[Advaita-l] Inter Religious Dialogue - Part 1

Rajaram Venkataramani rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Sat Dec 3 04:27:31 CST 2011

Dear Shri Omkar,

I am sure you are aware of the dark history of christianity and schemes of
the church until today. Based on that, do you think that they have agents
in academia or not? Once you answer that, identifying specific agents is
relatively easy.

Best Regards

On Friday, December 2, 2011, Omkar Deshpande <omkar_deshpande at yahoo.com>
> Dear Sri Rajaram,
> <<<There was a point in time when Dr. Witzel was considered a genuine
scholar until insightful and hardworking Hindu scholars showed that he is
merely an agent of the Church interested in conversion through
inculturation and deconstruction of Hindu traditions through
misinterpretation. >>>
> The above claim about Michael Witzel is as difficult to believe as a
corresponding claim about Richard Dawkins. Will you seriously entertain any
claim that says Dawkins is an agent of the Church?
> Here is a typical comment by Michael Witzel on Christianity, from the
Indo-Eurasian Research group. This is as hostile to Christianity as it can
> <quote>
> Re: [Indo-Eurasia] Weekend update! Noah's Ark discovered!
> Funny, those Christian true believers --like all those of other
> religions / ideologies !
> When they think:
>> Throughout history, people have been searching for the Ark to help
>> prove God's existence,
> we have to disappoint them: the story is quasi-universal: it is found
> from Africa to Australia, as well as across Eurasia and the Americas
> (I can give details). No connection with the Biblical (or, for that
> matter, the older Babylonian and the Vedic) stories.
> Rather, an old myth, probably of pre-Out of African times.
> How that proves the existence of someone called God(*), only the
> fundamentalists know.
> With weekend greetings,
> Michael
> (*) who has 'his' own interesting etymology: Sanskrit huta'm
> 'something offered' (a neuter form) = Greek khuto'n = Germanic guda'n =
> Old High German daz [waltand] got (still a neuter!) "[reigning] fate".
> It took some missionaries, a thousand years ago, to turn "it" into the
> Jueadeo-Christian male God.
> </quote>
> I have already mentioned before that the anti-traditional naturalistic
analysis done by such scholars in their study of Hinduism applies to other
religions as well, because the principles of analysis would carry over
there as well, and these scholars just happen to be focusing on Hinduism
(just as there are others like them who would be focusing on Christianity).
Witzel has written a book on World Mythologies. There is no special place
he has given to the Christian myths. Where are you getting this idea that
he is an agent of the Church who wants to get converts to Christianity?
> <<<It is a matter of time before it is the case with Dr. Clooney. I have
responded to your points inset though I have no interest in attacking
individuals... The Hindu (Frontline) is a Church sponsored newspaper and
the site is maintained by Fr. Bucko, a jesuit priest.>>>
> What's important is that the words that appear there are those of Francis
Clooney. Since they're his words, they can be cited as evidence. If they're
not his words, they cannot be used as evidence against him, regardless of
who maintains the site or sponsors it. By the way, what would be the
rationale for a Church-sponsored newspaper (if it actually is one) to
publish an interview of Clooney in which he makes a statement that he
disagrees with the Pope that inter-religious dialogue is a part of
evangelisation? They (or at least the priest maintaining the site) could
have edited it out.
> In any case, since you seem to have found a very qualified traditional
teacher to learn from, the discussion on Clooney is irrelevant now. One
last point:
> <<<Please let me know if there are school and college texts written by
traditional Vedic scholars be it Nyaya or Vedanta. If Christianity can be
taught to students by Christians and Islam by Muslims, why not different
Vedic traditions by the the practitioners?>>>
> There is absolutely no constraint in the academia that Hinduism cannot be
taught by practitioners. There are already practitioners teaching academic
courses - consider Edwin Bryant or Paul Sherbow at Rutgers (who directly
teach from the traditional commentaries), or Deepak Sarma at Case Western.
Deepak Sarma has written a textbook on Hinduism, and another specifically
on Madhva Vedanta. There are many other examples of practitioners teaching
Hinduism courses. And even when non-practitioners teach, they recommend
books by practitioners as well for reading. There sure are examples of
professors like Wendy Doniger who follow a very different approach to the
subject, but by no means is this representative of religious studies as a
whole, which has many examples of the other kind.
> I should also cite here a couple of examples from experience, although I
will not go into details -- in one of the courses I took as a student, the
professor (her name is Linda Hess) was following interpretations of the
Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads that were quite different from the one that I
strongly accepted that time, as a practitioner of one of the Vaishnava
traditions. When I repeatedly protested against her interpretations, she
invited me to deliver a lecture from the standpoint of my tradition, which
I did. She also asked a friend of mine, who was from the Srivaishnava
tradition, to present his tradition in the class. In a different quarter,
the president of the Hindu Student Council (an undergraduate Kashmiri
pandit girl brought up in the US), who was quite interested in spreading
awareness of Hinduism, got me to teach a student-initiated course on
Bhagavad Gita, which I taught as per the tradition I was affiliated to,
under the guidance of my
>  guru. There was no monitoring, and no constraints on what I taught, and
how I taught. The only requirement imposed by the overseeing faculty was
that students had to write a paper at the end of the quarter comparing the
interpretation I had been teaching with any other interpretation of the
Gita. I should emphasise here that the course was student-initiated, which
allows students to float courses on their own topics of interest (with the
help of a faculty member) if they find a lacuna in the curriculum, or if
there is no faculty member to teach that subject. I could have continued
teaching other student-initiated courses if I really wanted to, with
support from the faculty. My experience of religious studies in the
academia is quite the opposite of what has been said against it here.
> Regards,
> Omkar
> _______________________________________________
> Archives: http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/
> http://blog.gmane.org/gmane.culture.religion.advaita
> To unsubscribe or change your options:
> http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/cgi-bin/listinfo/advaita-l
> For assistance, contact:
> listmaster at advaita-vedanta.org

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list