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, April 03, 2005

The other side of tolerance

Christian missionaries, Muslim Leaguers, ‘secularists’, Marxists—all are criticising Hindus for abandoning their traditional attribute of tolerance. They want Hindus to be as accommodating as they were in the past to jihadi terrorism, secessionism, internationally funded religious organisations engaged in converting the illiterate, the isolated and the indigent. For these people, the communists in particular, words have different meanings. Here is what the venerated St Augustine, had to say: “I am in the right. You are in the wrong. When you are stronger you ought to tolerate me, for it is your duty to tolerate the truth. But when I am stronger, I shall persecute you for it is my duty to persecute errors.” Communists, spokespersons of the Muslim community and Christian missionaries believe that only what they say and practise is the truth, everything else is false. Communists champion the right to freedom of expression and political activity in places where they constitute a political minority. When they take over states—recall the cases of the erstwhile Soviet Union and its satellite states in Europe, China, North Korea, Vietnam and Cuba—they proceed to liquidate all political outfits and impose the dictatorship of ‘proletariat—read the communist leadership. Those speak out or write against the communist dogma are called “enemies of the people”, who are to be deprived of all liberties and, more often than not, killed. In Islamic states like Pakistan or even Muslim majority areas such as the Kashmir Valley, the question of showing tolerance towards non-Muslims does not arise. ‘Unbelievers’ are ethnically cleansed, or treated in a manner such as dhimmis—protected people with limited rights—once used to be. As for many Christian missionaries, they too want us to tolerate conversions— ‘harvesting of souls’ that may involve faking cures, inveiglement, enticement and fraud. But if the same fraud is sought to be practised by non-Christians in Christian-dominated countries, it won’t be tolerated. In his monumental work, Geeta Rahasya, Lokmanya Tilak spoke of Lord Krishna’s message telling people not to tolerate the intolerant, the adharmis, the encroachers and the violent. The other part of the message was to resolutely resist and vanquish all those who are wedded to intolerance, to their own dominance and to the extermination of pluralism.

T Renuka


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