This symbolical sentence, in its many-sided forms, is certainly most dangerous and iconoclastic in the face of all the dualistic later religions — or rather theologies — and especially so in the light of Christianity. Yet it is neither just nor correct to say that it is Christianity which has conceived and brought forth Satan. As an “ adversary,” the opposing Power required by the equilibrium and harmony of things in Nature — like Shadow to throw off still brighter the Light, like Night to bring into greater relief the Day, and like cold to make one appreciate the more the comfort of heat — Satan has ever existed. Homogeneity is one and indivisible. But if the homogeneous One and Absolute is no mere figure of speech, and if heterogeneity in its dualistic aspect, is its offspring — its bifurcous shadow or reflection — then even that divine Homogeneity must contain in itself the essence of
both good and evil. If “ God ” is Absolute, Infinite, and the Universal Root of all and everything in Nature and its universe, whence comes Evil or D’Evil if not from the same “ Golden Womb ” of the absolute ? Thus we are forced either to accept the emanation of good and evil, of Agathodæmon and Kakodæmon as offshoots from the same trunk of the Tree of Being, or to resign ourselves to the absurdity of believing in two eternal Absolutes !
Having to trace the origin of the idea to the very beginnings of human mind, it is but just, meanwhile, to give his due even to the proverbial devil. Antiquity knew of no isolated, thoroughly and absolutely bad “ god of evil.” Pagan thought represented good and evil as twin brothers, born from the same mother — Nature ; so soon as that thought ceased to be Archaic, Wisdom too became Philosophy. In the beginning the symbols of good and evil were mere abstractions, Light and Darkness ; then their types became chosen among the most natural and ever-recurrent periodical Cosmic phenomena — the Day and the Night, or the Sun and Moon. Then the Hosts of the Solar and Lunar deities were made to represent them, and the Dragon of Darkness was contrasted with the Dragon of Light (See Stanzas V., VII. of Book I.) The Host of Satan is a Son of God, no less than the Host of the B’ni Alhim, these children of God coming to “ present themselves before the Lord,” their father (see Job ii.). “ The Sons of God ” become the “ Fallen Angels ” only after perceiving that the daughters of men were fair, (Genesis vi.) In the Indian philosophy, the Suras are among the earliest and the brightest gods, and become Asuras only when dethroned by Brahminical fancy. Satan never assumed an anthropomorphic, individualized shape, until the creation by man, of a “ one living personal god,” had been accomplished ; and then merely as a matter of prime necessity. A screen was needed ; a scape-goat to explain the cruelty, blunders, and but too-evident injustice, perpetrated by him for whom absolute perfection, mercy, and goodness were claimed. This was the first Karmic effect of abandoning a philosophical and logical Pantheism, to build, as a prop for lazy man, “ a merciful father in Heaven,” whose daily and hourly actions as Natura naturans, the “ comely mother but stone cold,” belie the assumption. This led to the primal twins, Osiris-Typhon, Ormazd-Ahriman, and finally Cain-Abel and the tutti-quanti of contraries.
Having commenced by being synonymous with Nature, “ God,” the Creator, ended by being made its author. Pascal settles the difficulty very cunningly : “ Nature has perfections, in order to show that she is the image of God : and defects, in order to show that she is only his image,” he says.
The further back one recedes into the darkness of the prehistoric
ages, the more philosophical does the prototypic figure of the later Satan appear. The first “ Adversary ” in individual human form that one meets with in old Purânic literature is one of her greatest Rishis and Yogis — Nârada, surnamed the “ Strife-maker.”
And he is a Brahmâputra, a son of Brahmâ, the male. But of him later on. Who the great “ Deceiver ” really is, one can ascertain by searching for him with open eyes and an unprejudiced mind, in every old cosmogony and Scripture.
It is the anthropomorphised Demiurge, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, when separated from the collective Hosts of his fellow-Creators, whom, so to speak, he represents and synthesizes. It is now the God of theologies. “ The thought is father to the wish.” Once upon a time, a philosophical symbol left to perverse human fancy ; afterwards fashioned into a fiendish, deceiving, cunning, and jealous God.
