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.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

'Missionaries are the most violent people'

All converting religions are dangerous -- Swami Dayananda Saraswati
by T R JAWAHAR

A religious teacher of supreme wisdom, Swami Dayananda Saraswati is also extremely articulate, a combination that is very rare, given the stereotype of a Hindu protagonist that often raises the hackles of the 'intellectuals'.

His superb command over the White man's tongue is backed by phenomenal knowledge of not only the Vedas, Vedantas, Upanishads, Gita et al but also the religious texts and practices of other faiths, not to speak of modern literature. In a way he is the ideal foil for those at the other end of the ideological spectrum, namely, Communists, atheists, JNU historians and lest I forget, 'other miscellaneous secularists': He is one who could be more than a match to them, word for word and in wits.

And he does not have the habit of mincing words either, as the reader will observe from his explicit, extensive, exclusive interview to News Today on a wide range of topics, past, present and future ...and even the eternal.

For a moment, the journalistic impulse of brevity the penchant for wielding the scissors overcame me. But on second thoughts, thankfully, I decided that the verbatim account should be presented to the readers, even if it meant carrying it over for more than one day.

Now, over to Swami Dayananda Saraswati:

Q: You have come out strongly against the Pope's statements on the anti-forcible conversions laws. You have also been a campaigner against conversions, terming it as violence. Can you elaborate?

Ans: Okay. What is violence? When you physically hurt me it is violence. When you do anything that can instigate physical violence, that is an act of violence, too. And if you can hurt me emotionally it is also violence. If you can hurt me spiritually that is the worst violence, rank violence. All these are there in conversion because it leads to physical violence. When you convert somebody you have to criticise the person's religion, his worship, his culture; all these hurt. Even when he changes it hurts. How will he change? He has to disown his parents, and their wisdom and their culture, his ancestors, and entire community; you are isolating him, uprooting him and all the uprooted people are emotionally unsettled.

For instance, Blacks in America are uprooted people. Even after generations they are not emotionally settled. It will never help the persons who are uprooted from their culture. So it is great violence against culture, tradition etc.

Q: Is the religious person, then, the core person?

Ans: Yes, we find some people die for their religion because in their scripture it is told that if your religion is in danger then you will have to sacrifice your life so that you will also have a better place in paradise. The fellow begins to believe that and he is ready to give up his life. This is indoctrination. So, for their religion's sake, they have double standards. One who does not believe in their religion is anti-god as if God has given only their religion to follow. If he does not follow that he is an enemy to God, an infidel and deserves to be killed. Though God any way is going to destroy him, but if you destroy him, God will be pleased that you have proved your faith. This is the double standard. The values are not common. For followers one set of values, for non-followers another set of values. Killing gets a sanction. That is why these are all dangerous religions. And I say all converting religions are dangerous. They have created problems. It is like somebody wanting freedom to destroy me. If I do not give this freedom, I become a fundamentalist. But if I give them the freedom to destroy me, then I am a liberal, my religion a free religion. That's it. Now this very concept of freedom itself has to be questioned, examined and told to the people.

Q: And to the Pope?

Ans: Not only Pope. Pope told this because they have got away with it for 2,000 years in the name of freedom of Religion. They have wiped out continents, cultures in various continents, religions in countries ... where are those religions and cultures that built those pyramids? Show me one fellow now as a sample. Greek and Roman monuments are there, but where are the religions? In Europe they completely wiped out all the indigenous religions. In North America and South America they have finished off all the native cultures. Even in Africa it is almost finished.

So now in Asia they are planting their religion. They want to be successful, between these two people they want to destroy all cultures in this world. So therefore, I say enough is enough. I don't want to ask them to give up their (the converts) religions now.

But their concepts, their beliefs are not acceptable to me. I give them the freedom to follow what they follow. But I want them to leave me free to follow what I believe! They cannot say evangelising is not against other religions. It is against other religions; Conversions are against other religions. We don't believe in conversion itself. We do not accept that, we do not do that.

Q: Then how do you deal with this problem when it is so basic? What are the practical ways?

Ans: The theologians have to change. But they will not. That is because they have enough in-built programming. What we call indoctrination. There is no use even to make an attempt. But we should keep talking about that to them. But there is one thing with them. They just wait for a time when there is more freedom for them to do. So let that time be kept away. That conducive time for them to convert be kept away. The people have to be made aware and proud of their religion and that would take care of that in course of time. They should be able to say enough is enough.

Q: But there is the lure of money and incentives and other benefits that the naive fall for...

Ans: It is not really the money that buys. What do they do? Small things, and then they try to tempt them. That gives the thumb space. They begin to enter the heart. Then they tell the most unkindly cut. When the missionary tells that the fellow's daily pooja is wrong, that his altar of prayer is not the altar, he has to alter that. That is the unkindest cut you can get. It is a stab in the heart, where this fellow innocently gives some space for the missionary to enter. That very place becomes a place for attack. He attacks at the heart of the person, his religious core. And therefore the missionaries are the most violent people in the world. They have committed violence and nobody has committed violence as they have done. They continue to do that. But people do not realise this. They do seemingly good things in order to commit this violence.

Q: What is the effect of missionary activity on national security?

