|Need advice on how to dialog with an elite who has converted
In this case study, 'Rajee', an acquittance of Rakesh, is a member of an elite management institute, and a recent convert to Christianity that alarms Rajesh, who wants her to ensure she has her eyes fully open. It appears that one or both of these persons live outside India. Rajee is willing to discuss the situation with Rakesh who posted this:
"Now, guys, here is an elite Hindu, educated at leading Management institutes, who has been converted
Willing to dialog with me. Can we provide arguments to make her see the point, we are all trying to make ?
Rakesh shares a message he sent her (excerpts):
" ... Do write about your experience with Jesus
I have often found, such subjective " experiences " often cloud one's objectivity. Personal disappointments, emotional succour at the right time by say christians, constant repetition of certain pre programmed messages by your family, often have similar effects... i am willing to share my experiences and you may do yours. I want to make sure your conversion is based on real faith and so, i will test yours through this correspondence..."
"... I am going through a great personal relationship with Jesus...and of course each one to his own. Just as each life comes with an unique formula to unravel itself, I believe even the choice of God worship is one such. For me it has been an amazing journey so far- with abundant grace leading to great self introspection..."
The first email sent by Rajesh to Rajee is excerpted below:
"Dear rajee ...
Good to know you have had a multi cultural marriage, congrats.
However, i believe your initial reaction to your local pastor, should not extend to all christianity. Please read the history of inquisition, greek woman philosopher hypatia etc.
There is a book by rajiv malhotra on breaking india, you should read it. Most inter cultural dialog initiatied by the church has a pre determined conclusion- jesus is the only way, your way is fundamentally wrong.
The initial friendliness soon evaporates, if you probe further, unfortunate and not in line with Christ's teachings but true .
... i would sincerely like to continue this dialog and find out more, without troubling your affectionate relationship with [her Christian husband, I presume]. As some one who is committed to multiculturalism, based on a hindu approach to life, this is of deep interest to me."
The above are relevant excerpts from Rakesh's initial post that, if you observe, already includes a degree of Purva Paksha of Christianity. Now let us examine the feedback from RMF contributors.
Margaret, a PhD scholar responded:
"I am following that conversation attentitevely. This is a recurring problem in so many colonized countries when elite educated take upon themselves to defend their christian colonizers religion and mode of operation that lead their country in a mess. I defended a thesis on that issue of elites
returning to their roots and how they have done it in facing internal factors, external factors. I wish your book [Breaking India] was available during that time? When I ordered it last month it and read it. It should struck a cord in all indigenous people because this is the story on how the world was colonized."
Ram follows up:
"May I point out that the process of converting the so-called heathens (i.e. the indigenous civilisations of Asia) is now in fast forward mode ? A classic example of the long reach of evangelists massively financed by western countries is the fast growth of Christianity in South Korea. It rose from 43,000 (o.28 percent of total population) to a whopping 13,000,000 (i.e. nearly 40% of total population) in 1990.
After reading my friend Rajiv Malhotra's well researched book, 'Breaking India', I am now convinced that soon, very soon, Hindus of South India, especially Tamil Nadu, will face the same situation..."
Suresh has prepared a reference to Rakesh:
"*Below link has a number of discussions on almost all major points. "
"The essential problem here is: Parenting. Dharmic parents should signup their children for yoga and meditation programs, by the time they are about 10 years old... Doing yoga and meditation regularly, along with studying the Upanishads and Gita, will immunize the children against exclusivist ideologies."
Rajiv Malhotra disagrees on the grounds of necessary condition - but insufficient and suggests that the problem lies in the history-centrism of Christianity:
"While this kind of upbringing is important, it DOES NOT IMMUNIZE against conversion. You have made similar posts before which also implied that dharma as a "way of life" is all it is. I replied earlier as well that A WAY OF LIFE CAN
EASILY BE IMPORTED AND ASSIMILATED TO FIT INTO JESUS' UNIQUE HISTORY. Nothing
bothers the christian narrative if jesus is shown as yogi and meditator, in fact thats what inculturation is all about. The next gen of bharatnatyam dancers and training centers in many indian states is largely christian. the same trend is
for yoga in USA. so how does knowing yoga/meditation counteract a version of christianity that already has these assimilated.
