Curating Rajiv Malhotra's Works. Online Resource, Database, Crowd Sourcing, and Expert Feedback on Contemporary Hinduism, Dharmic India, and topics covered in 'Breaking India', 'Being Different: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism", 'Indra's Net: Defending Hinduism's Philosophical Unity', 'The Battle For Sanskrit', and the newly released book 'Academic Hinduphobia'.
Christian and Hindu Good News - Original Sin and satchitananda Vinod posts: "While discussing Being Different with a Hindu friend of mine who is interested in both Indian and foreign knowledge systems, he pointed out that in his understanding, Original Sin and the concept of satchitananda are
one and the same. The former is only a pessimistic view of looking at
cup as being half empty rather than half full. The latter is a more
optimistic view of looking at the same glass as being half full. Is such
an argument tenable?"
Rajiv comment: Its stupid to equate self as original sinner with self as originally
divine. Thats the whole point of making history centrism the central
piece of my argument. Many evangelical scholars in the 1800s started
this idea of equating. Then many foolish Hindu scholars started to
promote this type of sameness. The consequence is that well meaning
persons like you are confused today. I cannot afford the time to summary
BD here. I did enough work writing it. Now you must do some work
reading it. If you have not read it then its unfair to ask me such a
is very well entrenched in the Christian minds and so is the existence
of Hell; scares them a lot! ...Very few are free of guilt in this
system. In fact many conditions like dysfunctional relationships, broken
families, children out of wedlock are a result of these ideas that are
drummed thru classes into innocent heads from an early age. So is the
idea of achieving Heaven by converting other persons; it
does not occur to them that if the Almighty wanted someone to be a
Christian then their help would not be needed by the Super power!
understanding of Christianity in India is very faulty --we have been
told to see good [and same in all] so we do just that-- need to live in a
Christian country to see the reality."
"Equating original sin with satchitananda is untenable. They are exactly antithetical. What exactly is original sin? As Nietzsche correctly stated, Christianity regards the acquisition of knowledge as the original sin of man (Genesis 2:17, 1 Corinthians 20-21, 26-29) thereby making any reasonable exploration of natural phenomena that characterize human existence impossible. In other words, the Christian position is one against acquisition of knowledge. One becomes a Christian by denying knowledge, admitting that any pursuit of knowledge is terrible, and then getting oneself redeemed if one had
indulged in such a pursuit inadvertently. Most Christians, liberal or otherwise, educated or not, are ignorant of what original sin actually means. Your friend is no different as far as his understanding of this foundational belief of Christianity is concerned. Malhotra does an outstanding job of articulating what original sin is and how that
foundational premise is incompatible with the dharmic approach to moksha etc. He specifically underlines the fact that in Christianity redemption from original sin is always a gift from above and is not an outcome of individual endeavor.
In dharmic traditions it is exactly the opposite: one does not attain moksha either by denying knowledge or by exclusively receiving it as an accidental gift from above. For example, Sankara, in his Vivekachudamani (verses 13-15) emphatically asserts that knowledge (the pre-requisite to moksha) can only be obtained through
atma-vichara and not as a gift...."
Would like to know what it says (probably about sameness, exotic faith,
etc.) and also who contributed to the content and story line.
"This made a decently big splash in the Indian e-community last year. If I recall, it had a better-than-usual portrayal of the distinctiveness of
Hindu & other Dharmic faiths, and had a "much talked about" segment
when the camera took viewers on a tour of a major temple in Washington
DC area, and did some Q&A.
Rajiv comment: I wonder if the "distinctiveness" was from the dharma
lens and whether it pointed out Abrahamic "issues" - like history
centrism. Otherwise, its just the fashionable distinctiveness as in pop
culture where one music genre or cuisine differs from another, but its
all "relative" and no logic to either."
"The story-line of the program is presented here:
Some excerpts - the attempts to show the sameness
(comparing belief systems/ practices in Dharmic faiths with the
Abrahamic faiths) can be seen here. Some of the statements (Gandhi's
philosophy of non-violence based on the Jain religion) are inaccurate as
We also explore the Buddhist
and Sikh practices and rituals, finding differences yet discovering
surprising similarities with the Abrahamic religions......
