The Holy see's vision Goutham Ganesan Diamondback Online September 27, 2006
In 1917, an English drama critic named Archer published a work in which he roundly condemned all Indian culture, religion and philosophy as a “repulsive mass of unspeakable barbarism.” Sri Aurobindo, one of the great Indian freedom fighters, published in his journal a response drawing on numerous sources that refuted the claims of Archer in an equally round fashion. He discussed the uniqueness of the primarily spiritual mode of life cultivated in India as its unique contribution to world civilization. He did not demand an apology or declare a fatwa against the author for his insult. As a result of his intellectual efforts and those of many others, knowledge and respect for Indian spiritual traditions has increased exponentially in the West.
Of course, there will always be a large mass of people not interested in debate and the use of reason in religious matters. But I urge anyone disturbed by the Pope’s comments to first read the whole speech, and then direct whatever resentment is left toward joining the debate Benedict has begun. We have come to a time in history when shallow platitudes about tolerance will no longer suffice; the only way to achieve religious harmony is for all of us who have faith to unite in our use of reason and scholarship and to utterly reject the base passions and ultra-sensitivity that lead to religious violence. It is certainly unpleasant to hear criticism of one’s beliefs, but anyone who has reflected seriously knows what is unpleasant is often healthy. Goutham Ganesan is a junior chemistry and biochemistry major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org