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Books > History > Hindu > History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (AD 304 to 1996)
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History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (AD 304 to 1996)
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About the Book

Hindus from seventeenth century Pandits of Tamil Nadu to Mahatma Gandhi have wasted no end of breath to demolish the dogma of Christianity. But it has hardly made any difference to the arrogance of Christian theologians and missionaries. That is because the dogma was never meant for discussion. It is an axiom of logic that that which has not been proved cannot and need not be disproved. Who has ever proved that the non-descript Jew who was crucified by a Roman governor of Judaea in 33 AD atoned for the sins of mankind for all time to come? Who has ever proved that those who accept that man as the only saviour will ascend to a heaven of everlasting bliss and those who do not will burn for ever in the blazing fire of hell? Nor can the proclamation or the promise or the threat be disproved. High-sounding theological blah blah notwithstanding, the fact remains that the dogma is no more than a subterfuge for forging and wielding an organizational weapon for aggression against other people. It is high time for Hindus to dismiss the dogma of Christianity with the contempt it deserves, and pay attention to the Christian missionary apparatus planted in their midst.

The sole aim of this apparatus is to ruin Hindus society and culture, and take over the Hindus homeland. It goes on devising strategies for every situation, favourable and unfavourable. It trains and employs a large number of intellectual criminals ready to prostitute their talents in the service of their paymasters and adept at dressing up dark designs in highsounding language. The fact that every design is advertised as a theology in the Indian context and every criminal euphemized as an Indian theologian should not hoodwink Hindus about the real intentions.

Hindus are committing a great mistake in regarding the encounter between Hinduism and Christianity as a dialogue between two religions. Christianity has never been a religion; it has always been predatory imperialism par excellence. The encounter, therefore, should be viewed as a battle between two totally opposed and mutually exclusive ways of thought and behaviour. In the language of the Gita (Chapter 16), it is war between daivi (divine) and asuri (demonic) sampads (propensities). In the larger context of history, it can also be described as war between the Vedic and the Biblical traditions.

The Vedic tradition has given to the world schools of Sanatana Dharma which have practised peace among their own followers as well as towards the followers of other paths. On the other hand, the Biblical tradition has spawned cults such as Christianity, Islam, Communism, and Nazism which have always produced violent conflicts as much within their own camps as with each other.

Preface to the Second Edition

The first edition of this book, published in 1986, had 16 chapters and an appendix. This second edition has 25 chapters. The appendix - Encounter at Pondicherry - has been fitted in the chronology of encounters and forms Chapter 7 of the new edition. Chapter 14 of the old edition has been split into two chapters, 15 and 16, separating the debate on the Fundamental Right to Propagate Religion from the debate in the Constituent Assembly. Similarly, Chapter 16 of the old edition has been split into three chapters - 18, 19 and 20 - separating the three subjects dealt with. Chapter 19 which formed Section II of Chapter 16 in the old edition has been expanded by incorporation of a dialogue between Ram Swarup and Bede Griffiths. Five chapters, 21 to 25, are entirely new and cover Hindu-Christian encounters that have come to my knowledge since the first edition was compiled.

The old scheme of numbering and naming the encounters serially has been given up in the new edition. I realized that there might have been Hindu-Christian encounters which had not come to my notice. The chapters have now been given headings in keeping with their contents. But the chronological order has been maintained.

The new edition has been thoroughly revised. Language has been straightened wherever necessary, and typographical errors have been removed. Footnotes have been numbered serially for each chapter, and not for each page as in the earlier edition. Some footnotes of the old edition have been expanded, and some new ones have been added. Comments at the end of Chapter 3 have been revised. A critical note regarding the role of the Ramakrishna Mission has been added to Chapter 13 which deals with Swami Vivekananda's encounter with Christianity. Chapter 14 which deals with Mahatma Gandhi's encounter with Christianity carries a long and critical postscript. Criticism of Mahatma Gandhi may sound startling. But I could not help saying what I have said. His role vis-a-vis Christianity has to be reassessed.

Finally, the book now carries a subtitle - AD 304 to 1996. This was suggested by Shri Harish Chandra, a keen reader and evaluator of VOICE OF INDIA publications.

