“The Contribution of Savitri Devi”
by Ernesto Milà
Translated with notes by R.G. Fowler
The following text is extracted from Professor Ernesto Milà’s book Nazisme et ésotérisme [Nazism and Esotericism] (Paris: Pardès 1990). Although I cannot agree with many of Professor Milà’s judgments, and although his book contains a number of small factual errors (some indicated below in my notes), his book is an honest and remarkably fair-minded overview and analysis of the connection between National Socialism and esotericism, written from a Traditionalist point of view.
—R. G. Fowler
Every time one speaks about Nazi esotericism, sooner or later the figure of Savitri Devi appears. Two strong reasons contribute to this: in the first place, she was the wife of a well-read man of the higher caste, with a perfect knowledge of the Vedic doctrines, which, in one way or another, bestows a certain Traditional preparation. In the second place, her fidelity with the convictions of her youth led her to give eulogistic lectures on the figure of Hitler right up to the days preceding her death (1982).1
Savitri Devi appears in all the more or less scandalous books touching on the topic of neo-Nazism. She took part in the creation of the World Union of National Socialists [W.U.N.S.] and collaborated with various neo-Nazi groups. Her ambition was to create an international “Aryan” organization able to fight the enemies of Aryan man. She presented her ideas on all these topics in a multitude of articles2 and lectures generally given in front of the very small public predisposed to receive her preaching favorably. Savitri Devi arrived at a better definition of the Hitlerian phenomenon than Miguel Serrano. Thus, for example, whereas Serrano affirms that Hitler was an Avatar of Vishnu, Savitri Devi spoke with more prudence:
Adolf Hitler was not Kalki—although he was the same, essentially speaking, as the ancient Rama Chandra, or the historical Krishna, or Siegfried, or the Prophet Mohammed, the Leader of a true “holy war” (i.e., of a ceaseless combat against the Forces of disintegration; against the Forces of the abyss). He was, like every great Combatant against the current of Time, a Precursor of Kalki. He was—always in his essence—the Emperor of the Cave. In him, the Emperor reappeared, intensely awakened, and armed, as he had reappeared already under the figures of various great German leaders, in particular Frederic II of Prussia, whom Adolf Hitler venerated so much. But he was not his last and definitive reappearance in this cycle. [Souvenirs et réflexions d'une aryenne, 1976]
This being the case, Savitri Devi considered the defeat of Nazism and the end of Hitler as logical: his hour has not yet sounded; when he seized power, the cycle had not come to an end, and a victorious movement could not prevail against the current of decadence. Hitler was dramatically predestined to defeat, because the hour of the end of Kali Yuga had not yet sounded. In this sense, her cyclical interpretation is correct. The Führer, based on the cyclical view of history created by Hörbiger, which does not correspond to the Traditional view, perhaps believed in the possibility of a final victory in accord with the cyclic laws of the cosmos that Hörbiger was praised for having discovered. But it was only a miscalculation: his final failure shows this was so.
Savitri Devi’s advantage over other specialists in Nazi esotericism lies in formation she received in the Tradition, hence the preeminence she gave to the sacred texts of the Tradition. Despite her “orthodox” point of departure, Savitri Devi was not freed from some “distortions” due to her admiration beyond all reason for the figure of Hitler. Indeed, Savitri Devi was a Hitlerian fanatic, and this fanaticism sometimes spoils and deforms her Traditional formation, obliterating the validity of her conclusions.
In particular, the work of Savitri Devi suffers from an erroneous appreciation of the racial problem. She is unaware that, when Hitler spoke about the Aryan race, he meant the Germanic people, and that is also manifest, although in a more attenuated way than in Hitler, in Rosenberg himself. National Socialism, apart from any occultist veins, was above all a form of Pan-Germanism which, at most, towards the end of the war and partly constrained by the state of the conflict, had to “open” itself by authorizing the formation of volunteer contingents from Aryan and non-Aryan countries.
Even when Savitri Devi sketches the caste system of India, she does not seem to understand its base exactly. It would perhaps be useful to quote on this subject the luminous essay of Frithjof Schuon, Castes and Races: “. . . The race is a form, the caste a spirit,” placed at the beginning of the part entitled “The meaning of races.” But without going into considerations on the caste system, it is obvious that Hitler destroyed it implicitly when it wrote in Mein Kampf that, “to be a sweeper in the Reich is more honorable than to be a monarch of a foreign nation.” That said, the assessment of Savitri Devi, when she tells us—quoting a Brahmin—that Hitler wanted “to restore the caste system and extend it to the whole world,” expresses, it seems, only an illusion.
