Email Exchanges with Shri Rajiv Malhotra for a Debate

From: SAN (INDIA)
Date: Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 6:54 PM
Subject: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Infinity.Foundation.India@gmail.com, mail@infinityfoundation.com

To,
Shri Rajiv Malhotra,
The Infinity Foundation
Subject: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism

Dear Sir,
Greetings from Sakshi Apologetics Network, a voluntary self-financed Indian Christian apologetics network. We trust all is well with you.
As an apologetics network, we are involved in cordial educational dialogs and debates with different religious and secular scholars. As an illustration, in the past, we had many educational exchanges with Muslims on several cardinal subjects relating to Christianity and Islam in different parts of India. Those programs were well received by our Indian brothers and sisters.

Recently, it has been brought to our attention about your book “Breaking India” and certain videos in YouTube related to Christianity and Hinduism. Interestingly, in your book, we found that you have referred to our website www.sakshitimes.net (at that time www.sakshitimes.com), to refer to one of Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi’s articles (Why Do the Maoists Support Christians? 8 December 2008. http://www. sakshitimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=352&It emid=43 (accessed 10 January 2009; Malhotra, Rajiv; Neelakandan, Aravindan. Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines (Kindle Locations 11022-11023). Infinity Foundation. Kindle Edition.).
The above link is an outdated link. Kindly update the link to http://www.sakshitimes.net/blog/2008/12/13/christmas-may-become-bloody-good-friday-in-india-424/
Apart from updating the link, you can also read series of articles written by Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi along with the above mentioned article and published in our website at the same time on the same issues such as bringing Maoists to mainstream and creating peace in the society. Those articles might help you to comprehend Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi’s proposals which in turn might help you in writing sincere and scholarly critiques. Currently, you seem to have understood even the goal in the exact opposite way of what Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi wrote (or at least presented through selective quotes in your book).

In fact, there were honest and better critiques of Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi’s proposals (assessing both goals and means) written by Indian Christians themselves. It would have been fair on your part to have mentioned those critical assessments from Indian Christians to Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi’s proposals rather than presenting Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi as some kind of Caliph of “India’s Christian Umma”. As a matter of fact, at that time itself, our website had published a few of those critiques:

(a) http://www.sakshitimes.net/blog/2008/11/24/response-to-dr-vishal-mangalwadis-articles-2/;
(b) http://www.sakshitimes.net/blog/2008/11/24/response-to-dr-vishal-mangalwadis-articles-continued-2/)

As it is a mark of credible scholarship to engage facts, even if those are inconvenient to ones’ favourite theories, it is our expectation that you will take note of this and make necessary amendments in your book.

While it is our assessment that you have purposely or otherwise avoided many inconvenient facts and misrepresented Christian history and Christians at several places to draw a caricature of Indian Christians in your book “Breaking India”, we are taken aback by your various comments at different places on our blessed Lord Jesus Christ and doctrines of the Holy Biblical Faith in contrast to your “Good News of Hinduism”.

As Indian Christians, it is our desire to engage and correct your representations of doctrines of both Biblical Christianity and Hinduism. We are now aware that you, as an American Hindu, have been in forefront in dialoguing and debating with Western Indologists and even a few Western Christians. We hope you will be equally interested in dialoguing and debating with Indian Christians. It is with this hope that we are inviting you for a debate or a series of debates on topics related to both Christianity and Hinduism. We propose the following topics for debates:

(1) Good News of the Holy Bible and Good News of Hinduism – Which is the Real Good News?
(2) Morality of the Holy Bible and morality of Hindu Dharmashastras – Which is Relevant for the World?

We also invite you to propose any other two sided topics relating to the doctrines of Christianity and Hinduism which you would like to discuss and we will definitely consider the same. Once we hear from you, we can discuss over email or video conference about venue, date, time, any other topics of importance to both Christianity and Hinduism and other formalities involved in such educational programs and reach a mutually acceptable agreement for taking this ahead. We are not looking for an email debate on any topic but an in person face to face debate(s).

Looking forward for your reply.
Thanking you,
For Sakshi Apologetics Network
Finny Varghese
April 22, 2017

From: Rajiv Malhotra
Date: Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 7:10 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Infinity Foundation India , sakshi.apologeticsnetwork@gmail.com, 15ruchi10@gmail.com
Cc: Aravindan neelakandan

On Vishal M, I agree its full of contradictions, so I dont want to discuss further.
But i am willing to have an amicable discussion that is theological concerning Hindu & Christian differences and relationships.

We can do it on skype and i can transmit it worldwide on my channel.
Regards
Rajiv

Sent from my iPhone

From: SAN (INDIA)
Date: Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 7:58 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Rajiv Malhotra
Cc: Infinity Foundation India , 15ruchi10@gmail.com, Aravindan neelakandan

Dear Sir,

Many thanks for your prompt reply and our sincere and heartfelt appreciation for your willingness to engage. We wish others from different persuasions were as open as you in engaging with those who hold different views.

Ideally, we prefer to have an in person debate(s) as in our experience it is more amicable and productive. If you are visiting India in the second part of this year at any time, we would organize an indoor recorded debate in Kerala, which you can transmit it live as well. However, if you are not planning any visits to India this year, we are fine with an online debate for which we can finalize the best medium.

Please let us know if we should get in touch with anyone from your team to finalize the topics, dates, and other formalities of debates. If you want us to propose formalities over email, we can do so by the end of next week (April 29, 2017).