It is hoped that readers will find this revised and enlarged edition as informative as the old one. The comments I received on the first edition were rewarding as well as encouraging. Koenraad Elst came to me in 1989 as soon as he read the book. His cryptic comment was, "Hindus have a very good case vis-a-vis Christianity and Islam, but at present it is either not presented at all or presented very badly. This book is a departure." It was not long before he became a scholar-writer of the VOICE OF INDIA family. I look forward to comments from new readers of this work as a whole, and from the old readers on my critical notes and the new chapters, particularly the one which advocates rejection of Jesus as junk.

History of Hindu-Christian encounters, as surveyed in this book, falls into five distinct phases. In all of them Christian missionaries stick to their basic dogma of One True God and the Only Saviour. But they keep on changing their methods and verbiage. To start with, spokesmen for Hinduism offer a stiff resistance to the Christian message as well as missionary methods. But due to a number of factors, Hindu resistance weakens in later stages and then disappears altogether so that Christianity forges ahead with a sense of triumph.

In the first-phase, which opens with the coming of the Portuguese pirates, Christianity presents itself in its true colours. Its language is as crude as in its homeland in Europe, and its methods as cruel. Hindus are helpless and suffer any number of atrocities. Fortunately for them, this phase does not last for long. The Portuguese lose power except in Goa and some other small territories. The other European powers that take over have no time to spare for Christianity except the French for a brief period in Pondicherry.

The second phase opens with the consolidation of the British conquest. The British do not allow Christian missions to use physical methods. But missionary language continues to be as crude as ever. Christianity enjoys a brief period of self-confidence. The phase ends with the rise of Hindu reform movements, particularly the Arya Samaj. Christianity suffers a serious set-back.

The third phase starts with the advent of Mahatma Gandhi and his slogan of sarva-dharma-samabhava. Christianity is thrown on the defensive and forced to change its language. The foul-mouthed miscreants become sweet-tongued vipers. Now they are out to "share their spiritual riches" with Hindus, reminding us of the naked beggar promising to donate his wardrobe to wealthy persons. The phase ended with the Tambram Conference of the International Missionary Council in 1938 which decided to reformulate Christian theology in the Indian context.

The fourth phase which commenced with the coming of independence proved a boon for Christianity. The Christian right to convert Hindus was incorporated in the Constitution. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who dominated the scene for 17 long years promoted every anti-Hindu ideology and movement. The regimes that followed till the rise of P.V. Narasimha Rao raised the spectre of 'Hindu communalism' as the most frightening phenomenon. Christian missionaries could now denounce as a Hindu communalist and fascist, even as a Hindu Nazi, any one who raised the slightest objection to their methods. All sorts of 'secularists' came forward to join the chorus. New theologies of Fulfilment, In-digenisation, Liberation, and Dialogue were evolved and put into action. The missionary apparatus multiplied fast and manifold. Christianity had never had it so good in the whole of its history in India. It now stood recognized as 'an ancient Indian religion' with every right to extend its fold. The only rift in the lute was K. M. Panikkar's book, the Niyogi Committee Report, and Om Prakash Tyagi's Bill on Freedom of Religion.

The fifth phase which is continuing now started with Hindu awakening brought about by conversion of some Harijans to Islam at Meenakshipuram, renewed Muslim aggression in many ways, and Pakistan-backed terrorism in Punjab and Kashmir. The Sangh Parivar which had turned cold towards Hindu causes over the years was startled by the rout of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 1984 elections, and decided to renew its Hindu character. The Ramajanmabhumi Movement was the result. The Movement was aimed at arresting Islamic aggression. Christianity or its missions were hardly mentioned. Nevertheless, it was Christianity which showed the greatest concern at this new Hindu stir, and started crying 'wolf'. Its media power in the West raised a storm saying that Hindus were out to destroy the minorities in India and impose a Nazi regime. The storm is still raging and no one knows when it will subside, if at all.

