India Letters  (2021) 
by Nikolaj Velimirović

St. Nikolaj Velimirović's Indian Letters is a pearl of the richest literary heritage left by this remarkable Church writer of the 20th century. The genre chosen in this case by the saint is unusual. This is an amazingly deep, heartfelt correspondence, in which his heroes, very different people, take part: Indian Brahmins and Kshatriyas, Serbian scientists, Muslim Arabs, an Orthodox monk. They are united by one thing — love for each other and a sincere desire to find the truth in God, to save their souls, to serve the salvation of their neighbours.

This text was translated from the original Serbian text ('Индијска писма, 2000') by Dmitrii Nikolaevich Gabyshev, researcher at the University of Tyumen, Russia, in 2018, 2021. The translation here is released to the public domain (CC Public Domain Mark 1.0) voluntarily by the translator himself. The objective of the translator was to make the translation as exactly as possible to the original Serbian edition. The structure of sentences is preserved as much as possible, with the exception of individual idioms for which a full equivalent in English was found, or cases when the grammar of the Serbian sentence was incompatible with the usual English grammar. This translation can help future authors, who do not know Serbian, to make an adequate translation into the native languages of the peoples of India such as Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Urdu, etc

The 1st letter. Three emissaries write to the Maharaja of MalabarEdit

Three emissaries write to the Maharaja of Malabar[1]

Salam, our bright Maharaja!

We inform you that we have crossed from the real Europe to the Balkans[comm. 1], and here we are in Serbia, the central Balkan country. Till now, we have spoken to you conscientiously and accurately in letters and described our impressions and observations about European peoples. They are all very distant from us by thoughts, hearts, and ideals. Our general conclusion is that Europe is a diseased who pretends to be healthy; a dumb who pretends to be smart; a pauper who pretends to be rich; and a helpless who pretends to be strong.

The main cause of the fall of Europe is apostasy from God. ‘We have forsaken God and God has forsaken us’, a German pastor told us. In France, we heard such sarcastic words from someone: ‘Once Christ rode on a donkey, now donkeys ride on Christ’.

During the whole year of our wandering through the European countries, we worked hard to see the connection of people with the deity, the connection of the earth with the heavens, that is, what is quite obvious and conspicuous in our India! What the most important is in human life. How long have we craved for seeing at any fair a scene so common in our Bombay and Calcutta, namely, that at a certain time for prayer a merchant prays to God, while customers have to wait, but in vain. In vain: nowhere and never at all. They go to the temple for prayer on Sundays only, and even then in such small numbers that it is devastating. We examined, calculated and computed that only one in a hundred citizens knows about the temple and goes to the temple for prayer and even then on Sundays. This means that in a city of 30 000 inhabitants (and there are many such cities in Europe), 3 000 souls go to temples for prayer once every seven days.

We imagine how unhappy you would feel if you heard that only every hundredth person in the Malabar Kingdom prays to God, o thou, the most radiant lotus flower![comm. 2]

In Europe, people seek truth in science and justice in equality. These are two drinks that intoxicated this white humanity. Meanwhile, when we examined, we found that in one and the other drink there is more poison than sweetness. There is neither truth in science nor justice in equality. But speaking to Europeans against science and equality is just as futile, even dangerous, as speaking to drunken people against wine and brandy.

European scientists at universities and academies received us with courtesy without love and invited us to give lectures on India. Whenever we proposed to give lectures on religion, on deity, on the mysteries of monasticism, on the wisdom of Vedanta and the like, they rejected it with contempt and instead asked us to talk about the economic situation in India, about the political rights of citizens, about mineral treasures of our Motherland, about the statistics of people, animals, exports and imports, and anything and everything; about everything, but not about God and not about the mystery of a human being before birth and after death. We were desperate for that. We breathed European air like poison.

Now we breathe a little easier here in the Balkans. But we will write to you about that soon. May God Vishnu multiply your days and strengthen your health. May you be in age and health as richer than we are, just as your golden throne is exalted above the three-legged chairs of Malabar peasants.

Pandit Gauri Shankara
Rama Yamuna Sisodia
Theodosius Mangala

The 2nd letter. Sisodia writes to his brother ArjunaEdit

Sisodia writes to his brother Arjuna[2]

Salam, my dear Arjuna.

We thought of approaching across the Balkans quickly, tired and saddened by impressions from Europe. We hurried to get to our dear India as soon as possible.

We thought that the Balkans is an insignificant province of Europe, without any originality and without any interest to us. Because you know that in India we have hardly heard of the Balkans, just as Balkans have hardly heard of our holy city of Benares or Buddhist Tibet. But we were very wrong. On the advice of a well-known friend of India in London, Serb Mitrinović, we stopped in Serbia.

The first surprise was that we received an invitation from the royal court to communicate to the king of Serbia. The king is a maharaja of Serbia. The king received us with simple-minded kindness. His three sons speak French with him and English among themselves. That amazed us. Why not speaking the language of their people?

First of all, the king asked us how the people lived in India. After that, he asked us what our mission in Europe was, whether political or economic or cultural. We answered that the bright maharaja of Malabar sent us to examine the spirit and soul and character of the European peoples, and to find out the basic causes of the terrible World War[comm. 3], which did not spare our distant Motherland either.

‘Your Maharaja’, said the king, ‘must be a great sage and a God’s man, when he has undertaken such a thing. But tell me, noble gentlemen, if it is not a secret, what conclusions have you come to? That is, what caused the last world massacre?’
‘Godlessness, as an evil mother of two evil daughters: selfishness and violence’.
‘That’s right, that’s right!’ exclaimed the king with a joyful surprise, as if the fortune-teller had opened a turned-over card[comm. 4].

In further conversation, when I told him that I was a Kshatriya and that I was most interested in the army after religion, he invited us to a review of his guard on the first day of Easter. And that is the greatest Christian holiday when the resurrection of Christ from the dead is glorified.

‘How did you say that?’ the king asked. ‘You said that as a Kshatriya you are most interested in the army after religion. Does that mean that your warrior class, the Kshatriyas, is still more interested in religion than the army? Isn’t it?’
‘That’s right, bright Maharaja’ I replied. ‘For all classes in India, that is, for the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Paraiyars[comm. 5], religion is above all and above everything else. Everything is below religion and exists in the light of religion’.

The king, as if somewhat saddened, looked into the distance and said:
‘That’s right. That is exactly how it should be everywhere and in all nations’.

*		*		*

On Easter day we were in the court temple. Divine service was served by priests in gold-woven garments[comm. 6]. As we later learned, for Christians, the divine service signifies the drama of the life of Christ the Messiah. The same song was sung repeatedly, sometimes stretched and majestic, sometimes fast and with cheering and almost with sparkling. It has been sung countless times. This song says the following[comm. 7]:

‘Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!’

Indeed, a miracle and a mystery. I was all trembling with some incomprehensible awe. Our Christian missionaries in India are infinitely poor in comparison with this expression of the glorious Messiah, the conqueror of death. The priest was giving a very exciting sermon. Nevertheless, I begged our brother Theodosius Mangala to try to translate it into Hindustani.

At the end of the service, all those present approached the king and celebrated the holiday with these words: ‘Christ is risen!’ to which the king replied to everyone: ‘Truly, He is risen!’

After leaving the church, we went for the review of the royal guard. The guardsmen were in their formal colourful uniforms, which was especially pleasing to our eyes. All the warriors are good fellows, marvellous in age and beauty. Just like our Kashmiris and Himalayan highlanders. Trumpets announced the arrival of the king. As I was explained, the trumpet aria intoned: ‘Here is our king! Here is our king!’ When silence fell, the king greeted the army with the words: ‘Christ is risen, brethren!’ to which resounded a thunderous response from hundreds of young voices: ‘Truly, He is risen!’

In my excitement, I said to myself: people here are not joking with faith. This is an unheard and unseen sight for us, that one ruler greets his army with the most unheard and most unseen fact of human history — the Resurrection of Christ. He greets as if stating the fact of Christ’s resurrection, and his army congratulates him by confirming that fact: ‘Truly, Christ is risen!’ Here are no jokes with faith as well as there are not in India.

After the military parade, we had breakfast in the courtyard. Boiled red eggs were distributed there as a sign of joy; as a sign of the joy about Christ’s victory over death. Truly wonderful! Then they beat eggs with each other: the king and queen, and their children, and the officers, and all the guests present. One holds an egg in the hand and the other strikes[comm. 8]. The one, who strikes, says: ‘Christ is risen!’, and the one, who holds, answers: ‘Indeed, He is risen!’

When we went out into the street, we heard congratulations from all sides: ‘Christ is risen!’ and ‘Indeed, He is risen!’ No one says: ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good afternoon’, but ‘Christ is risen’ and ‘Truly, He is risen!’ Newspapers run editorials with the headline: ‘Christ is risen’ and ‘Truly, He is risen!’ The whole air is full of that greeting. I would say that birds chirp, and leaves rustle, and the great Danube[comm. 9] hums only these words: ‘Christ is risen’ and ‘Truly, He is risen!’

O my Arjuna, for the first time my heart felt the joy since I was separated from India. Thanks to be to the goddess Kali, to whom we always mentally offer sacrifices here. And don’t forget to make a sacrifice to her on my behalf too, according to our custom.

Your loving brother Rama

The 3rd letter. Theodosius Mangala writes to Metropolitan of MalabarEdit

Theodosius Mangala writes to Metropolitan of Malabar[3]

Christ is risen, granddaddy Metropolitan. Say: ‘Truly, He is risen’. In this way, we greet and congratulate in Serbian.

Yesterday, we greeted and congratulated each other in this way in the court of the Serbian king, and that is the Maharajah over the Serbs. Serbs greet each other like this even today, on the second day of Easter: they also tell me that they greet each other like this for whole forty days, until the feast of the Ascension of Christ. Truly amazing and touching!

Yesterday, the first day of Easter, was for us Indians a day of delight and spiritual strengthening. We were the king’s guests first at the prayer in the court church and then in the courtyard at breakfast.

You have already watched the Orthodox liturgy, so you know how dramatic and mystical it is. Therefore, I will not describe to you what you know. I will only tell you the literally translated sermon of the old court priest, which he delivered at the end of the liturgy. I tried to make this translation both at my own request and at the request of my friends, Pandit Gauri Shankara and Rama Yamuna Sisodia. The sermon reads as follows.

‘Sire King, Christ is Risen!
According to God’s pre-eternal plan, the Messiah or Saviour of the world was to descend into the murky torrent of the historical life of mankind, which until then, like a sinkhole of a subterranean river, dragged all people into the underground Hell, to cleanse it and direct its flow upwards towards the immortal Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of eternal light and eternal life.

This task of complete world reversal could not be performed by man, even the greatest of the greatest, but only God Almighty. That is why the eternal Son of the eternal Father appeared to the world as the Messiah in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, born bodily of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Virgin Mary, and full with divine wisdom, power and beauty. He appeared amidst the Jewish people, which God had been preparing for centuries through the prophets and the righteous, and through terrible signs and wonders, and images and occasions, words and symbols. But — oh the blindness of man! — He was not accepted. The Jews rejected Him because He was the benefactor of all people and nations, and not just the Jews, and because He appeared as the Messiah of the whole world, and not just the little tribe Israeli. Having degenerated in the vision and faith, the Jewish elders of Jesus’ time were more willing to proclaim Barabbas, who avenged the Romans with blood for the shed Jewish blood, as their Messiah, rather than Jesus, who preached mercy and love to all people. Anyone who would do good to non-Jews was considered by the Jews as their evildoer, no matter how much good he did to them. In their opinion, the Messiah had to do good only to the Jews, yet also had to do evil to all other nations.

That was the essence of the conflict, Sire King. Envy and goodness, malice and love, self-love and love of fellow-men, chauvinistic narrow-mindedness and God’s all-humaneness, spiritual darkness and heavenly light clashed.

And evil defeated then. But its victory over good was imaginary. It lasted only three days. On the third day, Christ was resurrected from the tomb. And thus, good overcame evil. And this victory continues, triumphs and spreads for two thousand years. The victory of evil lasted less than three days, and the victory of good has been going on for two thousand years and will continue until the end of time.

Great is the victory over human evil. Even greater is the victory over demonic evil. But the greatest victory is over death. Christ won all three victories: over people, over demons, and over death.

Who among the great men ever scored all three of these wins? No one did. If anyone defeated humans, then no one defeated demons. Has anyone of the world’s greatest men ever thought to conquer death? Never and no one has on the five continents of the world. Only Christ is a triple Victor: incomparable, and incomprehensible, and unattainable.

This Christ, the Victor over all victors, was perceived by our Serbian people a thousand years ago, and they do not separate from Him. Nothing is dearer to them than Christ is, nothing brighter is and nothing holier is. The Cross of Christ has become a sign of the Serbian people. On all the battlefields, where the Serbian people defended themselves from infidels, the cross flag fluttered, both over Tsar Dušan and over Prince Lazar’s army in Kosovo, as well as over our peasant insurgent Princes Karađorđe and Miloš, on Mišar and Ljubić.

The Messiah of the world, Whom the Jews rejected and crucified on the Cross, we Serbs received and made Him the intercessor[comm. 10] of our people, our history, our destiny.

But that is why our history is a repeated drama of His life. That is why we, as the people of Christ, have suffered many times, many times have died and many times have been resurrected. Our historical path is marked by a bloody cross and a bright resurrection. All as a sign of Christ, crucified and risen. And all our great historical personalities became famous only because they passed through the way of Christ, the way of Golgotha and the Resurrection.

Therefore, Sire King, for us Serbs, Great Friday is doubly difficult, and Easter is doubly joyful. Because mourning Christ’s sufferings on the Cross on Great Friday, we mourn the millions of our countrymen who have been killed for Christ God through the ages; and by celebrating the Christ’s Resurrection, we also celebrate them, immortals in the Heavenly Kingdom of Christ, in the great multi-million Serbia in Heaven. In that immortal heavenly Serbia, there are many of your ancestors, Sire, and I hope, like every Serb, that there are mine as well. We combine our joy with theirs. And together with them we exclaim: Christ is risen! And this means: God defeated Satan; life has swallowed death; justice has erased injustice; love destroyed hatred; the light dispersed the darkness. Therefore, let us sing and greet: Christ is risen! Happy Easter! Happy Easter! Indeed, He is risen and brought us the joy! Amen’.

When you read this sermon, granddaddy Metropolitan, you will understand for yourself how it made a huge impression not only on me but also on my unbaptised countrymen, Brahmin Gauri Shankara and Kshatriya Rama Sisodia. Especially after our sad experience in godless and petrified Europe.

And know that when you receive this letter in a month, greetings will still be spread on all sides of this wonderful land: ‘Christ is risen!’ and ‘Truly, He is risen!’

I wish you all the happiness from Christ and remain your loyal
Theodosius Mangala

The 4th letter. Mistress Indumati writes to her husband Pandit Gauri Shankara from AllahabadEdit

Mistress Indumati writes to her husband Pandit Gauri Shankara from Allahabad[4]

I wish you happiness, more to you than to myself.

You are I. I am you. This feeling from our first days, and now in me, after twenty years, still stays blossoming like the most beautiful lotus on the holy river Ganges. This feeling has become even stronger because of your long absence. Day after day and night after night I am more with you there, in that wild Europe, rather than here, in our India. Indeed, I am you more than me. There is my actuality with you, here is only my shadow. I received several of your letters one after the other soon, and all among them: one more grievous than the other. So when you, as a Brahmin, vowed to restraint and strict objectivity[comm. 11], write so black about Europe, then I can think how terrible that beastly country is, which has nothing but teeth and stomachs. Therefore, to make it easier for you, I took the effort and came to Allahabad for the candle festival in honour of the goddess Kali[comm. 12].

You know this festival, because we went to it together several times. But it has never been more beautiful or solemn to me than now, as well as sadder than ever, without you. It is said that this year there were about two million devotees in Allahabad from all over India. It was as if the sand on the banks of the Ganges had come to life and turned into human beings. I also brought our son Anushirvan with me. He had never been to Allahabad before. At night, when the devotees lit millions of candles and sent them down the river in honour of the goddess Kali, the view was so magnificent that Anushirvan jumped up and clapped his hands in surprise and excitement. I told him, and with his hand he lit and lowered seven candles into the Ganges for your happiness, and in honour of our greatest deities: Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Indra, Savitri and Kali. So they will be your protectors on the way through that beastly jungle. And I, for my part, lit many candles in honour of my favourite Kali, so that she would save you and bring you back alive.

You are I. I am you.
Esteems you and bows to you
Indumati

The 5th letter. Again Mistress Indumati writes to her husband Pandit Gauri from BombayEdit

Again Mistress Indumati writes to her husband Pandit Gauri from Bombay[5]

I wish you peace, blissful moksha[comm. 13], more to you than to myself.

We returned from Allahabad to Bombay and came to visit our kinsman Somadeva. A Brahmin, like you, he is very worried about you, so that you don’t get defilement with something in that pagan Europe. He says that you should not shake hands with those beastly people, nor eat with them, nor sleep in the beds in which they slept. He tells me how Mahatma Gandhi, when he travelled to Europe[comm. 14], took two goats with him, to drink milk from the dishes he brought from India. And he tells me about a maharaja, who, for a trip to Europe, took barrels with water from India to a ship: to drink water from the holy Ganges and wash himself with it, and not to be defiled by filthy water from the unholy rivers of Europe. So Somadeva is very worried, and I am even more worried, how you will be able to preserve yourself in Brahminical purity in that dreg of the pagan world[comm. 15]. So watch out and beware. And we will try to do our best to help you from here. We agreed with Somadeva to do the following for you:
1. Somadeva will read the whole Bhagavad Gita[comm. 16] for your good every seven days;
2. Our son Anushirvan will read a few shlokas[comm. 17] from Vedanta every day,
3. And every day I will offer a bouquet of lotus flowers to the goddess Kali, to keep you purer than the Himalayan snow.
4. And finally, I sent one bhikkhu[comm. 18] each with gifts to Tibetan monasteries, so that they recite the tantras and mantras for you, written on all five hundred plates[comm. 19].

Our help you will definitely feel. Cause although we are far from each other, the gods are close to all of us in every place and at every moment. Callous European materialists have no idea about that. But here, in our India, everyone knows that, both princes and porters, both elders and children.

Esteems you and bows to you
Indumati

The 6th letter. Theodosius Mangala writes to the Malabar churchEdit

Theodosius Mangala writes to the Malabar church[comm. 20][6]

Peace and joy to you from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here we are in Serbia, a wonderful country on the Balkan Peninsula. I do not mean the wonderful beauty of the nature, because that God’s nature is everywhere an unspeakable miracle of beauty, but I mean this people and its historical destiny. Because man is more important than nature and often is more beautiful. Not man was made for nature, but nature for man.

We have made it a rule that as soon as we tread a new country, we first read about the past of the people of that country. Good luck served us in Serbia, so we came across a man, an Indologist, who knows India very well and loves it very much. For ten nights, he read and told us the history of the Serbian people. If he had told us not ten nights but ten months, then we would not have had enough. But what we heard from our new friend and lover of India in ten nights I must desperately shorten, so that you might read it in ten minutes. Because a letter, that cannot be read in ten minutes, is not a letter but another kind of literature.

The saints liberated and united the tribes that immigrated to the Balkans from India. Remember this: from India. Saint Simeon Nemanja and his son Saint Sava accomplished that act. Nemanja’s dynasty served God and the people for over 200 years. Almost all the prefects, kings, despots and princes, as well as their wives and close and distant relatives consecrated themselves. Their consecrated bodies are kept undecomposed and stay incorrupted in monasteries and temples not only in Serbian country but throughout the Balkans: in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Albania. These were holy men in truth; each of them always signed as ‘Servant of Christ God’. Just because they surrendered themselves to the service of God in their splendour, power and wealth, they were able to serve people so brilliantly. After all, people cannot love one another as brothers, if they all together do not love their Heavenly Father. Many of the Nemanjić dynasty, both male and female, dedicated themselves to monastic life, wrestling against the blood and flesh and spirits of wickedness in the under-heavenly places. Others fought just as heroically against the Huns, Mongols, Tatars and Papists with a great motto: ‘For the Cross and Freedom!’ Remember this Serbian motto, which is many centuries old, but which is still new and modern for Serbs today as a guiding polar star. Even today, you hear everywhere from the Serbs: ‘We live and fight for a Holy Cross and golden freedom’. The Holy Cross is Christ’s Cross, and the golden freedom is pure and holy freedom in Christ.

