In this series of articles, we are introducing the book ‘History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (AD 304 to 1996)’ by Shri Sita Ram Goel, to readers old and new. Shri SR Goel was one of the leading intellectuals & writers of Independent Bharat, whose work was subsequently marginalised & suppressed by the left-leaning academic establishment. We are grateful to VoiceOfDharma.org for making this treasure trove of books/articles available for the common public.
Plea for Rejecting Jesus as Junk
Jesus Christ has been the stock-in-trade of Christian missions down the ages. He has been packed in all shapes and sizes depending upon the gullibility of the clients to be duped. And he has been rammed down the throats of those who have refused to be hoodwinked by the hoax. As one surveys the history of Christian missions in lands where this hoax has been hawked or imposed, one comes across no end of force and fraud employed in its service by a variety of soldiers and salesmen most of whom are presented as saints. It can be said without exaggeration that if one is in search of a hardened criminal with a clean conscience, one should reach out for the first available Christian saint and one will not miss the mark. St. Francis Xavier, the Paron Saint of the East according to the Roman Catholic Church, provides an excellent example.
The Jesus shop in Bharat was set up for the first time by the Portuguese pirates who started flocking in from 1498 AD onwards. But no buyers came forward to sample the merchandise except for some vagrants who took the bribes offered in exchange for baptism, and went back to live their lives as before. The garbage was then fed forcibly to helpless men and women and children whom the pirates had reduced to slavery and concubinage. The poor Parvas on the Pearl Fishery Coast had to purchase it because the Portuguese navy threatened them with a blockade of their catamarans in case they refused to come round. Meanwhile, some pirates dressed up as priests had started peddling the stock in the interior of Malabar, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Bengal. But Hindus everywhere had turned away with contempt and ridicule. Finally, Maharshi Dayananda had warned his countrymen against the fraud in words which were loud and clear. The hawkers of Jesus Christ were on the run after Swami Vivekananda exposed their methods in picturesque language, and invited them to have some sense of shame.
Jesus Christ would have continued to stink in Hindu nostrils but for another historical process which was simultaneously at work in this country. The long spell of Islamic terror had spawned a class of Hindus to whom superiority of armed might had come to mean superiority of religion and culture. They had started seeing exceptional merit in the Allah of Islam. They could not but see even greater merit in the Jesus of Christianity when the mailed fist of a Christian power overcame the Islamic marauder. Raja Ram Mohun Roy was a typical member of this double-distilled class. He had already passed under the spell of Allah when he came across Jesus. He took no time in jumping on the new bandwagon, and started presenting Jesus as an embodiment of virtues unknown to his countrymen. The Brahmo Samaj he founded continued to place Jesus on a higher and higher pedestal.
Mahatma Gandhi did not belong to this self-alienated class of Hindus. He came from the mainstream of Hindu Dharma which had refused to be overawed by the bluff and bluster of both Islam and Christianity, and remained faithful to its age-old spiritual vision. Nor could the Mahatma be influenced either by the armed might or by the cultural arrogance of the latest conqueror. But due to a variety of reasons, he had developed a cult of his own and, like the medieval acharyas, identified the whole of Sanatana Dharma with this cult rather than see it as one of the strands in a vast fabric. Next, he had gone out in search of a similar cult in the scriptures of Islam and Christianity. He could not find what he was looking for either in the Quran or the Hadis. But some verses in one of the gospels made him dance with delight. He had hit paydirt!
This was the Sermon on the Mount which no Christian theologian or historian had so far noticed as something significant. In fact, Christian scholars had come to suspect the Sermon as an interpolation which was not at all in accord with the character and teaching of Jesus as found in the rest of the gospels. But what could these Christian worthies do in the face of the Mahatma’s claim that he knew Christianity better than any Christian, dead or alive? In any case, the Mahatma’s identification of Jesus’ teaching with the Sermon was convenient for Christian missions in carrying forward their commerce farther a field.
Almost all other Hindu leaders and organisations followed the Mahatma’s lead. They started vying with each other in praising Jesus to the skies. The Ramakrishna Mission all but replaced the Paramhamsa with this newly found fetish. Even those Hindus who looked askance at the activities of Christian missions could not help heaping fulsome praise on the Christian totem. It became a fashion with Hindu gurus, in Bharat and abroad, to pay homage to Jesus before saying any thing else. And it was not long before Jesus was hailed as an avatar by many mainstream Hindus. Christian missions in this country had never had it so good. Now they had only to mention the magic name, and almost every English educated Hindu stood spell-bound. They went further and proclaimed that a Hindu who did not honour Jesus as a spiritual giant was no Hindu at all!
I myself had swallowed the Hindu version of Jesus hook, line and sinker – while I was a college student. And that version stayed with me for forty long years – till I read Ram Swarup’s critique of Monotheism in The Word As Revelation: Names of Gods. As a student of European history, I knew that the history of Christianity had been cruel and blood-soaked till recent times. But I had never thought that this history had been created by doctrines taught by Jesus in the gospels. Ram Swarup’s critique made me sit up, and study Christianity in some depth. And I learnt with painful surprise that Jesus of the gospels was a vicious character. The viciousness of Christian history now stood fully and satisfactorily explained.
Another surprise for me was the findings of Christological research in the modern West. Book after book, written by Christian scholars, informed me that nothing was known- not even knowable – about the real Jesus if he existed at all, and that Jesus of the gospels was a theological statement rather than a historical character. So the historicity of Jesus, which is a fundamental tenet of Christianity, was a Big Lie.
The next thing that I learnt – now with considerable delight – was the steep decline of Christianity in its Western homelands due to the rise of humanism, rationalism, universalism, and science. It was only in the Afro-Asian countries, particularly Hindu-Buddhist lands, that Christian missions had found a flourishing market for Jesus. In fact, Christianity was trying to find a new home in the Hindu Buddhist countries. The Western countries had no use for Jesus any more. But they were prepared to finance Christian missions to unload this junk elsewhere in exchange for services to be rendered by the missions in some other spheres – political, diplomatic, commercial, and subversive.
