Truth and political correctness – Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth“The rishis enquired into truth. ‘Religion’ in the sense of imposing a fixed doctrine was inconceivable for them. Debates on what is true were held in which women, too, participated. The question revolved around how to make life meaningful and fulfilled. The answer they found was: the purpose of life is to discover the truth about ourselves.” – Maria Wirth

Some years ago, on a visit to Germany, I met with a few friends from primary school times. Two of them I hadn’t seen for over 50 years, but we were quickly familiar again after we got used to our new (elderly) look. The conversation veered to the Turks in town, around 600 of the overall 6000 inhabitants. “Most of them are not integrating into our society and some buy up houses right in the centre of the town”, a former classmate said.

I mentioned that I have become very wary of pious Muslims ever since I read the Quran. Those who believe in earnest what is written there will never see non-Muslims as equals. They are simply not allowed to. They will have to strive to gain majority wherever they live and then bully us others into submission, if we are lucky not to be killed.

There was silence for a while. Then one friend, a confident, feisty woman, said: “Maria, I think like you do. But I wouldn’t have dared to say what you just said.”

Her comment brought home the power of mass media. For decades ‘political correctness’ has been drummed into us all over the world and many have internalized what they are supposed to say and what not. And maybe we did not even notice that we have voluntarily surrendered the right to free speech which is considered one of the greatest plus points of modern democracies.

It is even worse and more complicated. The right to free speech is there, but the right to speak the truth is under threat. The right to free speech even allows expressing offense and falsehood provided it is aimed at the ‘politically correct’ groups of people. In such cases, free speech is often amplified because mainstream media will gladly broadcast it all over the world.

An example was the false accusation that ‘Hindu extremists’ were behind the gang rape of a nun. Hindus were not given a hearing. They were shouted down in TV studios by Christian representatives and left-liberals. A bishop and Vatican Radio also went ahead blaming Hindus without any proof. When the Bangladeshi Muslim culprits were caught, the damage to the image of Hindus was done and it was not corrected. No case of hate speech was slapped on those Christian representatives. Not even an apology was made.

Who can be freely attacked and who not is one of the incomprehensible features of political correctness. In spite of the fact that Hindus were victims under Muslim and British rule for centuries with millions of them having been killed; in spite of the fact that Hindus never went on the offensive in the name of their gods, they and their tradition are today fair game for verbal attacks which could be termed as hate speech but is hardly ever prosecuted as such. The same seems to apply for Jews. Anti-Semitism is again on the rise in the West and not only among the Muslim population there. It is prominent in universities and hidden in mainstream media.

In contrast, Muslims and Islam are generally exempted from verbal attacks in spite of the fact that mainly Muslim boys become terrorists and in spite of the fact that over the past 1400 years, Muslims were more often aggressors, not victims. The reason is that the motto “Islam is a religion of peace” is the politically correct view and cases of ‘hate speech’ are slapped quickly on those who say otherwise. However there is no further debate on why or whether Islam is indeed a religion of peace except for general claims that Islam exhorts its followers to be good human beings.

In a balanced debate it would become clear that Hindu Dharma (the open-minded, tolerant Hinduism does not deserve an ‘–ism’ as postfix) is a better option for a harmonious, peaceful living together of people of diverse natures, because Islam and Christianity require first all to convert and profess belief in their fixed, yet unproven doctrines before homogenous ‘peace’ can be established. Diversity of opinion is not allowed.

Yet this balanced, unbiased debate never happens. It is studiously avoided. Instead, those who stand up for Hindu Dharma are vilified as ‘Hindu fundamentalists’ and those who stand up for Islam or Christianity are paraded all over the news channels as persons of the ‘correct’ insight. Do you hear in public discourse that “Hinduism is a religion of peace”? You may have never heard it. And if you say it privately, politically correct persons will immediately remind you of the ‘atrocious caste system’.

Many truthsHow have we reached such a state where we cannot have a meaningful debate on what is true any longer? Has truth been thrown out of the window? It almost seems like that. I realized only recently that the ‘correct’ line is now apparently that there is no truth as such. Rather, there are so many truths. Whatever somebody thinks is his truth.

A German friend said exactly this, when I mentioned that it is a sad state of affairs that nowadays it needs courage to speak the truth, especially when it comes to Islam. “There is no truth as such”, he replied. I was taken aback. If truth is not taken any longer as the guiding star, we can as well pack up and stop living.

I tried to make my friend see that though the absolute Truth—that what truly is—cannot be put into words, it nevertheless is present. On another, lower level, a lie is definitely not the truth, even if somebody believes in it. Steadfastly ignoring certain important facts to create a different perception of an issue is also dishonest and akin to a lie. “Satyam vada, dharam chara” is an ancient Indian advice—speak the truth, do what is right.

Is it so difficult to find out whether the politically correct view is truthful or not?

Let’s take for example the concern to empower women. It’s a worthy concern. But what has happened in the name of feminism and gender equality clearly went overboard and has become harmful.

“Why should I move to the place where my husband gets a job? Why should he not stay where I have my friends?” was a major issue in the early years of feminism in the West. So the discord started right after marriage because one of the two had finally to give in and if it was the wife, she would grudge it, now being aware of ‘gender inequality’.

Further, in the name of gender equality, unequal laws were enacted which favoured women and put men not only at a disadvantage, but in danger to land in jail because their side of the story simply does not count. It is apparently assumed that women are always angels and men always beasts, which is clearly not true. As a consequence, men and women are not anymore complementing each other but opposing each other, and in western societies the family system went bust. Many people there feel lonely and lost, yet the creed of feminism is still adhered to by the politically correct.

Should there not be a genuine debate on this issue? Yet it is not happening. Why is any criticism of feminism shouted down by the so-called opinion-makers in the media? Do they want a defunct society for whatever reason?

When I had finished school in the late 1960s, feminism just started in Germany. If I wanted to be ‘modern’ now, I was suddenly supposed to make a career and as compensation, I didn’t need to know how to cook and could decide whether I wanted children, as it was “my body”.

I remember that some feminists then were even fighting for girls to be included in the 18-months long military training that was obligatory for boys at the age of 18. Many women, including me, did not agree with those feminists, but we had no voice, whereas their voice was heard loudly almost daily in the media. Brainwashing is usually associated with fascist, communist or religious ideologies, but it seems, media, too, are willing henchmen to support it and how effective they are!

Let’s take another example: religion is seen as sacrosanct and freedom of religion is guaranteed in the UN Charter. Yet a clear definition of religion is lacking. Should we not have a closer look at religions regarding what is true about them and what cannot possibly be true? This debate also is not happening. Instead it is politically correct to project Islam as a religion of peace and Christianity as a religion of love, and Hinduism as a loose collection of cults which have many flaws that need to be corrected, preferably by western experts of “South Asia”.

This is turning truth on its head. But why is it done? Do the powerful, influential, wealthy religions of peace and love (both of them gained the huge number of followers through violence and indoctrination) sense that they will be losing out when there is a genuine debate? Hindus would have the upper hand because their tradition is based on philosophy (= love for wisdom) and not on coercion into blind belief.

The insights of the rishis keep being vindicated by modern science and are open to direct, personal experience in this life, provided one purifies one’s inner perception. The followers of the dogmatic religions, however, have to wait till they are dead until they know whether it was true or false what the priests or mullahs told them.

The rishis enquired into truth. “Religion” in the sense of imposing a fixed doctrine was inconceivable for them. Debates on what is true were held in which women, too, participated. The question revolved around how to make life meaningful and fulfilled. The answer they found was: the purpose of life is to discover the truth about ourselves.

Let’s bring truth into our lives and stand by it. Let’s not be swayed by political correctness or other types of indoctrination. Ultimately truth alone is victorious—and maybe it sounds strange, but I am convinced that truth is alive. If it is honoured, it will foster you.

Satyameva Jayate! – Maria Wirth Blog, 17 April 2016

» Maria Wirth is a psychologist and author who lives in Uttarakhand.

Yyagnavalkya & Maitreyi

Hinduism and homosexuality through the ages – Bharat Gupt

Gay Bombay

Bharat Gupt“The task before Indian social thinkers, lawmakers and the judiciary is not only to provide relief in the present Section 377 mainly to undo the criminalisation of a people done under a Biblical bias, but to refrain from developing a discourse that meekly submits to the approach being sanctioned by the modern West.” – Bharat Gupt

At a time when the Indian sociopolitical climate is charged with emotional demonstrations totally bereft of reason, a glimmer of hope was seen by the gays of India last week when a senior RSS leader, Dattatreya Hosabale, made a statement (at India Today Conclave 2016) on March 17 that homosexuals should not be regarded as criminals in the eyes of Indian law. But after what seemed drops of nectar to the Kinnars of India, the RSS functionary clarified that he would let them go from the clutches of law as they are diseased, mentally ill, and not natural healthy people with just a different sexual orientation.

Hosabale’s volte-face continues the longstanding flip-flop on the issue of homosexuality—its goodness and badness—because the most important factor, the traditional Hindu view on homosexuality, has not been given its due weightage. Both, the contemporary followers of the Western modernism, and the upholders of traditional Hindu values, have simply neglected the vast amount of legal material available from the ancient Indian past. This article aims to provide some basic clarifications which will help us make a timely choice today.

