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Sahasranama
14 February 2011, 07:28 PM
http://www.apologeticspress.org/article/1410

Arjuni
14 February 2011, 08:24 PM
Namasté,

This is very sad. The author writes clearly and has evidently put a lot of work into this essay; his education is obvious, and yet there's so much ignorance and logical fallacy here.

Leaving aside my knee-jerk "WTH IS THIS?!?!" reaction, the most glaring error in this work is summarised in the paragraph entitled Why the Bible Is Superior to Hindu Scripture. He writes that the total corpus of Hindu scripture is massive, abstruse, too loftily-written and overwhelming to be relevant to the average Hindu's life, and furthermore how the texts are difficult to understand, lacking clear translation (or even the ability for a clear translation to be made) and filled with contradiction.

Earlier in the essay, however, he has already contradicted those ideas in many places. One example comes from his discussion of the Vedas.
He writes:
The bulk of the songs in the Rig Veda are addressed to the chief gods Indra, Agni, and Soma as petitions for success in battle, protection, and material prosperity.
Well, that doesn't sound too complex or difficult to understand. Surely anyone can comprehend basic material needs and how people would naturally look to God to satisfy them.

But only one sentence before:
One could not pick up a copy of the Rig Veda and understand modern Hinduism or even the Vedic rituals without significant explanation.
So now they're confusing, too confusing to be comprehended without "significant explanation." Apparently the average Hindu is too dumb to understand what "protection" and "material prosperity" are without lots of studying.
He later proceeds to (wrongly!) interpret various passages from the Vedas and other sources as if he understands what they're talking about, yet provides no evidence that he himself has received any sort of instruction on these texts.

Someone should inform him that in matters of religion, the ability to think critically about the texts he studies is a crucial asset. Likely he doesn't even realise how much of the Bible he understands symbolically and figuratively because it's his own religion, and mystical thinking in one's home faith comes naturally and without conscious effort.

I wonder if he truly believes that millions of people would follow a religion based upon confusing, abstract stupidity, and revere "Hey, God, give us cows" as the highest level of divine revelation from the Absolute?

The depressing part is, he probably does. What a terrible waste of an intellect.

Indraneela
===
Oṁ Indrāya Namaḥ.
Oṁ Namaḥ Śivāya.

sanjaya
14 February 2011, 11:35 PM
Leaving aside my knee-jerk "WTH IS THIS?!?!" reaction, the most glaring error in this work is summarised in the paragraph entitled Why the Bible Is Superior to Hindu Scripture. He writes that the total corpus of Hindu scripture is massive, abstruse, too loftily-written and overwhelming to be relevant to the average Hindu's life, and furthermore how the texts are difficult to understand, lacking clear translation (or even the ability for a clear translation to be made) and filled with contradiction.

It's funny he says this. One of my many complaints about Christianity is that the scripture is too short. You've basically got a large pamphlet (i.e. the New Testament) on which you're supposed to base an entire religion. There are four gospels which contain the same thing, and then a lot of letters with irrelevant correspondance to churches. Hindu Scripture contains large volumes of stories, which convey countless spiritual truths. Christianity, though based on Jesus, says next to nothing about him. You would think that given how important Jesus is, the founders of Christianity would bother to write a lot more about him than they ultimately did. If I were Christ's disciple, I would have written about every detail I could find from his birth until his resurrection (at this point most Christians will accuse me of thinking I'm smarter than God). Instead we get nothing but a small snapshot into his life. Why is there more information about King David in the Bible than there is about the Savior of all men?


But only one sentence before:
One could not pick up a copy of the Rig Veda and understand modern Hinduism or even the Vedic rituals without significant explanation.
So now they're confusing, too confusing to be comprehended without "significant explanation." Apparently the average Hindu is too dumb to understand what "protection" and "material prosperity" are without lots of studying.
He later proceeds to (wrongly!) interpret various passages from the Vedas and other sources as if he understands what they're talking about, yet provides no evidence that he himself has received any sort of instruction on these texts.

