Review: The Dharma Manifesto (Arktos 2013)

Litteratur, Okategoriserade, Recensioner, Rekommenderat

The west has always benefited spiritually from impulses from the Far East. Now we have a manifesto challenging the whole western way of thinking and organizing society. It’s called ”The Dharma Manifesto”. – As for wordings the author’s name is regularly spelled ”Sri” etc but as far as I remember from my sanskrit lessons this title (meaning ”his divine grace”) is pronounced ”shri”. And the sanskrit word for ”eternal”, ”sanâtana”, has the long a in the middle. That’s why I spell as I do. As for myself my name is Lennart Svensson, a Swedish author blogging on Motpol since 2011.



Shri Dharma Pravartaka Âcârya is an American born guru, educated in India and steeped in the Vaishnava tradition. His ”The Dharma Manifesto” (Arktos 2013) is dedicated to Plato and Swami Prabhupâda, the latter known as the founder of the international Krishna Consciousness Movement. This could give you some orientation of the tenor ot the work: modern Vaishnavism with a relateable approach, a voice from the East with some insights into what the West has in common with the spiritual issues at hand.

The main strength of ”The Dharma Manifesto” is this: being a tractate of eastern ideas formulated in a way that a westerner can relate to. Shri Dharma knows his way both around Veda and the western way of thinking, both around western and Indian history and to-day’s political discussion regarding the demise of materialism and the resurgence of spirituality. What especially gladdens you is that the author, in outlining the ills of the world, dares mention the NWO machiavellian cabal having the westworld in its grip, dictating world events with secret means. NWO materialism and nihilism, uttrered in the ”Empire of Fear”-style liberalism and PC-ism we all know too well, has to give way for a totally different society – one dedicated to art, science and spirituality. ”The Dharma Manifesto” seems to say this and more, like maintaining that almost everything in the politics of the western world has to be changed – a change of the western frame of mind is needed, away from dualism and materialism and into an etichs founded in metaphysics, in the vertical dimension of Reality allowing for a contact with the realm of eternal values such as courage, self-restraint, piety and respect for all things living.

”The Dharma Manifesto”, grasping the nettle of todays western political crisis, is well worth studying by anyone intrerested in ideology, politics and spirituality. With a profound and yet contemporary grip on the issues the manifesto is somewhat unique. Now there are some other manifestoes around these days; with or without the word ”manifesto” in the title I think about works by Sunic, Faye, Dugin, de Benoist and the French Génération Identitaire. Shri Dharma’s book however is different in its divinely led approach, in its anchoring everything, including the political, in the spritual realm – the dimension of the Eternal Natural law, of Sanâtana Dharma.

Sanâtana Dharma in the stricter sense is a synonym to Hinduism. Moreover – and liberally – it may be defined as all the far eastern religions who beside Hinduism use the ”dharma” concept like Buddhism, Jainism and maybe Taoism. Beyond that Sanâtana Dharma, seen as ”religions expressing the timeless aspects of Natural Law”, may have an even wider sense, incorporating everything that isn’t part of the so-called Abrahamitic religions of Judaism, Islam och Christianity. Thus northern Asatru, ancient Greek and Roman religions and shamanism could be said to be part of Sanâtana Dharma too. All religions with a sense for Natural Law and eternal tradition are what Shri Dharma seems to incorporate in his vision for a new spiritual program for the world.



There you have the formal foundations. But ”The Dharma Manifesto” isn’t a book about religion and esotericism proper. It’s a manifesto delineating the principles for a spiritual reformation of the politics of the western world. So then, focusing on the hands-on political side of the manifesto you can find a lot to agree on. Shri Dharma, envisioning his political program for the west (or should that be ”for the USA” since that’s where Shri Dharma’s International Sanâtana Dharma Society is based), talks about things such as flat tax, minimal government, decentralization, small city renewal and having the traditional family as the primary organizational unit of the nation.

These are all sympathetic issues, worthy of support, especially as they are given in a framework of putting priority to quality of life issues.  This is sorely needed in the materialistic paradigm of today, only having economic growth before the eyes. As for details of this manifesto you might wonder how practical is the idea of having sanskrit as a universal language, beside English, ”to help foster a sense of unity in the new, voluntary natural global order”. Of course sanskrit even today is a living language for the discussion of classical dharma concepts and classical documents proper but when Shri Dharma says that sanskrit – spoken sanskrit – can be of use even for the common man I dare to disagree. Even if it would be for the purpose of a new lingua franca.

