Hitherto, scholars have looked at Hinduism through the eyes of Christianity and Islam, but here an attempt has been made to discuss them from the viewpoint of Hindu spirituality. The two prophetic religions have a long history of conflict but they also share a common spiritual perspective. Almost from their birth, they have been systematic persecutors of pagan religions, cultures and nations. In the heyday of their domination, they acquired great prestige and their viewpoint prevailed also in judging the victims. In this book, the author questions the victors' standard of judgement and looks at their religious premises afresh. He discusses monotheism and prophetism the ideology of a god who has a chosen people (and also chosen enemies), but whom they know only indirectly through a favoured intermediary; he discusses the doctrines of a single life and a single judgement; he discusses the dogmas of iconoclasm, jihad, Missions and conversion. He looks at all these basic concepts and practices of prophetic religions from the viewpoint of the Yoga, and finds that they have little spiritual merit.
The author also discusses yogic and non-yogic samadhis is, and how the two project their own respective revelations, gods and ethical codes. He holds that the god of prophetic religions is not a spiritual being but he embodies a fanatic and intolerant idea.
There is a new awakening in many parts of the world now under the domination of the prophetic religions. Many thinking people in these parts are beginning to realize that their present religions are impositions on them, that they once belonged to a different spiritual tradition. Many of them are trying to recover their roots and old gods; they are also seeking a spirituality that satisfies. Probably Hinduism can help them for it has survived many physical and ideological onslaughts and it still retains spiritual traditions, knowledge and intuition which they have lost. The author holds that Hinduism represents not only man's continuity with his past but also the innermost seeking of his soul; therefore, it can satisfy his seeking for his roots as well as his hunger for a deeper religion.
Hindu View of Christianity and Islam is a companion volume of the author's Hinduism vis-a-a Christianity and Islam.
Ram Swarup graduated from the University of Delhi in 1941 and was an original writer and thinker ever since. He participated in his country's struggle for independence, courting imprisonment. For some years, he was a close associate of British-born Mira Behn (Miss Slade), Mahatma Gandhi's adopted daughter. In the fifties he led a movement warning against the growing danger which international communism presented to the newly won freedom of the country. Around 1957; he took to a life of meditation and spiritual reflection, and since then he has made a deep study of the scriptures of different religious traditions.
Mr. Swarup was a noted writer in many fields. His previous books and brochures include Communism and Peasantry; Implications of Collectivist Agriculture for Asian Countries, Foundations of Maoism, and Buddhism vis-a-vis Hinduism. His Gandhism and Communism stressed the need to raise the struggle against communism from a military to a moral and Ideological level. The brochure caught the attention of several US Congressmen, and some of its ideas were adopted by the Eisenhower administration in its agenda for the Geneva Conference in 1955. His Gandhian Economics, small but seminal, shows that the present industrial production system suffers from circularity, a deep internal technological contradiction - coal and iron, and a hundred other commodities symbolized by them, producing and consuming one another in a crescendo, round and round. His magnum opus, The Word As Revelation: Names of Gods, is on linguistics, philosophy, Vedic exegesis, and Yoga. It shows how a religion of 'many Gods' represents authentic spirituality.
Mr. Swarup's book, Understanding Islam through Hadis: Religious Faith or Fanaticism, has played an important role in opening up Islam for discussion, hitherto a tabooed subject in India.
Mr. Swarup was a distinguished spokesman of renascent Hinduism which, he believed, can also help other nations to rediscover their spiritual roots.
Hindu View of Christianity and Islam is a sequel to Hinduism vis-a-vis Christianity and Islam which was recently issued in a new, enlarged edition.
The first two chapters of this volume reproduce two Introductions which we wrote for the Indian Reprints of two Lives of Muhammad, both classics, one written by Professor D.S. Margo- liouth in 1900, and the other even earlier by Sir William Muir. Both were pioneer studies and both are still unequalled in the treatment of the subject. As a study of Muhammad is at bottom also a study of Islam, both were also excellent studies of the creed the prophet inaugurated.
But both had also one common failing; they studied the subject from a Western-Christian viewpoint, Muir consciously and frankly so; they neglected the pagan viewpoint including that of Arabia, the immediate victim of the new ideology. The purpose of the Introductions was to remove or, at least, to draw attention to this lacuna while Hindus made use of Western- Christian scholarship in the absence of their own. In the Introductions, we also tried to look at Christianity and Islam through the viewpoint of larger paganism and discuss them in the larger Hindu spiritual framework. As a result, these Introductions acquired an unusual interest; we are therefore reproducing them here.
The third chapter carries forward the discussion still further. It elaborates certain points only briefly mentioned before and discusses new ones providing fresh viewpoints and additional information. It discusses Messiahs, Saviours and Prophets; it discusses the ideology of iconoclasm, missions and jihad; it discusses prophetic and yogic spiritualities; it discusses yogic and non-yogic samadhis and how the two project their own respective revelations, Gods and ethical codes. It discusses the prophetic god and revelation in the light of the Yoga.
Though Christianity has a poor opinion of Islam, yet it regards it as a partner up to a point; it welcomes Islam's role as a cleanser of the "world from the gross pollution of idolatry ," - the name by which the two religions remember all other religions, past or present. This sympathy arises from the fact that the two religions in spite of a long history of conflicts share ( common perspective and common ideological premises.
In their career, the two ideologies have been active and systematic persecutors of pagan nations, cultures and religions but the histories of the victims have been written from the victors' viewpoint, and their viewpoint has prevailed in judging the victims. Here, we have not accepted the victors' standard of judgement; on the other hand, we have tried to look at them from the viewpoint of paganism in general and of Hindu spirituality in particular. We have spoken here with sympathy and respect not only of pagan Americas and Africa but also of the: pagan past of Egypt, Greece Rome, Europe, Iran, Syria and old Arabia. This itself is unusual considering that their images have been thoroughly blackened, thanks to the triumph of monolatrous religions which vilify their neighbours as well as their own ancestors. But this has to go. A truly growing humanity cannot live with such a blackened past. Its past must be as glorious as it expects its future to be.
Today, there is a new awakening in many parts of the world. Many peoples are coming to know what they have gone through and how much they have lost. They have also begun to realize that their present religions are impositions on them, that they once belonged to a different spiritual culture which had a different orientation and was built on a deeper and a wider base. As this realization becomes more acute, many of them are trying to break from their present confines and are trying to recover their lost identity. They are also seeking a more satisfying spirituality. Probably Hinduism can help them. It has itself survived many physical and ideological onslaughts and it still retains in its bosom layers of spiritual traditions, intuitions and knowledge which other nations have lost; it can, therefore, help these nations to recover their lost religious roots and identity.
Hinduism-Buddhism represents not only man's continuity with his past but also the innermost truth of his soul. It is a most complete statement and formulation available of philosophia perennis, Perennial Philosophy, the Sanatana Dharma. It can, therefore, also meet man's seeking for a deeper religion.
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