Religion and the Modes of Nature

By Bhakti Ananda Goswami - 19.5 2017

Editor’s Note:  In the following, portions in italics are questions and quotes from a member of the Yahoo theos-talk discussion group. Portions in regular font are replies by Bhakti Ananda Goswami.  

“ALL of the extant separate Shaivite, Shakti, Advaitan, and Buddhist Sanskrit texts (Mahayana Buddhist Texts are originally in Vaishnava Sanskrit) are much later than the Vedic/Vaishnava texts. However one dates the Vaishnava Shastras and these later texts, and the traditions they represent, the separated traditions are clearly based on the former existence of the Vedic-Vaishnava Tradition. Thus the common inheritance / genealogy of the separated traditions in is Vedic-era Purusha or Vishnu worship.”

So this, in other words, is the mysterious “primitive wisdom religion” spoken of by Godfrey Higgins and others and taken from them by HPB into her system?

Well, Purusha and Prakriti worship is THE “primitive wisdom religion” underlying the world’s ‘Great Religions.’  However, I cannot stress too strongly that I am NOT SAYING that this means Indian ‘Hinduism’ is the tradition I am talking about.   My historical perspective is completely different from that of the Hindus or Vaishnavas who teach that everything came from ‘India’ or ‘Hinduism.’   Having directly studied interdisciplinary evidence for the genealogy of religious thought systems world-wide, I have seen that there was a common underlying Tradition INDIGENOUS IN ALL THE MAJOR RACIAL AND LANGUAGE GROUPS THAT I STUDIED.   There is NO evidence that ‘India’ or ‘Hindus’ had it first, so to speak.  Our earliest preserved record of this Primal Tradition in Indic (Sanskrit) Sources is in the RIG VEDIC PURUSHA SUKTA HYMN, and the Vedas. However this Primal Tradition is well attested to in every other major ancient source as well.  Diffused everywhere with humanity at the dawn of the historic period, and evidenced in prehistory where historic civilizations arose, this Primal Tradition was present in three forms, which are described by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita as religions in the Modes of goodness (sattva guna), passion (raja guna) and ignorance (tamo guna).  

Because people have different mentalities, they express their sense of relationship to / with nature, other people and the Divine in fundamentally different ways.  People may ‘rise’ up from ignorance through passion to the Mode of goodness.  From sattva guna they may finally understand ‘Spirit’ and Transcendence.  Thus Vishnu is extolled in the Sattvic Puranas.  Vishnu is worshiped by Sattvatas.  Vishnu is Sattvadeva, the Guna Avatara of the Mode of goodness, etc. The sattvic monotheistic worship of Purusha is the Dharma Door into all kinds of atmic / spiritual vision and transcendentalism. The absolute purity or goodness of a sattvic life is NOT the final goal, but sattvic living purifies beings so that they can actually see (VIDYA, think VIDEO) the difference between gross matter and higher realities, and ultimately receive Revelation of the Divine.  Those in the Mode of goodness are not attracted to the rajasic separate worship of lesser powerful beings, whether Earthly or of any other kind.   So there is a relationship between sattva guna and monotheism, sattva guna and Paramatma (Parabrahman) worship, and sattva guna and Brahma-Jyoti (Brahman) non-duality. The relationship between the worship of the God Ess of Goodness and personal and social progress out of the Modes of ignorance and passion to the Mode of goodness means that Purusha (Vishnu) and Shakti-Prakriti worship has accompanied humanity’s collective civilization, or attempt to develop toward the Mode of goodness.  The Sattvic Shastras posited the existence and importance of something we call ‘goodness.’  These scriptures attempted in various ways to depict and explore what was good, what was rajasic, and what was dark, tamasic, ignorant and even evil.  The Sattvic Tradition was constantly trying to perfect and re-define itself through all cultural innovations and diffusions, and to keep out rajasic and tamasic influences. 

