Following excerpt from Ram Swarup's 'Hinduism: Reviews and Reflections', deal with the same issue:
India and Europe opens with the "Philosophical View of India in Classical Antiquity", or India in the old Greek tradition. It assumes that Classical Greece provides Europe's antiquity and that the two are related in some special way. It is a debatable point but it has been assumed here as axiomatic. The fact is that at the time when Greece represented a living culture, it did not know Europe, nor Europe of that time knew Greece.The Greeks knew themselves as Hellenists, not Europeans. And whenever they sought the origins of, or influences upon, their own philosophy and religion, they thought of Egypt, Chaldea and India, not of Europe. They received little from Europe and they bequeathed not much to it, at least at the time when they represented a living culture. In fact, Christian Europe as it was taking shape first grew in opposition to and later in forgetfulness of Greek culture. Christian Europe in its early period used Greek language and Greek philosophy to establish itself; then it attacked ferociously Greek culture; it destroyed Greek literature, its schools and libraries.2 The work of destruction was so complete that even the memory of Plato and Socrates was obliterated and for a thousand years Christian Europe grew in complete ignorance of what it calls its classical antiquity.
When Greek learning revived again, it was too late for it to exert a living influence on anyone. It had died as a living tradition and it was now a thing belonging to museums and libraries and was a topic only for learned dissertations. But even in this form, it began to invite fierce opposition. The Reformation was a revolt against the classical Renaissance, a "reaction of backward minds", or a "protest of antiquated spirits", as Nietzsche saw it. The call to go back to the Bible and to Jehovah was in a very deep sense a repudiation of the Greek tradition, whether spiritual or intellectual. Today what Europe calls the Greek learning is not the learning as it was seen by the Greeks, but as it is understood by the Europeans through their own categories of thought. To the Greeks, Homer and its Gods were great realities, part and parcel of their lives; to Europeans of the Renaissance period, they were legends and interesting tales.
Even earlier, during the first centuries of Christianity, it was clear that the Greek and Christian approaches to the life of the spirit were incompatible and Christianity waged a relentless war against the Greco-Roman approach; and when the Greek learning revived again, the old incompatibility was still there undiminished. But if the Greek learning still found a certain receptivity the reason was that by this time, it was totally misunderstood and misconceived. For any truly classical revival, Christian soil was very inhospitable indeed.This however does not mean that modern Europe had no link with old Greece. An unknown link connected the two intimately and the link was established when Sanskrit was discovered. When this discovery was made, it became obvious that India, Greece, Rome and Europe had great linguistic, spiritual and ethnic affinity and even a common ancestry derived probably from India and Sanskrit. But this suggestion was soon resisted by rising European colonialism. To counter such a suggestion, it postulated on the other hand a third, conjectural source still more remote in time and also far removed from India.
But according to all the testimony available at present, the old affinity between these regions and peoples, particularly in its spiritual dimension, is still best represented by India. The Christian interlude in Europe and the Muslim interlude in Iran are merely distorters or aberrations of this old affinity.
But while one need not subscribe to Professor Halbfass's unproved assumption that old Greece represents modern Christian Europe's classical antiquity, there should be no difficulty in readily agreeing that the author's treatment of the subject of "India in Greek Tradition" is able and competent. It brings together many traditions on the subject within the confine of one chapter and it is useful for interested readers. One could of course still point out some obvious omissions. For example, Apollonius of Tyna, the great sage of the Greek world who is reputed to have come to India to meet its sages, is mentioned just to be told that his biography by Philostratus is "legendry". There is nothing improbable in a saint of the Greek world visiting India, but even if the biography is legendry, it is known to have been written by 220 AD, and even as a legend it is a good witness and tells us where India stood in the estimation of Greek sages and philosophers of an early date. It tells us that the Pythagoreans of Greece and the Naked Philosophers of Egypt had derived their doctrines from the "Wise men of India".
