History of ancient religion of Latvia and Lithuania, is very fascinating.
Here is a link to LITUANUS. LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES. Volume 33, No.3 - Fall 1987 Editor of this issue: Vilius L. Dundzila. ISSN 0024-5089. Copyright © 1987 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
click to go to http://www.lituanus.org/1987/87_3_06.htm
The merit of this piece of analysis is its objectivity and apparent absence of bias.
Latvia and Lithuania (& their nearby associates like Sudovia etc.) seem to be only countries in Europe which seem to have successfully resisted the Christian onslaught. They also seem to have understood the futility of accepting one person as a prophet, and taking the sermons delivered in Church pulpits as sacrosanct(s). So called prophets (numerous in the world) who claimed to have received the words of God from some sky or something else have only succeeded in misleading societies. Aryans too had this belief that directions were spoken from the sky, called sruti(s). Only difference is, it was not just one prophet who heard it. Hundreds of sages from time immemorial, heard it. I do not, as a Marxist, whatever be the religion/culture, support the belief of hearing something from the sky.
Problem with Christianity is, it calls everybody who do not follow their path blindly, as pagan and condemn them as barbaric. Man-made religions have an in-built intolerance towards naturally-evolved modes of living. (I do not call these RELIGIONS, because religions are dogmas imposed on individuals, supported by military forces for the purpose of suppressing cultures.)
What seems to be common between Latvian Dievturiba and Indian Hinduism? -- Ans: Not accepting one man invented/discovered covered religions. Evolution of worshipping methods over thousands of years, in spite of invasions/migrations from outside.
I shall, now, quote one interesting piece of history from the article linked above.
12 When the Aryan peoples invaded and settled in the territory that is present Latvia some 4000 years ago, they already encountered a culture that was almost totally matriarchal. We might say that Father Dievs/sky formed a union with Mother Māra/earth and, to this day, the Latvian religion and culture is embedded in this sacred duality. Marija Gimbutas in her The Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe (London, 1974) well describes this process.
India too had a history of super-imposition of Aryan civilisation over the Indus Valley Civilisation. Pre-Aryan India mainly worshipped Mother Goddess (though there was a reference to pashupati (Lord of cattle) in Indus Valley). Original names of Mother Goddesses were infinite in number because India was a vast country geographically, demographically, with thousands of tribes. But most tribes worshipped Mother Goddess which included her numerous forms like vana dEvata (Goddess of Forest), Goddess of harvest, Goddess bestowing children etc.
So far, historians could not decipher Indus Valley Script. The civilisations east of Indus Valley might have had some divergence, while Mother Goddess was common. Worshipping trees, serpants, and un-sculptured stones or coarsely-incompletely carved Mother-stones seems to have developed.
In the above linked article, it was said that Latvia was invaded by Aryans 4000 years back. There is also a mention of paternalism.
Many historians placed Aryan migration to India at around 2000 years earlier. Aryan civilisation brought into the country fire-worship through hOmAs (sacrifices), paternal Gods like ViShNu, Rudra, Aditya, Indra (parjanya), and sages like mitra, varuNa.
This seems to have resulted in a chemical composition of Aryan and native-Indian cultures.
Example: In today's India, Mother Goddess is supreme. She has three sons. First is creator (four headed brahma), patron-protector (all pervading VishNu), and destroyer during apocalypses (Rudra or Shiva).
The formless supreme spirit (brahman or brahmam or parabrahmam) has been relegated to monks of vEdAnta. The formless supreme spirit no longer occupies the center stage.
There are hundreds of thousands of temples in India which facilitate Mother-Goddess worship with names ranging from 1000 to 100000.
There are thousands of names for the Mother Goddess. There are thousands of forms of idols. Some can look grotesque or bizarre, but they may not really be. For example the following picture of Mother Goddess bhavAni at Vijayawada (photo courtesy Deccan Chronicle.com, modified by me) shows Mother Goddess as a punisher of Evil Forces.
Protruding tongue of the Goddess indicates that she is in a punishing posture. bhavAni dIksha (dIksha = a program usually lasting 40 days, consisting of special vows such as abstinence from alcohol, non-veg., sex, tobacco etc.) inculcates self-discipline in participants at least for 40 days in a year. It refurbishes their bodies, as they try to strengthen will power against evil influences like alcoholism.
Mother Goddess lakshmi with her eight forms includes one form as santAna lakshmi (Goddess of Children). Here is a picture which shows Mother Goddess Lakshmi (laime mAte) with God VishNu (vishN) at the centre.
Indians have even accepted Mary of Christianity as Mother Goddess. Here is a picture of Mary MAta.
Photo courtesy Gunadalamathachapel.blogspot.in.
Link: Mother Mary as Goddess
About worship methods: Churches in India, are gradually modifying their prayer methods to Indian culture, particularly to those methods which are not repugnant.
It must be kept in mind, that Indian worship methods are all-inclusive and pluralistic. They may not and need not follow the Sanskrit mantra (special Sanskrit chants) system.
Original Aryans, I believe, might not have had a temple culture. For this reason only, we do not find any references to idol-worshipped temples in RAmAyaAa and mahAbhArata. Aryan fully-sculptured temples seem to have been learnt from native Indians and probably from Buddhism.
While Christians called non-believers (of their faith) as pagans, Mohammedans called non-believers as kAffirs, Aryans called non-believers as mlEchchAs. Intolerance was in-built. Expanding religions in the name of spreading God's message is a craze. Conversions either by force (Islam) or by money-inducements (Christianity) is the motivating philosophy. They do not want to leave the ancient civilisations to live in their own ways, evolved over thousands of years.
Naturally evolved worship methods were not religions. They might have become somewhat defensive after consecutive invasions.
Even today, the principal opposition party of India, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its predecessors like bhAratiya Janasangh, Hindu mahAsabha, RSS etc. seem to have grown up from this defensive approach. [I oppose religious conversions. But, I am not a supporter of these movements, because they go to extremes in their love of their (perceived) religion]. They forget that Hinduism is not a religion. They tried to coin one word called Hindutva, to represent the geographical culture of India, but finally in practice, it was converted into support of one segment of Hindutva, i.e. Hinduism and its sub-segment sanAtana dharma. Geographically, sanAtana dharma and Hinduism (includes sanAtana dharma) can be parts of Hindutva which is all-inclusive for the country. But Hindutva cannot be a part of Hinduism.
For example the sanAtana dharma monks and preachers cannot impose their worship methods of Sanskrit verses, homas (fire sacrifices) on others who adopt a different method to worship same Mother Goddess or VishNu or Shiva. The problem is with the culture of imposing something on somebody else.
Progress made by me today: Latvia had SIMILARLY naturally evolved living styles which were more ancient than Christianity and Aryanism.
To continue. I reserve the right to revise this suitably, if anybody's feelings are hurt.