Hinduism and other religions

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In the field of comparative religion, many scholars, academics and religious figures have looked at the relationships between Hinduism and other religions.


  • It is an extremely significant fact that, before the coming of the Mohammedans, there was virtually no persecution in India. The Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang, who visited India in the first half of the seventh century and has left a circumstantial account of his fourteen-years stay in the country, makes it clear that Hindus and Buddhists lived side by side without any show of violence. Each party attempted the conversion of the other; but the methods used were those of persuasion and argument, not those of force. Neither Hinduism nor Buddhism is disgraced by anything corresponding to the Inquisition; neither was ever guilty of such iniquities as the Albigensian crusade or such criminal lunacies as the religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
  • The Indians admit the right of individuals with different dharmas to worship different aspects or conceptions of the divine. Hence the almost total absence, among Hindus and Buddhists, of bloody persecutions, religious wars and proselytizing imperialism.
  • The religions whose theology is least preoccupied with events in time and most concerned with eternity, have been consistently less violent and more humane in political practice. Unlike early Judaism, Christianity and Mohammedanism (all obsessed with time) Hinduism and Buddhism have never been persecuting faiths, have preached almost no holy wars and have refrained from that proselytizing religious imperialism which has gone hand in hand with political and economic oppression of colored people.
  • Brahmanism had always been tolerant; in all the history of the rise and fall of Buddhism and a hundred other sects we find much disputation, but no instance of persecution.
  • When heresies or strange gods became dangerously popular they tolerated them, and then absorbed them into the capacious caverns of Hindu belief; one god more or less could not make much difference in India. Hence there has been comparatively little sectarian animosity within the Hindu community, though much between Hindus and Moslems; and no blood has been shed for religion in India except by its invaders. Intolerance came with Islam and Christianity; the Moslems proposed to buy Paradise with the blood of “infidels,” and the Portuguese, when they captured Goa, introduced the Inquisition into India.
    • Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage : India and Her Neighbors.
  • The essence of Hindu Dharma is not ‘tolerance’ or ‘equal respect for all religious’ but satya, truth. The problem with Christianity and Islam is superficially their intolerance and fanaticism. But this intolerance is a consequence of these religions’ untruthfulness. If your belief system is based on delusions, you have to pre-empt rational enquiry into it and shield it from contact with more sustainable thought systems. The fundamental problem with monotheistic religions is not that they are intolerant but that they are untrue (Asatya or Anrita).
    • Koenraad Elst, In: Sita Ram Goel: Jesus Christ - An Artifice for Aggression (1994)
  • I do not regard Jainism or Buddhism as separate from Hinduism. Hinduism believes in the oneness not of merely all human life but in the oneness of all that lives.
    • Mahatma Gandhi. October 1927. The Collected Works, Volume 35, New Delhi, 1968, pp. 166-67. Quoted in Goel, S.R. History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (1996)
  • This is another case of suppressio verb suggestio falsi practised very often by her school... It is nobody's case that there was never any conflict between the sects and sub-sects of Sanatana Dharma. Some instances of persecution were indeed there. Our plea is that they should be seen in a proper perspective, and not exaggerated in order to whitewash or counterbalance the record of Islamic intolerance. Firstly, the instances are few and far between when compared to those listed in Muslim annals... Thirdly, none of those instances were inspired by a theology... Lastly, no king or commander or saint who showed intolerance has been a Hindu hero, while Islam has hailed as heroes only those characters who excelled in intolerance.
    • S.R. Goel: Hindu Temples, vol.2 (2nd ed.), quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743
  • Evaluated by Sanãtana Dharma, Christianity and Islam turn out to be constructs of the outer human mind, drawing upon dark drives of the unregenerate unconscious. Sanãtana Dharma stands for self-exploration, self-purification, and self-transcendence, while Islam and Christianity stand for self-stupefaction, self-righteousness, and self-aggrandizement.