Dragons and other fallen angels being described in other parts of this work, a few words upon the much-slandered Satan will be sufficient. That which the student will do well to remember is that, with every people except the Christian nations, the Devil is to this day no worse an entity than the opposite aspect in the dual nature of the so-called Creator. This is only natural. One cannot claim God as the synthesis of the whole Universe, as Omnipresent and Omniscient and Infinite, and then divorce him from evil. As there is far more evil than good in the world, it follows on logical grounds that either God must include evil, or stand as the direct cause of it, or else surrender his claims to absoluteness. The ancients understood this so well that their philosophers — now followed by the Kabalists — defined evil as the lining of God or Good : Demon est Deus inversus, being a very old adage. Indeed, evil is but an antagonizing blind force in nature ; it is reaction, opposition, and contrast, — evil for some, good for others. There is no malum in se : only the shadow of light, without which light could have no existence, even in our perceptions. If evil disappeared, good would disappear along with it from Earth. The “ Old Dragon ” was pure spirit before he became matter, passive before he became active. In the Syro-Chaldean magic both Ophis and Ophiomorphos are joined in the Zodiac, at the sign of the Androgyne Virgo-Scorpio. Before its fall on earth the “ Serpent ” was Ophis-Christos, and after its fall it became Ophiomorphos-Chrestos. Everywhere the speculations of the Kabalists treat of Evil as a force, which is antagonistic, but at the same time essential, to Good, as giving it vitality and existence, which it could never have otherwise. There would be no life possible (in the Mayavic sense) without Death, nor regeneration and reconstruction without destruction. Plants would perish in eternal sunlight, and so would man, who would become an automaton without the exercise of his free will and aspirations
after that sunlight, which would lose its being and value for him had he nothing but light. Good is infinite and eternal only in the eternally concealed from us, and this is why we imagine it eternal. On the manifested planes, one equilibrates the other. Few are those theists and believers in a personal God, who do not make of Satan the shadow of God ; or who, confounding both, do not believe they have a right to pray to that idol asking its help and protection for the exercise and impunity of their evil and cruel deeds. “ Lead us not into Temptation ” is addressed daily to “ our Father, which art in Heaven,” and not to the Devil, by millions of human Christian hearts. They do so, repeating the very words put in the mouth of their Saviour, and do not give one thought to the fact that their meaning is contradicted point blank by James “ the brother of the Lord.” “ Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God : for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” — (The Gen. Ep. of James, i, 13). Why, then, say that it is the Devil who tempts us, when the Church teaches us on the authority of Christ that it is God who does so ? Open any pious volume in which the word “ temptation ” is defined in its theological sense, and forthwith you find two definitions : (1) “ Those afflictions and troubles whereby God tries his people ;” (2) Those means and enticements which the Devil makes use of to ensnare and allure mankind. (St. James i., 2, 12, and Mat. vi., 13.) If accepted literally, the two teachings of Christ and James contradict each other, and what dogma can reconcile the two if the occult meaning is rejected ?
Between the alternative allurements, wise will be that philosopher who will be able to decide where God disappears to make room for the Devil ! Therefore when we read that “ the Devil is a liar and the father of it,” i.e., incarnate lie, and are told in the same breath that Satan — the Devil — was a son of God and the most beautiful of his archangels, rather than believe that Father and Son are a gigantic, personified and eternal lie, we prefer to turn to Pantheism and to Pagan philosophy for information.
Once that the key to Genesis is in our hands, it is the scientific and symbolical Kabala which unveils the secret. The great Serpent of the Garden of Eden and the “ Lord God ” are identical, and so are Jehovah and Cain one — that Cain who is referred to in theology as the “ murderer ” and the liar to God ! Jehovah tempts the King of Israel to number the people, and Satan tempts him to do the same in another place. Jehovah turns into the fiery serpents to bite those he is displeased with ; and Jehovah informs the brazen serpent that heals them.
These short, and seemingly contradictory, statements in the Old Testament (contradictory because the two Powers are separated instead of being regarded as the two faces of one and the same thing) are the
echoes — distorted out of recognition by exotericism and theology — of the universal and philosophical dogmas in nature, so well understood by the primitive Sages. We find the same groundwork in several personifications in the Purânas, only far more ample and philosophically suggestive.
