"It's your karma!": What Enlightenment, New Age and Nazism have in common? Gnostic ideology and its refutation.

In a discussion about child abuse someone wrote:

"The abusers claimed they are doing a favor to their victims by 'relieving the children of their bad karma'. Speak about adding an insult to injury. These perpetrators believed that by indulging in their sadistic whims, hurting and injuring children under their care, they actually acted in the capacity of Yamaraja or Krishna Himself. Is it possible to have a deeper misconception about oneself?
What kind of demoniac philosophy is that and where does it come from? Also the people who witnessed this abuse happen must have believed in such an utterly evil construction. I'm shocked. Always thought the first lesson in Vaishnavism is that you are not God, Krishna is."

The short answer is Gnosis (Gnosticism). Due to its harming potential it needs a bit closer look, at least an overview, although it's a large topic. But I hope that even this much will clarify a lot about the current state of the world as well as the situation of ISKCON.

This ideology misunderstands karma in a narrow, mechanistic way: "Nobody should interfere when someone suffers because he deserves it." That's it.

From the practical point of view reincarnation and karma were abolished in the Church since they were being misused under the influence of Gnostic monism in a way the Nazis misused them in modern times for their oppression based on categories of caste, birth, class, ethnicity, sex or age. Thus slavery, sex abuse and age abuse of elderly and children, as well as killing defective unborn ones (Eugenics), stems from it. It is the basis of current asuric world agendas, all leading to genocide to prevent fake 'overpopulation'.

Relationship of monistic Gnosticism to devotional Christianity in the West was like that of Adi Shankara's advaita to devotional Vaishnavism in India. The Church strived to overcome it for centuries but never fully succeeded. With this historical background we can understand the strong reaction against the book and movie "Da Vinci Code" presenting old Gnostic views mentioned already in the Bible (Gr. gnoseos, 1 Tim. 6:20).

So the impersonalist Gnosis was a sort of Western Advaita and an inspiration for Enlightenment with its secularist idea of material 'horizontal' 'progress' replacing the traditionalist spiritual 'vertical' progress. Progress is the magic word driving all modern efforts to replace the 'backward, dark traditionalism'. Srila Prabhupada used to ask "Progress where?", ridiculing the Western material self-destructive development.

It also inspired New Age views. That's why the current Western worldview since its emergence some 300 years ago is 108% impersonal, supporting ruthless power struggle based on greed, the cherished ideology of asuras, or Kali celas.

Gnosis appeared around the same time as Christianity (Western Bhakti monotheism) which, on the other hand, espoused compassion to others and implied that harm to the devotee (Vaisnava aparadha), and moreover a helpless one, is the worst thing one can do since the reaction is immense. (Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2) Gnosis was its ideological rival, promoting esoteric knowledge (Greek gnosis, from Sanskrit jnana) and impersonal God as all-encompassing light (brahmajyoti) and 'Love' (Amour). After it largely replaced Christian worldview in the West, infiltrating and further denigrating Vatican by various perversions and scandals, it established itself in academia, large media, top politics, economics - everywhere where it matters.

In 20th century it was also enthusiastically adopted by Nazis. British aristocracy and Nazis were on friendly terms before WWII and the British royal family even has German origins. Himmler concluded from the Gita that killing is alright since no one is really killed and moreover, that by killing they liberate others from their karma and samsara! There is a Czech cult movie from the 60's "Spalovac mrtvol" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cremator
about one such misguided crazy guy.

It's a truly heinous perversion which is against both dharma sastras and bhakti sastras. According to dharma everyone, and esp. ksatriyas, must try to stop harm (ksat trayate) to others. Bhakti includes compassion, and while one may choose to tolerate insults to oneself ("turn the other face"), one must act when others are being harmed, otherwise one gets a heavy karmic reaction just like Kauravas. Vaisnava aparadha and its removal is described in Satvata tantra, which is a Vaisnava tantra quoted already by Sridhar Swami, the famous commentator of the Srimad Bhagavatam, before the time of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu.

We have some bright examples in sastras to follow though. Sri Hanuman tolerated harm to himself but tirelessly protected and saved others, including Sri Laksman. Arjuna was told to follow his ksatriya dharma and fight adharma. Draupadi, as a helpless woman, was protected from the Kauravas by the Lord Himself who is Bhakta Vatsala (Protector of devotees), Dina Bandhu (Friend of the fallen) and Karuna Sindhu (Ocean of mercy).

