Guest Post Part Four: HINDU GOOD NEWS™

On occasion, State of Formation is pleased to offer its readers and contributors selections from guest bloggers. Over the next week we will publish four part series containing excerpts from a recent book authored Rajiv Malhotra  entitled Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism. More information about Rajiv Malhotra is located at the bottom of this article.

The world is in a time of transition. Globalization, increasing movement of people across national boundaries, environmental challenges, religious conflict, emerging economies and a multi-polar world all demand shifts in thinking to resolve age-old human dilemmas and problems.

Many of the solutions offered for resolving today’s challenges, seem tired, dated and inadequate. They and the institutions created to propagate them stem primarily from the worldview of the West, which has been dominant in world affairs for almost half a millennium. This worldview in turn has been profoundly shaped by the history, myths, intellectual traditions and religious beliefs particular to Europe and America.

As the pendulum swings once again towards Asia and emerging economies and powers stir and find their cultural voices, we stand at a moment of opportunity. Many of us could be dismissive of the world’s diverse voices as we are wont to do – especially when they challenge long-held beliefs. Or we could admit new paradigms, disruptive as they may be to the privileged position of the West, yet promising in their ability to shape the world anew not only for the benefit of Westerners, but for all humanity.

One of the old paradigms which we have all heard is presupposed in the phrase “good news” used by Christians. (The phrase “good news” is a literal translation of the word gospel, which refers to the accounts of Jesus’s life in the bible.) The Christian Good News is usually associated with the saving acts of God through the sacrifice on the cross of his only son, Jesus Christ, for the atonement of the sins of humanity. Yet Hindus find such atonement unnecessary. For man is not inherently sinful, but divine. And we, every one of us, is endowed with the same potential as Jesus, to uncover this divinity within ourselves in the here and now – without the need for someone else’s past sacrifice. To explain this empowering idea I have coined the term, “Hindu Good News”™

Such glad tidings are only a glimpse into the Hindu Good News™, which exalts man’s own potentialities, emphasizes the essential unity of God, man and the cosmos, and insists that diversity rather than uniformity are the truest understanding of reality. Some of the key promises of such a worldview include the following:

  • There is no such thing as Original Sin in the typical Christian sense. We are all originally divine as described by the Sanskrit term, sat-chit-ananda
  • Historical prophets and messiahs do not control access to spiritual truth, as in Christianity and most Abrahamic religions. Yoga and related spiritual practices allow us to achieve a state of freedom from history – including historically shaped communal identities, races, bloodlines, and claims of religious exclusivity based on some unique historical event. In other words, we are not dependent on historical prophets, or the institutions of power that evolved based on them.
  • There is no fundamental conflict between dharma and science, nor has there been any in the past in the dharma traditions.
  • There need be no fear of “chaos” as in much Western cosmology and myth. What is often considered chaotic in the negative sense is merely the natural and normal manifestation of reality. It is only the limits of human cognition that misinterpret nature’s complexity, viewing it as fearful and evil, and worthy of annihilation.
  • A blissful human life is possible while remaining respectful of nature. Nature need not be ravaged in order to “advance” and “progress” – indeed our own evolution would be hastened without the violation of the web of interconnectivity that sustains us.
  • There is no need for any centralized religious authority whatsoever to advance us to our ultimate potential. One may experiment and discover one’s own path using the discoveries and tools of past exemplars as guidelines.
  • Mutual respect among all faiths and traditions is a matter of principle in Hinduism, not a bow to “political correctness” or a grudging necessity imposed from without. It goes far beyond mere “tolerance” for others who follow different paths. We reject claims of exclusiveness and mandates to convert others to one’s own religion.

My latest book, BEING DIFFERENT: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism (Harpercollins, 2011), examines how this worldview is different than mainstream Western thought, including the Judeo-Christian variety, the secular variety of the European Enlightenment, and the postmodernist thought.

Please visit: www.BeingDifferentBook.com for details on this book and to place an order.
To contact me, write: RajivMalhotra2007@gmail.com

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Rajiv Malhotra is an Indian–American researcher and public intellectual on current affairs, world religions, cross-cultural encounters and science. A scientist by training, he was previously a senior corporate executive, strategic consultant and entrepreneur in information technology and media. He is the author of Breaking India (Amaryllis, 2011), was the chief protagonist in Invading the Sacred (Rupa & Co.), and is an active writer and speaker. He is chairman of the Board of Governors of the India Studies program at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

Photo credit: Photo used from this site with permission with Rajiv Malhotra.