My brethren and sistren, there is no people in the world that has so consistently and persistently fought against the Saviour of the world like the Jews, nor is a people in the world that has so consistently and persistently fought and sacrificed itself for Christ like the Serbian people. I beg you, all of you baptised souls in Malabar: pray to God for this unusual, holy and heroic people.

On the field of Kosovo in 1389, there was a battle between Muslims and Serbs. And according to God’s incomprehensible providence, the Muslims defeated the Serbs. This is the greatest date in the history of the Serbian people. In that battle, the entire Serbian army, led by the holy prince Lazar, perished, whose relics still lie as alive, as if he died yesterday. When you ask Serbs, these very Serbs in the 20th century, why the Serbian army succumbed to the Turkish one in Kosovo, you will always get the same answer: ‘Because it was appealed to the Kingdom of Heaven, but not the earthly one’. Since then, throughout 400 and a few years, there had been a period of Serbian martyrs for the faith of Christ, i.e. for the Holy Cross and the golden freedom. Millions of Serbs were slaughtered like lambs, impaled, starved to death by hunger and other torments — in order to live forever.

In 1804, Serbian peasants raised an Uprising against the Turkish Empire. A handful of Christians was against a strong empire that stretched from the Danube to India. All of Europe was stunned by this unequal struggle. And miracle by miracle, the Serbs won freedom and independence with God’s help. Even in spite of Europe, which Serbia protected for centuries with her sons’ chests from Turkish power. Only with God’s help, as the biblical Gideon with 300 people and with God defeated an innumerable multitude of Midianites.

There is God, brothers. The history of the Serbian people should be included in the religious textbooks of all peoples as proof that there is God.

That’s all. If I wrote more, I would write a book; yes, I would write a new Bible. But since I am not writing you a book but a letter, I have to conclude. I keep a hundred times more in my mind, to tell you when I get to Malabar.

Yesterday, children stared at us on a Belgrade street, so one, bolder than the others, asked:
‘Where are you from, gentlemen?’
‘From Malabar’ I said.
‘Malabara! Well, that is a Serbian word’ says the boy. ‘That means “Mala Bara”. So you are from Mala Bara’[comm. 21].
Our guide and friend, an Indologist, laughed at that, stroked the boy and said:
‘You’re right. This is true’.

Finally, let me list the Serbian anthem, the most sublime of all national anthems in Europe:

God of Justice! Thou who saved us when in deepest bondage cast,
Hear Thy Serbian children’s voices, be our help as in the past.
With Thy mighty hand sustain us, still our rugged pathway trace;
God, our Hope! Protect and cherish Serbian crown and the Serbian race!
On our sepulchre of ages breaks the resurrection morn,
From the slough of direst slavery Serbia anew is born.
Through five hundred years of durance we have knelt before Thy face,
All our kin, O God! Deliver! Thus entreats the Serbian race!

This is the grandest anthem that I still wonder. Other European anthems either do not mention God in anything and do not even allude to Him, or they are arrogant belligerent songs of national self-praise. I am told that the English during the World War[comm. 22] also came to love the Serbian anthem the most, as the anthem over the anthems, and that they sang it in all the churches in England. And they did well. When I return, I will teach you how to sing the Serbian anthem.

May the grace of God be with you. I greet and kiss you all.
Theodosius Mangala

The 7th letter. Mistress Katyayani writes to her son Rama Yamuna SisodiaEdit

Mistress Katyayani writes to her son Rama Yamuna Sisodia[7]

Rama, my son, peace and health to you from all the Indian gods! I especially pray to god Krishna, the protector of all Kshatriyas, to keep you in this life while I, your mother, see you once more and saturate my eyes by looking at you. The whole visible and invisible world cannot saturate eyes of a mother as a son can, and especially so a knightly son, a favourite of the great Krishna, as you are, Rama, my son, the pupil of my eyes and the heart of my heart.

Your brother Arjuna read me your letters from that terrible and ruthless Europe, and while listening, I writhed in fear like a branch of a mahogany tree from a strong wind. Write to us, son, as comforting as possible, or, best of all, write nothing but hurry to come to India. My days are already numbered and every hour I expect death and reincarnation into some new and better body than this.

I can’t tell you, son, that everything is fine with us. According to Karma, what happens to everyone is what that deserves. There is a lot of news, more unpleasant than pleasant. But since the gods can see all the unpleasantness in the world, then we must get used to it and imitate the gods in this.

Kabir, your kinsman, died; young and wonderful he died by fate and couldn’t be helped but died when his term passed. Shakuntala, his wife, whom you know as unsurpassed in beauty and kindness, went to ‘suttee’ out of love for Kabir, and burnt in the flames, and her ashes were immersed in Yamuna. It was arranged in secret, so that everything would end early in the morning when the god Agni released the first rays of the sun onto the earth, so that the English, who were asleep at the time, would not find out. I was present, at her personal request. I assisted her put on white silk clothes after her ablution.

Shining like the full moon, with eyes black like a moonless midnight, she looked like a real goddess to me. I don’t believe that Rama’s Sita and Krishna’s Radha were more beautiful than her. When she got dressed, she bowed to all of us and exclaimed: ‘Dharma!’ and she entered a boatlet adorned with greenery and blue lotus flowers. We watched her standing on the pyre, when the first rays of the sun fell on her face. Although we knew that she was doing what a faithful wife in India should do, according to Dharma, we were all trembling with horror. When the flames engulfed her, and when her face was completely hidden in the flames from our eyes, we heard a terrible scream: ‘My Kabir, here I come to you!’

*		*		*

Ah, human heart, be ready and endure, if you can, all the horrors of this everyday Samsara!

I took Kabir and Shakuntala’s son to my house. I know you would do the same, and you would be glad. But the English agents found out about this case on Yamuna and reported it to the English police. I remember that when the pyre was lit, someone rushed past us on a cycle. Some said: it is a man, and others: it is a woman. Now the police are investigating the whole event, so they harassed me, the old woman, as a witness and accomplice in this. I don’t know what will happen. But I am not afraid of either the dungeon or death. Europeans, who are getting married today and divorcing tomorrow, of course, do not understand this supreme sacrifice of a woman’s love for her husband. I have heard from Christian missionaries the words of their Holy Scripture: ‘Love is stronger than death’[comm. 23]. But it is only on their tongue, while in ours it is in practice.

Beware, son, of European women. Those are scarecrows. They ride cycles; wear men’s suits; cut their hair; sit cross-legged; smoke, drink and grin. Their girlhood is defiled, and motherhood is barren. When their husband dies, they immediately open a will to see what the husband left them as income or pension. None of them out of hundreds of millions can be found who, out of love for her deceased husband, would voluntarily die. Meanwhile, these selfish barbarians condemn us, Indians, as a people with barbaric customs! May the thunderer Indra judge them! Hurry to return, I beg you. Get out of Europe as soon as possible.

Your mother Katyayani

The 8th letter. Sisodia writes to his brother ArjunaEdit

Sisodia writes to his brother Arjuna[8]

Salam, my dear Arjuna.

I sent you many letters from Europe, and this is the second that I am writing to you from Serbia. But there is neither hide nor hair of you. What’s the matter with you? Are you sick or healthy? If you are ill, I do not require an apology; if you are healthy, I accept no excuses. You have always thought highly of Europe, but I guess because you have never been to Europe. If you were there and saw what we saw, you would have been either a man changed your mind or a non-human denied the experience of us, who were on the spot and saw. The only thing I can recommend to you: pray that our gods, Devatas, save India from being europeanised. Enough of this Europe alone as a poisoner of the world, enough without India! If India were to become another Europe, another poisoner of the world, then I assure you, that ‘Night of Brahma’ is near, the end of the universe and the return of everything to nothingness, to chaos and to a sleep without dream.

But I don’t lose faith in India even for a moment. On the contrary, here in Serbia, among a people similar to ours, my faith has strengthened. Nowhere in Europe have we been received with so much sincerity and love as among the Serbs. Every Serb carries inside himself consciously or semiconsciously a part of India: either in his thoughts, or in his intuitions, or in the customs, or in the propensities, or by his hospitality and taste for beauty.

‘We Serbs are a part of great India’. That is how Dr Jevtim, an Indologist and our friend, began his speech. That was last night at an academy meeting prepared in the capital in honour of us, Hindus.

‘Fate separated us from India even before Christ’s Nativity and sent us across Europe and Western Asia to the Balkans. But separated physically we never separated spiritually from our ancestral homeland — India. Sanskrit words, customs, mysticism, legends, proverbs, folk conjuration, fantastic songs about people who turn into snakes and other animals — all this is preserved among us, Serbs, to an incomparably greater extent than among other Indo-European peoples. Even the word “Serb” is of Sanskrit origin, and its exact meaning is unknown. It is also significant that no nation in Europe (and perhaps in the whole world) has “r” as a vowel sound except for Indians and Serbs.

But I will not tell you now about Serbia, but about India, our racial foremother.

India is a rich deposit of mystical, social and philosophical treasures. The mysticism of humanity in the religious sense is nowhere in the world has such a practical significance as in India. There, people believe in three unusual realities and, according to which, they manage their whole life, personal and social. These three mystical realities are believed by Indians to be: Karma, Dharma and Reincarnation. Karma is destiny, Dharma is duty. Reincarnation is rebirth after death in a new body, either human or nonhuman.

In social plane, Indian society is divided into four castes: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shoodras. This social order has existed in India for thousands of years without change and without a desire for change. Such an order could not last so long if people did not constantly think about death and what will happen to them after death; and yet, if they did not think of Karma and Dharma. Karma, Dharma, and Reincarnation are like one closed triangle, which in India determines everything, explains everything and calms everything: an actual Brahmin may after death be turned into a Shoodra and a Shoodra into a Brahmin. They establish justice and thus create reconciliation of oneself with one’s condition and position in a human age. Europe, an atheistic Europe, which thinks neither of death nor of what will come after death, rebels and seeks the realisation of complete justice for everyone in the short time from the birth to the death of one man and one generation. Its metre is not a metre, but a millimetre. So measuring everything in millimetres, it rebels, screams, shouts, turns, overturns, and falls from pit to pit.

In terms of philosophy, India is richer in various directions and systems than all other thought peoples taken in total. Everything that men as men, without the revelation of God, can conceive and contrive with their reason and their imagination is conceived and contrived by the Indian sages. There is no philosophy in the world that would not have, at least, its roots, or even full expression, in India. It is a warm and fertile mother’s womb, which gave birth to everything that can be born, from the sublime to the ugly. Only God could reveal to people something new that the people in India could not reach with their minds. And God indeed revealed something new to mankind, He revealed the Good News through Jesus Christ. But we will talk about that another time and in another place. I can only tell you that the materialistic Indian philosophy, known as Sankhya, is no less spiritual than the most spiritual European philosophies’.

Then Dr Jevtim said:
‘None of the European nations is so evocated to understand India or to extend a hand of brotherhood and friendship to her as the Serbian people. Without any political, economic, or any visible and material interest, we tonight welcome great India as our closest relative on the Asian continent. In the face of her honourable sons, who honoured us with their visit, we wish her all the best from God, and all the happiness, first to her and then to us. Because if we, Serbs, as a small part of her, by some divine destiny, fall on this terrible worldly crossroad and outskirt, on this bridge between Europe and Asia, may God bless India, our mother by blood and language, to receive from our hand the banner of the struggle for the eternal truth of God’.

These are flames, not words, my brother Arjuna. Read this and let others read. We were wrong to look only at the so-called great nations of the world and not at the small ones. But Vishnu often speaks through the small and not through the big. You know how the god Shiva appeared to our great philosopher Shankara in the form of a beggar. Let’s not despise the little to get to the big. Read this to our mother and bow down to her on my behalf to the ground as a goddess.

Your loving brother Rama

The 9th letter. Mistress Indumati writes to her husband Pandit GauriEdit

Mistress Indumati writes to her husband Pandit Gauri[9]

I wish you peace, blissful moksha, more to you than to myself.

Oh, how you would rejoice if I could write you a letter that would cheer you up like a bouquet of fragrant flowers. But this time, that joy was denied to me and you. This letter of mine is made of thorns. Christians talk about how the Jews put a crown of thorns on Christ’s head instead of the deserved royal crown, and how blood flowed through His face under the crown of thorns. So, I guess, our Indian gods also want some of us to wear a crown of thorns on our heads from people who are ungodly and unjust.

The famous Warlord Ramachandra, from the glorious family of Indian Kshatriyas, wrote me a letter asking me to go as soon as possible to old Mistress Katyayani, the mother of your friend and companion Rama Sisodia. He didn’t tell me why. But I sensed evil. When I arrived at the house of Raja[comm. 24] Sisodia, I was told that the old mistress had been arrested and that it was impossible to reach her. When I asked about the young Raja Arjuna, Rama’s brother, the servants shook their heads with a bitter smile and kept silent. ‘What should I do?’ I thought. ‘What did Warlord Ramachandra want with me?’ is a big puzzle. I immediately go to the nearby temple of the god Shiva and offer a sacrifice in flowers and oil, so I go straight to the dungeon.

‘Is the noble Mistress Katyayani Sisodia here and could I talk to her?’ I asked the jailer.
‘She’s here, but it’s impossible to talk to her’.

I gave him baksheesh[comm. 25], forgive me.

When the old lady saw me, she burst into tears. And through tears, she told me about two of her really bitter torments.

The first torment is that she was arrested. And she was arrested because, according to the police, she aroused Shakuntala, Kabir’s young widow, to surrender herself to the immolation, and that during the rite of immolation she assisted her get dressed, and encouraged; and all the other craziness that police agents can load on one person to show that they deserve their salaries. As you know, the law against self-immolation of widows is very strict, so old Mistress Sisodia expects the worst.

But the second torment is more terrible than the first. She thinks that she was handed over to the police by some journaliste, an amateuse, or a chauffeuse or something, I don’t know, named Gladys Farquharson, with whom her youngest son, Raja Arjuna, fell in love. That lady, some says, is much older than Arjuna, and her manners and behaviour are such that her appearance in our divine India is a purulent wound. So imagine such a person in connection with the famous Kshatriya and princely family of Sisodia!

But with that shame, another shame comes, which falls on the house of Warlord Ramachandra. It has already been seven years since the daughter of Ramachandra was betrothed to Arjuna. And now Arjuna is leaving her and fooling around with some — as I told her name — Gladys Farquharson. Uh, what scary names! Now I understood why Warlord Ramachandra wrote to me. But again, I couldn’t understand why they got me involved in all this, and what I could do to help.

‘Nothing else, my golden daughter, nothing more than just to write to Pandit Gauri Shankara, so that he would somehow gradually and skilfully let this know to my Rama, the sun of my life, denying the greatest pain of his. And the gods will reveal to him what to do’.

When I came out of the dungeon into a dark street, someone grabbed my hand. I got scared and shivered:
‘Don’t fear, noble Indumati. May Vishnu reward you a thousandfold for your goodness. Don’t you recognise me? The accident changed me and the worry got me older. I am Warlord Ramachandra. Thank you for heeding me and coming’.
‘Don’t mention it’ I replied, ‘I’m just sorry that I don’t see anything that could serve both you and old Mistress Katyayani’.
‘You can do a lot’ said the warlord, ‘or rather everything. Write to your husband and our famous Brahmin, whom even Maharaja himself values above all the Brahmins of his kingdom, write to him to tell Rama what a shame Arjuna has caused to both his and my home. Let him tell him openly, that I will make sure that Arjuna washes away with his blood the two shames from the two Indian Kshatriya houses’.

So here are the thorns; more than you expected. I’m sorry, but what should I do? When roses fade, thorns remain. And only the thorns are permanent and imperishable. The torrent of life suddenly disturbs our still waters and burying our springs with stones.

Do whatever you want. I can’t be your advisor on this. I can only tell you that I share with my soul the pain of old Katyayani and the wrath of Warlord Ramachandra.

Esteems you and bows to you
Indumati

The 10th letter. Theodosius Mangala writes to the Malabar churchEdit

Theodosius Mangala writes to the Malabar church[10]

Peace and joy to you from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Yesterday was the feast of the Saviour’s Day[comm. 26]. The Belgrade community celebrated the Slava[comm. 27]. There was a service in the Church of the Ascension and Lity[comm. 28] for the whole city.

We in Malabar also know what Lity is. But we don’t know what the Slava is. This is an exclusively Serbian religious custom. Every Serbian home has its patron hallow. As you know, Christian saints are not some fictitious gods but real persons who as people lived a godly life on earth, consecrated themselves and entered Paradise. They pray to God for us on earth and God out of love for them — because they have demonstrated their love for God — fulfils their prayers for people. On the Slava day, the Serbian house shines with light and joy. Three things are placed on the table in honour of the saint: a lighted wax candle, a wheat kolač[comm. 29], and wine. The candle represents the light of truth with which Christ illumined the world. Bread and wine represent spiritual food and joy, all from Christ and through Christ[comm. 30]. The whole family is dressed in festive attires that day, and everyone is working hard to welcome the guests. Guests are not specially invited, but whoever comes across and whoever arrives is greeted as welcome one, with reverence. Of course, gypsies and the blind diligently use this Serbian custom. Not only to fill the stomach but also the bags. Thanks to the Slavas, people in Serbia have never died of starvation; because the Slavas are very frequent, and alms make up half the Slava. And the King[comm. 31] also celebrates the Slava. His Slava is the holy Apostle Andrew. Remember this, so when the day of Saint Andrew comes, send congratulations to the King of Serbia from India. It will be a great joy and a pleasant surprise for him.

However, not only all Serbian homes celebrate the Slava, but also all institutions and societies: villages, cities, churches, schools, and troops — every military regiment has its Slava — esnafs[comm. 32], hospitals, and various charitable organisations.

Yesterday, the municipality of Belgrade, and the Church of the Ascension, and the Pilgrimage Society, and some other societies and institutions celebrated. This is a great day for the Serbian capital.

The Patriarch[comm. 33] served in the Church of the Ascension with several bishops and many priests. The Patriarch gave a sermon, from which I will quote only a few words:

‘Nearly two hundred million Orthodox Christians around the world today celebrate the magnificent event of Christ’s Ascension from earth to Heaven. He descended from Heaven as a pauper and ascended to Heaven as the Lord to Whom, in His own words, “all authority has been given in Heaven and on earth”[comm. 34]. Angels landed on earth when He was born in the cave of Bethlehem; Angels hovered around Him when He ascended to Heaven on the Mount of Olives. When He was born, the simple shepherds first adored Him, and when He ascended, He was adored by the simple fishermen, Apostles of His. Shepherds and fishermen — is there anyone simpler and fairer? These are people who cannot counterfeit their goods. Neither a shepherd can invent an artificial sheep nor do fishermen sell an artificial fish. The Lord Jesus chose neither sarrafs[comm. 35] who trade in artificial money nor the manufacturers who produce artificial silk.

And He chose our Serbian agricultural and pastoral people to serve Him with truth and justice and goodness before many other peoples with artificial lives and artificial occupations. Let’s thank the Lord for the mission He has assigned to us by His immeasurable wisdom and mercy. And just as I called you on the Nativity of Christ to worship the born Messiah and Savior of the world together with the shepherds of Bethlehem, so today I call you onto the Mount of Olives to bow down in thought with the fishermen, the Apostles, before Him, ascending to the heavenly throne of His glory, accompanied by armies of radiant Angels’.

Many more beautiful words the Patriarch uttered, but I could not catch them. And he ended up like this:

‘Today is the Slava day for numerous temples in our Fatherland. Holy Žiča, our first Archbishopric, in which the first Serbian king Stefan was crowned, also celebrates. Well, many villages also celebrate and walk with the cross procession of the Lity through the grainfields and meadows. Many societies do this way. May the celebrated Christ the Saviour hear their prayers and help them. Yet our capital Belgrade is also celebrating. May God’s grace be poured out upon it. Belgrade is the head of the state, and the head must be healthy. If the head is sick, the whole body is sick. And I tell you, this head of state is not completely healthy. It is full of wounds and scabs and pus. That is why today we go through this city during the Lity, to sanctify it with the cross and prayer and spiritual chant, which means to cleanse it from evil spirits and entirely devote it to Christ God’.

After leaving the church we went with the Lity. It was like our real Malabar procession because of the multitude of souls, vexilla[comm. 36], crosses, choirs and everything colourful. There must have been a hundred thousand souls on the Lity. Troops, Chetniks[comm. 37], music, uniforms, parades! In other years, even the King himself went next to the Patriarch, but this year, I don’t know why, he was absent. And the people, I hear, are indignant.