Eck comments voice-over: “It’s interesting having Hindu immigrants in
America today because they bring something with them that’s distinctively American, a theology of religious pluralism.”
Simply inaccurate(Ahimsa Paramo Dharmaha/ Dharma Himsa Thathaiva Cha referenced in the Mahabharatha)..."
".... interesting article
on 'Yoga and Judaism' that seeks to find 'deep ties between Yoga and
Judaism'. This has some positive and respectful ideas about Yoga, but
the equivalencies don't seem to be clear. e.g. the idea of replacing the
sacred vibrations of Sanskrit with Torah reading, and the last couple
of paras indicate a possible attempt at digesting Yoga into Judaism.
Rajiv comment: There is a Hindu-Jewish group in AAR that
champions this kind of equivalence. Many Jews entered ISKCON from the
1960s on, but most have uturned later. While Hindus are gradually
becoming aware of Christians digesting hinduism, the trend is at least
as aggressive with Judaism. Their favorite method is to use Hinduism to
revive and reinterpret Kaballah and attribute all sorts of new meanings
to it. They even claim non-translatable sounds in Hebrew that can
replace as mantras. .... why is there a need of a separate Jewish identity based on birth, i.e. bloodline? Answer is history centrism. Judaism started the history centrism which Christianity and Islam took further.
Digestion via Self-Realization Fellowship This book purports to be written by Parmahansa Yogananda, but published long
after his death. (Surpicious?) I tried unsuccessfully to gain access to
the original manuscript. Another spinoff from Parmahansa Yogananda is
the famous Swami Kriyananda, highly celebrated in India as a great guru.
he, too, espouses sameness using the teachings of Parmahansa Yogananda.
I practiced the kriya yoga system of SRF when I lived in San
Diego in the 1970s. So I know them and do appreciate many things I
benefited for my sadhana.
But just as post-Vivekananda the RK
Mission and its affiliates (unintentionally) facilitated the digestion
of Vedanta (first into generic perennialism, then into "western"
thought...) so also Parmahansa Yogananda's teachings have accelerated
the fashion of digestion into "new, liberal Christianity". Hence the
attacks by various folks like we saw at Patheos.com who feel that the differences I discuss deny that the same things already existed in Christianity.
People, please decide:
you dont mind Hindus getting digested into Christianity (conversion
being one of the many methods), then stop complaining at what is going
on. Let it just happen. In fact, join in to facilitate the inevitable.
You might even make some money, fame, prestige along the way like many
But if you find it important that dharma's
distinctiveness is important to retain, then dont get mixed up with the
lure of being digested. This involves a lot of study and understanding
first. Only what you embody yourself can be projected externally into
whatever your calling is.
"One Peter Heehs, an American historian
who has apparently spent the last 41 years in Pondicherry, was denied a
visa extension by the GOI this year. Apparently this followed his
publication of a controversial book containing speculations about the
relationship between Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Now it looks like the
"usual suspects": Ramachandra Guha, Romila Thapar etc. are ganging up
to pressure the government against revoking his visa, in the name of
"freedom of expression" and other high-minded ideals...."
Rajiv comment: I met him a few times since the 1990s. Had a big
fight the very first time we met, when i explained the appropriations
and biases. But then we both moved on... Lately he got into trouble with
certain people over his book (by Columbia U P) which I have read. This
matter has polarized the Sri Aurobindo followers into 2 fighting camps. I
no longer want to get "used" in this fight... Been there, done it...."
"Speaking of double standards, some years back, communist terrorists in
Nepal burnt down an entire Sanskrit university. How many Thapars, Guhas,
Pollocks, etc, then raised voices of protest? How many petitions did
these eminences take out?..."
....Re-reading it again, I am reminded of how the American
academe (and popular culture) have consistently portrayed the life of
J.D. Salinger. They cite him as a genius, a literary icon who changed
the face of American writing. Yet, all the biographies I have come
across refer to a period in his life when, after 1965, Salinger became
"reclusive, anti-social, and hermetic." The implication is that he had
psychological issues that made him a misanthropist, and caused him to
shut himself away from the society that once celebrated him in New York.
See below how "Christian Advaita" is presented . See the contortions of language to squeeze these incompatible ideas together.
"Christian experiences God not only through Jesus but in the human face of God."
