Thursday, May 1, 2014

The San José Global Hindu Conference 2014



 

On 26-27 April 2014, the Global Hindu Conference took place at the Wyndham hotel San José CA, the heart of Silicon Valley. It was far less luxurious than most academic conferences, but contentswise it was unusually rich and focused. Most participants were amazed at the quality of not one gem here or there, but of all the papers. It gathered people for work, not leisure: sessions from 8h till 22h, with breaks of only ten minutes.

I apologize for a very uneven overview, particularly to the speakers whom I mention only cursorily. Given time constraints, I write this report in a hurry, but a book with all the full papers will come out later this year.

 

History

Papers by Sumeet Saxena, Mrs. Kamlesh Kapur, Sandeep Balakrishna and Vishal Agarwal detailed the different modern schools of historiography: British, Indian nationalist (ca. 1920-70), Marxist etc. Balakrishna presented his recently published book about Tipu Sultan, countering the false and laughable propaganda of the secularists. Vinay Deolikar cut the so-called Muslim period to size: it declined sharply after 1707, and by 1750, most of India was under the Hindu Pad Padashahi (“Hindu sovereignty”) established by the Marathas. The decisive hero was Peshwa Baji Rao, who in ca. 1720 changed the power equation in India decisively. William Dalrymple and the secularists falsify history by pretending that the Moghuls handed over their power to the British, who in fact had to wrest it from the Hindu kings.

Niraj Mohanka explained the Wendy Doniger affair, where her “banned” book had erred, and how Hindus have reacted. About this affair, Vishal Agarwal authored a list of errors in Wendy Doniger’s controversial book The Hindus, an Alternative History, shortly after the book appeared in 2007. Because of the commotion, his list has finally appeared in print. He presented the book and discussed the classes of errors. The hundreds of factual mistakes reflect poorly on her scholarship, but they are not the reason why Hindus are up in arms against it. The classes she claims to champion, women and low-castes, are systematically denied their proud role in history and reduced to mere victims of patriarchy and upper-caste domination.

Prof. Narahari Achar detailed the history of Parikhit and Janamejaya, grandson and great-grandson of Arjuna, who presided over the first narration which was to expand into the Mahabharata. He applied modern software to the astronomical data in the epic.

The paper by Shrikant Talageri, who could not physically be there, was read out by the undersigned. Talageri described the difficult challenge that a real historian of India has to face. On the one hand, there are the gross and shameless biases imposed by the Marxists and secularists, parroted by the world media and even by India-watching academics. On the other, any legitimate criticism or just factual portrayal of negative practices by some Hindu or other will be shot down by the affected sectional interest groups or lambasted by Hindu activists as “anti-Hindu”.  

The undersigned spoke about the failure of Edward Said’s “Orientalism” thesis and of the hyperfocus on the role of colonial historiography. I gave some feedback on the weaknesses and mistakes of the Hindu attempts at history-rewriting so far.

 

Christianity

Kandadai Rangachari and Kalavai Venkat discussed “Jesus in India”. This refers not just to Nicholas Notovich’s hoax, debunked more than a century ago, only years after it had been launched, but stlll widely believed by Ahmadiya Muslims, New-Agers, Ramakrishnaites and hundreds of millions of Hindus. It equally pertains to the equally mythical

Kalavai Venkat delivered the Sita Ram Goel memorial lecture, mercilessly pin-pricking the illusions about Christianity. He at once presented his new book, What Every Hindu Should Know about Christianity. The Sita Ram Goel memorial lecture was preceded by an overview of Goel’s life, with many rare pictures, by Paramacharya Sadasivanathaswami, the head of the Hawaii-based Shaiva Siddhanta order.  

A debate on how to deal with the challenge of Christianity took place between Prof.  Madan Lal Goel and Kalavai Venkat, with yours truly as the moderator. I fear the whole thing doesn’t look good on camera, for I was plagued by pain and dryness in my right eye, and the material circumstances were not exactly fit for a panel discussion: each time they spoke, the two opponents had to get up and speak through the microphone at the rostrum.  The organizers should think of these things beforehand, or rather, I should have thought of these things. Still it worked out well, as the antagonists were correct and friendly and held nicely balanced viewpoints. Kalavai was in favour of a robust stance, openly treating Christians as enemies because their adopted doctrine is unequivocally hostile to Hinduism. He advocated the use of science-based scepticism and ridicule. Goel, by contrast, was in favour of a more diplomatic attitude, as many Christians were coming out of this antagonistic worldview. Niraj Mohanka commented that both are right, since their attitudes fit the two faces of Christianity: on the offensive in India and the other frontline states of the mission, on the retreat and giving way to a more open-minded “spirituality” in the West.