What pained me no end, however, was the fact that the Christological research in the modern West had remained unknown to Hindus by and large although it was readily available. Swami Vivekananda was the last Hindu leader who was fully acquainted with this research, and who had used it for blunting the thrust of Christian missions. One also got glimpses in Mahatma Gandhi’s encounter with Christian missions to the effect that he was aware of this research to some extent, though he did not permit it to affect his evaluation of Jesus. But for the rest, Hindus had remained uninformed with the result that Christian missions had continued to sell Jesus of the gospels with great gusto, particularly the ‘Jesus of history’ with miracles and all. So I decided to present the findings of Christological research in a small booklet, Jesus Christ An Artifice for Aggression, to serve as a companion volume to the revised and enlarged second edition of my major work on Christian missions, Catholic Ashrams: Sannyasins or Swindlers?
The first part of the book on Jesus presented the salient features of Christological research which had been summarised as follows by a scholar writing in 1986: “During the last thirty years theologians have come increasingly to admit that it is no longer possible to write a biography of him [Jesus], since documents earlier than the gospels tell us next to nothing of his life, while the gospels present the ‘kerygma’ or proclamation of faith, not the Jesus of history. Many contemporary theologians therefore regard the quest of the historical Jesus as both hopeless and religiously irrelevant – in that the few things which can, allegedly, be known of his life are unedifying and do not make him an appropriate object of worship.”
The second part of the book dealt with how the Jesus of Fiction had come increasingly to the fore in the modern West as the Jesus of History started fading fast. It listed and summarised quite a few books written by two schools. One school believes that notwithstanding his unknowability a man called Jesus did exist at some time. Many early sources as well as stray incidents in the gospels have been used to reconstruct the man and his doings. The outcome has been a spate of novels and speculative books which are entertaining rather than enlightening. Another school believes that no man named Jesus by Christianity ever existed, and that the Jesus of the gospels is a synthetic product for manufacturing which many cults prevalent in the Roman Empire in the first century AD have been used. The books produced by this school are fewer than those produced by the other school, but equally speculative.
The third part of the book came up with the latest Christian trickery, namely, how die-hard Christian theologians have invented the Jesus of Faith when they were deprived of the Jesus of History and faced with the Jesus of Fiction. This is a desperate attempt to resurrect the Jesus of the gospels. But the same research which has exploded the Jesus of History has nailed the Jesus of the gospels as a figure soaked in the blood of millions of innocents in many lands. In fact, the gospels are now regarded as the First Nazi Manifesto by knowledgeable historians, sociologists, and psychologists, and Christianity itself as a Big Lie.
The last part of the book provided statistics from authentic Christian sources for showing how Christianity had crumbled in the modern West, and how Jesus has been reduced to junk which the West is dumping on the East with the help of Christian missions. For the missions themselves, Jesus is only an artifice for mounting aggression against non-Christian societies and cultures, and no more an object of worship because they know the truth about what they are selling. Hindus should know that Jesus means nothing but mischief for their country and culture, and stop showing any weakness for him. Weakness for Jesus in a Hindu is the same as the weakness for dice in Raja Nala of epic fame. As Kaliyuga was able to enter Raja Nala and ruin him because of his weakness, weakness for Jesus helps in increasing the stranglehold of intelligence networks and foreign policy department of the West on the only Hindu homeland.
The book invited comments soon after it was published in April 1994. Most of the comments came from Hindus and objected to the language used in some parts of the book, particularly the description of Jesus as junk. But all writers agreed that the fact ‘revealed’ from Christological research were ‘startling’, and had put Jesus in his proper place as a monstrous myth. I told them that the criminal gangs of Christian swordsmen and missionaries had been waging a war against Hindu spiritual traditions, Hindu culture and Hindu nation, for the past five hundred years and with every weapon available to them at any time. Now that they had been worsted in their own homelands and forced to wear a soft face, they were trying to dictate the language we use for their totem. So long as Christianity refuses to revise its theology and withdraw its missions, there was no language which was strong enough for it and its hirelings.
Dr. K. Swaminathan of Madras, however, endorsed my language also. In a letter dated 2 June 1994, he wrote as follows to Swami Devananda Saraswati who had presented to him copies of the two books:
‘Jesus Christ: An Artifice for Aggression’ takes my breath away. It is a devastating expose of the myth of Jesus, besides which even the myth of St(?) Thomas pales into historical inconsequence, relatively speaking. The damage done by the latter is limited to South India only whereas that caused by Jesus has ravaged continents and destroyed civilizations in all parts of the world.
I still cannot understand why Gandhiji had to extol Jesus, the person, to the skies (except perhaps his ignorance at that time) while condemning missionary work unequivocally although in understanding sweet language. Now I have come to the conclusion that Shri Goel’s language, apparently strident and caustic at first look, is the most appropriate way (without mincing words) to deal with the sugar-tongued vipers that the Church and its missions have perfected themselves to be. Shri Goel has done immeasurable service to the Hindu cause and the Hindu awakening. His writings should be taught in the universities. What courage and perseverance he has displayed! I wish he were 20 years younger. What agony his heart must have gone through in fighting almost single-handedly a seemingly hopeless battle inspired by Ram Swarup. Thank the Lord Nataraja that he is now admirably supported by scholars like Shourie, Elst, yourself and a few others. I pray to the Lord that VOICE OF INDIA sweeps through our land in the coming years and causes a new Hindu Renaissance, jolting the so-called enlightened elite Hindus out of their fond illusions about Jesus and Prophet Mohammed into a realistic assessment of their lives. Till two years ago I believed in them myself!
‘Catholic Ashrams’ is indeed equally revealing about their modus operandi. I had all along thought-Swami Abhishiktananda was a genuine Hindu Swami and a Yogi who fully followed Swami Gnanananda of Tapovanam and Sri Ramana Maharshi and had rejected Christ totally after coming to India!
