The Role of Prophets in Judaism and History Centrism

April 2014

This is an important thread where Rajiv Malhotra touches on how the history centrism of Abrahamic faiths is in direct conflict with Hinduism's basic tenets and how this is a key facet of how Dharmic faiths are different from Judeo-Christian ones. He also touches upon how people advocating the sameness theory are in fact dangerously helping the digestion of Hinduism into Abrahamic faiths. There are other links on this forum which also touch on various nuances of the same idea. All these ideas are dealt with in his seminal work Being Different. Here's a link to a site which exclusively discusses the book Being Different. To other posts on this site dealing with different nuances of the topic in question, please click here and here:

A forum member Jayant encountered the following question when explaining history centrism to a Hindu friend.

He wrote:

We know according to Nicene creed, Adam and Eve in Eden garden ate apple from tree of knowledge and they committed sin. Hence god curse them and all their progeny for eternal damnation. In Christianity solution for this problem has been found through crucification of Jesus hence humans got saved. In Islam they don't consider Jesus as son of god hence solution they give is Adam and Eve did committed sin, but all merciful god forgiven them then and there. 
Now what about the period of Judaism i.e. period between god cursing Adam and Eve and arrival of Jesus. When they have been cursed for eternal damnation then why god kept sending prophets with new instructions ?

Rajiv's reply:

Jews do not believe there has been a universal savior to rescue humanity. Such a man is called messiah and they are still waiting for the messiah to come. 
They reject that Jesus was the messiah. Thats what differentiates Jews from Christian. Release 2.0, i.e. Jesus as savior, is deemed a fraudulent claim, So they run on release 1.0, i.e  Old Testament or Torah. For a quick refresher watch the Youtube on my "systems model" of History Centrism:

According to Jews, God gave them a special deal: They got chosen doe this. They have to obey certain rules he laid down and in exchange they (and only they) would be rescued in God's special care. The strategy was for God to first create a role model set of tribes (= Jews) and later ask them to lead the whole world and spread the franchise. But until Jews have complied with his wishes and God gives the next Release they are NOT to evangelize and try to convert others. They are still working on Release 1.0.
None of the Abrahamic theologians I debated could refute my position that: 
1) These 3 history centric religions cannot resolve their core differences without serious compromises. 
2) The only way out for them is to reject their history centrism principle.
3) This, in turn, requires rejecting core metaphysics on the nature of God/Man/World separation, etc.
4) This entails having to swallow what I refer to as Poison Pills see IN.
5) In effect, they would end up getting digested into Hinduism. 
6) This is why Hindus must STOP trying to digest Christianity, or Jesus = avatara, or jesus lived in India, etc. UNTIL the above points are clearly understood - first and foremost by our leaders.

In response another forum member Aditya wrote:

On a related note, I was having a discussion with a friend about various mystical traditions. He was very impressed with so-called "Jewish mysticism" and Gnosticism (a form of Christian mysticism) and wanted to explore them further. I was explaining that all the Dharmic systems/traditions are inherently mystical by definition. He was taking it in the direction of a sameness argument: "all mystical traditions are the same as any other mystical traditions.
This simply isn't true....
I explained that Hinduism is inherently mystical and has a HUGE body of Scripture, traditions, and practices ("Inner Sciences") that have existed in some form for thousands of years. These other mystical traditions do not even come close to being nearly as fully developed as Hinduism in this respect. Also, the mysticism of history-centric religions are a "side branch" of the respective source religion and have struggled to survive because they are a huge threat to the core doctrines of the respective history-centric religion. They are not the featured event, but instead are a side show. 
With Hinduism, on the other hand, the featured event is the mysticism. There is no "side show" of mysticism and hence no struggle for survival within the tradition itself. And if there were a side show, it would be come kind of "history centric Hinduism" which is somewhat of a contradiction in terms....
Rajiv replied:

1) In response to liberal Judeo-Christian sameness (as ploy for digestion), you must create a wedge between this and their own history centrism. The mysticism that complies with history centrism is inherently limited and a way to domesticate true mysticism within the contours of history centrism.
2) After some gymnastics, he will try to claim he is not history centric as in Nicene Creed. Thats a good shift.
3) Now you take this even further and discuss specifically the history centrism of Jesus. A few of them will play the game of going further and will say that Jesus is not a historical person, or if he is, his historicity is not critical. This opens a wedge to discuss the whole metaphysics of Christianity as I have explained in BD. Now you must discuss the contradiction between a-historical jesus and church doctrine.
4) If he accept further that he rejects the church doctrine, and has his own belief in jesus: Now show that such a jesus is USELESS: As non compliant with church doctrine its just his personal opinion not backed by Christian theology. As a FULLY Hindu-ized Jesus in every respect, he is useless because Hinduism already has whatever such a jesus brings plus much more. So why not just become Hindu and stop the gymnastics?
5) The bottom line of having many such encounters is to understand that this sameness of mysticism is a pathway to digest Hindus - who tend to be confused already. 
Watch my Youtube conversation with Mark Tully where he tries to play this sameness Good Cop -- he likes Hinduism and wants no differences discussed. Note I keep asking that we remove differences by his adoption of Hinduism, and not the other way around.

Thread continues with Jayant who writes:

So as per your explanation for Judaism, (1) is similar to Islam where Adam and Eve have been forgiven by god then and there after committing sin. But it only differs in (2) with Islam, where for judaism these instructions were only for jews(chosen one) and in Islam any person who follow version 3.0 of instructions (set of do's and don'ts)  goes to Heaven. Hope I am getting it right.
With these, few more questions are coming to my mind. 
A) if Jews were given only certain instructions then why it took around 48 male prophets and 7 female prophets. ? Why they are so many versions like 1.1, 1.2 and so on. God wanted them to be perfect tribe before evangelize the world ? If so then does their latest prophet got the final set of instructions(like Koran) or still there are more prophets in pipeline ?
B) Once they got their final version, Is there any prophecy from god that Jews will going to get a messiah like Mohammed and they can start their evangelizing activity through out the world ? 
Rajiv's response:

A) God sent a series of Releases like CEO sends updated HR policy manuals. Jews dont question God's reasons or rights to do this, though they speculate. There is no certain way of knowing what God might do next, as he's the boss who keeps his cards close to the vest. But there is no finality clause in Release 1 as there is in Islam (Release 3).
B) Islam has lot more similarities with Judaism than with Christianity. This is ironic but true. 
Muslims regard Jesus as a prophet but NOT as son of God. There was never any son or daughter of God nor does he intend to produce any. The Judaic Islamic systems are based on God using regular humans as prophets to be intermediaries to communicate with us. Only Christianity has one "avatara-like" incarnation called jesus - but its dangerous for Hindus to accept jesus as avatara for reasons i explained many times. 
Muslims believe their Release 3 is final, perfect and complete. Older Releases 1 and 2 get acknowledged but MUST GET DIGESTED to fit into Release 3. So prior Abrahamic prophets are listed in Qur'an and accepted, but superseded by Mohammad who brought 3.0 that supersedes. 
The whole interfaith dialogue amongst the three abrahamic religions has tried hard to find ways to fit these 3 releases together in a win-win-win way. This has not happened and i show why it cannot happen ever without compromising one or more of the players.
Only a stupid or very ignorant Hindu would want to claim sameness with these beliefs. 
Digestion is very dangerous. Its easier to deal with encounters where the other side is openly rejecting us and wants to convert explicitly. At least our folks by now can understand whats going on, whereas most of them cannot interpret digestion properly. 

Jeffrey adds to the discussion. He writes:
Rajiv has written of Jesus, "As a FULLY Hindu-ized Jesus in every respect, he is useless because Hinduism already has whatever such a jesus brings plus much more. So why not just become Hindu and stop the gymnastics?"
A Christian might, however, become Hindu and still retain a belief that Jesus did exist and was an avatar in the Hindu sense, and that what has emerged as Christianity is a massive distortion of the authentic teaching of that Jesus avatar. 
Rajiv intervenes on this point. He writes
Pls dont distort avatara as that involves many things that cannot be removed from the notion. Example: There cannot be only one exclusive avatara. Etc. Lets not facilitate digestion of Hinduism, pls, using the Good Cop approach that this "original Christianity" was same as Hinduism anyway. A dangerous thing for Hindus to fall for. A partial similarity does not qualify as sameness. An apple has many similarities with an orange, a bicycle with a car...
Jeffrey continues
If one looks at the Gnostic literature suppressed by the church (and only rediscovered in the twentieth century), many early Christians held a worldview that was essentially Dharmic in its contours (a cycle of rebirth, Jesus as an enlightened master teaching by example the way to liberation, and so on).  This was the case right up until the Second Council of Constantinople, in the sixth century, where all such ideas were declared heretical--a council called not by the pope, but by the Emperor Justinian.  The Cathars held a worldview and followed a practice that was basically the same as Jainism, albeit cloaked in Christian language, until they were wiped out in a crusade launched in the thirteenth century by the ironically named Pope Innocent III.  Christianity, as it is known today, is a digestion of this earlier tradition--essentially a Gnostic or mystical branch of Judaism, probably influenced by ancient contacts with India--by the ideology of imperial Rome, which was able to utilize Abrahamic monotheism as a way to command exclusive loyalty to a single church-state complex.  This state-supported version of Christianity then turned upon and digested (as well as declaring outright war upon) the earlier Pagan traditions of Europe.  For many centuries, those who would dissent from this ideology and affirm the more ancient belief system (e.g. Giordano Bruno, who affirmed both rebirth and the existence of extraterrestrial life) would be burned at the stake.
Maria contributes to the discussion. She writes:
Yes, Mr.Jeffrey. I fully agree with Mr. Malhotra. Why do we need to retain anything? I keep saying that there is no way of keeping oneself at the two sides of the fence, given so many incompatibilities that there are between Christianity and Hinduism, no matter initial similarities. 
We as hindus give a respect to all, and demand respect from all. But giving respect doesn´t mean to praise to the skies neither Jesus nor proph. Muhammad. For that matter, we have both Christians and Muslims who will impose each of them on us. They don´t need our help with our undefined positions. 
Rajiv response was to point out that those who didn't take clear positions and preferred to sit on the fence advocating sameness of religions, were generally stage 2 u-turners. He reiterated that this phase was dangerous because the mirage of sameness led to a false "feel good" factor among Hindus who believed they were legitimized by a westerner. He also gave the example of Unitarians who tried hard to make "whitened Bengalis" (or sameness experts) of Ram Mohan Roy and other Bengali bhadralok with the result that they are an extremely marginalized (<1%) group among the US Christian population. He uses this example to drive home the point that most other Christian denominations reject "sameness". Rajiv also uses the fashion for sufism (a digestion tool) among Hindus today, pointing out that only a very small portion of mosques allow sufi music and dance. He stresses that the core of Islam has no place for sufism.

Rajiv ended by requesting people who preach sameness to approach hard core Christian denominations and ask them if they would be prepared to:
  • install deities of Krishna, Ram, Kali, Durga...
  • accept reincarnation, karma theories
  • accept immanence and satchitananda cosmology
Rajiv posts part of another mail from Jeffrey and his response to that.

First Jeffrey's point:
Clearly if one were to see Jesus as an avatar in a Hindu sense then all claims of his being the only one or of Christianity being exclusively true go out the window. What is being proposed here is a Hindu digestion of Christ, not a Christian digestion of Hinduism. The Poison Pill would be: is the person who views Jesus in this way willing to also and equally worship and revere Sri Ram, Sri Krishna, etc? That would be the test of such a person's fundamental commitment--to a Dharmic view or to an exclusivist view.
Rajiv's response:
Not so. There are lots and lots of additional elements in Hinduism's integral unity. Incomplete knowledge is dangerous. You must accept multiple avataras, deities including female (such as kali), the idea of immanence, the abandonment of original sin and hence reject the story of Eden as believed in dogma, and so forth.
Each time a digesting liberal christian offers "I will accept Hindu principle x" hence claim sameness, I take the demand further and also ask for accepting y. If y gets accepted then accept z. This only ends when the TOTAL INTEGRAL UNITY of Hinduism's cosmology gets accepted.
This creates two problems. Firstly, there is no reason to convert Hindus if everything gets accepted. Secondly the integral unity Hinduism contains poison pills that undermine christianity.
Of course you can keep remodeling a hut to eventually turn it into a massive palace. But let them keep doing it and let us not make it easy and incomplete.
Mark Tully tries this hard in my 1.5 hour Youtube with him. Please watch. No point coming back every few months to try the same thing again and again hoping we will get tired and give up.
Rajiv's comment to "sameness" advocates to try influencing Christian denominations drew response from Jeffrey who states, that that has been his effort for a long time. He also says that his positions are in conformance with that taught by Ramakrishna Mission or Vedanta Society. Rajiv says that one has to defend one's viewpoints on their own merit and not as theories of this or that denomination.

Finally is a warning from Rajiv where he cautions all those who advocate sameness:
The most dangerous lie is the one that most closely resembles the truth. 

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