Guest Post Part One: A Different Kind of Hindu-Christian Dialogue: Difference with Mutual Respect

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.

For over a decade, I have used interfaith exchanges as opportunities to introduce the concept of mutual respect and why it is superior to the patronizing notion of “tolerance” that is typically celebrated at such events. BEING DIFFERENT (Harpercollins, 2011), is entirely about appreciating how traditions differ from one another rather than seeing them as the same. In parallel with these works, I have been in conversations and debates with numerous thinkers of traditions other than my own.

One such dialogue has been with Father Francis Clooney, a noted Jesuit theologian and a leading professor of Religion at Harvard. Clooney not only took a good deal of time to read through my entire manuscript and write to me many useful comments, he and I have responded to each other’s public talks over the years and argued online. There have been agreements and disagreements, but with mutual respect. I wish to reflect on how this experience relates to my overall approach to interfaith dialogue.

Chapter 1 of my book cites numerous examples to show that most religious leaders feel more comfortable publicly taking the position that various traditions are the same as each other (even though in private teachings to their followers they emphasize their own side’s distinct advantages). I coined the term “difference anxiety” to refer to the anxiety that one is different from the other – be it in gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion or whatever else. The opposite of difference anxiety is difference with mutual respect, the posture I advocate for dialogue.

This is not merely a shift in public rhetoric, but requires cultivating comfort with the infinitude of differences built into the fabric of the cosmos. The rest of my book explains several philosophical foundations of the differences between the dharmic traditions (an umbrella term for Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism) and the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam).

There are multiple audiences I wish to debate using this book, including those Hindu gurus who preach that all religions are the same, and many westerners who adopt an assortment of eastern spiritual practices in combination with their own Judeo-Christian identities and who blur differences or wish them away. I also respond to complaints that the acknowledgment of differences will lead to mutual tensions rather than mutual respect.

In response to my recent talk at University of Massachusetts (Dartmouth), Francis Clooney made some interesting observations in agreement with my approach to difference. See the video below of my talk.

Direct link: http://beingdifferentbook.com/umass-part-1/
This was followed by Clooney’s comments, shown in the video below.

Direct link: http://beingdifferentbook.com/umass-part-2/

What particularly struck me from his talk and our subsequent conversation was his observation that most of his readings of prior Hindus have shown them to be either dismissive of Christian theology’s positions, or trivializing of the important Hindu/Christian differences, or reducing the differences to modern politics, rather than uncovering the deep structures from which the differences emanate. He also accepts my book’s emphasis that many Sanskrit terms cannot be simply translated into western equivalents.

We also disagreed on several points: For instance, Clooney views inculturation by evangelists as a positive posture of Christian friendship towards Indian native culture by adopting Indian symbols and words, whereas I find it to be often used as a mean to lure unsuspecting Indians into Christianity by making the differences seem irrelevant.

The significance of such an approach to dialogues is not dependent upon whether both sides agree or disagree on a given issue. In fact, I do not consider it viable to reconcile the important philosophical differences without compromise to one side or the other. Rather, the significance here is that we are comfortable accepting these differences as a starting point – which is more honest than the typical proclamations at such encounters where differences are taboo to bring up.

This approach to difference opens the door for any given faith to reverse the gaze upon the other in dialogue. Given the west’s immense power over others in recent centuries, the framing of world religions’ discourse, including the terminology, categories and hermeneutics, has been done using western religious criteria combined with subsequent western Enlightenment theories. In my book, I refer to this as Western Universalism and feel that this artificial view of non-western faiths has been assumed as the “standard” space in which all traditions must see themselves – leading to difference anxieties, and hence to the pressure to pretend sameness.

My hope is to hold more such dialogues with experts from as many other traditions as I can, and be able to freely share both areas of agreement and disagreement without pressure or guilt.
Hindu cosmology has naturally led me to this comfort with difference: The entire cosmos and every minutest entity in it is nothing apart from the One, i.e. there is radical immanence of divinity such that nothing is left out as “profane.” Hence, unity is guaranteed by the very nature of reality, eliminating the anxiety over difference at the very foundations. In fact, the word “lila” represents the profound notion that all these differences are forms of the One, and that all existence is nothing apart from divine play, the dance of Shiva.

