Death of roman empire has lessons for Hindus.

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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*Slightly adapted from the works of The HINDUPOST Networks.

Roman Empire, which created few of the most magnificent architectural marvels of the world, gave the west a concept of republic, had such a swift death. It is important for us to learn from the same as this was the last of the pagan civilization which had a recorded version of its death, that we avoid the same mistakes which led to their destruction.

As Edward Gibbon has rightly pointed out “The ruin of Paganism, in the age of Theodosius, is perhaps the only example of the total extirpation of any ancient and popular superstition; and may therefore deserve to be considered as a singular event in the history of the human mind.

Romans faced the scourge of Christianity while Hindus face the scourge of secular constitution.

His comments on the gradual denigration of the Roman priests are a telling comment on our own state of affairs. Hindus took a giant leap of faith when they opted for a system of republic, making the constitution their holy book. Little did they realise that the same book could be the cause of their eventual destruction.

This action of state can be compared with the action of Gratian, a roman emperor. When Gratian ascended the throne, he sternly rejected all pagan symbols ; applied to the service of the state, the revenues of the priests and vestals ; abolished their honours and immunities ; and dissolved the ancient fabric of Roman superstition, which was supported by the opinions, and habits, of eleven hundred years. Paganism was still the constitutional religion of Rome. Here one can clearly see the similarities, Hinduism was considered to be the de facto religion of India when the constitution was adopted.

It was during the debates of the adoption of various Hindu Bills, that one could realise the Hinduphobic nature of the constitution. Similar event happened during the roman times as well when Symmachus pleaded with the augur and zeal of a priest, in the court of the emperor for allowing him to continue with his religion.

One can only see reason when one reads the account of the way Somnath temple was rebuilt. Symmachus had argued that the confiscation of the revenues, which were consecrated to the service of the gods, was a measure unworthy of the liberal and disinterested character of the emperor; and he maintained, that the Roman sacrifices would be deprived of their force and energy, if they were no longer celebrated at the expense, as well as in the name, of the republic

Converted Roman emperor attacked superstition in her most vital part, by prohibiting the use of sacrifices, which he declared to be criminal as well as infamous; and if the terms of his edicts more strictly condemned the impious curiosity which examined the entrails of the victims, every subsequent explanation tended to involve, in the same guilt, the general practice of immolation, which essentially constituted the religion of the Pagans.

As the temples had been erected for the purpose of sacrifice, it was the duty of a benevolent prince to remove from his subjects the dangerous temptation, of offending against the laws which he had enacted.” Similar laws have been passed by the state and courts. Both have banned all forms of Hindu rituals by terming Hinduism as a way of life and not a religion. By claiming Hinduism as a way of life, the courts have essentially divided the entire Hindu religion into various sub sects. As a result individual targeting of Hindu practices has become easier for the legislature and judiciary.

They can target a particular group without provoking the entire Hindu community. States have passed anti superstition laws similar to those passed by the Roman emperor by which anyone who doesn’t fit their version of god is considered to be a fraud. They have passed strictures to close schools, temples similar to the ones passed during roman time. Roman emperor had passed decree by which they were directed to shut the temples, to seize or destroy the instruments of idolatry, to abolish the privileges, of the priests, and to confiscate the consecrated property for the benefit of the emperor, of the church, or of the army.

Here the desolation might have stopped and the naked edifices which were no longer employed in the service of idolatry, might have been protected from the destructive rage of fanaticism. Many of those temples were the most splendid and beautiful monuments of Grecian architecture and the emperor himself was interested not to deface the splendor of his own cities, or to diminish the value of his own possessions.

Those stately edifices might be suffered to remain, as so many lasting trophies of the victory of Christ. A similar attack can be seen on Hindu temple and monuments, where one can hear chest beating for one Taj but none will battle an eye lid for forced and organized destruction of Hindu temples and monuments by the policies of the state.

It was also observed that Christianity being a minority was given a free hand for a similar breach of law, a case similar to what we see today when minorities are judged by different yardstick in every aspect, from laws to national resources.

The impassioned pleas of Symmachus, as given by Gibbon, “


Most excellent princes, fathers of your country; pity and respect my age, which has hitherto flowed in an uninterrupted course of piety. Since I do not repent, permit me to continue in the practice of my ancient rites. Since I am born free, allow me to enjoy my domestic institutions. This religion has reduced the world under my laws. These rites have repelled Hannibal from the city, and the Gauls from the capitol. Were my gray hairs reserved for such intolerable disgrace? I am ignorant of the new system, that I am required to adopt; but I am well assured, that the correction of old age is always an ungrateful and ignominious office.” Clearly speaks the heart out of every devout Hindu today.
Roman emperor by asking the pagans, in a full meeting of the senate, whether the worship of Jupiter, or that of Christ, should be the religion of the Romans effectively destroyed the hopes of pagans to survive in a secular state. On a regular division of the senate, Jupiter was condemned and degraded by the sense of a very large majority; and it was rather surprising, that any members should have been found bold enough to declare, by their speeches and votes, that they were still attached to the interest of an abdicated deity.

Consequences of acceptance of secular constitutional system can be equated to what happened during the Roman times. Pagans were made to accept that idolatry is not the state religion and were made apologetic about this. This eventually led to destruction of the temple of Serapis by Theophilus, without any other difficulties.

Gibbon writes “The popular modes of religion, that propose any visible and material objects of worship, have the advantage of adapting and familiarizing themselves to the senses of mankind : but this advantage is counterbalanced by the various and inevitable accidents to which the faith of the idolater is exposed. It is scarcely possible, that, in every disposition of mind, he should preserve his implicit reverence for the idols, or the relics, which the naked eye, and the profane hand, are unable to distinguish from the most common productions of art, or nature; and if, in the hour of danger, their secret and miraculous virtue does not operate for their own preservation, he scorns the vain apologies of his priests, and justly derides the object and the folly of his superstitious attachment.” This statement essentially describes the nature of threat to Hinduism. All efforts will be made for destroying his faith in his idols by derision and evoking the feel superstition( similar to the wastage of milk, money to temples, wastage of food etc). This will lead to desertion or destruction of temples similar to those of Roman Empire.


All pagan religions have the inherent ability to modify its rituals according to prevailing circumstances, but continuous modifications in rituals tend to erode the connect. The faith is easier to be shaken. All laws are made to hasten this process of modification of rituals. Paganism is represented by its rituals and connect to the gods, the link to the god is via rituals, and as a result laws are made to weaken this link. A similar effort can be seen in the light of Supreme Court judgement against Diwali ( primary reason for me to write this article).

When the Roman emperor declared “ This prohibitory law is expressed in the most absolute and comprehensive terms. “It is our will and pleasure,” says the emperor, ” that none of our subjects, whether magistrates or private citizens, however exalted or however humble may be their rank and condition, shall presume, in any city, or in any place, to worship an inanimate idol, by the sacrifice of a guiltless victim.” Gibbon further writes “The act of sacrificing, and the practice of divination by the entrails of the victim, are declared (without any regard to the object of the enquiry) a crime of high treason against the state; which can be expiated only by the death of the guilty. The rites of Pagan superstition, which might seem less bloody and atrocious, are abolished, as highly injurious to the truth and honour of religion; luminaries, garlands, frankincense, and libations of wine, are specially enumerated and condemned ; and the harmless claims of the domestic genius, of the household gods, are included in this rigorous proscription.” These statements shows the true nature of secularism. It shows that to kill paganism the rule of law is made to ensure extreme punishments for minutest digression to ensure compliance. These may range from fines to confiscation of property and jail terms.





To be continued.
 
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asaffronladoftherisingsun

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Gibbon further writes “The experience of ages had betrayed the weakness, as well as folly, of Paganism ; the light of reason and of faith had already exposed, to the greatest part of mankind, the vanity of idols ; and the declining sect, which still adhered to their worship, might have been permitted to enjoy, in peace and obscurity, the religious customs of their ancestors. Had the Pagans been animated by the undaunted zeal, which possessed the minds of the primitive believers, the triumph of the church must have been stained with blood ; and the martyrs of Jupiter and Apollo might have embraced the glorious opportunity of devoting their lives and fortunes at the foot of their altars. But such obstinate zeal was not congenial to the loose and careless temper of polytheism.” As seen what ails Hinduism is its collective awakening of consciousness. It has to see the impending danger to its very existence so as to make necessary amends for its survival. I have always told people around that a society is like a living being, it reacts to its prevailing situation. Once the society realizes that it is under threat it will activate its defensive structures to prevent its collapse. A society which doesn’t realise the same goes to its ultimate doom. Roman Pagans failed to see the same. Their internal structures decayed due to a variety of reason and that led to their ultimate destruction.

One aspect that merits special consideration is mentioned by Gibbon, when he writes “The violent and repeated strokes of the orthodox princes were broken by the soft and yielding substance against which they were directed; and the ready obedience of the Pagans protected them from the pains and penalties of the Theodosian Code. Instead of asserting, that the authority of the gods was superior to that of the emperor, they desisted, with a plaintive murmur, from the use of those sacred rites which their sovereign had condemned. If they were sometimes tempted, by a sally of passion, or by the hopes of concealment, to indulge their favorite superstition; their humble repentance disarmed the severity of the Christian magistrate, and they seldom refused to atone for their rashness, by submitting, with some secret reluctance, to the yoke of the Gospel.” Hindus like roman pagans are ready to obey all strictures and laws for small mercies to avoid pain and penalties of the secular constitution despite of being aware of its harmful aspects. They are ready to accept all kinds of injustice silently instead of asserting their authority. The root cause of this behavior lies in their acceptance of this constitution and the implicit faith in legislature and judiciary to be the protectors of their civilization. A similar notion was there with the pagans of the roman civilization. They assumed the emperor to be the protector little realizing that the emperor had converted and all efforts were made by him to convert his subjects. We have to avoid such a pitfall for the Hindu civilization.