Supreme Court of IndiaHomosexuality and law

As it is well-known, while the Delhi High Court on July 2, 2009 struck down Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, which criminalises homosexual activity, the Supreme Court reversed it on December 11, 2013, and also rejected its review petition on January 28, 2014. However, after much campaigning from the civil society as well as the LGBT community in India, on January 28, 2016, the Supreme Court once again decided to appoint a five-judge bench, to consider if the curative petition on its earlier order can be heard.

Will it be so easy for the larger bench to reject all the arguments on the basis of which the SC had reversed the 2009 Delhi HC judgment?  Let us not forget that, on December 11, 2013, the bench of Justices G. S. Singhvi and S. J. Mukhopadhaya had said that Section 377 “by itself did not suffer from constitutional infirmity”, but clarified that “notwithstanding this verdict, the competent legislature shall be free to consider the desirability and propriety of deleting Section 377 IPC from the statute book or amending the same as per the suggestion made by the attorney general”.

An impression is being created that earlier the judiciary was conservative in viewing the matter, and now that a senior member of ruling government, namely Arun Jaitley, along with the RSS functionary, have called for a modernisation of the general view on homosexuality, the courts shall oblige.

Nothing can be farther from the truth.

Gay Indian ModelSection 377: A western law

The reason why homosexuals here have been made to suffer the threat of persecution (though not many registered cases in law have been recorded against them under Section 377) is the shaky nature of arguments that are put for scrapping Section 377. We shall see during the course of our discussion why it is so.

To begin with it should suffice to say that just as the Section 377 was a Judeo-Christian imposition, totally foreign to notions of sexuality in India, its curatives now being touted by the imitators of Euro-American contemporary moral relativism, are also equally repugnant to the notions of sex and marriage for the majority of Indians.

In fact, democratically speaking, besides the Hindus, who once upon a time in ancient India, accepted homosexuality as natural for those born homosexuals, but became a victim of the colonial belief in the criminality of the homosexual need, imposed first by the Islamic clerics and then by the Christian British, now in modern India, besides the Hindus (still colonised in so many ways) the majority of the Muslims and Christians are still against dropping Section 377. They are not going to buy the modernised reformists agenda of Euro-American Christian lands which are now aggressively pushing gay rights all over the world to get rid of their own guilt of having persecuted the gays so viciously for centuries.

Kapil Sibal, like the bombastic and loose-tongued courtier Jacques of the deposed Duke in Shakespeare’s As You Like It, has gone full hog for the plea that sexual preferences in bedroom are a matter of adult choice and any curtailment by law is a denial of freedom.

To substantiate, I quote from this Times of India article:

“The most precious right to privacy linked to right to life is sexual activity. If any provision of law restrains such precious right to privacy even when the sexual relationship is consensual and happens within the four walls of the persons’ homes, then it must be termed unconstitutional,” Sibal said. After raising the constitutional question, Sibal added, “The Supreme Court’s judgment upholding Section 377 making gay sex a criminal offence has heaped indignity and stigma on the present as well as future generation, who have and who would have such sexual orientation”.

So here is on a high pedestal the grand notion that two individuals of age 18 or above can have with mutual consent any kind of sexual activity and no social or moral restrain shall apply to them. The sexual bedroom is as sacred, personal and private as a yogi’s cave, where he can do his own sadhana in his own way and those outside have no business to peep in.

NAZ FoundationProblems with Euro-American concept of sexual freedom

A simple look at this kind of worship of sexual freedom shows that it goes against not only common sense but against all values of public and private conduct. Implicit in this argument is that the homosexual act is good and right if done privately but wrong if done in open. This is unacceptable. The act in itself needs to be evaluated as right or wrong conduct. Stealing is bad, done privately or in open. So is adultery. What about sodomy or lesbian embrace?

Sibal is still working under the Euro-American pleas of freedom of the individual and is trying for a revision from the Supreme Court. That is bound to fail. My efforts to convince people like the NAZ Foundation, the main appellant in the case, to change their pleas have failed. They only take a highly dubious position that sexual privacy is a matter of individual right and hence upheld by the Indian Constitution.

The Delhi High Court, under the impact of the Western lobby of sexual freedom, granted the plea, but the Supreme Court struck it down as sexual behaviour is not a matter of individual whims or demands but an ethical issue decided according to the social norms of a society.

Throughout history, cultures have defined it differently. Some cultures have regarded it as according to nature and hence not only permissible but also undeniable. For such a culture, denying it was a cruelty and a legal offence. The ancient Indians believed and practised so. Later in this essay, we have given quotations from ancient Hindu texts. Therefore, it is surprising that previously some scholars with RSS proximity, such as Professor Kapil Kapoor and Dr Subramanian  Swamy, have presented an opposite picture of it.

Under this sort of influence, a young man once emailed me:”However, in R. Shamastry’s translation (the one which is freely available on the internet as a pdf file), we find the below line under chapter XIII, ‘Punishment for violating justice’ in Book IV, ‘The Removal of Thorns’ of the Arthasástra of Kautilya: ‘A man having sexual intercourse with another man shall also pay the first amercement.’  Is this a mistranslation or am I referring to the wrong text?”

This halfway reading of the classical texts, so common now among TV tigers, on religious matters of Hindu tradition, continues to create confusion. This needed the following clarification:

Please see the suutra: “Kushth.onmaad-klaibyaadibhih kutsaayaam ca satya-mithyaastuti-nindaasu-dvaadashapan.ottaraa dand.aastulyeshu”.

“Twelve of more panas is the fine for one who has maligned a leper, a mentally deranged, a klaibya/eunuch (could mean any of the homoerotic kind) through speaking lies or half lies.” Now to 4.13.40: “Striyam-ayonaugacchatah, puurvah saahasa dand.ah., purusham-adhimehtashcha.”

“Penetrating a woman but not in her yoni/vagina, or a man in his anus with penis attracts fine of the first order.”

Now see the context of these different offences.

The first is about “maligning in society”, and not having or not having sex with a eunuch. So it proves that as citizens, eunuchs were protected by law.

The second is about having “non-vaginal sex with a woman”. This refers to unwilling wives or kulavadhus and not to sex workers in courtesan houses. Sex with a man/purusha refers to a man who is not a sex worker or a homosexual. If Arthashastra had meant a homoerotic, it would not have used the word purusha but used the word kliba or shand.a. Thus, one kliba making love to another is not punishable.

The Section 377 of Christian British origin condemns any man to man sex as it does not admit of naturally homoerotic persons. But the Kamashastra and other texts all admit. They allow men to indulge with homoerotic eunuchs and eunuchs with each other. Thus for Christians, all same-sex sex is sin, but for Hindus it is not, if one person is homoerotic.

In short, leave the Bible and go to Smritis. The BJP and RSS will do well to go back to Hinduism as it really was.

For the Greeks there was no reason to delve into its naturalness, as both procreative heterosexuality and pleasurable homosexuality were not only permissible but admirable and a sign of good living. The Arabs and several other cultures influenced by the Greeks accepted this view and in spite of religious sanctions against it accepted it as useful.

For a number of tribal cultures it is not such a big issue and most societies except Abrahamics have looked the other way regarding homosexuality. But Jews, Christians and Muslims have defined it as unnatural and hence a sin/haraam and punishable.

Not surprising in that proposed curative petition hearing, as the TOI reports, that when  “… the bench asked, ‘Is there anyone opposing these petitions?’ Manoj V. George stood up and said his client, the Kerala-based Apostolic Churches Alliance, opposed it, along with the Muslim Personal Law Board. The churches’ association opposed it mainly on religious grounds, saying ‘homosexuality is the negation of the creation of order in human sexuality'”.

So the crucial question now is: on what grounds will the Supreme Court revise the view of earlier bench, when the conservative Hindu majority, along with traditional Christians and Muslims, do not support any revision? And that is why Parliament is not willing to even debate at length, let alone take a stand on the issue.

Of course, the SC in its wisdom may want to support the Euro-American position and scrap Section 377 in spite of the inner rejection it may incur from the traditionally religious public of India. But the West is not going to stop with the scrapping of Section 377. They want a lot more, nothing less than gay marriage, gay rights to adoption and to property, and just about everything for gays that heterosexuals have.

In fact, the West has been pushing for a special status for the gays to propagate and preach homosexuality, as a minority lifestyle, as it promises a great market share. There is more to this movement for gays than just the Christian guilt of having oppressed them for over a millennium.

Auparishtaka (fellatio) image in the Vishwanath Temple, Khajuraho (10th century).The ancient Hindu laws on homosexuals

Many people think that ancient Hindu ideas were entirely compatible with the views of modern European and American notions. Scholars like Ruth Vanita and some others have looked at a lot of Pauranic stories and deduced from them a full approval of the modern Euro-American notions on the subject. The Hare Krishna followers located there have also held a similar view. Therefore it is imperative that one goes to really see the classical texts and collect evidence on the status and life of homoerotic individuals in ancient India.

One hears all the time, the usual sentiment that as Hinduism is a very tolerant culture, that it was totally open to homosexuality and that it was more modern than the moderns. Many people argue, like these scholars of the Hare Krishna order, that as Hinduism believes that every human being is part of the supreme being, Brahma, and hence homosexuals cannot be considered as beings of lower category. They also think, without any evidence, that in the Vedic age, homosexuals were fully integrated into social and monastic orders.

I must say that most of these sentiments are uninformed. The mythic analysis on which Ruth Vanita and several others have relied is not the right evidence as literature was not the place for codification of social laws. The laws by which people lived were enshrined in the texts of laws, the Dharmashastras, and other shastras of social and medical disciplines.

