Of Understanding Adolph Hitler through his Mein – Kemph

published on June 15, 2006

                     Dr. TS Girishkumar


There is this theory, the theory of “power of the Negative”. Imagine a nickname; though it may be longer and twistier than the original name, still becoming so popular to the extent of people forgetting the original name. This is so evident in the case of negative theories such as Marxism, Existentialism, Positivism, Post – Modernism and the like. During my MA days, it came to me as a surprise when Dr. Harsh Narain of Lucknow, my teacher, asked me to do research on Marx. He further asked me to secure an admission in the Jawaharlal Nehru University of Delhi and instructed that it is there that I could study the Marxist Mind at it’s best. I was to under go this with utmost sincerity, keeping my Hindutva bias in abeyance. And this I did. One year I spent there, hopefully succeeded in my endeavor, and went back to my parent University of NEHU to do both M.Phil and Ph.D on Marx as desired by my teacher. He was trying to challenge the Negative through knowing the negative to strengthen my Indian edifice, and I understood this after a long time only.


This must have leaded me to translating Hitler’s Mein-Kemph into Malayalam in later life. Some positive constructs are possible from Mein-Kemph, and which are indeed in the need, for Indian Nation. There are two points in Hitler worth looking at; he discusses that why there should be a Nation, and why the Nation should be made strong. Given the present time, the people of Kerala ought to be made aware of both these; why should there be Indian Nation, and why should the Nation India become strong, strong internally. Both Marxists and Muslims are in effect campaigning against Hindutva, and the Christians do this in a more subtle way. The Hindus are indeed loosing grounds. Through the negativity of Hitler’s autobiography, I thought that I could make a small move ahead.


Indeed Hitler shall not be acceptable to an Indian in his total form. His destructivity shall be unimaginable to the Indian mind. Our ancestors taught us to uphold the vision of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which means that the entire world is to be seen as one family. Indian nationalism is never at the cost of other nations, and never by bringing miseries to any one else. Indian nationalism is based on India’s great heritage, Philosophy, Culture and Spirituality, in short, Hindutva. Hindutva teaches us to love not only humanity, not only all living beings as shown by Buddha, but also the entire cosmos itself. Look at this Santi Mantra for instance.


 “Daio: Santi: Antariksham Santi: Prithvi Santi: Aapa: Santi: Aushadhaya: Santi: Vanaspataya: Santi: Viswedeva: Santi: Brahma Santi: Sarvam Santi: Santireva Santi: Sa Mam Santireti.”


 Santi Mantra is a prayer for peace, and there are many such Santi Mantras for varying occasions. The meaning of this Santi Mantra shall be like this:


Let the Sky be in peace, Let the Atmosphere be in peace, Let the Earth be in peace, Let the Waters be in peace, Let the Medicinal aspects be in peace, Let the Plants be in peace, Let the Cosmic powers be in peace, Let the Ultimate truth which is present in everything be in peace, Let everything be in peace, let Peace itself be in Peace, Let there be peace in Mundane, Material and Transcendental levels.


 In a word, the mind of Hitler is not at all acceptable to any Indian; it is simply unimaginable to us. All that one can think is about constructing something positive from his Mein-Kemph to our end and that is all.


The Conceptual and other mistakes of Adolph Hitler


In the Schools, a teacher tells students that Nathuram Godsey killed Mahatma Gandhi with a pistol. We all knew in our school days that the Mahatma was a good man and Godsey was a bad man. It was in class two or three, I asked this question to my teacher, “Why he killed Gandhiji?” It was a miserable thought to my young mind then, killing itself is unimaginable, and when it is killing of the Mahatma, the thought made me much miserable. No teacher answered my question, and my father, a hardened Gandhian gave a serious and curious look! But he told me, that I shouldn’t understand any of these things, and to wait till I grow up. And I wanted to grow up instantly to know that secret.


When it comes to Hitler, a similar question pops up, why was he like that? How could he be so cruel to the Jews? Even if one accepts his views through the autobiography, his cruelty paradigm becomes unimaginable. When a fanatic Muslim beheads innocents we some how understands that he is a fanatic Muslim and they are like that, though to our minds there shall not be any reason for such fanaticism and terrorism except that they are all psychopaths, synthetically created ones, created by leaders with vested interests. But to say that Hitler was just another psychopath shall be too simple an explanation. He had committed conceptual mistakes, and in some places he was lead to conceptual mistakes by some others. This is what I find in Mein-Kemph.


