Rajiv Malhotra and Hindu-Christian Dialogue – Vijaya Rajiva

Dr. Vijaya Rajiva“Mr. Malhotra is entitled to his own adventure of ideas but to present it as an alternative to the ongoing work of the traditional acharyas and gurus, is if nothing else but a mistaken zeal. Some would argue that it is a self-serving agenda. There is also a tendency amongst certain sections of Hindus (and that includes Malhotra) to think that no one else in Bharat is doing good work for the Hindu cause.” – Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

Rajiv MalhotraAuthor and writer Rajiv Malhotra has initiated a new phase of his career with his venture into Hindu-Christian Dialogue. Readers are familiar with his first book Breaking Indian written with co-author Aravindan Neelakandan and in this book (which the present writer was one of the first to give a favourable review) the authors have provided a detailed account of the dangers facing India from a variety of sources: terrorism, Maoism, inculturation (and indigenisation) from the proselytising religions, especially Christianity. Other writers have also written extensively on this topic (See Radha Rajan’s writing in Vigil Online and Tamizhchelvan in his most recent article “Inculturation and Indigenisation” on the website Bharata Bharati). The revived method of Inculturation (since Inculturation has been practised by the Church for a very long time in various countries, not only India) is now touted in India as Hindu-Christian Dialogue. It is actively promoted by the Vatican.

Inculturation is the process by which the Church attempts to synthesise and ingratiate itself into the native culture not with a view to adopting it but to convert the population to Christianity. Hindu Christian Dialogue is one such avenue with which the Church tries to gain entry.

It is therefore surprising that Mr. Malhotra has started what he refers to as a new model of Hindu-Christian Dialogue. The present writer has pointed out the questionable nature of this dialogue (see the articles listed below). His dialogue is especially directed at the Jesuit scholar and priest who teaches at the Divinity School at Harvard University, USA. Dr. Clooney is a contemporary Jesuit scholar and in the opinion of the present writer is in the same tradition of his predecessors such as [the Protestant] Bishop Caldwell who arrived in India with express purpose of spreading Christianity amongst the native population. Malhotra has written about this in his book Breaking India.

Robert de Nobili: The first Jesuit to attempt inculturation of Hindus in Madurai.The very fact that Hindus are being primed to accept Dr. Clooney as some sort of authority on Vaishnavite Hinduism, even though he makes the all too obvious ploy of comparing Christian figures to Hindu figures (Mary and Devi for example) should have sent a signal to Mr. Malhotra that something is amiss. If his discussion at Harvard University with Dr. Clooney is any clue as to how Malhotra is to proceed in this situation of the uneven balance of power, then the agenda of Hindu-Christian Dialogue is already fated to fail to benefit Hindus.

Mr. Malhotra has announced his intentions in his article in Huffington Post that his goal is Hindu-Christian Dialogue. He has also demonstrated that he is unable/unwilling to “defeat” the adversary. He does not fully understand the scope and nature of the ancient Hindu method of Purva Paksha debate as practised by Hindu thinkers and religious figures, most notably Adi Shankara. Adi Shankara’s Digvijay tours in India were intended to defeat the adversary in argument, not appease him. What is required is a clear-cut move to expose the adversary’s arguments, not further cover their subterfuges by meanderings from the Hindu side (see the present writer’s critique of Malhotra in the articles listed below).

Prof. Francis Xavier Clooney, SJMr.  Malhotra’s adventure of ideas is perfectly valid in its own domain, but to uphold it as a model of interaction with a proselytising religious leader is not something to be welcomed. His discussions with Clooney can at best be part of scholarly debate (no matter that Malhotra is not a trained scholar, but is an autodidact). But it is not and cannot be a substitute (as it is being projected ) for the ongoing substantial work being done by the Sangh organisations and individual groups of Hindutvadins to uphold the Hindu cause, and which has been both subtly and openly been downgraded by advocates of Hindu-Christian Dialogue such as Rajiv Malhotra. And if it tries to take up too much oxygen in India, then Hindus must resolutely reject the Malhotra-Clooney project. The trail can easily be traced back to a 2004 article by Malhotra where he downgrades Hindu acharyas as being ignorant of the West, while he himself is acquainted with both east and west and is therefore the suitable vehicle for the Hindu cause. For every acharya who is remiss there are dozens who are faithfully carrying on their tradition. It is important to highlight this especially to young Hindus who are already getting distanced by Macaulayism and Liberalisation.