We entered the city government building, kindly invited by the Patriarch. There was a lighted candle, kolač, and wine on the table in the hall. The troparion to the Ascension of the Lord was sung and a prayer, according to the ritual, was performed. Then the municipality governor greeted the guests and invited them for a snack. During the snack, the governor stood up and greeted us, Indians, purposely with ‘Welcome’. Then an elegant gentleman approached the governor, bowed, and whispered something in his ear. The governor nodded by his head, and the gentleman stood before us and declaimed these two strophes:

‘Ancient India, a land dear to us,
Dear land full of good.
From your tree we are a distant branch too.
We are descendants of far Hindustan.

You don’t know Serbs, but we know you.
We think of you, we sing to you.
From the Himalayas to the Hindu Kush
Our hearts and souls are always with you’.

This young gentleman’s name is Bogdanović. He travelled all over India and began to love our country very much. We visited him and talked for a long time over tea. He took us to a park called Kalemegdan, to watch the sunset, which is an unusual sight in this city.

Kalemegdan is now a park and promenade. But the history of this place is creepy. It has been a bloody Serbian martyrion[comm. 38] for centuries. Kalemegdan in Belgrade is for Christians like the Colosseum in Rome. There the Christians were thrown to beasts and here the Turks impaled the Serbs alive. If it were studied more precisely, it might be found that more Christians perished on Kalemegdan than in the Colosseum; because the martyrdom of the Christian Serbs under the Muslims lasted longer than the martyrdom of the Christians under the pagan Romans. Imagine that a man impales a man by a stake! Neither a tiger nor a serpent king boa in India can torture their victims like that. But demons, when they take power over people, teach them how to torture their brethren.

Listening to the story of Serbian martyrs at this place, I was in my thoughts in India with the once martyrs for Christ, first with the Holy Apostle Thomas, the founder of our church, and then with the many sufferers for Christ’s sake in the time of Emperors Abenner, Akbar, and Moghul. I thought how the blood of martyrs is a connection between all Christian nations. I also felt with all my heart how the Kalemegdan martyrs connect me to Serbia more than anything else. And if someone asks me what the strongest connection between India and Serbia is, I would answer: the blood of martyrs.

Kisses and blessings to you from
Theodosius Mangala

The 11th letter. Pandava, the city manager of Benares, writes to Rama Yamuna SisodiaEdit

Pandava, the city manager of Benares, writes to Rama Yamuna Sisodia[11]

I wish you peace of soul and light on your feet.

Some of your relatives came to the holy city with other pilgrims, so they conveyed your greeting to me. I am told that in a certain letter you complained: ‘My friend Pandava has really forgotten me!’ When I heard that, I immediately went to the Shiva temple and offered a sacrifice up for your good. I believe that this sacrifice affected your soul, so that you’ll cheer yourself up and favour me.

Don’t judge your friend by frequent letters either. Even when two oxen, those drag for a long time in one yoke, part, they longing and roaring one after the other, let alone people without letters. The days have come when I want to roar in anguish because you are far from me. You never left my mind especially in this rainless time when Banaras is likened to a real anthill because of countless pilgrims from all over India. According to your vow, every year at this time you came to the holy city of Banaras and helped me a lot and a lot. Even without any activity, the mere presence of a true friend is already a great help. When you sat next to me, I felt double power.

I am not sick of our people, but of the Europeans. It is harder to accommodate a hundred Europeans at this time than thousands of Indians. Because each of these hundred requires a separate room in a hotel, while ours, as you know, do not require anything but sleeping on the streets, in the fields, on the banks of the Ganga, and in boats. But even harder than that is the indignation and murmur of our people against them. Our society comes to Banaras to satiate souls while European tourists, journalists, and adventurers come to satiate their eyes, to photograph and photograph endlessly, to describe everything superficially, and to make money on the photographs and descriptions. In essence, they understand nothing; their knowledge comes only through the eyes. To them, it is an incomprehensible miracle when they see many of our people who sit on the river bank all day and deliberately do not open their eyes from sunrise to sunset.

And yet you help me even though you are in the distance. Because I think when it is so hard on me from one handful of Europeans in Banaras, how is it for my Rama in the middle of Europe among Europeans! This thought gives me strength and courage to work and be patient. But I have to tell you in confidence that the thought comes to me to go away to the forest and become Sannyasa. What do you say to that? After all, life is bitterness and delusion. Shakyamuni was right about everything. And when moments of sweetness and joy come along, it only increases the bitterness that follows them, just as a wheel follows a wheel.

Oh, so much bitterness and trouble! Last night, my servant was brought dead from the field. Python, the serpent king, wrapped itself around him and killed him. This is his karma. Cobras are particularly aggressive with humans again this year. Every day there are several deaths from their bites. Therefore, I ordered that in the temple of snakes[comm. 39] better food be given to the cobras and that sacrifices to the god Agni are to be burnt.

In addition, the fear of the plague haunts me. In some villages not far from Banaras, a plague broke out. So, I am afraid that it will transfer to this city, where so many worshipers from all over India have been gathered, and the infection will spread everywhere.

But finally, what’s the use of being afraid? Muslims say that nothing happens without Kismat[comm. 40], while we say again: nothing is without Karma. Karma brings us into this life and takes us away from this life, and brings us again and takes us away. The wheel of birth and death and rebirth cannot be stopped even by the gods, let alone us humans.

Now I stop; in order not to burden your head with India yet. Europe is putting enough pressure on you, both on your head and on your heart.

I have written this to you as much as I can testify in ink my love for you; the love that my heart testifies with its every inaudible beat.

Yours
Pandava

The 12th letter. Pandava, the city manager of Benares, writes to Rama SisodiaEdit

Pandava, the city manager of Benares, writes to Rama Sisodia[12]

Along with my today’s letter, I send you this proclamation by your brother Arjuna, which occupied here, in Banaras, in one day, as in other cities of India, being pasted on all walls.

*		*		*

Proclamation to the Indian people:

Sons and daughters of Great India,
Brothers and sisters,
Wake up, get up!
The last hour has struck for India to rise from her long sleep!
India is asleep.
She got sleeping sickness. She does not live but dreams. And that dream is the dumbest and ugliest one.

Wake up, India. Shake off all those heavy burdens, which oppress and crush you in the sleep. Shake off all the rajas and maharajas. Shake off and cast off all the gods. Cast off karma and dharma and reincarnation. These are all fabrications and nonsense, which, like ghouls[comm. 41], drink all the juices of your life.

Break down the castes. Equalise all your sons and daughters in rights. Form a union of free republics.

Get up and solve your economic and social problems. Don’t kneel before imaginary deities anymore. There is only one deity; that is nature. There is only one life for a human, and that is life from the cradle to the grave. Let’s enjoy this life.

Wake up, India, and get up. Cut yourself off from the past. Start living in the now.

On behalf of the ‘Awakened India’ society
Arjuna Sisodia

*		*		*

When I read this proclamation, my breath caught. ‘Is it possible?’ I asked myself. Is it so that it is bleated in the ears of our glorious India by Arjuna, the brother of my knightly friend Rama from the famous Sisodia Kshatriyas?

This is the European plague, more dangerous to mankind than the Indian plague. That destroys the body, while this destroys souls.

In the end, I can tell you that I have just received tidings from Delhi that a woman named Gladys Farquharson has been arrested there. She is said to have been caught in the act when she distributed Arjuna’s proclamations.

May the Banaras shrines calm your spirit so that you do not despair.
Yours Pandava

The 13th letter. Rama Sisodia writes to Khalil Sa’d ad-Din in DelhiEdit

Rama Sisodia writes to Khalil Sa’d ad-Din in Delhi[13]

Salam, my Khalil.

I thought that you Muslims had committed the greatest evils in India. But it was mistaken. Turkish Muslims have committed incomparably greater harm to Christians in the Balkans. Just imagine: to impale people alive by a stake! Even Moghul did not do this, and let alone Akbar in India. And those were hundreds and thousands impaled on stakes, furthermore, over the centuries. And your Muslim conscience will also rebel against this. I know that you do not like Turks, so you will deny their misdeeds as committed by Turks and not as Muslims. The conquerors of India, Akbar and Moghul, at first executed many of our people, but later they softened their violent methods of our people and created bearable living conditions; especially, Akbar, who over time showed more and more respect for the religion of the Hindus[comm. 42] as he became more acquainted with Vedanta and our Himalayan ascetics and sages. And he built not only mosques, but also assisted to build pagodas. He also took Hindus as his ministers, and not Arabs.

Meanwhile, the Turks in the Balkans did not leave any good memory. And they ruled over these Christian peoples for half a thousand years. They ruined the old culture of the Greek and Serbian kings and did not give the new one. They could not give what they themselves did not have. A warlike and aggressive tribe, the Turks gradually subjugated all of Asia from India and Yemen to Pest and Vienna. And they adopted from the subjugated peoples in Asia and the Balkans, from their cultures, what suited them. So even when they needed to strengthen and organise their state, the sultans for a long time took Serbs, Greeks, and Armenians as grand viziers. There were about ten only Serbian grand viziers. These were çobans[comm. 43], who were seized by the Turks, taken away, turkicizated and made janissaries. These grand viziers, more than the sultans themselves, expanded and established the Turkish state in Europe — a great miracle. For a whole century at the Turkish court, the Serbian language served as the language of fashion and diplomacy, similar to French in the 19th century.

You are a writer and a dramaturge, Khalil. Well, I think it will amaze you when I tell you that the history of the Serbs is as dramatic as our Indian history; I would even dare to say: even more dramatic than the Indian one. That is why the epic was created among the Serbs, so extensive, and so dramatic and vivid, that it has no equal in Europe. Only nations with a great dramatic history have an epic. The Serbian epic is similar only to our Indian epics: Mahabharata and Ramayana. The Serbian epic has only one drawback: it is not connected into a unified whole. And that is because the Serbs have had no one Homer, unlike the Greeks, or any Valmiki, unlike the Indians. But the Serbian epic has superiority over the Greek and Indian epics in that it is much more based on reality than on fantasy, I mean: much more on real historical personages and events rather than on imagination and dreaminess.

Do you want me to give you just two or three instances from Serbian history and folk stories, which you could famously dramatise? Here they are:
Sava, the youngest son of Prince Nemanja, escapes from his parents at the age of seventeen to Mount Athos, or as we would say, to the ‘forest ascetic university’. Saddened parents try to get him back, but in vain. He becomes a monk, and attracts his old father to become a monk too. Sava’s two elder brothers are quarrelling over the throne, and Sava brings their father’s dead body to reconcile the brothers over him. He becomes the archbishop of the national Serbian Church; enroots faith of the people; teaches the ruler and the people the truth and the holy way of life; he travels twice to Jerusalem, then to Babylon, Egypt, and Mount Sinai. On the last way back, he dies in Tarnovo, the capital of Bulgaria; transferred to Serbia. In the time of the Turkish rule, the people find solace and moral strength at his tomb. In order to stop that, Sinan Pasha transported him to Belgrade and burnt him at the pyre. But as the song says: he burnt the saint’s bones, but not the saint. Since then, Saint Sava has become an even more exuberant source of solace and strength to his people.

How do you like this?

And this is another one:
The last free Prince of Serbia, Lazar, similar to the tragic person of the last free King of India, Prithviraj, received a letter from Sultan Murad: either to surrender or to go out on the battle. At the same time, an Angel of God appears to him and says that he must decide for either the Kingdom of Heaven or the earth’s one. If he decides for the earthly one, he will defeat the Turks and remain Tsar[comm. 44]. If he decides for the Heavenly one, he shall perish and all his army shall perish. Lazar thought and thought which kingdom to agree to. He tossed about and hesitated. ‘If to attach to the earthly kingdom’ he said to himself, ‘the earthly one is the little one, if to attach to the Heavenly Kingdom, the Heavenly one is unto the ages of ages’. Finally, he agrees for the Kingdom of Heaven and perishes in battle for the Christian faith. With him, the whole Serbian army perishes in the Kosovo field. But Lazar becomes a saint, and his body is preserved in a certain monastery to this day as imperishable, consecrated, and miraculous. And the glorious death of Christians in Kosovo becomes an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the next fifteen generations of Serbs.

And how do you like this, Khalil? In addition, I could add countless great details that you would eagerly swallow with emotion and wonder.

If you want, I will fill you with hundreds of such dramatic scenes from Serbian history by my letters. Write to me and let me know. I’m ready to do it all for you. You are not a Turk. You are originally from the Kshatriyas of Arabia, who conquered India under Akbar. Your Islamic faith is about mercifulness, not violentness. It is not based on the tip of the prophet’s sword, but in the depths of Allah’s heart.

Yours Rama Sisodia

The 14th letter. Dr Jevtim writes to Father Callistratus the Hagiorite in BelgradeEdit

Dr Jevtim writes to Father Callistratus the Hagiorite[comm. 45] in Belgrade[14]

Bless me, venerable Father Callistratus.

Several meetings that I had with you convinced me that the Holy Mount has not ceased to be what it has been for the past thousand years: the hearth of the deepest theology, the arena of man’s fiercest struggle with himself for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, an inexhaustible mine of experienced miracles and the most extraordinary religious experience, as well as the custodian of precious art and historical monuments and memories. You are a sure representative of this Holy Mount.

You have certainly learned that our country is honoured by the visit of three very prominent persons from India. One of them is a learned Brahmin, the other is a commander from the famous Kshatriyas, and the third is a hereditary priest of the Christian church in Malabar. They came to Serbia with a special mission as emissaries of the Maharaja of Malabar. In my opinion, their mission is the noblest of those can be desired. These are not the missions from Europe, which come to spy on our country, or to seize our mines, or to lure various concessions — forestry, railway, industrial — out of ignorant and clumsy us. It is not a cunning mission with harmful thoughts, which crawls in like a tiger on woollen legs until it catches its prey and shows its claws. Rather, it is a mission of spirit, and care, and wisdom. They came to diagnose the diseases of the bled peoples of Europe; to see what Europe is ailing from; to see whether India can help her, and to see how India could save itself from the same European disease.

Their mission is a real sensation of our time. They are a sensation for us Balkans as well; for elderly us because of the essence of their mission, and for children because of their appearance and suit. Maybe you saw them on the street. Children chase after them in crowds and watch them with childish curiosity. They are all blackish, but beautiful and attractive: people of a purely Aryan strain. All three wear turbans and kaftans of various colours. They always move in the same order: in the middle there is a learned Brahmin of small stature and of a weary ascetic face with large eyes, which are seldom closed. To his right is a commander, tall and strong, with a gold belt and a sword around his thighs. On the left is the priest, all in black, with a black turban and a cross on his chest. He is the only one with a long beard, while the other two are shaved.

So if you haven’t seen them, here is the chance we give to you to see them and talk to them: get yourself as a member of our board. I have been appointed to form a board, which will take care of them as long as they are in our land. They want to pass all around our land, to see, hear, and feel everything. I am taking you in a board with the task of being their guide through our monasteries, our glorious emperors’ zadužbinas[comm. 46]. And when they arrive in Holy Mount, you will receive them there as your acquaintances, guide them to all the shrines, and present and recommend them everywhere. Because I know with what vigilance Hagiorites receive foreign guests, especially such unusual ones and from unusual countries.

I also wrote to our writer Mitrinović[comm. 47] in London, to come to Serbia and be with us during the journeys of these great Indians in our country. Mitrinović is my teacher and the best connoisseur of Indian thought and religion of all living Westerners, in Europe and America. His Indian students in London consider him the new Avatar. He could be of great help to us as an interpreter of India before the Serbs and Serbia before the Indians. Whether he wills to come, I don’t know.

And I beg you accept this commitment, which is in reality a great honour, so allow me to come to you one evening for an appointment.

Entrusts himself to your holy prayers and remains cordially your loyal
Jevtim

The 15th letter. Pandit Gauri Shankara writes to the Maharaja of MalabarEdit

Pandit Gauri Shankara writes to the Maharaja of Malabar[15]

Bright Maharaja, peace to you from the god Shiva and joy from the goddess Kali.

May this century be the last century of your life, without bearing again in other bodies, without reincarnation. And may your soul reach eternal nirvana, in which there is no alternation of day and night, not even the slightest wind and excitement. Om. Om. Om.

The hospitable Serbs received us in their monasteries in such a way that I cannot say that I have ever been more kindly received in my life in our holiest places in Puri or Benaras. And they have many monasteries, most of which were destroyed under the Turkish rule. Both our monasteries and Serbian ones have been the only universities for many centuries. There they are even now! They are still the same for the people masses, but not for the intelligentsia. But about that unfortunate duality, from which we began ailing in India too, I will write to you another time.

On the way through the monasteries, we were accompanied by three wonderful persons: Dr Jevtim, Bogdanović and the monk Kalistrat from some Holy Mountain. This Kalistrat is a strange crank. He did not want to eat with us by saying this or that, but in fact because we are not baptised people. We were not angry about that, because we, Brahmins, in India do not sit at the same meal with our Shudras, people of our faith. But while we do not eat together with the Shudras because of racial and blood differences, Kalistrat do not eat with us because of religious differences.

Otherwise, this Kalistrat is the sweetest person we have met in Serbia so far. He serves us around the meal. He unceasingly offers us food and drink. And he always reproves us: how we do not tasting anything. ‘It is far to India. You need to be well fortified for such a long journey. And you do not eat or drink anything at all. You are more of an ascetic than we, Hagiorites, are. I shall tell that to the monks in the Holy Mount and say: “We should be ashamed by Indians. Their princes and warlords abstain from food and drink more than we do: one spoonful of rice, and they have enough for the whole day. And we, gluttons, eat olives, fish, crayfish, caviare, even drink wine”. Take this one, gentlemen, this is good. You don’t want anything, so that is it. Sorry. Our dishes, it is seen, to you, refined people, are very harsh and tasteless’. And so he always apologised and belittled himself, like some Chinese man.

But not only does Kalistrat serve us at the meal and regale us. Much more than that: he cleans our shoes, shakes out and brushes our suits, irons our turbans. One night, he took a golden belt and a sword of the warlord Rama and so cleaned and polished them that the warlord was amazed. Kalistrat stands in front of our door and prevents anyone from walking down the hall, so as not to wake us up. As soon as one of us opens the door of the room, Kalistrat appears in front of him with some service, whether it is coffee, tea or cold water, or flowers. Outside of his God, he thinks of no one more than us. And outside of his secret prayers and readings, he devotes all his time to us, works around us, takes care of us. I believe that he does not forget us even in his prayers. But despite all that, he does not eat with us at the same table: because we are unbaptised souls. That is faith! You know, bright Maharaja, how we Indians know how to respect that.

We visited all the famous monasteries. Their history is closely woven into the history of the Serbian nation and state. For this moment, we were in Žiča, Arilje, Studenica, Gračanica, the Patriarchal Monastery of Peć, and Dečani.

Studenica was something unexpected for us. On the green mountain, there is a huge church of white marble. In the church there are two shrines, of father and son, Nemanja and Stefan, the first Serbian monarchs by the Nemanjić dynasty. Sick, possessed especially, are brought before these shrines; monks read prayers over them, and they become healthy. No one here doubts such miraculous healings. The shrine of Saint Nemanja never opens, but from time to time a miraculous myrrh flows out of it. The shrine of Saint King Stefan opens only once a year, on the day of his death.

While Žiča is as red as blood, Studenica is as white as a dove. Gračanica is as colourful as a bird of paradise. It is built of yellow stone and red brick. It has five slender domes. It is located on the Kosovo field, where the main clash between Muslim Asia and Christian Europe was. On behalf of Christian Europe, the Serbian prince Lazar, with his cross-carrying army, took the blow of Asia, and succumbed to his fate. But he and all his army were sanctified. And the epic of the Kosovo Battle is most similar to our Mahabharata of all the epics of Christian Europe. Gračanica was built by the great Serbian Maharaja Milutin in the 14th century. It is narrated about him that when he sat on the throne, he vowed to God to build as many monasteries as God would keep him on the throne. He ruled for 42 years and erected 42 temples.

After that, here we are in the Patriarchal Monastery of Peć. Here for centuries was the seat of the heads of the Serbian Church, the so-called Patriarchs. Some of them were hanged by the Turks. The temple is stocky, of hewn yellow sandstone. It is not as majestic in size as Žiča, Studenica, or Gračanica, but it seems to me that its interior is more attractive, warmer and closer for the human soul than all the other temples that we have seen. The temple is full of graves of Serbian patriarchs, all in the form of heavy stone sarcophagi.

