Clash of Civlizations: A Hindu Response

Clash of Civlizations: A Hindu Response

By Dr Ramesh N. Rao

Clash of Civilizations

In his controversial 1993 essay in Foreign Affairs, Samuel Huntington wrote that the fundamental source of conflict in the modern world would not be driven by economic factors but by ideological factors and that the “Dominating source of conflict will be cultural”.  He asserted that nation states would remain “The most powerful actors in world affairs”, but that “The principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations”.

He argued that civilization identity would be shaped by the interactions among seven or eight major civilizations – Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and African.  The causes for the conflict, he said would be because, “Differences among Civilizations” are both real and basic and that “Civilizations are differentiated from each other by history, language, culture, tradition and most important, religion”.  He argued that the differences will not disappear soon and that while all differences don’t necessarily lead to violent conflict, “Over the centuries, however, differences among civilizations have generated the most prolonged and the most violent conflicts”.  The most violent conflicts in the present, he said would be between the West/Christian and Chinese and the West/Christian and Islamic nations.

This is the gist of his thesis which was elaborated later in a book titled “The Clash of Civilizations: Remaking of World Order”, published in 1996.

The response to this thesis has been wide, varied and furious.  Most of it has come from Muslim scholars, humanists, Marxists and internationalists of various hues.  Very little has been said by scholars representing the Hindu viewpoints.  We know that part of the clash of civilizations has to do with the emergence of nation states after de-colonization, the fall of the Soviet Union and the resulting “Imbalance” in the political dynamics of the world.  Democracy and free market capitalism seemingly won the battle over Communism and state-controlled markets, but we now know that the challenges to democratic governance are many.

After the events of September 11, 2001 and America’s invasion of Afghanistan to rid it of its Taliban regime and then of  Iraq to dethrone Saddam Hussein, debate now rages in many policy circles about the nature of our modern world.  Huntington has added more fuel to the controversy recently with an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal (June 16, 2004) in which he argues that the United States is primarily a Christian nation, that its liberalism is grounded in Christianity and that non-Christians will remain “Strangers” in the US.

Appropriating liberalism in the cause of Christianity, Huntington concludes his essay by saying, “Americans tend to have a certain catholicity toward religion: All deserve respect. Given this general tolerance of religious diversity, non-Christian faiths have little alternative but to recognize and accept America as a Christian Society”.

The clash of civilizations that Huntington predicts was foreseen by Bipin Chandra Pal more than a hundred years ago in the book “Nationality and Empire”.  Pal predicted that Hindu civilization will side with the Judeo-Christian West in its war against Islamic and Chinese civilizations.  Pal proposed his theories despite the fact that he considered the West as the greatest danger to humanity.  He was a great admirer of Islam’s spiritual values. Pal thought that Islam was going to be influential through its power of propaganda and not through war, but he was scared of Islam’s political manipulation. He foresaw the dangers of political Islam, which he considered an aberration.  Pal is not on Huntington’s reading list, or if he has read him, he is not telling us.

Hindu Responses

The survival of pluralism is linked to a complete understanding of the subversive influence of religious traditions and political ideologies exclusively appropriating claims to God or to a good life.  Certain sections of the Muslim society at present win easy acceptance among gullible believers around the world for their monopolistic claims to represent God.  Christians are more sophisticated and have a more powerful colonial tradition to carry on their proselytization businesses, without the shrill cries ofjihadthat accompany many Muslim initiatives to make the world Muslim.  Next, the monopolistic claim to usher in “Equality” as dreamed by Marx has come unhinged everywhere in the world except, it seems, in parcels of the academic landscape.

In India, religious conflict has become more and more fierce, more so after the partition of the country.  Despite India’s openness there is also native to the Indian tradition a powerful culture of inquiry and resistance to the marketing of spurious ideas and claims.  That Jesus is the only son of God and Mohammed the last prophet are claims that Hindus look at skeptically.  Islam and Christianity dismiss if not abhor the idea of incarnation of Gods and of imagery and image worship.  Without image, there is no worship.  Hindus worship their Gods – they bathe them, dress them, kiss them, adorn them and adore them.  For Christians and Muslims, God is a distant being/idea.  However, they demand that the rest of the world accept their God or be doomed as “Sinners” or as “Kafirs”.

