Pseudo-Secularism

Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I Too Am Hurt Dear Father

Vivek Bharat

Reacting sharply to the attack on Churches in Karnataka, the Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore fumed indignantly that Christians were deeply hurt. I, too, have been badly traumatized, dear Father, not once but repeatedly. Your compatriots have consistently trampled upon my sensibilities and those of millions of others like me for sometime now. The only difference is that I am a Hindu and in the broad framework of India's warped secular ideology, Hindu sentiments are dispensable to maintain this hollow but grandiose show of communal harmony that has been essentially built on the backs of the Hindu community. So, neither you or nor the authorities have bothered to take any corrective action to assuage the Hindu hurt. It does not even register as a cause for remedy on your moral radar.

Lest this be dismissed as the rant of a hate mongering Hindu fundamentalist (a label that is promptly assigned to anyone taking up the Hindu cause) let me place before you certain facts and analyze the sequence of events that lead to the present Hindu Christian fracas to put things in true perspective. Also at the outset, let me unequivocally condemn the violence that has accompanied this controversy for any defense of Hinduism is promptly blown up and misrepresented as a defense of violence. It is not.

The immediate provocation for the current imbroglio appears to be a pamphlet titled Satya Darshini (everybody agrees to that) that was being freely distributed among members of the New Life Fellowship sect of the Pentecost Mission in Mangalore and which contained derogatory references to Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The book, originally written in Telugu by one Rev Paravastu Sooryanarayana, has been translated into Kannada by Sriramreddy of Bangalore, and revised by Rev Samson S Malekar of Davangere.

The book replete with disparaging remarks about Hinduism, is basically a litany of hate. I reproduce below a couple of excerpts (translated into English) that reflect the ugly tenor of the publication:

Urvashi - the daughter of Narayana- is a prostitute. Vashitha is the son of this prostitute. He in turn married his own Mother. Such a degraded person is the Guru of the Hindu God Rama. (page 48)

When Krishna himself is wallowing in darkness of hell, how can he enlighten others? Since Krishna himself is a shady character, there is a need for us to liberate his misled followers. (page 50)

To brush this aside as an isolated example of vilification or dub it as an aberrancy would be naive. For this is a microcosm of the larger Machiavellian game plan that has been in play in this country for over a hundred years; a deceptive practice that has never been aggressively countered by the timid Hindu community until now.

To bolster my contention let me present to you other instances of unadulterated hate that have been the hallmark of missionary propaganda in India:

The Indian sub-continent with one billion people, is a living example of what happens when Satan rules the entire culture... India is one vast purgatory in which millions of people .... are literally living a cosmic lie! Could Satan have devised a more perfect system for causing misery?" (Gospel of Asia, Texas: reproduced from Arun Shourie's book, Missionaries in India. (Harper Collins 1998)

On a personal level, I have first hand experience with similar offensive remarks during my school tenure in a prominent Jesuit institution. In one instance, a Jesuit priest categorically remarked in front of a class of docile seventh graders that Rama would never qualify as a God. On another occasion, a reverend smirkingly questioned the veracity of immersion in the Ganges absolving one of his/her sins. Religion is an act of personal faith. Whether I dip myself into a river or not as an act of ablution is my prerogative and not for anybody else to comment upon. This is the line in the sand that religions in a pluralistic society like ours should abide by.

I still remember that morning in eleventh grade when I entered the Principal's office with a great deal of trepidation to explain why I had chosen an additional Mathematics subject for my ISC exam in preference to Biblical Scriptures that had been recommended by the authorities. Inwardly defiant but lacking the courage to speak up, I mumbled something about getting better grades. Acts of subtle intimidation like this one are all too common.

While the Bajrang Dal and its associates cannot be in any way excused for the present violence if proven guilty, there is something that must be highlighted in its favor. In 2006 when Satya Darshini was first released, the Bajrang Dal had registered a formal protest with the police. No action was taken.

When the Satanic Verses, a novel published in the UK can be banned in India in deference to Muslim sentiments and when The Da Vinci Code, a movie produced in the United States can be proscribed from our movie theaters to appease Christians, why couldn't remedial action be taken against a book derogatory to Hindus? The only answer that I can think of is what I have repeatedly maintained: Hindu sentiments are dispensable in secular India.

I have used these examples as a prop to pose some important questions that are relevant to the controversy at hand: While the respected Archbishop now seethes with righteous anger, I would like to ask the Reverend whether the Christian leadership has done enough to police itself? Have they taken measures to ensure that their religious zeal does not violate the sentiments of another? Have guidelines been issued to its proponents regarding the rules of a civilized society? Would proactive condemnation by the Christian leadership of such hate literature have preempted this spate of violence?

Hindus of India have another legitimate grouse against the Christian establishment: they are the recipients of an unfair largesse doled out by the government at the expense of the Hindu community. Money collected through Hindu temples is illegally siphoned off to support Churches and madrassas.
Here are some figures from the Karnataka State government to support this claim.

Of the 52 crore rupees entered into the government coffers by Hindu temples in 1997, barely 17 crores was earmarked for Hindu causes; the remaining 35 crores was diverted to finance Churches and madrassas and other government sponsored projects. A purview of figures for the succeeding years upto 2002 (for which information is available) exhibit a similar deceptive strategy. This practice probably has been in place since independence without the Hindus even being aware of it.

This travesty of justice pains me greatly, dear Father and irks me, as well. But who cares: Hindus in India are the children of a lesser God. Finally in 2006, the Karnataka High Court intervened and categorically decreed: "Devotees of Hindu temples provide money for temple purposes and it cannot be spent for non-Hindu causes."

In summary the picture is very clear. As long as the Hindu community stoically bears the load of insults heaped on it, as long as the Hindus do not protest the large tracts of land doled out to Christian institutions and as long as the Hindu community overlooks the crores of rupees siphoned from its temples to support Churches, the Christians are willing to co-exist peacefully with Hindus.

But God forbid if the Hindus register even a syllable of protest. Christians will raise a hue and cry and seek the support of extraterritorial agencies to muscle the government in order to persist with their unhealthy practices.

While physical violence in a civilized society is unacceptable and must be dealt with firmly, every effort should be made to aggressively counter those events that have the potential to engender violence. We would be better off if we nip in the bud the seeds of violence before they are sown. Prevention is better than cure. That is the premise of this article.

The path to Hindu-Christian amity as I see it is two-fold:
1. The Christian leadership must make a conscious effort to delete any derogatory references to Hinduism by any of its manifold churches and continuously monitor them for infractions. This to me is a simple proposition.
2. Desist from active proselytization. This is a much more complex area and will need another article to address this when I eke out some time.

We can start with the first step if the Christian community is really serious of co-existing peacefully with the Hindus.

References
1) The Katherine Mayos and Pat Robertsons of India. Part I. V. Sundaram. Newstoday September 24, 2008.
2) Hindu Temples in the Age of Pseudo-Secularism. Lies, Lies and More Lies. The Campaign to Defame Hindu Nationalism.p96-99. iUniverse. June 2007.

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