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If I got you interested - since I assume you've never heard of it (perhaps marginally while studying history at your university), which is intentional - here is some more:

Gnosis appeared a few centuries before and after the beginning of our era (formerly called before and after Christ, but it was replaced by secular terms, since religious symbols must be removed from the public sphere in a secular society and replaced by the ubiquitous symbols of the new rulers) in the Eastern Mediterranean (Egypt, Palestine). It was a diverse ideological mix of Egyptian, Greek, and Jewish ideas, but also showing Eastern influences. At that time, there were Buddhist missionaries from India who could have influenced it. The name of Buddha is mentioned probably for the first time outside India in the writings of Clement of Alexandria (2nd century AD/CE). The Eastern influence is prominent: Although Gnosticism supported ahimsa, vegetarianism, reincarnation, etc. (which makes it attractive to Vaisnavas), at the same time it was monistic, opposing monotheism.

Gnosis was an elite esoteric knowledge, i.e. available only to select 'better' individuals through a secret transmission (today we also hear about 'better people', just like the notorious Uebermensch in Nazi era). The Gnostic mentality is typically elitist and antinomistic - it makes the individual feel that he is above the law in the style of 'the end justifies the means'. Gnostics consider themselves to be the (only) knowledgeable, good, true - albeit self-proclaimed - saviors, and they were/are ready to impose this 'good' on others at any cost. Sounds familiar?

Its stress on dualism (good vs. evil) was most probably taken from Zoroastrism (Mazdayasna). Zoroaster dissociated himself from the Vedic tradition and reinterpreted it by 180 degrees (changing sura for asura/ahura etc.). Overview gives Subhash Kak in his article The Indian Religion In Ancient Iran And Zarathushtra and more details are e.g. in Suhotra Swami's book Dimensions of Good and Evil, ch. 16 - The Vedic Root of the Western Religious Tradition.

Gnosis and modernity

An extensive Western anti-monotheistic (i.e. mainly anti-Christian/anti-Catholic) modern views carried by groups like Freemasons, Rosicrucians, Theosophists, various pseudochristian, esoteric and occult groups up to recent exponents of New Age like Edgar Cayce, fake Lama Lobsang Rampa (impersonation by Englishman Cyril Hoskins) or Dan Brown of "Da Vinci Code", etc. can be traced to it. It is a kind of hidden in open sight due to the fact that most people have no clue about it. From time to time, especially before Easter, we are reminded of its presence when the media advertise some newly found Gnostic gospel, or at least brings up the theme of the alleged marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, supposed to 'shake the foundations of Christianity'. The reason is that it sees an avatar as an ordinary human (BG 9.11), just like Indian Advaita.

Fake vs real God

The common feature of all versions of Gnosis is monism (mayavada, advaita, impersonalism), the idea that the supreme reality is verbally indescribable, passive, homogeneous, impersonal existence. According to Gnosis, the creator of the material world is not God but a so-called demiurge called Ialdabaoth or Rex Mundi, 'the king of (this) world', who is evil, ignorant and opposed to God, therefore creating an imperfect world full of suffering. Irenaeus of Lyon writes about him in his famous work Adversus Haereses (1.30).

In the Vedic version this demiurge is creator BrahmA. In Slavic folklore he is known as Svantovit or Světovid because his four heads look into the four cardinal directions. As a secondary creator, however, he merely fulfills God's plan.

God in the Old Testament appears in wrathful form ("ugra rupa") called Yahu-Tzabaoth, Aryeh etc., and in other traditions known as Helios Chronos (Greece), Amen-Ra (Egypt), Apademak (Ethiopia), Zervan (Iran), Narasimha (India), Narushima (Japan), etc. His most wrathful form is Time ('Kala', Bhagavad Gita 10.30, 11.32) which destroys everything material without exception.

The idea of the absolute in Gnosis is common to two very influential philosophies - Buddhism and Advaita. But it is contrary to theistic philosophies, especially Christianity in the West, according to which the sovereign reality is a personal God.
This has led to a long-lasting struggle that has no end. The Roman Catholic Church, as the strongest Catholic force, was constantly battling whichever form the Gnosticism took (Cathars, Templars, Freemasons, etc.) but couldn't eradicate it and in the process also destroyed countless innocent lives (e.g. 'witches'). This continues to be an ammunition for its opponents.

Academic sources:
Barnstone Willis, Meyer Marvin - The Gnostic Bible
Pagels Elaine - The Gnostic Gospels
the quoted sources