Anthroposophy is at least as indebted to Hinduism as to Christianity. (Theosophy draws heavily from Hinduism, and Anthroposophy draws heavily from Theosophy. Steiner modified Theosophy mainly by adding his own conception of gnostic Christian teachings.) Here is a glimpse of Steiner's teachings on the Hindu scripture, the Veda or Vedas.

Hindus will be surprised by the "real" meaning of the Veda, as described by Steiner. Students of Anthroposophy will not be surprised. Anthroposophy is no more nor less Hindu than it is Christian. No matter what texts or traditions or teachings Steiner discussed, what he actually presented over and over was his own cosmology (borrowed largely from Theosophy). He bent everything to make it seem consistent with his teachings — thereby "proving" how right he had been all along.

“All of you have heard of the holy Rishis [Hindu sages], who were the original founders of the ancient holy Indian culture and had Manu [a high initiate from Atlantis] for their own teacher. Who were these seven great teachers of ancient India? ... If we think of the entire surrounding world as spiritualised, we can compare it with a primeval etheric mist. This mist then gradually became denser; it descended into the condition of matter and the various heavenly bodies condensed out of it. Sun, Moon, and Earth detached themselves.

“But why did the other Planets split off?  ... There was one group of higher beings who could not continue with the earth's tempo. These abstracted the finest substances and formed therefrom the sun as their dwelling-place. These were the highest beings connected with our evolution, although they also had gone through an evolution of their own. Thus there were beings who were in the act of becoming sun-spirits, and others who had remained behind, standing lower than the sun-spirits but higher than man. These could not continue with the sun-spirits because they were not equally mature. They could not go out with the sun, for it would have scorched them. But on the other hand they were too noble for the earth. Therefore they abstracted certain substances, which were between sun and earth in fineness and corresponded to their nature, and built themselves dwelling-places [planets] between the sun and the earth. Thus Venus and Mercury were separated off.

“...All these spirits of the other planets influence the earth. From every planet influences descend upon man. To begin with, however, these influences had need of an intermediary. Through the great Manu this was provided by the seven Rishis being initiated in such a way that each understood the mysteries and influences of a single planet.

“...The forces preserved by the planets were the subject of the mysteries of the seven Rishis ... [T]his primeval teaching contained approximately what we learn today as the evolution of humanity through the planetary conditions of Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan. The mysteries of evolution were secreted in the seven members of the [Rishis’] lodge, each of whom typified one stage in the progress of humanity.

“The pupil saw this — not only saw it, but heard it — when he raised himself into Devachan [the spirit realm] ... What he perceived is described in an elementary way in my book, THEOSOPHY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE SUPERSENSIBLE KNOWLEDGE. The description we find again in the ancient sacred tradition of the Indians, in what was called the Veda, or the Word. This is the true meaning of the Vedas, and what was later written down is only a last memory of the ancient sacred doctrine of the Word. The Word itself was only passed from mouth to mouth, for an ancient tradition is impaired by being written down. Only in the Vedas can one feel something of what flowed into this culture at that time. When the pupil experienced this in his memory, he could say to himself, 'What I experience in my soul as Brahman, what I have in my soul as primal Word, this was already present on ancient Saturn; on Saturn resounded the first breath of the Veda-word.'” — Rudolf Steiner, EGYPTIAN MYTHS AND MYSTERIES (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), lecture 4, GA 106.

“From the beginning, the Manu attached very little value to that in the human being which extends beyond birth and death. Such teachings, which had been of great importance in earlier times, now glimmered away and gradually disappeared ... Two vistas lay before the Manu of the Fifth Root Race: the civilization that proceeded from the Lemurians and was still present in Southern Asia, and the remains of Atlantean civilization in Africa. Thither he sent out his colonies, accompanied by Priest-Initiates: one to India, the other to Africa. He sent with them the teaching of non-reincarnation, the teaching of the life between birth and death. (In the very oldest Vedas nothing is, in fact, contained about what extends beyond birth and death.) The Manu said to himself: peoples who know nothing of reincarnation will then come into contact with others who have intimate knowledge of it and the right result will be achieved.

