Author Archives: surenderknt

INHERENT INCOMPATIBILITY OF CHRISTIANITY AND INDIAN TRIBAL FAITHS

‘We are Tribal first and Christians next. We are nature worshippers. We worship rivers, mountains and forests’.

This is a statement we get to hear very often from Scheduled Tribes who have converted to Christianity. Is it possible to practice tribal faith and Christianity at the same time? Is it compatible with theology of monolithic Christian religion?

To start with, let us examine the most common elements of tribal faiths which are practiced across the Indian sub-continent stretching from Ladakh in the north to all the way in south and north-east corners of India. Irrespective of the tribe or region, the common elements in tribal faith are:

1)      Worship of nature
2)      Worship of Mother Goddess
3)      Idol worship
4)      Worshiping Ancestors  

None of the above tribal beliefs are acceptable to Christianity. As inhabitants of forests and river valleys, Tribals are true children of mother nature. They are the closest to mother nature and have co-existed with nature for thousands of years. Worship of nature finds a very important place in almost all Tribal cultures. For instance, in every Santal village there is a sacred grove on the edge of the settlement where many spirits live and where a series of annual festivals take place. The most important spirit is Maran Buru (Great Mountain), who is invoked whenever offerings are made and who instructed the first Santals in sex and brewing of rice beer. Maran Buru’s consort is the benevolent Jaher Era (Lady of the Grove). Similar concepts exist in many Tribal faiths.

What is the stand of Christianity regarding worship of nature? The Holy Bible has quite a few references to nature worship and they are unanimous in their view – worship the creator and not the creation. In other words, nature is not to be worshiped. In fact, nature worship is to be punished with ‘stoning to death’..!

‘..  who has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, either the sun or moon or any of the hosts of heaven,  which I have not commanded, 4 and it is told you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel, 5 then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones. 6 Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses’

–Deuteronomy 17- 3-6

MOTHER GODDESS WORSHIP:

Mother Goddess worship is prevalent in most Tribal faiths. The oldest shrine to Mother Goddess was found in Madhya Pradesh. In 1980, Indo-US archaeology team stumbled upon evidence of prehistoric ‘Shakti’ worship in Son Valley, Sidhi District of the state. The small shrine is estimated to be 11,000 years old, making it one of the oldest shrines built by humans. The Kol and Baiga tribes of the area still worship similar shaped stones as manifestation of female energy  or ‘Shakti’. This is proof of importance of women in ancient societies and continuity of worship of mother goddess as a core, continuous belief for thousands of years by tribals of Indian sub-continent.

On the contrary, Mother Goddess worship finds no place or little place in Christianity. While major sects like Protestants firmly disallow worship of anyone other than Jesus Christ, other sects like Catholics, orthodox and Anglican Christians today regard Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus, as the Theotokos or ‘Mother of The God’ and not ‘The God’. Christianity does not accept the most ancient and core belief of Tribal – worship of mother.

Link : https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/heritage/story/19820630-indo-us-archaeology-team-stumbles-upon-evidence-of-prehistoric-shakti-worship-in- madhya-pradesh-771928-2013-10-12

IDOL WORSHIP:

As shown above, idol worship is an integral part of tribal faith, though not all tribes necessarily practice idol worship. The idol or object of worship could be a simple stone as above, or a simple piece of wood or images drawn on the walls of the place of worship.

Christianity comes down heavily on idol worship. Several verses from the Holy Bible explicitly prohibit idol worship. Few verses go as far as calling for destruction of idols and altars.

Leviticus 26:1

Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up [any] image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I [am] the LORD your God.

Leviticus 26:30

And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.

Ezekiel 6:4

And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain [men] before your idols.

Ezekiel 6:5

And I will lay the dead carcases of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will scatter your bones round about your altars.

Corinthians-1 10:14

Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

CHRISTIAN EXCLUSIVITY AND RIGIDITY :

Christianity with its exclusivity, rigid insistence on worship of a single God and acceptance of Jesus Christ as the sole saviour who can save sinful mankind from eternal hell fire, can never be at peace with native tribal faiths. If you do not accept the ‘salvation theology’, eternal hell fire awaits you..!  Tribal faiths have a wide variety of underlying philosophy, beliefs and worship practices. These beliefs are very inclusive and can accommodate any new philosophy without any sort of conflict. The same cannot be said of Christianity. The Holy Bible clearly commands Christians to keep away from non-Christians, not to partake in their rituals, offerings and discourages normal social contact with non-Christians.