—————————

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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51 thoughts on “Guest Post Part One: A Different Kind of Hindu-Christian Dialogue: Difference with Mutual Respect

  1. Dear Rajiv,

    Thank you for this. I look forward to the other parts.

    I have spent a good amount of time in India and have studied with Professor Clooney at Harvard as well. I agree with your point when you write, “We also disagreed on several points: For instance, Clooney views inculturation by evangelists as a positive posture of Christian friendship towards Indian native culture by adopting Indian symbols and words, whereas I find it to be often used as a mean to lure unsuspecting Indians into Christianity by making the differences seem irrelevant.” This is really important to recognize, especially when referring to the conversion of Dalits. The Dalit is led to believe that this will move them away from their place in the caste system, when in reality, it doesn’t. And, as I am sure you are aware, it has caused severe problems in the smaller villages in India, where some whom have converted were tortured and some even killed. I agree that dialogue is imperative here, especially in these cases, as well as in cases such as Orissa.

    Thank you again,
    Karen

    1. Thanks. I agree its a complex matter. First I want to open doors so all sides are fairly represented. Till now the discourse has been controlled in the hands of certain scholars who are vested in certain positions. To move forward, humanity must create more open forums lie this one where reasonable people can discuss outside the bounds of whats “allowed”.

    2. “The Dalit is led to believe that this will move them away from their place in the caste system, when in reality, it doesn’t”

      Karen, Caste is a complex topic. what was Indian then was varna/jati/kula system and Colonial British codified it as Caste ( orginally comes from Portugeese word “casta” ). Did you know there was no “Dalit” or “Dravidian” identity 250+ years ago, but it was all invented by British; now that legacy is carried on by Christian Missionaries. Rajiv’s other book BREAKING INDIA explores this in great detail. The roots of the problem are external!

      http://www.breakingindia.com/

      .

      1. Hi! Thanks for this. I am aware of how the caste system was exacerbated by colonization. Honestly though, I would rather call a person a Dalit than an “untouchable.” I agree that this is very complex, and yes, extending all the way back to the expansion of the Arians and the labeling of darker skinned people as Dravidians. There are no answers right now, I am afraid. Thanks for your links!

        Best,
        Karen

        1. Agreed. But do please note that dalits also exist in Indian Christianity and Islam. The origins seem to be not religious but social. Certain professions were considered unclean and also colonial rule disempowered certain communities who became landless laborers. Regardless of the history, its important to end all forms of discrimination in all faiths.

        2. Dear Karen – what you have mentioned here reg. Aryan-Dravidian is also a colonial cock-and-bull – “yes, extending all the way back to the expansion of the Arians and the labeling of darker skinned people as Dravidians.”

          This never had any evidence to support whatsoever from archaeology, anthropology, genetics, history or linguistics.

          Please read RM’s Breaking India – http://www.BreakingIndia.com – to properly understand this divisive “theory” and its disastorous consequence.

          Many otherwise sincere western (and Indian) intellectuals have been misled about India by blindly believing this “theory”. Once this theory is discarded, most of our assumptions about India will have to be purged with it.

          1. Okay, so there is a legitimate theory that the caste system and the Aryan-Dravidian divide have been concocted by the British. Fine, I accept that. Yet, since it is a reality in India right now, our work is to eradicate the evil influence of these categorisations and NOT to prove that since the British did it long ago, we have no responsibility in dealing with it and bringing about change. I do not understand the relevance of this way of thinking.
            Whether the British made it and we faithfully followed it or not, the fact is that these differences must become unimportant. Even today, huge divisions exist in society based on the caste system and even the broad term “quotas” came to be because of that. To me it doesn’t matter who created the division, Manu or the British but the existence of it now even within non-Hindu faiths in India proves that it is real and not imaginary.
            “Dialogue” among various types of religious faiths is exactly that, a conversation. It can be done among the leaders and it can be done among ordinary people like us too. I have personally taken the time to explain many things about Christianity that were not understood by many non-Christians and to a person, they have all told me that their attitudes have changed once they understood the issues. Explaining things to people who don’t understand things and therefore have a wrong idea about them is the job of everybody who has interaction with others. The problem is that most people leave that job to somebody else and there is a huge vacuum where explanations could have made a lot of difference. Most people just can’t be bothered or don’t have the knowledge or ability to do that..And the country goes haywire..

