Tag Archives: Christianity

Pope denies St. Thomas evangelised South India – Ishwar Sharan

Pope Benedict XVI’s statement on September 27, 2006 during a public audience, that the apostle St. Thomas only reached as far as North-West India—today’s Pakistan—was factually correct and reflected the statements of the Early Church Fathers and the geography of the Acts of Thomas. That the Pope’s minders changed his statement the next day on the Vatican website, to include South India in Thomas’s travels, is no surprise to us. Telling lies for Jesus and his Vicar in Rome are also very much part of Catholic Church tradition and history. – Ishwar Sharan

On 27 September 2006, Pope Benedict XVI made a speech in St. Peter’s Square at Vatican City in which he recalled an ancient St. Thomas tradition. He said that “Thomas first evangelised Syria and Persia and then penetrated as far as western India, from where Christianity also reached South India”.[1] This statement greatly upset the Indian bishops in Kerala, and as it was perceived to be a direct violation of the beliefs of many Indian Christians, it was brought to the attention of the Pope’s editors and amended the next day on the Vatican’s website to read that St. Thomas himself had reached South India. G. Ananthakrishnan’s article “Thomas’s visit under doubt” in the Times of India, 26 December 2006, reads:

His reluctance to believe what fellow disciples said about Jesus Christ’s resurrection earned him the name Doubting Thomas. Centuries later, St Thomas—believed to be the man who brought Christianity to India—finds himself in the shadow of ‘doubt’ with none other than the Pope contradicting his evangelical trek in the country, only to modify it a few days later. But far from dousing the fire, the Pope has rekindled a debate and given critics an issue on the platter.

Pope Benedict XVI made the statement at the Vatican on September 27, 2006. Addressing the faithful during the Wednesday catechises, he recalled that St. Thomas first evangelised Syria and Persia, and went on to western India from where Christianity reached Southern India. The import of the statement was that St. Thomas never travelled to south India, but rather evangelised the western front, mostly comprising today’s Pakistan.

Knowingly or unknowingly, he had in one stroke challenged the basis of Christianity in India and demolished long-held views of the Church here that St Thomas landed in Kerala, where he spread the gospel among Hindus. The comments were especially a letdown for the Syrian Christians of Kerala, who proudly trace their ancestry to upper-caste Hindus said to have been evangelized by St Thomas upon his arrival in 52 AD.

The comments went unnoticed until Sathya-Deepam, the official mouthpiece of the Syro-Malabar church, picked it up. Writing in it, George Nedungat, a member of the Oriental Pontifical Institute of Rome, conveyed the community’s anguish and claimed that previous popes had recognised St. Thomas’s work in south India.

The Pope’s original statement given out at St. Peter’s, before it was amended on the Vatican website, was factually correct and reflected the geography of the Acts of Thomas, i.e. Syria, Parthia (Persia/Iran) and Gandhara (Afghanistan, North-West Pakistan). There is no historical evidence to support the tradition that St. Thomas came to South India, and on 13 November 1952 Vatican officials sent a message to Kerala Christians stating that the landing of St. Thomas at Muziris (Cranganore now Kodungallur) on 21 November 52 AD was “unverified”. When this writer sought confirmation of the 1952 Vatican statement in 1996, the Vatican’s reply was disingenuous and non-committal. The Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints said that he needed more information and that the life of St. Thomas was the object of historical research and not within his congregation’s competence.[2]

Earlier, in 1729, the Bishop of Madras-Mylapore had doubted whether the tomb in San Thome Cathedral was that of St. Thomas and wrote to the Sacred Congregation of Rites in Rome for clarification. Rome’s reply was never published and we may assume it was a negative reply. Again, in 1871 the Roman Catholic authorities at Madras were “strong in disparagement of the special sanctity of the localities [viz. San Thome, Little Mount, and Big Mount identified by the Portuguese after 1517] and the whole story connecting St. Thomas with Mailapur.” However, in 1886 Pope Leo XIII stated in an apostolic letter that St. Thomas “travelled to Ethiopia, Persia, Hyrcania and finally to the Peninsula beyond the Indus”, and in 1923 Pope Pius XI quoted Pope Leo’s letter and identified St. Thomas with “India”. These papal statements also reflect the geography of the Acts of Thomas, as does Pope Benedict’s statement, and make no reference to South India. In fact, the India they refer to is now Pakistan.

