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A Few Stray Thoughts On Religion, Faith & Conversion
Essay No.1Published in VIJAY TIMES on April 15th, 2006

The discussions on the relative merits of the Hindu way of life and Islam are both illuminating and educative. I am no die hard religious man but I believe in leading a life without strife and ill feelings between human beings be he a Hindu, Muslim or a Christian. As one suggested it would create a real bond between followers of different religions if they can share the love and devotion to the eternal by praying together in temples, mosques and churches.

The fact that there is an omnipotent force guiding our lives in this world whom we call God Almighty who has no form or figure but has the power to control every act of life in this world has been accepted by all –Hindus, Muslims or Christians. Messengers of such life giving entity spread far and wide conveying what purported to be His words by following which human beings were to lead their lives. Several avathars in the Hindu Pantheon, Prophet Mohamed and Lord Jesus and many other noble men preached the same message of love and peace and words of wisdom and the path of good deeds and thoughts which were enshrined in the Vedas, Puranas, Quran, Bible etc.

Unfortunately the followers of these messengers of God banded themselves into different compartments with separate identity and established in course of time different religions based on rituals and practices. Thus were born religious denominations each of which tried to dominate the other. Men fought and died to establish their dominance and intolerance became the cause of strife the world over. In the process we forgot the message of peace and love which our forefathers spoke of and practiced before religious fundamentalism took over with the resultant turbulence that we see in the world today.

Many believe that in the continuous evolution man may find a new form of faith based on scientific temper which will replace the religious fundamentalism and provide a rational answer to the mystery of the creation of our universe.

Essay No.2Published in VIJAY TIMES on May 8th, 2006

It pained me to read the letter “Bias over the Dargah issue” by K.Sidhu from Kochi in the issue of VIJAY TIMES dated 8th May. He has been uncharitable to call VIJAY TIMES as the mouth piece of the Sangh Parivar. I request the reader to recall the over-a- month debate on the sensitive issue of Muslim practices compared to the Hindu way of life that V.T. carried in its correspondence columns without any bias. It is a newspaper’s duty to present the news and views in a dispassionate and impartial manner and in the process it might become necessary to say a few harsh things about a community in the cause of truth. It should not be construed that the newspaper is biased. As for being the mouthpiece of the Sangh Parivar pray what is so wrong about the Parivar trying to protect the interests of the Hindu community when it is under relentless attack not only by members of the minority community but also the so called secular parties and the government day in and day out.

The dargah issue, if anything, exposed the double standards of the UPA Government in dealing with sensitive issues especially the communal harmony of the two major communities. I suggest that reader Sidhu read the subsequent editorial in the V.T. of the 6th May which in clear cut terms exposes the dubious role of the UPA Government in the demolition incident and its efforts to twist the arms of the State Government.

He calls the Gujarat Chief Minister as a Hindu fanatic because he allegedly presided over the massacre of Muslims in 2002. When thousands of Sikhs were massacred in 1984 the then Government of Rajiv Gandhi was not called Hindu fanatics. And when the minority Hindus were systematically massacred Ghulam Nabi Azad was not called a Muslim fanatic. Interested politicians supported by Human Rights activists and grossly biased media keep the embers of the Gujarat riots alive in spite of the passage of time and any minor irritation to the Muslims is blown out of proportion to tarnish the image of the Modi government. The faceless Muslim militants attack defenseless Hindu community in a most cowardly manner day in and day out in different parts of the country and no one owns responsibility. The minority appeasing Government looks the other way when Hindus are attacked but is up in arms when the minority interests are affected.

VIJAY TIMES is serving the cause of the defenseless majority while not ignoring the interests of the minority.

Essay No.3Published in VIJAY TIMES on May 30th, 2006

Apropos the excellent article “Change of faith without push or pull factors by your columnist P.N.Benjamin a change of attitude in the Christian mindset and an understanding of following the faith one is born into is absolutely necessary.

