Tag Archives: Christianity

Jagdish Bhagwati Questions Bogey of Christians Attacks

A recent opinion piece by Julio Ribeiro, the much-admired scourge of Khalistainis, complains plaintively that he is on “a hit list” today from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) because he is a Christian. Similar alarmist views on Christianity are common in India today, simply because of the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the decimation of the Congress by the BJP.

They are being spread by church leaders; for example Catholic Archbishop Anil Couto is reported to have even celebrated the defeat of BJP in the recent Delhi elections as if a calamity for Christians had been averted. But they are so ridiculous and libelous to the prime minister, and even the BJP generally, that they must be exposed forcefully as such.

Before I do that, let me establish my credentials concerning the issue at hand. I come from a family that is impressively pro-Indian-minorities. My wife, Padma Desai, has converted to Christianity (in a moving ceremony described by her in her memoirs, Breaking Out, published by Penguin/Viking in India and MIT Press in the US). Two of my nephews have married Christians: one is from Mumbai and is a multiple-award-winning psychiatrist practising in London and periodically in Mumbai, whereas the other is a Syrian Christian from Kerala. Another niece is married to a Parsi (who, of course, belongs to a still smaller, and equally beloved minority as Christians in India); and yet another almost married a Muslim young man. My only daughter’s significant other for years was a Christian and indeed an American-Indian on his mother’s side.

Abid Husain, my closest friend of over 40 years, whom I met in Turkey when we were both working there, was one of India’s most distinguished reformers and a pioneer in community development programmes. He was a Muslim and had married a brilliant Parsi intellectual. Indeed, the other equally close friend for over half a century has been former prime minister Manmohan Singh, a devout Sikh (yet another minority much loved in India except for the awfully heinous massacre, indeed a pogrom, of the Sikhs in Delhi by some Congress party men in 1984 after prime minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two Sikh bodyguards).

Most of all, I went to St. Xavier’s High School in Bombay. I got excellent education there, and I expressed my sentimental bond with the school when I was chosen recently to receive the coveted Xavier Ratna award. On a lighter side, with discipline a high point, we used to joke how strict the school was because they even had a guy nailed to the wall.

So, if there was anything to the Christian fears today, I should be the first to join the protests. But the truth is that these fears are totally groundless and are, at best, a product of a fevered imagination.

First, we now know from the admirable investigative report in Firstpost (Crying Wolf: The Narrative of the ‘Delhi church attacks’ flies in the face of facts, 17 February) by Rupa Subramanya that there is simply no evidence for the six alleged attacks on Christian churches and one Christian school. This turns out to be a case of the “monkey say, monkey repeat” phenomenon that converts false allegation into a fact.

Second, Ribeiro resents the remark of Mohan Bhagwat of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh that Mother Teresa was interested in conversions to Christianity, not just in the welfare (as distinct from the spiritual salvation) of her flock. But surely, Christians do believe in conversion, as do Muslims; does Ribeiro deny that? Again, what is sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander. If Christians can convert non-Christians to their faith, what is wrong with Hindus doing the same? In fact, being a religion that does not normally convert, only a minuscule number of Hindus will do this whereas a far higher proportion of Christians and Muslims will.

Moreover, Ribeiro is offended that Mother Teresa is not respected as a saint by Bhagwat. But he is clearly ignorant of the fact that Mother Teresa may have won the Nobel Peace Prize but many doubt her bona fides, including the late Christopher Hitchens whose scathing critique of her was not the only dissenting voice on her, as recently recounted by the Washington Post reporter Adam Taylor (Why, to many critics, Mother Teresa is still no saint, 25 February). Since Hitchens followed this with a scathing attack on Hillary Clinton (an icon mostly to herself), I must confess that when he was coming out of a television debate on Hillary Clinton and I was going in to do a debate of my own, I could not resist telling him: Christopher, you did not say that Hillary Clinton was no Mother Teresa

Read more at: http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/lNKcsuArsta4yushnlQ9cI/Jagdish-Bhagwati–The-false-alarm-over-Christians-in-India.html?utm_source=copy

A Rejoinder to Julio Ribeiro – Truth must be upheld

TRUTH MUST BE UPHELD

By Dr Mrs Hilda Raja

March 23, 2015.

Source URL:   http://hvk.org/specialarticles/upheld/upheld.html

 I read Mr Julio Ribeiro’s ‘I feel I am on a hit list’(Indian Express dated 16th March) I did not react immediately because I wanted to let  it sink and see if there was any foundation in what he stated. To me who am 78 the whole accusation of his seems to have no foundation. As with Julio Ribeiro, my ancestry also can be traced to Hinduism. While he agrees on this the question arises why we are Christians today. How did it happen? What kind of inducement-allurement and what strategy of proselytization were used those days for my ancestors to become Christians?

 Unlike Julio Ribeiro I do not feel threatened – neither do I fear that I am on a hit list and I feel very much an Indian no matter who says what. The point to note is that the Catholic Church to which Julio Ribeiro and I belong has a parampara (tradition) of a persecution mania. This is because we have inherited and are born through persecution. Not by the Hindus but by the Dutch, the Portuguese, the French and the English. This is precisely why though Julio Ribeiro acquiescence that his DNA if tested, it will not differ markedly from Mohan Bhagwat’s. The same can be said of our Hindu ancestors. Then what happened down the line.

 We must agree that there was persecution, forced conversion by the conquerors. It was a question of torture and death to which the Hindu ancestors were subjected to. This is not fairy tales but recorded history when thousands of temples were destroyed, houses were ransacked and people were brutalized. Those who indulged in this human rights violations were treated as Saints by the Vatican and raised to Sainthood. But now we raise a hue and cry against ‘ghar Vapsi’. What was good for one is not good for another. It is not though these were in the hoary past. Even today most of the NGOs do indulge in this proselytization. I wish the government of India ban all foreign funds. If China could develop without such NGOs and the foreign funds why should India not?