As we have an upcoming debate with atheists in Kerala towards the end of May 2017, we request you to propose any dates from the middle of June (please provide us four or five options as most of us are working in different companies).

Once again, tons of thanks for your willingness to engage
Eagerly looking for finalizing the formalities and engaging in debate(s).
Thanks and regards,
Finny Varghese

From: Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 8:18 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: “SAN (INDIA)”
Cc: Rajiv Malhotra , Aravindan neelakandan , infinityfoundationindia@gmail.com

Dear Finny ji

I will revert to you further on dates etc. Thank you for the invitation.

Regards
Ruchi

From: SAN (INDIA)
Date: Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 8:28 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>
Cc: Rajiv Malhotra , Aravindan neelakandan , Infinity Foundation India

Dear Ruchi ji,

Thanks for your mail; will wait for your revert.

Best regards,

Finny

From: Rajiv Malhotra
Date: Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 8:49 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: “SAN (INDIA)”
Cc: Infinity Foundation India , 15ruchi10@gmail.com, Aravindan neelakandan

Let us have a phone chat to get to know each other and decide the way forward. I dont have concrete plans for India visit in the near future.

The goal should be to establish mutual respect for differences. This requires multiple stages and gradual engagement with more and more complex issues. We cannot solve all the problems that have existed for many centuries but we can make an impact in a responsible way.

Pls send me a mobile contact and skype.

Regards
Rajiv

Sent from my iPhone

From: SAN (INDIA)
Date: Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 9:25 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Rajiv Malhotra
Cc: Infinity Foundation India , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>, Aravindan neelakandan , Naren , Praveen Kumar

Dear Sir,

We look forward to speak with you to finalize this and we are also keen to have multiple debates in theological matters related to Christianity and Hinduism.

Hereunder are the contact details of our senior brothers for the telephonic call:

Name Mobile Number Skype ID
Praveen Pagadala + 91 90-00-187223 antpraveen
Narender Sahoo + 91 98-20-223487 narendra_sahoo

Do let us know in advance when you would like to have the conference call to discuss the matters related to debate and we can confirm the time.

Regards,

Finny Varghese

From: Rajiv Malhotra
Date: Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 9:41 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: “SAN (INDIA)”
Cc: Naren , Praveen Kumar

Please advise who would be the right person from your side to dialogue with me, given my interests are:
– commonalities and differences between Hinduism & Christianity
– history of Christianity including its spread outside its place of origin
– Indian Christianity’s differences with Western Christianity.
– prominent Christians who engaged Hinduism and borrowed from it, such as Teilhard de Chardin, Father Bede, R. Pannikar, Russill Paul, etc. In fact I am writing a book on such Christian thinkers.

Please also let me know the denomination of your group.

Regards
Rajiv
Sent from my iPhone

From: SAN (INDIA)
Date: Sun, Apr 23, 2017 at 4:06 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Rajiv Malhotra
Cc: Naren , Praveen Kumar , Infinity Foundation India , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>, Aravindan neelakandan

Dear Sir,

We truly appreciate your enthusiasm and your areas of interest sounds fascinating. We can begin the debate series with topics analyzing “commonalities and differences between Hinduism & Christianity” as it is our common area of interest and will set the right tone for the debate series. This theme will cover topics proposed under the initial invitation as well.

Considering the breadth of topics that can be covered under this broad theme, we can also have multiple formats such as panel debates and one-on-one debates depending upon the topics for maximum impact. Our panel will consist of members across denominations transcending regional/language backgrounds, which itself will bring unique perspectives to the debate subjects. We are sure that you have your experts as well as in different subjects. The panel will be led by Jerry Thomas, who had led the panel while debating with the then head of one of the largest Islamic sects in India – Tamil Nadu Towheed Jamath. Jerry Thomas will also represent the team in one-on-one debates. Thereafter, we can progress to other areas of interest examining both Christianity and Hinduism.

We are a trans-denominational network with volunteers across Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Independent and Indigenous churches. We can discuss and formalize the format and other details over video conference at a mutually agreeable date and time.

Thanks and regards,

Finny

From: Rajiv Malhotra
Date: Sun, Apr 23, 2017 at 4:58 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: “SAN (INDIA)”
Cc: Naren , Praveen Kumar , Infinity Foundation India , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>, Aravindan neelakandan

I suggest we start with skype as that is convenient. Due to health reasons I am cutting down on travel.

Sent from my iPhone

From: SAN (INDIA)
Date: Sun, Apr 23, 2017 at 6:18 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Rajiv Malhotra
Cc: Naren , Praveen Kumar , Infinity Foundation India , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>, Aravindan neelakandan

Dear Sir,

We perfectly understand. We are fine to begin with online video debates.

We will wait for Ruchi ji to revert with possible dates for the said debates. As mentioned earlier, since we have an upcoming debate with atheists in Kerala towards the end of May, we will look forward for your convenient dates for debates after mid June.

Please let us know how you would like to finalize the format,etc for the said debates whether over email or video conference?

Take care.

Regards,

Finny

From: Praveen Kumar
Date: Sun, Apr 23, 2017 at 7:52 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Rajiv Malhotra
Cc: Naren , “SAN (INDIA)” , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>

Dear Sir,

I am Praveen. I along with Naren, will be primary point of contacts for all the telephone conversations from Sakshi Apologetics Network from now on.

My cellphone number is 7702566673 and my Skype ID is antpraveen as informed in our previous email.

