Sunday, April 1, 2012
FRANKENSTEINS OF HINDUISM (PART II) - EMERGING AS RATNAS FROM THE KSHIRA-SAGAR OF GULLIBILITY AND OBSEQUIOUS HONEST MODESTY
FRANKENSTEINS OF HINDUISM (PART II)
G P Srinivas
March 31st, 2012
This essay is dedicated to the memory, of late Swami Mukhyananda, one of the senior-most monks of the Ramakrishna order (Order of Hindu Monks) and of Ramakrishna Mission’s Institute of Culture, Kolkata,India, who passed away two years ago at the age of 90. In the year 2000, Sri Ramakrishna math had constructed a magnificent temple, for Sri Ramakrishna at Mylapore, Chennai, India with a huge budget. The temple incorporated architectural features of major religions of the world apart from Hinduism. Religious motifs and sacred symbols, of all religions were part of the fusion and pressed on cement, on the walls and roof of the building. Those who conceived the "noble" project thought it was the finest way to remember Sri Ramakrishna’s “universal message”, as they thought it would be the best way to begin the new millennium, and the unique structure was given the name “Universal Temple”.
There were knowledgeable people within the mutth, who questioned the very idea of engraving symbols of Islam and Christianity on the WALLS OF THE TEMPLE DEDICATED TO THE HINDUISM'S MOST REVERED SAINT. THEY RAISED PERTINENT QUESTIONS LIKE “WHICH MUSLIM WOULD PERFORM NAMAZ HERE?” AND “WHICH CHRISTIAN PRIEST WOULD CONDUCT A MASS THERE”?
SEVERAL UNPLEASANT FACTS:
For the consecration ceremony the Ramakrishna Mutth had invited dignitaries from all religions, and frankly did not expect any trouble on that auspicious occasion, that too from dignitaries!. They did not expect in the least, a guest they had invited, in all good faith, would put them in a quandary, in their own premises, in front of thousands of devotees, drawn from five continents. When a dignitary, Prince of Arcot, representing Islam, whose name was respectfully announced, rose up, cleared his voice, adjusted his attire and walked across to the microphone stridently, and said in the open meeting “You are calling this temple Universal Temple, right"…If you are calling Hinduism a Universal religion, “why then did you destroy the Babri Structure.” (As if RK Mission had any part in so described event in Ayodhya, India, where the invader Babur had erected a mosque after destroying an age old Temple of Rama on the very spot believed to be sacred place of birth of "Lord" Rama, revered by all Hindus!!!!) (Many Bahai'i temples depict sacred symbols of all religions, and although Bahai'is were
persecuted and bullied in Khumeini's Iran, they are not object of open criticism by Muslims in other democratic and secular countries including India - Editor's comment)
The President of the RK Mutth who sitting on the dais could not believe what his invited guest was doing. The normally passive Ramakrishnaites, who believe in the validity of all paths, were taken aback, by the loaded question thrown at them by the political person, when they were totally unprepared for answering such complex issues. Luckily to save the honor of the Mutth, in the audience there were some people, who got the message. It should be remembered the argument was presented before an audience, a majority of them a-political & spiritual minded-Hindus. With the commotion created by the speaker there were some participants, in the audience, who raised objection to this, and also soon afterwards issued a printed pamphlet that said,
#1) Ayodhya is the most sacred place for Hindus & not Muslims
#2) Here the Temple of Sri Rama was destroyed by Mir Baqi, the general of Babur
#3) How come a dome came there in the first place?
#4) The site was, and always will be a Temple and was it ever a Mosque?
I cannot help but mention the name of late Swami Mukhyananda of the Sri Ramakrishna order, who was with the Mission’s Institute of culture, Kolkata and who issued a rebuttal to the Prince of Arcot, under an assumed name. He actually wanted to publish it in his own name. But was disappointed when his stature in the Mutth, would jeopardize such activities, and he was subtly pressurized, not to publish it in his own name for unknown fears and political correctness. Prof. Sri Rangarajan published the pamphlet on his name. Though the Prince of Arcot had violated the code of conduct laid down for dignitaries, no so strangely as a Muslim would feel free to do in a Hindu function, in universally welcoming Hindu sacred abode on Hindu turf, some self respecting Hindu Swamis of the Mutth rose up to the occasion, but with the press hovering nearby looking for some juicy gossip, were gagged. The Swami had published the rebuttal, of course, under prevalent conditions in an assumed name. Subsequently he passed away at the ripe age of 90, two years ago.
The big lesson drawn from this incident is, when Muslims bully Hindus, in a Hindu function, in their own home and on their sacred abode, even a big organization like Ramakrishna Mutth shies away and run for cover. Any Hindu that toys with an idea of "Debates with Semitic religions" under the guise of “Universalism” or “Advaita” even on their own turf, in the presence of thousands of Hindu followers, it is ultimately, the Hindu who yields and not the Muslim. What has it got to do with Rajiv Malhotra's new book, “BEING DIFFERENT”? Rajiv Malhotra is no stranger to Ramakrishna Mission. Three years ago he was instrumental in putting up a stout defense in “INVADING THE SACRED‟ against Jeffrey Kripal, Prof. Paul Courtright, et. al.
Now he is committing the same mistake which Ramakrishna Mission committed.
"BRAND OF UNIVERSAL PHILOSOPHY"
Not only RK matth, but also hundreds of Hindu organizations that have come up roughly within the last 220 years have been promoting vigorously their own "brand of universal philosophy‟, and have become prisoners of their own creation. This strange creation has no sanction in the Vedas, Brahma Sutras, or in the Gita. Not only are they becoming victims of their Frankensteins but are also leading millions of naïve followers into deep pacific trench.
The examples cited are indicators of "public snub‟ that Hindus are receiving in a good dose, but it is not registering in their thick skulls. The point that I am trying to get registered here is, though Rajiv Malhotra's defense team comprising Krishnan Ramaswami, Antony de Nicholas, and Aditi Banerji, did accept a ground breaking assignment in defending the Ramakrishna Math & camp; its Mission, etc.,(without which, their complete past would have been tarnished beyond anybody’s imagination) but has this nasty experience, taught them any lesson? Has it changed them beyond reprieve? Has it taught any major lesson to Ramakrishna Mutth and Mission, based on this unpleasant experience that would make an individual of ordinary prudence willing to undergo any major course of correction? The answer will be not acceptable. Sources tell me, the organization is internally at work officially, which cannot be detailed here, as this is not the forum. In the first place it was the same gullible Ramakrishna Mission that had allowed insidious characters like Jeffrey Kripal, in the first place 1) to undertake research projects on their founder Saint's life by hosting him 2) to stay in their premises and 3) extended their undue open armed welcome and patronage to a "white man." trusting his honest intentions. 4) But, will the Mutth allow the same facilities and welcome to any other Hindu researcher? 5) Why such double standards are adopted by not only Ramakrishna Mutt, but also by all other Hindu Ashrams, when it comes to their preferential treatment of "white skinned foreigners" as against Brown Hindus? (Previous examples are Arthur Koestler -Editor's Note)
On the one hand they are attracting foreigners in droves, due to their liberal policy and as a result, that brings good revenue. But, many of these ashrams are stubbornly refusing to consider the ground realities and the impact of the philosophy of Universalism, promoted by them and its impact on their followers, and the political future of their Hindu followers. Clueless, Hindus are becoming more and more attached to some cult and getting uprooted, from their moorings and their future is being vaporized. In the memory of late Swami Mukhyananda who refused to yield to the bully, his friends from outside the Mutth are planning to release the pamphlet shortly. If Ramakrishna Mission is refusing to put itself in the line of fire, at least some members will. This humble article is dedicated to Swamy Mukhyananda. Not too long ago, now, Shri Rajiv Malhotra came out with a second book “Being Different” with the subtitle “An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism”. The small print says, the book project was a “Joint venture with the India Today group”. It is not clear what the terms of the joint venture were. It was not specified in the book. I hope in these days of public's Rights to Information, one has every right to expect some level of transparency from Malhotra and India Today’s Joint Venture.
The first book, ‘Breaking India’ was written by Shri Rajiv Malhotra and Thiru Aravindan Neelakandan. Prior to that Rajiv Malhotra was associated with “Invading the sacred”. The next book by Rajiv Malhotra will be "U Turn" as he himself has declared in his forums. What is this about? I am not able to get more details. I hope this new book of his will be free of monumental errors. Earlier he was let down by many of his endorsers who without going through the manuscript or reading his book had given him their ‘precious endorsement,’ especially Prof. FX Clooney. Now I hope Malhotra will find better Hindu Scholars who will do justice by giving a thorough reading of his manuscript and save his honor.