 I must bring the Vatican’s mind set in this context because it is relevant. When it comes to conversion it will go the extra mile. Look at what it indulged in during the regime of PiusXII. He did not hesitate to join hands with Hitler who attacked Yugoslavia. Hitler partitioned the country into the Catholic Croatia and the Orthodox Serbia.

 Then followed a massive ethnic cleansing. The aryanisation process which separated the Jews, Serbs as undesirables. These were deported to concentration camps. Children were not spared. The ethnic cleansing was done by the open support of the clergy, priests and nuns supervised and Vatican followed the ‘omerta’ and looked the other way. Special death camps were set up for children.

 Several commandants and officers at these death camps were Catholic priests. Francisan monks supervised the mass execution. This ethnic cleansing thus had the blessings of Vatican. There were monetary gains for the Vatican from the Holocaust in Croatia. In the certificate of conversion which was sold for a few hundred of dinars, the Vatican netted millions. Vatican was well informed and yet the Pope maintained silence. In fact not a single member of the clergy was held accountable, though the commandants of the death camps were priests. After the war, Archbishop Stepinak was arrested for war crimes by the Yugoslav government. Puis XII excommunicated everyone who had taken part in the trial. Later the Archbishop was presented as the champion of religious freedom! It is interesting that in 1998 Pope John II traveled to the Republic of Croatia to announce the beatification of Archbishop Stepinak.

 It must be noted that the Vatican abetted and colluded with Mussolini and Hiltler in all their brutality. It stood to gain both in terms of power and money. Yet we often hear the word ‘Fascist’ being thrown against the BJP and the saffron brigade. This is part of the Christian parampara of the Catholic Church to which Julio Ribeiro and I belong to. Yet we are scandalized by the ‘ghar Vapsi. What about the Inquisitions held in India – in Goa. With so much of baggage how can we point a finger to others – to the saffron groups and then pretend that we are being victimized and discriminated? All rapes are abominable and need to be condemned in the strongest terms. But why only the rape of the nun – be it in Orissa and now in W. Bengal be internationalized? Why and how can the Vatican interfere and want to send a delegation?

 In a population of nearly one and a quarter billion- human rights violations and inhuman acts are bound to happen. These need to be severely put down not politicized. It is the NGOs which create a kind of phobia. Foreign funds flow and towards this they organize dharnas and rallies. Any violation and discrimination is being attributed to the Modi’s government. But then these things had not suddenly surfaced. There is a long gestation period of discrimination-of injecting a fear psychosis. The politicians have communalized the communities.

 India is known for its secularism – it is not because the Constitution made it secular. Even before the Constitution the Hindus welcomed all religions. Butchery and compulsion and forced conversion were introduced and followed by the Dutch, the Portuguese, the French and the English. Earlier the basic tenet followed by the inhabitants of this great country was Sanatana Dharma. Even today that is the guide and the dictum.

 I am 78 and thought it is time to speak out. The ordinary people like me are happy and content – feel no persecution or discrimination and are not on the hit list. Even if we are, truth cannot be hidden. In fact it was the Church which had crucified TRUTH and continues to do so. Perhaps there may be aberrations to this. It must not be forgotten that Julio Ribeiro was hounded by a minority community for the alleged human rights violations in Punjab. It was not the Hindus who were behind it.

 So may be JR has some deep seated fear within him. But then to generalize this personal fear into the whole fabric of the Indian populace is too far fetched

I want to appeal to the government of Modi to ban the foreign funds flow into this country. We should be able to manage with what we have. Why take a begging bowl to other countries and disrupt the peace within. If other countries can manage so can we.

 I would like to mention about the good works done and which are being done by nuns. But then they have enormous assets. When the foreign invaders left this country they turned over all their land and houses to the churches. As if these are their grandfathers’ possessions. By all legal rights these should have been turned over to the government of India. So the Churches had at their disposal land and finances to start with. There is no accountability.

Look at the Minority education Institutions which run on their own rules and regulations. Why did the Constitution founders submit to such a request and enshrine it in the Constitution? Is that not discrimination? I have studied from LKG to PG in Minority Institutions. Later I was a faculty in one of the elite colleges in Chennai. I know how they function. The least said about them the better.

 Yes good work they do there is no denying but it has a price. Money flows into Vatican. There is wealth beyond measure in these Church allied institutions and in churches. So when mammon triumphs where is TRUTH. The same lenses must be used to scrutinize Mother Theresa’s work in India.

 Dr Mrs Hilda Raja

VADODARA-

Ethics Of Conversions

As the debate on conversions and Gharwapsi continue, it would be good to recall that this issue is not new. Intellectuals and national leaders from the early 18th century have been drawing our attention to the menace of conversions in India.

Pragnya Bharat had conducted a public discussion on “The Ethics of Religious Conversion”. Speakers included eminent Indologist and Vedacharya Dr. David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri) and Samineni Arulappa Archbishop of Hyderabad.

The article below contains the speech delivered by David Frawley

Sarva Dharma Samabhav?

Hinduism is based upon respecting reach individual and the swadharma of each individual. The highest goal of the Hindu religion is self-realization , not simply knowing God but understanding who we are and the Divine presence within us. It would be a tremendous loss if India gave up Hinduism and became another Christian and Islamic country. We have enough of them already. India has a wealth of spiritual tradition. Westerners come here for this wealth of spiritual knowledge. Infact, you should be exporting your religion.

Today, throughout the world, and in the United States, with very little exception, there is no “Sarva Dharma Samabhava” taught in religion. It is something I never encountered in my Christian education in the West. Most of the We were taught that Hinduism was a religion of idolatry.; it was religion of polytheism and superstition and there was no place for Hindus in heaven. The average Christian throughout the world has been taught to believe that only Christians gain salvation. To date, there is no major Christian leader or Moslem leader, in the world. Who is saying that Hinduism is as good as Christianity or Islam.