The manifesto is about the politics of today, of changing society into a more spiritual environment. Every aspect of society is covered in this way in ”The Dharma Manifesto”. But it isn’t about forming a political party, the strategy instead being to act metapolitically. That said the outlined metapolitical way in the manifesto is rather hands-on and sober. The ideas aren’t always founded on what’s practical but in all the manifesto has a respectable approach in its style, learned and erudite, outspoken and yet peaceful. This movement could be seen as incorporating the role of ”good neighbours” (in contrast to e.g. militant Islamic groupings). There’s nothing of Abrahamitic fanaticism here – or almost nothing, as I will discuss later on in this review. Shri Dharma in sketching the extension of his thought casts a wide net including having such thinkers as Plato, Plotinos, Julius Evola, René Guénon, Oswald Spengler etc etc on board, giving it all a slightly nouveau droite flavour.



What really engages with ”The Dharma Manifesto” is the philosophical part. What are the metaphysical foundations of the program that this movement (International Sanâtana Dharma Society, ISDS) advocates? What is the esoterical framework of the Sanâtana Dharma way? Now it becomes really challenging. Because this manifesto seems to say that Sanânata Dharma is the only way ahead for the westworld, disregarding most if not all of the western spiritual development from late antiquity till today.

Everything associated with the Abrahamitic religions are bad, everything associated with The Eternal Natural Way is good. Thus is the tenor of the manifesto. Admittedly Shri Dharma nods to Jesus Christ and accepts him as something of a dharma teacher, but other than that it’s the cold shoulder throughout towards Abrahamitism.

You could say: in a formal, academic way Shri Dharma in stating this – in critizicing Abrahamitic religions – has some points worth to ponder. The Abrahamitic religions throughout their 4000 year history have tended to generate continent-wide battles over questions of orthodoxy and heresy, stamping out Sanâtana Dharma/Natural Law religions wherever they’ve encountered them (Europe, Scandinavia, Persia, India…). And there’s more. A list on the pages 58-59 is worth to ponder. Sanâtana Dharma there is said to be pro-nature, seeing the world as an inherently good manifestation and man as essentially good while as the Abrahamitic religions are anti-nature, seeing the world as inherently evil and man as essentialy evil and/or animalistic.

I can follow this reasoning. I’m a Veda influenced independent syncretist with openings to most other religions. However it’s true that I’ve never felt drawn to Islam, for example shying away from the dualistic worldview and the belligerent spirit among some of its western immigrant practitioners. And Shri Dharma, speaking from an Indian perspective, has all the right to be sceptic against the selfsame Islam, which during medieval and early modern times seemed about to obliterate Hinduism from the face of the earth hadn’t the English arrived in the 18th century to (among other thing) put a stop to this.

To be hostile against and critical of the Abrahamitic religions is understandable. But as of today I see no need for a new harrowing cultural war, of a Kulturkampf between the Abrahamitic religions and the Dharmic religions.



It’s true that e.g Christianity (if we focus on that) needs a reformation, shelving the Nicean confession and having the whole movement allowing for more mysticism and gnosticism.

My basic message in this respect is that reformation is the way. Christianity can’t just be disregarded, even if it esoterically has gone astray sine the 4th century AD. Many people are sentimentally tied to Christianity and this won’t stop just for dogmatical reasons. For instance take a look at Christmas time, all over the westworld and including the USA a heartfelt celebration with traits that among other things are Christian in spirit. If ISDS wants to fight the customary Christmas spirit, well then I’d say it’s taking sides with Political Correctness in its ”War Against Christmas”, a well-known phenomenon especially in the USA.

ISDS in its anti-Christian stance in some way blends in with the anti-Christian attitude of modern liberalism. I don’t want to execute ”guilt by association” here, I just want to remark that being ”anti” something isn’t a fruitful way. You tend to get strange bedfellows in the process. – You could also say: in beeing cathegorically against Abrahamitic religions Sanâtana Dharma becomes Abrahamitic…! It becomes dualistic, resorting to black-or-white thinking.

Even if Sanâtana Dharma has some ideal and moral superiority it maybe needs to cut some slack towards the Abrahamitic religions, however fanatical the latter may be. Sanâtana Dharma, being superior, can afford that…! The abject refusal of everything, exactly everything (except for a nod towards Jesus Christ) in the realm of Abrahamitic religions isn’t convincing.

Of course Sanâtana Dharma in the broader sense (ancient Mediterranean, Nordic, Persian, Vedic and all) can give a man almost everything he wishes for spiritually and philospohically. I for one adore the Vedic tradition (Veda scriptures, Upanishads, Bhagavad-Gîtâ). And along with that Greek philosophy and myths and the Asatru tradition gives me more than I have time to summarize and relate to in my lifetime.



