Hinduism - Lesson 19

Epic and Classical Period

The Ramayana is an epic account of India. It is the story or epic of Rama and Sita, and is the origin of the tradition of Suti. Mahabharata is the epic of India. It’s the longest collection of poems in the world. The Bhagavad-Gita  is the most important part of the Mahabharata. It talks about both the dharma of caste and the dharma of denial and renunciation.

Lesson 19
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Epic and Classical Period

XI. Epic and Classical Period

A. Re-Cap of periods

1. Formative Period (2800-800 B.C.)

2. Speculative Period (800-400 B.C.)

3. Epic and Classical Period (400 B.C. - 600 A.D.)

B. Ramayana

C. Mahabharata

D. Bhagavad-Gita

1. Tension of Dharma: social obligations vs renunciation

2. Insight of the Gita

3. Mahavakyas of the Bhagavad-Gita

4. Chapter analysis of the Gita [end of part 1]

XII. Modern Day Guruism in India and the West

A. Introduction

B. Joy's experience following a guru

  • Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world and one of the oldest. It is about 12% of the world population and about 95% are in India. Hinduism is difficult to define. There is evidence of civilization in the Indus valley as early as 2800 BC. The sacred literature that is the basis for Hinduism was created and developed over hundreds of years. It was originally transmitted orally and was eventually written down.

  • Introduction to fundamental ideas and literature that are basic to the Hindu religion. The first lecture given for this class is not available at this time. This lecture begins on the class outline at II, C.

  • Discussion of the influence that the Vedic tradition has on Hinduism. 

  • Mahavakyas is made up of two words meaning, “great utterances.” The creation stories are a collection of different stories with various themes. The world is created by a divine figure dismembering themself and their body becomes the world. The caste system has a racial element to it based on some of the creation narratives in the RgVeda.

  • The Upanishads are one strand of the Vedas. Brahman refers to the all-pervading reality in the Upanishads, not the Brahmin caste. The question throughout the Upanishads is, “Who or what is Brahman?”

  • Brahman is the ultimate reality of the universe. Our atman is encrusted with karma and stuck on the wheel of Samsara. A Hindu's goal, in the process of being reincarnated through thousands of lifetimes, is to rid themselves of karma so they can achieve moksa, oneness with Brahman.

  • Maya is the ability of the gods to create the world and give it the appearance they choose, thereby concealing the true nature of Brahman. Karma is the principle that what you sow, you alone reap.

  • A Hindu must work off their karma to be released from the wheel of Samsara and achieve moksa when their atman becomes one with Brahman. Yoga was developed as a way to achieve the goals of the Samkhya philosophy. Hindus see God as a material cause of the universe, not an efficient cause.

  • The Mahavakyas are “great sayings” that give you insights into core teachings of Hinduism. The Brehed Aranyaka Upanishad shows that Hindus believe that diversity can come through oneness and not be an “other.”

  • Sankara says that Brahman is unknowable and we can't perceive any of his qualities. The rope-snake metaphor is often used by Hindus to discuss the difference between perception and reality.

  • Hindu writers often use metaphors to illustrate and teach the essentials of the Hindu philosophy. In their writings, they refer to these metaphors in a way that assumes that you know and understand them.

  • The purpose of this lecture is to see the structure of Hinduism at a glance. Hinduism operates and a philosophical level and a popular level. Hinduism attempts to resolve the relationship between knowledge, works and devotion. The four stages of life and the caste system determine much of cultural structure of Hinduism. Hindus worship many Gods.

  • The three major dissent movements that area a challenge Hinduism are Buddhism, Janism and materialism. Hinduism is adept at absorbing other movements. Buddhism claims that there is a teaching that makes it possible for you to reach the state of Nirvana which is liberation from all suffering. The founder of Buddhism is Siddhartha Gautama. The content of his teaching is the four noble truths and the eight-fold path.

  • The key insight of the Upanishads is the identification of atman with Brahman. Buddhists deny both atman and Brahman.

  • The Bhakti marga is branch of Hinduism that emphasizes a spiritual journey undertaken by a devotee that will culminate in a state of union with God or mutual indwelling of the deity and the bhakta.

  • The Hindu gods have identifying characteristics that make them easy to recognize when you see them in temples or other settings. The Trimrti are the three major gods of India which are Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Brahma is not often visually represented, so Vishnu and Shiva are seen the most. Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, Shiva the destroyer. Vishnu has 10 incarnations or avatars. These are partial incarnations and don’t represent the fullness of Vishnu.

  • The Siva icon always has the presence of the Trishal, which is a sacred weapon of destruction. There is also the nag (cobra), damaru (drum), third eye, Ganges river flowing out of his head. The dancing Siva has a damaru in one hand and a flame of fire in the other that represents creation and destruction of the world. He also has dreadlocks and the trunk of an elephant.  The third eye of siva is what Hindu women have on their forehead. The Siva Lingum is the most dominant icon in north India.

  • The Brahminical branch teaches that works and devotion lead to true knowledge (Upanishadic vision, tat twam asi). Bhaktis say that knowledge and works should lead to devotion.

  • The Ramayana is an epic account of India. It is the story or epic of Rama and Sita, and is the origin of the tradition of Suti. Mahabharata is the epic of India. It’s the longest collection of poems in the world. The Bhagavad-Gita  is the most important part of the Mahabharata. It talks about both the dharma of caste and the dharma of denial and renunciation.

  • Gurus integrate different parts of the marga system. Paramahamsa Ramakrishna declared the unity of all religions. He claimed to have visions of Hindu gods and Jesus Christ and Mohammed and that all religions lead to the same ultimate reality, sat chit ananda. Swami Vivekananda was the most well-known follower of Ramadrishna and brought his message to the western world. He accepts tat twam asi, the great insight of the Upanishads, but thinks that everyone, not just Brahmans can perceive that unity. (The last point of the lecture was cut short due to a technical limitation.)

    You may download the text of Vivekananda's speech by clicking on the Handouts link in the upper left corner.

  • These are nine of the major holidays celebrated in India. Sankara has been called India’s greatest philosopher. Sankara emphasized universals and Ramanuja emphasized the particulars, similar to Plato and Aristotle in Western thought. Sankara has greater status as a philosopher, but Ramanuja has had a great influence on how the masses practice Hinduism.

    The chart Dr. Tennent refers to near the end of the lecture is the “Three Vehicle Structure of Hinduism,” which is labeled Lecture 6 in the complete class outline pdf document on the class page.