The curse of secularism is described by Gibbon when he write “If the Pagans wanted patience to suffer, they wanted spirit to resist; and the scattered myriads, who deplored the ruin of the temples, yielded, without a contest, to the fortune of their adversaries. The Pagans of the West, without contributing to the elevation of Eugenius, disgraced, by their partial attachment, the cause and character of the usurper. The clergy vehemently exclaimed, that he aggravated the crime of rebellion by the guilt of apostasy; that, by his permission, the altar of Victory was again restored; and that the idolatrous symbols of Jupiter and Hercules were displayed in the field, against the invincible standard of the cross.”
 

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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“But the Imperial laws, which prohibited the sacrifices and ceremonies of Paganism, were rigidly executed; and every hour contributed to destroy the influence of a religion, which was supported by custom, rather than by argument. The devotion of the poet, or the philosopher, may be secretly nourished by prayer, meditation, and study ; but the exercise of public worship appears to be the only solid foundation of the religious sentiments of the people, which derive their force from imitation and habit. The interruption of that public exercise may consummate, in the period of a few years, the important work of a national revolution. The memory of theological opinions cannot long be preserved, without the artificial helps of priests, of temples, and of books. The ignorant vulgar, whose minds are still agitated by the blind hopes and terrors of superstition, will be soon persuaded by their superiors, to direct their vows to the reigning deities of the age ; and will insensibly imbibe an ardent zeal for the support and propagation of the new doctrine, which spiritual hunger at first compelled them to accept.”


The aforementioned lines by Gibbon clearly tells us what ails the Hindu civilization. The situation that was prevalent 1600 years ago is relevant today. It is important to understand that the primary and foremost thing that requires our immediate attention is Temples and education.

Temples will be the rallying point only and only if there is DHARMIC education which is free from any interference from secular constitution. It is essential to understand in light of relentless attacks on Brahmans, temple priests, temple control and education control as to what is the target of attack. If we fail to correctly identify and take necessary actions we may as well be the Last of the Mohicans, the last of the flag bearers of 6000 years of civilization. If we fail the demise will be rapid and yet very gentle so much so that our vestiges would no longer be visible to the eyes of coming generation and we may also end up being a chapter in the history books like those of the Pagans of Rome.
 

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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In 312 ce, Constantine had a vision of the cross as the emblem that would lead him to military victory: “In hoc signo, vinces!” (“With this sign, you will win!”) The story may be fake history: it is told only much later, in contradictory forms, by two authors with their own Christian axes to grind, and Constantine was probably never as fully and exclusively committed to the faith as the later hagiographers suggest. But officially, he did become the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. A small Jewish cult that had mostly been ignored by the ruling Roman elite had acquired the attention of the most powerful man in the world. A few decades later, in 380 ce, Theodosius made Christianity the sole authorised religion of the Roman empire.

Since then Christianity was the historical winner against Roman polytheism, non-specialists often have a distorted impression of how the new religion took cultural hold. There is a series of Wikipedia articles about the “persecutions of the Catholic Church”, including an extensive account of Christian martyrdoms under Rome; but there is no corresponding series about the often violent suppression of the earlier Roman religion by the Church. As Catherine Nixey points out in her vivid and important new book, the idea of the widespread persecution of Christians is a product of the Church’s marketing and recruitment techniques.

Like the later suicide bombers, Christians were often eager for a public death. As Nixey notes, “This was a glory that was open to all, regardless of rank, education, wealth or sex.” But the execution of Christians for religious nonconformity was extremely rare, since most Roman rulers were smart enough to realise that there is nothing to be gained from making religious extremists into heroes. In 111 ce , Emperor Trajan insisted in a letter to Pliny, the governor of Bithynia, that he should punish only the most recalcitrant rebels; anyone willing to offer prayers to “our gods” could be pardoned, “however suspect his past conduct may be”.

Christians could be seen as a threat to the Romans’ ancestral traditions as well as their structures of political power, since they refused to worship in the ways favoured by the majority of their neighbours. But Romans such as Trajan and Pliny had no interest in conducting a searching investigation of their motives. “They must not be hunted,” insisted Trajan – who had more important things to do than worry about the minds of a few oddballs.

As long as they could perform a minimum of the normal rituals, they were unobjectionable. Traditional Roman religion was a capacious ragbag of beliefs and practices, which could accommodate the worship of many different deities – Romanised versions of the old Greek Olympians (such as Zeus/Jupiter, or Ares/Mars) alongside multicultural additions (the Egyptian Osiris), as well as more utilitarian entities (Fortuna) and deified emperors. Religious correctness was in many ways a matter of practice or etiquette rather than belief (orthopraxy, not orthodoxy).

The new dominion of Christianity brought about the end of this largely tolerant Roman society, since everybody was now forced to conform to the faith and its social, sexual, cultural and familial practices. Some prominent adherents to the old ways begged the authorities to tolerate religious difference in the newly Christianised empire. Nixey cites the orator Symmachus, who pleaded with the emperor Gratian to allow the Altar of Victory to remain in the Senate House of Rome in 382 CE. “Each person has their own custom, their own religious rite,” Symmachus argued, and asked, “What does it matter what wisdom a person uses to seek for the truth?” But his pleas were ignored. The altar was ripped out and, in 408 ce, a new law came into effect that all altars and images to the old gods must be destroyed.

The language of “persecution” and “martyrdom” has been claimed by only one side. Yet there were at least a handful of non-Christians who were persecuted and martyred for their refusal to adopt the new religion. Unlike Trajan and other polytheist authorities, the Christians did not offer their opponents an opportunity to escape punishment with a quick prayer to the correct God. Instead, they probed their homes and even their minds in search of secret sins against the one true deity.

Nixey tells the story of the sainted Egyptian monk Shenoute, who led a group of his fellow Christians to batter down the door of a citizen’s house and barge in to discover his forbidden statues of the old pagan gods. Breaking and entering was, Shenoute insisted, entirely justifiable, since: “There is no crime for those who have Christ.”

Violations of what we would now call human rights and civil liberties were allowed for the sake of religious conformity. In Alexandria in 415 ce , the philosopher and teacher Hypatia was mobbed, stoned, flayed, ripped to pieces and burned by a gang of Christians, who accused her of witchcraft. Classical learning, literature and philosophy were now all suspect. Being pious in the new faith meant not only participating in public religious practice but also a moulding of hearts, minds, art, architecture and reading matter to fit the new “reality”.Radical Christian terrorism has a long history. As the Roman Epicurean poet Lucretius wrote , “Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum.” (“Religion has persuaded people to so much evil.”)
 

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Late in 386 CE, Libanius, a 72-year-old teacher of rhetoric from the Syrian metropolis of Antioch, penned an oration addressed to the Roman emperor Theodosius I. It offered one of the most powerful criticisms of the process by which Rome became a Christian empire. Libanius described Cynegius – the Roman prefect who governed a vast swath of the eastern Mediterranean – leading troops of soldiers and Christian monks on a rampage through the Syrian, Lebanese, Palestinian and Egyptian countrysides.


‘This black robed tribe,’ Libanius wrote of the monks, ‘eats more than elephants.’ They ravage fields, destroy temples and attack fellow citizens. ‘Utter desolation follows’ in their path as they ‘strip off roofs, demolish walls, tear down statues, and overthrow altars.’ This is ‘nothing less than war in peace time, waged against the peasantry’. What is the purpose of your army, Libanius asked the emperor, if ‘while you keep external enemies away, one group of your subjects attacks another?’


The emperor didn’t answer. Nor did Libanius really expect him to; he knew that Theodosius must have approved of Cynegius’s march of terror. It represented merely the latest phase in a revolution that transformed the Roman empire from a state that persecuted its small Christian minority into a Christian-majority state that used violence against pagans. Libanius had lived through the entire process.


Libanius was born into a very different Roman empire from the one he described in 386. It was a world of perhaps 60 million people, probably 90 per cent of whom were pagans. Not that the term meant anything to them. ‘Paganism’ was a concept invented by Christians to describe everyone who was neither a Christian nor a Jew. These 54 million Roman ‘pagans’ didn’t think that their religious practices had much in common with one another.

Saint John the Evangelist Causes a Pagan Temple to Collapse (c1370) by Francescuccio Ghissi. Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
There was no reason they would. Roman pagans had no unified or organised church structure. They shared no sacred books or rituals. They didn’t even agree on which gods were real. Many pagans worshipped gods they imagined took the form of men; others depicted their gods in the shape of animals; and some, such as the disgraced 3rd-century emperor Elagabalus, saw their gods embodied in giant rocks.


Pagans also regularly mocked the religious ideas of other pagans. The 2nd-century satirist Lucian, for example, wrote about a fictionalised congress of the gods in which the Olympian gods and other well-recognised deities debated whether they could expel some of the empire’s newer and more exotic divinities, ‘supposed gods who filled heaven’ although ‘they were in no way worthy’ of the honour.


The cities, towns and villages of the Roman empire contained perhaps 1 million structures devoted to these diverse gods in the 310s. The Egyptian city of Alexandria alone had nearly 2,500 temples – about one for every 20 houses. These ranged from small neighbourhood shrines to the massive Serapeum, the temple at the centre of a huge sacred precinct perched on top of the city’s tallest hill.

