Anil Bhanot is one of the leading Hindus in the area of interfaith relations and often speaks at state functions such as the Commonwealth Day Observance at Westminster Abbey. He is also a member of the Faith Community Consultative Council, which is about building good relations between faith communities in Britain. He has not yet responded to my query about this. He writes regularly for the Guardian and New Statesman, where a recent article discussed the swastika symbol as a sign of wisdom. Recently he wrote to Christian leaders in the UK, urging them to root out and stand against intolerance and religious dogma.If he's the same guy posting in the forums, then to his credit are the following ideas:
Condemning the caste system blindly makes one an Abrahamic slave
Christian missionaries are invaders and non-Indian faiths are predatory
Non Indian faiths are demonic
The second commandment (against graven images) as diabolical
Christianity has left the world poorer because Christians need to find enemies:
Further for your purpose I am not against the spirituality of any religion and Jesus contributed to world's spirituality but I am afraid those who created Christianity after some 300 years of his death have left the world poor for it.'[Hmm. Someone's been reading Dan Brown. Links and fuller quotes at Ruth's blog]
This is rich. Really rich. For one, the claim is often made that Hinduism is deeply tolerant of all perspectives and non-dogmatic and, therefore, much better for the world than Christianity (and the Abrahamic faiths), besotted with an obsession for orthodoxy, monotheism, dogmatism, etc. One hears this from all sorts of Westerners interested in all things "Eastern." And the idea seems to run as a thread through a lot of modern liberal, pluralistic thought: monotheism, dogma, and so on, are intrinsically tied to violence. The only way to be truly democratic and open to the other, is to abjure dogma.
And, yet, here we have a leading Hindu leader (if, indeed, it is the same person), who, on the one hand, lectures Christians on tolerance and respect, and yet spews the most risible untruths about Christianity in a Hindu forum?
The perspectives he espouses are hardly distinguishable from the right-wing ideologues of the Hindutva brigade in India, who spread the lie that Indian equals Hindu, whose revisionist histories could compare with the distorted lenses of a Stalin or a Hitler, and who seem absolutely blind to the evils of caste, until Christian missionaries show up who seem to think that [shock! horror!] those of the lower castes are actually human beings.
In fact I posit that every reform movement that originated in Hinduism in the past 200 years was in response to the arrival of a missionary Christianity with the colonialists. But these ideas are rather politically incorrect in India.
And as to the caste system and Abrahamic slavery, it is worthwhile recalling the harsh words that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, who wrote independent India's Constitution, had to say about caste and Hinduism in particular.
The pervasive violence with which the caste-system is still enforced is quite incredible. In the Feb. 2005 issue of America, Jesuit Fr. John Francis Izzo wrote about his experiences in India. "Dalit means broken."