"Advaita has a place in Christian experience via Jesus' awareness of his Advaita with the father."
BD points out, unbridgeable gap between God and human is bridged only
through the Prophet. Allowing direct experience would undermine primacy
of prophet and the scriptures. Once you allow direct experience, thus
bypassing essentiality of Jesus and the scriptures, what is the need for
Thus, Christian experience of God is ONLY "via Jesus' awareness of his Advaita with the father."
Taking Advaita as is from Dharmic knowledge obviates the need for Christian alternative. Hence the need for the tiger to digest the deer. That explains why "Liberal Christians" and "Emergent church" are desperately after absorbing Dharmic knowledge....
recognition of limitations of language and the need to import Sanskrit
words is also proposed below. Purpose, as is made clear below, is not a
better understanding of Dharmic knowledge and its acceptance, but to
facilitate presenting Christ-consciousness as Christian Shaivism. Thus,
keeping Sanskrit words intact but not the context of Dharmic knowledge
from which they are extracted, still facilitates digestion.
all ideas -- especially all Christian ideas (and before you respond,
please just read/listen ... I'm here to help enhance
faith/relationship/knowing truth .... not to diminish or challenge or
the Christian experience be expounded â€“ not falsely â€“ in these
terms, given, as we know, that Christian vocabulary cannot adequately
express Christian experience?
Can these Sanskrit terms become the
vehicle for a theology which leads to the knowledge of the Christ who
exceeds all that can be said of him? (or, the Christ-consciousness that exceeds all that can be said of it?)
This attempt will be the beginnings of a Shaiva Christianity or a Christian Shaivism." http://peterspearls.com.au/shaivism.htm"
site referenced below is illustrative of hundreds of such movements run
by Westerners who started their stage-1 journey with teachings of
Ramana Maharshi, which they learned (already in diluted form) second to
fourth hand via Nisargatta Maharaj, Papaji, Ramesh Baleskar and an
assortment of other instant Indian gurus and pseudo-gurus. Later they
mapped these ideas on the new frameworks by western uturners like:
Eckhart Tolle (who I met in the 1990s), Adyashanti (via Zen), Adi Da
(follower of Swami Muktananda who initiated the young Ken Wilber and
later there was a big clash of Adi Da/Wilber super-egos), among others.
The digestive tract is very long, with many such enzymes along the way
helping to 'break down' the source till it disappears into the new DNA.
Where will you put this in your classifications of digestion?
Rajiv comment: An interesting documentary on archeological findings. I am troubled that they cannot take Hindu claims (not myths are referred to but itihas) at face value even as claims.
Because such claims definitely topple Biblical history claims or at
least exclusivity, the archeological findings are being interpreted as
some sort of extra-terrestrial work. The result is that either (1) it
gets mixed up with all other UFO nonsense and sidelined to the margins,
or (2) credited to aliens rather than Hindus. In the latter case, this
alien origin of Hindu 'myths' is similar to the foreign origin of Aryans
- in both cases Hinduism's own accounts of the past are seen as really
the work of outsiders be they foreign aryans or aliens from outer space.
We should utilize the hard facts of archeology and develop our own
interpretations rather than getting sucked into others' interpretations..."
"I have read Graham Hancock's "Underworld: The Mysterious origins of
Civilizations." He is shown at the beginning of this documentary. I will
not be too surprised if he is at the man behind the documentary.
it is, the mainstream historians and archaeologists were going after
him for contending the dates of the archaeological remains off the coast
of Poompuhur and Dwarka to 9600 BCE and 6000 BCE respectively; now that
his work is being linked with aliens and ETs, it will get further
discredited in the academic community. It is quite possible that he
himself is linking it.
