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.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Religious Conversion - In the name of the Hindu, Dharma and the Acharya Sabha

by Radha Rajan,
15th October, 2008

Persons considered close to Leader of the Opposition Shri LK Advani, have promoted him as a messiah of peace and good-will in the wake of wide-spread, intermittent and forceful retaliation by enraged Hindus and tribal communities against the missionary Church of all denominations and their places of congregation. These retaliatory attacks against churches and Christian prayer-houses began in Orissa and spread rapidly to Karnataka and Assam, also plagued by the untrammeled license given by the Indian Constitution to Christian missionaries of all hues to run amok in this Hindu nation.

Shri Advani has issued yet again the tired and dispirited call for inter-faith dialogue between Hindus and Christians (as if that were the only solution to the problem of religious conversion) in the declaration issued at the end of a “cordial” meeting he held with a section of the Church Hierarchy in New Delhi on 8th October, 2008. Advani was assisted in the dialogue with the Hierarchy by Shri Sudheendra Kulkarni, Smt. Sushma Swaraj and Shri Chandan Mitra. While the Christian delegation comprised the highest officials of the Church Hierarchy – the Archbishop of Delhi, the Archbishop of Orissa and the Spokesperson of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, the only Hindu religious leader at this meeting was one Swami Chidanand Saraswati of Paramarth Niketan, Rishikesh and another sanyasi, Sadhwi Bhagwati also from Paramarth Niketan. While it is Advani’s prerogative to choose his team of BJP members to assist in the dialogue, political-minded Hindus cannot fathom the basis for the presence of Swami Chidanand Saraswati and Swamini Bhagwati at this meeting. The BJP team, considering the track-record of at least two of them on sensitive Hindu issues was not expected to effectively articulate or express Hindu sensitivities. That they did not shouldn’t surprise us.

The two Archbishops present at the meeting with Advani had no reason to shout into media cameras like their out-of-control compatriot the Archbishop of Bangalore because Advani and those who assisted him in this inter-faith dialogue said everything that must have been beautiful music for Christian ears. From the text of the Delhi declaration it is clear that the Church Hierarchy must have emerged from the meeting with beaming smiles. It is no wonder the meeting was “cordial”.

Advani and Swami Chidanand called for inter-faith dialogue between Christians and Hindus in India on all aspects of life including the issue of religious conversion in the spirit of and guided by the “unanimous report of the Inter-Faith Dialogue on Conversions which was organized at the Vatican and World Council of Churches in May 2006 by the Pontifical Council for Inter-Faith Dialogue and the World Council of Churches (WCC), Geneva”, as Advani’s Delhi declaration puts it; inaccurately, it must be said. The Delhi declaration states that the initiative for the meeting was taken by Swami Chidanand Saraswati. This gives rise to the following questions –

* Why did Swami Chidanand Saraswati organize the meeting and at whose behest?
* If he wanted the meeting why was it not just between Paramarth Niketan and the Church Hierarchy?
* Why was this meeting of sundry Archbishops and catholic spokespersons organized with Advani at Advani’s residence and not at the BJP headquarters in Delhi with the President of the party Shri Rajnath Singh and other important office-bearers of the BJP?
* Does the declaration signed by Advani reflect the opinion of the RSS and other RSS organizations?
* Does it at least reflect the collective opinion of the BJP? Or the NDA? Not if one were to go by the position that has been consistently maintained by Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Orissa and Yeddiurappa, Chief Minister of Karnataka, both of whom have held only Christian organizations responsible for triggering the conflagration.

* Upon whom is Swami Chidanand Saraswati’s signature on the declaration binding? On other Hindu religious leaders, on the Hindu Dharmacharya Sabha or on all Hindus?

