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, March 12, 2006

Vrindavana Parker in Arunachal 2003

Vrindavana Parker in Arunachal 2003: "I gave a lecture to about a hundred people, and it was here that I met the chief priest for the indigenous Danyi Polo religion in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. He was in his nineties and appeared very healthy and effulgent. Through a translator he spoke about the great struggles his people are going through. He said that through petty trickery, bribery, and other unscrupulous methods, western missionaries were destroying the native culture and civilization of his people. He said that he and the priests of Danyi Polo have performed many of the same miracles attributed to Christ and other saints. He felt that such miracles were not very important, that what matters is to be good, honest, and to love God, and to respect the religion of others while accepting that everyone has a unique relationship with the divine. He said it is wrong of the Christians to attack the faith of our ancestors. As soon as the Christians and Muslims accept that God is one and that there are different expressions of love that bring one to God, if they can accept this, all disputes will come to an end. I asked him to bless me and he said that he could not. He said that he will pray to God to bless me and to protect me. Referring to the Christians method of stripping converts of their indigenous clothing he said 'I will never throw down my sacred cap.'

I then headed to Ziro. Here I went to Hari Village. The local Tribals, the Aputani, are considered some of the world's greatest agriculturalists. Japanese researchers investigating various rice production methods rank them as the world's best. Aputani women over forty-five years old are tattooed and have large nose plugs. This practice was banned thirty-five years ago. It's probably an ancient custom, but I was told that the reason was the Aputani girls are considered very beautiful so when the Chinese invaded the women all tattooed their faces and bodies and put big plugs on both sides"


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