Some people say all religions teach the same things and they differ in inessentials. Is the Law of Karma and the process of Rebirth something inessential ?

 

Conversion1 Conversion2 Conversion3

Christian claim that their faith alone is enough to save you. This means that a person may be a mass murderer, but if on his death bed he converts to Christianity, he will go to heaven. Another person may live the life of a saint, but if he does not convert to Christianity, there will be no heaven for him. Recently in United State, a woman who had been convicted of murder was converted to Christianity on death-row and the Christian leaders- particular the fundamentalist Christians -asked for the death sentence to be removed because that woman had converted to Christianity and therefore the sin no longer counted.

Conversion activity:

Why is this conversion business so big in India? Because India is the largest country and largest non-Christian country, in the world, where missionaries have the freedom to act and to propagate. Islamic countries- Pakistan, Bangladesh- do not allow this missionaries activities to be conducted. In Saudi Arabia, you cannot even bring a Bible or a picture of Jesus into the country. China, also does not allow missionary conversion activities.

Organized conversion activity is like a trained army invading a country from the outside. This missionary army often goes into communities where there is little organized resistance to it or which may not even be aware of its power or its motives. It will even take advantage of its communities that are tolerant and open minded about the religion and use that to promote a missionary agenda that destroys this tolerance.

Evangelization sounds nicer and more ennobling than conversion. Such evangelical movements have world conversion strategies and programs to target India and Hindu state by state, tribe by tribe , even village by village. They keep track of the numbers o converts and mark them in the win column as gain for Christ.

Missionary activity is like an ideological war. It is quite systematic, motivated and directed. It can even resemble a blitzkrieg using media, money, people and public shows to appeal to the masses in an emotional way.

In fact colonialism has not truly ended but has recently taken a more economic rather than military form, along with the Westernization along economic lines. As Christianity is the dominant Western religion it continues to use the current economic expansion of Western culture to promote its conversion agendas.

Even when it is a question of a Christian minority in a land dominated by a non-Christian religion, the non-Christians are often at a disadvantage in terms of money and media through the Western support that the Christian community has, particularly in regards to its conversion activity. They are using financial and media advantages including mass marketing, to promote their agenda of conversion.

Evangelical missionaries still identify Hinduism with devil worship. Today it is illegal in most countries to promote racial hatred, to call a person of any race inferior or the product of the devil (which white Christians used to call the blacks until recently). Most such Christians have never seriously or open-minded  studied Hinduism. They know little of Yoga and Vedanta or the great traditions of Hindu and Buddhist spirituality. They prefer to highlight the Hindu worship of God even in animal images like Hanuman as a form of superstition or evil.

The Catholic Church is bit more diplomatic thee days. It is now telling Hindus that their religion may have some values but Christianity is even better. This view is a bit more tolerant but cannot be called sincere either. If Catholic no longer believe that Hinduism is a religion of the Devil, as they were promoting until only recently, they ought to apologize to Hindus for their mistaken notion and the problems that these must have caused.

In India Christians claim that by eradicating the caste system they are helping people and raising them up socially. They could do this easier by helping reform Hindu society rather than by trying to destroy or change the religion. Clearly they are using, if not promoting the caste differences as a conversion strategy. Christian cultures still have their class and other social inequalities, particularly in Central and South America but Christians do not see that the religion has to be changed in order to get rid of these.

Changing a person’s religion may not help them in terms of health, education or economics. Social work born of love is hardly to be found in missionary Christianity, though it likes to pretend that this is the motivation.

Conversion and Cults:

In the West there is a cry against cults, which any religious movement out of mainstream Christianity can be called. There is a tendency to regard Hindu based religious movements in the West as cults. Under the guise of being a cult a religious organization can be sued for millions of dollars if even one disgruntled or disappointed former disciple can be found who feels they have taken advantage of. Many Hindu- based and yoga movements in the West have been sued as cults.

The criticism against cults is that they are outside the cultural religious norm, that they are intolerant of majority religions, that they divide families and turn individuals against their upbringing.  Precisely the same charges can be leveled against missionaries all over the world

People in India may believe that , in America, all religions are treated equally. Certainly the law requires that but this is not the fact of life. For example, it is still very difficult for Hindus to build temples in the United States, particularly in areas in which fundamentalist Christians are strong. To put it in perspective, one would say that it is over 10 times harder in America to build a temple than it is to build a Church. In many areas, temples must not outwardly look like a temple, but should look like a school or church or the local governments would not approve of them.

Most Americans believe that Hinduism is a religion of cults. Organized Christian cult busting legal groups, with dozens of lawyers and budgets in man millions go around systematically encouraging suits against Hindus for Indian religious groups such as ISKON , TM Anand (a Yogananda group), The Himalayan Institute, Rajneesh and Sikhs under Yogi Bhajan to mention a few.

Any Hindu-based teacher in America, particularly pone wo is working with general American public or bringing people rom Christianity to Hindu-based teachings, remain under a severe legal threat.

The legal secularism of the West still hides much religious prejudice. We also note that the West politically will defend Christian interest overseas and criticize alleged discrimination against Christians. Recently the Russians criticized the Mormons, an evangelical American Christian group, as a cult. The American government lodged a protest to protect the Mormons and their missionary activity in Russia. No Indian Government so far has made any such protest to protect Hindu groups in the West.

David Frawley

Source: “The Ethics of Religious conversion” book., written based on a public discussion conducted on the above topic . The speaker is an eminent Indologist  Dr. David Frawley.

Philosophy of Science in the East and the West

Philosophy of Science in the East and the West – K.Satyadeva Prasad

Introduction

Science as a way of observing nature and experimenting is a very old human activity. What is called modern science is understood by most people as the product of Europe of past two or three centuries.

It is a fact that many older civilizations like India, China, Egypt and Greece made notable contributions to the field of science and technology. Some of the older civilizations like Egypt and Greece are no more extant. Some, like India, and to a very limited extent China, have retained their identity and continuity in science over the millennia. In these countries, modern science and traditional science live side by side. Of course, there is a lot of overlapping, mutual influence and interdependence among the two systems. But it is an undeniable fact that we find them as two distinct scientific systems.

