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Ideas of Tolerance: Religious Exclusivism and Violence in Hindu–Christian Encounters

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Abstract This article explores, through some historical vignettes, the question of whether there are necessary connections between the Christian worldview and religious aggression, whether in the form of brutal extermination of the religious others or more subtly of interpretive violence on their cultural traditions. The Hindu ‘pluralistic’ attitude towards the religions is often put forward as a paradigm of an open-minded acceptance of their diversity. However, varieties of Hindu ‘pluralism’ turn out, on closer inspection, to be based on specific criteria about the nature of human and divine reality, and collapse, in fact, to forms of ‘exclusivism’ which propose a certain event or experience as the paradigm through which human existence is to be interpreted. The crucial debate, then, is not so much between Christian ‘exclusivism’ versus Hindu ‘pluralism’ as over the basis for viewing religious diversity as encompassed by the divine purpose for humanity.

Affiliations: 1: University of Delhi India


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