Sundarsh Vedapureeswaran discussed the fundamental flaw in the Abrahamic outlook. Myself, I gave an overview of what Christianity is not. Some Hindus imagine that Christians should live up to the Hindus’ own fantasies about what Christianity is, e.g. “Jesus would be angry if he saw the spread of missions”. In reality, the Christians are only bound by Christian texts, chiefly the Nicean creed.

The paper that was perhaps most urgently needed by the Hindu community, was by Prof. Laul Jadusingh, targeting “god-talk”. He reiterated that non-theism was fully a part of Hinduism until Shankara. “Ishwara” meant something else for Patañjali than “God”. But when today’s Hindus so profusely mention “God”, it is heavily tainted with Christian theology. It is imperative that Hindus go back to their roots in this respect, and understand that (1) “God” means something very different in Hinduism than in Christianity; and (2) Hinduism can very well exist without a notion of “God”. Buddhism has been less confused about this. (I might mention the commotion in 2005 in Cambodia when planned school textbooks turned out to include the notion of “God”. The Buddhist clergy intervened to remind everyone that this was a Christian notion adroitly promoted by the missionaries, and that for many centuries, the Cambodians had proven their ability to do without this notion.) At any rate, the focused Buddhist mobilization against Christian proselytization contrasts favourably with the naïve and lazy Hindu attitude so far.

 

Education

The subjects of historiography and the defence against Christianity were each given half a day, the other sessions were shorter, but at least a start was made.

Acharya Arumuganathaswami presented the educational situation in the US, including the textbook selection and editing process, against which his monastic order had brought out an introductory textbook on Hinduism. He also presented the film version, The History of Hindu India, which evoked general admiration. The only critical note was by a professor who liked the film but saw a tinge op imitative apologetics in it, of the type: “Christians say they worship God, but we too…” I think that was unfair, as the Hawaii Shaivite order just happens to be theistic and genuinely see Hinduism as theistic, a Shaiva attitude long predating the Christian domination in the colonial and present periods. On the other hand, an alertness for the Hindu tendency to mimic Christianity is commendable.

Schoolchildren and young adults, whose religious education was discussed in papers by Ashutosh Gupta, Mona Rawal, Easan Katir and Tushar Pandya, need to be approached in a different way because of the specific sensitivities of their age group. One thing they have in common is regular exposure to the barrage of the ambient anti-Hindu propaganda. Young adults in America, however, are in a generally anti-religious mood and atmosphere. By contrast, younger pupils often react by feeling shame or by wanting to disown Hinduism in order to be more acceptable to the ambient Christians.

Katir also gave his testimony about the edits process starting the California textbook affair. As the Acharya diagnosed, the California parents, none of them education bureaucrats nor historians, had been naïve in their understand of the textbook-editing process as well as about the state of the art in certain topics of history. This failure should be no big deal provided they have learned their lesson and improve their performance next times around.

 

Miscellaneous

Far from complete was the treatment of another sore point: the legal and factual treatment of the temples. But at least a start was made with the case of Andhra Pradesh, presented by Prasad Yalamanchi. Scientist Yadu Moharir, author of books on Ganesha and Laksmi, tried to explain the scientific basis of Hindu rituals, an ambitious project but for skeptics his treatment may not fully have met their standards of rigorousness. He did elucidate the logic behind rituals, though, useful knowledge for someone of a non-ritualist background like myself.

Rahul Chandra documented the situation of the Hindus in Pakistan, mostly Sindh, and why many feel compelled to flee to India. Especially the vulnerability of girls to abduction by and forced marriage to Muslims forces them to flee. In a few districts they still form a high percentage, helped by a high birthrate, and this explains why many also don’t feel a pressing need to flee yet. But if they are not helped from abroad, they too will come to feel the heat. A complement to this was Vishal Agarwal’s description of the peculiar history of Sindh. For the audience these were novel topics full of surprising information. Rahul Chandra also presented a paper about the development of alternative media, a remedy to the decades-long painful absence of the articulately Hindu voice from the public debate.