Professor Halbfass follows a scholar's methodology in determining the extent of Indo-Greek contact. He is determined to find a document, some written mention, some journey relating to this contact before he would admit it, but by their very nature such evidences can only be very rare considering the time that has lapsed and the changes that have been wrought. But if Professor Halbfass had followed a more inward method or criterion of looking at Greek literature, he would have easily found plentiful evidence of a living Indo-Greek contact, particularly at the deeper level of the spirit. Both shared a common spiritual approach; both intuited man and his world in the same way; both expressed their spiritual intuition in the language of Gods; both taught âtma-vâda, and the theory of Two Selves and Two Ways; both taught the theory of karma, rebirth and moksha. In fact, the Greece of Pythagoras, Plato and Plotinus has more in common with Hindu India than with Christian Europe.
Then a long period of more than a thousand years intervened - a period of triumph and consolidation of Christianity in Europe. Already Christianity had successfully fought Greek as well as several Eastern spiritual influences in the shape of Mithraism, Gnosticism, etc. An ideological iron-curtain fell on Europe and its spirit underwent a process of systematic Semiticization.
Thanks to this sustained conditioning, the European spirit became incapable of appreciating and understanding Indian spirituality. This spiritual impediment was reinforced by a physical one when Islam triumphed in the Middle East and swayed over the sea and land routes connecting the Mediterranean with India.
During these long years of lost contact, India became a legend. But contact was resumed when a new route to India was discovered and Vasco da Gama landed in 1498 at Calicut with soldiers, missionaries and traders. Thus the first modern contact was military-cum-missionary-cum-commercial, and any subsequent academic intellectual interest grew out of this and it contained the qualities of the first encounter.
India and Europe includes a very interesting chapter on the "Missionary Approach to Indian Thought". Most missionaries had a very dim view of Hinduism which they regarded as unmitigated evil. St. Xavier thought that Brahmins, a highly revered class, stood between Christianity and the heathens and that this class should be destroyed. He requested the king of Portugal to use the secular arm for the conversion of the Hindus.
But there were certain missionaries who had a livelier idea of the difficulties and their situation. They proposed the strategy of using Hinduism against Hinduism, a strategy which has its Biblical precedent in the practice of St. Paul. Robert Di Nobili, representing this school, made a distinction between the social customs of the heathens and their religious ceremonies. He preached that while the former could be accepted, only the latter should be opposed. He also pointed out that the Brahmins were mainly teachers and priests and their function was social and educational and not religious; and therefore they need not be opposed but only neutralized and, in fact, the respect accorded to them could be used to promote Christianity. He himself pretended that he was a Romanic Brahmin and the teacher or Guru of a lost Veda, Jesurvedam, which he offered to teach to his fellow-Brahmins in India.
While most missionaries saw Hinduism as a handiwork of the devil, some also saw in it the remnants of an old monotheism, probably borrowed from Christian and Judaic sources, but now distorted and defaced beyond recognition. B. Ziegenbalg (1682-1719), a Lutheran missionary, wrote back to his patrons in Europe about this original monotheism which had been subsequently lost because Hindus "allowed themselves to be seduced by the devil and their ancient poets into believing in a multitude of gods".
These reports reaching Europe had an unintended effect; they were used to support a very different line of reasoning - a line of reasoning which was even anti-Christian. In order to understand this, we shall have to understand the Europe of those days.After the Crusades came to nothing, Europe was in an intellectual ferment and was learning to question some of its cherished ideas and dogmas. A pamphlet "On the Three Impostors" (Moses, Jesus and Muhammad) came out in 1598 and had a wide clandesting circulation When the Greek learning was revived, stoicism, the old Greek religion, was also rediscovered. Many advanced thinkers saw that it was deeply religious and highly ethical, and yet it had no revelation and no mediator; it also spoke in the language of reason and conscience and it had a universality of approach quite unknown to Christianity.Under these new influences, a school grew in Europe which spoke of a "natural religion" and "natural theology". It said that man's "reason" and "conscience" were enough to account for God and morality and they needed no revelation and no mediators.
