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It is yogic, not demonic spirituality

Title : It is Yogic Not Demonic Spirituality
Author : Ram Swarup
Publication : Hindustan Times
Date: October 9, 1995.

ON  March  23 this year, Pat Robertson led  a  television 
programme  in  which he attacked Hinduism. He  called  it 
"demonic" and said that Hindus should be kept out of  the 
United  States.  He said that they  worship  "idols"  and 
"hundreds  of  millions of deities," which   "has  put  a 
nation in bondage to spiritual forces that have  deceived 
many for thousands of years." He spoke against the    
doctrines  of karma and incarnation. Then not  forgetting 
the practical side, he appealed for funds: "Help us carry 
the light to a nation in darkness," he said.   

Such sentiments are not new to American evangelists or to 
the world. But their importance in  this particular  case 
lies  in  the  fact  that they  were  made  by  Rev.  Pat 
Robertson,  a  national figure of America. He  stood  for 
Presidential election in 1988; and he heads a 1.4 million 
member Christian Coalition which has  great influence  in 
the new  Republican-controlled  Congress.                          

Pat  Robertson is also very powerful in the media. He  is 
the head of a Christian broadcasting network, the world's 
largest  television  ministry  beaming  its   evangelical 
programmes to 70 countries. Its 700-Club is notorious for 
bashing  non-Christian  religions.  On  the  said   date, 
Robertson  was  speaking  under  the  auspices  of   this 

To  understand him better, it may also be mentioned  that 
earlier  in the year, he had visited Andhra to take  part 
in  a Ceremony of converting Hindus - to set  them  "free 
from  a  lifetime of fear and demonic oppression"  as  he 
puts it.                  

Evangelism  is  an important component  of  the  American 
psyche and we should take due notice of it. We owe it  to 
us as well as to those who hold such  opinions about  us. 
While helping them to outgrow their prejudices we  should 
also   isolate  the"  elements  and  prevent  them   from 
spreading  their poison. Hinduism should learn  to  speak 
out.  I  will help better  relations  and   understanding 
between the two peoples.                        

In   America  itself,  these  remarks  would  have   gone 
unnoticed  as  usual among the Hindus  had  not  Hinduism 
Today, an excellent monthly journal published from Hawaii 
by  Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami (no NRI but a  native 
white  Hindu  monk) with the help of his  talented  group 
taken up the issue. It published those remarks adding its 
own  reasoned rejoinder. It made many Hindus sit up   and 
some  wrote  letters  of protest.  To  one  such  protest 
letter, Pat Robertson made a reply  which while retaining 
its theology intact was more restrained in language.

The reply is in some ways more than a fulmination; it  is 
a credo, an ideological statement  and therefore deserves 
a different kind of notice. It also reveals blocks  which 
are not of Robertson's alone but are widely prevalent  in 
the  Christian world. Therefore to discuss them  has  its 
larger usefulness.               

In his reply, Rev. Robertson  says that he has no  intent 

"to  offend  anyone", that he wants it to  be  understood 
that  he believes in "religious freedom"; but that  while 
he  respected the rights of others, he adds, he has  also 
"a  responsibility to speak the truth". Fair enough.  And 
then  continuing he tells us that the  truth is "that the 
Hindu faith has absolutely nothing to do with God!"  Then 
quoting  the Bible  for his authority, he says in  lively 
Americanism that "there is only  one way to hit the  mark 
and  that  is to come to Jesus Christ." At  the  end,  he 
modestly  says: "I don't make the rules - God, makes  the 

The  reply  is  interesting; it is  brief  but,  rich  in 
traditional  Christian  theology. It reveals in  a  clear 
profile   the   unchanging   face  of   Christianity,   a 
Christianity  which  still lives in  medieval  times  and 
refuses  to  change.  It gives in  a  few  sentences  the 
important  elements of Christian theology: a  single  and 
exclusive God, an equally single and exclusive channel of 
reaching him, and a conception of truth which  is  ready-
made, which requires to  self-preparation, and which can  
be had by simply looking it up in a particular book.               

First about Hindus having no God, though they have  often 
been accused of having too much  of him and too many like 
him. Let us however readily admit that Hindus do not have 
a  god of the Biblical tradition, the god of  Robertson's 
familiarity. Their  god is not Jehovah, an exclusive god, 
a  jealous  god,  a god who  denies other  gods.  In  the 
Vedas, the oldest scripture of the Hindus, gods are often 
invited  to  offered "conjoint" praise and it   does  not 
offend  any  one of them. They even believe  that  praise  
offered  to  one  is meant for others  too  and  actually 
received   by   them  together.  Vedic   gods   live   in 
friendliness; they do not deny each other.