Finally, here we are in Dečani. It’s just a surprise. The temple is as tall as some of our pagodas; 600 years old; all of variegated marble. Full of famous tombs: in one corner there is an ossuary where the bones of dead monks are kept. In front of the altar there is a shrine of the holy King Stefan Dečanski, the son of the King Milutin, the ktetor[comm. 48] of Gračanica. The sick are brought to the shrine, and they are healed. Muslims also come. Every Friday, Muslims from near and far come to the shrine for worship and to be treated from various diseases. The gurgle of mountain streams and springs is heard from all sides around the monastery. There is also an exuberant source of healing mineral water. Unspeakable beauty!

What can I tell you in the end, bright Maharaja? We have seen beauty, mysticism, and glory these days, which we in India have not surpassed in any way.

Yours faithfully and loyally Pandit Gauri Shankara

The 16th letter. Mistress Katyayani writes to her son Rama Sisodia in SerbiaEdit

Mistress Katyayani writes to her son Rama Sisodia in Serbia[16]

I wish you deliverance from this stupid Samsara, more to you than to myself, my dear Rama, my son. May I be your last mother, and may no more mother’s womb be found, neither human nor animal, which would give birth to you again and throw you into the vortex of this Samsara.

I know you are unhappy enough to have to waste your days in that godless Europe, where people know neither of God nor of man but only of animals. For they deny God and consider the human to be an animal. Because of that, both divinity and humanity are lost to them; only animality remained. This is what I have experienced here in India in these last days as black as the black underground kingdom of the god Yama[comm. 49].

I wanted to not hurt you. Everyone has enough of it in this desperate life. But still, I could not hide from you what is happening in the house of your ancestors Sisodias, which house you are now the head of. I asked Mistress Indumati to slowly, through her husband Pandit Gauri Shankara, lead you into the darkness of events that make your famous house unhappier than all the famous houses in India. I’m afraid I’ll die, so who would tell you the truth then?

Let me tell you everything in order.

First, I have been in the dungeon for two months for that beautiful and faithful Shakuntala, who gave herself to pyre at Yamuna after her deceased husband Kabir, our kinsman. My gaoler is a certain Muslim who eats cow meat. Think what a horror! Through my porthole in the cell, I saw several times how they slaughtered cows, these sacred animals, images of the highest Indian deities. Oh, why they were not struck by the thunderer Indra! Afterwards I have sworn not to look through the porthole and not to look at anything at all except for my soul and my Karma.

My golden Rama, may this falsely visible sun dim for you as soon as possible, and may the eternal darkness of Nirvana give you peace. But I have to upset you with my narrative. I was brought before a court. They read to me the accusation, that I was guilty of the death of the widow Shakuntala, and that I must experience the punishment of the murderer, and that is death. To this I replied:
‘I am not a European woman to dare to use lies and deceptions and lawyers. I am obliged to tell the truth. And the truth in this case is this: I did not instruct or persuade Shakuntala to go to voluntary death. Had I done that I would have diminished her fame. This is her personal decision, which I only approved and welcomed up to the heights of the heavens and down to the depths of the Indian Ocean’.
‘Wherefore did you excitedly welcome that act?’
‘Because it testifies to me that India still exists, and the ancient spirit of marital fidelity until death has not disappeared in her’.

Further, I said:
‘Not the only I was glad about this event. The spirit of the last Maharaja of free India, Prithviraj, who was slain by Moghul[comm. 50], rejoiced over this. The spirit of his beautiful wife Sanjukta, whom as a slave Moghul wanted to take as a concubine, also rejoiced. For the sake of appearances, Sanjukta promised Moghul that she would go for him, but begged him for permission to go and pay homage to her former husband. Moghul permitted this to her. Then she went into the pyre, on which the dead body of Prithviraj was supposed to be combusted. And when the flames engulfed her, she shrieked: “Here I am to you, my beloved!” she hugged the dead body of her severed husband and gave up the ghost. You Europeans don’t understand all this! And how would you understand, when among you there is no fidelity between husband and wife, nor any other connection than corporal? And when almost everyone divorces[comm. 51] his wife after a short time of marriage?’

I was told that I still have to remain in the dungeon until the matter was investigated. And I was returned to my cell. As I passed through the dungeon yard, I saw cow meat, livid and bloody, being carried and thrown from hand to hand. O holy Indian cows, do not condemn us but Muslims! They are to blame for your killing and not we, the followers of Vedanta and Shakyamuni.

The second misfortune is bigger than the first one, my sweet son. Arjuna, your brother and unfortunately my son, followed some demonic Europeannesse, Gladys, Cladis, how do they call her. She instructed him to create a revolutionary committee for some kind of liberation of India from the English. Oh, my poor Arjuna, why do you not know that our duty, our Dharma, is not some kind of liberation from people but from this sad and miserable life! Thus, he announced a proclamation to the Indians to wake up, to take up arms, to gain their freedom by force. He forgot that freedom is not obtained by arms and force, but by fasting and self-denial. They say this female wrote him that proclamation for rebellion. He is engaged to her and wants to marry her.

And that other hard distress is overhard. But the third is the hardest. Arjuna broke his betrothal to the Warlord Ramachandra’s daughter, with whom he was engaged as a boy. In India, this is an unforgivable lawlessness. He has disgraced our house, or rather yours, Rama, and the house of the reputable Warlord Ramachandra.

The gaoler, as I told you, is a fearsome Muslim, who eats cow meat, and from him I do not expect any consolation to my soul. But his assistant is a Hindu, of our faith, who respects the cow as much as we do. One day he whispered to me, that Arjuna had been arrested because of that woman and that proclamation, and that he was in the same dungeon as me. But it’s impossible for me to see him. Therefore the greater my pain is.

It would be easy for me, if only you were here for me, the sun of my life, brighter than the one that is born every morning over the snowy peaks of the Himalayas and which I don’t see. When are you going to come? Whether I shall see you again? How do you plan to wash all this shame out of our house? I don’t know anything.

I’m sick and I want to die. With all my might, I want to die. Many of your friends let me know of them and sent me words of comfort: and Somadeva from Bombay, and Pandava from Benares, and our magnificent Mahatma Gandhi, and Rabindranath the poet[comm. 52], and even that Muslim Khalil from Delhi, a member of the Congress[comm. 53].

My mind is clouded. Do whatever you know. I cannot advise. I just love you with my heart.
Your mother Katyayani

The 17th letter. Khalil Sa’d ad-Din to Rama Sisodia in SerbiaEdit

Khalil Sa’d ad-Din to Rama Sisodia in Serbia[17]

Salam, my dear Rama.

Your letter has brought me great joy. Imagine, exactly when you were writing me a letter, I was thinking about you. And when the postman struck at my door by a knocker, I thought it was a letter from Rama. I am convinced of occult phenomena. Human souls are constantly in connection. But instead of examining it, we here in Delhi are engaged in politics, without god and without soul, and without any connection to the spiritual realities of this incomprehensible world. Were it not for Mahatma Gandhi among us, our Congress in Delhi would have turned into some bourse insolence like the parliament in France. But his holy person shames us all and shields us from fruitless party chatter.

Although I am a Muslim, I am a member of an occult society, which has no relations to the demonic person of Madame Blavatsky or to this annoying Englishwoman Annie Besant. Instead of being students of India, they imposed themselves on us as teachers. So in order to become more popular in India, they recklessly revile Christianity and scold Christian churches with all their lips. It just became sad to us. I have read the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I can tell you that I have a greater respect towards the divine person of Jesus than both of these mad Europeans.

But I still formally adhere to Islam. Firstly because I was born in it; and secondly because it seems to me that Islam is the simplest, albeit perhaps not the deepest, religion for the masses. I am not a good Muslim. Sometimes I eat pork and drink wine (I trust you this as a friend). But, Allah is my witness, all Khojas and dervishes will stain with human blood sooner ahead of me. I don’t know for already the umpteenth time somewhat happened again here in Delhi these days. Hindus and Muslims quarrelled over nothing, so to offend each other more, the Muslims carried the slaughtered cow through the Hindu settlement, and the Hindus again threw the slaughtered pig into the mosque[comm. 54]. Because of this, a fight ensued, with many dead and wounded on both sides. Khojas and dervishes led a Muslim mob and teased it against the Hindus. The issue on this was raised in the Congress and the noise was great. Only Mahatma Gandhi was silent. And his silence calmed down the storm. Otherwise, daggers and pistols would have been raised in the middle of Congress.

But this, unfortunately, is a common matter with us, in India. It is not unfamiliar to you. But you will be more interested in something completely new and unexpected for both me and you; and very sad. Hope someone informed you about this before me. For I never wish to be the first speaker of black thoughts. One day, I was sitting in the Congress, and let me tell you the truth, dozing off, exhausted by the terrible heat; one member addressed a question to the presidium about Arjuna Sisodia and some suspicious European woman called Gladys Farquharson. I was moved at the mention of the name of Sisodia, and immediately thought of you, my esteemed friend. Arjuna Sisodia, the member said, spread a nihilistic proclamation all over India and called on ‘slumbering India’ to wake up. He called for rebellion against all the Maharajas and all religions, and castes and every order in this land. Police caught the mentioned Gladys Farquharson in the act when she was scattering these proclamations and imprisoned her. At the hearing, that woman threw everything at your brother Arjuna, her fiancé, as she admitted. She is said not guilty; Arjuna both composed the proclamation and ordered her to scatter it throughout India. The member demanded that Arjuna also be deprived of his liberty and interrogated. After all, as he says, he suspects that it all came from some anti-Indian conspiracy from the outside, of course from Europe. It was decided that Arjuna be arrested and that a strict investigation be launched. So much so far! I know this will be a burden new to that you are already carrying. But as a friend, I have a duty to inform you of this.

You are much happier than me, for that you can write to me about things more beautiful than I do to you. Your experiences in the small Serbian people are a real revelation for me. Indeed, we in India don’t know anything about this glorious people. Dramatic scenes from Serbian history, which you describe to me in the letter, came in handy as material and inspiration for a new drama. I thank you immensely and please: collect everything, all similar events and biographies of great Serbs, so when you come here to talk to me at length. Writing is the only consolation for me. And I live by the faith that my writing benefits to my people in some way. It gnaws me that our people are running around big powers but are not interested in small nations in anything. I like tiny hummingbirds more than bulky sparrowhawks. And butterflies are far dearer than elephants and monkeys.

As for the Turks, I can tell you that I have never liked them.

You describe to me the misdeeds they committed against Christians in the Balkans. But I know for their misdeeds against same-faithful Arabs and that through the centuries. And I as an Arab by birth and now as an Indian can never forgive them for that. They simply snatched the banner of Islam from the hands of the Arabs, legitimate bearers of its. And they disgraced it. Allah will judge them according to their deeds.

Last night I argued with one Khoja here, in front of the Akbar’s mosque. And he blamed me for that I protect the Hindus; then that I eat and drink with the Hindus all that they eat and drink, but which the Quran forbids. And I answered him with the words of some famous Christian sage: ‘Even if you eat ashes and have no mercy on people, hell will be your eternal home’[comm. 55].

Arjuna worries me. See it how you want. Know that if I can whatever to help, I will do everything without reservation. Besides, everything happens according to Kismat. Even Swami[comm. 56] Peygamber[comm. 57], our prophet, did not have weapons against Kismat. When his troops fell or his wives died, he comforted himself and explained everything to others with one single word — Kismat. Allah Akbar!

Yours Khalil

The 18th letter. Theodosius Mangala writes to Metropolitan of MalabarEdit

Theodosius Mangala writes to Metropolitan of Malabar[18]

Help you God, granddaddy Metropolitan.

Say: ‘God helped you’. In this way then, we will greet and congreet in Serbian. Serbs always greet each other in this way, except on the great holidays of Christ. It is an ancient Serbian custom that olders greet youngers and youngers congreet olders. I heard this was an ancient Indian custom as well.

We saw a Serbian priest riding a horse. In the grainfield by the road, the people were reaping wheat. When the reapers noticed the priest, they all stood up and silently waited for the priest to greet them.
‘Help you God, brothers’ the priest shouted.
‘God helped you’ all congreeted with one voice.
And if the priest hadn’t greeted them first, they wouldn’t have greeted him either.

Sitting next to me was Father Callistrat, a brilliant monk from the Holy Mount, who is one of our guides in Serbia. So Father Callistrat sighed and said:
‘That’s how it is with the folk; while our gentlemen greet each other with “Good morning” and “Good afternoon”. What kind of greeting is this that does not mention the holy name of God? Health[comm. 58] does not come to us from morning or from afternoon or from evening but from God. And moreover: when the holy name of God is uttered, the air is purified, all nature is sanctified, and evil spirits are dispersed’.

I asked him:
‘And what do they say when people parting?’
‘Go with God! And: Be with God!’

Dr Jevtim, an Indologist and our second fellow guide, is angry with Callistrat for criticising Serbian gentlemen. Doctor would like to highlight to us everything that is good at Serbs and to keep quiet about what is bad. Callistrat, on the contrary, keeps silent about everything that is good and falls upon what is bad.

‘Why do you, Father Callistrat, confuse the joy of our guests? Why don’t you show them what is good and beautiful at Serbs?’
‘Inasmuch, Doctor, as they will see for themselves what is good and beautiful, if we have it with us, but I am afraid they will not be able to see our evil, so they will come to their house with the wrong notion about Serbs’.
‘Then let’s shake out the whole pouch of our evils!’ said Doctor ill-naturedly.

‘I want, I want now not a pouch but a big bag. Isn’t it evil that men, even old men, kiss the hands of young women in greeting? Where did you, Serbian gentlemen, accept this nonsense from? An old and decent Serbian custom is that the young kisses the hands of only the old men and old women. But the new reformers trampled on this decent and natural custom and led into stupidity and temptation only. Well, isn’t it evil that the Serbian gentlemen have established the custom that the bride brings the dowry to the groom? Among the Serbs for a thousand years, there has been a custom: either a wedding without a dowry from any side, or the groom gives presents to the girl’s parents. It is enough that the parents give him, a stranger, their daughter, whom they raised and brought up for years, and bathed in water and tears, so it is perfectly alright for the groom to give some gift, whether in gold or something else, as an acknowledgement and consolation to the parents. But among us, it has come to some kind of desperate duality between the people and the gentlemen, two opposite practices: a dowry without love and a love without a dowry’.

Dr Jevtim starts waving his arms as if defending himself from Father.
‘Enough, enough’ he exclaimed.

‘How is this “enough”, dear Doctor? I have not yet unsealed the pouch, let alone a bag of our evils. Tell me, what have our gentlemen done with Sunday, the day Christ rose from the tomb? They allowed all pubs, grogshops, and tobacconist’s shops and gambling houses to be open on this day without interruption, and they prohibited the opening of bakeries by a law. Thus, you can’t sell bread on Sundays, but you can sell any poison! That is how this holy day became a privileged day of poison. So when the priests announce the resurrection of Christ from the tomb in the churches on Sunday, our gentlemen and those moral paupers who follow their example bury their souls in pubs and gambling houses. Well, look at what these godless ones have done to our monasteries. They paved embankments and railways deliberately next to the greatest shrines of the Serbs, and by this they ruined the peace and the monastery estate. They also took away most of the property from all the monasteries and in addition they imposed heavy taxes and payments. Meanwhile, even the Turks did not impose taxes on monasteries just like their waqfs[comm. 59]. But nevertheless the Turks are an Asian people, which mean a people with a strong faith in God, whereas the Serbian gentlemen are pupils of the godless and unintelligent Europe. They have devastated and impoverished and burdened our monasteries so much that few people in our days determine to become monks. In a word, they ruined our monkery, that is, what is the main pillar of the right and true Church of Christ. May God exact from them!’

‘Stop it, stop it!’ yelled Dr Jevtim. ‘Gentlemen, I beseech you, do not listen to him. He exaggerates; it’s not like that. Why don’t you tell them, Father Callistrat, as a monk, about the majesty of Dečani, about the beauty of Gračanica, about...’

‘They themselves saw those majestic walls. I don’t necessarily have to tell them about it. Stones could tell them about the majesty of our soul and our character, which should correspond to the beauty of those walls built for the sake of soul and character, and not for the sake of vanity. But I cannot. I am of Holy Mount with the strictest commandment to tell the truth, and you are people of the world, who bring politics into everything, that is, you mix untruth with truth’.

Then all three of us Indians asked Callistrat to tie his pouch up, just enough to save the good disposition of the other two of our companions. Of course, in our souls we approved of his sincerity.

A people that knows how to criticise themselves, and so ruthlessly dissects, cannot fail. Nothing is more sympathetic than when a person or a people freely confess their sins. But there are different upbringings among different peoples. Whereas the English relentlessly humiliate and criticise themselves, the Americans find it hard to tolerate even the slightest criticism.

I would also recommend to our believers in Malabar this sincere attitude of this wonderful monk of Holy Mount. Callistrat became dear to us like a brother. Not only to me, as a baptised man, but also to Pandit Shankara and Rama Sisodia.

Peace to you and grace from our Lord and Saviour, both to you and to all our faithful brethren in Malabar.

Yours humbly and loyally Theodosius Mangala

The 19th letter. Anushirvan writes from Bombay to his father Pandit Gauri ShankaraEdit

Anushirvan writes from Bombay to his father Pandit Gauri Shankara[19]

I wish you hundreds of happiness from hundreds of Indian gods and avatars. And on top of all the happiness, I wish you the one which I would share with you, and which I would not give for all the other happiness, and that is to meet with you as soon as possible here in India.

Mum wrote to you that we were in Allahabad and what we experienced there. For me, everything was new that I saw. I was just in ecstasy when I saw millions of candles burning and floating on the Ganges, so you know they all sway on the waves and bow to each other and thus went down the water. Isn’t that the case in Europe, Father? It cannot be, as there is no such a river as the Ganges. Recently, I listened to a bhikkhu on the street here in Bombay when he was talking about Jainism. So he said, that there are living spirits not only in people, animals, and plants but also in the wind, and in the waters, and in the rocks, and in the sand, and in every thing. I haven’t heard it before, but, you know, I sensed it on the Ganges. I sensed that the Ganges was alive and that some living spirit was dwelling in her; and there may be not one but many and many spirits.

There are many unseen things for me here in Bombay. One day, our host Shri Somadeva took me to a Persian cemetery. There are high-high walls. On the walls, many-many eagles, and sparrowhawks, and other predatory birds are. The Persians do not bury the dead in the ground nor burn them like us, Hindus, but bring them among these high walls and simply lay them on the ground. Undertakers who bring a dead body into the cemetery as soon as they lay it on the ground must urgently flee, because predatory birds descend in large flocks and immediately eat the flesh on the corpse and gnaw the bones. How horrific that is! Uh, I wouldn’t want my body to be eaten by eagles.

Then we walked the streets. There I saw miscellanea, something pleasant but something disgusting. It was a pleasure for me to hear the wise words of many bhikkhus. But faqirs with chains around their necks and bare backs with lots of driven nails, I couldn’t endure. I also didn’t like those who drag snakes in baskets and show them to the public. I dreaded watching the cobras swell their necks with anger and flick their tongues to people. Even though I know their teeth were pulled out, I was still afraid of them. I just can’t look at them. Certainly, their souls are of the worst people, evildoers who, for their black deeds, were born after death as cobras. And I would not care to go to the temple where snakes are kept and nurtured. It seems to me that this is very stupid and scary.

Big and colourful Bombay is, but I like our Travancore. Bombay is not clean. A man cannot set a foot without stepping on the spit out tobacco. They chew-chew, and then spit out onto the street. It’s so nasty and stupid.

Mum greets you a lot. She’s a little sorely worried about Sisodia’s house. Yesterday, Warlord Ramacandra arrived here and talked with Shri Somadeva and Mum until midnight. I only heard from Mum that old Mistress Katyayani Sisodia fell ill in a dungeon. Anyway, it happens to her according to Karma.

I bought an amulet from some faqir. Whoever wears this amulet, he told me, all his wishes are quickly fulfilled. It is a round and polished bone, given to him by a great faqir in the Himalayas, who, he says, can sleep on tree leaves. As I have this amulet, I now know what I will wish every day. Can you guess?

My bow and deep respect to you
Your son Anushirvan

The 20th letter. Dušan Mitrinović writes from London to Dr Jevtim in BelgradeEdit

Dušan Mitrinović writes from London to Dr Jevtim in Belgrade[20]

You call me in vain, dear Jevtim, I won’t come to you.