Preface to the First Edition

Christian historians, in India and abroad, have written many accounts of how Christian theologians, missionaries and warlords have looked at Hinduism in different phases of Christian aggression against this ancient religion and culture. But there is no connected account of how Hindu thinkers, saints and sages have viewed Christianity and its exclusive claims. The present study is an attempt to fill that gap. It is far from being exhaustive. It seeks to cover only some of the high spots in a prolonged encounter starting with the Christian attack on Hindu temples in the Roman Empire, a few years before Constantine enthroned Christianity as the state religion of Rome.

The absence of such a study has given rise to misunderstanding as well as misrepresentation. An ever-increasing section of the Hindu intelligentsia has been led to believe that it is uncharacteristic of Hinduism to examine critically the claims advanced by another religion. This is a complete misunderstanding as this study goes to show in the context of Christianity. Meanwhile, Christian theologians have been presenting the leading spokesmen for Hinduism as if they were disciples of Jesus Christ rather than exponents of Sanatana Dharma. It is difficult to say whether the misrepresentation is deliberate or due to the theologians' penchant for seeing their own pet god presiding over every manifestation, in the realm of thought as well as of things. But all the same it is there.

Readers of the dialogue between Swami Devananda Saraswati and Fr. Bede Griffiths which has been summarised in this study (pp. 386-98) can see for themselves how confidently Fr. Bede invokes the names of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharshi, Mahatma Gandhi and Ramalinga Swamigal and regards them as "Hindu in religion while being Christian in spirit." Dr. M. M. Thomas, a noted theologian, goes much further in his thesis, The Acknowledged Christ of the Indian Renaissance, first published in 1970 and republished in a second edition in 1976. It is supposed to be a rejoinder to Dr. Raymond Panikkar's The Unknown Christ of Hinduism, an earlier theological exercise published in 1964. But while the title of Dr. Panikkar's book had the merit of suggesting only a speculation, howsoever wild, the title of Dr. Thomas' book is a misrepresentation of the Hindu point of view, as he himself shows in course of presenting the views of Raja Ram Mohun Roy, Keshub Chander Sen, P. C. Mozoomdar, Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Dr. Radhakrishnan and Mahatma Gandhi. None of these Hindu thinkers ever admitted that the Jesus of history was the Christ of Christian theology, that is, the only son of God and the sole saviour of mankind.

And that brings us to the crux of the encounter between Hinduism and Christianity. No Hindu thinker has had the least objection to Christians believing in and seeking salvation through Jesus. Nor do Hindus bother about the dogmas of the only sonship, the virgin birth, the atoning death, the resurrection and the rest, so long as Christians keep these to themselves. It is only when the Christian missionary apparatus tries doggedly to impose these dogmas on other people that Hindu thinkers are forced to register a protest and have a close look at the Jesus of history.

Christian missionaries should thank their stars that the historical and critical research undertaken by Western scholars regarding Jesus and New Testament stories, has not yet reached the Hindu intelligentsia, partly due to the traditional Hindu indifference towards the historicity of saints and sages and partly due to the Christian domination over education and mass media in this country. The Hindu intelligentsia at large is also not yet acquainted with the history of Christianity in Europe and its missions elsewhere. Western scholarship has already produced several hundred well documented studies which have made the historical Jesus of Christian theology evaporate into thin air and Christian history look like a tale of terror and wanton bloodshed. The Christian missionaries in India will run for cover whenever the findings of Western research become widely known to the Hindu intelligentsia, the same way as the churches have been doing in all Western countries since the middle of the eighteenth century. The missionaries know it very well that Christianity being in a very bad shape in the West is trying desperately to find a safe-house in the East.

We have also something to say about" dialogue" which has become the most famous as well as the most frequent word in current Christian parlance. The Second Vatican Council is supposed to have made a radical departure from the earlier Christian stand vis-a-vis other religions. "The Catholic Church," says a proclamation, Nostra aetale, dated October 28, 1965, "rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions [Hinduism and Buddhism]. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines which although differing in many ways from her own teaching, often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men. Yet she proclaims and is duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth and life (In, 14:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (2 Cor. 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life. The Church, therefore, urges her sons to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christians, while witnessing their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture." Before we offer our own comments on this proclamation, we like to quote a Christian missionary regarding how difficult the dialogue remains. "But if we accept," says J. Dilasa, Superior General, I.M.S., "the unique claim of Christ as the only Son of God who entered human history and radically changed it as the Lord of history, there is very little scope for inter- religious collaboration. As heralds of the one Gospel of salvation we have to proclaim it and others have to accept it. Similarly if we consider the unique mission of the Church to continue the work of Christ, I wonder how an inter-religious missionary activity is possible."