Dilip Amin reported on the challenge of interfaith marriages and described the typical and foreseeable conduct of the non-Hindu spouses and their families. Though he did not say so outright, he seemed to see dissuasion from the marriage as the most  desirable course. At any rate, he countered the naivety of the Hindu youngsters and the cluelessness of their parents.

Similarly, Kamlesh Kapur, also the author of a hefty textbook on Hindu dharma, reported on her experience with interreligious dialogue, gathered over several decades. The piucture is almost uniformly dismal. Hindus come totally unprepared, have not been mandated or somehow sought representativeness, and improvise widely different responses to the three questions that they invariably have to answer: (1) the name of our God?, (2) our basic belief?, and (3) the name of our holy book? “They fumble, they feel trapped and remain on the defensive, and they look like losers”: that sums up the general picture. She outlined the essence of a remedy, but before we can really speak of a remedy, much remains to be done. At any rate, she correctly diagnosed a glaring problem. Here too, the failure should have been obvious years ago, yet Hindus have never laid their finger on this gaping wound.

 

Evaluation

In material details, a few things could have been better. Lack of manpower among the organizers accounts for that, and probably it is unavoidable in a truly pioneering venture. But in contents, this was the best Hindu conference I have ever attended. It was packed full of real and new information. Elsewhere, papers are passively accepted from whoever volunteers one, and the more Hindu a conference, the greater the likelihood that some worthless or downright embarrassing papers have only been programmed because their contributors had sponsored the conference. Here, every single paper was of remarkable or really very high quality. Some topics were handled for the first time ever. All praise to the main organizer, Rajiv Varma.

 

The greatest merit of this conference was that it had finally started to strategize. Secularists and the missionary lobby like to portray the Hindu movement as a big and dangerous monster. Big, perhaps, but dangerous? Maybe a few activists are dangerous the way a mad dog is dangerous: it has the ability of barking and once or twice even biting, but then it is driven into a cage or otherwise taken care of -- it may look formidable but it is after all only an animal. What is completely lacking that could make the movement effective (or "dangerous"), is knowledge: knowledge of what dharma stands for, knowledge of the enemies, and knowledge of the field of action. This movement has tremendous potential, but in the real world it is only stumbling from defeat to defeat. Even the expected BJP victory in the Indian elections may only be a Pyrrhic victory if the disappointing experience of BJP rule in 1998-2004 is anything to go by. Jobs and other perks for the BJP time-servers, but nothing at all for the Hindu cause. This is a brainless dinosaur, and what this conference set out to do, was to infuse a brain into the dinosaur. In this regard, it made great strides. Whether it will be successful in the long run, only depends on the follow-up.

22 comments:

Kalavai Venkat said...

A very good summary by Dr. Koenraad Elst. One of the key topics that must be pursued is determining the correct method of engaging the millennials and post-millennials. I have a feeling that they are not a homogeneous group. Among them are those who love the confrontational approach of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc., those who prefer the conciliatory approach, and those who are indifferent to religion.

A small note: I advocate treating the ideology of Christianity as the threat to civilization and hence fit to be eradicated. I do not consider Christians enemies. As I mentioned in the Memorial Lecture, Christians are the foremost victims of Christianity. I wouldn't denounce them. I would rather save them from Jesus.

ysv_rao said...

Mr Venkat. Please beware of false friends like Dawkins and Harris. They are not just hostile to Christianity but religion in general. They focus more on Christianity since they know it well, it is (still) more controversial to bad mouth it and therefore more lucrative.

Given half a chance, they would give Hinduism the same treatment . Just because they may throw in a kind word here and there for the Upanishads, naastika, ajivika and other quasi gnostic philosophies , it doesnt mean he is no our side

Kalavai Venkat said...

Dear YSV Rao,

I disagree that Dawkins and Harris are enemies of Hinduism. Dawkins clearly states that his only targets are Abrahamic religions. He has written that he considers Buddhism an ethical system. He has also expressed hope that the Hindus would stand up aginst the privilege accorded monotheism. Harris has written that the West hasn't produced a single philosopher of the caliber of Śaṅkara, that Jaina philosophers have presented in a single line something better than the Golden Rule, and that one has to meditate in a cave to realize certain truths.