My Jevtim, how will I come to you,
While I can’t pass your Belgrade through
Due to the dominance of Serbian scholars
Not knowing about my God and their souls?

I visited Belgrade several times after the World War. I wanted to help my Fatherland and felt that I could help. However every time I was ridiculed and mocked by those gentlemen and I decided for myself to leave and not visit again. I acted like the Apostle Paul, who began to preach the Gospel of Christ firstly to his Jewish people. However when he was ridiculed and mocked by them, he turned to foreign, pagan peoples and became an apostle to the pagans.

I met with the representatives of the Maharaja of Malabar several times in London and talked with them sincerely and cordially. I told them candidly that I could not expect anything good from today’s Europe. Europe has made itself unhappy and now, like a Fury, it is transmitting its unhappiness to other races and continents, like the fox that lost its tail in the theft, so it advised all foxes to cut off their tails. It came out of its centre and is now madly running around the periphery looking for a centre there where it is not; rejected Christ, and so it went mad. The history of the world does not know of a period when people thought shallower than this time which shallow-minded Europeans outlive. When I talk to the most known intellectuals in this big city, I am ashamed and curse the fate for bringing me into the world at this time and not seven thousand years ago, and for this in Europe but not in Tasmania or Congo among blacks. Because both Tasmanian cannibals and African blacks, besides of all their delusions, feel and acknowledge some great mystery behind everything visible and some higher power above all physical forces, while intellectual Europe acknowledges only what it sees with the eyes and touches with the hands. Such crude and shallow materialism is unprecedented in the past of mankind.

Then I said them that they would rather find a spiritual understanding of life in small and repressed nations than in large ones. Told them about the Balkans, especially about Serbia. Said them that nowhere in Europe will they find as much understanding for India as in the Balkans. They shan’t get a hope for any spiritual support from whomever except from the Serbian people, who are racially and mentally subconsciously closest to the Indians.

And India shall need support; both spiritual and moral, which ultimately boils down to the one. A great fuss is in her. She can no longer remain with her countless gods, who are just as powerless as humans and subject to human miseries, as Gautama Buddha saw and proclaimed. ‘I want to save both people and gods’ Buddha said. So when a human talks about gods like that, then there are no gods. There really aren’t any of them. Indian gods do not exist. But there is a religious mood in India like nowhere else in the world: an irresistible longing for a higher, immaterial world. The Indian soul as well as the Indian land is lush for every outgrowth. The variegated and lush outgrowths filled the soul of our brothers in India and confused it. India is in despair. For thousands of years, she was the main bearer and preacher of despair, desperate pessimism. There is hunger and thirst for the true God, Who is omnipotent and Who loves people. There is a determination to die to get to the truth. There is an unheard-of asceticism, self-torture to the point of suicide, in essence for the sake of nothing: for better reincarnation according to Vedanta, or for Nirvana according to Buddha. Both the first and the second are despair without light and without joy. But the soil is fertile and lush without parallel, and it is waiting for the right seed.

Protestant and Catholic peoples, peoples great and powerful, tried to sow the seeds of Christ in India. They have been sowing it for three hundred years, but in vain. Nothing grows. The Indian soul does not receive it. After all, she feels that this sowing means more propaganda than apostolate. It is given not to give, but to take more. They help not to help, but to capture and seize. Propagandists, not apostles, have sowed until now. Politicians, not brothers, have offered and given until now. Sincere India felt that and refused. Every seed grows in her, but not Christianity. Isn’t that awful? The two world empires, the papal and the British, have so far failed to do even as much as the Apostle Thomas did with his poor followers. But the poor — that is the solution to the riddle.

From a poor man, India will receive Christ the Messiah. Not from a rich man; by no means from the imperialists.

Do you understand me, my Jevtim? From Serbia, India would receive the salvific Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. Why exactly from Serbia?

First, for Serbia has no material or political interest in India. India knows this. Therefore, she will be glad to open her ears to the sincere Gospel word of those who do not seek anything from her, but want to give her everything.

Second, because the Serbs are the only people in Europe, who for a thousand of years in all conflicts and wars have chosen and declared for the Kingdom of Heaven but not of the earth. In addition, they are those who many times lost their earthly kingdom to gain the Heavenly one. And this is the kernel of the Christ’s Gospel.

Third, because, as I mentioned earlier, the Serbs racially and psychically subconsciously carry India within them. For they themselves originate from India.

With this my rendition, I managed to arouse the representatives of the Maharaja of Malabar to go to Serbia and stay there for even the shortest time. Be praise to them: they listened to me. For the rest, I can tell you that Indians listen to me more than Serbs do. Now I’m worried about what kind of reception they will face there.

However I mentioned to them that the octopus of the European infection tunnelled its tentacles into both the Serbian school and scholar intelligentsia: for they mustn’t lose sight of, even for a minute when they are in Serbia, this duality, which exists between the folk and the scholar intellectuals. I told them to watch out for the University of Belgrade, especially. Two famous people of world renown experienced such scandals at that university during their lectures as nowhere else on five continents. These are Dr John Mott[comm. 60] and Rabindranath Tagore[comm. 61]. When Dr John Mott spoke about the need of the Christian faith for students, they fought among themselves with chairs and blood was shed. And when the glorious Indian songwriter Tagore, speaking at the university, said that Europe would perish if it did not return to God, the students shouted in rage and called him a reactionary, shouting: ‘Long live Gandhi!’ Then Tagore explained in astonishment that Gandhi was his disciple and best friend, and that there was perfect agreement between them in everything. With that statement, Tagore managed to silence those ignorant young people and to finish his word.

Thus, save these honest people from the Belgradian University — this terminal station of European misery. Lead them to the real Serbian people and, if it is anywise possible, to the Holy Mount.

Yours loyally Mitrinović

The 21st letter. Mitrinović writes from London to Monk Callistratus in SerbiaEdit

Mitrinović writes from London to Monk Callistratus in Serbia[21]

Peace and health to you from the Lord.

If you want to hear about me, my soul is in complete peace, and my bodily health is satisfactory, by your prayers for me, my dear Callistratus.

From the letter of Dr Jevtim, I see that you are also in the board for welcoming guests from India. I wondered whence you are in Belgrade. You have always said how you do not want to get out of the Holy Mount limits until your death. Undoubtedly, you had to do it ‘in obedience’, by the order of your elders. Just look yourself: flee as possible to the blissful world of the Holy Mount, for the great storm of God’s wrath is looming over sinful Europe. You, Hagiorites, will not be completely spared from that storm either, but you will endure everything more easily than the rest of the world.

I have already answered Dr Jevtim that I don’t think to come there. I believe that I can do more for India and Serbia from London than from any other place. I practise to love the whole world, according to the recipe you gave me in your cell on the Holy Mount, but I love India and Serbia without any praxis or effort.

What are we in this world to be an instrument of God’s Providence? I believe that I am also an instrument of God, specifically for the good of India and Serbia. If you read my letter sent to Jevtim, you will not have to ask me for new explanations. In that letter, I said everything.

I ask you particularly for two things:

First, do advise the board not to organise any lectures or councils at the Belgradian University regarding Indian guests. Because I premonish that a scandal is inevitable. What happened to Dr John Mott and Rabindranath Tagore will be repeated. Go around Belgrade and lead the Indians to folk, to monasteries, to villagers. Second, receive them nicely in the Holy Mount, if they decide to come. Let my friend Christodoulos come out of silence of his hermitage and talk to them. Let him speak to them freely and openly as he already knows how. He is the only confessor in the Holy Mount who speaks English well[comm. 62] and who knows Orthodox theology and Indian philosophy most deeply.

Father Callistratus, bless your loyal servant
Dušan

The 22nd letter. Pandava from Benares writes to Rama SisodiaEdit

Pandava from Benares writes to Rama Sisodia[22]

I wish you peace of soul and light on your feet.

I received your short letter, which does not indicate anything to me. So I say to myself: my friend Rama has learned European diplomacy — to talk as much as they want and not tell anything. But, my dear Rama, this is a digression from India. We Indians, because we talk the most about faith, have learned to speak genuinely. After all, faith without genuineness is not faith but plague. Spiritual plague. We see that here in Roman Catholic and Protestant missionaries.

But this is just by the way. The main thing is that your old guru Sundarar Dash surprised me with his visit. Gray-haired and hunchbacked; I barely recognized him, and only by his voice. It is really strange that out of everything that changes in a person, only the voice remains unchanged.

‘Om, namo Bhagavat’. That’s how he greeted me. From that, I got he was neither a Buddhist nor a Jainist, but a true Brahmanist. And when he told me who he was, I was very happy.

Came, he says, on a pilgrimage to Banaras.

‘Who knows if Vishnu will give me to visit this holy city once again? This is my tenth visit to Banaras in my entire life. The first time I was very enchanted, later less and less enchanted, and now I am disenchanted. I watched Jains arguing in the street yesterday. Some of them were dressed in only one piece of white cloth, while others were completely naked, “in the buff”. These are typical representatives of two Jainist sects. One sect, more moderate, is represented by “monks dressed in white”, and the other — by extremists, “monks dressed in air”. Where is the judge now to judge who is on the right path: a man dressed in cloth or a man dressed in air? What you see in Jainism is that you see also in Buddhism and Brahmanism, in those three main schools of Indian philosophy. I wonder where this sharp division came from, if not because the truth is not known. Well, here I am who thought I knew truth in my youth, now in my old age I have to ask myself: what is truth? I have visited all the holy places in India and Tibet. I also saw the seven Buddhist stupas. And all the temples, less disgusting and more disgusting. Less disgusting are those with elephants, more disgusting are those with monkeys, and the most disgusting are those with snakes. So then, my dear Pandava, I passed through all the Himalayan forests and caves, and through all the Tibetan monasteries. I was in Lhasa and kissed the hand of the Dalai Lama. Wherever I heard there was some rishi or bhikkhu, from which a wise word could be heard, I was ready to hike for six months, just to come to him and hear him. For a long time I was friends with wandering monks, bhikkhus; spent whole nights in conversation with fakirs who say that they have supernatural powers. And here is the result of one human century, a conclusion from a long and objective experience.

Of all that has been said and prophesied in India, the only one thing is true and salvific, and that is that a new Maitreya, or Messiah, will appear, who will reveal the full and undoubtable truth to the world.

It cannot go on like this anymore. India has been inhaling poisonous gases for thousands of years. If India knew the truth, why would she wait for new Avatars, new rescuers and the last Maitreya, or Messiah? No way. Rather, India expects the new because it does not believe in the old. She is waiting for Maitreya, or the Messiah, because she sees that neither Gautama, nor Jannah, nor Patanjali, nor Sankhya is helping her.

But where is that Maitreya? And when will he come to India? I can’t tell you that, luminous Pandava. I just expect him to be greater than all the Avatars and all the Buddhas in all castes, all periods of time so far; and not to be just a man, but greater than all people and all our gods.

These days, I visited the house of Sisodias, my disciples, Rama and Arjuna. Rama is in Europe and Arjuna is in custody. I succeeded to meet with Arjuna by the help of sorcery. A sorceress by dint of various spells enabled to open the gate to the dungeon and let me go to Arjuna. I talked to him from evening to dawn. He mostly sticks to my teaching, though he goes a little to the extreme. I agree with him only on one point, and that is India cannot stay as it is for long. This is completely out of the question. But what India should be, I can’t say. That is what the new Maitreya, or Messiah, will say. Arjuna thinks he knows what India should be and he told me everything. But what he told me is as old as the beginning of European downfall. It is “science” and “egoism”. Of all the wastewaters, these are the most waste. These are the two daughters of Jewish materialism, which, like an octopus, suffocates Europe and America. After all, both of them, science and egoism, ignore God as if He does not exist. And this means that people have discarded the kernel, so they are playing with the husk. I listened to Arjuna with care, but I could not become a disciple of my disciple. Something in his soul turns over and breaks. At least I wish I knew if Rama remained consistent to the Vedas and the Way, as I taught him’.

As we were parting, Sundarar told me that he would stay in Banaras for a longer time. He says that Arjuna begged to wait for him here. As soon as, he says, he frees from the dungeon, he will come to Banaras. If only he was freed from the dungeon — physical and spiritual, into which he fell! Will he be freed from this double dungeon, and when?

Yours Pandava

The 23rd letter. Rama Sisodia writes to Khalil Sa’d ad-Din in DelhiEdit

Rama Sisodia writes to Khalil Sa’d ad-Din in Delhi[23]

Salam, sahib!

Bow down your ear and now listen to something about Islam in the Balkans. I know it will be nicer for you than sitting and listening to altercations within the Congress’s clubs.

The torrent of Islam flood back from the Balkans and returned to its Asian riverbed. From that torrent, only pools and puddles remained here and there. After Istanbul and Edirne, I include Skopje and Sarajevo as the pools. Everything else is small, like puddles.

We were in Skopje and Sarajevo. Both cities are an architectural mixture of Asia and Europe. And that’s why they are very interesting. But Europe is beginning to conquer house after house and street after street from Asia. Unfortunately, even without a struggle, Muslims as representatives of Asia are beginning to surrender and in some places even to race with Europe in Europeanism. We were so surprised when we saw in Sarajevo that Muslims, not Christians, were building the first skyscraper in that city. You heard about Sarajevo. It is the city where the first spark flared up, which ignited the world into the conflagration of the past World War. A certain German raja was killed in this city by a lad, and Europe took that as a sufficient reason for the world bloodshed, in which over thirty million Europeans themselves died. And not a few of us Indians also perished. And so Europe, whenever it is well prepared for a fight, quickly finds a spark that gives the signal to beat. With her, everything goes at human expense, without looking back at the huge silent universe and at That Huge One, Which is not visible beyond the universe.

Skopje is known as the former capital of the most powerful Serbian Maharaja Dušan. Muslims in Skopje and those in Sarajevo are united only in religion, otherwise they are very different. Skopjian Muslims are mostly of purely Asian descent and speak either Turkish, or Arabic, or Circassian. Of course, they have now learned Serbian as well. Sarajevian Muslims, on the other hand, are pure Serbs in blood and language as well as in many customs. They do not speak Turkish or Arabic, but Serbian, and the purest Serbian. And Khojas who read the Arabic Quran do not understand what they read. These are turkicizated ones, just like many of our Muslims in India are turkicizated ones. Although they speak the Hindustani language, they are still Muslims. Domestic language but alien religion. I thank the god Indra for not having that duality in me. But I am a Hindu both by breed, and by faith, and by language. And what is about you, Khalil? Don’t you sometimes feel remorseful for being called Khalil and not, say, Vivekananda? After all, you skilfully removed this duality in such a way that you assured yourself you are not a ‘turkicizated one’ but an Arab with Arabic blood but without Arabic language. That is, you are not a turkicizated Hindu but an Arabic conqueror of India. Such are these Muslims: some are turkicizated Christians, while others are epigones of the conquerors of the Balkans under Murad, Bayezid, Mehmed, Suleiman, and other sultans; Asians by origin. Both these and others until recently lived in their own closed circle. The East was in their home, the East in the mosque, the East in their souls. They had their own harems, just like in India. Such harems were also borrowed by us Hindus in the old days when the Muslims conquered India. Hindu women as well as Muslim ones, in order to save themselves, shut themselves up in harems, which we call Zenana, and covered their faces with yashmak. Fortunately, that time of fear and tyranny has passed, and we no longer need to hold Zenanas.

Think it, Khalil, as you like. But know that Islam is a simple religion for ordinary soldiers, who do not think over but expect a simple command. Hindus and Christians can never be satisfied with that faith, which only commands but does not explain; i.e. it explains neither the inner being of God nor the being of man. It is a faith without theology and without psychology. That is why ordinary Muslims are surprised when Christians and Hindus talk about the Triune God and the triune man. I know that realization of this prompted you to proceed to the Persian mystics. But because of this, you have inconveniences from orthodox Khojas and dervishes.

What you write to me about my brother Arjuna, I can help nothing. Everything happens to him according to Karma. And you do what you can so that he is freed from the dungeon and defended himself freely at large. It is much harder for me to suffer for my mother, who was arrested for attending the suttee (immolation) of Mistress Shakuntala, the wife of my kinsman Kabir. May Trimurti help her.

Yours loyally Rama

The 24th letter. Mistress Indumati writes from Bombay to her husband Pandit Gauri ShankaraEdit

Mistress Indumati writes from Bombay to her husband Pandit Gauri Shankara[24]

I wish you peace, blissful moksha, more to you than to myself.

Yesterday we visited the Elephanta Cave, near Bombay. I wanted our son Anushirvan to worship the famous deity Trimurti in that cave. You remember when you and I were many years ago for worship this highest deity, Mahadeva, in the form of the god Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.

On this way, our host Somadeva and Warlord Ramachandra presently accompanied us. Out of respect for you, they are ready to render us every favour. And as soon as I mentioned that I was going to take my son to the Elephanta Cave, they both stated that they would follow us.

There were many people in front of the cave. The attention of those people was attracted by a dozen Sadies from northern India. These were truly unusual people. One of them had a face anointed with ashes. The other was dressed in a tree bark. The third, again, was all in leaves, and he looked more like a moving haycock rather than a man. The fourth was completely naked and wore tiger skin over his shoulders. Anushirvan stared fixedly at these unusual people, whose stiff gaze was directed to some unknown distance or, perhaps, nowhere to in themselves — who knows. But what attracted him the most was one Sadie with many necklaces around his neck, which covered both his chest and back. The necklaces were of stringed bells of various sizes and different sounds. When Sadie bent down, or straightened up, or soever moved anywhere, the bells rang like an orchestra. And Anushirvan peered at that man as if at some deity. I gave it to him and he gave them cooked rice; one handful into an each bowl for every Sadie.

In the cave, before the three-faced deity, we sacrificed rice, milk, and flowers.

I don’t know whence, but right in our presence two mice ran over the stone statue. One of them stopped at the tip of Brahma’s nose and the other at the ear of the god Shiva. Seeing this, Anushirvan grabbed my hand and shouted:
‘Let’s run from here!’
‘Why?’ I asked.
‘After all, since mice dare to run over Trimurti, over the three highest gods, they immediately to pounce on us and bite off our noses and ears’.

Because of this, he was sad all the way. And he kept asking: ‘How it is that Mahadeva can’t defend himself from mice? How then will he protect us from mice, and from snakes, and from beasts? Is Mahadeva alive? And are Trimurtis alive?’

And he also confused me with the question: ‘Why is the goddess Saraswati not next to her husbanding Brahma? And why is the wife of the god Vishnu Lakshmi not next to her husband? And Shiva’s wife Kali, why isn’t she next to Shiva? Here are just male Trimurtis in this Elephanta Cave, but where are female Trimurtis?’

I didn’t know what to answer him. I left him to let him talk with Warlord Ramachandra. And Warlord gladly talks with him. I see that he likes him.

For now, it is just this. You are I. I am you. Om.

Indumati

The 25th letter. Monk Callistratus writes to Mitrinović in LondonEdit

Monk Callistratus writes to Mitrinović in London[25]

My dear Dušan,
help you God!

I received your letter from London, and I will do everything on your advice. But in order for me to succeed something properly, I have to multiply my night prayers, both for Serbs and Indians, and even for you, who are now the main thought link between Serbia and India. I also recommend that you ceaselessly pray to God. Offer up prayers first of all to your Guardian Angel, then to the Apostles and Prophets, Saints and Martyrs, then to Angels and Archangels, then to the Holy Virgin Mary Mother of God, and finally, with fear and dread, to the Holy Trinity — the One God, unchangeable and eternal. Know that a human cannot, without God’s help, not only do good deeds or walk down the right path, but he cannot even think correctly. Not everyone understands this. Humans pray to God to help them in their deeds, activities, and external necessities. And few humans pray to God for help so that they could think correctly. Meanwhile, on the quality of thought, the quality of the deed also depends. And you are a thinker, so take good care that your thoughts are holy, bright, and true. However, you cannot achieve this, nowise, without God’s help, without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God.

In the board for welcoming guests from India, I do not fit at all. All members of the board want us Serbs to show ourselves to the Indians better than we are. And I tell them: ‘This is propaganda, and every propaganda serves to lie. Meantime, these people came to us from a distant land to learn the truth, so they need the truth both told and shown’.

I serve our guests as much as I can. But my faith for theirs I do not give up. They are very kind and noble, and to such an extent that even many Christians must be ashamed before them.

I am in a hurry to untie from the world as soon as possible and find myself in my monastery in the Holy Mount.

May God bless you.