Talking about the textual evidence, the Kamasutra of Vatsyayana, does define a third order of humans called the “tritiiyaa prakriti” or third nature. These third nature persons are of two kinds, one of the female kind and the other of the male sort (“dvividhaa tritiityaaprkritih, striiruupinii purusharuupinii ca.” 2.9.1). Vatsyayana goes on to say that “she”, who behaves like a woman, is to be employed for oral sex (“tasyaa vadane jaghanakarma tadauparisht.akam aachakshate” 2.9.3). She was a paid sex-worker like a courtesan who should work like one (“vaishyaavat caritam prakaashayet” 2.9.5). For the male kind, who has the desire for males but who cannot make her nature very evident, “he” should take to the profession of massage-giver and thus coming into contact with males satisfy them through oral sex (2.9.6-10). In this context the act of auparisht.aka is described in detail in the Kamasutra.

The ancient Hindu society, as is evident here, did not consider the homosexuals as perverts or sinners. As the term, tritiiya-prakriti or third-nature describes them, they are being themselves, they are being natural. This is the primary difference between the Christian and the Hindu attitude. Christianity did not accept the third-nature people and hence imposed a punishment on their activities. With due respect to Baba Ramdev, if they are natural, they are not sick or psychologically challenged, and hence “incurable”.

For the Hindu social order, the homoerotics were not expected to follow the heterosexual norms of behaviour. They cannot be blamed for being what they are. And for this reason, accepting their nature, they were not excommunicated or purged from human societies. They had to be given a place in it and they were to be protected and prevented from harm by the State.

The Arthashastra prescribes a fine for those who persecuted a homoerotic person (3.18.4) and it prohibits making of eunuchs even in the conquered population by a king by castrating captured males of the vanquished (13.5.13).

This was in direct contrast with the Arabic societies and what the Islamic governments did very often as a state policy. The most fierce warrior commandos called the Genitzaroi of the Ottoman Empire were made out of very young boys abducted from the Greek villages under subjugation.

But the Hindu society accepted the third nature of persons who were born with it and did not want to replicate it for any purpose of social engineering. There is ample record that the Christians promoted eunuchs and homosexuals to practise religious castration and Muslims profusely castrated the vanquished populations to create classes of menial and warrior slaves.

As has been pointed out by Dr Come Carpentier de Gourdon [“Origin and Evolution of the Legal Notion of Rights” (PDF)], this strategy of creating a real and/or simulated class of homosexuals for an exploitative purpose is being now pursued by modern corporations in fashion industry. They want to promote homoeroticism as homosexuals who usually do not have the burden of raising families and are great consumerists and hence great customers. The breakdown of the family institution, in modern West, has contributed immensely to the promotion of homoerotic choices (often not psychological and innate but simulated under social fads).

Homosexual encounter depicted in the Temple of Visvanatha, Khajuraho (10th century)Allocation of professions to homosexuals in ancient India

While accepting the third nature of (tritiiyaa prakriti) some persons, the ancient Hindus gave them a special place in the social order. They were designated to be part of the class of sex-workers and performers of music and dance. In fact, till around the 10 century AD, prostitution was a legal profession, taxed and protected by the State. It was an enshrined duty of the king in the Dharmashastra texts.

The homoerotics as part of the class of courtesans, musicians, dancers and performers had a legal protection and their incomes and their sustenance were ensured. This position was certainly not highly respectable and was disadvantaged, as it was of a lower category. In fact, it was out of the varna order or varnabaahya.

But they also had the freedom/advantage of not having any obligations of adopting/raising any children, or performing the rituals for ancestor worship, which was a major obligation for the varna Hindus and involved incurring a substantial financial burden. Homoerotics were free from many such burdens of social restrains. Difficult for us to imagine today, it was a free life in a major way given the obligation-bound ancient society.

Ancient Hindu society envisaged marriage as primarily devoted to procreation and raising of able and educated individuals who would contribute to society by performing duties to the living relatives and the dead ancestors. While pleasure (kaama/rati) was one aspect, and a highly prized one, of human sexuality, dharma (moral obligations), artha (commerce) and moksha (liberation) were the other three commitments.

As the homoerotics or the Kinnars were not capable of performing those obligations as they could not procreate, they were made into a special class and given a jati or guild. It may also be pointed out, that many homoerotics, impotents or sperm-count deficient persons, continued to be part of usual varnas and jatis. Ways were found to provide them with heirs, one method being niyoga.

Coming to the present-day situation, it must be said that historical developments have jumbled up the ancient solution. The Islamic intervention in the medieval period altered the status and social acceptability of the homoerotic class. The performing arts of theatre and dance have been taboo in urban life and prostitution has lost its legal and respectable status, though still preserving itself, as a repository of music and dance wherever it survives in, howsoever, an abject state.

Besides the entertainment industry of yore, the homoerotics had a much greater employment in harems of sultans and rajas and a connection with espionage, administration, maintenance and even military protection.

It was the British who delivered the stroke of grace for the homoerotics. The Biblical and Christian prejudice against sodomy turned the Kinnars of India into criminals. It delegitimised the profession they had been legally awarded earlier and prevented them from taking to a new one.

As Indians have been too slow to alter the Criminal Procedure Code, the section stating punishment for homoerotic contact has not been still eliminated from Indian statute books. It should be soon done away with and the traditional freedom restored. But the dismemberment of these people from social order created by the British cannot be restored so easily. It would take some serious research to find out what are they now tending towards as professions. At a cursory glance one may say they are to be found a lot in fashion and film industry.

Indian lesbian couple Baljit Kaur (21) and Rajwinder Kaur (20) answer questions from media representatives in Amritsar, 19 June 2007, during a press meeting following their marriage on 14 June 2007. Across India gay and lesbian couples are increasingly coming out into the open about their sexuality and same sex marriages are becoming more common place. (AFP/Getty Images)Hindu view of gay marriage

I must comment upon the contentious issue seizing the arena of debate, that is, whether gay marriage should be legalised or not. I express my candid opinion that while gay cohabitation should not be illegal, persecuted or even frowned upon, giving the same rights to gay cohabiters as to married heterosexuals couples is not advisable. Some difference between gay partnership and heterosexual marriage is necessary.

The children adopted by gays are very likely going to acquire a pseudo-gay syndrome. This is going to be unhealthy for the institution of family which is already under many threats and is almost on the verge of extinction in Europe and America. Indians have to think upon this matter at length and with seriousness as there are already too many detractors in the media and the press who are working overtime to push the Euro-American homoeroticism.

One must not underestimate the fact that the Western fascination with homoeroticism is based on consumerism. Under the garb of providing equality, the “same-sex right” lobby is going to create greater instability as gay marriages do not hold any particular assurances of stability. The adopted children of gays are very likely to be gay and thus we will create unreal but “rightful” gays.

For the Euro-Americans, the challenges are many and diverse. Russia, for instance, needs a population upsurge. Putin has explicitly stated that Russia is under a population decline and they need more children which gay marriages are not going to provide. Quite a few countries like Greece and in East Europe have the same drawback. Japan is facing the biggest population decline in coming years. The present day advocacy of homoeroticism in the West is not likely to continue for very long.

The task before Indian social thinkers, lawmakers and the judiciary is not only to provide relief in the present Section 377 mainly to undo the criminalisation of a people done under a Biblical bias, but to refrain from developing a discourse that meekly submits to the approach being sanctioned by the modern West. It is also hoped a true appreciation and understanding of the ancient Hindu approach will not be distorted by so called votaries of “Hindu interests”, that the Hindu leaders, scholars, saints and sannyasis (like Baba Ramdev who claims that yoga can cure this “illness”), shall actually consult the Dharmashastras and the legal texts before making pronouncements. In fact, convincing the Hindu laity by and large of the true historical facts will make matters easier for all.

For more on the subject please see these lectures: A, B, C, D, and E

Baba Ramdev poster being carried in a Mumbai Gay Pride ParadeKamasutra and Khajuraho

The Hindu Right has to revise its discourse on both. At present even the Hindu Right has accepted what Wendy Doniger and the likes have to say on it, that is Kamasuutra and Khajuraho were a symbol of sexual freedom and rather even sexual libertinism.

I shall like to point out that ancient and medieval treatment of sexuality was highly restrictive. The ancient society was very clear that shringaara was to be indulged only in the grihastha stage of life and was not only to be encouraged but was obligatory. Although part of the obligation was for meeting the demands of procreation for the sake of preserving the family line and the social needs, it was not to be performed perfunctorily but with all the passion and joy that the force of nature releases in a healthy mind. The judicious man was one who knew how to seek sexual fulfillment and yet not transgress in public his other obligations. As Vatsyayana admonishes, one should conduct oneself in such a way in the world that all the three aspirations (trivarga or purushaarthas) of right conduct (dharma), profit (artha) and sexual desire (kaama) are achieved without any one obstructing the other two (“trivargasaadhakam yat syaad dvayor ekasya vaa punah/kaaryam tadapi kurviita na tu ekaartham dvibaadhakam.” Kamasuutra, Trivarga-pratipatti-kara.nam, Chapter 2, Verse 40).

Similarly, it should not be imagined that women dressed the ways the devaanganaas were shown on temple sculptures. These temples belonged to certain Shakti cults, which were not free or open, but esoteric. Yoga was not taught openly, not even asanas. Just till thirty years ago, no asana was done in a park. The Buddhist sexual tantra paintings were made by monks, not by free-wheeling Bohemian painters like M. F. Husain.