Therefore, it is perfectly legitimate and meaningful to talk of Indian Traditional Science as distinct from the ‘modern science’ born in the west. Apart from the surface differences, there are other deeper, conceptual, epistemological differences between the two differences. These deeper differences are not discussed in the day to day science. Hence they are not familiar to many. But they are not less important on that count. In fact, such differences assume great significance while assessing the total long term impact of a particular scientific system on the society. Secondly, without understanding the basic difference in the western and the Indian scientific world views, we cannot discuss the history of Indian science in purposeful and meaningful  manner, a manner that is relevant to our modern needs and aspirations.

Science is Culture Specific and Value Based

Science, like any other human activity, is a part of the total cultural system where it takes shape. Culture denotes a definite outlook to man and nature. Different cultures produced different sciences. Science, since its birth, has been guided by different value systems which are specific to different cultures.

The widely prevalent belief that science is neutral to all values and value judgments may be true at the surface of science practice but not at its deeper reaches. There science is as much a product of the deeper culture traits of the society as any other activity. All the stalwarts of  science are fully aware of this crucial but least known fact which has far reaching implications. Albert Einstein has this to say on this point.

“In the attempt to achieve a conceptual formulation of the confusingly immense body of observational data, the scientist makes use of a whole arsenal of concepts, which he imbibed practically with his mother’s milk, and seldom if ever is he aware of the eternally problematic character of his concepts. He used this conceptual material, or speaking more exactly, these conceptual tools of thought, as something obviously, immutably given; something having an objective value of truth which is hardly ever, and in any case not seriously, to be doubted…in the interests of science it is necessary over and over again to engage in the critique of these fundamental concepts, in order that we may not unconsciously be ruled by them. This becomes evident especially in those situations involving development of ideas in which consistent use of the fundamental concept leads to paradoxes difficult to resolve.” (Einstein’s Introduction to Max Jammer’s book, Concepts of Space, Harward, 1954).

Judeo-Christian Influence on Modern Science 

Einstein was writing the above lines in a book which traces the modern scientific concept of ‘space’ to the christian and Cabalistic(Jewish) traditions. These traditions equate space with God. All the three Semitic cultures- Judaism, christianity and islam share this view. When Newton believed that space and god were synonymous he was only repeating this old Semitic belief. (For Newton’s conception of space, see ‘Matter and Activity by Mc Mullen and E. Lee, University of Notre Dame Press, 1978). Newton also affirmed that not to believe that the creationist god of christianity was responsible for all actions was atheistic, while Leibnitz believed that it was ‘mean’ to think that His world was so imperfect as to demand such responsibility.

Therefore it is clear that the Judeo-christian world view heavily influenced the western scientific thought. The basic categories of western christian culture permeated the conceptual framework of modern science like the limits of reason, nature of congnition, man-nature relationship etc.

To us it may come as a surprise because men like Copernicus, Giordano Bruno, and Galileo Galilei revolted against the christian dogma. One wonders as to how christian, jewish beliefs entered modern scientific thought in spite of such bitter rivalry between science and the church. The answer is simple. Men like Copernicus revolted against specific christian beliefs and succeeded in outgrowing such beliefs. But none of them could challenge and topple the main edifice of christian dogma. It was left intact and went on producing newer superstitions and episodes of oppression and continued to influence the minds of western scientists and thinkers till date. A study of the evolution of the concepts of western science in the historical perspective  reveals many interesting facts. Many researchers laid bare the deleterious influence of christian beliefs on science. Today we are able to see the full impact of that negative influence especially in the present global ecological crisis.

Modern Science and Ecological Crisis  

Theodore Roszak made a special study, among other things, of the conceptual foundations of modern science under the sponsorship of Guggenheim Foundation, USA. He concludes that there is a critical relationship between our environmental bad habits and the devolution of the scientific tradition. The following discussion of the origin of western scientific view of man-nature relationship and its impact on environment is substantially based on Roszak’s path breaking thesis developed in his book ’Where the Wasteland Ends’ (Doubleday Anchor, NY, 1972).

It is the scientific community that has provided us with the image of nature that invited the rape of nature with the sensibility that has licensed it. It is not after all the normal thing for people to ruin their environment. It is extraordinary and requires extraordinary incitement.

What lies behind the prolonged ignorance of ecological awareness in the west is that Judeo-christian estrangement from nature got absorbed into the psychology of scientific knowledge and thereby found a new epistemological dignity. The kind of objective knowing so much overemphasized by western philosophers from Francis Bacon to Rene Descartes is nothing but alienated knowing; and alienated knowing is, sooner or later, ecologically disastrous knowing.

When Bacon first called upon mankind “to unite forces against the nature of things, to storm and occupy her castles and strongholds and extend the bounds of human empire”, when Descartes exhorted mankind to aggressively assert itself against nature as “lords and possessors”, they were actually laying the psychological foundations for a cult of rapacity backed by science. But then their arrogance was not recognized as a gospel of rape of nature. In a few generations the scale of applied science has become global and more than enough to reveal the true implications of the scientific gospel of rapacity. Just as infinitesimal blemishes in a photograph may only become prominent when the picture is sufficiently enlarged, so the vastness of contemporary technical enterprise has magnified the innermost meaning of the scientific world view and its full ecological ignorance. We now deal in a technology that alters the halo-meters of entire continents and threatens to murder the flora and fauna of whole oceans. We in India dreaming of achieving the level of scientific and technological expertise of the west may well understand the ideological underpinnings of western science before we embark on wholesale adoption of western scientific model.