The gods didn’t just impress themselves upon the skylines and streetscapes of cities. Their presence infused daily life. In 4th-century Rome, the city calendar designated 177 days as holidays or festivals honouring more than 30 different gods and goddesses. Images of gods adorned nearly all Roman coins in circulation.


Even much of the meat supply in the cities and towns of the empire came from the butchering of animals offered as sacrifices at these temples. The early 4th-century Roman empire wasn’t just a pagan empire. It was a world dominated by the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of paganism. Just as it had been for thousands of years.


One feature of the early 4th-century Roman world differed significantly from Mediterranean societies of centuries past. Beginning in the last quarter of the 3rd century, the empire had built a robust military and civilian bureaucracy that extended across the vast territory under Roman control. This was essential.


If the empire of 310 existed now, it would be the world’s fifth or sixth largest state, encompassing all or part of more than 45 modern countries. All of the free people living in these areas were Roman citizens, who paid taxes to the state and expected it to deliver protection and services in return.


The emperors of the early 4th century created one of the most efficient and dynamic administrative systems ever seen in the premodern world so that the state could fulfil these obligations to its citizens. The imperial bureaucracy came to employ as many as 50,000 administrators. Hundreds of thousands of professional soldiers filled Rome’s armies. Its legal system became so responsive that it regularly funnelled petitions and questions about legal interpretation from the smallest village all the way to the emperor himself.


Even its coin production reached unprecedented levels of efficiency. The empire’s 17 regional mints produced tens of millions of coins a year in the 310s – a capacity that no Mediterranean or European state would exceed for nearly 1,500 years.


Rome made all of this possible by drawing upon the talents and skills of as many capable Romans as it could find. Finding them was a challenge. For most of the previous 300 years, the talented elites of the provinces had largely remained close to home. Fourth century emperors then needed to work hard to identify and attract into imperial service the young Romans of the provinces.


By the middle of the century, the imperial government had created rosters of students whom it might hire into administrative positions, and offered generous salaries to those willing to enter imperial service. The ancient world was never a particularly meritocratic place, but this early 4th-century administrative revolution brought Rome about as close to a meritocracy as it would ever come.


Libanius and other children born in the 310s were the first Romans raised and educated specifically so that they could take advantage of the opportunities for wealth and power that this new administrative system provided. They came from small cities in the south of France, towns in Asia Minor and even great metropolises such as Antioch. All of them were brought up by parents whose horizons seldom extended beyond their home region, parents who saw in their talented children an opportunity to make the family’s name and fortune known on the largest, most open stage the ancient world had ever provided.


But there was a trade-off. This was not a meritocracy that rewarded iconoclasts. One could excel, but only if he (and they were all men) was willing to work hard and play by the rules the emperors set. So the most successful men of this generation learned to praise effusively, rarely criticise living emperors, and enjoy the rewards of their caution. All of this is important to understand because, while the generation born in the 310s was still being nursed, the emperor Constantine set Rome on the path to becoming a Christian empire.


Constantine was born a pagan and converted to Christianity in the year 312 as he embarked upon a risky war against Maxentius, a formidable imperial rival based in Italy. The stories contemporaries told about his conversion paint the plausible picture of a worried emperor who asked for divine assistance as he set out on campaign and then saw a divine sign in the heavens. A dream confirmed that Constantine had received a vision from the Christian God, who commanded the emperor to place a Christian symbol on his shields. Constantine did as he was told and defeated Maxentius near the Milvian bridge, just to the north of the city of Rome.


For 17 centuries, historians have seen the Battle of the Milvian Bridge as the moment that set Rome on a path to becoming a Christian state, but this didn’t happen immediately. It couldn’t have. Because no one in 312 knew what a Christian state would be like.


Constantine himself clearly didn’t know. He expressed his personal preference for Christianity, gave financial support to the churches and exhorted his subjects to embrace the teachings of Christ. But Constantine also continued the ancient Roman practice of giving money to support traditional religion. He paid for the construction of monumental churches such as the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, but he also put images of the old gods on his coins well into the 320s.


He tore down some pagan temples and ordered his subjects to stop sacrificing, but he also permitted cities to build new pagan temples and reiterated the legal obligation to perform sacrifices when public buildings were struck by lightning. Constantine summoned the Council of Nicaea – the first Christian ecumenical council – but he also retained the title of Pontifex Maximus, the chief priest in the Roman civic cult.


Constantine’s policies look like a mess to people accustomed to a monotheistic world where the God one worships often defines the personal identity that one claims, but Constantine didn’t live in such a world. While some Christians and Jews had conceptions of religious identity that resembled these modern ideas, worship and identity wasn’t firmly fixed for most Romans.


Pagans could worship as many gods as they wished, in nearly whatever form they felt appropriate. Many pagans even worshipped Jesus, though in a fashion that sometimes included him among other gods to whom they also prayed. To Christians, Constantine’s actions could be understood as the prudent conduct of a Christian ruler governing an overwhelmingly non-Christian empire. But Constantine’s conduct was also comprehensible to pagans who continued to praise publicly their ‘most pious’ emperor.


Constantine died in the year 337, just as the oldest people born after his conversion were beginning their professional lives. These children of the age of Constantine built their careers under Constantine’s three sons, all of them convinced Christians who were less hesitant than their father to use the power of the state against traditional religion.


Constantius II, the longest surviving of the brothers, proved the most aggressive. He issued a series of laws banning sacrifices, closed some temples, transferred others to bishops who converted them into churches, and did his best to encourage Christianity in public life. These changes were real and substantive, but the sheer amount of surviving pagan religious infrastructure meant that Constantius couldn’t dismantle public paganism in a generation.


This was a particular problem because many administrators charged with implementing his orders moved slowly or neglected to enforce the emperor’s anti-pagan laws.


All of the surviving monuments, temples, statues and festivals dedicated to the old gods reassured pagans such as Libanius and his peers. They didn’t like what Constantius was doing, but opposition to the regime was risky. They had no interest in endangering their prominence and wealth by speaking out against objectionable policies that could amount to nothing. And these men promptly recast their complacency as prudence when Constantius died unexpectedly at the age of 44. He was replaced by his cousin Julian – who immediately announced that he was a pagan.


Powerful critiques of the injustice and religious fanaticism of Constantius poured from the mouths of the middle-aged men who had voiced no public criticism while that emperor lived. They also praised Julian as nothing less than a philosopher-king superintending a revival of traditional religious life. The inertia of the Roman administrative system had preserved the old rhythms of Roman religious life under the Christian emperors. Now a pagan emperor could repair what damage they had done.


Julian had grand plans for what this pagan restoration would look like. He envisioned an integrated, hierarchical pagan priesthood that organised religious life across the empire and performed charitable activities, much like the Christian church did. He restored property to the temples, sponsored reconstruction projects and started work on a third Jewish temple in Jerusalem.


In an action that alarmed nearly everyone in the empire, Julian even tried redesigning the Roman education system. Under his direction, the schools that served as the entry point to the imperial elite would focus their curricula on teaching about the old gods. He barred Christians from teaching in these schools because, Julian claimed, Christians who refuse to teach ‘that neither Homer nor Hesiod nor any one of these, the authors about whom [they] lecture and explain, is guilty of any impiety’ are liars who can’t offer good moral examples to their students.


The reforms had only just begun when Julian died in the summer of 363, killed by Persian troops in a skirmish near what is now the Iraqi city of Samarra. For most of the next two decades, his successors focused on matters other than the Christianisation of the empire. The emperors were Christian, but they devoted little time or energy to destroying paganism or eliminating its practice. Pagans such as Libanius then slipped back into their old, oleaginous ways. They praised the emperors in public, muttered about their autocratic tendencies in private, and happily collected their public salaries.


It was in the 380s only, when Libanius and his peers reached old age, that the bill for a lifetime of sycophancy and complacency came due. Theodosius came to power in 379, promising to crush an army of barbarian Goths that had killed the emperor Valens, his immediate predecessor. Instead, Theodosius first lost to the Goths in humiliating fashion in 380 before concluding a peace treaty with them in 382 that seemed like a surrender. He desperately needed to change the perception that he was a failing emperor.


This is why, soon after his retreat from the Gothic forces in 380, Theodosius energetically embraced the idea that he would lead Rome to a new, Christian future by attacking pagan practices. He first issued a series of laws that restricted pagan activities. Sacrifices would be punished with the death penalty, temples would be closed and imperial officials who neglected to enforce these laws would be severely punished.


Many of these early laws reinstated prohibitions that Constantius first put in place in the 350s, but Theodosius ruled over a different empire than the majority-pagan one of Constantius. Theodosius’s empire was nearly majority Christian, with the youngest Romans the most likely to be Christians. The emperor knew that these eager Christians could help him accelerate the pace of Christianisation if they were allowed to work outside the constraints of an imperial administrative system designed to move slowly and deliberately.


This is why Cynegius rampaged across the Roman east with his band of soldiers and monks. Cynegius was an imperial official, but many of those who travelled alongside him had no place in government. They were Christian militants who accompanied the prefect precisely so that they could violently attack pagan shrines in a fashion that allowed Theodosius to avoid taking direct responsibility for their actions. They weren’t empowered by the state, but they were protected by a Roman prefect and his troops, fearsome travelling companions who ensured that they would not meet serious resistance from angry pagans.


Old men such as Libanius didn’t quite know how to respond effectively. They had spent their entire lives learning how to compete and thrive in a geographically and religiously diverse imperial system that rewarded loyalty and buffered the worst effects of radical changes in imperial policy. They were unaccustomed to operating outside of its rules and they struggled to respond to an emperor willing to empower paramilitaries to destroy pagan property and lives that the Roman state was supposed to protect.