Indian intellectuals have a poor understanding of the sexual history of India. The subject has not been studied carefully. We have either men like Subramaniam Swamy who have recently jumped on to the bandwagon of Hindu studies and make misleading statements on homosexuality in India, distorting the historical facts or we have a Sadhu Samaj/VHP aversion to discussion on Hindu sexuality. (Just wait till the courts surprise you as they have done by banning Santhara).

The RSS could have easily arranged for several seminars on the subject through the chairpersons it has appointed to various academic councils and art institutions. There is something more than Aryan invasion and Saraswati river which needs intellectual attention. – Daily-O, 21 March 2016

» Bharat Gupt is a retired Associate Professor in English who taught at the College of Vocational Studies of the University of Delhi. He is an Indian classicist, theatre theorist, sitar and surbahar player, musicologist, cultural analyst, and newspaper columnist.

See also

The true story behind Valentine’s Day – Katherine DeFonzo

St Valentine

Katherine DeFonzo“The association of St. Valentine with romantic love can in many ways be traced to the poetry of medieval writers, the most notable among them being Geoffrey Chaucer. In his poem ‘The Parliament of Fowles,’ it is on St. Valentine’s Day that the birds choose their mate before the arrival of Spring. … The association of gift-giving with Valentine’s Day has been attributed to the court culture of seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe, and this association was only strengthened as the Industrial Revolution transformed society and allowed American and Europeans easier access to commercial goods.” – Katherine DeFonzo

Claudius IIThe most appropriate response to this question might be to ask which St. Valentine one has in mind. It is somewhat unclear exactly which Christian saint is being commemorated on Valentine’s Day, a holiday that has become increasingly secular over time. Two early Christian martyrs named Valentine are thought to have died on February 14th, yet many other martyrs from this time period shared this name. One reasonable explanation is that several legends surrounding saints with this name have come to be celebrated collectively on the day we now know as Valentine’s Day.

Contemporary accounts suggest that Valentine was a priest who lived during the reign of the “cruel” Roman Emperor Claudius II (A.D. 210 – A.D. 270). According to legend, Valentine, going against the wishes of the emperor, helped arrange marriages for soldiers. This St. Valentine was subsequently sentenced to death and executed as a result of his actions.

Another story tells of a judge who converted to Christianity after Valentine restored his blind daughter’s sight. When Valentine tried to convert Claudius to Christianity, a religion the emperor was determined to suppress, Valentine was put to death. A similar story places Valentine in prison in Rome and describes him as receiving many letters from Roman children. Among them was the jailor’s blind daughter, whom he also cured.

It is possible that the association of Valentine’s Day with love is rooted in a tradition dating back to pagan Rome. For many years, Romans had held celebrations in honor of the goddess Juno in anticipation of the Feast of Lupercalia, an annual festival honoring the gods of fertility. This feast eventually came to include a tradition that involved young men being paired for a year with a woman whose name they drew out of an urn. There is evidence that many centuries later a similar practice had become common in eighteenth century England. In both instances, it was thought that the men and women who were paired together might eventually marry. Whatever the influence of these celebrations on our modern tradition, by A.D. 49[6] it had become associated with Christianity when Pope Gelasius gave the day official recognition.

The tradition of sending Valentine’s Day cards is likely rooted in another legend attributed to the saint who supposedly sent a letter to the jailor’s daughter. It was signed, “From Your Valentine.” The first known Valentine’s Day card was sent around six hundred years ago by Charles, Duke of Orleans, who wrote to his wife while in the Tower of London. Although the average card purchased at Hallmark might not have such a story attached to it, receiving one still brings people joy centuries later.

Geoffrey ChaucerThe association of St. Valentine with romantic love can in many ways be traced to the poetry of medieval writers, the most notable among them being Geoffrey Chaucer. In his poem “The Parliament of Fowles,” it is on St. Valentine’s Day that the birds choose their mate before the arrival of Spring. Chaucer possibly chose to set his poem on this day in order to commemorate another St. Valentine from Genoa whose feast day fell in May. The association of gift-giving with Valentine’s Day has been attributed to the court culture of seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe, and this association was only strengthened as the Industrial Revolution transformed society and allowed American and Europeans easier access to commercial goods [see reference for India].

Because so little is known with certainty about the life of St. Valentine and it is difficult to be sure which Valentine is being referenced in many legends, the Catholic Church removed him from the General Roman Calendar following Vatican II in 1969. Although Valentine’s Day is no longer celebrated as an exclusively religious holiday, recalling the story of the individual or individuals who inspired this holiday reminds us of its long and rich history.- History News Network, 9 February 2016

» Katherine Defonzo is a sophomore at Fordham University and History News Network intern. 

Lupercalia

Lupercalia was a very ancient pre-Roman pastoral festival, observed on February 13 through 15, to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. Lupercalia subsumed Februa, an earlier-origin spring cleansing ritual held on the same date, which gives the month of February (Februarius) its name. Pope Gelasius I—who was pope from March 492 to his death in November 496—suppressed the Pagan festival and Christianised it by associating it with a martyred priest Valentine of Rome who was said to have received a rosary from the Virgin Mary. — Editor

Hinduism is the hope of the world – Jay Jina

Surya DevaPeople of India

Jay Jina“The monotheisms are not going to volunteer to give way for a level playing field. So, apart from Hindus reclaiming their identity and working by example to practically show that there are alternatives for people to tread their own paths to truth and peaceful coexistence, the self-professed liberals, particularly outside India will have to get off the pot and put some skin in the game. … A good start would be for the economic development of India to continue unimpeded. Yes, those inimical to progress will do all in their power to prevent this, but those who claim to be real liberals and progressives have to open their eyes and realise that economic progress and prosperity are the most effective road to peace and a potent antidote to fundamentalism.” – Jay Jina

Obama also has a Christian agenda for South AsiaIntolerance has been in the news these past several months, from a pontificating president who bowed to religious despots in their backyard the very day after lecturing the democratic unwashed untermensche of India about how to treat minorities,[1] the sustained tirade of the scandalous “award wapsi” brigade over the Bihar polls, and more recently by the framed up interrogation of a BJP spokesman by a reactionary Islamist with a record of misogyny, homophobia, and outright discrimination, using his position in the media to impose his preconceived notions, which, at their core, profess that some people are less human than others because of their religion.[2]

To see how all of these, together with endless one-eyed editorials and op-ed pieces in the western bastions of liberalism at the BBC, Guardian, and the NYT, not to mention the long going saga over “caste legislation”[3] fuelled by the increasingly insignificant Church of England in collusion with their rather unexpected friends at the Secular Society in the UK, it would appear to Spielberg’s E.T., fresh off his spaceship, that some new and poisonous evil had surfaced on a previously peaceful planet. And that this evil incarnate was distinctly polytheistic, pagan Hindu. Vamsee Juluri neatly sums up this seemingly viral effect that Hindus and India seem to have had in 2015 in “Year of Living Intolerably”.[4]

Let’s momentarily ignore the loss of millions of lives as a result of violent regime change and displacement of despotic though previously stable rule in Iraq and Libya which had held together disparate groups of people at relative peace with each other within established national borders.

Let’s also dismiss the plight of the Yazidis, Kurds, and assorted minorities who suffer rape, beheadings and worse under the cosh of fundamentalists in the Middle East, or the atrocities in Paris, about which some intellectually challenged liberals navel gazed on BBC Newsnight, a flagship current affairs program, and surmised the attacks as drug wars between gangs or being caused by the racist nature of the French capital.[5]

Sigmund FreudLet’s Pretend

Let’s instead pretend that the various social problems of the planet faces can be cured by a mode of multiculturalism that trumps hard-fought liberties and civic mores which have taken centuries to evolve and in their stead, run with a “free for all” where some of those who at one time may have campaigned for workers rights, stood for gender equality, and advocated an end to LGBT and racial discrimination, there now seems to be a situation where some now openly support homophobic, misogynist segregationists, all in the interests of what they call diversity and inclusion.

In effect, there is the endorsement of a form of multiculturalism which, in seeking to protect certain cultures, privileges only some versions of it: usually from the most vocal and regressive elements, and which hinders adjustment to the changing environment with the resultant outcome being the opposite of that which was desired in the first instance.[6]

Instead of expanding the shared space between cultures, the result is the promulgation of the worst aspects of difference between peoples living within isolated cultural silos with ever sharper fissures between the “me” and “mine” on the one hand, and the alien “other” on the other.

Amidst all this, Jonathan Kirsch’s book, God against the Gods,[7] is an apposite account of the threats that monotheisms in all their religio-politico-ideological forms, still continue to pose to human evolution towards a safer, fairer, more just global society.

Kirsch cogently argues that far from being the upholder of ethics and morality which it considers its USP and sole preserve, Monotheism in its various hues has always found it difficult to put into practice the kind, gentle words encapsulating “respect for the stranger” and “love thy neighbour”. In fact, he starts the book with an epigraph from Sigmund Freud who said “Religious intolerance was inevitably born with the belief in one god”.

Kirsch traces the advent of monotheism from Pharaoh Akhenaton to the various prophets and kings of Judaism and their millennium long struggle for supremacy over the more refined and diverse pagan Greco-Roman classical culture of the Mediterranean and near east.

In a show of monotheist totalitarianism and in order to destroy the power of the priests, Pharaoh Akhenaton (reign 1353–1336 BCE) decreed the elimination of worship of all gods in favour of only one, Aten, and with the Pharaoh himself as the sole interceder on earth. This proved unsuccessful as the people returned to their old polytheistic ways soon after Akhenaton’s death.