Well, you know. We're just a bunch of stupid Indians. Good thing it's the white man's burden to civilize us heathens. :)

Anyway Indraneela, great paraphrase of this guy's rant. Thank you!

mohanty
14 February 2011, 11:47 PM
Well, you know. We're just a bunch of stupid Indians. Good thing it's the white man's burden to civilize us heathens. :)

That about sums it up. It's less of a Christian issue than it is a western issue. To sum up:


Hindu scripture is convoluted.
I don't get it.
How could anyone else?
Let us all praise the lord!


I guess the best way to respond is by saying that the Bible was written by and is meant for childish minds. Hindu scriptures were written by sages and are meant to elevate readers to that status.

Arjuni
15 February 2011, 12:40 AM
Mohanty, Sanjaya - I actually laughed aloud at both of your posts, not because there's anything innately funny in this guy's perspective, but because you both made excellent points with which I completely agree. (Sort of the "funny because it's true" idea.)

Sanjaya, I too find the Bible astonishingly brief, and it's strange that the article-author should harp on supposed contradictions and irrelevancies in our scriptures. The Bible has many actual contradictions and different versions of events, as well as many archaic instructions that are not considered relevant by modern Christians. (I'm reminded of this argument (http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/drlaura.asp), couched as a humorous letter.)

You're not the only one who would have been recording every minute detail, either. "Today THE SON OF GOD had some bread and an orange for lunch! With some butter on the bread! No, really, he was standing right next to me and actually ATE these things, and I SAW it! I saved the peel!!!"

At any rate, the author seems pleased that the Bible stands at a 6th to 12th grade reading level; the problem with this is that the Bible is Christianity's main and only text, and that there is only so much total wisdom able to be communicated with a limited vocabulary and complexity.

Hindu scriptures were written by sages and are meant to elevate readers to that status.
This I find elevating and inspiring. :)

Mohanty, you're quite correct in that it's a western issue. The author was reading with the purpose "let me look down from my lofty, superior vantage point, and see what sorts of religious natterings the heathens have compiled." It's the only possible way he could have missed the absurdity in his own writings. As one example, I read Rig Veda and see sacrifice, reciprocality, devotion, surrender, transcendence, delight, awe, mercy, and love. So I'm naturally curious as to what Biblical virtues he believes our texts are missing...

Oh, right, no Jesus. Darn.

Good thing it's the white man's burden to civilize us heathens.
Dammit! :checks own pasty skin, then checks watch, then whines:
Uh, anybody else got time to take over the 'civilizing'? I got texts to read! And they're lengthy and abstruse, so I might be reading for a while! :P

Indraneela
===
Oṁ Indrāya Namaḥ.
Oṁ Namaḥ Śivāya.

mohanty
15 February 2011, 12:55 AM
I do sincerely believe that people are meant to outgrow religion (the way it is understood in western discourse) and seek a higher variety of fulfillment (through meditation, observation, and experimentation). That is the path of the seeker.

Instead, they get stuck in literal interpretation of myth and become adamant about it. This is like watching Matrix part 1 and becoming convinced that Neo was divine and awesome and spectacular. Hinduism is parts 2 and 3. It goes deeper and explains higher things. Then along comes a preacher like the one above and says the sequels are too stupid and we better stick to the special effects because they at least make sense.

In reality, the other two sequels are not meaningless. It's just that you are a ****ing idiot.

Ramakrishna
15 February 2011, 03:17 AM
Namaste all,


Christianity, though based on Jesus, says next to nothing about him. You would think that given how important Jesus is, the founders of Christianity would bother to write a lot more about him than they ultimately did. If I were Christ's disciple, I would have written about every detail I could find from his birth until his resurrection (at this point most Christians will accuse me of thinking I'm smarter than God). Instead we get nothing but a small snapshot into his life.


Just more evidence that Jesus never existed!


That about sums it up. It's less of a Christian issue than it is a western issue. To sum up:
Hindu scripture is convoluted.
I don't get it.
How could anyone else?
Let us all praise the lord!I guess the best way to respond is by saying that the Bible was written by and is meant for childish minds. Hindu scriptures were written by sages and are meant to elevate readers to that status.

