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Myth of Hindu Sameness

Rajiv Malhotra
This essay examines the often repeated claim by Hindus and non-Hindus
alike that Hinduism is the same as other religions. Some common factors
that cause many Hindus to slip into sameness are as follows: Hindus
arrogantly assume that other religions want to be the same as Hinduism,
and hence they feel that they are doing these other religions a favor.
Against this one may point out that the traditional Hindu teachings make
a clear distinction between valid and not valid religious claims, by
separating them as dharma and adharma, sat (truth) and asat (falsity),
devika and asuric, etc.
Myth of Hindu Sameness
Many Hindus misapply teachings about the Unmanifest when dealing with
the diversity of the manifest, and the unity of transcendence in dealing
with the diversity and conflict found in the worldly. Furthermore, they fail
to distinguish between shruti and smriti. The unity of all shruti is assumed
to mean that all smritis must be the same. In particular, Hindus fail to
understand the critical history-dependence of the Abrahamic religions and
the way their core myths and institutions are built around these frozen
smritis. Often what Hindus really mean is that all religions are equal in
the respect and rights they deserve, but they confuse this with sameness.
At the same time, there are strong arguments that religious differences
lead to tensions and violence. Many Hindus have internalized these
arguments, over simplifying the Hindu thought about there being one
truth and all paths leading to it.
To address these and other issues, this essay presents a new theoretical
framework for looking at religions and global religious violence. It classifies
religious movements as History-Centric and non History-Centric. The
former are contingent on canonical beliefs of their sacred history.
Non History-Centric religious movements, on the other hand, do have
beliefs about history, but their faith is not contingent on history.
The essay advances the thesis that non History-Centric faiths offer
the only viable spiritual alternative to the religious conflicts that are
inherent among History-Centric religions.

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In analyzing the predominantly non History-Centric Hinduism through
this framework, the essay looks at the two main Hindu responses in its
interface with the predominantly History-Centric religions of Christianity
and Islam. These are: (1) how Hinduism is trying to become History-
Centric, and (2) how Hinduism is self-destructing under the Myth of
Sameness, by offering itself as a library of shareware for “generic”
spirituality.

The essay cautions that Hinduism runs the risk of


becoming either (1) History-Centric itself, or (2) losing its identity and
becoming digested into Christianity via the Sameness Myth.
Scenario #1 leads to a three-way jihad among three History-
Centric religions – Christianity vs. Islam vs. Hinduism – in which
Hinduism cannot win. Scenario #2 leads to the dissolution of Hinduism
through a combination of hostile and friendly takeovers by Christianity,
which, in turn, worsens the two-way jihad between Christianity and Islam.

Therefore, both scenarios ultimately feed the clash of Christianity vs.


Islam, i.e. between conflicting History-Centric positions.

To construct an alternative framework, the essay debunks the Sameness


Myth, which reflects naïve Hindus’ wishful thinking about how other
religions ought to berather than how they actually are.
The essay calls for Hindu scholars to develop a rigorous approach to
purva-paksha (scholarly critiques of other traditions within the framework
of the Indian darshanas); to highlight the Hindu history of constructions
through its own smriti traditions; and to refute false presuppositions about
Hinduism that have spread into many academic disciplines.
The essay recommends the promotion of equality-with-difference as a
core Hindu principle, also referred to within this essay as difference-with-
respect. This entails asserting a positive Hindu identity that is
neither History-Centric nor dismissive of its distinctiveness.

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I: Introduction

There are two current trends in Hinduism that were born of a perceived
‘threat’ to Hinduism. These are as follows:
1. There is a movement to focus Hinduism in terms of God’s interventions
in Indian history, most commonly associated with Avatar Ram’s history
and the related geography. Such a version of Hinduism is History-
Centric. (See my earlier writings.) The term is also explained later in this
essay.

2. The second trajectory is less formal and less institutionalized, but is far
more pervasive and subversive. This is to unbundle (or break up)
Hinduism into a set of separate generic ideas, practices, symbols, etc., that
any religion or non religious worldview may appropriate in a modular
fashion, assimilating what fits and rejecting (and demonizing) what does
not. I call this the Sameness Myth because it is the result of the false
premise that Hinduism is the same as any other religion, thereby making
its parts individually available for appropriation.
Both these trends feed and are fed by a ‘threatened Hinduism’, i.e., the
sense that Hinduism is facing pressures from within and without.
However, this essay does not examine such threats or pressures. (I have
other essays on geopolitics and Hinduism.)
History-Centrism (#1) provides any religion with an identity fortress, which
is both defensive and useful for an offensive. It also tends to
collapse internal differences and encourage homogeneity. I shall argue
against the merits of this kind of essentializing of Hinduism, and will
suggest alternative ways of bringing cohesion and identity that preserve
difference.

After a brief overview of History-Centrism, the main purpose of this essay


will be to explain the problems that Hinduism is facing because of #2, i.e.,
the false myth that it is the same as other religions. I shall show that
the Sameness Myth suffers from at least three problems:
– Sameness with all other religions is incompatible with authentic
Hindu dharma.

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– Sameness is making Hinduism irrelevant and redundant. It is sliding
Hinduism towards extinction by dilution and assimilation, in the same
manner as Christianity’s inculturation strategy made many pagan religions
extinct. It positions Hinduism as a takeover target by History-
Centric predators, with a friendly takeover of some components and a
hostile takeover and/or outright cultural genocide of other components
– In the aftermath of such takeovers the predators become stronger and
the world less safe. Hence, sameness can at best be a short-term
alternative and antidote to History-Centrism but it leads to unstable states
of power that eventually feed more History-Centrism.

The opposite of sameness is difference. Many scholars have considered


‘difference’ to be the source of tensions and violence. Hence, they promote
the sameness myth. However, this is a European view based on their
experience with Abrahamic religions that are History-Centric. This view
does not apply to non-European cultures such as the Indic traditions that
have a worldview of difference-with-respect.

Difference-with-respect is an attitude that is practically unachievable


through History-Centric religions, except in the form of artificial political
correctness commonly referred to as ‘tolerance’.

My thesis of difference-with-respect is at odds with both #1 and #2 poles


above. Furthermore, each pole’s frenzy feeds the other:
– Moderate Hindus recoiling against religious violence have tended to
gravitate towards sameness in order to dilute their distinct identities, and
hence absolve themselves of ‘Hindu shame’.
– Conversely, many Hindus who are concerned about the way
the Sameness Myth deconstructs (and eventually destructs) their faiths
have jumped on the History-Centrism bandwagon for identity protection,
in the form of Hindutva.

The following factors have contributed to the Sameness Myth:


– U-Turns and American Perennialism: Historically, sameness emerged
out of 19th century neo-Hindu leaders’ constructions of Hinduism that
often mapped Indic categories on to Western ones [1]. For instance, Swami

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Vivekananda successfully popularized Hinduism in 19th century America.
But later, many of his important Western disciples and sympathizers
genericized Hinduism. Several of them eventually did U-Turns back into
Western identity and Western thought. Perennialism and the New Age
movement were by-products of such movements.[2]. Meanwhile, the
mainstream History-Centric Christianity did not dissolve itself or melt
itself into sameness, but, on the contrary, it strengthened its positioning
by appropriating from Hinduism.

– Opportunistic Hindu gurus: The Sameness Myth took a quantum leap in


the 1960s when many Hindu gurus arrived in America. They attracted
huge followings and piled up vast donations by playing the sameness game
to appeal to the pop culture at the expense of authenticity. They lowered
the bar for Westerners to enter into pop Hinduism, but this also lowered
the bar to their exit once the fad had died and once enough components
from Hinduism had been successfully appropriated into Western systems.
(See details.[3])

– Postmodernist intellectualism: Postmodernism is the academic


equivalent of pop Vedanta as an intellectual framework to deconstruct
identity. (While Vedanta deconstructs the individual ego, postmodernism
mainly deconstructs the collective cultural identity.) It has intellectually
disaggregated Hinduism into a library of random clip art that may be
clicked-and-dragged into any belief system under the control and
discretion of the new owner. (For instance, postmodernist frameworks
allow scholars such as Courtright to misinterpret Hindu symbols
arbitrarily, and to sell their works successfully at the highest levels of the
academy.)

– Politics of South Asianism: It is a glaring contradiction that the very


scholars who attack Indian identity (where Hinduism is the core value
system) as being ‘chauvinistic’, are the same scholars that,
simultaneously, promote (i) the divisive sub-national/separatist identities
of Dalits, Dravidians and minority religions, and (ii) the South Asian
identity that pressures India externally. Furthermore, these scholars
suffer from various conflicts of interest as their careers are in institutions
of education and funding where Western identity and chauvinism rule.

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Meanwhile, Western supremacy remains unaffected by the fringe activities
of its liberal scholars. Besides USA and European states, Russia, China,
Japan and Arab states remain highly nationalistic. Therefore, as Ziauddin
Sardar and others have pointed out, the criticism of nation-states and
related identities has indirectly served to empower the very imperialism,
which the intellectuals attack. Many trendy postmodernist theories are
being exported to colonize third world intellectuals who use them to
impress white liberals. Unfortunately, many Indian intellectuals have
facilitated ‘softening the prey’ on behalf of the predator empires – in effect
serving as sepoys [4].

– Popular Hinduphobia: Hinduphobia is systematically institutionalized


through education systems, media portrayals and popular English
literature, thereby pushing many Hindus into sameness as a safe harbor
and a place of refuge. Modern Westernized Hindus are being pulled
towards sameness as a way to appear less old fashioned. ‘Secular Hindus’
have made it cool to say things like, “Hindus believe in everything,” “All
religions are the same,” etc. This is done either out of confusion or simply
to project a public identity safely. The greater the Hinduphobia
experienced in an environment the greater is the pressure towards
sameness as a way to offload the liability of being associated with
demonized Hindu symbolism.

