Ram Swarup

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Ram Swarup (Sanskrit: राम स्वरूप)[1] (1920 – 26 December 1998), born Ram Swarup Agarwal, was an independent Hindu thinker and prolific author. His works took a critical stance against Christianity, Islam and Communism. He remains an important influence to modern Hindu writers.

Life[edit]

Ram Swarup was born in 1920 to a banker father in Sonipat, Haryana. He graduated in Economics at Delhi University in 1941. He participated in the Indian Freedom Movement,[2] and helped freedom fighters like Aruna Asaf Ali.[3] He started the Changer's Club in 1944. Its members included L. C. Jain, Raj Krishna, Girilal Jain and historian Sita Ram Goel.[2] In 1948-49, he worked for Mahatma Gandhi's disciple Mira Behn (Madeleine Slade).[2]

Swarup worked for the DRS, where he wrote a book on the Communist party that was published under an assumed name.[2] In 1949, he founded the Society for the Defence of Freedom in Asia.[2] The Society published books, reviewed in the West, that criticized both the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet-mouthpiece Izvestia as well as Pravda, another mouthpiece for that same foreign power's Communist Party.[2][4] The Society for the Defence of Freedom in Asia ceased operations in 1955.[2] His early book Gandhism and Communism from around this time had some influence among American policymakers and members of Congress.[2]

In 1982, he founded the non-profit publishing house Voice of India,[5] which published works by Harsh Narain, A.K. Chatterjee, K.S. Lal, Koenraad Elst, Rajendra Singh, Sant R.S. Nirala and Shrikant Talageri, among others .[6]

American author David Frawley writes [that]:

"While Voice of India had a controversial reputation, I found nothing irrational, much less extreme about their ideas or publications... Their criticisms of Islam were on par with the criticisms of the Catholic Church and of Christianity done by such Western thinkers as Voltaire or Thomas Jefferson. In fact they went far beyond such mere rational or historical criticisms of other religions and brought in a profound spiritual and yogic view as well." [7]

Author[edit]

Ram Swarup's book The Word As Revelation: Names of Gods was published in 1980 by Sita Ram Goel. The book was reviewed by Dr. Sisir Kumar Maitra in the Times of India.[8]

His works on communism were reviewed and praised in the West and in India by people like Bertrand Russell, Arthur Koestler, Sri Aurobindo, Ashoka Mehta, Sardar Patel and Philip Spratt.[4]

Swarup has written for mainstream Indian weeklies and dailies, like the Telegraph, Times of India, Indian Express, Observer of Business and Politics, Hindustan Times and Hinduism Today.[2]

Influences and opinions[edit]

Some of his early influences were Aldous Huxley and George Bernard Shaw.[2][9]

In his later life, Ram Swarup used to meditate for many hours.[10] Swarup was influenced by Sri Aurobindo, whom he held to be the greatest exponent of the Vedic vision in our times.[10]

Sita Ram Goel described Swarup as a person who "had no use for any conventional morality or code of manners and could see clearly how they were mostly used to put the other fellow in the wrong."[11]

European paganism[edit]

Ram Swarup also had an interest in European Neopaganism, and corresponded with Prudence Jones (chairperson of Pagan Federation) and the Pagan author Guðrún Kristín Magnúsdóttir.[12]

Christopher Gerard (editor of Antaios, Society for Polytheistic Studies) said: "Ram Swarup was the perfect link between Hindu Renaissance and renascent Paganism in the West and elsewhere."[13]

Swarup has also advocated a "Pagan renaissance" in Europe. According to Swarup:

"Europe became sick because it tore apart from its own heritage, it had to deny its very roots. If Europe is to be healed spiritually, it must recover its spiritual past—at least, it should not hold it in such dishonor..." He argued that the European Pagans "should compile a directory of Pagan temples destroyed, Pagan groves and sacred spots desecrated. European Pagans should also revive some of these sites as their places of pilgrimage."[14]

Quotes[edit]