This is why Libanius addressed his speech to Theodosius in 386. He could think of no better course of action than to appeal to the emperor who sat atop the administrative apparatus through which Libanius had been conditioned to work. But what, at first glance, looks like a defiant condemnation of an unjust political order, now appears to be the desperate pleading of an old man who finally recognised the true import of the transformational events that had been going on for his entire life. Despite his powerful call for reform, Libanius probably understood that it was already too late to save the world he treasured.


The pagan world didn’t yet look all that different from decades past. Many temples were still there, though the disinterest of worshippers and the decay of the buildings meant that the number of useable ones dropped steadily. Statues of the gods remained in public places and people still prayed to them in private homes, but fewer did this each year. Religious processions and public sacrifices continued in cities where local pagan authorities remained strong and in pious towns so remote that they attracted little attention, but more and more places stopped meeting these criteria.


The traces of the old gods that dotted Roman cities, towns and villages once seemed reassuring. Now they seemed like the ghostly echoes of a nearly dead pagan past. The state had turned against paganism and, as the 4th century gave way to the 5th, the restrictions on pagans increased greatly. So too did the pace of temple closures until, by the middle of the 5th century, not enough pagan temples remained in use to bother with efforts to close them.


The Athenian Parthenon, one of the last major temples to operate openly, closed around 440. The goddess Athena then decamped to the house of the philosopher Proclus and, Proclus claimed, they cohabitated until his death in 485.


Proclus and others like him were devoted pagans – more devout, in fact, than Libanius and many of his peers ever had been. But there remained no meaningful sense of pagan community to bind them, even after the threat to paganism became clear. Instead, pagans often condescended to or exploited one another.


Urban, educated pagans such as Proclus travelled to rural areas, informed the ‘rustics’ they found there that they had been worshipping incorrectly for centuries, and tried to force them to change their practices. The rustics living in areas that tacitly permitted the worship of the old gods reciprocated by profiting from gullible urban-pagan spiritual tourists.


How then should one think about this generation that so completely failed to imagine the future?


We shouldn’t blame the arrogant and opportunistic pagans of the 5th century for paganism’s demise. It was already in a terminal decline, helped along by complacent 4th-century pagans who did little to stop the transformation of Roman society. They were the last pagans with the opportunity to perhaps stop the Christianisation of the Roman empire, but they organised no sustained pagan resistance to Christianisation.


We do see isolated incidents in which the pagans of a single city rallied to defend a particular temple, but none of these events sparked wider protests by pagans across the empire. Someone who prayed to Athena in Athens or Jupiter in Rome might have been sincerely troubled by the Christian destruction of the Alexandrian Serapeum in 392, but they didn’t feel strongly enough about that god to fight on his behalf in their home cities. Nor would one expect them to. Fourth-century pagans were a unified community only in the imaginations of Christians.


How then should one think about this generation that so completely failed to imagine the future? Things might have turned out differently if Libanius and others like him had spent their life battling Christianisation with the same all-encompassing vigour that the monks alongside Cynegius showed in promoting it. But Christianity was new and, in many ways, more attractive than the old cults. Christians sought out converts, taught them what the religion promised, and supported them both spiritually and, if necessary, monetarily.


Pagan cults were particularly ill-prepared to respond to a monotheistic religion that actively worked to permanently take worshippers away from the old gods. This wasn’t how paganism worked. It wasn’t rare for pagans to add a new god to the list of deities to whom they prayed, but most traditional cults didn’t ask their adherents to stop worshipping other gods when they prayed to a new one.


This tolerance made a great deal of sense in Rome’s diverse pagan religious marketplace, but it also meant that pagan cults had no experience fighting for the loyalty of their followers when the Christian church told Romans that they must choose to worship either Christ or the old gods.


Once state support turbocharged the church’s ability to reach across the empire, many Romans naturally preferred the promise of a new Christian empire to the traditions of the past. When they were asked to choose, Romans overwhelmingly chose Christianity.


The final pagan generation’s shortsightedness still stands out. They acquiesced to the rule of Christian emperors pursuing the elimination of paganism in exchange for a few decades of government salaries and fancy titles. These men could have fought against a change they fundamentally disagreed with. They got rich instead.


Everyone tempted to believe that future generations will have time to address difficult issues that we selfishly choose to ignore should remember their sour legacy.


(This essay by Prof. Edward Watts was first published on aeon.co on 27 Oct 2020 with the title “Fiddling while Rome converts” and is being republished here with certain portions in bold for emphasis)

The events described in this essay have an eerie similarity to what Hindus face in modern, post-Independence Bharat. While we were being ruled by colonial powers like British and Mughals, Hindu society & religion managed to survive by growing more rigid and brooking no interference in their social and religious matters, in exchange for economic and political subservience to the colonisers. Of course, perennial resistance and armed rebellions from some quarter or the other ensured that the coloniser was always on guard and knew better than to push ordinary Hindus beyond a point.


However, things changed dramatically after physical independence from the British. Hindu society, believing that now the rulers would be ‘one of them’, let their guard down. We trusted Gandhi blindly and there was no resistance when Nehru, an Anglicized man whose distaste for Hindu rites and rituals was never hidden, was appointed PM through backroom machinations.


The seeds for the de-Hinduisation of our country were sown in our Constitution itself. Nehru and his daughter Indira then took the project forward, albeit while still exhibiting some tolerance for Hindus. The ten year rule of super-PM Sonia Gandhi, an Italian-origin Roman Catholic, delivered some fatal body blows to Hindu society and mainstreamed brazen minority appeasement. Andhra Pradesh, and how the father-son duo of YSR and Jegan Reddy have wreaked havoc on Hindu Dharma and surreptitiously empowered rampant Christian evangelisation, is another example of how we are being hollowed from within using state power.


Today, most of the evangelists operating in Bharat are of Bharatiya origin, funded heavily by US and other Western Christian groups. The Islamic world is pouring in funds for their own proselytisation efforts. Like the pagan elites & bureaucrats of 4th century Rome, Hindu elites and bureaucrats are equally complacent and condescending towards concerns of ordinary Hindus. Hindu society is exhibiting the same apathy towards its sacred places and state oppression as pagans did in late 4th century. Atrocities against Hindus in one place don’t invite wider protests from Hindus across the country.


It took a mere 100 years for the millennia-old diverse, polytheistic, ‘pagan’ Greco-Roman civilisation to turn into an intolerant Christian-majority one. It has been 73 years since the secular Indian state has been working hard to ‘transform’ Hindus – the future is bleak unless our current generation develops the same all-encompassing vigour to organise sustained Hindu resistance to our enemies that our ancestors displayed in the past.
 

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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Author : MARGATHAM

STOP!! BECAUSE THE ROAD IS GOING TO ROME.

A Garden envisioned.
THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 4th Century ce.
“At the moment when Constantine had supposedly seen the flaming cross, the vast majority of the empire was not Christian. It has been estimated that Christians made up as little as between seven and ten percent of the empire’s total population”.

THE INDIAN REPUBLIC, 20th Century ce.

“At the moment when Nehru had his tryst with destiny the vast majority of the nation was not Abrahamic. In the 1951 Census Muslims were 35.4 million (9.8%) and Christians were 8.3 million (2.3%). Most importantly, less than 0.1% of the population spoke English which, over the coming decades, was to become the vehicle for the internal subversion of the Hindu cultural elite, paving the way for the nationwide Abrahamization that we are witness to today”.


The flower bed is prepared the vermin seeds are picked.
THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 4th Century CE
“When Constantine first entered Rome in 312 CE, it might first have seemed as though little would change. ‘No man whatever should be refused complete toleration’ announced the famous Edict of Milan of 313, adding that ‘every man may have complete toleration in the practice of whatever worship he has chosen’.”
But.
“…It was not what the bishops wanted. In deciding who to worship, congregations were not choosing between one god and another. They were choosing between good and evil, between God and Satan. To allow someone to follow a path other than the true Christian one was not liberty, it was cruelty. Freedom to err was, Augustine would later vigorously argue, freedom to sin — and to sin was to risk the death of the soul. “The possibility of sinning,” as one Pope later put it “is not freedom but slavery. To allow another person to remain outside the Christian faith was not to show praiseworthy tolerance. It was to damn them.”
“To oppose another man’s religion, to repress their worship – these were not, clerics told their congregations, wicked or intolerant acts. They were some of the most virtuous things a man might do. The Bible itself demanded it. As the uncompromising words of Deuteronomy instructed – ‘And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place’.”
“Christians of the Roman Empire listened. And as the fourth century wore on, they began to obey.”

THE INDIAN REPUBLIC, 20th Century ce.

The playing field.

Article 25 of the Indian Constitution
“All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion subject to public order, morality and health.”


A fixed match.
“… In 1971, periyar organized a superstition eradication campaign in Salem. In this conference, Rama’s image was taken in procession, and was beaten with footwear. Hindu deities were obscenely portrayed. The effigy of Rama was burned publicly. Posters revealing the lust of and the birth of the Hindu deities were found everywhere. Many other photos depicted naked idols and erotic scenes from mythology.” – Rev. S. Robertson (Swarajya, 2020).

Who is this Raman (as Lord Ram is referred to in Tamil)? In which engineering college did he study and become a civil engineer? When did he build this so-called bridge? Is there any evidence for this?” – Former CM of Tamil Nadu, M.K. Karunanidhi (The True Picture, 2020).