The rest of this essay consists of the following three Sections: Section
II defines History-Centrism, and explains its centrality in institutionalized
Abrahamic religions and also explains why Hinduism has not depended
upon History-Centrism. Section III refutes the Myth of Hindu Sameness,
and explains the problems it causes. Section IV proposes a Constructive
Hinduism project as the way forward in the 21st century, with the objective
to build a positive Hinduism while avoiding the two competing pitfalls
of History-Centrism and the Sameness Myth. (I am dissatisfied with the
term ‘Constructive Hinduism’ for a variety of reasons and this is a tentative
term only. See details[5].

It is my claim that non History-Centric faiths offer the only spiritual


alternative available to the Darwinian clash among History-

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Centric religions, i.e., the clash between one religion’s jihad and another
religion’s jihad.
Therefore, if the projects of the kind outlined in Section IV fail, one of the
following two scenarios shall prevail: (i) Either Hinduism shall be forced to
become History-Centric and this will result in a three-way clash of History-
Centric religions: Islam vs. Christianity vs. Hinduism, which Hinduism
cannot ultimately win. (ii) Or Hinduism shall get digested into Christianity
via the Sameness Myth, in which case the two-way clash between History-
Centric Christianity and History- Centric Islam shall worsen.

II: History-Centrism
Anecdotal background:

The critical difference between Indic and Abrahamic religions crystallized


in my mind a few years ago, when I was giving an informal talk on
Hinduism to a room full of attorneys in New Jersey, none of whom knew
much about Hinduism.
I started by asking this intellectually sharp audience a set of questions
which went roughly as follows: What would happen to your religious
lives if, hypothetically, all history were voided or made inaccessible
to you or somehow falsified beyond hope? In other words, imagine
that due to some strange reasons, the details of which are irrelevant,
you have to live your lives without having any knowledge passed down
from God through any historical events whatsoever. What would you
do? Would it be possible for you to lead religious lives, and if so, by
what authority would you do so? In other words, can you discover the
spiritual truth for yourselves without dependence on historical
sources, or would you be lost if such historical sources were simply
unavailable or unreliable?

To my surprise, these very highly educated Jews and Christians were


stumped. Many felt that it would be impossible to be religious under such
circumstances because man lacks the ability to know God’s will directly
without the historical prophets. Others felt that only Jesus’ very specific
personal sacrifice (a historical event) had made it possible for man to get
redeemed, as man had no inherent capability to achieve salvation on his

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own. Some found the very discussion troubling and became disturbed by
my thought experiment with a loss of history.
I then explained to my audience that as a Hindu, my spiritual
advancement through yoga was independent of the history of Patanjali
who wrote the Yoga-Sutras and of any knowledge about his life history.
Furthermore, the effectiveness of the Vedic mantras was independent of
the personal history of the Vedic rishis, and the Vedas were considered a-
purusheya (authorless); the practices of Tantra were not contingent upon
belief in the history of anyone; the effect of bhajans (devotional songs) was
not based on any belief in the history of the bhakti saints or the histories
of any deities. Finally, I explained that deities were not historical persons
but were ahistorical forces and intelligences just like the gravitation force;
also, that many Hindus had personified these forces through the poetic
language of their praises, as they acknowledged their inter-dependency in
Nature.

Therefore, if all the history of my religion were falsified, it would not make
any difference to the effectiveness of my spiritual practice. Every human
being comes endowed with what I call the rishi/yogi potential. There have
been innumerable realized saints over time and across world cultures that
rediscovered the highest knowledge. History was only ‘nice to have’, but
not a ‘must have’.

The audience was rather shaken up but also highly impressed by such a
stance. Could I have uncovered a serious blind spot, or at least subliminal
assumption, among Biblical societies about the necessary role of history
in religion?
My audience’s reactions reminded me of the withdrawal symptoms of
addicts who are deprived of their substance dependence. I wondered: Had
my thought experiment deprived them of their history dependence and
triggered a sort of withdrawal syndrome? Why was their religiosity so
contingent upon and hence dependent upon specific historical episodes?
Are institutionalized Abrahamic religions in bondage to history? Over
several days, my thesis of History-Centrism emerged.

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This thesis got a further boost when I participated in a major world
conference on science and religion in Bangalore. The Templeton
Foundation had flown in scientific luminaries committed to various
Abrahamic religions, including Nobel Laureates, to discuss how scientific
their respective religions were. But these speakers largely used neo-
Vedantin thought (without ever acknowledging any Indic influences
whatsoever) as belonging to their own religion, no matter how much they
had to stretch their canons to make their case. One was left thinking that
all religions were scientific, and that they were virtually identical.
But I knew very well that the very same religions also have major conflicts
in the real world. It occurred to me that these scholars had suppressed in
their talks theHistory-Centric dimension of their religions, and it was this
dimension, which made each religion distinct and also caused conflicts
with others. My question became: Why do Abrahamic religions evade
discussing their History-Centrism in scientific discussions, while this is at
the very heart of their evangelical campaigns to claim uniqueness?
Overnight, I revised my talk that was scheduled for the following day. I
highlighted that History-Centrism could not be slipped under the rug
because (i) it was in violation of the scientific method, and (ii) it was the
principle cause of world conflicts.

For taking this stance, I was attacked on the stage by a prominent Indian
Christian scholar, who was working for Templeton. The conference was
suddenly shaken out of the pretence that ‘all religions are all the same’.
Privately, many Indian attendees congratulated me for opening this door.
I felt convinced that I was on to something big in the field of comparative
religions. My talk is published in the conference proceedings.
Defining History-Centrism:

Most religions and (even non-religious philosophical systems) agree on


some sort of upper limit of knowledge of humans in their ordinary state of
mind. However, they disagree on man’s potential to transcend this limit.
Hindus and Buddhists regard maya as being responsible for this limit to
infinite knowledge, but believe that adept yogis and others can achieve
states of self-realization or enlightenment in which ultimate truth is
directly experienced.

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Abrahamic religions believe that there is an infinite gap of knowledge
between God and man, a sort of maya equivalent. But the vast majority of
denominations believe that man can have access to the ultimate
truth only when God sends a prophet with a message, and that man can
never replace the role of the historical prophets. Without history, therefore,
man is inherently lost in darkness.

The Indic approach leads to the experimentation and cultivation of human


initiated self-realization processes, of which yoga/meditation are
prominent examples. The Abrahamic approach leads to intensive studies
of historical prophets’ messages, because this knowledge can never be
known by any other means.
The spiritual traditions based on self-realization hold that humans are
born with infinite potential and their essence is divinity (sat-chit-ananda).
Hence, if all historical records and knowledge were to vanish or become
corrupted or inaccessible to humans for whatever reason, new self-realized
living masters would be able to teach us the highest truths based on their
own fresh enlightenment. Even though these masters are very rare, they
have existed throughout history in many cultures. The result is that (i)
knowledge of history is not necessary to be a religious person, and (ii) no
culture has a monopoly on religious truth, although different cultures may
have used or misused this knowledge in different ways.

The Abrahamic religions (according to the interpretations of most


institutions) deny the existence of any such infinite human potential that,
in effect, could make every human a potential prophet. They say, only God
sends a few prophets with the message containing such critical spiritual
knowledge. To abandon the history through which this prophetic
knowledge has been passed down, or to lose the exact account of these
historically transmitted canons would be catastrophic.
The latter approach to religion is defined as History-Centrism.
Every major religion has both strains — History-Centrism from God
initiated prophets, and also ahistorical human initiated self-realization.
But in a given religion, one or the other tends to dominate and this
characterizes religion and its society in profound ways.

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For the Abrahamic religions, the history of religion is crucial; for
Hinduism, the making of religious history via self-realization, etc., is what
is important. This point is elaborated later[6].

What History-Centrism does not mean:

Historicity is not the same thing as History-Centrism, and this point


deserves to be elaborated.

Newton had a personal history but his specific life events were not
necessary for the gravitation laws to be in effect today. However, Jesus’
personal life events are responsible for God granting man the ability to get
saved from Eternal Damnation. Hence, there is a radical difference
between these two examples of historicity. The first example does not make
physics History-Centric, since gravitation would not get falsified if one
falsified Newton’s personal historical details or even proved that he never
existed as a historical person.

Gautam Buddha emphasized that his enlightenment was merely a


discovery about a reality that had always been there. He was not bringing
any new covenants from any God. The history of the Buddha is not
necessary for Buddhist principles to work. In fact, Buddha stated that he
was neither the first nor the last person to have achieved the state of
enlightenment. He also asserted that he was not God nor sent by any God
as a prophet, and whatever he discovered was available to every human to
discover for himself. This makes Buddhism not History-Centric.

A prominent theoretical physicist made the counter argument to me that


the Big Bang was a unique event that physicists believe in, thereby making
physics also History-Centric. However, this argument is flawed: Physicists
believe in the Big Bang Theory not as a premise of physics (in the same
sense as Christians believe in Jesus’ historicity as the premise of
Salvation). Rather, the Big Gang Theory is a conclusion that is scientifically
derived based on physical laws and empirical evidence that is verifiable
today. Hence, the Big Bang Theory does not make physics History-
Centric: it is a result of physical theory and not a pre-requisite belief or

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cause of it. Those who regard it as evidence of History-Centrism are mixing
causes and effects.

The following significantly characterize History-Centric religions:

1. God himself intervenes in History, and it is not merely the mundane


history of humans such as Newton, philosophers, yogis, kings/queens,
and other humans.
2. God’s historical intervention in human affairs is unique — i.e. non-
reproducible — and hence there cannot ever be a substitute to knowing
the history. (On the other hand, if Newton never existed or if we dismissed
his historical details, we could today derive the gravitation laws empirically
from scratch.)
3. God’s historical intervention resulted in new Laws and Covenants, and
the events were not merely a discovery of pre-existing reality.
4. The past must be falsified, eradicated, subjugated or reconstructed to
fit the new truth created by such historical events. Hence, the socio-
cultural change brought about by the unique historical event
is discontinuous. It does not simply add new knowledge to old, but must
erase the old for it to be legitimate. It is God vs. God, as he alters and
contradicts his own past laws and messages.
5. Because this history is about God, it is not falsifiable. History-
Centric religions tend to have draconian laws on blasphemy.

