Sunday, September 16, 2007

Mostly Harmless

It is said the tradition we received from the Templars originated from Adam through Salomon. It was kept through the Roman Mystery cults (Eleusis), the school of Pythagoras, the Essenes (the Red Sea Scrolls), the Kabbalists, the Rosicrucians. One of the brotherhoods that passed on the knowledge (gnosis) was said to be a strange group of naked men walking from village to village in India.
When the army of the Macedonian Alexander the Great reached the Indian sub-continent in the fourth century before the Christian era, they dubbed them Gymnosophists (the naked philosophers). Macedonian philosopher Onesicritus was dispatched to try to understand their belief system. The founder of scepticism, Pyrrho, also researched their ideas. As a result, nudity became accepted in some Greek subcultures, among which the Spartans.
Most probably those wandering men were Jains, an offshoot of Hinduism from the 5th century BC, known for promoting non-violence and veganism. Another group called the Ajivikas has similar ideas, but believes we should accept whatever fate throws at us. Both cults give up worldly goods, symbolized by their nakedness.
Further on, the jains themselves separated into two factions, in the North the Svetambar Jains and in the South the Digambar Jains. The former holds the - in hinduist circles - progressive view that women are spiritually equal to men. Also because of the colder climate in the North, they found it impractical to remain naked and started to wear white cloths (hence their name). In contrast, Digambar means ‘clothed with the sky'.

Today in India the Jains still walk the earth, sweeping the ground before their feet to be sure not to kill insects.
And the New Gymnosophist Society in the Western world promotes naturism. Their most famous member was Gerald Gardner, the founder of modern day wicca…

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