MULTICULTURALISM AND INTERFAITH DIALOGUE :
Multiculturalism is the policy or principle of giving equal attention or representation to the cultural needs and contribution of all the groups in a society. In the development of a pluralistic society, in the existence of a nation with groups distinctive in ethnic origin, cultural patterns, religion, and language, or the like, it would be useful to have “Interfaith Dialogue” to promote social harmony. Unfortunately, we live in a world which is not multipolar and a few nations and a few social/religious groups are actively seeking to expand their sphere of influence and pursue an agenda to dominate the world by changing the opinions/beliefs/ and faiths of other human beings. It is important to understand the role of Interfaith Dialogue in promoting peace and to prevent war. Such Interfaith Dialogue could be of some value in an academic context where the participants of the dialogue seek better understanding of each other in the pursuit of academic knowledge that pertains to theology, morals and ethics, traditions, holidays, festivals, and food culture of people. Such understanding would help in promoting better social interactions and to promote peace and harmony at workplace, or in the local community. Historical events of the past such as the foreign conquest and occupation of the Land of Bharat or India were not shaped by Interfaith Dialogue. Even today, such Dialogue has no role in formulating international relations. War or Aggression between nations will not be prevented by holding Interfaith Dialogues. In the conduct of warfare, it is the aggressor nation or party chooses to define the identity of the victim nation or social group that is targeted for an attack. It would be of no help or consequence if the victim pleads to describe his identity in terms different from the terms of identity chosen by the aggressor. The victim has no choice other than that of defending an identity that the aggressor has imposed to launch his attack. In the context of defining Indian Identity, the Dialogue process will not influence the behavior of Islamic Jihadist groups who attack the Hindu Identity of India. Similarly, the Dialogue process will not deter the Christian Evangelists from conducting their acts of infiltrating and subverting the Hindu society of India to convert the beliefs and faith of Hindu population of India. I have described Indian Identity as that of Individualism. Man exists in this physical world with no choice other than that of being an Individual and has to experience the Subjective Reality of his own existence. We need to formulate universal principles and policies to promote the well-being of all men, of all races, of all religions, of all cultures, and of all nations while showing respect to the Individuality of man who exists as part of a social group.
RELIGION AND FOREIGN POLICY :
I appreciate the fact that many of you would like to discuss the term ‘interfaith dialogue’ in the context of a debate, discussion, or participation in a public forum, meetings, seminars, symposia, and etc., I speak about ‘interfaith dialogue’ in the context of the conduct of foreign policy by national entities. National entities develop foreign policies to define their political relationships with other entities in support of their perceived national interests. Apart from diplomacy, trade, and cultural contacts, national entities often use the military option to achieve their foreign policy objectives. As a former member of Indian Armed Forces, and the Land Forces of the Sultanate of Oman Land Forces, I had a direct opportunity to participate in Security and Intelligence Operations in support of the United States of America and Great Britain. As you would know, military operations, military planning, military training, and military tactics involve preparation to engage the enemy, confront the enemy, and kill the enemy while facing the risk of getting killed by the enemy. The men have to be mentally prepared for this task of killing the enemy and voluntarily accepting the risk of death and injury. The men have to be fully briefed about the enemy, the nature of the enemy, and as to why it is desirable to kill the enemy. Men have to be motivated for the battle and I have attended several such sessions at different locations to fight the enemy defined by the military planners. Religion is the most important element and plays a big role in motivating people to kill others. Particularly, it plays a vital role in Infantry combat operations where a direct and physical fight is needed to achieve the military objective. National entities use religion as a tool to psychologically motivate people to fight wars. There is a dialogue and there is communication between the military planner, the military commander and the men who have to execute the orders given. United States and Great Britain have engaged in several wars across the globe and several times have engaged in proxy wars providing training, finance, military equipment, and logistical support to either other national entities or rebel groups. You must carefully look at the war plan and as to how it shaped the battle in any given conflict. To quote some examples, religion was used in fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, to break up the Republic of Yugoslavia, to create the State of Kosovo, to bifurcate the Republic of Sudan, in changing the regimes in Iraq and Libya, and to support the ethnic conflicts in Albania, and Chechen Republic of Russia. I have not personally participated in those conflicts, but I was trained, briefed, and equipped by the same Intelligence and Security Agencies which are involved in all of these conflicts. So, I have a personal knowledge, experience, and understanding of American and Great Britain foreign policy when the policy uses religion as its tool to accomplish a military mission to obtain the foreign policy objectives.
