RMF Summary: Week of February 20 - 26, 2012

February 20
Reversing the gaze - example from Thailand
Willard posts: "A recent article in the Bangkok Post Feb 18, 2012 has the writer reversing the gaze on Western corporate ethics by citing the 4th century Indian king Chanakya...Quote from the article:

But if you really were politically astute, you wouldn't be taking your tips from an Italian manual. A far more powerful treatise is available in the East which predates Machiavelli by at least 1,800 years: the Arthashastra (The Science of Material Success) by Chanakya, the genius behind the throne who masterminded the creation of the first Indian empire..."

February 20
In a couple of sentences...
Until Rajiv Malhotra's book, Hindus by and large approached inter-faith dialog with the attitude that "we are one tradition of music, and you are another. Nada...

February 20
Essay on "God is Not One"
Goel shares: Given below is the text of a speech on "God is not One." It might encourage others in the chat group to take the message of Hinduism to wider audiences rather than talking amongst ourselves. Please distribute it, if it has value. 
The document is also attached for easier reading.


(Note: The speech on “God is Not One” was delivered at the Unitarian Universalist Church ..... before I had the benefit of Rajiv Malhotra’s excellent book, Being Different.  Unitarians are well versed with the sordid history and doctrine of Christianity.  Therefore, the speech dwells more on critiquing Islam than Christianity. Taking pride in being “tolerant”, Unitarians often give a pass to Islam. It is a short 35-minute speech and many arguments are left unsaid. A similar speech was delivered at Unity Church of Christianity. I have also delivered speeches on Essentials of Hinduism at the local churches (Methodist, Baptist, Church of Christ) and at college and senior-citizen groups. A positive offshoot of the rise of Radical Islam is renewed interest in studying world religions. The US is not a monolithic society. There is room here to speak on Hinduism.)
My topic originated with Stephen Prothero’s book: God is Not One: the Eight Religions that Run the World—and Why their Differences Matter, 2010..."

Rajiv's response:
"...Goel makes good points in his speech below. However, I wish to make two points:
1) Prothero's book which he comments on to make the case of "difference" does not show Hinduism in the same light as BD does. There are many who point out how Hinduism is different - in caste, lack of "progress" and so forth - by using criteria and picking differences that are not at all the same kind as in BD. I find Prothero's treatment of Hinduism overall unacceptable, ...In fact, Prothero does not give weight to a dharmic family of traditions as such.
2) Many of Prof. Goel's differences below are socio-political items like violence in Islam/Christianity. He discusses exclusivity, but BD's project is to ask: "what makes them exclusive?" The answer BD gives is history centrism. Otherwise, its a matter of "blaming" them for being bad guys. My point is that exclusivity is something those systems CANNOT HELP as long as they depend on truth exclusively through historical prophets. ... I want to find out whats in their DNA that makes this their very character.
Having said this, I appreciate what Prof. Goel has done by way of spreading the notion that we must claim our distinctiveness and not join the bandwagon of sameness." 

February 22
BD Chapter 3: Integral Unity vs. Synthetic Unity
We cover the detailed discussions in this thread in a separate post here.

February 24
Southern Baptist scholar's criticism of BD and my response
Rajiv posts:

This Southern Baptist leader in Washington, DC., saw my entire video of the talk at Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore): "Rajiv Malhotra explains his systems model of History Centrism"

Then he wrote a rejoinder to me, which a friend in the DC area was kind enough to forward to me. I have been having such exchanges frequently for many years as part of my purva paksha. Since many persons here do not have such experience, I am passing on this particular criticism, along with my responses which are yellow highlighted in square brackets after each of his points. There is nothing new he says that I havent heard many times before. Many of his statements are outright false, some are a play on semantics. SB stands for Southern Baptist.