The myth of Aryan Race


Perhaps the first and fundamental mistake of Hitler is his concept of the Aryan Race, which he later perfected to the Concept of Nordic Aryan Race. As an Indian, I am seriously involved in the concept of ‘Aryan’ and then Aryan Race. The term Aryan is a Sanskrit term, which is seen in Rg Veda for the first time. There are disputes among scholars about the time of Rg Veda, but it is settled that Rg Veda is one of the most ancient books of man. To my purpose, I can say that it definitely pre dates any European Civilisation. And to that extent, the concept of Aryan is essentially Sanskrit and Indian. All others had simply borrowed it and used it in all kinds of meanings except it’s real and original meaning. Rg Veda uses the Concept of Aryan as an honorific Concept, to indicate that one has such and such qualities. In Indian Culture, such honorific and quality Concepts are much used, and for example, take the case of concepts such as Brahmana, Kshatriya etc. Rg Veda says “….praja arya jyotiragra:” (Rg Veda, VII,33,7) which means Arya fold seek and are lead by ‘jyoti’ meaning light, meaning enlightenment. Manu Smriti also speaks of who is an Aryan, how one becomes an Aryan and how one ceases to be an Aryan. (Manusmriti, X,43-45). Rishi Valmiki in Ramayana describes who could be called an Arya, and who are all Anaryas. (Ramayana, I 1-16). In classical Sanskrit, to address one as Arya is as good as calling one Sir in English. It is a term of respect, and honorific usage. But in no place one can find the usage of the term Arya to mean race. Amarakosa is a Sanskrit Lexicon from 500 AD, and it speaks of the meaning of Arya this way: “Mahakula, Kulinarya, Sabhya, Sajjana, Sadhana”. (These are qualities, and any one who had acquired these qualities could be called Arya). And now, isn’t it worth enquiring how the term Aryan come to be used to mean ‘race’?


Researches by L Poliakov and others show a great deal of interesting details about this. Aryan theory was decidedly based on 17th and 18th Century European ideas of Race and Religion. Anti-Semiticism was in full swing, and 18th Century European Christians were very uncomfortable and wanted to escape from their Jewish ancestry. But they had no redemption from Genesis and the Old Testament! Nevertheless, the 18th Century European Christians longed for an identity of their own, detached from that of the Jews. Thus the Aryan Invasion theory originated decidedly as racial and religious. Seventeenth Century Europe had already carried out great voyages and discovered the existence of distant lands and rich cultures, and the 18th Century Christian intellectuals started looking towards East for a possible redemption, and to find India. Jim Shaffer (1984, p-80) says that many Western Scholars in their attempt to separate themselves from their Judaic heritage became convinced that the origin of Western Culture is to be found in India rather than the ancient Near-East. And from here, the perversion and mutilisation of the concept of Aryan starts. And here starts the Aryan Race theory. Poliakov says that according to this theory, one white race – which subsequently became Christian – descended from the mountains of Asia to colonise and populate the West. (Poliakov, 1974, p-188). This proto type Aryan invasion theory from the East to the West is hardly known to people, and this proto type precedes the Aryan Invasion theory to India.


British Rule in India


India was the prized colony of the small nation of Britain. They managed to conquer India through any means and gun power, but to hold on to the colony became a challenge indeed. Their greatest obstacle became the Indian pride, and they soon realised that it is just impossible to dominate the minds of conscious Hindus. The Hindus were too proud of their ancestry, culture, and philosophy and in short, Indianness. Thomas Babbington McCauley who was in rule in India made out a project to dominate the Indian minds, and that was to convert as many Indians as possible into Christianity. He saw Christianisation of India as the only solution to his problem of dominating Indian minds. To Christianise India, he made out a larger project, and a futuristic one indeed. The Indians must be given English Education, and they must be westernised. They must be Christianized by showing to them that their ancient texts do not mean so much, as they claim to be. Further, it must be shown to them that the Hindu culture does not actually belong to them, and it actually belongs to the British. The Europeans are Aryans, and it is their ancestors who came to India and made the great Vedic Civilisation. Later these Aryans lost racial purity by their mixing with the aborigines, and lost their Culture. Therefore, the great Indian Culture actually belongs to the Europeans, and the Europeans, the British are the legitimate rulers of India. They do have a right to rule India.


McCauley wanted Sanskrit texts to be translated into English in such a way that any one who reads them shall at once discard them as worthless. He shall educate Indians in English on the one hand and shall make the translation available to the newly English educated ones on the other hand. He shall also propagate the Aryan Invasion theory at the same time. With all these, India should become a Christian state just in 30 years of time. ( McCauley, 1876, I, 398-99).


With all these thoughts, McCauley approached the Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford, prof. Horace Hyman Wilson. Wilson knew India, and he had spent several years in India translating the Rg Veda and Puranas, and did not want any part in McCauley project, so he refused to do that dirty work of translating Sanskrit texts into English to mutilate them. But Wilson knew the man who would do this, and told McCauley about Max Muller.


In December 1854, the then German ambassador to Britain, Christian Karl Hosias Baron Von Bunsen brought the 31-year-old Max Muller to Oxford and introduced him to McCauley. Fredrick Max Muller was offered a sum of 10000 pounds to translate Rg Veda into English in such a way that a Hindu who reads it must throw it away as gibberish. Max Muller, an ardent German Nationalist ought to have refused this offer, but also an ardent Protestant Christian, he agrees for the sake of Christianity as well as the handsome money, to serve the political interest of Britain in India.