Atheists (not to be confused with militant leftists) are favorable to Hinduism. American Atheists Quarterly, Q1, 2011 published my paper titled, "The Christian 'right' to proselytize," where I called for selectively denying Christians the right to proselytize while simultaneously according dhārmic religions the right to proselytize and make the world a better place to live in. This advocacy was extremely well received. Read my scathing and frontal attack on Christianity and you would be pleasantly surprised.

Hindus must start seeing atheists as their allies. They shouldn't make the mistake of ever allying with the Christians and Muslims (or with leftists and conservatives - the genuine liberals that have recovered from Christianity are our allies).

amAtya rAkshasa said...

Elst-ji,

Thanks for this post. Did someone record all this? Any video likely to be uploaded online?

Best Regards.

akshar100 said...

One of the remarkable things about this conference is that the most of the people here are truly independent are not prominently associated with any of the right wing organizations like RSS.

This is a healthy trend. Not because RSS is weakening but because, finally Hindus are able to touch topics which the organizations like RSS have ignore.

Also scholarship is best when it comes from independent scholars.

ysv_rao said...

@askhar100

RSS is not really a religious organization. Its founders may not have been atheists in the Savarkar mould but they dont seem to be too enthused of Hinduism.
They seem to approach it from a sociological perspective in order to organize(their buzzword) Hindus for god knows what

Accordingly they are not exactly intellectual heavy weights on Hinduism or any other topic.

PM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ysv_rao said...

Dear Kalavai Venkat,

As I suspected you have fallen for their sweet words and compliments for Vedic philosophies!

They have no idea what they are talking about. I am not a fan of much of Biblical lore but neither do I dismiss it of the ramblings of Bronze Age nomads as Harris and Dawkins wish to imply.

As for meditating in a cave, why is 40 days in a desert any inferior?
Mohammad also meditated in a cave. We all saw all that turned out

They view Hinduism as something to be strip mined of its philosophies ,logic,poetry,art and metaphysics.

And leave the remaining as a hollow husk of superstitions,rituals and haphazard patheons

Same dirty tricks of the 19th century Indologists.
An approach that Vedanta spouting and Purana deriding Swami Vivekananda swallowed uncritically

Im pretty sure they dont think highly of the Purananas. It would surely fill them with horror to hear of the routine hecatombs that kings would perform.
It would surely shock them that Hinduism is very much a blood and soil religion and its adherents do not sit around all day chanting Om Shanti as they like to believe.

Christopher Hitchens used to sing the same song as these two but in a more urbane and pleasing manner. But even so his critiques of Islam were lukewarm at best compared to his skewering of Catholicism or even Buddhism. They stood against the Chicoms and he couldnt have that!

The American Atheists understand little of Hinduism or any religion for that matter. So Im not interested in their opinion.

I dont know how you can make a distinction these days between open minded atheists and totalitarian minded leftists. There really isnt any longer. That ship has sailed a long time ago.

These American secularists are the equivalent of our Indian Nehruvian Hindu bashers. Except where Nehruvians deride Hinduism and praise Islam and Christianity, similarly their American counterparts bash Christianity and speak fondly of Hinduism ,Buddhism and even Islam(apparently for them real Islam is just Jallaludin Rumi type Sufism, such is their ignorance!)

Ultimately a lot of this secularism among the bored bourgeois be they American ,European and Indian is about shaming daddy. A similar dynamic is at work when Hindu,Christian and Jewish girls go out of their way to date Muslim men.

Put me in the not interested category in teaming up with these characters.

If any one, hook me up with Euro Pagans but please not of the neo Nazi or hippie chick variety.

Julian said...

Read Hitchens' writings on the tyrannical Brit Raj & you see he was not all that different from colonial era writers in praising how they brought "law and order" blah blah blah. The man also became increasingly unhinged with his support for the invasion of Iraq & was a proud Trotskyist.

ysv_rao them bashing Christinsanity is fine considering its a worthless cult that brought much suffering to the world but that doesn't mean they are our friends.