The conflict between the so called Hindu ‘fanatics’ and the pro active Christian missionaries and the Muslim fundamentalists has nothing to do with the teachings of the various leaders of the Hindu religion, Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammad. The main source of irritation is the relentless efforts of the overzealous Missionaries and the Mullahs to convert the followers of the Vedic religion viz. the Hindus to their own faith by commercializing and selling religion as commodities. Their design is to turn India that is Bharat into a full scale Christian or Islamic country and wipe out the ancient Hindu religion from the face of the earth. In fact they have been successful in penetrating the habitats of the gullible and turn them away from the religion of their forefathers and make them the followers of a whole new religion with their kind of worship and rituals. They have concentrated their attention on the vulnerable section of society and lured them with money power. With their large resources funded mostly by cash rich Christian countries they found it not very difficult to open schools and hospitals in the remotest parts of the country and found the illiterate and sick people easy target for conversion. By deception and power of the lucre a large number of people were made to abandon their ancestors’ faith and become followers of a foreign religion and a foreign ‘god’. By a curious mix of cultural superiority and easy money they were able to convince the cream of society and sections of the educated mass to be part of their religious drive. The result is the proliferation of the neo converts who think nothing of attacking the Hindu beliefs and customs on any conceivable occasion. When faced with resistance they invoke the freedom of religion etc. enshrined in the Constitution and shout from housetops that there is no religious freedom in the country. They glorify Graham Stanes as a martyr while all he did was to open churches and teach Christian beliefs to the tribals in the guise of curing them of leprosy. They blow out of proportion stray incidents of attacks on churches making sure to brand the activists of VHP, Bajrang Dal or BJP as those behind such attacks. When such are the liberties the Christian evangelists take what is the point in finding fault with the guardians of the Hindu faith if they retaliate? They are the perfect example of such neo converts who pour venom on the Hindus and quote scriptures to justify what they do. More than the Christians, it is the poor and economically disabled who need protection from the sly attempts at conversion of the missionaries. They can rest assured that the Christians and their churches will be safe from attacks if they stop proselytizing activities and concentrate on the spiritual well being of their own flock.

Essay No.4Published in VIJAY TIMES on June 7th, 2006

Syed Jaffer Ali is attempting to defend the indefensible by skirting over the basic issue of conversion from one faith to another. Over the past several decades the Christian and Muslim population in the country has taken a great jump at the cost of Hindu and other indigenous faiths. How? It is ridiculous to believe that these conversions have been brought about out of conviction and real change of heart. The methods adopted by the proselytizers may be varied depending upon the targeted group but the objective is the same. The Christian Missionaries targeted mainly the poor and the neglected lot and succeeded in their attempts to wean a large segment away from their traditional religion by offering them sops in the form of charities, education and medical facilities. And believe me no one pours millions of dollars unless there is reward at the end.

Religion is a very personal thing and no one can play with one’s beliefs. Syed Jaffer Ali should know how precious is one’s religion is to oneself because as a Muslim he would be the first one to protect his religion from any inroads by others. His co-religionists will defend their faith from any attempts to denigrate by any one. Even symbols of their faith are protected with the ferociousness of a tiger. The recent instance of a Muslim who got converted to Christianity and faced the mighty wrath of the establishment in Afghanistan is too recent to fade from our memory. A famous cricketer in Pakistan changed faith presumably to retain his place in the national team where there is hardly any place for non Muslims.

Ali denies that Hindus are offered monetary inducements to change faith. I will like him to recall the story of a small village in Tamil Nadu named Meenakshipuram which shot to national attention when the whole predominant Hindu population there converted to Islam overnight. Free flow of Gulf money was alleged to be behind this mass conversion. Either by money power or force, conversions are bad and will have to be resisted. Graham Stanes (and many others of his ilk) made the cardinal mistake of converting the illiterate tribals in the interiors of Orissa to Christianity by offering them medical help. This was resisted and he paid with his life. There is no legal issue involved in this.

Hinduism does not believe in conversion from one faith to another. And hence a non Hindu need not necessarily be reconverted to his parent faith once he leaves. As for a Muslim convert, to reconvert to a different faith is unthinkable and can happen only at his peril.

Hindus visiting mosques and dargahs (as also sundry churches) to pray is not surprising at all as the Hindu religion does not strictly prohibit its adherents from visiting any place of worship and offer prayers if that gives him peace of mind. Can you imagine a Muslim visiting a temple to offer prayers? Hindus will indeed visit dargahs etc not only for another 50 years but will always if they find peace there.