The practitioners of many pluralist religions are not driven by religious intolerance as the practitioners of the two “Great” monotheistic faiths.  So, how should one deal with these aggressive and intolerant religions?  Confronted with the paradox of religious freedom and the intolerance espoused by certain religions, the “Objection to conversion from any indigenous religious leadership is an urgently necessary and long-overdue assertion, not a violation, of human rights”, argues Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

David Frawley argues (“Hinduism and the Clash of Civilizations”, 2001) that India is a sacred land whose kings and people did not seek to conquer others’ lands.  He proposes the idea of India as the “World’s Mother” – the source of evolutionary transformations.  While bemoaning the fact that over time many customs calcified and became dominated by authority and rituals, he believes that India is ready to re-emerge as the world’s spiritual guide to help people transcend time and space to a universal consciousness.

Rajiv Malhotra has argued that the West, China and Islam all represent top-down monocultures.  These civilizations adopt a “Chauvinistic Grand Meta-Narrative of History” and their trajectory is “Global Dominance”.  He sees threats to Indic civilization from all three global competitors – the West, Islam and China.  The West seeks to undermine India through its control over Indian churches, through the activities of non-governmental organizations, through propaganda in English language media and with the help of “Academic Mercenaries”.  The threat that Islam poses is the propagation of Arabism through madrassa education.  And China seeks to subvert India through the activities of Maoists and Naxalites and by flooding India with cheap goods.

Huntington’s thesis is a neo-Christian/Western program which should be seen for what it is: A continuation of the colonial program which sought to lift the rest of the world out of misery because it was the “White Man’s Burden”.  Collaborations that he proposes between the West and some specific others, including India, to fight global Islamism and the Chinese putsch, are based on the old supremacist ideology of Western/Christian domination.

Within the framework of the nation-state system, India will have to collaborate selectively with neighbors and distant partners.  The great civilizational divide is between the aggressive monotheistic (and mono-atheistic) traditions and the world’s pluralistic traditions.  As such, the fight between the West and Islam is a fight between ideological partners for the world’s collective soul, whereas the fight between the West and China is for territorial and economic gain.  Marxism is on the wane in most parts of the world but not in India, where Marxists collaborate with Islamists and Christian fundamentalists to subvert Hindu pluralist traditions.

Indian governments and leaders have been naïve, short-sighted, over eager, or plainly idealistic in many of their attempts to build relationships with individual nations, regional associations and civilizational groups.  Thus, we had Nehru accept the “Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence” (Panchsheel) proposed by Zhou Enlai in 1954 and end up a disappointed if not a defeated man when the Chinese invaded India in 1962.  Fifty years after the panchsheelwas accepted, we have former President K. R. Narayanan proposing (India Abroad, June 25, 2004) a new Indo-Chinese cooperation phase and explicitly ignoring Chinese expansionist plans, its occupation of Tibet, its aggressive nationalism and its brazen militarism.  Naïveté, inexperience, eagerness and other weaknesses displayed by Indian policy makers and leaders sap India of material strength and moral sagacity.  Similarly, the BJP leaders’ eager attempts to offer support to the Americans immediately after the events of September 11, 2001 fell almost flat on their face because they overlooked the fundamental relationships that shape the modern world dynamic.

So, in conclusion, it is important to be aware of the designs of the world’s two most aggressive religions – Christianity and Islam – and the world’s most aggressive mono-atheism – Marxism.  They are still the important markers in the civilizational divides and the aggressive nationalism of the Chinese is a close second.  However, what might, hopefully, come to the aid of pluralists all over the world as well as to Indic traditions is science, which one hopes will reaffirm and support the findings of Indian sages about beginningless time, of cyclical time, of individual liberation, of perennial access to the transcendent, of progress not yoked to history, of multiple ways to attain transcendence, of reincarnation and so on.  If that happens, then the individual and collective quest for temporal power may recede and the opportunistic and specious speculations of historians and political scientists will cease.  Science as a handmaiden of Western imperialism, though, could still be used to undermine pluralist traditions.  In the short run though, while all the criticisms of the Hungtington thesis is valid, there is also quite a lot of “Reality” embedded in his thesis.

A Vedic Examination of Abrahamism

The following article is from chapter 3 of the groundbreaking new work The Dharma Manifesto“, by Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya.

