Czech Bhagavadgītā in the struggle against spiritual decline
Source document: Religio. 2005, vol. 13, iss. 1, pp. -118
ISSN1210-3640 (print)2336-4475 (online)
License: Not specified license
Czech society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was coming to a moral and spiritual crisis connected with its transformation into modern society. Strong critics of contemporary conditions and of inability of Christianity and positivistic science to help in this situation were intellectuals related to occultism. Their aim was to spread spirituality which was seen to be the only solution of that problem. -- The use of concepts of Hindu religions(especially from yoga and vedānta) in these controversies had strong impact on their interpretations and consequently on the whole process of their acculturation. The article analyzes the first Czech translations of Bhagavadgītā (by F. Čupr , V. Procházka , P. Maternová , K. Weinfurter ) to show the dialectics of this interpretation-utilization process. -- All of the discussed translations tend to interpret Bhagavadgītā in agreement with gnostic-mystical understanding of Christianity. The reasons of this phenomenon consist in the fact that (a) the Europeans (Westerners) could not think otherwise simply because of their cultural roots; (b) mystical discourse is highly compatible with liberal individualism and anticlerical and antichurch attitude popular in those times; (c) Gnosticism was appropriate instrument to discredit materialism (especially that of science) blamed for causing spiritual and moral crises. -- Such a radical shift in interpretation was made possible by certain modern philosophical thoughts that led to the notion that not the word but the spirit of the scripture is significant for right understanding. These thoughts included antipathy to church religion and to ritual, emphasis on internally experienced religion, tendency to differentiation between esoteric and exoteric teaching and religious universalism.
- Tento text je publikován s laskavou podporou Grantové agentury České republiky v rámci projektu "Orientalismus a jeho vliv na konverzi k asijským náboženstvím: Akulturace hinduismu a buddhismu v České republice" (grant č. 401/03/1553).