It should be plain to any reader who is not over-awed by the pope and his ex-cathedra ordinances that apart from being patronising in its tone, the proclamation breathes an air of reserve and reluctance in conceding even the little it does. The most amazing part, however, is that it has taken the disciples of Jesus well-nigh two thousand years to find in Hinduism and Buddhism only "a ray of that truth which enlightens all men." It speaks volumes of the wisdom which the Church of Christ is supposed to have enshrined down the ages. The less said about that Church's new role in preserving and encouraging "the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians", the better. The non-Christian religions have preserved on their own their truths, their social life and their culture throughout these long centuries; they certainly do not stand in need of help from an apparatus which has tried its utmost to uproot them. The stark truth seems to be the other way around; it is the Church of Christ which is seeking desperately the help of non-Christian religions in order to save whatever little is left of its superstitions. That is the meaning of the "dialogue" for which Christian theologians and missionaries are crying now-a-days. The "dialogue" does not seem to be a sincere attempt at reconciliation; on the contrary, it is only a strategy for survival on the part of Christianity.

The Church will sound sincere only when it stops saying that Jesus should be accepted by all as the one and only saviour of mankind and that Christianity holds a monopoly of the highest truth. That will also lead it to renounce its ridiculous exercises in theologies of fulfilment, inculturation and liberation, etc. The missionary apparatus which was created with the help of imperialist armies and which is now being sustained by means of massive money and media power of the West will have to be dismantled. Exclusive claims and missionary efforts stand or fall together.

As the following pages make it clear, the spokesmen for Hinduism have examined and rejected every exclusive claim of Christianity. If orthodox Christianity survives in this country, it is not because there is any merit in its dogmas but simply because it has established itself over the centuries as a powerful political and economic entity. It is high time for Christian theologians to come down to earth and recognize every person's right to seek truth and salvation in his or her own way. They should know that while they invoke the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of India in order to protect their aggressive apparatus, they are riding roughshod over the most fundamental human right, that is, to know God directly, without the aid of officious intermediaries most of whom are no better, if not worse, than those whom they choose to evangelize. Dr. Radhakrishnan put the matter straight when he told a missionary friend, "You Christians seem to us Hindus rather ordinary people making extraordinary claims." When the missionary explained that the claims were being made on behalf of Christ, he observed, "If your Christ has not succeeded in making you better men and women, have we any reason to suppose that he would do more for us, if we became Christians?" He reminded the missionary that Hinduism was "more modest and more logical" in teaching that "the divine immanence in every man and women makes it possible for all to seek the truth in their own ways." Finally, he pointed towards a living example of what religion means to the Hindus. "The fact of Gandhi," he said, "is a challenge to the exclusive claims of Christianity."

Contents

Preface to the Second Edition i
Preface to the First Edition vii
1Encounter on the Euphrates 1
2Encounter in Malabar 4
3Hallucination of the Devil's Devotees 7
4Pirates in Priest's Clothing 11
5From Monologue to Dialogue 17
6Encounter in Tamil Nadu 22
7Encounter at Pondicherry 32
8Encounter with Raja Ram Mohun Roy 43
9Encounter in Maharashtra 57
10Encounter with Sanskrit Pandits 62
11Encounter with Maharshi Dayananda 78
12Second Encounter in Tamil Nadu 86
13Encounter with Swami Vivekananda 92
14Encounter with Mahatma Gandhi 124
15The Hoax of Human Rights 240
16Debate in the Constituent Assembly 273
17Missions since Independence 323
18Dethroning Monotheism 358
19Sannyasins or Swindlers? 386
20A Hornet's Nest 405
21Exploding a Mischievous Myth 420
22Plea for Rejecting Jesus as Junk 434
23Encounter with Arun Shourie 465
24Fixing a Christian Windbag 483
25Calling the Pope's Bluff 494
Bibliography 505
Index 509

