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, December 08, 2005

In defence of Lord Krishna
New Delhi, December 8, 2005

A section of our surfers will agree, Hindus have traditionally been seen as 'passive'. Not any more. Hindus, learning from people of other religious sects, are quick to react every time a defamatory statement or picture appears.

The comment of Archbishop Nikon of Ufa and Sterlitamak from the Russian Orthodox Church statements against Lord Krishna has evoked sharp and informed reaction from one of our surfers.

It certainly merits attention.

In recent times, there have been a good number of cases when Hindu gods and goddesses have been misused. Take the British postage department's mistake in November this year. The stamp allegedly featured two Hindus with 'tilak' marks worshipping the infant Jesus Christ. The Hindu Forum of Britain immediately raised a furore demanding its withdrawal from circulation.

There has been any number of cases of fashion fraternity misusing Hindu icons and symbols as context for lingerie display.

It is in this context that the article and its response gain importance.

Let's first discuss the article appearing in Edition.

It said that the Archbishop sent a letter to the Mayor of Moscow, proposing against the building of a Hindu temple in the city. He called Lord Krishna "an evil demon, the personified power of hell opposing God", and "a livid lascivious youth".

It is amazing how a prominent member of such an important sect can have such intolerant and ignorant notions of another.

In a fitting reply, the article quotes Sanjay Jha, President of the Association of Indians in Russia as saying that besides displaying stunning ignorance of the world's oldest religion, it is also evident from the statement that the Russian Orthodox Church is still embedded in the dark ages of religious exclusivity, which has no place in today's increasingly pluralistic society.

Our surfer Mr William Glick from Gainesville, US wrote to put up an informed counter-argument.

He says, "The Archbishop Nikon of Ufa and Sterlitamak from the Russian Orthodox Church has shown that he has no understanding of Hinduism."

Glick contends Hinduism is far more assimilative as against the intolerance of the Archbishop.

Glick says that the Bhagwat Gita believes that through the chequered history of mankind, "God or His representatives come to reclaim conditioned souls".

There may be differences due to differences in culture, climate and people, but the basic principle remains the same, he says.

Hinduism, therefore, agrees with the Biblical claim that Christ was the son of God and had come from the kingdom of God to reclaim conditioned souls, just as Lord Krishna.

This is in sharp contrast to the intolerant creed of the Archbishop.

The article on also counters the Bishop's 'satanic' claims when it says, "To call Lord Krishna 'satanic' is not only sacrilegious in the eyes of Hindus, it is also patently ridiculous as any student of Hinduism knows, for Krishna is famous as the slayer of demons, Bhagavad-Gita (4.7-8)".

Glick further shows the similarity between Hinduism and Judaism. He says, "In fact, the Jewish and Hindu (Vedic) religions are saying the same thing and using almost the same language root. Their calendars are only about 300 years apart (after 5000 years). The most important name of God for every Jewish person is the name El KNA, who every Hindu knows as Kana, another name of Krishna."

A far cry from the exclusivity of Russian Archbishop's notions of his religion!

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