Thomas More (1478-1535), an English statesman and author, expressed this idea of a "rational religion" and "natural theology" in his famous Utopia.
This view also agreed with man's enlightened commonsense. Therefore, when reports reached Europe from the Far East of a religion - Confucianism
- which had no heaven-mongering and yet was highly ethical and humane, it had a warm reception in certain highly intellectual circles.
Leibnitz (1646-1716), the German philosopher and mathematician, thought that Chinese missionaries should visit Europe in order to instruct the Westerners about the questions of "natural theology" and commonsense.It was at this time and in this climate that India entered Europe. India was already known for its natural theology.
Quite early even Shahrastani (1086-1153) in his Kitb al-Milal wa'n-nihal had noticed that prophets were unknown to the Brahmins and that they tended towards a kind of rationalism which does not depend on revelation.India not only taught high morals like the Chinese, but unlike them it also did not neglect the metaphysical dimension. Some, like Schopenhauer, were in search of a "philosophy which should be at once ethics and metaphysics". India did not disappoint them.
Schopenhauer (1788-1860) found it in the Upanishadic tat tvam asi, "that thou art". Earlier J.G. Herder (1744-1803) had found that Indians' morals were "pure and noble", and their concept of God "great and beautiful". Indian thought satisfied those who sought spiritual transcendence without an anthropomorphic God who is always thundering, threatening, and promising and also an ethics embodying man's innate moral nature and not arbitrary commandments from an external agency. This thought, in one of its lower expressions and movements known as Deism, made a wide appeal in Europe. It even affected many European administrators and residents abroad.
William Carey, a Baptist missionary, complained that "India swarms with Deists".
VOriginal Home of All ReligionsIt did not take long for the question to acquire another dimension, the dimension of time. India gave a religion which was not only rational but was also prior to all other religions. In 1760, Voltaire acquired a copy of Ezourvedam, a forgery of the Jesuits (most probably of Di Nobili). But even this served an unintended purpose. Voltaire with his acumen saw even in this document the voice of an ancient religion. While he praised Brahmins for having "established religion on the basis of universal religion", he also found that India was the home of religion in its oldest and purest form. He described India as a country "on which all other countries had to rely, but which did not rely on anyone else". He also believed that Christianity derived from Hinduism. He wrote to and assured Frederick the Great of Prussia that "our holy Christian religion is solely based upon the ancient religion of Brahma".
This view was held by many European thinkers and writers. F. Majer (1771-1818) said: "It will no longer remain to be doubted that the priests of Egypt and the sages of Greece have drawn directly from the original well of India."
And again: "Towards the Orient, to the banks of the Ganges and the Indus, it is there that our hearts feel drawn by some hidden urge - it is there that all the dark presentiments point which lie in the depths of our hearts... In the Orient, the heavens poured forth into the earth."
J.G. Herder also saw in India the "lost paradise of all religions and philosophies", the "cradle of humanity", the "eternal home", the "eternal Orient ... waiting to be rediscovered within ourselves".
This is high praise, indeed, but it does not mean that he ever thought that India supplanted the West. Any such thought was far from his mind. What he meant was that India represented humanity's childhood, its innocence, as Hellenism represented its "adolescence" and Rome its "adulthood". Similarly, while Indians were "the gentlest branch of humanity", Christianity was the religion of "purest humanity".
The thesis of Indian origins of Christianity found a warm reception in many quarters and it continued to be propagated by Rosicrucians, Theosophists and individual scholars and philosophers like Schopenhauer, L. Jacolliot, A. Lillie and F. Nork.But the traditional Christianity did not yield easily and it argued furiously for the primacy of the Mosaic-Christian Revelation. A. Dacier, J. Bouchet and Th. La Grue argued for the priority of Biblical Chronology. Even Newton was involved in the controversy and argued for the primacy of the Biblical Chronology.
