Francis Xavier Clooney : Building the Trojan Horse

· Date:December 20, 2011

Time was when the Jesuits (the Society of Jesus established in  1539 by St.Ignatius of Loyola) used every method to establish the ascendancy of Catholic Christianity over the globe. Hindu India will remember the infamous Goa Inquistion (1560)conducted by the followers of St. Francis Xavier (said to be among the founders of the Jesuit order) against the hapless Hindus of Goa. Francis Xavier was also a founding member of the Society of Jesus and also the initiator of the Inquisition (1545) Everything ranging from ferocious torture to murder and mayhem were practiced in Goa (and elsewhere during the Inquisition) all in the name of the Holy Church. The book Breaking India (2011) by authors Rajiv Malhotra and Aravindan Neelakandan also writes about the first of the Jesuits in India, Robert di Nobili (came to Goa in 1605 and settled in Tamil Nadu in 1606)   who , in addition to  claiming to be a scholar of Tamil, did not hesitate to fulminate against the paganism of the Hindus. The goal of Christianity in India has never changed : convert the Hindu pagans, harvest their souls, as the Pope said publicly in India. His comment was : in the first millennium Christianity spread to Europe, in the second millennium it spread to the Americas, and in the third millennium it will complete its mission in Asia. Since much of south east Asia has become Christianised, India alone remains unconverted. The present writer believes that this will remain so thanks to the devotion of the aam admi Hindus to their ancestral religion and thanks to the spiritual strength of the traditional acharyas, gurus, maths and so on.

Hence, the attempt of the Jesuit order to woo the elite of India is another aspect of their strategy. The days of large scale conquests and violence are over. The soldiers of Christ are heavily into the phenomenon known as inculturation, started by Italian Jesuit Roberto di Nobili himself, the borrowing of native cultural habits and practices and in general ingratiating themselves into local culture. This inculturation was intended to subvert the native cultures by stealth. An example would be di Nobili wearing saffron instead of white and using Hindu words to describe Christian rituals and so on. And now, Hindu-Christian dialogue (one wonders what the purpose of this dialogue is).

 An important  aspect of the Jesuit order which needs to be mentioned : their commitment to scholarship. Francis Xavier Clooney represents that branch. He is a Jesuit, an accomplished scholar of comparative religion and has published several books and articles. He is currently a professor at the Divinity school at Harvard University (USA). He has impressed many Hindus by his knowledge of Tamil and the bhakti religious tradition of Tamil Hindus. Neverthless, as a Jesuit and as a dedicated  Christian his innermost and first priority is the conversion of pagan Hindus to Catholicism. Needless to say this is never openly talked about. The goal of the Jesuits(and of Christianity as a proselytizing faith) has never changed, despite the change in methods. Dr.Clooney is heavily into the process of inculturation. This is made possible by many intellectual Hindus who have been drawn into what is called interfaith dialogue.

This was evident in the interfaith dialogue (so called) in which  Dr.Clooney participated, along with author/writer Rajiv Malhotra. This took place at the University of Massachussetts during the talks on Malhotra’s new book Being Different(2011) After Shri Malhotra’s talk on his book, which lasted approximately 30 minutes, Dr.Clooney followed up with an approximately 45 minute talk mainly focused on Malhotra’s book Being Different. This book, according to the author, is about a game changer. Instead of being the object of Western scholars, Hindus must now view the West and the Judaeo Christian tradition from the Hindu dharmic point of view. This is in itself not  a novel  idea and whether the contents have been appropriately handled  will remain a  question mark.

After Malhotra’s lecture, Clooney took the podium and the spectacle was extremely illuminating to any discerning viewer. Clooney’s strategy was to heap high praise( a euphemism for fulsome flattery !) on Malhotra, who during his own comments on Clooney’s talk, agreed with him !  Clooney as mentioned above is a well trained scholar and Rajiv Malhotra was no match for him, in a sense. The range of Clooney’s intellectual cogitation was impressive both for its subtlety and its delicate handling of contentious issues.

In addition , his manner was courteous, soft spoken and well spoken (beware of the Greek who comes bearing gifts !).