2 John 1:9-11 ESV 

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

2 Corinthians 6:14-15 ESV

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?

Tribal society and their religious practices have a harmonious relationship not only with nature but also amongst different tribes. Inter-tribe conflicts are rare and, in many cases, different tribes have common deities.  In Chattisgarh, Danteshwari is one of the most revered goddesses known for bestowing wishes on her devotees and protector against evil. In Telangana, the Sammakka-Sarakka Jaathara attracts lakhs of tribal devotees cutting across tribes, states and languages.  Sacrificial offerings are shared freely amongst the entire community through common feasts.

But what is the stand of Christianity on food offered to idols? Can a Christian accept food (Prasad) offered to non-Christian gods and idols ? Holy Bible explicitly forbids partaking of food offered to idols.

Corinthians-1 8:4

As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol [is] nothing in the world, and that [there is] none other God but one.

Corinthians-1 10:28

But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that showed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth [is] the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof:

Thus the very word ‘tribal Christian’ is an oxymoron. Conversion of Tribal into Christianity brings about deep divide in tribal societies and splits society into believers and non-believers. With its exclusivist ideology, Christianity creates unrest and chaos in tribal societies which otherwise have lived peacefully and harmoniously for thousands of years.

By
K. Sahadev

UP Cabinet approves Law against forced Religions Conversions

The Uttar Pradesh cabinet has approved the ordinance against religious conversions through fraudulent means, especially conversions for the purpose of marriage. But a vicious propaganda has been unleashed that the law is aimed at non-existent ‘love jihad.’ The law has no mention of ‘love jihad’ anywhere, yet there is so much noise in the media and social media platforms to this effect. Media headlines put out so far go like this – ‘Why India’s Most Populous State Just Passed a Law Inspired by an Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theory’?

The facts are as follows.
The bill is titled ‘Uttar Pradesh Vidhi Virudhh Dharm Samparivartan Pratisdhedh Adhyadesh, 2020’ or ‘UP Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance – 2020’.  It does not use the word ‘love jihad’ at all nor is it directed towards curbing fundamental rights of any citizen to practice religion of their choice. It is not for the first time that a law has been enacted in India having similar provisions.

The ‘The Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018’ also has provisions against conversions by fraud or misrepresentation for purposes of marriage. Section 3 of the said act reads:

No person shall convert or attempt to convert, either directly or otherwise, any other person from one religion to another by use of misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage nor shall any person abet or conspire such conversion;

Provided that, if any person comes back to his ancestral religion, shall not be deemed conversion under this Act’.

So why such a brouhaha against the Uttar Pradesh law when a law with similar provisions was enacted in 2008 in Uttarakhand? Is the opposition aimed at the law or aimed at Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath?  In fact, enactment of such a law was recommended by the Uttarakhand high court and the Uttar Pradesh Law Commission. Enactment of this legislation paves way for other states like Kerala, which have been advised by respective High Courts to bring similar laws against forced conversions.

Provisions under the law:

  1. The act aims to provide freedom of religion by the prohibition of conversion from one religion to another by misrepresentation, force, undue influence, coercion, allurement or by any fraudulent means or by marriage & for matters connected therewith.
  2. The punishment for such conversions may range from 1-5 years. It could attract a higher penalty if the person being converted is a minor or belongs to SC/ST.
  3. The one who desires to convert and the one who is doing the conversion process must submit forms in the District Collector / District Magistrate’s office who will then enquire about the real intention, cause and purpose of such conversions.
  4. The converted person must submit a declaration and present himself/herself before the District Collector / District Magistrate, in person, to testify claims made in the declaration.
  5. The burden of proof lies on the person who has caused the conversion.
  6. Any person, reconverting to his immediate previous religion, shall not be deemed as a convert under this law.

Q1. Does it deny freedom to women to profess religion of their choice?

Absolutely not. In fact quite the opposite. It makes it unlawful to forcefully convert women after or during their marriage. It gives them the choice to continue with the religion of their choice.  There have been numerous instances of forceful conversion post-marriage, concealing identity while luring the girl or by other undue influence. Noteworthy is, the bill doesn’t outlaw conversion as a whole. It outlaws conversion against free will in limited cases. So cases like Hadiya, where she was groomed to accept Islam out of free will, still won’t come under the purview of this law.

Q2. Does it act against free will?