Brilliant summation, Mohanty! This Yale intellectual can't attempt to understand the Vedas, fail at it, then say that his Bible is better. After all, Sanatana Dharma is a faith of personal experience and intuition over intellectualization.


Jai Sri Ram

mohanty
15 February 2011, 03:43 AM
I had hopes once upon a time that fruitful dialogue between the Indian and the western ways was possible. But I no longer believe that is possible.

The western lens is too thick and too coloured. For a person like the above scholar to understand India, he needs to empty his head of all that he knows, all he believes, and all he has been told. Only then will he be able to see things in a reasonably proper light.

Because Hinduism has so vast a corpus of literature, it can pass judgment on the ways of the west. Western values are contained in Hinduism, like a lot of other ones as well. But to judge the Hindu path by looking at it from the Christian perspective is like a second grader judging a book on Quantum Mechanics. Even if the effort is sincere, the end result is always doomed to failure.

Ramakrishna
15 February 2011, 04:27 AM
I had hopes once upon a time that fruitful dialogue between the Indian and the western ways was possible. But I no longer believe that is possible.

The western lens is too thick and too coloured. For a person like the above scholar to understand India, he needs to empty his head of all that he knows, all he believes, and all he has been told. Only then will he be able to see things in a reasonably proper light.

Because Hinduism has so vast a corpus of literature, it can pass judgment on the ways of the west. Western values are contained in Hinduism, like a lot of other ones as well. But to judge the Hindu path by looking at it from the Christian perspective is like a second grader judging a book on Quantum Mechanics. Even if the effort is sincere, the end result is always doomed to failure.

Namaste mohanty,

Exactly. Sanatana Dharma cannot be studied and analyzed from an Abrahamic worldview and mindset. This is really just like that guy on the other thread who thought he completely debunked Hinduism and Buddhism. This really applies to any of the Eastern faiths. If a westerner wants to study these faiths objectively and fairly, they just can't do so through the Abrahamic lens. Sometimes they do so deliberately and sometimes they inadvertently do so, and that's why you really need to know what you're doing and how you're approaching it. Sort of a self-analyzing process that must be undertaken before studying eastern faiths. Because really it is a completely different worldview and way of looking at things, and one needs to completely drop (at least temporarily) their old worldview and mindset in order to objectively study Sanatana Dharma.

To put it simply, it's like a bias that westerners have. And if they want to study Hinduism they need to get rid of that Abrahamic/western bias.

But the sad thing is that a lot of other westerners will listen to these "academics" and others who say they have studied Hinduism...and then they get nearly everything wrong and end up giving the wrong impression of the faith to people.

Jai Sri Ram

mohanty
15 February 2011, 04:52 AM
Namaste mohanty,

Exactly. Sanatana Dharma cannot be studied and analyzed from an Abrahamic worldview and mindset. This is really just like that guy on the other thread who thought he completely debunked Hinduism and Buddhism. This really applies to any of the Eastern faiths. If a westerner wants to study these faiths objectively and fairly, they just can't do so through the Abrahamic lens. Sometimes they do so deliberately and sometimes they inadvertently do so, and that's why you really need to know what you're doing and how you're approaching it. Sort of a self-analyzing process that must be undertaken before studying eastern faiths. Because really it is a completely different worldview and way of looking at things, and one needs to completely drop (at least temporarily) their old worldview and mindset in order to objectively study Sanatana Dharma.

To put it simply, it's like a bias that westerners have. And if they want to study Hinduism they need to get rid of that Abrahamic/western bias.

But the sad thing is that a lot of other westerners will listen to these "academics" and others who say they have studied Hinduism...and then they get nearly everything wrong and end up giving the wrong impression of the faith to people.

Jai Sri Ram

Usually, when they say they have studied Hinduism, they mean that they have read what other westerners before them have understood through translations done with a dictionary.