However, a corrupted false Purusha was also ‘heretically’ worshiped in the Modes of passion and ignorance, and the connections between groups that have promoted these corruptions can be traced just like connections between sattvic groups can be traced in history.   In the Bhagavad-Gita and elsewhere, Sri Krishna-Vishnu described what to look for to identify religion in the Modes of goodness, passion and ignorance.  This description is an important key to unlocking the truth of, and understanding religious connections in the ancient world.  To give one example, among Sattvatas Purusha is the Triune Transcendent-Emanating and Incarnating-Immanent Godhead, and He is worshiped in non-bloody sattvic rites, wherein His Purusha Sukta-related sacramental Eucharistic Mystery Feast (theo-phagos) involves only non-bloody offerings (see the Nazarenes and Jesus as a “Priest after the order of Melchizedek”).   In rajasic Purusha worship, there is still some recognition of a god or gods or powers greater or higher than man, and not being properly understood in its Origin (the Godhead), those in the Mode of passion / rajas worship these separated gods, beings and ‘empowered’ or powerful humans.  Their religious culture is dominated by bloody sacrifices and the quest for mundane power and opulence, knowledge and control for sense gratification reasons.   Persons and religions in the Mode of passion can be either very noble or very ignoble depending on the powerful entities, human or otherwise that they are worshiping.  When the King is a rajarshi or raja-rishi, king-saint, then his rajasic kingdom can have an almost sattvic character. 

However if a leader is more influenced by the lower Mode of ignorance / tamas, then his rule will manifest tamasic qualities.  Those in the Mode of passion make things happen, and control the nuts and bolts of social organization at the administrative level.  So in the history of civilization, we see an interaction in which the Sattvata worship of the God Ess of Good, is always in a tension with the rajasic rulers of human social orders.  To try to harness and control the natural leadership and real power of rajasic beings, bringing them and their societies towards the Mode of goodness, some form of the Purusha Sukta Varnashrama Dharma social system was pervasive.  In this system, the Rajas ( rex, regent, royalty, NATURAL KINGS OR LEADERS) were under the control of the RISHIS, BRAHMINS, ELDERS, PROPHETS / PROPHETESSES or PRIESTS / PRIESTESSES, who were SUPPOSED TO BE IN THE MODE OF GOODNESS.  If the GOOD priest / esses controlled the PASSIONATE rajas and rajanis (regina queens), then society could develop in a tending-toward benevolent way.  

Those in the Mode of ignorance (tama or tamo guna) had no transcendental Purusha.  They had no noble Purusha-related demigod or empowered human ideal figures either. They worshiped the worst in humanity and nature, and performed human sacrifices meant to propitiated the malevolent ghosts and demons, etc. that they were preoccupied with.  The Vedic Age Deity Purusha was non existent to them, their Purusha was simply man, and he was what they sacrificed and ate. When such tamasic peoples had ‘gods,’ these were the worst of the false gods that demanded human sacrifice and the indulgence of everything forbidden in sattvic living and even forbidden by those in the Mode of rajas.  So while the Sattvatas tended to eat only ahimsa sacramental meals, and the rajasic generally ate only certain ‘clean’ species allowed for sacrifice, and their sacrifices had many hard-and-fast rules for performance, and who could and could not eat what remnants from the sacrifice, the tamasic performed every manner of forbidden sacrifice and other sinful behavior.   All three kinds of worship were based in Purusha Worship, with transcendental Purusha Sattvic worship considered the orthodox Brahman Dharma kind, the rajasic worship of powerful mundane beings considered the Kshatriya Dharma, and tamasic ‘man’ / Purusha worship considered completely a-dharmic and outside the definition of any kind of human behavior. 

Anyone studying enough of the actual ancient sources without ethnocentric or religious prejudice will find countless connections between various ancient civilizations.  Even many with prejudice cannot avoid seeing some of these striking commonalities.  So when Godfrey Higgins wrote about the connections that he saw, and L. Jacolliot, Spencer Lewis, Albert Pike, H.P. Blavatsky, and later Sir James George Frazer (The Golden Bough, 1922) and others did, they were reporting on something that was really there.  Now we have had so many scholars like Eliade, Graves, Campbell and Huston Smith, who have done exhaustive comparative studies.  However, not understanding certain things, and some of them being burdened with certain prejudices, they have failed to grasp what the actual historical relationships were. Euro-Aryanism influenced all of them to some extent.  Higgins, who wrote at the beginning of the movement which ended in the European Aryanist world-view, had less of it developed in his work than later writers (see Anacalypsis: An Attempt To Draw Aside The Veil Of The Saitic Isis
Or An Inquiry Into The Origin Of Languages, Nations And Religions, By Godfrey Higgins, 1863. 

What I got from this is that you accept the primitive wisdom religion hypothesis, but dispute that it originated in India.  Is that correct?

Not exactly. I have seen evidence of a primal or common primitive religious tradition, but that does not mean that I accept anyone else’s hypothesis.  This Primal Tradition appears to have been the common heritage of people across the wide diffusion of the Nostratic Superfamily, and ALSO to be that of the Niger-related language families of Africa. This means that it ‘originated’ whenever and wherever the human race with human speech originated.  Parallel linguistic Superfamily and genetics research is focusing on the question of when and where that was.  All I can say is that the Primal Tradition was not just indigenous to one separated ‘race’ or region, and then spread to other ‘races’ and regions where it was not already present.  Wherever humanity in the process of civilization was found, there is evidence of this Primal Religion there.  We see evidence in the artifacts of pre-historic cultures. 

For example there was an enormous prehistoric settlement in the Nile Delta, and we know this people traded with Rhodes and Crete. We have a picture from artifacts, etc., but the picture has no caption.  With the advent of writing, ancient pictures get captions.  We know the names of the God(s) that were already being worshiped. With the advent of writing, the historic period in any area, among any people begins, and writing is one of the attributes / necessities of a ‘high civilization.’  The earliest ancient core of the great scriptural traditions is related to the art of writing among some of the priest / esses of this same God Ess.  Once we have written evidence, the connections become so much clearer, but they can certainly be made from the pictures alone, without the captions if necessary. About speculating on dates and forming theories based on little or no hard evidence, which is what many so-called scholars do, I prefer to let the evidence speak for itself.  As soon as someone imposes their hard-and-fast theoretical view on some body of evidence, they become blind to then ‘anomalous’ evidence, and the scholastic and academic knowledge filter comes into force.  It is better to wait and see what the evidence shows than to rush to judgment in creating and then having to defend some theory.  Only when the interdisciplinary, cross-verified evidence is overwhelming should something be declared as a fact.  I have declared the existence of the Primal Tradition as FACT, because I have personally verified by cross-reference huge amounts of interdisciplinary, real-world, scientific hard evidence.

And if so, are you saying that it originated in Anatolia,

No.

…or somewhere else, or do you have a theory?

Wherever humanity originated, that is where it originated.

“Those in the mode of ignorance (tama or tamo guna) had no transcendental Purusha.  They had no noble Purusha related demigod or empowered human ideal figures either. They worshiped the worst in humanity and nature, and performed human sacrifices meant to propitiated the malevolent ghosts and demons etc. that they were preoccupied with.”

This idea among the Greeks and Romans was the origin of the notion of vicarious atonement, which is at the basis of a certain well-known western religion.

That is a dominant modern theory, but it is wrong.  There was no ‘propitiation’ of malevolent forces involved in the sattvic understanding of the Purusha Sukta.  The Tamasic Greeks and Romans did as above stated, but the rajasic Greeks, Romans and others had a different view, and the sattvic Heliopolitan ascetic Monotheist’s view was just like the Vaishnavas’.

