Letter from Savitri Devi to Young Comrade A – 13-14 August 1973
13 August 1973
Dearest young comrade,
I do thank you for your kind letter and for the $25 check. Thanks to you I shall, I believe, be able to wait for the end of the month without going through the anguish I experienced last month, when I had just nothing for the most immediate daily expenses. I must also start putting a little money by for the printer to whom I promised another installment when forma ten (about half my French book) is printed. He is now setting formas 6 and 7, he wrote. I surely will not be able to give him 4,000 rupees as I had told him I would. I had to spend that during these months I had no income at all. But I’ll give him what I can.
Printing here is desperately slow on account of shortages of current. Here in Delhi also, there are current cuts several times a day—some lasting several hours. (You are cooking something on a little electric stove as the one I have and all of a sudden off goes the current and your half-cooked potatoes [or whatever it be] have to wait . . . perhaps to the very evening.)
I told you already, I think, about the morning milk queue. Distribution at 5 a.m. I get up at 3:30 to walk (15 or 20 minutes) to the milk booth that was near my room, when I lived at B-59, Part I (while now I live at C-23, Part II). I stand in the queue, wait and wait. Milk has not come. It will come, but nobody knows when. It came, some days ago, at 7:30!! Fortunately, that was before I took these three hours a week French classes far away from South Extension (in central Delhi). It would be impossible to be there at 8 a.m. if starting from South Extension even at 7:45—which itself would be impossible if I be still in the milk queue at 7:30. Another day, milk has come all right. But the distributor is not there. It had rained a lot, roads were bad, or else . . . the man had just overslept. (If I oversleep and do not go to my work, I shall lose my job, but it is not so in the case of the milk distributors—probably some fellow of the “schedule castes” that one must, today, promote in the name of the “equal” dignity of all human beings, and of newly imported Democracy. The British imported it in the late nineteenth century. But that is “new” when one considers the length of Hindu civilization.) Another day the milk has come, and the two distributors (one for each the men’s and the women’s queue) are there. But the supply of milk is short. One gives you two bottles only instead of the five written on your token. If you need more—and I do, not for myself (I don’t like milk at all, and only put a drop in my coffee) but for the cats whom I feed, since I am in Delhi (as I fed cats and dogs all my life, wherever I met hungry ones, and that was everywhere, save in North Europe) if, I say, you need more, you can buy—but more than double price—one third of a dollar for a liter—at the buffaloes’ shed. Which I do, of course, for I cannot, even if I have to go myself without many things, disappoint the creatures that wait for me every evening, all seated in royal gracefulness—like a row of sphinxes—on the outer enclosure wall of the local temple.
And yet, in spite of the shortages—we had no butter at all for over a week—bread is given out in reduced quantities (one queues for it) at that, for a month or so already—in spite of all, I say India has its advantages.
For instance, I can defend the memory of our Führer, and praise him and his regime openly, in Hindu circles. People who have soaked in propaganda from books or from the radio might express some criticism, but none care enough to become hostile to me on that ground (save certain Communists—and not all of them at that. The inherited Hindu toleration is stronger in most of them.) Also, nobody throws stones at me (or at the cats) when I go to feed the creatures morning (after the milk queue) and evening (after my school hours). They used to in Greece, where I also fed animals, shouting at me that I “should” feed human beings instead. (Always that damned pretension of the two-legged mammal to priority treatment, which made me take a dislike to the whole species, save a real élite, precisely of people who love animals and trees.)
What you tell me of boys boasting of their cowardly murder of poor birds does not astonish me. I too have heard of atrocities perpetrated on defenseless animals—from breaking of horses or donkeys to downright horrors which have marked me for life. (I could write pages about such memories.) The result was that I cannot feel loyal to any people as such, who tolerate such things as vivisection, circuses, the fur trade (think of the poor baby seals flayed alive on the coasts of Canada), and even slaughterhouses. I never passed (be it in a bus) before or near a slaughterhouse without praying to the heavenly Powers to avenge the victims of man. And, as I say both in the Preface of Impeachment of Man and in Long-Whiskers, it is the animals who are at the bottom of my immunity to any form of propaganda in the name of “humanity.” I could not care less what we might have done to the Jews (or to any other enemies) since none of these to my knowledge has ever raised his or her voice in favor of the victims of “man” in general: the beasts of all kinds, massacred by the thousands (and their murderers made into popular “heroes,” such as “Buffalo Bill!), hunted, trapped, inoculated with all sorts of diseases to see the effect of these, vivisected, degraded in circus shows (and beaten and starved when they refuse to perform), etc., etc. My first reaction to the news of the infamous Nuremberg Trial (and I know of only one juridic farce perhaps even more infamous than it in world history, i.e., the trial of Atahuallpa by the Spanish in 1533—after they kept him prisoner in spite of the ransom he had given them, a ransom exceeding that of all kings). My first reaction to that “judgment” of so-called war criminals was: “And the torturers of dumb, beautiful, healthy creatures, in all the ‘research centers’ of the world (save in our hallowed Third German Reich) are not only not brought to trial after a public show of their crimes on the screen, but they are praised as ‘benefactors of mankind,’ servants of ‘science’!! Such a world deserves destruction!”