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History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (AD 304 to 1996)

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About the Book

Hindus from seventeenth century Pandits of Tamil Nadu to Mahatma Gandhi have wasted no end of breath to demolish the dogma of Christianity. But it has hardly made any difference to the arrogance of Christian theologians and missionaries. That is because the dogma was never meant for discussion. It is an axiom of logic that that which has not been proved cannot and need not be disproved. Who has ever proved that the non-descript Jew who was crucified by a Roman governor of Judaea in 33 AD atoned for the sins of mankind for all time to come? Who has ever proved that those who accept that man as the only saviour will ascend to a heaven of everlasting bliss and those who do not will burn for ever in the blazing fire of hell? Nor can the proclamation or the promise or the threat be disproved. High-sounding theological blah blah notwithstanding, the fact remains that the dogma is no more than a subterfuge for forging and wielding an organizational weapon for aggression against other people. It is high time for Hindus to dismiss the dogma of Christianity with the contempt it deserves, and pay attention to the Christian missionary apparatus planted in their midst.

The sole aim of this apparatus is to ruin Hindus society and culture, and take over the Hindus homeland. It goes on devising strategies for every situation, favourable and unfavourable. It trains and employs a large number of intellectual criminals ready to prostitute their talents in the service of their paymasters and adept at dressing up dark designs in highsounding language. The fact that every design is advertised as a theology in the Indian context and every criminal euphemized as an Indian theologian should not hoodwink Hindus about the real intentions.

Hindus are committing a great mistake in regarding the encounter between Hinduism and Christianity as a dialogue between two religions. Christianity has never been a religion; it has always been predatory imperialism par excellence. The encounter, therefore, should be viewed as a battle between two totally opposed and mutually exclusive ways of thought and behaviour. In the language of the Gita (Chapter 16), it is war between daivi (divine) and asuri (demonic) sampads (propensities). In the larger context of history, it can also be described as war between the Vedic and the Biblical traditions.

The Vedic tradition has given to the world schools of Sanatana Dharma which have practised peace among their own followers as well as towards the followers of other paths. On the other hand, the Biblical tradition has spawned cults such as Christianity, Islam, Communism, and Nazism which have always produced violent conflicts as much within their own camps as with each other.

Preface to the Second Edition

The first edition of this book, published in 1986, had 16 chapters and an appendix. This second edition has 25 chapters. The appendix - Encounter at Pondicherry - has been fitted in the chronology of encounters and forms Chapter 7 of the new edition. Chapter 14 of the old edition has been split into two chapters, 15 and 16, separating the debate on the Fundamental Right to Propagate Religion from the debate in the Constituent Assembly. Similarly, Chapter 16 of the old edition has been split into three chapters - 18, 19 and 20 - separating the three subjects dealt with. Chapter 19 which formed Section II of Chapter 16 in the old edition has been expanded by incorporation of a dialogue between Ram Swarup and Bede Griffiths. Five chapters, 21 to 25, are entirely new and cover Hindu-Christian encounters that have come to my knowledge since the first edition was compiled.

The old scheme of numbering and naming the encounters serially has been given up in the new edition. I realized that there might have been Hindu-Christian encounters which had not come to my notice. The chapters have now been given headings in keeping with their contents. But the chronological order has been maintained.

The new edition has been thoroughly revised. Language has been straightened wherever necessary, and typographical errors have been removed. Footnotes have been numbered serially for each chapter, and not for each page as in the earlier edition. Some footnotes of the old edition have been expanded, and some new ones have been added. Comments at the end of Chapter 3 have been revised. A critical note regarding the role of the Ramakrishna Mission has been added to Chapter 13 which deals with Swami Vivekananda's encounter with Christianity. Chapter 14 which deals with Mahatma Gandhi's encounter with Christianity carries a long and critical postscript. Criticism of Mahatma Gandhi may sound startling. But I could not help saying what I have said. His role vis-a-vis Christianity has to be reassessed.

Finally, the book now carries a subtitle - AD 304 to 1996. This was suggested by Shri Harish Chandra, a keen reader and evaluator of VOICE OF INDIA publications.

