Jul 23, 2014

Occult Roots of Religious Violence

And How Humanity Can Overcome It

Carlos Cardoso Aveline

In 1878, Helena P. Blavatsky wrote an article  on the occult side of East-West relationships. It discusses the esoteric roots of the inter-religious tensions which are spreading in the 21st century. It highlights the fact that enemies often identify with one another, in a subconscious way.  “It takes two to tango”, as the popular saying goes. As in judo or karate or chess game, active adversaries live a special kind of  unity.

In her thought-provoking article, Ms. Blavatsky mentions the secret societies created in the region of Peshawar,  in the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where in the first half of the 21st century the taliban and followers of  Osama Bin Laden (1957-2011) have  their strongholds. 

The text examines the work and influence of Mr. Abdul  Ghafur (1794-1877),  the ruler of a tribe in Swat, in Peshawar, now Pakistan. Published a few months after the death of  Mr. Ghafur, the article says:

“If there be truth  in the Eastern doctrine that  souls, powerful whether for good or bad, who had not time in one existence to work out their plans, are reincarnated, the fierceness of their yearnings to continue on earth thrusting them back into the current of their attractions,  then Ghafur was a re-birth of that Felice Peretti, who is known in history as Pope Sixtus V, of crafty and odious memory.” [1]

Felice Peretti was the Catholic Roman Pope Sixtus V  from 1585 through 1590. Abdul  Ghafur was born some 200 years after the death of this pope. In his “Philosophical Dictionary”, the 18th century French philosopher Voltaire describes Sixtus V in this words:

“Sixtus V was born petulant, obstinate, haughty, impetuous, vindictive, arrogant: this character seems to have been curbed  during the trials of his novitiate. As he begins to enjoy some influence in his order he loses his temper with a caretaker and  beats him with his fist; once inquisitor at Venice, he exercises his office with insolence; behold him cardinal, he is possessed della rabia papale: his rage subdues his nature; he buries his person and his character in obscurity; he apes the humble and the dying; he is elected pope: in this moment all the long-restrained resiliency of the spring, which policy had kept under control, is restored; he is the proudest  and most despotic of sovereigns.” [2]

H.P. Blavatsky makes a comparison between Pope Sixtus V and the Akhund of  Swat:

“Both were born in the lowest class of society, being ignorant peasant boys and beginning life as herdsmen.  Both reached the apex of power through craft and stealth and by imposing upon the superstitions of the masses.   Sixtus, author of mystical books and himself a practitioner of  the forbidden sciences to satisfy his lust for power and ensure impunity, became Inquisitor-General. Made Pope, he  hurled his anathemas alike against Elizabeth of England, the King of Navarre, and other important personages. Abdul Ghafur, endowed  with an iron will, had educated himself  without colleges or professors (...). He was well versed in the Arabic and Persian literature of alchemy and astrology as Sixtus was in Aristotle, and like him knew how to fabricate mesmerized talismans and amulets (....).  Each held millions of devotees under the  subjection of their psychological influence, though both were more dreaded than beloved.” [3]

As to Ghafur,  Blavatsky writes that in spite of the secrecy and mystery he imposed about his life,  “the one certain thing is, that he was the founder and chief of nearly every secret society worth speaking of  among Mussulmans, and the dominant spirit in all the rest.”   

This is no small accomplishment. Blavatsky adds that he used false antagonisms, stimulating hatred in both sides of political or social disputes.  

Hatred is a strange form of language: many get used to it. Persons, sects and nations get deeply involved with each other thanks to mutual hatred. In such situations war and conflict are desired by both sides. War is big business as much as it is a tragedy, and mutual destruction is a way of life. One may easily get addicted to the feelings of frustration and ill-will. These facts and circumstances help us understand the reality beneath the surface, in the 21st century politics of  systematic conflict.

The very fact that the same individual soul was born once in the West and made the Christian Pope;  and then was born again in a Eastern country to be a top  Islamic religious leader, shows that the “mystical disciples of hatred” search for contrast and use antagonisms for their own purposes, though they may disguise their love for conflict under the elegant appearance of  religious feelings.  

A Mysterious Hindu Visits Abdul Ghafur

As we have seen, Blavatsky says that Abdul Ghafur created secret societies in Islamism from where he lived,  in the region of Peshawar. 

