing in his 1993 book ‘Psychology of Prophetism: a Secular Look at the Bible’:
“When staying in India, I find it sad and sometimes comical to see how these outdated beliefs are being foisted upon backward sections of the Indian population by fanatical missionaries. “
How quickly the Inquisition of Goa has been forgotten. If Paganism is to be revived and flourish as it once did, the pagans of Europe needs to have sympathy for the Hindus of India, who are suffering the same fate that their like minded spiritual brethren did in Europe centuries of Europe. Yet in Europe these same beliefs are seen by many now as quirky, laughable if not downright dangerous:
“The point is simply that we, European Christians of many generations, have outgrown Christianity. Most people who left the Church have found that they are not missing anything, and that the beliefs which once provided a framework for interpreting and shaping life, were but a bizarre and unnecessary construction after all. We now know that Jesus was not God’s Only-begotten Son, that he did not save humanity from eternal sin, and that our happiness in this world or the next does not depend on believing these or any other dogmas.”
India is the spiritual mother of natural religion. Without India the natural beliefs of humanity can never be fully realised. Can the Pagans of Europe thus sit back and let happen in India what they have taken almost two thousand years to throw off themselves?
These are not issues for the next few years, but ideas long overdue for now. It must be understood that a renewed fundamentalist church in India would threaten the physical existence of neo-Pagans of Europe. The battle between rationalism and dogmatism is not yet over. As Ram Swarup said in 1991:
“Hinduism or rather something akin to Hinduism is the natural religion of seeking men. Dogmatic religions are impositions. Many thinking men in Europe and America are realizing this and they are returning to their nations old Gods and old religions which they lost when Christianity triumphed. And as they do it, they discover their natural affinity with Hinduism; they also find that Hinduism still preserves the knowledge that once gave life to these lost religions, the knowledge which can also revive them and their Gods again.The same thing is bound to happen in other parts and countries like Egypt, Iran, Syria, and Central Asia once they acquire minimum freedom to discuss spiritual matters and investigate their past. Then they would realize that they are not peoples of yesterday, but are ancient nations who had their own developed spiritualities and that Islam was imposed on them by force. Hindu India could help them and such other countries to rediscover their spiritual roots.”
The gradual re-emergence of paganism in Europe shows that forced conversions never last long, though they do an enormous amount of damage in the time it takes for generations of people to shake off the influence and return to their ancestral beliefs.
For those that find the term paganism insulting (which is the way that many monotheists use the word), why not just stick to polytheism? I think those European polytheists who are aware of what is happening in India are opposed to it. Maybe the levels of awareness can be spread by writing about it in pagan/polytheist magazines, giving talks at conferences etc.