Did I ever tell you the story of my bicycle? I was fifteen or so, reading in secondary school. They read out to us a very “expunged” life of Pasteur (omitting his abominable experiments on dogs, sheep, and other creatures) and told us to re-tell it on paper. The best essay (as for French language, for the story had to be the same) would get as a prize a beautiful bicycle. I wanted one and was eager to learn to ride it, so I was so pleased when told that I had won the prize of all the secondary school girls and boys of the “Departement du Rhône” (where Lyons, my native town, stands). I took the bicycle and started learning to ride it. Was making a quick progress. Then, all those who had taken part in the competition were taken to see a film showing laboratories at the different Institutes of France called “Instituts Pasteur.” To my horror I saw (among other disgusting performances) research workers pull the “bulbe rachidien”—the small brain-like organ, below the brain—I don’t know its English name—out of the head of a screaming and struggling rabbit. I protested—only to be told I should not be “sentimental.” I henceforth took a hatred for Pasteur. (I hated Claude Bernard—Jew by the way!—already) and all “scientists” of the kind—including the cancer research workers who burn the flesh of creatures (given cancer, while originally healthy) through radium (see the book Madame Curie by her own daughter Eva Curie). And I went and gave back my bicycle.
And I made it clear to myself that if ever bitten by a rabid dog, I should not go and take advantage of criminal researches by accepting the usual inoculation, but wait till two or three days before the time the disease appears (it takes forty days or so, I believe) and then take a whole dose of sleeping pills and step out of this awful world—step out of it at least retaining my only ???? of glory, the one thing I do not want to ??? (marr?) on any account: my personal consistency.
And I should do it today, were I to be in that position. I always refused vaccinations and inoculations of any sort. Was vaccinated against smallpox when . . . eight days old. And that was the first and last time. My parents were not keen on it, and it was not compulsory for all school children sixty years ago as it is now in France. As for certificates for traveling purposes . . . I always found a way out.
You can keep Impeachment of Man if you wish to. I have quite a number of copies left, the book not being a popular one. You tell me you read the American (I presume the Rosicrucian) edition of A Son of God. Cuttings have been made in it—and even in the first (London) edition (for which I paid £250 in 1946) a whole passage on page 255 has been left out. I had given £250 for 2,000 copies. When I was in Germany—i.e., two years later—the editor, one Mr. Severs, who was (or is) a Freemason, I learnt later, and who of the promised royalties had given me £9 only (nine pounds)! He had promised me 4½ shillings per copy sold, and I know at least one person who bought 24 copies (an American interested in Akhnaton and his times). Mr. Severs, I say, wrote to me that “the printers had made a mistake and printed only 500 copies”!!! I was to give another I don’t know how many pounds to have 2,000 copies if I insisted on it. I asked to be refunded at least £150—especially owing to the fact that the same Severs had published my play (the only play I wrote) Akhnaton, written in Iceland in 1947. Severs refused, but gave me £50 (fifty) only back, on condition I should forsake all royalties from any edition (that one or future ones) of A Son of God and of the play. Being (as always) in need of money, I accepted. Sent the money to Calcutta for Zobeida Khatun to be able to continue getting from the bank the allowance of 20 rupees a month (it was then two thirds of a clerk’s monthly salary). I had left on my departure from India at the end of 1945 nearly all the money I had for her to feed her stray animals.
Later on—in 1955 or so—Severs again wrote to me in Germany. (How did he get my address both times is still a mystery to me! I never gave it to him.) He asked my permission to have A Son of God reprinted in the USA by the Rosicrucians and had the cheek to offer me £4 (four pounds only!!) for my consent. I refused. (Who would have accepted such a swindle?) Moreover, I told him my distrust of Rosicrucians as well as of Theosophists and all such openly anti-Nazi would-be “spiritual” bodies, and my fear of alterations in the text of my book. (They omitted in the first place my correspondence about Akhnaton with Aldous Huxley. I had put it in as a Preface.)
