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, October 25, 2008

Evangelists have nothing new to say

By MSN Menon

Are the Christian missionaries selling a new religion in India? No. They are not. They are selling what went out of this country more than two thousand years ago.

Religions have borrowed copiously from each other. It is amazing how one sacred model has influenced so many others.

Thus, the lives of all the great men of India—Rama, Krishna, Buddha—were modelled on Indra, the chief of the gods. And the Indra model itself had the authority of no less a scripture than the Rig Veda. The Rig Veda gives two full hymns to the birth of Indra.

To the extent religions have borrowed from each other, they cannot be called original, thought today it is the claim of the Christian missionaries that Christianity is an original creed.

Herbert J. Mueller, an authority on Christianity, has a different story. He says, many of the ideas and practices of Christianity came from other countries. Thus, the idea of God came from Babylon, dualism from Persia (of God and Satan) the drama of resurrection from the Syrian story of Adonis, Last Judgement from Egypt, worship of the Great Mother from Phrygia, the idea of Universal Law from Greece and Rome. Interestingly, the idea of Baptism came from India (Manu says that holy water should be poured over the child before cutting its umbilical cord.) And the idea of communion came from Persia. As for the concept of non-violence, it came from Buddhism. Then what is it that is original in Christianity?

The Middle East (from the Nile to the Indus) was a major highway of ideas. Even the names of the law-givers sound similar. Thus, we have Manu in India, Minos in Egypt and Moses among the Jews. Even Maya (mother of Buddha) and Mary (mother of Jesus) sound similar.

There was no sense of shame in imitating in those days. The idea was to bask in reflected glory. Sometimes to excel.

Thus, as soon as Indra was born, he set in motion the Wheel of the Sun. And the Buddha turned the Wheel of the Law. The story of Indra’s struggle against Vritra appears in Buddha’s life as the struggle of Buddha against Mara. And the attributes of the Mahapurush were common to all gods and heroes.

Agni was one of the great Vedic gods. Naturally, Buddha is compared to Agni. Artists depicted child Siddhartha going to school in a ram cart. Ram was the vehicle of Agni. The Sakhyas were worshippers of Agni. Thus there was much that was common between Agni and Buddha. Indra is also shown paying respect to an ascetic Buddha (Ascetics are supposed to be higher than the gods.)

The Krishna story was familiar to Central Asia by the 2nd century BC, which explains the remarkable similarity in the stories of Krishna and Christ. Krishna belonged to the Yadava tribe. Christ belonged to the Yahuda race. Krishna was preceded by Balarama. Christ was preceded by John the Baptist. One of the missions of Krishna’s birth was to kill his uncle Kansa, king of the Yadavas. Naturally, Kansa called for the murder of Krishna and all children below the age of two. This explains why Vasudeva took the Krishna child across the flooded Yamuna to the safety of Ambadi in Mathura.

Similarly, Herod, the king of the Yahudis. Did not like the “wise men” hailing Jesus as “king of the Jews”. He ordered the murder of Jesus. Which is why Joseph and Mary took baby Jesus and fled to Maturea (Mathura?) in Egypt. And, finally, look at the similarity of their names—Christ and Krishna!

In their book “the Original Jesus” Elmer R.Guber, an eminent psychologist and Helger Kersten, a specialist on religious history, and author of the best-selling “Jesus lived in India” offer compelling evidence of extensive Buddhist influence on the life and teachings of Jesus. They argue that the Church had concealed the history of Jesus. We know little of the life of Jesus from his age of 12 to the days of his death. Today we know that Jesus was living among the Essene, a colony of Buddhist monks, who were perhaps sent to Egypt by Ashoka.

The Vicar of Stuttgart (Germany) writes (1831): “The Christian church evolved from the community of the Essene.”

Dear Reader, I am not saying that Jesus did not exist. My point is: a religion made up of bits and pieces of other peoples’ thoughts and practices has no right to call itself original. Certainly it has no right to abuse other religions. If conversion has led to conflagrations in parts of India, it is because the Christian world is trying to set fire to the home of the Hindus. We will not tolerate it.

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