Is Christianity History-Centric? [7]

The core Historical Grand Narrative of Christianity that is the minimum


necessary belief required by the vast majority of denominations consists
of the following:
– Adam and Eve committed Original Sin and violated God’s orders. This
single act brought upon all humans thereafter the condition known as
Eternal Damnation. This is the condition into which every one of us is
born. It has nothing to do with our individual deeds but is directly the
result of the misdeed of Adam and Eve.

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– God then felt sorry for us and sent his one and only son, Jesus, to suffer
crucifixion on our behalf, so that we may get Redemption from Eternal
Damnation. This is called being Saved, and requires that the individual
must believe without question or doubt the History-Centric narrative
about Jesus. It is not sufficient to live a good life, to do good deeds, to pray
to God, etc. Belief in Jesus’ historical sacrifice is necessary to get Saved.
– Evangelists are those who are committed to spread this History-
Centric narrative to others around the world. (Presently, 40% to over 50%
of all Americans classify themselves as Evangelicals, and this group has
been rapidly growing over the past 25 years.)

Different Christian denominations also believe in other


supplemental History-Centric and/or Predetermined-Future-
Centric narratives in addition to the core beliefs listed above. These
constitute beliefs that are non-negotiable in order for someone to be a
member of the given denomination. Examples of prominent beliefs of this
kind are as follows:
– The End-of-Time is coming, which is a precisely defined and
predetermined event: Christ will return to Earth and will take back to
Paradise all those who have Saved themselves as per the procedure
indicated above. All others will suffer the most unimaginable atrocities
from Christ, which are described in gory details in Biblical canons such
as Apocalypse.
– Christian Zionists are those who believe that Christ will return only after
man fulfills his side of the bargain in the Bible, which is that man must
restore the Nation of Israel to its original state. (The borders of this original
Israel include many lands now under the Arabs.) Many of the most
powerful political leaders of the US believe in this doctrine.

On the other hand, non History-Centric Christianity has been taught by


many Christian mystics using Indic adhyatmika techniques. But these
mystics were typically persecuted by the mainstream Christian
institutions, because they were seen as a threat to authority.

Generic ideals of loving others, doing seva or service to others, living moral
lives, and being socially responsible are non History-Centric elements
contained in Jesus’ teachings. But contrary to many educated Indians’

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naivety, such ideals do not define Christianity, because such generic
spirituality is also found in every world religion, and there would be no
reason to convert people away from their native faiths into Christianity
simply for these reasons. The differences between religions are to be
appreciated by examining their theological premises and not by
superficially looking at the ethical mandates.

Liberal Christians belong to certain denominations such as Unitarianism.


Unfortunately, these denominations add up to much less than 10% of the
US population. While the public diplomacy by Christians often emphasizes
this face, it is not what is preached and aggressively promoted to ‘Save the
Heathens’ in the third world. Indians have to deal with the aggressive
proselytizing denominations, which are exported to them. Hence, Indians
must understand History-Centric Christianity, and not base their purva-
paksha on the views held by relatively few fringe liberal Christians, such
as many liberal arts college professors. (See www.adherents.com for
statistics.)

Evangelical Christians have reacted to my thesis by confirming that their


faith is founded on literal historical events, which I have termed History-
Centrism, even though there is a mixed reaction to my use of this term. At
the other end of the spectrum, liberal Christian academicians claim that
this is not the ‘real’ Christianity: they find the hard facts about the growing
institutional Christianity to be an embarrassment to their elitism.

Is Islam History-Centric? [8]

The minimum necessary condition to be called a Muslim is the History-


Centric belief without question or doubt that the Koran is the exact and
literal word of Allah who is the only God. This belief is not simply desirable,
but is absolutely necessary in order to be a Muslim.

Furthermore, another required core belief is the status of the Kaaba, which
is located in Mecca: It is a unique artifact that was historically placed in
that specific spot by Allah. No replica of it is allowed. Muslims must point
only to the Kaaba to pray five times daily.

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If, hypothetically, the Kaaba was not History-Centric and hence unique,
Muslims could build Kaabas in every mosque in the world and pray
pointing locally towards those, and not towards Saudi Arabia. But this
would devastate the Saudi royals’ political capital over all Muslims,
because the Saudis control the Kaaba.

Furthermore, if replicas of the Kaaba could be installed in Muslims’ homes,


they would be able to pray at home just as Hindus pray to a deity. This
would decentralize the Muslim sacred geography, thereby decoupling
Indian Muslims from Arabs, for example. It is the non-reproducibility of
the Kaaba that differentiates it from being an idol, and hence the political
emphasis to consider idolatry as blasphemous and punishable by death.
Sufi teachings, on the other hand, are very compatible with Indic traditions
and also with the mystics of the Abrahamic faiths. But Sufis have been
cruelly persecuted by Islam throughout their history. Furthermore, Islam’s
ideals and practices of egalitarianism and social justice are non History-
Centric and are generic, but are not considered sufficient to be classified
as a Muslim.

History-Centric Clash of Islam vs. Christianity:

To properly understand current geopolitics, the framework of History-


Centrism is very helpful.

Muslim and Christian leaders both claim many similarities between their
respective faiths: They worship one God, who is male, and both sides
accept that he is thesame God. They accept the long lineage of prophets of
the Middle East desert, starting with Abraham. Most of all, in terms of
moral values, both believe in universal love, brotherhood, prayer,
compassion, avoidance of sinful living, and so on…

Then why is there so much conflict? I propose that intellectuals have


simply failed to understand the deeply rooted History-Centric conflicts.
Here are two examples ofirreconcilable accounts of history, one issue from
either side:

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– Islam refutes Christianity: Muslims definitely accept Jesus as a prophet
of great importance and respect him as such. But Muslims simply cannot
accept the Christian claims that Jesus (i) was the Son of God, (ii) had
a Virgin Birth, or (iii) was Resurrected. These Christian claims would make
Islam irrelevant and contradict Islam’s essential historical purpose. If
Jesus made the supreme sacrifice by which humans may get redeemed,
then why is there any need for Prophet Mohammed or the Koran? For Islam
to be valid, the problem concerning the human condition remained
unresolved despite Jesus’ coming to Earth. Therefore, the three Christian
claims about Jesus previously outlined must be false. The vast majority of
Muslim clergy teach that he was a great prophet, as were many dozens of
other Abrahamic prophets, but he was no Son of God, nor had a Virgin
Birth and, most of all, he was not Resurrected after being crucified. Yet,
these three claims of Christianity are necessary to the legitimacy of
Christianity and are non-negotiable. Bottom line: Christianity’s History-
Centrism cannot be accommodated within Islam’s History-Centrism.

– Christianity refutes Islam: Islam’s claim that the Koran is the exact
words of God, and hence is perfect and final, is simply unsustainable in
Christianity. For if this were valid, it would make Christianity obsolete and
superseded by Islam. Why would one need an older version of God’s word
if he has sent a new version specifically to replace the older one, as is
claimed by Islam? Christian theologians do not accept Koran as the perfect
record of the final word of God. Furthermore, Islam also demands (without
room for negotiations or ambiguity whatsoever) that the Kaaba (located in
Mecca) is absolutely unique, cannot be replicated, and is the only direction
in which prayer must be offered five times daily. Clearly, this would
undermine Christian institutions’ authority to collect donations, interpret
the canons, provide the ‘true history’, etc. Bottom line: History-
Centric claims that are necessary conditions to be a Muslim are simply
impossible for Christianity to accept.

There are many other inherent conflicts besides these, but the above two
suffice to make my case. Any History-Centric system must falsify all others
in order for it to be valid. Both Islam and Christianity, in their History-
Centric forms – which have been the dominant forms of both through most
of their respective histories – are inherently conflict-ridden.

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Therefore, almost all the interfaith dialogs are mainly about public
relations and diplomacy. Each of these religions uses the term ‘tolerance’
to describe its policy towards other religions. Rather than accepting this
term as a sign of their greatness, one must probe the underlying problems.
To tolerate means that the other is illegitimate but we shall put up with
him. Would you go to someone’s house to dinner if his invitation says, “I
shall tolerate you to sit next to me?” We must demand respect, not
tolerance. But Muslim and Christian leaders often have great difficulty
about openly and formally giving respect to other religions, especially non
Abrahamic religions, since this would legitimize these other religions. And,
the History-Centrism of Christianity and Islam forbids them
from legitimizing any other religions. Respecting other religions would de-
legitimize the proselytizing campaigns that are the life-blood of many
institutions.
History-Centrism is the best framework I am aware of to understand the
origin of religious bondage and the sustenance of religious conflicts.

Is Hinduism History-Centric?

There are many non History-Centric Hindu paths, such as the following:
– Shruti and Vedic mantras are a-purusheya or authorless. The Vedas do
not claim to be sent by a Creator or to be about historical creation, but
describe reality as rta which means patterns. Neither rta nor
the mantras are in any way contingent upon history. In fact, very little is
known about the history of the rishis, as this is considered unimportant
except to Indologists who are disputing the political ramifications of the
origins of Hinduism.

– Upanishads are the source texts for much of Hindu philosophy, and
history has no relevance in them.

– The validity of the Yoga-Sutras of Patanjali or Samkhya of Kapila is not


contingent on the historicity of Patanjali or Kapila, respectively. In fact,
very little is known about these historical persons and nor have Indian
yogis of the past been bothered by this issue.

17
– Bhagavad Gita, the most widely read Hindu text, preaches dharma that
is not contingent on the historicity of the Mahabharata epic.
– Tantra consists of spiritual-physiological processes whose efficacy has
no relationship with any history of anyone whatsoever.