    • Sita Ram Goel, Defence of Hindu Society (1983)
  • It is nobody’s case that there was never any conflict among the sects and sub-sects of Sanãtana Dharma. Some instances of persecution were indeed there. Our plea is that they should be seen in a proper perspective, and not exaggerated in order to whitewash or counter-balance the record of Islamic intolerance. Firstly, the instances are few and far between when compared to those listed in Islamic annals. Secondly, those instances are spread over several millennia while the fourteen centuries of Islam stand crowded with religious crimes of all sorts. Thirdly, none of those instances were inspired by a theology, while in the case of Islam a theology of intolerance has continued to question the character of Muslim kings who happened to be tolerant. Fourthly, Jains were not always the victims of persecution; they were persecutors as well once in a while. Lastly, no king or commander or saint who showed intolerance has been a Hindu hero, while Islam has hailed as heroes only those characters who excelled in intolerance.
    • S.R. Goel in Shourie, A., & Goel, S. R. (1993). Hindu temples: What happened to them. Vol. II
  • Nothing is gained by a total denial of even sporadic cases of religious persecution and vandalism. But such cases were very few and their very paucity emphasizes and illuminates the great religious tolerance of the Indian people for more than two thousand years.’ ... There is a great difference between local brawls as in the above case and a general policy by a community or a king of wholesale persecution.
    • About alleged cases of religious persecution by Hindus. P. V. Kane, History of the Dharmashastras, Ancient and Medieval Religious and Civil Law, Volume V, Part II, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona, 1977, p. 1011, note 1645a. quoted from Shourie, Arun (2014). Eminent historians: Their technology, their line, their fraud. Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India : HarperCollins Publishers.
  • The spread of tension between Hindus and Muslims in turn, became a key legitimating factor for continuing British power in India. From the well-worn argument of colonialism’s ‘‘civilizing mission,’’ the new justification became one of ‘‘defense of the minorities.’’ In reality, however, minority interests were protected only to the extent that they served imperial power. To quote Lord Olivier in 1926 ‘‘No one with a close acquaintance with Indian affairs will be prepared to deny that, on the whole, there is a predominant bias in British officialdom in India in favour of the Muslim community, partly on the ground of closer sympathy, but more largely as a make-weight against Hindu nationalism.’’
    • Lord Olivier, quoted in The Politics of Extremism in South Asia. By DEEPA M. OLLAPALLY. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009, p. 40. With quote of Lord Olivier, 1926. Quoted in Review by Koenraad Elst in : The Journal of Asian Studies (Cambridge), volume 69, issue 02, pp. 637-639.
  • It is even a matter of debate whether this persecution [of Jains [by Hindus] in the Pandya country] has occurred at all. Nilakanth Shastri, in his unchallenged History of South India, writes about it: "This, however, is little more than an unpleasant legend and cannot be treated as history." Admittedly, this sounds like Percival Spear's statement that Aurangzeb's persecutions are 'little more than a hostile legend': a sweeping denial of a well-attested persecution. However, Mr. Spear's contention is amply disproves by contemporary documents including firmans (royal decrees) and eye-witness accounts, and by the archaeological record, e.g. the destruction of the Kashi Vishvanath temple in Varanasi by Aurangzeb is attested by the temple remains incorporated in the Gyanvapi mosque built on its site. Such evidence has not been offered in the case of Jnana Sambandar at all. On the contrary: 'Interestingly, the persecution of Jains in the Pandya country finds mention only in Shaiva literature, and is not corroborated by Jain literature of the same or subsequent period.'
    • Nilakanth Sastri: History of South India, quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743
  • Indian spirituality, proclaimed that the true Godhead was beyond number and count; that it had many manifestations which did not exclude or repel each other but included each other, and went together in friendship; that it was approached in different ways and through many symbols; that it resided in the hearts of its devotees. Here there were no chosen people, no exclusive prophethoods, no privileged churches and fraternities and ummas. The message was subversive of all religions based on exclusive claims.
    • Ram Swarup, introduction to Mohammed and the Rise of Islam by D.S. Margoliouth, New Delhi, Reprint, 1985 and 1995, p. xix.
  • A fateful thing has been happening. The East is waking up from its slumber. The wisdom of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism is becoming available to the world. Already, it is having a transforming effect on the minds of the people, particularly in countries where there is freedom to seek and express. Dogmas are under a cloud; claims on behalf of Last Prophethood and Only Sonship, hitherto enforced through great intellectual conditioning, brow-beating, and the big stick, are becoming unacceptable. Religions of proxy are in retreat. More and more men and women now seek authentic experience. Borrowed creed will not do. Men and women are ceasing to be obedient believers and are becoming seekers. They no longer want to be anybody’s sheep, now that they know they can be their own shepherds. An external authority, even when it is called God in certain scriptures, threatening and promising alternately, is increasingly making less and less impression; people now realize that Godhead is their own true, secret status and they seek it in the depth of their own being. All this is in keeping with the wisdom of the East.
