The following is my translation of Dr. S.L Bhyrappa’s article that appeared in Vijaya Karnataka on 16 October 2008.
It provides an all-encompassing perspective on the proselytization menace threatening India and is justifiably lengthy.
Read and weep. Better still, do something.
This Happens Only in India
Christian Missionary activity in India has a history of about four hundred years. Neither is it fresh news that after Sonia Gandhi’s coronation, there has been a near-explosion of conversions across India?a fact, which is well-known simply because our media houses have carefully banished it. There is almost a self-imposed gag that prevents the media from even raising conversions as a serious social issue. However, what becomes front-page news is the reaction/opposition to missionary activity. Case in point: the recent efforts to counter missionary propaganda and mischief in Orissa and Karnataka. The secular media, intellectuals, Leftists, and fellow-travellers were quick to bawl from the rooftops that this was the end of India. Neither is their bawling new: the average newspaper-reader is no longer fooled by such displays of selective sympathy, which in reality is secular support to missionary activity. But it doesn’t end there. With each passing day, Sonia Gandhi’s pets, intellectuals, and secularists have increased the decibel levels to a feverish pitch to achieve a twofold goal: to undermine BJP-ruled states and Hindu organizations, and help Christian organizations worldwide to blacken India’s face at the United Nations. The Congress government at the Centre under Sonia Gandhi is also on an overdrive, trying to exploit the situation to hilt by finding ways to dismiss the state governments in Orissa and Karnataka. What has stopped them from actually dismissing the state governments is the fact of a possible voter backlash in the elections following the dismissal.
The ruling party at the centre, Left comrades, and the English media were quick to blame Bajrang Dal for the violent reaction that resulted from Missionary mischief. However, some uncomfortable questions persist. What was the actual role of Bajrang Dal in the violence? What was the role of the people who inflicted violence in the name of Bajrang Dal? What was the role of those who, goaded by Missionary propaganda, carried out the violence of their own accord? These questions are ignored precisely because they are uncomfortable.
Francois Gautier, a French journalist living in India for many years expresses alarm in an article describing the Christianization of India under Sonia Gandhi.
I am a westerner and a born Christian. I was mainly brought up in catholic schools, my uncle, Father Guy Gautier, a gem of a man, was the parish head of the beautiful Saint Jean de Montmartre church in Paris ; my father, Jacques Gautier, a famous artist in France, and a truly good person if there ever was one, was a fervent catholic all his life, went to church nearly every day and lived by his Christian valuesâ€¦Yet, I am a little uneasy when I see how much Christianity is taking over India under the reign of Sonia Gandhi : according to a 2001 census, there are about 2.34 million Christians in India ; not even 2,5% of the nation, a negligible amount. Yet there are today five Christian chief ministers in Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
One should add that the majority of politicians in Sonia Gandhi’s closed circle are either Christians or Muslims. She seems to have no confidence in Hindus.Ambika Soni, a Christian, is General Secretary of the Congress and a very powerful person, with close access to Sonia Gandhi. Oscar Fernandes is Union Programme Implementation Minister. Margaret Alwa is the eminence grise of Maharasthra. Karnataka is virtually controlled by AK Anthony, whose secretaries are all from the Southern Christian association. Valson Thampu, a Hindu hater, is Chairman NCERT curriculum Review Committee, John Dayal, another known Hindu baiter, has been named by Sonia Gandhi in the National Integration Council ; and Kancha Ilaya, who hates Hindus, is being allowed by the Indian Government to lobby with the UN and US Congress so that caste discrimination in India is taken-up by these bodies.
I have nothing personally against Sonia Gandhiâ€¦since she is at the top, Christian conversions in India seem to have gone on an overdrive. More than 4,000 foreign Christian missionaries are involved in conversion activities across different states. In Tripura, there were no Christians at independence; there are 120.000 today, a 90% increase since 1991. The figures are even more striking in Arunachal Pradesh, where there were only 1710 Christians in 1961, but 1,2 million today, as well as 780 churches! In Andhra Pradesh, churches are coming-up every day in far flung villages and there was even an attempt to set-up one near Tirupati. Many of the North-East separatist movements, such as the Mizo or the Bodos, are not only Christian dominated, but also sometimes function with the covert backing of the missionariesâ€¦More than 20,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in Assam and Manipur in the past two decadesâ€¦this is an India where you see today Swami Avimukteshwarananda Saraswati of Dwarka Peeth, made to disembark from an Indian Airlines flight for carrying his holy dand, a thin bamboo stick which is a symbol of their spiritual designation, inside the aircraft cabinâ€¦Indians like to say that the greatness of India is that it accepts a foreigner and a Christian like Sonia Gandhi. But isn’t it rather a weakness, and an aberration? Can’t we find a worthy leader amongst one billion Indians?