On the other hand, the following aspects of Hinduism introduce History-


Centrism. But overall, the historicity in them is positioned as being
optional, and not absolutely necessary for the path to succeed:

 Puranas are narratives that are popularly used metaphors to teach


morals, ethics, and cultural identities. While these are seen by many
Hindus as historically literal, the believers do not consider their
messages to be invalidated when someone treats them as ahistorical
and purely metaphorical. On the contrary, when aHistory-
Centric follower of the Puranas is offered the position that Rama is
ahistorical and his domicile of Ayodhya is inside everyone’s heart, most
individuals respect the view as being spiritually advanced.
 Deities like Ganesha, various Goddess forms, etc., are not historical
persons, although Hindus commonly personify them and relate to them
as highly accessible persons.
 Living Gurus are continually bringing renewals in an endless flow,
making any specific guru only of relative importance, and not of
absolute status. Each guru re-contextualizes the spirituality for the
appropriate cultural audience, and these messages are not considered
to be History-Centric despite the veneration of the historical guru.
Hinduism mandates its leaders to interpret for changing geography,
time, and extenuating or particular circumstance.

The relative absence of History-Centrism or its weak status has enabled a


vast array of conceptions of the Supreme Reality to emerge, including the
following:
 Nirguna: The Supreme Reality may be formless and beyond all human
conceptions. This resembles Islamic notions of Allah.

18
 Saguna: The Supreme may be personified and the individual may have
a personal relationship with the Supreme. While many Hindu paths use
humanized forms, others avoid forms.
 The Supreme may be conceptualized as feminine. Furthermore, this
feminine may be represented in a vast variety of different forms that
represent different aspects of the Goddess. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’
way to represent just as one finds in the arts. None of the
representations are considered to be the literal image.
 The Supreme may be conceptualized as masculine. Furthermore, this
may be in a variety of Vishnu forms. Or it may be as Shiva with an
entirely different conception and epistemology.

History-Centrism vs. Living Spiritual Masters:

History-Centrism also corresponds to Geography-Centrism, which means


the uniqueness of the geography where the history allegedly occurred.
Furthermore, the geography privileges the specific culture of the place
where these events occurred, and the inhabitants of these cultures tend
to build institutions to control the history, geography and cultural norms
as assets to preserve and to project their power. The politics of such a
religion comes under the control of the institutions that emerge and win.
Living spiritual masters act as a counter balancing force to defuse
institutional power. Therefore, History-Centric religions have considered
living saints to be a threat. Such saints have the credibility to overrule
institutional authority in matters of interpretation and practice, to de-
legitimize the institution itself, and to take away its followers.
A religion with a continual supply of living enlightened masters has: (i)
regular challenges to any established institutions of power and doctrine,
(ii) fresh shruti (first principles) for the current time, place and context,
and (iii) geographical (hence cultural) decentralization of the spiritual
movements because spiritual masters emerge in unpredictable places and
situations.
Therefore, History-Centric institutions only allow dead saints. For
example, in the Catholic Church, to be canonized as a saint the person
must have been dead for a certain number of years, thereby eliminating

19
any threat from that person. The dead person becomes the property of the
church, which controls the history and interpretations of the canonized
saint’s teachings, free from any of the risks associated with living saints.
As a result of the prominence given to living spiritual masters, non History-
Centric religions evolve towards lineages of adhyatmika (inner science)
practices. One may think of this kind of spirituality as embodied
knowing as contrasted with discursive knowledge, which is a set of
intellectual propositions, of which History-Centrismis one kind. Canons
tend to be less powerful in traditions built on embodied knowing because
of the emphasis given to living masters and their direct transmissions.
Centurion Archetype vs. Yogi Archetype: [9]

The two pivotal events that profoundly shaped the trajectories for Eastern
and Western civilizations were the spiritual encounters of emperors
Ashoka and Constantine, respectively. Indian Emperor
Ashoka surrendered his entire military (centurion archetype) and became
a Buddhist (yogi archetype). But the opposite took place in the case of
Roman Emperor Constantine (centurion archetype) who captured and
seized control over Jesus (yogi archetype) for his imperialist expansion.
In the former case, the yogi archetype prevailed over the centurion
archetype, whereas in the latter case the centurion archetype prevailed
over the yogi archetype. These two events characterize the dominant
strains in Indic and Abrahamic religions, respectively. While both
archetypes have existed worldwide, different ones have dominated in
different traditions.

The centurion archetype is violence prone and extroverted. It is constantly


uneasy with itself and, hence, with its environment. The peaceful
introverted archetype of the yogi is embodied (adhyatmika) and at ease
with itself and others.
The centurion archetype thrives on History-Centrism, heroism and control.
Its priorities are worldly expansion and accumulation.

The yogi archetype seeks to ultimately transcend nama-rupa (constructs


based on limitations). Its priorities are adhyatmika, purifying
its gunas from tamas to rajas tosattva, advancing from lower to

20
higher chakras, and evolving from the psychic body to the supra-mental
body.

The centurion’s belief system is founded entirely on God’s historical


interventions, proven by the prophets’ miracles as reported in anecdotal
accounts. The centurion controls this ‘one true account of history’ as his
asset and source of personal identity. This account legitimizes his power,
whether as the Catholic Pope or as an Evangelical Protestant Church. This
canon combines both shruti and smriti into a frozen book. The yogi, on the
other hand, is ever expanding his consciousness to discover more, has a
massive library of texts that separate shruti and smriti, which is built
cumulatively without purging the old.

Frozen canon and History-Centrism turn religion into a Darwinian game in


which many strategies get deployed to expand, takeover, monopolize and
plunder – all in God’s name.
On the other hand, the creativity of new living spiritual masters is like an
R & D lab using an open architecture that encourages fresh startups, and
this threatens the orthodoxy in each era.
History-Centric religions advance very rarely, as it takes God’s intervention
using miracles as the proof of authenticity, and these advances are violent
and kill the past identity, culture and history. On the other hand, open
and free adhyatmika explorations are cumulative and do not impose on
prior or competing worldviews. Such traditions are not boxed in the way
that History-Centric religions invariably are.

The History-Centric approach demands conformity because it is


membership oriented: You are either in or out, either one of ‘us’ or ‘them’,
and this subliminally equates to ‘we = good’ versus ‘others = evil’.
Monotheism is more accurately described as My-Theism.
Buddhism has been called the export variety of Hinduism. Its peaceful
spread from India across Asia for over a thousand years was achieved
without any subversion of the various host cultures or languages or
identities into which it was received. This stands in sharp contrast with
the violent imperialism with which both Christianity and Islam have
achieved their expansions.

21
Finally, postmodernists must undertake a serious study of Indic thought
free from contemporary politics of the left and right, and from Eurocentric
mis-portrayals of the past. They need to appreciate the Indic traditions’
resources for deconstruction; that it seeks a positive state that is free from
conflict rather than the nihilism and cynicism that often results from
postmodern deconstructions.

III: Myth of Hindu Sameness

To evaluate the popular notion that Hinduism is the same as Christianity,


let us consider some specific issues.

Shruti and Smriti:


One of the foundations of Indian thought is the separation
between shruti and smriti as two different kinds of knowledge.
Shruti is authorless. It is heard as direct inner experience without any
intermediary, not unfiltered through one’s own conditioned mind. It is
available only in high states of consciousness achieved by rishis and
advanced yogis.
Smriti is constructed by persons in a historical, cultural context, and is
conditioned by its authors. Hence, it must change with time and context.
Shruti is eternal truth, while smriti is meant to be changed and is to be
applied like case law with great care taken for each context to determine
its applicability and the required adaptation.

Shruti is the rishi’s/yogi’s present moment embodied experience of the


ultimate reality. Smriti is disembodied knowledge that is objectified and
discursive. Shruti is kept alive by living enlightened spiritual masters.

The Bible and Koran combine shruti and smriti into


one. Furthermore, smriti prevails over shruti in these canons: Shruti was
collapsed into smriti. All Shruti has been reduced to Smriti – unchangeable
text rather than present realization. History became the supreme smriti of
the institution as that enabled it to collect taxes, impose its police
authority and to expand via imperialism. Shruti was sacrificed in the
process. Therefore, the finality of canon forces a freezing and imposition of
22
old smritisthat were meant only for a given historical context. The key
factor is that they regard History-Centric events as though they
were shruti. This drags into the already frozen canons, many incidental
historical details about the way Prophet Mohammed or Jesus or their
respective followers lived.

Hinduism’s and Buddhism’s itihas (history) are viewed as smriti, and not
as shruti. This separation allows changes in smriti as per human society’s
needs. But unfortunately, most of the condemnations of Hinduism
cite smriti as though it were shruti. These critics mimic the colonial agenda
to demonize native traditions and native identity. They use educational
institutions and media to manufacture and/or distribute false
interpretations. Hindu submission and acceptance leads to Hindus
internalizing these falsities, and they often becoming pathological self-
haters.

One may classify cultures as shruti centric or smriti centric.


The yogi is shruti centric and seeks to ultimately transcend Nama-Rupa.
Shruti refreshed by living spiritual masters prevents the fossilization of
old smriti. But institutionalized religions drift away from
yoga. Jihad (Islamic, Christian or Hindu), is a product of smritithat has
taken over shruti.

People have asked me what is wrong with U-Turns. My simple response is


that the appropriated shruti gets collapsed into History-Centric smriti.
Postmodernists rightfully deconstruct smriti, but they suffer in two ways:
(1) They lack the yoga to be able to receive shruti and are stuck in
disembodied intellectualism. (2) They de facto tend to use
Western smriti, because their education, mentoring and career
advancement are embedded in Western smriti.
Karma:
The Biblical historical narrative is the essence of mainstream Christian
denominations. When examined through the Indic lens, the core historical
narrative of the Bible is incompatible with karma theory:
 Karma is not transmitted via biological reproduction: Adam and Eve
committed Original Sin when they violated God’s commands. As a result

23
of their act, God cursed the entirety of mankind forever, i.e., Adam and
Eve’s children, grand children, and so forth, ad infinitum, were forever
condemned by God. This is known as Eternal Damnation. However,
the karma of Adam and Eve cannot be transmitted to
their biological offspring, and Adam and Eve must pay for their karma
in their own rebirths. A given person carries his/her own
personal karma into his/her own next life, and one’s karma does not get
transmitted to one’s biological children. I do not suffer from the karma of
my parents and nor do my kids suffer from my karma. I brought my past
life’s karma into this world and will take this life’s karma into my next
birth. Rebirth is not in the form of one’s biological progeny. A white
Christian could have been an Iraqi Muslim in a prior life, General
Musharraf could have been a Hindu, Shiv Sena’s head could have been
a Muslim, a man could have been a woman and vice versa, and so forth.

