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Rajiv Malhotra
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Myth of Hindu Sameness
Nov 18 2004  | Views 26560 | Comments  (751)
Abstract
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 Article Tools
sameness are as follows: Hindus arrogantly assume that other religions want to be the same Email
as Hinduism, and hence they feel that they are doing these other religions a favor. Against Report Abuse
this one may point out that the traditional Hindu teachings make a clear distinction between Recommend
valid and not valid religious claims, by separating them as dharma and adharma, sat (truth)
and asat (falsity), devika and asuric, etc.

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
Princeton, Male
worldly. Furthermore, they fail to distinguish between shruti and smriti. The unity of all shruti
Member Since Nov 24 2001
is assumed to mean that all smritis must be the same. In particular, Hindus fail to understand
Contact the critical history-dependence of the Abrahamic religions and the way their core myths and
Send a Invite 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
Add as Favorite sameness.
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CONNECTED to Rajiv At the same time, there are strong arguments that religious differences lead to tensions and
Malhotra. 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.

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 be rather 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.

I: Introduction
There are two current trends in Hinduism that were born of a perceived 'threat' to Hinduism.
These are as follows:

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.

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.
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 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. 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,â€​ “All religions are the same,â
€​ 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-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 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.

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 the History-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.

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.

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 cause of it. Those who regard it as evidence of History-Centrism
are mixing causes and effects.
The following significantly characterize History-Centric religions:

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.
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.)
God's historical intervention resulted in new Laws and Covenants, and the events were not
merely a discovery of pre-existing reality.
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.
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.
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' 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.

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 the same 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 of
irreconcilable accounts of history, one issue from either side:

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.

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?â€​
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.
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 a History-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.
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 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-Centrism is 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 to sattva,
advancing from lower to 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.

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 old smritis that 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 smriti that 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 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 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-paksha can 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.

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 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 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.

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...â€​ It explains how the system of karma operates 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]

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.

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 globalized purva-paksha has 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, Inculturation strategies, 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.

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.

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?â€​ 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 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.

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 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 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 shruti from 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 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.
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. Jatis provided 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 by History-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 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 empire
building while being led to believe that they are spreading Indians' “progress.â€​

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 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 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.â€​ 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.

[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.â€​

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 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.

© Rajiv Malhotra., all rights reserved.

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In case you missed...
Some other recent posts by Rajiv Malhotra
Whiteness Studies and Implications for Indian-American Identity
Follow up on Manusmriti to my article in Outlook India
Geopolitics and Sanskrit Phobia
Myth of Hindu Sameness
Dialog on Whiteness Studies
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