“Like a slow but deadly poison, conversions are sapping the lifeblood of Hinduism. However great and noble Hinduism may be, if there are no Hindus who practice it, it will be consigned to the museums and monuments like several other religions of the ancient world. Long before that Hindus will have disintegrated into an amorphous mass of humanity and India as an old civilisation will have disappeared.” – Virendra Parekh
One thing is common to mullahs, missionaries and Marxists: when they are given a dose of their own medicine, they cry foul. If you join (or are made to join) their fold, you are exercising your basic right to freedom of thought, belief and conscience. If you leave their fold and return to your roots, you are reviled as an apostate or renegade. If feasible, appropriate penalty will be visited upon you. Simultaneously, the event is denounced as an assault on freedom of thought etc. It is a one-way street.
The orchestrated campaign by the Church and its cronies in the media against return of a handful of people from Islam and Christianity to Hinduism (rightly called Ghar Wapsi or returning home) is in line with this thinking. Islam and Christianity aim at conquering the world by all means, fair and foul. They do not easily reconcile to the loss of what is already conquered, however tenuously.
For once, RSS has shown strategic brilliance. The numerical significance of Ghar Wapsi events held so far is zero. But they have tremendous symbolic value. By demonstrating that religious conversion is a game that two can play, RSS has succeeded in putting this burning issue at the centre of public debate.
Equally significant is what Hindu organizations are saying in defence of Ghar Wapsi. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has said that the Hindu society is rightfully claiming back its lost children who had been taken away by force, fraud and allurement, that others have no right to complain about it and that a Hindu reawakening does not threaten anyone except those with a subversive agenda. His comments drew sharp reactions precisely because they were too accurate for the comfort of his targets.
Hindu organizations would do well to stick to this line of argument. They should be especially wary of “freedom of religion” argument which equates their activity with those of the missionaries and Tablighis. Bringing back Muslims and Christians to their ancestral religion is not the same thing as conversion by proselytizing sects. The two are based on entirely different premises, driven by very different agendas and have diametrically opposite consequences on the society and the state. They are as different as healing is from wounding, rejoining is from rupturing and strengthening is from subverting.
In its present context, the issue is essentially social and political. Its spiritual and philosophical aspect, such as it is, can be dealt with summarily.
The most fundamental Hindu objection to conversion can be simply stated: the basic doctrine of Christianity is just not tenable. The essence of Christianity is a belief, a particular claim: Jesus is the only son of God and he has atoned for the sins of mankind for all time to come by his crucifixion and resurrection. Salvation of the mankind, its escape from eternal perdition, lies in giving up worshipping false gods and accepting Jesus as the sole saviour.
In the nature of things, such a dogma can never be verified or proved. Repeated, emphatic assertions, quotations from the Book, and books based on the Book are all that is offered as evidence. This is a curious way of arguing. The book assumes what is to be proved, asserts it and you cite the book as your authority or proof. Elsewhere, it would be rejected as circular reasoning, but in a Christian preacher it makes for a brilliant and clinching argument.
The truth about the Dogma, the Book and the Saviour has been known all along, best of all to the Church. The facts questioning the dogma and challenging its tall claims have been in the public domain for decades, if not centuries. That knowledge has not prevented the Church from forging the missionary apparatus as a formidable instrument of aggression. The sole purpose of that apparatus is to supplant other religions and faiths and plant Christianity in their place.
The Church claims the right to freedom of religion, by which it means its own right to convert others, and never the other way round. What it forgets is that if missionaries have a right to preach the Gospel, ancient societies professing pacifist non-proselytising religions have a right to defend themselves. When food or service is offered as a right of the giver, the recipient has a right to look into his motives.
Christianity uses the language of theology, but its objectives are political. It aims at conquest of the world by decimating other traditions, converting people and capturing territories. Large sections of Hindu society have never concealed their discomfort with conversions carried out by missionaries – especially the means employed by them to win converts. As Arun Shourie points out, conversion of even one person causes grave disruptions. His family is torn apart. Tensions erupt in the community. This is all the more so because after conversion, and sometimes even during the process of conversion itself, the converters make the person say and do the things that grievously offend the original community of the person: the individual is led not just to repudiate but denounce gods and rituals in which he grew up, to do things which are forbidden in his original religion or community – eating beef for instance.
These things do not happen naturally or even accidentally. They are designed carefully and deliberately. The objective is to snap dramatically and finally with a violent psychological blow the residual bond that may still have survived in the individual’s mind. That makes it that much more difficult for him to return to his original community. On the other hand, the abuse that he may have hurled at the local gods or goddesses, the food that he may have eaten after the ceremony, makes the original community distance itself from him, to turn its back on the convert, as it were. As the man is no longer able to return to his original family and community, he becomes that much more dependent on his new family and community. The result is great discord and animosities – all in the name of God and love.