It is hoped that readers will find this revised and enlarged edition as informative as the old one. The comments I received on the first edition were rewarding as well as encouraging. Koenraad Elst came to me in 1989 as soon as he read the book. His cryptic comment was, "Hindus have a very good case vis-a-vis Christianity and Islam, but at present it is either not presented at all or presented very badly. This book is a departure." It was not long before he became a scholar-writer of the VOICE OF INDIA family. I look forward to comments from new readers of this work as a whole, and from the old readers on my critical notes and the new chapters, particularly the one which advocates rejection of Jesus as junk.

History of Hindu-Christian encounters, as surveyed in this book, falls into five distinct phases. In all of them Christian missionaries stick to their basic dogma of One True God and the Only Saviour. But they keep on changing their methods and verbiage. To start with, spokesmen for Hinduism offer a stiff resistance to the Christian message as well as missionary methods. But due to a number of factors, Hindu resistance weakens in later stages and then disappears altogether so that Christianity forges ahead with a sense of triumph.

In the first-phase, which opens with the coming of the Portuguese pirates, Christianity presents itself in its true colours. Its language is as crude as in its homeland in Europe, and its methods as cruel. Hindus are helpless and suffer any number of atrocities. Fortunately for them, this phase does not last for long. The Portuguese lose power except in Goa and some other small territories. The other European powers that take over have no time to spare for Christianity except the French for a brief period in Pondicherry.

The second phase opens with the consolidation of the British conquest. The British do not allow Christian missions to use physical methods. But missionary language continues to be as crude as ever. Christianity enjoys a brief period of self-confidence. The phase ends with the rise of Hindu reform movements, particularly the Arya Samaj. Christianity suffers a serious set-back.

The third phase starts with the advent of Mahatma Gandhi and his slogan of sarva-dharma-samabhava. Christianity is thrown on the defensive and forced to change its language. The foul-mouthed miscreants become sweet-tongued vipers. Now they are out to "share their spiritual riches" with Hindus, reminding us of the naked beggar promising to donate his wardrobe to wealthy persons. The phase ended with the Tambram Conference of the International Missionary Council in 1938 which decided to reformulate Christian theology in the Indian context.

The fourth phase which commenced with the coming of independence proved a boon for Christianity. The Christian right to convert Hindus was incorporated in the Constitution. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who dominated the scene for 17 long years promoted every anti-Hindu ideology and movement. The regimes that followed till the rise of P.V. Narasimha Rao raised the spectre of 'Hindu communalism' as the most frightening phenomenon. Christian missionaries could now denounce as a Hindu communalist and fascist, even as a Hindu Nazi, any one who raised the slightest objection to their methods. All sorts of 'secularists' came forward to join the chorus. New theologies of Fulfilment, In-digenisation, Liberation, and Dialogue were evolved and put into action. The missionary apparatus multiplied fast and manifold. Christianity had never had it so good in the whole of its history in India. It now stood recognized as 'an ancient Indian religion' with every right to extend its fold. The only rift in the lute was K. M. Panikkar's book, the Niyogi Committee Report, and Om Prakash Tyagi's Bill on Freedom of Religion.

The fifth phase which is continuing now started with Hindu awakening brought about by conversion of some Harijans to Islam at Meenakshipuram, renewed Muslim aggression in many ways, and Pakistan-backed terrorism in Punjab and Kashmir. The Sangh Parivar which had turned cold towards Hindu causes over the years was startled by the rout of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 1984 elections, and decided to renew its Hindu character. The Ramajanmabhumi Movement was the result. The Movement was aimed at arresting Islamic aggression. Christianity or its missions were hardly mentioned. Nevertheless, it was Christianity which showed the greatest concern at this new Hindu stir, and started crying 'wolf'. Its media power in the West raised a storm saying that Hindus were out to destroy the minorities in India and impose a Nazi regime. The storm is still raging and no one knows when it will subside, if at all.

Preface to the First Edition

Christian historians, in India and abroad, have written many accounts of how Christian theologians, missionaries and warlords have looked at Hinduism in different phases of Christian aggression against this ancient religion and culture. But there is no connected account of how Hindu thinkers, saints and sages have viewed Christianity and its exclusive claims. The present study is an attempt to fill that gap. It is far from being exhaustive. It seeks to cover only some of the high spots in a prolonged encounter starting with the Christian attack on Hindu temples in the Roman Empire, a few years before Constantine enthroned Christianity as the state religion of Rome.