Modern Science Inherits its Flawed View of Nature from Christianity

Christianity’s hatred for idolatry led to the ban on mystic, imaginative thinking habits. The fourth century christian polemicist Lactantius in his Divine Institutes systematically attacks the supposed divinity of rivers, mountains, plants, beasts etc. Obviously none of these are god, he concludes, nor is nature as a whole to be regarded as god. Rather nature is lesser object created by god and existing wholly apart from him.

“Therefore the world is neither God, nor living, if it has been made; for a living creature is not made, but born; and if it has been built, it has been built as a house or a ship is built. Therefore there is a builder of the world, even God; and the world which has been made is distinct from him who made it…”

Thus nature is pronounced dead and desacralized. Compare this with the Indian view of nature which asserts that nature embodies god and man is an inseparable part of nature. Rudra Suktam of Yajurveda describes the vegetation and animals as Rudra himself: You are the plant, you are the animals…(Oshadhayah cha me, pasavaah cha me…).

But where does Lactantius locate man? He concludes that man is existentially outside nature and only temporarily in residence during his mortal life.

“Man is not a part of the world, in the same manner as a limb is a part of the body”.

Out of this fateful ontology emerges the ultimate conclusion that there is nothing in the world that is sacred or companionable, a world disenchanted in root and branch into which man has intruded like a cosmic freak.

Lynn White(Jr) in his widely discussed and referenced paper ‘The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis’ writes- “Christianity is the most anthropocentric religion the world has ever seen..By destroying pagan animism christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference.”

Thus the divide between man and nature is complete. From this great divide emerges the psychological traits of domination and exploitation of nature which is so well expressed by men like Bacon and Descartes. This is the sort of psychology of western science that led to the present day ecological crisis and the threat of thermo-nuclear war, in the name of science backed progress. It is totally incorrect to brush aside the ecocide sanctioned and perpetrated under the auspices of modern science as the inevitable price of progress. True progress need not entail so much devastation. What we see today is the outcome of a wrong psychology of progress and abundance based on a flawed philosophy of nature and man. It is equally true that wrong psychology has created a host of other evils like global tensions and struggle for dominance. The proof, if proof is needed at all, is in the fact that the two world wars were initiated and fought by the christian nations for global hegemony. That they were christian wars was openly admitted by no less person than Winston Churchill, the wartime British Prime Minister himself.

Thus what passes for modern science is not only inspired by a wrong world view but it also blinds us to alternative world views. It has a tendency to systematically disparage alternative views for the past two centuries. Monopoly of truth, claimed and asserted by Christianity leaves its stamp on modern science when it claims the sole custodianship of man’s sanity and worldly wisdom.

Since Independence, we have not only tried hard to import the western model of scientific development but also its psychological equipage lock, stock and barrel. This is a major stumbling block in the study and documentation of Indian history of science.

Concept of Reality in the Indian Tradition and Its Bearing on Science

It is clear from the above discussion that the Judeo-christian elements in the modern(western) scientific world view make it eco-cidal and and war-prone. As already said the basic ideas on which a scientific system is built are not apparent in the day to day practice, but subtly determine the direction and practical outcome of that system in the long run. In this context we have to examine the Indian scientific tradition to identify the major principles that underlie its foundations and see how it differs from the western scientific tradition.

The basic difference lies in the conception of Reality adopted by western and Indian scientific traditions. The Reality concept embodies the idea and understanding of what is meant by total reality in a particular system. It includes among other things, the concept of nature, man and his relation to nature.

We have already dealt with the concept of nature inherited by modern science. Now we shall briefly discuss the Indian concept of Reality and the role of nature and man within the ambit of that total reality.

Vedas are the repository of Indian wisdom. They explicate the one Absolute, highest Reality which goes by different names and forms. The Rigveda declares ‘ekam viprah bahudha vadanti..’. This seminal concept of reality is also the highest form of truth which finds its expression in the Indian cosmology, metaphysics, arts, theology and sciences. It bears its distinct mark on all these subjects.

Reality Concept in Indian Cosmology

Indian cosmology admits five primary categories of nature called Pancha Mahabuhtas. They are earth, water, light, air and sky (cipher). The traditional formula is ‘prithivyapastejovayurakasaat’. The fifth category akasa or sky is also described as nothingness for want of better term. Amarakosa gives the synonyms of akasa as- akasam, gaganam, sunyam…It is also described in one of Acharya Shankara’s commentaries as ‘avakasa pradatru akasah’- that which provides scope or space or chance is akasa. In scientific terms it can be translated as the ‘vast potential’.

Various schools of Indian metaphysics called Darshanas conceived this sunyam or ‘nothingness’ in the clearest manner possible, assigned it a name, form and properties. They included it in the operational definition of Reality. Thus they brought the ‘nothingness’ into the regular intellectual, and through it, into the scientific discourse. The concept of Reality occurs in all Astika Darshanas with different names. It is called Adrushtam in Mimamsa, Purusha in Samkhya, Brahman in Advaita Vedanta and so on. Indian thinkers assigned certain qualities to the vast Reality which is the source of all possibilities and yet its full nature remains outside mind’s grasp. This is somewhat akin to the ultimate nature of matter which will remain outside the grasp of science forever. It is described as nameless, formless, part-less and so on, from the negative point of view. It is whole, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient and so on, on the positive side.

On the lines of above concept of Reality, the Indian cosmology defined its fifth element. The ultimate nature of the fifth element Akasa, like that of Reality, remains forever outside the grasp of man. Man, with all his sophisticated tools of observation has not exhausted even a fraction of  nature’s secrets. What is known to man through science is a miniscule part of nature’s workings. Therefore not only what is known about nature, but also what remains unknown is of crucial importance. The more precisely this unknown or ‘womb of future knowledge’ (which is the abode of all future possibilities) is defined, the more effective it will be for practical use. To our superficial understanding the unknown may appear as nothingness, but it is not so. The Indian metaphysics recognized this crucial fact and expressed it in the twin descriptive terms sunyam(nothingness) and avakasam(possibility). These terms show that this nothingness is not the absence of something but the presence of everything in a potential state. As already said akasa also means avakasa which means potential.