Kindly feel free to contact me any time of your convenience (up to 10 PM IST). I will be traveling to Hong Kong for 4 days from day after tomorrow, hence today and tomorrow works for me to discuss over the phone or Skype.

It will be a great opportunity to be a part of a well moderated academic debate where equal opportunity is given to both sides to present their view on any given subject. As you suggested a well mannered and mutually respectful debate is much appreciated in today’s information era.

Looking forward to hear from you.

Praveen

From: Naren S
Date: Sun, Apr 23, 2017 at 9:39 PM
Subject: RE: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Rajiv Malhotra , “SAN (INDIA)”
Cc: Praveen Kumar , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>

Dear Sir,

It’s a true pleasure to hear from you, your promptness of responses and your openness to have a mutually respectable debate.

I am travelling on company work to Dubai tomorrow and will be back on Wednesday. We can do this today or tomorrow or Thursday onwards as per your convenience. For such important discussions involving multiple persons, it is better to be on video so we can put a face to a voice and not just random voices on a network; we can then iron out the dates, debate format and timings to take this ahead. We can do the video call using Gotomeeting or Skype or any other technology which suits you. Do let me know what timing suits you and will get back to you on the same.

Hearing your talks and discussions, m really looking forward to this.

God Bless

In Christ

Naren

From: Rajiv Malhotra
Date: Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 5:51 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Naren S
Cc: “SAN (INDIA)” , Praveen Kumar , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>

dear Naren, i just tried calling your number but there was no reply.
most days 5 pm to 7 pm IST (except wednesdays) are fine for me.
rajiv

Facebook: RajivMalhotra.Official
Web: www.RajivMalhotra.com
Twitter: @RajivMessage
From: Naren S
Date: Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 11:38 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Rajiv Malhotra
Cc: “SAN (INDIA)” , Praveen Kumar , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>

Dear Sir,

My apologies for the inconvenience caused but as I had mentioned earlier, was enroute to Dubai. If you can let me know the day and time, will be there for the call. For now, I suggest Thursday for the call. If you are fine with the same, pls do let me know the timing which suits u.

God Bless.

In Christ

Naren

Sent from my BlackBerry — the most secure mobile device
From: Rajiv Malhotra
Date: Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 11:55 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Naren S
Cc: “SAN (INDIA)” , Praveen Kumar , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>

I was v disappointed by one video i watched on your youtube. On yoga. I am familiar with the arguments on various sides but this was low caliber. I was disappointed.

Sent from my iPhone
From: Praveen Kumar
Date: Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 12:12 AM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Rajiv Malhotra
Cc: Naren S , “SAN (INDIA)” , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>

Dear Sir,

Thank you very much for sparing some time to watch our videos. I hope you can find more time for the rest of our videos we did on refuting Islamic allegations against our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church.
As far as Video on Yoga is concerned we represented the text in it’s full context and left it to the audience to decide to what extent the text is followed in the present day Yoga.

Discussions of this nature, the one we are initiating, will help us to resolve some of the misconceptions in mutual world views so that we can understand and represent each other truthfully.

I lookforward to speak to you on video conference along with Naren.

Thanks and regards

Praveen Kumar Pagadala
From: Rajiv Malhotra
Date: Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 1:39 AM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Praveen Kumar
Cc: Naren S , “SAN (INDIA)” , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>

The representation of yoga in your youtube was not as per your description. Secondly, abrahamic religions are text obsessed while the other 50% of humanity have faiths based on experience and practice. So its application of a wrong criteria to begin with.

I have decades of experience in scholarly discussions with western christians who i find to be much more intellectually solid than Indian christians. I find the level of apologetics in india mostly evangelical and not serious academically.

The western headquarters have not taught the highest level of hermeneutics to Indians. Few western christians speak this way of yoga for jnstance

Sent from my iPhone

From: Naren S
Date: Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 7:30 PM
Subject: RE: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Rajiv Malhotra
Cc: “SAN (INDIA)” , Praveen Kumar , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>

Dear Sir,

Great to hear from you.

There are different views on interpreting holy scriptures with each side assuming itself to be right, that’s where open and mutually respectable dialogues and debates go a long way in opening up minds and hearts to views which were earlier contradictory. Our first subject for the debate “Commonalities and differences between Hinduism and Christianity” becomes all the more important. All the more reason to have our skype call and take this ahead. As much as I find your assessment of our work unfair and uncharitable, an email debate is not the right way to proceed. I really hope that our interaction will move beyond email to a mutually respectable and academically sound discussion. Do let us know your convenience for the Skype Call to formalize the details. Can we do this on Thursday morning (US Time)?

God Bless

In Christ

Naren

From: Rajiv Malhotra
Date: Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 7:55 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Naren S
Cc: “SAN (INDIA)” , Praveen Kumar , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>

Do you think it is good taste that your Fb post displays private communication w Dr Gopalakrishnan? Is this the way to harass someone into submission to your demand? Frankly it diminished you in my eyes.
Also, i need to have clarity on the specific church affiliation for each of you?

Sent from my iPhone

From: Naren S
Date: Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 3:49 PM
Subject: RE: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Rajiv Malhotra
Cc: “SAN (INDIA)” , Praveen Kumar , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>

Dear Sir,

I understand what you are trying to say.