The Shantivanam Branch (Sathya Nilayam) in Mylapore still continues such fraudulent exercises. I recently came across one Father Thomas Marriet’s books condemning Swami Vivekananda and Advaita (Emphasis in original)
Shri B. M. Thapar of New Delhi, a devotee of Sathya Sai Baba, was more than annoyed by my description of Jesus as junk. He advised me against using the language I had used, and thought that my attack on Christianity could have been dexterous instead of being direct. I disagreed with him and told him that most of the time I had only cited what scholars in the West had said. Shri Thapar had, however, sent the two books – Catholic Ashrams and Jesus Christ – to some of his friends in the West. He sent to me copies of two comments he had received. In a letter dated 13 July 1994, Mr. Meads of Emporia, Kansas, USA, wrote:
And thank you for the books Catholic Ashrams and Jesus Christ. Being from a Christian Background, I was very interested in reading other’s perspective of this major religion. Sita Ram Goel writes like a very angry fundamentalist, and I find that very unusual coming from a Hindu. It is quite obvious that he is not a Sai Baba devotee.
I found it a little disheartening to read the Jesus’ is junk paragraph in Jesus Christ, page 85. Baba said in his Christmas discourse 1978 (Sathya Sai speaks, vol X, chapter 45) that Jesus was a Karan-Janma, a Master born with a purpose – the mission of restoring love, charity, and compassion in the heart of man. I know nothing about the Catholic ashrams, very enlightening.
Mr. W. S. Cockburn of Bromley, Kent, England wrote on 19 July 1994..
The books have arrived safe and sound. 1) CATHOLIC ASHRAMS 2) JESUS CHRIST. Denise has already read No.2 from cover to cover and agrees with much. I think Sita Ram Goel is a clever man with quite a mind. His English is beautiful but he is so sharp and at times vicious. So Brij you have begun an interesting discourse. Denise and I feel like a couple of students about to read for our Ph.D. in CHRISTOLOGY.
While sending these comments to me, Shri Thapar himself wrote on 13 October 1994:
I have completed reading ‘Jesus Christ – artifice for aggression’; when I previously wrote I had by chance read p. 85 only (viz. Jesus is junk etc.); your language made me uneasy. Now I have to thank you for alerting me to the subject of Christology; the documentation is such and so well done that it speaks for itself; I wholeheartedly agree with the spirit of your letter of 9/8/94 but feel I must part company with the language you have used on p. 85 and in a couple of sentences elsewhere.
I was late in air-mailing a copy to Dr. Winand Callewaert of Louvain, Belgium. He is an old India-hand who knows and speaks Hindi fluently, and has edited some medieval Hindi texts. I had met him some years ago, and a warm friendship had developed between us. But as soon as he saw some VOICE OF INDIA publications, he stopped even telephoning to me during his annual visits to Delhi. Back in Belgium, he started a whispering campaign against Koenraad Elst who, according to him, had been brain-washed by Sita Ram Goel. I was, therefore, not altogether surprised when I received a long letter from him in November 1995:
Dr. Winand Callewaert,
Dept. Asian Studies
Blidje Inkonststraat 21
B – 3000 Leuven
Leuven, 10th November1995
Dear Sita Bhai,
A few weeks ago I received Jesus Christ. An artifice for aggression.
It is a well written and well documented book, and without going into detail I can agree with many points you mention. I only take issue with the spirit in which it is written and the conclusions you draw. I worry about the aims you like to achieve, nourishing the feeling you have and that prompted you to write this book.
I have always had much respect for you, and affection, but am very sorry that we got estranged. Let me explain. The ideas you have and the books you write about Christians (a tiny minority in India) are not a unique phenomenon. Most criticism you quote has been published by Christians themselves, and I can add plenty to it. No harm. That is a positive development. That is how a religion can evolve from institutionalisation and power-building to what it should be: give a dimension in life to those people who are in need of it. Let those who are not in need of it not bother about it.
But those ideas are not unique also in another way too. They occur in every religion and society as a negative phenomenon as well, in Islam, in Judaism, in Christianity and unfortunately also in Hinduism. At this level they do not have much to do with purifying the religion, but with another level of power, of politics. If you write in your book on p. 82 that Christianity in India is meant to destabilize the government, you no longer discuss the validity of the religious inspiration of Christianity. You discuss politics.
And that is the level where I am so scared of your publications.
It is all right with me if your publications help people, each one in his own religion, to purify his insight and his commitment. But it is dangerous if it brings about hatred among people. We are going to the 21st century and soon to a world with 5 billion people, whether we like or not. Too many people everywhere, whatever the reasons (and I surely disagree with the pope who plays a negative role here, using religion to impose some kind of ethics, but that is not the issue here).
In that kind of world my personal contribution I hope will be to bring people together. If you read my publications, you will ONLY find waves of understanding for Hinduism or Buddhism, not for the power bases (there too) that use religion for their own benefit, but understanding for the fine products of divine or whatever inspiration that has brought about outstanding literature and philosophy.
That is, dear Sita Rain, where I fear since several years, that our ways part. I can agree with much of the analysis you make about Christianity (or Islam), but where does it take one?
-The Christian believer will be antagonized and turn against you. Result: feelings of hatred.
-The non-believer will say: of course religion exploits people for its own end, you see. Result: he will turn against the believing Christians. Hatred.
-And the non-Christians in India and elsewhere will only be too happy to find arguments in your books to say: of course this intelligent man has given proof that Christianity is meant to exploit us. Let us suppress or throw out (if possible) the Christians in India. Result: hatred.
I do not understand, Sita Bhai, how this can be your project.
What do you want to achieve?
-Prove that Christianity is losing its power base in the west, because it was built on dogma and fear? Everybody knows that, but quite a few people-including myself-try to find a base in their life using the good elements in the Christian inspiration, not bothering about the excesses, as much as hinduism too has offered plenty to me to define my purpose in life. And we are not alone.