I have merely excerpted a few lines from Gautier’s article available online at http://www.francoisgautier.com/Written%20Material/Newspaper/Sonia-occ.html (Francois Gautier can be contacted at 09343538419/09442123255).
When the late Pope John Paul II visited India in 1999, the English media was ecstatic and tried to infect its ecstasy throughout the country. The Indian President and Prime Minister together with its retinue of ministers welcomed him as it would welcome the head of a state. But Hindu groups protested the state honours done to the Pope because his real mission was to convert Indians. The media, secularists, and self-proclaimed “progressives” raised an unbearable cacophony, colouring the protests as another instance of the dreadful threat of Hindu fundamentalism. But what did the Pope do? He declared with impunity that, “just as in the first millennium, the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the third Christian millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent.” The Pope shot’s was direct and open: reap a harvest of souls in India. The progressive drum-beaters and their cohorts in the media who had shown such courage in denouncing “Hindu fundamentalism” responded with strategic silence.
Unabated Christianization: Strategic Silence of Secular Progressives
Here is the percentage-wise list of countries whose populations have been Christianized by weaning them away from their native religious practices, thanks to missionary propaganda.
Central African Republic 82
Chad (Tchad, French) 33
East Timor 98
Equatorial Guinea 94
Papua New Guinea 97
South Africa 78
South Korea 49
The United States contributes $145 billion for conversion efforts across the globe. Churches worldwide earmark about $1.1 billion to fund missionary-specific research. This kind of research is carried out in 300 languages and covers about 180 topics. Books and other missionary literature are published in 500 languages. These add up to 175000 in total. An average of $3300 is required to convert one person. However, this doesn’t mean that the person wishing to convert actually receives $3300. The sum covers the conversion infrastructure: planning, administrative activities, and implementation. In 1500 CE, the missionaries numbered about 30 million worldwide. Today the number stands at 640 million. 54% of this number is non-Whites. The conclusion is inescapable: the intent is to train and provide an entire support system to non-Whites to garner more souls into the Christian fold. This technique is very similar to what the British did in India. They recruited Indians into the army by training them, paying them well, and providing superior living standards. This system ensured that the British Empire was supported on the ground by the natives themselves.
An average Indian is still perplexed by the actual goal that conversions achieve. This explains why the conversion debate is so poorly formulated in the Indian public discourse. Indians regard spirituality in terms of severe austerities, of penance and inward contemplation practiced in silence and solitude on the freezing heights of the Himalayas or in threadbare hermitages in forests or in caves. The stress is on realizing inner light, on realizing one’s own Self. The spiritual aspirant has absolutely no moral right to preach spiritual realization to the world until he achieves self-realization. But what does a self-realized person really preach? The same as what he set out to realize. Since his realization is his own experience, the preaching itself therefore consists of the methods, and approaches of attaining self-realization. This however, is neither the way nor the essence of Christianity.
It is essential to understand the nature of Semitic (Prophetic or Abrahamic) religions to understand the fundamental tenets of Christianity. Every Prophetic religion is by definition established by a Prophet. Judaism, established by the patriarch Abraham, is the foundational Prophetic religion. Christianity, a variant of Judaism is believed to be founded by Jesus. Islam, which incorporates several features of Judaism, was founded by Mohammad. Prophetic religions share several similar fundamental Principles upon which the entire edifice of the religion exists. The chief among these is that man has no direct access to God. If you remove just this one principle, the whole religion falls apart instantly. Direct access to God is denied to man because man is a sinner by birth and continues to sin as long as he lives. Now, this God is frighteningly macabre and delivers the cruelest punishment without hesitation, decrees the Prophet. Man should unquestioningly believe the Prophet and follow his teachings to save himself from falling into a ghastly Hell after death. Non-belief means eternal suffering in Hell. It is thus mandatory to believe in the Prophet. Not just that. By extension, Prophetic logic implies that the entire mankind is sinful. Therefore, it is mandatory for all existing believers to convince existing non-believers: by force if necessary. Prophet Mohammad decreed wanton murder, torture, humiliation, and slavery as legitimate methods of dealing with non-believers. Some of these methods have become an inextricable part of the Koran. No Prophet can tolerate Gods of other religions, an aspect I have dealt with in detail in my novel, Aavarana.
