Ages and Stages of Man and Movement – Part 1
Ages and Stages of Man and Movement
by Kailasa Candra dasa
First of a Three-Part Series
“There have been so many big empires in different parts of the world, there have been so many powerful kings all over the world, and there have been so many fortunate men, but all of them have been liquidated gradually. This is the law of material nature.”
–Srimad Bhagavatam, 1.11.33, purport
“ . . . and philosophical search for the Absolute Truth I declare to be knowledge . . . “
When any theory runs counter to a verse, sloka, statement in the Vedic literature, or genuine commentary on it, that idea, assertion, or theory must be categorized as mental speculation—which is never wanted. However, when research is undertaken in order to further a better perspective on Krishna consciousness and the Krishna consciousness movement, as long as it (the research and corresponding theory) avoids all unauthorized or mentally speculative ideas, it should be understood as pursuit or search for truth. It may well be able to help us make spiritual advancement. Such is the spirit in which this three-part series is undertaken. In some ways, it is similar to the series just concluded in The Transcendental Torchlight, Born as the U.S.A. In the first part of that series, we laid the foundation for the meaning and interpretation of the whole article.
In and of itself, we have no desire to understand the history of the Western world unless there is something in it that relates to, and can help us have, a better comprehension of Krishna consciousness. That is the goal of this article. In order to take advantage of it, some occult presuppositions are required. None of these are illogical; all of them are reasonable. You are requested to not neglect Part One, even if the mundane history of Western empires or ages holds little or no appeal to you.
In the aforementioned series (explaining the formation of the United States of America), as well as just prior to that, in the series connected to Srila Prabhupada’s natal chart, we received some negative feedback. Even in a posted comment, there was indication that the disputant had not read the foundational elements laid out in Part One. If you are interested in the topic of what the future of the Krishna consciousness movement portends, specifically how an educated prediction about it may be made in terms of synchronicity to Western history, then give this first part of the series some consideration.
Disciple: So is there any correlation between fire within the body and the mode of passion?
Prabhupada: Yes. Passion is there. Just like fire, if you fan it, it blazes more. Similarly, with passion, the fire is more powerful.
–Morning walk, May 25, 1976 in Honolulu (emphasis added)
“If the guru gives instructions in a dream, the disciple is supposed to follow them. I came to the West after my spiritual master repeatedly advised me in a number of dreams.”
–Related by Hayagriva prabhu in The Hare Krishna Explosion (adapted)
“I am deputed by my Guru Maharaj to spread this Krishna consciousness movement in the Western world. That is his grace. He wanted that Western people, who are intelligent, they should learn what is Krishna consciousness. So, my mission is for the Western country . . .”
–Room Conversation in New York City, July 5, 1972 (emphasis added)
In astrology, there is the well-known aphorism: “As above, so below.” Indeed, without accepting this basic concept, there is no meaning at all to the study, what to speak of the application, of astrology. Another more specific way of stating this occult principle is as follows: “As is the situation in the big universe, so it is in the little universe of the body that takes birth at a given time.” Many people, particularly in the West, reject this conception out of hand. As such, they completely disregard astrology, even the genuine sidereal system of interpretation. That is their misfortune.
Some basic correlation of occult significance is suggested in this article. If these synchronicities are rejected, then there is no benefit or realization to be gleaned. However, if what is proffered here appears to be more than mere coincidence—or, at the very least, has the potential for occult legitimacy—then this article may be of interest to you.
What is being suggested is as follows: His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada specifically said that he had received an empowered mandate to spread the Krishna consciousness movement in the West. In a letter to Hansadutta prabhu, he explicitly stated: “My special mission is for the Western countries.” All of his initial temples were in the West, the vast majority of them in the United States. Is it then not logical that the stages of his movement could correlate with the history of the great ages or epochs of the Western world? That is the basic premise of this article. If you reject it as outrageous, there is no need to read on.
Theoretically accepting it, is there any evidence? In other words, we already have some history laid down in Prabhupada’s particular Krishna consciousness movement. In terms of empires and epochs, does that contemporary track record demonstrate a correlation with the Western stages of development? You may be surprised, but the answer will be demonstrated in Part Two of our treatise.
The question may then be raised that, even so, of what value is such knowledge? We suggest that the value is two-fold. First, it helps us to better comprehend the current morass of the movement. This understanding requires another supplementary occult realization in connection to destiny and free will; that explanation will also be provided as the article unfolds. Secondly, it can give us a valuable perspective as to what the intermediate future holds for the Krishna consciousness movement—or its semblance, if it is unable to get back on track from the current deviation. All of this will be explained in detail in Part Three of the series.