Yahweh / JehovahThe Only True God

The challenge was next taken up by the Jews, the challenges of whose prophets and kings over several centuries to impose monotheism and the primacy of the Only True God (OTG) on the chosen people is well documented in the Old Testament. This clash is played out between OTG and Polytheism within the civilizational milieu of a rich Greco-Roman tapestry and also as an intra-Judaic struggle between the rigorists and the assimilationists.

After centuries of struggle, with various forays into zealotic orthodoxy led by personages like Moses, Joshua, and Ezekiel which included strict punitive sanctions including death for those of the flock who disobeyed the laws of the OTG, all the way to the Masada partisans, infamous for their martyrdom to the last man, woman and child, the rigorists were defeated by the military might of the Roman legions in Judea thus forcing the Jewish people to reach an accommodation with the greatest empire in the known world of the time.

Thereafter, an assimilated Judaism flourished in the farthest reaches of the pagan realm of Imperial Rome, not unlike the way in which Judaism has assimilated into all corners of the modern world.

All was well until an upstart off-shoot cult of Judaism rose on the scene in the early centuries of the common era, and a long, bloody clash ensued between this cult and the reigning pagan power of Pax Romana—a breach of the peace that had hitherto existed between the myriad peoples of the Roman Empire.

This new cult, which, after an internecine war over self-identity, defeated the Judaists within its ranks and shed its connections to Judaism by rejecting circumcision and Jewish dietary laws (both of which made it easier to win adherents, being less painful and tastier on the palate), came to be known as the “soldiers of Christ” and Christians.

In their zeal to be “different”, these early Christians displayed what looks similar to various minority, victimhood tendencies on show prevalent even to this day. They explicitly refused to respect the polytheist norm “that all modes of worship are to be respected” and challenged the role of paganism with its diverse deities as a unifying characteristic upon which citizenship and Pax Romana were founded.

Visible means by which they did this was to display outright hostility towards the religious and civic emblems of Rome, even attacking and destroying pagan shrines; refusing to participate in the Pax Deorum—Peace of the Gods, praying for the prosperity of the Empire, lest such behaviour pinch the sensibilities of their cuckolded, jealous OTG.

In this regard these early Christians considered civic duty an act of apostasy and were little different from the rigorists and zealots of the Old Testament—just like Joshua hundreds of years before, this new breed of worshippers of OTG would not countenance any form of compromise and instead became “holy warriors” to preserve the purity and exclusivity of their new faith.

How different are they from those today who would not pay respects to an anthem or flag or who consider that emblems and insignia of their ancient or even new homelands should be modified to suit the sensitivities of one or other of the hues of OTG?

What distinction can one possibly draw between these shrine destroyers and the barbaric acts of Ghazni at Somnath, Ghor across the Indian plains, or the Bahmani sultans’ blood lust at Vijayanagar? Anyone see the close parallels with the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas or Palmyra?

Constantine the Great: : He is the father of Christian Europe and one of history's most murderous men.Christian Propaganda Value

The early Christians learnt and exploited the impact of terror on a civic populace as also the propaganda value of victimhood and martyrdom to the fullest, much of which still continues to be recycled under totalitarian monotheisms of various hues even today be they religious or political in nature.

The response of the generally tolerant pagan establishment of the Empire to this was to persecute what was a visible minority. The punishments included various forms of torture, being fed to wild animals as well as crucifixions.

In a circular way, the Christian zeal was a necessary prerequisite for Christian martyrdom and the martyrs fuelled the next waves of zeal and martyrdom, though Edward Gibbon, for example, characterised the worst atrocities as “extravagant and indecent fictions” invented to inspire the faithful.[8]

As Kirsch himself notes, it is a truism that (even imagined) oppression is an ideal breeding ground for “true belief” to flourish whereas the seductive influences of peace, freedom and prosperity are far more dangerous to the survival of fundamentalism.[9]

This went on till the early part of 4th century CE, during which time, the Christian cult came close to being totally eliminated. However, by a fate of coincidence, a Roman pagan general who history knows as Constantine the Great entered the scene, and by a convoluted sequence of events more to do with prevailing realpolitik than with articles of faith, rose to the become Emperor and ended the persecution of the Christian cult and so began their rise in status and influence in the Empire.

Julian the ApostateChristianity Destroys Classical Civilizations

During this period, further internecine feuds ensued within the monotheistic Christian fold over which the emperor sought to broker peace among the believers at the famous Council of Nicaea but fundamental doctrinal controversies (which pagans would have found rather inane) still festered for decades after Constantine’s death and are still some of the reasons for schisms between various Christian sects.

This swing towards what became an exclusivist monotheist creed and the official religion of the Roman Empire culminated in Theodosius (347-395 CE), effectively becoming the head of the world’s first totalitarian empire underpinned by the dogmas of orthodox Christianity and the criminalization of paganism as well as all other forms of religious practice and belief.

However, this was not before Julian, “the Apostate” (331-363 CE), nephew of Constantine and the last Pagan emperor of the Roman Empire nearly won the day for polytheism and diversity.

Though brought up as a Christian, he had the good fortune to learn about the diverse, classical, ancient, syncretism-filled cultural heritage of the centuries old Roman Empire, and grew up to prove himself an excellent military commander, where, despite being outnumbered, he achieved crushing victories in Gaul over the Alamanni in 357 CE at the Battle of Argentoratum. In 360 CE Julian was declared Augustus by his troops at Lutetia, Gaul (modern-day Paris).

Constantine’s inspirations from the symbol of the cross of his adopted religion led him to brutality towards pagans and rivals alike; by contrast, Julian’s exposure to the diversity and “mix-n-match” of polytheism marked a peaceful ascent to Emperor, from where, in his brief tenure, he once again reaffirmed the ancient beliefs of the Empire, restored religious freedoms and challenged the monopoly of Christianity in the civic space of the Empire. Unfortunately, Julian lost his life in battle in 363 CE in an ambitious campaign against the Sassanid Empire of Persia.

The Roman Empire went through much turbulence led by several weak and vain leaders, on the inexorable road to terminal decline. Fuelled by an explosive cocktail of Church, State and Mob acting as instruments of terror, Rome disintegrated ending the glory of Classical Civilization and the Roman Empire and the advent of a thousand years of cultural darkness across Europe.

Just two examples serve to illustrate the destructive effect of monotheistic zeal: the murder of the philosopher Hypatia and the destruction of the library at Alexandria. It is ironic that the same zeal for OTG led to the murders of scores of unnamed philosophers and the razing to dust of the Academy at Nalanda in Bihar.

And yet, the cabal of “eminent” historians, without the guts of an Edward Gibbon, have been peddling lies in the name of their own monotheism of sham Nehruvian secularism?

Julian and polytheism lost: Constantine and monotheism won. What a cruel mirror these two Romans hold only to reflect India’s Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb? What might India have become and how might monotheisms have reached an accommodation with pagans and polytheists, had Dara Shikoh prevailed?[10] What trouble and strife of the past 300 years might have been avoided by humanity? If only.

History of IndiaEminent Historians

Have any of their “eminences” polluting the corridors of History faculties an iota of grey matter to ponder on these questions and build an objective, positive narrative that could unleash the potential of a truly syncretic India as opposed to the “chicken tikka” version[11] where the underlying culture is disparaged while despotic, murdering monotheists like Aurangzeb are feted?

Where the collective pagan, pantheistic, polytheistic, atheistic but above all, Dharmic fabric that constitutes the major core of Indian society can fully contribute in “defining India”? Where, the negative narratives of Caste, Cow and Idolatry which the colonist western, racist, proselytizing monotheists have imposed on the Indian narrative whilst at the same time appropriating Indic ideas like Ayurveda, Yoga, and Meditation practices as if they were their own, are repaired with contrition and respect?

The polytheistic pagans of Rome readily adopted the OTG as part of their pantheon and accepted the worshippers of OTG as equals. How similar is this to modern-day Indians—Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs—who crowd the narrow streets to pay homage and offer prayers at the Sufi shrines around India?

How is it possible that no one bats an eyelid, that Ajmer’s Adhai Din Ka Jonpda at the site of the shrine to Moinuddin Chisti, looks so like a temple that it must have been one, but that it’s acceptable for people of all faiths to gather and offer prayers in their own way? How else can one explain that Sufi music—ostensibly founded on Indic raga and meter and not something imported into India by the monotheistic invaders—still holds an emotional connection with the soil and people of India?

In contrast, the custodians of the OTG at the Vatican, after centuries of destruction and pillaging, today, in a show of blood curdling triumph, brazenly prostitute the sacred statuary and holy objects of the vanquished infidels within its unholy walls (one has to pay to enter).

Nobel Peace Prize potential candidates Pope Francis and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon talk during a meeting at the United Nations in New YorkWill the Pope Assure the Safety of Non-Christians?

By a rather ironic twist, in its naked show of victory over the polytheists, the Vatican “celebrates” the classical pagan culture which it was instrumental in destroying. Among the relics—nowadays granted pride of place in the holiest bastion of this OTG, stand beautiful works of art and antiquity—row upon row of any number of Greek, Roman and Egyptian deities.

The most telling is the disgustingly triumphal display of Cybele, the Great Mother of the Gods whose earliest worship was in Phrygia and Lydia, which had spread to Greece by the 5th century BCE and later to Rome where she also came to be known as Artemis and Diana. It’s as if the papal hierarchy is mocking the infidels with its superiority in a morbid gallery of false gods and abominations.