  • Brahmabandhav Upadhyay was an upper jati Brahman teacher who converted to Catholicism. He attempts to explain Christianity by using Advadic motifs. Brahmabandhav is an example of how a Brahman can address the Brahminical community using a Brahminical line of reasoning.

  • There are opportunities for preaching the gospel and planting churches, but there are significant challenges. There is a difference between being unreached and being unevangelized. Homogenus unit principle is one factor that makes it difficult for the gospel to spread in India. It’s important to send people to unreached groups and use a strategy that is effective for those groups.

In-depth survey of philosophical and popular Hinduism’s historical and theological themes. Exposure to current strategies being used to bring the gospel to Hindus and how Christian theology is being formulated in the Indian context.

Dr. Tennent occasionally uses pictures of Hindu gods or other visual resources in his lectures. You can download a document with these pictures by clicking on the Hindu Deity Pictures link. 



Dr. Timothy Tennent
Epic and Classical Period
Lesson Transcript


I made a few comments about these men. I showed you their pictures before, but I want to make sure that we're clear on some of the main points there. Then we'll do some festivals and I think we'll finally be through with this third cycle of the devotional. MARGA So then we can go back and begin going to show how it all relates together, sort of next class period. You can make a note to make sure you bring your chart because we'll be going back to that chart and making some integrative comments about the chart next time. Lord willing, What chart? The chart that has the three vehicles of modern Hinduism. Jenna Margaret, come back to America that chart and I'll bring some extra copies in case any of you forget. I know it's highly unlikely anybody here will forget, but just in case. One of the remarkable things about Guru ism, as we've already indicated, it brings together and we've seen how much of this is now happening where things are integrated from various parts of the market system. So essentially you have often high caste or biomedical leaders who are recognizing that the buck, the movement could essentially rob them of their power. And so the Buck D movement has been incorporated, backed into political Hinduism. So Brahmans will often dominate buck deism as well by saying they are a particular incarnation of a God or they are a particular channel to God, which is what Joy so powerfully shared with us last time with her experience. So because of that, it has really broadened and in some ways continues to show how the markets relate one to another. A few figures we want to focus on that I think tie in too many Western emphasis as well.


The first is Paramahansa Ramakrishna. This is a Hindu mystic who declared not just the unity of Hinduism, which we have seen in the Guru, is that the unity of all religions, He's born as a Vishnu Mela into a family in Bengal. He actually has a strong rabbinical background in all of his roots. As you November, typically you find in North India, Shiite, south India, Western divide. In his case, he goes in the east over in Bengal and he becomes a priest of Kali. So you're very well acquainted with now. He became ecstatically devoted to Kali and spent many, many hours reportedly weeping, going through various puja experiences, ecstatic experiences, until he actually had a vision of the goddess, according to his belief of devotee herself. He was so enraptured by this that he cannot hold an ordinary job even in the temple. And he began to study under some other Brahmins who taught him various meditative techniques. One, he came in particularly light from a particular Brahmin woman, as well as the Sadhu, whose name was Tota Puri, who was famous because he refused to ever wear any clothes. And I guess that is one reason why he's meditate all the time. He didn't need any clothes because he was focused on his meditation. Ramakrishna began to practice these meditative techniques, and he claims that he had a vision of Krishna and Raja. Two now also are well aware of. He had further visions of Krishna and Kali, which we already discussed. But then eventually and this really, I think is what makes him important is that he claimed her vision of Jesus, a vision of Jesus Christ and of Muhammad. Now, this is a very important from a pure historical point of view, quite apart from how we might unwrap this as Christians, a very historical point of view, this is another major step in terms of how Hinduism has interact with the modern world, especially other religions.


What he essentially does is he says that in this vision he saw that there were not just three paths to enlightenment. In other way, he's talking about Jana marga, karma, marga, bhakti marga. This is one of the impulses that we've seen that Ramakrishna very powerfully illustrates, is the attempt to transcend the three marriages or find some way to find how do they work with each other? Because Hinduism is always, always about how to them what is the rights of the one in the many. This is one of the great cosmic homology. All of that is how diversity can reflect oneness and so that you can't really have three paths in Hinduism. Ultimately, there's got to be some way. This is part of one singular vision. So he claims that there's not it's not just the marga common marga abductee marga, but there are hundreds of paths to enlightenment, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism, among others. He declared that all religions are different paths to the one eternal being who he simply calls, as you might expect, such that Ananda the whole sets that under the doctrine we discussed as well. That goes back to the Punisher. So here's a guy who very cleverly is connecting to the Panasonic vision, which we saw is essential for any teacher in India, a biomedical teacher especially. So he ties everything intersected on into from the verge of seeker upon a side. He is leaning heavily into the whole bhakti movement by drawing upon the popular strands, saying, you know, he's trying to basically find a way to transcend this whole discussion we had earlier about the relationship of devotion, knowledge and works. Or is it like this knowledge? Devotion works. Okay. We've looked a lot at this kind of paradigm.


And this is there's no question this is a tension within Hinduism about what is ultimate essentially, this is a battle over General Marga and bhakti marga, obviously. So if you have essentially the Brahmins over here arguing for knowledge and you have the masses of people that are. Now called scheduled caste or the broad non upper caste people arguing for baptism. Then you essentially have this pressure between these two that could essentially create fracturing, which is not part of the Hindu vision. So he's saying, no, no, no, there is something which transcends all of this. And the such that Ananda being conscience is bliss. This whole doctrine of the upon the shards is the overarching thing which not only unites this, but all religions together. He says, for example, and I'm quoting him here, both Kali and Brahman. Both Cristina and Christ are different aspects of the same reality. Now, there's nobody in America who would argue that Colley and Brahman are the same. Carly is something that's over here that people worship in ignorance. Brahman is the all pervading, you know, near goona Brahman, you can say nothing about it and all that. So to equate Kali and Brahman is itself pretty radical, though we could see that in many of the bhakti movements in South India, especially the Tamils. But between Krishna and Christ, this is now taking a stand that begins to integrate Hinduism with how it relates to other religions, which we have not seen a lot of in this course as best we've not talked about at all how the Hindus see themselves and relate to Christianity much in a formal way. So Ramakrishna had a number of followers. His most important was a man that is now known to you.


