MARCH OF HISTORY – 2 (Post No.8247)


Post No. 8247
Date uploaded in London – – – 27 June 2020
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R. Nanjappa

Religious feeling is more ancient than organised religions

This is proof that religious feeling and spirit are part of humanity. The form and shape they take may depend upon human ingenuity or expediency, with large local variations, but the spirit itself is not a human invention, and cannot be denied or destroyed. Organised dogma cannot replace the spontaneous expression of natural feelings. This we saw recently in the Soviet Union too. From 1917, the communists systematically suppressed religion in the USSR but with all the state power and brute methods of Lenin, Stalin and others, they could not destroy it. Enforced atheism could not last even a century. In the end, it was communism that went. Religion revived.

West does not understand “living” religion
The Western scientists, historians and others like anthropologists, sociologists do not try to understand a “living” religion. They reduce everything to a system but this is not how a living religion works. When the mother cooks at home, she does not follow a recipe book! And she does not fail or hesitate to improvise as she goes along! This too is what happens in a living religion.

The West trace their intellectual life to the Ancient Greeks and reckon their beginnings from the 7th century BC. But it was not as if it was a blank state before that date, and one day suddenly they sprang to life. The ancient Greeks themselves spoke of more ancient people like the Mycenaean whose antiquity cannot be fathomed. They spoke of Egyptians, Phoenicians, Atlanteans etc. And before the Mycenaeans, there were the Minoans! Who knows who their ancestors were! And there is ample evidence of contacts among them and borrowing of ideas among them. They were not isolated. Especially the Greeks, who were a sea-faring people, living in port cities dotting the seas. The modern scientists discredit them because there are not enough ‘records’. But do they expect old societies to have lived anticipating what people coming two thousand years after them would say and approve?

Edith Hall, classical scholar, says in her delightful recent book on the Ancient Greeks:

Greek history begins with the mysterious, seafaring, well organized Mycenaean. By the time of the first surviving literature, the long poems of the eighth century BC that have come down to us under the names of Homer and Hesiod, the Mycenaean had vanished. Yet they remained ever present, just beneath the surface. They had worshipped by and large the same gods as their eighth century descendants, and the poems- the Homeric epics- in which they took the leading roles as heroes and heroines were without exception the most important part of the ancient education throughout antiquity. All Greeks of the archaic, classical, Hellenistic, and Roman imperial eras spent their days in dialogue with their Mycenaean ancestors.
Introducing The Ancient Greeks, chap.1. The Bodley Head, 2015.
This passage is worth noting and remembering. The ancient societies were based on still more ancient ones. We really do not know how it all began. They did have literature and study of that literature was ‘education’ for the succeeding generations. (Remember, Will Durant said education is the transmission of civilization). The old religion continued, though new forms emerged along with new deities. The old societies were not ‘static’ or stagnant. They were not completely severed from their ancestors, though there were ‘developments’ or discontinuities. Christianity and Islam represent two large forces of organised discontinuity and deliberate destruction. For a thousand years, the Greek heritage was obscured and forgotten. Its rediscovery resulted in breaking the Christian crust, it led to Renaissance and Enlightenment! It is as if ancient Greece at last had its revenge on their conquerors.

What about Records?

One of the things the modern critics say is that there are no written records. Today, take the newspapers. Do they report everything? Do they cover or exhaust all aspects of actual living? The general newspaper writes about politics, cinema, sports and all social deviations and perversions. The financial newspapers write about markets, commodities, etc. which are all notional, and not real. Yet, how many people read them? And how many understand? If one attempts to write the history of our times only on the basis of what these newspapers write, what will it be like? And since each newspaper has its own slant, which version will one take as the correct one? When, with all the language skills we have, this is the problem we face, how can they say anything about the ancient people whose language we do not understand?. It is not as though people have not communicated. After all, what did the Europeans do before invention of printing? Were they dumb mucks? The general populace was not literate, but they were intelligent, knowledgeable, because they communicated. No society could have survived in the absence of inter-generational communication. It need not be in the form in which these modern theorists expect it to be.
(to be continued)

tags — Edith Hall, March of History-2

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