Socrates was a worshiper of Asclepius Iasas (Yahu Shua ‘Jesus’) and so was his disciple Plato.  The Platonists were Helios-Asclepius worshipers.  Asclepius is Jesus, Serapis, etc. in the Mediterranean and Baladeva as Charaka in Indic Traditions. It is the Heliopolitan Asyla Federation Tradition of Asclepius-Charaka centered in Alexandria Egypt just before the advent of Jesus Christ that became Apostolic Catholicism.  Platonic Helios worship was sattvic / ascetic and Primitive Catholic Christianity was too.  The notion of vicarious atonement in Catholicism was therefore related to that of the Sattvatas’ understanding of the Purusha Sacrifice.  Thus it was diametrically opposed to the Left-Hand Tantric ‘propitiation’ sacrifices of the tamasic Maenads / Bacchants, pseudo-Dionysians, etc.  They propitiated tamasic entities and ate the flesh of real human victims.  Jesus Asclepius was the Transcendent Deity, the Cosmic Purusha, and His universal Self-offering was commemorated with ‘bread and wine’ after the Sattvic rite of the Priesthood of Melchizedek and the Nazarites.   He was crucified by tamasic humanity, but was worshiped as divine by sattvic humanity.  The rajasic wanted Him to be an anointed Purusha-empowered king, but the Church of the Apostles said NO, he was not either the false ‘Dionysos’ of the tamasic Maenads, nor was He the anointed worldly king that the oppressed Jewish State wanted; He was the Transcendent Deity Who had poured-out Himself ‘before the foundation of the world’ for the creation, sustenance and beatification of all beings in His cosmic manifestation.  The Eucharistic Feast was therefore, like the ancient Jewish bread and wine praise and thanks offerings, and the sattvic offerings of the East, a bloodless ‘bread and wine’ offering.  Jesus as the Cosmic Self-Sacrifice of Love (see the unlovely LOVE in Plato’s SYMPOSIUM) needed no sacrifice of man or beast offered to Him.  In Him, through GRACE the ‘karma’ (Greek Krima, English CRIME) of the Universe was reconciled and souls were manumitted from the slavery of their own sinfulness.   The Heliopolitan Asyla Federation-related Mass Rites of Jesus were in the East the MOKSHA RITYA manumission rites of the sattvic Vaishnavas, Shaivites and Pure Land Buddhists, etc.

“All three kinds of worship were based in Purusha Worship, with transcendental Purusha Sattvic worship considered the orthodox Brahman Dharma kind, the rajasic worship of powerful mundane beings considered the Kshatriya Dharma, and tamasic ‘man’ / Purusha worship considered completely a-dharmic and outside the definition of any kind of human behavior.” 

I got that, but were there not four castes?

Good question!  The doctrine of the three gunas is NOT the same as the doctrine of the four varnas or natural propensities and roles in the social body of Purusha.  Think of the three gunas or ‘modes’ of material nature as the three primary colors.  This symbology has been used in ancient times.  Yellow = goodness, red = passion, blue = ignorance (be careful in this discussion not to think that there is always an absolute correlation, this is only a model).  As the primary colors may be mixed to create other colors, the Three Modes of Material Nature mingle to manifest everything within a material universe.  Yellow or Vishnu is Existence, Endurance, Being, and Vishnu is therefore the Guna Avatara in the Mode of EXISTENCE, BEING, sustenance or maintaining.  Remember that the word root SAT (Existence, Eternality) is in both SATTVA (Goodness) and SATYA (Truth).  In His presence in all things as the Paramatman (Holy Spirit) He is the Super-soul or Over-soul of the Universe.  He is the Immanent Form of Purusha ‘dwelling within the heart’ of all beings.   He ‘presides’ over all BEING NESS and all that is Good and True, and sustains all things / natures / laws and beings.

