Indian Pelagianism: Learn to Overpower Death

Among the opponents of Augustine of Hippo in the 4th and 5th centuries were the Pelagians—monks, mostly, who believed that salvation and eternal life could be accomplished by a finely-chiseled personal spirituality. In the process, Augustine set out the view that would come to be held by most Christians as orthodoxy, in one way or another: that salvation comes through the grace of God alone.

We’ve just received some theo-spam from one Kanwar Daljit Singh Shihn of the Everlasting Life Foundation in Bangalore, India. The message’s subject line would put Augustine into a frenzy: “LEARN TO OVERPOWER DEATH.” The rest of the text is as follows, verbatim:



Death is the most common phenomenon in nature and yet the least understood fact. All spiritual masters
and spiritual scientists are pondering upon the matter from the very beginning but no one could come to know anything about it.

The main purpose should be to know the ways and means to overpower death. For this you need to know about life and death.

If it is the need of the spiritual leaders for the betterment of the mankind then I am here to explain
the deep rooted secrets of life and death ,in respect of its origin formation and evolution
upto the extent of to overpower death.

Exploring the Foundation’s website, I found an interesting combination of Christian and Hindu religious language. Christian:

As per scriptures all have sinned. So, No one is worthy to be followed. Whosoever oppose the Word of God shall never be pardoned and shall be awarded hell, for ever and ever.


When the mind merges totally in the Truth, it experiences the state of bliss of uninterrupted self-knowledge. The aspirant loses his limited individuality to discover that he is with God.

But, lest you be confused, it’s neither:

We don’t teach religion.

We don’t teach yoga.

We don’t teach devotion.

We don’t teach anything.

Okay. So why am I reading this again? For the enlightenment-inducing turns of phrase? My favorite part are the lines that sit over the menu: “Writer is the / Well wisher of the Humanity.” The good wishes are much appreciated.

Nathan Schneider is an editor of Killing the Buddha and writes about religion, reason, and violence for a variety of publications. He is also a founding editor of Waging Nonviolence. His first two books, published by University of California Press in 2013, are God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet and Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse. Visit his website at The Row Boat.