 Karma is always finite and its phala (consequence or fruit) cannot be


infinite: Regardless of how bad Adam and Eve’s misdeed was it could
not cause eternal phala, which is what Eternal Damnation is.
Every karma is finite and its phala is finite, even if it lasts a million
years.

 Phala cannot precede the karma: Karma theory states that first
the karma has to occur and only then can its consequences occur. Effect
(phala) never precedes cause (karma). But Jesus is said to have suffered
(the phala) 2,000 years in advance of our birth today, and his suffering
was to redeem our karma of today. This implies that Jesus suffered in
advance of our karma, but phala in advance of the karma is impossible.
The claim seems to be that Jesus established a sort of ‘phala bank’ and
deposited infinite amount of phala in advance, and all those who accept
his offer may neutralize all their karmas by drawing against this
‘phala bank’ account. This is simply impossible in karma theory. [10]

These points do not necessarily falsify Christianity but point out the deep
incompatibilities between the two systems. This is merely an example of

24
the kind of engagement that would have to take place before any sameness
could be stipulated. During the centuries of darshana debates in India
among various schools, the above arguments would have been put forth
between Hindu and Christian theologians. It is not un-Indian to engage in
such discourse.

The tragedy is that by the time Christianity was taken seriously in India,
the support systems and resources needed to do an adequate purva-
paksha had vanished. Because of colonialism, Christians started
dominating the discourse. Hundreds of Christians institutions exist that
study Hinduism seriously, and thousands of Christians study it. Yet, we
have few if any Hindus and Hindu institutions that systematically study
Christianity. This is a necessity before an adequate purva-pakshacan be
done.

Meanwhile, we are left with nonsensical sameness talks by leaders who


have failed to do an adequate purva-paksha of Christianity.

Time:

Biblical time is finite, with a specific beginning and an end. It is said to


have begun a few thousand years ago only, and the End of Time is coming
soon according to many mainstream denominations. [11] This finiteness
of time boxes many Christians into haste, and eventually into terror that
time is running out.

The peculiar combination of (i) Eternal Damnation (i.e. an infinite problem)


and (ii) Finite Time has produced a state of desperation in Christian
societies.

Every person is born into the infinite horror of Eternal Damnation, and
the finiteness of time does not give enough opportunity to resolve this
condition. Therefore, one must always be in a hurry and not waste time.
The consequence of not getting saved is Eternity in Hell, and one simply
cannot take any chances. This is why horrific images of Hell play a critical
role in pressuring people to convert.

25
Reincarnation doctrine was banned in Christianity so as to raise this
pressure, and this is especially effective as one becomes older. This is the
one and only life that a person will ever have and Time is running out!
The reward offered to those who become members of this History-
Centric belief is also infinite: Eternity in Heaven amidst God, along with
one’s family, friends and other ‘good’ people. The price of failure is
unimaginable, the reward is too good to miss out, and the effort is trivial
as one merely has to admit that the Historical Grand Narrative is true –
and one is in!

This turns dangerous when it becomes extroverted and fuels the


centurion-like militaristic evangelism.
Western linear progression in history:

After the Enlightenment in Europe, the Biblical linear historical narrative


from evil to good became replaced by the linear ‘progress’ narrative from
primitive to modern. Here, modern has a specifically European meaning.
This is why the teaching of world history and civilization in America is
unable to incorporate more than a limited amount about ancient
accomplishments, as these refute the linear history, especially when these
accomplishments are from non-Western cultures.
The self:

The Biblical notion of the soul gives it an individual essence, which easily
gets conflated with one’s Earthly identity in terms of gender, race, religion,
and even Americans as having the unique Manifest Destiny. Hence, there
are good souls and bad souls, with different places in the chain of being.
On the other hand, rebirth of the jiva-atman gives it experiences in living
as different genders, races, cultures, levels of prosperity and so forth. This
relativizes any Earthly identity formation as being only relevant for this
one birth and not as one’s atman’s essence. [12]

Christ will return to restore all saved dead persons back to life, in
their original bodies as of the time of their deaths. This helps the plastic
surgery industry and also drives the fixing up of dead bodies prior to their

26
burial: One must look forward to eternal life in this same body, and the
specifics of the body’s race, gender, height, weight, age, etc., are therefore
critical priorities.

This sense of having one’s physical body in heaven also encourages the
youth industry and causes people to be in denial of aging. This is becoming
a major factor in causing geriatric mental health problems, especially after
the individual is forced to admit that aging has set and that s/he cannot
fake youthfulness any longer.
Death and aging:

The ashrama system in Indian culture gives each life stage its own
legitimacy and dignity, and its own dharma to follow. One is not measured
by the norms of youth throughout one’s life. The aged are respected, and
regard their condition as being normal. Being old is not seen as an
abnormality that one must cure or fight or be in denial of.
This respectful aging has enabled older people in traditional Indian
societies to remain integrated in multigenerational families, until recent
mimicry of Western lifestyles led to dislocated aging – ironically, the result
of ‘progress’.

The Bible’s trauma of dealing with death and aging causes senility. The
obsessive youth culture is the result of this fear of aging. It has been said
that the West has a two-ashrama system: juvenile and senile. People invest
heavily to remain young for as long as they can, forcing themselves into
artificial extremes just to live up to the image. This is juvenile behavior,
and it is out of the dread of eventually turning old and senile, and having
a fearful death.

Property, privilege and entitlement:

In the Bible, God gives man ownership of all animals and nature, for man’s
own pleasure.
To support the plunder of other peoples, this supremacy was extended by
Church theologians to argue in favor of the slavery of blacks and the
genocide of millions of Native Americans, on the basis that they were

27
heathens, i.e., not Christians. It was argued that the men who were given
ownership of the bounty of nature were Biblical men and not the heathens.
Later, when these non-whites were converted into Christianity, this
argument was replaced by a different approach to supremacy, namely,
that the people of color were ‘unfit to self-govern’. Therefore, it was
declared the duty of Anglo-Saxon Christians to rule over others in the best
interest of the others. Many criteria for ‘fitness to self-govern’ were
established, including ‘moral values’, ‘rationality’, and so forth. Data was
gathered to prove that non-whites lacked these qualities.
By the early 1800s America, this had evolved into the well-known doctrine
called Manifest Destiny, which was the basis for the conquest of new
territory (such as Texas) from Mexico, along with the territorial expansion
Westwards by conquering the Native Americans. This doctrine explicitly
gave white Americans the right to ‘civilize’ others by whatever means they
considered appropriate, and to take over their lands, property and
cultures.
In British India, the argument of ‘fitness to self-govern’ was very explicitly
used to remove various native rajas and install the East India Company’s
governance. A prominent example was the removal of the Queen of Jhansi
(who had led the war of independence against the British) on the basis
that she was an ‘immoral person’ and that this made her ‘unfit to rule’.
The phrase ‘regime change’ that is so common in the media today was
used in the 19th century by the British to force their rule upon Indians –
argued on the basis that they brought ‘freedom’ and better ‘human rights’
than the local Kshatriya rulers.
Scholars in Whiteness Studies have developed a notion called ‘white
privilege’, which refers to institutionalized and deeply rooted cultural
privileges that whites enjoy, even when a given white individual is free from
racial prejudices. Nowadays, the term has been replaced with ‘American
privileges’, and refers to the superior rights and entitlements that
Americans must enjoy in the world over and above other peoples.
The Bush Doctrine of spreading freedom and human rights has been called
today’s version of Manifest Destiny. It presupposes that America must
impose its own social and political principles on others, in the others’ best
interests.

28
Any perceived threat to the status quo of privileges and entitlements that
Westerners take for granted is sufficient provocation to trigger the revival
of Christian fundamentalism. Post-9/11 is seeing the rise of this
fundamentalism from its latent state.
One of the entitlements claimed by the West is in the field of knowledge
production and dissemination, and this may be called epistemic privilege.
This includes the right to select the topics for inquiry, the way issues are
framed, who is qualified and certified as a scholar, the theories that are
available to be applied, and so forth.
Individuals like me, who criticize the system, are deemed to be ‘attacking’
the scholars and the scholars are depicted as ‘victims’. This diverts
attention away from the real issues of substance that are being contested.
Naturally, many Indians have joined such a system of privilege and
protection, and have thereby earned the title, ‘sepoys’.
Institutional authority:

The Church’s institutional authority over all men lasted for centuries, and
similar theocracies existed in the case of Islam. (In fact, the serious study
Islam entails in large part a study of Islamic Law.) This does not have a
parallel in Hinduism, where the raja was supposed to protect the
diverse dharmas of every person and not impose his own
personal dharma upon others.

The Christian and Islamic concept of enforcement of religious laws on


people is different from the principle of voluntary dharmic compliance. The
Gita is not a book of rules that any authority is supposed to enforce, nor
was it ever the ‘law’. It does not even say, “Thou shalt do this and not that...”
It explains how the system of karmaoperates and what the consequences
of various choices are on the individual choice maker. The individual
remains with the freedom of choice and the knowledge of
possible karmic consequences governed by the cosmos and not by human
authorities/institutions. It is a description of natural rta/dharma, and not
man-made laws.[13]

29
This is why Indian gays/lesbians do not need to have a parade in Delhi to
‘fight for rights’ (like the parades in major US cities), because no authority
took away these rights from them in the first place.
Even the much maligned Manusmriti was never enforced as the law of
the land, except under the British rule when it was enforced to prove that
the colonizers were ruling in accordance with ‘Hindu Law’, a canon they
constructed with the help of local pundits hired for the purpose.

