The Ambedkar they don’t want you to know about – Aravindan Neelakandan

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Aravindan NeelakandanMaybe Baba Saheb’s ideas were first ignored and then misrepresented precisely because the intelligentsia knew that those ideas would not fit into the “left-liberal” narrative. Being a prolific scholar and a patriot, Dr Ambedkar recorded his observations on a myriad of topics, events, problems and debates of his times. Here are seven aspects of those which the Old Media and the leftist academic cartel do not want Indians to know about.

1. Dr Ambedkar considered the mahavakyas of Upanishads the spiritual basis of democracy

In his famous speech to the Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal, Dr Ambedkar made the suggestion that Hindus need not look anywhere outside their scriptures to build a society based on the principles of liberty, fraternity and equality. They could look into the Upanishads for those values, he said.

Later in his scathing attack on Hinduism in the book Riddles of Hinduism, he not only revisited the idea but elaborated on it. He took the three mahavakyas—Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma, Aham Brahmasmi, and Tatvamasi—and named their combined purport. He wrote:

To support democracy because we are all children of God is a very weak foundation for democracy to rest on. That is why democracy is so shaky wherever it made to rest on such a foundation. But to recognize and realize that you and I are parts of the same cosmic principle leaves room for no other theory of associated life except democracy. It does not merely preach democracy. It makes democracy an obligation of one and all.

2. Dr Ambedkar considered the Hindu Civil Code the first step towards a Uniform Civil Code

The same Dr Ambedkar who rejected outright the inhuman and outdated aspects of smrithi traditions also demonstrated that the same tradition, with all its diversity, could be distilled to create a Hindu law that had prominent space for social democracy and gender justice.

He saw the Hindu Code Bill (HCB) as instrumental in moulding Hindu society into a unitary one based on the principles of liberty and equality. In a lecture delivered on 11 January 1950, he declared:

The present bill is progressive. This is an effort to try to have one civil law for all the citizens under the constitution of India. The law is based on the religious scriptures of the Hindus.

While for Nehru the HCB was perhaps a political device to obfuscate between the Hindu traditionalists and Hindu nationalists, thus making himself the champion of liberal democracy within the Congress, for Dr Ambedkar the HCB was a tool for creating a strong and healthy Hindu society which could become the basis for the modern Indian state.

3. Dr Ambedkar was against giving Indus water to Pakistan without Pakistan acknowledging Indian farmers’ first rights over the river

British economist Henry Vincent Hodson occupied many key positions in the colonial government as the Director of the Empire Division of the Ministry of Information and Constitutional Advisor to the Viceroy. In his book The Great Divide: Britain-India-Pakistan (1969), he gives a detailed account of how Dr Ambedkar refused Pakistan the Indus water and how Mountbatten intervened on behalf of Pakistan:

At a meeting of ministerial representatives from India and Pakistan on 3rd May (1948), Dr Ambedkar, for India, insisted that no water could be supplied until Pakistan accepted India’s legal claim that all the water belonged to East Punjab, who had the right to do with it as they wished. The chief Pakistan representative, Mr Gulam Mohammed, came to see Lord Mountbatten after the meeting had broken down on this point. The Governor General immediately phoned Pandit Nehru and expressed his disgust that miserable peasants and refugees were being made to suffer when the matter was still under negotiation. Pandit Nehru agreed and undertook to get the conference going again and break the deadlock.

4. Dr Ambedkar wanted Sanskrit to be the national language of India

As it is now well known, Dr Ambedkar wanted Sanskrit to be the national language of India. The Sunday Hindustan Standard dated 11 September 1949, reported that Baba Saheb, as law minister, wanted Sanskrit to be the official language of the Union. In the Executive Committee of the All India Scheduled Caste Federation, Dr Ambedkar reiterated the same.

Later, when the creation of linguistic states became a burning issue, Dr Ambedkar was in favour of the creation of such states. While he recognised that there was an inherent danger in the creation of linguistic states, he believed that it was a danger “a wise and firm statesman could avert”.

Towards that end, Dr Ambedkar made the following strong recommendation:

The only way I can think of meeting the danger is to provide in the Constitution that the regional language shall not be the official language of the State. The official language of the State shall be Hindi and until India becomes fit for this purpose English. … Since Indians wish to unite and develop a common culture it is the bounden duty of all Indians to own up Hindi as their language. Any Indian who does not accept this proposal as part and parcel of a linguistic State has no right to be an Indian. He … cannot be an Indian in the real sense of the word except in a geographical sense.

This recommendation goes beyond recommending Hindi as the official language. It also recognises the need to develop India as a culturally united nation-state. It also rejects the territorial conceptualisation of nationhood and advocates strong cultural nationalism as the basis for nationhood “in the real sense”.

5. Dr Ambedkar wanted an Indian army free of the preponderances of elements hostile to India

In his mercilessly objective analysis of the demographic nature of the pre-Partition Indian Army, Dr Ambedkar showed how the Indian Army in the north-western region of India was having a very high proportion of Islamists. He exposed as false the British reasoning that it was because the North-Western province Muslims were martial races while most of the Hindus were not. He stated that it was actually the rebellion of “1857 which was the real cause of the preponderance in the Indian Army of the men of the North-West” and not the so-called martial and non-martial classes theory, which termed “a purely arbitrary and artificial distinction”.

Pointing out the gross inequalities and inherent insecurities against the Hindus in the pre-Partition Indian Army, Dr Ambedkar wrote about the need for “getting rid of the Muslim preponderance in the Indian Army”.

The bulk of this amount of Rs. 52 crores which is spent on the Army … is contributed by the Hindu Provinces and is spent on an Army which for the most part consists of non-Hindus! How many Hindus are aware of this tragedy? How many know at whose cost this tragedy is being enacted? Today the Hindus are not responsible for it because they cannot prevent it. The question is whether they will allow this tragedy to continue.