His name was Narendran Dutta, who today is known as Swami Vivekananda. This was his most devoted follower, and this is the one who brought the message of Ramakrishna to the Western world. And I have his dates there before you. And again, you can see in his name all of these figures take names that you know, you see Ramakrishna, you see the name Rama and Krishna in his name. That in itself is interesting that that is a very bhakti name. But with the Vivekananda, this actually is a very important suffix for a swami, a teacher, an enlightened teacher always has been Ananda at the end of it. So everyone recognizes an ordinary person does not call themselves unknown. And in fact, I feel a little embarrassed about this, but it's just the way it works out in my own writing. In India, if I'm writing for a Hindu audience, I never published under the name Timothy Tennant because it's merely recognized as a Western name. So if it's a it's a book, a scholarly book, like my book on part of our textbook, that book, which is now in Hindi, is under Timothy Turner. That's fine. But if it's anything like tracts, pamphlets, booklets, my name is Plain Raj Dhan on and off, and I publish that name Darmanin the Dharma Ananda, because people who see that recognized as a teacher and they will read it as someone who is an Indian who teaches, it's actually very, very common. All through Indian history, people always want to pen names. It's not all unusual. And the indigenous doctor took on the name Swami Vivekananda and he taught that the Vedanta ideal was true. He except taught Tomasi But like we've seen with the Ramakrishna, he says that the problem with taught Tomasi is that it is not something that only a Brahman can have an insight into.


So you have the same thing here. You have one hand. He is tipping his hat to the janam aga, saying, I acknowledge the Brahmans are right that the goddess inside the Upanishads is taught. Tomasi thou art that but. They were mistaken in thinking only Brahmins could perceive this unity. He said there are many ways, many paths through which someone can perceive this unity, and he does not deny that the Brahmans can achieve it through their political way of knowledge. But he says there are other paths that can equally help someone achieve the inside of thought to want to see. So now you're finding the attempt by some of these Brahmans to broaden the vision, to encompass even the most popular movements and even other religions. He calls this neo vedanta ism. This is a new Vedanta ism. The result is, as you can see in the hand out, a number of things happen because of this that are very important in the history of Hinduism. The first is the emergence of social ethics. The moment you distance yourself from a brand cynical, exclusive religion and you open the door to other classes or caste of people, then this provides an avenue through which you can enfranchise somebody rather than disenfranchize them. Because up to this point they should raise especially are Disenfranchized and the Dalits even more so. They have no hope, but hopefully through improving their karmic debt, maybe be reborn as a Brahmin someday. That's about the only hope they have now. They have hope because they can. I'm saying this obviously speaking as a Hindu, they have hope. I know from point of view the gospel, they need the gospel. But I'm saying from their perspective they have hope because now there is an avenue through which a person who's not a Brahman can achieve enlightenment and have the essential unity of touch to see well, later, see how the philosophical foundation of this is laid out by Ramana.


But we're not there yet. And by the way, this is very, very popular 19th century stuff. 19th century, if you know the general literature of 19th century, in general in the Western world that deeply influenced the East. This was the heyday of natural theology, of general revelation, a very optimism before the world, one or two, which trust us in this horrible, pessimistic period. People were very optimistic about human nature, what could be perceived and known. So this is all part of a general intellectual Malu that Hinduism is also drawing from. So social ethics is pouring into Hinduism as a part of this overall optimism about the human race and what we can accomplish, what we can do, how we can help each other, and on and on and on. The British Raj is in their heyday in India. And don't forget the figure out of my doctoral work on who's this 19th century Bengali, who he later becomes a leader. He is probably the most important early leader of the nationalistic movement. He's the one that started the whole nationalist movement in Bengal, which is the word where it all was given birth. And more later, Gandhi would pick up and use a lot of his own techniques that he would use. But if you read his early writings, I mean, the man can find nothing wrong with the British is the greatest thing in the world. This is God's gift to us. I mean, you won't believe it. I mean, just gushing. Lee gushing. Only positive about the British presence in India. It really isn't until 1905 that you August 1905, when the British partition Bengal, that you really began to find negative reactions springing up about the British presence there. That's still some years before Gandhi.


So this takes a long time, obviously, in 1947 to really finally totally blow up. But in these early, early, late 19th century, very positive train lines have being laid there, there, so excited when the British lay the telegraph line and somebody talks between Bombay, now Mumbai and Calcutta, they couldn't believe it. How could somebody on one side the country talk someone in this other countries? They couldn't believe it and they kind of a a line that went from I'm not sure where it was. It was somewhere in north. They made Bhopal or somewhere up to Delhi. And they just couldn't believe that people could talk to people between Delhi and Bhopal. I would just put their minds, Oh, the literature on this was just, you know. Oh, effusive. The British is wonderful, all these riches coming into our country. There were people who were so amazed by the train station. In fact, when they first laid the tracks in India, there are many of the villagers who never seen a train before, and they didn't know what they were doing. They saw them strapping these huge metal, you know, like a gigantic belt across the country. And word got out that the British were actually going to use these belts to hook India up to a barge and pull India all the way to Britain like a big floating barge. Just pull India to Britain. Join it all together. One big happy family. I mean, it's unbelievable literature in this time period. So none of this is a surprise. But the second thing that happens, it's important is what we've discussed in a larger sense when the missionaries came. But Vivekananda is another missionary, just a Hindu missionary, the reification of Hinduism. This is definitely happening in full bore in 19th century.


Prior to this time, the word Hinduism has never been used to describe holistically the religion of this group of people. 82% of India, they are people who worship. From people who worship Christian or people who worship their vision of rights, of light and so forth. It is not until this period they begin to find Hinduism emerging in that term, Hinduism referring to a unified religion of some kind, which is a great advancement on the overall Hindu ideal. So Vivekananda argues for many paths one vision. And so it helps to say that Hindu is Hinduism is not some fractured, horrible distortion of multiple belief systems that are hopelessly contradictory, which is certainly is at any observable level. But all beyond all of this observable contradictions and fractions and various subdivisions is in fact a unified vision. That's a very important thing, if that's true, because that is a reification that's occurring that makes Hinduism a point of study like this class. The third thing is that Hinduism becomes now a major player in the global religious vision of the world. Hinduism as a world religion, what is often called the birth of the Saffron mission. And that's the title of a book that came out maybe three or four years ago by C.V. Matthew entitled The Saffron Mission. It talks about essentially the birth of Hinduism, seen itself as an evangelistic movement back in the 19th century. Again, Marcus Miller said that all religions can be divided between those who are evangelistic and those who are not. And he said the evangelistic religions would include Christianity, Islam and Theravada Buddhism. All the others are non evangelistic. But that's no longer possible today. Talk in those terms because the Hinduism, especially the 19th century, took on this idea of we can spread the message of Hinduism around the world and the world will benefit from it.