But the growing knowledge of history and older civilizations was against them.
Orthodox Christians took recourse to another line of argument. While yielding a certain chronological priority to India they upheld Christianity's moral and spiritual primacy. They said that even if India had known some kind of religion at an early date, its essential truths were badly corrupted and it needed the living waters of Christianity to revive them. To them, India offered a classic example of a tradition that had been unable to safeguard its original purity against its pagan superstition and priestly fraud, and disgusting barbarism - a warning and reminder to others. An article on "Brahmins" in Encyclopaedia says that a Christian could not fail to see the 41 effect of divine wrath" in such decay and deprivation. Professor Halbfass informs us that India's example was often cited to illustrate the theme of the eclipse and suppression of "natural light" through superstition and ritualism, and that this theme enjoyed a great popularity among thinkers of the Enlightenment.
VIA New Phase
Soon the Indo-European encounter entered a new phase. Indian texts began to be translated into European languages.
Works of Roger, Dow, Holwell, Wilkin's translations of the Bhagavad Gita and the Hitopdesha and W. Jones' Shakuntala created a taste for Indian thought. Western scholars read in translations such things as: "Vishnu is in you, in me, in all beings"; or "See all men in your own soul"; or "Banish the delusion of being different". Though later on, the missionary writers tried to dismiss such teachings under the label of "pantheism", many Western thinkers heard such sublime thoughts and ethics for the first time and were deeply stirred. The stir was Europewide, but it was most conspicuous in Germany.
F. Schlegel, one of the pioneers of the Oriental Renaissance, wrote about India: "Here is the actual source of all languages, all the thoughts and poems of the human spirit; everything, everything without exception comes from India."
Later on, of course, he changed his views when he became a Roman Catholic and not to India but to Biblical Mesopotamia gave the palm of being the "cradle of mankind", but his contribution to the Oriental Renaissance remained outstanding.
Another great name belonging to this movement was that of Schopenhauer. His interest in Indian religion was first aroused by reading Anquetil Dupperon's Latin translation of Oupnekhat (1801-1802), itself a translation from a Persian version. He was deeply moved and he found its reading "the most rewarding and edifying", and its philosophy "the solace of my life and will be the solace of my death". After this he continued to take a deep interest in India. In Indians, he found the "most noble and ancient people", and their wisdom was the "original wisdom of the human race". He spoke of India as the "fatherland of mankind", which gave the "original religion of our race" and "oldest of all world view". He thought of the Upanishads as the "fruit of the most sublime human knowledge and wisdom", documents of "almost superhuman conception" whose authors could "hardly be thought of as mere mortals". He expressed the hope that European peoples "who stemmed from Asia ... would also re-attain the holy religions of their home" (Italics added).SanskritEurope's discovery of Sanskrit also worked in the same direction.
F. Sassetti had observed as early as the second half of the sixteenth century that Sanskrit and Europe's classical languages were related in some way.
Jones also saw the basic similarities between these languages and soon some basic concepts of linguistics and history were revolutionised. The discovery of Sanskrit proved a great event in Europe's intellectual history. It upset Europe's self-image; it showed that its Semitic association and identification were brief and accidental and that its linguistic and, therefore, its philosophic, religious and cultural roots lay elsewhere. Europe's close affinity with India could no longer be a matter of speculation; it was written all over in the languages of Europe, classical or modern.
J.G. Herder asked himself. "All the peoples of Europe, where are they from?" And he answered: "From Asia."
Sanskrit was found to be the oldest of all Aryan languages and therefore also their ancestor. Hegel, no admirer of India, admitted: "It is a great discovery in history - as of a new world - which has been made within rather more than the last twenty years, respecting the Sanskrit and the connection of the European languages with it. In particular, the connection of the German and Indian peoples has been demonstrated." German Oriental Renaissance was erected on Bopp's linguistic foundation.
