Ram Swarup

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If there is sufficient aspiration, invoking, and soliciting, there is no doubt that even Gods apparently lost could come back again. They are there all the time. For nothing that has any truth in it can be destroyed. It merely goes out of manifestation; but it could reappear under propitious circumstances. So could the old Gods come to life again in response to new summons.
Buddha and Buddhism form an intimate part of Hindu consciousness. Buddha was a Hindu. Buddhism is Hindu in its origin and development, in its art and architecture, iconography, language, beliefs, psychology, names, nomenclature, religious vows and spiritual discipline. Hinduism is not all Buddhism, but Buddhism forms part of the ethos which is essentially Hindu.

Ram Swarup (1920 - 26 December, 1998) was an independent Hindu philosopher and author.

Quotes[edit]

  • The new self-styled social justice intellectuals and parties do not want an India without castes, they want castes without dharma.
    • Ram Swarup: “Logic behind Perversion of Caste”, Indian Express, 13-9-1996.
  • The fact is that the truth of harmony and human brotherhood derives not from an absorbed trance but from an awakened prajñâ or wisdom; and its validity depends not on any dramatic ecstatic visions but it belongs to man’s (…) natural reason unspoilt by theologies of exclusiveness.
    • Ram Swarup: Ramakrishna Mission, p.13. (1986)
  • But foreign should not be defined in geographical terms. Then it would have no meaning except territorial or tribal patriotism. To me that alone is foreign which is foreign to truth, foreign to Atman.
    • Ram Swarup quoted in : Sita Ram Goel. How I Became a Hindu (1982, enlarged 1993) ISBN 81-85990-05-0 (ch. 7) [1]
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Pagan renaissance is overdue. It is necessary for Europe to heal its psyche. Under Christianity, Europe learned to reject its ancestors, its past, which cannot be good for its future also. Europe became sick because it tore apart from its own heritage, it had to deny its very roots. If Europe is to be healed spiritually, it must recover its spiritual past--at least, it should not hold it in such dishonor.... For self-recovery, these countries have to revive their old gods. But this is a task which cannot be done mechanically. They have to recapture the consciousness which expressed itself in the language of many gods... In my book, The Word as Revelation: Names of Gods, I spoke of a new kind of pilgrimage: a return to the time of the Gods. Meanwhile, European scholars can do a lot. They should write a history of Europe from the Pagan point of view, which would show how profoundly persecuted Paganism was. They should compile a directory of Pagan temples destroyed, Pagan groves and sacred spots desecrated. European Pagans should also revive some of these sites as their places of pilgrimage.
    • Interview in the June, 1996, issue of Antaios, [2]

Buddhism vis-a-vis Hinduism (1958, revised 1984)[edit]

  • "Buddhism is returning home to India after a long exile of a thousand years and, like the proverbial prodigal son, is being received with open arms. Religious tolerance of the average Hindu partly explains the warm reception. But a more important reason is the fact that Buddha and Buddhism form an intimate part of Hindu consciousness. Buddha was a Hindu. Buddhism is Hindu in its origin and development, in its art and architecture, iconography, language, beliefs, psychology, names, nomenclature, religious vows and spiritual discipline....Hinduism is not all Buddhism, but Buddhism forms part of the ethos which is essentially Hindu"

The World As Revelation: Names of Gods (1980)[edit]

  • The Hindu pantheon has changed to some extent but the old Gods are still active and are still understood though under modified names. Hindu India has a sense of continuity with its past which other nations, that changed their religions at some later stage, lack. It is also known that the Hindu religion preserves many old layers and forms. Therefore, its study may link us not only with its own past forms but also with the religious consciousness, intuitions and forms that prevailed in the past in Europe, in Greece, in Rome, in many Scandinavian and Baltic countries, amongst Germanic and Slavic peoples and also in several countries of the Middle East. In short, the study may reveal a fundamental form of spiritual consciousness which is wider than its Hindu expression.
  • The Vedic approach,” concludes Ram Swarup, “is perhaps the best. It gives unity without sacrificing diversity. In fact, it gives a deeper unity and a deeper diversity beyond the power of ordinary monotheism and polytheism. It is one with the yogic and the mystic approach... In this deeper approach, the distinction is not between a true One God and false Many Gods; it is between a true way of worship and a false way of worship. Wherever there is sincerity, truth and self-giving in worship, that worship goes to the true altar by whatever name we may designate it and in whatever way we may conceive it. But if it is not desireless, if it has ego, falsehood, conceit and deceit in it, then it is unavailing though it may be offered to the most true God, theologically speaking.
  • If there is sufficient aspiration, invoking, and soliciting, there is no doubt that even Gods apparently lost could come back again. They are there all the time. For nothing that has any truth in it can be destroyed. It merely goes out of manifestation; but it could reappear under propitious circumstances. So could the old Gods come to life again in response to new summons.