I share Ali’s appreciation of the contribution of the Christian institutions in the fields of education and medicine in our country but as I have already stated in earlier it all started as a ruse for harvesting as many souls as possible with plenty of financial support from their foreign brethren.

Essay No.5Published in VIJAY TIMES on August 23th, 2006

Your Editorial “Saving Tirumala” is timely. The decision of the Government of Andhra Pradesh to enact a law to prohibit evangelical activities in and around the Holy Tirumala Hills by the Christian missionaries has not come a day too soon. The modus operandi of the Missionaries has been reported in the media widely and has been confirmed by a Committee of eminent persons who went into the spreading menace. The Government of Andhra Pradesh has taken the right decision to ban such activities by law. The TTD authorities have also a great responsibility to see that the law is implemented without fail to ruthlessly put down these nefarious activities. They should on their own remain alert to any devious methods these over zealous missionaries may adopt to circumvent the law.

The activities of these missionaries are widespread as can be seen by the enactment of laws in a few States prohibiting conversions. They stoop to any level to harvest more and more souls by methods not always above board. Ignorant people easily fall a prey to promises of material largesse but in effect after they are converted they are left in the lurch. The activists of the Hindu community have a large responsibility to educate the followers of our ancient religion not to fall to the allurements offered.

Essay No.6Published in VIJAY TIMES on October 15th, 2006

The great debate on proselytism and conversion goes on and I am sure it will go on till eternity because our constitution safeguards the right to do so. The architects of the Constitution did not envisage (or may be refused to believe) that the provision is pregnant with a variety of possibilities and interpretations. It became a tool for Christian religion whose cardinal principle was to proselytize or in latter day parlance ‘harvest’ souls for Jesus. The Christian missionaries right from their highest Pontiff want to harvest souls of the so called non believers from the fertile lands of the countries where religions other than Christianity have been flourishing since times immemorial. Having conquered large tracts of the original inhabitants of North and South Americas, the vast continents of Africa and the aborigines of Australia and New Zealand by means not entirely ethical the missionaries turned their attention to other countries like Japan, China and India among other Asian countries. Confining our discussions to India, our Constitution makers and present day Government have given them a free and unrestrained hand to spread their activities among the different layers of society. They concentrated on the lower rungs of the society because they are poor, sick and uneducated. That is why they talk about the Daliths and socially backward people and how they care about them because they are easy targets. They started with tarnishing the Hindu society for marginalizing these backward people, taking upon themselves the task of providing them education as they believed that young and impressionable minds are the easiest and safe route for conversion. Schools and Colleges run by the missionaries in every nook and corner of the country largely funded by foreign missionary organizations are the result of this strategy. It may be remembered here that a majority of these institutions survive with the support of the students and parents belonging to the majority communities. Secondly the claim that the missionaries started and run innumerable hospitals to tend to the sick is also a fallacy as the motive is clear -that the sick person, may he be a Christian, Hindu or Muslim pray to his God to relieve him of his sufferings and by training his thoughts to Jesus’ mercy these preachers get a few more converted. These number games go on because of the tolerance of the Hindus and the abstract nature of their religion. A devout Hindu laid much emphasis on rituals because each ritual denotes propitiation of the powers of different facets of one’s life which is essential for one’s good. These form part of their culture. By uprooting an individual from his roots you deny him the benefits of millions of years of culture. By changing faith you do not give him anything new that he could not have learnt from his own Vedic culture. A converted man is the worst critic of his ancient religion. It is essential that followers of different religions concede that all religions teach the same thing. Jesus and Mohamed as the prophets spread the good words which is basically the same as propounded in Hindu scriptures. They believed that their words are the only truth and whoever who does not subscribe to their “commandments” need to be converted to their own way of thinking. The Hindu religion had innumerable great teachers who without appropriating to themselves of any godliness taught the basic tenets to humanity that taught the spiritual way to realize the Atman without founding new religions after them. In their conquest to claim more souls followers of Jesus and Prophet Mohamed aim to destroy other cultures. When God invited humanity to make the world a haven of peace, justice and dignity did He mean that only by converting to the Christian and Islamic faiths one can achieve that? In the eyes of God there is no Christian, Hindu, Muslim or members of any other faith. It is only the latter day evangelists and clergy men and Jihadists who spread the poison of religion and its various denominations. Like in the Hindu way of life, there should not be any religion with the name of its founder who should be considered only as a messenger and not God Himself. In the Hindu pantheon, there are only Uthama Purushas who did not found religions. They were ordinary mortals who by their exemplary living and learning became role models. As for the many acharyas and gurus they were respected and venerated for their learning and were part of the vast universe of brotherhood of Hinduism. Religions are today’s curse and in the name of religion atrocities, murders and mayhem have become part of our lives. Are the present followers treading the path of peace, justice and dignity? Far from it. They fight, kill and maim their fellow human beings without any compunction. In this scenario is conversion from one faith to another a remedy or necessity?