As a team, we do not speak against any faith unilaterally but when a person from an opposing worldview makes claims against the Holy Bible and misrepresents the gospel, we simply ask that the person should have the integrity to come forth and stand for his position. Being at the forefront of apologetics in India, many a time, there are other Christians and even Hindus or Muslims who point these articles to us and ask us to respond. When the person doesn’t agree for a discussion on the views then isn’t it our duty to let our brothers know that this particular individual is merely “appeasing the masses” and not an analytical scholar; shouldn’t the followers of such leaders know about the lack of integrity of their leader? Hence the reason that we were so pleased that you agreed for a debate and appreciated the same as such in our communications to you… I really hope that this happens as per your communication earlier.
Further, this was not a private and personal email between two individuals ; as a network, SAN has written to the organization of Gopalakrishnan (Indian Institute of Scientific Heritage) for a public/Indoor recorded debate which was anyway on demand by the public. Moreover, it’s a great stretch of imagination to believe that Dr. Gopalkrishnan, who has the backup of entire Hindutva crowd in Kerala, can be harassed into submission by one or even a thousand FB posts. Otherwise, he would have been harassed into deep depression considering the numbers of FB posts against him.

About our church affiliations, as said earlier, we not from a single church or from a single state in India but a group of likeminded individuals who believe in taking a stand for their faith in the Holy Bible and discuss issues in the spirit of learning. We have among us members from Protestants, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Independent and Indigenous churches. We will be referring to only the Holy Bible and quoting orthodox beliefs since we do not believe in making up theology on the fly to suit convenience saying “this is what I feel is true and therefore it is true”, so is our not being from a single denomination a big issue? If there is a particular point in your mind, do let me know and will see how the same can be sorted out.

We are not able to make any progress in the initiative on email by getting into tangents. Do let us know how we can take this ahead. Can we do the skype tomorrow tonite to close this out? Or if you are fine, we can have a gotomeeting invite sent to you.
God Bless

In Christ

From: Rajiv Malhotra
Date: Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 10:38 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Naren S
Cc: “SAN (INDIA)” , Praveen Kumar , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>

since christianity is institutionalized, the specific church is key. no american christian ever hides his denomination and exact church affiliation. why are the various individuals involved here refusing to do likewise?

is the dialogue meant to be academic or political? I am not interested in the latter in india. I would love to do the former. But my interlocutors have to be good scholars and not ideologues, preachers or politicians. this is my concern – i.e. whether this would be a fruitful dialogue.

Facebook: RajivMalhotra.Official
Web: www.RajivMalhotra.com
Twitter: @RajivMessage

From: Naren S
Date: Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 12:25 PM
Subject: RE: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Rajiv Malhotra
Cc: “SAN (INDIA)” , Praveen Kumar , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>

Dear Sir,

As we mentioned earlier, we are a trans-denominational network with volunteers across Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal, Independent and Indigenous churches. In the case of SAN, you have confused a “Network” with an “individual”, here no one is a boss or top gun, and we all contribute in our own ways. We further consider denominations of our representatives irrelevant for our network as long as they hold to “Sola Scriptura”, “Sola Christus” and “Sola Fide”. You may want to contest on these views, but as we said in our first email, we look forward to hearing your insights in the debate and we don’t want to have an email debate. In our experience, it is usually Islamic Dawwah (such Dr. Zakir Naik or MM Akbar), who bring irrelevant points as excuses to evade from debate after going through our works and realizing that we are intellectually rigorous in our approach. Respecting your seniority, we don’t want to come to that conclusion now. Further, I am not entering into a discussion on differences between denominations and institution and whether Hinduism is institutional or not for the same reason – to avoid email debates.

However, since we are really looking forward to this debate to happen; we will answer your query on denomination though we still consider it as irrelevant. As mentioned in earlier email, we have nominated Jerry Thomas to represent for one-on-one debate or lead our panel (if you have scholars to form a panel apart from being fine with panel debate which can be more fruitful). Jerry is from open Brethren assemblies, or more specially has his roots from Viyojitha movement began by Mahakavi K V Simon which later merged with Brethren assemblies. Similarly, I am from a born again Church – Greater Grace ministries, Praveen is from an independent church and Finny is from brethren assembly. We have numerous volunteers involved across India drawn from New Life, Assemblies of God, Baptists, CSI, Marthoma, etc. What about this do you find unbelievable which you constitute as “refusing to divulge”, as mentioned earlier, you have confused a network with an “individual”? We hope we have given you more information than you required. If you have any other scholars to form a panel (if you are ok with panel debate), and if you can divulge their information, we will finalize our panel and provide detailed church background of each panel members though it is irrelevant. If you prefer a one-on-one debate, Jerry will be the person and we will then require your religious institution affiliation, not now though, but, after the debate has been formalized.

With reference to your query whether our dialogue shall be political or academic. This was a totally surprising question for me, by now I am sure you have visited our youtube page, website and articles. Unlike the political affiliations of literally each and every Hindu spokesperson or “apologist”, anyone can see we as a network have no tie-ups with or funding from any political group or external individuals, we individually pay for everything from our own savings and/or salaries. Further, our individual political leanings are non-consequential to our common work. All our interactions and discussions are always academic in nature, with due references and quotes… something which most of our opponents find antagonizing… as I said, I appreciate you openness and agreeing for this debate.

Assuming we move beyond tangential non-issues which has occupied our past 5-6 emails, may I again request your convenience for the video conference to finalize formalities, dates and timings for the debate.

We look forward for your convenient time for video conference.