Some samples of the exchange between the two men are revealing:

Clooney : This is not the first time that Hindus have looked critically at the West. Swami Dayananda Sarasvati and Swami Vivekaanana did that. However, Rajiv has updated this in a sophisticated manner (read ‘improved’ on it, with the former being unsophisticated Hindus !).

Rajiv Malhotra was obligingly silent, presumably he agreed with this remark. He must believe that he is an improvement on Swami Dayananda and Swami Vivekananda ! Since liberal theorists in India such as Jyotirmaya Sharma have written sneeringly about them, the least that Malhotra could have done was to modestly insert some remark about their great contribution to Hindu nationalism and the ongoing resurgence of Hindu thinking, not to mention their profound spirituality and writings on Hinduism) But that would go against Clooney’s agenda. To resume.

Clooney : Authors such as Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goyal have politicized the Hindu Christian relationship. Rajiv does not do that. He is respectful of the differences and shows understanding (one can guess at Clooney’s target : authentic Hindus who resist Christian conversion methods !)

Rajiv Malhotra : I am not interested in ‘ politicization’. I am interested in knowledge systems (By this time any discerning listener must surely wonder where he is going with all this ready agreement with Clooney. What does this remark mean except that it is a hit at Hindu nationalism ? Or at Hindutva ? The intellectual and spiritual errors involved in this distancing of himself from both need to be pointed out).

In that one statement Malhotra distanced himself from the aam admi Hindu and Hindu nationalism. There were also some slighting references  to the ignorance of Hindu gurus regarding Western thought. His eagerness to secure Francis Clooney’s endorsement for his book Being Different was all too obvious. It was also clear that the magic of the Jesuit’s flattery was working on him, slowly but surely.

This raises the question of why the intrepid author of the book Breaking India (2011) was doing his own version of a u turn. That book clearly documents the insidious workings of Christian missionaries in India. It speaks about the first Jesuit Roberto di Nobili’s infamous methods. It talks about inculturation and so on. It recognizes quite explicitly that since the time of Max Mueller (the indologist) , the chosen enemy for Christianity was Hinduism .

Ofcourse, the  authenticity and strength of the book Breaking India also come from the fact that the co author Aravindan Neelakandan is a Tamilian and is knowledgeable about Tamil history, which constitutes a large part of the book.

Mr. Malhotra is economically independent and has over a period of time in the Hindu diaspora in North America done service to the community by establishing the Infinity Foundation and helping with other Hindu causes. He is articulate, intelligent and well read. Economic motives, the acquistion of wealth, cannot be his agenda. Ofcourse, as with any author/writer he would like to maximize the sales of his books. In his case, there is also an almost messianic notion of wanting to reach out to Hindus to empower them. Some would simply call it an ego trip. There is also the fact that he is an autodidact and therefore his excursions into Judaeo Christian and Western thought are a novel exercise for him. In this exhilarating exercise (novel for him !) he lost sight of many things.

 Purva Paksha, the  method  he borrows  from ancient Hindu intellectual/spiritual thought, and claims to use ,becomes simply an occasion for self  advancement. Mr. Malhotra is no Shankara. Purva Paksha is not simply a ‘gaze’ at the adversary, but is accompanied by a rigorous unflinching critique of the enemy, as Adi Shankara did, and alas, Rajiv Malhotra is unable/unwilling to do ! Adi Shankara’s aim was to defeat, not to accommodate the enemy. As is well known,  Shankara’s efforts led not only to the creation of Advaita Vedanta, but to the clearing of the decks for the ongoing continuation of Hinduism. In Mr.Malhotra’s hands it becomes a  distortion both of the method and its aims.

Malhotra  wants to accommodate the enemy so to speak (although that is not his conscious agenda or so one hopes) and is therefore, a good candidate for Francis Xavier Clooney’s agenda. The ripple effect of these many discussions/debates on Hindu-Christian dialogue are Clooney’s great opportunity at further inculturation.

And Rajiv Malhtora is entirely unprepared for this unequal balance of power, whatever his own subjective feelings about the importance of such events and the impact of his book. By putting forward his work as something different from what other Hindus are already doing and by a constant running down of Hindu gurus  that they are not prepared to debate with the West, Malhotra is in effect trying to advance, at the expense of Hindus. This contradicts his own well meaning efforts at the empowerment of Hindus !