While Dr Ambedkar’s statement about the complete exchange of populations between India and Pakistan as part of the Partition formula is well-known, his views of keeping Indian institutions like the army free of the preponderance of elements hostile to Indian national life is not well-known.

6. Dr Ambedkar viewed with suspicion the missionary support for the movement of Dalit causes

In his preface to Prof Lakshmi Narasu’s book, the Essentials of Buddhism, he pointed out that the missionary support for social reforms was not because of any real concern but only as a means for proselytisation. He wrote:

That was the era when Christian Missionaries were not only countenancing the social reform movement but viewed it with high favour as marking a half-way house between orthodox Hinduism and conversion to Christianity. It did not take long for them to change their views and look upon such progressive movements as constituting a real hindrance to proselytization.

It is interesting to note that the Collected Works of Dr. Ambedkar (Vol. 17) also includes a letter written to Dr Ambedkar by Babu Jagivan Ram, another tall leader of the Scheduled Communities. This letter was from the files of the British CID of Bihar province and is part of a Special Officer’s report, dated 9 March 1937.

Addressing Baba Saheb as “my dear Doctor Saheb”, Babu Jagajivan Ram cautioned against one Mr Baldeo Prasad Jaiswal of Allahabad. “No person of Bihar is with him. He has his office located in a Catholic Church here and everything is being manoeuvred by missionaries”, wrote Babu Jagajivan Ram and went on to point out that “he will not be able to have a gathering of more than one hundred Depressed Classes”. “He can, of course, invite thousands of Muhammamidans and Christians as he did at Lucknow. I take strong objection of this method. We should have genuine Depressed Classes conferences”, so the letter concludes.

The letter shows that both the leaders were averse in principle to the missionary meddling in the movements of Scheduled Communities. That the letter ended in the files of the British CID also shows an interest or involvement of the colonial government against them.

7. Dr Ambedkar wanted the Indian state to run an Indian Priest Service for Hinduism

In his work, Annihilation of Caste, Dr Ambedkar wanted the state to create a body of Hindu priests in the line of civil services. Priesthood would cease to be hereditary” because of this, he believed. According to him, every Hindu must be eligible for being a priest. The examination for Hindu priesthood, he believed, should be “prescribed by the State”. “No ceremony performed by a priest who does not hold a sanad shall be deemed to be valid in law, and it should be made penal [=punishable] for a person who has no sanad to officiate as a priest.”

Further he stated that “the number of priests should be limited by law according to the requirements of the State, as is done in the case of the I.C.S.”

Though at the outset it definitely looks like and most probably is unjustifiable to have state control over religious matters, this also effectively makes the state the patron of Hinduism. If the Indian state is to establish a corruption-free, Hindu Priest Service body, which constantly updates and adapts itself to the changing situations, then nothing can be more desirable to political Hindus than such a body of Hindu priests.

Interestingly, this dream of Dr Ambedkar may be realised through a most practical scheme of the Madhya Pradesh government. – Swarajya, 14 April 2017

» Aravindan Neelakandan is an author, economist and psychologist. He is a post-socialist thinker of cultural evolutionism and Indian ethnogenesis. He is known for the book Breaking India, which he co-authored with Rajiv Malhotra.

Ambedkar Quote

From Orpheus to Jesus: The Trail of the Good Shepherd – Aravindan Neelakandan

Orpheus

Aravindan NeelakandanChristianity should come to terms with the truth that there is nothing exclusive about Jesus, and his mythology represents just one instance of the many dismembering-resurrection myths which can be found throughout the world. – Aravindan Neelakandan

Twelve years ago on a hot summer day in Wardha, we, a group of friends, were visiting Vinoba Bhave Ashram in Paunar, Maharashtra, after a rather strenuous but very useful camp on sustainable farming technologies. As we walked by the prayer hall, I noticed a rather interesting sculpture of Jesus playing a flute. I pointed it out to my Protestant friend accompanying me. He saw it and spontaneously reacted, “Impossible … this is a distortion….” I saw that he was not happy with the depiction and I changed the topic but deep inside I felt disturbed. Why is it that my Christian friend finds it uncomfortable to see Jesus with a flute … after all, the image of Jesus as a good shepherd is a powerful Christian iconography.

The shepherd imagery of Jesus features prominently in John’s narrative of Jesus mythology (John 10:11 and John 10:14). Christian theology relates this to Psalm 23 of David in the Hebrew Bible, which says that the God is his shepherd and that he shall not wander. However, in John, Jesus is a good shepherd and a good shepherd is defined as “one who lays down his life for his sheep” (10:11). Christian evangelists, who try to convert Jews, often use this statement as a kind of a continuity and fulfilment of Judaism in Christianity. Yet the Psalm 23, which begins as “a song of David”, speaks of God leading his herd to greener pastures and not “laying down his life”.

Hence it is interesting to see if the Christian imagery of “good shepherd” is really a continuation or even derived from Judaism or if it is inspired by non-Jewish elements. In this context, it should be noted the Jesus story of John is considered as the highly Hellenised version of all the four narratives endorsed by Council of Nicea in the fourth century CE.

Let us assume that a time machine has transported us to the Rome of early decades of the first two centuries of the Common Era. Standing in the streets of Rome, we ask for the Shrine of the Good Shepherd. We are led to a shrine. It is not that of Jesus but that of Orpheus.

Orpheus was a divine musician, who was also the good shepherd of ancient Rome. In the Pagan sacred shrines, the mosaics showed Orpheus seated in a mandala surrounded by animals which are attracted by his divine music. He holds a lyre. His mythology has striking parallels to that of Jesus.