  2. We are grateful to both Rajiv Malhotra and Frank Clooney to join at our campus for initiating this dialogue to understand meaningful differences in the two traditions. Of course, we had the format in such a way that the two could discuss their points, and they did it gracefully, without exactly debating the issues.

    At some point in the future, however, a debate may be needed to contextualize the differences to the level of social and political constructions.

    I would be interested in learning of scholars who may be interested and willing to participate in such an event.

    Bal Ram

  3. Dear Rajiv,

    Thank you very much for the article, and I look forward eagerly to the subsequent parts.

    “. . . unity is guaranteed by the very nature of reality, eliminating the anxiety over difference at the very foundations. In fact, the word “lila” represents the profound notion that all these differences are forms of the One, and that all existence is nothing apart from divine play, the dance of Shiva.”

    Very beautifully put. I believe that diversity can only be appreciated by those who are fully comfortable with their own beings and are not threatened by differences.

    Sincerely,
    Atanu

  4. Dear Rajiv:

    It is very unique article. i am looking forward to read the rest. This opens up at the intellectual level. Debating with the intellectuals is challenging and healthy, hopefully. We need this between Hindus and Western world. Today Hindus / Hinduism has been under a big threat for very long, hopefully this will help. You are a modern Shankaracharya.

    Wish you all the best.

    Regards,
    Uma

  5. “Clooney views inculturation by evangelists as a positive posture of Christian friendship towards Indian native culture by adopting Indian symbols and words, whereas I find it to be often used as a mean to lure unsuspecting Indians into Christianity by making the differences seem irrelevant.”

    Very well said. In fact this digestion is ongoing. There is Christian or American prefixed to Yoga, Gita, Bharatanatyam, Carnatic Music etc., There’s this excellent example of Digestion of Veda itself. Please see

    http://digestingveda.blogspot.com/

    “American Veda” rejoices how Dharma has been digested by Americans with the original sources made to disappear. The Tiger digesting the Deer remains the Tiger, in fact stronger, but the Deer turns into a pile of shit. This has happened to many civilizations that were also similarly “assimilated” into Christianity and the west – but they now live in museums!

    1. As an Indian Christian, I find this not factually true.. It is a very basic mistake that many Indian Hindus make, making “Christian” and “Western/American” interchangeable. They cannot be. Christianity is NOT a western or American faith. I belong to a community that many in India do not know, the Syrian Christian community of Kerala. The oldest church in the world was the Orthodox Church that was set up after Jesus’ time in that very area where he lived and died.. That is the church that was set up here in India in the coastal area that was ruled by kings of Travancore-Cochin in the 1st century AD. We have followed the same liturgy and traditions of the region that was Palestine those days.. There is absolutely nothing western about our church services and traditions.
      After the British came, the rest of India was introduced to Christianity and perhaps those areas and people who came to know that faith, wrongly think of it as a western faith. America came into the picture much later..
      So, if you don’t mind, try and make some distinction between the large majority of Christians in Kerala and any group that behaves or dresses or anything like westerners. I am painfully aware that almost all drunken villains and bad women in Hindi movies have the Bombay-type Christian names! Something non-Christian film makers did but the practice keeps going on..:-)

      1. I agree with Rebecca about the Indian Syrian Christians. I have many friends in it. But they are very different from the mainstream, larger denominations. The Syrian Christians are illustrative of how well preserved faiths have been in a Hindu majority for centuries. That is difference with mutual respect. But the same is not true where Abrahamic religions are the majority.

      2. Rebecca,

        Just like Rajiv says Indian Syrian Christians and others native to Indian traditions are excluded. Let’s not try to make the exception the norm. My bigger point was the trend of inculturation, digestion, appropriation all in different shapes and forms that is spearheaded by Western missionaries especially after Pope’s clarion call. It’s correctly termed as Christian scavenging by George Thundiparambil, another Indian Christian rooted in Indian ethos than controlled by Vatican. Did you care to read the blog?

        http://digestingveda.blogspot.com/

        And what was pope’s clarion call?