I have a good understanding of the military threat posed by the foreign policy of United States and Great Britain to degrade and devitalize the Republic of India. United States and Great Britain have openly supported the Khalistan Movement, and the Kashmir Separatist Movement. These rebels have openly met with Members of Congress and Parliament and
received open encouragement. These countries have clandestinely supported various rebel groups that operated in Northeast India and they have used Christian missionaries as paid agents to motivate the rebels to fight the battle. My Unit while operating in Chittagong Hill Tracts during 1971 Operation Eagle, has captured a British national ( with Australian passport ) working as a Christian Missionary and he was providing motivational support to
the Christian Mizo rebels who were being trained in East Pakistan’s military posts in that region. East Pakistan had deployed the Frontier Regiment and the men are mostly Pathans and a few Baluchis. They are all devout Muslims and have no reason to be served by a British Christian Missionary. This Missionary gained access to those military camps as he was a paid agent. My concern is not about debating or discussing the theology of Christian religion. Both United States and Great Britain use this religion to promote demographical changes
and to use that population to bring about a political change that would be of advantage to obtain their foreign policy objectives. American Evangelism is a multibillion dollar industry and it is entirely subsidized by the State. All the donations, and contributions given to the American Evangelists are tax-exempt. These donors do not pay federal tax on the funds contributed to Church. In other words, American Evangelism must be viewed as a State sponsored Enterprise. In the wake of terrorist attacks on American soil, United States is not allowing foreign Islamic Organizations to support and fund charitable work in the United States. They are not allowed to support even simple educational activities at Islamic
Schools. I would ask the Indian Government to follow the example of the United States and stop the flow of foreign money into India. Churches in the United States must support the needs of their local population where there is unemployment, hunger, and poverty. United States must stop these tax subsidies to Evangelists working in foreign countries. They can use those funds to preach Christianity to people of their own Land who do not care to attend Church or worship God.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
R. Venkatanarayanan wrote:
1. If the word “dialog” is worrying how about using the term, “debate” or “discussion”?
2. Why should one expect or propose or demand that the starting point for debate, dialog or discussion with a Christian Missionary or Mullah should be the acceptance by the latter that he or she will not seek to convert another person? Is ‘conversion’ the only or the primary point of difference or discord between the Abrahamic religions and Hindu Dharma? If so the corollary seems to be that the Hindus must adopt any means to stop it. What are the means other than violence? Is it the proposal?
3. How are Hindus to tackle the misleading or mischievous interpretations and analyses of Hindu Dharma and practices in the intellectual arena, without writing, speaking and debating in the public domain? By running away? Burying their head in the sand? By violence? By voting in the elections?
4. Why should all dialog, debate or discussion be to “convince” the opponent? What about convincing the onlookers/audience?
Should we not consider the foregoing aspects dispassionately? If we do so, will we not be able to come up with some constructive and useful suggestions to deal with inter-Faith matters? Or we Hindus, as a people should think or hold that there is nothing called inter-Faith matter of importance or interest to Hindus?
On Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 7:52 AM, Rajiv Malhotra wrote: Mr. Rajiv Malhotra is the chairman of the Board of Governors of the India Studies Program at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, U.S.A. He has participated in interfaith exchanges for over a decade and has published two books. The hyperlinks to his books and blog posts on this subject are included at the end of this post.
“The real problem with these internet threads is that they assume there is only one kind of dialog. This is the same reductionist mentality as one religion, one book, one church, one history, etc.
There are many kinds of dialogs between opponents. Before writing something about “dialogs” a serious scholar should take note of this and examine various kinds of dialogs such as the following:
- academic panel discussion: each person explaining their own thesis to other scholars/students. Little or no real “dialog” back and forth among the panelists.
- fight to knock each other down.
- diplomacy in front of the public to win over public support, while remaining opponents internally.
- motive of a discussant could be merely to use the event and get int more mainstream discussions and forums, rather than getting branded in one extreme – so he plays his cards accordingly.
- some forums are really to promote someone’s book. Calling it a dialog is merely a way to get it approved by the authorities, who would otherwise not give their support for an event that serves one person’s interests.
- Genuine desire to learn from one other.
- Private meetings to pretend to reach some agreement to a specific problem or dispute.
These are not mutually exclusive. No generic sweeping statement can be applied to all dialogs without some such taxonomy. There are other variables as well which would make the taxonomy even more complex.
One must play the game according to the particular playing field, and this comes from experience of having encounters, not from armchair mouse-clicking activism like most of our “experts” tend to be.”