Such conversions are happening at an alarming pace all over the country. There is a very sophisticated operation in place by the evangelical groups, with a clear target for souls, marketing campaigns, mass prayer and fraudulent healing meetings. Evidence is available in plenty on videos on YouTube, social media, press reports, and on the ground. Pastors have been openly tweeting about souls converted, and saving people from idol worshippers. These evangelical groups are like hyper-growth startups with a fund-raising machine and a roadmap for acquiring followers and ‘conquering new markets’.
What is true of Christianity is even more so of Islam. Islam is the most divisive and destructive ideology that India has encountered in her history spanning over millennia. No other discord or disunion can match the deep psychological, social and political cleavage driven by Islam in the Indian society. From Afghanistan to Assam and from Gilgit to Rameshwaram, we are one people divided by Islam. Remove it, and this ancient land will regain its natural unity.
Change of circumstances has forced Christianity to become more polite outwardly; but Islam continues to suffer from a high degree of self-righteousness, arrogance and aggression fuelled by petrodollars. It is still dreaming confidently of making India Dar al-Islãm once again.
Like a slow but deadly poison, conversions are sapping the lifeblood of Hinduism. However great and noble Hinduism may be, if there are no Hindus who practice it, it will be consigned to the museums and monuments like several other religions of the ancient world. Long before that Hindus will have disintegrated into an amorphous mass of humanity and India as an old civilisation will have disappeared.
Make no mistake about it. Almost unconsciously, Hindu society is drawn into a battle which is literally a matter of life and death. This is a war that the Hindu society did not ask for. But this is a war that it must fight and win, if it wants to survive. Every section of the Hindu society, right from the prime minister to the detached sannyasin can and must play a role in this struggle.
A strong anti-conversion law can be of some limited help; much will depend on its implementation. And implementation is directly linked with political will. That is why such laws at state level have not made any difference.
First and foremost, Hindu society needs clarity of vision. Hindus must realize that Christianity and Islam are not religions but political ideologies inspired by imperialist ambitions. These ideologies came to India as accomplices of Islamic and Western armies. Just as Islam and its alien followers conquered our land, destroyed our temples and monuments, and killed and enslaved our people, so also they converted some of us to their own creed. These sections of Hindu society which were forced or lured into the folds of these ideologies have to be brought back into their ancestral fold.
This is what reconversion is all about. At political level, it is a process of completion of our independence. At social level, it is about removing the alienation of some sections and reintegrating them with their ancestral society, strengthening the national mainstream in the process. This is opposite of conversions to Islam and Christianity. Hindu organizations should resist attempts to equate the two.
Hindu reformers, Hindu organisations and sannyasins should usher in a social revolution to erase caste prejudices and reunite Hindu society on the basis of spiritual values.
The government of India should recognize the threat to the national security posed by conversions, spell it out publicly and move to ban them in border states like Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura. It should choke the flow of foreign funds to organizations linked to Church or Islamic movement and deny visas to ‘social workers’, preachers and other busybodies from the foreign countries. These funds and men should be recognized as sources of trouble and prevented from entering the country.
Since schools and colleges, clinics and hospitals and financial organizations are used as the main agencies (weapons?) for conversion, the government should focus on providing these services in ample measures to people who need it the most.
Hindus should be allowed to manage their temples so that the wealth and income of the temples could be used to promote Dharma, Sanskrit language and literature and fight machinations of alien religions through well-managed charities.
Hindu intellectuals should work tirelessly to change the nature of public debate by taking on the ignorant, prejudiced and anti-Hindu ‘liberals’. They should speak the truth in an informed and authoritative manner about Hinduism and its self-declared enemies, about the threat to social cohesion and national security posed by predatory religions and about the ways to strengthen the national mainstream.
Until a favourable climate is created, Hindu organizations should carry out reconversions in a low-profile manner, away from the glare of publicity. They have nothing to gain by revealing their hand prematurely.
The beginning of the debate is just that: the beginning. There is a long and arduous journey ahead. As Sita Ram Goel said, wining back its own lost children is the minimum task which Hindu society has to set before itself. The maximum task is to carry the campaign against these ideologies into their own homelands, and to free large sections of mankind from the abominable superstitions which breed intolerance and aggression.
» Virendra Parekh is the Executive Editor of Corporate India and lives in Mumbai.
Filed under: hinduism, christianity, islam, india, conversion, psychological warfare, RSS | Tagged: hinduism, christianity, conversion, islam, cultural identity, RSS, missionaries, cultural alienation, reconversion, ghar wapsi |