Hindu View of Christianity and Islam (1992)[edit]

  • The story of Islam is no different. Prophetic Islam is inimical to mystic ideas. In the beginning, some Sufis courted martyrdom, but eventually they bought peace and safety by surrendering to Prophetic Islam. There have been some outstanding Sufis, but by arid large the Sufi movement has been part of a larger aggressive apparatus, just like Christian Missions of Imperialism. Though Islam persecuted "infidels", destroyed their temples, enslaved and looted them, we find no Sufis protesting. In fact. they were often beneficiaries of this vandalism. "In many cases there is no doubt that the shrine of a ·Muslim saint marks the site of some local cult which was practised on the spot long before the introduction of Islam," says Thomas Arnold making it look quite normal and harmless. Mu'in aI-Din Chishtl's dargah at Ajmer is one such shrine built on the ruins of an old Hindu temple. The saint had also got the present of a Hindu princess, part of thebooty captured by a Muslim General, Malik Khitab, when he attacked the neighbouring pagan land. Sufi saints often took full part in Islamic jihad.

Quotes about Ram Swarup[edit]

  • I could see that his seeking had taken a decisive turn towards a deeper direction. He [Ram Swarup] was as awake to the social, political and cultural scene in India as ever before. But this vigil had now acquired an entirely new dimension. Political, social and cultural movements were no more clashes or congregations of external forces and intellectual ideas; they had become projections of psychic situations in which the members of a society chose to stay. His judgments had now acquired a depth which I frequently found it difficult to fathom.
  • Ram Swarup was feeling disturbed. He had no doubt that Hindu society was in for great trouble. He had been studying the scriptures of Islam and Christianity during the past several years, and had gone deep into their most orthodox sources. He had come up with the conclusion that they were not religions but cruel and intolerant ideologies like Communism and Nazism. The spread of these ideologies in India, he said, was fraught with fearful consequences for whatever had survived of Hindu society and culture in the only Hindu homeland.
  • It was not long before I was visited by officers of the Crimes Department, and not only from Delhi. I was accused of causing communal discord, and threatening the peace of the land. I was arrested, and ordered to seek bail. The Station House Officer in Delhi who locked me up for twenty four hours, was mighty pleased with his performance. He boasted loudly that he had prevented a big street riot in Delhi. He invited me to accompany him and see for myself the missiles which the local Muslims had piled up on the roofs of their houses, apart from the firearms inside. When I asked him why he had not got the missiles removed and the firearms flushed out, he snarled, "Address your question to the big bosses of the political parties. I am only a small fry trying to earn my daily bread."
    I had been arrested in the classic case of Ram Swarup's documented study, "Understanding Islam through Hadis: Religious Faith or Fanaticism?"... There had been loud talk in the book market at Delhi that this book was going to be banned... A Muslim mob had materialized outside the binder's shop, and threatened to burn down the establishment. The Station House Officer, I had mentioned, had appeared on the scene in a matter of minutes, and carried away all the sheets as well as the binder. In the next few hours I had been picked up. ... The Delhi Administration issued a notification in November, 1991, stating that the Hindi translation will stand banned whenever it is published. In March 1992, the same Administration banned the English original also.
    • Goel, S.R., How I became a Hindu (1982) [5]
  • Perhaps the most revealing story of a book banning concerns Ram Swarup's Understanding Islam through Hadis.... A crowd of people gathered around the binders' shop. They demanded the entire stock of the objectionable book to be handed over for burning, otherwise they would set the place itself on fire. The police was called. They made no attempt to disperse the crowd. Instead they summoned and arrested the printer and the publisher, and they made sure that everyone got an eyeful of the arrest show.... the Delhi administration has had two meetings in 1988-89, to consider whether the book was objectionable. Twice it was cleared. But the pressure for banning it was kept up. ... The Jama'at as well as other Muslim groups, and personalities close to the Janata Dal (either faction), have sought a ban on Ram Swarup's book. In September 1990, a court ruled that the book was unobjectionable. But the pressure continued. And come December 1990, a third meeting of Delhi administration officials revoked the two earlier decisions, and issued a ban on the book.
    • Koenraad Elst. Ayodhya and after: issues before Hindu society. 1991. Ch. 12. [6]
  • In March 1991, Ram Swarup's book "Understanding Islam through Hadis" was banned, after the Hindi version had already been banned in 1990.... According to the fundamentalist party Jamaat-i Islami the book contained "distortion and slander", and as an example of this slanderous distortion, it mentions this passage: "Mohammed saw Zaynab in half-naked condition, and he fell in love with her". With this revelation, the fundamentalists managed to get some agitation going, and the book was banned.
    • Elst, Koenraad, Negationism in India: concealing the record of Islam. 1992 [7]