God Bless

In Christ

Naren
From: Rajiv Malhotra
Date: Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 7:28 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: Naren S
Cc: “SAN (INDIA)” , Praveen Kumar , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>

I still dont know what purpose it serves. For me it serves none bexause i already discuss w solid christian scholars in usa as part of writing my books. I dont have time for the typical Indian shouting, accusing etc in public discourse w little substance based on research.

Sent from my iPhone

From: Jerry Thomas
Date: Sat, Apr 29, 2017 at 10:22 PM
Subject: Re: Invitation for a Public/Indoor Recorded Debate on Christianity and Hinduism
To: rajivmalhotra2007@gmail.com
Cc: Praveen Kumar , Naren S , Sakshi Apologetics Network , Ruchi Sood <15ruchi10@gmail.com>

Dear Sir,

I have been reading your correspondence to our brothers with great interest. Your passion and commitment to your cause is enviable but I wish it was equally matched with intellectual rigor and some semblance of objectivity. It is ironical that you who are “renown” in academic circles for “intemperate language” (Brain K Pennington, 2013, JHCS), personal attacks and unsubstantiated claims even against solid Hindu scholars who doesn’t agree with you (Anantanand Rambachan, 2015, Swarajya) should accuse others of “typical Indian shouting, accusing”.
On April 22, 2017 at 6:54 PM (IST), when we invited you for a debate, we mentioned our identity as Indian Christians. On the same day at 7:10 PM (IST), when you responded, you never made this spurious claim that Western Christians are “more intellectually solid than Indian Christians” or asked us about our denomination but was willing to debate with us and “transmit it worldwide”. So, why this U-turn now? I don’t need to propose a U-turn theory as the reasons are abundantly clear if one reads our email correspondence in sequence.

You may have initially taken us for general pastors/evangelists whose are trained in other subjects but not in comparative religions. You can easily mock such innocent pastors/evangelists and “transmit it worldwide” on your channel to entertain your million strong Hindutva keyboard warriors.

However, on the same day (April 22, 2017), when we requested (at 7:58 PM IST) your available dates for debate(s) we inadvertently mentioned about our forthcoming debate with atheists to request a date after it. So, while your colleague Ruchiji wrote to us on the same day (at 8:18 PM IST) that she will revert with debate dates, you seem to have realized (seeing that we are going to debate with atheists) that we are not general pastors/evangelists but well-trained in comparative religions. While we were looking forward for debate dates (our email, at 8:28 PM IST), you on a panic mode seem to have shifted from willingness to debate to wanting to have a “phone chat to get to know each other and decide the way forward” (your email at 8:49 PM) as if it was some marriage proposal. We replied our willingness for telephonic call (our email at 9:25 PM) but with clear focus on finalizing debate dates, etc, you began to try every trick in your book to evade from debate. On your email on the same day (at 9:41 PM IST), you mentioned irrelevant topics (- Indian Christianity’s differences with Western Christianity), and asked us about our denomination (if we belonged to some institutionalized church, you could have always asked us to bring our bishop, and escape from debating with us – a trick we have seen many times from Islamic Dawwah groups).

On April 23, 2017, while we continued to remain focused on debate and important topics (our email at 4:06 PM IST), you continued to look for ways to run away from the debate in your subsequent emails. To illustrate, you proposed a format wherein it appears that you are the moderator and participant (nice trick) with no mention of equal time for us (your email at Apr 23, 2017 at 6:25 PM). Seeing that there is no way you can change our focus (our emails at 7:52 PM IST, 9:39 PM IST), you began to try new evasion tactics in the next few days.
On April 24, 2017, after watching our video on yoga wherein we demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that yoga is the current day superstition, you tried to provoke us by calling us “ low caliber” (your email on Apr 24, 2017 at 11:55 PM IST).

While we continued to remain focused on debate (our email on Apr 25, 2017 at 12:12 AM IST), you tried more provocations by accusing us of “not serious academically” and “not taught the highest level of hermeneutics” (your email on Apr 25, 2017 at 1:39 AM IST). When we remained focused on finalizing the debate (Apr 26, 2017 at 7:30 PM IST), you brought irrelevant matters about letter to Dr. Gopalkrishnan’s published in our FB post (Apr 26, 2017 at 7:55 PM IST). After we calling off your bluff on Dr. Gopalkrishnan (Apr 27, 2017 at 3:49 PM IST), you came back asking about each of our denominations (Apr 27, 2017 at 10:38 PM IST). Not wanting to give you even an irrelevant reason to evade from debate, we even gave denominations of each of us who were involved in this discussion or debate proposal (Apr 27, 2017 at 12:25 PM IST). Realizing that none of your tricks were working on us, you finally came up with the most ridiculous of all reasons “I dont have time for the typical Indian shouting, accusing etc in public discourse w little substance based on research” (Apr 28, 2017 at 7:28 PM IST). Didn’t you know that we were Indians when you initially agreed for debate? The reasons are obvious to anyone who reads our emails in sequence – you will be exposed as a mere talker and shallow researcher if you come for a debate. The myth that you are a scholar, which you have carefully build over years will be shattered right in front of your Hindutva motley crowd.

Sir, you should come for debate at least for the same reason you ask the Western Indologists to engage you – practicing religious people should have a say in how they are represented. You wrote and are writing about Indian Christians. So, it might not be a bad idea to practice what you preach to others. Engage the Indian Christians.

However, since you seem to be running away from debate, at least some comments to your unfounded statements are in order. Let me address at least a few of your statements in our email correspondence while there are several thousands of such fallacies in your books.
On Tuesday , Apr 25, 2017 at 1:39 AM (IST), you wrote to us these sentences below. Here are our brief responses.