    • Ram Swarup, Introduction to Mohammed and the Rise of Islam by D.S. Margoliouth, Voice of India reprint, New Delhi, 1985, pp. xvii-xviii. 10Ibid., pp. xix-xx.
  • 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 : The Problem with Secularism (2007) by K. Elst
  • In 1999, they tried to make the most of a spate of incidents between Christians and non-Christian tribals in which a few Christians got killed (mercifully far fewer than the periodic harvest of martyrs in Pakistan). They falsely blamed Hindu activists for some inter-Christian rape cases and for a series of bomb attacks against churches, which turned out to be the handiwork of a Pakistan-based Muslim group, Deendar Anjuman. Before ill-informed but consequential international audiences such as the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, they managed to uphold their original story, but in India the campaign to blame Hindu activists for everything had badly lost its credibility.
  • To offset this failure, critics of the BJP tried to make the most of a supposed wave of minor incidents between Hindu tribals and Christians in 1998-2000. There were only a handful of mortal victims, far fewer than the dozens of Christians killed in Pakistan after September 11, 2001, but with the media as amplifiers, an impression of terrible oppression of a poor hapless minority was created. Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately), the key allegations made initially under the international spotlights turned out to be untrue... Indeed, this turned out to be a pattern: all inter-Christian incidents in this period... were suddenly blamed on the evil hand of the Hindus.
    • Koenraad Elst: The Struggle for India's Soul A reply to Mira KAMDAR by Dr. Koenraad ELST, in : The Problem with Secularism (2007) by K. Elst
  • In each of these cases, the original allegations against Hindus were splashed across the front pages in India and also reported in the world press, whereas the true story, once it came out, was reported on an inside page in India and not at all abroad. Even then, Christian spokesman John Dayal repeated the discredited allegations before the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, and they keep on reappearing in secularist sources. I am not aware of a single secularist who publicly withdrew the allegations and offered apologies for his slander to the maligned Hindus. Nor of one who has drawn attention to Christian violence against Hindus in the same period, such as the abduction of four RSS activists by Christian separatists in Tripura (the four dead bodies were found two years later) or the ethnic cleansing of the Hindu Riang tribe from Christian-majority Mizoram. Even so, the propaganda line of Hindu violence against Christians is no longer pursued with the same vigour, partly because its proponents seem to be embarrassed by their crying wolf a few times too often, and partly because it remains a relatively small affair even if all the allegations had been true.
    • Koenraad Elst: The Struggle for India's Soul A reply to Mira KAMDAR by Dr. Koenraad ELST, in : The Problem with Secularism (2007) by K. Elst
  • Still, the deliberate effort to lure people away from their ancestral religion is perhaps nowhere as serious in magnitude as in India, partly because the country puts no substantial hurdles in the way of internal and foreign missionaries, as opposed to most of its neighbours.
    • Koenraad Elst Decolonizing the Hindu Mind, Rupa (2001), p. 271
  • The doctrine of the monopoly of truth and revelation… is alien to the Hindu and Buddhist mind ... to them the claim of any sect that it alone represented the truth and other shall be condemned has always seemed unreasonable.
    • K. M. Panikkar. Asia and Western Dominance: a survey of the Vasco Da Gama epoch of Asian history, 1498–1945. p. 297
  • The success of the missions need not have been so meagre but for certain factors which may be discussed now. In the first place, the missionary brought with him an attitude of moral superiority and a belief in his own exclusive righteousness. The doctrine of the monopoly of truth and revelation, as claimed by William of Aubruck to Batu Khan when he said 'he that believeth not shall be condemned by God', is alien to the Hindu and Buddhist mind. To them the claim of any sect that it alone possesses the truth and others shall be `condemned' has always seemed unreasonable.
