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, June 05, 2005

Stop the cultural genocide

Dr Babu Suseelan

There are many ways of destroying a nation. One of the methods is to destroy the religion and cultural institutions of the nation. This was the case in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Babylon and Greece. Now remnant of this ancient civilization exists only in western museums.

For centuries Hindu culture has survived challenges from Islamic invaders and Christian colonists. Hindus kept their religious practices, temples, cultural institutions and heritage by preserving religious symbols, myths, legends, stories and cultural artifacts. Temple rituals, religious artifacts and samskaras are important part of our heritage. They affirm our common patterns, the values and customs that bind us together. Hindu temples, symbols, myths and artifacts link together our ancestors and descendants, those who went before with those who will come after us. It helps people to face together their destiny. Temples introduce younger generation to ideals and values and they generate spiritual energy and beauty. Generation after generation, Hindu temples have been a source of inspiration and spiritual strength. For many years Hindu temples and religious institutions were preserved and protected by faithful and committed believers.

How times have changed! Now Hindu culture is facing new challenges. Our enemies know that Hindus cannot be cowed into submission. Hindus cannot be pushed around anymore. So they are devising devious and tricky strategies. One strategy is to smuggle Hindu religious and cultural artifacts out of India. Hindu religious, cultural artifacts, temple deities and priceless gold ornaments are smuggled out of India with the active participation of foreign smugglers. Bronze artifacts, made before the 2nd century, expensive silver and gold artifacts, antique swords made of ivory, ceremonial lamps, bronze statues, beautiful ivory carvings, elephants made out of gold stone, bronze and gold sculptures of Vishnu, Shiva and Parvathy, which vary from six inches tall to those six feet or more in height are regularly smuggled out of India. Fifth century bronze statue of Sri Buddha meditating in the lotus position, statue of Sri Ganesha relaxing on his throne, ancient bow and arrow made of bronze, gold incense burner, flute, harp made in the 8th century and Nataraja statue made in the 6th century fill America's wealthy investors` living rooms and prestigious auction houses in London Paris and New York.

Many stolen artifacts are exquisitely made with abstract and floral images. Hindu temple deities are not the only wares being sought by western investors. Auctioneers also seek strong interest in Jaipur arts, temple carvings and precious ancient gold jewels with religious values. Strong interest in temple sculpture was demonstrated at auction houses in New York, London, Zurich, Paris and Frankfurt. Recently large deities of God Nataraja and Goddesses Meenakshi were sold for record amounts in London. Western buyers are interested in gold artifacts; ceremonial swords made for Maharajas, necklaces, gold plaque, and ancient gold and silver coins. Antique arts are also smuggled out of India frequently. They fetch high prices in Europe and America. Major auction houses in London, Paris, Geneva and New York are describing Hindu religious art as one of their strongest sale items. Recently Sanskrit sutras written in ancient palm leaves, old Ayurvedic texts written in Sanskrit and old temple carvings were smuggled out of Kerala and sold in Germany at record prices.

Westerners are attracted to Hindu deities, cultural artifacts and religious icons not because of the purity and beauty and its spiritual values but as an investment opportunity. But for Hindus and spiritual minded people all over the world, these religious deities and icons are important part of heritage. Religious and cultural artifacts are the expression of all the knowledge, myths, legends and wisdom accumulated throughout our history. These precious religious symbols are emotionally nourishing and intellectually stimulating. These cultural robbers are amputating our history, destroying our spiritual bonds and disconnecting our history. These priceless items are our symbols of cosmological and historical consciousness. They generate powerful spiritual values and act as a fruitful symbiosis and express human harmony. Temple deities and cultural artifacts affirm the value of our spiritual heritage and inner strength. They introduce new insight, vision and courage. It is a constant source of inspiration and vitality.

Research studies indicate that creativity is a positive function of the availability of arts, literature, myths, religious symbols, cultural artifacts and legends of previous generations. Hence cultural continuity, spiritual tradition and religious practices are essential for political stability and social unity.

Disloyal pseudo secular political leaders
It is the policy, belief, and practices of the people at power that encourage smugglers and cultural robbers. The chief trait of the situation in India is the cultural pollution. The active disloyalty of secularists, and communist hostility towards Hindu civilization is a fact of recent history. But beneath this disloyalty is another indisputable fact. Pseudo secularists have ruled India since 1947 under an anti-Hindu constitution. They still regard Hindu heritage as inferior and marginal. These phony secularists seem to believe that Hindu culture has nothing of perennial value. Their pseudo secularism and moral agnosticism are used invariably to cast India as regressive. Acting and abetting these disloyal politicians are the communists, Muslims and Christian leaders. They lead the innocent into the arms of cultural robbers, and anti national smugglers. These subversive activities suggest a moment of unusual foreign influence and cultural pollution that provide opportunities to smuggle priceless religious artifacts out of India.

Hidden agenda
One may also wonder whether smuggling of Hindu religious and cultural artifacts is part of large schemes to destroy our religion and squeeze wealth out of India. This deliberate attempt to smuggle Hindu deities and cultural valuables may also be an attempt to disrupt Hindu cultural continuity and destroy Hindu religious pride.

Government inaction
Self-obliterating India has the sorriest of records in preserving and protecting Hindu temples and cultural artifacts. This inaction is an opportunity for cultural genocide. There can be a number of causes for this deliberate blindness of the government to stop this smuggling and destruction of Hindu culture. A French philosopher once said, "Decadence is worse than dictatorship". It means a distorted secular Indian government is worse than colonialism.

Agenda for action
There are other false assumptions about India's policy that must be challenged. One is that Hindus are passive, indifferent, and inactive and cannot preserve and protect our religion and culture. The worst mistake of all is to assume that Hindu religion is eternal and will survive without protection. There is no excuse for neglecting our temples, cultural artifacts and religious monuments.

A clear and good public, religious, institutional and government bond is essential to prevent large-scale smuggling of Hindu treasures. Hindus need to reaffirm their faith in their spiritual heritage and cultural tradition. Intellectuals who stand to the left or to the right on the political spectrum should initiate strategies to educate the public the importance of committing to the rich tradition and heritage. An appreciation of Hindu heritage and values is the beginning step to preserve our religious treasures. Smuggling, anti-social activities, cultural pollution and religious conversion occur when people live in a moral and religious vacuum. Indian political leaders should declare that they stand for preserving our cultural heritage and religious institutions. In a transforming world of globalization, a nation, which tries to preserve its tradition, will be uniquely identified as a great nation forever. Our religion, heritage, culture and treasures are sacred. The government has a responsibility and an obligation to preserve, protect and promote it.

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At 11/21/2008 03:44:00 AM, Blogger Swabhimaan said...

Hindus (including Jains and Budhists) who are tired of pseudo-secular governments and media are invited to join Swabhimaan - a movement launched to unite Hindus of India and protect their interests. For more details please contact



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