In Greek mythology, Orpheus was the son of god Apollo. He was also a musician from Thrace who played the lyre. His divine music tamed the wild animals and even the rivers stopped to listen. He ultimately sacrificed his own life for the resurrection of his bride. He was dismembered by maenads, women devotees of Dionysus. It is a resurrection that failed at one level. Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung, however, asserts that “through dismemberment … the divine spark got into everything, the divine soul entered the earth … which guarantees resurrection”. In Christian theology, the believers are actually considered as being unified as an institutional body (Church), which in turn is seen as the bride of Jesus (2 Cor. 11:2). Now one can appreciate the mytho-theological parallels. Jesus sacrificed his mortal body for the salvation of his believers—or his bride—just like Orpheus did for his bride centuries ago. In Christian myth Jesus triumphed.

Orpheus shunned the females on his return from the netherworld and was killed. Jesus also meets a female in his mythical return from death. However, unlike Orpheus, Jesus meets a lonely, lamenting Magdalene. Immortalised in countless medieval Christian paintings, Jesus restrains Magdalene from touching him. Perhaps, this act of Jesus made famous by the words Noli me tangere (“Touch me not” John 20:17) may actually be scoring of a brownie point by Christian myth-makers over their Hellenistic counterparts. Orpheus allows himself to be murdered by women. Jesus orders Magdalene not to touch him. This may also be a subtle hint of the fear of murder by the females that proved fatal in the Orpheus mythology. Jesus after his brief sojourn into the world after resurrection ascends to heaven and lives eternally with his heavenly father. Orpheus too descends to the netherworld and lives eternally with his terrestrial bride, now transformed spiritually.

With these parallel elements of mythology, the early Christian art started depicting Jesus as Orpheus, the good shepherd—then a very famous attribute of one of the most popular Hellenistic [cults] of that period. Orphic mystery initiation was a great spiritual practice in ancient Rome and in this, Orpheus himself was seen as the chief messiah of Dionysus.

Like all Pagan religions, the Orphic school too was not an exclusive one. It allowed its own evolution through rich infusion of Mithraic imageries and Neoplatonic philosophic streams. Neoplatonism in turn contained in its elements of Indic wisdom. It will not be a far off speculation to consider that the music which captivated the beasts from the lyre of Orpheus could have been the Pythagorean music of the spheres. The Hellenistic mosaics show Orpheus with the characteristic headgear of Mithra worship.

In early Christian art, we see Christians adopting the Orphic imagery for Jesus. Here then is the more Pagan root of the Christian imagery of “good shepherd”. In early Christian catacombs of the fourth century, we meet Jesus-Orpheus compound figure still with Mithra headgear and the lyre. But starting sixth century, as the temporal power of Rome started becoming well established in the hands of institutional Christianity, we see a marked change in the Orpheus-Christ art. The figure of good shepherd is still there–significantly the lyre is gone and in its place there is the [crook] of a shepherd—shaped like a cross. The biodiversity surrounding Orpheus is progressively reduced with mono-culture of white sheep.

Now the divine musician, who bonded with multitude of animals through the celestial music is gone and in his place has come the shepherd king with the sceptre. As the authoritative Biblical and Theological Dictionary explains, sceptre, the Hebrew word, originated from the shepherd’s rod. In the Christian art of the medieval period as well as in later calendar art, Jesus the Good Shepherd permanently lost his musical instrument as he was handed over the power through the sceptre.

As the Pagan good shepherd’s mystery of dismembering and resurrection got mapped into the history-centric account of Christianity, the passion plays which depict the death and resurrection of Jesus became encapsulated with anti-Semitism. The passion plays have been focal points of spreading anti-Semitic violence in Christendom. In Adolf Hitler’s Germany, the Nazi Party was delighted in the use of passion plays in inciting violence against the Jewish community. And that is not limited to the pre-holocaust/Nazi period either. Actor Mel Gibson, who is known for his drunken anti-Semitic rants, has also been severely criticised for his movie The Passion of Christ (2004).

Abraham H. Foxman of Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found the movie as “the reincarnation of a story that became the legitimate basis for centuries of expulsions, murders and discrimination against Jews”. Sure enough, the flashback scene 11 of the movie talks about Jesus being the good shepherd, who dies for the flock.

The appropriation of the good shepherd imagery by Christianity achieved two things: the spiritual evolution of Orphic music was lost to Europe; the wilfully inaccurate anchoring of the good shepherd imagery to the Psalms of David, with the motive of proselytising Jews, created institutional anti-Semitism. It would take a burning of Bruno, inquisition of Galileo and countless torture and deaths of heretics, for the West to discover again the music of Orpheus at least in the realm of science. It would take 2,000 years of anti-Semitic persecution and a holocaust in the twentieth century to exorcise, though still not fully, the evil of anti-Semitism.

A contrasting evolution can be seen in the imagery of Krishna as the cowherd and flute player in India. Attested by the chronicles of Megasthenes, the Greek emissary, and Greek convert to Bhagwat Dharma in third and first centuries BCE respectively, the imagery of flute playing Krishna evolved uninterrupted by institutional power games for at least the last 2,000 years if not more. There are some rare sculptures of Krishna with shepherd’s staff. But the most dominant picture is that of the flute player.

Perhaps, Christianity too should shed its history-centrism and accept the Pagan archetypes on which it is based upon. It should come to terms with the earth-rooted spirituality of its images, forsaking its claims of messiah-hood appropriating Judaism. Christianity should also come to terms with the truth that there is nothing exclusive about Jesus, and his mythology represents just one instance of the many dismembering-resurrection myths which can be found throughout the world. Perhaps, then the Christian mind can come to terms with Jesus playing a flute. – Swarajya, 16 April 2017

» Aravindan Neelakandan is an author, economist and psychologist. He is a post-socialist thinker of cultural evolutionism and Indian ethnogenesis. He is known for the book Breaking India, which he co-authored with Rajiv Malhotra.

Jesus as Orpheus with Mithra cap and lyre. From the Catacombs of Peter and Marcellus, Rome, 4th century CE.

Jesus the Good Shepard. Orphic attributes replaced by cross as shepherd's crook and white sheep for the diversity of animals. Mosaic in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, 5th century CE.

Easter, a Pagan festival co-opted by Christianity – ABC Radio

Goddess Eostre

Prof Carole CusackEaster began as a Pagan festival celebrating spring in the Northern Hemisphere, long before the advent of Christianity. – Prof Carole Cusack

On Easter Sunday, a bunny will deliver chocolate eggs to many households across the world.

Have you ever wondered how this seemingly bizarre tradition came to be?

Well, it turns out Easter actually began as a Pagan festival celebrating spring in the Northern Hemisphere, long before the advent of Christianity.

“Since pre-historic times, people have celebrated the equinoxes and the solstices as sacred times,” University of Sydney Professor Carole Cusack said.

“The spring equinox is a day where the amount of dark and the amount of daylight is exactly identical, so you can tell that you’re emerging from winter because the daylight and the dark have come back into balance.

“People mapped their whole life according to the patterns of nature.”

Following the advent of Christianity, the Easter period became associated with the resurrection of Christ.

“In the first couple of centuries after Jesus’s life, feast days in the new Christian church were attached to old Pagan festivals,” Professor Cusack said.

“Spring festivals with the theme of new life and relief from the cold of winter became connected explicitly to Jesus having conquered death by being resurrected after the crucifixion.”

Easter’s changing date

In 325 AD the first major church council, the Council of Nicaea, determined that Easter should fall on the Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox.

That is why the date moves and why Easter festivities are often referred to as “moveable feasts”.

“There’s a defined period between March 25 and April 25 on which Easter Sunday must fall, and that’s determined by the movement of the planets and the Sun,” Professor Cusack said.

Pascha, Easter and the Goddess of Spring

In most countries in Europe, the name for Easter is derived from the Jewish festival of Passover.

“So in Greek the feast is called Pascha, in Italian Pasqua, in Danish it is Paaske, and in French it is Paques,” Professor Cusack said.

But in English-speaking countries, and in Germany, Easter takes its name from a Pagan goddess from Anglo-Saxon England who was described in a book by the eighth-century English monk Bede.

Eostre was a goddess of spring or renewal and that’s why her feast is attached to the vernal equinox,” Professor Cusack said.

“In Germany the festival is called Ostern, and the goddess is called Ostara.”

Rabbits and eggs as ancient symbols of new life

Many of the Pagan customs associated with the celebration of spring eventually became absorbed within Christianity as symbols of the resurrection of Jesus.

“Eggs, as a symbol of new life, became a common people’s explanation of the resurrection; after the chill of the winter months, nature was coming to life again,” Professor Cusack said.

During the Middle Ages, people began decorating eggs and eating them as a treat following mass on Easter Sunday after fasting through Lent.

“This is actually something that still happens, especially in eastern European countries like Poland,” Professor Cusack said.

“The custom of decorating hard-boiled eggs or blown eggs is still a very popular folk custom.”

Rabbits and hares are also associated with fertility and were symbols linked to the goddess Eostre.

The first association of the rabbit with Easter, according to Professor Cusack, was a mention of the “Easter hare” in a book by German professor of medicine Georg Franck von Franckenau published in 1722.

“He recalls a folklore that hares would hide the coloured eggs that children hunted for, which suggests to us that as early as the 18th century, decorated eggs were hidden in gardens for egg hunts,” Professor Cusack said.

Commercialisation, confectionery and greeting cards

Commercialisation during the 19th century saw rabbits become a popular symbol of Easter with the growth of the greeting card industry.

“Postage services became affordable and people wanted to keep in touch with people,” Professor Cusack said.

“Card companies like Hallmark became big by launching images of cute little rabbits and Easter eggs on cards.”

The first edible Easter bunnies made from sugared pastry were made in Germany in the 19th century.

Big confectionery companies, like Cadbury in England, started manufacturing chocolate eggs.

“Chocolate that used to be something that’s bitter and drunk became something that was sweetened and turned into a confectionery treat,” Professor Cusack said.

“Easter eggs were one of the areas of marketing for chocolate.”

Today, chocolate eggs and egg hunts are a popular part of Easter celebrations around the world.

Easter in Australia today

Australia’s significant public holiday periods of Easter and Christmas are based on Christian European celebrations.

So although autumn is in full swing and winter is coming in the Southern Hemisphere, rabbits and eggs as symbols of spring remain part of Australian festivities.

On Easter Sunday, the Easter bunny will deliver chocolate eggs to children and there will be egg hunts in backyards and parks across Australia.

Christian Australians will attend church services and the majority of secular Australians will enjoy the four-day weekend feasting and relaxing with family and friends.

All the while, the chocolate bunnies and eggs serve as a reminder of Easter’s ancient Pagan origins. – ABC Radio, 15 April 2017

» Prof Carole M. Cusack is an Australian historian of religion, specialising in Early Medieval Northwestern Europe, western esotericism, and trends in contemporary religion.

Easter Bunny

For Compassion International: We have had enough of ‘service’ – Balbir Punj

Balbir PunjDear US Lawmakers,

Recently, 107 of you (members of the US Congress, both Republicans and Democrats) wrote to the Indian Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, to allow the American charity, Compassion International (CI) to continue its work in India.

Your missive opens on a warm note: ”As the largest and oldest democracies in the world, India and the US share bonds rooted in political pluralism and respect for the rule of law.” The subsequent sentences, reveal your real intent. “It is with this in mind that we write to express our deep concern over the lack of transparency and consistency in your government’s enforcement of the Foreign Contribution (Regulations) Act.”

