Book Review: How Christianity prevailed in the Pagan world – Tom Bissell

Roman Goddess Victoria

Tom BissellThe Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World. By Bart D. Ehrman. 335 pp. Simon & Schuster. $28.

The field of New Testament studies has never been a reliable starting point for scholars seeking publishing superstardom. One explanation for this is the subject matter itself. A true understanding of the forces that shaped Christianity—seemingly familiar but in fact highly arcane—requires the ability to synthesize and express deep learning in a dozen interlocking subjects. Bart Ehrman, who considers himself a historian but has done extensive work in textual criticism, has managed to achieve his remarkable renown by writing a string of best sellers that skillfully mine and simplify his more scholarly work.

That may sound pejorative, but it’s not. Ehrman’s outreach to a popular audience—among whom I happily include myself—is wholly to the good, if only because throughout history average Christians have proved oddly unwilling to dig into the particularities of their faith, beyond familiarizing themselves with a few tentpole doctrines. They share this reluctance with one of Christianity’s most spectacular converts, the Roman emperor Constantine, who credited his victory at the Milvian Bridge in A.D. 312 to the auspices of the Christian deity, despite not knowing much about Christianity, including the degree to which it was riven by sectarian disagreement. The following year, Constantine co-issued the Edict of Milan, granting Christians the right to practice their faith unmolested.

In The Triumph of Christianity, Ehrman describes the Edict of Milan (which was neither an edict nor written in Milan) as the Western world’s first known government document to proclaim the freedom of belief. At the time, Ehrman notes, “Christianity probably made up 7 to 10 percent of the population of the Roman Empire.” A mere hundred years later, half the empire’s “60 million inhabitants claimed allegiance to the Christian tradition.” Ehrman declares, without hyperbole, “That is absolutely extraordinary.”

Over the centuries, countless books have been written to explain this, a great many of them by Christian writers and scholars who take the Constantinian view: Their faith’s unlikely triumph was (and is) proof of divine favor. Interestingly, Pagan advisers argued in vain to the first Christian Roman emperors that Pagan beliefs had been what won the empire favor in the first place. When the emperor Valentinian II removed the altar of the goddess Victory from the Roman Senate house in A.D. 382, for instance, a Pagan statesman named Symmachus reminded him, “This worship subdued the world.”

Very little about the historical triumph of Christianity makes sense. When Constantine converted, the New Testament didn’t formally exist and Christians disagreed on basic theological concepts, among them how Jesus and God were related. For those living at the time, Ehrman writes, “it would have been virtually impossible to imagine that these Christians would eventually destroy the other religions of Rome.” Some saw glimmers of danger, however. An otherwise unknown Pagan philosopher named Celsus wrote a tract called “On the True Doctrine” that attacked Christians’ penchant for secrecy, refusal to partake in public worship and naked appeals to “slaves, women and little children.”

The great appeal of Ehrman’s approach to Christian history has always been his steadfast humanizing impulse. In his superb book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, which concerns textual variants in early Christian texts that were driven by theological agendas, Ehrman argues that these corruptions weren’t typically the product of willful obfuscation but rather the work of careful scribes trying to make sense of often perplexing language, imagery and traditions. Ehrman always thinks hard about history’s winners and losers without valorizing the losers or demonizing the winners. The losers here, of course, were Pagan people.

Ehrman rejects the idea that Constantine’s conversion made much difference; the empire, he writes, would most likely have turned Christian in time without him. So how did Christianity triumph? To put it plainly, Christianity was something new on this earth. It wasn’t closed to women. It was so concerned with questions of social welfare (healing the sick, caring for the poor) that it embedded them into its doctrines. And while there were plenty of henotheist Pagans (that is, people who worshiped one god while not denying the validity of others), Christianity went far beyond henotheism’s hesitant claim upon ultimate truth. It was an exclusivist faith that foreclosed—was designed to foreclose—devotion to all other deities. Yet it was different from Judaism, which was just as exclusivist but crucially lacked a missionary impulse.