Thus Pulâstya, a “ Son of God ” — one of the first progeny — is made the progenitor of Demons, the Râkshasas, the tempters and the Devourers of men. Pisâcha (female Demon) is a daughter of Daksha, a “ Son of God ” too, and a God, and the mother of all the Pisâchas (Padma Purâna). The Demons, so called in the Purânas, are very extraordinary devils when judged from the standpoint of European and orthodox views about these creatures, since all of them — Dânavas, Daityas, Pisâchas, and the Râkshasas — are represented as extremely pious, following the precepts of the Vedas, some of them even being great Yogis. But they oppose the clergy and Ritualism, sacrifices and forms — just what the full-blown Yogins do to this day in India — and are no less respected for it, though they are allowed to follow neither caste nor ritual ; hence all those Purânic giants and Titans are called Devils. The Missionaries, ever on the watch to show, if they can, the Hindu traditions no better than a reflection of the Jewish Bible, have evolved a whole romance on the alleged identity of Pulâstya with Cain, and of the Râkshasas with the Cainites, “ the accursed,” the cause of the Noachian Deluge. (See the work of Abbé Gorresio, who “ etymologises ” Pulâstya’s name as meaning the “ rejected,” hence Cain, if you please). Pulâstya dwells in Kedara, he says, which means a “ dug-up place,” a mine, and Cain is shown in tradition and the Bible as the first worker in metals and a miner thereof !
While it is very probable that the Gibborim (the giants) of the Bible are the Râkshasas of the Hindus, it is still more certain that both are Atlanteans, and belong to the submerged races. However it may be, no Satan could be more persistent in slandering his enemy, or more spiteful in his hatred, than the Christian theologians are in cursing him as the father of every evil. Compare their vituperations and opinions given about the Devil with the philosophical views of the Purânic sages and their Christ-like mansuetude. When Parâsara, whose father was devoured by a Râkshasa, was preparing himself to destroy (magically) the whole race, his grandsire, Vasishta, says a few extremely suggestive words to him. He shows the irate Sage, on his own confession, that there is Evil and Karma, but no “ evil spirits.” “ Let thy wrath be appeased,” he says. “ The Râkshasas are not culpable ; thy father’s death was the work of Karma. Anger is the passion of fools ; it becometh not a wise man. By whom, it may be asked, is any one killed ? Every man reaps the consequences of his own acts. Anger, my son, is the destruction of
all that man obtains . . . and prevents the attainment of emancipation. The sages shun wrath. Be not thou, my child, subject to its influence. Let not those unoffending spirits of darkness be consumed ; let thy sacrifice cease. Mercy is the might of the righteous ” (Vishnu Purâna, Book i., ch. i.). Thus, every such “ sacrifice ” or prayer to God for help is no better than an act of black magic. That which Pârasara prayed for, was the destruction of the Spirits of Darkness, for his personal revenge. He is called a Pagan, and the Christians have doomed him as such, to eternal hell. Yet, in what respect is the prayer of sovereigns and generals, who pray before every battle for the destruction of their enemy, any better ? Such a prayer is in every case black magic of the worst kind, concealed like a demon “ Mr. Hyde ” under a sanctimonious “ Dr. Jekyll.”
In human nature, evil denotes only the polarity of matter and Spirit, a struggle for life between the two manifested Principles in Space and Time, which principles are one per se, inasmuch they are rooted in the Absolute. In Kosmos, the equilibrium must be preserved. The operations of the two contraries produce harmony, like the centripetal and centrifugal forces, which are necessary to each other — mutually inter-dependent — “ in order that both should live.” If one is arrested, the action of the other will become immediately self-destructive.