        On November 6, 1999 Pope John Paul II in his sermon at the Sacred Heart Cathedral of New Delhi, openly stated, “Just as in the first millennium the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the third Christian millennium, a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent [Asia]”

        1. I have researched inculturation first hand through extended stays in south Indian villages. It is duplicitous when the motive is to convert, and the adoption of native culture is selective only, and done only for that motive. Genuine cross cultural adoption should not have such motives and should respect the native culture rather than undermining it.

      3. Your comments are very useful. It gives better perspective for all of us. Please keep writing

      4. Jesus of Nazareth did not establish Christianity. He was trying to reform the then existing Hebrew faith to humanize the Abrahamic tenets to serve one’s fellow humans.

        The Orthodox Christians of the Eastern Churches understood the folly of blindly following the models of western proselytization, which was mostly undertaken as an aid to establish the European domination over non-Christian nations.

        The Eastern orthodox Christian Churches be they Syrian, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian etc., were and still are mindful of Jesus’s admonition (St.Mathew 23:15) “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves”.

        That is precisely what happens when Dalits become converts into Christianity, Islam, Sikh etc., they become “twofold more the child of hell”! They remain second-class Christians, Muslims, Sikhs etc.

        The pressing need of our times is for us to pressure the UN Commission on Human Rights to include in its charter, a strict prohibition against all forms of religious proselytization, either overt or covert.

        I also hope that all democratic nations which value pluralism and diversity among their peoples, will amend the UN Charter to deny full membership in the UN to all theocratic nations until they amend their constitutions to guarantee full and unfettered freedom to their respective citizens to practice whatever faith they choose (or follow no faith) with no coercion from or enticement by any one.

        With regard to India, I very much hope that all states in India ban religious proselytizations of every kind, both overt and covert.

        As Rajv says in his “Breaking India”, the threat to India’s national integrity is a real one since both the Islamic Umma and the emerging “Christian Umma” are forging links with the Maoists: each seeking no doubt to expand its own mission while the collective impact will be the disintegration of India which is what both the West and India’s neighbor China as well as Pakistan want!

        Sadly, the Aryan-Dravidian myth is being exploited by Tamil Christians, Tamil Hindus, and Tamil Muslims who have been brain-washed by the crack-pot theories of the founders of DK and DMK, which were handed down to them by the early western missionaries who came to preach Christianity in the Tamil-speaking parts of the old Madras Presidency. Thank God, the Aryan-Dravidian myth did not spread to the areas which comprise the present day Kerala. One reason may be due to the heavy Sanskritization of Malayalam, which is the spoken language of the peoples of Kerala, regardless of whatever faith the Keralites belong to.

        While no doubt Rajiv’s “Being Different” is a stellar contribution to the Dharmic literature, I would strongly urge those who have not yet read Rajiv’s “Breaking India” to do so promptly and do whatever they can to stem the coalescing of vested interests who are hell-bent on promoting the balkanization of India.

        1. “As Rajv says in his “Breaking India”, the threat to India’s national integrity is a real one since both the Islamic Umma and the emerging “Christian Umma” are forging links with the Maoists: each seeking no doubt to expand its own mission while the collective impact will be the disintegration of India which is what both the West and India’s neighbor China as well as Pakistan want! ”

          Thank you Alex. There can be no better ambassador of Indic Christianity than you when you say it so resoundingly; I wish the Indic Christians like you form a separate platform to counter the Christians dominating Indian polity (funded by West whose goal is simply Western domination/imperialism in the guise of religion)

          1. Thanks for your comments. I am on my way to Kerala (my home state) on vacation. I know that there are hundreds of thousands like me in all eastern orthodox churches, not just in Kerala but elsewhere in the world wherever they may be.

            They are all intensely nationalistic to the country where they are born and raised, because none of the eastern orthodox churches have a proselytizing mission. Consequently, their numbers, including in Kerala are dwindling either due to the vigorous enticements of the Pope as in the case of Kerala, Lebanon, Armenia etc or downright hostility shown by the militant followers of Islam which results in their fleeing from their countries of origin as in Egypt, Iraq, Iran etc.