This is the greatest achievement of the Indian thinkers which is seldom recognized. To conceive of nothingness(the Absolute) as a physical category and include it in man’s mental calculus is a great forward leap in scientific thinking. Not only that but they assigned a name, form and properties in a meaningful and measurable and even quantifiable manner which is nothing short of a miracle. Yet, the crude materialists like Lokayatas and Marxists along with the votaries of mechanistic sciences criticized the Indian concept of Reality as Illusion or Maya. But the practical implications of this momentous discovery are immense and varied. Only recently, with the advent of relativistic and quantum physics, consciousness studies and cognitive science we are able to grasp the true significance of the Indian concept of Reality.

Following is an account of some of the scientific applications of the concept of ‘nothingness’ or the ‘vast potential’ which evolved out of the Indian Reality principle:

Mathematics and the Absolute

Different branches of Indian science laid selective emphasis on some chosen features of the Absolute Reality and made important discoveries. One such instance was the discovery of the zero sign in mathematics. discovery of zero sign is rightly considered as a watershed in the history of science. Zero is universally recognized as the product of Hindu genius. The strong influence exercised by the Indian Reality Principle is nowhere clearer than in the discovery of zero.

The zero sign existed in India, as per our present knowledge of the past, at the time of Pingala, who authored a work on prosody by the name chandas sutras sometime around 200 B.C.E. The significance of the zero mark to the development of mathematics is inestimable. And mathematics is rightly considered as the language of science. If today mathematics is a well developed science and in turn contributes to the growth of other sciences, it is because of the revolutionizing power of zero.

Prof G.B.Halstead, the historian of mathematics aptly described the true significance of zero.

“The importance of the creation of zero mark can never be exaggerated. This giving to airy nothing, not merely local habitation and a name, a picture, a symbol but helpful power, is the characteristic of Hindu race whence it sprang. It is like coining the Nirvana into dynamos. No single mathematical creation has been more potent for the general on-go of intelligence and power.” (Quoted in the History of Ancient Indian Mathematics by Dr. C. N. Srinivasa Iyengar, World Press, Calcutta, 1967, page 5).

The descriptive terms applied to zero, namely, airy nothing having a local habitation, name, picture, symbol and helpful power fit exactly to the Indian Concept of Absolute Reality. In fact, zero can be called as the ‘Mathematician’s Brahman’.

Zero by itself has no value just as the Absolute has no value in the sense that it cannot be grasped directly with our senses. Zero acquires value once it is placed in relation to other numerals. Similarly, the Absolute can be of mundane value only when it is placed in relation to various upadhis or adjuncts.

Even though zero has no value of its own, it imparts value to the other numerals. Because of this mystical property, it occupies a unique place in mathematics. So also, the Absolute has no name and form, and hence no mundane value as such. But everything mundane acquires profound significance once infused with the awareness of the Absolute, that is, viewed with a Brahman consciousness.

To a person imbued with Brahman consciousness, the ordinary things around him acquire deeper, unifying significance. His relations with his fellow human beings and his understanding of the material surroundings undergo qualitative change. They are promoted to a different order. The social, economic, political and religious and even scientific institutions created by the men with such higher awareness exude the aura of the Absolute and are of better quality than the purely mundane minded individuals, however talented they may be. Examples of such men are Dirghatamasa, the Vedic astronomer; Baudhayana, the Vedic Sulba mathematician; Manu, the law-giver; Sushruta, the surgeon par excellence; Charaka, the great physician; Kautilya, the political scientist; down to J.C.Bose, Sri Aurobindo and Gandhi. Take any field, you will find the stamp of the one great truth Ekam Sat…which is the operational description of the Absolute.

Ayurveda and the Absolute

Ayurvedic principles are based on the Pancha Maha Bhuta Theory and the Indian conception of nature as the product of the Absolute existence. Man is an organic part of the Prakriti (roughly equivalent to what the scientist calls nature). Prakriti is the devolved aspect of the Absolute Reality. All that is a part of prakriti is subject to gunas or natural law. Out of this set of fundamental laws, Ayurveda evolved.

Living according to the rhythm of nature is the best way to preserve health and longevity. Hence the name Ayurveda, which means the science of life, not science of medicine. Because of its close relation to the knowledge of veda, Ayurveda is considered as Upa-Veda or subsidiary veda.  Veda is the repository of the highest Truth which is Reality. The subject which deals with the knowledge of life as part of the total truth and man as part of the total reality is aptly called upa-veda.

Besides the pancha-bhuta theory, the other vedic principles involved in Ayurveda are the concept of Prana or life force which has no material form but forms the essence of every living being. The Prana partakes many features of the Absolute. Similarly the tri-dhatu theory also has its basis in the reality principle.

End of article

This article was first published in Bharatiya Pragna – Jan – Mar 1997

Facing New Evangelisation Strategies

Namaste

Readers of Telugu may wish to read my article that appeared in Jagruthi, a Telugu weekly on Facing New Christian Evangelisation Strategies and lessons that Hindus must learn.

Facing New Evangelisation Strategies

Ayush

English Version :

Facing the New Christian Evangelization Strategies

– Nadimpalli Ayush

 What Keeps Hindus attached to their traditions and remain as Hindus inspite of varied onslaughts?  This question has been bugging almost all evangelists who have come to Bharat.  In their ambition to Christianize the whole world, the evangelists have time to time revised their strategies. Though most parts of the whole world fell to their designs, they have faced major resistance in Bharat. However, the future of whether Bharat would remain Hindu depends largely on how the Hindus respond to the evangelistion strategies and methods.

” India’s first major contact with Christianity began when Vasco da Gama, from Portugal, landed with gunboat and priests in 1498… The newcomers were not only merchants but also devout Christians ordered by the Pope: “… to invade, conquer, and subject all the countries which are under rule of the enemies of Christ, Saracens (Moslems who fought against the Christian Crusaders in the middle ages) or Pagan….” .  (Western Colonialism in Asia and Christianity – edited by Dr. M.D. David.)