The enthusiasm for Indian culture was widespread. Amaury de Riencourt in his The Soul of India tells us that philosophers like Schelling, Fichte, Hegel, Schopenhauer and Schleiermacher, poets such as Goethe, Schillar, Novalis, Tieck and Brentano, historians like Herder and Schlegel, all acclaimed the discovery of Indian culture with cries of ecstasy: "India, the home of universal religion, the cradle of the noblest human race, of all literature, of all philosophies and metaphysics."
And he adds that "this enthusiasm was not confined to Germany. The entire Romantic movement in the West put Indian culture on a lofty pedestal which the preceding Classical Movement had reserved for Greece and Rome."
Tolstoy, a late-comer, was also deeply influenced by Indian religious thought. Like Wagner, his introduction to it was through Burnouf and Schopenhauer. Beginning with his Confessions, there is no work of his "which is not inspired, in part by Hindu thought", to put it in the words of Markovitch quoted by Raymond Schwab in The Oriental Renaissance. He further adds that Tolstoy also "remains the most striking example, among a great many, of those who sought a cure for the western spirit in India".
Thus we see that India's influence was widespread throughout Europe, but it was the greatest in Germany. In fact' Germany was called "the India of the Occident". Hugo said that "Germany is to the West what India is to the East, a sort of great forbear. Let us venerate her". These words (September 1870) might have been said though in order to flatter Germany in the hope that she would spare Paris which her armies had besieged.Importance of Indian Influence
While the Oriental Movement expanded the West's intellectual horizon and influenced it at a deeper level, it was also used in the current controversies and polemics of the day. Some used it in support of the forces of Enlightenment and rationalism to give themselves an example of high-minded religion and ethics which did not depend on revelation and dogmas; others used it against the naive rationalism of the eighteenth century.
Some found that the Bible's Hebraic tradition with its narrow-mindedness, intolerant monotheism, its coarse materialism and lack of mysticism had a corrupting influence on European culture and they found their answer in Indian religious culture which was both rational and mystical.
Oriental Renaissance was also used against classical Renaissance, particularly in Germany. For long, Germans had been accused, particularly by Latin people, of being Teutonic barbarians who destroyed the great Mediterranean culture. In return, the Germans by identifying themselves with the more ancient Indian culture rejected the cultural superiority of the Latin races and especially of French Classicism. Thus by identifying themselves with ancient India and by claiming a new lineage, the Germans restored their self-respect and equality with their accusers.
Thus the Oriental Renaissance came to tread over too many toes and its results were disturbing even to many Orientalists who had intended their labour to yield a different kind of harvest. For example, H.H. Wilson, a celebrated Indologist, Boden Professor, translator of the Rg Veda and the ViSNu PurâNa, speaking at the University of Oxford in 1840, said that the objects of Indian studies were "to contribute to the religious enlightenment of a benighted, but intelligent and interesting and amiable people"; another object was "to confute the falsities of Hinduism".
Earlier William Carey had said that the purpose of translating Sanskrit texts was to show they were "filled with nothing but pebbles and trash". But the results were just the opposite. Many of the best minds of Europe thought that these texts were sublime, and the possessors of those texts could not be benighted and needed no foreign aid in religious enlightenment. Some also used these texts to show the inadequacy of Christianity.Oriental Renaissance began to invite opposition. Missionaries were one obvious source of it. Another source was Imperialism.
European powers were becoming self-conscious imperialists and they could not rule with a clean conscience over peoples who were proud possessors of great cultures. Therefore they opposed views which exalted the ideological status of their colonies. Another source, a natural result of Imperialism, was growing Eurocentricity. Europe became less and less inclined to believe that anything worthwhile could be found anywhere outside of Europe. Therefore, the Oriental Movement began to be downgraded.
