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.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

My religion takes you to heaven, yours to hell. Can God be so partial?

Author: Dr C.I. Issac
Publication: Organiser
Date: January 9, 2005

An eleventh commandment is the need of the hour so far as Christianity as well as other Semitic religions are concerned. Their God had failed to make such a command in the past. It has prompted the gods to safeguard their endurance because in an era of a competition of gods for survival, the existence of a particular God was being challenged by other gods. So the gods of the Semitics were forced to limit their commandments to ten. That is why He hath issued some harsh ordinances like, “Condemn to death anyone who offers sacrifices to any God except to me, the Lord” [See Exodus Ch. 22, Aphorism 20]. But in India, it has been much different to the Semitic situation. Here for thousands of years, one type of worship or way of realisation of God never infringed upon other gods. It was because of this reason that the Indian mindset was moulded/shaped by the rishis [great teachers] who presented a worldview of lokah samasta sukhino vabantu and proclaimed the unity and oneness of God. That is why there are four authoritative texts of the Hindus—Vedas, adhering to the message of monism/Advaitam/unitarianism or the strong foundation of monotheism. Hence, each Veda proclaimed the message of monotheism of first degree without any obscurity: Rig Veda proclaims pranjanam Brahma; Yajur Veda highlights aham Brahmasmi; Sama Veda announces tatvamasi; and Atharva Veda confirms ayammathma Brahma. Above all, the Rig Veda mantra of eakam sat vipra bahuta vadanti became the basis of the Hindu approach to other faiths. Thus, in the light of this Hindu approach, let us examine the recent controversies on the question of proselytism.

On November 6, 1999 Pope John Paul II in his sermon at the Sacred Heart Cathedral of New Delhi, openly stated, “Just as in the first millennium the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the third Christian millennium, a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital continent [Asia]”.

We should take this call on its face value as the Pope is the head of a big Christian faction. No doubt this call was an open challenge upon the sovereignty of a democratic country and its people, while considering the political statuesque of the Pope, i.e. the head of another sovereign country [even though its area is below 250 acres], the Vatican city. No doubt it was part of a conspiracy going on in Christendom all over. On the basis of the sermon of Pope, we should see the American President George Bush’s Asian Christianisation project worth one thousand crore dollars. The World Christian Encyclopaedia, Vol. I, 2nd edition, 2001, p. 366 of OUP, New York reads on India as follows: “Christians and Muslims will probably both find room to grow in the mosaic of India’s peoples so that by 2025, Christians account for 7.4 per cent and Muslims for 12.2 per cent while Hindus decline under 73 per cent [down from 80 per cent in 1900]... With sustained growth over the next few decades, Christianity could grow to nearly 10 per cent of India’s population by a.d. 2050. Hindus will potentially decline as a percentage of India’s population as other religions continue to win adherents over the next few decades.” In the light of all these, we must try to see the question of conversion going on amongst the Hindus of India in general and particularly of the Hindu jatis in Kerala.

The society of Kerala is highly literate and that is why the Christian/Islamic stratagems on proselytism are entirely different from the rest of India and are multi-faceted. In the light of this insight, one should see the Hindu antipathy over the minority approach of en masse dismemberment of a community/culture. No doubt this proselytisation process is suicidal insofar as a civilisation is concerned. Under the guise of charitable service, a Kenyan national, Brother Bernard, on a visiting visa and some nuns of the above missionary organisation in an economically backward Hindu settlement, were opposed and blockaded at the entrance of the hamlet by some youth hailing from all non-communal political parties. This piece of news is being vocally debated upon in the mainstream newspapers of Kerala. One year back another US citizen, named Rev. Joseph Cooper, with a visiting visa, publicly ridiculed and belittled Hindu gods and goddesses in a Christian convention at Kilimannoor, near Trivandrum. The public however managed to control the situation and the state government along with the ruling and opposition front paved the escape route for the missionary, who violated visa norms from the eyes of law as had happened in the case of Brother Bernard recently. Both were engaged in conversion of Hindus, but those who are responsible to bring them before law, closed their eyes wilfully.

Kerala, no doubt is the cape of suicides and number one in the world. In this suicidal cape more than three dozen farmers opted for the path of suicide on account of their mounting insolvency. A good number of them were Christians and belonged to the cash crop rich area of Wyanadu, a place near the nuns of Missionaries of Charity who are labouring in the Hindu hamlet of Calicut. They could find no time to console the families of the ill-fated Christians or extend any relief to the kith and kin of the unfortunate victims. Possibly the ‘messiahs of service and charity’ bypassed the sorrows of the poor, traditional Christians because they have already been granted rooms in heaven. No, diluting the grief of the traditional Christians is never a profitable business as far as the agents of conversion/ proselytism are concerned. So they are now on the doors of the needy Hindus with their ‘charity’.

