Black as Evil

Ramalingam Shanmugalingam AppuArchie at NETZERO.NET
Sun Nov 26 02:08:19 EST 2000

Dear Dr. Ganesan & Natural colored people?

I cannot understand the hue and cry about Black and White. Material success
is associated with WHITE. It has always puzzled me and I am still looking
for a white human or a black human in the same way my brain "SEES" milk and
ebony respectively. It is well implanted in some that as Gary Zukav in his
book "The seat of the soul" said,
        "We associate white with purity, goodness and rightness. White is the
symbol of positive and protective energy. We dress heroes and heroines in
white. White represents wholeness of spirit. We associate God, God's
messengers and heaven with white. We picture angels in robes of white. We
associate black with evil. We dress villains in black. Black is the symbol
of destruction.  When catastrophe strikes, we call it a black day. Black
represents despair, anger and rage, which are absences of love, compassion
and forgiveness. We say that a person who feels these things is in black
mood." So until I see true white or black humans all these self-elevating or
other-degrading claim is just poppycock!

-----Original Message-----
From: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at LISTSERV.LIV.AC.UK]On Behalf Of N.
Sent: Sunday, November 26, 2000 12:18 PM
Subject: Re: Black as Evil

NG> Portraying Black as Evil in World religions has ancient roots in
NG> India and Iran and, gets into other religions.

Steve Farmer writes:
>It is difficult to believe that anyone could seriously make such
>claims. You don't need India or Iran, or any other geographical
>source, to explain the association between black and evil, which
>shows up in many primitive societies which had no possible
>contact with India or Iran.

My writeup is based on exactly what Scholars of Judaism and
early Christianity contend in numerous books. The Sons of
Light versus Sons of Darkness myth originates in Persia.
"The prince of evil tries to lure us out of the army of light
into that of darkness and so lose us to the kingdom of God.
For Barnabas the parting of the ways is sharp and clear:
the road of light leads to heaven, while the road of darkness,
under the power of "the Black One", leads to ruin.
The equation of evil, darkness, and blackness, a source
of later racial stereotypes, occurs here for the first
time in Christian literature. The immediate sources of
Barnabas' use of the terms "black" and "blackness" are
Jewish, Ebionite, and Greek. Behind these is teh *Mazdaist*
idea of the darkness of Ahriman, and behind Ahriman is
the worldwide, almost universal, use of blackness as a
symbol of evil [26].

[26] Russell, Devil, pp. 62-88, 141-2, 246-247.
Solon, Pindar, Plutarch, Lucian and other classical
writers refer to "black characters"and "black
hearts". "
(J. B. Russell, Satan, The early Christian tradition,
Cornell UP, 1981, p. 39-40).

While many academic scholars of Judaism-Christianity
history point to the notion that Black as Evil
comes from the Mazdaist theme of Iran,
I just pointed to the Avestan and Vedic Aryan sources loathing
black skin  and black color attested sevral centuries earlier.
After the acculturation with the natives, dark color
is starting to get praised in clasical Sanskrit.

Russell claims that Black as Evil is a universal idea,
and points to Greek authors. Well, ancient Greeks
were interacting with Persia and this could be
an Orientalizing experience.

Seth, the ancient Egyptian god is the creator of chaos.
He is usually painted *white* with red hair.
And, Seth has good deeds to his credit.

Once in Indology, there was a story about Indians
thought that white color will come only if God was cruel!
>Despite the emphasis on the beauty of fair skin in India today ... isn't
>there an old story that ancient Indians heard tales from travelers of
>white-skinned, blue-eyed people and laughingly denied such tales, saying
>the gods could not be so cruel as to make such people?

There appear to have been such features known in the 2nd c. BC. In
the MahAbhASya on 2.2.6 and 5.5.15, Patanjali quotes a verse giving
the characteristics of BrAhmaNas, then describes some features.  The
text as found in Kielhorn's edition and others has gauraH zucyAcAraH
piGgalaH kapilakezaH.  In addition, a different reading is noted in
the Uddyota and RatnaprakAza: piGgalakapilakezaH.  With the first
reading, a BrAhmaNa is described as being white, of pure behavior,
yellow-brownish and with reddish-brown hair.  Under the second, he
is white, of pure behavior and  with hair that is yellowish to
reddish brown. It is understandable that NAgeZa exerts effort to
explain gauraH under the first reading. In his commentary, KaiyaTa
remarks that this harks back to an earlier time, and that the same
characteristics are seen to continue rarely even now-a-days.
George Cardona

I really appreciate to know if Prof. Russell's theory
that Black as Evil comes from Persia can be refuted.
What are the early sources that Jewish people came into
contact and produced the Black/dark vs. White/light
dualism? Ie., other than from Persia??

N. Ganesan

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