    • K.M.Panikkar. Asia and Western Dominance: a survey of the Vasco Da Gama epoch of Asian history, 1498–1945
  • 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]
  • Incidentally, we have borrowed from the speaker the term “minorities”. As Rajiv Malhotra has pointed out, this term carries a wrong but intentional connotation. The Christian and Muslim communities are not only historically privileged, they are also Indian branches of multinational enterprises, benefactors of worldwide networks of solidarity. The term “minority” evokes a poor hapless group, and that is precisely what Muslims and Christians are not. For materialists, this can be explained with the money streams: both the said communities are the benefactors of enormous sums of money coming from abroad, especially but not exclusively in their religious functioning. Hindus have no such thing: even the remittances from Hindus settled abroad are far smaller and are, after all, generated by people with roots in India, not by non-Indian donors.
    • Koenraad Elst, On Modi Time : Merits And Flaws of Hindu Activism In Its Day Of Incumbency – 2015 Ch 20
  • After all, the fanaticism displayed systematically by Islam has not come falling out of the sky, it exists in human nature and may occasionally pop up in contexts of tension; the difference is that Hindu acts of fanaticism were occasional and took place in spite of the doctrine, while Islamic fanaticism was systematic and merely an application of the doctrine. The Marxist scholars... have this pet theory of Jainism and Buddhism as revolts against Brahminical tyranny, subsequently crushed out by the Brahminical reaction. In fact, the minor instances of intra-Hindu violence were distributed roughly proportionately between Brahminical, Buddhist, Jaina and other sects. Among the ... reports of conflict between the different traditions within the Sanatana Dharma common wealth, several are probably unfounded, and several exaggerated. But as we have no firm evidence for this plausible hypothesis yet, let us assume for now that all these reports are simply correct and accurate. Let us moreover assume that a similar number of similar cases has gone unrecorded or unnoticed by the Marxist historians. Then, as a sum total, we still do not have the number of victims that Teimur made in a single day. Then we still do not have the number of temple demolitions that Aurangzeb wrought on his own. Then we still do not have the amount of glorification of temple destruction that we find in any of the diaries of Muslim conquerors like Babr or Firuz Shah Tughlaq or Teimur, or any of their chroniclers. The fanaticism record of Hinduism throughout millennia is dwarfed by the record of a single Ghaznavi, Ghori or Aurangzeb and becomes completely negligeable when compared with the total record of Islamic destruction and massacre in India. Moreover, a proper comparison of the fanaticism record of Hindu civilization would not be with Indian Islam, which represents a far smaller number of people, but with the entire Muslim world from the Prophet (peace be upon him) onwards... These few disputable cases will not do to prove that "Hindu tolerance is a myth". Hindus can afford to face this evidence squarely. A final judgement on whether Hinduism is tolerant or not should not depend on a few instances selected and edited to fit the preconceived picture, but on an over-view of the whole of Hindu history. The larger patterns of Hindu history leave no doubt that the impression cunningly created by the negationists is false.
    • Elst, Koenraad. Negationism in India: concealing the record of Islam.
  • As workers for the revival of the religion of our ancestors, and as convenors of the World Congress of Ethnic Religions, we are happy and honoured to communicate with the representatives of the world's largest surviving ancient religion, the Sanatana Dharma. We want to pay our respect to the people who have kept alight the Vedic fire for thousands of years, even when besieged by hostile forces, and who are currently guiding Hindu society through the challenges of the modern age. We wish to draw the attention of the Hindu leaders to the efforts currently made to maintain the ancestral religions of the Native Americans, Africans, and other "Pagan" peoples in the face of the subversion of their cultures and aggression against their dharmic practices by agents of self-righteous missionary religions. We support the peaceful efforts of all nations to safeguard their cultural and spiritual heritage against subversion and destruction. We also wish to draw your attention to the efforts to revive or reconstruct the ancestral religions of those nations who were overwhelmed by Christianization or Islamization in the past. By common origin or simply by a common inspiration, these ancient religions share a lot with the Sanatana Dharma, in both its tribal and its Sanskritic manifestations. We therefore wish to express our hope and intention of establishing a friendly cooperation."
    • World Congress of Ethnic Religions, 1999. Jonas Trinkunas and Denis Dornoy. message to the Dharma Sansad, the “religious parliament”, in February 1999. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad. Hindus and Neo-Paganism, 1999. [2]
  • When Mahatma Gandhi said: “I am a Hindu, I am a Muslim, I am a Sikh, II am a Christian”, Mohammed Ali Jinnah dryly commented: “That is a typically Hindu thing to say.”
