The Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Jugal Kishore, in charge of ‘Ghar Vapsi’ meant to ‘reconvert’ Muslims and Christians, speaks to Nistula Hebbar of the Economic Times on the controversial programme. Edited excerpts:
♦ What do you have to say to the anti-conversion bill proposal?
♦ What we do is not conversion. We want conversions done by other religions through huge funding of petro dollars and missionaries to be investigated and stopped. Religious conversion is a national problem. We want a bill which will make it difficult to convert people to other religions. Conversion is an attack on country and a conspiracy to divide it again by attacking the roots of our national culture.
Did you know why Communist leader E.M.S. Namboodiripad gave a statue of Nataraja to the Chinese leadership? It was because it depicted Indian culture; not the Bible or the Koran. It was for the same reason that Narendrabhai Modi presented the Gita to Obama.
♦ Why is VHP converting people?
♦ What we do is ‘ghar vapsi’ – getting back converted people back into the fold. It is not conversion. When we went to the northeast, tribals were seen worshipping nature. We said, Hinduism also worships nature, tulsi, the peepal tree, gaumata, etc. We are no different.
♦ What ritual have you devised, since there is no such thing as conversion in Sanatan Dharma?
♦ Again, this is not conversion. It is a simple acknowledgement that some people were converted to other religions and now want to return. This has been done by people historically too. Madhvacharya did this, Vidyaranya Swamiji did this, Rishi Deval did this. Even Shivaji, whose associate Netaji Palkar was converted to Islam, got him back into the Hindu fold. In no case is VHP making people Hindus in Arab countries or in Christian countries. We just want our people to realise their identity.
As for the ritual, there is no such fixed thing. Our local units reach out to people, tell them through our vanshavali (lineage) programme their family tree, when they underwent conversion. Those wishing to return have to later file an affidavit and in some cases publish in newspapers. If there are many people, there is a ‘havan’ or ‘yagya’, where ‘sankalp’ is taken.
♦ Hindusim is structured on caste and even government benefits are distributed through caste identity, how do returnees fix themselves in this structure?
♦ Most people already know which caste they belong to despite conversion to Islam or Christianity. In some cases, Hindus of their caste groups are contacted and a caste identity is accorded. Hindu leaders assure them that they would have consanguinity and marriage relations.
Writer Muzzaffar Husain in a ‘vanshavali’ programme in Jaipur admitted that his family was Hindu three generations ago.
In the Vedas there is no manual scavenging and boycott of people. If you look closely at these communities, their gotras have Solankis, Chauhans, Sisodias, Rathores etc. Because they were defeated Rajputs punished for not accepting Islam. They were made the lowest of low. Other Hindus were made to socially-boycott them.
Now, Narendrabhai is trying to end manual scavenging and end the Mughal tradition.
♦ Will you facilitate Dalits, Muslims and Christians who ‘return’ to secure benefits of reservations?
♦ We do help such people to get a caste certificate. We help in filling forms and other legal procedure.
♦ What about allegations of allurement by some people in Agra?
♦ These people, I feel, were put under pressure by custodians of the minority vote bank into recanting. We haven’t done anything illegal. This work was going on under Congress governments too. Stopping this would be politically motivated.
♦ Why are Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs not targeted?
♦ We don’t consider these religions as foreign to India’s culture. They originated here. We consider Buddha as part of Vishnu’s Dashavatar. These religions do not cut one away from our cultural moorings. We don’t consider them foreign, as we consider Islam and Christianity. – Economic Times, 15 December 2014
Even as the BJP is engaged in a virtual slugfest with its political opponents in Parliament on the religious conversion issue, its ideological ally, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), has warned all political parties, including the BJP, to “mind their own business”. In a conversation with Anurag Tripathi of Tehelka, the VHP’s Jugal Kishore, who is in charge of the ‘Ghar Wapasi Abhiyan’ (homecoming campaign), says that his organisation has been running similar campaigns since its inception in 1964 and does not want the political parties, including the BJP, to politicise the issue. Edited excerpts:
♦ Why does the VHP choose only Muslims and Christians for conversion and not Sikhs and Buddhists?
♦ First of all, let me clarify that what we are doing is not conversion, but ghar wapasi (homecoming). Every Muslim and Christian living in India was originally a Hindu. They were either forced or bribed to change their religion. We are only bringing them back to the Hindu fold. We are a Hindu nation and with the ‘Ghar Wapasi Abhiyan’, the VHP is only restoring the pride of Hindus who were lured into converting. We are giving them back their identity. As far as Buddhism and Sikhism are concerned, they originated in India and the VHP doesn’t consider them to be foreign religions. Their religious practices and values are more or less the same as those of Hinduism.
♦ Do you support the BJP’s proposal to enact a law to ban conversions?
♦ There are enough provisions in the Constitution that bar forcible conversion. Yet the Christian missionaries and Muslims have been converting Hindus. No one questions them about the foreign funding used for the purpose. We want a stringent law against converting people by luring them with money and other means. People should be free to choose their religion.
♦ It has been alleged that the VHP used money and muscle power in the ‘Ghar Wapasi’ campaign, especially in Agra. What do you say to that?
♦ That is a baseless and politically motivated allegation made against our outfit by political parties that consider the minorities as their vote bank. We have only convinced people of their lineage, their cultural legacy. Since 1964, we have never used money to lure people for ‘Ghar Wapasi’.
♦ But haven’t outfits such as the Bajrang Dal distributed pamphlets for collecting money to conduct the campaign in Aligarh?
♦ We don’t distribute money to people who reconvert to Hinduism. Many people donate money to rehabilitate their brothers and sisters who have come back to their religion. I don’t see anything wrong in this. Some people might have said that the VHP offers money to those who participate in ‘Ghar Wapasi’, but it is their political bosses who have asked them to make these statements.
♦ Whenever the BJP comes to power, the VHP’s Hindutva rhetoric and conversions pick up pace. Why?
♦ The BJP is a political outfit. Let it do what it does. The VHP has been carrying out ‘Ghar Wapasi’ campaigns since 1964, but never before was the issue politicised to this extent. Political parties, including the BJP, should mind their own business and let us do what we have been doing for decades. We are doing nothing unconstitutional and we will keep on organising ‘Ghar Wapasi’ events. We are a non-political outfit and our main concern is to restore the pride of people who were forced to convert to Islam and Christianity. No political party can stop us in our endeavour.
♦ Why is ‘Ghar Wapasi’ on top of the VHP’s agenda?
♦ If Pakistan and Bangladesh can be Islamic States, why should India, which is Hindustan, not be a Hindu State? Why don’t you raise questions when Hindus are converted to Islam and Christianity? Why do you single out the VHP when all we are doing is to help people return to their religion? – Tehelka, 16 December 2014
Filed under: hindu, hinduism, india, national culture, psychological warfare, religion Tagged: | christian to hindu, cultural identity, ghar wapsi, Jugal Kishore, muslim to hindu, religion, shuddhi ceremony, VHP