That said, and remembering my putting the label of ”superior” to all this compared to the Abrahamitic religions, I must say that there’s one instance making it metaphysically impossible to discard the Abrahamitic sector altogether.

It’s like this. What catches your spirit in the Veda tradition are among other things all these axioms, these profound one-liners like satcitânanda, tat tvam asi, aham brahmâsmi and so forth, dictums and expressions summing up a worldview. Above them all we have the meditation sound aum, in axiomatic form as aum tat sat, said to be symbolizing three aspects of God. Shri Dharma sometimes uses this as well as he does the dictum ”evam bhavatu” = may it be so.

Oneliners and axioms like this are an integral part of spreading the word. And in the Abrahamitic tradition there’s an even more concise axiom, one that’s been vindicated by the German scholar Rudolf Steiner – a dictum that summarizes ontology, ethics and everything in two words. And these words are I AM.

They are to be found in Exodus of the Old Testament, with God in a burning bush appearing before a certain desert prophet, uttering ”I am that I am” to explain his nature. This dictum, Steiner says, is later to be taken up by Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John with Jesus’ seven I am-utterings (I am the light of the world, I am the good shepherd, I am the door, I am the way, the truth and the life etc). As for myself, being inspired by any spiritual tradition that speaks to me both as a man and as a poet, I just can’t disown a religion – Christianity – that formulates the answer to everything in such a concise manner: I AM.

To utter I AM is to realize your Christ Consciousness. And a majority of the spiritually minded people of the westworld today knows this and lives by this, without being orthodox Christians. The west now lives in Christ Consciousness. Because of this I’d say it’s futile to tro ty disregard Christianity altogether.

This of course doesn’t mean that Christ Consciousness is everything that counts. The east of today could be said to live in Krishna Consciousness, and in Buddha Consciousness, and in the spirit of Tao or whatever. And sincere Asatru adherents for their part may live in Baldur Consciousness, other pagans in Bacchus Consciousness or what have you. My point is that the world has diverse religious traditions and you just can’t shelve/ignore/discard half of them even though their strictly historical and/or dogmatic record seem to speak for some kind of abolishment.

And as intimated for Christianity it’s not merely about Christ Consciousness. It’s also about sentimental ties, uttered in christmas carrols, traditions, attitudes etc. Christianity is in some way embedded into the western way of life and way of thinking. I mean, I welcome an expansion of every facet of Sanâtana Dharma, including for example the faith of my fathers called Asatru. I’ve recently spent some weeks re-reading the Edda and other related works and this today inspires me more than does Christianity. But I can’t strike out Christianity out of my system and neither – I think – can a modern dharma movement, on the societal level. To foster a Christianity-hostile western metapolitical movement will take a lot of energy. Maybe I’ve gotten it wrong, maybe ISDS can cooperate with the better angels of Abrahamitism, in good-old ecuemenical fashion or in the form of the Integral Tradition advocated by Julius Evola and René Guénon. But that’s not what ”The Dharma Manifesto” seems to say, being something of a hardliner document.



Now for a wider look at the more philosophical sides of ”The Dharma Manifesto”. Maybe I go off topic here. Maybe I should be treating Shri Dharmas ”Sanâtana Dharma – The Eternal Natural Way” (2013) instead. However, as of now I have the manifesto in front of me, a book summing up a lot of things you as a veda influenced western syncretist reflect on, and therefore I will now turn to these philosophical, existential and more or less un-political sides of the book.

As intimated there are two main religious traditions in the world. What you may call the Dharmic religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Taoism) is the one. On the other hand we have the Abrahamitic religions. In the latter you could say that the appearance of the divine in a certain time is a defining character – in a certain moment in time a historically defineable event establishes the religion (God appearing to Moses on Mount Sinai, Christ preaching in Galilee, Muhammed receiving a message from God). Now Hinduism’s revelatory moments also takes places in this world some time but they aren’t as historically important as such, as moments in time, Hinduism and Buddhism instead stressing the nature of eternal truths of these revelations. Another distinction between Abrahamitism and Dharmic faiths could be that in the former the Law (the divine Law, the eternal Law) is of an outer, exoteric character but in the latter the Law is realized within. Sanâtana Dharma is esotericism par preference, Abrahamitism somewhat less so.