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7 thoughts on “Guest Post Part Four: HINDU GOOD NEWS™

    1. Yes, the link is pointing to a blank page. Webmaster of stateofformation, please fix this.

      Absolutely wonderful article by the way, Mr. Malhotra! You are bringing in some much needed perspective to the table of religious dialogue.

  1. Dear Mr. Malhotra,

    Congratulations for articulating so eloquently the Hindu point of view in the context of current global informal inter religious dialogue. The Hindu, or more generally Sanatana Dharma precepts have been outlined in point format from time to time in our history, based upon the contemporary conflicting religious thought of the time. I believe the above seven HINDU PRECEPTS can be further advanced to include not just the reactions to conflicting religious thought of today, but also to include the uniquely inherent points of Hinduism for the purely objective purpose of defining and clarifying Hinduism more correctly and for the gratifying consumption by the Hindu populace that so often seems like looking for some concrete identity to hang on to.

  2. Perfectly right. In fact, the Greatness of Hinduism is, it agrees any method which will help a person get spiritually inclined, so long as it is not harmful to others. Even if there is a staunch but good muslim or Christian, just by being good follower he is accepted by Hinduism. this thought is strongly inculcated in all Hindu minds right from birth. This is what is making Hindus refrain from getting into a religious war.

  3. Hindus have been clear in propounding and exercising the concept that they accept and respect all dharmas, but that was in the Indian historical context. Since newer religious ideologies have come to the fore, e.g. Christianity and Islam, none of which either accepts or respects but merely tolerates Hinduism, the latter has to be defended in a rather newer way! In Hinduism it is understood that the followers of non-Hindu religions will not be subjected to conversion and religious wars just because they are non-Hindu. Islam has not clearly stated that it will not wage war against non-Islamic peoples which it derisively calls ‘infidels’, nor has Christianity declared that it will no longer resort to conversions of other religions’ peoples. In such a scenario, it is obvious that while the Christian and Islamic religions have a clear agenda of conversion and even war against the Hindus (outlined and ordered by their own scriptures the Bible and the Koran respectively), Hindus have no clear policy to counter such an intellectual, social, religious or ideological attack. To complicate things, Hindus have wrongfully accepted the translation of the word ‘Religion’ as ‘Dharma’. There obviously are many religions like Christianity and Islam, but they are not Dharmas. And since in Indic philosophy, all Dharmas are equal, Indians extrapolated, wrongly, that all religions are also equal … not only that, that all religions are equal to our Dharmas. And, therein lies the great misunderstanding, and such misunderstandings on the part of Hindus can be the biggest blow that may wipe out Hinduism as a religion, as Dharma, as a philosophy and as a way of life. The ‘Religions’ are unequivocally adamant and clear that they are not only not equal to the Indic Dharma, i.e. Hinduism (broadly speaking), but that the ‘Religions’ are in reality superior to Hinduism, therefore also justifying conversion and war against Hinduism.

    It is because of such that from Hinduism the intellectual Kshatriyas like need to rise up and protect the freedom, the philosophy and the way of life of the Hindus.

  4. NO ‘NEWS’ IS GOOD NEWS : There is a popular saying: “No news is good news.” The word ‘gospel’ or ‘good news’ also refers to a future event, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to establish Heaven’s Kingdom on Earth. That is the most important aspect of Christian doctrine. If there is no promise, if there is no hope, and if there is no expectation of the Second Coming of Christ, the Christian doctrine would lose its appeal. Many among the Christain community do not want to discuss the issue of the Second Coming of Christ as the scriptures state that the time for the Second Coming of Christ is not revealed. There could be a few signs, and most people who made an attempt to predict the Second Coming have failed in their predictions. I would be happy if State of Formation invites others into this dialogue or discussion. We are discussing not faith, but we are discussing about the future of humanity, people of all races, of all cultures, of all religions, and of all nations. In the Indian tradition, such discussions always involved all categories of people with different perspectives, people who believe in soul and God, and people who deny the existence of soul and believe in cause and effect rather than God. The problem that I encounter even in this limited dialogue among people of faith is the lack of a common platform where people come to an agreement to use terms and definitions with accepted meaning. The term ‘consciousness’ has been used repeatedly in the post and it is unfortunate that people use the term as they like. It lacks scientific objectivity if a term is used without attaching a specific meaning that could be subjected to a verification process. I prefer the method of ‘logical positivism’ and seek verification of statements to find the truth or reality. Just like the Roman Governor Pilate who had asked Jesus:”What is Truth?”, we must seek verification of truth in the statements that we make. I would ask you, “What is Consciousness?”
    http://bhavanajagat.com/2011/04/15/the-truth-about-self-i-am-consciousness/

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