            That is why, my efforts have been since 2006 to rouse the conscience of those who are against proselytization of all kinds, to move the UN to amend its charter along the lines indicated in the petition below. It was posted in 2006 and todate, it has collected a measly 3500 signatures!

            Until the world’s democracies turn against theocracies and amend the UN Charter on Human Rights to make religious proselytization an abrogation of basic human rights, I see no hope for the situation. Worse still, are instances like we see in India and elsewhere when the democratically elected governments do not go forward and legislate at a national level, both overt and covert religious discrimination a crime, I believe that both aggressive Christian proselytization in the service of western imperialism and militant Islamic dreams of establishing a world Caliphate will continue. The UN Charter also needs to be amended to downgrade theocratic nations to an associate level and confer full membership only if they change their constitution to become a secular nation.

            A few Indian Christians like me started a yahoo chat group a few years ago and it died owing to its inability to attract a wider audience. Please see the link below for the petition on line. And, if you are so inclined, I would appreciate your signing it and also publicizing it.

            http://www.petitiononline.com/petitions/unchr900/signatures?page=2

            Thanks again for your gracious comments.

  6. Dear Rajiv,

    A very interesting beginning to a series of articles that I am waiting eagerly to read..Thank you. I particularly like the phrase “difference anxiety” which explains so much of what is going on in societies everywhere, particularly in the area of religious beliefs.
    I agree with both Karen and Atanu in their observations. If we are comfortable with our own beings and not threatened by differences, all differences can be seen in a totally different light than what is happening now. For reasons that are very complex, religious leaders do not have the right kind of dialogue with one another and ordinary people have no time or inclination to think deeply about things and make their own decisions.
    Being willing and able to face the differences and still accept one another’s faith and beliefs with real respect is what should happen; maybe it will, one day!

    Regards,

    Rebecca.

  7. Dear Rajiv
    Thank you for the logical presentation of realizing that ‘difference- anxiety’ ought to be replaced by ‘respect for difference’.

    In the world today when conflict in thought and deed is dancing the ‘Taandav’, the dance of destruction, mutual respect is likely to bring peace, respect,if not love, for others and sanity.

    1. Thanks, shri Tiwari. This is nice except one point: I dont regard tandav as “destruction” in the negative sense. Shiva is not destroyer but dissolver of the false, to renew and create fresh.

  8. Your article is interesting. Practical reforms in all
    religions are necessary. I invite you and readers
    to refer “Religious Problems”, article E10 on my
    website (www.mngogate.com) — M N Gogate

  9. Will look forward to reading more of this. Respect is certainly a commodity becoming increasingly rare, and we could do with more of it!

  10. Dear Shri Rajiv,

    I want to ask you a basic question- There has been a lot of Inter-faith dialogues between different communities right from the time of the Parliament of Religions way back in 1893( when Swami Vivekananda took the Christian world by storm), but has there been an positive result out of it. The Abrahamic religions have always maintained that theirs is the ‘only way for salvation’ and theirs is the ‘only true God’, and this has been the main cause of religious conflicts in the world; Recently in Karnataka there had been problem because of some anti-Hindu literature distributed by the Church. In Kandhamal in Orissa, there had been problem because of forced conversions. If they change their attitudes all inter-religious problems will be solved; as a Hindu generally doesnot transgress into another community to convert nor does he say that his religion is the only way out. Your kind opinion in this regard, please.

    1. Interfaith will go on whether you like it or not.
      But those in exclusivist faiths will remain as they are, or at least its not up to us to change them.
      the purpose of my work is not to evangelise the other side.
      my purpose is to inform THE READER AND VIEWER – many naive persons with a genuine quest to know.

      1. Dear Shri. Rajiv,

        If there is a dialogue between two sides , each will put forward the difficulties faced by them due to the unwanted attitude/behavior of the other side, and expect an answer/ response from the other side; if there is no such thing then it is not ‘a dialogue’. What I had wanted from you was whether the difficulties faced by the Hindu community due to the unwanted attitude/behavior of the Christian missionaries had been put forward in the dialogue. My contention is that if one side continues to adhere to its unwanted behavior and has no intention of correcting itself , it is not fruitful in having such a dialogue. We Hindus have never been ‘aggressive’ in propagating our religion and have always respected all religions and doctrines; so this sort of assurance is needed from the other side to make an inter-faith dialogue meaning full.

