Does Rajiv Malhotra need Purva Paksha for Hindu-Christian dialogue? – Vijaya Rajiva

Dr. Vijaya Rajiva“Some critics have taken Malhotra to task for intellectual dishonesty in using the phrase Purva Paksha without following up with the contents of this method. Here again, one wonders why Malhotra would have taken the risk of using that phrase. Surely as astute an author such as as he is, he could have anticipated criticism from knowledgeable people, and not counted only on camp followers to sustain him? Another critic has referred to his misuse of Purva Paksha as his ‘achilles heel.'” – Dr. Vijaya Rajiva

Rajiv MalhotraOne of the puzzling aspects of Rajiv Malhotra’s use of Purva Paksha (the ancient Hindu method of debate) for his model of Hindu-Christian Dialogue is the question of why he uses that phrase since his “dialogue” has very little resemblance to the classical Purva Paksha of Tarka Shastra (science of debate) used by the Hindu philosophers. The most celebrated of them was Adi Shankara and he used this method to “defeat” his adversaries in argument, not appease them (as Malhotra does). Adi Shankara challenged the Mimamsa school and in particular the Buddhists. Purva Paksha consists of the statement of the adversary’s arguments, then its REFUTATION and ending with stating one’s own position.

In his talk/dialogue/discussion at Harvard University (USA) with Jesuit scholar and priest Dr. Francis Xavier Clooney SJ, he presented his own arguments from his book Being Different, but did not criticise Dr. Clooney’s arguments. As the present writer has stated in previous articles, even his use of the Socratic word “dialogue” is misleading since the Socrates of the Platonic Dialogues (all 36 of them) was relentless in peeling off the layers of ignorance of his interlocutors. Understandably, Mr. Malhotra is neither Adi Shankar nor Socrates — fair enough! — and Francis Xavier Clooney is a trained scholar, a formidable opponent in his own chosen field.

Fr. Francis Xavier Clooney SJClooney is also a dedicated Jesuit who follows the Vatican’s agenda of Inculturation in India. Readers must be reminded that Inculturation stands for the Church’s attempt to imitate/synthesise the culture and beliefs of Hinduism (or any other religion), not with a view to assimilate or integrate with it, but to subvert it from within, with the eventual aim of conversion. While methods of conquest and violence were followed in past centuries, at present the favoured method of Inculturation (started simultaneously with conquest and violence centuries ago) is now being carefully revived. In India one significant aspect of Inculturation is the drawing of intellectuals and the elite into dialogue. Malhotra is all too familiar with this phenomenon and has written about it in his book Breaking India (co-authored with Aravindan Neelakandan who contributed significant portions of the book). Other writers on the contemporary Indian scene such as Radha Rajan, Sandhya Jain, Tamizhchelvan and George Thundiparambil have written about it. The journal Bharata Bharati has a long list of articles on Hindu-Christian Dialogue which are a must read of anyone who wants to understand the workings of Inculturation.

"Dancing Jesus" in the New Indian BibleThe most recent articles are “F/X Clooney: Old Poisoned Wine in a new Tetra Pak” by George Thundiparambil and “Inculturation and Interfaith Dialogiue: The futility of it” by Tamizhchelvan. The former article takes a critical look at Francis Xavier Clooney’s activities in India and the latter article is a detailed historical survey of the topic of Inculturation and Indigenisation.

In this context it is puzzling as to why Malhotra chose to “dialogue” with Clooney in the first place, even if it were to give exposure to his own newly published book Being Different to audiences. That could have been done independently of Clooney’s presence. During the “dialogue” with Clooney at Harvard university, Mr. Malhotra was obligingly silent on key issues such as Clooney’s flattery of him as being an updated , sophisticated (read superior) version of Swami Dayananda Saraswati and Swami Vivekananda. Of course, courtesy may have required Malhotra to remain silent during the guest’s talk, but surely it was incumbent on him to have politely and courteously refused to don that mantle during the reply period? For someone like Malhotra with an easy fluency of speech, this would not have been too difficult a task.