Since the personification called Satan has been amply analyzed from its triple aspect — in the Old Testament, Christian theology and the ancient Gentile attitude of thought — those who would learn more of it are referred to Vol. II. of Isis Unveiled, chap. x. See also several sections in Book II., Part II. of this work. The present subject is touched upon and fresh explanations attempted for a very good reason. Before we can approach the evolution of physical and divine man, we have first to master the idea of cyclic evolution, to acquaint ourselves with the philosophies and beliefs of the four races which preceded our present race, to learn what were the ideas of those Titans and giants — giants, verily, mentally as well as physically. The whole of antiquity was imbued with that philosophy which teaches the involution of spirit into matter, the progressive, downward cyclic descent, or active, self-conscious evolution. The Alexandrian Gnostics have sufficiently divulged the secret of initiations, and their records are full of “ the sliding down of Æons ” in their double qualification of Angelic Beings and Periods : the one the natural evolution of the other. On the other hand, Oriental traditions on both sides of the “ black water ” — the oceans that separate the two Easts — are as full of allegories about the downfall of Pleroma, of that of the gods and Devas. One and all, they allegorized and explained the Fall as the
desire to learn and acquire knowledge — to know. This is the natural sequence of mental evolution, the spiritual becoming transmuted into the material or physical. The same law of descent into materiality and re-ascent into spirituality asserted itself during the Christian era, the reaction having stopped only just now, in our own special sub-race.
That which, perhaps ten millenniums ago, was allegorized in Pymander in a triune character of interpretation, meant as a record of an astronomical, anthropological, and even alchemical fact, namely, the allegory of the seven rectors breaking through the seven circles of fire, was dwarfed into one material and anthropomorphic interpretation — the rebellion and Fall of the Angels. The multivocal, profoundly philosophical narrative, under its poetical form of the “ Marriage of Heaven with Earth,” the love of nature for Divine form and the “ Heavenly man,” enraptured with his own beauty mirrored in nature — i.e., Spirit attracted into matter — has now become, under theological handling : “ the seven Rectors disobeying Jehovah, self admiration generating Satanic Pride, followed by their Fall, Jehovah permitting no worship to be lost save upon himself.” In short, the beautiful Planet-Angels, the glorious cyclic æons of the ancients, became henceforward synthesized in their most orthodox shape in Samael, the chief of the Demons in the Talmud, “ That great serpent with twelve wings that draws down after himself, in his Fall, the solar system, or the Titans.” But Schemal, the alter ego and the Sabean type of Samael, meant, in his philosophical and esoteric aspect, the “ year ” in its astrological evil aspect, its twelve months or wings of unavoidable evils, in nature ; and in esoteric theogony (see Chwolson in Nabathean Agriculture, Vol. II., p. 217), both Schemal and Samael represented a particular divinity. With the Kabalists they are “ the Spirit of the Earth,” the personal god that governs it, identical de facto with Jehovah. For the Talmudists admit themselves that Samael is a god-name of one of the seven Elohim. The Kabalists, moreover, show the two, Schemal and Samael, as a symbolical form of Saturn, Chronos, the twelve wings standing for the 12 months, and the symbol in its collectivity representing a racial cycle. Jehovah and Saturn are also glyphically identical.
This leads in its turn to a very curious deduction from a Roman Catholic dogma. Many renowned writers belonging to the Latin Church admit that a difference exists, and should be made, between the Uranian Titans, the antediluvian giants (also Titans), and those post-diluvian giants in whom they (the Roman Catholics) will see the descendants of the mythical Ham. In clearer words, there is a difference to be made between the Cosmic, primordial opposing Forces — guided by cyclic law — the Atlantean human giants, and the post-diluvian great adepts, whether
of the right or the left hand. At the same time they show that Michäel, “ the generalissimus of the fighting Celestial Host, the bodyguard of Jehovah,” as it would seem (see de Mirville) is also a Titan, only with the adjective of “ divine ” before the cognomen. Thus those “ Uranides ” who are called everywhere “ divine Titans,” and who, having rebelled against Kronos (Saturn), are therefore also shown to be the enemies of Samäel (an Elohim, also and synonymous with Jehovah in his collectivity), are identical with Michäel and his host. In short, the rôles are reversed, all the combatants are confused, and no student is able to distinguish clearly which is which. Esoteric explanation may, however, bring some order into this confusion, in which Jehovah becomes Saturn, and Michäel and his army, Satan and the rebellious angels, owing to the indiscreet endeavours of the too faithful zealots to see in every pagan god a devil. The true meaning is far more philosophical, and the legend of the first “ Fall ” (of the angels) assumes a scientific colouring when correctly understood.