No Satisfactory Answers
Jesus was a Prophet in the mold of Abraham. However, it is believed that unlike Abraham, he preached love and forbearance. In reality, recent researches question the very existence of Jesus as a real, historical person. If he really did exist, is he the same Jesus that we find in the New Testament? With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, suspicion veers in favour of the latter. Christianity as we know it today was given its shape by Saint Paul, founder of the Church. Scholarly opinion apart, there’s no difference between the Koran and the Bible on this principle: you will be cast to eternal hell if you don’t believe in the Book.
Early in its history, Christians began a systematic campaign of wanton massacre and conversion of Jews on the mistaken belief that Jews nailed Jesus to the Cross. Those Jews who refused to convert were brutally tortured, which is perhaps why Jews did not attempt to convert people of other religions. The seeds of Anti-Semitism sown then continue unabated to this day. It reached its gory climax at the hands of Hitler, who killed about six million Jews in his gas chambers. Pope Pius XII is also known as “Hitler’s Pope” for his wanton blindness to the genocide of Jews under Hitler. John Cornwell, in his book bearing the same title documents (using material from the Vatican’s archives) how the Pope’s deep rooted anti-Semitism led him to collaborate with Hitler in the Jewish massacre. The Vatican is yet to come up with a satisfactory refutation of this charge.
The Inquisition of Goa that lasted from 1560 through 1817 provides us the dark details of the horrors of yet another chapter in the history of Christianity-inspired violence. The Inquisition signifies the series of unbelievably barbaric atrocities that were committed on Hindus who refused to convert to Christianity when the Portuguese took over Goa. Inquisition “laws” numbered about 230 pages. Stalin modeled his interrogation methods after the precedent of Christian Inquisition laws. In Goa, Inquisitions were carried out behind closed doors and windows in a place known as Doddamane. A sample of how this worked. People who refused to accept the only true faith were believed to be under Satan’s influence. Inhuman torture was the preferred method of extracting confessions from unbelievers. The screams of the victims emanating in the silence of the night were heard throughout the entire locality. Victims were mercilessly flogged in the presence of their family, their body parts were severed and mutilated, their eyelids were torn out, and their fingers and toes were cut piece by piece.
The Church priest Diego de Bordeaux, together with Vicar Miguel Vazz devised a 41-point programme for torturing Hindus. Accordingly, the Goan Viceroy, Antao de Noronha published the following decree in 1566 applicable to the entire region under Portuguese occupation.
I hereby order that in any area owned by my master, the king, nobody should construct a Hindu temple and such temples already constructed should not be repaired without my permission. If this order is transgressed, such temples shall be, destroyed and the goods in them shall be used to meet expenses of holy deeds, as punishment of such transgression.
Other ingenious specimens follow.
- No instrumental music should be played in Hindu weddings
- Paan is prohibited at Hindu weddings
- Exchange of fruits, flowers, and betel nut is prohibited between the families of the bride and the groom
- Family deities should not be worshipped
- Arranging pandals is prohibited
- Threshing husk (rice) and making sambar powder on the eve of wedding preparation is prohibited
- Post-death ceremonies like the 13th day (Vaikuntham) celebration is prohibited
- Ekadashi fasting is prohibited
- Hindu men are forbidden from wearing dhotis
- Hindu women are forbidden from wearing blouses
- Growing the Tulasi plant around the house-either in the front or backyard is prohibited
According to a decree dated Sep 22, 1570, Hindus who had converted to Christianity were exempt from all taxes for a period of 15 years. However, none of these Hindus were allowed to use their original Hindu names or even their surnames.
Space constraints prevent me from mentioning further details of the Goa Inquisition. The Goa Inquisition, by A.K. Priolkar (Voice of India, New Delhi) provides an exhaustive account of this blood-dripping historical episode. Pages 79-84 contain the comprehensive list of Hindu temples (as also the cities/towns they were located in) destroyed by Portuguese missionaries. Priolkar’s book also carries a bibliography of the contemporary accounts left behind by the Portuguese. Missionaries and Muslim invaders who came before them thus shared the same zealotry in destroying Hindu temples and the licentious massacre of Hindu population. Thanks to the brutal Inquisition, thousands of Hindus fled to neighbouring states like Karnataka, Kerala, and Maharashtra to retain their Hinduness and identified themselves as Konkani Hindus. To this day, the Gauda Saraswata and Sarawata Brahmin castes trace their ancestry to Goa.
