Monday, May 18, 2015

Sir John Woodroffe -Hindu Science od Tantra-Serpent Power






Sir John Woodroffe aka Arthur Avalon (1865 -1936) the well known scholar, Advocate-General of Bengal and sometime Legal Member of the Government of India. He served with competence for eighteen years and in 1915 officiated as Chief Justice.
Alongside his judicial duties he studied Sanskrit and Hindu philosophy and was especially interested in the esoteric Hindu Tantric Shakti system. He translated some twenty original Sanskrit texts, and under his pseudonym Arthur Avalon he published and lectured prolifically and authoritatively on Indian philosophy and a wide range of Yoga and Tantra topics. His work helped to unleash in the West a deep and wide interest in Hindu philosophy and Yogic practices.
He was instrumental in removing many of the cobwebs of ignorance that had come to cluster round the Sakta philosophy and practice. His most popular and influential book, a major contribution to the appreciation of Indian philosophy and spirituality, is The Serpent Power – The secrets of tantric and shaktic yoga, Sakti and Sakta, Introduction to Tantra Sastra and The World as Power
He has said:
"Ages before Lamarck and Darwin it was held in India that man has passed through 84 lakhs (8,400,000) of birth as plants, animals, as an "inferior species of man" and then as the ancestor of the developed type existing to-day. The theory was not, like modern doctrine of evolution, based wholly on observation and a scientific enquiry into fact but was a rather (as some other matters) an act of brilliant intuition in which observation may also have had some part."
"Indian thought with its usual profundity and avoidance of arbitrary divisions, regards Philosophy as religious and Religion as philosophical."
The Vedanta does not speak ill of any religion, but assigns to each its place....I however was concerned with the religion of the "Idolatrous" "Heathen"...The point was this,...how could such a grade people have principles so excellent that the Western Religions also laid claim to them? It is clear that God has revealed Himself at all times and to all peoples according to their capacity to receive knowledge of Him. "It is Official Christianity which has been slow to recognize the merit of Indian teaching and to give credit for anything to the "Heathen." Vedanta kindly tolerates even the most ignorant of its detractors. "
"It is Official Christianity which has been slow to recognize the merit of Indian teaching and to give credit for anything to the "Heathen. The European man of a "religious" turn of mind is too often over-beset with sectarian notions."
Attacks on Indian culture however have led and will lead to its defense and appreciation. Kalidasa says:
"Jvalati chalitendhanah agnir viprakritah
pannagah phanam kurute
Prayah svam mahinmanam kshobhat pratipadyate hi janah."
"When the faggots are stirred the flame leaps. When the Snake is stirred it rears its hood. Through being stirred to action people mostly attain their proper greatness."
In writing then of Indian Culture I have in mind not any soiled or hybrid developments of the time, but the principles of the civilization of old India, with its Dharma, Devata and Gomata - a civilization in its depths profound, on its surface a pageant of antique beauty - the civilization of India of the Hindus." In India there has been intellectual and spiritual freedom - the most valuable of all. The history of Europe on the contrary is marked by intolerance and abominable persecutions."
"If, as is finely said in India, Satyannasti paro dharmah - there is no religion higher than truth. As the Veda says, "Truth will conquer." (Satyam jayate).
(source: Is India Civilized: Essays on Indian Culture - By Sir John Woodroffe p. xiv - 22).