“Only in Tamil Nadu you can see big temples which are Satan’s strongholds. There are no places like Tamil Nadu where there are temples, its towers, and palaces. Why has Satan targeted Tamil Nadu and made it his stronghold?” – “Brother” Mohan Lazarus (Swarajya, 2018).


“Muslims never got independence. After Independence, an enemy community was foisted upon the muslims.” – sharjeel imam (YouTube, 2020).


“We need to convert all Hindus to Islam out of compassion because otherwise, they will keep burning in hell.” – maulana kalim Siddique (OpIndia, 2019).


“There is nothing called as a Hindu Religion. Punch them in their face couple of times, make them bleed, and help them understand the truth.” – bishop ezra sargunan (Twitter, 2019).


“Hindus worship a stone as God and later claim that the stone has created them.” – sebastian seeman (IndiaFacts, 2014).


“Aap ka Bhagwan apne bete ko nahin pehchaan sakte toh mein takleef mein hoonga toh mujhe kaise pehchaanenge?”– zakir naik (YouTube, 2016).

The vermin seeds watered.
The Roman Empire, 4th Century ce.
“Constantine moved quickly to promote his new religion. The following year he said that the persecution of Christians was over. Tax relief was given to church lands, clerics were exempted from public duties, bishops were lavished with gifts and banquets.… The vast churches Constantine built were astonishing. This was about architecture — but it was also about intent. The funds for all this had to be found somewhere. Now Constantine turned to those accursed and foul people who had chosen to stubbornly ‘hold themselves back’ from Christianity and continue visiting their sanctuaries of falsehood – in other words, those people who would soon be called pagans. The means by which Constantine chose to take some of this wealth was simple – and humiliating: he demanded that statues be taken from the temples.”
“…A market in plundered art developed and Christians braving demonic reprisals, took to levering out and selling statues that were particularly valuable.”
THE INDIAN REPUBLIC, 20th Century ce.

Neutral larp.
Article 26 of the Constitution.
Freedom to manage religious affairs subject to public order, morality and health, every religious denomination or any section thereof shall have the right —
(a) to establish and maintain institutions for religious and charitable purposes;
(b) to manage its own affairs in matters of religion;
(c) to own and acquire movable and immovable property; and
(d) to administer such property in accordance with law (Constitution of India, 2020)



Selective control over HINDU TEMPLES for their "own good".

The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act of 1951
“Where the Government have reason to believe that any Hindu or Jain public charitable endowment is being mismanaged and are satisfied that in the interest of the administration of such charitable endowment it is necessary to extend thereto all or any of the provisions of this Act and of any rules made thereunder, they may, by notification in the Fort St. George Gazette, extend to such charitable endowment the said provisions and thereupon the provisions so extended shall apply to such charitable endowment as if it were a specific endowment.” (Bare Acts Live, 2020).



Selective exemptions to abrahamics.

Hyderabad-based Chilkur Balaji temple archaka Sri Rangarajan asks.
“The State governments collect 23.4 per cent tax on the income of the temples including endowment administration tax (15 per cent), audit fee (2 per cent) and common good fund (2 per cent). That apart, money is also taken away from the temples for the Archaka Welfare Fund and other purposes.”

“But, such taxes and share in revenue is not collected from not a single church or mosque.”(The New Indian Express, 2019).


Annexure to the Report, National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities.
“5. Facilitating Exemptions under Income Tax Act and Granting of FCRA Most of the Madrasas, which have applied for exemptions under various sections of the Income Tax Act, like 80 G etc. or for FCRA have a strong feeling that they are harassed and discriminated in these matters. As almost all the Madrasas depend on donations these benefits are crucial to their functioning. Granting these benefits to Madrasas will also enhance transparency and accountability, as these Madrasas then will have to maintain proper accounts and file required returns under these legislations.” (Minority Affaris, 2020).


Pilgrimage Aid, Andhra Pradesh.
“The government of Andhra Pradesh has increased the financial assistance provided to Christian pilgrims by a significant margin, ANI has reported. Those with an annual income of less than Rs. 3 lakhs will now receive Rs. 60,000 for their pilgrimage to Jerusalem while others will receive Rs. 30,000. Earlier, they used to receive Rs. 40,000 and Rs. 20,000 respectively.” (OpIndia, 2019).


Honorarium for pastors, Andhra Pradesh.
“In August, the Reddy government issued another order to provide for an honorarium of Rs 5,000 per month for pastors. To know their numbers in the state for budget allocation and allowance disbursal, the government has asked the district collectors to enumerate the pastors through a survey.”


“While the process is underway, the government is preparing to fulfill other YSR Congress Party manifesto promises for the Christian community — like plots and house construction for pastors, and financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh for wedding of Christian girls, among others.” (The Print, 2019)


Stipends for Minority UPSC candidates
“The ‘Nai Udaan’ and ‘Naya Savera’ schemes of the Minority Affairs Ministry have been revised and the financial assistance for those qualifying the UPSC prelims has been increased from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh” — Union minister for Minority Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (Hindustan Times, 2018)


Institutional Exemptions (Schools)
“The Supreme Court has exempted aided minority institutions from fulfilling their obligation to reserve 25% seats for social and economically backward children under the Right to Education Act”. (The Economic Times, 2014)



Mismanagement of TEMPLE funds and routine loot.

“In Tamil Nadu, the HR & CE Department controls over 4.7 lakh acres of agricultural land, 2.6 crore square feet of buildings, and 29 crore square feet of urban land of temples. By any reasonable measure, the income from these properties should be in thousands of crores of rupees. The government, however, collects a mere Rs. 36 crores in rent” (Swarajya, 2015).


Cross Subsidy.
“It is not farfetched to argue that the money that is being looted from Hindu Temples by various governments inevitably ends up funding minority specific schemes and doles that are handed out, with the explicit objective of securing minority votes in most cases.” (OpIndia, 2020)


Desecration.
“In what looks like a case of complicity on the part of the Tamil Nadu police and the State Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department, case diaries of 41 thefts of temple idols and invaluable artefacts have gone missing “mysteriously” (Swarajya, 2020)

Indigenous Wild Plants are Brought under control.
The Roman Empire, 6th Century ce.
“The savage tyrant was Christianity. From almost the very first years that a Christian emperor had ruled in Rome in AD 312, liberties had begun to be eroded. And then in AD 529, a final blow had fallen. It was decreed that all those who had laboured under the ‘insanity of paganism’ – in other words Damacius and his fellow philosophers – would no longer be allowed to teach. There was worse. It was also announced that anyone who was not yet baptized was to come forward and make themselves known at the ‘holy churches’ immediately, or face exile. And if anyone allowed themselves to be baptized, then slipped back into their old pagan ways, they would be executed.”

THE INDIAN REPUBLIC, 20th-21st Century CE

Thomasmacaulay, 1836.
“Our English schools are flourishing wonderfully. We find it difficult, indeed at some places impossible, to provide instruction for all who want it. At the single town of Hooghly fourteen hundred boys are learning English. The effect of this education on the Hindoos is prodigious. No Hindoo who has received an English education ever continues to be sincerely attached to his religion. Some continue to profess it as a matter of policy. But many profess themselves pure Deists, and some embrace Christianity.” Coomer's Letter to zachary 1836.


Ananda Coomaraswamy, early 20th Century.
“The child is taken to school, and the first thing he learns is that his father is a fool, the second thing that his grandfather is a lunatic, the third thing that all his teachers are hypocrites, the fourth, that all the sacred books are lies!… We have learnt only weakness”.


“A single generation of English education suffices to break the threads of tradition and to create a nondescript and superficial being deprived of all roots—a sort of intellectual pariah who does not belong to the East or the West, the past or the future. The greatest danger for India is the loss of her spiritual integrity. Of all Indian problems the educational is the most difficult and most tragic".


Kothari Education Commission, 1964.

“Education needs to be transformed into powerful instrument of social change and closely linked to national development. This way we need strong universal and everlasting educational aims to achieve our lifegoals. Traditional aims and objectives were not considered by the commission and it has suggested-
Education and productivity, Social and national integration, Education and modernisation, Social, moral and spiritual values Education about religion".


“It is very clear that in a democratic country like ours, education is used as a means of socio-economic change and ah these can only be achieved through this most powerful instrument. In a world based on science and technology".


“We can breathe in a traditional society, but we can’t live the life in it in the sense of term. In the fast running world, there is always struggle for existence. We can exist only when we go ahead by maintaining the progress of science and technology. ‘Indian society of today is heir to a great culture. Unfortunately, however, it is not an adequately educated society and unless it becomes one, it will not be able to modernize itself and to respond appropriately to new challenges of national reconstruction or take its rightful place in country of nations".


“Now, education should be accepted as a powerful means of social revolution.” (Archive, 2017)
Archive (January 21, 2017).


Right to Education Act, 2009.
Right of child to free and compulsory education — 1 [(1) Every child of the age of six to fourteen years, including a child referred to in clause (d) or clause (e) of section 2, shall have the right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till the completion of his or her elementary education] (Legislative, 2009).

Stubborn Indigenous Wild Plants are sprayed.

THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 4th Century CE
“Within 150 years of Celsus’s attack, even the Emperor of Rome professed himself a follower of the religion. What happened next was far more serious than anything Celsus could ever have imagined. Christianity not only gained adherents, it forbade people from worshipping the old Roman and Greek gods. Eventually, it simply forbade anyone to dissent from what Celsus considered its idiotic teachings. To pick just one example from many, in AD 386, a law was passed targeting those ‘who contend about religion’ in public. Such people this law warned, were the disturbers of the peace of the church and they shall pay the penalty of high treason with their lives and blood.”
THE INDIAN REPUBLIC, 20th Century ce – A SLOW DESCENT.