Kronos stands for endless (hence immovable) Duration, without beginning, without an end, beyond divided Time and beyond Space. Those “ Angels,” genii, or Devas, who were born to act in space and time, i.e., to break through the seven circles of the superspiritual planes into the phenomenal, or circumscribed, super-terrestrial regions, are said allegorically to have rebelled against Kronos and fought the (then) one living and highest God. In his turn, when Kronos is represented as mutilating Uranus, his father, the meaning of this mutilation is very simple : Absolute Time is made to become the finite and the conditioned ; a portion is robbed from the whole, thus showing that Saturn, the father of the gods, has been transformed from Eternal Duration into a limited Period. Chronos cuts down with his scythe even the longest and (to us) seemingly endless cycles, yet, for all that, limited in Eternity, and puts down with the same scythe the mightiest rebels. Aye, not one will escape the scythe of Time ! Praise the god or gods, or flout, one or both, and that scythe will not be made to tremble one millionth of a second in its ascending or descending course,
The Titans of Hesiod’s Theogony were copied in Greece from the Suras and Asuras of India. These Hesiodic Titans, the Uranides, numbered once upon a time as only six, have been recently discovered to be seven — the seventh being called Phoreg — in an old fragment relating to the Greek myth. Thus their identity with the Seven rectors is fully demonstrated. The origin of the “ War in Heaven ” and the Fall has, in our mind, to be traced unavoidably to India, and perhaps far earlier than the Purânic accounts thereof. For Taramaya was in a later age, and there are three accounts, each of a distinct war, to be traced in almost every Cosmogony.
The first war happened in the night of time, between the gods the (A)-suras, and lasted for the period of one “ divine year.” * On this occasion the deities were defeated by the Daityas, under the leadership of Hrada. After that, owing to a device of Vishnu, to whom the conquered gods applied for help, the latter defeated the Asuras. In the Vishnu Purâna no interval is found between the two wars. In the Esoteric Doctrine, one war takes place before the building of the Solar system ; another, on earth, at the “ creation ” of man ; and a third “ war ” is mentioned as taking place at the close of the 4th Race, between its adepts and those of the 5th Race, i.e., between the Initiates of the “ Sacred Island ” and the Sorcerers of Atlantis. We shall notice the first contest, as recounted by Parâsara, while trying to separate the two accounts, purposely blended together. It is there stated that as the Daityas and Asuras were engaged in the duties of their respective orders (Varna) and followed the paths prescribed by holy writ, practising also religious penance (a queer employment for demons if they are identical with our devils, as it is claimed) — it was impossible for the gods to destroy them. The prayers addressed by the gods to Vishnu are curious as showing the ideas involved in an anthropomorphic deity. Having, after their defeat, “ fled to the Northern shore of the Milky Ocean (Atlantic Ocean), ‡ the discomfited gods address many supplications “ to the first
* One “ Day of Brahmâ ” lasting 4,320,000,000 years — multiply this by 365 ! The Asuras here (no-gods, but demons) are still Suras, gods higher in hierarchy than such secondary gods as are not even mentioned in the Vedas. The duration of the war shows its significance, and that they are only the personified Cosmic powers. It is evidently for sectarian purposes and out of odium theologicum that the illusive form assumed by Vishnu Mayamoha, was attributed in later rearrangements of old texts to Buddha and the Daityas, in the Vishnu Purâna, unless it was a fancy of Wilson himself. He also fancied he found an allusion to Buddhism in Bhagavatgita, whereas, as proved by K. T. Telang, he had only confused the Buddhists and the older Chârvâka materialists. The version exists nowhere in other Purânas if the inference does, as Professor Wilson claims, in the “ Vishnu Purâna ” ; the translation of which, especially of Book iii., ch. xviii., where the reverend Orientalist arbitrarily introduces Buddha, and shows him teaching Buddhism to Daityas — led to another “ great war ” between himself and Col. Vans Kennedy. The latter charged him publicly with wilfully distorting Purânic texts. “ I affirm,” wrote the Colonel at Bombay, in 1840, “ that the Purânas do not contain what Professor Wilson has stated is contained in them . . . until such passages are produced I may be allowed to repeat my former conclusions, that Professor Wilson’s opinion, that the Purânas as now extant are compilations made between the eighth and seventeenth centuries ( A.D. !) rests solely on gratuitous assumptions and unfounded assertions, and that his reasoning in support of it is either futile, fallacious, contradictory, or improbable.” (See Vishnu Purâna, trans. by Wilson, edit. by Fitzedward Hall, Vol. V., Appendix.)