“...In India, the immigrant Indo-Aryans who brought with them the teaching of the God-revealed Word (Veda-Word), received the doctrine of reincarnation, and in Brahmanism this latter teaching exists in a very beautiful form. This was the result brought about by the Manu.” — Rudolf Steiner, “The Migrations of the Races”, a lecture, 1904 (transcript, Rudolf Steiner Archive. Note that the provenance of this lecture is uncertain. However, the lecture is largely consistent with other texts attributed with more confidence to Steiner.)

The universal form of Krishna.

[Public domain.]

“[There is] a passage which, to the man of the present day, must certainly appear incomprehensible; wherein [the god] Krishna reveals to Arjuna [a prince] the nature of the Avayata-tree, of the Fig-tree, by telling him that in this tree the roots grow upwards and the branches downwards; where Krishna further says that the single leaves of this tree are the leaves of the Veda book, which, put together, yield the Veda knowledge. That is a singular passage in the Gita. What does it signify, this pointing to the great tree of Life, whose roots have an upward direction, and the branches a downward direction, and whose leaves give the contents of the Veda? We must just transport ourselves back into the old knowledge, and try and understand how it worked. The man of today only has, so to say, his present knowledge, communicated to him through his physical organs. The old knowledge was acquired as we have just described, in the body which was still etheric, not that the whole man was etheric, but knowledge was acquired through the part of the etheric body which was within the physical body. Through this organism, through the organisation of the etheric body, the old knowledge was acquired. Just imagine vividly that you, when in the etheric body, could perceive by means of the serpent. There was something then present in the world, which to the man of the present day is no longer there. Certainly the man of today can realise much of what surrounds him when he puts himself into relation with nature; but just think of him when he is observing the world: there is one thing he does not perceive, and that is his brain. No man can see his own brain when he is observing; neither can any man see his own spine. This impossibility ceases as soon as one observes with the etheric body. A new object then appears which one does not otherwise see — one perceives one's own nervous system. Certainly it does not appear as the present-day anatomist sees it. It does not appear as it does to such a man, it appears in such a way that one feels: “Yes! There thou art, in thy etheric nature.” One then looks upwards and sees how the nerves, which go through all the organs, are collected together up there in the brain. That produces the feeling: ‘That is a tree of which the roots go upwards, and the branches stretch down into all the members.’ That in reality is not felt as being of the same small size as we are inside our skin: it is felt as being a mighty cosmic tree. The roots stretch far out into the distances of space and the branches extend downwards. One feels oneself to be a serpent, and one sees one's nervous system objectified, one feels that it is like a tree which sends its roots far out into the distance of space and the branches of which go downwards. Remember what I have said in former lectures, that man is, in a sense, an inverted plant. All that you have learnt must be recalled and put together, in order to understand such a thing as this wonderful passage in the Bhagavad Gita. We are then astonished at the old wisdom which must today, by means of new methods, be called forth from the depths of occultism. We then experience what this tree brings to light. We experience in its leaves that which grows upon it; the Veda knowledge, which streams in on us from without.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE BHAGAVAD GITA AND THE EPISTLES OF ST. PAUL (Anthroposophic Press, 1971), lecture 4, GA 142.

“[I]n the North Eastern part of India human nature was such that it inclined to the conceptions given in the Sankhya philosophy; more towards the West, human nature was of that kind that it inclined to conceive of the world according to the Veda doctrine. The different spiritual ‘nuances’ come, therefore, from, the differently gifted human nature in the different parts of India; and only because of the Vedantists later on having worked on further and made many things familiar, do we find in the Vedas at the present time much of Sankhya philosophy bound up with them. Yoga, the third spiritual current, arose as we have often pointed out, because the old clairvoyance had gradually diminished, and one had to seek new ways to the spiritual worlds. Yoga is distinguished from Sankhya in that the latter is a real science, a science of external forms, which really only grasps these forms and the different relations of the human soul to these forms. Yoga shows how souls can develop so as to reach the spiritual worlds.