This was  not far from the cave systems where the sacred Bamian Statues were located until their destruction by the Taliban in 2001.  It is the same region where the Taliban and Al Qaeda have their refuges in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Powerful as he was, Mr. Ghafur still had his reasons to be afraid of the Sages who work with truth  and use  honesty and compassion  in their efforts to benefit mankind. HPB writes in 1880:

“One highly dramatic incident in the life of the ‘Pope of Saidu’ is the following well-authenticated case, which was much commented upon in his part of India [4] about twenty years ago.  One day, in 1858, when the Akhund, squatting on his carpet, was distributing amulets, blessings and prophecies among his pious congregation of pilgrims, a tall Hindu, who had silently approached and mingled in the crowd without having been noticed, suddenly addressed him thus:  ‘Tell me, prophet, thou who prophesiest so well for others, whether thou knowest what will be thine own fate, and that of the Defender of the Faith, thy Sultan of Istamboul, twenty years hence?’ ”

The old Ghafur, says HPB, was  “overcome with violent surprise”. He stared at his interlocutor, but no answer came. “In  recognizing the Sikh, he seemed to have lost all power of speech”, and “the crowd was under a spell”.

HPB  describes the scene: 

“ ‘If not’, continued  the intruder, ‘then I will tell thee. Twenty years more and your Prince of the Faithful will fall by the hand of an assassin of his own house.  Two old men,  one the Dalai Lama of the Christians, the other the great prophet of the Moslems - thyself - will be simultaneously crushed under the heel of death. Then, the first hour will strike of the downfall of those twin foes of truth - Christianity and Islam.  The first, as the more powerful, will survive the second, but both will soon crumble into fragmentary sects, which will mutually exterminate each other’s faith.  See, thy followers are powerless [5], and I might kill thee now, but thou art in the hands of Destiny, and that knows its own hour’.”

HPB concludes:

“Before a hand could be lifted the speaker had disappeared.”

As predicted,  “the rival pontiffs of Rome and Swat” died almost simultaneously. Roman Catholic Pope Pius IX  died  in 1878 [6].  Abdul Ghafur died in  1877. 

The  Hindu visitor was stern enough when he defined  Christianity and Islam as “twin foes of truth”,  an expression which reminds one of the Prayag Letter from a Mahatma, and also of the Letter 10, in the non-chronological editions of  “The Mahatma Letters”. [7]

The “downfall of Christianity and Islam” mentioned by the unknown visitor may mean not their nominal end, but the end of their authoritarian structures. While violence must be abandoned,  an honest debate and contrast of views should be welcome.

In the Letter  120 of “The Mahatma Letters” (Chronological Edition), one sees that H.P.B.’s  Masters want the members of  theosophical movement to be open to confrontations of ideas  while keeping peace in their minds and hearts. Theosophists must understand and transcend the paradoxes and contradictions of  life.  Frankness is the best if not the only way to get  rid of occult hatred and psychological violence. One of the ways for the theosophical movement to help purify human mind as a whole consists in developing the habit of looking directly at challenges and disagreements,  with calm attention - and go beyond them.

As to the presence and work  of  Abdul Ghafur in the Peshawar region, it seems to indicate the occult and strategical importance of  that place.  It is precisely the same region where the Fourth Race Bamian statues, commented by H.P. Blavatsky in “The Secret Doctrine” [8], were destroyed  between  March 2 and  March 11,  2001,  by the Taliban/Al Qaeda  “mystical” terrorists.

The Bamian Statues are connected to the complex systems of caves once used by Buddhist Arhats and Ascetics, and now probably used (in that region) by some of the  taliban and Al Qaeda members.

The destruction of  the Statues was concluded in March 11, 2001. Astrologically March 11 and  September 11 make a direct opposition.  From the occult point of view,  the destruction of the “Twin Towers” in New York in September 11, 2001 may have concluded a “twin operation” with the March 11 destruction of the Buddhist Statues in Bamian,  Afghanistan. The theosophical movement itself was founded in New York, and it is in New York that the United Nations (an outer seed of the future brotherhood of nations)  is based. The city attacked by Al Qaeda is also a symbol of  the entire Western world.