Would the Pope or his church, assure all Pagan peoples of the world that their sacred artefacts are safe in their own shrines, that they will never sanction their destruction or relocation as “works of antiquity and primitive art” in the house of loot and plunder in Rome?

Let’s make it simple: When will the Vatican stop obfuscating and sign the UN Convention on Human Rights?[12] Or is one to take it that some members of the human race are lesser human than others, and that, in fact, yet some others are non-persons, without any rights, fit for purging of their abominations and idolatry?

Would the Church of England admit to and end the prejudices that their church holds within its own doctrines and assure Hindus that, as a religious body, it fully respects the right to religion for all peoples and stop the assault on Dharma under the guise of “caste”?

Indeed, would the leader of any church or any other group of monotheist followers of OTG anywhere, assure not just the last pagans and humanists of the world but also adherents of competing versions of OTG, that their cultures, traditions, way of worship, sacred places, spaces, art, and imagery are safe? That they are part of the common human legacy that should be respected and given the space to live and the air to breathe? Is there a world politician with the courage to give their citizens this promise?

As a reviewer of Kirsch’s book on Beliefnet notes,[13] Kirsch himself acknowledges “that traditional monotheists generally dismiss his writing out of hand as uninformed and anti-faith. Yet he insists that he is a ‘Jewish monotheist.’”

Kirsch further fully acknowledges “that polytheists—including pre-Christian Romans—can be as brutish as fervent monotheists (his preferred term for fanatical fundamentalists). The only difference between violent polytheists and violent monotheists is that the former kill to gain political control and the latter Jonathan Kirschkill to assert theological dominance. However, the difference is subtle but important: Polytheists sought control over the public sphere alone; monotheists sought control over private thoughts as well.”

What the Monotheists Think about Pagans

Kirsch may well be right about the rationale of traditional monotheists dismissing his arguments. The question though arises: isn’t this something that secularists also have persistently chosen to do? It is instructive to compare the world views of monotheists and pagans/polytheist vis-a-vis each other (much of it derived from Kirsch’s book):

What monotheists thought/think of and how they react to pagans and polytheists:

  • Believe in the superiority of OTG; all others are false gods or disparagingly still “false idols”, a parade of the horrible, those who worship any other than the OTG are at best “lost” and need to guided on the one right path, and at worst, are an abomination, dark, demonic idolaters, morally deficient guilty of harlotry, sorcery, black magic;
  • Regard pagans and polytheists with fear, loathing and contempt: peaceful coexistence is a one way street—if you are not one of us….
  • It is not sufficient to have belief in OTG, but there are rules on the accepted mode of worship which are to be followed;
  • OTG demands absolute obedience: he is jealous, wrathful and vengeful, he doesn’t abide competition; when bad things happen (especially to the non-believers, it is divine retribution);
  • Clear delineation between who is “one of us” and who is “the other.”

What pagans and polytheists (the religions of the high culture of classical Greco-Roman civilization and of Hinduism) thought/think of and how they react to monotheists:

  • Religious plurality, a spongy mass of tolerance and tradition;
  • Not only tolerance, but acceptance of multiple deities and respect for multiple paths to the truth;
  • Acknowledging the “Unknown Gods” as evidenced in abundant archaeological finds of shrines from the Roman Empire and also in Hinduism, for example the Narasimha pillar at Chennakesava Temple, Halebid;
  • With or without assistance of priests/priestesses and no interceding prophets;
  • Co-existence of gods and goddesses in one place, no concept of divine retribution for non-pagans;
  • Accepting of the OTG and their worshippers as equals, not sense of the “other”;
  • Seeing the world as holistic including all life forms—pray for the health, happiness, safety, security, justice, mercy, and a decent life for all.

Throughout its history, the Roman Empire had attracted all faiths from all corners of the known world—the Greco-Roman deities co-existed with the worship of the gods and goddesses of Egypt, Persia, Sumeria, Phrygia and Lydia. They even accommodated the “strangest of all”, the monotheist Jews and later, the sect of Judaism that morphed into orthodox Christianity.

It is perfectly evident that the war between monotheism (or should it more correctly be monotheisms?) and polytheism is still raging.

Even if India, the last bastion of polytheism and paganism, as Krishen Kak explains in his piece,[14] was to be converted, the war will still rage between the competing and conflicting claims of the multiple factions claiming to speak for OTG.

Therefore, if the pagan Roman Empire could accommodate the followers of two groups of OTG, why is it not possible that the contemporary world can also accommodate the ways of life and multiplicities of belief including OTG, polytheist, and none? One can’t simply “un-invent” god, so let’s be practical. After all, is this not what the pseudo-liberals claim to crave?

But for this to be possible, it is logical to conclude that accommodation can only be reached by an admission of contrition and developing mutual respect that extends not only among followers of the various shades of OTG, but transcends to include those who may be pagan, Hindu, atheist, non-theist, pantheist, Buddhist, or whatever.

Mother IndiaIndian Culture is Hindu Culture

The doomsayers who have been parroting about India’s intolerance need to wake up and realise that India has lived with and survived assaults from multiple monotheisms and yet retains much of its “pagan” culture. Let’s call it what it is: Hindu culture, accepting of diversity and easy on the senses which, sets India apart from its neighbours. These neighbours, who in the space of three generations have literally cleansed their domains of the abomination, the heathen and the idolater, and yet failed to find a sense of identity with which they can be at ease.

It is definitely not the “chicken tikka” statist diktat version of Nehruvian secularism which sets India apart and offers hope for humankind—for far from showing how to deal with the ongoing war of God against the Gods, this hollow version of how society ought to function has aggressively sought to deny the ambient pagan culture an iota of legitimacy in the civic space whilst granting special privileges to monotheisms.[15]

The monotheisms are not going to volunteer to give way for a level playing field. So, apart from Hindus reclaiming their identity and working by example to practically show that there are alternatives for people to tread their own paths to truth and peaceful coexistence,[16] the self-professed liberals, particularly outside India will have to get off the pot and put some skin in the game.

To adapt what Rod Liddle mockingly referred to as “these silly mares” of liberalism and turn it into a positive, they will need to snap out from “… navigate(ing) their way through life on such slender mental resources, …” refrain from being so “… stupid because they do not see the world as it really is, but only as they would wish it to be,” and get a “handle on reality,” coming out their slumberous “… state of denial.”

Some of these “mares” are for sure beyond redemption, but one can live and work in hope and expectation, targeting those that have the capacity to turn on their dormant intellects for the greater good. For, the alternatives are not appealing; the stakes are too high to let the lunatics run the asylum.

Make In IndiaA good start would be for the economic development of India to continue unimpeded. Yes, those inimical to progress will do all in their power to prevent this, but those who claim to be real liberals and progressives have to open their eyes and realise that economic progress and prosperity are the most effective road to peace and a potent antidote to fundamentalism.

Indians, comprising a sixth of humanity, with a millennium old experience of the battle of God against the Gods offer the best hope for resolving this vexing question. The battle isn’t over yet, in fact it’s only just begun. On India’s success depends the world’s capacity to overcome this conundrum. Those who impede India’s economic and social development do so at a greater peril.

As the Roman philosopher, Symmachus said, “What does it matter by which wisdom each of us arrives at the truth?”[17] and observe how it rings in total consonance with the Rig Veda phrase, “ekaṁ sad viprā bahudhā vadanti” translating to “There is one (ekam) Reality (sat), about which wise persons (viprā) in various ways (bahudhā) speak (vadanti).[18] — IndiaFacts, 5 January 2015

» Jay Jina is a UK-based third generation NRI. Besides pursuing a professional career as a European IT director with a multinational and a part time university academic, Jay’s interests span history, current affairs, the Indian Diaspora and the history and politcs of science.