In the chapter entitled, Portuguese Religious Policy, the noted historian K.M. Panikkar records in his book, Malabar and the Portuguese, that Hindu kings treated Syrian Christians with respect and did not interfere in their religious beliefs. Accounts of contemporary Portuguese travellers affirm this fact. However, Syrian Christians, at the first available opportunity, kicked at the king’s authority and recognized the overlordship of the king of Portugal. They voluntarily gave up their ancestral religious symbols, icons, and documents to Vasco Da Gama. Additionally, they requested him to take over the existing Hindu kingdom and offered to help him accomplish the conquest. They suggested that Vasco Da Gama build a fort in Granganore. This is the nature of the gratitude Syrian Christians showed to the king who let them practice their religion in peace and treated them without discrimination. When Christianity finally gained political supremacy, the Portuguese viceroy received a diktat to convert the Raja of Cochin!
No Footnotes Required
Renaissance, Enlightenment, and later, colonialism were the greatest causes to put a rude end to the Church’s use of violence in converting people of other religions. Trade and political expansion opened the eyes of the upper classes of the Christian West to religions in other lands, to religions other than Christianity. The rise of Protestantism is in reality, a violent political reaction to a corrupt Catholicism and a debauched Papacy. However, the Church’s effective decline became irreversible around the time of Enlightenment. Scientific spirit and reason became the bases for philosophical enquiry against the “enquiry” of the Church, which was primarily rooted in dogma. Advances in physics, biology, and sociology exponentially multiplied the number of people who quickly rejected the Church. All it took to reduce Christianity to abject powerlessness was the application of reason to scrutinize its fundamental tenets. An alarmed Church adopted a new disguise: it projected the advances in science as something already present in Christianity! It gave it a new fancy name: Christian Science. According to this new science, science was separate, and faith was separate. It propounded that we should not use scientific methods to examine faith. The implication is obvious: the Church wanted to put a stop to critical examination of the fundamental principles of Christianity.
The British who established their empire in India had earlier set up the Church of England, breaking away from the clutches of the Vatican. They did not wish to risk antagonizing Hinduism in India. Therefore, they propagated the pretence of keeping the missionaries and the Empire separate, at least in the eyes of Indians. Ultimately, the aim of both the missionaries and the empire was the same: to destroy the spirit of India. India’s spirit posed a very different challenge unlike any other nation that the British had colonized. Macaulay’s education policy, the Aryan Invasion Theory, the Eurocentric (mis)interpretation of Indian history and caste, applying pseudo-sociology to the Indian society, census, and a systematic splintering of the Hindu society into Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists, the Aryan-Dravidian artificial divide, and the continual fanning of Hindu-Muslim passions was the singular contribution of the British to the Indian education system. They injected this cultural poison in books and our institutions and created a whole new generation of rootless people who became aliens in their own land. The chaotic state of India today is the living mark of their outstanding success in this ignoble endeavour. This was exactly the grand shot missionaries needed to further their ambition of Christianizing India. On its part, the British masters sanctioned land (also ordered the local/provincial Rajas) for building schools, colleges and hospitals, mere guises to really execute missionary activities. Missionaries were also projected as the carriers of allopathic medicine and nearly wiped out the medical system of ancient India. Additionally, converted Indians were given pay raises and promotions on a preferential basis in government services thus creating a self-perpetuating incentive structure that ensured that Indian Christians placed their loyalties elsewhere than their own motherland. These converts quickly announced their cultural alienation by ostentatiously adopting the manners, menu, attire, and customs of their imperial masters. As a result of such overt display, “native” Indians naturally were overwhelmed with awe at the institutions the British built. However, what should not escape our notice is the fact that the British built their hospitals as places to train Christians in various specialty medicines. The following example is a good parallel to show how the British masters went about procuring what they wanted. A common refrain even today is the praises sung in glory of the adventurous spirit of the British. I can recall one such instance from my childhood. The British penetrated the densest jungle, cut it down, tamed it, and built sprawling coffee estates, something Indians had no guts for. Many years later, a retired revenue assessor revealed how the system worked. Typically, the British Resident at Bangalore would send a request to the provincial Raja to sanction the procurement of land for a coffee estate at a specific location. While it was worded like a request, it was a masked order in reality. The order would travel through the office of the District Collector right down to the Taluk Amaldar. The Amaldar would then send a revenue inspector. The British beneficiary and the revenue inspector would reach the top of a hill from where the British would draw a circle in the air indicating the extent of land he wanted. Necessary orders would be passed to this effect. Local labourers would then begin to cut down the vegetation typically spread over thousands of acres. The British beneficiary would then sell the valuable trees like teak and rosewood that were cut and use the proceeds to build his coffee estate. The Imperial Bank would lend money at 1% interest, which the estate owner would repay after the crop was harvested. These coffee estates and the English-style bungalows at the top of these hills survive in many parts of India today. The Planter’s Association in Sakaleshpur had a signboard that prohibited entry to natives and dogs.