-Increase a certain powerbase of so-called hindus, and therefore throw out from India whatever is not hindu? If that is your aim in life, it is not realistic.
See where the Ayodhya issue, or now Benares, is leading. To killing, hatred, communal feelings of one neighbour against the other. Politicians use your ideas to increase their own power, gundas and property pirates in Bombay use your or the Shiv Sena’s ideology for their own aims. Is that what you hope to achieve?
-Do you want to defend a ‘minority of hindus’ against the oppression by islam and christianity. You cannot be serious about it. The real majority in India now is the oppressed classes, who for centuries have not had a chance in hindu society, and who were neatly kept in their place by a subtle religious system. Do not tell me that is not true. I am certainly in a position to know, but I do NOT make it my business to start attacking ‘hinduism’ for that. What would I bring about then: useless hatred.
Interestingly, even in this area politicians have found food for their hunting, using the Dalits as a forceful votebank. Do you not see that? Some people are only too happy to see your publications. As much as in Belgium e.g. some people are only too happy to see anti-islamic publications, for their own political end.
Hatred brings about killings, as we saw recently in Israel.
If some think that there is no place for others, that is what you get. Israel, or south-Africa, or Belgium, or the US. In India too.
My reply to Dr. Callewaert is reproduced below:
Dear Dr. Callewaert,
I hope you have received my acknowledgment of your letter dated 10 November 1995 which reached me on 29 November due to the mess prevailing in our postal system at that time.
Unfortunately, I was quite ill at the time I received your letter. I had to remain bed-ridden for more than a month. It is only in the last few days that I have regained some strength and resumed work. I am now in a position to take up your letter, point by point, and present my own case.
I am glad you consider my book on Jesus well written and well documented, and agree with many points have made. I wish you had detailed those points for my enlightenment. Instead, you have gone ahead and nailed me for the spirit in which it is written, the conclusions I have drawn, the aims I like to achieve, and the feelings I nourish. I will come to my conclusions and my aims in the paras that follow. Here I wish to say that your remarks about my spirit and feelings remind me of a fashion prevalent in India’s politics – whenever a politician finds it difficult to pin down an opponent or a rival on specifics, he says, “I do not like the style of his functioning.” Delving into the other person’s psychology may sound deep but it hardly helps a healthy dialogue which should better be confined to facts and logic and value judgments.
My conclusions are clear enough, namely, that Jesus Christ and Christianity are junk which has been rejected by the modern West but which Christian missions are out to dump on the Third World countries with the help of Western wealth and media power, the same as in the case of many other commodities. The statistical evidence I have quoted about the steep decline of Christianity in its traditional homelands have not been cooked up by me; they have been compiled by a Christian organisation of impeccable credentials. Tell me where I have gone wrong. Or is it your case that what the West has come to know about Jesus Christ and Christianity should remain unknown in this part of the world? I beg to differ. There is no reason for my people to wallow in ignorance when knowledge is readily available.
My aims are also quite clear. I want Hindus to view Christianity as a wicked ideology like Communism and Nazism, and not as a system of spiritual seeking like their own schools of Sanatana Dharma. My judgment is based on an extensive study of Sanatana Dharma classics and Hindu history on the one hand, and of the classics of Christianity and its history on the other. You may differ with my judgment, as I know you do. That is, however, a matter of dialogue which we want to have with our Christian friends but which the Christians whom I have known have chosen to avoid with a contemptuous smile.
That brings me to the next point, namely, your being sorry that we got estranged. I wonder why you use the word ‘we’ in this context. I have never felt estranged towards you. It is you who started avoiding me after having known and liked me for quite some time. The story is the same with several other Christian friends whom I have known and cherished for many years. None of you have had the decency to find out by means of a free and frank discussion with me as to why I have chosen to speak the way I have done. All of you have simply walked out of my life, hurling at me the base accusation that I am spreading hatred against the Christian community. Your present letter is brimful of this accusation.
I had the same experience when I started speaking against Communism after having been its votary for several years. Friends whom I had known and cherished for long became estranged without anyone of them trying to find out the reason for my rebellion. They simply started saying that I had been bought over by the CIA and was working not only against the poor and the downtrodden but also the freedom and integrity of my country. I have never been able to understand this behaviour pattern. I have had strong differences with many of my non-Christian and non-Communist friends without losing their love and esteem for me. The fact that I found the Christians and the Communists sharing this behaviour pattern in common confirms me in my conclusion that the two creeds are the same with a variation in verbiage. My studies of the histories of Christianity and Communism reinforce the same conclusion.
You state that the ideas I have and the books I write about Christians are not a unique phenomenon. Before I come to the uniqueness part, I wish to point out the confusion you create by your loose language. Can you kindly quote a single sentence from any of my writings where I have said anything derogatory about Christians as such? I have said time and again that Christians in India are our own people who have been alienated from their ancestral society and culture by the divisive doctrine of Christianity. All my guns have always been trained on the doctrine of Christianity, none and never against Christians except the Christian missionaries. The same confusion prevails when I write about Islam. I am told that I am attacking Muslims. Let me tell you, as I have told many others, that I live in the world of ideas and not in that of human beings who are victimized (or ennobled) by those ideas. I make a clear distinction between propensities, good and bad, which are embedded in normal human nature and those which are imparted by ideas and ideologies.
In any case, your concern for the tiny minority of Christians in India is totally uncalled for in view of the long Hindu history of providing protection to all persecuted people from everywhere. We looked after the Jews and the Syrian Christians who were driven out of their homelands by the Catholic Church and the Zoroastrians of Iran. We took care of the Zoroastrians when they were driven out of Iran by Islam. We have provided shelter to the Buddhist Tibetans victimized by the Chinese Communists. All these refugee communities have lived and prospered in our land. And I assure you that our Christian countrymen will continue to flourish long after their present-day shepherds desert them, which they are bound to do in due course.