  • He concludes: “A fateful thing has been happening. The East is waking up from its slumber. The wisdom of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism is becoming available to the world. Already, it is having a transforming effect on the minds of the people, particularly in countries where there is freedom to seek and express. Dogmas are under a cloud; claims on behalf of Last Prophethood and Only Sonship, hitherto enforced through great intellectual conditioning, brow-beating, and the big stick, are becoming unacceptable. Religions of proxy are in retreat. More and more men and women now seek authentic experience. Borrowed creed will not do. Men and women are ceasing to be obedient believers and are becoming seekers. They no longer want to be anybody’s sheep, now that they know they can be their own shepherds. An external authority, even when it is called God in certain scriptures, threatening and promising alternately, is increasingly making less and less impression; people now realize that Godhead is their own true, secret status and they seek it in the depth of their own being. All this is in keeping with the wisdom of the East.”
    • 10 9Introduction to Mohammed and the Rise of Islam by D.S. Margoliouth, Voice of India reprint, New Delhi, 1985, pp. xvii-xviii. 10Ibid., pp. xix-xx.
  • The new self-styled social justice intellectuals and parties do not want an India without castes, they want castes without dharma.
    • Ram Swarup: “Logic behind Perversion of Caste”, Indian Express, 13-9-1996. Cited in Elst 2002,ch5


  • The fact is that the truth of harmony and human brotherhood derives not from an absorbed trance but from an awakened prajñâ or wisdom; and its validity depends not on any dramatic ecstatic visions but it belongs to man’s (…) natural reason unspoilt by theologies of exclusiveness.
    • Ram Swarup: Ramakrishna Mission, p.13.
  • But foreign should not be defined in geographical terms. Then it would have no meaning except territorial or tribal patriotism. To me that alone is foreign which is foreign to truth, foreign to Atman.
    • Sita Ram Goel. How I Became a Hindu (1982, enlarged 1993) ISBN 81-85990-05-0 (ch. 7)
  • Indian spirituality, proclaimed that the true Godhead was beyond number and count; that it had many manifestations which did not exclude or repel each other but included each other, and went together in friendship; that it was approached in different ways and through many symbols; that it resided in the hearts of its devotees. Here there were no chosen people, no exclusive prophethoods, no privileged churches and fraternities and ummas. The message was subversive of all religions based on exclusive claims.
    • Ram Swarup, introduction to Mohammed and the Rise of Islam by D.S. Margoliouth, New Delhi, Reprint, 1985 and 1995, p. xix.
  • The story of Islam is no different. Prophetic Islam is inimical to mystic ideas. In the beginning, some Sufis courted martyrdom, but eventually they bought peace and safety by surrendering to Prophetic Islam. There have been some outstanding Sufis, but by arid large the Sufi movement has been part of a larger aggressive apparatus, just like Christian Missions of Imperialism. Though Islam persecuted "infidels", destroyed their temples, enslaved and looted them, we find no Sufis protesting. In fact. they were often beneficiaries of this vandalism. "In many cases there is no doubt that the shrine of a ·Muslim saint marks the site of some local cult which was practised on the spot long before the introduction of Islam," says Thomas Arnold making it look quite normal and harmless. Mu'in aI-Din Chishtl's dargah at Ajmer is one such shrine built on the ruins of an old Hindu temple. The saint had also got the present of a Hindu princess, part of thebooty captured by a Muslim General, Malik Khitab, when he attacked the neighbouring pagan land. Sufi saints often took full part in Islamic jihad.
    • Ram Swarup, Hindu View of Christianity and Islam. 2000.

The World As Revelation: Names of Gods[edit]

  • The Hindu pantheon has changed to some extent but the old Gods are still active and are still understood though under modified names. Hindu India has a sense of continuity with its past which other nations, that changed their religions at some later stage, lack. It is also known that the Hindu religion preserves many old layers and forms. Therefore, its study may link us not only with its own past forms but also with the religious consciousness, intuitions and forms that prevailed in the past in Europe, in Greece, in Rome, in many Scandinavian and Baltic countries, amongst Germanic and Slavic peoples and also in several countries of the Middle East. In short, the study may reveal a fundamental form of spiritual consciousness which is wider than its Hindu expression.
  • The Vedic approach,” concludes Ram Swarup, “is perhaps the best. It gives unity without sacrificing diversity. In fact, it gives a deeper unity and a deeper diversity beyond the power of ordinary monotheism and polytheism. It is one with the yogic and the mystic approach... In this deeper approach, the distinction is not between a true One God and false Many Gods; it is between a true way of worship and a false way of worship. Wherever there is sincerity, truth and self-giving in worship, that worship goes to the true altar by whatever name we may designate it and in whatever way we may conceive it. But if it is not desireless, if it has ego, falsehood, conceit and deceit in it, then it is unavailing though it may be offered to the most true God, theologically speaking.
  • If there is sufficient aspiration, invoking, and soliciting, there is no doubt that even Gods apparently lost could come back again. They are there all the time. For nothing that has any truth in it can be destroyed. It merely goes out of manifestation; but it could reappear under propitious circumstances. So could the old Gods come to life again in response to new summons.

