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.

6 Responses

  1. You are right Swamiji- “So long as the Catholic Church employs missionaries in Indian villages to undermine and destroy Hindu culture and society, there is no justifiable reason to meet and parley with a Vatican representative ” Just as no fruitful dialogue is possible with Pakistan till it stops sponsoring terrorism in India so also it is futile nay suicidal to hold a meaningful debate with the missionaries who use debate as a subterfuge to gain converts in the Hindu Bhumi that is India.

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  2. How good is Rajiv Malhotra in Tarka Shastra to debate with Clooney? Has he got his Sanskrit right? Is he a scholar in Sanskrit? Using lofty words like Purva Paksha by Rajiv Malhotra looks like a copy and paste affair. There was an excellent documentary by Iain Buchanan on the “Role of Evangelicals in US Imperialism” where Iain B has pointed the tactics and strategies. Rajaram has written about secular infiltration — which has been very well dealt by Iain Buchanan in his one hour video. This video was posted here some time back. It is still in google video. Just google in video section “Role of Evangelicals in US imperialism”, you will get the entire video. There is a 11 minute one also.

    See also “Evangelical Christianity: Devils in high places” by Yogesh Pawar (a review of Iain Buchanan’s book “The Armies of God”).

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  3. @ N.S.Rajaram,

    I reproduce your last para here:

    “At the ground level, the danger is coming from what I call secular infiltration — infiltration of secular institutions like the government, public sector works, civil service, judiciary and the like by christian sympathizers with Hindu-like names. Aggressive prosetylization is mainly from protestant evangelical groups, nearly all of them manned by Indian mercenaries. I know this from first hand experience and we are meeting them by appropriate methods using force and the police. You can’t engage them in a debate.”

    I liked and agree with your last line, “You can’t engage them in a debate.”

    This is the essence in your whole statement. I fully admire your opinion and we are all entitled to it. Though there can be a difference of opinion as well as the approach, depending upon our perception and the analysis of the events.

    I may or shall pick up the point, which I have stressed myself in my comment. Malhotra should realise that he is not authorised to do the job he is engaging in on behalf of the entire community.

    I also take your point, “How do we trust him with a Hindu name disguised for his personal vested interest. We have good examples in India, e.g. Late YSR in Andhra with a similar gesture but a diehard Christian loyalist of Sonia. His son has a Hindu name – Jagan Mohan Reddy – but is a crest fallen guy. Another similar but more dangerous name in Tamil Nadu – Ms Jayalalita who is a Hindu by both name and in her credentials but an utter anti-Hindu.

    If I agree that in India, the Hindus may not be so much aware of, though I do not agree with it but Mr Clooney will not engage with them, he knows it. In any case, in US there is a Hindu American Foundation which is doing a very good painstaking job and represents a strong Hindu voice, why did Clooney not select them? Reasons are obvious, hidden in your last line.

    With your due permission and my due respects to you as well as Mr Clooney, their such circumvent manners themselves cast doubts on their intention ab initio. I don’t know, the lasting utility of such a failed engagement only to divert the attention of the weaker Hindu side in the first place.

    As I said, if Mr Malhotra has his own individual perspectives in mind, then the matter is even more dangerous. I shall be the last man to accept whatever transpires between the two of them. I shall brush aside as their personal opinions. This is a duplicate technique, which we must point out to the genuine intention for a dialogue to all the Christian and Muslim leadership. Take the example of Kashmir! With whatever good or bad intentions, Nehru was tricked by the Husband-wife Mountbatten duo and the nation is paying the price for the sin they never commited. Then why did our Apostle of Peace invade Goa at last? Could any amount of dialogue with Pakistan settle the problem of Kashmir? Do you believe?

    There comes occasions in the life of us all where some hard unpalatable decisions have to be taken. Peace can not be negotiated between two unequal opponents. God bless

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  4. So long as the Catholic Church employs missionaries in Indian villages to undermine and destroy Hindu culture and society, there is no justifiable reason to meet and parley with a Vatican representative — and Fr. Clooney is a Vatican representative, no doubt about it. No military general in his right mind would engage the enemy in dialogue except that the enemy agree to a cease fire. The Catholic Church has not agreed to a cease fire and continues its denigration of Hindu Dharma and depredation of the Hindu countryside. By engaging Clooney while his Church continues its attack on Hindu society by a variety of means, Malhotra is acquiescing to Christian missionary activity in India.

    Whatever be Malhotra’s motivation — and it is very much in doubt — he is doing grave harm to the Hindu cause in India by his thoughtless and selfish insistence on publicly holding hands with the enemy when the enemy has conceded absolutely nothing to Malhotra or the Hindu community he pretends to represent.

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  5. I can claim to know both Rajiv Malhotra and Francis Clooney and I support the idea of engaging with Clooney and others like him in an informed and civilized manner. It is not proper to compare Clooney with Bishop Caldwell (not a Jesuit, but a British accomplice) or Robert de Nobili nearly 400 years ago.

    What we need today is sophisticated engagement so that the Christian side realizes that we know what we are talking about and will not swallow their sugar-coated versions of propaganda. This means studying them and debating them, not hiding from them. This was the attitude I learnt from Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel. Through them I got to know also the late Raimundo Panicker.

    We should rid ourselves of the fear of Christian thinkers. We should be able to more than hold our own. My view is that it is not enough if we are strong — our adversaries should know we are strong and can defend ourselves. Avoiding them will send the wrong message.

    As far as the Hindu religious leaders and the Hindutva group is concerned — my experience is they have not yet reached the point they can debate let alone defeat Christian theologians. So it would not be wise to depend on them. That at least has been my experience. They are yet to produce a Ram Swarup or Sita Ram Goel.

    At the ground level, the danger is coming from what I call secular infiltration — infiltration of secular institutions like the government, public sector works, civil service, judiciary and the like by christian sympathizers with Hindu-like names. Aggressive prosetylization is mainly from protestant evangelical groups, nearly all of them manned by Indian mercenaries. I know this from first hand experience and we are meeting them by appropriate methods using force and the police. You can’t engage them in a debate.

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  6. I agree with you and in fact, I wrote myself my comment and was recieved well. Not my problem, I say what I like to.

    I am amazed about this fellow in a way, that starting a dialogue on behalf of entire Hindu community in his singular capacity is a sign of his imbecility. I may have agreed if he would have joined hands with some active Hindu organisation in US and then start a dialogue.

    I wrote in Huffpost article, Malhotra reminds me of Ms Arundhati Roy, Deepak Chopra etc. If he is aiming to popularity for boosting sale of his books, that is another point. But he should not misuse the social Hindu card to promote his personal image. That is where I think he is acting myopically and self centredly.

    I think, a Jaychand title may be befitting for him. God bless

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