JORDAN B PETERSON’S STORY IS A CLASSIC CASE OF UNEXAMINED ROIL. Common sense and history demonstrate that overnight explosions of celebrity merit skepticism. Meteoric celebrity, except in the realms of cinema and sports, must be treated with caution before it consumes its consumer. Especially when it concerns the West and its post-Renaissance pretensions to philosophy and intellectualism. This is a one-line guide to understand this: remember that the West (chiefly, Europe), after destroying all Classical civilisations, has been unable to birth a single personality who can be called a Rishi. This is exactly what DVG meant when he memorably described what is generally known as the Western intellectual tradition:
The whirlwind rise of the Canadian (former) academic, Jordan Peterson to international celebrity as a public intellectual is a phenomenon that was waiting to happen. The decisive moment that catapulted him to overnight fame arose when he took a highly vocal and unapologetic stand against the forced imposition of weird gender pronouns like Zhe, Xir, etc. The phenomenon is as old as the history of humankind: everybody knows that they are suffering under evil and oppressive forces which have acquired great power but are fearful of speaking out against it. Then comes that courageous, lone voice of dissent and the person that embodies the voice becomes a hero and saviour and role model. Hence, celebrity.
The oppression in this case is the Demented Wing of the Left which has overwhelmed public institutions in the West and is ruthlessly crushing all opposition. The opposition such as it exists, is disorganised, powerless and clueless because it is bereft of competent guidance. However, the Demented Left’s insanity is backed by brute political power.
From this perspective, Jordan Peterson’s war against this cult of insanity is simply the newest form of an internal politico-ideological war that has always existed within the post-agrarian Western society.
Hindus getting into this war do so at their own peril.
Let me say it loud and clear and again and again and again: the West is no friend of Hindus and has never been and will never be. If a powerful savant and a modern Rishi like Swami Vivekananda could not civilise the West, nobody can. Lala Hardayal gives a fundamental reason for the West’s innate inability to civilise itself:
And Jordan Peterson has himself given us some contours of the fact that he’s no friend of Hindus. Unqualified emotional empathy is the first ingredient to be someone’s friend. But identifying with the friend on the plane that transcends both the emotion and the intellect is far superior. It is the true Hindu way, something that cannot and should not be intellectualised. It was how our society had always lived, in spite of superficial differences in food habits and income and language. We lived in this fashion because this philosophy was transmuted as a way of life.
Jordan Peterson clearly and miserably fails this fundamental test.
THE LATEST PROOF — which is also the reason for this essay — is his macabre tweet thread that appallingly mischaracterises Kali or Kalika Devi as a narcissist and a “devouring mother” arising from “the underworld,” and equates her with the woke demons in Western academia and claims that “Her worship is now mandatory in all institutions of higher education.”
Jordan Peterson’s tweets demonstrates three things simultaneously.
One, his unbridled arrogance of pronouncing crass verdicts about an entire philosophical system and culture he is genetically incapable of understanding.
Two, his indirect confession of the contempt that he holds the followers of Kali in. Those followers belong to the third largest religion in the world.
Three, that he is essentially an unhinged monomaniac whose ignorance doesn’t deter his confidence.
It takes some gumption on the part of Jordan Peterson whose declared influences include an impossibly eclectic mix of Carl Jung, Eric Neumann, Dostoevsky, George Orwell, Nietzsche, Solzhenitsyn, and Biblical stories, to spout arrant nonsense about Kali.
KALI OR KALIKA DEVI OCCUPIES a central place in the Sanatana pantheon with an entire Purana devoted to Her glory. She manifests on all planes: Adhibhautika, Adhidaivika and Adhyatmika. She signifies the Para-Brahman, She is the Destroyer of the Ego (represented as the Asuras she slaughters), and She is also the compassionate Mother who protects her children.
An illiterate shepherd eponymously became Kalidasa — the servant or son of Kali — one of the greatest poets and dramatists of the world. A Rishi-Kavi whose indelible imprint still informs our culture and values.