A primary difference between Indian and Western approaches to


institutional authority is that the living gurus are given a high status by
Hindus, whereas institutions occupy the preeminent status in Abrahamic
religions. (This is why Hindu gurus have now become a prime target of
demonology, because Christian strategists realize that no destruction of
physical temples or texts or institutions will erase Hinduism as long as its
new gurus continue to appear and enjoy large popular followings.)

The institutionalization in Biblical societies has also brought about a


culture of conformity with other members. Canonized knowledge leads to
normative thinking and social standard for everyone to emulate.
Conformity is also the seed of social competition. Such a society is more
vulnerable to advertisement driven consumerism.
Can sameness be one-sided?

If X is the same as Y, then Y must also be the same as X. [14] This gives
us a reliable method to empirically test the sameness hypothesis in the
real world.

How many Christian denominations would be willing to hold Vishnu


worship ceremonies in their church? Besides a few relatively small
denominations such as the Unitarians (who in combination have less than
10% share of the US Christian population), almost all mainstream
denominations reject such proposals outright. Try launching a sameness
program with leaders of Mormons, Presbyterians, Methodists, Catholics,
Pentecostals, etc. To be genuinely the same, Hinduism would have to be
given equal and explicit treatment inside their congregation, and not in
special meetings for PR purposes.

30
Would the US government print currency in which ‘In God we trust’ is
replaced by ‘In Shiva we trust’ or ‘In Allah we trust’?
Only after one tests the hypothesis in the real world (which is different
than the academic cocoons and staged ‘interfaith dialogs’) could one begin
to understand the sameness hoax that Hindus have been sold.
The role of Hindu leaders:

After India’s independence, the leaders betrayed Gandhi’s vision to re-


imagine India in a manner that would respect India’s culture, and which
he felt lived in its villages. Instead, they filled the Englishman’s shoes and
became the brown sahibs ruling over Indians, using most of the same
structures and ideas that the departed British left behind. This is ironic
because Gandhi had emphasized that he did not oppose the English
people, and merely opposed their English ways. The vacuum left by the
British was a tremendous bonanza for Anglicized Indians. They preserved
the English ways and replaced the English people.

In this milieu, Hindu gurus had few prospects within India and went to the
US to teach. There, a thirsty audience awaited them. But unfortunately,
they got trapped by their own instant marketing success.
The gurus and/or their Western followers mapped Indic categories to
Western categories, so as to gain quick legitimacy. This mimicry appealed
to the Western followers, who could have their cake and eat it too, i.e., they
could remain embedded in their Biblical identities and/or ‘secular
Western’ chauvinist equivalents and yet gain the benefits of Indic
traditions. In effect, Hindu gurus facilitated U-Turns.

Hindu leaders also betrayed their own darshana traditions in which they
are required to do purva-paksha of other worldviews. This means a
genuine, authentic and deep understanding of the prevalent worldviews
must be developed in such a profound manner that a scholar from that
other tradition would acknowledge it as being a true representation of their
position. [15]

While in the past, the purva-paksha opponents were typically Buddhists,


Vedantins, Jaina, Mimamsikas, and various others in India, today’s

31
globalized purva-pakshahas to be of Christianity, Enlightenment and Post-
Enlightenment, as these are the three major strands out of which Western
worldviews are built.

False information is more dangerous than acknowledgment of one’s


ignorance. Most Hindu leaders naively equate Christianity with
Catholicism, US Christianity with European Christianity, and see all
Christian denominations as being the ‘same’. They lack any purva-
paksha about Christian Liberation Theology,
Inculturationstrategies, constructive theologies, Christian Zionism, and so
forth. When they gleefully quote that church attendance is down in the
US, they fail to consider that home based Christian prayer groups have
replaced church going in many communities across America, and such
groups now represent a major component of fundamentalist Christianity.
Furthermore, they simply lump all ‘secularists’ and ‘leftists’ as the ‘same’,
because they are untrained in Enlightenment and Post-Enlightenment
theories. Yet individuals (including Indians) who are grounded in these
Western theories drive global culture, human rights, law, business codes,
property rights, literature and media. This means that Hindu leaders are
simply obsolete.
At the same time, one comes across many Hindu scholars who are chasing
useless and chauvinistic bandwagons that are disconnected from today’s
relevant issues. For instance, they seem to be obsessed with ‘proving’ the
age of the Mahabharata or geographically locating the Vedas, as if any
Hindus were converting because the Mahabharata is not proven to be old
enough! They are like ostriches with their heads stuck inside the
temple, ashrama and/or political arena, while the globalized world has
already passed them by. [16]

Being so isolated and inbred, these Hindu leaders failed to develop any
effective ‘home team’ to represent Hinduism in the important global
debates today. They have alienated themselves from large communities of
intellectual Indian youth and have lost the enormous cultural capital that
once existed amongst the white Americans practicing yoga/meditation,
who number 20 million.

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Dangers of the Sameness Myth:

The Myth of Hindu Sameness is leading to the dissolution of Hinduism.


Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutras are being clicked-and dragged into becoming
footnotes to the Gospel of John or some other system of Western thought.
The Hindu Goddess became the subject of very serious and intense study
by many white women in the 1970s when they revolted against the male
centric Abrahamic religions. Today, the Hindu Goddess is often used to
enhance the historical narrative of Mother Mary or to reinterpret European
Goddesses such as Sophia, Diana, etc. Furthermore, Gloria Steinem, one
of the pioneers of the women’s liberation movement in the US, spent two
years in India in the 1960s, and after her return to the US she helped to
launch the feminist movement. She writes in her autobiography that it was
her experiences with women’s empowerment groups in India that inspired
her later work in the US.
Yet, Western scholars and their Indian chelas have started to demonize
the Hindu Goddess as vulgar, as a symbol of sexual oppression of Hindu
women, and as a cause of violence by upper castes.
There is a long list of Hindu items being appropriated as Western
ornaments to be preserved, modified, celebrated and used by the new
owners. The source traditions are seldom acknowledged, and, instead, are
burdened with negative images and liabilities to encourage their demise.
This kind of sameness perpetuates the colonial inferiority
complexes, while feeding the cultural and political capital of the
dominant culture. The burden to be same is upon the underdog
culture in terms of power, i.e., it is Hindus who must prove their
sameness to the dominant culture, and not vice versa, because it is
the neo-Hindus who uphold sameness and not the other religions.
The sameness is therefore on the terms of the dominant West. The
West determines how authentic one’s mimicry is and which Indians
get legitimized to various extents through awards, certificates and
brand value given to them. We are only as legitimate as we are
similar to them, and they control the judgment on how well we are
accomplishing this goal.

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Ironically, one of the most common reasons given by Hindu youths to their
parents when they convert to another religion is, “You taught us that all
religions are the same, so how does it matter?” It would be okay if the
parents and Hindu leaders would simply accept this fine logic and not be
concerned. But they are concerned and do get angry. Yet, it has not
occurred to the leaders that their own sameness myths have caused the
very problems, which they are fighting.
Many Christian institutions and scholars do not practice sameness
internally, but deploy it externally with non-Christians as a rhetorical
ethics, i.e., as an ethics that is not meant to be implemented but is a public
relations projection. Hindus are encouraged towards sameness with the
strategic goal to (i) confuse them about identity, (ii) dilute their interest in
seriously studying their own traditions, and (ii) bring Christian ideas into
their lives in a Hindu-friendly manner, and gradually move them deeper
into Christian fundamentalism.

IV: Constructive Hinduism

The foregoing discussion leads to the following question: Can there be a


positive Hindu identity and universals that are neither History-Centric nor
a library of shareware for ‘generic’ spirituality? This section suggests
projects that might help accomplish this. It is merely a preliminary list at
this stage.

Develop History-Centrism vs. Ahistoricity as a theoretical framework:

History-Centrism is the cause of religious violence. Religious difference is


not the cause of violence if it is difference-with-respect. This is a key entry
point for discussing what Hinduism has to offer to the world today.
Religious freedom has become a major geopolitical initiative of the United
States, as a sort of Manifest Destiny to intervene in other countries that
get listed as being in violation, especially against Christians. The meaning
of religious freedom must be debated in my proposed new framework: I
posit that true religious freedom is freedom from History-Centrism.
Evangelism towards any History-Centric religion reduces the freedom in
the world because it boxes people into historical clashes. Therefore, the

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freedom to convert others into History-Centrism leads to loss of religious
freedom from History-Centrism. (Analogy: Freedom to promote slavery
would result in the loss of freedom of the slaves; hence this ‘freedom’ in
not genuine.)

A sustained dialog must begin between Indic deconstruction theories and


Postmodernism, in order to better understand areas of overlap and
differences.
Develop antidotes to the Sameness Myth:
Expose the blunder of thinking that the equality of religions’ rights implies
their sameness. (Analog: Men and women have equal rights, but men and
women are not the same.) Show Hinduism’s principle of equality-with-
difference:
 Multiple worldviews, practices, paths, images and cultures, with
intellectual engagement to reconcile contradictions. In the end, no
narrative is privileged to eradicate others, because these are not History-
Centric.
 Spirituality which does not depend upon proselytizing can respect (not
just ‘tolerate’) others’ faiths.
 Change without need for discontinuity.

Develop purva-paksha of other worldviews using various


Indian siddhantas. European, Western, White, etc., identities were
constructed via study and construction of others, and the Constructive
Hinduism Project must engage in similar theorizing of others while being
true to the Indian darshana tradition of honest debate.

The constant critique of others, including their History-


Centrism, immunizes Hinduism from sameness. Point out how the
mimicry of Whiteness creates the pressure for sameness among Indians.
Whiteness Studies help decenter Whiteness and show Western thought to
be relative and not universal. This makes elitist (Whitened) Indians self
conscious of their inauthenticity, reducing their rate of multiplication into
the next generation of students.