The declaration signed by Advani with the Christian clergy has caused great disquiet among Hindus for the only reason that Advani is prone to making unilateral policy statements publicly without larger discussions and consensus both within the party and within the RSS. Advani and Swami Chidanand Saraswati have conceded to the Archbishops of Orissa and Delhi and in the presence of their Spokesperson that –

* Religious conversion and “re-conversion” are at par with each other
* It is alright to undertake religious conversion; only not through allurement, coercion or fraudulent means
* Advani and Swamiji have conceded that religious conversion and re-conversion undertaken through such means must be stopped
* Both Advani and Swami Chidanand Saraswati, by signing this declaration have agreed that inter-faith dialogue between Christians and Hindus on the issue of religious conversion must be undertaken on the basis of the Inter-religious declaration issued in the Vatican in 2006

Political-minded Hindus have read these declarations with seething disbelief and believe that the meeting and signing the declaration are both ill-timed and ill-considered initiatives. Even more outrageous is their recommendation that the dialogue must be held in the spirit of the Vatican declaration of 2006. Until someone accidentally stumbled upon a report of this meeting on the website of the Hindu Dharmacharya Sabha (HDAS), very few Hindus knew about this infamous inter-religious meeting at the Vatican; not even the mathathipathis and peethathipathis of the HDAS! If Advani’s Delhi declaration with the Church was bad, the Vatican declaration signed by anonymous Hindus is worse.

Repeated queries to one important functionary of the HDAS, a retired IAS officer, about who represented the HDAS at the Vatican and who were the other Hindus present at the inter-religious meeting, were stonewalled and brushed aside. The Hindu community does not know who represented them at the Vatican for the conference organized at the initiative of both major Christian denominations in the wake of growing attacks against Christians fuelled by resentment over their stated agenda to Christianise the world. More to the point, why did the Hindu Dharmacharya Sabha, the highest body of Hindu religious leaders representing the 85% strong majority populace of the nation accept to go to a meeting which had nothing to do with Hindus, besides signing a foolish declaration on territory which may rightly be considered the capital of Christendom? This was politics, politics of religion, pure and simple and as usual, self-appointed representatives of the HDAS, claiming to be religious scholars, eager to be seen at the high table of powerful adversaries indulged in meaningless Track II religious diplomacy with no understanding of the politics behind the meeting.

A significant pointer to the seriousness of the politics behind inviting non-Christian religions to the Vatican-WCC inter-religious meeting is the choice of invitees to the conference. There were 27 invitees in all and they represented Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Yoruba religion. The Yoruba is one of the three major tribes in Nigeria; the other two are Hausa and the Ibo or Igbo. The writer has some knowledge about Nigerian society. After Islam and Christianity had almost completely destroyed African cultures and faiths and divided the continent more or less equally between them, the Ibos, to the last man, woman and child have been converted to Christianity while the Hausas are almost wholly Muslim. This probably means that there are still some souls left among the Yoruba for soul harvesting by the Church which is why the Vatican invited representatives of the Yoruba religion and none from the Ibo or the Hausa tribes. The distinction made by the Vatican and the WCC between religion and tribe and therefore who should and need not be invited, must be noted.

We know now that there were three Hindus at this meeting only we do not know who they were and which organizations besides the HDAS they were representing. The Hindus who attended the Vatican meeting signed the declaration that admitted to the Vatican, the World Council of Churches and to Islam that “errors have been perpetrated and injustice committed by the adherents of every faith”! To make sure all of you understand this without any trace of doubt or confusion – Hindus who attended the Vatican conference agreed to place the unconscionable practice of untouchability on par with the crimes of Islam and Christianity! Untouchability has been equated with total destruction of non-Islamic and non-Christian religions, with genocide of the native populace of North and South America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, with destruction of non-Islamic and non-Christian religions in countries of Africa and Asia, with the Atlantic Slave trade which transported an entire continent to North and South America as slaves for White Christians, with Church-motivated and backed colonialism, with burning women on stakes, with the Spanish, Portuguese and Goa Inquisition, with over a thousand years of bloody jihad in India, Africa, Europe, the middle-east, Asia and around the world.

The two major Church groups also managed to get the Hindus to acknowledge that they, the Christians too, are against “unethical conversions”. Now this is devilishly cunning because if Hindus signed a declaration which says Christians are willing to take a position against unethical conversions, then Hindus are in fact accepting the opposite – that there is something called “ethical conversion” which is permissible for the Church. The Vatican conference not only accused all religions of ‘errors and injustice” (note the mildness of the words that describe slave trade, genocide and destruction of entire peoples and cultures, not to mention decades of sodomy and rape within the Church in the twentieth century alone), but also compelled Hindus to acknowledge ‘ethical conversion’ which was packaged as “freedom of religion which is a fundamental, inviolable and non-negotiable right of every human being in every country of the world”. The Vatican declaration equates freedom of religion with the right to “to embrace another faith out of one’s own free choice”; in short, religious conversion. Hindus signed this declaration and Advani wants us all to undertake inter-faith dialogue with Christians on the basis of and in the spirit of this outrageous Vatican declaration!

Advani’s folly in promoting the Vatican declaration is not surprising considering his penchant for releasing books which he has not read and whose contents he does not know. Both Islam and Christianity are political ideologies masquerading as religions. Both these Abrahamic religions have identical objectives – the religion of peace wants to convert the whole world to Dar-ul-Islam by the sword, sufis and bombs while the religion of love wants to establish the Kingdom of God on earth to make it fit for Jesus’ second coming, by the sword, colonialism, slave trade, inquisition, genocide, sanctions, American pizza, human rights, UN, and inter-faith dialogue. Religious conversion by both these religions seeks radical change in the religious demography of villages, districts, towns and finally countries to sow the seeds of ‘self-determination’ leading to separatism and ultimately secession. Remember Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kashmir and East Timor in the last 60 years alone. Thus are new Islamic and Christian nation-states created by tearing apart and vivisecting non-Islamic and non-Christian Hindu and Buddhist nations.

The Archbishop of Delhi when interviewed by Karan Thapar refused to declare a moratorium on religious conversion given that this was causing serious communal riots in the country. He harped on his constitutional right to preach and propagate his religion and harped on the liberal Christian virtue “freedom of religion and conscience”. He is one of the happy signatories to Advani’s Delhi declaration. Sadly no Hindu worth his salt has ever questioned the phrase “freedom of conscience” with regard to religious conversion. Phrases like freedom of religion and conscience, and constitutional right to undertake religious conversion are always mouthed glibly by the Church, unchallenged and undisputed.

The HDAS, comprising mathathipathis, peethathipathis, mandaleswars and adeenams was constituted to facilitate collective thinking and decision-making on important issues concerning our dharma and its adherents. A sanyasi from a non-traditional religious lineage was made Convener of the august body for good reasons. It is unfortunate that a clique of non-sanyasis around the Convener, including non-resident Indians and Indians with foreign passports, eager to play politics in the country they have abandoned for greener pastures abroad, continue to indulge in Track II religious diplomacy, seriously compromising Hindu interests in Hindu bhumi. One such group went to Jerusalem and comforted the Jews by declaring that Hindus were not idolaters or polytheists. But I am! I am a polytheist and I am an idolater, I am a heathen, a pagan and an animist. I am a Hindu. These self-appointed scholars ‘assisting’ the Convener of the HDAS in international Track II religious diplomacy do not represent me or the millions of animist, idolatrous, polytheist ordinary Hindus of the country who worship everything as God.

This group cannot be permitted to sign declarations holding Hinduism as guilty of “errors and injustice” as Islam and Christianity, for conceding to the Church the right to “ethical conversion” and for equating conversion with re-conversion. The Convener of the HDAS must move fast to act. This self-appointed advisory group must be replaced by a group of sanyasis themselves of the HDAS, all of whom are without exception, high scholars of dharma and Hindus philosophy. The BJP must reign in Advani and advise him that given the political objectives of religious conversion and given the serious threat to the nation from rapidly altering religious demography, re-conversion is an urgent necessity and if the Indian State and the Indian Constitution will not protect the Hindu nation, then Hindu society will have to protect itself using all and every means. Hindus must reject the Delhi declaration and the Vatican declaration. If Advani continues to promote both declarations then Hindus must reject Advani and if the BJP continues to promote Advani, then Hindus must reject the BJP.

When we are at war, no purpose is served by talking to the enemy during the war without a clear-cut objective. In times of war and in times of covert war, one or both sides may seek a “flag-meeting” to end hostilities. But hostilities will end only after the stronger party wrests major concessions from the adversary or after forcibly imposing certain conditions on the loser. If in Hindu tradition, dharma always wins, then Hindus cannot go the Vatican or Jerusalem to sign foolish and insulting declarations. They cannot allow their leaders to sign declarations with our enemies, favouring our enemies. The Church can ask for a flag-meeting with the leaders of Hindu religion and society. We don’t need to rush in to offer inter-faith dialogue.

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