  11. jagat is the lila of Hari who is the immanent ruler (antaryAmi) of all including Siva.

  12. Dear Sir, Date – 14. 01. 12.

    You are one of the most competent persons I have come across. Do you expect me to communicate my thoughts and feelings about your experience in knowing things all the while from different perspective? Excuse me; I am not of that standard.

    Sir, I am an ordinary person. It would be better if you please watch the sites mentioned along with another one: http://www.nothingnesstoo.com and allow me to exchange my views.

    Enthusiastically, considering you in the fore we can safely be united to develop spirituality which demands commendable respect from every corner of the world today.

    With best regards,
    Yours in the Divine,
    Asokananda Prosad.

  13. Inter-faith dialog is necessary in our global village where we can talk about our own worldviews and address common issues from faith perspectives in the spirit of harmony and not of a predator.

    Rajiv is the first intellectual to initiate this in a real way and this can only come from a position of strength. Those who are afraid and have low self-esteem are likely to reject this kind of debate simply because they are not up to it.

    This is a tremendous learning experience for Hindus.

  14. Rebecca Kurian: “it is a reality in India right now, our work is to eradicate the evil influence of these categorisations and NOT to prove that since the British did it long ago, we have no responsibility in dealing with it and bringing about change.”

    “Our” work is all that and more, and not just in India… including exposing & understanding the true history, which is part of “our responsibility in dealing with it” as well. Once Indians like you see this “theory” for what it is, you will be able work together to “bring about change”. I am sure you know “Be the change…”

    RK: “I do not understand the relevance of this way of thinking.”

    Yes, it is not easy. Please don’t give up.

    1. Well said DogmaToxin. when I saw above response from Rebecca the obfuscatory attitude was clear in her choice of her words, imagine these are the “inter-faith” types we are dealing with.

  15. The differences exist because of our unwillingness to define the words that we use. We need to come to an understanding about man and about human nature. The dialogue should not be about God, Religion, and Revelations. Let us focus our attention on the man who exists in a given environment as a member of a social group. How does man exist in nature? If Science is not willing to get into this discussion, the dialogue will not allow us to know the nature of our differences. I define man as a physical, mental, social, moral, and spiritual being. I use the word ‘spiritual’ to describe the spiritual nature of the body substance commonly stated as protoplasm, cytoplasm, or cytosol. The word spirit or soul does not describe an immaterial substance. Religions speak about spirit and soul without describing the substance to which its nature could be attributed.
    http://bhavanajagat.com/2012/01/06/spiritualism-and-knowledge-of-human-nature/

  16. Prevention of Cultural indoctrination : In the past I had served the United States of America by providing my military service to resist the spread of Communist doctrine in Southeast Asia. This military effort was funded by the U.S. Congress and hence it would be correct to say that I had worked on behalf of American people. I do not find any difference in tactics used by Communists and the tactic of inculturation used by Christian Evangelists in India. Both the Communists and the Evangelists are motivated by the same reasons and their purpose is that of Cultural indoctrination; to convert opinions and beliefs of people to bring the social change that they desire to achieve their purpose. These tactics have no academic merit. In academic education, students are provided with information and are encouraged to use their own thinking and cognitive skills to assimilate the information and to formulate their own opinions. The Christian claim that a particular historical figure is Divine, and is the means of God’s reconciliation with the world, defies all human rationality. So also, the Marxist belief that Communist Revolution is the answer to the problems of humanity is totally irrational. But, both Christian Evangelists and Marxists use the same tactic called Infiltration and Internal Subversion. They choose to deliberately infiltrate all the social structures and institutions using the techniques of camouflage and concealment and having infiltrated the society, they use their presence to subvert the society to adopt its beliefs and doctrine. Today, both Evangelism, and Marxism known as the Naxal Movement pose a threat to Indian Society as they continue to infiltrate and subvert the social fabric of India to achieve their own agendas. None of these players are interested in a true and public dialogue with people of India to better understand the purpose of man in life.