Now I come to the uniqueness of our critique. It is true that scholars in the West have written a lot in criticism of Christianity in its various aspects. But as I have pointed out, most of that criticism remains unknown in this country,, so our effort is unique. More pertinently, the Western critique has been, most of the time, an operation aimed at salvaging Jesus Christ from the blood-soaked history he has created in many parts of the world and for centuries on end. I am sure you are familiar with the exercise named the disentangled Christ. The diabolical crimes which can be traced, easily and logically, to doctrines preached by Jesus Christ have been blamed on Western imperialism in general and Spanish and Portuguese imperialism in particular. Or they have been explained away by being placed in the concrete historical context. Our critique is unique because we have seen through this game and warned our people against being tricked and buying the big lie.
Our critique is unique in yet another way. Hindus have so far failed to view Christianity from the vantage point of Sanatana Dharma. On the contrary, they have been misled into viewing Sanatana Dharma from the vantage point of Christianity. The Brahmo Samaj, the Ramakrishna Mission, and the Gandhians have built up Jesus Christ into a spiritual giant and Christianity into a religion as good as, if not better than, Sanatana Dharma. The unique thing about our critique is our telling to Hindus that Jesus Christ is a very questionable character, and that Christianity is a cruel and predatory ideology like Communism and Nazism. Believe me that our books have caused a greater surprise and pain among Hindus who have been led to look reverentially at Jesus and think of Christianity as sharing a lot in common with Hinduism and Buddhism. Many of them are now trying to face and accept the unpleasant truths.
You also deny uniqueness to our critique on another count, namely, by stating that there is nothing new about publicizing the negative features of Christianity and Islam. I must say very emphatically that you are very much mistaken. Had you studied our critique as carefully as we have presented it, you would have discovered that it is preoccupied primarily and to a large extent with what are known as the most positive doctrines of these creeds – the character of Yahweh and Allah in the Bible and the Quran; the concepts of revelation, the only son, the last prophet, and covenant with the chosen people (the Church and the Ummah); the division of historical time into ages of ignorance and illumination, of the human family into believers and unbelievers, and of the inhabited world into lands of the blessed and the damned; the positing of a permanent war (Crusade and JihAd) to be waged by missions and military expeditions till the unbelievers are converted or killed; the imposition of a uniform code of conduct on the believers by a theocratic state; the second coming and the day of judgment; eternal heaven for the believers and eternal hell for the unbelievers. It is these positive doctrines of Christianity and Islam which have produced, logically and inevitably, what you name as the negative phenomenon – religious wars, massacres, genocides, rapine, iconoclasm, slave trade, and so on. I do not have to detail to you the histories of Christianity and Islam; they have been fully documented.
Next, we compare these positive doctrines of Christianity and Islam with the positive vision of Sanatana Dharma, and carry the same exercise in the field of history. That is the only way our people can be made to see the merits and demerits of the two radically opposed traditions – the Vedic and the Biblical. You have had in the West, and for a long time, a discipline known as the Science of Comparative Religion. We are fairly familiar with the exercise which always ends by showing Biblical Monotheism as the highest manifestation of religious consciousness. There is no dearth of Hindu scholars, even religious savants, who have lapped up this Western science, and placed the Sanatana Dharma family of spiritual traditions on the defensive, all along the line. We have only reversed the exercise and shown Biblical Monotheism as a monstrous doctrine which has plagued mankind ever since it was spelled out by the Biblical prophets. I wonder if you are at all correct in labelling this scholarship as politics. Would it be acceptable to you if we describe as politics your Science of Comparative Religion? Please drop the accusation unless in your lexicon the word politics can cover anything and everything.
Of course, it is not for the first time that we have been accused of playing politics. The late Father Bede ‘Dayananda’ Griffiths told us in so many words that Ram Swarup and I were trying to create communal riots between Hindus and Christians. Some other Christian friends have told us again and again that while they appreciate ‘religious Hinduism’, they find it hard to understand ‘political Hinduism’, meaning the kind of work we are doing. The point that all of you are trying to make is that Hindus should not stand up and speak in defence of their own religion and culture, that Hindus should not try to analyse and understand the factors and forces in the field around them, in short, that Hindus should remain at the receiving end for all time to come. We are sorry we have to reject your advice.
Nor are you alone in getting scared of our publications. The entire Christian establishment in this country and even its patrons abroad seem to be in the same state of mind. This is in spite of the fact that VOICE OF INDIA is, to use your own phrase, a tiny set-up as compared to the giant Christian establishment, not only in terms of resources and manpower but also in terms of reach. I do not have to read out the details to you; you know the facts as a specialist on the affairs of this country. What strikes me as interesting is that it was the same story when we started calling the bluff of Communism. We were only a few with no establishment worth the name. On the other hand, the Communist establishment in this country at that time was as big as the Christian establishment at present. What is more, the Communist campaign was backed by the official establishment which stood packed with fellow-travellers including the Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. But our publications created a scare not only in the Communist establishment in this country but also in the Soviet Union and Red China.
Again, the close parallel between Christianity and Communism has a message for us, namely, that those who build houses on fragile foundations get scared even by the slightest probe. On the other hand, we look at the edifice of sound spirituality and sterling culture built by Sanatana Dharma. It has survived the Islamic attack spread over more than thirteen hundred years, and the Christian attack sustained for five centuries. We were here long before Jesus Christ was born and hurled at an unsuspecting Pagan world. And I assure you we will be here long after the Bible starts selling as waste paper on pavements around the world. Recall the fate of Hitler’s Mein Kampf and the Collected Works of Lenin and Stalin.
You speak of purifying religion. We are trying to purify Hinduism by rejecting the monotheistic poison it has imbibed under the impact of Islam and Christianity. We are asking Hindus to be proud of their Gods and Goddesses, of their temples and icons, of their sages and saints, of their cultural and social traditions, in short, of all that the Biblical creeds denounce as polytheism, pantheism, idolatry and superstition. And we call upon Christians and Muslims to have a close look at Yahweh and Allah, the only saviour and the last prophet, at missions and da’wah, in short, at every doctrine which sanctions exclusivism and aggression. Describing these calls as spreading hatred defies our imagination.