Essay No.7Originally appeared in DECCAN HERALD dated 2nd July 1953 and Reproduced in a National weekly from Lucknow, U.P.

“If, therefore, I am appealing to all leaders not to attempt to deprive a community of their right to freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association and action it is not only because these freedoms spring from the natural law but also because –if pragmatic considerations may be permitted, they have to be respected in the national and international interest of our country to whom the peoples of the world today are looking for wise statesmanship and for the defence of their rights of the individual” concludes His Eminence Cardinal Gracias in his weighty statement appearing in Monday’s issue of your newspaper. It is unfortunate that so eminent figure as the Cardinal of India should have taken a line of argument which is basically crude, one sided and illogical.

The conclusion reveals the working of the mind of not only the highest dignitary of the catholic church but some of its aggressive followers one of whom had once the temerity to warn the Hindus that if they, the latter, retaliate, the whole world of Christendom would declare a Holy War on the Hindus the result of which, according to him, would be the complete annihilation of the race.

The Cardinal bases his arguments on the fact that the Constitution of India guarantees the freedom to, profess, practice and propagate one’s religion. While it is true that Article 25 of the Constitution gives the right to all persons, it gives the Christians and others belonging to such denominational religions no right to convert persons belonging to the Hindu religion by such dubious methods as offering material gains in the form of economic security, education, cultural and social advancement and medical help. When one turns to observe the activities of the Christian missionaries not only in our country but throughout the world, it will be evident that behind great humanitarian work for which the zealous missionaries forsake every comfort, health, life and home to work in the remote corners of the globe, they are merely goaded by their desire to win more and more souls for the Kingdom of Jesus. If this sounds strange, we have the authority of the Cardinal himself who asks: “Is it possible for the missionaries to do all this beneficial work without bringing out the religious motives which inspire it and without attracting others to the same convictions?”

While it is not my intention to hurt the feelings of our brother Christians, may I ask the zealous Christians one simple question? If the Hindus are the sinners and they have no salvation except through Christ, are they expected to believe that their thousands of years old beliefs and practices, have been proved wrong and Christianity, which is barely 2000 years old, has found the answer?

Cardinal Gracias wonders why this sudden ‘outburst’ against evangelical work by missionaries should have come now, though the conversions were going on for decades. It is simple to answer. In the pre-independence days, the Christian missionaries were ably supported by the British with money power and influence. In those times, a word against the Christian missionaries would have amounted to treason. After the Independence this process needed a curb and here at last the official word has come. The Constitution embodies broad principles as to the individual’s right to freedom of speech, belief, action etc. but does not provide for conversion work. Hence there is no question of a sudden outburst of animosity against the missionaries.

A word about Dr.Gracias’ fear that the prestige of our country will suffer greatly, if the free hand so far given to the missionaries is curbed a little. India has emerged a champion of peace and a greatly respected nation in the world after attaining independence mainly because of the great principles inherent in the country’s culture and heritage and the spirituality embedded in the lives of ordinary citizens of our country and not because of the newly found freedom and the influence of Christian teachings if that is anyone’s idea. In fact the great teachings of Christ have not been properly put into practice by the Christian nations in the pursuit of peace and it is they who are more in need of the teachings of Lord Jesus at this period of history.


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