    1. “Today, both Evangelism, and Marxism known as the Naxal Movement pose a threat to Indian Society as they continue to infiltrate and subvert the social fabric of India to achieve their own agendas.”

      Actually that’s what Rajiv Malhotra’s first book exposes in stunning detail. BREAKING INDIA ( http://www.breakingindia.com/ ) It is a must read for every Indian; it exposes how Churches/West are creating a Rwanda in India.

  17. Religious Propagation is not a Fundamental Right :
    The United Nations Charter and the Declaration of Human Rights recognize the Freedom of Religion and not that of propagation of Religion. Propagation involves the act of transmitting an idea to change the opinion or belief of another person. The Part III of the Constitution of India, Articles 12-35 deal with Fundamental Rights. Articles 25-28 deal with Freedom of Religion. Citizens are free to profess their religion but are not free to propagate a religion as that would compromise the Fundamental Right entitled to others. It is unfortunate to note that the Constitution is not very explicit in this aspect and it gives a scope to Christians and Muslims to believe that they have Freedom of Religion to propagate their beliefs and to undermine the core values of other belief systems. The Interfaith Dialogue should be used to share these concerns and to restrain the use of Propagation to change the opinion/belief of others.
    http://bhavanajagat.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/propagation-is-that-a-fundamental-right/

    1. Rajiv Malhotra’s stand is crystal clear:

      My purpose in dialog with opposing views is never to try to convert their position, as that’s impossible. So the whole argument being made is moot. My goal is to educate the uninformed youth in the audience about my position, in this case the students at Univ of Mass. We have complained for years that Hindus do not get included in such gatherings and hence we are judged without being present to represent ourselves. So now that finally a few of us get to speak up in mainstream forums, there is jealousy from those who feel left out on the margins because they did not work hard or develop the solid mainstream books that are required to have a strong case. (Vijaya Rajiva has zero academic works or any book written by her – what a “qualified” person that I must respond to!!!) The argument that we cannot influence the opponent is useless because that is not the goal in any debate/argument with an opponent. One targets the undecided middle ground as one’s audience. A Democrat does not expect to convert his opponent Republican in a debate, nor vice versa – they are talking to the audience watching while appearing to debate one another. This is debating 101.
      Opponents to dialog are not just evangelists but also Marxists, secularistsm Islamists, and many confused Hindus who promote “sameness” like some folks in Auroville. I have a long track record in taking on all kinds of opponents, and helping educate our own folks to widen their knowledge: Vijay Prashad the foremost leftist in an online debate on Outlook; around 6 of Wendy’s Children in multiple forums including at the AAR annual conferences; Martha Nussbaum; various folks at Harvard; Mark Tully in a recent video on YouTube; Reverend Thompson at Princeton Univ; etc. Vijaya is part of a small group of persons who have no such experience. They are simply unqualified to assess my effectiveness. As someone recently commented on them: “You cannot teach a pig to whistle, and besides it makes the pig upset.” How not to do XYZ is being pontificated by someone who has never done XYZ!!! Dont you think you ought to have asked her to explain whats her expertise and experience in this field before judging me?
      The fact is that many important intellectual leaders in our tradition supported me for 20 years to gain this experience which comes only through sticking one’s neck out in forums where one might be heavily out numbered. I follow the advice of such elders, rather than those who feel they have failed to make any impact and hence want to get visibility by such attacks.
      Vijaya and her ilk have no skin in the game, i.e. nothing at risk, because they are armchair mouse-clicking “activists”. I have risked my life, resources, health, etc for the 20 year in the prime of my life. I know better what to do and what not to do based on direct experience.
      The arguments being given against inculturation are well known to anyone who has been in this work, but are irrelevant. I am opposed to inculturation, conversions, etc. I have written more about this than anyone else I am aware of so I dont need to be told these things that are well known.
      These attackers are trying to settle some old sour grapes or old score that is personal. No sensible Hindu would say lets remain isolated and boycott mainstream forums because there will be nasty opponents. That’s the kurukshetra we must deal with. The kurukshetra is not something we get to design to our liking, it is whatever it happens to be, and we must be a player.
      I agree that none of these individuals should engage in discussions with opponents because they are unqualified to do so. But that does not men that everyone else is also unqualified. They are projecting their own limitations, tamas, laziness, etc. upon all others. I should be evaluated not on wild suppositions, but on my personal track record of accomplishments thus far – as arguably the leading person in taking on our opponents.
      Even today, these folks are SIMPLY UNWILLING TO DO WHAT I DID AND WHAT IT TAKES – quit their gainful employment/profession, send full time in such research and encounters, travel the world at own expense and risk, write and write and speak to educate and share. Ask them for any such specific COMMITMENTS and they will run away hiding behind a keyboard.