It was called "romantic", and even "fanatic"; its fascination for India was a form of "Indo-mania". Others dealt with it in a more intellectual, but equally hostile way. They admitted a certain antiquity and even priority for Indian people and their culture, facts which could no longer be denied, but they saw in it no reason for departing from their low estimate of India. Hegel, for example, admitted that India "was the centre of emigration for all the western world", but he said that it was merely a "physical diffusion". "The people of India have achieved no foreign conquests, but have been on every occasion vanquished them-selves."
Similarly, though he admitted the fact of India's cultural spread arguing that Sanskrit lies at the foundation of all those further developments which form the languages of Europe Greek, Latin, German - but he also found in this cultural diffusion only "a dumb, deedless expansion", which "presented no political action". No wars, no forcible conversions, no cultural impositions; therefore, worth nothing much, nothing creditable!
Others dealt with the problem in other ways. They retained old facts but gave them a new rendering; or they retained some facts and changed others and offered a new combination. For example, Indians were allowed to possess the Vedas, the oldest literature of the Aryans, but the Aryans themselves were made to migrate, this time from Europe to India as conquerors. Thus the tables were turned. Migration remained but its direction changed. India which was hitherto regarded as the home of European languages and people now became the happy hunting ground of the same people who came and conquered and imposed their will and culture on India. The theory of Aryan invasion was born.
History was written in support of the new hegemony and power relations.
Other scholars made other kinds of attempts. Considering that Europe's religious and philosophical tradition was a late corner, some European thinkers had derived it from India, a common enough practice in the academic field in such matters. But William Jones now offered the hypothesis of a third unknown source. He said that India was not the original home of the religious and philosophic tradition of the West, but itself represented an old offshoot of an original source common to both East and West. "Pythagoras and Plato derive their sublime theories from the same fountain with the sages of India", he said. As the attitude in Europe changed, the hypothesis was lapped up and it was accepted as fact.The hypothesis of a third lost source began to be applied to many fields but more particularly to linguistics. Some scholars even began to reconstruct this common source and invented "Indo-European roots". These roots were a logical construct and the already existing Sanskrit roots could have done as well, but possibly a psychological motive was at work. Though Sanskrit had the oldest literature, the idea that it could have some sort of a primacy in the Aryan family of languages was not acceptable. Therefore they accepted the next best hypothesis that both Sanskrit and European languages had a common source still more ancient but now lost. To own a filial relationship with India was no matter of pride for Europe; so the next best thing under the circumstances was to make this relationship collateral and push it as far back in the past as possible. Things may change and India's social status may improve after its political and economic status improves.Hegel
Europe, at the head of a far-flung empire, had to assert its superiority at all levels: military, commercial, religious and philosophical. It could not countenance a view which exalted the peoples of the Orient in any way Missionaries were always on the war-path but on the level of philosophy, Hegel led the attack and his attack was as unsparing and ungenerous as that of the former. But while the missionaries used the language of theology, Hegel used the high-winded language of intellectuality, or just sheer "confused, empty verbiage", according to Schopenhauer.
Herder had thought that India represented man's living past, his innocence, but Hegel believed that the World-Spirit (Weltgeist) moved from East to West, and in the Oriental tradition, Europe faces, in a sense, its own petrified past. He believed that the Occident had already superseded the Orient and the Orient has to be "excluded from the history of philosophy". In fact, Hegel himself gave us a "philosophy of history", a scheme which brought non-European cultures and thought in historical subordination to Europe. After Hegel, many European scholars have engaged in this labour and in Marx it touched new heights and achieved much concrete, political results.
According to Professor Halbfass, Hegel and others "reflected Europe's historical position at the beginning of the 19th century. It claims intellectual, moral and religious superiority over the rest of the world." The author tells us that Hegel "even tries to justify the historical necessity of Europe's colonial activities". In his The Philosophy of History, Hegel praises the British for undertaking "the weighty responsibility of being the missionaries of civilization to the world".