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa pined for Her divine vision, offering to cut off his neck if She did not appear. She did. And Hindus cutting across beliefs and education and social status, intuitively believe that the Paramahamsa indeed “saw” her. But he didn’t “see” Her, it was Her Sākṣātkāra, a term that cannot be accurately translated. Sākṣātkāra was the Paramahamsa’s Realisation of the Ultimate Reality whose earthly manifestation was that Kalika-Murti which he worshipped daily in the temple at Dakṣiṇēśvar. Dakṣiṇēśvar, a befitting name to give to that place. Shiva as Dakṣiṇēśvara or Dakṣiṇāmūrti who taught the secret of Vedanta to Rishis through the language of Silence. Shiva, the husband of Kali. Kali, residing in Dakṣiṇēśvar… śivaḥ-śaktyā-yukto…see how it all neatly fits in?
It would be an unforgivable crime to omit the sacred name of Rani Rasmani, a true Rishika who built the Kali Temple at Dakṣiṇēśvar. A measure of her devotion to Kali can be seen in how her official seal was inscribed with the words, “Sri Rasmani Dasi, longing for the Feet of Kali.” She was the widow of a Zamindar but called herself the Dasi or servant-maid of Kali. In a way, Rani Rasmani was the mother responsible for the bud of Kali-Bhakti within Ramakrishna to flower into full divine bloom.
Neither is this limited only to Dakṣiṇēśvar. Almost every village in Bharatavarsha has a Grāmadēvata — a village deity who is essentially a form of Kali, or more fundamentally, Devi. A Sthaḷapurāṇa (misleadingly called “local legend”) is invariably associated with it. Kali has also manifested for example, as “plague” Māramma, Kabbāḷamma, Aṇṇamma, etc., and each of these deities have a reason to manifest. After all, who doesn’t want the protection and nourishment of a mother?
At a fundamental level, there is a reason for all this: it is the deep sense of spiritual yearning within us, which longs for and seeks expression in some tangible form. In poetry, in prose, in drama, in sculpture, and above all, in nature.
Reducing this to pseudo-psychological explanations has caused immense damage, primarily to the Sanatana notion and generational experience of sanctity and piety. We should be seriously demented to believe the Western “explanation” that Hindus worship female deities because they have a “mother-complex” or that Kali is an “underworld mother” and variants of such blather.
JORDAN PETERSON CLEARLY has no inkling of even this infinitesimal fraction of the Kali tradition in Bharatavarsha. And he wouldn’t get it even if Kali herself gave him tuitions.
Which brings us to investigate his highly-public and substantial record as a public intellectual. As someone who commands global influence and is seen as an emancipator of sorts, the record should stand on firm grounds.
By his own admission, Jordan Peterson’s worldview is significantly shaped by the Biblical corpus including the Book of Genesis, Book of Exodus and Book of Proverbs. As his lectures and podcasts show, he has married these with modern psychology — for example, in the five-part lecture series titled The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories. Apart from being a religious book, the Bible is fundamentally an imperialist — i.e., political treatise. Ram Swarup’s magnificent The Word as God is a classic exposition on the subject.
The problem begins right here. In the Hindu tradition, Rajyasastra (or statecraft) was studiously kept separate from Tattvasastra (generally speaking, Vedanta, Bhagavad Gita, etc). Thus, it would be ridiculous to use an episode of war as a premise in an argument (Vakyartha) about the nature of Brahman.
However, the whole of Christian tradition rests on the edifice that the world was created on a specific date and that there is a jealous Male God and that Jesus was his son who was conceived by a virgin. Thus, a true believer — Christian — becomes a permanent prisoner of this throttling ideology, which by design, cannot transcend space and time. And people whose psyches are generationally conditioned in this mould can escape this prison only at the risk of death. But those who did leave — especially from the Renaissance onwards — found themselves rootless, which is what made their lives essentially meaningless.
This can be a possible explanation for why Jordan Peterson has tried to marry modern psychology with the Biblical tradition. He is a product, participant and a respondent of a Western milieu reeling under continuous assaults of materialist forces dating back to the so-called Industrial Revolution: atheism, anti-Christianism, anti-Semitism, colonialism (remember, this was considered an “achievement” just 80 years ago), world wars, capitalism, existentialism, positivism, objectivism, communism and its most feral incarnation, wokeism.