There is a fundamental difference between Hinduism and the desert-born Abrahamic religions. The Prophet of each of these religions has a monopoly over truth and exclusive access to God’s message. His followers need to therefore submit themselves to him failing which eternal suffering in Hell is assured. To fully secure their allegiance, the Prophet commands his followers to go to the world and convert people of other faiths by force if necessary. This command is in the nature of sacred duty. It is clear that Prophetic religions are basically blinkered ideologies. The Vedas, India’s earliest lyrical expression of philosophical quest hold that That is the One Truth, which the Wise men state in different forms and methods and words (Ekam Sat Vipraah Bahudaa Vadanti). We can find no other better expression of freedom in intellectual, spiritual, and philosophical inquiry. This same precept is echoed in almost all Indian schools of philosophy. SyAdvAda (SyAt=maybe, possibility, suggestion of alternatives) is one of the most important tenets of Jainism. This tenet expostulates that an aspirant should not insist that his perception is the only truth. He should accept the existence of an alternate perception, even an opposing perception. Equally, he should accept that both the alternate and the opposing perception can coexist. Jainism lists seven such possibilities. This is but another expression of Ekam Sat Vipraahâ€¦ Equally, all Indian schools of philosophy placed a high value on logic and philosophical (and scholarly) debate. This is yet another important reason why Prophetism never occurred to Indian consciousness. The Rishis of the Vedas and Upanishads were not prophets. In the last chapter of his scholarly The Psychology of Prophetism, the Belgian scholar Koenraad Elst says that prophets “talk about themselves a lot. They think they are very special, this one person in this one body is different from the rest and has an exclusive relationship with the Creator. But the rishis talked about a universal way, a world order in which we all participate, a state of consciousness we can all achieve. If God is defined as that which transcends all worldly differences, the One above the Many, then this universalism is far more divine than the prophets’ exclusivismâ€¦. the essence of Hindu Dharma is not tolerance, or equal respect for all religions but Satya, truth. The problem with Christianity and Islam is superficially their intolerance and fanaticism. But this intolerance is a consequence of these religions’ untruthfulness: if your belief system is based on delusions, you have to pre-empt rational inquiry into it and shield it from contact with more sustainable thought systems. The fundamental problem with the monotheist religions is not that they are intolerant, but that they are untrue, (Asatya or Anrita).” Elst’s book is a must-read for anyone with a serious interest in the subject. Similarly, Buddha was not a prophet-he was another rishi living in the Upanishadic age. Buddha’s teachings are entirely consistent with and in many ways complementary to their Upanishadic counterparts. R.D. Ranade’s A Constructive Survey of the Upanishadic Philosophy (4th edition, 2nd part) accurately observes that all Indian philosophical schools use the word Dharma to describe themselves, not the word religion, used by Prophetic creeds.
How not to Interpret Spirituality
When the initial waves of barbaric Islamic invasions took India by stunned surprise, spiritual leaders of different philosophical schools were unable to fathom the true nature of those invasions. Coming from the Ekam Sat Vipraahâ€¦ tradition, they explained the brutal savagery of the invaders as the behaviour of spiritually unevolved people. It did not occur to them to examine the nature of the invaders’ religion. As a relatively recent example, Chandrashekhara Bharati, the Swami (pontiff) of Sringeri Shankara Mutt was once approached by a European with a request to initiate him into Hinduism. The pontiff responded by asking him to first be a good Christian, which automatically meant he would become a good Hindu. Several people uphold this incident as an example of the inclusivity of Hindusim. It is both naÃ¯ve and stupid because a true Christian is duty-bound to convert as many heathens as possible. That Chandrashekara Bharati was clearly ignorant of this tenet is amply evident. Other questions arise. Was the Swami so deeply steeped in Ekam Satâ€¦ that he leaves us no option other than calling his reaction intellectual sloth? Or was he still unable to break the prohibition of initiating people of other faiths into Hinduism? And this incident occurred in the previous century. During Islam’s destructive trail of conquest, during the Portuguese Inquisition in Goa and rampage in the Malabar, as also the surreptitious missionary activity under the British, no Hindu spiritual leader even attempted to critically scrutinize Prophetic creeds. Vidyaranya, the founder and spiritual force behind the Vijaynagar Empire, had accurately assessed the problem facing Hindu society. However, I have not come across any critical study of Islam that he had undertaken. In the purview of my studies, only Maharshi Dayananda Saraswati and Swami Vivekananda seem to have examined Prophetic creeds from both spiritual and critical standpoints.