SB: Others attained salvation (saving grace) before Jesus appeared in human form on the earth.  At that time Jews lived under the system of laws, not grace.  Their faith in attempting to keep the law was accepted as righteousness.  [He is referring to Jews only, not ALL others. So my point remains that humanity at large was eligible for salvation only after Jesus.]
Jesus was born from God and Mary.  SB Response: Not quite – Christ existed from the very beginning with God.  Mary was used as a mechanism to bring Christ into the world as a descendent of Abraham (prophet) and David (prophet) to fulfill prophecy.  Christians believe Jesus is God.  [While Christ existed before, Jesus the human has a defined beginning in time. Thats why Christmas is celebrated and the start of the Christian calendar. Christians believe that Jesus = Christ's incarnation. So Jesus WAS born from God and Mary, hence the only human ever to be absolved from Original Sin. That's my point.]
SB: Hindus believe we started out divine.  – The divine was lost?  God became corrupt in human form?  How did man lose his divinity and start to sin, or does sin exist in Hinduism? [He needs to understand the concept of avidya. Because he does not, his only recourse is to substitute it with Original Sin which is entirely different.]
SB: 20:00 Christianity was started by Emperor Constantine.  Christ never used the term Christian.   Churches started under Constantine.  SB response: Constantine originally killed Christians. Christian means Christ like.  The Apostles  and Jesus' earthly brothers  started churches. [Wrong. It is true that Constantine did "originally" kill Christians, but that was before he became Christian himself. This is a slick manipulation on SB's part. The relevant point is that the NEW TESTAMENT WAS WRITTEN BY AN EDITORIAL TEAM UNDER CONSTANTINE. Whatever the early apostles and "earthly brothers" taught was superseded by the Church as a theocratic institution that went on a global rampage to conquer, plunder... which continues today by institutions such as Southern Baptist Church in places like Nagaland. Also, the early "brothers" included some like Thomas who got thrown out of the bible because their ideas were counter to centralized thought control. I am referring to Christianity as it exists now as a formal institution, the Southern Baptist Church being a prominent example.]
Q & A
SB: Rajiv quotes a Jesuit Catholic and a Vatican Catholic Harvard professor – they aren't Christians.  Catholicism rejects much of what the Bible says.  Catholics worship Mary and the "Saints". [This attitude that "my Southern Baptism is the only legit Christianity" is precisely what I wish to bring out as the curse of history centrism. Thanks to SB for helping me make my point.]
SB: Rajiv says Pagan means country Bumpkin.  Not true.  The common meaning of Pagan: follower of polytheism. [People who were polytheistic got branded "pagan" which had the meaning of country bumpkins.]
 "If it weren't for the Church, Jesus would have just been considered a Rishi" – SB  response: this isn't true.  The Bible says everything was created w/ Christ and nothing was created without him.  [In the Hindu system, too, everything is created from Brahman, in fact everything IS Brahman. My point is different and he either does not understand or want to understand. Rishi state is available to every human and is unity consciousness with Brahman. Jesus state is not available to any other person. Thats the difference, not how the world was created.]
 "…Christian yoga…" – SB  response:  I know of no Christian Church that offers yoga. [This shows how ignorant he is or is in denial in front of Hindus to dupe them. He should google "christian yoga", go to a christian bookstore, do some research into this form of yoga that is spreading like wild fire.]

Surya comments:
"...History tells us that much of western scientific thought developed in opposition to Christianity.  History-centrism is the main reason that science faced and still faces opposition by Christians.  For example, The young earth creationists in Christianity believe that earth is not much older than 4000 BC. Some Christian [apologists] try to bridge this faith with fossil evidence by arguing that God created the Earth recently but with an earth with fossils that give the feel of being much older.  In 1950s, Pope Pius XII agreed to the academic freedom to study the scientific implications of evolution, as long as Catholic dogma is not violated.  You will notice such stubborn opposition to evidence in History-centric religions.

The reason for the Nicene creed is, in my opinion, two fold:

(1) to provide a common ground for different Christian divisions.  

(2) to define the core thought that cannot be compromised.  What is outside the core can be (grudgingly) compromised but not without a fight and only if the evidence is unsurmountable.  Thus, the Vatican recently accepting Evolutionary biology is such a compromise....

Core, incompatible, ideology is protected using history centric arguments.  Rest of it grows and adapts through inculturation, serving as a protective layer to the core...."
Arun shares:
"...I find this article, "Beyond Western Hegemonies"
by Giovanni Arrighi, Iftikhar Ahmad & Miin-wen Shih to have an adequate explanation of how the West came to dominate Asia. It is not cultural or collective character defects of Indians.
"The original and most enduring source of Western power in Asia has been the capacity of Western states to disrupt the complex organization that linked Asian societies to one another within and across jurisdictional and civilizational
divides. This capacity has been rooted in Western advances in military technology on the one side, and in the vulnerability of Asian societies to the military disruption of their mutual trade on the other side.".."
Venkata adds:
"...Refusal to engage either out of fear or on account of certain smugness of self-aasurance, with inimical forces, is another reason for the intellectual, economic and military subjugation of Hindus. One can see this factor persisting even today--for example in the view of some well-meaning Hindus that Hindu intellectuals interested in protecting Dharma should not waste their time in debating things with "foreigners", "missionaries" etc..."
NS Rajaram responds:
"It is also a question of time. Many of us have a busy schedule and don't have the time needed to prepare and debate these people."