Sister Nirmala, the Mother Superior of the Missionaries of Charity, who pretends to respect secularist values, clearly explained their approach towards other religions in the following words: “Christianity is the only religion which is totally true; the other religions are true only partially.” The CMI, the monastic order of the Catholic church, in their document relating to their education policy published in 1991 for private circulation, states that the ultimate aim of their education service in India is “to grant acquaintance with the persona of Jesus Christ and His Gospel” to the Hindu boys. It is interesting to see that Francis Xavier, who was responsible for the establishment of the ‘Holy Inquisition of Goa’, in which Hindu women were raped and immolated alive and Hindu places of worship were desecrated, has been elevated to sainthood, and Christian educational institutions in India are being established in his name. The same Francis Xavier wrote to his monastic authorities at Portugal about his ‘heroic deeds’ in India in the following words: “I order everywhere the temples to be pulled down and idols broken. I know not how to describe in words the joy I feel before the spectacle of pulling down and destroying the idols.” [Kanayalal M. Talreja: Holy Vedas and Holy Bible, p. 18].

Jawaharlal Nehru pictures the vulgar face of the ‘Holy Inquisition’ in his work Glimpses of World History, p. 191 as follows: “About this time, the Inquisition, that terrible weapon which Roman Church forged to crush all who did not bow down to it, was established in Spain. Jews, who had prospered under the Saracens, were now forced to change their religion, and many were burnt to death. Women and children were not spared.” See how cruel the Christianity was as practiced by the ‘angels of service’.

The first Dalit conversion in Kerala took place on September 6, 1854, that is exactly 150 years back, and one Daivathan was converted to Christianity and christened as Habel. Now, the Christian, source certify that there are three million Dalits converted to Christians, who reside in Kerala. Their social as well as economic status is very pathetic and they are destined to the savarna Christian’s ostracism. Their journey to paradise was no doubt like the old saying that goes ‘from the frying pan to the burning fire’. Now their social position is between the devil and the deep sea. That is why the progenies of the first converted Dalit [Daivathan/ Habel] returned to poorva dharma, i.e. Hinduism. Let us quote an Anglo-Indian novelist of contemporary Kerala, Nirmala Aravind: “Their church had started out by encouraging converts from low castes, but after some time the Syrian Christians [savarna Christians] could not stomach the former untouchables sitting side by side with them on the same pews, and there had been a cleavage. Now there are separate churches in some places, though converts are still admitted.” The plight of the poor Dalits, once converted to Christianity, is horrendous. Father Chavara, the blessed, a CMI padre, was a pioneer in the field of Dalit conversion to Catholic faith in the 19th century. Large numbers of Dalits was converted to the Catholic church through him and he constructed a church and a school for them. In the deluge of time they were kicked out from the church and the school, worth one hundred million rupees, by the savarna Catholic Christians and the poor converts now satisfy themselves with 25 cents of cemetery meant exclusively for the converted Christians. It is relevant to quote J.C. Kumarappa (an Indian Christian) that “before these Christian missionaries landed in Africa, the Africans had their land with them, but not the Bible. Now they have their Bible with them, not their land.” [The Hindu, March 13, 2001, Open Page, Kochi edition]. Prof. Joseph Pulikunnel, a veteran Syrian Catholic social reformer, comments, “There are about 150 Christian colleges in Kerala [now its number is double], but you will not find any Dalit working there.” [Organiser, April 29, 2001].

Secular Hindus and the progressive media usually raise the question that why do we fear the conversion. Particularly when even after the conversion, the same person leads a life without any difference from the earlier one. Now that the Hindus are more than 85 per cent, why do we worry about the majority status of Hindus? These all are positive questions immediately generating positive answers. But actually what happened in the yesteryears of the republic of India? It is interesting to see that the Muslims of India during the days of Bengal's Partition in 1905 were Muslim nationals who fought against the divisive attempts of the British Raj. The Muslims fought this battle shoulder to shoulder with their Hindu brethren and uttered the same slogan of Hindus, ‘Bharata Mata ki jai’ without the fear of loss of their religion. Again they never forgot to celebrate the holy Deepavali, Raksha Bandhan, and other national festivals and tie rakhee on their wrist with a feeling/sense of nationalism. But what happened in the year 1947? The number of Muslims in 1901 was 2,91,02,000, i.e. 12.209 per cent of the total population and thereafter in 1941, this population rose to 68.24 per cent and reached 4,26,45,000, i.e. 13.380 per cent of the total population, so they demanded a separate nation for the Muslims. There are several factors which led to the division of India and amongst these several factors, the population factor was very vital. On the basis of the population factor, Muhammad Ali Jinnah raised the same question to justify the ‘two-nation’ theory that he placed before the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. At present, several regions in India have begun to stomach such an abnormal level of Muslim/Christian population growth and all these places are becoming the epicentres for divisive as well as subversive activities.