Ans: Look at the Northeast. I wonder if I can go and talk there, in my own country. They ask if I am from India! This is what the missionaries have done. Those people are made to feel they are non-Indians. It is very unfortunate. It is a major problem for national integrity. And not good for our tradition. In fact, Hindu religion has to be saved for the sake of humanity because the Christians don't believe the Muslims will go to heaven, the Muslims don't believe the Christians will go anywhere. They both are fighting each other in trying to reach heaven or paradise. And both believe that the other is not going there, so they will fight forever. The only person who says paradise is not up there but here is the Hindu. Hindu is the only one who makes sense. He has also got a methodology to teach, it is not just a belief. Only they are working on belief. We are working on wisdom. There it is just beliefs, many of which cannot be proved and several of which are wrong and foolish. See, a belief is above reason. When you say there is heaven it is above reason. You can believe that. You survive death then you will go to heaven, which is also a belief. But when you say that you will survive death, but you will go to heaven or hell, then it is difficult to believe. And another thing they say is God is formless. But he needs a location. You cannot define foolishness in a better way. When you believe against all the evidence then it is called foolishness.

Q: The inequalities that have cropped up in Hinduism are used as handle against?

Ans: Even they have their own inequalities. They have their own problems that are endless. But that doesn't give us a sanction for us to have problems. We should try and solve them. But still all these are our problems. Brothers are fighting each other over a property and if a third fellow comes and says, since you two are fighting let me occupy the property, that cannot be allowed. You remain an encroacher. You can help us, but you cannot become a beneficiary of our fight. Therefore we should resolve our own fights. You have no business interfering in our house and I would not intrude in yours.

Indian Christians and Indian Muslims are converted from Hinduism, without themselves knowing what they are getting into. But once converted they are told that their brethren and forefathers are devil worshippers! This is what I say is dangerous. As Indians they have a right to know the religions, the people and their culture and forms etc. If they know there will be no problems. But they are purposely kept away. The clergy is responsible for that, Islamic and Christian clergy are responsible for that.

Q: But if they want to know or even reconvert, will the Hindu 'clergy' allow that...

Ans: In India, there is no clergy. Here all are Hindus until they call themselves different because when I allow every form of worship then where is the problem? We deem you another Hindu, only you are saying I am this and that. There is no re-conversion. There is a prodigality and they come back. like a prodigal son. We do not even need to baptise. We have to ask him to give up beef that is all.

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1 Comments:

At 2/03/2008 11:44:00 AM, Blogger Muthukaruppan said...

I admire Sri TR Jawahar for not only his width and depth of the historically subversive activities of the clergy, most especially Christian, but also his passionate appeals and exhortations, in the mission of protecting our culture and religion. I request him to consider my following suggestion and, maybe with necessary details being built in, and or modifications of it, start a campaign on the following lines: The target groups of the missionaries and evangelicals for carrying on the religio-cultural destruction of India, is the most underprivileged people of India comprising what now are known as Dalits and the scheduled castes and tribes. Although the governments at the centre and in the states have formulated many anti-poverty and anti-illiteracy and educational schemes with an emphasis on these segments, they are rife with corruption due to inferference of politicians [no need to describe with details, here]and the supposed beneficiaries derive only token benefits from them, much of the moneys reaching unintended people with politician-administrator connivance or being siphoned off to partymen. The clergies take full ill-advantage of this situation, and trade their wares [allurements like getting jobs in distant centres of India, some meagre financial doles, etc.] in exchange for 'conversion'. The stuff of their propaganda is all fairy tales around Jesus and bogus miracle cures on stage, and countless other tomfoolery to cheat the ignorant. The crowds are huge, and the poor and the diseased coming for the first time to these sermons are victimized through conversion, that is change of names - half Hindu original, and half added from the Biblical names [with the advice to hide their Christian names when seeking jobs in the vast Hindu space].

Now, to come to the point, THAT is precisely the area where our religious institutions should come in on a massive scale. This type of 'Dardira-narayana seva' is neither unknown in our religious history, indeed a few Hindu institutions such as the Narayana Chinmaya, and Ramakrishna missions, for example, are engaged in it, from time to time - but unfortunately, on a small scale, and sporadically. To the Christian missions they are wares for exchange for conversion of the poor, but these services are a RESPONSIBILITY of our Ashrams, Maths, Missions, and so on, which must be massively supported by the Hindu public. "Discussions" of the aggression of the missionaries using deceit and chicanery for conversion has no doubt a chance to fire some enthusiasm in some devotee-workers of Hinduism, but such Seva can go a long way to arrest the alarming present trends of attempts at destruction of our ancient culture and religion. If ancient Egyptian, Roman, Greek and other native cultures and religions across the world could be so systematically wiped out without trace by the missionaries, what can prevent these missionaries from misusing the vast arsenal of technologies such as telecommunication and internet, for bringing about this destruction in the name of Jesus Christ, much much sooner than we think [under the suave belief that the Vedic religion has survived ever so many onslaughts through millennia, when these technollgies were not there for such lightning speed conversions.]

And finally, just a tiny fraction of the Hindu population understands much of the subtleties and nuances of our religion and its philosophical basis, and tinier still which practises its tenets without hypocrisy. But the vast masses understand them much more easily through the numerous festivals, ceremonies, temple visits, and other sacred means institutionalized by our great religion, and probably are better beneficiaries than the above tiny sections who cannot get subjective bliss of our religious experience by mere storing and propagating of the Vedic tenets. Thus it may not be correct for any of our religious institions and their Gurus/ Acharyas to ignore the service to the poor for their material uplift which must follow, or better still, accompany spiritual enlightenment. They can no longer afford to hold that their role and function as religious heads ceases with just running of a few philosophical magazines [whose contents few study though many obliging with a paid subscription] and preaching to an elite group of their devotees with just some selfish satisfaction and no consequence to the society at large.
POSTSCRIPT: Nothing that I wrote above may be construed as anything but my earnest suggestion that we are at a cross roads even as the Church has set strategic goals and targets with dates and numbers for conversion with the early objective of "planting the Cross in Asia".

 

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