It's called the Saffron Mission that really culminates in the very, very famous speech of Survivor Canada at the world premiere of Religions in 1893. I cannot overestimate the importance of the speech he gave at the World Problem of Religions 1893. He actually gave two addresses. This was the birth of Hinduism in America especially, and more broadly in the Western world. I have a copy of both of his addresses to pass out to you because I think it's that important. It's like Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech in the sense that it's one of those speech that defines an entire movement. And so it's not just that Vivekananda said it. It's the fact that what he said resonates so powerfully with the participants in this gathering of people who gathered. It was a parliament, a gathering of religious representative from all over the world to discuss how religions interact with each other. The result was, I don't think any of our lives been the same since this speech because it electrified those who are there. In fact, if you look at the literature, when people left that meeting and this is this goes on for several weeks of meeting, this is a long not just a one day affair. It's like a ten or 12 days. This gathering, which had hundreds and hundreds of people, participants from all over the world, everyone, when they came back home and wrote their reports and in fact mean they're all Vivekananda Vivekananda Vivekananda. If you go and ask anybody who's a scholar of this period of time and you ask them what is the one most memorable event of the religions, they'll say something vivekananda's speech. And so I'm going to pass it out to you both.


He gave one and he was asked to give a closing speech at the end because it was so electrifying thing. But it's affected modern day pluralistic attitudes dramatically. And I think in some ways, yes. When you do live in Chicago. Yes. It's a beautiful. Yeah. It was a 93. Yeah, it was the hundredth anniversary of it. Right, Right. It was. Oh, really? Yeah, it was interesting. Watch ping pong. It's all side by side and Latter-Day Saints. Particular. In Pakistan. Impossible to do for a while. I can imagine. I can imagine. Well, you got a little taste for what it was like in 1893. I won't read the entire thing to you, but I want to read a few parts of this. If you look at the first page, which is the opening address on September 11th, 1893, which begins Sisters and Brothers of America. If you look down in the second paragraph, he said, I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. And you see how that is the original Ramakrishna vision. So Vivekananda came west. He didn't want to start the Vivekananda mission, but the Ramakrishna mission. He claims that Ramakrishna is a incarnation of Chaitanya, who we have not studied, may not have time to study. Titania is an incarnation reincarnation of Krishna. There's a Krishna, there's Titania, there is Ramakrishna. And he had this great insight again. But how Geeta saying that what's in the Gita has all religions inside of Krishna, right? So this is a part of that whole vision of the Geeta that Ramakrishna connects to. So he's saying, All right, look, we accept all religions as true, not just all Hindu sects.


I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites who came to South India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered, a piece of by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to a religion that which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I'll quote to you, brother, in a few lines from a hymn, which I remember too. I repeated my earliest boyhood. Now, this is a phrase which so many Indians know as the different streams, having their sources and different paths which men take through different tendencies. Variously, they appear crooked or straight. All lead to the this is the famous thing. There are many rivers, all rivers laid to the ocean. Same way all religions lead to God. This is his basic view. And then he quotes the guide to this present convention, which is one of the most August assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication. This is what he says there. A declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Geeta and he quotes to give the text we've already looked at. Though his translation is different than ours. Whosoever comes to me through whatever form I reach him. All men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me. Sectarianism, bigotry and its horrible descendant fanaticism have long possessed this beautiful or if they have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair.


Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time has come, and I fervently hope the bell that told this morning in honor of this convention will be the death knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions, with a sword or with a pen. And of all uncharitable feelings in persons winning their way to the same goal. This is definitely 19th century talk, but he is talking about toleration of all religions as equal. This is what we call pluralism, which is in fact really a form of allowing for any path, not political pluralism, but religious pluralism, allowing for any religion to be equally efficacious. On the back, he had even more spirited final charge on the 27th of September, 1893. Listen to what he says going down to the third paragraph. Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to pitch my own theory. Then he goes on to give us this theory. But if anyone here hopes this unity will come by the triumph of any of the religions and the destruction of others, I say to him, Brothers, yours is an impossible hope. And this is probably most quoted part of this passage. Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become a Christian? God forbid the seed is put in the ground and earth and air and water are placed around it? Does the seed become the earth or the air or the water? No. It becomes a plant. It develops after the law of its own growth assimilates the air, the earth and the water converts them into plant and substance and grows into a plant.


Similar is the case of religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth. If the religion has shown anything to the world, it is then, as it is proved to the world, that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world. And every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character in the face of this evidence. If anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written in spite of resistance, help and not fight, assimilation and not destruction. Harmony and peace and not dissension. Can you imagine it? This is very, very influential stuff that has affected the way religions are viewed broadly in the West prior to this point. The majority of Americans believe that Christianity was the only true religion. All others must be displaced by gospel preaching. Today, it is not, as you know, widely held by rank and file mainstream people. This is viewed as a strange belief of evangelicals that Christianity is somehow or another unique or Christ is normative. And in my book, I argue very passionately for the normative, unique nature of the gospel. But I think that we should be aware that this kind of thing is very, very much a part of the I think, the kind of set paradigm now, the default paradigm. Okay. Thoughts are comments on Vivekananda and his famous series of a brief address to the Chicago Parliament of Religions.


These figures are very common in the Ramakrishna both prominence. Yes, this is very popular thing for certain Brahmins to realize the heat is coming on us, so it's popularize our movement. A number of the streams came from with the kind of thought. We'll try to briefly highlight some of these because of time we're going to have to maybe do this a little quicker than I hope, because we have a lot more cover today outside of this. But I think we should acknowledge that one of the things that was really brought up and taken up from Vivekananda is this social ethical stream. You find this especially in the work and writings of Gandhi, because Gandhi is not a Brahmin, Gandhi is not a Brahmin, he's a Vishnu, so he's high caste, but he's at the third tier, Brahmin, Satya, Vishnu. So he's a moocher, is a merchant and he's from Gujarat. He's a Gujarat. He's not from the most, you know, great or second places. I mean everybody that's anybody in terms of Hindu philosophy comes from either U.P. or Kerala or maybe Tamil Nadu, if you count some of the bhakti poets and all that. But when you're looking at Gujarat is not a place that produces like great Indian leaders historically. So in many ways Gandhi comes out of the blue. He studies law in London. He's exposed to the Theosophical Society, which is a very interesting 19th century movement, which again tries to bring all religions together. You may have heard of a woman named Ani Basant. She became a very popular speaker around the world. She's an Irish woman who came to India and argued that India is wonderful and can be the only hope for the world. And she was one of the co-founders of the Indian National Congress and also going to co-founders of the Banaras Hindu University, famous university in Varanasi in India.