      I hope its clear that i have no intentions or need to ruin my seminar trying to explain myself to such folks.

  18. I went to Vijaya’s blog and read her inane comments. People like her are spitting against the wind when pioneering and path-breaking ideas such as what Rajiv Malhotra is advocating are being embraced by large numbers of people both in India and abroad with a willingness to take a serious look at the need for re-examining western universalism and the great injustice it has been perpetrating on the Dharmic faiths.

    I do wish that Rajiv’s earlier work “Breaking India” will get similar attention since to my mind “Breaking India” identifies succinctly the evil nexuses of western imperialism cloaked in the garb of piety and social services to the poor and marketed through proselytization, both Christian and Islamic with intriguing support from the Maoist-Naxalites and the believers of the Aryan-Dravidian divide. All these are indeed pleasing to the westerners who had never wanted to see the rise of India or its culture! And, it may also be pleasing to the Chinese who do not want to see a resurgent and dynamic India.

  19. This public dialogue must focus its attention to the fundamental reasons that cause differences among human beings. We need to know as to why there is disagreement among cultures and religions in defining ‘true’, or ‘real’ man. We need to know as to why there are so many views about human nature. It is futile to discuss about man without drawing inferences from verified knowledge provided by Biological and Medical Sciences. Unless we define terms like life, existence, and consciousness, we will be talking about our differences without ever resolving them.

  20. What is Universalism?

    The problem could be connected to the term used by the author. Universalism and Universal are frequently used in a very positive context to present ideas, statements, doctrines, and truths that could be used by all people without making distinctions based upon race, religion, language, culture, sex, and nationality. The author has studied this issue for a fairly long time and has discovered that the West may like to impose their ideas, beliefs, religion, and cultural values upon other people to an extent that would threaten the very existence of native cultures and religions. If I perceive the threat or the likelihood of a threat, I would hesitate to use the term ‘Universalism’. I would more carefully describe the issue as that of Western Cultural Expansionism, or Cultural Aggression. The attempts by West to spread the Christian Faith and Belief should not be sugar-coated as “Universalism” and it should be accurately described as an act of Aggression and alert the readers the instant they read the title of the subject. It should not be difficult to call a ‘spade’ a ‘spade’.

    1. You are correct. The author uses the term “Western Universalism” which is radically different from plain Universalism; the latter is positive and respectful of diversity where as the former is a tool of conquest and genocide!

  21. @Digesting VEDA : Thanks for that clarification. I regret to note the link posted by Sookta.Sumana.blogspot. I have no problem to appreciate the efforts of the author and to recognize its merit. Hopefully,the books and the public dialogue process has impacted the student community and has promoted the awareness of a difficult issue. It is rather unfortunate that we cannot change this world through intellectual efforts. The Evangelists would still continue their missionary trips to India, and the militant Jihadists would continue their plans and preparations to attack innocent civilians and national entities will pursue international relations for their own selfish advantage. At its face value, it is futile to make an attempt to educate people about the true Identity of other people, but, failure should not deter us. Facing this challenge would give us the patience, and gives us the quality of endurance to overcome obstacles to preserve an Identity that has withstood several such challenges in the past. Man exists in the world and he has no choice other than that of Subjective Experience of the Reality of his existence. While being part of a social group, man has to keep his identity and individuality. Man is unique, distinctive, original, and one of its own kind of object that has existed in its own life time. The idea of inclusiveness should not extinguish the uniqueness of man’s individuality. Ultimately, it is the spirit of Individualism that will help man from changing the beliefs/faith/opinion of other individuals.

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