Buddhism vis-a-vis Hinduism (1958)[edit]

  • "Buddhism is returning home to India after a long exile of a thousand years and, like the proverbial prodigal son, is being received with open arms. Religious tolerance of the average Hindu partly explains the warm reception. But a more important reason is the fact that Buddha and Buddhism form an intimate part of Hindu consciousness. Buddha was a Hindu. Buddhism is Hindu in its origin and development, in its art and architecture, iconography, language, beliefs, psychology, names, nomenclature, religious vows and spiritual discipline....Hinduism is not all Buddhism, but Buddhism forms part of the ethos which is essentially Hindu"

Quotes about Ram Swarup[edit]

  • I could see that his seeking had taken a decisive turn towards a deeper direction. He [Ram Swarup] was as awake to the social, political and cultural scene in India as ever before. But this vigil had now acquired an entirely new dimension. Political, social and cultural movements were no more clashes or congregations of external forces and intellectual ideas; they had become projections of psychic situations in which the members of a society chose to stay. His judgments had now acquired a depth which I frequently found it difficult to fathom.
    • Sita Ram Goel. How I Became a Hindu (1982, enlarged 1993) ISBN 81-85990-05-0 (ch. 8)
  • Ram Swarup was feeling disturbed. He had no doubt that Hindu society was in for great trouble. He had been studying the scriptures of Islam and Christianity during the past several years, and had gone deep into their most orthodox sources. He had come up with the conclusion that they were not religions but cruel and intolerant ideologies like Communism and Nazism. The spread of these ideologies in India, he said, was fraught with fearful consequences for whatever had survived of Hindu society and culture in the only Hindu homeland.
    • Sita Ram Goel. How I Became a Hindu (1982, enlarged 1993) ISBN 81-85990-05-0 (ch. 9)


  • All those concerned about Hindu unity heaved a sigh of relief. In a last skirmish, the Mission’s office-bearer Swami Hiranmayananda polemicized with Ram Swarup and denied that Swami Vivekananda had ever expressed pride in Hinduism. Ram Swarup now only had to quote the Supreme Court verdict, which had quoted Vivekananda a number of times to this very effect, e.g.: “Say it with pride: we are Hindus.”33

33Organiser published Ram Swarup’s initial comment on the verdict on 13-8-1995 (also in Observer of Business and Politics: “Faith denied or identity regained?”), Hiranmayananda’s reply on 24-9-1995, and Ram Swarup’s final rejoinder on 8-10-1995. Reference is to Vivekananda’s Complete Works, vol.3, p.368-69. Incidentally, no less a secularist than Jawaharlal Nehru testifies (Discovery of India, p.337) that Vivekananda was a “Hindu sannyasin” and that “in America, he was called the ‘cyclonic Hindu’”.

    • Elst 2002,ch6
  • Swami Hiranmayananda asked a number of semi-rhetorical questions which were nonetheless pertinent, e.g.: “I want to know something from Shri Ram Swarup. Were the Vedic people Hindus?”

Ram Swarup: “In reply to Swami Hiranmayananda”, Organiser, 8-10-1995; Hiranmayanada’s article had appeared on 24-9-1995.