Very powerful woman. My own figure that I studied debated her on several occasions in various public meetings because she was in many ways presented this kind of Western acceptance of Hinduism as the solution to the world's ills. So Gandhi borrowed something from Jesus, I think, in a certain amount, but he also brought a lot from general tendencies in Hinduism to Tom Vivekananda's idea that perhaps Hinduism could be a uniting force to bring peace to the world. Gandhi does accept the Thomas C scheme, but he applies it sociologically, not ontologically. He says the vision is not the vision of the oneness of God, but the vision is the wonders of humanity. It's a very different kind of application of it. And he says that it is not a matter of caste again, but Gandhi does not seek, as is popularly thought. Gandhi does not seek the abolition of the caste system. This is something you get from the movies about Gandhi, not the actual real Gandhi. Gandhi was extremely insistent that if the caste system is gone, Hinduism is gone. He argued for a reform of the caste system. If you look at the list of terms there, the last term on that list under Gandhi is a term ven ashram Dharma that refers to you can fact you can break it down Varna. What is Varnum mean? Colors. Right. That's referring to the four colors Brahman set the set of Asian should draw. Ostrom Is this term for the gathering of people, the gathering of these colors into a common law? Dharma. The idea was that there should be a unity among the four Manas and the multitude of caste or jati that are part of the Varna system that will create a societal role where everybody knows their role.


So what he would say is don't get rid of the street sweeper, but give the street sweeper dignity. That's very different from saying let's bring uplift to the street sweeper. So he renames Gandhi is the one that renames the outcast he calls them, or the untouchables in syllables. He calls them hotty dons, which means, well, you know, the word hottie means Lord of God. How did John means children? Those who belong to God, children of God. Hardy John. So this today has been rejected. The Dalits hate this expression today, and I think it's paternalistic. You know, Oh, yeah, you're the children of God will take care of you. But at the time, this was considered to be like a big breakthrough that he had the guts to call an untouchable a child of God. So Gandhi tried to bring together a number of social issues and not list these as terms need to know. But he called the heart of his message what he called satyagraha, soul, force, nonviolence, ahimsa, very important Jain doctrine. He brings into his ethic the welfare of the community. And this is a little, little known part of his writings, but Britannia, the idea of Brahmins and people maintaining chastity in order to keep down population explosion, which was a concern at that time of early 20th century. So Gandhi, which I'm assuming you may be aware of already to some degree, we won't have time in this class to develop his life in a more holistic way. But as you know, Gandhi is the one that is considered the father of the nation. If you pluck out bills from India, rupees, many of them have Gandhi's picture on them. There are every almost every village in town will have a little Gandhi statue or I.


And there are done. For example, we've got a nice little park there on Rajput Road. Gandhi Park. And they will go there with their children all and has a big statue of Gandhi there. This is very typical. All over India, you'll see various pictures of Gandhi. There's a very powerful statue in Delhi that shows Gandhi on the salt March, salt march of a very famous rebellion of Gandhi against the British. And he he's trying to again say, India can look after itself, we can make our own salt is important. So they he goes to the sea to make salt because the British at that point outlawed the Indians from making salt. So they go to the he has his march to the sea to make salt and in defiance the British. And so he wears his what's called a dhoti. It's like a just a simple one cloth that wraps around him here. And he has a little thing over. In fact, I think I might have. Yeah, he's wearing this this set, this outfit here with his famous stick, and he's making his way to the sea. And in this statue in Delhi, you have a picture of Gandhi marching along. And behind him they have very, very powerfully. And this is a huge thing. I mean, Gandhi himself must be 20 feet high. So it has a kind of larger than life impression when you see it. But they have carved in these statues the faces of all over of all India. You have various low caste people, you have high caste, you've got figures that are they have a Christian priest there, the guy with a cross on his neck from the South Indian Church, the Martoma Church. They've got a Sikh man there with a turban, and they have all the ways you'd recognize that Gandhi was leading the whole nation to some great national unity.


So it's a statue symbolizing national unity. And so this is part of the whole strive for the 1947 Declaration of Independence, which took place and finally was was occurred in India, of course. Now, is that the largest democracy in the world? Comments or thoughts about Gandhi to make? Yes. This is curious how. It's horribly inaccurate. Yeah, it really is. It's a a Hollywood version. It was actually done in cooperation with the Indian tourist Board, not the Indian Historical Society. So it was done as a way to attract people to come to India. So it really downplays many of Gandhi's more controversial parts of his life. There were many them. I mean, virtually a lot of things about it were true. It's not so much that they were propagating lies, but it's what they left out is the very careful way they treated Gandhi, especially his attitude toward caste. I love that I enjoyed the movie, but it's just a movie. It's like watching Pocahontas, you know, It was very interesting, but it didn't actually happen that way. See it to just enjoy it as a movie. Unfortunately, most people today get their history from these movies, and so it's a little bit of a problem. Okay. Other thoughts or comments that's gonna. It is. His most widely published book is his one called My Experiment with Truth, which never been out of print since he published it. But you also have the collective works of Gandhi, which were found. Almost any bookshop would have them like a Barnes Noble type bookshop. You can go on the Internet and pick them up. So his writings are available, and certainly there have been many, many thousands of books written about him and his writings and his teachings that he taught in his ashram.


So you're saying that it is. We're not Sidama saying that's rejected. The Dalit movement today does not want a reform of the caste system and abolition of it. And so they're saying the whole Vaughan Ashram, Dharma Conception is reinforcing the fact that caste in Varna is part of the created orders. Gandhi never rejected that basic notion of the Veda Mandala 1090 that people are created differently for different tasks. He doesn't ever object to that. The Dalits want to say no and in fact is right in Dehradun as well. So the contradictions. You have a picture of the most famous Dalit of modern times. The one who is the founder of the Indian Constitution was written by a Dalit, by an outcast. And I think in some ways, the tension between Ambedkar, who is this Dalit? Ambedkar and Gandhi is a very powerful symbol of India's tension because Gandhi represents a purified Hinduism that interacts with the world as Hinduism. You can't have missed the fact that what Vivekananda is actually arguing for is that Hinduism, while everything else up. He's not actually arguing for. You know, there's there's Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism. Because if Islam and Christianity say, you're right, we're all one of many paths, that's Hinduism. So in many ways it's a very clever thing. So Gandhi is actually arguing for the sustenance of Hinduism as a global unified force. He argues that Hitler could've been defeated through massive non resistance. For example, we did not need to go to war against Hitler. Things like that. Trying to extend the Hindu vision to solve all social problems in the world. Whereas Ambedkar, who grew up as a Dalit, said, I was born a Hindu, I'm not going to die Hindu. And he led the whole charge against this to say, What would India look like if we were truly a secular political establishment that allowed for freedom of religion? This is kind of the Western democratic idea, and that tension is very much in India today, is still torn between these two ideals.