For Hindus, both in the diaspora and in the homeland, the lesson to be garnered from the Clooney-Malhotra discussions (euphemistically called Hindu-Christian dialogue)  is that the tried and tested strength of Hinduism will endure. New fangled attempts are just that. They can be a fun read, but not to be taken seriously. The aam admi Hindu and the traditional acharyas, gurus, maths, etc. will continue their traditions. There are no signs that this will give way to what  at present looks like the intellectual equivalent of Wallmart’s attempted entry into Indian retail.

Has Mr. Malhotra set up only a straw man, the non existent uninformed Hindu of his imagination, in order to demolish this straw man , and thereby highlight his own albeit  limited work ? And is Francis Clooney attempting the impossible, the destruction of Sanatana Dharma ?

(The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university).


  1. H.Balakrishnan Reply

    December 20, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Beware the Jesuits !!
    Compliments to the writer for an excellent and forthright analysis. I find it ‘nonsensical’ for someone to differntiate between Hinduism and Hindutva!! Sri Aurobindo in his famous Uttarpara speech of 30 May 1909: “I say it again today, but I put it in another way. I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; I say that it is the Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it it moves and with it it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish”. Regards

  2. Rama Reply

    December 20, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Being different
    I totally agree with you Dr Rajivia.Well said.
    I was/am very uncomfortable about this association between Fr Cloney and Mr Malhotra. Radha Rajan ji had written article on this sometime back.
    I hope someone brings your points to Mr Malhotra’s attention. Agreed, he had done and continue to do tremendous work for the Hindu cause. I have a lot of respect for him and his work. But,sleeping with the enemy is not the best strategy

  3. Sandeep Reply

    December 20, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    Ego problems again!!!
    Ego problems again!!!

    Its strange to see Dr.Rajiva hitting out against Malhotra.
    I know personally that dr.rajiva was all praise for Malhotra till a few weeks back. I also know of the episode where Malhotra in his usual ‘abrasive’ style ticked off Dr.Rajiva for not reading his book ‘Being different’.
    But this should not be a reason for doing a ‘U TURN’ on Malhotra’s writing as such.

  4. partha desikan Reply

    December 20, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Building the Trojan Horse
    It is obvious that the author of this blog has read Rajiv Malhotra’s book, ‘Breaking India—-faultlines’ and has liked its message. Strangely she does not seem to approve of the one on one dialogue of RM on his second book with this well known intellectual of the Christian faith. RM’s second book ‘Being Different’ is not aimed at Hindu readership alone. It is meant to inform the Abrahamic reader about the essential and unalterable differences between Abrahamic and Indic thought and to demand that Indic religions be not simply tolerated but accepted as they are with the differences acknowledged. Mutual respect and not mutual tolerance is recommended by the author while maintaining differences.
    If her impression is that the dialogue did not go to the advantage of Sanatana Dharma, as much as it did to the Catholic Priest’s agenda, it is not shared by several others. Several earlier meetings with non Hindus have contributed to material used very effectively in the book. Rather than getting fixated on her impression of this one dialogue, the blogger is advised to go through the book, ‘Being Different’ and support its agenda.
    It is understandable and agreed that many efforts by a number of Sanatanists in different directions are called for and it is known that the blogger is an able and serious Sanatanist worker in the cause herself. Her apprehensions in regard to RM’s efforts, however, are not warranted.

  5. C S Sundaresha Reply

    December 20, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    Being Different
    Dear Dr. Vijaya Rajiva,

    I am following Mr Rajiv Malhotra and his two books. I appreciate you for looking at him from different angle. It is a ritual for Rajive Malhotra to blame Hindu Gurus! Christian missionaries will not successed in Bharath.

  6. B.R.Haran Reply

    December 20, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    Francis Clooney
    Excellent article by Dr.Vijaya Rajiva. A timely warning. Many thanks to her. For more on thhis subject: and

  7. Sankar Reply

    December 20, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Francis Xavier Clooney : Building the Trojan Horse
    I am currently reading Rajiv’s book Being Different. Half way through. This is an interesting perspective. Some very valid points too.

