13. The Radiance of the Solar Word

Such is the legend of Krishna, reconstructed in its organic whole and placed in historical perspective.

It sheds a vivid light on the origins of Brahmanism. Naturally it is impossible to establish on the basis of actual documents that behind the myth of Krishna is a real person. The threefold veil which covers the evolution of all oriental religions is thicker in India than elsewhere. For the Brahmans, absolute masters of Hindu society, sole guardians of its traditions, often remolded and transformed them in the course of ages. But they faithfully preserved all the basic elements, and if their sacred teaching has changed with the centuries, its core has never been touched. Therefore, unlike many European scientists, we do not explain a figure like Krishna by saying that it is "a fairy tale drawn out of a solar myth, with a philosophic fantasy to cap it all." We do not believe that this attitude explains how a religion was established which has lasted thousands of years, has produced a marvelous poetry and several great philosophers, has resisted the strong attack of Buddhism,20 the Mongol and Mohammedan invasions and the English conquest, preserving even in its extreme decadence, the feeling for its unknown and exalted origin. A great man is always involved in the origin of a great institution. Considering the dominant role of the character of Krishna in epic and religious tradition, his human elements on the one hand and his constant identification with God manifest, or Vishnu, on the other, it behooves us to believe that he was the creator of the Vishnu cult which gave Brahmanism its power and its prestige. It is therefore logical to admit that in the midst of the religious and social chaos which the invasion of naturalist and passional cults made in primitive India, an enlightened reformer appeared who revived the pure Aryan doctrine with the idea of the Trinity and the Divine Word made manifest, who put the seal on his work by the sacrifice of his life, thus giving India her religious soul, her national impress and her definitive organization.

Krishna's importance will appear still greater and of a truly universal nature if we recognize that his doctrine contains two basic ideas, two organizing principles of religious and esoteric philosophy. I am speaking of the organic doctrine of the immortality of the soul or progressive lives through reincarnation, and his teaching of the Trinity or the Divine Word revealed in man. I have but briefly indicated the philosophical import of this major concept which, when thoroughly understood, brings about life-giving results in all domains of science, art and life. In conclusion, I shall confine myself to a historical remark.

The idea that God, Truth, Infinite Beauty and Goodness are revealed in conscious man with a redemptive power which rises to the heights of heaven through the power of love and sacrifice -- this idea, fecund above all others, appears for the first time in Krishna. It is personified at the moment when, forsaking its Aryan youth, humanity is about to sink deeper and deeper into the worship of matter. Krishna reveals the idea of the Holy Word; humanity will no longer forget it. Humanity will thirst even more for redeemers and sons of God as it realizes its decadence more keenly. After Krishna, the Solar Word shines powerfully in the temples of Asia, Africa and Europe. In Persia, it is Mithras, reconcilor of the luminous Ormuzd and somber Ahriman; in Egypt, it is Horus, son of Osiris and Isis; in Greece, it is Apollo, god of the sun and the lyre; it is Dionysius, awakener of souls. Everywhere the solar god is a mediating god, and light is also the Word of Life. Is it not also from this that the Messianic idea comes? Be this as it may, it is through Krishna that this idea entered the ancient world; it is through Jesus that it will spread over the entire earth.

In the remainder of this secret history of religions, I shall show how the teaching of the divine Trinity is linked to that of the soul and its evolution, and how and why they are implied in and complement one another. Let us say at once that their point of contact forms the vital center, the glowing crux of esoteric doctrine. In observing the great religions of India, Egypt, Greece and Judea merely externally, one sees only discord, superstition, chaos. But, investigate the symbols, question the Mysteries, look for the basic teaching of the founders and prophets, and harmony will be observed. By varied and often indirect roads one will finally recognize that to fathom the arcana of one of these religions is to fathom the arcana of all the others. Then a strange phenomenon comes about. Bit by bit, but in a widening circle, one sees the doctrine of the initiates shine in the center of religions like a sun, while each single religion appears as a different planet. With each of them we change atmosphere and celestial orientation, but it is always the same sun which lights our way. India, the great dreamer, plunges us along with herself into the dream of Eternity. Grandiose Egypt, of deathly austerity, invites us to the journey beyond the grave. Enchanting Greece transports us to magic festivals of life and gives her Mysteries the character of alternating charm and terror, and of her eternally passionate soul. Finally, Pythagoras scientifically formulates esoteric teaching, gives it perhaps the fullest and soundest expression it has ever had, for Plato and the Alexandrians were but its popularizers.

In the jungles of the Ganges and the solitudes of the Himalayas we have seen the source of this esoteric teaching.


Notes for this lecture:

20. Sakia-Muni's greatness resides in his sublime charity, in his moral reform and in the social revolution he brought about through overthrowing the ossified castes. But Sakia-Muni added nothing to the esoteric doctrine of the Brahmans; he only revealed certain parts of it. Its psychology is fundamentally the same, though it follows a different path. (See my article on La Legende de Bouddha in Revue des Deux Mondes, July 1,1885)

If the Buddha is not represented in this volume, this is not because we do not recognize his place in the series of the Great Initiates. Rather it is because of the special plan of this book. Each of the reformers or philosophers selected is intended to show the doctrine of the Mysteries in a different aspect and at another stage in its evolution. From this viewpoint, Buddha would represent a needless repetition in connection with Pythagoras, through whom I developed the doctrine of reincarnation and evolution of souls, on the one hand, and on the other, with Jesus Christ, who promulgated for the West as well as the East, the ideal of universal Brotherhood and Love.

As for the book Esoteric Buddhism by Sinnet, which in some respects is very interesting, worthy of being read, and whose origin many people attribute to self-styled initiates still living in Tibet, it is impossible for me, until otherwise informed, to see anything in it but a very clever compilation of Brahmanism and Buddhism, with certain ideas borrowed from the Kabbala, Paracelsus, and a few thoughts from modern science.


HERMES: The Mysteries of Egypt

The Great Initiates