‡ This statement belongs to the third War, since the terrestrial continents, seas and rivers are mentioned in connection with it.
of beings, the divine Vishnu,” and among others this one : “ Glory to thee, who art one with the Saints, whose perfect nature is ever blessed. . . . Glory to thee, who art one with the Serpent-race, double-tongued, impetuous, cruel, insatiate of enjoyment and abounding with wealth. Glory to thee, . . . . O Lord, who hast neither colour nor extension, nor size (ghana), nor any predicable qualities, and whose essence (rupa), purest of the pure is appreciable only by holy Paramarshi (greatest of sages or Rishis). We bow to thee, in the nature of Brahma uncreated, undecaying (avyaya), who art in our bodies and in all other bodies, and in all living creatures, and beside whom nothing exists. We glorify that Vasudeva, the lord of all, who is without soil, the seed of all things, exempt from dissolution, unborn, eternal ; being in essence Paramapadâtmavat (beyond the condition of spirit) and in essence and substance (rupa), the whole of this (Universe).” (Book III., ch. xvii., Vish. Purâna.)
The above is quoted as an illustration of the vast field offered by the Purânas to adverse and erroneous criticism, by every European bigot who forms an estimate of an alien religion on mere external evidence. Any man accustomed to subject what he reads to thoughtful analysis, will see at a glance the incongruity of addressing the accepted “ Unknowable,” the formless, and attributeless Absolute, such as the Vedantins define Brahma, as being “ one with the serpent-race, double-tongued, cruel and insatiable,” thus associating the abstract with the concrete, and bestowing adjectives on that which is freed from any limitations, and conditionless. Even Dr. Wilson, who, after living surrounded by Brahmins and Pundits in India for so many years, ought to have known better — even that scholar lost no opportunity to criticize the Hindu Scriptures on this account. Thus, he exclaims : — * “ The Purânas constantly teach incompatible doctrines ! According to this passage, the Supreme being is not the inert cause of creation only, but exercises the functions of an active providence. The Commentator quotes a text of the Veda in support of this view : ‘ Universal Soul entering into men, governs their conduct.’ Incongruities, however, are as frequent in the Vedas as in the Purânas. . . . .”
Less frequent, in sober truth, than in the Mosaic Bible. But prejudice is great in the hearts of our Orientalists — especially in those of “ reverend ” scholars. Universal Soul is not the inert Cause of Creation or (Para) Brahma, but simply that which we call the sixth principle of intellectual Kosmos, on the manifested plane of being. It is Mahat, or Mahabuddhi, the great Soul, the vehicle of Spirit, the first primeval reflection of the formless Cause, and that which is even beyond Spirit.
* In Book I., chap. xvii., narrating the story of Prahlada — the Son of Hiranyakasipu, the Puranic Satan, the great enemy of Vishnu, and the King of the three worlds — into whose heart Vishnu entered.
So much for Professor Wilson’s uncalled-for fling. As for the apparently incongruous appeal to Vishnu by the defeated gods, the explanation is there, in the text of Vishnu Purâna, if Orientalists would only notice it. * There is Vishnu, as Brahmâ, and Vishnu in his two aspects, philosophy teaches. There is but one Brahma, “ essentially prakriti and Spirit,” &c.