References

  1. Obama smacks down India for religious intolerance, says Gandhi would have been shocked, Times of India, 5 February 2015, “Obama smacks down India for intolerance….” at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Obama-smacks-down-India-for-religious-intolerance-says-Gandhi-would-have-been-shocked/articleshow/46141742.cms
  2. Vamsee Juluri, “Why I think Ram Madhav’s Al Jazeera interview was framed” at http://www.dailyo.in/politics/modi-ram-madhav-akhand-bharat-pakistan-al-jazeera-interview-rss/story/1/8163.html
  3. Jakob De Roover and Sarah Claerhout, The Caste Connection on the Sacred Foundations of Social Hierarchy, University of Ghent, Belgium, at https://www.academia.edu/19752142/The_Caste_Connection_On_the_Sacred_Foundations_of_Social_Hierarchy
  4. Vamsee Juluri, “The Year of Living Intolerably”, at http://swarajyamag.com/magazine/the-year-of-living-intolerantly/
  5. Rod Liddle, “The political wisdom of people who don’t even know what a circle is” in The Spectator, at http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/01/the-political-wisdom-of-people-who-dont-even-know-what-a-circle-is/
  6. Wikipedia article on “Multiculturalism”. See in particular the section on opposition to multiculturalism at  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiculturalism#Opposition
  7. Jonathan Kirsch, God against the Gods: The History of the War between Monotheism and Polytheism, Penguin Books, 2004
  8. Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 1, Chapter 16, at  http://www.ccel.org/g/gibbon/decline/volume1/chap16.htm#chri
  9. Jonathan Kirsch, quote from page 74 of God against the Gods: The History of the War between Monotheism and Polytheism, Penguin Books, 2004
  10. Abraham Eraly, The Mughal Throne: The Saga of India’s Great Emperors, London, Phoenix. Quote from p. 336: “India was at a crossroads in the mid-seventeenth century; it had the potential of moving forward with Dara Shukoh, or of turning back to medievalism with Aurangzeb.”
  11. I used the term “chicken tikka masala” to describe the so-called “ethical Foreign Policy” cooked up the chicken tikka masala that is the multi-culti flavour of Britain today: Just like the nondescript dish that goes by that name in the UK, naa yahaan ka, naa wahaan ka, or to put it bluntly, neither fish nor fowl. The term applies for the secularist idea of syncretism too. See http://indiafacts.co.in/pseudo-secularism-uk-style-lessons-india/
  12. Concordat Watch, “How the Vatican evades human rights obligations through Canon Law, diplomatic immunity and other dodges” at http://www.concordatwatch.eu/topic-47307.834
  13. Book review of “God against the Gods” (author unidentified) on Beliefnet at http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainment/Books/2004/05/One-God-To-Bind-Them-All.aspx?p=3
  14. Krishen Kak, “Hindus are the Last of the Pagans” at http://indiafacts.org/hindus-are-the-last-of-the-pagans/
  15. There are various examples of dispensation of privilege for religious minority, for example the Haj subsidy, the independence of places of worship and perhaps, most openly invidious of all, the status of “missionary” as a visa category for entry into India. In each of these cases, the comparative position for the “majority” belief system is overtly discriminatory: Hindus do not even get adequate protection for the Amarnath Yatra, Hindu temples are under state control often with antipathetic administrators imposed against the wishes of the temple stakeholders, and even small attempts at reversion of poor sections back to Hinduism get blown out as workings of Hindu “fascism”.
  16. Vamsee Juluri, “Rearming Hinduism”, Westland, 2015. This little volume to my mind reads as a succinct and balanced manifesto protecting and projecting all that is of value about Hindu Dharma. It deserves to be widely read and merits being made required reading for all undergraduates in India and those outside India with an interest in India.
  17. Charles Freeman, The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason, Pimlico, London, 2003. The line is a quote from the 4th century philosopher,
  18. Graham Schweig, Translation of Rig Veda 1.164.46. on the Dharma Civilization Foundation website at http://www.dcfusa.org/many-truths-of-the-one-reality/

 

Trishul

Of course Hindus won’t go to hell! – Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth“People need to become aware that prophesizing eternal hell was a strategy to frighten their own followers into submission and to justify using force to either convert or wipe out those who ‘insult the Supreme Power and don’t accept the only truth.’ This claim of ‘hell for unbelievers’ is about power and influence and has nothing to do with eternal truth or morality.” – Maria Wirth

Dalits for Equal Rights in ChurchesSome time ago, a news item caught my attention: Dalit Christians had filed a complaint with the United Nations against the Vatican because of caste-based discrimination of the Catholic Church in India. The complaint was filed with the UN Information Centre at New Delhi.

It made me feel that a suggestion I had made in an earlier article was maybe not so outlandish and actually worthwhile. I had suggested that Hindus, Buddhists and others could file a complaint with the UN against Christianity and Islam, because Christianity considers non-Christians as heathen and Islam non-Muslims as infidels, and both these religions claim that heathen and infidels are unworthy of the grace of the Supreme Power and will be thrown into hellfire where they will suffer excruciating pain for all eternity. “Idol-worshippers”—Hindus are labeled as such—are the worst of the lot in the eyes of those religions.

In the Bible, Mathew (13: 49-50) states:

“This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous  and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The Quran (22:19-22) gives a more detailed description of the torture that awaits infidels:

“But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them, boiling fluid will be poured down their heads. Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron. Whenever, in their anguish, they would go forth from thence they are driven back therein and (it is said unto them): Taste the doom of burning.”

Hindus generally have no malice towards other faiths and don’t expect others to have malice towards their own faith. They readily pay respect to Bible and Christianity or to Quran and Islam without knowing what they contain. Usually they don’t even notice that their respect is not reciprocated.

Jihadi with a Koran and AK 47 However, there are also those who know the content, but prefer to ignore unacceptable passages. One reason may be that they of course don’t take them seriously and can’t imagine that anybody takes them seriously. Unfortunately, they underestimate the power of indoctrination, especially in childhood. It is not only the ISIS types who believe—and act on it. I know from own experience that children believe what they are told and many don’t question this belief even as adults.

Another reason may be that they don’t want to draw attention to those divisive, discriminating passages in books that are considered holy by the majority of the world’s population. They fear they could remind “believers” of their duty to fight the “unbelievers” or rather the “wrong believers” as Hindus are great believers in the Supreme and certainly not unbelievers.

However, this attitude won’t work today, as the content of Quran, Bible and other scriptures is readily available on the net. It is easy to access any verse of the Bible or Quran. ISIS spread their views on the internet. The radicalization among Muslim youth often happens via the net. A cleric in a German mosque who had banned radicalized youth and declared ISIS as un-Islamic was described as an “old, confused man”, by a German Turk, who “knew” that ISIS is following the Quran. How did he know? “I and my friends have read the Quran”, he declared. His friends are fighting for ISIS.

I didn’t make the suggestion to complain to the UN because I expect much action from the UN. I made the suggestion mainly, because in this way the issue would hopefully come into mainstream discourse. People, including Christians and Muslims, need to realize how absurd and divisive this claim of “eternal hell for unbelievers” is.

The gravity of the situation needs to sink in: every second child in the world is taught that Hindus (and others) are not equal in the eyes of the Supreme God, and the child is likely to believe it. In fact, the child is taught that the Supreme hates those others so much that they will burn for all eternity in hellfire if they don’t mend their ways and join the believers on the right path. Sri Krishna, Sri Rama, Sita, the Rishis, Swami Vivekananda, Baba Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Mata Amritanandamayi, Narendra Modi, Aishwarya Rai, Sachin Tendulkar … just name them, each and every Hindu who ever lived—none will find mercy with the Highest. They all are thrown into the “blazing furnace”.

HellPeople need to become aware that prophesizing eternal hell was a strategy to frighten their own followers into submission and to justify using force to either convert or wipe out those who “insult the Supreme Power and don’t accept the only truth”.  This claim of “hell for unbelievers” is about power and influence and has nothing to do with eternal truth or morality.

If a small, crazy sect would claim that all others will burn in hell, one would understand if nobody takes note of such nonsense. But it is not a small sect that makes this claim. This claim is contained in the doctrines of the two most powerful religious institutions on earth with almost four billion followers. Mercifully, many Christians especially in Europe don’t believe it anymore, but it is part of the Christian dogma.

Is one allowed to call this claim nonsense – in the age of quantum physics where it is known that ultimately all is connected and nothing is separate?

Strangely, Hindus keep quiet. They may hope it goes away. It won’t go away without those who are demeaned in this unacceptable manner putting their foot down. Why should those who benefit from this claim give it up as long as nobody objects?

The Church had once to give in to protests: it lost the power to punish heretics and even had to allow Christians to leave the Church. Ever since, the Church lost many of its flock and the west came out of the Dark Age, but the damage was done nevertheless: arrogance and a feeling of superiority was already ingrained in the people and nature had been divested of its sacredness and still is treated as a slave to be exploited.

The dogmatic religions uprooted people from their pagan societies and made them slowly but surely arrogant, self-righteous and convinced that they are meant to rule the world in the name of their god. Would colonialism in its brutal form have been possible without the mindset that Christians are superior to the native heathen? Would Muslim invasions have been so cruel without the mindset that Allah wants them to smite the necks of infidels till all worship is only for Allah?

Today’s most pressing problem, Islamic terrorism, has its roots in the claim that infidels are rejected by Allah. ISIS, Boko Haram and others consider it their sacred duty to rid the earth of such scum.

Christianity stopped killing heathen but still does great harm in so-called “unreached areas” for example in India, where it deceives, threatens and lures people away from their tolerant, inclusive tradition into an arrogant, divisive mindset.

Some followers of Islam still kill. They are called Islamists instead of Muslims. But as long as the Quran contains verses that seem to be exhortations to kill infidels, and no official correction is made that these verses refer only to history, there is insincerity in the claim that they are not Muslims. On one hand we condemn those youth in the strongest terms and on the other, we revere the scripture which they claim to follow.

Donald TrumpWhen Donald Trump declares that he won’t allow Muslims into the USA if he becomes President, he may cater to a populist sentiment among Americans but this is no solution. A better strategy would be to make Muslims disown certain passages in the Quran. At the same time, Christians must be made to disown certain passages in the Bible. Blind belief that the Supreme has revealed the truth only to Jesus or only to Mohammed must be allowed to be questioned without putting one’s life in danger.

The Pope said recently in Africa “Christians and Muslims are brothers”. It sounded more like “Let’s live and let live”. Yet when the Pope was in India, he didn’t make such conciliatory statement. He said “we will plant the cross in Asia”. Why? Did he think the “mild” Hindus won’t object to their own demise? Or did he behave like a bully to put Hindus on the defensive?

If Christianity really had the better truth, it would be okay. But this is not the case. The supremacy that the Church claims has no basis except in blind belief. In the same way, the supremacy that Islam claims has also no basis except in blind belief. Both faiths can’t challenge each other. A debate between Christianity and Islam would go like this:

Christianity: “We alone have the full truth”

Islam: “We alone have the full truth.”