No, it doesn’t. In fact, it provides freedom of religion by prohibiting conversion against free will. Conversions for the sole purpose of marriage have been outlawed by courts in the past. This law only codifies such judgements. You can’t convert to a religion just because it allows you to bypass certain civil laws. For example, you can’t convert to Islam because you want to keep multiple wives. Your family can’t convert to Islam overnight because you want to disinherit your daughters from parental properties.

You can convert only out of your own conviction for the tenets of a religion. Free will can’t be an alibi for committing religious bigotry and a fraud upon the law

Q3. Does it violate Article 25A?

A short reading of article 25, which is a fundamental right, before we commence further.

“Subject to public order, morality and health, all persons are equally entitled to practise, profess and propagate their religion”.  Islamists across the board and their handlers in the media are arguing that anti-conversion law prohibits propagation, which is a constitutional guarantee. They seem to be under the impression, “Either your head or your signature will be on the conversion papers” is the propagation of religion. That is where they and their handlers in the media are erring, by overlooking the first part of the article – the condition which sets the term for practising, professing and propagating. “Subject to public order, morality and health”.

‘Propagating’ is a person telling someone about his religion,roots, cultures, traditions and values. This is held by the honourable SC. ‘Convert or face beheading’, as practised by the Islamic invaders, is not propagation. That violates public order and health. Conversion is not a fundamental right under article 25. Laws against conversion do not violate your fundamental rights.

This is not the first time such laws are passed. The Orissa Freedom of Religion Act, 1967 was challenged in court and was duly dismissed. The propagandists know this, hence, instead of challenging the proposed law to be enacted in UP, if they really believe it to be anti- constitutional, they will only make noise in social media platforms.

This law, in no way, restricts interfaith marriages. Numerous courts have given several judgements on religious conversions. Courts have even passed orders asking state governments to frame laws against this growing menace. The proposed law only codifies the principle laid down by our courts.

Presently our country has different civil laws for different religions. Conversion by fraud or coercion will have implications for the concerned individual in matters of marriage, adoptions and inheritance rights.

Secularism can be enshrined in the preamble but in practice, in the absence of a uniform civil code, the state does interfere in civil laws which are religion-specific.

In such circumstances, laws that protect religious rights should be welcome. Such a progressive piece of legislation should be hailed by people from all religions as it protects the most vulnerable section of the society – women. But since the law is being enacted by a state ruled by BJP, malicious propaganda has been unleashed against the same. 

By
Sahadev K

తెలంగాణా ప్రభుత్వం నిర్వహించిన “మైనార్టీల సంక్షేమ దినం” ఎవరి కోసం?

ఇటివల తెలంగాణా రాష్ట్ర ప్రభుత్వం తీసుకుంటున్న కొన్ని నిర్ణయాలు చాప కింద నీరులాగా ప్రవహిస్తూ సమీప భవిష్యత్తులో మతం ఆధారంగా ప్రజల మధ్య ఛీలికలు తీసుకొని వచ్చే విధంగా ఉన్నాయి. ప్రజల నుండి ఎలాంటి కోరిక/ఒత్తిడి లేకుండానే రాష్ట్ర ముఖ్యమంత్రి కే. చంద్ర శేఖర్ రావు గారు దేశ తొలి విద్యా శాఖామాత్యులు అయిన మౌలానా అబుల్ కలాం ఆజాద్ గారి జయంతిని పురస్కరించుకొని నవంబర్ 11 ను “మైనార్టీల సంక్షేమ దినం” గా ప్రకటించారు.

అందుకు అనుగుణంగా హైదరాబాద్ నగరంలోని నిజాం కాలేజీ గ్రౌండ్స్ లో “మైనారిటీస్ వెల్ఫేర్ డే” ఉత్సవాలు నిర్వహించింది. ఈ కార్యక్రమాన్ని కేవలం ముస్లింలను లక్షంగా చేసుకొని నిర్వహించడం జరిగింది అనే చెప్పడానికి ఆ కార్యక్రమంలో పాల్గొన్న వారి జాబితా చూస్తే అర్ధం అవుతుంది.