Ultimately the whole new atheist cult is one more cozy mleccha club for them to feel smug and superior over the unwashed heathens.

As for Euro pagans, they are marginal sideshow figures at best.

The only pagan power is Japan & may Shinzo Abe lead them to independence from the mleccha barbarians.

http://vajrin.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/148/

Modi seems to have realized the importance of East Asia and built a rapport with Abe as far back as 2007.

http://vajrin.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/narendra-modi-shinzo-abe-what-explains-the-western-loathing/

As to "Chicoms", communism is the outer coat while legalist Han imperialism is the inner coat just as in the past when the outer coat's included Buddhism, & Confucianism. PRC is an existential threat to Hindu civilization just like Islam & Christianity and it speaks rather poorly of Hindus that they don't know anything about their giant neighbor. Certainly we haven't heard of any Hindu intellectuals who understood or referred to legalism except the author of:

http://manasataramgini.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/asia-and-geopolitics/

Shravan Tanjore said...

This time all roads seem to be heading towards 'Kurukshetra, the hundred brothers were all wasted by the Five. What good will come out of riling the Hindu? None.

ysv_rao said...

Hello again Julian,

Im aware of Hitchens pro Raj tendencies which is why I dont think too highly. Seems like we come from different places politically. I have no problem with his support for the Iraq war but his reasoning for it like many others was problematic

All that talk of democracy , UN resolutions and human rights violations was just window dressing.
Iraq was the most powerful Arab country situated at a strategic location with both fertile lands and oil fields. Not to mention an educated populace.
So it had to be made an example of to the Arabs( and make no mistake Al Qaeda is overwhelmingly Arab organization)

Thats it

Also its best not to throw around the word mleccha so fast and loose.

Mlecchas are supposed to refer to tribes domiciled in Afghanistant such as Kambojas,Huna,Yavana, Saka
etc
And their USP was infiltration into Vedic society thereby introducing corruption and decline


And the descendents of Huns are currently ruling the roost whether in the media, military, Bollywood, education, politics etc etc

Greeks and Scythians were given honorary Vedic status after generations of Sanskrtization. The Huns not so much

Europeans such as Celts practiced a form of tantra. Dont dismiss their heritage

If European Pagans are on the fringes ,let us isolate the wholesome ones and give them our support. No need to mock them for it

I made the assumption that the Japanese are our allies to some extant
But please let us not over estimate our camaraderie with the notoriously ethnocentric Japanese.

Most of them hold Indians in contempt. And their negative image of Indians is very similar to those of European racists. Perhaps worse.
Note how poorly the INA was treated by the Japanese during WWII even though they were allies!

I disagree that Chicoms are the greatest threat to Bharat. Chicoms may have lay claim to Arunachal Pradesh and parts of Kashmir and Ladakh but they really stop there.
They didnt care that we took Sikkim and Tawang.

The ports they build in Gwadar and Trincomalee are for logistical not military reasons.
Though at the same time Indians would do well to counter this. Ideally they shouldnt have a foothold in the Indian Ocean or Arabian Sea. It is just shameful that the Congress party allowed this to come to fruition

China is far more India friendly than Japan.

Chicom expansionism may be disguised Han imperialism but we need not worry since the Han empire zone of comfort never reached India.
As for Tibet what is done is done. We dropped the ball, no use crying over spilt milk

Im more worried about Sassanid imperialism masquerading as Iranian Shia expansionism. They have eyes on Pakistan and Afghanistan. And we have a substantial Shiite population.

Let us worry about the right adversaries.

Julian said...

Unfortunately you display the typical Hindu ignorance of history, geography & contemporary reality.

Their imperial ambitions didn't always touch us in the past because Tibet acted as a buffer.

But still you might want to start by looking up the Han destruction of Hindu ruled city states in Central Asia, then Taizong's invasion of Tirabhukti, Qing invasion of Nepal. Might also want to look up the audacious attempt to kidnap the Lankan prince in the past.

They were "friendly" by invading us in 1962, sending arms to Maoists, insurgents in NE etc?

And to top it all off, you don't seem to realize that many important rivers have their origin in Tibet, several of your Han "friends" want to divert the water which will screw over Hindus & SE Asian countries.