Rajiv's response
Agreed. Which is why it should not be taken up by people
casually, inconsistently, without adequate commitment for the long run, without adequate training, experience, and the right depth of required knowledge.

Once people appreciate that this is a specialty, not a casual hobby, only then can they respect others who specialize in this with commitment." 
Carpentier responds:
"Engaging with Evangelicals or Born Again Christians tend to be fruitless since they have an agenda based on "blind" faith which is by definition not amenable to reasoning."

Rajiv's response: 
I have said this many times here: If your goal is to change the
mind of a debating opponent, you are wasting time in debate
. But if your goal is to educate the large audience of undecided, confused, vacillating, persons then the above logic is irrelevant. Using your logic, one should not debate opponents
in politics because one does not expect them to switch parties." 

Arun adds:
I second Rajiv Malhotra's response. The point of a debate is not to change the opponent, but to change the audience.

Rajiv's comment: 

The impact if any on the other side is irrelevant. The other
side is merely to be used as a device to get one's own points out to the audience - not only those sitting in the hall but those who will watch it on YouTube later
. If your impact on the audiences will be negative, then dont get involved. This could be the case if you are ill-prepared on purva paksha,
inexperienced in debate, crude in communication skills, or if moderation will be biased against you. Most Hindu activists have suffered this fate. But I dont believe that I have suffered these conditions - my track record for a decade of taking on opponents is very public. Many new movements got inspired, many groups emerged, many writers taking the ideas I introduced and utilizing them. Yet, jealous "activists" want to stop my efforts of bringing new approaches to dharma into the mainstream. They need to understand my response below and Arun's comment above. If you failed, it does not follow that so will I.

[this next thread seems to have gotten intertwined into the previous thread on Purva Paksha, and was initiated in December 2011..]

Chapter 1 of 'Being Different'
Kundan has a general overview of the book 'Being Different;:
"I have received my copy of “Being Different” and have completed reading the first chapter. My first impression of the book from yesterday’s reading:
  1. Apart from the fact that it is astute in its intellectual formulations, it is soulfully written as well.
  2. I think this book is a must read for all Indophiles (lovers of India).

I specifically liked Rajiv ji’s formulations on “Difference Anxiety” both from above and below. The preliminary discussions in this chapter on assimilation and digestion are extremely important because even for many of us Indians, who have had an English medium education, it was much later in life that we learned that Indian traditions have impacted the west in a major way in the last five hundred years: And we learn this only after we take a specialized study of humanities. This information is not readily available—not only that very few books are available on this topic, many of you will be surprised to know that Raymond Schwab’s important book “Oriental Renaissance” (as referenced in “Breaking India”) is out of print. “The Oriental Enlightenment” by J.J. Clarke is available, if you want to further learn about India’s impact on Europe during the times of Enlightenment.  


Regarding “Purva Paksha,” I want to add that there is another book available which will complement “Being Different” very well. It is Sri Aurobindo’s “Renaissance in India with a Defence of Indian Culture.” An English journalist by the name of William Archer wrote a scathing book that represented the colonial view on Indian culture and its traditions. Sri Aurobindo in that book does a “purva paksha,” “khandana,” and goes on to discuss the Indian tradition from the perspective or “siddhanta” of his Integral philosophy. A pdf copy of the book is available on the following website:

If you want to purchase a copy of the book, you can do so from their online shop"

Wadhwa adds:
"..plea to add "Renaissance in India with a Defence of Indian Culture", a book doing purva-paksha, by Sri Aurobindo which will complement 'Being Different' is a good suggestion.  Adding to this, I would also suggest the works of Maharishi Dayananda(1824-83) especially Satyartha Prakash.  His magnum opus  containing extensive use of purva paksha style debates is basically written for spreading  the message of truth without evincing personal hatred.  Sri Aurobindo acknowledged his legacy and in a chapter on Dayananda - The Man and His Work which is part of his publication 'Bankim-Tilak-Dayananda' (pub.by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 1st Ed.1940,6th Ed.2006) he writes "In Dayananda's life we see always the puissant jet of his spiritual practicality.  A spontaneous power and decisiveness  is stamped everywhere on his work."(page 49). At page 51 Sri Aurobindo says "Truth seems a simple thing and is yet most difficult.  Truth was the master word of the Vedic teaching, truth in the soul, truth in vision, truth in the intention, truth in the act.  Practical truth, arjava, an inner candour and a strong sincerity, clearness and open honour in the word and deed, was the temperament of the old Aryan morals.  It is the secret of pure unspoilt energy, the sign that a man has not travelled far from Nature.  It is the bar dexter of the son of Heaven, Divasputra.  This was the stamp that Dayananda left behind him and it should be the mark and effigy of himself by which the parentage of his work can be recognised."  .."