In the "Underworld," he came up with these
dates by corresponding the depth at which these ruins were found with
inundation maps that have been prepared for the world through complex
computer calculations at various stages during the Post Glacial floods
(the contention of Geologists is that after the Last Glacial Maximum,
ice caps and glaciers around the world melted at a rapid pace leading to
massive floods that inundated coasts around the world). If the post
glacial flooding is true, then the inundation of "Kumari Kandam" as
described in Sangam literature is a distinct possibility--Sangam says
that the first meeting was held in a city called Tenmadurai and the
second at Kavatapuram, both of which have gone under water. The
geologists contend that there were massive flooding that took place
between 10,400 BCE and 8,600 BCE and many Tamil scholars say that first
gathering of Sangam took place around 9600 BCE. The last of the post
glacial floods took place between 5700 BCE and 4900 BCE and Sangam
scholars say that the second Sangam took place 3700 years after the
first one. There is a close correspondence between when Tenmadurai and
Kavatpuram would have gone under water and occurrences of post glacial
Graham Hancock took the help of local fisherman in the
exploration off the coats of Tamil Nadu. His wife, Santha, is
conversant in Tamil--she is of Tamil origin raised in Malaysia. The
local fisherman speak of many ruins along the coast of Tamil Nadu. The
fisherman know about this because they find schools of fish around these
ruins--the fish need protected area to rest. The seabed off the coast
otherwise is quite flat. The marine wing of the Archaeological Survey of
India need to take these local folklore seriously and explore the
coast. Graham Hancock says that the local fisherman were able to take
him to the exact spot of the ruins.
Emboldened by finding ruins
in correspondence with the local itihasa, I think he has come up with
the alien theory because the Tamil story is that Shiva and other gods
were present at the first Sangam. Instead of using their names, he is
saying that in those days the humans were in contact with the aliens.
it does not help the dharma cause. ..."
Do mappings with good intentions lead to digestion?
Swami Vivekananda mapped akasha as ether at a time when ether was
well-established in physics. Later physics rejected the notion of ether
altogether. Where did that leave Hindu cosmology and the notion of
ether? In hindsight it would have been better to leave akasha
untranslated - as something that is not only physical, anyway, and hence cannot be mapped to a purely physical model.
when SV did this, the intention was to make Hindu cosmology more
mainstream, more popular, more credible. But such a mapping meant that
there was no longer any need to investigate into akasha, once ir was
rendered redundant and replaced by ether that mainstream people already
knew. This trend is very popular among scholars of dharma who are
genuinely trying to show how "scientific" their tradition is.
.... mapping of Sri Aurobindo's taxonomy to modern neuroscience - done with utmost respect:
....side effect is that once enough such mappings get
perfected, he becomes redundant - a museum piece. On the other hand,
neuroscience is very powerful and one must utilize it. So what can one
do to have the benefits without this pitfall?
Possible approach: How about doing neurological research actively using Sri Aurobindo's taxonomy directly?
Keep his terms alive. Let researchers have to re-read what he said and
try to figure it out better and better over time - just like we did not
put the term yoga in a museum by substituting something like exercise,
prayer, gymnastics, etc.
I am illustrating my point using Sri A
as one example. The same ought to be done to utilize the taxonomies of
Kashmir Shaivism, Sankhya, and various other systems. Also: Do not try
to collapse them into one another - that too is a reductionism which
causes potential loss of experience contained in those terms.
"Since I am the author of the blog article
you posted below, I'd like to clarify that the intent of the article
was actually the opposite. In other words, I was hoping that the
digestion goes the other way - that modern neuroscience discoveries can
be explained through the Integral Psychology of Sri Aurobindo. In
order for Sri Aurobindo's model to be accepted, one would have to be
able to explain every possible neuroscience discovery using the
extensive psychological insights given by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
in their works and that is what I am attempting.
Thanks for writing that your goal is digestion in the
reverse direction. That is also the goal of most advocates of dharma.
But they end up dishing out the dharma into small bits that are
digestible, quite the opposite of their noble intentions. ....the problem may be
formulated as follows:
X gets mapped to Y hoping that X will prevail over Y, i.e. it will
digest Y. Under what circumstances will that happen, and what factors
will make the opposite happen? One taxonomy/paradigm will prevail and
digest the other, so the question is what determines which one will
prevail. Like any other systematic inquiry, you cannot 'imagine' the
answer or base it on wishful thinking. You must gather data on similar
situations and see what happens and why. This is what I have been doing
for 20 years. Why did RK Mission (following a similar strategy to yours)
end up on the sidelines while its treasure trove of dharmic ideas got
digested for a century? It was not lack of good intentions. It was a
lack of purva paksha of the other party in the intellectual encounter,
especially a lack of understanding the mechanisms of digestion
One simple principle is: In cases where the other party is a religion (not neuroscience), the one that retains its history centrism (always exclusive by definition) prevails unless
unless the other side has something non digestible into the history
centrism. This is logical and also supported by evidence of what has
actually happened. This is how inculturation works across the heathen
world: bring Jesus' history centrism together with village deities and
symbols into 'sameness' perception; but gradually you get the village
symbols and rituals digested into the HISTORY CENTRISM OF JESUS.