The other occult correlation that requires consideration, or at least theoretical acceptance, is this: Western man has progressed (used loosely here) through seven different and specific ages or stages, including the present one, many of them demarcated in terms of empires. Each of these ages or epochs was governed by one specific planet, one of the major planets of the sidereal pantheon. This will be delineated with specificity in Part One of the series, which you are reading now.
“And yet we know that, in due course of time, many empires have come into existence and been destroyed. Many aristocratic families were created by people in their extreme madness, but we can see that, in the course of time, those families and empires have all been destroyed. . . The so-called political leaders are busy making plans to advance the material prosperity of their nation, but factually these political leaders only want an exalted position for themselves. Due to their greed for material position, they falsely present themselves as leaders before the people and collect their votes, although they are completely under the grip of the laws of material nature. These are some of the faults of modern civilization.” Srimad Bhagavatam, 4.24.66, purport
This quote combines a reference to ancient Western empires along with the modern technological (or current epoch) of the West, led by the United States. Actually, although we are still in this modern age of Western man, it has actually now passed into a post-modern sector; we are in the second-half of the cruise, so to speak. This devolutionary half is still ruled by the same planet as was the epoch’s first part, and, as such, continues to share many if not most of the elements of the previous seventeen decades.
When did Western civilization begin? This question is answered in all history books, and, luckily, the answer given in them is the correct one: With the Greeks (pulindas). There were a number of empires in the same region either just previous to, or contemporary with, the Greek Empire. Some prominent examples of these are as follows: The Chaldean, the Medean, the Assyrian, the Phoenician, the Persian, the Babylonian, and, of course, the Egyptian. The pulse of these empires and civilizations was basically Oriental, not Western.
To put it another way, Western culture and civilization had not yet come to be during the course of these empires. Many of them were deviant offshoots from the previous Vedic epoch, which ruled the entire world. As such, they were, to greater or lesser extents, marked by that Oriental culture, way of thought, and system of government.
In relation to the Tarot, which originated with the Egyptians, a counter-argument may be raised: Should not the Egyptian experiment be considered the real root of the Western civilization? The Tarot has some self-evident Western conception in it, particularly as per its (proper) interpretation of the Major Arcana. We grant that part of this argument.
Nevertheless, we suggest that, although the seed of Western culture is indeed contained within the Tarot–and the stages of advancement (through the Major Arcana) are still operative in the West–the Egyptian culture itself was almost entirely Oriental in outlook, hierarchy, process, and structure. The Tarot, however, worked its way into Western European culture (mostly through the medium of the E-gypsies) surreptitiously—but nothing else of the Egyptian period of overall empire is applicable to the Western weltanschauung, especially at this time.
You may find it astounding that we do not attribute one of the ages to the Renaissance. Just as importantly, we do not consider the Reformation to be an age of Western man. These two points require some preliminary explanation. Giving profound deliberation to this topic, it appears to your author—who has also consulted another godbrother about it—that both the Renaissance and the Reformation were sub-plots or lateral octaves running within the course of two concurrent ages; neither of them actually constituted an age or epoch in and of themselves.
Each was always subordinate, or, more specifically, the Renaissance was the leading edge of the Enlightenment. The humanistic pulse of the Renaissance flowered–in a unique but nevertheless related way–in the form of the Enlightenment, which emerged directly from it. Without the foundational resistance provided by the Reformation, that age could not have been born; it would have been crushed by the Church. True, the Enlightenment was different from the Renaissance; in many ways, however, there is a distinct similarity between the two.
As aforementioned, we are proposing seven epochs or ages of Western man. Let us now proceed to a very concise description of these ages, epochs, or empires, culminating in our modern (post-modern) epoch. In doing so, we shall present the proposed dates of these stages, along with a brief explanation of reasons for assigning them their timeframe. Similarly, we shall describe the nature of the age. By doing so, we can then comprehend the major planet assigned to it as the obvious ruler.
The Greek Empire (500 B.C. – 168 B.C.)
Most historians assign Pericles to the beginning of the Greek foundation of Western civilization, and we concur with this. When the Romans defeated Perseus at the Battle of Pydna in 168 B.C., the Greek Empire was, for all practical purposes, brought to a close.
This epoch had some similarities to a Vedic civilization in that the intellectuals, the Greek equivalent of the brahmins, were given the most esteemed position. As but one example, the superb conqueror, Alexander the Great, spent many years with Aristotle, being tutored in ethics, morality, and philosophy, before his military conquests even commenced.