The absence of such a study has given rise to misunderstanding as well as misrepresentation. An ever-increasing section of the Hindu intelligentsia has been led to believe that it is uncharacteristic of Hinduism to examine critically the claims advanced by another religion. This is a complete misunderstanding as this study goes to show in the context of Christianity. Meanwhile, Christian theologians have been presenting the leading spokesmen for Hinduism as if they were disciples of Jesus Christ rather than exponents of Sanatana Dharma. It is difficult to say whether the misrepresentation is deliberate or due to the theologians' penchant for seeing their own pet god presiding over every manifestation, in the realm of thought as well as of things. But all the same it is there.

Readers of the dialogue between Swami Devananda Saraswati and Fr. Bede Griffiths which has been summarised in this study (pp. 386-98) can see for themselves how confidently Fr. Bede invokes the names of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharshi, Mahatma Gandhi and Ramalinga Swamigal and regards them as "Hindu in religion while being Christian in spirit." Dr. M. M. Thomas, a noted theologian, goes much further in his thesis, The Acknowledged Christ of the Indian Renaissance, first published in 1970 and republished in a second edition in 1976. It is supposed to be a rejoinder to Dr. Raymond Panikkar's The Unknown Christ of Hinduism, an earlier theological exercise published in 1964. But while the title of Dr. Panikkar's book had the merit of suggesting only a speculation, howsoever wild, the title of Dr. Thomas' book is a misrepresentation of the Hindu point of view, as he himself shows in course of presenting the views of Raja Ram Mohun Roy, Keshub Chander Sen, P. C. Mozoomdar, Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, Dr. Radhakrishnan and Mahatma Gandhi. None of these Hindu thinkers ever admitted that the Jesus of history was the Christ of Christian theology, that is, the only son of God and the sole saviour of mankind.

And that brings us to the crux of the encounter between Hinduism and Christianity. No Hindu thinker has had the least objection to Christians believing in and seeking salvation through Jesus. Nor do Hindus bother about the dogmas of the only sonship, the virgin birth, the atoning death, the resurrection and the rest, so long as Christians keep these to themselves. It is only when the Christian missionary apparatus tries doggedly to impose these dogmas on other people that Hindu thinkers are forced to register a protest and have a close look at the Jesus of history.

Christian missionaries should thank their stars that the historical and critical research undertaken by Western scholars regarding Jesus and New Testament stories, has not yet reached the Hindu intelligentsia, partly due to the traditional Hindu indifference towards the historicity of saints and sages and partly due to the Christian domination over education and mass media in this country. The Hindu intelligentsia at large is also not yet acquainted with the history of Christianity in Europe and its missions elsewhere. Western scholarship has already produced several hundred well documented studies which have made the historical Jesus of Christian theology evaporate into thin air and Christian history look like a tale of terror and wanton bloodshed. The Christian missionaries in India will run for cover whenever the findings of Western research become widely known to the Hindu intelligentsia, the same way as the churches have been doing in all Western countries since the middle of the eighteenth century. The missionaries know it very well that Christianity being in a very bad shape in the West is trying desperately to find a safe-house in the East.

We have also something to say about" dialogue" which has become the most famous as well as the most frequent word in current Christian parlance. The Second Vatican Council is supposed to have made a radical departure from the earlier Christian stand vis-a-vis other religions. "The Catholic Church," says a proclamation, Nostra aetale, dated October 28, 1965, "rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions [Hinduism and Buddhism]. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines which although differing in many ways from her own teaching, often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men. Yet she proclaims and is duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth and life (In, 14:6). In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (2 Cor. 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life. The Church, therefore, urges her sons to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christians, while witnessing their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture." Before we offer our own comments on this proclamation, we like to quote a Christian missionary regarding how difficult the dialogue remains. "But if we accept," says J. Dilasa, Superior General, I.M.S., "the unique claim of Christ as the only Son of God who entered human history and radically changed it as the Lord of history, there is very little scope for inter- religious collaboration. As heralds of the one Gospel of salvation we have to proclaim it and others have to accept it. Similarly if we consider the unique mission of the Church to continue the work of Christ, I wonder how an inter-religious missionary activity is possible."