Is this going to be a Hindu country or is it going to be a secular country that allows for religious pluralism? Which actually brings me to the next point, which is the RSS movement, founded in 1925 with about 20 men. Again, the goal of it is to unite and liberate India. And they do the most remarkable thing by tying bhakti movements into nationalism. Now, the main thing today is if you go to India today, you would think that it was always this way. And in my experience in India, I'm now in my 16th year of working in India. I've never experienced a bhakti movement that is not taught in the nationalism. And to me, it's what it's always been. But this is actually something that starts in the 20th century. So the idea of making, for example, especially the goddess figures, Kali Durga maa, the major expressions of DV, the make the goddess figures, symbols of India, which equals Indian nationalism, is a very strong motif that has been developed by the RSS movement. So they argue for the three ages, Hindu religion, the Hindi language, and really in the country Hindus stand the land of the Hindus. They are extremely, extremely opposed to a secular vision that would allow for other religious expressions. They even view Gandhi Forget about in Bengal if you Gandhi as going way over the line. In fact, on February 4th, 1948, the RSS assassinated Gandhi. So Gandhi was assassinated by RSS. He's put to death because of him accepting the fact that Islam and Hinduism both had a place in India and a united India. The RSS was banned five days after Gandhi's assassination, but was brought back in July of 1949 after a number of negotiations a little over a year later.


And RSS is very, very active today. Believe me, we face this every turn that we make in north India. Every village we go to has RSS chapters. They have burned the missionaries. Graham Staines is burned by RSS people in Orissa State. That was most famous missionary burning in recent years. We have a number of our church planners, Jeff and Lou and I know. Do you know I'd sooner. Our demo up at the net zero meeting when they were there. Anyway, these are people who graduated years ago, maybe 15 years ago, but they are our major regional leaders in our race to stay, both of them on our hit list, which means if they're ever found out alone, they can be killed. Frankly, even though it's against the law to do this. This is definitely against the law, but the local magistrates will look to the direction. So the rest what's happened is until the early nineties, the Congress power the Congress party ruled India. Congress was the party of the Gandhi family had a vision for a secular India politically allowing for religious pluralism. The congressmen fell out of power after Raja was caught with corruption, and now the party ever since has been the BJP party, the BJP party, in order to stay in power. Because it's a fractious party, they've had to align themselves with various movements. This is this is number the Indian political situation is like the British system. It isn't like America where you can have a divided government between the executive branch and the legislative branch. Have Democrats in the White House and Republicans in the Congress. This is not the way it's done in Britain or here. The party in power produces the Prime Minister. If you don't have the power of the party behind you, you fire to power and to elect a new prime minister.


So the BJP party wants to stay in power. In order to do that, they've align themselves with several groups. Most important is the V HP, and these are probably all just letters to you, but they're very important. In India, you have the Congress Party, which is the the parties in power through most of the time from 47 until more recently. This is called the BJP. It stands for the People's Party, People's Party of India. And then you have they've align themselves with the V HP, which is another nationalistic movement, which is essentially the political arm of RSS. It's like in Northern Ireland now you have the Sinn Fein. It's just like Sinn Fein is for the IRA. IRA is not technically a political party, but they have their political wing too. Sinn Fein, the same way the HP is the political expression of RSS. So if BJP does not have an alliance with the HP, they cannot stay in power. They'll go out of power today. So in order to stay in power, they have pressure from HP to overlook some of the excesses of RSS. And that's what we've faced for the last, especially the last eight years. We've experienced, especially in North India, innumerable problems with us. And it's not just I mean, if it happens on various levels, it happens on the level. And I would say this is the most dominant level where you want to purchase land. Absolutely. No, no way. You just can't purchase land. This is no, they will never give you a permit because you're a Christian. The Congress never had an attitude. This is a RSS thing. You want to get a telephone, You can't get a telephone because you have to go through paperwork and they just will never make it to the top of the stack.


There's kind of low level problems and then it gets all the way to certain parts of India, particularly in certain parts of Madhya Pradesh and parts of Gujarat and Bihar and Orissa, Those places especially where just flat out they'll burn your church tent at night, they will make threats against you because the Indian Constitution says that you have the right to follow any religion you want. So according the Indian Constitution, you can be a Christian. But the problem is, they say what RSS says is they say you do have the right to be a Christian India, but you have to be born one. You cannot become one. That's their position. If you become a Christian, that's against the law. You cannot be based. They have laws across India, anti conversion laws which have been upheld by lower courts. It's still being considered by the Supreme Court whether this is legal or not. But right now we operate in many states where it is against the law to baptize somebody, even though it's not against the law to be a Christian, you just can't become one. Well, that obviously is a huge important distinction, because if you cannot become one, then it simply reduces Christianity to propagate it to families that are currently Christians, like the mullahs in Kerala or wherever Christian families in Tamil Nadu. But. In the case of North India, where you have very few Christians, we have to rely upon a vigorous church planning movement which brings people from Hinduism into Christianity, and that's what they're opposing. Okay. Thoughts or comments about RSS or any of the political realities of modern India? All of them, which is the three H's are Hindu, meaning Hindu, religion, Hindi. They want the whole language of India to be in Hindi.