Swami VivekanandaInstead, one saw the surprising spectacle of the author of Breaking India being unusually accommodating and in smiling fashion thank Dr. Clooney for his comments (the usual protocol) but making no reference to the Vivekananda comment or the great contributions made by Swami Vivekananda and Swami Dayananda Saraswati to Hindu spirituality and Hindu nationalism, besides which his own contributions are relatively small. He had obviously accepted the mantle that Clooney had placed on him! Both the spoken words and the body language indicated a genuine feeling of gratitude for the economiums being showered on him. Malhotra had at long last come in from the cold! And what better interlocutor than a Catholic priest from the Western world to give his blessings?

Some critics have taken Malhotra to task for intellectual dishonesty in using the phrase Purva Paksha without following up with the contents of this method. Here again, one wonders why Malhotra would have taken the risk of using that phrase. Surely as astute an author such as he is, he could have anticipated criticism from knowledgeable people, and not counted only on camp followers to sustain him? Another critic has referred to his misuse of Purva Paksha as his “achilles heel.”

Swami Dayananda SaraswatiThe arguments of his book Being Different could easily stand on their own as his own adventure of ideas, wherein he “gazes” at the West and its thought, especially Christianity and proceeds to distance himself from that tradition by outlining the differences that separate Hindu philosophy and religion from the West . This would have been the honest thing to do and the sensible thing to do.

The answer to the question as to why he uses the phrase Purva Paksha it would seem, is to acquire a superficial image of allegiance to the traditional aspects of Hindu tradition, especially since he has often found fault with orthodox Hindu acharyas and gurus for their “alleged” ignorance of Western thought. He has castigated them quite openly as burying their heads in the sand, while he himself is the proud product of east and west and therefore has the ability to take on the West (see his article “The Westernised side of my background” in Sulekha.com as well as comments elsewhere from time to time). The present writer has on many occasions pointed out that the aam admi Hindu and the traditional acharyas, gurus and maths are the backbone of our civilisation. Any chipping away at these is an unfriendly act which can only benefit the adversary.

While Malhotra may legitimately (in his mind) think of criticising the traditional acharyas for their ignorance (or so he thinks!) he himself has violated one important aspect of Hindu Purva Paksha, which is to “defeat” the adversary, in this case Christianity as represented by Fr. Francis Xavier Clooney. Why does Mr. Malhotra desist from this task? Why does he in his new avatar present a truncated version of Purva Paksha at his discussion at Harvard? The answer again is that he is hamstrung by his own newly found committment to that dubious entity called Hindu-Christian Dialogue? Simultaneously, he believes that using the phrase Purva Paksha gives him a certain respectability. In turn it provides the Jesuit scholar with a cover for his easy entry into his delicate agenda of Inculturation, and a certain respectability.

Should Hindus not sit up at this turn of events?

Other articles by the same author

  1. Rajiv Malhotra and Hindu-Christian Dialogue
  2. Francis Xavier Clooney: Building the Trojan Horse 
  3. Purva Paksha and the Siren Song of Hindu-Christian dialogue 
  4. Rajiv Malhotra’s endorsement of Hindu-Christian dialogue  
More articles on Hindu-Christian dialogue and inculturation
  1. Interfaith Dialogue: Western Christian imperialism vs. the Non-Christian world – Sandhya Jain
  2. Inculturation & Interfaith Dialogue: The futility of it – Thamizhchelvan
  3. F/X Clooney, SJ: Poisoned wine in a new Tetra Pak – George Augustine
  4. Fr. Gabriele Amorth on Yoga: A Passport to Hell? – Virendra Parekh
  5. Hindu activism outside the Sangh – Koenraad Elst
  6. Interspirituality: Interfaith dialogue or dissembling monologue – Kenneth Rose
  7. Kanchi Acharya: No more conversions – Indian Express
  8. Ram Swarup, Hinduism, and Monotheistic Religions – David Frawley
  9. Hindu View of Christianity and Islam – Ram Swarup
  10. “Dancing Jesus” in the New Indian Bible – Swami Devananda Saraswati
  11. Kanchi Acharya confronts Vatican Cardinal at interfaith meeting – Radha Rajan 
  12. Interfaith Dialogue: The Vatican in sheep’s clothing – Radha Rajan
  13. Inculturation: Fooling the Hindu masses – Nithin Sridhar
  14. Catholic Ashrams: Sannyasins or Swindlers – Sita Ram Goel
  15. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters – Sita Ram Goel
  16. Atma Jyoti Ashram: Sannyasis or Snake Oil Salesmen? – Swami Devananda Saraswati
  17. The Spirit of Satan at work in India – M.K. Gandhi