This approach is not peculiar to Hindus. It was shared by 
the  Chinese, the Egyptians, the  Greeks, the Romans  and 
most  other  advanced cultures and    peoples.  Like  the 
Hindus they   could easily see their gods in the gods  of 
others. Greek and Roman gods were habitually regarded  as 
indenting  and  Caesar and Tacitus  routinely  identified  
the deities of Gaul and Germany  with those of their own. 
Greeks had no difficulty in recognising their gods in the 
gods  of the Hindus. It is the Semitic   tradition  which 
sees their devils in the gods of others.               

This  negative view derives from another  basic  biblical 
concept  - that their god is one and  the only true  god. 
True,  this view  implies that there are other gods  too, 
but  it  is freely and repeatedly stated  that  they  are 
"false"   and they are "abominations" and they are to  be 

They are often the gods of their neighbours.                          

Hindus  have  no god of this description. True  they  too 
often   describe their god as one (ekam), but  they  also 
call  him   many  (aneka).  Moreover  he  belongs  to  an 
entirely different thought-system, a different  spiritual 
view, a different universe of  discourse.                           
Strictly  speaking,  Hindus do  not believe in  one  God, 
they  believe in one reality, ekam sat.  They do not  say 
there  is only one God; they say God alone is. The  unity 

of  Hindu  God is spiritual, not numerical;  He  pervades 
all;  He  is one in all and the same in all; He  is  also 
beyond all. Semitic religions have no such concept.      

Now  we  turn  from  an exclusive  god  to  an  exclusive 
saviour. The two don't stand apart; they go together.  In 
this  too,  Rev.  Robertson is saying  nothing  new   but 
repeating  the  old Christian  doctrine of  No  Salvation 
outside  of Church, now modified in this  ecumenical  age 
to  No  Salvation  without Christ. In  his  support,   he 
quotes the Bible as his authority. This is a curious  way 
of arguing. You assume what you have to prove, put it  in 
your  own  book  and then cite it as  your  authority  or 
proof.    It  would  be  con  scared  dull-witted  in   a 
sophomore, but in a Christian preacher it makes a  bright 
and clinching argument.                  

Revelatory   religions   work   through   mediators   and 
intermediaries. In these ideologies, first there is a god 
of strong preferences and hatred; he chooses a people but 
even to them he does not reveal himself directly; on  the 
other  hand,  he makes his will known to them  through  a 
favoured  intermediary; who in turn has his  apostles  to 
broadcast his message; and the next link in the chain are 
evangelists   -   read  televangelists  in   the   modern 
conditions  -  or  as in  Islamic  tradition  jihadis  or 
crusaders. It is how revelatory ideologies function.  The 
message  is received by one but preahed and  relayed  by, 
others who had no share in the revelation. Their merit is 
greater if they do it with strong hands and in full faith 
and   are  troubled  by  no  intellectual   scruples   or 

In  this too the Hindu tradition differs  completely.  In 
this  tradition,  God resides in man's heart, and  he  is 
accessible  to all who seek him in sincerity,  knowledge, 
truth  and  faith.  In this tradition God  is  man's  own 
innermost  truth and the seeker finds him in the cave  of 
his heart, to put it in the Upanishadic language. In this 
tradition,  God reveals himself directly to  the'  seeker 
and  needs  no  specially  authorised  saviour,  no   go-
betweens. Also, since Hindu spirituality recongnises  God 
in man, it also recognises great goodness in him. On  the 
other hand, ideologies which deny man's secret  godliness 
also deny his essential goodness. They find man basically 
sinful and unfortunately also treat him so.

Finally,  to  Rev.  Robertson's idea  of  truth  and  his 
responsibility  to speak it. In Hindu  conception,  one's 
truth  cannot  be greater than one's seeking  .  In  this 
conception,  truth  does  not  lie  in  a  some  quotable 
passages of a book. It has to be known through a  culture 
of the spirit, through great seeking, tapas, purity,  and 
self-inquiry. Let Rev. Robertson himself find out  howfar 
he is ready for this larger truth.

Hindu  spirituality  is  yogic; it  is  found  everywhere 
thought  not always equally developed. It is found  among 
the  wise men of Egypt, Greece, Mexico, China, Today,  it 
is found in its most preserved form in Hinduism. Hinduism 
preserves   the  ancient  wisdom  of  many  nations   and 
cultures,  their Gods and their insights which they  lost 
under  the  onslaught of  monolatrous  creeds.  Spiritual 
humanity needs renascent Hinduism for its self revival.

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