Christianity: “God has revealed the full truth through his son Jesus”

Islam: “Allah has revealed the final truth through Prophet Mohammed.”

Christianity: “All have to worship God, the father, via his son.”

Islam: “All have to worship Allah.”

However, in one point both agree: “Heathen and infidels need to disappear from the earth.”

In contrast, ‘Hinduism seeks to propagate the collective wisdom and inspiration of centuries and has room for all forms of beliefs’ (according to the Supreme Court). It offers a profound philosophy. It can bring to the table the wisdom of the ancient Rishis that has never been disproven. This wisdom points to the absolute truth, which dogmatic religions are ignorant of: Truth is not a belief based on thoughts. It is what we all truly are—thought free, blissful awareness.

BlasphemyOne would expect that humanity in the 21st century has outgrown blasphemy laws. This is not the case. Not only is there no pressure on countries that have blasphemy laws to abandon them, but—unbelievable, but true—there are attempts by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to bring the whole world under a blasphemy law.

Several nations, like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, have petitioned the UN to make defamation of Islam a crime. And even President Obama and Hillary Clinton supported a resolution (Istanbul Process 16/18) to curb “Islamophobia“. Efforts to go further and ban criticism of Islam are surely still on.

Nations that have a majority Hindu, Buddhist or Atheist population like India, China, Japan, Thailand, etc. could join and not only throw a spammer into these efforts but actively weaken their case by demanding a stop to unacceptable claims. Though “idol-worshipping Hindus” are seen as most despicable, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Atheists also don’t pass muster in the eyes of Christianity and Islam.

ISIS child about to behead Teddy!It is high that time Hindus woke up. Filing a petition with the UN might make even Christians and Muslims aware that these claims are truly unacceptable and that Hindus are not the scum of this earth and have a right to exist.

UNICEF also should be petitioned that brainwashing of children into hatred for others is made a crime. The video of a child in ISIS land cutting the throat of his teddy bear as practice is horrendous. A lot of noise needs to be made about those petitions. Christianity and Islam must not get away with discrediting Hindu Dharma. Let there be a public discourse on which worldview is closer to the truth, and which religion has a better philosophical basis.

Actually it is so obvious even at a first glance: the choice is between brotherhood of all without any preconditions and fighting each other till all become uniform ‘believers’.

Let’s choose brotherhood of all. And please also include animals…. – Maria Wirth Blog, 22 December 2015

» Maria Wirth is a German author and psychologist who lives in Uttarkhand.

UN Blasphemy Law

“Hindus have been facing an unprecedented threat from conversions,” says Dr Subramanian Swamy

Virat Hindustan Sangam“People should vote for a Hindu-friendly party in future, if the world’s most ancient (Hindu) civilization are to withstand the onslaught of external forces. People should vote for a Hindu-friendly party in future, if the world’s most ancient (Hindu) civilization were to withstand the onslaught of external forces.” – Dr Subramanian Swamy

Cross Crossed-OutTerming that “induced religious conversions” as a threat to national integrity, senior BJP leader and Virat Hindustan Sangam (VHS) national president Subramanian Swamy said it was high time that an all-India law banning religious conversions was enacted, but with an exception that “reconversions were not banned”.

Participating in the national convention of the VHS here on Sunday, he said: “People should vote for a Hindu-friendly party in future, if the world’s most ancient (Hindu) civilization is to withstand the onslaught of external forces.”

The majority community (Hindus) must destroy the caste system and revive Sanskrit language to successfully thwart the expansionist agenda of other religions, he observed. On the occasion, Mr. Swamy recalled that the Hindu civilization was among the 46 ancient civilizations listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Kashmir: The forgotten conflict.“The Hindus have never discriminated against other religions, but it has of late been facing an unprecedented threat from conversions which are highly detrimental to democracy. The whole world raises a hue and cry when something happens to Muslims and Christians, but there is no one to espouse the cause of over five lakh Kashmiri Pandits who are living in exile in their own country,” he said.

Members of the Hindu community in Malappuram district of Kerala have complained that they could not hold a public meeting for 20 years. Such was the persecution of Hindus in India. This is not acceptable, he said.

“We should ensure that the Hindu population does not fall below the 80 per cent mark but that does not mean they should produce more children,” he observed, warning that “a danger was lurking in the form of the new caliphate named as the Islamic State.” – The Hindu, 7 December 2015

M. K. Gandhi

♦ Aggressive evangelism makes ‘ghar wapsi’ pale in comparison

“The Christian percentage of the Indian populace has grown by a staggering 150 per cent. In other words, India now has more Christians than any First World country aside from the United States and Russia according to Pew Research’s Religion & Public Life Project.” – Pawan Deshpande  

Christian evangelical groups are like start-ups with targets and incentives – T.V. Mohandas Pai

T.V. Mohandas Pai“The new phenomenon over the last 5 years has been the huge increase in evangelical conversions in Chennai and Tamil Nadu, clearly visible via the vehement advertising on particular channels on TV. Andhra Pradesh, particularly the interiors, Hyderabad and the coastal regions, has been specifically targeted due to the red carpet laid by a now deceased chief minister whose son-in-law is a pastor with his own outfit. The visible impact across this region … shows clearly that a huge amount of money has come in and that there is targeted conversion going on. Some evangelical groups have claimed that 9-12% of undivided AP has been converted, and have sought special benefits from the State” – T.V. Mohandas Pai

India Tricolour & Parliament HouseThe Rajya Sabha has been paralysed by the Opposition on the Ghar Vapasi program of a few organisations from the right. However, if you follow the debate, it is clear that this is a political battle by the left and the left of centre parties to embarrass and discredit the right of centre party in power. Maybe even with the intent to show up the government as incapable of bringing in reforms and development. The so-called conversion debate was an excuse to paralyse the Rajya Sabha, and a great opportunity was missed to debate the issue of large-scale surreptitious conversions across India (which is the real problem).

There is no doubt that large-scale conversions have been taking place across India, accelerating over the last 5 years led by evangelical groups from the West. The North East has been converted with Arunachal and Tripura being now targeted. Tribal belts across Odisha, Jharkhand, Gujarat and MP have seen large-scale conversions for several years now.

Anil Kumar with father-in-law YSR Reddy, mother-in-law Vijayalakshmi and wife Sharmila at a Christian meeting.The new phenomenon over the last 5 years has been the huge increase in evangelical conversions in Chennai and Tamil Nadu, clearly visible via the vehement advertising on particular channels on TV. Andhra Pradesh, particularly the interiors, Hyderabad and the coastal regions, has been specifically targeted due to the red carpet laid by a now deceased chief minister whose son-in-law is a pastor with his own outfit. The visible impact across this region to any observer shows clearly that a huge amount of money has come in and that there is targeted conversion going on. Some evangelical groups have claimed that 9-12% of undivided AP has been converted, and have sought special benefits from the State (which has been reported in the media).

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. Some pastors have tweeted with glee about converts reaching 60 million, declaring a target of 100 million, and have also requested for financial support for this openly. Violence in some areas due to this has vitiated the atmosphere. The traditional institutions of both denominations are losing out to the new age evangelicals with their sophisticated marketing, money and legion of supporters from the West. One can almost classify these groups as hyper-growth startups – with a cost per acquisition, a roadmap for acquiring followers, a fund-raising machine, and a gamified approach (with rewards and incentives) to “conquering” new markets.

Evangelist targeting childrenOur Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion, which includes the right of the individual to choose her religion. This is not in question, and is a very important concept for a nation like ours. But this right is terribly constrained by religions, which severely punish apostasy. Our laws prohibit conversion due to inducement, allurement, undue influence, coercion, or use of supernatural threats. Every debate on TV misses this point—people argue on grounds of constitutional rights and abuse right wings groups who protest such conversion forgetting that these new age evangelicals are clearly breaking the law! They go to the desperate, and prey on their insecurities by offering education for their children, medical services for the sick, and abuse existing religious practices and traditions.

People also point to the approximate 2.3% share of this minority in the last 3 censuses to deny such conversions. Of course, the 2011 census figures on religion has strangely not been released and we need this data. However, the reason why in the conversion numbers do not show up in the census is that conversions are happening in communities entitled to reservation benefits. It appears that they are clearly told not to reveal their conversion in the census or officially to prevent loss of benefits. Most conversions happen amongst the tribals and rural and urban poor, who are soft targets to inducements.

I have a personal experience of evangelical groups trying to convert members of my family. Two house maids who converted said that the school where their children went raised fees and due to their inability to pay, they were told they would waive it if they converted (which they were forced to do). Of course, the school was rabid in their evangelism with these children. I use a taxi company for travel over the last ten years. I have noticed over 30% of drivers have converted over the last 5 years.

Chennai evangelist Jayakumar baptising a new convert.When asked, inevitably they spoke about evangelicals groups that gave them free education for children and paid their medical bills, provided they converted.

It is obvious that large-scale conversion by illegal means is happening in many places and the impact is clearly visible to anybody who would choose to see openly. Some apologists ask – where are the complaints about inducement or coercion? The law needs enforcement by the police independent of complaints, as is happening when rightist groups proudly announce conversions. These rightist groups lack sophistication, but they have squarely focused attention on this large-scale conversion activity. Law enforcers need to act before this becomes a bigger flash point. – Economic Times, 27 December 2014

» T.V. Mohandas Pai is an award-winning chartered account and former Infosys director. He is now chairman of Manipal Global Education in Bengaluru.

World Vision

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