No one cares about a few fringe pagan hippies that won't amount to anything in the long run. You can spend your time on such causes & imbibe the Celtic "tantra".

But in the real world where Hindu civilization is fighting for its life, allies are those who have the power and ability. Vietnam is more useful to Hindus as an ally than all those fringe groups in Europe.

And the term mleccha has been assigned to various barbarians at various points in time, here it should be clear to whom I was referring to.

ysv_rao said...

Why is it that Buddhists are more assertive about protecting their religion from Islam and Christianity on all levels be it social, ideological or military?

Is it because Buddhism itself is a missionary religion with a more clearly defined central figure and institutions that hazy and haphazard Hinduism?
Or that Buddhists are less squeamish about teaming up with militarists to protect their interests see Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma, WWII Japan et al
Even Indian Buddhist kingdoms such as Palas, Kushans, Andhras or the Indo Greek werent exactly shrinking violets when it came to war.

Indeed contemporary Buddhist take a page out of aforementioned books and actively persecute Hindus. Again see Sri Lanka, Burma, Bhutan etc

I personally think this Hindu Buddhist dichotomy is nonsense. Usually the best Brahmins and Kshatriya were Buddhist atleast post 100 AD.
When Buddhism dissolved in India, the best of Hinduism died with it. All the leftover crap you see is the chaos and nonsense that passes for Hinduism today
The spiritual degradation translates into the material plane. Contrast the cleanliness,focus and order of Buddhist countries with the filth,chaos and general lack of discipline and proportion in Hindu India

ysv_rao said...

Unfortunately you display the typical Hindu ignorance of history, geography & contemporary reality."

No doubt Hindus are deficient is aforementioned categories but how am I typical? Let us examine.


Their imperial ambitions didn't always touch us in the past because Tibet acted as a buffer."

And there is no Tibet buffer today...I dont see great parts of North India being swallowed up.And I dont think it is due to an inordinate fear of the Indian army. Haha

But still you might want to start by looking up the Han destruction of Hindu ruled city states in Central Asia, then Taizong's invasion of Tirabhukti, Qing invasion of Nepal. "

These Hindu states in Central Asia were sitting ducks without adequate military back up.
I dont expect an Indian emperor to honor any Chinese merchant colonies if they got in his way
I love the Nepalis but then as now they were a mercenary people
The invasion during the Tang dynasty was a result of total chaos due to the death of Harshavardhana and the internal dynamics of Chinese politics.
Apparently Tangs thought Harshavardhana was poisoned and his succesor didnt deserve the throne.

Might also want to look up the audacious attempt to kidnap the Lankan prince in the past."

Do you speak of Zheng He? That was done for the sake of Tamil Hindus. Even so , Sri Lanka and Central Asian states may have been extensions of Hindu civilizations but rather fringes and not part of the India's core.
As Nepal as I said mercenary then as now.

They were "friendly" by invading us in 1962, sending arms to Maoists, insurgents in NE etc?"

When did I say this was a friendly action?
I said to look to the future than the past.
Please stop constructing straw men.


And to top it all off, you don't seem to realize that many important rivers have their origin in Tibet, several of your Han "friends" want to divert the water which will screw over Hindus & SE Asian countries."

It has been 60 years since the invasion of Tibet . I keep hearing about these schemes but they didnt come to fruition.
Reversing the flow of Ganga and Brahmaputra is not exactly childs play.
Indeed it took Bhagiratha several generations to achieve the same.
Ok that was eons ago , even with modern technologies it is no cakewalk.

ysv_rao said...


"No one cares about a few fringe pagan hippies that won't amount to anything in the long run. You can spend your time on such causes & imbibe the Celtic "tantra".

It is obvious you know very little about Celtic civilization and its achievements in religion.
Please spend less time on Hindu nationalist talking points and more on essence of tantra and agamas. Or are you one of those never ending trope of atheist ultra nationalist Hindus ala Savarkar,RSS et al who believes we should abandon are dieties and worship Bharat Mata(who is she again and on what shastras is this diety based?)

But in the real world where Hindu civilization is fighting for its life, allies are those who have the power and ability. Vietnam is more useful to Hindus as an ally than all those fringe groups in Europe."

I would point to you to the great strategic ,military and demographic success Christians achieved overnight with the conversion of Constantine. Think about it in this context.