Hindus were forced to convert or faced torture and death. Thousands had to flee Goa in order to keep their culture and religious beliefs.

 The historian Gaspar Correa described what Vasco da Gama did, thus:

 “When all the Indians had thus been executed, he ordered them to strike upon their teeth with staves and they knocked them down their throats; as they were put on board, heaped on top of each other, mixed up with the blood which streamed from them; and he ordered mats and dry leaves to be spread over them and sails to be set for the shore and the vessels set on fire… ” Before killing and burning the innocent Hindus he had their hands, ears and noses cut off.

 …”When the Zamorin (head of the Hindu population) sent another Brahmin (Hindu Priest) to Vasco to plead for peace, he had his lips cut off and his ears cut off. The ears of a dog were sewn on him instead and the Brahmin was sent back to Zamorin in that state. The Brahmin… had brought with him three young boys, two of them his sons and the other a nephew. They were hanged from the yardarm and their bodies sent ashore.”

 Francis Xavier, a Jesuit Priest, came soon after Vasco da Gama, with the firm resolve of uprooting Hinduism from the soil of India and planting Christianity in its place. His sayings and doings have been documented in his numerous biographies. Francis Xavier, wrote back home,

 “As soon as I arrived in any heathen village, when all are baptized, I order all the temples of their false gods to be destroyed and all the idols to be broken to pieces. I can give you no idea of the joy I feel in seeing this done.” The Church had a special way of dealing with converted Hindus who were suspected of not observing Christian rites with appropriate rigour and enthusiasm, or even of covertly practicing their old faith: “…the culprits would be tracked down and burnt alive.” ( Ref : Paul William Roberts, Empire of the Soul, Some Journeys in India (Riverhead Books, New York)

 Xavier called for an inquisition, recorded by historians as being more horrendous and barbaric than any prior to that. Thousands were tortured mutilated and killed. Thousands had to flee Goa in order to keep their traditional culture and religion.

It is recorded that between 600 and 1,000 Hindu temples and shrines were destroyed, but many consider these numbers to be on the conservative side. ( Ref : History of Hindu Christian Encounters, Sita Ram Goel)

Many types of brutal torture were employed by the Inquisitors, such as mutilation of body parts, fire torture and drownings. The details of this torture are too ghastly and horrid to contemplate for any sane human being.

 The archbishop of Evora, in Portugal, eventually wrote, “If everywhere the Inquisition was an infamous court, the infamy, however base, however vile, however corrupt and determined by worldly interests, it was never more so than in Goa. (The Empire of the Soul by Paul William Roberts (Harper Collins, 1999)

 No body knows the exact number of Goans subjected to these diabolical tortures; low estimates put the number in the tens of thousands, high estimates are in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps even more. The abominations of these inquisitions continued from 1560 until a brief respite was given in 1774, but four years later, the inquisition was introduced again and it continued un-interruptedly until 1812 — the inquisition in Goa went on for over two-hundred and fifty years.

Revised Tactics by British:

The British officially decided to keep religious conversion on the backburner due to the massive resistance of 1857 War of Independence. However, they launched a new scheme of creating a Christian defence among Hindus through Macaualy to create “a class of persons, Indians in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect “ who would protect the Christian missionary activities within Bharat.

Improvising on Revised Conversion Techniques Post Independence : 

Now the Christians evangelists have further revised their techniques of conversion. Christian evangelists are now using vast amounts of wealth (billions of US dollars) to spread their propaganda. Worldwide, an incredibly vast organisation has been built up, and incredibly huge resources are expended to “save souls”. It costs “145 billion dollars to operate global Christianity,” records a book on evangelization. The Church commands four million full-time Christian workers, it runs 13000 major libraries, it publishes 22000 periodicals, it publishes four billion tracts a year, it operates 1800 Christian radio and TV stations. It runs 1500 universities, and 930 research centres. It has a quarter of a million foreign missionaries; and over four hundred institutions to train them. And those are figures from a book published in 1989 – since then there has been the surge in Eastern Europe and Russia. – Ref S.Gurumurthy article.

New projects have been strategized by the Church after extensive survey in the Hindu society. One such major intiative is the Joshua Project ( http://www.joshuaproject.net )& Project Thessalonica (crusadewatch.org ). Its has a large focus on Bharat.

Joshua Project

 http://www.joshuaproject.net

Joshua Project II set the scope and strategy for converting the “heathen” of the world in 10-40 window (regions that lie between the latitudes of 10 and 40 degrees north)

Joshua Project II strategized the methodology called ‘Adopt-a-peoples’ wherein every mission agency or church adopted a ‘people group’. Today, followers of Christ are concentrating their efforts on the unreached peoples of the world, most of which are in the 10/40 Window. (The Resistant Belt). It is also important to note that the Joshua Project has a direct web-link to the American CIA, viz., Central Intelligence Agency’s – World Factbook.

The 10/40 Window: What is it?

http://www.joshuaproject.net/10-40-window.php

The 10/40 Window is the rectangular area of North Africa, the Middle East and Asia between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees north latitude. The 10/40 Window is often called “The Resistant Belt” and includes the majority of the world’s Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists. An estimated 4.03 billion individuals residing in approximately 7,057 distinct people groups are in the 10/40 Window. The 10/40 Window is home to some of the largest unreached people groups in the world such as the Shaikh, Yadava, Turks, Moroccan Arabs, Pushtun, Jat and Burmese.

The 10/40 Window has several important considerations: first, the historical and biblical significance; second, the least evangelized countries; third, the unreached people groups and cities; fourth, the dominance of three religious blocs; fifth, the preponderance of the poor; sixth, the strongholds of Satan within the 10/40 Window

One of the most important “resistant countries” in 10/40 window block is Bharat. As per their data, Christians form as much as 10 crores in Bharat’s population.