The experiments in Greek democracy were certainly new in comparison to any of the previous Oriental empires. There was a great deal of hope and optimism in the student-teacher relationships that proliferated during this epoch, as well as in the civilization’s attempts at government. The whole pulse of this culture had a liberal and expansive element to it. As such, Jupiter was the ruler of this epoch, which flourished for 332 years.
The Roman Empire (168 B.C. – 330 A.D.)
The Roman Empire, in its beginning stage, was a republic. At the time of Julius Caesar, despite the fact that he refused to don a crown or accept the title of emperor, for all practical purposes he was one. In other words, he became a dictator, although fully backed by the people. The Senate conspired to and then did kill him, but the momentum he created could not be checked. His adopted nephew became the next leader (with some others, at first), taking the title of Caesar Augustus.
During both its republican phase, as well as during the latter emperor or dictator era, the whole culture was permeated by militarism. This was clearly an epoch dominated by Mars. These emperors were sometimes relatively ethical and, with examples of men like Caligula and Nero, sometimes exceedingly evil. Some of them were weak and others were very strong. Dictatorship continued well past Caesar and the slightly later short duration of Isha Krista’s life in Palestine.
During the second century A.D., there was a string of five powerful and relatively ethical (in terms of how Mars can be so, which is limited) emperors, culminating in Marcus Aurelius, who was opposed to the Christians and persecuted them. His son more or less usurped the throne, and quite likely killed his father, also. Commodus was weak, evil, and his reign was short. Emperors were never great after Aurelius, with the exception (arguably) of the last one in the chain.
Nevertheless, despite periodic invasions from Germanic barbarians, the Roman martial system, combined with the bureaucratic strength of this empire, remain established, persisting up to the time of the fourth century and its aforementioned last emperor, Constantine. Christianity had become the dominant belief of the masses during this later time, surpassing paganism to a greater or lesser extent. When Constantine converted to Christianity, the Roman Empire was terminated after a duration of 498 years.
The Byzantine Empire (330 A.D. – 641)
The idea that the next empire was Oriental and not Western is not borne out by the facts. The Roman Empire contained all of Asia Minor, and the headquarters of the Byzantine Empire was at the western end of Asia Minor. Although it can be argued that barbarian hordes were invading the western sectors of the empire during this whole period, factually, life was not so bad for the citizens. For example, the powerful barbarian Theodoric did not try to destroy the superstructure; he simply wanted to rule by taking advantage of it. The Roman matrix remained intact, but now the prevailing dogma was Christian rather than pagan. That was a big change.
The idea that the Byzantine Empire was small compared to the Roman Empire is also not born out. Although Constantinople did not have as much of a hold of its western territories as Rome did of its eastern sector during the previous age, Emperor Justinian I had a territory of control that was just as large and expansive as did Marcus Aurelius.
In every period, there is always going to be at least one example of an aberration. In the Byzantine Empire, that came in the form of Julian the Apostate, who took over not long after Constantine. He attempted to re-establish paganism. However, the pagan egregor had become weak and emaciated by that time; it could not defend him in his confrontation with the Persians, and he was killed in battle. Christianity remained the dominant belief system throughout this period despite Julian.
The Christians never had it so good. The empire still offered most of the Pax Romana protection, but the dogma now centered upon the teachings of Christ. In many ways, it was a dreamy and imaginative period, and that is why the Moon was the ruler of this age. The Christians would have three consecutive epochs of dominance in the course of Western civilization, and this was the first of those. Although its headquarters was at Constantinople, the pride of place for this empire was the opulent and extensive library at Alexandria; the Byzantine Empire preserved all the important features and teachings of both Rome and Athens. When Alexandria was sacked and destroyed by the Muslims in 641 A.D., Byzantium began to immediately crater, and this empire came to a close after a duration of 311 years.
The Dark Ages (641 – 1150)
The Western provinces were soon overrun and ruined when the Byzantine Empire fell; chaos, along with a desperate poverty, ensued as a result. Culture eroded; Latin learning almost disappeared and the Greek teachings ceased to exist. Criminals and marauders now roamed the countryside, life was full of dangers, and the common man was often unable to protect himself and his family. As a result, he sought the protection from a lord, and thus emerged the system of feudalism.
