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, May 01, 2007

Why we should ban conversion

By M.S.N. Menon

Because it is the primary cause of the conflicts in the world.

Because we cannot allow the Hindus to become a minority in their own country through conversion. Because we cannot allow ourselves to become extinct through conversion. Why? Because we have a better record of concern for humanity. Because our civilisation has more to offer mankind than Islam or Christianity. Because we are committed moral beings compared to Muslims and Christians. There is yet another reason—perhaps more important: Because it is time to eliminate conversion, the primary cause of the conflicts in the world.

Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the eminent philosopher, says: “So long as we regard doctrines as pathways to the realisation of the Supreme and not as final statements of the truth, there will be no conflict, disputations and controversies. But Christians and Muslims assert that their faiths are final statements. No wonder they have been the cause of much bloodshed in the world. And they will continue to shed blood. There is no sign of a change in their attitude. The Vatican calls for conversion of Asia and Africa! And Muslims say: Conversion of the world is our unfinished business!

Tagore has a word of advice to them: If it were true that Christians and Muslims have the “final” word, he says, “their continued existence would be a burden to the earth.” They should, therefore, terminate their meaningless repetitive existence on earth.

Change was anathema to Christianity and Islam. But change is of the essence of justice to Hinduism. Which is why it has produced the richest civilisation and the most profound thoughts.

The life of each human race tends towards some complete development, says Dr Radhakrishnan. The Indian civilisation, perhaps the oldest, is already a marvel. Which is why the Hindus cannot and should not give up the basic nature of the quest they have been pursuing. They cannot allow themselves to go extinct through conversion.

It used to be said of the British empire that it was under providence, that it was the greatest instrument for good. The Hindus also had such great thoughts. Two thousand three hundred years ago, Ashoka said that his objective was the welfare of mankind. And he made his empire a welfare state. There is nothing parallel to this in the world. Such had been our achievement in the past.

What of the future? The emergence of a higher consciousness has to come from the freedom of consciousness. Aurobindo says: “If we chain the spirit to some fixed mental idea or system of religious cult, intellectual truth, aesthetic norm, ethical value…and declare all departures from that a peril, then the emergence of a higher consciousness is not possible.” This is what has happened to Christianity and Islam. They were chained to dogmas and books. And they still are.

What is more, India’s model of development consists of elements of justice, regional balance, fairness, democracy and it has not compromised on its civilisation like China has done for the sake of development.

India’s contribution to the world cultural sock has already been very large and will continue to grow, says A.L.Basham, the historian. “For this reason, if for no other”, he says, “we must take account of her ancient heritage, its successes and failures, for it is no longer the heritage of India alone, but of all mankind.”

The growth of Western civilisation began in the 16th century. Till then, Europe was in the Dark Ages. Western dominance is now only four hundred years old. Lord Acton, Regius Professor of History, says: “We can found no philosophy on the observations of 400 years…it would be an imperfect and fallacious induction,” he says. It is unfortunate that the world was guided by these “fallacious inductions” in the last four hundred years. Which is why it turned out to be the worst period of human history. Western dominance has brought humanity to a pass when its very existence is threatened by ecological disasters. Can we allow the West, the legatees of the Christian atrocities, to add to their numbers through conversion?

Can Islam be an alternative model? Not at all. Look at its record: It has only brought backwardness and devastation to all countries it had conquered. No, Islamic civilisation cannot be an alternative. Conversion of the world to Islam will be the greatest and worst tragedy.

Dear reader, I am not saying that Hinduism must take over the world to set up its own dominance. No. I am only saying that Hinduism has a better record of history than Christianity and Islam. To convert a Hindu, therefore, to Islam or Christianity is nothing but a criminal affront. We cannot permit this to continue.

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At 6/24/2007 03:06:00 AM, Blogger Imran DK said...

If by 'Hindus' you mean those who follow the principles of the Vedic tradition, then you ought to know that this 'Hindu' is an all but extinct species. Because the Hindus of today (especially the urbanised ones) have almost completely assimilated Western culture in their lives and merely pay lip service to their rich and ancient tradition that alone can truly validate and legitimise their 'Hindu' label.

The option of 'conversion' is ultimately a personal choice and, considering that Hindus have already 'converted' to Western culture and ideology, they would be ending up closer to their traditional roots if they 'converted' to either Christ's (pbuh) message or Islam, both of them being authentically 'traditional' doctrines coming from the same Divine Source that the Vedas originated from. Or even better would be for Hindus to return to their own roots and revert to their traditions that have guided them over centuries. This would mean a rejection of Western culture and ideology that is the primary source of conflict in the modern world; not religions, but the abandonment of religious principles and their applications in our individual, social and political lives.


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