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Sanskrit non-translatables must be explained in considerable detail, and
the common translations should be problematized. These are the most
robust and sustainable long-term anchors to preserve the authenticity and
distinctiveness of Indic traditions.
Refute radical difference:

The opposite of sameness is radical difference, which means that


Hinduism is so different that it cannot possibly make any sense to the
West. A consequence of radical difference (sometimes referred to as radical
relativism, as in the case of Richard Rorty), is that the study of Hinduism
can only be positioned as a study of the South Asian exotic folks – in the
same category as their monsoon and snakes.
Both sameness and radical difference are the result of on-going U-Turns.
These distill Hinduism into two kinds of components:
Things that are deemed valuable for appropriation into the dominant
culture are processed into generic sameness as an intermediate stage,
pending being re-contextualized as ‘Western’. These are eventually
removed out of Hinduism, and the traces of appropriation are erased.
The residue consists of things that are considered ‘undesirable’ by the
dominant culture’s values at a given time, although these determinations
are subject to future revision. These aspects are demonized and otherized.
A polite version of this is to exoticize Hinduism as a property of the ‘South
Asian’ geography.
The result is that Hinduism’s claims of a universalism that rivals the West
are denied. In fact, attempts to position Hinduism as a world religion invite
insults from those who see this as Hindutva Nationalism and who dismiss
without consideration its merits as a competitor to Western worldviews.
This Myth of Radical Otherness is used to protect American culture from
equivalent scrutiny and blame as others are normally subject to:
 It prevents India’s dowry murders from being treated at par with
American spousal killings (which are done for collecting insurance
policies, the Western form of spousal wealth).
 While Islamic Fundamentalism and Hindutva Fundamentalism are
fiercely studied and blamed for any and every crime in those respective
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societies, Christian Fundamentalism is not explicitly named with equal
intensity or frequency, and nor is it used in the mainstream media as
the frame to interpret Abu Ghraib, the Oklahoma City bomber, the inner
city crime, hate crimes and racism, etc.
 Ethnic cleansing is not something that Western societies could possibly
be accused of because the very category applies to less civilized peoples.
 American caste is denied because the category is only applied to South
Asia.

However, the massive amounts of appropriations in the past to build


‘Western’ civilization prove that when it suits the West’s self interest it has
no difficulty to understand others. For example:

 Mathematics, metallurgy, linguistics, grammar, transcendentalism, and


numerous other imports would have been impossible if Indian culture
had been so radically different as to be incomprehensible to the West.
 Chinese paper, printing, silk, gunpowder, etc., were understood and
made a part of Western society without any difficulty.
 Economic wealth expropriation from colonial India and the importation
of manufactured goods from China and India for centuries demonstrate
that the West had little difficulty in understanding what those cultures
had to offer.
 Native Americans gave Europeans the gift of potatoes without which a
huge portion of Europe’s population would have starved in the 18th
century. They also gave Europeans tomatoes without which it would
have been impossible to evolve Italian cuisine. Europeans had little
difficulty in understanding the value of looting their gold and land,
without which they would not have gone from rags to riches so suddenly.

This is why the rediscovery and proper documentation and dissemination


of the West’s unacknowledged debts to others is an important academic
project, because this would demolish the Myth of Radical Otherness.
Some years ago, the huge Cathedral in Mexico City was found to have been
built by the European conquerors on top of a Mayan temple (which can
now be visited under the basement). This and numerous other examples

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illustrate how the Myth of Radical Otherness has been a strategy of arson:
plunder and destroy the source.

Challenge the resistance to Constructive Hinduism:


Study the history of Constructive Christian Theology to point out its series
of reconstructions over many centuries.
Study Hinduism’s history of constructions to show that this is nothing
new, nor is it a violation of any canonized or frozen tradition. In fact,
constructive theology is truer to the spirit of changing smritis of Hinduism
than it is to Christianity’s canonized History-Centrism.
Refute the scholarship that negates Hinduism as a world religion. The
typical arguments used against the legitimacy of Hinduism include the
following:

 Because the name ‘Hindu’ is of non-Hindu (foreign) origin, therefore the


tradition being named is deemed to also be a foreign derivative.
 Constructions during Islamic or British influence are assumed to be
inauthentic Hinduism.
 Any and all Constructive Hinduism done today has to be a ‘right wing
chauvinistic clean up’ of Hinduism. (One must separate out History-
Centric Constructive Hinduism to refute this.)

Refute the ‘frozen in time’ glorification of ‘eternal India’, essentialized as


‘mystical’ contrasted against ‘rationality’ – now internalized by too many
Hindus. (In the doctrine of white people’s Manifest Destiny, one of the
criteria for declaring others to be ‘unfit to self-govern’ was ‘irrationality’.
Furthermore, ‘mysticism’ in Western history has occupied a less honorable
place than in India, and is seen as a pre-rational or child-like stage of
mental evolution.) This project entails separating shrutifrom socio-
political smriti, and refuting the highly exaggerated (mis)use of Manusmriti
as being the ‘code’ of Hindu culture.

Explore innovative solutions for today based on Indic traditions:

The Hindu ashrama system of four life stages, each with its own norms for
dignity and its own dharma, provides many resources for socioeconomic
and mental health applications. This can be developed into theoretical
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frameworks for managing aging with dignity, and managing the fear of
death and ‘running-out-of-time’ anxieties that haunt Westerners.
The world population is expected to reach 9 billion by mid century, and
the Western lifestyle has been sold successfully as the global standard of
expectation and legitimacy.

 But this is unachievable on the global scale as is now being demanded,


because: (i) enough natural resources do not exist, (ii) enough capital
does not exist, and (iii) the labor competition from poorer economies will
be intolerable in the rich societies especially given their chauvinistic
upbringing based on entitlements and privileges as their birthright and
‘destiny’. Hence, there is the serious threat of a cataclysmic systemic
collapse.
 The Hindu sadhu paradigm offers an alternate lifestyle that is not
dependent on obsessive levels of consumerism. It is an established
tradition of dignified and voluntary poverty, which is not seen by the
individual as a ‘problem’ waiting to be solved.
 How might the infrastructure and resource demands be alleviated if a
certain portion of population (such as many of the aged) were to opt for
such alternative lifestyles? How might honoring these alternatives serve
as role models to reduce the obsessive consumerism of others?

The effectiveness of Hindu dana and Christian charity must be compared


using quantitative methods. The sums spent must be seen in light of the
tangible results produced, so that the efficiencies in the use of funds may
be compared. Much has been written about Christian charity in India, but
these accounts fail to consider the huge funds available to Christian
charities. Comparisons must also include the value of real estate owned
by the churches and affiliated institutions in India. (The church is said to
be the largest non governmental land owner in India.)

 It is my hypothesis that Christian charities spend far more for producing


a given level of charitable benefit to society than their Hindu, Buddhist
or Muslim counterparts. The wastage is partly due to monies diverted
for proselytizing, partly for PR to impress, but also for corruption.

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 The Vatican’s refusal to provide accounting for the billions of dollars
raised by Mother Teresa’s organization worldwide and allegation about
misuse of funds is an example of this point.)
 The value of New York City real estate that is occupied by various
cemeteries is estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars – enough
to feed/clothe all the homeless of America’s East Coast in perpetuity!
Should burials be contrasted with cremations as issues concerning
ecology, poverty alleviation and other human rights factors?
 Such an analysis would enable NGOs and donors to learn from Hindu
approaches that may be applicable in other third world countries.

Hinduism’s adhyatmika technologies for embodied knowing could be


applied as antidotes against a variety of body alienations and counter
productive body fetishes: plastic surgery, anorexia, sexual orientation
dogmas, mental health, addictions…

The jati structure (as distinct from caste) must be seen in light of growing
multiculturalism in Western societies, a trend which is inevitable with
globalization. Jatisprovided identity-with-mutual-respect, giving both a
sense of internal coherence and belonging and without the theological
imperative to conquer others or make them the ‘same’. (Wars have existed
in non-Monotheistic societies, but usually not driven by religious
mandates.)

Freedom from History-Centrism is a solution to the clash of civilizations.


Denial of this clash by the left is merely an evasion of the deep-rooted
problems caused byHistory-Centrism. Hinduism offers spirituality (which
Communism admits it cannot eradicate), yet in a manner that is free from
History.

Refute common presuppositions in many disciplines:

Hinduism has been disassembled into parts that are taken in isolation and
reduced to prepackaged conclusions, which are then blindly applied in
various humanities disciplines and mass culture. At each stage of this

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pipeline of misinformation, the conclusions from prior stages are simply
assumed without enough critical examination.
For example, as per Prof. Paranjape (English Department, JNU), it is now
the trend in English Departments everywhere to apply a few standard
frames in examining Indian texts, movies, art, history, society, etc. These
frames are as follows:

 Caste oppression
 Religious minorities’ oppression
 Women’s oppression
 Indian Nationalism as oppression

Meanwhile, positive aspects of Hindu culture are omitted, including: yoga,


meditation, vegetarianism, ecological theologies, history of Indian
science/technology, history of Indian economy prior to colonial disruption,
etc. Because these themes would demolish the negative stereotypes,
students are discouraged from pursuing them on the basis that they are
not the ‘real’ Hinduism, i.e. they are not Hinduphobic. Those who persist
in pursuing these topics are attacked as ‘chauvinistic’, ‘killers of Muslims’,
‘rapists’ and ‘fascists’, and other demonology that has become standard
weaponry.
Therefore, literary and critical theories are taught with the specific goal to
make students apply a given tool box of theories and derive the predefined
negative set of conclusions about Indian culture. This is done in literary
analysis, cultural studies, political science, sociology, etc.
One who is able to prove his/her competence at using the ‘theories’
imported from the West to reach one or more of the standard set of
established stereotypes is advanced forward as a ‘scholar’. The better the
style and more unusual the data the more useful the person is considered
to be.
This has turned a whole generation of Indian writers into ‘hunters’ looking
for specific demons in Indian culture. It reminds one of the recent US hunt
for WMDs in Iraq: The goal is predetermined, and any means may be used
to reach that conclusion. Huge rewards await those who assert claims in
support of the agenda. The result is to install deep Hinduphobia in young
minds in college. Many become coolies or sepoys doing the dirty work of
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empire building while being led to believe that they are spreading Indians’
“progress.”
In conclusion, the Constructive Hinduism Project should also engage
various other disciplines and cannot be isolated to Religious Studies.