» Dr. Vijaya Rajiva is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university. Her academic training is in Philosophy, Political Science, Political Economy and History.

9 Responses

  1. you should be kidding me to write this article against RM, I am here reading this article only because of RM. At least he was able to reach successfully lot of readers more than you and exposed the conspiracy theories of churches, come on, lets join hands in this war over our culture. End of the day, we all want our culture to prevail but not to see who entered the history books for personal fame!

  2. Chanakya said, ” The enemy of our enemy is our friend…!!”

    So if Dr. Vijay is indeed fighting for a bigger cause (for India) he should have easily avoided such criticism which is unfair, irrationally sceptical in my opinion.

    I have not done my Purva-Paksha on Dr. Vijaya so I can’t say much but by the fist hand read of the essay it seems he is suffering with the Crab Syndrome (pulling the other individual down as soon as he tries to rise up).

    I know that essays like this of Dr. Vijaya against Mr. Malhotra, which insinuates the latter’s hidden agenda will be put to great use in demeaning Mr. Malhotra’s character as well as cause by the West forces. I hope Dr. Vijaya knows this well and is not routing for some petty accolades or chair at seminaries by being over the top critical.

    The author has shared many links but has not shared the link of the video of the discussion on which this essay is based. Are we smelling biases here ? Why so much jibber-jabber over Mr. Malhotra being Swami Vivekanand ? I hope the author is not worried about his seat in the West now that a new Shankara is rising and making his own place in the world Kurukshetra. Let us leave personnal grudges aside and fight together for the greater cause. Shall we ?


    The above link I hope is the same discussion that the author has talked about.

  3. I think it’s rather unfair to criticise Rajivji in this manner. Even Swami Vivekanada must have taken the standing ovation in Chicago humbly. He had no choice as he was in a foreign land. Furthermore, for the NRI ,the Hindu-Christian dialogue is inevitable. There are perhaps 30% or more mixed marriages in the West and unless there is H-C dialogue, those children will be raised as Christians, without little or no Hindu identity. ( This happened to an extent in recent times in India with the Anglo-Indians in India). So the Anglo- Hindu abroad needs people such as Rajiv to help assert the Hindu identity.

  4. There need be no conflict amongst those serving the cause of a greater spiritual culture otherwise known as sanathana dharma.

  5. I think the author of this article didn’t fully understand Rajiv Malhotra’s use of Purva Paksha. Rajiv G makes it clear that Indians should constantly update their models as well. They shouldn’t stay in the past. This tradition of updating our models was done historically, why can’t we do it now. Why is the West or for that matter Chinese or any other culture the ones who get to update their models, but Indians can’t. I feel the author has an agenda against Rajiv G. The author seems to behave like a intellectual Siopi for the West.

  6. Purva Paksha is very lofty. Malhotra is misusing holy words. His Sanskrit is as bad as his understanding of holy men.

    India is the crucible of all spirituality and there is no established divinity schools in Indian universities. USA represents the wild west and it has phoneys running divinity schools for vested and imperial interests. All divinity schools in US universities should be closed. They are wasting their time and public money. They should use the money to feed the homeless in USA.

    The wild west wants to teach divinity to fountainhead of spirtuality India. Be gone, you phoney spirtiualists.

    • I have been voicing the concern against the “Religion” as it is promoted today. There is a difference between religion and organised religion. Organised Religion has been advanced as a political tool to manipulate their hidden imperialistic interests. Religion is first advanced as an ideology to promote peace and love between the people. Then it is converted (religion itself) into building a force of foot soldiers so that they can gather sufficient army to fight for their advancing their political ambitions.