Many Christian friends I met have told me, “I do not like the missionaries.” I told everyone of them that it was no use saying so to me in private, and that what I expected was a public protest. There has been no response. Dr. Raymond Panikkar advised me to join a common platform of all religions for opposing materialism, industrialism, consumerism, and technological totalitarianism. I told him that I was all for it provided the Christian and Muslim friends on the platform denounced the mission and the da’wah. He smiled and gave me up. I had to tell him that his advice was tantamount to making me look the other way so that my pocket could be picked. I am inviting you to create a platform in the West for protesting against the missions let loose upon us. Then alone I will accept as honest your plea of purifying religion. Charity should begin at home.
That takes me to the core of our critique. Let me assure you that we Hindus do not care at all about what the other people believe. Christians are welcome to believe in Immaculate Conception, virgin birth, resurrection, an the rest. Muslims are welcome to believe in Jibril and Miraj and the miracles of Muhammad. Both of them are welcome to worship whomsoever they view as God, in their own way. The trouble arises when Christians and Muslims try to impose their beliefs and ways of worship on other people by means of force and fraud masquerading as mission and da’wah. People cannot be brought together so long as this aggression continues. If objection to aggression means spreading hatred, we plead guilty.
The rest of your letter is irrelevant for me because you have missed the main point, namely, our audience, and mistaken us for a reform movement. Our audience is neither the Christians nor the Muslims, in India or elsewhere. Our audience is Hindu intelligentsia and Hindu intelligentsia alone. It has been a Hindu habit for long to resent the behaviour patterns of Christians and Muslims while praising Christianity and Islam as revered religions. Christians and Muslims cannot understand this Hindu habit. They say, and say it very rightly, that Hindus accept their religions only in theory while rejecting them in practice. We are asking Hindus to reverse the process. We are asking them to study Christianity and Islam in depth and see for themselves that Christian and Muslim behaviour patterns follow from the belief system of Christianity and Islam. We are telling Hindus that it is no use protesting against the behaviour patterns while remaining blind to the belief systems. That is the long and short of our effort.
In the case of Islam, our effort aims at raising the dialogue from the street level to the level of scholarly platforms. For a long time, Hindus have been flattering Muslims by seeing nothing wrong in the doctrine of Islam. For a long time, Muslims have been taking to the streets and shedding blood whenever and wherever Hindus object to their behaviour pattern. Muslims have never been asked by Hindus to reflect on the dogmas of Islam, and revise them wherever they go against peaceful coexistence. We are appealing to Hindus to start asking some questions about Islam so that Muslims are made to rethink. If asking questions with a view to holding a dialogue is provoking violence, we plead guilty again. Hindus had a long tradition of asking questions even about their own cherished doctrines. I wonder if you are well-acquainted with our acharyas – Brahmanic, Buddhist and the rest. It was only with the advent of Islam and, later on, Christianity that Hindus were terrorised into the habit of remaining silent when faced with wild claims and not asking any questions. We are trying to revive the ancient Hindu tradition.
Sita Ram Goel
On the other hand, the response from another Christian quarters has been positive as well as ideological. A copy of my book on Jesus Christ had been sent for review to the Catholic monthly, Jeevadhara, published from Kottayam in Kerala. The March 1996 (Vol. XXVI, No. 152) of the monthly is devoted to the theme discussed in my book. The book is not mentioned either in the Editorial or in the five article which comprise the issue. But its cover carries the title, ‘The Historical Jesus’, and a copy of it has been addressed to me by name. In any case, two articles in it refer to another VOICE OF INDIA publication, Arun Shourie and his Christian Critic, in which Arun Shourie has put a question mark on the historicity of Jesus.
The articles in the monthly travel tiresomely over the same well known territory which has been covered in my book on Jesus Christ. They flaunt the same tongue-twisting jargon as h-as always been characteristic of Christian apologetics. Christian theologians have always had any number of tricks up their sleeves. Reading the rigmarole between the lines, it is more than obvious that their totem continues to totter so far as its historicity is concerned. Their desperation on this score has become so acute as to make them blind to what they are admitting in another context. This becomes obvious in the very first article – ‘Biblical Scholarship on Historical Jesus’ – written by L. Legrand of St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary at Bangalore. After saying that the search for the Jesus of history had come to a dead halt for twenty years in the aftermath of Bultmann, the theologian proceeds:
But now, in the last few years, the interest for the historical Jesus seems to have returned with a vengeance. The reason for this revival of interest can be attributed to the pendular movement of scholarly – or simply of human – attention. It is due also to the apparition of new factors.
A first factor is the rediscovery of the Jewish roots and of the Israelite background of Jesus. The rediscovery itself resulted from the convergence of a variety of elements. An important ideological stimulus was the backlash of the Holocaust in Europe at the time of World War II. The massive scale of cruelty of this atrocious genocide induced a sense of shame and led to a reflexion on the deep seated causes of antisemitism. Christians theology and biblical exegesis bad its share of the blame in so as it bad dissociated Christian identity from its Jewish sources or even too often had expressed this identity in terms of antitheses of and opposition to Judaism. The Declaration of Nostra Aetate of Vatican II on the Relations of the Church with non-Christian Religions has a long paragraph recalling ‘the spiritual bond that links the people of the New Testament with the descendants of Abraham’ (S. 4). Positive as it was, it was none the less criticized for listing the Jewish Religion among non-Christian religions. A huge input of biblical scholarship tends now to see Christianity and Judaism within the continuum of a single religious movement. Jesus did not found a new religion meanwhile proposing a radically new perception of belonging to Israel, and, if the Church is a new Israel, it is so in the sense not of substituting the old one but of proposing a renewed vision of the irreversible call of God (p.97, emphasis added).