[1]Neo-Hinduism is the Western influenced watered down version that is


pop Hinduism today.
[2]Perennialism must be differentiated from New Age, but the former led to
the latter because of dilution of rigor and under pop demands. F. Schuon,
a pioneer of Perennialism, does not speak about equality or identity
between traditional forms but about a transcendental unity. Also, Guenon
agrees with me that Abrahamic religions necessarily limit their exotericism
by their theological and moral views, while Hinduism does not.
Perennialists were also severe critics of New Age: Guenon was one of the
first scholars to offer a radical critique of theosophy, of Vivekananda’s neo-
Hinduism, and of theories by Paul Lecour, a pioneer of New Age. (In
‘Theosophy, History of a pseudo-religion‘ and in his ‘General Introduction to
the Study of the Hindu Doctrines‘, he highlights the mistakes made by
Westerners on Hinduism). Nevertheless, I locate all these on the same
spectrum of (mis) appropriation from Hinduism: Some did it more sincerely
and authentically than others, but in the long run they fed off of each other
and the result has been disastrous for the Hindu psyche. Westerners’
harm was much less than that caused by Hindu leaders’ own internalizing
of Western mappings in the spirit of sameness.
[3]Not all gurus slipped into this trap. Prabhupada, Swami
Chinmayananda, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, and many others
remained authentic. On the other hand, Self Realization Fellowship and
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar are examples of those who are promoting genericized
spirituality that plays to the new age market. Ramakrishna Mission and
Chinmaya Mission are examples where the founders were authentic, but
which subsequently diluted their authenticity by resorting to the
sameness syndrome for the sake of PR, political correctness, and possibly
out of fear of being different than the dominant culture. Maharishi Mahesh
Yogi remained true to Vedas as being distinct, despite the fact that he lost
the majority of his white followers to U-Turns once it became clear to them
that his generic TM program was only an introduction to deeper Vedic

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teachings. Yogi Amrit Desai, who trained the largest number of white yoga
teachers in the US over a period of 30 years, avoided dilution, but he was
dismissed by his institution’s trustees over alleged ‘sexual misconduct’,
and the new Western owners have drifted away from Hinduism.
[4] Many Western liberals/leftists do detest the classical Western heritage.
They have waged a long-term and concerted attack against the Western
literary canon. They often portray the West’s great historical thinkers as
‘dead white guys’, ridicule and attack their own Judeo-Christian past
(which is then, unfortunately, extended to all other religions, and ‘religion’
itself), etc. Many of the leftist intellectuals who have dominated American
academia clearly have an ideologically driven crypto-Marxist agenda. What
is ‘good’ in their eyes isn’t necessarily what is explicitly Western, but what
represents the ‘oppressed’, the ‘disenfranchised’, the ‘lower’ class, race,
religion, gender, ethnic group, language, etc., in any given perceived (on
their part) antithetical social-cultural coupling. Yet, their theories often
embed deep and invisible Biblical epistemologies, and, furthermore, they
have failed in impacting the West’s own mainstream power structure while
having colonized India’s empowered intellectuals because of the latter’s
vulnerability to mimic. The Manifest Destiny doctrine of 19th century
America expressed white supremacy in terms of ‘freedom’, ‘democracy’,
and ‘fitness to self-govern’. Ironically, today’s leftist activism has
inadvertently played into the hands of the reincarnated Manifest Destiny
in the form of the Bush Worldview.
[5]‘Constructive Christianity’ has been a project to protect the core idea
of a unique historical revelation. Hence, it is a system of Christian apology
of finding ways to incorporate new facts (using science and/or U-Turns
from other plundered traditions) while pretending that it is all from the
single original source (which can be made to say anything). Hinduism does
not need that kind of construction because it does not have that kind
of History-Centric problem to begin with. What it needs is expressions of
the Truth gained from the adhyatmika experience for contemporary times,
as well as new sociopolitical smritis for today. This is precisely what people
like Aurobindo and others were up to. ‘Constructions’ without adhyatmika
experience is what many Hindutva politicians have been doing.
[6] In Hinduism, the importance of (i) tradition (agama-pramana), (ii) lines
of succession (sampradaya-parampara), and (iii) the sacredness of places
(tirthas) due to sacred occurrences that happened there, are all important

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in preserving the teachings of Dharma. However, the subtle but critical
point is that if all the above were lost one would still have the Truth
revealed inwardly via yoga and meditation. Abrahamic religions are
history-dependent, whereas Hinduism merely uses the examples of
concrete instances of Truth revealed in what we call history as guides and
tools for personal self-realization. Thus, Hinduism is not history-
dependent.
[7]Evangelical Christians, despite being the dominant American
theological and political force, do not speak for the esoteric strands that
are not History-Centric. Esoteric interpreters of the Bible map
Indic Adhyatma-vidya on to Platonic metaphysics and consider the events
of Sacred history and the Prophets as contingent manifestations of eternal
Principles such as Logos. The esoteric interpretation of the Bible does not
speak of the Original Sin as a sexual act between Adam and Eve. The
symbol of the Tree (of knowledge) evokes rather an orientation of the will
towards the world and duality, a subversion of the sprit by the soul. The
Revelation and eschatological events are events in the Soul that any being
on the spiritual path is potentially able to turn into an inner reality. The
Perennialists would say that history-centrism is the result of the
intellectual limitations of fundamentalist Evangelists. However, the
Christianity that is ‘on the ground’ that Hindus must deal with, both in
the form of proselytizers playing havoc in India and in the form of the
geopolitical projection of Manifest Destiny, is not what Ivy League
professors and their followers would like us to imagine.
[8]A Sufi academic scholar wrote to me the following in defense of her
tradition (paraphrased by me): “There were numerous debates in ancient
Islam about the status of the Koran. It is absolutely necessary to distinguish
between the ‘Mother of the Book’ and the physical Koran which cannot
seriously be considered eternal or of non-human origin. The Sufi tradition
distinguishes between the earthly Kaaba and the celestial one. Islamic
History-Centrism is the result of degeneration of its traditional intellectuality
and of the development of politicized schools of theology. The present
situation only reflects the views that prevailed for political reasons.” My
response to her was that Sufis represent around 1% or so of the worldwide
Muslim population and that Islam as experienced popularly is best
understood based on what is preached in the Mosque on Fridays and not
what a few elitist intellectuals would like to project it to be externally.

44
[9]Antonio deNicolas explains the difference as follows: “The Abrahamic
religions base themselves on the discontinuous, while Hinduism bases itself
on the continuous. Discontinuous based religions believe in a God that is
unique, comes from the outside, and dictates eternal laws. The continuous
religions make a God or gods as they practice internally the discipline of will
development for decision making as the paradigm of the gods (different
brain centers) demand according to the dharma in front of the individual.
The discontinuous religions base their practice on the left brain, theoretical,
conceptual descriptions of the path they want to follow and as convenient.
The continuous religions base their practice on memory, imagination, and
experience using the conceptual, theoretical left brain only as an instrument
of translation. The discontinuous religions are imperialistic because one
brain dominates all others, while the continuous religions base their practice
on the ability to modulate all the brains and find a harmony leading to
moksha.”
10i] Using the modern language of trusts, one may say that (i) Jesus
established the Trust by contributing his suffering; (ii) the Church (long
after Jesus’ death) claimed the role of Trustee in perpetuity; (iii) the
Beneficiaries are all those who join the History-Centric Grand Narrative;
and (iv) the Distributions from the Trust to the Beneficiaries are
Redemption from all their Sins. According to the Biblical Apocalypse, all
Beneficiaries thus Saved are scheduled to be flown to Heaven and live
there in Eternity. All those remaining will be massacred by Jesus
personally when he returns at the End of Time which is just around the
corner.
[11]It is claimed to have been ‘coming soon’ for 1900 years based on
the Book of Revelation in the Bible.
[12]The Christian (especially Thomist) idea is that people have a soul like
the property of a person. This soul is a metaphysical appendage of the
person similar to the physical appendage of a spleen or a lung. Thus, a
soul can be lost, sold or injured. This is a radically different notion from
that of atman.
[13]Hindu scripture – both shruti and smriti – is also packed with ethical
norms, laws, proscriptions and prescriptions. The Bhagavad Gita is full of
descriptions of right and wrong behavior; the Yoga-Sutras of Patanjali
outline the yamas and niyamas, etc., etc. While it is true that the
Manusmriti was not the ‘law of the land’ in Hindu India previous to the

45
British Raj, the overall genre of the dharma-shastras were, nonetheless,
always important guides for Indian/Hindu governance generally. The
difference between the Abrahamic versus the Indic view of religiously
acceptable behavior is that the former is a morality-based system in an
ethnically parochial and sectarian morality sense (thus kosher laws, for
example); i.e., a morality that is externally imposed. The latter is more of
an ethically based system (internally cultivated) and focuses on the
cultivation of inner virtues and excellences, somewhat akin to both
Platonic and Aristotelian ethics. This has to do with the absence of yoga in
Abrahamic religions, as least as a central feature of spiritual advancement
(i.e. lack of adhyatmika) and the over-emphasis placed upon affirmation of
faith in History.
[14]Plus for X and Y to be interchangeably equated means that they must
necessarily be the same in every respect.
[15] Serious purva-paksha analysis died with the birth of neo-Hinduism.
Hindu philosophy declined from serious and systematic critiquing of other
systems to then merely serving as a pseudo-intellectual tool.
[16] While these are important issues in their own right, they have caused
Hindus to get stuck in the minutia while forgetting the larger, more
important, picture.

https://rajivmalhotra.com/library/articles/myth-hindu-
sameness/

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