The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Cry, my beloved India

by Francois Gautier

Cry, my beloved India

January 21, 2005

I am a Westerner and a born Christian, but even I am ashamed at what is happening in India since Sonia Gandhi, a Westerner and Christian, became the de facto ruler of this ancient and extraordinary country of 850 million Hindus and 125 million Muslims.

Something terrible is happening here. On the one hand, you have the shankaracharya, one of the most respected Hindu leaders, arrested like a criminal on one of Hinduism's most sacred days, even as politicians who have more corruption cases against them than anybody else and others who may even have blood on their hands are made ministers and strut around with security guards in tow.

The tarnishing of the Kanchi mutt's image is nearly complete. Will it ever be able to recover its sanctity, even if the shankacharya is found not guilty?

On the other hand you see a quack like Benny Hinn, who has no standing even in the United States, come openly to India, a country with an overwhelming Hindu majority, to deride idol worship and paganism and convert the poor and the gullible. We see ministers, ex-prime ministers even -- many of them Hindus at that -- coming to the Benny Hinn show, with heads bowed and hands folded like beggars asking for the white man's grace. We see the entire state machinery of Karnataka put at the evangelist's service and laws subverted so he can conduct his fake show.

We see how when 36 innocent women and children were burnt alive in the most horrible manner in Godhra, for no reason other than being Hindus, there is no respect for their memory even, for the truth is now twisted for political purposes with the help of India's Marxists who want Hinduism's death. What a shame!

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Hindus are always accused of all the ills and intolerance, but where in the world will you find a Christian supreme leader in a country where there are only 3 per cent Christians, a Sikh prime minister where there are only 2 per cent Sikhs and a Muslim President with only 10 per cent Muslims? Poor Hindus.

This is an insult to India's culture, greatness and intelligence What is even more saddening is the passivity of Indians in the face of what is happening. Only a few voices have been raised in these moments of insanity. India's curse is the disunity among Hindus, their infighting. One is surprised at the lack of reaction even from India's top Hindu spiritual leaders Satya Sai Baba, Mata Amritanandamayi and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Together they hold sway over at least 400 million Hindus. Why don't they form a Supreme Spiritual Conclave along with the shankaracharya? They only have to utter the word and it will be done. But there is disunity even among them.

We are not ashamed of the Christian culture in France; even the American president is sworn in on the Bible. Nor, certainly, is the Congress, which is incapable of finding a worthy Indian leader among its own members, many of whom are intelligent and sincere. By stooping to Sonia Gandhi, they repeated the same old story of India's princes and maharajas betraying each other and bowing before a foreign ruler, be it Aurangzeb or His Majesty's Viceroy. Who betrayed the mighty Vijayanagar empire, the last great Hindu kingdom, to the Muslims? Who betrayed India to the British? Who is betraying India today?

But at least the Congress is true to its ideals. The biggest culprit must be Mr A B Vajpayee who in five years of power did nothing but project a Gandhian image, rather than having India's interests at heart. He and his advisers should stand trial when history is written.

Holy man in a controversy

The beauty of it all is that Sonia Gandhi does not have to say or do anything. She does not have to instruct the Tamil Nadu police to arrest the shankaracharya or tell Chief Minister Dharam Singh of Karnataka to attend Benny Hinn's show. Just being where she is, at the top of India's political hierarchy, is enough to ensure that her silent wishes are fulfilled. Everybody is bending over backwards to please her, even anticipating her wishes!

The Benny Hinn show points to not only a renewed effort at Christianisation of India -- something which even the British and the Portuguese could not do -- and a targeting of Hindu spiritual leaders, but also the westernisation of the subcontinent.

It would mean the loss of India's ancient culture, the loss of its unique identity, with India becoming just another nation cloning the West. Even the Muslims and Christians of India, who are like no other Christians and Muslims in the world, would lose something.

Today I feel sad, sad for India, sad for the world. For India is in mortal danger, its eternal Sanatana Dharma is under threat. And if India dies spiritually, the world will also die.

Cry O my beloved India, look what thy children have done to thee.

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