    We certainly need constructive criticism about Rajiv’s ideas & works. His complete dissociation & rejection of Hindutva is meaningless, I think. Hindutva is a *political* ideology, no doubt. but that is barely a reason to denounce it.

    His discourse is also essentially political in nature, in spite of it addressing spiritual, religious & philosophical issues. All it offers is another perspective of ‘clash of civilizations’ theory.

    Personally I think Breaking India is a far more valuable, far more well researched & far more high impact book compared to BD. But it appears that Rajiv is more interested in promoting BD. Maybe he wants to be seen as a grand “philosopher” instead of a political/social commentator and that too an alarmist one at that.

  8. K P Ganesh Reply

    December 21, 2011 at 2:20 am

    About Inculturation
    For all those wondering what is inculturation & is it allowed, see this link. And Pope approves it as the author says. Also see Francis Clooney’s dialogues with Vaishnavites in Chennai – 2011.

  9. Dr.Vijaya Rajiva Reply

    December 21, 2011 at 3:00 am

    To Critics of my article
    The article is not intended as a personal criticism of RM. That interpretation would be unfortunate and misses the point (Sandeep).

    To Partha : YOu too have missed the point. RM is both someone interested in the Hindu cause and also at this stage of his career, somewhat confused by the direction he is taking. Hinduism’s strength is its native tradition : the aam admi and the traditional gurus, maths acharyas etc. RM’s purva paksha may seem ‘novel’ to him, but it is in reality providing an opening for Clooney style inculturation. As I say : his new book may be a fun read, especially to those who like him, have not been exposed to Western thought, but it cannot be taken seriously, in the way one would read Swami Vivekananda and Swami Dayananda Sarasvati. At one level it may even distract from the substantial work that other Hindus, especially in the homeland are doing.

    It is a coffee table book.

  10. Anil Bhargava Reply

    December 21, 2011 at 5:10 am

    Eyewitness account of the story behind the story
    About 2 months ago, Rajiv Malhotra removed Rajiva Vijay from his egroup for constantly posting stuff unrelated to the purpose of that forum, which is to discuss his recent book. This angered her a lot and she broke another netiquette by sending private emails to members off line which irritated many of us. Next she picked up another irrelevant and silly campaign against what was to be (but never materialized) a reception by Mr. Malhotra’s former St. Stephens college batch mates in the annexe of Rashtrapati Bhavan. The meeting could not be scheduled due to his travels, and as one of his batch mates I can vouch for the fact that the persons who theorized that the meet was anything do with Clooney are misinformed. I never met Clooney in my life, nor was he ever to be on the guest list. What wild speculation! Rajiva has very little research or writing of her to show. She has basically wasted lots of people’s time to write against people in the news just to get self importance and visibility for herself. Ironically, she wrote about Mr. Malhotra’s work prior to these spats with awe-inspiring admiration – lots of such emails and posts on the record. A disingenuous voice she seems to be. Needs a more legit way to get attention.

  11. partha desikan Reply

    December 21, 2011 at 5:41 am

    Building the Trojan Horse
    From the general trend in the comments on Dr Rajiva’s blog here, I am able to gather that apart from the blogger there are quite a few others who too are worried about the way the Malhotra Clooney dialogue went. Several bloggers also see in RM’s disinclination to join forces with the movement known as Hindutva, not just a refusal to be political, but a rejection of a movement that is friendly to Sanatana causes.
    My advice to friends would be to read the book for its detailed and well researched treatment of the difference between Abrahamic and Indic thought processes and use its contents just to emphasize that message among their acquaintances.

  12. George Thundiparambil Reply

    December 21, 2011 at 5:46 am

    Constructive criticism
    Dr. Vijaya Rajiva’s critical remarks on Malhotra-Clooney debate are right on the spot, which is the Achilles’ heel for Rajiv Malhotra’s otherwise potentially monumental work. Adi Sankara posited Purva Paksha to incinerate it in the fire of truth. Truth and falsehood cannot exist side by side. There can never be an agreement between the two and only one of these two can exist at a time. Are we over-rating Malhotra’s thesis? This also shows the dangers of using terms of tharka sastra where its rules are not followed. If we think “Being Different” is what we think it is, Clooney would have had to accept defeat and become Malhotra’s disciple.