“In 1927, under pressure from the Muslim community, the administration of the British Raj enacted Hate Speech Law Section 295(A).” Though this law cuts both ways, the reality of its application is clear since 1927. See this list (Wikipedia, 2020)


Meanwhile,
Comedians(Swarajya, 2020).
Brothelwood(Swarajya, 2020)(First Post, 2015).
Tv(OpIndia, 2020).
Books including textbooks(Outlook, 2006).

…continue to mock and denigrate the Hindu religion.

Indigenous Wild Plants are declared enemy.

THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 6th Century CE
“This was no time for a philosopher to be philosophical. “The tyrant”, as the philosopher’s put it, was in charge and had many alarming habits. In Damacius’s own time, houses were entered and searched for books and objects deemed unacceptable. If any were found, they would be removed and burned in triumphant bonfires in town squares. Discussion of religious matters in public has been branded a “damnable audacity” and had been forbidden by law. Anyone who made sacrifices to the old Gods could, the law said, be executed. Across the empire, ancient and beautiful temples had been attacked, their roofs stripped, their treasures melted down, their statues smashed.”
THE INDIAN REPUBLIC, 21st Century ce.
Himachal Pradesh Court Bans Animal Sacrifice, 2014.
“No person will sacrifice any animal in any place of worship. It includes adjoining lands and buildings,” the two-judge bench of the court ruled late on Monday.(The Guardian, 2014).


Tripura Court Bans Animal Sacrifice, 2019.
“No person including the State shall be allowed to sacrifice any animal/bird within the precincts of any of the temples within the State of Tripura,” the order said. The bench directed all the district magistrates and superintendents of police of the state to ensure implementation of the order forthwith. (The New Indian Express, 2019).


The Karnataka Prevention & Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices & Black Magic Act, 2017
7. Powers of entry, search etc.- (1) Subject to general or special orders issued in this behalf by the State Government from time to time the vigilance officer may within the local limits of area of his jurisdiction with the assistance of the police officer of his area,-
(i) enter and search at all reasonable times with such assistance, if any, as he consider necessary, any place in which he has reason to believe that an offence under this Act has been or is being committed;
(ii) seize any material, instrument or advertisement which he has believed that same has been or is being used for any act or thing which is in contravention of the provisions of this Act; and
(iii) examine any record document or material object found in any place mentioned in clause
(Department of Parilamentary Affairs, 2020).

Indigenous Plants are declared Unplant like.

THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 5th Century CE
“This was a grace and liberty that the Christians would decline to show to other religions when they gained control. In a little over ten years after the newly Christian Constantine took power, it is said that laws began to be passed restricting ‘the pollutions of idolatry’. During Constantine’s own reign it seems to have been decreed that ‘no one should presume to set up cult objects, or practice divination or other occult arts r even to sacrifice at all’. Less than 50 years after Constantine’s, the death penalty was announced for any who dared to sacrifice. A little over a century later, in AD 423, the Christian government announced that any pagans who still survived were to be suppressed. Though it added confidently and ominously ‘we now believe there are none’.”
THE INDIAN REPUBLIC, 21st Century ce.

MRITYU BHOJ BAN.
“Section 3: Prohibition of Mrityu Bhoj – No person shall hold or give or join or take part in a Mrityu Bhoj in the State. Whoever commits a contravention of the provisions of section 3 or instigates, abets or assists the commission of any such contravention shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.” — Rajasthan Prevention of Mrityu Bhoj Act, 1960.
(Swarajya, 2020).


SABARIMALA RULING.
“The bar on entry of women between age of 10 and 50 years is not an essential part of the religion,” CJI Deepak Mishra, 2018 (OpIndia, 2018).


DAHI HANDI RULING.
“We would request the State to accordingly amend said Section 143B in respect of “danger performances” to include such other performances, viz. “Dahi Handi” – Bombay HC, 2014 (India Kanoon, 2014)


JALLIKATTU RULING.
“clearly violates Section 3 and Sections 11(1)(a) & (m) of the PCA Act read with Article 51A(g) and Article 21 of the Constitution of India and hence exhibition or training them as performing animals be completely banned.” – SC Bench, 2014 (India Kanoon, 2014).


SHREE JAGANNATH RATH YATRA RULING
“Lord Jagannath won’t forgive us if we allow this year’s Rath Yatra.” CJI Bobde, 2020 (First Post, 2020)


PASHU BALI RULING
“[8] It is further highlighted that such practice based on superstition was being continued in different parts of India and Nepal. Now at Gudhima Temple, Nepal, this practice of animal sacrifice stands totally banned. Also, by a judicial order, the age-old tradition of animal sacrifice in the Temples in Himachal Pradesh stands prohibited. It must also be stopped in the State of Tripura, more so by the State Government.” Agartala HC, 2019 (India Kanoon, 2019).


All Indigenous Plants must die.
THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 4th Century CE


“That all superstitions of pagans and heathens should be annihilated is what God wants, God commands, God proclaims!” – St. Augustine.
THE INDIAN REPUBLIC, 21st CENTURY ce.
Maharashtra Ordinance XIV of 2013.
“to bring social awakening and awareness in the society and to create a healthy and safe environment with a view to protect the common people in the society against the evil and sinister practices thriving on ignorance and to combat and eradicate human sacrifice and other inhuman, evil, sinister, and aghori practices propagated in the name of so-called supernatural or magical powers or evil spirits commonly called black magic by conmen with sinister motive of exploiting common people in the society and thereby destroying the very social fibre of the society and for matter connected therewith or incidental to.” (The Metrognome, 2013).


From the Working Paper of MANS/ANS, the organization that spearheaded The Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013
“As human beings civilized more acceptable rules and regulations became necessary. As the human species civilizes into a more advanced and noble society, these rules and regulations or laws, which have regulated life of human societies, are modified whenever necessary from time to time. This evolution is still on. In our part of the world a large segment of the present society requires appropriate laws to protect them from unscrupulous members of society, which use misinformation and misguidance to cheat and harm them. To be more precise, at this moment of time in this part of the world superstitions exist in a very large extent in the majority of uneducated and educated strata of society. It is also a fact that there exist large number of people whose main means of livelihood is to misuse these superstitious beliefs and fill their own coffers. If societies have to be more civilized this situation has to be changed". (Ideas, 2020).

Finally vermin plants grow.

THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 2nd Century CE


“It is clear from the moment the letter opens that Pliny is finding the Christians in his new province irksome. The ‘wretched cult’ of Christianity has been spreading there and affecting the worship of the old gods. ‘Not only the towns, but villages and rural districts too… are infected’ Pliny wrote. The temples of the old gods are becoming deserted.”



THE INDIAN REPUBLIC, 20th Century ce.
Tamilnadu.
“Here is one such incident that took place in 2007 in Kanyakumari district and that would resonate in Thanjavur in 2018. However, unlike in Thanjavur, where the police forces were not yet inclined to stop the Hindus, in the Kanyakumari village, coincidentally or strategically placed police officials who happened to be Christians, violently stopped the Hindus.” (Swarajya, 2018).


Nagaland.
“Chaya confirms there are about 50 families in his village, and more in other Angami villages, who still follow the “original” religion of the Nagas.” (The New Indian Express, 2018).


Kashmir.
“But as this “Kashmirapura vasini” left, I wondered, what about her home on her land, Kashmirapura. My recent visits to Kashmir did hurt me to see the state of certain heritage structures that were once living temples.” (Swarajya, 2018)

Damn! The Indigenous Plants Were More Beautiful.

THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 6th Century CE
“Christianity was caught in an impossible situation. Greek and Roman literature was sump of the sinful and the satanic and so it could not be embraced. But nor could it entirely be ignored either. It was painfully obvious to educated Christians that the intellectual achievements of the insane pagans were vastly superior to their own.And so in-part from self-interest, in-part from actual interest, Christianity started to absorb the literature of the heathens into itself.”

THE INDIAN REPUBLIC, 21st Century CE — Appropriation
“If a composer has used their own mental faculties to set lyrics composed by them to the tune, one can still appreciate it as art for art’s sake. This time, however, the album at the centre of controversy contains songs that have blatantly plagiarised Tyagaraja. (Swarajya, 2018).


“Sadhu Chellappaa audaciously claims, ‘Diwali, the festival of lights, is a Christian Festival; Animal Sacrifice is a Christian culture adopted by Hindus and Gayatri Mantra actually glorifies Jesus. The Vedas, the ancient Indian sacred writings had anticipated the coming of Christ’".(IndiaFacts, 2015).


But Gardeners of Indigenous Plants need to die just to make sure.

THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 5th Century CE

“Then they dragged Alexandria’s greatest living mathematician through the streets to a church. Once inside they ripped the clothes of her body then using broken pieces of pottery as blades, they flayed her skin from her flesh. Some say that while she still gasped for breath, they gouged out her eyes. Once she was dead, they tore her body into pieces and threw what was left of the ‘luminous child of reason’ onto a pyre and burned her.”

THE INDIAN REPUBLIC, 21st Century ce.


From “…gōbrāhmaṇēbhyaḥ śubhamastu nityaṁ, lōkāḥ samastāḥ sukhinōbhavantu” to this.

“Another haunting video is when the police are escorting the Sadhus out to a bloodthirsty mob where one of the Sadhus can be seen latching on to the cop, hoping he’d be safe with the man in the uniform. However, the cop can be seen leading him to an open space where mob starts beating him and the cop just shakes his hands off, leaving the old man to die". (OpIndia, 2020).