A book – the manifesto – discussing these matters, of the importance of what differs between the two main traditions of world religions, is of great importance. And since it’s done in a popular, readable form I can only praise it, the hardliner stance aside. – Leaving Abrahamitism aside I’ll now focus on Shri Dharmas picture of Sanâtana Dharma and its advantages, you might say: its charms. Why study Veda and associated teachings (including Greek philosophy like Herodotus and Plotinos and old Northern wisdoms)? What can it offer us in the west regarding both societal and private issues? – It’s about making the everyday existense more divine, anchoring it in the vertical, eternal dimension. Ethics can’t be systemized just by looking at life in this world, it must have a divine, esoterical founding. Shri Dharma formulated this supremacy of metaphysics over ethics well in a recent Facebook update:

”Truth descends from above, in a vertical fashion, from the heavenly realm coming down to the earthly plane, and not from the level of horizontal imperfection. Do not seek Truth in the flawed opinions of imperfect humans beings. Seek the Transcendent if you wish to know Truth.”

You never hear this from western spiritual leaders, anxious as they are to adapt their techings to nihilist materialism. The gurus of today need to speak up, clearly stating that the essence of reality is above and beyond, not to be found in reading MSM:s latest stupidities or dabbling about in current issues. You have to have a grip of metaphysic reality and Sanâtana Dharma gives you the instruments for that – in documents like Veda and the Upanishads as well as the Plato-Aristotle tradition by way of Plotinos, and then, embodying the message, we have epics like Mahâbhârata and Ramâyana, The Iliad and the Odyssey, the Nordic Sigurd cycle and Mabinogion and a lot more. All things considered the traditionalist, perennial, eternalistic school leads us to a life of health, beauty, order and meaning, as of today a clear contrast to the nihilistic, materialistic worldview peddled by the MSM, the academy and the popular writers of today.



That’s how far I can formulate the Sanâtana Dharma creed that speaks to me. A better voice in this respect might be the venerable author of ”The Dharma Manifesto” who, on page 11, summarizes the Sanâtana Dharma way: ”To practize a Dharmic lifestyle is to live in accordance with nature. And to live in accordance with nature is to live in peace, health, contentment, and happiness that God intented us all to enjoy.”

This might seem like common wisdom, however it’s a common wisdom forgotten in the current westworld. We are in dire need of a creed that brings us joy and health. And the forte of Shri Dharma’s book is that it delineates such a creed in no uncertain terms. So to bring the message home I give another quote from page 11 giving us the gist of the message:

”Dharma is the basis and origin of Natural Law, of the most instinctive and healthy way of living, and serves as the very ordering foundation of nature Herself. At one time in the not-too-distant past, most of humanity understood and attempted to live in accordance with Dharma. Consequently, people prospered, were healthier, happier, more satisfied, and lived in greater spiritual and material abundance than we do today. Dharma sustained meaningful civilization, and prompted people to pursue peace, discernment, nobility, excellence, wisdom, goodness, and truth in all that they did and in all that they aspired for. Up until 2000 years ago, the concept of Dharma, or Natural Law, was held universally to be the highest achievable standard of both civilized human behaviour and of a healthy and balanced ordering of societal dynamics.”

”The Dharma Manifesto” is a bit uncompromising at times, thought-provoking and challenging at times, however often convincing in its attempt in spreading Indian thoughts to the modern world. In the late 19th century the Indian guru Vivekânanda thought that he could convert the British Empire to his version of Sanâtana Dharma, like Jesus had converted the Roman Empire to Christianity. Vivekânanda didn’t quite succeed in this but Veda and Sanâtana Dharmic ideas began to spread in the west by then and with the current book we see another such attempt, another ”Dharmic offensive”, more political in its outlook but on the whole as stimulating as the Vivekânanda project.

I know that Shri Dharma doesn’t fully endorse Vivekânanda’s slightly modernized dharma creed. However I more or less do, and Vivekânanda as well as modern gurus like Shri Aurobindu and Shri Dharma’s own Indian model Swami Prabhupâda are worthy of respect in their attempts to bring Veda to the world. Shri Dharma is the latest example of this line of teachers and I welcome him and his book on the scene in teaching the world about forgotten mysteries and neglected wisdoms.

”The Dharma Manifesto” above all seems to be accessible for ”the educated man in the street”, the studied everyman. As intimated I don’t think that the manifesto’s unbending stance against Christianity is fruitful in every aspect but other than that I welcome this book, among other things giving the traditionalist phalanx a sorely needed spiritual reinforcement. In the rightwing, identitarian, radical conservative movement that I’m part of we’ve never denied the metaphysical, spiritual and outright divine dimension but some rightists are maybe a bit reluctant towards it. ”The Dharma Manifesto” in this respect gives us divinely led conservatives grist to our mill.


Related / In Swedish

Att studera sanskrit: en väg till Traditionen

Kâlidâsa: klassisk indisk poet

Julius Evola