The First Dialogue
Hinduism Today invited some interesting letters from its readers, Hindus as well as Christians. They are reproduced as below:
HINDUISM TODAY, APRIL-MAY 1987
The article on the above subject in your November-December issue exposes a fraud which Catholic missionaries have been practising upon unwary Hindus for a long time. An average Hindu does not know that the missionary clad in ochre robes is no sadhu, but a scheming impostor. So long as the Catholics stick to their exclusive theology, they will remain aliens in the land of Sanatana Dharma, no matter what disguises they don and what strategies of conversion they design… They are turning [Jesus] into a co-conspirator in their bid to subvert Hindu society and culture.
Kamala Nagar, Delhi
The Preaching Balance
With reference to your long article and supporting editorial (Nov./Dec.,1986) on the “Catholic Ashrams,” you conclude: “Let Catholics tend their own flock as they wish. All the Hindu asks is to be left alone to follow his dharma.” This seems to me either anachronistic, ill-informed or disingenuous. If all the Hindu asks is to be left alone, why have these shores been saturated with gurus and swamis propagating, not just following, their dharma, especially these last decades? And as you know, their constituency has been largely the indigenous Judeo-Christian, not the transplanted Indian, a matter rather gleefully celebrated elsewhere in this issue. Moreover, when I look at a charlatan like Rajneesh or a mercenary like Maharishi (whatever their standing in India, even if deplored), opposite a now rather benighted Bede Griffiths, I cannot help but think that you are getting the better of the exchange.
Dr. Christopher Nugent
University of Kentucky, Lexington
In our ashram we work on the basis of dialogue. It is a Christian ashram, just as other ashrams are Hindu, but we leave people…to follow any path to which they are drawn. I think that we are moving into a new age where people are learning to live with different religions in mutual respect. On the sociological level the problem of conversion remains, but on the level of prayer and meditation we transcend that level. I look on sannyasa as a state transcending creed and caste and all dharmas. One of the two founders of our ashram, Abhishiktananda, works very convincingly on this subject in his book The Further Shore. He was a personal friend of Swami Chidananda of Rishikesh. I hope that you are satisfied with this point of view. I feel that it is initiating a new understanding of Hindu-Christian relations.
Father Bede Griffiths
Tiruchi, S. India
Re: a “Catholic Sannyasini”
I am writing in response to your concerns which you have brought to the attention of the Holy Father [the pope]. We are presently checking with the proper Superiors concerning the activities of Sister Patricia Kinsey, RSCJ, [alias Ishapriya]. It is our sincere hope that we will be able to clarify the situation through these contacts and insure that nothing is being done to hinder honest, open and mutually tolerant relationships between Hindus and Catholics
V. Fagiolo Seer
The J.R. Ewing Syndrome
Your editorial “The J.R. Ewing Syndrome” brings to light the methods which today’s Christian missionaries are employing to take advantage of India’s poverty, illiteracy and simple culture. The question is why do the Christian missionaries find it so easy to dupe the Hindu masses. As you stated, the Hindu’s respect for all religions is one cause. Other causes could be our lack of social service spirit, lack of organized religious bodies aiming at the spiritual uplift along with the social uplift of the masses.
HINDUISM TODAY, OCTOBER 1987
Your editorial in the January 1987 issue portrays the state of the majority of Christian sects. In this era of enlightenment when frontiers of knowledge are rapidly expanding, one cannot but pity their obscurantist attitude. The “J.R. Ewing Syndrome” very appropriately describes their deluded state. Since the establishment of the Church, due to vested interests, they have been brainwashed into the belief of “One Way- One Saviour.” Hinduising Christianity in India seems to be their last ditch battle. We Hindus have suffered due to our indifferent attitude. We must give up complacency and organize ourselves to foil these “pseudo Christian Hindus” in their attempts to increase the number of converts. In this you are rendering yeoman service to the Hindu cause. Your paper is peerless among its kind.
Dr. S.G. Balani
A Jesuit Writes
I am a Jesuit Catholic priest and professor of Hinduism (at Boston College). A colleague recently pointed out to me your article (Nov./Dec., 1986) on “Catholic Ashrams”. On the whole I was quite impressed with the article and the questions it raises. While I have visited some of the Christian ashrams mentioned and appreciate the efforts being made, I too have wondered about the extent to which Catholicism is being “dressed up” as Hindu without a sufficiently deep intellectual basis and real openness to new images and ideas not traditionally Catholic, and about how all this appears to Hindus. Your article raises these issues quite forcefully and well. I am curious what kinds of responses you have received, whether you think there is a valid level on which discussion might be pursued, etc. I ask this simply because it seems it would be a shame to let such a well-presented argument pass by without being taken seriously by all concerned. Thank you for the provocative piece.
Francis X. Clooney, S.J.
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts