RAM Swarup has written several books on different religions of the world, and is a vigorous proponent of Hindu thought. He has also been instrumental in drawing the attention of the world to the menace of communism. Though Hinduism and Monotheistic Religions raises expectations of a sustained exposition of Hinduism in relation to other monotheistic religions, it is actually a collection of Swarup’s essays, reviews and interviews, written over four decades on Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.
In the section on Hinduism, Swarup discusses several Hindu practices and beliefs, and asserts that Hindu renaissance during the British era was largely responsible for shaking the Indians out of inertia and servitude. That is why the British took to the policy of denigrating Hindus, and helped the growth of a class of self-alienated Hindu intellectuals who, together with the communists and Marxists, contributed to the weakening of the role of Hinduism in the national polity and fostering the bogey of secularism, which Swarup considers no more than an expedient for garnering votes.
Swarup pinpoints the problems that Hinduism has been facing in recent times-lack of ideological cohesiveness, weak organisation, caste divisions, and decline in the number of practicing Hindus-for which he blames the Hindus themselves. Somewhat sadly, he also writes how the Ramakrishna Mission called itself a non-Hindu organisation, disregarded its vedantic roots and overemphasised Ramakrishna’s practicing of all religions. He also laments the drifting away of the Sikhs from the Hindu fold, although the strong Hindu roots of Sikhism are in evidence in the voice of its gurus and its scriptures. He blames the British for engineering this drift and the Akalis for its subsequent politicisation. Swarup believes that the weakening of the influence of Hinduism is the major cause of the decline of values in our country.
Swarup’s views on Christianity cover diverse areas: affinities of early Christianity with Hindu thought, Christianity’s borrowings from Jewish religion, the despicable story of the destruction of people of other faiths by its early adherents, and its missionary activities of modern times conducted by career-oriented salesmen, who have consistently resorted to deception, trickery, and coercion. Pointing to its negative aspects, he refers to the mythmaking of St Paul: of propagating that there is no salvation outside the church, which is based on a diminished view of human beings as born sinners. Swarup exposes the myth of Christian uniqueness by showing how it disrespects plurality, and argues that the idea of Christian mysticism being superior to the Hindu one has no basis because “doctrinally speaking,” Christianity has no element of mysticism. And finally, while Hindu spiritualism is yogic, the Christian one is demonic. Most of what Swarup says about Christianity is supported by what many westerners have written about it.
The Muslim section deals with the roots of Muslim fundamentalism, which is fed by Pakistan in India and by the Arabs in both countries, and justified by the leftists and progressives from within the country. Swarup shows that the concepts of fatwa and the tradition of killing non-believers have descended down from the Prophet himself. He also provides examples of Muslim vandalism in several countries of the world.
Swarup’s writing on the three religions is based on massive scholarship and is quite revealing in parts. Even when Swarup sounds provocative, he is vastly persuasive. Written in a clear style, Swarup’s book is worth reading and pondering over.
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