“The ongoing case of US-based Compassion International, which will have harmful consequences for many Indian children, has caused serious concern within the US Congress.”

Dear US lawmakers, on the face, your letter is touching, full of concern for the unfortunate destitute children of a faraway developing country. But are you sure that CI’s activities are motivated purely by compassion for the underprivileged children of India? Is there no hidden agenda? What has been the record of CI since it started its operations in India in 1968?

If compassion for the destitute kids was the core of the organisation’s operations in India, it has a lot of work cut out for it in the US itself. In 2011, child poverty in the US reached record-high levels with 16.7 million children living in insecure households, about 35 per cent over the 2007 levels, the second highest relative child poverty rates in the developed world. According to a 2016 study by the Urban Institute, teenagers in low-income communities are often forced to save school lunches, sell drugs or offer sexual favours because they couldn’t afford food. A 2014 report by the National Center on Family Homelessness states the number of homeless children in the US has reached a record high.

Along with poverty, children in your country suffer in broken families as well. There is a divorce every 36 seconds. That is nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week and 8,76,000 divorces a year. As a result, only 46 per cent of the children are living with two parents who are both in their first marriage. While in the early 1960s, babies typically arrived after a wedding, today four in ten births in your country occur to women who are either single or live in with a partner.

Honourable US lawmakers, you will agree that a secure home and strong family help a child cope up with poverty better. In your country, a large number of children suffer double disadvantage. They need enormous emotional support from the society to make up for broken homes, apart from monetary assistance. But CI’s heart does not bleed for these hapless American children. It spends around $50 million annually in India as “humanitarian aid”. Why? Because, CI has souls to save for the Christ in India and the US does not offer any such opportunity, since the destitute there are already Christians.

Dear US lawmakers, CI has been duly investigated by Indian officials, within the framework of our legal system, accountable to our Parliament and Judiciary. Is it fair on your part to interfere in our affairs? CI operated through Caruna Bal Vikas Trust in India. Its child “welfare” activities included holding Christian prayers on a daily basis, celebrating only Christian festivals, offering prizes for recitation of Bible verses and holding “Compassion Young Adult Meet”, where a person gives Christian inputs. Are the CI’s objectives not clear? – The New Indian Express, 1 April 2017

Compassion International

  1. Foreign Funding to Indian NGOs (Compassion International) Part I & Part II
  2. Behind the charade of charity, Compassion International was conducting religious conversions – Aravindan Neelakandan

Behind the charade of charity, Compassion International was conducting religious conversions – Aravindan Neelakandan

Compassion International

Aravindan NeelakandanGiven … the multi-religious environment of India, it would be foolish for any secular government to allow a US-based evangelical organisation to take advantage of the poverty in a country to recruit children or foot soldiers for the religious right in the West. – Aravindan Neelakandan

The year was 1901. There was a missionary school in Tindivanam, a small town in Tamil Nadu. A boy declared as the most brilliant in his class was ordered to vacate the boarding school premises and pay all the money that he owed them for boarding and food. The reason for the expulsion was that he would not consent to convert to Christianity. The boy would soon become a child labourer and work with his parents to pay the missionaries. He would also later join a Hindu monastic order.

Swami Sahajananada, both a spiritual seer and a social reformer, could never forget this incident. As a member of the Legislative Assembly of Madras and a social reformer from the scheduled communities, he would later warn the government of the dangers of evangelism of children among the marginalised sections of the population.

Cut to 2010. More than 70 malnourished children from an evangelical house are rescued after complaints of abuse surfaced in Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu. They were tribal children from Manipur.

The same year, 19 more children were rescued from an evangelical children’s home in Chennai. Some of them had been sexually abused.

Earlier, between 2005 and 2006, two children from the North East had died in a New Life Centre, another evangelical children’s house, mysteriously. The subsequent investigation met with a dead end.

In 2005, some Manipuri girls in a children’s home in Chennai spoke up about acts of sexual abuse. “Police questioned the director, but there has been no follow-up,” read a matter-of-fact report in a leading English daily.

It is in this context that the work of Compassion International in India has to be seen. With the amount of money that the Christian organisation pours into the foot-soldier Christian outfits they acquire, that kind of clout can be very dangerous.

For instance, New Life Centre, Delhi, is one of the recipients of Compassion International during the 2009-2014 period. It was, after all, in the Tirunelveli branch of New Life Centre that the two North-East children had died and probe hit a dead end. The money that comes from Compassion International can fuel child abuse in mission houses and be used for predatory proselytising, particularly in multi-religious countries like India.

In 2015, Income Tax officials disclosed that Caruna Bal Vikas (CBV), one of the chief recipients of Compassion International funding of Rs 10 million every year, used only 10 percent of its funding for child development and diverted the rest to 300 other organisations. The officials discovered the discrepancies as early as 2013, one year before the present government took over.

At the time, Compassion International had moved ahead with an astonishing money-routing strategy. The CBV centre was closed, and another body, Adhane Management Consultants Private Limited, was opened immediately and registered as a non-governmental organisation (NGO). Adhane featured the same team as that in CBV, and Compassion International began directing money to all its organisations through this new NGO. This was in May 2014. It’s evident from this series of events that Compassion International is more occupied with strategic operations rather than a group motivated by pure compassion.

The Christian charity says that local churches are so well-respected in multi-religious communities that they do not consider “forced conversion” of children an issue at all. Even as they say this, they add that they ‘do not force conversions’. However, the officials also concede that “yet honestly seek to present the Christian message of hope and the opportunities that it presents”. It is unclear how much of “honestly seeking to present” Christianity to non-Christian children would be considered as “forced”.