Then came for me a necessity. My landlord in Emsdetten (Germany) wanted my room. So I had to leave and quickly. I could not find quickly someone to take me with “Black Velvet” (whom you now know though my book Long-Whiskers). The only really good home I found for him was at my old university friend Simone Bacqué’s, in a village of central France (where she was nursing her old mother who needed mountain air). Both loved cats. And if there were a place where my “black panther” would be as happy as with me, it was there. The journey to the place and back to Germany cost then around £20. Naturally, I had not got the money. So I wrote to Severs asking him whether he could offer me any less ridiculous sum for my permission to reprint A Son of God “without alterations” (I specified). He offered me . . . £20 (twenty). It was enough to secure safety and comfort and love to my beautiful glossy black cat. So I accepted. You know the end of the story: Black Velvet run over by a lorry in Chomélix (central France) at exactly the same time as the poor Teheran kitten was dying in my arms on 10 July 1957. But Black Velvet was killed on the spot, did not suffer. Simone Bacqué buried him in her garden.
I could tell you how I was swindled (now that from 1962 onwards I am not allowed to land in England) in connection with the printing of Long-Whiskers, for which I had given £375 in 1962 to Mr. Gittens of the British publishing society. Gittens quarreled with his printing manager Purdy, who walked off with the type of my book and refused to print until Gittens gave him the sum he said he owed him, while Gittens said he had paid enough. In 1965 Purdy consented to print if I gave him an extra £100. I did so—scraping on my small salary in France as a “maitresse auxiliarie” in a college where I worked from 1961 to 1969—till they dismissed me (after a campaign in the St. Etienne papers against the “Nazi professor of philosophy, teaching racialism and corrupting the girls’ minds”). I was to get 300 copies, and Gittens 1,200, which he could sell if he found customers. I got 233 exactly. And I don’t know what happened to the rest—whether they were even printed at all. As Purdy never answered my (registered) letters and was always “out” when I tried (at what expense!) a phone call to London. And as Gittens—I was told—had “left London.”
Would you like to have my Joy of the Sun—the life of King Akhnaton told to young people (for any adolescents you might know to be interested)? I also have a few (five or six) copies of my play Akhnaton—which I wrote thinking all the time of the persecution of our brothers in faith after 1945. For that very reason, the action in the play takes place some two decades after Akhnaton’s death, under Pharaoh Horemheb (the one who stamped out what was left of the Aton cult).
It is an exciting experience to talk “confidentially” with an enemy that does not know who you are. I had that experience a few times but not for too long, for the saying “a leopard cannot change his spots” applies to me only too well. People all seem to find out what I am sooner or later even if I never mention our Führer’s name (and if asked who is my “master of thought”— “maître à penser”—I reply it is Lykurgus [the ninth century BC legislator of Sparta whom nobody can reproach a half-Greek from admiring]), even so, I say it always comes out. It is my out and out hostility to any form of anthropocentrism that stamps me out as an upholder of the one doctrine of modern times whose very essence is the rejection of the cult of the two-legged mammal and of this supposed “dignity” in favor of the cult of the elite—of any elite, human, of course, but also of any species. (I remember placing Otto Ohlendorf’s picture next to that of the tiger [“Animal Aristocracy”] in Impeachment of Man and thinking of the compliment paid to the Aryan hero Arjuna in the way he is often addressed in the Bhagavad Gita: “You tiger among men”—perfect Warrior, as he, the perfect Feline.)
14 August 1973
This letter is dragging on and on. I must at last send it.
Do you know what happened today (on a day like today) in 1282 in Japan?
The brave islanders, knowing they could not face the teeming thousands of Mongol invaders, which Kubilaï Khan’s mighty fleet was bringing them, were preparing to die fighting them at least. But the storm started—the Gods’ play—and the Mongol fleet was shattered as was one day (1588) to be the Spanish Invincible Armada. Japan was saved from invasion. And years later, nineteenth-century Emperor Meiji wrote a few verses—“a tanka”—on that event:
To the utmost of your power
Do your best . . .
And then, kneel, and thank the
Divine Wind of Isé
Which shattered the Tartar fleet.
(Isé is the famous old temple in which the three Objects—Amaterasu’s Mirror, Su-sa-no-wo’s Sword, and Hoho Demi’s Jewels, gift of the Sea God’s daughter—are kept to this day in wrappings of fine silk.)
I end my letter with this quotation, for it is in our spirit too.
And excuse me for the scribbling. My pencil does not work, nor does my pen.
Tell me when is your birthday. I must send you some little things—what I can—as a remembrance. Do you like Indian Art Objects—sandalwood or enameled metal work?
With thanks once more—most hearty thanks for all your kindness. And with the everlasting greeting of the faithful.
Yours in faith and struggle,
Savitri Dêvi Mukherji