HARI PRASAD LOHIA
(April 14, 1923 - October 15, 1992)
who played a noble part in a common endeavour and seeking, who shared the idea of this book, and who had a role in the making and shaping of Voice of India
Hindu View of Christianity and Islam is a sequel to Hinduism vis-a-vis Christianity and Islam which was recently issued in a new, enlarged edition.
The first two chapters of this volume reproduce two Introductions which we wrote for the Indian Reprints of two Lives of Muhammad, both classics, one written by Professor D.S. Margo- liouth in 1900, and the other even earlier by Sir William Muir. Both were pioneer studies and both are still unequalled in the treatment of the subject. As a study of Muhammad is at bottom also a study of Islam, both were also excellent studies of the creed the prophet inaugurated.
But both had also one common failing; they studied the subject from a Westem-Christian viewpoint, Muir consciously and frankly so; they neglected the pagan viewpoint including that of Arabia, the immediate victim of the new ideology. The purpose of the Introductions was to remove or, at least, to draw attention to this lacuna while Hindus made use of Westem- Christian scholarship in the absence of their own. In the Introductions, we also tried to look at Christianity and Islam through the viewpoint of larger paganism and discuss them in the larger Hindu spiritual framework. As a result, these Introductions acquired an unusual interest; we are therefore reproducing them here.
The third chapter carries forward the discussion still further. It elaborates certain points only briefly mentioned before and discusses new ones providing fresh viewpoints and additional information. It discusses Messiahs, Saviours and Prophets; it discusses the ideology of iconoclasm, missions and jihad', it discusses prophetic and yogic spiritualities; it discusses yogic and non-yogic samadhis and how the two project their own respective revelations, Gods and ethical codes. It discusses the prophetic god and revelation in the light of the Yoga.
Though Christianity has a poor opinion of Islam, yet it
regards it as a partner up to a point; it welcomes Islam’s role as a cleanser of the “world from the gross pollution of idolatry,” — the name by which the two religions remember all other religions, past or present. This sympathy arises from the fact that the two religions in spite of a long history of conflicts share a common perspective and common ideological premises.
In their career, the two ideologies have been active and systematic persecutors of pagan nations, cultures and religions; but the histories of the victims have been written from the victors’ viewpoint, and their viewpoint has prevailed in judging the victims.. Here, we have not accepted the victors’ standard of judgement; on the other hand, we have tried to look at them from the viewpoint of paganism in general and of Hindu spirituality in particular. We have spoken here with sympathy and respect not only of pagan Americas and Africa but also of the pagan past of Egypt, Greece Rome, Europe, Iran, Syria and old Arabia. This itself is unusual considering that their images have been thoroughly blackened, thanks to the triumph of monola- trous religions which vilify their neighbours as well as their own ancestors. But this has to go. A truly growing humanity cannot live with such a blackened past. Its past must be as glorious as it expects its future to be.
Today, there is a new awakening in many parts of the world. Many peoples are coming to know what they have gone through and how much they have lost. They have also begun to realize that their present religions are impositions on them, that they once belonged to a different spiritual culture which had a different orientation and was built on a deeper and a wider base. As this realization becomes more acute, many of them are trying to break from their present confines and are trying to recover their lost identity. They are also seeking a more satisfying spirituality. Probably Hinduism can help them. It has itself survived many physical and ideological onslaughts and it still retains in its bosom layers of spiritual traditions, intuitions and knowledge which other nations have lost; it can, therefore, help these nations to recover their lost religious roots and identity.
Hinduism-Buddhism represents not only man’s continuity with his past but also the innermost truth of his soul. It is a most complete statement and formulation available of philosophia perennis. Perennial Philosophy, the Sariatana Dharma. It can, therefore, also meet man’s seeking for a deeper religion.
Navaratra, Asvin Sukla Pratipada
September 27, 1992