    • Gandhi, Jinnah. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad. Hindu Dharma and the Culture Wars. (2019). New Delhi : Rupa.
  • And above all, don’t let us forget India, the cradle of the human race, or at least of that part of it to which we belong, where first Mohammedans, and then Christians, were most cruelly infuriated against the adherents of the original faith of mankind. The de- struction or disfigurement of the ancient temples and idols, a lamentable, mischievous and barbarous act, still bears witness to the monotheistic fury of the Mohammedans, carried on from Mahmud, the Ghaznevid of cursed memory, down to Auirangzeb, the fratricide, whom the Portuguese Christians have zealously imitated by destruction of temples and the auto de fé of the inquisition at Goa. ... Truly, it is the worst side of religions that the believers of one religion have allowed themselves every sin again those of another, and with the utmost ruffianism and cruelty persecuted them; the Mohammedans against the Christians and Hindoos; the Christians against the Hindoos, Mohammedans, American natives, Negroes, Jews, heretics, and others. Perhaps I go too far in saying all religions. For the sake of truth, I must add that the fanatical enormities perpetrated in the name of religion are only to be put down to the adherents of monotheistic creeds, that is, the Jewish faith and its two branches, Christianity and Islamism. We hear of nothing of the kind in the case of Hindoos and Buddhists. Although it is a matter of common knowledge that about the fifth century of our era Bud- dhism was driven out by the Brahmans from its ancient home in the southernmost part of the Indian peninsula, and afterwards spread over the whole of the rest of Asia, as far as I know, we have no definite account of any crimes of violence, or wars, or cruelties, perpetrated in the course of it. That may, of course, be attributable to the obscurity which veils the history of those countries; but the exceedingly mild char- acter of their religion, together with their unceasing inculcation of forbearance towards all living things, and the fact that Brahman- ism by its caste system properly admits no proselytes, allows one to hope that their adherents may be acquitted of shedding blood on a large scale, and of cruelty in any form.
    • A. Schopenhauer, [3] Works by Schopenhauer, Arthur, 1788-1860, Edited by Will Durant, PH. D. With an Introduction by Thomas Mann
  • The scriptures of Semitic inspiration are hortative, admonitory; they urge, they prove, they enjoin, they warn, they even enforce. There is a note of feverishness in them. But the atmosphere of the Hindu scriptures is unhurried, relaxed and expositional. The first variety seem to goad you; the second one to lead you step by step... There are other differences as well. Christianity and Islam are religions of faith; Hinduism and Its powerful offshoot, Buddhism, are religions of Prajna, wisdom. The former deal with Intensifies of feelings, the latter aim at awakening the mind. The former have been religions of piety with a strong tendency to deny reason. The latter are religions of 'understanding', giving due place to reason though it will have to be purified and separated from the dross of desire before It becomes an instrument of a higher life. In Hinduism, faith is rendered by the world shradha, that which lies hidden in the recession of the heart; so, faith means faith in the hidden truths of the soul, faith in the unrealised possibilities of the mind.
    • Shri Ram Swarup's chapter, 'Hinduism vis-a-vis Christianity and Islam', in Politics of Conversion edited by Devendra Swarup (Deendayal Research Institute, New Delhi: 1986) [4]
  • Apologists for Islam, as well as some Marxist scholars in India, have sometimes attempted to reduce Islamic iconoclasm in India to a gratuitous ‘lust for plunder’ on the part of the Muslims, unrelated in any direct way to the religion itself, while depicting Hindu temples as centers of political resistance which had to be suppressed. Concomitantly, instances have been described in the popular press of Hindu destruction of Buddhist and Jain places of worship, and the idea was promoted that archaeological evidence shows this to have happened on a large scale, and hence that Hindu kings could be placed on a par with the Muslim invaders. The fact is that evidence for such ‘Hindu iconoclasm’ is incidental, relating to mere destruction, and too vague to be convincing.
    • Wink, André. Al-Hind the Making of the Indo-Islamic World: The Slave Kings and the Islamic Conquest : 11Th-13th Centuries. BRILL. p. 309 ff.

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