If an Indian villager brought up in a proper village culture goes to America, lives there for six months, talks to people using a small translation book, and then comes back home and tells people about his impressions, I have no doubt his take will be less than academic. But this sort of thing goes on all the time in the west.

The only sort of Indian who will be able to GET what the west means is an Indian who is born and brought up there and is therefore a full and proper American. The only kind of westerner who will actually GET India and Hinduism is someone who has devoted his life to it.

Gotam
15 February 2011, 01:19 PM
Christianity, though based on Jesus, says next to nothing about him. You would think that given how important Jesus is, the founders of Christianity would bother to write a lot more about him than they ultimately did. If I were Christ's disciple, I would have written about every detail I could find from his birth until his resurrection (at this point most Christians will accuse me of thinking I'm smarter than God). Instead we get nothing but a small snapshot into his life. Why is there more information about King David in the Bible than there is about the Savior of all men?

Namaste sanjaya,

when I first came to HDF, it was a surprise to me to notice that many Hindus are quite familiar with Christianity. In fact, on a European forum I often visit, I have noticed that most Europeans only have a superficial knowledge of Christianity, which they usually regard as a thing of the past, or as the origin of a moral code they still adhere to, without much reverence for the faith of their ancestors.

I think you are quite right in highlighting the central position of Jesus in Christian faith. For Christians, Jesus represents "God on earth". It is not clear what this may have meant to the earliest Christians, although there are many indications that many of them had beliefs and practices that seem compatible with Hinduism and that were influenced by it. By the fourth century of the Christian era, however, there was an organisation of Christian priests that called itself and its followers the catholic or orthodox Church. This Church claimed to have been given authority by Jesus himself to represent him. As a result, the scarcity of information about Jesus was "no longer a problem": wherever Jesus' example as described in the gospels lacked detail, clarity or even consistency (the gospels contradict each other!), the clergy and scholars of the Church were there to explain to people what they had to believe and do.

The Bible, hence, plays a rather unique role in mainstream Christianity: the Jewish part (old testament) was reinterpreted as scriptures containing a number of prophecies about "the Lord's Coming", without much further relevance. The gospels contained an example to follow, but the Church could tell Christians how to do so, and often changed the teachings of Jesus into the opposite of what any reasonable reader would think they could mean. And the rest of the Christian part of the Bible (the "New Testament") had to show how the foundations of the Church had been laid. However, most scriptures were destroyed. What we have, is what the Church either liked or has been unable to get rid of.

So in fact, not only is the Bible short, it is also reduced to a very small fraction of its contents, and this very small part is reinterpreted to serve the interests of an institution: the Church, or the various Churches, only a few of which are older than the catholic Church.

Hence, it is rather predictable that a Christian will think it is too much work to try to understand anything of Hindu scriptures. It is much more time-saving to be given a book (or to be forbidden to read it, as happened in the catholic Church for some time), to be told which details in it can be singled out as somehow relevant, and to learn how to understand them from some authority.

And this "authority" has only been able to maintain itself by intimidating and luring its believers, threatening them with hell if they believed and behaved, and promising them heaven if they disbelieved or misbehaved - although this faith issue is not as simple in Christianity as it is in mainstream Islam. Christians who have been brainwashed with this fear/hope can easily think that their duty to "love their neighbours" implies doing whatever they can to "save the souls" of these "neighbours", by converting them in the first place. And of course, when you fear hell, you will not easily take the risk of finding something useful in someone else's scriptures. Before you start reading, you know you will find fault with it.

I do not know to what extent this Christian approach of other religions is still relevant for American society. In Europe, even practicing Christians have mostly adopted a more tolerant attitude. Don't ask me why they still go to Church while they believe in reincarnation or think all religions are equal, to give some current examples. I cannot explain it easily. And practicing Christians constitute about 5% of Europe's population. The others have kept even less of their faith. And believers are a minority now.

