There are two kinds of schools of Indian philosophy, Astika and Nastika. Astikas accept the authority of the Vedas, whereas Nastikas reject the authority of the Vedas. The Astika schools are part of Hinduism, and there are six main ones: Samkhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Purva Mimamsa, and Vedanta. The Nastika schools are outside of Hinduism, and they include Buddhist, Jains, Charvakas, and Ajivikas. But what both Astika schools and Nastika schools have in common is that they're all indigenous to India. Religions and philosophies which are foreign to India, like Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc. are classified as Mleccha (although they technically they're also Nastikas).

Now the Astika schools of Hindu philosophy have attempted vigorous refutations both of competing Astika schools along with the Nastika schools (For instance, see my answer here for how the Vedanta school refutes various Astika and Nastika schools.) But my question is, what is the earliest Hindu work which contains a refutation of a Mleccha religion or philosophy?

So far the earliest I've found is this chapter of the Chaitanya Charitamrita, where the Gaudiya Vaishnava Acharya Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says this about Islam:

You drink cows’ milk; therefore the cow is your mother. And the bull produces grains for your maintenance; therefore he is your father. Since the bull and cow are your father and mother, how can you kill and eat them? What kind of religious principle is this? On what strength are you so daring that you commit such sinful activities? ... Since you Muslims cannot bring killed cows back to life, you are responsible for killing them. Therefore you are going to hell; there is no way for your deliverance. Cow-killers are condemned to rot in hellish life for as many thousands of years as there are hairs on the body of the cow. There are many mistakes and illusions in your scriptures. Their compilers, not knowing the essence of knowledge, gave orders that were against reason and argument.

I think part of the reason why I'm finding so few examples is that Mlecchas may not have been very involved in the intellectual debate in ancient/medieval India. For instance, I'm of course aware of violent conflicts between Hindus and Muslims, but I'm not aware of many philosophical debates between Hindus and Muslims earlier than a century or two ago.

Note that I'm not looking for works discussing religious unity and the like; I'm specifically looking for things like a Vedantic refutation of Christianity, a Nyaya refutation of Islam, etc.

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    I cannot understand why any wise soul would want to bring somebody else down to prove his superiority. Truth will shine no matter where you are from. – Rama27 Nov 4 '17 at 9:28
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    @Rama27 It's not about proving superiority, but about leading people to the truth. Logical argument is part of the way in which the truth ultimately triumphs. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 4 '17 at 15:45
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    @Rama27 Well, from my perspective Visistadvaita is the ultimate truth, and both Advaita and Dvaita are only partially true :-) But in any case it's certainly possible to have logical arguments between Advaita, Dvaita, Visistadvaita, etc. There are countless works with such arguments. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 5 '17 at 5:52
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    @sv. Well, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was also against killing goats, camel, fish, etc. He preached strict vegetarianism, and criticized meat-eating Hindus. But more generally, attempts to derive morality from logical reasoning are futile, and I imagine what Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is doing here is more trying to point out inconsistencies in the Muslim worldview rather than trying to give a first-principles justification of Hindu morality. – Keshav Srinivasan Nov 6 '17 at 23:51
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    @SK I think it's a perfectly fine term, one found in Hindu scripture. – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 19 '17 at 8:50

Following verses by Lord Shiva can be considered as the earliest works where he is criticising Mleccha(foreign) religions/philosophies as it was claimed to say at the commencement of Kaliyuga. From the 9th Chapter of Shiva Rahasya.

  1. Others will proclaim that dead men lie asleep in their grave and will be brought back to life in their former bodies even if these have turned to dust. Heaven forbid that such falsehoods be true! Deluded as they are, they are blind to the Truth and in their madness they deny even the facts of life. For the body that was committed to earth, water or fire, or was left to decay in the open air, seldom remains undisturbed but is eaten by worms, fish and other such creatures. These are themselves eaten by others of their kind and at times even by men. And what to say of him that is devoured by the lion, the tiger or a serpent, even whilst still alive?
  2. Now, the substance of one body having passed into other bodies and having become their very sustenance and strength, can hardly be returned to the original without being removed from its present place of abode, thus depriving many a body, both dead and living, of a limb or even more. Assuredly, this would be unjust and repugnant to Dharma, as even a fool can see. Therefore, know that it is a sin for thinking men to believe such foolish things. The power of right thinking was given to man that he might think rightly and not foolishly believe what is repugnant and wrong. Verily and without doubt, those who follow My Eternal Path shall be given deathless bodies of light and not mere shells of lifeless dust.
  3. Other deluded mortals, wishing to raise themselves above others, will proclaim false religions and say, Follow me and you shall go to Heaven. How perverse they and their followers are! Can they not think? How can he who is unripe and imperfect gain admission to the Abode of the Perfect? Can a mere bird fly into the Sun? Can a fly come near a burning lamp? Is grain harvested before its time? They are only deluding themselves.
  4. From God all things do come and unto Him they shall return. This is the Eternal Law. Having descended from Heaven down to Earth, the Soul must return to God. And how else is he to return if not by the very same path whereby he came? Verily, let those that follow the Truth not be deceived. God converses not with the imperfect save to call them to the Path of Perfection. When, in due time, they have become Perfect, then they shall be called to Him and not a moment before. Therefore, let no man speak things about God that are sinful and wrong.

Jayanta-bhaTTa (c. 9th Century CE), in his drama AgamADambara, makes some excellent specifications about which religions/ traditions merit respect and tolerance. Quoting from this secondary source:

Following are the laks.an.as of the religions which can be accorded the respect:

It must have an unbroken line of teachers

Aryas (people of noble conduct) are not repulsed by associating with it or discussing its tenets

Its cherished practices must not be against social norms nor fearful

It must not be entirely too new in form or a just born religion

It must not be based on mad ramblings nor must it be too unusual (or even otherworldly – ‘alaukika’ is the word used)

It must not be rooted in undesirable gun.as like greed (lobha)

While not specific to mlecCha religions (we had our own counter-religions like the "mahAnubhAva" cult), it would definitely apply to them.

In the 19th century, we see excellent critiques of Islam and Christianity by dayananda sarasvatI and arumuka navalAr - and to some extant by vivekAnanda.

Among buddhist sanskrit works, the Kalacakra tantra is unique in presenting a fairly comprehensive and quite accurate portrayal + critique of Islamic beliefs and practices. See related article.

There are other historical evidences of Hindu counters to mlecCha religions leading to apostasy (Emperor Akbar to take a famous example) and splintering within them (Eg. Bardaisan) - but they were likely of a verbal nature.

Other than that, as far as practices are concerned, references from bhaviShya-purANa, madhurA-vijayam and rAjatarangiNI come to mind.

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    I'm looking for Hindu works that specifically refute a Mleccha religion or philosophy. Are there none earlier than Dayananda Saraswatu? – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 14 '18 at 6:29
  • By the way, Mahanubhava was before Jayanta Bhatta's time. He would have been referring to Buddhists, Jains, Charvakas, and Ajivikas. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 14 '18 at 6:31
  • > Are there none earlier than Dayananda Saraswati? - There is arumuka nalavar, whom I did mention. Reg. mAnabhAv (mahAnubhAva) cult - I was referring to the one mentioned in manasataramgini.wordpress.com/2005/11/13/… . I suspect that you're speaking of someone else?? – vishvAs vAsuki Jan 14 '18 at 15:03
  • I'm sorry, in my last comment I meant to say after Jayanta Bhatta's time, not before. They were after his time, so the people he was talking about were Buddhists, Jains, Charvakas, and Ajivikas. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 14 '18 at 15:08

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