Compassion International’s hidden agenda is even a problem in the United States for other religionists and humanists. Joshua Lewis Berg, the director of community programming at Jewish Educational Alliance in Savannah, Georgia, points out that though the aid organisation’s website says they do not require people to believe or convert, there was no doubt that that was their goal. He also points out that their advertisements hid their Christian agenda well. So, then, what kind of child development does Compassion International aim at?

Luis Bush, the fundamentalist evangelist who devised the “10/40 window” in pursuit of an aggressive evangelical crusade in North Africa, South Asia and the Middle East, came up with a “4/14 window” in 2009. This targets “children between the age of four and fourteen”. This idea itself was a derivative of Dr Dan Brewster’s idea. Brewster wrote as early as 1996 about “The 4/14 Window: Child Ministries and Mission Strategy”. It was based on his conception that Bush came out with a book titled, The 4-14 Window: Raising Up a New Generation to Transform the World, in 2009.

Dr Wess Stafford, who was then president of Compassion International, wrote in his introduction how the Nazis and Communists had “trained legions of children of carrying their agenda”. He went on to point out that “even the Taliban places great emphasis on recruiting the children”.

Dr Brewster is director for child advocacy for Compassion International in Asia. In a 2011 document, Brewster, while discussing the child ministry in Asian countries including India, quoted another evangelist Peter Hohmann, associated with Boys and Girls Missionary Crusade. The child should be given “a missionary worldview”, he said, adding,

We can give children no greater purpose … to  make His name known in all the world. This is the purpose stated in Bible. This is the purpose we need to impart to our children.

In other words, the aim of Compassion International is to make use of poverty in India to create foot soldiers for evangelism, which the white right-wing evangelists in the US plan in their drawing rooms.

Given the historical context, and the multi-religious environment, of India, it would be foolish for any secular government to allow a US-based evangelical organisation to take advantage of the poverty in a country to recruit children or foot soldiers for the religious right in the West.

That even the supposedly left-liberal New York Times is supporting such a blatant right-wing Christian organisation in India says something.

References

  • Child traffickers from North-East set up base in Tamil Nadu, Times of India, 26 January 2010
  • Chennai-based NGO under IT scanner, The Hindu, 22 June 2015
  • Katherine Stewart, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children, Hachette UK, 2012
  • B. Watson, M Clarke, Child Sponsorship: Exploring Pathways to a Brighter Future, Springer, 2014
  • Dan Brewster, Child, Church and Mission (Revised Edition), Compassion International, 2011
  • Joshua Lewis Berg, “‘The Compassion Experience’ and the Marketing of Religion“, 20 April 2016 – Swarajya, 8 March 2017

Compassion International (Caruna Bal Vikas)

10/40 Window Map

See also

NGOs received a whopping Rs 17,208 crore from foreign donors in 2015-16 – Vijaita Singh

Debit Card & Cross

Vijaita SinghThere are 33,000 NGOs registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) that are required to file their annual returns with the Home Ministry. … Of the 16 major donors, at least 14 are Christian organisations, most of them based in the U.S. – Vijaita Singh

Foreign donations to Indian NGOs have surged since the NDA government came to power.

As per figures available with the Home Ministry, which regulates the flow of foreign funds to NGOs and associations in India, the 2015-16 fiscal saw a flow of Rs 17,208 crore from foreign donors, the highest in five years. There were donations of Rs 14,525 crore in 2014-15 and Rs 13,092 crore in 2013-14. In 2012-13, the foreign donations received totalled Rs 9,423 crore, and in 2011-12, Rs 10,334 crore.

There are 33,000 NGOs registered under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) that are required to file their annual returns with the Home Ministry, but only 19,000 received funds last year.

Of the 16 major donors, at least 14 are Christian organisations, most of them based in the U.S.

Last year, the Home Ministry put Colorado-based Christian NGO Compassion International on its watch-list as it was accused of funding Indian NGOs involved in religious conversions.

The crackdown against the Compassion International, which also figures in the list of the largest foreign donors, led to a diplomatic standoff with the United States. The U.S. Embassy wrote to the Centre, asking it to share evidence to support the allegations.

World Vision International, which is also based in the U.S., sent Rs 300 crore to Indian NGOs last year. Another U.S.-based donor, Give2Asia, sent Rs 105 crore while Canada-based Gospel For Asia sent Rs 830 crore.

Before it was put on the watch-list, the Compassion International had donated Rs 292 crore.

Clean-up exercise

Soon after the NDA government came to power in 2014, a massive clean-up exercise was taken up against NGOs registered under the FCRA. In 2015, the Home Ministry notified new rules, which required NGOs to give an undertaking that the acceptance of foreign funds is not likely to prejudicially affect the “sovereignty and integrity of India or impact friendly relations with foreign states and does not disrupt communal harmony.”

Under the annual returns category, the NGOs were asked to give an undertaking that the foreign funds were utilised in such a way that it did not affect the “security, strategic, scientific or economic interest, public interest, freedom or fairness of election to any legislature or harmony between religious, social, racial, linguistic group, caste or communities.”

The Home Ministry has cancelled the registration of over 10,000 NGOs in 2015 for not complying with the norms.

The registration of Greenpeace International was cancelled on the premise that it compromised the country’s “economic security”.

The MHA also cancelled the registration of Sabrang Trust, an NGO run by Gujarat-based social activist Teesta Setalvad’s and that of noted lawyer Indira Jaising’s Lawyers Collective. Ms. Setalvad and Ms. Jaising are known for their critical stand against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. – The Hindu, 20 February 2017

» Vijaita Singh is a senior assistant editor at The Hindu in New Delhi.