The West has lost its Christianity but has supplanted it with equally powerful but scattered demons. And the greatest casualty of this loss has been the contentment and happiness of the individual human. About half a century ago, Lee Kuan Yew remarked that American prosperity has come at the expense of unenforceable social decencies. The growth of the Far Left ideology in the same period has also created at least three generations of rootless wonders in Western societies. This is roughly how the Western social landscape looks today: vast tracts inhabited by the products of unwed mothers, state-funded junkies and humans who “identify” as acronyms, all of which are fuelled by unemployable lunatics working as academics.
Then there is another category to which Jordan Peterson appears as an irresistible magnet. Its inhabitants can be defined in just word: desperate. Desperate for guidance. Desperate that his guidance will give them the elusive happiness they crave after. He is their hero, saviour, elder brother, father figure and all of the above. Their alternative is a fatal embrace of Wokery.
NOBODY DENIES THAT JORDAN PETERSON is erudite and learned and articulate. But what does he really say? In an encapsulated form, this is how it pretty much goes.
Jordan Peterson mostly speaks about topics that were commonplace even sixty years ago in the West. These weren’t merely topics but lived realities — how to study, how to “be decent,” and overall, how to conduct yourself in life. Ever since, because the Western society has been so thoroughly decimated, today, when Peterson speaks about these, they seem like profound philosophical insights to a generation that has no idea that such things actually existed even in their parents’ generation. Here is a small list of things that Jordan Peterson typically says:
1. You should do what other people do, unless you have a very good reason not to.
2. Get up in the morning and make your bed.
3. Stand Up Straight with Your Shoulders Back.
4. I am not going to be a mouthpiece for language that I detest.
5. You can only find out what you actually believe (rather than what you think you believe) by watching how you act.
6. Don’t underestimate the power of vision and direction.
7. There’s some real utility in gratitude.
8. Strengthen the individual. Start with yourself. Take care with yourself. Define who you are. Refine your personality.
9. We deserve some respect. You deserve some respect.
10. You are, therefore, morally obliged to take care of yourself.
11. You are too complex to understand yourself.
Even a basic Google search will yield kilometres upon kilometres of such Jordanian banalities. But the fact that he has legions of fans and devotees across the world who have helped him amass a vast fortune late in life only proves just how pervasive and rotten and irreparable the Western society has become. Nobody grudges his fame and material success but as the maxim goes, Jordan Peterson should have had Svasthāna parijñāna — a sense of propriety about his own limitations.
A simple illustration will suffice to show exactly how hollow these Jordanian banalities are. Even a school-going kid who has memorised say, Bhartrhari’s Niti and Vairagya Shatakams or the Sumati-Shatakam or Sarvajna’s verses will LOL at these Jordanian platitudes.
REGRETTABLY, JORDAN PETERSON has exerted a powerful appeal on certain sections of sincere and well-meaning people who identify as various “wings” in the larger Hindu firmament. For understandable reasons. His oratory and articulation and his successful takedowns resonate with their own angst and anger against the global Far Left. Their disillusionment occurs at the precise moment when he reveals his true colours as the typical, Asuric western hater of the Hindu spiritual civilisation. His derogatory tweet thread about Kali is just the latest proof of this fact. Which brings us back to DVG’s aforementioned warning:
Swami Vivekananda also gave us a timeless and workable formula: by default, Hindus must first accept everything that arises from Sanatana Dharma and then examine it. Likewise, Hindus must first critically examine everything that has come from outside Bharata. If they find that there are acceptable elements in these foreign cultures, they must accept those. This formula is the surest safeguard for Hindus against trusting half-baked and haughty Asuric celebrities like Jordan Peterson.
As someone who has closely followed Jordan Peterson’s record ever since he shot to fame, his slur against Kali was not only unsurprising but was entirely characteristic of him.
Over the last few years, Jordan Peterson has increasingly turned messianic. This is a toxic but an inevitable outcome of untreated personal pathologies and the frenzied, nonstop lecturing that leaves little or no time for quiet and sustained contemplation.
Whether or not he gets his pathology treated or indulges in contemplation, Jordan Peterson, as a quasi cult leader out to save the western world, must develop a basic trait of decency: humility.
Humility to realise that he is not omniscient. Humility to realise that it is neither decent nor intellectually honest to pass pompous verdicts on Kali.
Get well soon Dr. Peterson. Relax those nerves.
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