And the soil replaced by fertilizer.

in Chandni Chowk, 2019.
“…the statues, fixtures, glass panes, etc., in the temple were smashed, curtains, etc., were burnt by the mob”. (OpIndia, 2019).

in Kanyakumari, 2020.
“Whenever a village becomes Christian-majority, the Hindu temples in the area are attacked.” (Swarajya, 2020).

in Patna, 2019.
“The Hanuman temple in Patna’s Phulwari was attacked and vandalized.” (TFI Post, 2019).

in Mahabalipuram, 2018.
“…posed for a picture with one leg on Shiva Linga, wearing slippers.” (Deccan Chronicle, 2018).

in Jammu, 2015..
“Islamic rebels raid Hindu temple; 6 killed, at least 25 injured” (YouTube, 2015).

during Durga Puja, 2019.
“incidents of violence, stone-pelting on procession as well as breaking of idols of Maa Durga” (OpIndia, 2019).

in Balrampur, 2019.
“a procession for Durga Puja Visarjan can be seen getting attacked by heavy stone-pelting” (OpIndia, 2019).

The Indigenous wild plants start retreating.

THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 6th Century CE


“They must have been a melancholy party. In AD 532, a band of seven men set out from Athens, taking with them little but works of philosophy. All were members of what had once been the most famous of Greece’s philosophical schools, the Academy. The Academy’s philosophers proudly traced their history back in an unbroken line – “a golden chain” as they called it — to Plato himself, almost a thousand years before. Now that chain was about to be broken in the most dramatic way possible: these men were abandoning not just their school but the Roman empire itself. Athens, the city that had seen the birth of Western philosophy was no longer a place for philosophers.”

THE INDIAN REPUBLIC, 20th CENTURY ce.

“Exodus of Hindus from the Valley has not only led to the loss of homeland to an entire ethnic group, but the community has lost touch with its glorious past when great thinkers from across the Indian sub-continent, China and Tibet used to engage in debates with thinkers in the Kashmir valley before the arrival of Islam in 13th century which changed the religious and spiritual doctrine in the valley".


“Uprooting of the entire minority community from Kashmir has perhaps been the greatest tragedy to have occurred in the history of post-Independence India and our present generation born and brought up in Jammu and other parts of the country are quite unaware of where they belonged to". (Tribune India, 2015).

The Indigenous Wild Plants begin to disappear.

THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 6th Century CE
“And yet despite the horror of what Constantine was asking his subjects to do, there was little resistance. ‘To carry out his project into execution he did not need military aid’. His destruction emboldened other Christians and the attacks spread.
“In AD 529, the philosophers of Athens were threatened with the destruction of their entire way of life. The Christians were behind this – yet you will search almost in vain for the word “Christian” in most of the writings of the philosophers. It is clear that the philosophers didn’t leave immediately after the infamous law was announced. They seem instead to have lain low – not the mark of a cowardly man, in their philosophy but of a sensible one. Almost 200 years of aggressive Christianity had taught them the value of this. Philosophers, as one of them put it ‘should let sleeping beasts lie’ and ‘at such times of crisis, be careful to avoid clashes with the authorities and untimely displays of outspokenness’. But the sleeping beasts didn’t lie. On the contrary they began to roar with ever-increasing ferocity.”
THE INDIAN REPUBLIC, 20th-21st Century ce.

In Our Conversations.
“Silence is one of the potent vehicles of trans-generational trauma. The ills of the past — whether colonialism, racism, slavery or genocide — cast a shadow on the future of the families of the victim". (The Patriot, 2019)
IN OUR TEXTBOOKS
“…that the history of India is the history of successive invaders “civilizing” the meek natives who are captives of evil, backward paganism, and who had no military, naval, or cultural achievements of their own". (First Post, 2020).

In the media.
“Civil society, media and the government of India have all remained mute spectators while this human tragedy of unimaginable magnitude has been unfolding right in their backyard.” (Dailyo, 2014).


In Our records.
“However, it is both a civilizational necessity and imperative for what remains of Bharatavarsha to teach and remember always, the Hindu history of Pakistan.” (The Dharma Dispatch, 2020).


In Memoriam.

THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 5th Century CE – A Final Plea.
“As the century drew to its close, the period of leniency ended. In the 380s and 390s rulings started to be issued with increasing rapidity and ferocity against all non-Christian ritual. In AD 391, the fervently Christian emperor Theodosius passed a formidable law. ‘No person shall be granted the rights to perform sacrifices; no person shall go around the temples; no person no person shall revere the shrines… Nor could anyone with secret wickedness venerate his household gods or burn lights to them or put up wreaths to them or burn incense to them. Then in AD 399 a new and more terrible law came. It was announced that if there should be any temples in the country districts, they shall be torn down and removed without disturbance or tumult.”
“The worshippers of the old gods pleaded eloquently with the Christian elite of toleration. The brilliant orator Symacchus wrote an appeal. First he begged the emperor to allow religious differences among his subjects…he observed that ‘each person had their own custom, their own religious rite and that mankind was ill equipped to judge which one was best since all reasoning is shrouded in ambiguity. He doesn’t ask for any curbing of Christianity. ‘We offer you prayers not a battle’ Symacchus may not have wanted a battle but a battle was precisely what the Christians saw themselves as fighting.”
“Rome’s ancient cults were collapsing. And yet though Symacchus lost — perhaps because he lost – his words still have a terrible power. ‘We request peace for the gods of our forefathers’ he had begged
‘Whatever each person worships it is reasonable to think of them as one. We see the same stars, the sky is shared by all, the same world surrounds us. What does it matter what wisdom a person uses to seek for the truth’?”

THE INDIAN REPUBLIC, 21st Century ce.

HINDUS ARE WAKING UP AND YOU,YOU DO YOUR PART. WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER WHETHER YOU LIKE OR NOT.
 
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asaffronladoftherisingsun

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Slightly adapted from the works of NIYOGIN : Niyogithoughts.


Introduction.


The ‘Final Pagan Generation’ by Edward J. Watts describes life in 4th Century CE in the Roman Empire. Watts uses 4 Roman elites; Ausonius, Themistius, Libanius and Praetextatus, as characters around whom a narrative of history is woven. They belonged to “The Final Pagan Generation” (which was not exclusively Pagan), that lasted from ~ 310-390 CE and the last generation that could not imagine a Roman Empire dominated by a Christian majority.


My review will focus more on aspects relating to the traditional religion, although it covers other topics too.


An overview of the Traditional religion in the Empire.


Christianity’s victory was not inevitable but rather continent on intellectual, political and social factors. Traditional religion so overwhelmed life in the Empire that it just slid into the background, as some sort of white noise. In fact, even Christians could not escape a regular interaction with aspects of traditional religion. Tertullian, a Christian extremist for example, could not answer the question of how to live, in an empire where pagan practices were prohibited.Temples, statues and festivals were commonplace. A bimodal distribution of temples – luxurious, well-maintained, tall complexes distant and inaccessible from urban centers on one hand. Small shrines, sparsely attended, but located in the midst of urban areas and more flexible for worship. Temples were placed on intersections of large roads and estates by landowners, to make them accessible to workers and travelers alike. Private homes also had devotional shrines, as well as decorative images.


Festivals played a key part in public life, with as many as 177 days of holidays/festivals noted in the year 354. They incorporated circus races, games, spectacles and cultic ritual. Not all mandated participation, and there was freedom to spend time on other things. These were very loud and fragrant affairs, and were visually impressive – overwhelming the senses. Festivals also stood out in that they provided olfactory relief to residents otherwise subject to foul smells of animal waste, sewage, etc that were common to public spaces. The ability to reduce foul smells in homes was mark of an elite, and it was aided by religious practice of offering incense, laurel wreaths and scented lamps. In fact, Christians railed against the soul being carried away by pleasant odors, suggesting that it was a critical part of traditional religion. Persecution was not the experience of the average Christian (at that time). It was easy to absent oneself from practices and festivals


Christians did not have a blueprint/vision on making their religion the dominant one in the Roman Empire, when Constantine came to throne. One of the reasons was that it was a matter of habit, due to past persecution. Another was that they imagined their present as a midpoint to the kingdom of god to be ruled by christ; they did not envision a state that backed their religion. There existed a generational divide to anti-pagan state policies, by the end of the 4th Century: the older generation did not have a clear self non-self distinction of Pagans opposed to Christians. They could not imagine a future where their religion would cease to exist. Meanwhile, the younger ones who appreciated the momentous nature of their times and strove to abide by sharply defined religious identities.

Note: Overlap in Emperors from 364 CE onwards is due to the fact that the duo divided the Empire into the western and eastern halves and ruled separately Constantine – a beginning of the push

When Constantine came to power, he had to appeal to both Pagans and Christians, thus he crafted policies and propaganda to suit both parties. “The most effective emperors chartered new social directions not by using coercion but by communicating their preferences and creating legal mechanisms that could advance their goals without prompting resistance.” However he also started to have a vision of spreading Christianity via measures such as.
  1. Fund bishops with money and goods to increase congregation
  2. Exempt bishops from financial obligations to city councils
  3. Increase judicial power of bishops
  4. Sponsor construction of new churches.

Above was hard to implement because of checks and balances in the Roman legal system. No legal evidence that first 2 points of the above were implemented in practice, apart from polemics by Eusebius. The following is the chain through which laws had to be filtered past, in order to reach the bottom:


prefect/bishop -> emperor -> imperial consistory -> imperial quaestor -> emperor -> praetorian prefects -> provincial governors.