On Sun, Jan 22, 2012 at 8:42 PM, Mukund Apte wrote:
What you are saying is correct that the competition for resources is the bad thing. But I say competition per say is bad thing. Wherever organisation and ORDER exists, competition cannot be absent. every religion has been established in organizational frame. The people herein therefore have a tendency to compete with others to rise in the hirarchy of the Organisation and this create bad blood as well as conflict in the Religion. All COOPERATION amongst people is lost.
Sanaatan Dharm is based on सहकार There being no hirarchy or even Organization people help each other for progress ON THEIR OWN, i.e. by Cooperation. The चातुर्वर्ण्य is organized to prevent competition and improve cooperation. Responsibilities are allotted to different groups (they are also not pernanent but variable as per desires of the people).
This was mainly based on the behaviour of other species in the Universe. They had their own DHARM and they follow quietly without conficts anywhere. So सनातन धर्म developed on similar lines and with same principles of cooperation and no competition. Every specie in the world lives happily without competition and conflicts, why can’t man does same thing and live peacefully?
This is only because Religions are organized with determined hierarchy. People surely desire to rise in the hirarchy and get involved in jealousy and competition with others. Still this much is acceptable because it is within the small group of the Religion. This situation explodes when some religion considers others i.e. different thoughts/religions not worthy of even existence. Then real conflict starts. With organization, cooperation has been discarded and now with dislike and hate, peace also gets kicked away. The current माहौल (condition) prevails.
Sanaatan Dharm is immersed in Cooperation of ALL SPECIES in the Universe. This aspect has to be understood by all religions and must accept cooperation as basic principle. Again Man is not supreme and very different than other species needs be accepted by Religions. Religion is for its followeres (only) whereas धर्म is for ALL entities and species in th world. With regards to all,
On Sun, Jan 22, 2012 at 11:02 PM, Major(Retd).R.Rudra Narasimham wrote:
MAN IS A SOCIAL BEING :
The problem with this dialogue is that of the undisclosed motivation for the dialogue. Is it a dialogue to come to a better understanding of each other and to avoid conflict in social interactions? Is this a dialogue to change the opinion and belief of the participant and to mentally prepare the participant to reconcile and give up resistance without the use of physical force? To be a true Christian, to be a true Muslim, the person has no choice other than that of converting people to embrace their faith. The Christian thinks that he is preparing the world for the Second Coming of the Saviour. The Muslim believes that he is acting in obedience to the commandments of Allah. Both of them have very clear objectives. In that context, the dialogue is not an academic exercise and it has no academic purpose or value. Even if they do not openly disclose their motivation or inner intentions, Indians have to better understand their own history, the history of foreign conquest and foreign occupation. The Indian conquest began in a very significant manner by Muhammad of Ghazni and the Arabic word ‘Ghazi’ refers to a Muslim hero, especially one who wars against infidels. The Muslim thinks of nonbelievers as infidels and the Christian thinks of nonbelievers as heathen. Both Muslim and Christian define the word belief and all others in the world are nonbelievers. If they recognize the presence of a nonbeliever, they are required to take action to avoid sin and its consequences.
But, religion, and religious faith is not the biggest problem in the world. The problem is that of competition among members of the same speices for shared resources. Man is a terrestrial organism and there is competition between social groups for the same resources that support human survival and human existence. Man is a social being and he always exists in a social community. Man has a tendency to compete with others while being part of a social group. Man tends to expand his territory to gain access to the natural resources and uses warfare as a tool to expand his territorial rights. There is a fundamental motivation for human behavior and the motivation or drive comes from the perception of his economic condition.Karl Marx has proposed that human history is shaped by man’s economic progression. The Communists have proposed that the Revolution is the answer for man’s economic ills. Just like Muslims, and Christians, the Communist believes in changing man’s social condition to bring the Revolution to cure the problems of man’s existence. In India, we see the problem of Evangelists who would like to bring a peaceful demographic change by converting the people to Christianity and then the Leaders of this change would have access to the natural resources of the Land and can use them without fighting bloody battles. By becoming Christians, people can avoid those nasty battles, save their lives, protect their existence and live upon the few resources spared by the Masters. This has been witnessed in Africa where millions of people got converted and still remain in poverty and misery. The Muslim has tasted the loot and plunder of India over one thousand years and he knows that he can take what he wants by using the power of his sword. However, he cannot do it by himself. He encourages and motivates his followers in the name of God and tells them that it is a divinely ordained duty. The taste of fruits of victory is very addictive and he would seek more of it because of the pleasure it brings. The NaxalMovement inspired by Communist Bosses does not need God, and man is simply willing to join others and wage a group fight to improve his own economic condition. But, we have all seen the results of Communist Revolution. The Party Leaders and officials control the wealth and enjoy it while talking about economic emancipation of man. The social pressures that we see today have economic causes. If not for the sake of God or religion, China would like to extend its influence into India to get a better hold on India’s natural resources. This exploitation becomes easy if people do not challenge it or resist it. In the United States where there is plenty of use of guns to commit crime, people are often reminded to give away their wallets, purse, handbags, backpacks, and belongings if a gunman makes a demand for those items. The Police tell us that it is not rational to lose life to protect such personal belongings. People are advised to give away the car keys and leave the car if a gunman demands to take your car. So, Indians have to make hard choices. They all can become Christians, they all can become Muslims, or they all can become Communists, but if they have to save their life, they may have to give their car, purse, and belongings if a gunman threatens to kill them. They cannot fight this battle as individuals. If they want to fight or resist, there is no choice other than that of fighting as a group.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.