Anti-Semitism Is Shared by Nazis and Muslims

Although Christ and his disciples were Jews, the systematic persecution of Jews is a “Christian” invention.  The centuries-old disease of anti-Semitism is shared by many in the Muslim world.  And Adolf Hitler, who was discreetly supported by the Vatican as long as he lived, had close relationships with some of the main Arab leaders.  

Just along the lines shown by Blavatsky in her 19th century article, in the first half of 20th century the worship of death was common to Arab nationalism and “Christian” Nazism. While German Nazism and Italian Fascism (another allied to the Vatican) were defeated in 1945, the same did not happen to the ideology of intolerance in the Islamic world. 

Haj Amin El-Husseini, the founder of the present-day Palestinian people, was “the most important leader in the Arab world in the twentieth century” according to Caroline Glick.[9] He was also an enthusiastic supporter of Nazism and cooperated with Adolf Hitler in more than one aspect. In 1941 Husseini and Hitler had a meeting during which they planned that, after Nazism had eliminated the Jews in Europe, Hitler would help Husseini destroy the Jewish presence in the Arab world. [10]  

Islam is greater and deeper than its extremists. It probably has the cultural resources and means necessary to overcome the medieval policy of religious hatred and its “mystics of fear”.  Islam teaches compassion, which is the opposite of violence.  The passages of the Qur’an which recommend cruelty and violence must be  accepted as expressing a radical lack of wisdom and compassion. They must be forgotten.  Dead letter approaches to religious scriptures has to be abandoned worldwide. A sense of universal brotherhood and a freedom from authoritarian priesthood is stimulated by people of goodwill in every religion or philosophy. 

Frank intercultural dialogue must be expanded. Theosophists and friends of peace should not pretend they have nothing to do with inter-religious violence. The wider knowledge one has, the deeper and the more urgent his moral obligations. It is the special duty of students of theosophy to unmask ideological systems of religious hatred, as H.P. Blavatsky did in her time.

The  “friends of peace” who accept sugar-coated disrespect for life seem to think that criminals and decent people are all the same. Such naïve people renounce having discernment. They will see in due time that there is a difference between Winston Churchill and Adolf  Hitler, Mahatma Gandhi and Mussolini, a murderer and a friend of life.

Pseudo-esoteric “Quietism” is a form of irresponsibility which purports to transcend karma.  In fact it denies both ethics and theosophy. Humanity needs to directly face its karmic challenges - including ethical crisis, ecological degradation,  nuclear proliferation,  Islamic Terror and anti-Semitism - before it can be able to expand its consciousness. Fulfilling one’s moral obligations is an unavoidable step, and it is previous to attaining higher levels of spiritual learning.  

Monotheistic Religions Must Work for Peace  

Esoteric Philosophy teaches a universal respect for all life. It stimulates unconditional respect among nations. It sees all life as sacred. It also invites its students to observe and take lessons from human failures, as from contrast and contradictions.  In the famous Letter 120, in the Chronological Edition of the Mahatma Letters [11], one reads:

“... Discord is the harmony of  the Universe”.

Even before that Letter,  Alexander Pope, the English  poet of the 18th century, had already thus explained this  aphorism of esoteric wisdom:  

“All Nature is but art, unknown to thee
All chance, direction, which thout canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good;
And, spite of pride, in erring reason’s spite,
One truth is clear, whatever is, is right.” [12]

Both Islam and Christianity must get rid of the mainly subconscious cult of death - whose unfortunate rituals include War.  

The problem has been diagnosed by Erich Fromm, who called it “necrophilia”, literally “love for death”. This emotional and spiritual disorder  is also discussed by Sigmund Freud and others. There is a religious form of necrophilia, and a skeptical and materialistic variety of it. Both promote  and sustain violence, physical and emotional. The problem is often simultaneous to the adoration of money and of machines. Its symptoms include nearly all forms of disrespect for life,  and a contempt for the ecological balance in natural environments. [13]

By promoting respect for life and ethics, Western Society and Islam will be able to free themselves in due time from religious hatred and thus cease to support the weapons industries and their priests of death, the arms dealers. Judaism, which only recently obtained the means to defend itself, must  practice self-restraint and non-violence as much as possible, while helping build the common path to a constructive interreligious future.  

True, it is necessary to avoid naïve and short-term forms of pacifism which only provoke  extra amounts of  violence. But the Jewish ability to create new cultural and economical scenarios must be used with a long-term perspective to promote international peace, cross-cultural cooperation, and respect for life.  