As for the religious dialogue between India and the West, I think the main obstacle will not be Christianity in the future. The obstacle will be the indirect influence of Churchianity: Westerners have got fed up with the teachings of the Churches, as well as of certain attitudes of Muslim immigrants, and conveniently conclude that "all religion is bullshit", imagining that Sanatana Dharma is just another kind of Christianity or Islam. Yes, we're too lazy again...

As for me, I am glad that in spite of its obvious and serious limitations, my Christian education has given me some possibilities to understand something of Hinduism that I might otherwise not have learned from my European environment. But that is a different subject.

Rationalist
15 February 2011, 06:34 PM
http://www.apologeticspress.org/article/1410

The moment I saw 1400 B.C (not B.C.E, B.C) was the moment he lost all of his credibility (which no Christian has) and intelligence (wait sorry, no Christian has that either).

I can tell that article is filled with mistranslations of the Rig Veda, false assertions of of Bhakti Hinduism being actual "Hinduism," and so forth.

In conclusion; the article is simply equivocal verbal diarrhea that attempts to turn Western ignorance and stereotypes of Hindus into an intellectual argument.

mohanty
15 February 2011, 11:31 PM
I wipe my ___ with that idiot's article.

Now your___is unclean. :)

But seriously though, it is a pile of academic-sounding stuff with little merit. It was written with an audience in mind and it does its best to make them feel better about themselves.

sanjaya
16 February 2011, 12:32 AM
Gotam, you bring up some great points. I can't say whether early Christians had even remotely Dharmic beliefs (largely because so little is actually written in the Bible). But Christianity is definitely shaped by history and the Catholic/Orthodox churches, regardless of how many times Protestants parrot "sola scriptura." Having said that, I can't say I find much of what's written in the Bible to be that impressive either. It's a religion founded on a house of cards, and has little redeeming value in my opinion.

Rationalist
16 February 2011, 08:48 PM
Now your ass is unclean. :)

But seriously though, it is a pile of academic-sounding stuff with little merit. It was written with an audience in mind and it does its best to make them feel better about themselves.

OH MY GOD!!! HOW COULD I FORGET? :mad: :D

You sir, are correct.

Sahasranama
16 February 2011, 08:54 PM
Before you do anything unsanitory with that article, you should note that there are several references from Hindu shastras in there.

Rationalist
16 February 2011, 08:55 PM
Before you do anything unsanitory with that article, you should note that there are several references from Hindu shastras in there.

Saying what? They are probably mistranslations or misinterpretations. Such things are not part of Hindu shastras.

Gotam
20 February 2011, 11:23 AM
I can't say I find much of what's written in the Bible to be that impressive either. It's a religion founded on a house of cards, and has little redeeming value in my opinion.

Namaste sanjaya,

like you, I cannot see why a Hindu would look for any redeeming value in Christian traditions or scriptures. But Hindu teachings have helped me understand some aspects of Christianity in a way that would make much more sense than what the churches have mostly taught. I have been educated with Christian symbols, and I think I can now translate concepts as central to Sanatana Dharma as "Tat tvam asi" into Christian symbolism, and even claim that this is what Christianity could have been about if it had been able to develop its spirituality as freely as Hinduism. Historically, Christianity has been a big failure, but those Hindus who for whatever reason look for an opportunity to communicate with Christians on a higher level than what Christians are used to, could find in it some opportunities to "speak a language that Christians can understand". Of course, that is not a Hindu's task. Rather, it is an opportunity for Christians to learn from Hinduism "in a language they understand", and the "translation work" can be done, and has partly been done, by some rare Westerners. I am convinced that spiritually, the West will adopt more from Hindu culture in future than from its own past, but using some crucial elements of its own past may help it to progress more easily.

The irony is that the opposite is being tried by Christian missionaries in India: to use elements of Hindu culture to bring home, or rather: to spread abroad there own message. I regard this as very foolish, and a bad thing for India. And there, I can see a second reason why some Hindus might have a reason to understand Christianity well: if Hindus can explain, better than Christian priests, what is valuable in Christianity, and why these elements have been developed better in Hinduism, this may restore a unity that the missionaries have undermined, and bring back many people to their Hindu Dharma.