See my posts about Buddhists and Hindus.
It takes more than a dharmic connection to get such states on our side.


And the term mleccha has been assigned to various barbarians at various points in time, here it should be clear to whom "

Just because it was assigned to various peoples doesnt mean the assigner was correct. One shouldnt go around assigning the term mleccha and barbarian hither skither to random peoples but to Central Asians only

Newsflash: Those who caused most destruction - Pahlavas, Hunas,Sakas, Kambojas were not Chinese but Central Asian and Persian.
They introduced retrograde criminalities such as sati,child marriage, untouchability and hierarchal caste system as well as color based discrimination.

The Chinese are facing a demographic death spiral, pollution and an opaque economy concealing amongst other things ghost cities signalling a real estate crash and an incredibly weak currency.Not to mention a restive countryside where tax collectors are routinely murdered.

A lot of its power is hollow , let us respect its might but not overestimate it either.


You seem to want to pick fights with potential friends who are powerful and befriend ideological gangsters with crooked smiles who are small fish
The former we cant defeat and the latter we can with our hands tied around our backs.
A thought process I don't quite fathom

Gururaj BN said...

Even though Dr.Koenraad Elst starts rather apologetically, it is an excellent and informative summary of an interest proceeding. There are two points on which one would comment. One is the use of the word "God". for someone brought up in the West or who is exposed to Christian ambiance, the word "God" may conjure up the image of Abrahamic God, vindictive and domineering. But, to a Hindu, the word "God" means nothing more than "deva" in Sanskrit. In fact most Hindus, even educated ones, are ignorant of what Abrahamic God is. The second issue is about the Hindus representing their religion and culture poorly in inter-religious debates. Since there is no single comprehensive description of what Hinduism is, participants may tend to represent their own sect as "The Hinduism", such as advaita, dwaita or vaishanvism, shaivism, shaakta etc. When the antagonists quizz them about other Hindu sects, they find themselves at a loss to speak articulately. The cause is no doubt lack of breadth in their preparation, especially the knowledge of antagonist's religious tenets. Most Hindus, the educated ones especially, are woolly headed about both Christianity and Islam. They, knowingly or unknowingly, are influenced by the superficial understanding of both religions as espoused by people such as Dr.Bhagwan Das, or Ramakrishna Math.

ysv_rao said...

@ Mr Venkat,

Furthermore I came across your article on Why Christianity shouldnt proselytize. Im afraid not only am I not unimpressed by it but am deeply disturbed by the implications and your subsequent comments which reveal a breathtaking arrogance,elitism and condescension

1)Anti Semitism you describe as intrinsic to Christianity and to this end you use the example of Adolf Hitler and his project as the logical end of the Christian mission

I think Dr Elst is best qualified to address this tired meme but if I may summarize some of his views.
Anti Semitism predated Christianity was present in Egyptian,Roman and Greek cultures.
Keep in mind that it was the very Pagan Romans that devastated Jewry by burning down their temple and casting them into exile
Besides Hitler viewed Jews as a biological virus(not unlike you view Christianity to be "eradicated" hmmmm...) and his animus against them was racial not religious. Jeez man this is basic Nazism 101

2)Native Americans,Vietnamese Buddhists and Iraqi Muslims were at the recieving end of the Christian mission.

Seriously this is a very shoddy thought process. Native Americans were sought out to be persuaded into the faith and not eradicated.And the wars against them were very based on very mundane issues as land and security

JFK,LBJ and Nixon ,themselves lukewarm on religious matters if not outright secularists,who pursued the Vietnam wars werent against Buddhists but atheistic communists. Again very very shoddy and poorly researched argument

As for Iraqi Muslims, Saddam Husssain was a secular despot and while Muslims did rally for him many Muslims did rally against him. Especially during Gulf War 1990.
You may not like the Iraq War 2003 or those who prosecuted like the Bush Cheney team but to accuse them of a Knights Templar style genocide of Muslims in the holy land of Abraham and ISaac is a bit of a stretch

3) You refer to the founding fathers as illegal aliens.