Pope John Paul II visited India twice in 1986 and 1999 and prayed at the alleged tomb of St. Thomas in San Thome Cathedral, but, like St. Francis Xavier before him, he had nothing to say about St. Thomas’s visit to South India or Mylapore in the first century. This is a curious omission on the Pope’s part in that he was an ardent missionary who openly promoted the evangelising of India and Asia, and a statement from him confirming a visit by St. Thomas to South India would have certainly supported his agenda and that of his Indian bishops.

1. As quoted in Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, of 23 November 2006, under the title “Pope angers Christians in Kerala”.

2. Our letter to the Prefect, Sacred Congregation of Rites, Vatican City, dated 26 August 1996, read: “I am doing research on St. Thomas in India and have learned that your office issued a letter on November 13, 1952 which stated that the landing of St. Thomas at Cranganore in 53 AD is unverified. I would like to know if in fact the said letter was issued and, if that is not the case, whether you can confirm that St. Thomas was martyred and buried in Madras. I would be most grateful if you could direct me to any authentic evidence supporting the story of St. Thomas in India.” The reply from the Prefect, Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Rome, dated 11 September 1996, read: “This Congregation for the Causes of Saints has received your letter of 26th August last in which you have asked for information regarding Saint Thomas’ presence in India. We have not found in our Archives the letter supposedly written by this Congregation on 13th November 1952, of which you speak, because of a lack of more precise data (Diocese, destination, etc.). Nor do we have other data regarding Saint Thomas since this Archive was begun in 1588. His life is the object of the research of historians which is not the particular competence of this Congregation.” This reply was a brush off. The Prefect knew what we were asking for and could have located the 1952 Vatican letter in a few minutes if he wished to.

Courtes: www.ishwarsharan.com

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Declaring tribals as non Hindus shows lack of understanding of Bharat

-Dr Manmohan Vaidya

It is not mere coincidence that Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh that are at the epicentre of the activities which form the subject matter of this write-up, have been hotspots of conversion activities.

The Jharkhand state government recently passed a bill with majority that deems Sarana Dharma followers as non-Hindu and claims “Sarana” to be a separate religion. At around the same time Andhra Pradesh government declared that with the view that the members of Scheduled Tribes are non-Hindu they will be listed as just “Scheduled Tribe” in the 2021 census. These developments are an indicator of a lack of realisation of Bharat and correct understanding of Hindutva (Hinduness), which is combined with an insatiable hunger for political power on the part of these decision-makers.  Hindutva is not some religion. Even the honourable Supreme Court of the country honoured and established the fact that it is a view of life. One hallmark of this view of life is that it is based in spirituality. Notwithstanding language and worship-related differences, countless lineages of people born in the Bharatiya sub-continent have identified themselves as Hindu from time immemorial. Deep identification with this view of life has led to a distinct outlook and personal character of these people.

“Truth is one, but the wise call it by different names.” This shloka from the Rig Veda means the truth or god is one but there may be many paths to its realization and all paths are equal. This tenet of the Hindu view of life was well-ingrained in the Hindu psyche and the people here have been practising this for long. Jews, Parsis and Syrian Christians fleeing religious persecution and conversion in their countries of origin sought asylum in different kingdoms of Bharat, at various points in time. The itinerants, though ethnically, religiously and linguistically alien here, the treatment given by the kings or the locals who granted them asylum were equally liberal and respectful. They were welcomed, accepted and nurtured within each of those geographies.  This behaviour was an outcome of their adherence to the Hindu view of life. To see unity in diversity is the hallmark of this view of life. We’ve held that one Spirit (Chaitanya) manifests in different life forms and therefore the ability to see the underlying oneness among seemingly apparent diversities is the default view of Bharat. This is why diversity is not perceived as differences here. Bharat has the unmatched capacity to take all the apparently diverse expressions together while protecting the uniqueness of each of those units while assimilating them into one cohesive whole. The third uniqueness of Bharat is the recognition of the fact that every soul (man or woman) is potentially divine. The very goal of human life is to manifest the divinity within to ultimately merge with the Supreme Divinity. Different people may walk different paths to manifest their divinity and each of those paths may be called their religion or faith. The body of thought with an amalgamation of these unique qualities has been popularly perceived as “Hindutva” around the world. Whether someone refers to it as Bharatiya, Sanatan, Indic or any other name, the essence is the same.