Rajiv Malhtora (RM): The representation of yoga in your youtube was not as per your description.

Jerry Thomas (JT): Minor point. The title of the presentation is given in the first slide which comes within a few seconds in Youtube and it matches with the presentation.

RM: Secondly, abrahamic religions are text obsessed while the other 50% of humanity have faiths based on experience and practice. So its application of a wrong criteria to begin with.

JT: There are several issues with these two sentences. Let me point out a few:
• 50 % of the Population: Even if I include Dalits as part of Hinduism (for your comfort), it will be still 14% of the world population and not the “other 50%”. Or have you started representing secular humanists, atheist feminists, African religions etc to make this “other 50%”? Your million strong Hindutva internet fans will be devastated to hear this claim. So, let us limit the discussion to your religion, Hinduism, constituting about 14% of the population (by some stretch of imagination).
• Does the entire 14% “of humanity (Hinduism) have faiths based on experience and practice”? Not at all. Pramanas are considered to be the critical factor in religious experience. In fact, you have been thoroughly refuted and exposed on this very point by the distinguished scholar Anantanand Rambachan when he busted 13 of your myths about him alone (which he says can be easily doubled to 26 – refer Untangling The False Knots In Rajiv Malhotra’s Indra’s Net – https://swarajyamag.com/culture/untangling-the-false-knots-in-rajiv-malhotras-indras-net). Here is the relevant paragraphs from his rebuttal to you:
(a) Adi Shankaracharya’s View: Anantanand Rambachan writes “I also detail my three years of intensive study in India with Swami Dayananda Saraswati, in which we read the commentaries of Śaṇkara on the principal Upaniṣads, the Bhagavdgītā and the Brahmasūtra. This study was integrated with training in relevant religious practices (sādhana). It is my years of study with Swami Dayananda Saraswati that made me aware of a sharply different understanding of the nature and role of the śruti in relation to the gain of liberation (mokṣa). This understanding is centered on Śaṅkara’s regard for the śruti as a source of valid knowledge (pramāṇa). Śaṅkara does not dismiss other sources of knowledge. He, in fact, commends the necessity and value of these in their appropriate spheres. In relation to the knowledge of brahman, however, he argued that all other sources were subordinate and supplementary. Unlike Swami Vivekananda, who contended that the teachings of the śruti had a provisional validity and required verification from anubhava, Śaṅkara describes the śruti as a self-valid source of knowledge. Śruti will not be a pramāṇa if it fails to independently engender liberating knowledge (pramā). There is no evidence in the commentaries of Śaṅkara that he argued for experience of any kind as a pramāṇa with the same status as śruti.” (Emphasis mine)

On Yoga and Pramanas:
Anantanand Rambachan continues : “On the basis of his commitment to the Upaniṣads as the pramāṇa for brahman, Śaṅkara exercises a careful discernment in his treatment of other sampradāyas. He commends Yoga for the value it gives to detachment and Saṅkhya for its understanding of the self as free from definable qualities. He admits that extraordinary powers are attainable through yoga practice. The dividing issue, as I have tirelessly discussed, is what constitutes the source of brahmajñāna. Mental disciplines are commended, but are not sources of valid knowledge. After identifying his agreement with some insights of Yoga, Śaṅkara explains where he has to part ways and he returns to the critical issue.
Their refutation centers only round this false claim that liberation can be attained through Sāṅkhya knowledge or the path of Yoga independently of the Vedas. For the Upaniṣads reject the claim that there can be anything apart from the Vedic knowledge of the unity of Self that can bring about liberation, as is denied in “By knowing Him alone one goes beyond death. There is no other path to proceed by” (Śvetāśvatāra Upaniṣad 3.8). But the followers of Sāṅkhya and Yoga are dualists and do not perceive the unity of the Self.
Interpreters are free to disagree; but Śaṅkara’s views are clear and consistent.” (Emphasis mine)
If Adi Shankaracharya did not teach “faiths based on experience and practice” when and how did monist Hindus like you start believing in this?
Christian Missionaries Forced Hindu Scholars to Replace Traditional Authority of Vedas with Intuition:
Anantanand Rambachan writes in his scholarly review (Traditional Roots of Difference – http://digitalcommons.butler.edu/jhcs/vol26/iss1/3/) on your another work Being Different:
“In the Limits of Scripture, I trace the circumstances in the Brahmo Samaj, in the late nineteenth century, when there was discomfort and embarrassment over the traditional authority of the Veda in debates with Christian missionaries. This led to its formal rejection and replacement with intuition. The idea of personal experience as an immediate source of religious knowledge rose to prominence and became a leading idea of the period and a dominant motif of contemporary Hinduism. Personal experience was championed as sacrosanct and unquestionable. Unitarian Christian thinkers like William Channing and Theodore Parker influenced also its formulation. Swami Vivekananda inherited the skepticism and mistrust of scriptural authority championed by Brahmo Samaj leaders and contributed to re-casting Hindu epistemology on the model of his understanding of scientific inquiry. In doing so, Vivekananda himself offers an alternative to the more traditional understanding of Vedānta epistemology based on the centrality of the Upaniṣad pramāṇa. He does not offer, therefore, any detailed treatment of the Veda as a pramāṇa in his writings. The term is never employed directly by him, except on the one occasion of his commentary on the Yoga-sūtras of Patañjali. Aurobindo, the Indian thinker most profusely quoted by Malhotra, was deeply influenced by Vivekananda. He read Vivekananda extensively and reflects also the centrality of personal experience in his epistemology.” (Emphasis mine)
• In fact, Hindu authoritative texts are not only intellectually indefensible but they are also not practically implementable. Imagine Hindus trying to put their authoritative texts into experience and practice. It will be moral chaos with combinations of perversion, discrimination and oppression – a saffron sharia. If you doubt, watch this video on untouchability and varna system https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKZxAAAiJdg and the reason the chief priest of Tulsi Manas Temple and the General Secterary of Pandits in Varnansi, Batuprasad Sharma Shastri provides for his perverted untouchability practice – it is mentioned in your Shashtras.
Therefore, it is better to say that Hindu texts are supplementary (with pick and choose option reducing it to the level of a cafeteria menu).
• Epistemologically, anyone can claim any of their experiences as “spiritual”; even the perverted mudras of yoga such Vajroli, Amaroli, would be considered as spiritual. Even stealing (in Chudamani Devi temple, Roorkee) is spiritual and lying for Dharma (ask Dr. Gopalkrishnan, we have his video on this) is acceptable. All experiences good or bad, then will be equally valid. Further, those who have “faiths based on experience and practice” should be ready to accept all religions as truth. A position of Swami Vivekananda adopted at in front of Westerners though he contradicted this to his close circles – see my article here – http://www.sakshitimes.net/blog/2009/02/25/answering-swami-vivekananda-part-1-715/).
However, the neo-Hindu propagandists who wants to base their faith on experience and practice and still wants to claim some superiority to their old hegemonical faith (packaged as pluralism) needs to be told in no uncertain terms – Neo-Hindu Emperor has no clothes.