Gotam
20 February 2011, 11:23 AM
I can't say I find much of what's written in the Bible to be that impressive either. It's a religion founded on a house of cards, and has little redeeming value in my opinion.

Namaste sanjaya,

like you, I cannot see why a Hindu would look for any redeeming value in Christian traditions or scriptures. But Hindu teachings have helped me understand some aspects of Christianity in a way that would make much more sense than what the churches have mostly taught. I have been educated with Christian symbols, and I think I can now translate concepts as central to Sanatana Dharma as "Tat tvam asi" into Christian symbolism, and even claim that this is what Christianity could have been about if it had been able to develop its spirituality as freely as Hinduism. Historically, Christianity has been a big failure, but those Hindus who for whatever reason look for an opportunity to communicate with Christians on a higher level than what Christians are used to, could find in it some opportunities to "speak a language that Christians can understand". Of course, that is not a Hindu's task. Rather, it is an opportunity for Christians to learn from Hinduism "in a language they understand", and the "translation work" can be done, and has partly been done, by some rare Westerners. I am convinced that spiritually, the West will adopt more from Hindu culture in future than from its own past, but using some crucial elements of its own past may help it to progress more easily.

The irony is that the opposite is being tried by Christian missionaries in India: to use elements of Hindu culture to bring home, or rather: to spread abroad their own message. I regard this as very foolish, and a bad thing for India. And there, I can see a second reason why some Hindus might have a reason to understand Christianity well: if Hindus can explain, better than Christian priests, what is valuable in Christianity, and why these elements have been developed better in Hinduism, this may restore a unity that the missionaries have undermined, and bring back many people to their Hindu Dharma.

Adhvagat
20 February 2011, 07:25 PM
It's not foolish... It's just philosophically desperate.

Rationalist
24 February 2011, 07:08 PM
Namaste sanjaya,

like you, I cannot see why a Hindu would look for any redeeming value in Christian traditions or scriptures. But Hindu teachings have helped me understand some aspects of Christianity in a way that would make much more sense than what the churches have mostly taught. I have been educated with Christian symbols, and I think I can now translate concepts as central to Sanatana Dharma as "Tat tvam asi" into Christian symbolism, and even claim that this is what Christianity could have been about if it had been able to develop its spirituality as freely as Hinduism. Historically, Christianity has been a big failure, but those Hindus who for whatever reason look for an opportunity to communicate with Christians on a higher level than what Christians are used to, could find in it some opportunities to "speak a language that Christians can understand". Of course, that is not a Hindu's task. Rather, it is an opportunity for Christians to learn from Hinduism "in a language they understand", and the "translation work" can be done, and has partly been done, by some rare Westerners. I am convinced that spiritually, the West will adopt more from Hindu culture in future than from its own past, but using some crucial elements of its own past may help it to progress more easily.

The irony is that the opposite is being tried by Christian missionaries in India: to use elements of Hindu culture to bring home, or rather: to spread abroad their own message. I regard this as very foolish, and a bad thing for India. And there, I can see a second reason why some Hindus might have a reason to understand Christianity well: if Hindus can explain, better than Christian priests, what is valuable in Christianity, and why these elements have been developed better in Hinduism, this may restore a unity that the missionaries have undermined, and bring back many people to their Hindu Dharma.

All the Abrahamic faiths are piles of human excrement. Just don't associate with them and make them seem more remarkable than they are.

pineblossom
09 March 2011, 02:52 AM
Namatse

The article in question is the product of right wing fundamentalists most of whom have lost any credibility some time ago. But, like Muslim extremists, they persist with their insane beliefs to the detriment of others.

Many Christians, I being another, are walking away from Christianity because of the predominant right wind agenda.

My advice, don't get too hung up with the 'deer shooting for Jesus' crowd.

charlebs
06 April 2011, 05:49 AM
the veda's teach the appropriate way to meet the lords of the elements, the controlling factors in life. if that is inferior to the confusion of the prophets of christianity, then christianity can just sink into a lower pit.