Now the question is which among these unique features is un-relatable or offensive to the Sarana people or other Scheduled Tribes?

The first President of independent Bharat, Dr S. Radhakrishnan referred to Hindutva as “Commonwealth of All Religions”. Swami Vivekananda in his 1893 Chicago address at the World Parliament of Religions described Hindutva as the “Mother of all religions”.

The view that sees diverse people as one, that accepts and assimilates different paths and faiths is what Hindutva is. This civilisation that predates 10,000 years has seen people worship different deities at varied points in time. To be able to keep pace with evolving faith-based norms and to accept changes is what Hindutva is all about. Swami Vivekananda propounded this very fact by reciting this shloka in his famous 1893 Chicago address.

Meaning: O Almighty! Innumerable paths lead one to you—Sankhya, Vaishnav, Shaiva, Vedic ways of life, etc. As per their orientation people choose any one path, but like many rivers eventually converge into one sea, all these paths lead to the same, Eternal Truth. It is true that regardless of the path we choose we can all realise the Divine.

The beauty of this Bharatiya view of life is that it recognises the fact that in tandem with man’s continuous evolution he is sure to discover and worship newer deities. Nurturing the old while making space for newer deities is Hindutva.

Gurudev Rabindranath Thakur explicitly stated: “To experience unity in diversity and to establish unity amongst variety—this is the inherent Dharma (the spirit) of Bharat. Bharatvarsh never interpreted diversities as hostility and, neither considers the outsider as an enemy. Thus, without sacrificing our own, without destroying others, Bharat aspires to assign a distinct place to everyone in one vast ecosystem. Thus, it is willing to accept all ways of life, and acknowledges the greatness of each in its own way.

“As Bharatvarsh possesses this trait, we would never get frightened by visualising any society as our opponent. With every new dissension, we inevitably will grow. The Hindu, Bauddha, Muslim and Christian would not fight with each other and die in Bharat. Rather they would find a balance, a meeting point here. This balance will not be non-Hindu, but very specifically Hindu. However foreign may be its body parts, its life and spirit will of Bharat.”

This holistic approach and assimilation are intrinsic to the Hindu view of life. Given this definition, what deems Sarana and Scheduled Tribe members as radically distinct from Hindutva is a mystery. Because Hindutva does not emphasise on the Almighty to be one definitive form, rather appreciating the common thread underlying all manifestations of the Divine is Hindutva.

Some years ago, a survey was conducted in North-Eastern states in the Assam region that has a sizable population of the Scheduled Tribes. Representatives of 18 Scheduled Tribes present at the conference expounded their responses over: 1. Their concept of God. 2. Their view of Earth. 3. What do they pray for? 4. Their concepts of virtue and sin. 5. Their opinion over faith-based practices of those from other religions. And lastly, 6. If they wish to compel followers of other faiths and religions to forcefully convert to their religion.

Their responses were consistent with the views of a common Hindu living elsewhere in the country. It was surprising for the surveyors to note that despite apparent language differences their beliefs are more or less similar and reflective of the age-old spiritual tenets of the Hindu belief system. That which unifies the diverse religious and faith-based beliefs and practices of this geo-cultural unit of Bharat is Hindutva and our spirituality-centric holistic, unifying and all-encompassing Hindu view of life.