Yours loyally Callistratus

The 26th letter. Metropolitan of Malabar writes to Theodosius MangalaEdit

Metropolitan of Malabar writes to Theodosius Mangala[26]

Peace to you and salvation from the Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and risen Saviour of ours!

Your letters from Serbia were spiritual food for us and a subject of conversation at our assemblies in the full moon. We read them publicly several times. But that was not enough. We had to let them go from hand to hand — until they returned into my hands again.

You know how many of our baptised people gather for night prayers, morals, and processions on every full moon time. This year, we were especially surprised by the unprecedented number of worshippers of our church. Tens of thousands of men and women, dressed only in white cloth, sat all night in the white, like milk, Indian moonlight and listened to homilies on Jesus the Messiah and the spiritual path.

These were not only our believers, members of the Christian Malabar Church, but also Roman Catholics and Protestants, and many, many unbaptised Hindus. You know what villainies our Roman Catholics have done to us. Such villainy is not remembered in India. Seduced by Roman propaganda, they broke away from us, so now, with skilful intrigue in the courts, they want to take away all churches and all property from us. Unbaptised Hindus would never have thought of resorting to such means. I do not know how we will deal with these soulless Roman Catholics. When we did not want to give them our souls, they are now asking us for money, money, and money. A few days ago an attorney from Travancore came to me and demanded that I immediately deposit one thousand pounds sterling for the account of the Roman Catholic Church in Malabar. I told him that we Malabar Christians are nothing but poverty and nothing long for except a sheet on our backs and a handful of rice. We neither have money, nor work with money, nor love money. I also went to our Maharaja to appeal. He raises his hands in amazement at how villainous they may be towards their neighbours in faith.

So now look, find protection and help for our Church somewhere out there with Orthodox maharajas and bishops.

And write to us more, write. At least twice a week. So everyone begged me to notify you that as a common wish. You yourself know how our folk do not crave anything in the world besides spiritual food. And they only want to be sure that their faith is pure, holy, and apostolic. Everything else in the world that is and that happens — it is as if it does not exist for them.

Many ones even told me that they would be glad to see here, with us, Orthodox monks from thence, from Serbia. Make an effort and take at least two or three with you. Tell them that our heat will not be harder to them than their cold is to you there.

The nunnery, which you founded, establishes in rule and progresses in prayer. All the sisters greet you cordially. Each of them touched this letter with her forehead as a sign of respect for you, their spiritual father.

Kisses and blesses you
Metropolitan Thomas

The 27th letter. Commander Ramachandra writes to Rama Sisodia in SerbiaEdit

Commander Ramachandra writes to Rama Sisodia in Serbia[27]

You know that I belong to the Arya Samaj society, which was founded in the last human century by the famous Dayananda Saraswati in Punjab. You know that, as a member of that society, I believe in the only one God and I abhor all Indian idols. May that one and only God in whom Arya Samaj believes protect you from evil and bring you back to us healthy. And your presence hither is really needed to us, because the fermentation in India is great: spiritual, and moral, and political, and social.

About this, I recently talked in Travancore with the bright Maharaja of Malabar. He is truly a holy man, both he and Rani, his wife. He has all the great qualities of the ancient Indian kings: Chandragupta, Ashoka, Chalukya, Harsha, RamaJandra[comm. 63], Rajput, and Prithviraj — all except their belligerence. It is difficult for him to even pronounce the single word ‘war’. So, he just told me completely about the three of you whom he sent to Europe to find out the causes of such frequent wars in that land. ‘When we find out the causes of the war, then we will cut them down at the root, and save our India from a military conflagration’.

I asked:
‘But if only we will cut down the causes of the war at the root, and the Europeans will not do that but will flood and nurture that very root, how will we save ourselves from the European incursion?’
To this, bright Maharaja answers me:
‘The great Indian gods will save us’.
I did not want to offend his sincere faith in all this idol bunch of ours, but I thought to myself: ‘So who will save all those Indian gods from the onslaught of gods from the West? Europeans are indeed right when they call us idolaters. It is also clear to me that they weakly believe in the one God, too. But I sincerely believe’.

My Rama, it would be easy for us to save India from Europe, but difficult — from Europeanism. And Europeanism has crept among us into our people, not only into schooled apes, but even into the greatest opponents of Europe and Christianity. I see this even among the members of the Arya Samaj, a purely Indian and anti-European society. At our gatherings, they are furiously attacking everything that is called Europe and Christianity. But as soon as they go out into the streets, they are more Europeans than Indians. They eat and drink and dress in a European style; arguing in a European manner; and, worst of all, they think in a European way. And these are not some kind of Shoodras, but precisely those leaders in whom India fixed the gaze as in her chiefs.

This is how your brother Arjuna showed himself as well. You have been written about it and you know everything. He was also a member of our Arya Samaj. So when he renounced many gods and clung to the one, then he easily lost this one too, as is custom of all morally weak people. And as a godless one, he completely Europeanized. Thereby, he caused pain to India, and pain to my house. My daughter Meerabai, as you know, was engaged to Arjuna. In a short time they were to get married. Meanwhile, Arjuna was secretly engaged to some sinister aliena named Gladys Farquharson. Therein is some kind of political propaganda and some kind of villainous gang — European, of course. They are both arrested, both Arjuna and this Gladys. Our newspapers wrote a lot about it. The matter was also raised at the All India Congress in Delhi. Many other persons were also arrested. And now an investigation is underway. Nothing is over yet.

Only one thing is finally over. And that is the breakup of the engagement between Arjuna and Meerabai. As a Kshatriya of honour and a friend of the great house of Sisodias, I have dealt with this cleanly. I went to the dungeon to your mother, hundredfold noble Mistress Katyayani, and then I explained the matter to her. And she agreed with me that the engagement between her son Arjuna and my daughter Meerabai should be considered as annulled. Poor soul! Being sick, being in the dungeon, being under attack and in this shame with Arjuna. She cried and sobbed so much that even I, as a hardened warrior, had to turn my head away and shed a tear.

As an agreed agreement was reached between me and Mistress Katyayani as the parents of the engaged children, regarding the breakup between Arjuna and Meerabai, everything is valid and legal both according to Manu’s law and according to the centuries-old Hindu practice. For parents arrange marriage between their children.

But I also want to tell you this as the brother of my not predestined son-in-law Arjuna. So, understand, and approve yourself of all this. And henceforth remain a friend to your sincere friend
Ramachandra

The 28th letter. Rama Sisodia writes to Mitrinović in LondonEdit

Rama Sisodia writes to Mitrinović in London[28]

I am writing to you as to a dear friend and lover of India. Peace and health to you from the God in whom you believe.

We three emissaries of the Maharaja of Malabar can never forget your hospitality in London, either your ‘Indo-European school’, or your all-encompassing wisdom. On your advice, we stayed in Serbia much longer than we reasoned. This is your Homeland, and you are our friend. And everything what we receive off the tongue or from the hands of your Serbs, we seem to receive from you.

In Serbia, we have really experienced unexpected joys. But misfortune, this black companion of joy, if she doesn’t follow her mistress closely, follows her from a distance. She came to me from afar, from my India. She didn’t surprise me. Because whenever I enjoy a joy, I expect a sorrow, and whenever I suffer from a sorrow, I hope for a joy. Such is the fabric of life in general, both of gods and people. And no one can save them from it.

A sorrow came to me from my own house. My brother Arjuna, who is known to you from London, seems to have lost his mind. He was driven to madness by a woman named Gladys Farquharson. They both are now under arrest for anarchist actions in India. And they both said in court that they were your learners. Imagine! For anarchists to be learners of the one who like a new Avatar preaches peace, agreement, and harmony of all religions and philosophies and principles? That is Mitrinović, who, soothly, drinks wine to the sorrow of Muslims, but who is not able to kill even an wryest ape, to the joy of Hindus!

I am writing this to you so that you expect troubles. After all, those court investigators will be certainly tugging you and interrogating you, and maybe even arrest you.

We three together conferred about how to help you. So we decided that we shall write a letter to the ‘Indian Herald’ magazine to tell about you what we know and what all India should know. The investigating judges will certainly read this, and they will not take any action against you.

For your own good tonight I will lie on the bare ground.

Yours loyally Rama Sisodia

The 29th letter. The correspondent of ‘The Times’ writes from DelhiEdit

The correspondent of ‘The Times’ writes from Delhi[29]

Yesternight I returned from the city of Puri, which as a holy city rivals with Benares. The all-round-day exclamations of the worshippers are still buzzing in my ears: ‘Jagannath! Jagannath!’ Worshipers from all over India flock together here to the famous temple of the god Vishnu. So as soon as this thousand-year-old temple appears to their view, they exclaim admiringly: ‘Jagannath! Jagannath!’

In Puri, a man is in the middle of a religious and mystical atmosphere, in Delhi — in the middle of a political atmosphere. There is archaism, here is modernism. Unfortunately, modernism is not only in good but also in its bad form, even in political and social anarchism. These days, all of Delhi is excited about one anarchist conspiracy, which was revealed at a good time. Several prominent Indians and some unidentified foreign persons on the side are mentioned as conspirators. The instigator of this conspiracy is a certain Gladys Farquharson, who managed to get engaged to a Kshatriya, not out for love and not for the marriage sake, but only so that he would serve as a tool in her subversive plans. Before the judge, she said that she was an Englishwoman from London. As her address in London, she stated the street and the house number, where, to my knowledge, the Theosophical Bookstore ‘LouisaC’ is located. She mentioned a certain ‘Indo-European school’ directed by a certain Serb scientist. She says that in this school she was ideologically prepared ‘for the improvement of the situation in India’. The court cannot believe her statements and asks for information about her. Delhi is full of various speculations. But in Delhi, which is never without resentment towards Europe, there is felt an increase in that resentment because of this suspicious person.

Of course, not all of Europe is to blame for the fact that some people in India are easily influenced by European women. Thus, all of India succumbed to the theosophical influence of Madame Blavatsky and Madame Annie Besant. And both of these Mesdames became favourites in India, not because of any particular wisdom but because of their hatred of Christianity. In addition, to them, perhaps, a temple will be erected, and they will be numbered among the deities. But now, when a certain Gladys Farquharson appeared, who is not like Mesdames Blavatsky and Besant, the shouts are heard in Delhi: ‘Get European women out of India!’ or: ‘Europe will still send women to teach us and judge us!’ And when Blavatsky and Besant taught them, then these same people applauded them.

Such is the toleration here in India, where every student praises Indian tolerance as soon as he opens his mouth and scolds European intolerance.

The 30th letter. Rama Sisodia writes to his mother KatyayaniEdit

Rama Sisodia writes to his mother Katyayani[30]

May Devatas, our housemates, help you, my mother.

Know that I now share your pain as you have always shared mine. And just as you hovered over me, the weak one, in a child’s cradle, so now I hover with my soul over you, the sick one in your dungeon. I am removed from you with this mortal body, that is dead even before death, but I am close to you in spirit and love. Neither time nor space can set the boundaries of love and spirit.

As soon as they wrote to me that you suffer from fever, I kneel every night and say these spells from the Atharvaveda against fever:
‘And thou, Fever, who makest all people yellow and burnest them like Agni with a blazing fire — o thou, become weak and powerless, and fall into in the realms of the lower or disappear completely!
Go and find some debauched maiden among Shoodras, so shake her and shake her, through and throughout.
Go, Fever, with your sister, Consumption, and with your brother, Cough, go to among distant nations’.

You were zealous for the old laws of India, dear mother, and you approved of the voluntary sacrificing of Shakuntala the widow of Kabir. You didn’t persuade her to commit suicide. But when she herself decided to go into the flame behind her husband, you rejoiced and helped her realize her intention. Our greatest Indian legislator Manu prescribed and commanded so that a widow should not dare to outlive her husband. He went even further, and commanded that even the bride, when her bridegroom dies, should not dare to marry anyone, but she must remain unmarried all her life. The same we were taught also by all the other Indian Avatars. And now you, mother, are suffering for their law. True Hindus will envy you while wrong they will pity you. And what shall I do, your son, who sees his being in your being and yours in his? I envy you by reason, but I also pity you by heart. You are my mother.

Be courageous and endure to the end. Even if you die, you shall be born again to live. We Indians know that life is not interrupted by death. We know that death for us means not the destruction of life but the transition of a living soul, a jiva, into another body. We are not like European godless ones who fear of death like fire. Because even though, as Christians, they seem ostensibly to believe in the resurrection of the dead, they still consider death as the end of life and the being of human. They are profoundly beneath us. The fear of death governs their whole life and behaviour.

Your son Rama

The 31st letter. Pandava, the governor of Benares, writes to Rama SisodiaEdit

Pandava, the governor of Benares, writes to Rama Sisodia

I wish you peace, a blissful moksha condition of the soul and light on your feet.

In Banaras, everything goes on as it was before: worshippers, sacrifices, smoke, dyings. Every day, many dead people are burnt on the banks of the Ganga and their charred black bodies are lowered into the river. I wonder a little, how many human bodies the Ganga has so far received and taken into the sea, and this is over thousands of years! If all these bodies were stacked on top of each other, it would become a mountain that would defy the Himalayas. The whole of India gives birth to bodies, and Banaras sends them to the underground god Yama. That’s what it looks like to me. And I feel here more among the dead than among the alive; and more in the realm of the god Yama than in the realm of the god Brahma. What is human life besides Maya, an illusion, phantom, and shade? Today we are, tomorrow we are not. In which ‘tomorrow’ it can befall that my body will be burnt in the fire and pushed down into the Ganga... The only question is, in what new body my soul will appear: whether in a man, or in an elephant, or in a monkey, or in a sparrowhawk, or a whale. There is no man or god who can stop the wheel of rebirth and torment in this life Samsara. This is how the Vedanta and the Puranas and the Upanishads teach.

Only Sundarar Dash, your guru, begins teaching something new. He comes to me every day and tells that India is at the end of everything old and at the beginning of something new. And he keeps repeating that people cannot be saved by their own efforts without superhuman help. And he also prophesies that this superhuman help will be provided to people by the new Maitreya, or Messiah, Who is to appear after Gautama Buddha.

But perhaps this will not interest you as much as the strange tiding which Sundarar brought me today. This tiding applies to your home as well. It is because of it that I undertook to write you this letter. Sundarar tells me how he found himself here in Banaras with a famous monk named Kumara Ram. He is a Himalayan bhikkhu who rarely visits Banaras. I remember seeing him only once here in Banaras. But they say about him that whenever he comes down from the forest to among the people, he makes a surprise that has been talked about for years.

Well, now your guru Sundarar tells me how Kumara practised in Malabar among Christians, not European but our Indian Christians. For several months, he listened to Christian priests and monks and observed their lives. After everything seen and experienced in Malabar, Kumara meditated on something and fell silent.

Sundarar also recounted me that Kumara told him how much he liked the Lives of Christian Saints. So in connection with the Life of a certain English Saint Alban, the two of them are preparing to organize something for the release of Arjuna, your brother Arjuna, who is now imprisoned in the dungeon. But all this Sundarar said me through his teeth. I see he’s hiding some secret. We’ll see what the secret is afterwards. Kumara just shakes his head and whispers: ‘Saint Alban! Saint Alban!’ What is hidden behind this, I do not know.

Less rejoices me the sun dawn than your arrival in Banaras.

Yours Pandava

The 32nd letter. John Eliot writes from London to Rama SisodiaEdit

John Eliot writes from London to Rama Sisodia

Respected Commander,
Your friend and my teacher Mitrinović asked me to respond to the letter you sent him on behalf of the entire mission of Maharaja of Malabar. For several days he lies in bed, so he’s sorry he can’t write to you personally.

With great attention, he follows your journey through the Balkans. And he would be very happy, he says, if you could find a real mine of spiritual treasure in his Homeland. That treasure, he says, is under centuries-old sediment and strata of murky Europeanism. He friendly recommends that you get in touch with the simplest people, if you want to see the splendour of that hidden treasure.

On the occasion of Gladys Farquharson and your brother Arjuna’s affair in India, Mitrinović begs you to not write anything about him in Indian newspapers. He is a great opponent of newspapers and all newspaper advertising. Secret police officers came to our ‘Indo-European school’ and interrogated several of us. We have all stated that we know Arjuna. While being in London, he often visited our school. We all loved him as a man very meek and elegant: a true aristocrat of Great India. And we are all amazed that he turned into a great revolutionary and anarchist. It must be not about reason but about feeling. Did that mysterious woman Farquharson cause that feeling, who knows? But it seems likely. We all feel sorry for Arjuna, and about that woman we are now inquiring lively. No one in our society can remember a person with the name Gladys Farquharson. After all, it’s no wonder. Mitrinović has three narrow circles of his students and followers, Englishmen and Indians, and besides this, he gives public lectures, which are attended by many people. But neither his secret teachings nor public lectures make people violent revolutionaries and anarchists. On the contrary, Mitrinović creates peacekeepers and works for the reconciliation of all peoples; primarily the Indo-European ones.

Therefore, do not write anything in Indian newspapers. Scotland Yard will already announce what will be found to be true.

Yours John Eliot

The 33rd letter. Brahmin Somadeva from Bombay writes to Pandit Gauri Shankara in SerbiaEdit

Brahmin Somadeva from Bombay writes to Pandit Gauri Shankara in Serbia

Shri Krishna sharanam mamah. Om.
Your adored wife Mistress Indumati, unsurpassed in her knowledge of the holy Vedas, is my guest, as she wrote to you. I spent many hours with her in conversations about everything that the Vedas teach. I was feeling pleasure as if I were talking to you. Your radiant son Anushirvan — may the god Krishna protect him from all evil spirits, from dirty beings — in everything is a reflection of your radiance; he just never had the patience to listen longly to the sacred conversations between me and his clever mother. And he also constantly interrupted us and just confused us with some of his unusual questions. Mistress Indumati believed that the gods were offended by such questions. Thereupon, she walked on all the pagodas in this city and in its surroundings and offered censes and sacrifices of atonement. So as the enraged gods do not take revenge on Anushirvan. I beg you, don’t worry about this. And don’t take this too tragically as Mistress Indumati does. She would like the children to be sedate and firm in faith, like us elders. But it does not occur.

These days, the famous doctor Kakusandha from Ceylon visited us. You remember: this is the doctor who studied European medicine in Germany and England, and received his doctorate there. But afterwards, he rejected all European medicine as erroneous and harmful, so he founded a completely original Indian medicine on the basis of our folk practice in the treatment of all diseases. He proved that the Indian people, through experience over thousands of years, have found the cures for all diseases both in humans and in animals. He collected those medicines from roots, barks, juices, herbs, seeds, minerals, various bloods, and many other things, and began to heal. Soon he became known as the doctor of doctors in great India. And when he moved to Ceylon, he was welcomed there like a certain ruler. He is looked upon in Ceylon as a certain miracle worker. But he heals not only with natural medicines, yet with religious mysteries. He is a Buddhist, all the more extreme and unapologetic one. For him, there is only one truth and one way, and that is Buddhism. As you know, Ceylon is now the hotbed of Buddhism. Even a tooth of Gotama Buddha has been preserved on that island. Dr Kakusandha sends all his patients to kiss this tooth. He prescribes them meditation and Buddhist asceticism. He assures them that they will recover if, in addition to medicines, they read the Upanishads. Us, Brahminists, he misrepresents like ignoramuses. Even stronger, he attacks Islam. And he cannot even talk about Christianity without spasms of hatred and loathing.

We all listened to him with attention and great interest, but not with approval. A furious sectarian spirit erupts from him. To tell you the truth, I felt a certain satisfaction that Buddhism had gone from great India and moved to Ceylon, Tibet and the kingdoms of the yellow peoples. And what little there is of it in our India, it would not have existed, if it had not been protected by Emperor Asoka in his time when he himself had embraced Buddhism.

Young Anushirvan listened to this Buddhist fanatic at first with wide eyes, then he began to doze, and finally he laughed out loud and went out. Mistress Indumati scolded him for that and told him: ‘We are guests in this house, so we must respect those whom our host respects’.

But this is not the end of the story about the doctor from Ceylon. Suddenly, the famous bhikkhu monk Kumara Ram stepped across my threshold. And my story gets a more dramatic twist and a new chapter. But about that — in another letter, which, together with this first one, will sail to you in the same ship.

Your friend Somadeva

The 34th letter. Brahmin Somadeva from Bombay writes to Pandit Gauri Shankara in SerbiaEdit

Brahmin Somadeva from Bombay writes to Pandit Gauri Shankara in Serbia

Shri Krishna sharanam mamah. Om.
When Bhikkhu Kumara Ram entered our house, Dr Kakusandha was still speaking passionately about Buddhism as the only truth and the only path. Kumara listened to him attentively, sitting cross-legged, silent and motionless like a statue and serene like the god Indra. And the god Indra is equally serene when he strikes the earth with thunderbolts and when he caresses it with light from above.