Life in the Dark Ages was dark, filthy, rude, and crude. The lord was the owner of the land, and the common man became, in exchange for protection, little more than his sharecropper or serf. If he worked the land for his lord, the serf could build a hut on it and live there. Law was always local, but, in some areas, it did not even exist to any significant extent. The emperors at this time were not like those of the previous ages; they often did not even collect taxes from the other castles (which were, technically, part of their empire), but relied only on the nobles connected to their headquarters.
Everything in this “culture” was atomized. The religious axis now shifted back to Rome, and the Archbishop there became known as the Pope. The Church prospered during this age. Although at any given castle, the king had more power than the bishop, priest, or chaplain, the Church insisted that all of the clergy was responsible to it. The king could only rule over his secular subjects, who were all themselves enamored by the Church. High church dignitaries existed in one domain, and the barons, counts, dukes, knights, landed gentry, and serfs operated under the civil system (localized) of the king, or, in some cases, the emperor.
The knights and great lords pledged themselves in fealty to the local king and thus became his vassals; the local bishop approved of this. There was virtually no mercantile class during this period. The serfs, which remained the majority in terms of sheer numbers, regarded their earthly sojourns (mostly suffering) as not very important; what mattered to them was their life after death. The Church was acclaimed to hold the keys to their ultimate salvation, and that is why the kings and emperors during this period could not defy the Papacy to any significant extent. It could not only excommunicate an uncooperative king, but it could also interdict his whole community. When the serfs, barons, and knights were thus denied the sacraments, revolt was certain to result.
This long, cold, dark period had a couple of apparent aberrations in the powerful personalities of Charlemagne and William the Conqueror; nevertheless, they did nothing to change the feudal structure. Considering the ambience of the environment and mood of the people, the epoch must be considered as being ruled by Saturn. It lasted 509 years. Near its end, however, something very different politically began to emerge, and the first Gothic cathedral, built in France in 1150, represented that change.
The Gothic Age (1150 – 1527)
Near the end of the Dark Ages, the Church made a power grab for even more lucre than it already possessed. In 1139, the Pope ruled that all the clergy must henceforward remain celibate. This meant that, when a clergyman died, his holdings could not be passed to his wife or children; they all went to the Church, because he had no family. By 1150, the Gothic cathedral of Saint Denis in France was completed, and all of Europe had come to know of it by that time. This significant new architecture corresponded with another mindset. During all of this time, the power of the Roman Catholic Church was being embellished.
A new concept of government emerged from the burnt remnants of feudalism: The concept of the nation-state. These corresponding political entities were not like the nations of today, however; they were, in point of fact, Church-State combinations. The nation-state of the Gothic period represented the domination of the Church over all that be, i.e., the state was the secular symbol of the only religion that was considered bona fide according to the Eurocentric mentality of the times.
Gothic architecture was thus an expression of this mindset. Everything was power-based. The kings (and queens) of the period were supposed to symbolize the power and glory of Christ and his Church. Their colonization of foreign lands represented God in the form of their particular nation-state, exerting control over heathen and pagan sub-humans.
The Goth temple was a colossus. We may view it today, with its gargoyles and ominous designs, as quite hideous. Nevertheless, to the people of this era—and the common man engaged enthusiastically in its monumental construction—it substantiated the glory of both his nation and religion. These buildings were ornately decorated, the arches and flying buttresses were awe-inspiring, the stonework was exquisite, and the great stained glass windows were of unmatched beauty.
Power and glory are mostly within the astrological portfolio of the Sun, which was the major planet governing this age. The Renaissance also began during this epoch and embellished it. During feudalism, religious sentiments had been under the control of the bishops, priests, and monks. During the Gothic period, however, the common people, who were now flocking to newly-built cities featuring Gothic architecture, began to claim an almost equal share of religious legitimacy.
The Renaissance delivered a flavor of scientific inquiry and humanism unknown during the Dark Ages. Still, whenever push came to shove, Renaissance attitude was always subordinated to Gothic power. The Inquisition thrived during the Gothic era. Near the very end of this age, a rebellion took place, initiated by Martin Luther in Wittenberg, Germany. Such rebellions had taken place before and had always been crushed, e.g., the Arians (who had the siddhanta right, by the way) and the Cathars, to name but two. The people felt that what came to eventually be known as Protestantism would similarly be crushed–but it wasn’t.
Instead, it spread, no doubt covertly assisted by Renaissance heresy (although these two movements were only united in their mutual animosity toward the Papacy). The last Gothic cathedral was constructed around 1500, and the Reformation began only a little over two decades later. During the initial years of the Reformation, it was touch-and-go as to whether or not that movement had staying power. That question was answered by a major event in 1527, which effectively ended Goth. The epoch thus took up a period of history numbering 377 years.