What if the other party is science and not anything to do with history
centric religion? Here a key factor is that westerners are stronger than
us by 50 to 1 in their scholars' quantity, quality, persistence,
availability of funding and institutional apparatus for dissemination.
In stage-2 of uturn they use folks like you to remove the context of the
source tradition - what I have termed 'de-contextualization'. Much of
Auroville and Pondy have been doing this for the past 40 years.....Again many of our folks are great facilitators and get rewarded by arriving on the world stage.....(Auroville's
own Aster Patel being a prominent person.) In parallel there are those
working on stage-4 which is to denigrate the source as inferior, the
"caste, cows, dowry, sati, Godhra violence" variety of stereotypes that
are all over the place, like carpet bombing in the media. All this
culminates in stage-5 where the "new" discoveries by the west are
re-exported back to India. Hence we see Andrew Cohan, Harold [Howard?] Gardener,
Stephen LaBerge, many of Templeton Foundation's researchers...
Since you are interested in Sri Aurobindo's works: You must
understand how he is already getting digested into Wilber and through
that into Integral Christianity led by Father Keating in collaboration
with Wilber and Cohen. .... Hint: What you need to develop is: The non-digestible core of Sri
Aurobindo, i.e. that which causes the reductionist western paradigm to
crash when Sri A is ingested.
Another digestion Dhiru posts: Another 'Digestion of Dharmic' idea has come from Ms. T. M. Luthermann (author
of "When God talks back:Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God") who has written a piece in the Opinion page of WSJ April 6, 2012 under the heading: "when the Almighty Talks Back". He writes: "And yet people also report that when they pray in this way, they begin to experience God's presence in a personal way, something that is comforting and empowering..."
"Rajiv comment: Feeling God's immediate presence is something many Christians claim to be part of Christianity since very long. Many early Christians did
express such feelings. So if you go too far and deny any such presence, you will not be taken seriously by Christian scholars. God is intimately felt in many
Christian writings. That is not the point of difference.
The point is that one can be intimate but in a dualistic sense. God "responds directly" fine, but its two distinct persons interacting - man and God. What is lacking is "aham Brahamasmi" and "tat tvam asi" type of integral unity. In synthetic unity there can certainly be close communication among the parties.
The second difference is that history centrism makes God change the rules (called covenants) through some historically unique event, making that event NECESSARY to believe in. This event is the basis of exclusivity claims. So maybe God talks to a person directly, but even so his conversation does NOT allow the person to bypass Jesus as the exclusive mediator in history.."
in India Greek philosophers Maria posts: .... an interview with the Woodstock School
Principal Dr. Jonathan Long about education in the Pioneer. He talks about the philosophical dimension, but mentions only Greeks.
Unfortunately the interviewer did not draw out more from him.
Rajiv comment: It is irrelevant to my work whether Jesus existed historically. I am concerned with Christianity as a belief system promulgated and controlled by a powerful institution.
As long as there is (1) a powerful church, which (2) demands the absolute belief in the historical Jesus as part of its overall Nicene Creed (i.e. the canon of history centrism), and (3) a large portion of powerful people adopt this as their worldview, that is the working definition of Christianity on which I am reversing my gaze. ....
A big deal would be if the beliefs of a large majority of Christians changed such that they no longer regarded Jesus' historicity as real, or at least they considered it as unimportant. That would be a revolutionary mind shift. The domino effect would be:
(a) No historical savior.
(b) Hence no such thing as Original Sin. The Nicene Creed would unravel instantly.
(c) Hence the old myths comprising the gnostics, pagans, gospels (those included and those left out by the Council of Nicea) would become free from the bondage of history centrism.
(d) Then there would emerge the possibility of a different kind of universalism in which what BD describes as the desert civilization would not be the foundation.