OmThe Sangh organisations and Hindutvadin groups work with the existing traditional acharyas, gurus, maths and the aam admi Hindu without setting themselves up as models of interaction with the proselytising religions. One cannot tinker with the age-old bulwarks of Hinduism. We do so at our at our own peril, and indeed that is the specific aim of the Catholic Church in India. The traditional acharyas are deeply knowledgeable in their own traditions of learning. They are not expected to have read Shakespeare and Milton or the sacred writings of non Indic religions. They will do what they have always done exceedingly well: uphold and disseminate their own religious texts and culture. To suggest that they change course simply because one diasporic Hindu and his all too eager companion-in-arms think they should, is unacceptable. To divert them from what they have done exceedingly well down the centuries, is an unconscionable act of distraction which will only serve the adversary.

History of Hindu-Christian Encounters: AD 304 to 1996 by Sita Ram GoelIt is naive for Hindus to think that Dr. Clooney will come with messages blazoned on his forehead advertising his proselytising agenda. Mr. Malhotra is entitled to his own adventure of ideas but to present it as an alternative to the ongoing work of the traditional acharyas and gurus, is if nothing else  but a mistaken zeal. Some would argue that it is a self-serving agenda. There is also a tendency amongst certain sections of Hindus (and that includes Malhotra) to think that no one else in Bharat is doing good work for the Hindu cause. Much of this work remains unknown because the establishment does not want to publicise it and because of the innate modesty and self-sacrificing nature of the Hindu workers themselves.

Dr. Clooney has his own reasons for reviving the old Inculturation method now presented as the new kid on the block: Hindu-Christian Dialogue.

Should Hindus follow suit?

Other articles by the same author

  1. Francis Xavier Clooney: Building the Trojan Horse 
  2. Purva Paksha and the Siren Song of Hindu-Christian dialogue 
  3. Rajiv Malhotra’s endorsement of Hindu-Christian dialogue  
More articles on Hindu-Christian dialogue and inculturation
  1. Interfaith Dialogue: Western Christian imperialism vs. the Non-Christian world – Sandhya Jain
  2. Inculturation & Interfaith Dialogue: The futility of it – Thamizhchelvan
  3. F/X Clooney, SJ: Poisoned wine in a new Tetra Pak – George Augustine
  4. Fr. Gabriele Amorth on Yoga: A Passport to Hell? – Virendra Parekh
  5. Hindu activism outside the Sangh – Koenraad Elst
  6. Interspirituality: Interfaith dialogue or dissembling monologue – Kenneth Rose
  7. Kanchi Acharya: No more conversions – Indian Express
  8. Ram Swarup, Hinduism, and Monotheistic Religions – David Frawley
  9. Hindu View of Christianity and Islam – Ram Swarup
  10. “Dancing Jesus” in the New Indian Bible – Swami Devananda Saraswati
  11. Kanchi Acharya confronts Vatican Cardinal at interfaith meeting – Radha Rajan 
  12. Interfaith Dialogue: The Vatican in sheep’s clothing – Radha Rajan
  13. Inculturation: Fooling the Hindu masses – Nithin Sridhar
  14. Catholic Ashrams: Sannyasins or Swindlers – Sita Ram Goel
  15. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters – Sita Ram Goel
  16. The Spirit of Satan at work in India – M.K. Gandhi

» Dr. Vijaya Rajiva is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university. Her academic training is in Philosophy, Political Science, Political Economy and History.