The Semitic basis of Abrahamic religions like Christianity and Islam prevents those religions from having a similar view of human life. In fact those religions divide the human race into binaries, which cannot coexist in harmony. It is for the same reason that these religions have a bloody, violent, deceptive and greed-ridden history of conversion. Among the tribals of the North-Eastern states of Bharat also the Christian Church propaganda to impose the view that those tribes are non-Hindu has been underway for a long time now, first with the support of the British colonial ruler and later by those in power after our Independence. This is the direct cause of the emergence and strengthening of separatist militant groups in the region. As part of their agenda, they lured the people of the land with the temptation of a new and separate identity and uprooted their cultural roots to start “soul harvesting”. But the tribals of the region have understood that this barter with the Christian missionaries may be too costly. It can lead to a complete disappearance and annihilation of the rich, faith-based realisations of their ancestors. They also realise assimilating with the Hindu society will prevent such a fate and in this way they can preserve and pass on their unique customs and traditions to the future generations. This belief is taking a firm hold over their consciousness with each passing day and has resulted in the emergence of indigenous faith movements like “Donyi Polo” and “Seng Khasi” in those areas. Leaders of groups like the Sarana and other Scheduled Tribes must learn from the experiences of the organisers of these indigenous faith movements reconnecting to their roots so as to preserve their unique cultural and faith-based practices and further enrich their culture and people.

With “ ” meaning, “the entire creation is habitated/dwelled by the Supreme Spirit or Isha” as the basis of faith mankind invoked, venerated and worshipped the formless Divine Truth even at the time when gods and goddesses hadn’t yet been personified. Thereafter that same truth began to be pursued by the means of worship of various gods with a definite form. However, the worship of nature and that of the five basic elements is eternal. Many self-realised men or so-called Avatars added newer paths to the list of faiths, yet the worship of nature in the form of worship of earth, water, fire, air and space continued. Therefore, nature-worship is eternal, only newer practices and dimensions emerged with the march of time. Nature worship also features in several forms in the Hindu culture. It is for this reason that Hindu society sees itself as one with those who strictly worship only nature. But certain elements are bent on projecting the variations in practices as differences and disillusioning people.

In fact it is not only true of the Sarana or the Scheduled Tribes. For the last several years, organised drives to brainwash members of many communities are underway across Bharat into believing that they are not Hindu. Operations to splinter Hindu society are being carried out at an international level by  distorting and erasing from people’s memory the propensity of Hindutva to appreciate oneness in diversity, and instead highlighting and misrepresenting the diversities among different faiths as differences among people. If Hindus remain united, society remains united and hence the country remains united. And the country will progress only if it is united. All those elements who have a vested interest in preventing the country from progressing are engrossed in the fragmentation of Bharat.

Several fact-based, well-researched books that illuminate the details about such efforts (breaking India forces) and drives are available in the market. One key player in that scheme is the Christian church. Their aim—to increase the number of believers in Bharat by converting more people—finds an explicit mention on the websites of all their proselytising agencies. Some agencies that have assumed fake identities are working to first create disillusion, then opposition and then fragmentation in the society, which would ultimately result in separatism. They connote conversion as “harvesting”. These organised efforts of “harvesting” have been ongoing since the British era. But Bharat’s cultural roots run deep and are strong. Many ascetics and enlightened people took to reigniting the spiritual and cultural conscience of our society from time-to-time. No tribe or caste is devoid of the inheritance of such knowledge, as such ascetics were born in every tribe and caste that ever lived on this land to share the nectar of their realisations. It is for this reason that the conversion efforts of missionaries have been comparatively less fruitful in Bharat, thus compelling those agencies to adopt newer tactics to fulfil their agenda. The elements that aim to fragment Bharat work closely and cohesively to actualise each of their agendas. Incessant efforts of the ascetics and social reformers to facilitate socio-religious and spiritual and cultural enlightenment, generation-after-generation, has resulted in a firm cultural foundation of the society. Therefore, successful conversion requires uprooting the deep religio-cultural roots of the potential converts. Where the foundation is weak and roots bared loose, harvesting is easier. Therefore, brainwashing drives wherein false and unreasonable claims are being concocted. We will all have to remain alert and aware of these dangers.

Famous Bharatiya poet, Prasoon Joshi, writes in one of his poems:

“Gather the soil around you, oh tree,

Else you will wither.

The deeper your roots,

Greener your leaves will be.” It is not mere coincidence that the two states that are at the epicentre of the activities which form the subject matter of this write-up have been hotspots of conversion activities. Uprooting is imperative for harvesting. If we see and analyse the forces working on this agenda and their funding sources, one can understand that creating such misconceptions for uprooting various groups from their cultural moorings is part of a larger conspiracy hatched over a period of time.

Dr Manmohan Vaidya is Sah Sarkaryawah (Joint General Secretary), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

Courtesy: The Sunday Guardian

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.