RM: I have decades of experience in scholarly discussions with western christians who i find to be much more intellectually solid than Indian christians. I find the level of apologetics in india mostly evangelical and not serious academically.

JT:
• As usual, you have provided no evidence for your assertions. Therefore, it could be completely ignored.
• However, for arguments sake, I am going to take it as true. To an extent, the level of Indian Christian responses depends up on the level of Indian Hindu questions/assertions. Many Hindus who were taught by Christian founded institutions such as St. Stephen’s College and raised to a certain intellectual level have already abandoned India and migrated to West. In India, we, Indian Christians, are exposed to many Hindutva brainwashed people who makes claims such as “cows inhale and exhale oxygen” “”Ganesha’s head is a result of plastic surgery,” etc.
Cow Exhales Oxygen: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/cow-only-animal-that-inhales-exhales-oxygen-rajasthan-minister-4476243/
Cow Exhales Oxygen : http://www.rediff.com/news/interview/a-cows-life-is-more-precious-than-a-human-beings/20170411.htm
Ganesha and Plastic Surgery : http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/pm-takes-leaf-from-batra-book-mahabharat-genetics-lord-ganesha-surgery/
I can give you several videos and writings (including those of your co-author A Neelkandan) which are of substandard intellectual work with whom you have no trouble associating. So, probably, instead of blaming Indian Christians, you need to look at Indian Hindus and see how you can raise their standards. Therefore, instead of writing an irrelevant book on Indian Christians and Western Christians, I recommend you write a book on Indian Hindus vs. Western Hindus, which will be more useful.
• Probably, you are enamored by the Western Christians because as per their culture which is mostly build on Biblical values, they entertain your unfounded statements out of love; despite you backstabbing Christianity at every given opportunity after hugely benefitting from Christian founded institutions (St. Stephen’s College) and Christian cultural values (many of the Western Values). If you speak any such unfounded statements to those from Hindu background, you know that you may have to face what you faced in TISS (https://scroll.in/article/802962/a-rebuttal-to-rajiv-malhotra-by-an-elite-leftist-goon-activist). However, you can be well assured that we will never shout you down but only refute with evidence.
• On the level of Christian apologetics in India, you need to do a lot more research. Since my mother tongue is Malayalam, I will illustrate it through one example. Please conduct some research on Mahakavi K V Simon, the towering apologist of India who thoroughly refuted Krishnan Nambiar (later known as Swami Agamanada of Sri Rama Krishna Mission) in writings and face to face debate. Hereunder are what a few Hindu Orthodox Scholars had to say about Mahakavi K V Simon:
Mahakavi Vallathol Narayan Menon – Equated Mahakavi K V Simon to Saraswati
Mullur S Padmanabhava Panicker – Called Mahakavi K V Simon as one of the greatest poets ever lived in Kerala
Sree Keralavarma Raja – Called Mahakavi K V Simon as the Martin Luther of Kerala
So, you are either ignorant or just a bigot to acknowledge the impeccable scholarship of Indian Christian apologists; either way you have to amend yourself.
• Further this is what a Western Scholar Brian K. Pennington writes about you in “The Pitfalls of Trying to Be Different” (http://digitalcommons.butler.edu/jhcs/vol26/iss1/4/):
“It is with that prior understanding of Malhotra’s longer career as a Hindu activist opposed to the Western study of Hinduism and a broad acquaintance with his writing that I accepted the invitation to this forum and with which I read the book. I was relieved to find that he has left some of his more colorful language aside in favor of mildly selfaggrandizing tales of his clashes with (mostly) American scholars, but the result is Malhotra stripped of much of his fire. Instead, he trades in the broadest caricatures of Western and Indic traditions. Despite its length, the major observations of Being Different can be summarized in a set of pithy and reductive generalizations for which many of us would chastise our undergraduates had they proposed them.” (Emphasis mine)
This is stated not to belittle you but to demonstrate your double standard. If you expect the Westerners to engage you despite their poor opinion about you, is it not your responsibility to engage with Indian Christians even if you have a poor opinion about them?
• However, if you mean western Christians with whom you interacted are intellectually solid, because their apologetics is divorced from evangelical focus, then I can only pity you and those Western Christians with whom you interacted. The focus of religion in general and Christianity in particular have to be God, human salvation, eternal life and communion with God (or say moksha, nirvana etc. depending on religion). If not for those, religion is another sectarian cultural or social club. This doesn’t mean religion has no social aspect. It only means the central focus of religion should be God, human salvation and communion with God. The problem with Hindutva is it has reduced religion to a cultural club (by changing central to marginal) with cultural organization such as RSS increasingly becoming its spokesperson. This is degradation and not progress. You kindly focus on setting your house in order rather than being so much worried about our intellectual level.