  • Ram Swarup, now in his seventies, is a scholar of the first rank.... Today, anyone reading those critiques would characterise them as prophetic. But thirty years ago so noxious was the intellectual climate in India that all he got was abuse, and ostracisation.... His work on Hinduism and on Islam and Christianity has been equally scholarly. And what is more pertinent to the point I want to urge, it has been equally prophetic. No one has ever refuted him on facts, but many have sought to smear him and his writing. They have thereby transmuted the work from mere scholarship into warning. ... The forfeiture is exactly the sort of thing which had landed us where we are: where intellectual inquiry is shut out; where our traditions are not examined, and reassessed; and where as a consequence there is no dialogue. It is exactly the sort of thing too which foments reaction. (...)"Freedom of expression which is legitimate and constitutionally protected," it [the Supreme Court] declared last year, "cannot be held to ransom by an intolerant group or people."
    • Arun Shourie: Fomenting Reaction. 8 November 1990. Quoted from: Freedom of expression – Secular Theocracy Versus Liberal Democracy (1998, edited by Sita Ram Goel) [8]
  • Among the authors ... none is more distinguished than Mr. Ram Swarup. I have written about him earlier: Now about 75, he is one of the deepest thinkers I have come across. His work is foundational.
    • Arun Shourie: " How should we respond?", also in: Freedom of expression – Secular Theocracy Versus Liberal Democracy (1998, edited by Sita Ram Goel) [9]
  • Late in the afternoon on November 15, a police official visited the office of the Voice of India, a publication house that has been publishing works of academic excellence. ... The policeman brought with him a letter that Mr. Shahabuddin had written to Minister of State for Home P.M. Sayeed. Dated August 20, it asked that the government have the book ["Hindu View of Christianity and Islam"] examined "from the point of view of banning it under the law of the land." "This book is blatantly offensive to the religious sensibilities of Muslims and Christians," Mr. Shahabuddin had written. ... It is not the law these people rely on. They rely on intimidation, It is exactly by tactics of this kind that an earlier book of Mr. Swarup - Understanding Islam Through Hadis - was put out of circulation, The English edition was published in 1982 in the US and reprinted in India in 1983. ...
    Our response should be three fold. First, whenever an attempt such as this from quarters such as Mr. Shahabuddin is made to stifle free speech, to kill even scholarly inquiry, we must go out of our way and immediately obtain the book....
    Secondly, whenever the intimidators prevail and such a book actually comes to be banned large numbers should take to reprinting it, photocopying it, to circulating it, and discussing its contents.
    The third thing is more necessary, and in the long run will be the complete answer to the intimidators. As long as scholars like Mr. Swarup are few, intimidators can bully weak governments into shutting them one by one. But what will they do if 1,000, scholars are to do work of the same order? This is the way to deal with intimidators. Let 1,000 scholars carry on work Mr. Swarup has pioneered.
    • Arun Shourie: " How should we respond?", also in: Freedom of expression – Secular Theocracy Versus Liberal Democracy (1998, edited by Sita Ram Goel) [10]
  • The global Hindu magazine Hinduism Today has described Ram Swarup as "perhaps Hinduism's most cogent analyst." The Prime Minister of India, Atal Behari Vajpayee, spoke of him as "a representative of India's rishi tradition in the modern age." ....Most people, including Hindus, have never looked into what Hinduism really is. If you ask people about Hinduism, most Westerners will have quick answers about its polytheism, idolatry or castism, but if you ask them about the Upanishads or the Gita, about Atman and Brahman, they will have little to say. Most Western textbooks define Hinduism as a conglomeration, an ethnic religion, a castist creed, or a worship of many gods. Such people need to read Ram Swarup to really know what they are dealing with in what is called Hinduism. He will not let them get away with such a sloppy and superficial approach to what is perhaps humanity's oldest heritage of spiritual knowledge. Ram Swarup unfolds this Sanatana Dharma with both a panoramic vision and a pinpoint accuracy so that it comes alive to the reader as an internal force of consciousness and light.
    For those who really want to understand the heart and soul of Hindu Dharma, the work of Ram Swarup is perhaps the best place to start. His expression is lucid, modern and concise, but firmly rooted in ancient traditions and a yogic understanding. He is aware of the many misconceptions and systematically works to remove them to arrive at the underlying truth that is helpful to all.
    For those who want to understand the Hindu religion as a whole, Ram Swarup's work is perhaps the best available guide. He is not speaking in terms of any particular guru or sampradâya but about the essence of the entire tradition, which pervades all of its multifarious manifestations. He is going back to an older, perhaps more rigorous but more honest presentation of this greater tradition which is beyond time and person, and which stands fearless in itself, not bowing down to any inferior creeds.
    • David Frawley, Preface, in Ram Swarup (2000). On Hinduism: Reviews and reflections. [11]
  • Ram Swarup is probably the most important and cogent writer on Hinduism in the last half of the twentieth century.
    • David Frawley, How I Became A Hindu My Discover Of Vedic Dharma

External links[edit]

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