A strong hypothesis is that Emperor issued the above measures as imperial letters (equivalent of directive principles in Indian constitution), i.e. just principles but no enforcement mechanisms. It was also not unusual for temples to be pulled down, as many were ill-maintained. What was new was replacing them with churches. Most such actions were tolerated by the public, except for the destruction of the temple of Asclepius at Aegae. Constantine remained Pontifex Maximus, allowed temple honoring him and his family, and issued laws reiterating well-established religious practices, during his reign.


Education – good living, sound learning, forceful speaking.


The vast majority of young in the empire probably received little education. Broadly, education was devoted to the study of language, and cultivation of friendships with fellow students. Education was led by devotees of traditional religion. The grammatical and rhetorical curricula focused extensively on classical mythology and pagan theology, and offered direct instruction on “how a man must bear himself in his relationships with the Gods.” Both pagans and Christians were students. Elites of final pagan generation were aloof from the changes in the religious scene (at least during their student lives) and their study did not involve religious policies of emperors.


This also had to do with the fact that environment was so overwhelmingly pagan that they did not have to worry about what was happening outside. They were more concerned with classical literature and rivalries between schools; their surroundings could be roughly described as an “Ashram”, with students leaving family to live with other students and their teachers. The relationship between them was that of a son-father relationship. The recruitment process for education was two-way, in that teachers sent letters either to prospective students or their fathers, and then vetted these prospective students.


Conventionally, students started their education in their preteens, gaining a flexible education under a grammarian, from reading to writing to rhetorical composition. Then around 13/14, they moved to schools of rhetoric, until they reached 20 (many left midway, however). Education was rigorous and geared toward orations, with literary and mythological situations forming the backdrop of many of these.


The Roman imperial system.


Monetary system reforms by Diocletian lead to increase in economic and career opportunities for Roman elites, at the same time an increase in risk/reliance on the Emperor by the elites.There was no centralized mechanism for recruiting elites. Instead, elite social networks were relied upon to identify and incorporate talent. Young men would get letters of recommendation from family/ friends/acquaintances sent to imperial administrators, who would host these young men; if all went well, a patron-client relationship would be established, leading to a job in the imperial administration. Once these young men were established, they were expected to repay favors to those who helped them. They were pushed to be ambitious and politically relevant so that there would be greater dividends for those who helped them. In this way, the emperors created a capable, ambitious and obedient group of administrators, teachers and soldiers. However, the cronyism of this system made it self-perpetuating. Once you were in, it would be extremely hard for you to get out, with the benefits of money and prestige on one hand, and the problem of social debt accrued on the other hand.


An idea of the system should help us understand why the final pagan generation was largely measured in its response to anti-pagan emperors like Constantine and Constantius. The response mainly consisted of public support for emperor mixed with private expressions of dissatisfaction. They also had many personal obligations to take care of; deaths of wives, children and parents due to poor healthcare, responsibility for family lands and fortunes, etc. The infant mortality, for example, was possibly at least 50%. This made the final pagan generation very risk-averse.


Good cop and bad cop.


Extremist Christians were very impatient about wanting to close temples and ban sacrifices. Constantius and Constans positioned themselves as what we may today call ‘centrists’; this allowed them to push policies through the consistory without much resistance. After the death of the moderating Constans, Constantius proclaimed capital punishment “if any person should be proven to devote their attention to sacrifices or to the worship of images.” He also proclaimed “The governors of the provinces shall be similarly punished if they should neglect to punish such crimes.” However, the law was not implemented as well as desired. Quite a few governors ignored it, public festivals involving sacrifice continued, and there was no record of anyone charged under this law.


To summarize, under Constantine and Constantius, imperial policy carefully and gradually created a reality in which traditional religion eroded, not through any single extreme action.


Julian the Coomer.


Julian wanted to revive Hellenic religion by modeling the priesthood around imperial administration model; worthy figures to be appointed as governors of all temples for a defined region. Their conduct was guided to be anti-blasphemic and philanthropic, however the role was more of an administrative nature than a spiritual one. He also passed laws to regulate religious belief, unprecedented in the history of the empire. One of them was that teachers had to be approved by the municipal senate, who had to adjudge his character. One of the metrics was that a virtuous teacher had to only teach ideas that he believed to be true. This also implicitly outlawed Christian teachers, since Julian had a central registry of teachers to be able to enforce a teaching ban top-down.


This move created a sharp divide in an otherwise hitherto continuous distribution of identities. What did it mean for one to think Homer and Hesiod were honorable? There was no unanimity in pagan traditions, so how would this be enforceable?


There was disruption in the elite networks because of this. Pagan elites may have personally supported Julian’s pro-pagan outlook, but were stuck in an interlocking system of mutual favors with Christians. They grew up in a decentralized, non-confessional religion that allowed for recycling of old religious structures, and were to face a future of obligatory religious participation and centralized priesthood. Libanius, for example, used his proximity to Julian to protect his acquaintances from the wrath of the religious laws, while supporting his moves to rehabilitate temples.


As a result of the Roman imperial system, 20 months was not sufficient for Julian to successfully turn the wheel back, and he suffered an early death in a conquest against Persia.

Valentinian and Valens.

After an unimportant interregnum by Jovian, Valentinian and Valens gained power. They did not give much emphasis to religious policies early on, and the reversal of Julian’s policies was not a priority. Due to Julian’s generous usage of the imperial treasury, Valentinian and Valens took aggressive measures to reduce fiscal deficit. While helping the empire out of this crisis, they helped provoke a political crisis in the form of a revolt by Procopius. To prevent such future actions, they decided to leave implementation of such reforms only to trusted and capable officials. They brought laws to centralize recruitment of bureaucrats, via an empire-wide registry of student progress.


Christian youth counterculture.


From the 350s onwards, the children of many Roman elite turned their back on secular careers and moved towards a more spiritual life; a bimodal distribution of either service in the Church or a Christian ascetic life. One of the catalysts for this was the release of Life of Antony by Athanasius, glorifying leaving behind riches and prestige for an ascetic life. This overall shift helped accelerate the demise of traditional religion. Previously, bishops used to be of middling rank, but with this youth movement, attracting children of elite background, the position received the social and financial resources befitting a member of the senatorial elite. This increase in status allowed the Church to gain new followers and to build more churches.


One of the main problems for ascetics was a longing for family and love; this was overcome with a mindset of a counterculture, embracing solidarity over reciprocity. Embracing such a socially isolating community helped the members follow norms that were outside the social order. These dropouts prized religious goals over stability and institutional inertia that their parents had protected. These outsider voices threatened the broad religious and social consensus of the status quo. As a result, the Roman imperial system soon began to lose its power.


Gratian, Valentinian II and Theodosius.


By 380s, the empire became more and more anti-pagan. Some measures by the Emperor Gratian included:


  • removal of the Altar of Victory from the Roman Senate
  • elimination of imperial funding for public cult rituals
  • confiscation of properties that belonged to traditional Roman cults, as well as endowments that had funded rituals and maintained temples for centuries.

It is important to note that by now, the final pagan generation were seriously worried about these developments. However, the common masses still did not show much importance to these changes. An embassy of concerned pagan elites had tried to meet the emperor, but they were blocked by courtiers from doing so; the imperial administration itself was starting to change with demographics.


With the change of power to Valentinian II, a teenager, there was a power vacuum in the imperial system, and the lines between Christian dropouts and elite establishment figures blurred. To give an example, in 384, Symmachus, a pagan elite, forwarded a senatorial motion asking for Valentinian II to reverse Gratian’s anti-pagan policies. This received assent from some Christian members of Valentinian II’s court too. However, the voices of Christian outsiders like Ambrose were extremely influential (in part because of previous favors done to Valentinian II, for the case of Ambrose), and they essentially vetoed this motion. Never before were the elites so powerless.


In the East in the 380s, the most impactful assaults on paganism came from these outsiders(including monks and bishops), rather than imperial laws, which did not change drastically. Theodosius did not explicitly call for temple destruction, but he encouraged informal channels to sack temples, so as to setup plausible deniability. It is important to note that Theodosius was the first emperor to do so, and some Christians saw this to be the turning point in the Christianization of the Empire. The pagan elites could not match the extralegal tactics of their opponents, accustomed to always fighting within the system.


It is important to note that, despite the increase in gradient of attacks, pagan religiosity did not greatly lower by the end of the 4th century. The author says,”The cities of the empire remained nearly as full of the sights, sounds, and smells of the traditional gods in the 390s as they had been in the 310s.” In fact, by the end of their lives, the final pagan generation still could not imagine a future without their religion.What changed, then? The imperial system went greatly in favor of the Christians. It was only a matter of when, not if, even if the pagan elites still could not see this.


The Destruction of the Serapeum.





392 was the year when the Destruction of the Serapeum occured, in Alexandria. It was one of the most momentous events in Roman Empire, if one uses attention from contemporary sources as a metric.
In the midst of communal riots in 392, the Pagans retreated to the Serapeum, a temple dedicated to the God Serapis, on a hill above Alexandria. They achieved great success in their resistance to the Christians from here, and if Christian sources are to be believed, even tortured their opponents. It was only by the offer of a full pardon from the emperor that the defenders cleared the temple.


As soon as the defenders cleared, the temple was attacked by Christian Alexandrians and soldiers, and the idol of Serapis was desecrated by them. This set off a frenzy of violence against idols of the deity Serapis in Alexandria. This was probably THE moment that signaled a Christian future for the Roman Empire. However this was also a culmination of gradual anti-pagan developments in the Empire, as we have seen above.
 

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