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.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Islam Changes Even the Human Nature of the Convert, said Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay

Author: V.P. Bhatia
Publication: Organiser
Date: November 17, 2002

In last week's column, I had quoted the views of Gandhiji's Christian admirer, a British missionary, Father Verrier Elwin's views, warning India about the dangers of the conversion of hill tribes to Christianity which was being carried on with British connivance for ulterior purposes by thousands of foreign missionaries. Dr Elwin had said prophetically in 1944, "At the present rate of progress the entire aboriginal (Adivasi) population will be converted. It will be turned into a querulous, anti-national, aggressive minority community with none of the old virtues and few of the new, which will be a thorn in the side of the future government of India." (Vide Mahatma Gandhi by Dhananjay Keer, Popular Prakashan, Bombay, P. 608).

Earlier in reply to persistent pressure by his missionary friends who saw him soft towards Christianity, Gandhiji had declared helplessly in the Harijan of May 11, 1935, "Who am I to prevent them? If I had the power and could legislate, I should certainly stop all proselytizing. It is the cause of much avoidable conflict between classes and unnecessary heart burning among missionaries. But I should welcome people of any nationality if they came to serve here for the sake of service. In Hindu households the advent of a missionary has meant the disruption of the family coming in the wake of change of dress, manners, language, food and drinks.

In short, "in India change of religion unfortunately led always to change of nationality. Proselytisation paved the way for national disintegration and disloyalty. The converts changed their culture and broke their national ties. It deflected the converts from Indian history and nationhood, national convictions and beliefs. Christian missionaries proselytised the hill tribes. The sons and daughters of these converts, the Nagas in the eastern frontiers of India, the Uraons and the aboriginals in Central India, who were converted to Christianity and the Christians in Travancore and Cochin demanded separate states such as Nagaland, Jharkhand and so on."

However, according to the great Bengali novelist Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, the writer fo the much-filmed noval Devdas and a few others like Bipradas, Palli Samaj and Pather Dabi change of religion not only leads to the change of nationality but to the very nature of the convert, if the religion of the convert happens to be Islam. In an address to the Bengal Provincial Hindu Conference of 1926, where he spoke on the subject of "Bartaman Hindu Muslim Samasya" (Present day Hindu Muslim Problem), condemning Muslim violence and plunder in the wake of the failure of the Khilafat Movement which united the Muslims as never before, rousing them to Pan-Islamic consciousness upto the village level and leading to large scale riots against the Hindus all over India especially Pabna district of Bengal because of the mullahs' fanatical propaganda. In fact, both the British administration and the Islamic fanatics joined hands to punish the Hindus for their nationalistic activities.

While the whole of Sarat Chandra's four-page address needs to be read carefully by all Hindus in the present day context of worldwide Islamic terrorism, the crux of his 1926 speech was that while a Christian may still retain some Hindu qualities after conversion, a Muslim convert changes completely, turning his back on every cultural and civilisational quality of the past, including his humanity. Under the circumstances, Hindu-Muslim unity is an impossible dream. Criticizing Gandhiji's fad of communal unity, he said "To my mind, there is nothing more dishonourable than begging for pity and grovelling for unity (with Muslims). In this country and abroad, I have several Christian friends. Either they or their forefathers adopted a new faith. But unless they tell you themselves that they are Christians it is impossible to tell them apart from us, or to think they are not still our brothers and sisters. I knew a Christian lady once. She died young, but even so, there are few who have earned as much respect in their life time." Most of them don't change their names and even surnames after conversion to Christianity to avoid undue social stigma.

"But Muslims? I had a Brahmin cook once. He sacrificed his religion in order to indulge his passion for a Muslim woman. One year later, he had changed his name, his dress and even his nature. The very face that God gave him had changed beyond recognition. And this is not an isolated instance. Those who know something about village life know that this sort of thing happens frequently. And in the matter of hatred and aggression against Hindus those converts put even their Muslim co-religionist to shame."

Hindus should concentrate on the internal unity of Hindu society

According to Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay Hindu-Muslim unity was an impossible dream because only the Hindus wanted and tried for it. But the Muslims reply only by aggression, repression, violence and plunder of Hindus. So Hindus should for sometime forget about it and let Muslims desire it first. If the Hindus stop running after Muslims for unit, Muslims may ultimately come round and ask for it. Till then Hindus should make no move towards it. The real problem for Hindus was not Hindu Muslim unity but the internal unity of the Hindu society itself - of the upper castes with lower castes, lack of which was eating into the vitals of the Hindu society. Let the Hindus concentrate on it and try sincerely to cultivate feelings of oneness towards their own kith and kin instead of running after those who do not consider India as their own country and are more interested in Pan-Islamic causes.

In this context, it may be remembered that Islam is not simply a religion, it is a political religion, rather pure politics to conquer the whole world by inflating the number of its followers by hook or crook.