The Age of Enlightenment (1527 – 1840)
Secretary: Descartes writes, “The power of forming a good judgment and of distinguishing the true from the false, which is, properly speaking, what is called good sense or reason, is by nature equal in all men. God has given to each of us some light with which to distinguish truth from error.” Now, in the West, this has been called Conscience, (but) Descartes uses the term “reason.” Now, is this simply a form of mental speculation?
Prabhupada: No. Mental speculation should be there. It is not actually speculation, but it is reasoning.
–Critique of Rene Descartes, Dialectical Spiritualism (emphasis added)
In 1527, Henry the Eighth broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. The political center of power had gradually shifted towards England in the intervening years, and it would find its locus standi there after the Battle of Trafalgar (when Spain’s naval fleet was destroyed) during the reign of Elizabeth I, King Henry’s second daughter. Henry VIII was the English king who separated the Church of England (Anglican Church) from the Church of Rome (Catholic Church).
This event solidified the Reformation, but it also laid the foundation for England’s eventual mastery of the seas. The other nation-states continued to center their efforts on standing armies; Henry had his military working on warships, in effect perfecting them. Pope Clement VII would not sanction Henry’s proposed divorce from Catherine of Aragon (a Catholic from Spain) or his proposed marriage to Anne Boleyn (who would give him a daughter, the aforementioned Queen Elizabeth). So, Henry simply coronated her Queen Anne and threw his full support to the Reformation.
Henry’s third wife (after he beheaded Anne for alleged unfaithfulness) bore him a sickly son. Edward VI (“The Boy King”) took over the throne after Henry’s death but only lived to the age of sixteen. Protestantism (the Anglican Church) was established during that time by his regent and uncle, the Duke of Somerset. However, after Edward’s death, the next in line for the throne was Catherine’s daughter, Mary.
She was a Catholic, and, with no small measure of success, attempted to re-establish Catholicism. During her reign, she executed (burned at the stake) almost every prominent Protestant in England, including the Anglican Archbishop, Thomas Cranmer, the intellectual behind Henry’s breakaway attempt. As a result, this Queen was known as Bloody Mary.
She did not kill her younger sister Elizabeth, however, although Queen Mary strongly suspected that Elizabeth was Protestant. When Bloody Mary died, Elizabeth inherited the throne and kept it for many decades. Indeed, she did re-establish the Anglican Church with the assistance of Lord Burleigh; England, during her reign, became the prominent nation-state of the world. As a result, the Reformation prospered in Europe and America.
There were a number of aberrations during the succession of later English kings, i.e., monarchs who tried to re-impose Catholicism. None of them was ultimately successful. When William and Mary captured the crown during the Glorious Revolution, the Anglican Church remained unchallenged ever after as the religion of Great Britain.
Somewhat surprisingly, however, the period being discussed here is not known as the Reformation Epoch, because that was not its main pulse. It was the Age of Enlightenment. The philosophers who advocated reason as a means to understand truth (or Truth) now had enough political freedom to engage in their various astral pursuits. The political scene was no longer under the oppressive domination of one way, a Church mindset that had grown increasingly dogmatic and divorced from reality.
The Enlightenment philosophers set the stage for all kinds of subtle experimentation in new ways of thought, and this percolated into every other division of human life, including the political. The great men who founded America were all creatures of the Enlightenment. The French Revolution was a product of the Enlightenment. Democracy, the idea of the Enlightened Despot, and the Leviathan of Thomas Hobbes (who is sometimes considered a Renaissance man) were all proposals made by Enlightenment thinkers of this era.
Goth was over, and the Age of Enlightenment made a complete break with all the systems and empires of the past. Its indirect ties to the Renaissance, which was certainly ruled by Venus, carried over into its dress, style, formalities, dealings, and intrigues. Free Masonry—and, please note, that many of America’s founders were Masons—was an offspring of the Age of Enlightenment; it lasted 313 years.
This period came to termination when a very influential and hard-boiled philosopher, trained from childhood to be so, broke away from its fundamental concepts; this transpired in 1840.
That will all be described in Part Two of this series, where we shall similarly analyze the seventh and final age of Western civilization, the Modern Era. In Part Two, we shall also compare the ratio of all these ages and/or empires in relation to one another. Finally in Part Two, we shall examine the Krishna Consciousness movement established by His Divine Grace in the West, determining what analogous periods have taken place in it, where we are now, and where we are very likely headed.
To Be Continued