“And if we ask ourselves what an Indian soul was to do... to this we find the answer in what Krishna gave to his pupil Arjuna in the sublime Gita. Such a soul would have to go through a development which might be expressed in the following words: ‘Yes, it is true thou seest the world in its external forms, and if thou art permeated with the knowledge of Sankhya thou wilt see how these forms have developed out of the primeval flow: but thou canst also see how one form changes into another. Thy vision can follow the arising and the disappearing of forms, thine eyes see their birth and their death. But if thou considerest thoroughly how one form replaces another, how form after form arises and vanishes, thou art led to consider what is expressed in all these forms; a thorough inquiry will lead thee to the spiritual principle which expresses itself in all these forms; sometimes more according to the Sattva condition, at other times more after the forms of the other Gunas, but which again liberates itself from these forms. A thorough consideration such as this will direct thee to something permanent, which, as compared to form, is everlasting. The material principle is indeed also permanent, it remains; but the forms which thou seest, arise and fade away again, pass through birth and death; but the element of the soul and spirit nature remains. Direct thy glance to that! But in order that thou shouldst thyself experience this psychic-spiritual element within thee and around thee and feel it one with thyself, thou must develop the slumbering forces in thy soul, thou must yield thyself to Yoga, which begins with devotional looking upwards to the psychic-spiritual element of being, and which, by the use of certain exercises, leads to the development of these slumbering forces, so that the pupil rises from one stage to another by means of Yoga.’  Devotional reverence for the psychic-spiritual is the other way which leads the soul itself forwards; it leads to that which lives as unity in the spiritual element behind the changing forms which the Veda once upon a time announced through grace and illumination, and which the soul will again find through Yoga as that which is to be looked for behind all the changing forms. ‘Therefore go thou,” thus might a great teacher have said to his pupil, “go thou through the knowledge of the Sankhya philosophy, of forms, of the Gunas, through the study of the Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, through the forms from the highest down to the coarsest substance, go through these, making use of thy reason, and admit that there must be something permanent, something that is uniting, and then wilt thou penetrate to the Eternal. Thou canst also start in thy soul through devotion; then thou wilt push on through Yoga from stage to stage, and wilt reach the spiritual which is at the base of all forms. Thou canst approach the spiritual from two different sides; by a thoughtful contemplation of the world, or by Yoga; both will lead thee to that which the great teacher of the Vedas describes as the Unitary Atma-Brahma, that lives as well in the outer world as in the inmost part of the soul, that which as Unity is the basis of the world. Thou wilt attain to that on the one hand by dwelling on the Sankhya philosophy, and on the other by going through Yoga in a devotional frame of mind.’” — Rudolf Steiner, THE BHAGAVAD GITA AND THE EPISTLES OF ST. PAUL, lecture 2.

— Compiled by Roger Rawlings

To visit other pages in this section of Waldorf Watch, 
use the underlined links, below.

also see "Anthroposophical Christianity"
and "Judaism, The Hebrew Bible"

adepts : putting it to use

all : God and Godhead

basics : where he got it (Theosophy)

breathing spirit : meditations

Buddhism : and Anthroposophy

Clearing House : sneaking it in (cont.)

commandments : Steiner's ten

Father : beginning and end

grail : what's being sought

Islam : Steiner's view

Krishnamurti : disagreement

Manichaeism : and Steiner and Augustine and gnosticism and...

Mithraism : the proto-Christ

Old Testament : the Waldorf interpretation

pagan : not Christian

seances : and mediums

signs : and symbols

Sun God : the Christ you didn't know

trinity : God, gods...


Yoga : sort of

Zoroastrianism : and Anthroposophy