 Project Thessalonica :

In their attempt to weaken Hinduism, the church strategists started Project Thessalonica in 2004. Project Thessalonica is a sub-project of Joshua Project II. Project Thessalonica (called PT) prioritizes the tasks to be taken in the 10/40 window.

Project Thessalonica aims to stop or limit Hindu activity by converting people who form the pillars of Hindu culture, festivals, traditions and activity. Traditionally missionaries hate any public expression or display of heathen religions in the form of festivals and temples. Missions want to ensure that no new temple construction activity starts. With this objective they are converting masons, craftsmen and others involved in temple construction activity. The First Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee adopted towns where the annual Kumbh Mela takes place and has been actively converting the locals so that visitors face extreme hardship during their next visit trying to find services and supplies. Another mission group is adopting boatmen of Kasi where Hindus drop rice balls in river Ganges as an offering to their forefathers. The boatsmen are being trained in other fields so that they abandon this profession. They are making environmental groups raise the voice so that Ganesh processions, Kumbh Melas and Jagannath Rath Yatras are limited. One big worry seems to the extremely popular Hindu television programs. Christian agencies have decided on buying these prime slots at a premium and are actively working with programming sources. Over the past 20 years, missionaries also appear to have invested a lot in handling the political leadership, so much so that their activities appear to be almost immune to the ruling political party. It seems that a good section of media is also on their side to such an extent that any group opposing their activity finds itself identified as a militant or extremist group in the news media.

The Impact of Conversion:

India is now beginning to realize what the Christian Mission activity is really all about. This is evidenced in states like Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and in other areas in Northeast India and very recently in Orissa as well . As soon as Christians become a majority in a given area, they sow the venom of hatred and strife, turning family member against family member, villager against villager and instigate their Christian followers to ask for self-determination and a Christian Homeland. This is virtually the same technique that the Moslems continue to use with success.

As soon as a convert is made, they are greatly encouraged to vehemently and publicly denigrate their previous culture, traditions and everything related to it. This greatly disrupts the entire community and its normal social and economic activities.

Militant Christians in several of these Northeastern Indian provinces have been forcing non-Christian residents to either convert to Christianity or face capital punishment. With death staring at their face, most of the adult members have fled the villages to escape torture, resulting in disruption of agricultural activities. Buddhist leaders of both the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh have strongly condemned the heinous carnage committed by the militants on the peace-loving Buddhists and tribal cult followers.

 Because Hindus now know what the Christians are up to, it is time to take some serious steps to counter the Christian propaganda and instill pride in Indians across the nation for their glorious past and distinguished Vedic heritage.

Lessons for Hindu Organizations from Joshua Project and Other Christian strategies:

There are a few important lessons for organizations working for Hindu cause from the data furnished by Joshua Project. One of the most important aspects is that among the “least reached people groups” of the world, more than 30 jaatis are in Bharat.

1.      Understanding Our Strengths :

As Swami Vivekananda said,” Each nation, like each individual, has one theme in life, which is at its centre. If any nation attempts to throw off its national vitality, that nation dies. In India, religious life forms the centre”. And that is our strength.

Hindus generally believe that conversions are rampant among all the Scheduled castes and tribes and generally diagnosis is not based on hard data. However, an analysis of the data submitted by the Joshua Project themselves reveals that their attempts to convert many Scheduled castes like “Chamars” have met with little success. In fact the chamars form one the least reached “people groups” in the world.

 One of the major reasons for this is the fact that these jaatis( castes) have a strong spiritual base. For example, Joshua Project describes the Chamars( otherwise known as Bhambis) as,   “ The Bhambis are Hindu. They belong to the Shiva and Bhagvat sects. Their deities are Bahiroba, Janai, Kandova of Jejori and Bhawani of Tuljapur. They follow the spiritual teachings of Ravidas. They recite mythological tales and sing songs from the religious epics. They celebrate the festivals such as Diwali, Panchami, Ganesh Chaturthi, Kartik, Holi and Hannami.”

( Ref : http://www.joshuaproject.net/peopctry.php?rop3=111752&rog3=IN)

2. Revitalising Forgotten Spiritual traditions : A bit more research into the profiles of the “unreached people groups” reveal that Christian conversion occurs primarily in castes groups (jaatis) where the connectivity with their “kula devatas” and customs( achaaras) has reduced. In fact, money forms a basis for conversion only when the spiritual roots get weakened.

 Therefore, if we are to protect Sanatana Dharma viz Hinduism, we need to relook at how to revitalize different “jaatis” with their spiritual traditions.

 3. Exposing the Filth within the Church: The Church worldwide, is plagued with problems galore worldwide, right from homosexuality, child and women abuse, illegitimate relationships,  trafficking of orphans and similar happenings in India have been reported. The vast majority of Hindus are unaware of these issues and they need to be informed that conversion could mean more harm than the perceived benefits.

 4. Spiritual Education to Youth :  Hindu organizations need to educate Hindu youth, preferably from all jaatis, with basics of Hinduism, the vital importance of their jaati in the history of Bharat’s spiritual tradition and of course last but not the least, try and work out methods of achieveing social harmony among all the jaatis living in Bharat.

 5. Detaching Jaati( caste) from Clutches of Political Leaders: If Hinduism has to survive more number of apolitical social and spiritual leaders need to emerge who can lead the society away from the clutches of the current narrow political leaders. That is the challenge.

Key Sources for more information :

  • Goa Inquisition by Priolkar
  • History of Hindu Christian Encounters, by Sita Ram Goel, VOI Publications
  • The Empire of the Soul by Paul William Roberts (Harper Collins, 1999)
  • Paul William Roberts, Empire of the Soul, Some Journeys in India (Riverhead Books, New York)
  • Joshua Project – http://www.joshuaproject.net
  • Project Thessolanica – http://www.crusadewatch.org
  • Partial History of Christian Missionary Atrocities – Burningcross.net