Right now Hindi is the national language. English is the official language. So in language, in dealing with foreign governments and all they speak in English, education is in English, but it's the heart language of India. But if you go to the south India, don't tell a Tamil Nadu. He should learn Hindi as a fighting words. And in places like Carol, they speak Malayalam, you know, in Karnataka speak Kannada. In the South you have this whole just range of languages, Telugu and other languages. They want to diminish the role of regional languages and make Hindi the language of the whole country because they're see, they're powerful in the north for Hindi as spoken. And then thirdly is they want to rename India Hindustan. They don't like the term it because it is a term which for them does not signify the Hindu ness of India. Part of this actually is part of a larger scheme because once you say Hindustan, you have to acknowledge that that the Indus River belongs to India because the word Hindu comes from the Indus River. But where does the Indus River lie? Pakistan. So this is actually part of a larger concern to reunite the entire subcontinent, which would include Bangladesh and Pakistan under an Indian flag. Imagine amount of bloodshed if you're talking about forcing the Muslims to abandon Islam and become Hindus. So there's a lot of potential danger to this thing. But even apart from that, within India itself, if you're a Christian, and I'll be honest with you, if you look historically at the RSS, despite what we've experienced as Christians in North India, we meet the RSS every turn. We always say, Praise God. They have not given us the truth. They've given the Muslims.


The Muslims have suffered far worse than the Christians. More Muslims have been put to death in Christians, more Muslims being burned to death than the Christians have. More Muslim mosques have been destroyed than Christian churches. So it is not just an anti-Christian thing. This is anybody who is not Hindu and the Muslims have suffered horribly through this. And one of the things that the RSS are saying they have in Hindi, the translation in English goes like this. Today the Muslims. Tomorrow the Christians. So right now we're focused on the Muslims. But we're going to we're going to in time, we're going to focus fully on the Christians. And one of the things that we is in recent years is a shift toward more direct Christian response because the Muslims fight back. As we all know, the Christians have been much more docile and therefore they think it's an easier target. Okay. Thoughts or comments about RSS? Yes. On where you will work some The advantage that the people who are born in Christian families have is that they have the Constitution so clearly by their side and Supreme Court rulings from the high court. It's also been upheld in the what's called the Rajya Sabha. They have the lower house and upper house of their Congress. So it is very difficult legally to attack. I mean, they they still find ways. But I would say the main thing they are trying to stop is conversions, because they claim that Christians are paying people to convert and that is against the law in India for any group and giving Hindus to do that. So they are claiming that people are and I told you I think before when when I soon I was just with him a few weeks ago in India, and he told me we were tired this whole thing actually and the is he has and state and he was brought in for questioning by the police who are RSS.


And they said to him, you had these meetings and we have records have also been converted. He's I think the very anybody. He said all we did was preach the gospel. We just preached what God has done and the Jesus Christ God converted them. He said, If you don't like that, go arrest God. Now, I promise you, a foreigner could not say that only because he is from race. Born and raised there. If a foreigner said that, I guarantee you be killed or or put in jail. I made a reference one night in a race, a just preaching, you know, service. I have like the reference that this is when Rajiv Gandhi was president. This is even before our BJP came to power, when things were much more, you know, I made a reference to how would it feel if Rajiv Gandhi were to walk into this room. There would be a sense of electricity in the room because, you know, the prime minister walked in was like, if you said, what would happen if right now George Bush would walk in? They were like, wow, George Bush is here. And so I said, How much more? So the presence of Jesus is here. So I contrasted the political presence of Rajiv Gandhi with the spiritual presence of Jesus. Well, when I got to the masses, these policemen came up to me and said I had to go in for interrogation. And it wasn't like I shouldn't say interrogation. That's not right. That's like you think of, like Saddam Hussein whipping somebody. And they took me aside for questioning and they basically said, What did you mean by that? What were you trying to say? And I assured them I was a deeply in love with the Congress party.


Rajiv Gandhi was one of my fans. I love Rajiv Gandhi that I didn't I was just simply contrasting the political realities with this. You know, I just tell them what it what it really meant. And they said, okay, fine, go ahead. Be careful. Don't make any political references in your sermons. That wouldn't have happened in Delhi or places like but down in Elven or race or things like that, they're very sensitive political things. When Jeffrey went to to Bhopal as well. Right. And you've been there, you all stayed in GK Palace Hotel, right? The reason that they stayed in the hotel there, and that's the reason I said, how can I go there is because if you stay in a home and you stay anywhere in India, if you're a foreigner, you've got to register with the the government. When you're wherever you go, there's forms you fill out to say where you are, what you're doing. What if we stayed in the home of Matthew Varghese, who was our host down there? He has to answer to the police. Why were these Christians there? What are they doing? It just creates a big hassle for him. So a hotel is, of course, a neutral place to stay. So sometimes it's actually advantageous, especially in places like Orissa Pradesh and Bihar, especially those three places to stay in hotels because you can actually create problems for your Indian guest is when the problem in South India nearly as much. But in north you definitely have some of these problems, let's say a few of the Hardy Krishna movement we've already looked at all this was Sai Baba. The Harikrishna movement is another stream from all of this where we have examples of Hinduism being exported to the Western world.


It's another guru based movement and it is a movement which has tried to rethink Hinduism for Western people. The man that you see before you his name, and you can again see the mark now that you know these words. So you can appreciate all of this. But the Vedanta do see this the union of the two, the Vedanta, which is clearly janam aga with the word bhakti. So this is his swami name, Bhakti Vedanta swami, which means teacher Prabhupada, one who steps leads you into enlightenment. This figure is the founder of what we now known today as the International Society of Krishna Consciousness. It's a relatively small movement in India compared to around the world. But because people have seen this, then it's important to at least make reference to it. Here it is believed that he is a reincarnation of Titania. I mentioned this figure. This is a famous teacher in the Middle Ages that people believe is a reincarnation of Krishna, and so he is believed to be another incarnation. Great teacher. Back in, especially in the sixties, he came to New York in 65. The hippies gathered around him in droves. And I remember I was a child growing up. My father had a business in the downtown Atlanta and we used to walk down to the park every day. And the same time period when the guru that you followed was making his rounds around the Guru Maharishi movement. But the Harikrishna movement was very strong in Atlanta. And so we used to eat lunch in Central City Park, Atlanta, and watch the Harikrishna people dance. And I would play, I felt literature and all this. And lot of the people we would see hippies that would be watching them one week and the next week you'd see them them there, you know, with their shaved heads, with the little ponytail and.


