Christianity and Hinduism

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The indirect influence of Christianity has been to quicken Hinduism to life. The cultured Hindu society has admitted its grievous sin against the untouchables. But the effect of Christianity upon India in general must be judged by the life lived in our midst by the average Christian and its effect upon us. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Christianity and Hinduism are two large religions in the world with some major theological differences.


  • The Christian-dominated parts of India's North-East have witnessed several instances of Hindu-cleansing. Hindu organizations like the Ramakrishna Mission and the RSS have been targeted for elimination from the region through pressure or violence. In the 1990s, tens of thousands of Riang tribals who rejected conversion were expelled from Christian-dominated Mizoram. The death toll of Hindus eliminated by Christian separatists dwarfs that of the much-publicized Hindu violence against Christians, which has killed only a handful since 1947, including in the supposed “wave” of anti-Christian riots in 1998-99. The killing of Australian missionary Graham Staines... was front-page news in the whole world and remains a constant point of reference in the dominant discourse on communalism. By contrast, when shortly after that, four RSS workers were kidnapped by Christian separatists in the North-East and their mutilated bodies were subsequently found, it was hardly reported in the Indian press and not at all in the international media.(...) Indian secularism is systematically dishonest in its assessment of the religions hostile to Hinduism.
    • Koenraad Elst: Religious Cleansing of Hindus, 2004, Agni conference in The Hague, and in : Elst, K. The Problem with Secularism (2007) by K. Elst
  • When India was explored and the wonderful riches of Indian theological literature found that dispelled once and for all the dream about Christianity being the sole revelation.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1859. quoted in Gokhale, Balkrishna Govind India in the American mind Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1992
  • The missionaries were sent out to exterminate heathenism in India, not to spread heathen nonsense all over Europe.
    • August Hermann Francke (commenting about the work of Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg by which he tried to get better informed about Hindu objections to Christian Faith.) in Hindu Apologetics at the Beginning of the Protestant Mission Era in India’, by H. Grafe in Indian Church History Review, June, 1972.
  • The indirect influence of Christianity has been to quicken Hinduism to life. The cultured Hindu society has admitted its grievous sin against the untouchables. But the effect of Christianity upon India in general must be judged by the life lived in our midst by the average Christian and its effect upon us. I am sorry to have to re record my opinion that it has been disastrous. It pains me to have to say that the Christian missionaries as a body, with honourable exceptions, have actively supported a system which has impoverished, enervated and demoralised a people considered to be among the gentlest and most civilized on earth...
    • Mahatma Gandhi. Collected Works, Volume 24, New Delhi, 1967, p. 476. Young India of July 13, 1924.
  • It seems, you expect from me an expression of my views on the specific question: What type of missionary workers are wanted in India, rather than on the question whether any missionary workers should come at all to India? I shall respectfully speak my opinion on the latter point. I feel it is not really possible on the ground of logic or on the evidence of miracles to hold that amongst the religions known as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity, anyone is nearer the truth than any other. You will permit me to object to the exclusive claims for Truth made on behalf of any one of these faiths. If this my first point is granted, the only justification for missionary work is proselytism. But is it good on the whole for men and women to change from one religion to another? I think it is not desirable to make any effort at proselytism. I feel that such efforts undermine the present faith of the people, which is good enough for promoting right conduct in them and to deter them from sin. They tend to destroy family and social harmony, which is not a good thing to do.
    • C. Rajagopalachari quoted in The National Christian Council Review, December 1956, p. 490. quoted from Madhya Pradesh (India), Goel, S. R., Niyogi, M. B. (1998). Vindicated by time: The Niyogi Committee report on Christian missionary activities. ISBN 9789385485121
  • We, on the contrary, now send to the Brahmans English clergymen and evangelical linen-weavers, in order out of sympathy to put them right, and to point out to them that they are created out of nothing, and that they ought to be grateful and pleased about it. But it is Just the same as if we fired a bullet at a cliff. In India, our religions will never at any time take root; the ancient wisdom of the human race will not be supplanted by the events in Galilee. On the contrary, Indian Wisdom flows back to Europe, and will produce a fundamental change in our knowledge and thought.
    • Schopenhauer, Arthur The world as will and representation. Translated from the German by E. F. J. Payne. New York, Dover Publications [c1969 - Volume I, & 63 p. 356-357. quoted in Londhe, S. (2008). A tribute to Hinduism: Thoughts and wisdom spanning continents and time about India and her culture. New Delhi: Pragun Publication.
  • That which transcends country, which is greater than country, can only reveal itself through one’s country. God has manifested his one eternal nature in just such a variety of forms... I can assure you that through the open sky of India you will be able to see the sun therefore there is no need to cross the ocean and sit at the window of a Christian church. ... “I have nothing more to say,” answered Gora, “only this much I would add. You must understand that the Hindu religion takes in its lap, like a mother, people of different ideas and opinions, in other words, the Hindu religion looks upon man as man and does not count him as belonging to a particular party. It honours not only the wise but the foolish also and it shows respect not merely to one form of wisdom but to wisdom in all its aspects. Christians do not want to acknowledge diversity; they say that on one side is Christian religion and on the other eternal destruction, and between these two there is no middle path. And because we have studied under these Christians we have become ashamed of the variety that is there in Hinduism. We fail to see that through this diversity Hinduism is coming to realise the oneness of all. Unless we can free ourselves from this whirlpool of Christian teaching we shall not become fit for the glorious truths of Hindu religion.”
    • Rabindranath Tagore, Gora, translated into English, Calcutta, 1961. Quoted from Goel, S. R. (2016). History of Hindu-Christian encounters, AD 304 to 1996. Chapter 13 ISBN 9788185990354 [1]

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