The same inaccurate perceptions about Prophetic creeds exist among Hindu spiritual leaders and educated laymen alike as we speak. A Jihadi who risks his life to execute terror attacks and missionaries who reach remote and inaccessible villages and dense forest regions and dangerous mountain territory are propelled by the same brainwashed motivation: convert people to the only true religion.
A good yardstick to scrutinize any religion is the emphasis it places on social service. This is healthy from both an economic as well as an ethical perspective. In Western nations, the state gradually assumed all-round responsibility for its citizens: education, jobs, unemployment benefits, sanitation, healthcare, pension funds, and old age care. This was based on the goal of a welfare state. Most prosperous nations today have institutionalized these responsibilities remarkably well. As a result, several of these functions, which earlier belonged to the religious domain, were irreversibly and unrecognizably detached from religion. A few decades ago (even today to an extent), Christians were glowingly praised for their record of establishing schools, colleges, hospitals and old-age homes. Hinduism was derided in the same strain for not doing those very things. Subsequently, Hindu religious institutions (mutts and temples) followed the same path of social service. However, from a purely philosophical standpoint, are these the real aims of Hindu religious institutions? The fact that centers of philosophy have felt compelled to engage themselves in social service is a cruel (but precise) commentary on the all-round, systematic failure of a corrupt and morally-depraved polity. To that extent, we owe a mountain of gratitude to these institutions. However, that is not their core area of activity. To understand this, we need to discern the primary purpose or function of these institutions. To what extent are these institutions today capable of being the founts of spirituality? To what degree are these institutions competent to fulfill that unstated longing that transcends food, riches, employment, money, and education, learning and opulence? While spirituality illuminates our ethics, it is both erroneous and misleading to measure spirituality using moral standards. In 1975, I represented India at a month-long seminar on teaching ethics under the aegis of UNESCO at Tokyo. As part of the seminar, I had to interview educationists in schools across Japan to learn how moral education was imparted there. One of my visits included a Christian-run school. In the course of the interview, I asked the principal of the school whether his school taught moral education differently or better than other schools.
“Very good question,” he said, “we are special.”
“How?” I quizzed.
“About 30 students who passed out of this school converted to Christianity after they reached adulthood.”
Who has the courage?
In that principal’s world, morality consisted of converting to Christianity. A non-Christian cannot be moral. A famous anecdote revolves around a comment made by a Muslim about Mahatma Gandhi. “Gandhi maybe a Mahatma but he is definitely inferior to the most condemnable Muslim.” Subtle explanations fail to penetrate such a mindset. As also the fact that ethics and morality are independent of religion, and force, cruelty, allurement and coercion are not acceptable methods to spread religion.
In this context, it is pertinent to raise some questions about Mother Theresa, who was posthumously beatified by the Vatican and when alive, wallowed in the halo of gigantic international publicity. Did she allow the orphans in her hermitage to practice their own faith? After her death, I visited her Missionaries of Charity to find that every orphan was converted, another instance of Missionary designs to convert. The combined might of the Vatican and international media ensured that she always stayed in the limelight. On their part, the Indian media, a mere echo of the Western media did their bit to perpetuate the Mother Theresa myth. Christopher Hitchens’ The Missionary Position successfully busts this myth. He unearths convincing evidence to show how her words and deeds were completely inconsistent. He documents her friendship with dictators (Duvalier), and fraudsters (Charles Keating) and also shows how she lacked any sense of ethics when she refused to return the money she had taken from Keating. Keating had stolen this from thousands of poor and middle class Americans by promising them attractive rates of interest. According to Christian doctrine, an aspirant of Sainthood should have performed a few miracles in his/her lifetime. As a matter of suspicious coincidence, the Nuns of Theresa’s order suddenly began to narrate the miracles they had witnessed around Theresa. This passes off unnoticed by our daring intellectuals. But Sai Baba is not that lucky.
