New Delhi, June 7 (Calcutta Tube) If Britain-based historian Nicholas Goodricke-Clarke is to be believed, German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler was ‘compared to Kalki, the last avatar of Hindu god Vishnu‘ by an Indian spiritualist, practitioner of occult and Nazi sympathiser from Kolkata, Savitri Devi.
Hitler was even worshipped in elite Bengali homes in Kolkata, says the writer at a time when Bollywood actor Anupam Kher will be essaying the role of the Nazi dictator in a new biopic to be directed by Rakesh Ranjan.
In 1982, Ernst Zundel, the founder-proprietor of the Neo-Nazi Samisdat Publishers in Toronto, brought out in a card-flyer announcing the availability of two five-hour recorded cassettes of live interviews with a spiritualist and the out-of-print edition of Savitri Devi’s book, ‘The Lightning and the Sun’.
Card-flyers were sent across the world announcing the publishing ‘milestone’.
It said: ‘Hitler cult revealed! Discovered alive in India: Hitler’s guru. You can now purchase the complete set of tape cassette recorded, live interviews with Hitler’s guru Savitri Devi at her home in India.’
It was also the year Savitri Devi died.
When historian-writer Clarke, a professor of western esotericism at the University of Exeter in southern Britain and the author of several books on occultism, esotericism and the history of their intersection with Nazi politics, came across the flyer, he was intrigued by the idea of a Hindu occultist espousing the Furher’s Nazi religious ideology in pre-Independence India.
Clarke decided to follow up the card-flyer. The consequence was a stunning revelation of Hitler’s ideological roots in Hindu philosophy and the Indian spiritualist’s ‘interpretation of Nazi philosophy’ in a book, ‘Hitler’s Priestess: Savitri Devi, the Hindu Aryan Myth and Neo-Nazism ‘ published by the New York University Press.
Savitri Devi, born Maximiani Portas in Lyons in 1930, married a Kolkata-based Bengali Brahmin intellectual Asit Krishna Mukherji, and wrote several books on Hitler and Aryan-Nazism.
‘From 1937 until to the early 1940s, her work on behalf of Hindu Mission involved her lecturing widely on popular Hinduism in Bengali and Hindi in Bengal, Bihar and Assam. At this time, she was already developing her own Aryan-Nazi religion, sprinkling her lectures with references to ‘Mein Kampf’ and seeking correspondence between Hitlerism and Hinduism as supposed joint heirs of ancient Aryan wisdom,’ Clarke said.
‘During the 1930s, when India was chafing under British rule, the restrictions imposed on Indian nationalists led many to regard Soviet Communism and the Third Reich with its Aryan racial doctrine and the holy Swastika sign as potent alternatives. Those who were religiously inclined even saw Stalin and Hitler as redeemers,’ the writer said.
Savitri Devi first ‘observed pictures of the Fuhrer on the household altars of Indian families’. ‘When she asked Srimat Swami Satyananda, the (then) president of the Hindu Mission in Calcutta, if she might make a reference to Hitler in her official lecture, he replied that Hitler was for them an incarnation of Vishnu’.
Her life is one of occult mysteries and strange karmic dreams.
In 1945, when this ‘Bengali gentle woman returned to a post war-Europe’, her sense of frustration ‘at missing the great days of the Third Reich was overwhelming’, Clarke writes.
Fearful of the prospect that her SS (Nazi secret service) heroes would shortly be tried by the International Military Tribunal, she had a strange dream one night while staying in a boarding house in London. She dreamt that she had entered the cell of Herman Goering. He saw her and was ‘rather astonished, but she reassured him that she was a friend’, the historian says in his book.
She wanted to save him from the trial. She handed Goering something that she held in her palm, saying, ‘Take this and do not allow those people to kill you like a criminal’.
The next morning, she overslept. It was Oct 16 and a rainy day. The newspaper headlines said, ‘Goering found dead in his cell at 2.30 a.m.’ He consumed a phial of potassium cyanide.
She was later imprisoned in Europe for being a pro-Nazi sympathiser and for her writings.
(Madhusree Chatterjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)