All over the world, there has been a period of darkness, not only in the west but also in India. Political intrigues, wars, the shifting of empires, the killing of people, soldiers rampaging countries, Alexander, Napoleon and so on. For about one thousand to two thousand years there has been a very, very dark period in the history of mankind, of accessions, conquests, armies and of kings and monarchs becoming too powerful.
In ancient times the kings and monarchs ruled the countries, but they were not the ultimate powers. The ultimate powers were the wise men. You may call them sages, swamis or yogis. They decided the course of many important events concerning society. Somehow it happened that the tradition of wise men underwent a process of decadence. Then these emperors, kings and later on the military generals became autonomous and very, very powerful. They wielded their might without wise men, without a controller. So, they brought about a society which only fulfilled its own economic needs. All the traditions, all the laws were framed in such a way that they tended to accelerate the motion of materialism not spirituality. They did patronize religions, but only to have total control over the religious followers. If you patronize me, you are not only patronizing me, but you are also holding all my disciples under your control. That is why they patronized some of the religions.
They patronized the religions and made temples, mosques and churches. They set up the religious organizations, but it was all part of the material aim. They wanted to be more powerful. For instance, in the earliest days of communism in Russia, the government ignored the churches. They are not doing it now, because they have realized that if they ignore the churches there is going to be an underground movement against them. Now they think that it is a better idea to at least help the churches, even if they do not patronize them. So, in Russia, Poland and Yugoslavia they don’t interfere with the churches very much now, and they give them a little money for repairs, whitewash and all that, to bring them within the fold of their power.
After this great gap of darkness for one or two thousand years, during which period many religions came into existence and to power, the time is coming when people will have to realize the old culture which once existed the world over. This culture held a balance between the material and the spiritual needs of man. The guardians of this culture, whom you may call the Essenes, the saints or the swamis, did not emphasize any one aspect, neither the spirit nor the matter. They held a balance between the two. That is coming back now.
Perhaps we will have to retell many stories from the Bible, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, all over the world. These stories have to be re-read and re-told to our children. If they are not re-discovered and re-cast our next generation is going to be totally agnostic, because they will not be able to understand their true meaning. The great scientists of our time, the physicists, neurologists and many others, are thinking along these lines, but somebody has to take up the work.
Printed in YOGA, Vol. 15, No. 2 (February 1977)