Therefore, it is not Vishnu — “ the inert cause of creation ” — which exercised the functions of an active Providence, but the Universal Soul, that which E. Lévi calls Astral Light in its material aspect. And this “ Soul ” is, in its dual aspect of spirit and matter, the true anthropomorphic God of the Theists ; as this God is a personification of that Universal Creative Agent, pure and impure both, owing to its manifested condition and differentiation in this Mayavic World — God and Devil — truly. But Dr. Wilson failed to see how Vishnu, in this character, closely resembles the Lord God of Israel, “ especially in his policy of deception, temptation, and cunning.”
In the Vishnu Purana this is made as plain as can be. For it is said there, that “ at the conclusion of their prayers (stotra) the gods beheld the Sovereign Deity Hari (Vishnu) armed with the conch, the discus, and the mace, riding on Garuda. . ” Now “ Garuda ” is the manvantaric cycle, as will be shown in its place. Vishnu, therefore, is the deity in space and time ; the peculiar God of the Vaishnavas (a tribal or racial God, as they are called in esoteric philosophy) : i.e., one of the many Dhyanis or Gods, or Elohim, one of whom was generally chosen for some special reasons by a nation or a tribe, and thus became gradually a “ God above all Gods ” (2 Chronicles ii. 5,) the “ highest God ” as Jehovah, Osiris, Bel, or any other of the Seven Regents.
“ The tree is known by its fruit,” — the nature of a God by his actions. The latter, we have either to judge by the dead-letter narratives, or to accept allegorically. If we compare the two — Vishnu, as the defender and champion of the defeated gods ; and Jehovah, the defender and champion of the “ chosen ” people, so called by antiphrasis, no doubt, as it is the Jews who had chosen that “ jealous ” God — we shall find that both use deceit and cunning. They do so on the principle of “ the end justifying the means,” in order to have the best of their
* This ignorance is truly and beautifully expressed in the praise of the Yogins to Brahmâ, “ the upholder of the earth ” (in Book I., chap. iv. of V. P.), when they say, “ Those who have not practised devotion conceive erroneously of the nature of the world. The ignorant who do not perceive that this Universe is of the nature of wisdom, and judge of it as an object of perception only, are lost in the ocean of spiritual ignorance. But they who know true wisdom, and whose minds are pure, behold this whole world as one with divine knowledge, as one with thee, O God ! Be favourable, O universal Spirit ! ”
respective opponents and foes — the demons. Thus while (according to the Kabalists) Jehovah assumes the shape of the tempting Serpent in the Garden of Eden ; sends Satan with a special mission to tempt Job ; and harasses and wearies Pharaoh with Saraï, Abraham’s wife, and “ hardens ” his heart against Moses, lest there should be no opportunity for plaguing his victims “ with great plagues ” (Genesis xii., Exodus) — Vishnu is made in his Purâna to resort to a trick no less unworthy of any respectable god.
“ Have compassion upon us, O Lord, and protect us, who have come to thee for succour from the Daityas (demons) ! ” pray the defeated Gods. “ They have seized upon the three worlds, and appropriated the offerings which are our portion, taking care not to transgress the precepts of the Veda. Although we, as well as they, are parts of thee. * . . . . engaged as they are in the paths prescribed by the holy writ . . . . it is impossible for us to destroy them. Do thou, whose wisdom is immeasurable (Ameyâtman) instruct us in some device by which we may be able to exterminate the enemies of the gods ! ”
“ When the mighty Vishnu heard their request, he emitted from his body an illusory form (Mâyâmoha, “ the deluder by illusion ”) which he gave to the Gods and thus spake : “ This Mâyâmoha shall wholly beguile the Daityas, so that being led astray from the path of the Vedas, they may be put to death. . . . Go then and fear not. Let this delusive vision precede you. It shall this day be of great service unto you, O Gods ! ”
“ After this, the great Delusion, Mâyâmoha, descending to earth, beheld the Daityas engaged in ascetic penances, and approaching them, in the semblance of a Digambara (naked mendicant) with his head shaven . . . he thus addressed them, in gentle accents : “ Ho, lords of the Daitya race, wherefore is it that you practise these acts of penances ? ” etc., etc. (Book II., xviii.).