Err no they were settlers not immigrants much less illegal.
Butchering language for crass political purposes does not reflect well on you at all

4) Despite your distaste for America you feel you have a right to dictate to them how you live since you are a Brahmin and therefore they should be grateful

Your thought process Im sorry to say is thoroughly revolting in its delusions of grandeur, utter lack of gratitude and grace towards your adopted land as well as your elitism and contempt for your fellow Americans. Also there is the small matter of your crass reactionary casteism -believing you are superior species because of Brahmin lineage

It seems to me that you are a typical atheist, purely totalitarian in instinct and smug in attitude. Hinduism has caught your fancy due to some of its agnostic philosophies so you wish to promote it. Christianity and its "I believe because its absurd" credo you find distasteful , therefore ban it!

I dont think very highly of Christianity but give them a break. Christian countries today are pretty open minded despite many in upper echelons particularly U.S believe in the rapture and creationism. I met some of those and Ive never felt anything but camaraderie with them. They couldnt care less that I believe in an unapologetically Pagan religion.

I believe you wish to fight your personal demons and prejudices and impose them on Hindu revivalist issues
I request you not to.

Regards

Kalavai Venkat said...

YSR Rao:

A lot of ad hominem attacks from your side which I would ignore.

1.) Anti-Semitism as an ideology was invented by Christianity. Read my extensive paper, "From the Holy Cross to the Holocaust" in the anthology "Expressions of Christianity" for a detailed discussion. It was the Bible that also cast anti-Semitism in racial and biological terms by declaring that all generations of Jews are cursed. As Elie Wiesel aptly wrote, Hitler merely brought it to a conclusion. In contrast, Greeks and Romans merely waged territorial wars and their expansionism wasn't religiously motivated.

2.) Hitler wanted the Jews to be eradicated. On the contrary, I have clearly stated in my writings and speeches that Christians are not to be denounced for their accidental birth in that religion. I clearly distinguish between a critique of and the call for eradicating the ideology of Christianity on the one hand and a denouncement of those who happen to be Christians on the other. Please do not abandon honesty to score cheap victories. All you need to do is to pick up my book What "Every Hindu Should Know About Christianity" to understand my stance.

3.) If you think that the Native Americans weren't eradicated all you need to do is read D.E. Stannard's American Holocaust or Ronald Takaki's Iron Cages. Are you even aware that Columbus dressed as a Catholic priest and went on a rampage? Are you aware that the U.S. government actively recruited Christian missionaries during the Vietnam war? Are you aware that Billy Graham appealed to the U.S. president to bomb the dykes and massacre countless Vietnamese? To understand what mindset allows this dehumanizing of the other and how Christianity is responsible for it, read my book. It doesn't matter whether Hussein was secular. The point is that Christian Americans are apathetic to the genocide of 1.3 million Iraqis because Christianity has deumanized the other.

4.) Founding fathers were also rank racists who called for the genocide of Native Americans. The term 'delousing' was invented by them first to eradicate Native Americans. Nazis would use that later on. Calling these fathers illegal aliens is not only accurate because they weren't legal migrants but also mild.

5.) Who said I have a distaste for America? I like it enough to want to cure it of the Christian memetic virus. I want America to be a peaceful nation promoting universal brotherhood and knowledge. I don't want it to wage predatory wars. Sorry, I don't think that immigrants should be grateful. I believe in equality. It doesn't matter that I am a brahmin.

I will stop here. I will choose to respond when I see that you've read some of the works I have suggested and come back as informed.

vavamenon said...

This is some enlightening session of discussions.

Thanks to the participants for
discussing few religious
historical events that puts Hindus perspectives about Christian violence on other civilizations in the right direction.

Sandeepweb said...

Fantastic report of the conference Dr. Elst. It was an honour to be there with you. I agree that all papers were of high quality, and that we need more of such initiatives. All thanks go to Rajiv Varma for putting this together painstakingly.

Sandeep Balakrishna

अश्वमित्रः said...

[Sorry, I don't think that immigrants should be grateful.]

हे यङ्के यैः पुरा म्लेच्छैर्निहता आदिवासिनः।
यत्राऽद्य ते गृहपदं क्व तेषां ते कृतज्ञता।।

Gururaj BN said...

Don't we expect fidelity and loyalty to India from Bangladeshi immigrants who are crowding our country? Having migrated to another country and found better quality of life, the lease one can do is to be grateful.