An old Arabic proverb says: 

“The dogs bark but the caravan goes on.”

Violence produces noise, while cooperation makes the world become a better place, and it does so in silence. At any given time, friendship and mutual help between the Muslim world and the Non-Muslim world have been much stronger  than hatred and conflict. The Qur’an, the Christian Bible and the Jewish Torah must be studied from the point of view of respect for religious diversity, and adapted to the cross-cultural needs of present civilization.  Jonathan Sacks is among the thinkers who open the way to a healthy future regarding inter-religious respect and dialogue.

The principle of reverence for all life has started to be more widely adopted, and the process may take time to be complete. It does not matter exactly when  it will happen. This is the only path to go, and the correct thing to do is to work in its direction. We may try to reduce the cost to pay in human lives and suffering. Islam can be seen as a wisdom-searching religious movement, and the Qur’an teaches:

“But Allah doth call
To the Home of Peace:
He doth guide whom He pleaseth
To a Way that is straight.
To those who do right
Is a goodly (reward) -
Yea, more (than in measure)!” [14]

Among the cultural treasures to be rescued in the next steps of the Muslim revival - away from terror and hatred  - one can find the works of its great philosophers of the Middle Ages, among them Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi,  Ibn Sina - also known as Avicenna - and Averroes.

Maimonides, the Jewish philosopher,  had many an Arab friend. Platonism and ancient theosophy are  influential in classical Muslim philosophy, and Islam has every tool necessary and every reason to evolve, in its own way, towards the next civilization of universal brotherhood.  


[1] See the article “The Akhund of Swat”, in the “H.P.B. Collected Writings”, TPH, Volume I, pp. 369-375.

[2] “Philosophical Dictionary”, Voltaire, Basic Books, Inc., New York, 1962, Preface by André Maurois, entry on “Character”, volume I, pp. 124-125. 

[3] “The Akhund of Swat”, in the “H.P.B. Collected Writings”, TPH, Volume I, pp. 369-370.  On Pope Sixtus V’s use of talismans, see “Isis Unveiled”, H. P. Blavatsky, T.U.P., Pasadena, Vol. I, pp. 617-618.

[4] That is, the “Great India” of the 19th century.

[5] A reference to the  fact that the crowd  stood  still, like under a spell, as the Hindu talked.

[6] Source of the date:  “Encyclopaedia Britannica”, 1967, vol. 17,  p.  1136.

[7] The Prayag Letter is Letter 30 in the Chronological Edition (TPH, Philippines) of “The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett”. It is Letter CXXXIV in the edition of the Theosophical University Press (TUP, Pasadena, California), and in the edition of Adyar (TPH, India) of the same Letters. The Letter 10 (“On God”) of the TUP and TPH-Adyar editions corresponds to Letter 88 of the Chronological edition.

[8] “The Secret Doctrine”,  H. P. Blavatsky, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, USA, Vol.  II, pp. 337- 341. 

[9] “The Israeli Solution, a one-state  plan for peace in the Middle East”, Caroline B. Glick, Crown Forum, New York, 2014, 324 pp., see p. 28.

[10] “The Israeli Solution”, Caroline B. Glick, read pp. 40-44, especially 42. See also the book “A Place Among the Nations, Israel and the World”, by Benjamin Netanyahu,  Bantam Books, 1993, 467 pp., chapter II among others.

[11] The Chronological edition was published by the TPH in the Philippines in 1993. See p. 412.  In the various non-chronological editions of “The Mahatma Letters”, the same document is published as  Letter  85. See  p. 401 in the TUP edition, Pasadena, CA.   

[12] Alexander Pope, “Essay on Man and Other Poems”, Dover Publications, New York, 1994, 99 pp., see pp. 52-53.

[13] See for instance “The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness”,  by Erich Fromm, Fawcett Publications, Inc., Greenwhich, Connecticut,  USA, copyright 1973, 576 pp.  

[14] “The Holy Qur’an”, With Text, Translation and Commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, published by Amana Corporation, Brentwood, Maryland, USA, 1989, 1754 pp., see Surah 10 (paragraphs 25-26), p. 487.


The above text was also published at our theosophical blog in “The Times of Israel”: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/occult-roots-of-religious-violence/.