‘Don’t you think so too, Bhikkhu?’ Doctor asked Kumara.
‘I am not a Buddhist,’ said Kumara, ‘but I am ready to become one, if you satisfy me by answering three questions.’
‘Most willingly, just talk.’
‘The first question: Did Gotama Buddha single himself out as the only Tathagata, or did he admit that saviours similar to him had appeared before him, and that after him another and last saviour named Metteyya would appear.’
‘Truly, the Buddha said that many Buddhas appeared before him, and that after him there will be another and last Buddha named Metteyya.’
‘If so, then we must first of all know the teachings of all the earlier Buddhas.’
‘Well, it doesn’t hurt to know that.’
‘It certainly doesn’t hurt, yet doesn’t benefit too,’ said Kumara, ‘since Gotama himself referred to earlier Avatars and accepted and adopted their science of Karma, Dharma and Reincarnation.’

Here Kumara fell silent and his gaze froze, as if he were offering some kind of prayer in himself. And then he said:
‘And now my second question comes. Do you recognise Vedanta?’
‘I don’t recognise it’ answered Doctor decisively. ‘Why do we need Vedanta, when Gotama has said everything that needs to be said? The Upanishads are enough, even without Vedanta.’
‘Do not contradict yourself and do not belittle the Buddha.’
‘How it is?’
‘Here is how. You just said that it doesn’t hurt to know pre-Buddhist science. And this science is only in Vedanta. And now you deny the need for Vedanta. Further, do you not belittle the Buddha when you do not recognise what he recognised? And he recognised Vedanta and all the earlier Buddhas and Avatars, who in Vedanta expounded the doctrine of Karma, Dharma and Reincarnation.’

Here, Doctor bit his lip and shouted decisively:
‘Gotama, and enough! We don’t need anyone else before or after him.’
‘I regret that you did not satisfy me with your answer. And now, Doctor, here is my third question: Gotama Buddha prophesied the appearance of one Buddha after him, the last one, named Metteyya. You yourself have already admitted this. And you couldn’t help but admit it, when it is written in Gotama’s words. Now when you say that we do not need anyone before or after Gotama, you oppose your teacher who said that Metteyya will come.’

Here, Doctor bit his lips angrily again. But Kamara continued:
‘I asked you, Doctor, first if Gotama admitted the earlier Buddhas, and you answered that he did but that all of them were unneeded, only Gotama was needed. Then I asked you if you recognise Vedanta, and you answered that you do not recognise, although Gotama was taught on Vedanta. Finally, I asked you if Gotama prophesied the new and last Buddha after him, Metteyya, to which you replied that he did, but you still expressed your conviction that none of the incarnations of the Buddha before or after Gotama were needed. “Gotama, and enough”. So you said. The conclusion is clear: you do not recognise the earlier Buddhas, who were about twenty before Gotama; you do not recognise Vedanta, and you do not recognise Metteyya, the last Tathagata, the saviour of the world.’

Hearing these words, Dr Kakusandha jumped up and said:
‘You Himalayan bhikkhus live in the forest and do not know life. You’re not going to teach me, are you?’

Seeing him angry, Kumara fell silent for a couple minutes; then said softly and pityingly:
‘Dear Doctor, I did not want causing you pain. But for us in the Himalayas, there is a rule among monks that as soon as someone gets angry in an argument about the truth and the way, everyone stops talking about it and starts the most ordinary conversation about monkeys, snowcocks, and butterflies. Thus, if you are willing, I will tell you the unbroken miracles in the life of monkeys, snowcocks, and butterflies?’

Anushirvan, who until then had been attentively listening to the argument between these two learned men, on hearing these last words of the monk, jumped up, began to laugh, stamp his feet and clap his hands. We had to just bring him outside.

And in order to regain goodwill among my guests, I as a host invited them for a walk around my garden and then for lunch. But Dr Kakusandha politely refused and left us.

I can only tell you one thing: this experience, like everything else that we are going through today, clearly testifies that India is in unprecedented fermentation and chaos. Who will save her, I don’t know. She’s all swaying like a drunken person.

Your loyal Somadeva

The 35th letterEdit

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The 49th letter. Monk Callistratus writes from the Holy Mount to Mitrinović in LondonEdit

Monk Callistratus writes from the Holy Mount to Mitrinović in London[31]

My dear Dušan, peace to you and joy from the Lord Jesus Christ.

*		*		*

Dr Jevtim and Bogdanović escorted guests to the border of Serbia and returned, and I with them continued the journey to the Holy Mount [Athos]. When we arrived at Dafni harbour of the Holy Mount, the Greek police said that unbaptised people cannot be passed to the Holy Mount. Only Theodosius Mangala as a Christian can go ashore, and the other two cannot. Then Mangala said that he, too, did not want to go ashore and leave his comrades. In vain he was entreated by Pandit Shankara and Commander Sisodia at least him to get off and visit the monasteries of the Holy Mount. And since our ship was to sail further, the amiable hegumen of the monastery of St. Panteleimon offered to our guests his boat to transfer into it and sail in it around the Holy Mount peninsula until the matter is resolved in the Protos, in Karyes. And I took on myself the trouble to go into the Protos and ask for approval for their landing.

When I entered the Protos and began to entreat, the elders told me that such a decision was made some time ago because of abuses of some Jewish journalists.
‘Make an exception in the present case. These people are from afar’.
‘The only exception may be granted by only Patriarch of Constantinople himself’.

Ones decided to send a telegram to the Patriarch.

Then I went, according to your advice, to Father Christodoulos. But here was an obstacle too. Father Christodoulos closes in his cell several times a year and does not speak to anyone for forty days. I found him closed and now. I wrote him a letter about our guests, and he answers me that he regrets that he cannot host them and talk with them. But he agrees in the letters to answer their questions.

I returned to Dafni and informed our guests that one need to wait for a response of the Patriarch of Constantinople, but in the case of that a positive answer comes they will not be able to talk personally with Father Christodoulos, but only through letters.

They were satisfied with this and immediately began to write letters to F. Christodoulos. I bring these letters to our great confessor, and his answers are brought to the boat by pope Bojan. Do you know who pope Bojan is? This is a great soul, who dared to protect our Indians from the University of Sofia. This is the hero who openly told our guests to watch out for the three types of people in the Balkans, namely Dripacs in Serbia, BajaGanja in Bulgaria and Čapkuns in Macedonia. Because of this, he was expelled from Bulgaria and came to the Holy Mount, to which he as a widowed priest has long sought. Now we are together, I and he. I will carry questions to F. Christodoulos and he will bring answers to our guests. During this time, our guests will easy sailing on the boat of St. Panteleimon around the Holy Mount and admiring the ancient monasteries of the only monastic state in the world.

May the Lord shine on you by Spirit of His and bless you.
Yours Callistratus.

The 50th letter. The first letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letterEdit

The first letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letter[32]

Venerable Father,
we have heard about you and have been recommended to you as a man who knows both India and Europe, and both Indian Vedas and Christ’s Gospel. And we bow to you and beg you to answer our questions:
1. What does Europe suffer from and what does India suffer from?
2. May India expect salvation from Europe or Europe from India?
3. Whether truth is kept exclusively in the one ‘Credo’ or in the combination of all ‘Credo’s?

Answers of Monk Christodoulos:

To the Question 1: Europe and India suffer equally from ignorance. And ignorance came from human pride. India has never known the true Path, and Europe has come from the right Path to the wayside.
To the Question 2: Neither India from Europe nor Europe from India. Because neither India is the bearer of truth nor Europe is. And salvation is in the Truth and can come to both Europe and India from that side where the truth is, and this is the Eastern Orthodox Church.
To the Question 3: The truth not allows a combination: neither does know a hodgepodge nor does not tolerate concessions. The truth is true like arithmetic formulae: 2 + 2 = 4, 5 + 5 = 10. If wild people on one isle said: 2 + 2 = 6, and on another one: 2 + 2 = 8, while the enlightened people would say: 2 + 2 = 4, should we assemble a council in all three cases to get real knowledge? If we did, then we would add 6 + 8 + 4, and in the result we would get 18. And we would say: 2 + 2 = 18. But that would not fit reality. As a reality, there remains only one formula, which is 2 + 2 = 4. Likewise, the sum of different and contradictory ‘Credo’s cannot be accepted as the Truth. The truth is more sensitive than arithmetic formulae. It does not allow even a hairlet of falsehood. As well as the human eye. If only one tiny hairlet falls into the eye, then the eye is clouded and the vision is broken. The attempt by Ramakrishna and his disciple Vivekananda to unite all the creeds to the one and thus to ‘fulfil’ the Truth has failed in its own, though very tempestuous, beginning.

The 51st letter. The second letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letterEdit

The second letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letter[33]

The Question 4: How can ignorance come about from pride?
The Question 5: What do you think about the Indian gods?
The Question 6: How do you consider the Indian Avatars, whether as an incarnation of the gods?
The Question 7: How do you rate the Indian holy books: Vedanta, Puranas, Upanishads, and others?

Answers of Monk Christodoulos:

To the Question 4: Ignorance comes about from pride, when a person thinks that he can, by his mind and thinking, reach or find or understand the Truth without God’s revelation. The fee for such an attempt is ignorance. Only God alone can reveal and show the Truth, because God is the Truth (see Jer. 10:10, 1 John 5:6, John 14:6). That One Who gives light and rain and health and life, i.e. what no one else can give — That One keeps the Truth in Himself and gives it to people when He finds it appropriate. He gives It not to proud, narcissistic and bold ones, but to humble, unselfish and meek ones. India never knew it, and Europe forgot it.

To the Question 5: There is only one God — holy, eternal, immortal, purest, omnipotent, wisest, all-gracious. Besides Him there is no other God in heaven, neither on earth nor under the earth (see Deut. 3:24, 1 Cor. 8:5). Indian gods are demonic ghosts, hellish demons, without mercy and without love for people. Not really Indian gods do not exist. They exist not as gods but as demons under the name of gods.

To the Question 6: In India, the Avatars are called people, in which incarnated gods appeared, sometimes Brahma, sometimes Shiva, sometimes Vasudeva, sometimes Krishna and so without end. These people sought the Truth by their enormous effort, physical and mental, tremendous self-torture, fasting, hunger, self-pitiless. They believed that they as bounded ones could reach the Boundless and as mortal ones — the Immortal. Here is firstfruit of their pride, from which ignorance grew. Whether they were incarnations of Indian gods, who are not gods, I do not know. But that none of the Avatars was the incarnation of only and holy God, it is not difficult for me to understand.

To the Question 7: Vedanta, Upanishads, and other philosophies of India are rated by me higher than Hellenistic philosophy, not because of anything else but because of the horrible asceticism of their compilers. And if people were to seek the Truth and Salvation in human philosophies, and not in the Divine Revelation, then they were first to have to search in Indian philosophy. But fortunately, God revealed to mankind the Truth, besides all human efforts and services, and thus all human philosophies, and Greek and Chinese and Indian ones — rejected as fictitious and harmful (see Col. 2:8).

The 52nd letter. The third letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letterEdit

The third letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letter[34]

The Question 8: How do you think about reincarnation?
The Question 9: What is the cause of Indian pessimism?
The Question 10: What can save India from pessimism?

Answers of Monk Christodoulos:

To the Question 8: From the earliest times, Indian thinkers have understood this world as endless one in space and in time, i.e. without beginning and without end. According to this, they could not presume the existence of any other world, brighter and better than this one. They could not imagine another world beside this ‘endless and eternal’ world. That’s why when the soul comes out of the body it has nowhere to go, except to some other body in this world as the only one existing. In this endless and eternal world, there are both ‘gods’ and people; because this world is without a window and without a door. Thus, the world is Samsara, a vortex of gods and demigods and people and everything alive.

To the Question 9: The cause of Indian pessimism is what we have already said: the perception of this world as endless one in space and in time. There is no way out from it. In it there are equal slaves and gods and people, in Samsara without exit, in a vortex without beginning and without an end, in existence without hope. In such a terrible perception of the world, who would not be a pessimist? And indeed India is the fatherland of pessimism. The bearer and teacher of pessimism in India is not one man, philosopher, as in other countries, but the whole folk and these folk are of hundreds of millions of souls over thousands of years. Really creepy! Meanwhile, the basic settings, from which gloomy pessimism arose, are human fabrications and demonic deceptions.

To the Question 10: India will be saved from the pessimism by the Truth. Not the ‘truth’ of people but the Truth of God. When India will know the Truth that is from God, it will know her age-old delusions and will reject them. When India perceives that this world has its own Creator, has its beginning and its end, and that there is another world, ‘where there is no pain, no sorrow, no sighing’ (see Saturday kontakion ‘With the Saints, give rest…’), then the universal joyfulness will dispel desperate pessimism in her, as the light destroys the darkness.

Then the Indians will reject the wrong teaching on reincarnation. Because it will be clear to them that the soul when it comes out of its body goes from this bounded world to another world, into its kingdom from which it has become, and will not move from body to body to infinity.

The 53rd letter. The fourth letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letterEdit

The fourth letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letter[35]

The Question 11: Isn’t Indian divine trinity, Trimurti, similar to the Christian Holy Trinity?
The Question 12: And aren’t Indian many gods similar to Christian angels?
The Question 13: And aren’t the Indian Avatars similar to the Christian Messiah or the Christian saints?

Answers of Monk Christodoulos:

To the Question 11: Only in number three the Indian trinity or Trimurti is similar to the Christian Holy Trinity, and in nothing else. Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are no relatives, but rather are companions. Each of them has a wife, and some of them, like Shiva, even have many wives. They are very often counteracting each other, so that one creates and the other destroys. Quite different One is Christian Holy Trinity. It is an essential and spiritual and moral unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The closest and most inseparable kinship; Unity in Trinity and Trinity in Unity. Historically, it did not and could not happen, that the Father would like something that the Son would not like, or that the Holy Spirit would do something besides the will of the Father and the Son. Trimurti is three gods with three names, such as were once in Egypt Osiris, Isis, and Horus, being in deadly hatred. The Holy Trinity is one God with one name. His name is God, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the expressions of His inner relationships.

To the Question 12: Numerous Indian gods are similar in no way to the Heavenly Angels. Because these ones are the forces of darkness, and those ones are the forces of light. They have different wills, and the Angels fulfil only one will — the will of the only God.

To the Question 13: Avatars are not like the Messiah. Why? That is why, first of all, the Avatars are many, and the Messiah is one. Then the Avatars are people, and the Messiah is God, the Son of the Most High God. Avatars thought to save people by their logic and could not do anything; the Messiah saved humanity by the truth, love and sacrifice. If ones were to speak about the Messiahs in the plural, like about the Indian Avatars, than the human race would never see its true Saviour. I very much regret that the Indians are waiting for the arrival of ever newer and newer Avatars, as the Jews greet and follow one after another their false messiahs. With a multitude of Avatars or the messiahs the Indians have become similar to the Jews, whom they, generally speaking, cannot stand.

Avatars are also not like the Christian saints. Every Indian Avatar added teaching to the teachings and words to the words, sometimes even in contradiction to the previous Avatars, while Christian saints all, from the first to the last one, kept the only teaching and followed the only way. And this is the teaching and the way of Jesus the Messiah. Each Avatar presented itself as an incarnation of this or that Indian god, however our saints acknowledged only one incarnated God, the Lord Jesus, from the beginning to the end of human history.

The 54th letter. The fifth letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letterEdit

The fifth letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letter[36]

The Question 14: Aren’t Indian monks, the ascetics similar to Christian monks, for example, at the Holy Mount [Athos]?
The Question 15: And aren’t Indian fakirs the same as the Christian wonderworkers?
The Question 16: And aren’t the Indian people in general an ascetic people, as well as, for instance, Orthodox peoples?

Answers of Monk Christodoulos:

To the Question 14: Indeed, the asceticism of Indian monks is amazing. Such self-torture and self-denial are not known to the history of any non-Christian people. But what is it for? In order to reach an indifference to pain and joy, to sweetness and bitterness, to life and death and to go over into eternal Nirvana, i.e. non-being. Christian asceticism is for the Kingdom of Heaven. Christian monks harass the body so that the soul becomes pure and free from decrepitude and so, having become such, to be fulfilled with the Holy Spirit of God and be honoured with an immortal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. Asceticism in India is therefore for the sake of destroying life in general, while asceticism of Christians is for sake of acquisition of a better life, eternal life in the Kingdom of Father of ours in Heaven.

To the Question 15: Indian fakirs do some tricks with intent to be glorified by people, and not to help people as their brothers. Christian saints did and do wonders not on behalf of them, but in the name of Christ, and not for their glory, but for the glory of Christ, and not to appear before men as wonderworkers, but to help people as their brothers in their troubles. It is known that Christian saints escaped human glory and hid from those who glorified them.

To the Question 16: Indeed, the Indian people are more fasting than many other peoples. Not like Orthodox peoples, because the goals of the fast, as we have said before, are quite different. But it is because of its fasting India is predestined by the Lord God to receive Christ’s teaching more easily, and more fully and sincerely to change her life.

The 55th letter. The sixth letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letterEdit

The sixth letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letter[37]

From your answer to our 16th question, we feel as if you foresee some great mission of India in the future. Therefore, we ask you the following questions.
The Question 17: As God’s man, do you really foresee for India some great role in the future?
The Question 18: How should India prepare for such a role?
The Question 19: Who could help her now in this preparation?

Answers of Monk Christodoulos:

To the Question 17: Great and glorious role is waiting for India in the future, and not in the far future. God did not forget his India, but He has certain deadlines when He leads certain nations out, as hidden behind the scenes, to the great stage of the world drama, and this is all by His Divine order.

To the Question 18: India cannot, by her weak forces, prepare herself for a great future. But Heavenly God will give her wisdom and power through His holy servants to prepare her… The preparation would consist in the knowledge of the only true Messiah, the Saviour of men, the God-Man Jesus Christ, and in the baptism in His name for the sake of the purification from all the sinful past and the imprecated Karma.

To the Question 19: India can now only helped by one small Orthodox people; small one, I say, because India has no confidence in large nations with imperialist aspirations and with economic and political appetites; Orthodox one, I say, because only in the Orthodox peoples pure and holy Christianity is preserved.

The 56th letter. The seventh letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letterEdit

The seventh letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letter[38]

The Question 20: Why did the Eastern Orthodox Church not send its missionaries to India so far?
The Question 21: What would Christ bring to India?
The Question 22: In your vision what does the future Christian India looks like?

Answers of Monk Christodoulos:

To the Question 20: The first Orthodox mission in India was in the first century of the Christian epoch. It was represented by the holy Apostle Thomas and his followers. This apostolic mission had good success, but it was strangled by polytheists and Muslims. There remained only one small group in Malabar, which still exists[comm. 64]. The next eight centuries the Eastern Orthodox Church spent in a terrible struggle against heretics, the last of which were the Roman Catholics. Then God allowed the enslavement of Orthodox peoples by the Turks in Asia Minor and the Balkans and by the Mongols in Russia. During these enslavements, the western nations became stronger, created empires and conquered all continents, and even India. And only their Christian missions had access to the conquered peoples; but without success. For where the cross is preceded by a sword, there the cross is hated. Only now, the peoples of the Eastern Orthodox Church are able to rise to serve their brethren in India.

To the Question 21: Only Christ alone can throw off the darkness from Indian humanity, set free it from the demonic shackles, redeem Karma, dispel pessimism, bring the joy of life, open the vision of the Kingdom of Heaven as the target of earthly existence, give girding power and give a drink of love to all of India.

To the Question 22: The future of Christ’s India is represented to my spiritual gaze like a dove, whose wings are poured with tar, and so it can fly neither up nor forward. When Christ will launder and cleanse it, and give a drink of His Blood, and take it into His hands, then it will fly, to its joy and to the joy of the Holy Heavens and all God’s peoples.

The 57th letter. The eighth letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letterEdit

The eighth letter of the Indian mission to Monk Christodoulos and the response to the letter[39]

The Question 23: Who in India would be the greatest opponent of the Eastern Orthodox mission?
The Question 24: Who from Europe side could hinder the work of the true Orthodox mission in India?
The Question 25: Could monks from the Holy Mount come to India as Christian missionaries?