RM: The western headquarters have not taught the highest level of hermeneutics to Indians. Few western christians speak this way of yoga for jnstance
JT:
• It is an irony that Infinity Foundation (with its’ headquarter in the West and funded by Hindutva morons in the West) is accusing Sakshi Apologetics Network (only based in India without even funds from West) of having headquarters in West!!!
• If you are speaking for Indian Christian Churches in general, again, there are several Christian churches that have no headquarters in West but solely in India. Many have no headquarters at all but are independent. You seem to be jumping into too many conclusions with insufficient data in your hand
• As for hermeneutics, we don’t need your certificate or the Certificate from any Westerners. You seem to have no clue of what you are speaking. Again, I will limit myself to my mother tongue Malayalam. Have you heard of G Susheelan since style yourself as an authority on Indian Christianity? His Malayalam Bible Concordance, Malayalam Bible Dictionary, Malayalam Bible Commentary, Systematic Theology, and several other books are better than many similar English books. There are many such works in various Indian vernacular languages. Please conduct basic research before you write your book on Indian Christianity and Western Christianity. Of course, unless your intentions are to present Indian Christians in a bad light.
• In contrast to the Indian Christian, let us take the Indian Hindus in your network nexus – Aravindan Neelakandan. What is the level of his hermeneutics? Here is what one blogger has to say in a blog titled “Aravindan Neelakandan: A McCarthy For Hindus (and Jeyamohan’s silence)”:
“Not satisfied with his vilification of Temple, Lytton and missionaries Neelakandan then very cynically tramples upon Christ himself. Only a twisted mind like that of Neelakandan can say that Christ supported imperialism. Taking the most beautiful parable in all of New Testament, the parable of Good Samaritan, Neelakandan twists it out shape alleging that Christ while seemingly appreciates the Samaritan he (Christ) argues that a Samaritan, lowly of birth, rises by only his deeds. The parable tells the exact opposite. Christ teaches that irrespective of how ‘supposedly’ high born a person is, if he does not have humanitarianism he is unworthy of being a neighbor. ‘Love your neighbor as you would love yourself.”
The blogger further notes:
“The question that remains is “why?”Neelakandan knows only slander. Unfortunately his slanders are being propagated as ‘criticisms’. I am appalled and really frightened how many, many Hindus imbibe these nonsenses and regurgitate them with no attempt to even disguise their hatred towards India’s minorities. People openly talk of ‘population exchange’, ‘threatened Hindu majority’ etc. Subramanian Swamy told a throng of educated Indians in New Jersey that he does not need ‘sathvik Hindu’ but needs ‘viraat Hindu’. To do what? Seeing Indians, now turned Americans, lustily cheer that speech I was left dumbfounded.”
http://contrarianworld.blogspot.in/2013/12/aravindan-neelakandan-mccarthy-for.html
After coauthoring a book with such a fellow, what moral right you have to question anyone’s hermeneutics level?

• For yoga and westerners, I too observed that many Western Christians have no clue of what yoga is. Our research partially fills that gap. In the future, we will be providing more similarly authentic and startling details on this superstition called yoga. If you have a refutation, please go ahead and do it with evidence. Otherwise, please spare us your condescending attitude and empty rhetoric on the lines of “you have not done enough research” etc.

I have very briefly covered some of your mistakes in a few sentences. Your books are full of such empty claims and baseless assertions by misquoting and misrepresenting works of others.
While we have demonstrated the real reasons for your debate evasion tactics, and busted a few of your assertions, we still want to keep the door open for debate. You need to debate with us to practice what you preach to Western Indology scholars, leaving aside everything. I hope in your decades of interaction with the Western and Christian scholars, you have picked up at least some of qualities of integrity and willingness to discuss in an open manner even though the other side is not up to the mark; its only in the West that you find true scholars entertaining self proclaimed even though knowing fully that they are dealing with a personality whose scholarship is sub-undergraduate (Brian K. Pennington, “The Pitfalls of Trying to Be Different” (http://digitalcommons.butler.edu/jhcs/vol26/iss1/4/)

Sir, do let us know whenever you are ready for debate. If you are willing now, we will prioritize and block our calendar for June. If not, inform us at least 3-4 months in advance as our calendars are usually fixed 3-4 months in advance. We will give priority for you whenever you gain confidence to debate with us.
Looking forward for the debate.
Regards,
Jerry Thomas

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