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 21, 2006

Swami Devananda threatened for exposing conversion activities in Tiruvanammalai


We spent about three hours with Swami Devananda today, and could easily have listened to him for twice as long. He was born in Canada and first came to India in 1967, and has been living in India for the past thirty years, first living with Muktananda and then moving out of that scene, going through all the samskaras and becoming a dasanami sannyasi–very orthodox.

He has some unusual claims to fame, including being openly threatened by the minions of Fr. Bede Griffiths with both secret poisoning and deportation. It seems that Swamiji entered into a correspondence with Fr. Bede about the anti-Hindu, Catholic evangelizing nature of Shantivanam, and the Catholic efforts in India in general. Swamiji is good friends with Ram Swarup and also Sita Ram Goel (author of Why I Am A Hindu), who published these letters with Fr. Bede’s permission. Devananda came out looking like the winner, which infuriated Fr. Bede. Ram Swarup then took up correspondence with Fr. Bede that got really feisty. Meanwhile, Fr. Bede learned that Devananda was a foreigner, which for some reason made him even madder. One thing led to another, and eventually Devananda found his kutir surrounded by Christian evangelical centers on all sides, blaring “Hallelujah” and “Praise the Lord” until 3:00 in the morning.

Swamiji is a wonderful combination of great love for and knowledge of Sanatana Dharma, plus complete candor and realism–especially in reaction to the Christian missionary efforts to subvert Hinduism.

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