  13. Sujeev Reply

    December 21, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Rajiv or Dr. Rajiva?
    Those who speak for Hindus should to put their egos aside, and learn to work with other Hindus, despite personal disagreements. I agree with Sandip that Dr. Rajiva was praising Rajiv Malhotra till recently, and now this U-Turn. This is very confusing. Who is at fault here? Rajiv Malhotra or Dr. Vijaya Rajiva?

  14. Dr.Vijaya Rajiva Reply

    December 21, 2011 at 10:15 am

    To Sujiv
    Since you seem to be impartial I will respond to your question and comment. I did praise Rajiv’s book Breaking India, coauthored with Aravindan Neelakandan. In fact I was one of the first to review it.HK published the review. It seemed well researched and was timely.

    My criticism of his courtship of Clooney still stands. It seems very much of a u turn for someone who had been warning Hindus of such crafty moves of inculturation.

    My article is not intended as a personal attack. It highlights a problem when someone gets confused by what seems to be a turn in the bend.RM has worked hard and has been out in the cold for long. He has come in from the cold. Clooney knows that.RM’s fair weather friends may not have warned him about it. It suits Clooney to build a Trojan horse. Should Hindus oblige ?

    The aam admi and the traditional gurus, maths, acharyas etc. are the mainstay of our civilisation. Any chipping away at that is a mistake and the Catholic Church has changed its methods but not its goals. Should Hindus fall into that trap ?

    Please re read my article carefully once again. Had RM merely written the book and arranged for events both in India and abroad that is perfectly legitimate. Any author/writer wants to maximise the exposure of his book.

    But why get involved with Clooney ? This is the million dollar question whose answer only RM can provide.

    Time will tell.

  15. M.C. Baruah Reply

    December 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Being Different
    I am great admirer of Rajiv Malhotra. Most of the Hindu gurus are not qualified to discuss the differences between the Yogic spirituality and prophetic religions. That is why most of the stupid Hindus pour their heart and soul when they sing Ishwara allah. Hats off Rajiv Malhotra. Almost all the Hindu gurus teach that all religions are same. Gandhi tried that and failed miserably. Every Hindu guru should read Being Different. Rajiv Malhotra is very articulate and learn a lot by reading this monumental book.

  16. Dr.Vijaya Rajiva Reply

    December 21, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    A general note to HK Readers
    Since I started writing for Haindava Keralam I have been impressed by the moderation and good sense of many of the comments to my articles. However, this article ‘Francis Xavier Clooney: Building a Trojan Horse’ has one person called A.Bhargava who has departed from that. His post below is titled ‘The Story Behind the Story’.

    I can state categorically that I have never written angry emails to anyone, either to an e group or to people on my list.

    This gentleman is too angry with my article to pay attention to its arguments. Intead he has gone off topic.

    It seems unusual to bring in personal stories about someone you do not know.I do not know him and have never corresponded with him. He may have read my emails to the egroup of Breaking India but these were never angry.

    I do wish he would have taken hold of himself and stayed on topic.

  17. Radha Rajan Reply

    December 21, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Malhotra’s dubious intent
    A book must be judged by several indices if it has to withstand critical scrutiny – consistency in core positions which the author maintains, sound and convincing explanation when positions change, simple honesty and integrity to the responsibility the author has taken upon him/herself to inform and influence opinion and above all the end objective for which a book is written. If there are serious concerns about even one of these indices, then both the book and author must be called to account. First, in the context of what we now know about how the Generic Church – all churches of all denominations, western white Christian governments and all the pan-national and international organizations like the UN and IMF which they have created – function to serve their geopolitical objectives, we have to question Malhotra’s statement that the book is not political. Considering that the core content of all Abrahamic cults is their political objective to conquer the world, how can Malhotra claim that he can write a book about the Christian world apolitically or non-politically? He makes this claim for a second time when he says he is a non-Hindutva Hindu; this is in fact an intellectual jizya he is paying to be accepted in white western christian academic and intelelctual circles. Malhotra sought and received Clooney’s endorsement for his book as calling card or entry pass. Hindus are not obliged to be mute witnesses to Malhotra’s business compulsions. When Hindus who claim leadership role for themselves the onus to pass the test of scrutiny is on them alone. When such persons are seen to be legitimising our enemies then harsh criticism is warranted. The Church spells death of Hindus, Hindu temples and Hindu way of life. Clooney represents this death even if death is wearing a deceptive smiling mask. By legitimising Clooney Malhotra has signalled to us that he treats India as one vast market for his books and Hindu intellectual space as one vast market for his dubious ideas.