NGO Funds

What is Hinduism? – N.S. Rajaram

Nataraj

Dr. N.S. RajaramIt is a very great error to say that all religions say the same thing. They emphatically do not. When Krishna says, “Those who worship other gods with devotion worship me,” and Jesus says, “He that is not with me is against me,” they are not saying the same thing. – Dr N. S. Rajaram

Many Hindus, including some who see themselves as leaders and thinkers are stumped when asked to describe what they see as the essential features of Hinduism. This being the case, it is not surprising that young people should be confused—mistaking ritual and traditional practices for the essence. What is given here is a rational description that does not rest on the beliefs and practices of any sect.

The first thing to note is Hinduism cannot be viewed as religion deriving its authority from a book or the teachings of a founder: these are just sects. The appropriate term for what we now call Hinduism is “Sanatana Dharma”. It is not a creed like Christianity or Islam, but a philosophic system that has spiritual freedom as its core. Any path that accepts the spiritual freedom of everyone may be considered part of Sanatana Dharma. It has no national or geographical boundaries. Unlike Mecca for Islam and Jerusalem for Christianity, any land in any country can be the Holy Land for Hindus.

OmHinduism is anadi (beginning-less), and apaurusheya (without human founder)

The basis of Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma is the quest for cosmic truth, just as the quest for physical truth is the domain of science. The earliest record of this quest is the Rigveda. Its scripture is the record of ancient sages who by whatever means tried to learn the truth about the universe, in relation to Man’s place in the cosmos. They saw nature—including all living and non-living things—as part of the same cosmic equation.

This search has no historical beginning. This is not to say that the Rigveda always existed as a literary work. It means that we cannot point to a particular time or person in history and say: “Before this man spoke, the Rigveda did not exist.” On the other hand, we can say this about Christianity and Islam, because they are historical religions.

This brings up another important facet of Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism: it is a-paurusheya, which means it is not originate in any man (purusha). That is to say it has no historical founder like Christianity has Jesus Christ and Islam has Prophet Muhammad. We can say that Jesus is the purusha of Christianity while Muhammad is the purusha of Islam. These religions cannot exist without their founders. Christianity and Islam are therefore paurusheya. Hinduism has no such purusha on whose authority it exists.

Hinduism is a-paurusheya in a deeper sense also, which brings it close to science, and brings its spiritual quest close to the scientific method. In paurusheya religions, the word of the purusha (founder)—be it Jesus or Muhammad—must be accepted without question. This gives rise to an enforcing authority known as the clergy to ensure that no one deviates from the ‘true path’ as shown by the founder, but in reality as dictated by the human representative who claims to be the true spokesman of the purusha. He is the enforcing authority of the true faith.

This naturally leads to men exercising political power in the name of God. This is what we call theocracy. The authority is the scripture, which is said to represent the word of God as conveyed through his medium (thePurusha). In this scheme, the medium invariably becomes more important than God. For example, it is Jesus not his God that defines Christianity. Also, the sacred book becomes also the law book in the hands of its enforcers.

Hinduism on the other hand leaves the individual free from any religious authority. If any work is considered great, it is because of its merit and not because of the authority of the author. Similarly, a teacher is considered great because of the greatness of the teaching. For example, Vishwamitra is considered a great sage because of the greatness of the Gayatri Mantra, which he enunciated. If someone else than Vishwamitra had given us the Gayatri Mantra, it would still be considered great because of its message. It is the same with Krishna and the Gita. It is the message of the Gita that has led to people revering Krishna as a great teacher. Also, a Hindu is free to question or reject any part or all of a religious work.

It is different with revealed religions like Christianity and Islam: Jesus and Muhammad are invoked as authority to justify teachings that sometimes cannot be justified on their own merit. No such authority exists in Hinduism: the teaching must stand or fall on its own merit. This is what makes it apaurusheya. Cosmic truths existed before the arrival of Vishwamitra and Krishna. These sages, who first expressed them, were historical persons but the truth of their message is eternal and always existed.

This feature—of focusing on the message and its truth rather than the authority of the source brings Sanatana Dharma close to science and the scientific method. In science also, a principle or a theory must stand or fall on its own merit and not on the authority of anyone. If Newton and Einstein are considered great scientists, it is because of the validity of their scientific theories.

In that sense, science is also a-paurusheya. Gravitation and Relativity are eternal laws of nature that existed long before Newton and Einstein. These are cosmic laws that happened to be discovered by scientific sages Newton and Einstein. But no one invokes Newton or Einstein as authority figures to ‘prove’ the truth of laws of nature. They stand on their own merit. The same is true of the Gita and the Gayatri Mantra.

Hinduism recognizes the freedom of the individual. It recognizes no prophet’s claim as the possessor of the “only” truth or the “only” way.

This is probably the greatest difference between Sanatana Dharma and revealed religions like Christianity and Islam. One can see this in a recent proclamation by the Vatican. In a document titled “Declaration of Lord Jesus” [Dominus Iesus] the Vatican proclaims non-Christians to be in a “gravely deficient situation” and that even non-Catholic churches have “defects” because they do not acknowledge the primacy of the Pope.

This of course means that the Vatican refuses to acknowledge the spiritual right of others (including Hindus) to their beliefs and practices. It consigns non-Christians to hell; the only way they can save themselves is by becoming Catholics and submit to the Pope. It also makes the Pope more important than both God and Jesus.

It is worth noting that this statement has nothing to do with God, or noble conduct. A non-Christian who lives a life of virtue is still consigned to hell because he refuses to acknowledge Jesus as the only saviour and the Pope as his representative on earth. The same is true of Islam: one must submit to Prophet Muhammad as the last, in effect the only prophet, to be saved. Belief in God means nothing without belief in Christ as the saviour or Muhammad as the Last Prophet.

One who believes in God but does not accept Jesus or Muhammad as intermediary is still considered a non-believer and therefore a sinner. They simply do not tolerate pluralism. This is what makes both Christianity and Islam exclusive. The rejection of this formulation is also what makes Hinduism pluralistic and tolerant.