... Todays churches use sanskrit names, the priests
even wear saffron, prayers are like puja including aarti, incense, sitting crosslegged on floor. But the CONTENT is 100% Nicene Creed - that we suffer due to original sin, that jesus took virgin birth making him not a sinner, that he died for us so we may not have to suffer, and hence the only way to salvation is by accepting this HISTORY of events.
I have written, written and written for 20 years about this central difference made by such a HISTORY. it seems to go in one ear and out the other. i have no idea what to do - or just give up??? ..."
There are several followups, but none that do a Purva Paksha of Christianity, although Suresh' attempt, without the benefit of reading 'Being Different' that was not yet available at that time is laudable. No other guest contributor has suggested a solution to Rakesh's immediate problem and the focus shifted to future issues. Rajiv Malhotra's response to one such followup:
"...Rajiv response: I have not read these specific works. But if they are like dozens of similar things I have read, they ARE INSUFFICIENT BECAUSE THEY LACK A GOOD PURVA PAKSHA...
Hindu leaders have helped facilitate this process starting with three major movements: Ramakrishna Mission's US leaders such as Swami Pramananada, Parmahansa Yogananda, J. Krishnamurti. Scores of Hindu thinkers have followed
suit and made this fashionable.
... Only after you reach the stage of grasping what I wrote above can one begin inquiring what the remedies are. Thats why I resist letting people jump fast to "solutions" because these tend to be obsolete, superficial and without the understanding of the intellectual discourse on the other side"
Dr. Basant provides an useful suggestion:
"This has been an issue which has confronted us all along. Even more so here in the US today... We are competing against religions, who have their basic tenets so exclusive that they will without any doubt proclaim theirs is the only way. ...the central principle of our dharma is freedom of thought and expression. However, our teachings from our religious leaders are that all religions are same, and a vast majority of us do not care. ...We have to be willing to read Old testament and Koran, and then be willing to tell our children and others that their dogma is so contradictory to our teachings"
Vishal provides feedback from a related prior experience. I found it tough to summarize this, so I've included his full comment.
"In my teenager class, I actually take the Koran and Bible with me. Two years ago, a teenager was upset and started arguing with me that Muhammad was a Yogi. He 'quoted' Muhammad to the effect that 'an ounce of meditation is worth more than a pound of prayer' (or something similar). I asked him where did he say that. He could not get the answer.
One day, I opened a page of the Koran and read it out to him. He was horrified and argued that it was not a genuine copy of Koran. I asked him to verify himself that the Koran was published an Islamic nation, and was translated by an Islamic scholar. Similar things happened a few times again (there were other kids too who said similar things) but each time they were asked to read the Bible and the Koran in front of everyone. The objections ceased in a few months. The teenager mentioned above is now going to be a teacher in our school starting in September."
".. With in a span of just 20 years Arya Samaj had phenomenal impact in the society by [re-]converting as much people as close to half a million.It is estimated by various people that by 1920, there were around 200000+ people who have been [re-]converted in the Punjab and Kashmir provinces alone from Islam to Hinduism..."
The remaining followups had very little to do with Rakesh and Rajee. There was no followup from Rakesh. 'Purva Paksha' of Christianity may have helped Rakesh to prepare a followup for Rajee. Unfortunately, 'Being Different' was not yet released at that time, so many of us [Hindus] were largely unaware of the irreconcilable differences between Dharmic faiths and Abrahamic religions.
If you are Hindu [any race/country/born/converted] who is concerned about the problem of induced conversions, and have gone through this discussion thread (especially in its original form):
Take a few minutes to reflect on this situation and try answering the following question to the best of your ability, knowing what you know now.
Suppose you were Rajee's friend. How would you follow up with her? (If possible, add your comments and indicate if you have already read 'Being Different' or not) .
Case Study: Debating with an Elite Convert
This thread covers a discussion that concluded in July 2011. Here is the original thread: