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.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Conversion is aggression against basic human rights

From R. Sridharan

Under the auspices of “Dharma Rakshan Samiti”, an event was organised at Chennai on June 26 for mediapersons for an interaction with revered Swami Dayanand Saraswathiji, Founder and President, “Arsha Vidya Gurukulam” and “Dharma Rakshan Samiti”. The aim of the event was to gauge the problems the mediapersons face in their profession especially while covering matters concerning our dharma, tradition and culture, and to guide and motivate them to avoid distortions and present the true picture.

Shri Gurumurthy, the eminent columnist, economist and nationalist, was the co-ordinator for the programme. In his introductory address Shri Gurumurthy said though we attained liberty from foreign yoke, we are not really independent. We continue to be the slaves of a foreign mindset and alien thought process.

Spirituality is the very life- breadth of Bharatiya culture. In our country spirituality has permeated every facet of life—be it economy, commerce or politics. Hinduism accepts all paths and gods as true. But it is not the case with some alien religions. Even some well-known intellectuals from the West have observed that the “One God Concept” is the only reason why the world is in such a turmoil. In recent times a perversion has crept in the body politic. This is very visible in the media. There is possibility of violence because of the spread of terrorism based on religion. Hence, to offset this spirituality has to spread and the media has a role in it.

The Dharma Rakshana Samiti of Swami Dayananda Saraswathiji was established to correct such aberrations and guide the people on the right lines. In his Anugraha Bhashan Swamiji said the media by and large is anti-national and anti-Hindu and carries on a committed campaign on these lines. We Hindus worship nature. It is the bedrock of our philosophy and culture even though there are different sampradayas. For the Hindus, the air, the earth and the water are all gods. A farmer whether in Kashmir or in Rameshwaram performs pooja to the land before commencing ploughing. No Hindu will consciously step on currency or books—even if the book happens to be a history book full of blatant lies written by communist historians. America is the only country which has the legend—In God We Trust—inscribed on its currency. But we Bharatvasis—even though we are the inheritors of the world’s oldest spiritual tradition—have not done that. But we seem to steadfastly believe in the motto—In Dollar We Trust. There is an attempt to falsify History so as to prevent our children from becoming justifiably proud about our culture and traditions.

In our tradition, all knowledge is sacred. Everything is divine—house is grihalakshmi, children are santanalakshmi and so on. Even knowledge is Goddess Saraswati. We look at the entire cosmos in a single drishti. In our country, there is a single culture from the North to the South. A traveller gets into a bus trusting the shouts of the conductor that it is bound for such and such destination. Similarly, we must have trust and have faith in the sage words of our ancestors. But some faiths promise to take you to heaven by short-cuts. But should one convert to those faiths for qualifying for the same? We have adopted secularism, which is non-interference in the religious affairs of any group. But as practised today, it is not real secularism.

In Thirumala, a conspiracy is being hatched. There is talk that only two hills belong to the Thirupathi Devasthanam. And even then it is restricted to only such and such area. Maybe we should stop calling Lord Venkateswara “the Lord of the Seven Hills” but only as “the Lord of the Two Hills”. The concept of religious minority is not prevalent anywhere in the world but only racial minority. No Hindu is against the mode of prayer of any other religion. The pooja room of the Hindus has many gods and they do not have a problem in accommodating one more. A few years back a book was written by the Catholic Cardinal Ratzinger, titled Proselytisation vs Conversion. According to him, proselytisation is bad but conversion is acceptable. The publisher wrote to the Swamiji to write few good words about the book. But he refused because the Swamiji is against conversion. Because to convert you need to have a programme. It is a sort of aggression and is against the very basic of human rights.

The Pope is concerned when Catholics get converted by other sects of Christianity like Seventh Day Adventist, Jehova’s witnesses or Pentecosts. But he forgets that he is reaping what he had sown. Our culture is under attack. In some missionary schools, girls are discouraged from sporting bindi on their foreheads or tucking flowers in their hair. If the practice of one religion involves the destruction of another religion, we cannot accept it. The communists and the Congress are playing vote- bank politics. It is unfortunate that the media is a silent witness to all this. The media has a responsibility to present the truth. It has to shape the public opinion and be the watchdog of the society.

The blatant antagonism against the religion of the land, which has a spiritual foundation, is tolerated by the media. Media has to take up cudgels on behalf of those who are wronged. It has to stand up for justice. When the Pope unfairly criticises our country the media has to answer him. The spiritual wealth of Bharat belongs to the entire humanity. It has to be safeguarded. The entire world must benefit from it.

After Swamiji’s address, members of the audience put forth their views and posed questions. The Swamiji answered them and cleared their doubts.

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