Arjunshakti responds:
Swami Dayananda maybe have done his critiques on islam and Christianity but he also reinvented through his interpretation the Vedas as being monotheist and anti idolatry ect.He used the very same Abrahamic templates he was attacking to become the Vedic world view which only opens the doors to the likes of Dr Zakir naiks on a common platform of 'monotheism' ..The Arya Samajis even have their equivalent to the 10 commandments.. Often I see present day Arya Samajis attacking other Hindus as 'puranics' and believes in multiple gods giving more ammunition to the anti hindus to attack Hinduism with..

Rajiv's response:
Agreed. Both he and Ram Mohan Roy while doing their purva paksha of the west got "modified" themselves in the process

Rakesh asks:
"Even Ramakrishna math got modified ? swami vivekananda while he remined steadfastly hindu had to make hinduism palatable to the west and had to make Christ an avatara as well.

Rajiv response: 
While agreeing with the above, I want to differentiate between
Jesus and Christianity.

Indians need to understand that Christianity was not started by Jesus or proposed by him, but invented by Roman conquerors as a system of theocracy and mind control. The 4th century construction of the New Testament in Nicea (in modern day Turkey) is well accepted by Christian theologians and has never been doubted by mainstream churches.

One can take Jesus' own words (such as Sermon on the Mount) and find great similarities with Vedanta. But Jesus was not history-centric - which is the problem with christianity, that if removed from it would de-fang it. In fact, the church would dissolve, and there would be a reverse digestion, i.e. Jesus would get digested into dharma while Christianity would disappear.

Despite this position which I have worked out in detail, I dont advocate people promoting "Jesus lived in India" type of scenarios, because the ground is not ready to make such a massive onslaught on the edifice of the christian fortress.
Such thinking today amounts to sameness, and is leading to Hinduism getting digested into christianity, not the other way around.


The purpose of BD is to define what non-compromising positions of dharma must sustain in this encounter between cosmologies. In each of the differences identified, the two sides' positions are shown to be mutually incompatible, and
the side that compromises gets digested into the other. Once you are secure in this knowledge and experienced in its deployment then by all means you should engage in interfaith dialogues and propose: "lets be the same, but on our terms". But first step is to get a solid grip of what "our terms" amounts to."

Mukul asks:
"Can you show the exact quote? I think Swamiji's [Vivekananda] position on Christ was not of an Avatar. He even challenged the historicity of Christ at one place"

Nimesh comments:
...[Vivekananda] never challenged the history of jesus.
he was just explaining the difference between a religion that is founded by one person [i.e. history-centric] vs the one that has evolved. [also,] it was one of the greatest experiment of his guru - ...

Neeraj adds:
We are starting here with an assumption that there WAS a 'Jesus Christ', which has not been proven by the most sincere of Christian historians (as per Sita Ram Goel's 'Jesus Christ: An artifice for aggression'). Do we have to accept Jesus to be a historical figure?...

Rajiv's response:
Whether jesus existed in history is irrelevant to my point (as is whether Shiva was a historical person). There are many states of consciousness in dharma and these may or may not be historical - they can also be ahistorical.
My criticism in BD is (for strategic reasons) ONLY limited to history-centrism - this criticism has implications against the church which i want to separate from Jesus.
Desh comments:
"....The fight between Dharma and Abrahamic dispensations is a classic fight between Inclusivity and Exclusivity. All that Exclusivist desires is to sit on the same pedestal as the Inclusivist. That is MORE than enough for him. Enough to about the agenda of "I am X, and SO you are Y, and that is why I hate you". The Inclusivist helps him by saying "I don't know who I am, but we are all one".

This is Benign Inclusivism. Benign Inclusivism or Exclusivism may not be the only options. Dharmic Inclusivism is an alert construct where Exclusivism has to be fought with correctness of knowing.