    • Elst, 2002,ch1
  • Ram Swarup corresponded with Prudence Jones, twice chairperson of the Pagan Federation, and with Gudrun Kristin Magnusdottir, Icelandic Pagan author of the book Odsmal, which ties the Germanic Asatru religion in with Transcendental Meditation and other Eastern lore. His article “Of Hindus, Pagans and the Return of the Gods” (Hinduism Today, Oct. 1991) was reprinted in the Californian anarcho-Pagan magazine Green Egg, Yule 1991 and again March 1998.
    • Elst 2002,ch2,fn 18
  • Leading Pagan thinker Prudence Jones had a correspondence with Ram Swarup, whose articles on polytheism have also been published in other Pagan media, e.g. in the California based Church of All Worlds’ magazine ‘Green Egg’. (Elst Hindus and Neo-Paganism 1999)
  • The key work to understanding polytheism is Ram Swarup: The Word as Revelation : Names of Gods, published by Impex India, New Delhi, 1980.
    • Elst 1991, fn 229

Works[edit]

Quote[edit]

Hindu view of: p.46 "In many cases there is no doubt that the shrine of a Muslim saint marks the site of some local cult which was practised on the spot long before the introduction of Islam", says Thomas Arnold making it look quite normal and harmless. Mu'in al-Din Chishti's dargah at Ajmer is one such shrine built on the ruins of an old Hindu temple.The saint had also got the present of a Hindu princess, part of the booty captured by a Muslim General, Malik Khitab, when he attacked the neighboring pagan land. Sufi saints often took full part in Islamic jihad. R.M. Eaton's Sufis of Bijapur ....


The story of Islam is no different. Prophetic Islam is inimical to mystic ideas. In the beginning, some Sufis courted martyrdom, but eventually they bought peace and safety by surrendering to Prophetic Islam. There have been some outstanding Sufis, but by arid large the Sufi movement has been part of a larger aggressive apparatus, just like Christian Missions of Impe- rialism. Though Islam persecuted "infidels", destroyed their temples, en- slaved and looted them, we find no Sufis protesting. In fact. they were often beneficiaries of this vandalism. "In many cases there is no doubt that the shrine of a ·Muslim saint marks the site of some local cult which was practised on the spot long before the introduction of Islam," says Thomas Arnold making it look quite normal and harmless. Mu'in aI-Din Chishtl's dargah at Ajmer is one such shrine built on the ruins of an old Hindu temple. The saint had also got the present of a Hindu princess, part of the booty captured by a Muslim General, Malik Khitab, when he attacked the neighbouring pagan land. Sufi saints often took full part in Islamic jih1ld. R.M. Eaton's Sufis of Bijapur, published by Princetone University (1978), illustrates it amply. No wonder, the book has been banned by the Govern- ment of India.

References[edit]

  1. He never used his surname, Agarwal, in adult life.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Ram Swarup (1920-1998) – Outline of a Biography
  3. Hinduism Today, April 1999. The Voice of India By K.Elst
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sita Ram Goel Genesis and Growth of Nehruism (1993)
  5. Letter by Goel to Hinduism Today, July 1998. Letters
  6. Goel, Sita Ram, "How I became a Hindu", Chapter 9
  7. Frawley, DavidHow I became a Hindu: My discovery of Vedic Dharma
  8. Goel:How I became a Hindu. ch.9. Times of India, 29 March 1981 "The Return of the Gods"
  9. Goel:How I became a Hindu.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Goel:How I became a Hindu. ch.8
  11. Goel:How I became a Hindu. ch.4
  12. Koenraad Elst. Who is a Hindu, 2001
  13. Hinduism Today, April 1999
  14. Hinduism Today. July 1999. Antaios 1996 (Interview with Ram Swarup and Sita Ram Goel)[1]
Bibliography
  • Review by Jiri Kolaja. Communism and Peasantry. by Ram Swarup. The American Journal of Sociology > Vol. 61, No. 6 (May, 1956), pp. 642–643
  • Review by G. L. Arnold, Communism and Peasantry: Implications of Collectivist Agriculture for Asian Countries by Ram Swarup, The British Journal of Sociology > Vol. 6, No. 4 (Dec., 1955), pp. 384–385
  • Review by Maurice Meisner, Foundations of Maoism by Ram Swarup The China Quarterly > No. 33 (Jan., 1968), pp. 127–130
  • Review by Geoffrey Shillinglaw, Foundations of Maoism. by Ram Swarup, International Affairs > Vol. 43, No. 4 (Oct., 1967), pp. 798–799

External links[edit]