A Vedic Examination of Abrahamism

By Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya

The Abrahamic worldview is today represented by five closely aligned ideological tendencies: 1) Judaism, 2) Pauline Christianity, 3) Islam, 4) Marxism, and to a less significant extent 5) the Baha’i movement. Of these Abrahamic tendencies, Marxism is the only self-stated atheistic one, the others being religious in nature. The greatest real-world challenge and exact philosophical juxtaposition to the entire Dharmic worldview has historically been, and continues to this day to be, the Abrahamic mentality and worldview.

While some very important theological and ritual distinctions can be seen between them all, nonetheless the specifically religious-oriented aspects of Abrahamism – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – share a common worldview, psychological make-up, and guiding ethos. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are historically referred to as the “Abrahamic” religions because all three religions trace their origins to the prophet Abraham, and can thus be seen to be quite similar in many aspects of their respective outlooks. The following are only a few of the similarities that they all share.

1. All three religions have a shared acceptance of the teachings of the Old Testament prophets (Christianity, in addition to the accepting the Old Testament prophets, also accepts Jesus. Islam, in addition to the Old Testament prophets and Jesus, also accepts Muhammad).

2. Anthropomorphic monotheism. The supreme god of Abrahamism is seen in very human terms, including in his exhibition of such very human emotions as anger, jealousy, prejudice and vengeance.

3. A profound sense of religious exclusivity, creating two strictly delineated camps of “believers” in opposition to everyone else.

4. The belief that there is only the sole true faith, and that any other form of religious expression external to the “one true faith” is necessarily wrong.

5. The acceptance of terrorism, violence, mob action, looting and aggressive missionary tactics to spread their religion.

6. A common sense of being at a war to the death with the Dharmic (“Pagan”) world that preceded Abrahamic ascendency.

7. The centrality of unidirectional prayer to commune with their god, with systematic meditation practice playing either little or no part in the practice of their respective religions.

8. A belief in the existence of angels, the devil, demonic spirits, etc.

9. All three teach the bodily resurrection, the Final Judgment, the creation of the soul at the time of conception or birth (as opposed to the soul’s pre-existence, which all Dharmic spiritual traditions teach), the binding effects of sin, etc.

10. The importance of a specific holy day of the week set aside for prayer and rest: For Jews – Saturday. For most Christians – Sunday. For Muslims – Friday.

These are only a few of the elements of the Abrahamic worldview, of which mainstream Christianity is an integral part.

Up until 2000 years ago, the Dharmic worldview was by far the predominant worldview for most of humanity – from Ireland in the West to the Philippines in the East. Though there were thousands of diverse individual cultures, languages, foods, customs and traditions among the ancient Indo-European peoples, most of these ethnically varied cultures were united in their deep respect for, and attempted adherence to, the Natural Way (Dharma).

This ancient uniformity in adherence to Dharma was the case for tens of thousands of years until the radically anti-human and anti-nature Abrahamic ideology suddenly burst upon the world scene 4000 years ago with an evangelical fury, religiously-inspired violence, and zealous civilization-destroying vengeance the likes of which the civilized world had never seen previously. Never before had the multiple ancient and noble pre-Christian cultures of the world ever experienced such massive destruction, death, persecution, forced conversion, and cultural annihilation performed in the name of an artificially expansive religion as it witnessed at the hands of the new Abrahamic ideology that had arrived, seemingly out of nowhere, onto the world stage. It was in the wake of this never before experienced juggernaut of Biblically inspired destruction that the light of Dharma began to swiftly wane, and that Reality as it was known up till then was turned literally on its head.

Religiously inspired imperialism began with the more localized expansion of the Israelites in the Levant region two thousand years before the birth of Christianity.[1] However, it was soon after the appropriation of the original teachings and spiritual movement of Jesus, and the massive expanse of this later, corrupt form of post-Constantine Christianity, that the expansion of the Abrahamic ideology began to take on truly global proportions. As the French thinker Alain de Benoist explains this catastrophe in the context of European history,

“. . . the conversion of Europe to Christianity and the more or less complete integration of the European mind into the Christian mentality, was one of the most catastrophic events in world history – a catastrophe in the proper sense of the word…”[2]

With the ascent of the Abrahamic onslaught came the counter-proportional descent of the Indo-European world’s traditional Dharmic civilizations.