Following Hegel's lead, though the lead was hardly necessary, Indian philosophy began to be berated. Professor Halbfass writes a whole chapter entitled "On the Exclusion of India from the History of Philosophy". But there is nothing surprising about it. In the same spirit and with the same level of understanding, Indian religion, art, sciences and technology, social and political thought were also either omitted or berated. But what is really incomprehensible is that India's own elites under the spell of Europe have shown no appreciation and commitment to their country's intellectual and creative contribution.
In a sense, this omission is no deprivation but in fact a blessing. Exclusion does no harm and inclusion brings no honour. In fact, inclusion is far worse than exclusion. The fact is that Europe is not spiritually prepared to take Indian higher thought into its purview and, therefore, it is better that it is left out altogether. But on occasions when Europe does speak about it, it speaks vaguely about something it does not comprehend. For example, take Hegel himself. Speaking about Yoga, he says that the "ascent to Brahman is brought about by utter stupefaction and insensibility". The comment is simply laughable. Similarly, he often speaks, probably more than any other European philosopher, of consciousness; but he does not seem to be aware, even conceptually, of a state of consciousness which is liberated from its own images, thoughts, stored impressions, its opacity, duality and ego, a state of consciousness about which Indian Yogas speak. In this state, the consciousness is joyful (viSoka), and luminous (jyotishmatî), truth-bearing or truth-filled (ritam-bharâ), and those who attain it live on truth (rita-bhuj), and dwell in truth (rita-sad).
VIIIIndia entered Europe as a widening and deepening force and it was looked upon with respect and admiration by some of its greatest thinkers like Voltaire, Schelling and Schopenhouer, But the vested interests and forces of narrowness and obscurantism were powerful and they banded together and made a determined stand. Eventually the Euro-Colonial-Missionary forces triumphed, represented by soldier-scholars like J.S. Mill, Hegel, Macaulay, Marx and many others. They were thoroughly Eurocentric and they looked at India and other countries of the East with contempt and condescension. But they became popular not only in the West but in India and Asia as well. They taught several generations of Indians how and what to think of themselves and of Europe. The Indian elites began to look at their country and people through European eyes and European categories. They even borrowed the West's contempt for their own people. Traditional India, during its recovery and reaffirmation, finds itself most fiercely opposed by these elitist forces at home. These forces have intimate intellectual, organizational and financial links with the West.Neo-Hinduism
This anti-Hinduism of the Hindus, their Missionary-Macaulayite-Marxist view of themselves, their own culture, religion and history, is the most powerful legacy the European contact has left behind. But Professor Halbfass does not discuss this at all. On the other hand, he discusses, in the second section of his book, what he calls Neo-Hinduism, a Hinduism shaped by and during the presence of Europe but which is not anti-Hindu and which, in fact, defends Hinduism though not in its native idiom but in the borrowed idiom of Europe. According to Professor Halbfass, Neo-Hinduism took shape "in a historical setting created by Europe", and it "has difficulties speaking for itself"; it "speaks to a large extent in a European medium".
To some extent, this is true; but the limitation is not all on the side of Neo-Hinduism. If it is to engage in a dialogue with the West, it must speak in the idiom best understood by the listener. Though the West is an acute linguist and it has mastered many languages but it is not so nimblewitted in understanding the peoples who spoke them.
Moreover, Neo-Hinduism does more than justify Hinduism; it also justifies Christianity, Islam and many other non-Indian cults. As it uses Western categories to defend Hinduism, in the same spirit it uses traditional Indian categories to promote Semitic religions. In its insatiable desire for "synthesis" and similarities, it seeks and finds Vedânta in the Bible and the Quran and in Das Kapital too; it says that Jesus and Muhammad and Marx all are incarnations and Rishis, and that they all say the same thing. The net result is that Semitic prophets are as popular among the Hindus as their own. Western Rationalism had rejected Christianity not only for its miracles but even more so for its exclusive claims which offend rationality, but it is now coming back under Hindu auspices and promotion.