(e) Using the rishis' paradigm of the forest civilization, one would then be able to reinterpret the old stories of mystical experiences in the biblical lands, including allowing a place for Jesus as an archetype (NOT historical and certainly not exclusive). (f) This would be Christianity digested into Sanatana Dharma, with various people having their own mythic figures to imagine as deities and as their ishta-devatas.
(g) Devatas are not historical persons, but intelligences-divinities to whom we humans give concrete images for our convenience of access. If we can imagine a given intelligence-divinity in form-x then it is equally valid (and equally relative) for someone else to imagine it as form-y. This is why Hinduism accepts village deities that are local and distinct forms, because such a local form of deity is the collective imagination and itihas of that community. Jesus would similarly be the local deity of certain people, respected as such, but not the Son of God or exclusive intermediary, or grantor of the church's franchise.
Bottom line: It is dangerous to jump ahead directly to 'g' based on wishful thinking, ..."
Ram argues: "...I see no reason to accept non
Christian elements in this formula. The Christianity we are dealing with
is mostly a creation of the last 2,000 years by western Europeans
(Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Spain, Scandinavia etc) and
to some extent the United States and Canada.
Therefore I would advise rejection of any pre-Christian philosophy,
writings, theology, legal systems, theology, culture on the part of
Christians. Specifically, I see they have no claim to the stories and
theology of the Old Testament, which are really Jewish mythology and
I would advise rejection of Christian claims to the heritage and
achievements of the pre-Christian Greeks. Plato, Aristotle, the Greek
idea of democracy, Greek thought, are NOT for Christians to colonize as
I would advise rejection of Christain claims to the heritage and
achievement of the Romans, who were nearly all non Christian and before
the supposed coming of Jesus.
I would advise rejection of
Christian claims to the heritage of the Mesopotomia early civilizations
of Ur, of later civilizations of Babylon, the Persians, Crete, the north
African cities, and the entire Mediterranean area before the Christian
I would advise rejection of the Christian claims to the heritage of
Egypt, claims to the heritage of the Scandinavian nations of Sweden,
Strip these away from the western Christians and
they are left with very little. The bulk of the Nicene Creed (creation
story, Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, talking snake, original sin, coming
of the messiah are all Jewish) is gone, all the thoughts of the Romans
and Greeks and their institutions have to fall away..."
From Ishtar to Eostre, the roots of the resurrection story go deep. We should embrace the pagan symbolism of Easter. Easter is a pagan festival. If Easter isn't really about Jesus, then what is it about?
Today, we see a secular culture celebrating the spring equinox, whilst religious culture celebrates the resurrection. However, early Christianity made a pragmatic acceptance of ancient pagan practises,
most of which we enjoy today at Easter.
The general symbolic story of the death of the son (sun) on a cross (the constellation of the Southern Cross) and his rebirth, overcoming the powers of darkness, was a well worn story in the ancient world. There were
plenty of parallel, rival resurrected saviours too.
The Sumerian goddess Inanna, or Ishtar, was hung naked on a stake, and was subsequently resurrected and ascended from the underworld. One of the oldest
resurrection myths is Egyptian Horus.
Born on 25 December, Horus and his damaged eye became symbols of life and rebirth. Mithras was born on what we now call Christmas day, and his followers
celebrated the spring equinox. Even as late as the 4th century AD, the sol invictus, associated with Mithras, was the last great pagan cult the church had to overcome. Dionysus was a divine child, resurrected by his grandmother. Dionysus also brought his mum, Semele, back to life...."
"This is well known: many pre-Christian elements including symbols, rituals, ideas and even philosophies got digested into Christianity. At the same time the source cultures suffered what amounts to cultural genocide. I point this out to audiences where they wonder, "whats wrong with getting digested?" One day, if the fashin of digestion continues, it is entirely plausible that Divali will be celebrated as a Christian "festival of lights" with sermons about bringing the light of Jesus into your life to dispel the darkness of Satan"
"...This is already happening in many Christian institutions in India.
And it applies not only to Diwali but also to various other Hindu
festivals, cultural mores, performing arts, dharmic literature, etc. One
The dharmaram college, a Christian seminary based in
Bangalore is very active in devising methods for digesting Hinduism
into Christianity... Incidentally, Indian media reports this sort of blatant chicanery in
positive light, as if, to use Rajiv'ji analogy, the deer getting eaten
by the tiger is a good thing."