Let me narrate something from my childhood, around 60 years ago. A huge drum was placed on a bull. Beating this drum was the signal to the villagers to put together whatever they could afford to give in charity. The current pontiff of the Siddaganga Mutt, Shivakumara Swami, was in his forties back then. He would visit the village in person in a bullock cart. On their part, the villagers used to fill huge sacks with chillies, ragi, and pulses and send these sacks on a 40-mile journey to Siddaganga at their own cost. This was true of every village in the surrounding. The Swami never asked. His work motivated people to volunteer thus. His only appeal: “I don’t care how many poor children are in your village. Send them all to my Mutt. I will take care of their every need. Their education is my only concern.” Today, Siddaganga Mutt has around 8000 children under its umbrella. Ever since he became a sanyasin, he toured villages by foot and gradually built the institution to its current size. He makes no caste or communal distinction. I have seen Muslim children in his institution. Despite all this, he has not converted a single child to Veerashaivism. His approach stands on religious openness and character-building. Yet, what’s the publicity he has received? A few paragraphs in local, Kannada newspapers when he turned 100 only because he turned 100. Contrast the publicity Mother Theresa garnered in her lifetime. This is not to express discontent or envy. One of the five strictures of a Yogi is that any good work needs to become an offering to God. The moment he ascribes his name to it, he descends to the level of a puffed-up egotist and stops progress in Yoga. Malladihalli Raghavendra Swami, Baba Amte and Dr.Sudarshan at B.R.Hills are but a few prominent names of several such selfless people serving society in a spirit of worldly detachment. Yet their names are not heard beyond their surrounding villages unlike Mother Theresa. That’s because their work doesn’t involve spreading the “love” and miracles of Christ.
Who will bell the Cat?
If brainwashed missionaries roam remote villages, busy hunting for conversion-prey, a gigantic, international support system constantly backs them-from training, funding, guidance, assistance, media management, making the right noises in public-all the way up to exerting political pressure when crisis breaks out. Hindus have historically and continually become habituated to losing. This sorry state of affairs continues unabated despite having a law that regulates conversions. Courts have also expounded on this law but the exposition serves only to amplify the cruel mockery simply because nobody has the courage to enforce it. If Hindus report missionaries using unlawful conversion methods, media cacophony ensures that the complainants are themselves portrayed as the villains! The miserable and recurring consequence is that the police refuse to act. The collective power of the media, politicians, Christian organizations, and intellectuals demonize Hindus in a shrill din of abuse. The terms of abuse vary-communal, fundamentalist, fascist, and bigoted-but the pattern is sickeningly familiar as is the result: Hindus are arrested for speaking or acting against unlawful activities. Neither is this new. We can trace its genesis to the culture of the Congress party under Nehru, who initiated institutionalized Hindu-victimization. Despite being Gandhi’s chosen pet, Nehru embodied the very antithesis of everything Gandhi stood for. Indeed, as India neared Independence, Gandhi quickly lost relevance. This culture of Congress is being dangerously embellished in the able hands of a Christian lady who swears her allegiance to the Vatican. In addition, the carefully-cultivated culture of dynastic slavery ensures that no career-minded Congress politician can progress without genuflecting at her feet. When political career is defined as the single-minded pursuit of unscrupulous accumulation of wealth and power, no Congressman will dare to dream of talking about conversions in any but fawning tones. Non-Congress secular drum-beaters like Deve Gowda, Mualayam Singh Yadav, and Lalu Prasad Yadav have perpetually had their eyes on the minority vote bank and are therefore viciously anti-BJP. And then we have the Communists masquerading as secularists par excellence on the other end of the political spectrum. Hindu-bashing is one of the foundation stones of Indian Communist “theory.” The academia and the self-proclaimed intellectual elite pitch in with their bit to complete the picture. This class derives its ideas from the mould of Macaulay. One discernible commonality of secularist politicians involves using Orwellian doublespeak. A typical secularist politician conducts elaborate Vedic rituals at tremendous personal expenditure, visits every other temple, and offers massive sums of charity to Brahmin priests. The very evening, he visits a Mosque, and in public speeches, proclaims that he wants to be born a Muslim in his next birth! The reason is not difficult to discern: in a democracy of appeasement, pandering to the lowest common denominator is a mandatory survival tactic as well as a garb to hide insecurity. And thus he is compelled to oppose those who oppose fraudulent conversions. Fasting till noon under the shade of Gandhi’s statue is a workable method of expressing opposition. Neither is he alone in this. The Dalit intellectual class shows another interesting facet. This class opposes any measure to pass legislature to ban conversions for a more insidious reason. If such a legislature ever comes to force, this class permanently loses its powerful, time-honoured artillery of blackmail: threatening to convert to Islam or Christianity en masse. Their duplicity is further evident when we notice their behaviour vis a vis reservations to Dalit Christians (the term in itself an oxymoron). They fiercely oppose reservations to Dalit Christians because they’re unwilling to share the cake with more people. Samuel Rajashekar Reddy, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh extended reservations for Muslims in his state with the long term view of extending a similar largesse to Christians. His message is transparent: convert and thou shall obtain reservations. In their Buddhism-conversion drives, they visit every Dalit house and ensure that Hindu Gods-Maramma, Annamma, etc-are comprehensively discarded. However, in government forms and records, they state “Dalit” in the “Caste” column. To the Hindu institutions and mutts that oppose such neo-Buddhists, their stern reply, nay warning, is ready: mind your own business.