మన దేశంలో మైనారిటీలు అంటే కేవలం ముస్లిం మతస్తులు అనే సమానార్ధకం తీసుకొనే వచ్చే విధంగా వ్యవహిరస్తున్నారు. కాని ఇలాంటి కార్యక్రమాలు అధికారికంగా జరిగినప్పుడు కొన్ని ప్రశ్నలు సహజంగానే ఉత్పన్న అవుతాయి. అందులో, “మైనార్టీల సంక్షేమ దినం” ఎవరిని ఉద్దేశించి నిర్వహించడం జరుగుతుంది? జనాభా పరంగా తక్కువ సంఖ్యలో  ఉన్నవాళ్ళ మైనార్టీలు అంటే నిర్దిష్టంగా ఎవరు? కేవలం ముస్లింలు మాత్రమేనా? అట్లా అయితే క్రైస్తవులు, జైనులు, పార్సీలు జనాభా ప్రకారం మైనార్టీలు కాదా? మైనార్టీ అనే పదాన్ని రాజకీయ నాయకులు తమ స్వలాభం కొరకు కేవలం ఒక మతం వారిని మాత్రమే పరిగణిస్తూ, వారిని మిగితా సమాజం తో కలవకుండా, ప్రత్యేక అవకాశాలు అనే పేరుతో వారిని ఒక వోట్ బ్యాంక్ లాగా ఏర్పాటు చేసుకొనే వ్యూహం కాదా? ఇలాంటి విభజన రాజకీయాలు దేశానికి మంచివి కావు అని చరిత్ర హెచ్చరిస్తున్నా కొత్తగా ప్రవేశ పెట్టడంలో ఉన్న అంతరార్ధం ఏంటిది?

ఈ రోజును కేవలం మైనార్టీల సంక్షేమ దినంగా పేరుతో ముస్లింలను దగ్గరకు తీస్తే, రేపు క్రైస్తవులు తమ నచ్చిన రాజకీయ నాయకుడి జయంతిని “క్రైస్తవ మైనార్టీ సంక్షేమ దినం”గా ప్రకటించమంటే ఏమి చేస్తారు? రాష్ట్ర ప్రభుత్వ క్యాలండర్ లో “మెజారిటీ సంక్షేమ దినం” కూడా ఉంటుదా?

ఇటివల తెలంగాణా రాష్ట్ర ప్రభుత్వం భారీ ఎత్తున రెసిడెన్షియల్ పాఠశాలలు అనే పేరుతో విద్యలో సైతం మైనారిటీ /మోజారిటీ అనే భేదభావంతో విద్య వ్యవస్థలో కూడా మార్పులు తీసుకొని రావడం జరిగింది. వాటిలో 71 రెసిడెన్షియల్ స్కూల్స్ ను కేవలం మైనారిటీ వారికి అంటూ నిర్వహిస్తుంది. ఇలాంటి ప్రభుత్వ నిర్ణయాలు భవిషత్తు తరాలవారి విశాల ఆలోచనలకూ గొడ్డలి పెట్టు లాంటింది కాదా? ఈ పాఠశాలలో చదువుకున్నవారికి మిగితా సమాజం తో ఎలాంటి సత్సంబంధాలు ఉండవచ్చు, ఎవరైనా కావాలని అపోహలు కల్గిస్తే వాటి పరిణామాల వలన ఆ విద్యార్థుల ఆలోచన కుచించుకొనిపోదా?

ప్రస్తుతం మన సమాజంలో కులం, మతం పేరుతో విషబీజాలు నాటుతున్న వారు విశ్వవిద్యాలయాలో చాలామంది మేధావులుగా గుర్తించబడుతున్నారు. సమాజంలో అందరు సమాన భాగస్వాములే, కాని సమాజంలోని వివిధ వర్గాల మధ్య ఇప్పటికే ఉన్న అంతరాలను తగ్గించడానికి ప్రయత్నించకుండా వాటినే ఆధారంగా చేసుకొని చీలికలు తీసుకొని రావడం ఎంతవరకు సమంజసం? ఇలాంటి ప్రభుత్వ నిర్ణయాల వలన ముందు తరాల వాళ్ళకు కొత్తగా ఏర్పడ్డ రాష్ట్రంలో ఎలాంటి పరిపాలన బిజాలు పడుతున్నాయి

ఒకవైపు ప్రజల అభిప్రాయాలకు విరుద్ధంగా కర్ణాటక ప్రభుత్వం ఒక నిరంకుశ రాజు అయిన టిపు సుల్తాన్ జయంతిని అధికారికంగా నిర్వహించుతుంటే, తెలంగాణా రాష్ట్ర ప్రభుత్వం కూడా విభజన రాజకీయాలు అధికార హోదాలో చేయడం ప్రజలు అందరు ఖండించవలసిన అంశం.

Surender