Finally the Daityas were seduced by the wily talk of Mahâmoha, as Eve was seduced by the advice of the Serpent. They became apostates to the Vedas. As Dr. Muir translates the passage : —
“ The great Deceiver, practising illusion, next beguiled other Daityas, by means of many other sorts of heresy. In a very short time, these Asuras (-Daityas) deluded by the Deceiver (who was Vishnu) abandoned the entire system founded on the ordinances of the triple Veda. Some reviled the Vedas, others the Gods, others the ceremonial of sacrifice, and others the Brahmans. This, they exclaimed, is a doctrine which will not bear discussion. The slaughter of animals in sacrifice is not conducive to religious merit. To say that oblations of butter consumed in the fire produce any future reward, is the assertion of a child. . . . If it be a fact that a beast slain in sacrifice is exalted to heaven, why does not the worshipper slaughter his own father ? . . . . Infallible utterances do not, great Asuras, fall from the skies ; it is only assertions founded on reasoning that are accepted by me and by other intelligent persons like yourselves ! Thus by numerous methods the Daityas were unsettled by the great Deceiver (Reason). . . . When
* “ There was a day when the Sons of God came before the Lord, and Satan came with his brothers, also before the Lord ” ( Job ii., Abyss., Ethiopic text).
they had entered on the path of error, the gods mustered all their energies and approached to battle. Then followed a combat between the gods and the Asuras ; and the latter, who had abandoned the right road, were smitten by the former. In previous times they had been defended by the armour of righteousness which they bore, but when that had been destroyed they, also, perished.” ( Journal of the Royal Asiat. Society, Vol. XIX., p. 302.)
Whatever may be thought of Hindus, no enemy of theirs can regard them as fools. A people whose holy men and sages have left to the world the greatest and most sublime philosophies that ever emanated from the minds of men, must have known the difference between right and wrong. Even a savage can discern white from black, good from bad, and deceit from sincerity and truthfulness. Those who had narrated this event in the biography of their god, must have seen that in this case it was that God who was the arch-Deceiver, and the Daityas, who “ never transgressed the precepts of the Vedas,” who had the sunny side in the transaction, and who were the true “ Gods.” Thence there must have been, and there is a secret meaning hidden under this allegory. In no class of Society, in no nation, are deceit and craft considered as Divine virtues — except perhaps in the clerical classes of theologians and modern Jesuitism.
The Vishnu Purâna, * like all other works of this kind, has passed at a later period into the hands of the temple-Brahmins, and the old MSS. have, no doubt, been once more tampered with by sectarians. But there was a time when the Purânas were esoteric works, and so they are still for the Initiates who can read them with the key that is in their possession.
Whether the Brahmin Initiates will ever give out the full meaning of these allegories, is a question with which the writer is not concerned. The present object is to show that, while honouring the creative Powers in their multiple forms, no philosopher could, or ever has, accepted the allegory for the true Spirit, except, perhaps, some philosophers belonging to the present “ superior and civilized ” Christian races. For, as shown, Jehovah is not one whit the superior of Vishnu on the plane of ethics. This is why the Occultists and even some Kabalists, whether they regard or not those creative Forces as living and conscious Entities — and one does not see why they should not be so accepted — will never confuse the Cause with the effect, and accept the Spirit of the Earth for Parabrahm or Ain-Soph. At all events they know well the true nature of what was called Father-Æther by the Greeks, Jupiter-Titan, etc., etc. They know that the soul of the Astral Light is divine, and
* Wilson’s opinion that the “ Vishnu Purâna ” is a production of our era, and that in its present form it is not earlier than between the VIIIth and the XVIIth (! !) century, is absurd beyond noticing.
its body (the light-waves on the lower planes) infernal. This Light is symbolized by the “ Magic Head ” in the Zohar, the double Face on the double Pyramid : the black pyramid rising against a pure white ground, with a white head and face within its black triangle ; the white pyramid, inverted — the reflection of the first in the dark waters, showing the black reflection of the white face. . . . .
This is the “ Astral Light,” or Demon est Deus Inversus.