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, January 16, 2007

This is how church is spreading hatred in N-East

By Surya Narain Saxena

Hinduism sapped martial spirit of Ahoms; Sanskritisation destroyed tribal culture; Church civilised NE

Hindustan, the land of Hindus, that welcomed with open arms and heart all races, people and faiths should be subjected to such a venomous attack by the followers of a faith that reached the shores of this land within five decades of its birth and flourished thereafter without any hindrance is nothing but height of ingratitude and an specimen of satan in man.

The Ahoms of Assam embraced Hinduism on their own volition to be one with the mainstream. They were not brought into Hindu fold through devious evangelising tricks of Christian missionaries. Sanskrit or Sanskritisation never destroyed anybody’s culture; it rather enriched it.

To Hindu ethos of universalism and respect of all religions and faiths as compressed in Sarvadharma-samabhava, how malicious is the response of Christian elite and men of letters of the north-east, must be known to all men of goodwill. We are given to understand that the message of Christ is one of love, of respecting other cultures and creed—not of utilising devious and unethical means to converting people. But in practice, those who count among the Christian community contravene the message of love of Christ broadcast hatred and scorn against their fellow citizens, the Hindus. I am reproducing hereunder excerpts of some such recent published writings.

After denying that on adopting Christianity the tribal population of the north-east has lost their identity and culture, one church celebrity Dr. J. Kuruvachira says: “Perhaps the most important contribution made by Christianity in the north-east is related to education and culture.” This is followed by a long list of educators and institutions spread among various tribes of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya. Then he says: “While with the Assamese language it was a matter of revitalizing and modernizing an ancient language…and with the hill tribes often it was necessary to create a written language and literature.”

He wrongly emphasised, “Sanskritisation destroys the culture of the north-east. The tribes of the north-east have lost their culture by succumbing to the Sanskritisation process imposed on them by the Hindu organisations” and cites the example of Ahoms of Assam, who according to him, “were converted to Hinduism during the reign of Rudra Singha (1696-1714) through the proselytising engagements of Brahmins from West Bengal. The change (to Hinduism) was disastrous. It involved the loss of old martial spirit and pride of race, with which Ahoms till then were animated; their patriotic feelings thenceforth became more and more subordinated to sectarian animosities and internal dissensions and intrigues and their power soon began to decay.”

Sanskrit doesn’t destroy, it enriches

This falsehood needs to be nailed. The Ahoms of Assam embraced Hinduism on their own volition to be one with the mainstream. They were not brought into Hindu fold through devious evangelizing tricks of Christian missionaries. Sanskrit or Sanskritisation never destroyed anybody’s culture; it rather enriched it. For example William Jones translated Kalidas’ Shankuntalam, missionaries like Max Muller and Cole Brooke translated the Vedas and Wilkins the Bhagawad Gita and within half a century the Sanskrit language and literature became known all over and its range and richness dazzled the world. It will be fruitful to inform Dr Kuruvachira that all these scholars were European Christians. None of them lost his religion nor culture not only on studying Sanskrit but even after delving deep into the language and its influence. A German remained a German and an Englishman an English and a good Christian as well. Among the living torch-bearers of the Vedas in the west, American Vedic scholar David Frawley hasn’t lost his Americanness.

Writing in the same strain the author citing the case of the Meities, Tripuris, Reangs, Jamatias, Halams and other tribes says, “They had to accept the new identity externally imposed on them, namely that of Hinduism….To be Christians means to be free from evils of Hinduism and …they (Christian tribals) have been freed from the oppressive structures perpetuated by Hinduism like caste system, untouchability, child marriage and many superstitious practices, male chauvinistic laws of Manu…Hindu ideologues with Hindu nationalistic agenda (to make India a Hindu Rashtra)….In many ways women in Nagaland are better off than their counterparts in the rest of India. No eyebrows are raised at the site of boys and girls and men and women share a song or walk down the streets hand in hand.”

Again, I don’t understand what the author means by Sanskritisation. Probably he himself seems confused about the import of the term, or too prejudiced against anything associated with Hinduism, which, to his regret, Sanskrit is. If by Sanskritisation he means study of Sanskrit language, has RSS or any other Hindu body, against whom he is very furious in his article, ever pleaded that Sanskrit be made a compulsory subject for tribal students in schools and colleges in the north-east? Never. Then why this bogey of Sanskritisation? The author is wrong in saying that tribals of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa and other parts were “brainwashed into a rigid Hindu identity”. He should know that they were and are already Birsa Munda, Tana Bhagat, Govind Guru, Jagdev Ram Oraon, Roop Singh Bhil and so on. Where was the need to brainwash them into Hindu identity? They are Hindus like the rest.

Hindu tolerance misused

Hindustan the land of Hindus, that welcomed with open hands and heart all races, people and faiths should be subjected to such a venomous attack by the followers of a faith that reached the shores of this land within five decades of its birth and flourished thereafter without any hindrance is nothing but height of ingratitude and an specimen of satan in man. Jacob Shaiza is one such writer of the north-east who shows his fangs against Hindutva and RSS. He wails over the very birth of RSS: “What a tragic event for the Christianity, when Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was formed in 1925. A Brahamanical organisation that advocates and preaches the social supremacy of Brahmin. A professed cultural organisation that refused to accept and recognise any religion as true religion except Hindu religion.”

Despite gross calumny against Hinduism and RSS the latter’s selfless social work has not only reached Nagaland but is well established in some parts of the state. Another irritant for the Church and fundamentalists is that their hated political party, the BJP has also gained a firm foothold there and is a partner in the present coalition government.

Fascistic child

Their ire-fire, therefore, knows no bounds and they are indulging in concocting tales of atrocities on Christians by the RSS and other Hindu social organisations in various parts of the country. For example, when in the much-hyped Jhabua (MP) nuns rape case the tables were turned against the Church itself Jacob Shaiza has this to say: “The tribal district of Jhabua in MP was the worst victim in recent history, where the churches in different villages were stoned, burnt and vandalised. Not surprisingly the RSS government just look the other way and going further they put the blame on the church members and missionaries.” And much more: “BJP is its (RSS’s) fascistic child and whose declared political aim was to set up a Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation). Such roots of fascism are so deeply entrenched in the ideological concept that it openly demonstrate hate and violence devoid of conscience and morality. Christians across the country are already getting the venom of the policy that is being implemented with sadistic force.”

On reading the above one can very well judge, who is spewing venom against whom.

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