It should be plain to any reader who is not over-awed by the pope and his ex-cathedra ordinances that apart from being patronising in its tone, the proclamation breathes an air of reserve and reluctance in conceding even the little it does. The most amazing part, however, is that it has taken the disciples of Jesus well-nigh two thousand years to find in Hinduism and Buddhism only "a ray of that truth which enlightens all men." It speaks volumes of the wisdom which the Church of Christ is supposed to have enshrined down the ages. The less said about that Church's new role in preserving and encouraging "the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians", the better. The non-Christian religions have preserved on their own their truths, their social life and their culture throughout these long centuries; they certainly do not stand in need of help from an apparatus which has tried its utmost to uproot them. The stark truth seems to be the other way around; it is the Church of Christ which is seeking desperately the help of non-Christian religions in order to save whatever little is left of its superstitions. That is the meaning of the "dialogue" for which Christian theologians and missionaries are crying now-a-days. The "dialogue" does not seem to be a sincere attempt at reconciliation; on the contrary, it is only a strategy for survival on the part of Christianity.

The Church will sound sincere only when it stops saying that Jesus should be accepted by all as the one and only saviour of mankind and that Christianity holds a monopoly of the highest truth. That will also lead it to renounce its ridiculous exercises in theologies of fulfilment, inculturation and liberation, etc. The missionary apparatus which was created with the help of imperialist armies and which is now being sustained by means of massive money and media power of the West will have to be dismantled. Exclusive claims and missionary efforts stand or fall together.

As the following pages make it clear, the spokesmen for Hinduism have examined and rejected every exclusive claim of Christianity. If orthodox Christianity survives in this country, it is not because there is any merit in its dogmas but simply because it has established itself over the centuries as a powerful political and economic entity. It is high time for Christian theologians to come down to earth and recognize every person's right to seek truth and salvation in his or her own way. They should know that while they invoke the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitution of India in order to protect their aggressive apparatus, they are riding roughshod over the most fundamental human right, that is, to know God directly, without the aid of officious intermediaries most of whom are no better, if not worse, than those whom they choose to evangelize. Dr. Radhakrishnan put the matter straight when he told a missionary friend, "You Christians seem to us Hindus rather ordinary people making extraordinary claims." When the missionary explained that the claims were being made on behalf of Christ, he observed, "If your Christ has not succeeded in making you better men and women, have we any reason to suppose that he would do more for us, if we became Christians?" He reminded the missionary that Hinduism was "more modest and more logical" in teaching that "the divine immanence in every man and women makes it possible for all to seek the truth in their own ways." Finally, he pointed towards a living example of what religion means to the Hindus. "The fact of Gandhi," he said, "is a challenge to the exclusive claims of Christianity."

Contents

Preface to the Second Edition i
Preface to the First Edition vii
1Encounter on the Euphrates 1
2Encounter in Malabar 4
3Hallucination of the Devil's Devotees 7
4Pirates in Priest's Clothing 11
5From Monologue to Dialogue 17
6Encounter in Tamil Nadu 22
7Encounter at Pondicherry 32
8Encounter with Raja Ram Mohun Roy 43
9Encounter in Maharashtra 57
10Encounter with Sanskrit Pandits 62
11Encounter with Maharshi Dayananda 78
12Second Encounter in Tamil Nadu 86
13Encounter with Swami Vivekananda 92
14Encounter with Mahatma Gandhi 124
15The Hoax of Human Rights 240
16Debate in the Constituent Assembly 273
17Missions since Independence 323
18Dethroning Monotheism 358
19Sannyasins or Swindlers? 386
20A Hornet's Nest 405
21Exploding a Mischievous Myth 420
22Plea for Rejecting Jesus as Junk 434
23Encounter with Arun Shourie 465
24Fixing a Christian Windbag 483
25Calling the Pope's Bluff 494
Bibliography 505
Index 509

Sample Pages





















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