Assigning Moral Responsibility
To add more fuel to this stifling, chaotic, and violent atmosphere, the media abuses ordinary Hindus and other direct victims of conversion when they raise genuine concerns. The media and public institutions in powerful Christian nations pick up this thread of abuse, bolster it, and raise hell internationally. A recent New York Times article on the Orissa violence is a study in manipulative journalism. Revealingly titled, Hindu Threat to Christians: Convert or Flee, it paints Hindus as oppressors. French schools prohibit students from displaying religious symbols in any manner including the clothes they wear. Sikh students cannot wear turbans; neither can Muslim girls wear headscarves. The French ideal of promoting religious harmony is admirable. In his recent, brief visit, Manmohan Singh requested the French President Sarkozy o allow Sikh boys to wear turbans to school. In the same breath, Singh also promised Sarkozy that he would initiate stern and speedy action to stem religious violence in Orissa and Karnataka. Notably, Manmohan Singh did not mention why attacks occurred in these states. Upon his return, he contemplated a snake-in-the-grass attempt to dissolve the state governments. It is no secret that “President’s rule” really means rule of the Congress party in these states.
With no support from a democratically-elected government, and no clear Constitutional means to stem the disasters of missionary activity, it is unsurprising that ordinary Hindus have resorted to violent means of solving the problem themselves. The Hindu backlash is not wanton or unprovoked-it is an endeavour to defend their ancestrally-cherished dharma. That the government has lost any sense of moral responsibility is evident from the way it has been handling recent Islamic terror attacks, which are occurring in waves. Post September 11 2001, there has not been a single attack on the American soil. However, terror attacks have been occurring almost everyday across India. The aim of Islamic terror is to sustain attacks till India is demoralized, paving way for an eventual political takeover. From Lenin to our own Maoists/Naxals and the neighbourhood dictator, Prachanda every system of organized terror subscribes to this final, political ambition. Lack of political will and willful abdication of responsibility has only intensified loathing, distrust, fear, and desperation in the minds of millions of Hindus. When the state fails in its duty as a protector, won’t citizens find their own means of self-defence out of sheer dismay? In this context, will mass condemnation of Hindus assuage their feeling of helplessness, or prevent them from defending themselves?
Casteist politicians, media, and self-proclaimed intellectuals take refuge in hypocrisy and hollow platitudes instead of thinking through this problem with the seriousness and urgency it merits. It is time they showed an ounce of honesty in confronting the truth.
Francois Gautier concludes his essay with these words:
Are we heading then towards a Christian India under Sonia Gandhi’s helm? It would be a tremendous loss not only to India, but also to the world. For in India, you find the only living spirituality left on this planet.
- Arun Shourie Harvesting Our Souls (ASA)
- Arun Shourie Missionaries in India (ASA)
- Matilda Joslyn Gage Woman, Church and State (Voice of India)
- Sitaram Goel CATHOLIC ASHRAMS-SANYASINS OR SWINDLERS (Voice of India)
- Sitaram Goel History of Hindu-Christian Encounters (Voice of India)
- Dr. N.S. Rajaram Kraista Matada Ugama Mattu Sadhya Stithi (updated), (Kannada, Jagarana Prakashana)
- Dr. N.S. Rajaram Dead Sea Scrolls and the Crisis of Christianity (Minerra Press)
- Dr. N.S. Rajaram Profiles in Deeption: Ayodhya and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Voice of India)
- Dr. N.S. Rajaram Christianity’s Collapsing Empire and Its Designs in India (Hindu Writers’ Forum)
- Christopher Hitchens The Missionary Position: Mother Theresa in Theory and Practice
Tags: Christian Conversions, Conversions Menace, Hindu-Christian Encounters, History, India, Indian Politics, Indian Secularism, Politics, Proselytization, Pseudosecularism, Pseudosecularism Hall of Shame, SL Bhyrappa, SL Bhyrappa on Conversions, SL Bhyrappa’s Article in Vijaya Karnataka, Society & Culture