They were. Hurry, hurry, hurry. Christian, Christian, counting how they how they were doing this just I mean, it was good to see the whole process of someone being in choir all the way to being a full disciple in the saffron robe. It's a quite a remarkable movement that's attracted a lot of young people. They're a rallying cry. Is the Geeta alone? Krishna Allen It's like, you know so let's go Torah solar Christos solar feeder. The Gaeta along Christian alone. And the idea is that Christina consciousness is superior to all other religions. So this is a, this is a very different kind of thing than kind of what we saw with Vivekananda saying all religions are equal paths. We're not going to convert you. This is a strong we want to bring you into our movement. I mean, I debated is con man right on Gordon College campus last year. He was trying to convince us of the truth of this con. He was not at all saying, you know, yeah, you're a Christian. Stay a Christian Buddhist, a Buddhist. He wasn't that way. This is a very evangelistic kind of movement. They argue that in classic ability to join together various markers, that they accept the medical scheme about Brahman and taught Thomas say they accept that. But they say what the Brahmans do not realize is that Brahman has a personal consciousness. He is not impersonal, is not near goona Brahman, that Brahman has a personality and that personality is Krishna. So they equate Krishna with Brahman. Their scheme is rather than having Brahman as near goona and sug going to and all the many expressions which according to the Vedanta scheme, if you remember at the level of sug gona you have all kinds of illusory expressions of is vara.


Okay, so is vara is the personal name of the Creator God and his far has manifested himself in many ways, including, for example, in Vishnu, which has in turn has various incarnations, one of which is Krishna. Okay, so this is kind of your standard bhakti ism about Krishna with the GOP's and all of that we've looked at in the previous lectures. But the IS comp movement does not accept this. This is not is Khan. They're saying this is wrong. All of this is a reflection it point upward to Brahman who is known as Krishna. So they put Krishna here. This is not just a very devoted group that accepts the overall framework within subunit. So that makes this movement particularly interesting because it's a different kind of movement than we've seen in the past. They're still sectioned off? No, They deny that they're going to run. No, they deny that distinction, which is a particular feature of advocate ism. It is not even a particular feature of Vedanta, and we'll see later. So the idea of denying them the goodness of GOONA is not a particular problem philosophically, because many people don't accept that distinction as a Shankara thing. The curse naman has a beginning and end. I don't understand how Krishna has all of a sudden become. You're going to Brahmin? Not in a good apartment, but Brahmin. Yeah, Brahmin, Right. But you're right. I mean, conceptually you're right. No going to Brahmin. Well, because there they believe that the historical manifestations of Krishna, the avatars of Krishna, are merely reflections of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. So it would be like saying, I mean, this is a horrible parallel, but just to make it clear that this is what Jesus was born, Jesus died.


Why don't you accept the fact that Christian was born and died? And yet we acknowledge beyond that transcendental about that Jesus is eternal. So they're acknowledging that Krishna is eternal. They don't necessarily deny that there have been incarnation of Vishnu and Krishna. They don't deny that. They just believe that those are merely reflections of this great reality that God can be known. So part of this is showing the Hindu longing for a personal god. This is really what lies at the root of this. The desire to say all the Vedic Vedanta ism can give us is a God who cannot be known. And now you have a God who can be known. That's a very powerful thing. And here's here's a picture of how they krishnas people dancing. Now, this is the chant that they said when they're playing their shoes and their little symbols. They'll say, How do Christian Hardy. Christian, A Christian Christian. Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry. Dramarama, hurry, hurry. They believe if you say that you'll be liberated and saved. I ask on several occasions people who follow this. How can saying that save you? Now their answer is usually along the lines of this is what gets you into the transcendental presence of Krishna. This is what liberates you into the consciousness of the ohm. So they don't they don't believe that the instruct sound, the ohm. We looked at Irwin in the course is an impersonal force sound. It is a personality resonance of Krishna, and all these transcendental themes are reinterpreted as Krishna personally as Krishna. So they believe that this somehow gets you in touch with this personal Personality of Godhead? Yes. With this. This is this is possible to do to make it more or less compassionate to suspect it's changed significantly.


Or is it? Well, I think it's a good a good point. Good question. I'm not sure I know the answer to it. I will say that it changes the methodology of what you approach. I have I only have a kind of limited view of the role of apologetics anyway, even though I wrote a book on apologetics. I say it in a very limited role as a part of a much larger strategy of what we do with Hindus. So I don't really view that as I just read this book and go out. You should be perfectly prepared to do everything. I wish I could do something like that, but this is just one little small part of the puzzle. But I think the it is true that one of the advantages that I found in talking to people is that you can talk about ontology, which is a very important point in any you know, because that's a that's a point you can either talk about or not. I mean, that's not that's not nothing that's elusive. A Buddhist doesn't have an ontology. At least they have an ontology and it can be spoken of. So you're not lost this abyss of near goona. In some ways I found it to be very helpful and I mentioned I think before last time how I pressed the guy on the because he they really argue for a lot on the distinction between the worshiper and Krishna but they don't believe ontologically there's any ultimate distinction. That's a huge difference in Christianity and all Hinduism, but especially ISKCON. We believe that we are holy other God is holy other than we are. He's uncreated, we are always created, we are sustained by his existence. He is not sustained by our existence.


If we cease to exist, it doesn't change anything. If God ceased to exist, we have no existence. So ontologically we are tethered to God in a way He's not tethered to us. They have the worshiper and the one who is worship fully tethered one to another. And that to me, is a fundamental flaw in their ontology that when I say help, if you stop and talk to this fellow right here. You know, because he may not have ever thought about that or care about it. All he knows is he was very lonely. Maybe he took drugs and he was searching and he found a family and this family cared for him. And that's the level they think about this, you know. Now I have a ball. I mean, I belong and I have a group. And we I had to find more peace and I had the four. So on that level, that's that's one thing. But I was talking to a guy who's a professional spokesman for Ash Con, he goes and debates people. So, you know, I expected him to be more aware and he was. So apologetics is a matter of many different levels. What what works and what needs to be done. Apologetics is partly for us, actually, for us to have the confidence to realize the coherence of the Christian worldview and gives us the courage to tell Vivekananda, no, our religions are not all the same. And I think that's that. The more value I see and like the book I wrote in other books like this, okay, finally, we're not going to get to the festival the next time, but Tom always fires. We just real quick. Another figure that I think represents part of this meditator devotional strain, though now we're moving away from Hinduism, we're getting into the borders of other movements.


Is Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation. There's no question that he is another example of the India exports. So I think about particularly how the Christian movement, Vivekananda and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as examples of how the Western world today encounters Hinduism. We encounter it through the pluralism of Vivekananda, which I think is infected our society very profoundly. We encounter it through this kind of idea of the material West and the spiritual East idea, which is in How to Krishna that I was once materialistic, now I'm spiritual. This is a huge myth about India that India is a spiritual place and not very materialistic. But this is why they propagate in the West and this is affected how people view India, how they view Hinduism.