As a commentator puts it: "Islam was born as a totalitarian and terrorist cult, which it has remained ever since. Its only religious achievement was to rationalize the lower human passions and stamp them with the supernatural seal of an almighty Allah. It was, therefore, inevitable for it to become an ideology of imperialism with a clean conscience. The followers of Islam thus found it easy to fell convinced that they were carrying out the commandments of Allah while they invaded other countries, indulged in mass slaughter, converted the conquered people by force. (Sita Ram Goel in Muslim Separatism - Causes & Consequences, Voice of India, 2/118, Ansari Road, New Delhi - 110000)

In short, it is a holy brotherhood of brigands, as Anwar Shaikh puts it in his book "Islam - Sex and Violence", "Since Jehad is offered by it as the sure means of access to paradise which is described as the abode of choicest carnal-delights after death, sex and violence combine to form the basic approach of Islam to coax man into a web of salvation." It offers booty and enemy's women as reward in this world and houris in the next. Thus it exploits the basest lust, urge for plunder of its followers to do or die for the sake of Islamic victory. Some more extracts from Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's above mentioned address are given below:

"The one who laboured hardest of this (Hindu-Muslim unity) was Mahatmaji himself. No one else had as much hope, and no one else felt so cheated. In those (Khilafat) days. Muslim politicians were at his right hand and at his left, they were his eyes and his ears. My goodness, was there ever such a spectacle? His last attempt for Hindu-Muslim unity was his twenty-one day fast at Delhi. He is a simple, God fearing man: perhaps the thought that by showing a readiness to suffer, they would take pity on him (and relent). Somehow his life was saved. His dearly beloved friend Mr Mohammed Ali was the one who was most disturbed, it all happens before his eyes. Shedding crocodile tears, he said, 'Oh, what a good man is this Mahatmaji! I want to do something really helpful for him. So let us first go to Mecca, then make an oblation to the Pir, then read the Kalima, and make him renounce the infidel religion'. On hearing this, the disillusioned Mahatma cried, 'Let the earth swallow me.'

"The truth is that if Muslims ever say that they want to unite with Hindus, there is no greater hoax. The Muslims came to India to plunder it, not to establish a kingdom. They were not satisfied merely with looting, they destroyed temples, they demolished idols, they raped women. The insult to other religions and the injury to humanity was unimaginable.

"Even when they became kings they could not liberate themselves from these loathsome desires. Even Akbar, who was famed for his tolerance, was no better than notorious emperors like Aurangzeb. But today it seems that their practices have become an addiction. Many argue that the monstrous events at Pabna were the work of mullahs from the West (Western India), who excited the innocent and uneducated Muslim peasants and instigated these awful deeds. But if, in the same way, a party of Hindus priests were to arrive in a Hindu-majority area and try to incite the docile Hindu peasantry to burn the homesteads, loot he property and insult the women of their innocent Muslim neighbours, then the same unlettered Hindu peasantry would immediately declare them mad and drive them away from the village.

"Why does this happen? Is it simply the result of illiteracy? If learning is simply knowing how to read and write, there is little difference between Hindu and Muslim peasants and laboures. But if the essence of learning is breadth of mind and culture at one's very heart, then there is no comparison between the two communities. When journalists raise the question of the abduction of Hindu women, why are the Muslim leaders silent? When people of their community regularly commit such grave crimes, why do they not protest? What is the meaning of their silence? To my mind, the meaning is crystal clear. It is only a sense of decorum that prevents them from admitting openly that far from protesting, given the opportunity, they would commit the same crimes themselves!

"The problem before Hindus, therefore, is not to bring about his unnatural union between Hindus and Muslims. Their task is to achieve unity within their own community, and to bring an end to the folly of those practising Hindus (Hindu dharmaablambi) who insult some people by calling them 'low caste'. Even more pressing is the need for Hindus to think about how they may let the (religious) truth within them blossom like a flower in their everyday lives and public behaviour. Those who think do not speak, those who speak do not act and those who act are not accepted. If this evil is not checked, even God will not be able to mend the countless holes that are being punched into the fabric of the (Hindus) community.

"This is the problem and this is the duty. There is no point in wailing or beating our breasts because Hindu-Muslim unity has not come about. If we stop our own crying, we may be able to hear crying from their quarters.

"Hindustan is the homeland of the Hindus. Therefore it is the duty of the Hindus alone to free this nation from the chains of servitude. Muslims look towards Turkey and Arabia, their hearts are not in India. What is the use of bemoaning this facts? To appeal to them in the name of the Soil of Mother India is as pointless as talking to a brick wall. Today it is vital that we understand this point - that this work is the work only of Hindus, and no one else. There is no need to get agitated counting how numerous is the Muslim population. Numbers are not the ultimate truth in this world. There are greater truths, in whose scale of values the arithmetic of counting heads has no place"

Source: Haripada Ghosh (ed.). Sarat Rachana Samagra ('Collected Works of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay'), III, Calcutta 1989, Quoted in Divided Bengal by Joy Chatterjee, Cambridge University Press, Foundation Books 4764/2A, 23 Ansari Road, New Delhi - 110002.

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At 1/07/2006 05:25:00 AM, Blogger Vinayak said...


Happy new year. That was a thought provoking post there.

The ayodhya dispute, Religious Conversions, Terrorism, Hindu right Vs country's left !!, war on terror etc. leave very strong feelings and often lead to debates. Your blog made me think of the Indian context

I feel Terrorism and destruction need not be overt. It could be covert too. . My blog below is on how the society defines the "weak" and who becomes the underdog !

"..Gudia, a Muslim girl and Shri Ramdev ji, a Hindu male...".




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