Islam has now begun to show its true face. But the Muslims of India are nowadays reluctant to stomach a non-Islamic faith. Let us quote M. Riaz Hasan, a UK-based Muslim NRI, who has worked and travelled widely in Muslim countries. In his own words: “Islam is now a religion of paradoxes and its practice is totally inconsistent with its preaching. The Indian Muslims including the Kashmiri Muslims are perhaps the most fortunate religious minority in the world today because they live in a truly secular, pluralistic democracy in the world.’’ [The Hindu, Kochi, Open Page, dated November 27, 2001]. While disseminating their intolerance, they are not properly accounting for the reality revealed by M. Riaz Hasan. Muslims, wherever they be, are still under the old Arab psyche. Let us quote Will Durant: “The immigration of two hundred Meccan families created a food shortage in Medina. Mohammed solved the problem as a starving people do by taking food from where it could be had. In commissioning his lieutenants to raid the caravans that passed Medina, he was adopting the morals of most Arab tribes in his time. When the raid succeeded, four-fifths of the spoils went to the raiders, one-fifth to the Prophet...” [The Story of Civilisation—The Age of Faith, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1950, Book II, Chapter VIII, p. 168.]

Just think what happens in Nagaland? The brave Nagas fought a consistent war against the British Raj. Nobody can question the genuineness of their national commitment and their fight for the cause of our national freedom. But what happened in the subsequent days? The British used their missionaries and converted one person after another and gradually the national spirit was extinguished amongst them all. By 1951 the Christian share of the total population of Nagaland was 46.04 per cent. It gradually enhanced and reached 52.97 per cent in 1961 and thereupon the progenies of the same old Nagas of 1900s who stood for the national cause turned against us and now treat the rest of Indians as foreigners [not reproducing the obscene phrase that is used by the Naga separatist mentality to identify we Indians]. Now the Christian population comes to 85 per cent. The case of Mizoram is not much different from the situation in Nagaland. The missionaries of ‘charity and service’ altogether dismembered the Hindu population and now its Christian population is 85 per cent. In 1951, Meghalaya’s Christian share was only 22.66 per cent and at present it is 55 per cent. [Population data other than for 2001 is reproduced from Arun Shourie’s Missionaries in India.] All the Christian-dominated states of north-east are labouring for the cause of our national disintegration. What a paradox it is! In short, one thing is clear that wherever in India, minority religious groups secure a decisive role, they turn against the national interest.

On taking into consideration all the above-mentioned facts, one thing is clear that the minorities’ chief priority is not the nation but their religion, paradise and a worldly State of their exclusive own. They cannot digest other faiths. Their religion and God is not for peaceful coexistence. Let me quote the Bible: “Think not that I am came to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father; and the daughter against her mother; and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” [Mathew, Ch. X, Aphorisms 34, 35]. Christianity is looking too smart with its concealed biting teeth, posing a potential threat, seemingly different from that of Islam. They are not ready to reread their theology on the basis of time and space. This means they are not ready for any compromise on the question of conversion. This is also very clear from the words of the Pope. Now the Christians have a 31 per cent share in the world population, Muslims have 19.6 per cent and the Hindus have 14 per cent. Both of them are targeting the Hindus—the most unorganised religious/ethnic section in the world.

It is better to quote Samuel P. Huntington, who says, “Muslim nationalism is becoming more extreme. It now takes no account of other national sensibilities; it is the property, privilege and political instrument of the newly predominant nation... The main result of this new Muslim nationalism is a movement towards national homogenisation... Increasingly, Islamic religious fundamentalism is also gaining dominance in determining Muslim national interests... In the emerging era, clashes of civilisations are the greatest threat to world peace, and an international order based on civilisations is the surest safeguard against world war.” [The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order, 1997, p. 270.].

For an international order that guarantees peace and tranquillity to the world, Semitic religions must add one more commandment to its didactics, that is, an eleventh one which must ensure world peace and teach its faithfuls to respect other gods and religions. When in an age gods were in competition for survival, they limited the commandments to ten, including “worship no God but me”. [Exodus, Ch. 20, Aphorism. 3]. But now the same Semitic gods need not worry because they have got a sufficient number of Christians [31 per cent] and Muslims [19.6 per cent] in the world population. The most liberal Hindu gods are now destined to remain satisfied with only 14 per cent of Hindus.

(The author is Head of the PG Department of History, CMS College, Kottayam, Kerala and can be contacted at Chavanickamannil, Vadavathoor, P.O. Kottayam, Kerala-686 101; e-mail: ciissac@sancharnet.in; visit: www.christiansofkerala.com)

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