  18. Venugopal Kaikulath Reply

    December 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Hinduism’s broad-minded vision shall save the world.
    Dear Shri M.C.Baruah,

    In saying all religions are the same Hinduism is only stating that paths or approaches to God are unlimited. That is, living cannot be straitjacketed. It is not tantamount to giving “character certificates” to each and every religion. That is not the job of Hinduism. It is for the practitioners to decide whatever they want about their preferred religion. However, with the rise of Christianity and Islam and their fight onto death to prove that each alone is the true religion, it is the duty of Hindu gurus to warn the world that such narrow minded approach has spelt disaster in world history. Hindu gurus have by and large been successful in spreading the broad-minded vision of Hinduism in the West and inculturation efforts by Christians is proof of their last-ditch efforts save their narrow-minded creed with pretence to Hinduism’s broad-mindedness. Since Hindu gurus are not allowed to preach freely in Muslim countries, Islam remains the last citadel of narrow-mindedness.

  19. Ananda Ganesh V Reply

    December 21, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    An Unfortunate Article

    I understand and accept Rajiv Malhotra’s position and openness to reach out to people who are either not-Hindus or even anti-Hindus.

    It is too early to predict what would be the outcome of such interactions, and saying that Rajiv Malhotra is growing a Trojan Horse is atrocious.

    If Rajiv Malhotra has not questioned about Clooney’s other comments about Swami Vivekananda and others, it might be because it is not the focus of the meeting or discussion.

    And, interpreting Clooney’s appreciation of Rajiv Malhotra that says Rajiv Malhotra has improved upon Swami Vivekananda, then it does not actually mean an insult to Swami Vivekananda.

    What Swami Vivekananda preached is not Quran, that should not be used to add our own intelligence.

    It is very very unfortunate that Haindava Keralam is giving space to such articles whose only ultimate result is washing the linen in public.

    I request respected Haindava Keralam editorial board to decide who is our enemy.

    If the board decides to not to give space to sibling quarrels, it would be a great service in the long run.

  20. Thamizhchelvan Reply

    December 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Francis Clooney
    Dr.Vijaya Rajiva is very dignified in her analysis. Her warning about Clooney is timely and from her essay it is very clear that Rajiv has certainly made a u-turn.

    And his self-aggrandisement and his flirting with the likes of Clooney is a giveaway that he wants to promote himself and his book.

    Hindu Activists like me in Chennai knew very well about the evil designs of Clooney and the likes, and if Rajiv thinks that he can stop the Church from acquiring properties, establishing Prayer Houses, etc., through his so-called Interfaith Dialogues, he must be fooling himself.

    But, I don’t think he will ever fool himself. All his efforts are only to promote himself and his book and certainly not to serve the nation.

    Let Rajiv and his cronies understand that we native Hindus in India are not idiots to believe his theories.

  21. mathew Reply

    December 22, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    A good article…
    I liked this essay by Dr. Vijaya Rajiva. The author was able to put her mind to the subtleties of the issue at hand and was able to articulate well. Without denying the subject person’s (Dr. Clooney) scholarship, the author was able to bring up the apprehensions of many into focus. It is a welcome departure from the usually seen tactics of running down the opponent to advance one’s side of the argument. Kudos to the author. I will add that this is the type of writing someone like me would like to see from someone of the author’s caliber.

  22. desi Reply

    January 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    RM &VR
    The inevitable quarrel.

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