The origin of the caste system is not simple racial separation; it is connected with the Aryan concept of victory and life before and after death. Insofar as the victors are opposed to other people throughout a war, and especially insofar as victory goes to those who have a superhuman and transcendent power, they superimpose themselves on the vanquished and stratify themselves as castes, each of which takes up a determined duty, which corresponds to its dominant interior characteristics. The racial theme in the formation of castes is something of an accessory; it is only a posteriori that one race—the Dravidian tribes—forms the lower castes, or the outcasts, and another race, the Aryan, forms the higher castes.
Can one find something of that in National Socialism? To discover elements there having a remote relationship with this thesis, it is necessary to make an historical effort of comprehension. For example, for the rebuilding of the caste system, one needed not a leveling but a diversified education, adapted to the spirit and the requirements of the character of each caste. In fact, one found something of that in the SS. The SS, whether consciously or not, made itself into a true “warrior caste.” In the same way, one could think of the “Labor Front” as forming a caste of “proletarians” (pardon the expression: not of proletarians in the modern sense of the term, but of producers as masters of the forces of their work). In any case, it should not be forgotten that the dominant component within National Socialism was the warlike element: as is known, the warrior aristocracies were at the origin of the phenomenon of “Titanism”; and, if one wishes to describe Hitlerism adequately, one must choose the term “Titanic.”
One of the most contradictory aspects of National Socialism was this double tendency: on the one hand, egalitarian and leveling (great demonstrations in which the principle of personality was diluted in the oceanic and standardized masses, equal pride of membership of the same nation, etc.) and, on the other hand, inclined to create a warlike and “Titanic” atmosphere.
Another correct discovery by Savitri Devi is to have located the center of Traditionalist influence within the Nazi regime: she saw in the Ahnenerbe “the guardian of the Tradition.” And, in that, she was right, as she was right not to want to venture hypotheses on the esotericism of the Thule Lodge whose rituals where not clear to her . . . And she adds, as proof of sincerity: “It is impossible to say up to what point the Thule Society was in possession of this priceless heritage of the ages . . .” [op. cit.].
Thus, whereas Miguel Serrano is inclined to fall into occultist commonplaces from consumer literature, Savitri Devi is perfectly aware of the danger the anti-Traditional sects pose. It does not matter that she considers Theosophy and the movement of Rabindranath Tagore as excluded from the Hindu tradition solely because they wuere anti-Hitlerian; what counts it is that she identified them as counter-initiatory forces.
This woman, Savitri Devi, born in Lyons on 30 September 1905, went to India where she married the Brahmin A.K. Mukherji when he published the review The New Mercury,3 supported by the German consulate in Madras.4 Mukherji accepted the congratulations of the civil servants of the German consulate and appeared among the partisans of Subhas Chandra Bose, still a hero of the Indian people today, who offered his services to the Japanese. When her husband died, she returned to Europe,5 working as a teacher in a school in Montbrison, from 1960 to 1969. Then she returned to India, and finally died in Europe in 1982. Her eyesight much diminished and in bad health, she spent her last years6 in France, Germany (from where she was expelled for diffusing Nazi ideas), and in England, where she died as she awaited a visa to go to the United States to give to a series of lectures organized by group Yankee neo-Nazis. It is there that her ashes were sent.
The final assessment of the work of Savitri Devi is obviously more positive than that of Miguel Serrano; there we find a better Traditional formation, fewer occultist tendencies, perhaps also a bit more sincerity. Savitri Devi never claims to speak ex cathedra
or to have occult Masters who communicate with Hitler “in the astral plane”; but, in the end, both have an unconditional and irrational admiration for Adolf Hitler, an admiration which, in the case of Savitri Devi, often makes her mistake her desires for realities.
1 Savitri Devi was planning a lecture tour before her death, but she died before it began. Of course Savitri did bear witness to her National Socialist convictions to the very end of her life, but not in the setting of formal lectures.—Trans.
2 Savitri Devi was actually the author of very few articles, but perhaps the author is counting each chapter of Souvenirs et réflexions as a separate essay.—Trans.
3 Savitri Devi married A.K. Mukherji on 29 September 1939 (in a civil ceremony) and on 9 June 1940 (in a religious ceremony). The New Mercury had been suppressed by the British in 1937.—Trans.
4 The New Mercury had been supported through the German Consulate in Calcutta.—Trans.
5 Savitri Devi lived in India from 1935-45, 1957-60, and 1971-81. A.K. Mukherji died in New Delhi on 21 March 1977.—Trans.
6 Savitri Devi’s last sojourn in Europe lasted a little more than a year, from 4 October 1981 until her death on 22 October 1982.—Trans.