One wonders whether this exercise is going to restore historicity to Jesus. What one finds intriguing is, what will happen to his divinity once he is reduced to the status of a Jewish prophet howsoever high-grade? But before we come to the latest theological trick being played in this context, we like to draw attention to an outright confession made in the above statement, namely, that the Holocaust caused by the Nazis was a direct and inevitable outcome of anti-Semitism sponsored and spread by Christianity for centuries on end. As I have pointed out in my book on Jesus Christ, the anti-Semitism of Christianity proceeds straight from what the Jesus of the gospels says about the Jews.
Did the writers of the gospels – all of them Jews realize what they were letting loose when they transferred from the Romans to the Jews the guilt of killing Jesus? Is Christianity today prepared to purge the gospels of those poisonous phrases which make them the First Nazi Manifesto vis-a-vis the Jews? And will Christianity go further and revise its attitude towards other non-Christians as well?
These questions are inter-linked. For, the problem which Christianity has posed, and continues to pose, before mankind is not confined to its attitude towards the Jews alone. The other non-Christians are also bothered by its attitude towards them. The writer of the article from which I have quoted above makes it more than clear that we Hindus at least can expect no such change in Christianity’s attitude towards us. Coming to the end of the article, he proclaims:
In so far as India is concerned, these developments are also relevant. India knows very well the problem of the meaning of history, that is, of an eternal and abiding Truth immanent in the contingencies of a transient world. Can Sath, the real Being, be enmeshed within the fleeting realities of this world? in concrete terms, can a carpenter living in a remote backward province of the Roman Empire in the distant first century of our Era be really ‘the Truth’ as he claimed to be, for all times and all places? Attempts have been made to rescue the Christian claim by disconnecting the Galilean Jesus from the Risen Lord. Jesus of Nazareth, limited in space and time, confined to the narrow boundaries of Semitic culture and outlook, would be of restricted relevance for today’s India. Only the Risen Lord in his Glory, image of God and First-born of Creation would be the Christ of India, the Lord which the Sages and the Rishis of old would have already met in their vision of the Absolute. But would not this be a strange Bultmannian solution? Liberationist perspectives, Dalit and Female Theology aptly remind us that the poor and their oppression are also very much part of the Indian landscape and that they cannot be dispossessed of the Jesus of Nazareth who shared in their toil and knows in the flesh what it means to live in a world of injustice and corruption. Indian hermeneutics has to face the complexity of the Indian situation, its culture and counter-cultures (p.102).
The magic by means of which a mosquito is to be transformed into a mammoth remains a closely guarded Christian secret. But we know what it is. It is the formidable finance and media power of Christian missions.
This pompous passage is only an elaboration of what J. C. Manalel says in the Editorial:
‘in a country all but lost in the mire of the vilest crimes and corruption, the Life-of-Jesus research can hold aloft the torch of Jesus’ truth and justice and love and be a constant reminder of his shining example of self-sacrifice and self-gift to humankind (p.86).
Comment on this denunciation of India and the tall claims made for the Christian totem would be superfluous. These are age-old missionary slogans being shouted in a new idiom. In the days of yore, India used to be a land of heathenism, sin, and fornication with false gods. Now it is a land of crime and corruption, caste and sex discrimination. In the days of yore, Christianity was to save us from eternal hell-fire. Now it promises to save us from social oppression and injustice. In short, we remain the damned as ever, and Christianity the only saviour as before. The rest is blah blah, of which Christian missionaries are never is short supply. What beats us is that these guys never mention in this context the plight of Dalit Christians whom they have uprooted from their ancestral society and culture, and who are displayed prominently when it comes to demanding benefits available to Hindu Harijans. Brazen-faced lying! thy name is Christianity!
Coming to ‘the Sages and the Rishis of old’, there is no gainsaying that they have met the likes of Jesus in their meditations. But unfortunately for the Christian theologians their description of these spectres happens to be quite different. Take the Buddha for instance. He gives a graphic description of MAra whom he met while meditating in his VajrAsana under the Bodhi Tree at Gaya. If one reads the doings of MAra in the DIghanikAya and the doings of Jesus in the gospels, one cannot miss the similarity between the two. The Gita also provides ample details of the asura-sampad manifested by Jesus. There are many other stories of devAsura-saMgrAma – the Hindu view of history in the classics of Sanatana Dharma – in which we meet malignant figures like that of Jesus. It is time for Christian missionaries to stop telling lies about India’s Sages and Rishis. They should not force us to tell more truths about Jesus. We assure them that we have done plenty of Life-of-Jesus research.
That the house of Christianity rests on fragile foundations was proved by the letter which VOICE OF INDIA received from Fr. Werner Chakkalakal. He had ordered a copy of Jesus Christ by value payable parcel (VPP). But he did not honour the VPP. VOICE OF INDIA wrote to him a routine letter stating that the VPP had been sent in response to his explicit order in writing, and that by not honouring it he had wasted postage which a non-profit organisation of small means could ill afford. The letter which VOICE OF INDIA received in reply is reproduced below:
Dept. of Literacy & Value Education
M.P. Regional Centre for performing Arts,
Literacy, Value Education & Productions
Tel. & Fax: (0755) 531389
Voice of India
2/18 Ansari Road
New Delhi – 110 002
I understand that yours is not a commercial organisation, but one devoted to glorify a falsely understood ‘Hindutva’ by spreading misinformation about those whom you perceive as rivals. Your very name claiming to be the ‘Voice of India’ is symbolic of your pretensions.
I had the chance cursorily to go through your book ‘Jesus Christ: Artifice for Aggression’, a typical example of scurrilous, mischievous and sophistic writing with a show of specious erudition. It is useless to answer such studied mischief, because there is no sincere love of truth in such propaganda. Hence I decided not to honour it with a rejoinder. Sincere Hindus will not change their minds about Christ, by reading your scurrillous literature.
Only I wish to advise you not to sponsor such humbug, which would only show up the hollowness of your enterprise.