Christianity, in retrospect, was but one of several artificially constructed, new movements that all fall under the general term “Abrahamic”, named after the infamous founder of fanatical religious exclusivity, Abraham (1812 BC – 1637 BC).  These four anti-nature ideologies are 1) Judaism, 2) Christianity, 3) Islam, and 4) Marxism.  Whether we speak of Judeo-Christian “holy wars” and Inquisitions, or the bloody and unending Islamic jihads against “infidels”, or the genocide of over 100 million people in the name of Marxist revolution, all four of these Abrahamic movements have been responsible for more destruction, loss of life, and social mayhem than all other ideas, religions, and ideologies in world history combined.

The Abrahamic onslaught has been an unparalleled juggernaut of death. More, while all four ideologies have remained seemingly divided by dogmatic, sectarian concerns, all Abrahamic movements have been fanatically united in both their common origin, and in their shared aim of annihilating their perceived enemy of Dharma from the earth, and seeking sole domination of world power for themselves alone. While Judaism, Christianity and Islam have been at war with each other for millennia, they are all united in their insistence that Dharma is their principal hated enemy. The essential driving principle of Abrahamism is to bring about the immediate death of Dharma.

Dharma and Abrahamism are exact opposites in every way.  Dharma and Abrahamism stand for two radically opposed visions for humanity’s future. Dharma stands for nature, peace, diversity, and reason. Abrahamism stands for artificiality, war, uniformity, and fanaticism. They are the only two real ideological poles of any true significance in the last two-thousand years. There has been an ongoing Two-Thousand Year War between these two opposing worldviews that has shaped the course of much of human history since this conflict’s start. Every philosophical construct, religious denomination, political ideology and general worldview of the past two millennia falls squarely into one camp or the other. Every human being living today falls squarely into one camp or the other. Dharma and Abrahamism are the only two meaningful ideological choices for humanity today. And for all too much of the duration of this Two-Thousand Year War, Dharma has been on the losing end as Abrahamism has continuously succeeded in its unrivalled ascendancy.

The destructive ascendancy of Abrahamism is, however, about to come to an end. We are now about to witness a period of Dharmodaya – of Dharma ascending – in this very generation. As is explained in thorough detail in the two books “The Dharma Manifesto” and “Sanatana Dharma: The Eternal Natural Way”, we are about to experience the rebirth of Dharmic and Vedic civilization throughout the totality of our world.

The Dharma world-view represents a positive moral and philosophical alternative to the many ills and cultural distortions of Abrahamic modernity. Vedic culture is human culture, because Vedic culture is the model of spiritual civilization. Our world is not without meaning. Our future is not without hope. Though the darkness of the Kali Yuga (our current “Age of Conflict”) and a civilizational crisis has now descended upon us, the Sun of Dharma will soon be seen again. No cloud can obscure our vision of the Sun forever. We will live to see Dharma triumphant again, and to see a Golden Age of compassion, true culture, and the Natural Way be firmly established.

[1] One of the prime example of such Abrahamist expansion was the conquest of Canaan (circa 1400-1350 BC), described in the Book of Joshua and the first chapter of Judges.

[2] Alain de Benoist, On Being a Pagan, ed. Greg Johnson, trans. Jon Graham (Atlanta: Ultra, 2004), p. 5.


This article is from chapter 3 of the groundbreaking new political work “The Dharma Manifesto“, by Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya. It can be found in full at the website of the Center for the Study of Dharma and Civilization, America’s first and foremost Hindu think tank.

The Dharma Manifesto serves as the first ever systematic revolutionary blueprint for the nascent global Vedic movement that will, in the very near future, arise to change the course of world history for the betterment of all living beings. The Dharma Manifesto signals the beginning of a wholly new era in humanity’s eternal yearning for meaningful freedom and happiness.

About the Author

Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya has been acknowledged by many Hindu leaders throughout the world to be one of the most revolutionary and visionary Vedic spiritual masters on the Earth today.

With a forty year history of intensely practicing the spiritual disciplines of Yoga, and with a Ph.D. in Religious Studies, Sri Acharyaji is one of the most eminently qualified authorities on Vedic philosophy, culture and spirituality. He is the Director of the Center for the Study of Dharma and Civilization.

His most historically groundbreaking politico-philosophical work, “The Dharma Manifesto“, is now offered to the world at a time when its people are most desperately crying out for fundamental change.