From this it is clear that what governs a revealed religion is not God but the founder who claims to be God’s intermediary. (The clergy acting in the founder’s name becomes the enforcing authority or the thought police.) A believer is one who accepts the intermediary as the savior. God is irrelevant. He is even dispensable but not the intermediary who is all-important.

Hinduism recognizes no intermediary as the exclusive messenger of God. In fact the Rigveda itself says: “ekam sat, vipra bahuda vadanti,” meaning “cosmic truth is one, but the wise express it in many ways.” The contrast between exclusivism and pluralism becomes clear when we compare the following statements by Krishna and Jesus Christ.

Krishna of the Bhagavadgita says: “All creatures great and small—I am equal to all. I hate none nor have I any favorites…. He that worships other gods with devotion worships me.” Jesus of the Bible says: “He that is not with me is against me.”

This means that Krishna has no favourites and accepts all forms of worship—even worship of other deities. But revealed religions like Christianity and Islam could not exist without favorites or intermediaries like the Prophet or the Son of God. The Bible says that God is jealous. Reflecting the “jealous God” of the Bible, the chosen intermediary is also jealous.

This is reflected in both the Bible and the Koran. “He that is not with me is against me,” says Jesus of the Bible (Matthew 12.30). So a devotee cannot know God, but can only go through the intermediary who jealously guards his exclusive access to an equally jealous God.

Hinduism is the exact opposite of this. Anyone can know God and no jealous intermediary blocks his way. And the Hindu tradition has methods like yoga and meditation to facilitate one to know God. Further, this spiritual freedom extends even to atheism. One can be an agnostic or even an atheist and still claim to be a Hindu.

In addition, there is nothing to stop a Hindu from revering Jesus as the Son of God or Muhammad as a Prophet. In contrast, a Christian or a Muslim revering Rama or Krishna as an avatar would be rejected as a heretic. This is also what makes Christianity and Islam exclusive, and Hinduism pluralistic and inclusive.

From this it is also clear why revealed religions always claim to be monotheistic: One God allows only One Intermediary. So every monotheistic religion also tends to be monopolistic. It also requires a thought police to enforce this belief system, just as every earthly dictator does. So they invariably become theocratic political systems. In contrast, in Hinduism, God is internal to the seeker. As a result each seeker has his or his own version of God. Different traditions like Dvaita, Advaita and others represent different pathways. They exercise no authority and there is no clergy to enforce.

Swastika: Motif on ancient pottery found in BulgariaHinduism and spiritual freedom

So the single most important theme of Hinduism is the freedom of the spirit. Just as science insists on freedom in exploring the physical world, Sanatana Dharma embodies freedom in the exploration of the spiritual realm. There are no dogmas or prophets—or their agents—to block the way. This allows Hinduism, like science, to grow and evolve with time. Dogmatic religions on the other hand are frozen in time. (In fact, a good deal of the effort by the priesthood in Islam and Christianity is to ensure that the original teachings do not become corrupted due to change.)

This freedom of spirit is most concisely expressed in the famous Gayatri Mantra, which prays: “dhiyo yo nah pracodayat”— which means, “Inspire our intellect.” So the greatest prayer in Hinduism is for clarity of thinking. It does not ask anyone to accept anything on blind faith in a prophet or any other agent of God. Teachers in Hinduism are only guides who suggest pathways. They have no authority. The seeker has to find his or her own way, with the help of guides if needed.

In the light of this, “conversion” to Hinduism entails accepting a way of looking at the world and not simply changing faith and adopting a new mode of worship. Above all it means acknowledging spiritual freedom and rejecting exclusivism. It is like accepting the scientific method, which also is a way of looking at the world. It cannot be done by force or with promises of profit.

As a result, it is a very great error to say that all religions say the same thing. They emphatically do not. When Krishna says, “Those who worship other gods with devotion worship me,” and Jesus says, “He that is not with me is against me,” they are not saying the same thing.

A Hindu is one who recognizes this difference—and the code founded on the principle of everyone’s right to spiritual freedom, while Christianity and Islam reject and even punish this freedom. The method of worship and the deity or deities one may choose to worship are secondary as long one acknowledges everyone’s right to this freedom and is prepared to defend it. So the only enemies of Sanatana Dharma are those that oppose spiritual freedom.

Swami Vivekananda on a-paurusheya: “Our philosophy does not depend upon any personality for its truth. Thus Krishna did not teach anything new or original to the world, nor does Ramayana profess anything which is not contained in the Scriptures. It is to be noted that Christianity cannot stand without Christ, Mohammedanism without Mohammed, and Buddhism without Buddha but Hinduism stands independent of any man, and for the purpose of estimating the philosophical truth contained in any Purana, we need not consider the question whether the personages treated of therein were really material men or were fictitious characters. The object of the Puranas was the education of mankind, and the sages who constructed them contrived to find some historical personages and to superimpose upon them all the best or worst qualities just as they wanted to, and laid down the rules of morals for the conduct of mankind. ” – Vijayvaani, 8-9 January 2016

» Dr Navaratna Srinivasa Rajaram is an Indian mathematician, notable for his publications with the Voice of India publishing house focusing on the “Indigenous Aryans” debate in Indian politics.

Encyclopedia of Hinduism

On 3–4 April 2010, a blessings ceremony for the Encyclopedia of Hinduism was held at Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh. It was attended by H.H. the Dalai Lama, M.M. Swami Gurusharananand, Swami Avdheshanand Giri, Sant Shri Rameshbhai Oza, Swami Ramdev, Sant Shri Morari Bapu and other religious leaders as well as top political leaders, including Shri L.K. Advani and then-Governor of Uttarakhand Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, and India Heritage Research Foundation board members and trustees.