INTERFAITH DIALOGUE: HELP OR HINDER
Dr. Babu Seelan :
Several Hindu scholars, saints, teachers, helping professionals, Hindu political leaders, writers and journalists have been entering or engaged in some form of interfaith dialogue with leaders of closed, fundamentalist, mechanistic, reductionists desert dogmas.
It is genuine, sane and required for all concerned Hindus to ask “what do we gain from entering such dialogue with those who refuse to change? What ideas from the desert political dogma which has been used for invasion, plunder, slavery, colonization, oppression, war and terrorism have special significance or value for understanding our relationships? Their closed, rigid, non-compromising belief system and behavior always have been creating effective obstacles in practicing our universal, peaceful Dharma. Islam and Christianity, as closed, rigid, and fundamentalist paradigms have their own philosophy, blind belief system, teachings, followers, war machine, separate states and powerful organizations and are strongly defended by their adherents.
We Hindus are fundamentally all alike and our basic aim is the optimum development of human being. We believe in “World is One Family” (“Vasudeiva Kudumbahakam”). To enhance this goal, we Hindus need to be aware and guided by the best we know of their past brutal history, current sinister plans, cunning strategies and techniques and goals of Islamists and Christian Missionaries.
Yes, the world is changing. We are faced everywhere with the evidence of conflict, hate, destruction, war, beheading, terrorism and coercive religious conversion. Spiritually malignant Muslims and Christians all over the world are trying to establish their own kingdom based on their blind faith. We Hindus are faced with these numberless forces of destruction and conquest. In this time of dire need, it is natural for few Hindus to engage in dialogue with our nemeses. Their good intention is to ceaselessly battle in an effort to thwart the destruction of our Dharma, and stop or slow down coercive and deceptive religious conversion of innocent and gullible Hindus. It is no wonder the frightened Hindus looks wishfully to magic and mystery for protection against our powerful adversary.
One would expect that in the face of overwhelming blows from the the brutal hands of Jihadi and Missionary warlords, Hindus would oppose steadfastedly in a unified, powerful political force. But this is not the case. Hindus are facing destruction from without and within. In this context why Hindus are displaying their extraordinary propensity for dialogue with our enemies attacking on our own existence?
Is the dialogue or debate with our distracters is helping to change their destructive dogma? Are we going to demand that they cease and desist from this deadly paradigm conspiracy? Are we strong enough to demand equitable physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social, political opportunity for Hindus for a meaningful life? Hindus are currently stand with their feet in the mud, their eyes fixed on the stars.
Are we going to be successful by this dialogue to force our enemies for a theoretical change? At this juncture, we need to look at ourselves, and force Hindus to grab political power, declare India as a Hindu Rashtra and change Hindus more effectively for political participation. We have to go beyond interfaith dialogue and use our knowledge for desired change in the closed dogmas? Do we have the power to effect change? Or our enemies will psycho program us using the cunning strategy of dialogue? Christians and Muslims know how to use different increasing social pressure tactics on Hindus. We need to prepare ourselves to deal with Hindu frustration, anger, and those who feel powerless to face the organized and powerful enemy.
The increased need for Hindus is to be competent and strong to teach our adversaries new ways of dealing with Hindus .
Out of these concerns and questions, painful as they may be: Always remember that Shanti comes from Shakthi (Peace comes from strength). It is also important to remember that criminal thinkers and their destructive habits are not going to change with our eclectic and peaceful approach. Hindus need to be strong, and realistic. Reality is always more rich and accurate than our mental picture of it.
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