“Does Hinduism Teach That All Religions Are The Same?
A Philosophical Critique of Radical Universalism”
By Dr. Frank Gaetano Morales, Ph.D.
“Reclaiming the Jewel of Dharma
Sanatana Dharma, authentic Hinduism, is a religion that is just as unique, valuable and integral a religion as any other major religion on earth, with its own beliefs, traditions, advanced system of ethics, meaningful rituals, philosophy and theology. The religious tradition of Hinduism is solely responsible for the original creation of such concepts and practices as Yoga, Ayurveda, Vastu, Jyotisha, Yajna, Puja, Tantra, Vedanta, Karma, etc. These and countless other Vedic-inspired elements of Hinduism belong to Hinduism, and to Hinduism alone. Though they are elements of Hinduism alone, however, they are also simultaneously Hinduism’s divine gift to a suffering world. Thus, so many of the essential elements of Hinduism are now to be found incorporated into the structures and beliefs of many of the world’s diverse religious traditions. The world, both ancient and modern, has appreciated, either with direct acknowledgement or not, the greatness of Hindu ideals. When we make the sentimentally comforting, yet unthinking, claim that "all religions are the same", we are unwittingly betraying the grandeur and integrity of this ancient heritage, and contributing to weakening the philosophical/cultural matrix of Hinduism to its very core.
Each and every time a Hindu upholds Radical Universalism, and bombastically proclaims that "all religions are the same", she does so at the dire expense of the very Hinduism she claims to love. To deny the uniqueness and greatness of Hinduism leads, in turn, to a very unhealthy psychological state of self-loathing, a sense of unworthiness and a schizophrenic confusion on the part of anyone who wishes to consider themselves Hindu. This is especially the case for Hindu youth. The effects of this debilitating inferiority complex, coupled with the lack of philosophical clarification, that result from the denigrating influence of Radical Universalism are the principal reasons why Hindu parents find their children all too often lacking a deep interest in Hinduism and, in some cases, even abandoning Hinduism for seemingly more rational and less self-abnegating religions. Who, after all, wants to follow a religion in which it is claimed that the very basis of the religion is to exult the greatness of other religions at its own expense? The answer is no one.
If we want to ensure that our youth remain committed to Hinduism as a meaningful path, that our leaders teach Hinduism in a manner that represents the tradition authentically and with dignity, and that the greater Hindu community can feel that they have a religion that they can truly take pride in, then we must abandon Radical Universalism. If we want Hinduism to survive so that it may continue to bring hope, meaning and enlightenment to untold future generations, then the next time our son or daughter asks us what Hinduism is really all about, let us not slavishly repeat to them that "all religions are the same". Let us instead look them in their eyes, and teach them the uniquely precious, the beautifully endearing, and the philosophically profound truths of our tradition…truths that have been responsible for keeping Hinduism a vibrantly living religious force for over 5000 years. Let us teach them Sanatana Dharma, the eternal way of Truth.”
About The Author.. Dr. Frank Gaetano Morales, Ph.D. earned both a doctorate and a Master’s degree in Languages and Cultures of Asia from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Previously, Dr. Morales earned a B.A. in Philosophy and Theology from Loyola University Chicago. His fields of expertise include Philosophy of Religion, Hindu Studies, Sanskrit, History of Religion, Comparative Theology, Contemporary South Asian Politics, and the interface between Hinduism and modernity. Dr. Morales is currently recognized as one of the nation’s leading authorities on Hindu philosophy and religion, as well as South Asian studies. In addition to directing his own institute, Dr. Morales works in conjunction with several educational institutes and think tanks globally. The article (of which the above is an excerpt) is considered by many Hindu leaders to be the definitive statement on the true nature of authentic and traditional Hinduism”.