Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Julius Eggeling and Priestcraft

Julius Eggeling in his introduction to Volume I and II of the Satapatha Brahmanas a work mined by Calasso in his lucubrations, writes:

The translator of the Satapatha-brahmanas can be under no illusion as to the reception his production is likely to meet with at the hand of the general reader. In the whole range of literature few works are probably less calculated to excite the interest of any outside the very limited number of specialists, than the ancient theological writings of the Hindus, known by the name of Brahmanas. For wearisome prolixity of exposition, characterised by dogmatic assertion and a flimsy symbolism rather than by serious reasoning, these works are perhaps not equalled anywhere; unless, indeed, it be by the speculative vapourings of the Gnostics, than which, in the opinion of the learned translators of Irenaeus, ' nothing more absurd has probably ever been imagined by rational beings .'

Clearly friend Eggeling is a Protestant of the Black school and the expression ‘blasphemous fable’ must have trembled on the tip of his tongue for the arc of sacrifice in the Judeo-Christian/Catholic tradition shows a similar subtilisation of the ‘suitable victim’. Further down he makes a sly allusion to the Roman Ponitifeccs and his power:

Even practical Rome did not entirely succeed in steering clear of the rock of priestly ascendancy attained by such-like means.

Ah yes priestcraft everywhere the same with their jibber jabber mumbo jumbo.


skholiast said...

I once asked a friend of mine (an Orthodox christian, by the bye) who had paid far more attention to Indian thought than I, why it was that the horse in the asvamedha was strangled. He have me an answer, but what I best recall was the sigh, "the brahmanas are singularly neglected."

ombhurbhuva said...

Reading the Satapatha Brahmana, it’s on internet archive (Bk. III and IV) strangling is done in order that the officiating priest who is obliged to not look at the slaughter to remain sure of the lack of suffering of the animal victim. If he heard distress due to vocal expression of discomfort unavoidable in other means that would be contra good sacrificial practice.

skholiast said...

Ah. The self-fulfilling conditions of sacrifice.