Answers of Monk Christodoulos:

To the Question 23: The greatest opponents of the mission of our Church in India would be the Theosophists and Occultists who think they have found the key to wisdom in mixing up and collection of all religions and all philosophies; who consider that the truth is in the multiplicity, not in the purity. And you know that a bag of dust does not multiply the value of one grain of gold in the dust.

To the Question 24: From Europe side, the work of Orthodox missionaries would be hindered by all those who have so far succeeded in the only one: so that the Indians hated Christianity.

To the Question 25: The Holy Mount monks would never have stepped out of the Holy Mount by their will. But God, Who, by His own will, even moves stars in heaven, can also move one of us, poor monks, to the work that is pleasing to Him.

Excuse me, gentlemen, sinful and unworthy Christodoulos.

The 58th letter. Theodosius Mangala writes to the church in MalabarEdit

Theodosius Mangala writes to the church in Malabar[40]

Christ is among us![comm. 65]
He is and He will be forever!
Holy Mount! Unfortunately, we, miserable Christians in Malabar, have never heard of the Holy Mount. And to my great joy, I’ve been on the Holy Mount for a month already. For the first fifteen days, we were not allowed to land in this paradise monastic state, and this is because of my unbaptised friends, but then the exclusive permission of the Patriarch of Constantinople came. For fifteen days we lived in a boat easy sailing off the coast of the Holy Mount. That time was used by my friends Pandit and Rama, which sent various questions to famous Monk Christodoulos, from whom they received very interesting answers.

A kingdom without a crown, a state without an army, a country without women, wealth without money, wisdom without school, a kitchen without meat, prayer without ceasing, connection with the Heavens without interruption, glorysaying to Christ without fatigue, death without regrets — here is the Holy Mount Athos. What happiness would be for India, both baptised and unbaptised, if it were possible to make an exchange and give the Himalayas for the Holy Mount! Because on the Holy Mount thousands and thousands of Christian monks hold on to one faith, perform one rule, nourish one hope — a hope for the Kingdom of Heaven, and acknowledge one Protector of their land — Most Holy Mother of God.

We succeeded to visit ten of the twenty major monasteries and a large number of smaller monasteries and cells, as well as several caves. In our honour, bells were rung and church canticles were sung. My companions were just fascinated. Pandit Shankara said:
‘If whole Europe had the spirit of the Holy Mount, it would be peaceful and happy; and India could then love Europe’.

In monastic refectories, we read on the walls these four monastic rules:

Chastity.

Abstinence.

Obedience.

Speechlessness.

Each monastery has a certain special confessor, a skilled elder, who for other monks is like a parent for children.

Love is the ultimate goal of all the monastic feats on the Holy Mount — love for God and love for neighbours.

I felt happier and more joyful than everyone. Only one monk grieved me: he told me that we, the Malabar Christians, adhere to some heretical teaching. ‘You should to correct this’ he added perfectly kindly and cutely, ‘because God’s truth does not tolerate any mote of untruth’. Maybe it will grieve you too. But I gave my word on my behalf and on your behalf that we will reject every teaching that the Holy Mount considers heretical. We want pure and holy truth. It was why we came to conflict with the Roman Catholics, for we did not want to acknowledge their fabrications both with regard to the doctrine, and with regard to administration and the church charter.

Each monastery here has its own sacristy and an ossuary. In the sacristies there are treasures, sacred objects, and manuscripts of the Holy Mount sages. In the ossuaries there are the bones of the dormited brethren of the corresponding monastery. Tomorrow is the day of remembrance of the dormited ones. Here is why every Saturday the Divine services are performed in ossuaries. Although these are just dead bones, they are guarded with respect, for there will come a day when the trumpet of the Archangel will sound and all bones will come to life, as it was proclaimed and prophesied (Matt. 24:31, 1 Thess. 4:16).

The last day of our stay in this marvellous land became for us the most joyful. It was the day when Monk Christodoulos came out of his cell, after forty days of voluntary confinement. On that day he hosted monks, who, like bees, flew from whole Holy Mount to see and hear him. Callistratus urged him, and he also hosted us.

We did not talk much. It was not necessary. Sweeter was to look at the face of this lamb-man. In my life I have never met a man so meek and benevolent and at the same time so dignified. ‘The man is here!’ I thought to myself. My friends were whispering among themselves:
‘Avatar!’
His sad eyes looked far away. And he is really a man from far away, a man from Heaven and not from this world.
At parting, he fell prostrate to the ground and bowed to us three times.
All three of us exclaimed as agreed:
‘Come to us in India. Such is what we need’.
His sad eyes were filled by tears, and he answered:
‘I’m a cadaver by myself. Only Christ alone lives in me. What Christ is willing to do, it will be…’

See you soon.
Yours loyally Theodosius Mangala.

The 59th letterEdit

The 60th letterEdit

 

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927.


The author died in 1956, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 65 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

 
Used sources
  1. The letter translation was published on 21 January, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 5 February, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  2. The letter translation was published on 25 January, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 7 February, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  3. The letter translation was published on 3 February, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 8 February, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  4. The letter translation was published on 15 February, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 24 February, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  5. The letter translation was published on 21 February, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 25 February, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  6. The letter translation was published on 10 March, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 10 March, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  7. The letter translation was published on 14 April, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 23 April, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  8. The letter translation was published on 28 April, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 3 May, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  9. The letter translation was published on 03 May, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 6 May, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  10. The letter translation was published on 19 May, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 2 June, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  11. The letter translation was published on 4 June, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 14 June, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  12. The letter translation was published on 28 June, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 4 July, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  13. The letter translation was published on 09 August, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 15 August, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  14. The letter translation was published on 14 August, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 30 August, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  15. The letter translation was published on 24 August, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 11 September, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  16. The letter translation was published on 05 September, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 1 October, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  17. The letter translation was published on 11 September, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India", and on 5 October, 2021, at the VK-group "Cause of Apostle Thomas".
  18. The letter translation was published on 01 November, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
  19. The letter translation was published on 03 November, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
  20. The letter translation was published on 23 November, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
  21. The letter translation was published on 27 November, 2021, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
  22. The letter translation was published on 07 January, 2022, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
  23. The letter translation was published on 25 January, 2022, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
  24. The letter translation was published on 27 February, 2022, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
  25. The letter translation was published on 08 March, 2022, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
  26. The letter translation was published on 19 March, 2022, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
  27. The letter translation was published on 24 March, 2022, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
  28. The letter translation was published on 27 March, 2022, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
  29. The letter translation was published on 16 April, 2022, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
  30. The letter translation was published on 06 May, 2022, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
  31. The letter translation was published on 9 August, 2018, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
  32. The letter translation was published on 10 August, 2018, at the VK-group ‘Orthodoxy in India’.
  33. The letter translation was published on 11 August, 2018, at the VK-group ‘Orthodoxy in India’.
  34. The letter translation was published on 12 August, 2018, at the VK-group ‘Orthodoxy in India’.
  35. The letter translation was published on 13 August, 2018, at the VK-group ‘Orthodoxy in India’.
  36. The letter translation was published on 14 August, 2018, at the VK-group ‘Orthodoxy in India’.
  37. The letter translation was published on 16 August, 2018, at the VK-group ‘Orthodoxy in India’.
  38. The letter translation was published on 17 August, 2018, at the VK-group ‘Orthodoxy in India’.
  39. The letter translation was published on 18 August, 2018, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
  40. The letter translation was published on 19 August, 2018, at the VK-group "Orthodoxy in India".
Comments
  1. The Balkans, also known as the Balkan Peninsula, is a geographic area in south-eastern Europe. The country of Serbia is located in the centre of the Balkans (English translator’s note).
  2. Lotus is a favourite flower in India and is often mentioned in Indian holy books. It blooms over water and appears in various colours. There are Buddha statues, which depict Buddha sitting cross-legged on a lotus flower (Serbian publisher’s note).
  3. This refers to the First World War (English translator’s note).
  4. Originally, ‘as if a sorcerer had struck some overturned card’ — however here the translation is chosen for those who are not familiar with the intricacies of card fortune-telling (English translator’s note).
  5. The Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas, and the Shudras are the four varnas into which the Indian people have been divided since time immemorial. The Paraiyar is a dalit caste group found in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and Sri Lanka (Russian & English translators’ note).
  6. The practice of the local (autocephalous) Serbian Orthodox Church is described here. In the practice of the local Russian Orthodox Church, priests’ vestments of red with gold are common. The red colour symbolises the blood shed by Jesus Christ (Engish translator’s note).
  7. This song, which is actually the troparion (a short hymn of one stanza) of Easter, sounds in Serbian like this: ‘Христос воскресе из мртвих / Смрћу смрт сокруши / И мртвим у гробовима / Живот дарова’ (pronunciation: ‘Hristos voskrese iz mrtvih, / smrchu smrt sokrushi / i mertvim u grobovima / zhivot darova’) (Russian translator’s note).
  8. Here is a description of a traditional Slavic festive game, also known in England as egg tapping. A similar game takes place in Assam, where it is called Koni-juj (English translator’s note).
  9. Danube is a long river located in Central and Eastern Europe, mostly in the Balkans (English translator’s note).
  10. The phrases ‘Cross has become a sign of the Serbian people’ and ‘Serbs made Him the intercessor’ in the original Serbian language form a play on words, because in this context the words ‘sign’ (in the meaning both as a symbol and as a flag, because a long time the Serbian flag was decorated with the cross) and ‘intercessor’ are rhymed as cognate words: ‘застава’ [za’stava] and ‘заставник’ [za’stavnik] (English translator’s note).
  11. She refers here to the Hindu practice called Vrata — a religious votive rite, a vow often involving abstinence from food. Vrata is an ethical and behavioural discipline process, one where food is respected, the needy helped, the stranger welcomed, the student carries on the pursuit of knowledge (Wikipedia.org) (English translator’s note).
  12. Hindus of some parts of India associate the festival called Diwali with the goddess Kali, who symbolises the victory of good over evil (English translator’s note).
  13. ‘Moksha’ means calming the soul, which a person achieves by relinquishing everything earthly and worldly. When a person slays every desire for anything in this world, his soul comes to a state of complete calmness, or moksha (Serbian publisher’s note).
  14. Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) visited Europe several times: 1886-1891, 1914-1915, 1931. Apparently, he did not drink milk since 1906, when he took the Brahmacharya vow, until 1918, when due to nervous shock he was forced to improve health with goat milk, continuing to abstain from cow's milk. His famous trip to Europe with goats dates back to 1931 (English translator’s note).
  15. It is characteristic that for his public speech in Paris, Mahatma Gandhi was allocated the same place where the balls of transvestites were held, the most famous of whose were Kymris and Monsieur Bertin. This, of course, was known to everyone. At the same time, the organizers tried to deliberately turn the meeting into a circus (Kamdar M. ‘When Paris Met the Mahatma’ // ‘The Caravan’, 01 December 2011) (English translator’s note).
  16. The Bagavad Gita is one of the greatest Indian epics of the Mahabarata. ‘Bagavad Gita’ means divine song. It is the most beautiful song that India sang and at the same time the clearest exposition of the Brahmin faith (Serbian publisher’s note).
  17. ‘Shloka’ (or ‘śloka’) denotes a stanza from Vedanta, the Indian holy book. All Vedanta is split into shlokas (Serbian publisher’s note).
  18. ‘Bhikkhu’ means a wandering monk who teaches the people and lives by alms (Serbian publisher’s note).
  19. Tantras and mantras are prayers that are known and recited in temples and monasteries. In Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, tantras and mantras are written on stone slabs or wooden boards. When someone asks to read for him all 500 slabs or boards with tantras and mantras, then each monk takes one or two such slabs or boards and everyone reads simultaneously. Thus, they manage to read as many prayers in a short time as one monk could not read for months (Serbian publisher’s note).
  20. Malabar is in the south of India. This was one of the princely states with the capital Travancore. Then (until 1949) there lived about a quarter of a million Christians who were neither Catholics nor Protestants. Until now, they call themselves Orthodox, although they have some heretical additions in their teaching. They consider Dioscorius of Alexandria as a saint. Otherwise, they are great zealots of the Christian faith and very gentle and good-natured people (Serbian publisher’s note).
  21. Bar is the oldest city in Montenegro on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, consisting of two parts: New Bar and Old Bar (in Serbian: Нови Бар [no’vi bar] and Стари Бар [sta’ri bar]). The association with the name of the suburb of Belgrade Marinkova Bara is also possible here (Russian translator’s note).
  22. This is the First World War (Russian translator’s note).
  23. Song of Songs 8:6 states: ‘Love is as strong as death’ (Russian translator’s note).
  24. ‘Raja’ means ‘prince’ (English translator’s note).
  25. ‘Baksheesh’ is a tip or a bribe (English translator’s note).
  26. The southern Slavs call the feast of the Ascension of the Lord as Saviour’s Day (Russian translator’s note).
  27. The word ‘Slava’ can be translated from Serbian as ‘Glory’ (English translator’s note).
  28. The Lity (or Liti or Litia) is a solemn religious procession indoors and outdoors, followed by prayer for others during the Great Vespers (or several times a year the Great Supper) in the Eastern Orthodox Church on major holidays. Another option for the word ‘Lity’ is an abbreviated form of the memorial service in the Eastern Orthodox Church; it consists only of the concluding portion of the regular memorial service. This is often celebrated in the narthex of the church on ordinary weekdays (i.e., when there is no higher-ranking feast day), especially during Great Lent (Russian & English translators’ note).
  29. ‘Kolač’ is a traditional Eastern European ring- or wheel-shaped bread (English translator’s note).
  30. Cf. Romans 11:36 (Russian translator’s note).
  31. Perhaps, Peter I of Serbia (Кarađorđević, 1844–1921) is meant. The modest in his personal life, he remained one of the most popular Serbian rulers. It is likely that the plot of the book takes place in the last year of the reign of King Peter I, who died in Belgrade on August 16, 1921 (English translator’s note).
  32. ‘Esnaf’ is a Turkish word which means ‘guild’ or ‘corporation’ (English translator’s note).
  33. Perhaps, Dimitrije (Pavlović, 1846–1930) is meant (English translator’s note).
  34. Cf. Matthew 28:18 (Russian translator’s note).
  35. ‘Sarraf’ is a Turkish word which means a money changer, a goldsmith who is interested in buying and selling gold coins and currencies (Macedonian dictionary, 2013) (English translator’s note).
  36. Originally ‘барјак’ [ba’rjak] is a square flag, usually on a long pole, carried in the hands. It is also called ‘хоругва’ [khoru’gv] or informally ‘литија’ [li’tija]. It is related to a labarum — an ecclesiastical standard with the christogram formed from the first two Greek letters of the word ‘Christ’ (Greek: ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ, or Χριστός), Chi (χ) and Rho (ρ) (English translator’s note).
  37. At the beginning of the 20th century (during the Balkan Wars and the First World War), Serbian participants in the partisan struggle against Ottoman Turkey and volunteer partisans who fought against the Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian invaders in Serbia and Montenegro were called Chetniks (Russian & English translators’ note).
  38. Place of martyrdom (English translator’s note).
  39. Varanasi has at least one snake temple and a well named the well of the snake: ‘Nag Kuan’. There is also a special day Naga Panchami, which is of traditional worship of snakes and demigods Nagas observed by Hindus, Jains, Buddhists throughout India (English translator’s note).
  40. Qismat (‘Divine Decree’) is the sixth major belief in Islam. This word means ‘fate’ or ‘predestination’ in Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Persian and Turkish, spelled ‘Kismat’ in English in the Indian subcontinent. The concept of Qismat is close in this sense to the concept of Karma (Russian translator’s note).
  41. Originally, ‘авет’ [avet] is a supernatural being in the mythology of the South Slavs (English translator’s note).
  42. British Raj spread from Baluchistan and Punjab in the west to Burma in the east, from Kashmir in the north to Travancore in the south. In 1891, the Indian Empire had 287 million inhabitants; among them, 72% were Hindus, 20% Muslims, less than 1% Christians, 7% others (Russian & English translators’ note).
  43. The Turkish word ‘chobans’ means ‘shepherds’ (English translator’s note).
  44. Slavic words ‘tsar’ and ‘knez’ mean ‘king’ or ‘prince’ (English translator’s note).
  45. The word ‘Hagiorite’ is of Greek origin and means ‘of Holy Mount Athos’ (English translator’s note).
  46. The Serbian word ‘задужбина’ [zaduzhbina] denotes a church or monastery built by the ruler for the salvation of the soul. In Old Serbian language, this means ‘bequeathed to the commemoration of the soul’ (lat. Legatum in animae salutem). In modern Serbia, it is one of the forms of charity (property donated for charitable or educational purposes) and close to the English word ‘endowment’ (English translator’s note).
  47. The real-life Dimitrije Mitrinović (1887–1953) was a Bosnian Serb philosopher, poet, and mystic. He translated the Rigveda into Serbian. Apparently, he became the prototype for the Dušan Mitrinović personage in the book of Saint Nikolai (English translator’s note).
  48. ‘Ktetor’ means ‘founder’ (Russian & English translator's note).
  49. Yama is an underground god, the god of hell. He temporarily accepts the souls of dead people until their new incarnation, reincarnation in accordance with the karma belonging to each. Serbs talk ‘јама’ about a pit in the ground. Obviously, this word is of Sanskrit and it has a connection with the name of the underground god Yama (Russian translator’s note).
  50. According to the Prithviraj Raso poem, Prithviraj Chauhan was executed by Mohammad of Ghor in 12 century (English translator’s note).
  51. It is amazing how in the 21st century the words put by St. Nicholai of Serbia into the mouth of the personage of the old Lady Katyayani have become the most relevant! (English translator’s note)
  52. Rabindranath Tagore (Thakur; 1861-1941) — famous Indian humanist, poet, writer, musician and artist, laureate of the Nobel Prize in literature, awarded to him for the poetic cycle "Gitanjali" ("Song Offerings",1913), neo-Vedantist; he developed his own religious teaching "god of life" (jibandebot); author of the national anthems of India and Bangladesh. Tagore's homeland is Bengal, one of the largest centres for the development of Indian literature (Russian translator’s note).
  53. This refers to the Indian National Congress, the oldest political party in India, created in 1885 under the slogan of the struggle for the independence of India. Its leader was M. Gandhi, and Gandhism was the official ideology of the Congress. In 1947, when India gained independence, Congress formed its government and actually stood at the head of state until 1977 (Russian translator’s note).
  54. This refers to a conflict that was ripening at the beginning of the 20th century, which resulted in the division of British India into predominantly Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan with Bangladesh (as well as, finally, Buddhist Burma in Southeast Asia). To date, Muslims are concentrated mainly in eastern areas of Delhi (English translator’s note).
  55. John Chrysostom said: ‘Even if you eat ashes, but have no mercy, hell is your eternal home’ (Serbian publisher’s note).
  56. An ascetic person who is able to completely control his feelings, as well as who has taken a vow of renunciation (Sannyasa) (Russian translator’s note).
  57. ‘Peygamber’ is an Arabic word denoting a prophet. According to Muslims, Muhammad is the last peygamber, the prophet, and there will be no other. Notwithstanding it, Muhammad had written in the Quran that Jesus, the Son of Mary, would judge the world. He therefore confessed Jesus greater than himself (Serbian publiser’s note).
  58. In Serbian, ‘greet’ sounds like ‘pozdravljati’ which is etymologically related to the verb ‘heal’ (Russian translator’s note)
  59. ‘Waqf’ is immovable property of the Muslim clergy (Russian translator’s note).
  60. John Mott (1865-1955) is an American Protestant missionary and public figure, laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize (1946), one of the founders of the modern ecumenism movement and initiators of the World Council of Churches (Russian translator’s note).
  61. Rabindranath Tagore visited Belgrade in 1926 and gave lectures at the Belgrade and I.M. Kolarac Universities. In 2021, deputies of the Belgrade City Parliament adopted a resolution to erect a monument to Rabindranath Tagore in the Belgrade Park of Friendship at Ušće. It was opened in July of the same year (English translator’s note).
  62. Hence we can conclude that the conversations of the Serbian hosts with the Indian guests were meant to be in English (English translator’s note).
  63. Possibly, Ramachandra, Ramaghandra, or Râmakandra. Knower of Indian history will identify the proper inscription better than European translator. Originally, St. Nikolai writes here ‘Рамажандра’ [Ramazhandra] (Russian translator’s note).
  64. See also additional comments in the letter 58 of Theodosius Mangala to the church in Malabar (English translator’s note).
  65. Alternatively: Christ is in the midst of us! (English translator’s note)