That is why I am completely convinced that your books will serve a much larger purpose than you may have intended. They are as revolutionary historically as Vivekananda's speech in 1893. Such contemporary and mainstream effort with solid knowledge of Dharma has not happened in a century now..."
Surya comments:
"Read the following speech by Vivekananda on Jesus.  A very respectful speech. Vivekananda sees Vedantic thought in what Jesus says.  ... In the speech, the closest he came to elevating Jesus to God is when he says:

If I, as an Oriental, have to worship Jesus of Nazareth, there is only one way left to me, that is, to worship him as God and nothing else. Have we no right to worship him in that way, do you mean to say? If we bring him down to our own level and simply pay him a little respect as a great man, why should we worship at all? Our scriptures say, "These great children of Light, who manifest the Light themselves, who are Light themselves, they, being worshipped, become, as it were, one with us and we become one with them."
Need To read this carefully to avoid being digested.First, there is the supposition "IF" in the beginning of the sentence.

Second, he is saying that worshipping great men of light brings us close to them and their teachings.  That is same as  "Guru sakshat parabrahma".  This is a core Hindu value - conferring very high respect to a teacher.

If we agree with this, then we accept Jesus as a great teacher of Vedantic thought and confer the respect we give to other religious teachers but nothing more special.  Jesus is not called exclusively by Vivekananda as an Avatar or Son of God...  "

Srinivasan comments:
"That is exactly what the Swami Abhedananda who took over from Swami Vivekananda did when he was in America. His book"Why Hindu accepts Christ and rejects Churchianity" is a fine book which does the job of digesting Jesus into Dharma and rejecting the claim of Church andis printed by Ramakrishna Mutt.Swami Vivekananda rejected the idea of Sinner.His speech in Chicago echoes the thought well. "...the Hindu refuses to call you a sinner ...."

Chandramauli comments:
"If one goes by history, this stratagem of separating Jesus from
Christianity has always ended up being albatross round the neck of Hindus. Example:

"He (Raja RamMohan Roy) had demolished the most important Christian dogmas. But all along, he had kept Jesus on a high pedestal. Perhaps he was convinced that Jesus was a great moral teacher. Perhaps he was using Jesus only to beat the missionaries with their own stick. In any case, the Brahmo Samaj he founded had to pay a high price for his praise of Jesus.  Keshub Chunder Sen who took over the Brahmo Samaj at a later stage, became infatuated with Jesus, so much so that he got alienated more or less completely from the Hindu society at large. Keshub's disciples tried to get Jesus endorsed by Sri Ramakrishna who knew nothing about the mischievous myth. And that, in due course, led to Ramakrishna Mission's antics of denying its Hindu ancestry."

Rajiv's response:
I have had any number of arguments and debates with the RKM folks over this stand of sameness by them, including in public forums. In my uturn theory, i also include many other similar uturners - SRF, Brahma Kumaris, and so forth. A
couple of years ago I had a big online fight with one Swami Bodhananda who has an ashram in Michigan supported by many NRIs, and the fight was specifically on his sameness nonsensical positions which he persisted in defending by avoiding the issues I raised. The discussion turned toxic once he tried to disqualify me on grounds that he had "adhikar" and I did not.

So the whole uturn research is to understand this syndrome - both the role of the gurus/sampradaya side and from the side of the westerners who join such movements.

The central question i started to focus on was: what would be non-digestible into Judeo-Christianity and yet inseparable from dharma? If these items of difference are clearly understood and planted firmly in every dharmic leader's public posture, then uturns would be prevented.

My answer: attack history centrism. A focused target is easier than a wider one, such as a whole religion carte blanche. Many people who see themselves as christians join in attacks against history-centrism. THERE IS A WHOLE ANTI-CHURCH MOVEMENT WITHIN CHRISTIANITY ITSELF.

A smart strategy knows the limitations in one's positions and does not try to fight a bigger battle than one can win. So all i hope to achieve through BD from westerners is to win over those who accept the problems caused by history centrism. Going beyond that is self defeating because you will get no supporters - not even the yoga/meditation types of westerners. (You should go out and try your various ideas as experiments to get real world empirical data first.) " 


February 25
A case study in digestion : Influence of Indigenous Indian education
Dear Rajiv Sir, I feel that the adoption of Indigenous Indian Education model by the Europeans is an example of the digestionyou have discussed in BD. The...

[this thread below is summarized separately in two posts on  'American Veda', which you can find in the RMF archive. here is part-1]
February 26
American Digestion
[Preface by Rajiv: Besides the issues raised by Surya below regarding Goldberg's book, I have expressed my displeasure to Goldberg. He interviewed me in depth...

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