The Sandorian Grove: The philosophical-religious background of the Satyagraha concept

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 The philosophical-religious background of the Satyagraha concept1 comment
picture23 Jun 2013 @ 01:46, by Max Sandor

The word Satyagraha came to the West as a name coined by Mahatma Gandhi for his concept of "peaceful civil disobedience" in his efforts to rid India of the British occupation more than one-hundred years ago. Gandhi choose the word carefully but still had to change it several times afterwards because he expanded it (or reverted it) to its original spiritual background at which point it lost its force as a strategical approach against oppression.

In the Satyagraha 2.0 proposal [link], we use this concept therefore deliberatly VOID of any religious or philosophical connotation.

For a very good overview over the Satyagraha concept in general, see Wikipedia. [link]

In the following, we will look at what is NOT being said there.

The translations of Satyagraha as 'force of love', 'power of truth', or 'truth prevails' are simply NOT translations but INFERENCES based on the interpretations of Gandhi himself and a host of religious teachers who claim to know and use this power.

If we look at the word 'Satya' itself it clearly and unmistakenly means 'is-ness'. It is from a shallow perspective the 'reality' of the 'solid stuff' of the Universe in contrast to the ideas about it, or what could be called the 'spiritual' phenomena.

Western thinking has lost the difference of the meanings of Soul and Spirit during the medieval times, or so it seems, and since then, pneuma and psyche, shiva and shakti, yin and yang, Seele und Geist, have been collapsed to mean the same thing. Which cannot be, of course, and which is the downfall of most modern philosophies of our times.

With a revived understanding of Soul and Spirit as the two main principles of the Universe, we could also Satya define as the tangible result of the interaction of BOTH, 'reality as such', or, as many Indians do, limit it to the manifestations produced by Soul (even if it's done under the guidance of Spirit). For now, let's reduce it to 'reality of Soul', or simply 'Soul'. Some 'translations' actually use 'Soul' in the compound, but lacking the distinction of Soul and Spirit, its meaning becomes diffuse again.

But let's go ahead with our contemplations!

'Agraha' has been identified as the second part of the compound satya-agraha (satyagraha) and is commonly translated as 'force', 'insistence', and similar. Even with little knowledge of Sanskrit, it is obvious that the prefix A- means the ABSENCE of something and it is therefore a definition by a 'negative'. But concepts like 'force' and 'power' are beyond any doubts definitions by 'positives' and this can't be quite it.

This brings us to the contemplation of what 'graha' means. The suffix -ha typically points to the character or classification of the preceding root, similar to the German suffix '-heit', like in 'everything related to X'. There are no established roots for gra*, only ghra* (to smell) and gr.h* (to take, to seize). It makes therefore a lot of sense to follow a common modern day translation of 'agraha' as 'that what cannot be seized'.

Which leaves us for the compound 'Satyagraha' with 'the Reality which cannot be seized', or, close to inference, but not just yet, with 'untangible suchness'.

If we extrapolate the union of Soul and Spirit and call it 'substrate' (as in some circles we now do), 'Satyagraha' can be seen as a name for exactly this: the (untangible) substrate underlying Spirit and Soul.

Addendum (addressing the feedback received):

"The Akashic template of the word Satyagraha currently is Peace + Flow. So it's not making change itself, but disallowing persistence, and it is done with peace which includes acceptance and receptiveness to all-that-is." (Chris)

"I found 'seize' also for graha, but another meaning is to perceive or recognize.

I am glad you wrote this out, it again highlights the fact that languages, even dead, frozen ones, have their words change in meaning over time in ways the people using them cannot perceive. The classic example of course is how dukkha changed from meaning 'duality, split apart', to becoming the perceived EFFECT of duality and shoved sideways into meaning the opposite of sukha.

If we take 'seize' as the meaning we get the isness (essence) of what cannot be seized, which is the olodu Osa.

So be slippery in the face of force! :)
Thanks, Max. :)

Further notes by Max:
Upon request, a few words on the concept of Duragraha. Note, that Satyagraha is spelled better with a long 'a' or 'double a', like Satyaagraha. In the West, we omit the 'long a' for ease of reading and writing. Dura-graha in contrast does not have this double 'a', and ironically this perhaps contributed to the confusion about the interpretation of the real meaning Satyagraha (outside its usage as a political strategy).

'Dura' comes from root duh*, 'to injure, hurt or kill', and as a consequence it means 'seizing/taking by means of hurting'. It is often (mis)translated as 'stubborn resistance' and 'fixed prejudgment', both inferences that have little to do with the original word&meaning, probably caused by interpretations of Gandhi himself, and, again, of 'spiritual leaders' that, as usual, like to moralize.

Duragraha is the declared strategy of the USA and it needs 'motivators' to justify itself. From there stems the method of artificially creating vandalism or atrocious acts that can then easily be used to implement 'hardliner' actions.

Example: immediately after the first peaceful mass demonstrations in Brazil a week ago, President Dilma, immediately declared to 'come down hard on vandalism'. Makes sense? Yes, if the orders are already given to send some undercover provocateurs to the coming events. This is how Duragraha is implemented. The last decades are full such violent 'aggressions' instigated by oppressive forces, in the USA, Europe, and elsewhere.

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1 comment

1 Aug 2013 @ 09:54 by Carrol Anne Thompson @ : power is inappropriate as is insistence.
the force, or insistence, PRECLUDES 'trust,' 'allowance,' or Zen.

force, persistence, insistence, are ALL mindforms of kontrol and ARE to be avoided. WITH Balance, all of these OBVIOUS negative can be avoided. When we run into these negatives, let them be on the guardrails of our paths, not CREATED by us to experience MORE of our own miseries. Like this would be hard to do .. . Overjoy, excessive laughter, inappropriate joking at others expense, are ALL inappropriate egoforms, Think your ways to be CLEAR and concise. Positive will just come with the territory!  

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