Within each cosmic manifestation, Purusha-Vishnu also manifests Himself as the Guna Avataras of material organization and growth / anabolism and material disorganization catabolism and dissolution. These are the Guna Avataras of Brahma (wrongly labeled by early Western scholars as the ‘Creator’)  and Shiva, the ‘Destroyer.’  The ‘destructive’ root ‘cata’ ( see cataclysm, catachresis, catabolism, catastrophe, etc.) is actually related to the Egyptian Setu, the Hebrew word for sin Chata, and the Vedic-Puranic ‘personified’ Sin and Enemy of the Devas, KETU, who was cast out of the material heaven to the Earth for trying to steal immortality from the godly Devas for the tamasic Asura-demons.  Since Shiva is the Guna Avatara in the mode of catabolism / destruction, He is often wrongly identified by non-Vaishnavas and non-Shaivites with a ‘devil’ or satanic-like being.  Ketu is not a form of Shiva.   All gross and subtle material manifestations in a cosmos are ‘created’ (organized) and ‘destroyed’ (disorganized) by Brahma and Shiva, while the very BEING NESS of the cosmos is MAINTAINED through the presence of Vishnu in His Form as the Guna Avatara of the Mode of Sattva.

Thus there are the Three Modes mingled everywhere on every level, but the Three Modes may also be particularly manifest in thoughts and actions, qualities evident in different substances, persons, plants and animals, political systems, cultures, music and art, etc. So religion in the Three Modes is one of the manifestations of this principle.   Brahmins are sattvic.  Kshatriyas are rajasic by nature but the four Varnas of the Varnashrama Dharma system are not strictly analogous to the Three Modes.  Thus the Vaishyas and Shudras are NOT tamasic.  The Vaishyas and Shudras are part of the mystical Social Body of Purusha just the same as the Brahmins and Kshatriyas.

So to summarize, the qualities of the Three Modes may be observed everywhere and anywhere.  The dynamic interaction of the Modes / Gunas maintains, organizes and disorganizes all gross and subtle material manifestation.  Real material ‘creation’ ex nihilo occurs on the next level up in the SUPER-COSMIC Union of MAHAVISHNU AND DURGA (MAHA MAYA), WHICH ACTUALLY CREATES THE INDIVIDUAL UNIVERSES AND ‘IMPREGNATES’ THEM WITH BEING AS PARAMATMAN AND JIVATMAN.  While Brahmins by definition should be sattvic and Kshatriyas should be rajasic, and there is a relationship between Brahmins and religion, and Kshatriyas and rulership, there is NOT such a correlation between TAMO Guna and the Vaishyas and Shudras in the authentic Vedic-Vaishnava thought system.  Tying the Shudras to the color black and the Mode of ignorance was not something that the Vaishnavas originally did.  It was the racist Iranians, Muslims and Europeans, the ‘Aryanists’ that created and sustained an ‘Aryan’ racial birth-caste system in India.   In the ideal Vedic-Vaishnava culture, ALL the members of the FOUR VARNAS (not to be confused with birth castes) would be sattvic in their religion and basic morality.  Many great Vaishnava Saints who were completely sattvic were ‘shudras’ by birth and / or chosen profession / way of life.  Vaishnavas of any social standing worship Vishnu and are therefore considered sattvic.  Among the ‘Hindus’ it is not the sattvic Vaishnavas who enforce birth casteism.

When trying to understand the existence of and interactions between the Modes, we can look at these on every level from microphysics to macrophysics, and in socio-biology, politics and religion too.  Differences of individuals and categories are fluid because of the hierarchical organization of organismic sets.  In one lifetime as interior changes occur, a single person may go from being predominantly tamasic to being predominantly sattvic.  Nations and religious bodies, business corporations and political parties, being compounded of entities in subsets, may metamorphose from one modal expression to another and back again.  It is a dynamic, a process, so I like to use the terms ‘tending towards sattva’ and ‘tending towards rajas’ and ‘tending towards tamas’ for things, persons and societies, etc.  Ideals of Sattva are there, Rajas and Tamas are there too, but one cannot say that any religion is purely Sattvic, even though its ideal may be. As long as a religion’s social body is made up of persons with any rajas and tamas in them, there can be no purely sattvic religion manifest in the world.