Thus he started writing his translation under the name of Sacred Books of the East. He brought out the Aryan Invasion theory, that Aryans are a race, which came to India and colonized, settled and produced this great and wonderful culture. Later they got racially mixed and lost racial purity. Thus British are legitimate rulers of India. Elate Indians are their distant and reduced in purity cousins. But Max Muller made a basic mistake for his conditions. He depicted Aryan in his own image, which best suited the Germans rather than the British. The Germans took the Aryan theory to their heads, and the German Nationalism became strong. This indeed was the undesired effect in Europe. Hegel, the great German Philosopher was fond of saying that all Germans are direct disciples of Indian Philosophy and Culture. (Let us remember that Hitler was drunk in Hegel’s Philosophy). This caused Sir Henry Marine, the then Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University to exclaim: “…a nation has been born out of Sanskrit” with reference to Germany!


England is comfortable when the power in Europe is balanced between Germany and France. So long as they both remain equally powerful, England has no cause to worry. But with the Aryan theory or Race, German Nationalism became powerful, and in the Franco Prussian War of 1871, Germany became a single power in Europe. This alarmed England, and Max Muller got into political trap. He became afraid that his British masters might throw him out from Oxford, where he was comfortably settled for the past 20 years, and never visiting India, never trying to speak Sanskrit, never wishing to hear some one speak Sanskrit and so on. (So much for Max Muller’s love for Sanskrit and India). He was then 50, and had absolutely no roots in Germany if he was thrown out. The only option he had was to reverse his theory, and say that Aryan is not a race at all. And Max Muller did precisely this. He had to demonstrate to his British masters that he had not contributed to the German Nationalism. It was just a question of his existence.


Max Muller went all out to defend himself. The very next year itself, that is in 1872 Max Muller went to the University of Strasbourg and gave a series of lectures disowning the Aryan Race theory. He desperately claimed that Aryan is not a race at all; it is a linguistic identity or grouping. Sanskrit, Latin, Avestan, Greek etc. are Aryan languages, and those who speak Aryan languages could be termed Aryans. And for the rest of his life, Max Muller maintained this position that Aryan is not at all a Race Concept, it is only a Linguistic Identity.


But Max Muller had unleashed the devil and none of his effort could contain that again. Aryan as race had become a reality with many, and the Germans would never go back from that again. Philosophers like Hegel and Kant were convinced that they were all the purest of Aryan race, further making a distinction between Nordic Aryans as the most racially pure, and other lesser pure Aryans. This Aryan theory was more than sufficient for a maniac like Hitler to attempt to destroy the racially impure ones from the face of the earth.


The growth of Hitler from that of a Corporal in First World War trenches to a Nazi dictator is based on his “conviction” of racial purity and of the superiority of the Nordic Aryan Race. He was convinced that the Nordic Aryan Race is the beginner of all world civilisations, all over the world. They were creators of Civilisations, as they traveled to far-flung lands. But in due time, they all lost the racial purity by becoming mixed with others. And fortunately for Hitler, the pure Nordic Aryan Race still existed in Germany with all racial purity etc. he hated the Jews, because they were a sizable number in Germany, and to him, they were polluting the pure Aryan race. He wanted the purest of human race to exist, and only pure raced children to be born. He wished to make all others impotent, so that they will not beget their impure off springs to pollute this world. Jews were his first targets, and he started his cleansing by killing them in large numbers. Hitler does not call Judaism as a religion, for him Jews are only a race. He uses the term Jews Synonymous with that of Marxists. His hatred to the Jews became double with his hatred to the Marxists. He calls the Marxists “International Lepers” given the Marxian internationalism. All mischief of the Marxists was also clubbed to the Jews, most unfortunately. What ever happened from all these is history and is known to all.


To my mind, the fundamental and basic conceptual mistake of Hitler arises from the notion of Aryan as a race. All other mistakes he committed is as an aftermath of this theory, and if a single mistake is to be pointed out, it is this. It is all very strange indeed. The Aryan Race theory and Invasion theory was originally created to destabilise and destroy the Hindu society, but the Jews became the victims of it. MacCaulay could not produce desired results in India in spite of political power and gunpowder, as great Indian reformers like Swami Vivekananda etc. appeared in the Indian scene. There took place a second world war, the Jewish community became once again the target of misery, and all these are due to one mistake; of giving an alien meaning to the term Aryan, which is Sanskrit, and which simply means Noble, qualified and the like. Unfortunately, many text books all over the world still teaches that Aryan is a race, and when is the world going to correct it? The creator of Aryan as a Race idea had already disowned it in 1872 itself, but still the mistake goes on as a reality. What is to be done, and to say that in Sanskrit, Kim Karishyati?




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[email protected]


Dr TS Girishkumar, Reader ,School of Social Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University

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