But I respect your love of Hinduism, even though it is for the wrong reasons.
Fr. Werner Chakkalakal CMI
Postal address for letters: NAVCHETANA, P.B. No.47, BHOPAL
– 462 001 (M. P.) INDIA. R. No. 952/95.
Street address: (also postal address for packets) NAVCHETANA CENTRE, VIP Road, LALGHATI, BHOPAL – 462 032.
The letter which VOICE OF INDIA wrote back is also reproduced:
Fr. Werner Chakkalakal CMI Navchetana Centre,
VIP Road, Lalghati,
Bhopal – 462 032
Many thanks for your letter of the 19th. You have bared a face which we have always suspected to be hiding behind the mask of amiableness.
Our postcard was only a routine complaint that you did not honour the VPP which was sent to you in response to your explicit order, and that not being a commercial organisation we can ill afford loss by way of wasted postage. We do write such complaints whenever some customer does what you did. You could have kept quiet as some of them do, or apologised as some others have done. There was no occasion for you to let your spleen take over.
We are, however, happy to know that when you ordered the book you had planned to write a rejoinder. We wish you had not changed your mind. And we do look forward to a reasoned rejoinder from you or someone else in your set-up. After all it is your Church which has been claiming for quite some time that Christians are in a dialogue with adherents of other religions. The book you have denounced after only a cursory look at it happens to be a Hindu contribution to the dialogue. Or is it your case that Hindus should not examine the dogmas you sell and have a close look at the totem by which you want them to swear?
In any case, the heavy artillery of awesome adjectives you have brought into action is not going to annihilate the large number of books on Christology written by outstanding scholars in the West. Some of these scholars happen to be renowned Christian theologians. The book on which you have frowned so frightfully claims no originality. It has only presented what the traditional homelands of Christianity have known about Jesus for years on end. You would have been within your rights as well as bounds of a healthy dialogue if you had pointed out where the book had misquoted a source, or quoted it out of context, or used logic which was not straight, or used a value judgment which was not valid. We feel sorry that instead of advancing arguments, you have chosen to hurl swear-words.
We are surprised indeed to see you reacting so violently to the modern Western view of Jesus and whatever else goes with that name. We wonder how you would react if you were to glance even cursorily at the Hindu view of Jesus as presented in some of our other publications. We shall present these publications to you if you feel interested and promise not to break out into another juvenile outburst.
You accuse us of glorifying ‘a falsely understood ‘Hindutva’.’ It is gratifying to know that you do not reject Hindutva outright like many others in your profession together with the motley crowd of Nehruvian Secularists. You also announce that you respect our love for Hinduism. We now wait for you to tell us what the ‘truly understood’ Hindutva of your perception happens to be. We shall be grateful for your guidance.
We, however, refuse to let you pass unchallenged when you flatter yourself by believing that we Hindus perceive Christianity as a rival to Hindutva. That is far from the truth. Do not be misled by the recent phenomenon of some Hindu leaders and organizations recognizing Christianity as a religion. The broad mass of mainstream Hindus have always despised Christianity as an åsurika creed brought in by alien invaders and imposed on some of our people by force, fraud and material inducements.
You object to our naming ourselves as ‘the Voice of India’. That is because you do not know the premises from which we proceed. We believe that India is the homeland of Hindus and that the voice of Hindus is the Voice of India. We regard our Christian and Muslim compatriots as our own people who have been alienated from their ancestral society and culture by the divisive doctrines of Christianity and Islam. Voice of India speaks for these kidnapped Hindus as well. They have been enslaved and brainwashed and cannot speak for themselves. And we look forward to the day when they will speak for themselves rather than through some self-appointed shepherds.
Incidentally, your jibe at the name of our organisation has prompted us to have a look at the banner under which you sail – Navchetana Communications: M.P. Regional Centre for Performing Arts, Literacy, Value Education and Productions. It is quite a mouthful. Kindly let us have a list of your publications and/or a write-up on your performance. Meanwhile, please pardon us for saying that we have found no music in the language of your letter, no rhyme in your reasoning, no value in your judgments, and no art or education in your performance as a whole. Let us not get away with the belief that that is all that you have to show by way of ‘Productions’.
We are enclosing the latest list of our publications. There is nothing more that we can boast of at present. In fact, the work we are doing is very simple. You will understand it better if we put it in your own language the language of a multinational corporation marketing the ‘only true faith’ and the ‘only saviour from sin and eternal perdition’. Here it is. We are organizing consumer vigilance and warning our people against buying counterfeit goods. It is no use resenting our presence in the field. The better course for you is to take the hint and stop selling your merchandise under false labels. In short, unless you desist from selling lies, we shall continue to tell the truth about you and your goods.
Jai Shri Rama,
Yours faithfully For Voice of India
(Sita Ram Goel)
Fr. Werner’s letter shows what happens when the skeletons which Christian missionaries have been hiding are brought out of the cupboard. The missionaries feel rattled. It also shows the confidence which Hindu eulogization of Jesus has inspired in the missionary mind. They have come to believe that Hindus who reject Jesus are no Hindus at all. Here is a Christian missionary who believes that he and not Hindus know what true Hindutva means!
The encounters in this chapter highlight a few points. Firstly, Hindu intelligentsia is prepared to face unpleasant facts and draw the right conclusions; it is only Hindu scholarship which has failed again and again to study aggressive dogmas and present them as such. Secondly, there are people in the West who are prepared to listen provided Hindus present their case to them. Thirdly, there are elements in the West (as in Bharat) who believe that an aggression once established cannot and should not be questioned, and who see scenes of civil war if the victims of aggression refuse to remain at the receiving end; that is what they mean when they extol ‘Hindu tolerance’.
(To be continued…)
Book: History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (AD 304 to 1996) (Chapter 1 & 2)
Author: Sita Ram Goel
Originally published:1989 (2nd edition 1996)
Published by: Voice of India
Available on: Amazon
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