      Now look at the Christians and Muslims, how are they fighting amongst each other and the entire Middle East is sizzling. India has been converted into a religious waste land in the name of religious minorities where the west and the Muslims have left it as a barren field. Now they are instigating the various divisive forces in the name of vote banks only to lead to further hate and infighting. Another seed for communal disharmony.

      The world is sitting at the cross roads and a cataclysm. I am affraid, there is too much of idle population on the globe and that is what is the problem. The world leaders are busy in scientific developments and in promoting their geopolitical interests while the entire world is plunging in chaotic turmoil.

      God bless

  7. A very powerful voice by Dr. Vijaya Rajiva and it is obvious that Mr Malhotra has more hidden agendas known only to him and is merely using the Hindu card dubiously for his personal gains. Unfortunate but he must be shaken off from it. God bless

  8. Dr. Rajiva has rightly held up Adi Shankara as the model to follow in dealing with a religious or philosophical adversary.

    I have often wondered why our acharyas have never dealt as resolutely with Christianity as Adi Shankara dealt with Buddhism.

    The attitude in the maths today seems to be either to ignore Christianity (and Islam) or to accommodate it in the form of Christian devotees.

    The idea that Christianity must be refuted just doesn’t exist.

    Dayananda and Vivekananda, great men that they were, did not deal definitively with Christian doctrine. They tried to reform Hinduism, misguided by the Christian pressures of the times, and created institutions that have become inimical to traditional Hinduism. Vivekananda’s Neo-Vedanta is the very antithesis of Advaita Vedanta. I can only wonder what the great acharya Shankar would have to say about the RKM and the Arya Samaj today!

    Since British times at least, Hindus have always sought to accommodate the other side in the hope that they would be accommodated. It is a naive attitude and it has failed.

    Hindus are more concerned with conduct than with beliefs. Most Hindu criticism of Christians is of their bad conduct, not what they believe. Again, this is a naive attitude and every Hindu scholar knows it. Conduct (activity) grows out of ideas and beliefs, and if the ideas (doctrines) are wrong then the conduct is bound to be wrong too.

    A respected swamiji in Tirukoilur who knew both Abhishiktananda (Fr. Henri le Saux OB) and Fr. Ramondo Panikker – the former a Benedictine monk and the latter said to be associated with Opus Dei – told me that the hope was that Christians would understand the message of Vedanta and give up their own exclusive claims to truth. He more or less admitted that his many years of dialogue with these two priests was a failure and that they maintained their dogmatic stance to the end.

    Sita Ram Goel’s friendship with Abhishiktananda and Panikker was quite different. He was a very hospitable and generous man and these two priests were his guests. Goel told Abhishiktananda right at the beginning that he was a fraud and not a sannyasi, and he had no good thing to say about Panikker who was a womaniser and didn’t know Sanskrit. Panikker depended on translators for his books but they were always presented as his own work.

    Of modern scholars, Ram Swarup is the one who has dealt best with Christian doctrine. He told me many times that Hindus must measure Christianity by the standards set by Hindu Dharma. They would immediately see the inferiority of Christian doctrine if they did this.

    Christianity is first and foremost a personality cult and political ideology that seeks world domination. There is nothing spiritual in it (though there may be spiritual persons who believe in it, which is a different thing). Take Jesus out of Christianity and it collapses because it has no metaphysical foundation and does not rest on universal truths. Hindus must stop treating Christianity as if it were a religion like their own. As soon as Hindus understand this truth about Christianity, there will be no more grounds for dialogue.

    An aside: The fact that Adi Shankara went after Buddhism and not Christianity, would be a positive pointer to the fact that he lived BCE and not CE. Had he lived in the 8th-9th century CE, the area of Kerala he grew up in would have been crawling with Christian missionaries as the second migration of Syrian Christians to Kerala from West Asia was then under way. I am sure he would have had something very caustic to say about their doctrines and their temple-breaking activities (the seven-and-a-half so-called St. Thomas churches were built at this time on temples the Syrians had destroyed).

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