The Europeans are capable of weaponizing anything, even ancient religious texts. In the late eighteenth century, they became aware of the Rig Veda, and within a century they had weaponized several of its concepts and verses. The Rig Veda is the oldest Vedic text—it has been revered as a holy text by the Hindus of South Asia for more than 3500 years. The story of the European weaponization of the concepts and verses of Rig Veda begins in 1783 when Sir William Jones, a British judge in India, decided to learn Sanskrit.
By 1786, Jones had reached a startling conclusion, which he expressed in a line that is often quoted:
“The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists.”
Jones concluded that Sanskrit had originated from an ancient parent language (Proto-Indo-European) which gave rise to Greek and Latin. He posited that Persian, Celtic, and German too were linked to the same parent language. His theory of a civilization that spoke an ancient language called Proto-Indo-European led many scholars in Europe and India to ask such questions: Who were the people who spoke this language? Where did they live? Where was the Rig Veda composed?
Germany was in the middle of an intense Romantic movement in those days—and some German scholars proclaimed that Germany was the home of the ancients who spoke the parent language.
The Rig Veda talks about the Aryans who are people of divine virtues and great abilities. In Europe, the term “Aryan” was appropriated to refer to the ancient European master race who brought civilization to mankind. In his 1916 book, The Passing of the Great Race, American author Madison Grant claimed that the Nordic people (British, Scots, Irish, and German) were the descendants of the original Aryans, and that America was meant to be an Aryan homeland. (This book was a bestseller, and was praised by Hitler.)
The Europeans associated the term “Aryan” with racial purity even though the Rig Veda does not preach racial purity. Most verses in the Rig Veda are focused on cosmology, history, moral values, and the right ways of performing prayers and sacrifices.
Grant warned against the weakening of the superior American (Aryan) bloodline by interbreeding with inferior races. In the category of inferior races, he included the Jews, Czechs, Poles, and Italians. Some German scholars started arguing that there was a connection between the Rig Veda’s conception of Aryans and Plato’s discussion of Atlantis. They said that the German Aryans were the original inhabitants of the Platonic Atlantis and that they were the original speakers of the ancient language which had given rise to Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and other languages.
In the 1930s, the Nazis of Germany adopted the Hindu Swastika as a symbol for their movement. But the Swastika has nothing to do with Nazism. It has served as a Hindu symbol for divinity and spirituality since 1000 BC. It is often used in Hindu marriage ceremonies. In the Vedas, there are several references to the word “Swasti”. The Swastika is mentioned in Pāṇini’s Ashtadhyayi and other Hindu texts. The Buddhist and Jain movements have used the Swastika for their religious rituals since ancient times.