Ehrman, summarizing the argument of the social historian Ramsay MacMullen, imagines a crowd of 100 Pagans watching a persuasive Christian debate an equally persuasive adherent of the healing god Asclepius: “What happens to the overall relationship of (inclusive) Paganism and (exclusive) Christianity? … Paganism has lost 50 worshipers and gained no one, whereas Christianity has gained 50 worshipers and lost no one.” Thus, Christian believers go from roughly 1,000 in A.D. 60, to 40,000 in A.D. 150, to 2.5 million in A.D. 300. Ehrman allows that these raw numbers may look “incredible. But in fact they are simply the result of an exponential curve.” At a certain point, math took over. (Mormonism, which has been around less than 200 years, has seen comparable rates of growth.)

Ehrman quotes a valuable and moving letter from a devout Pagan named Maximus, which was written to Augustine near the end of the fourth century: “God is the name common to all religions. … While we honor his parts (so to speak) separately … we are clearly worshiping him in his entirety.” But when Pagan intellectuals decided to confront Christianity on its exclusivist terms—“We believe in one God as well!”—they effectively stranded themselves on their own 20-yard line. The heart-rending Pagan inability to anticipate the complete erasure of their beliefs gave Christianity one clear path to victory  (emphasis added).

And yet, when the [boot] was on the other foot, Christians had different opinions about religious oppression and compulsion. Many of Christianity’s earliest apologists wrote of their longing to be left alone by the Roman state. Here is Tertullian: “It is a fundamental human right, a privilege of nature, that everyone should worship according to his own convictions.” These Christians “devised,” Ehrman writes, somewhat cheekily, “the notion of the separation of church and state.” But when Christians seized control of the empire, the separation they had long argued for vanished. The charges once lobbed against Christians—atheism, superstition—were turned against Pagan people.

Ehrman is careful to note that, for the most part, there was no Christian secret police forcing Pagans to convert: The empire was too large and diffusely governed to make such an effort feasible. In addition, “there was no one moment when the world stopped being Pagan to become Christian.” Rather, it happened in the manner of Hemingway’s theory of bankruptcy: gradually, then suddenly. Reading about how an entire culture’s precepts and traditions can be overthrown without anyone being able to stop it may not be heartening at this particular historical moment. All the more reason to spend time in the company of such a humane, thoughtful and intelligent historian. – The New York Times, 13 February 2018

» Tom Bissell is an American journalist, critic, and fiction writer based in Los Angeles, California. The first two paragraphs of this review have been omitted in this post.

Constantine with Christian bishops and Nicene Creed

Book Review: How Christians destroyed the Pagan world – Bettany Hughes

Athena the Goddess of Wisdom : Roman copy from the 1st century BC/AD after a Greek original of the 4th century BC, attributed to Cephisodotos or Euphranor.

Bettany HughesThe Darkening Age: The Christian Destruction of the Classical World. By Catherine Nixey. Illustrated. 315 pp. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $28.

Vandalizing the Parthenon temple in Athens has been a tenacious tradition. Most famously, Lord Elgin appropriated the “Elgin marbles” in 1801-5. But that was hardly the first example. In the Byzantine era, when the temple had been turned into a church, two bishops—Marinos and Theodosios—carved their names on its monumental columns. The Ottomans used the Parthenon as a gunpowder magazine, hence its pockmarked masonry—the result of an attack by Venetian forces in the 17th century. Now Catherine Nixey, a classics teacher turned writer and journalist, takes us back to earlier desecrations, the destruction of the premier artworks of antiquity by Christian zealots (from the Greek zelos—ardor, eager rivalry) in what she calls The Darkening Age.

Using the mutilation of faces, arms and genitals on the Parthenon’s decoration as one of her many, thunderingly memorable case studies, Nixey makes the fundamental point that while we lionize Christian culture for preserving works of learning, sponsoring exquisite art and adhering to an ethos of “love thy neighbor,” the early church was in fact a master of anti-intellectualism, iconoclasm and mortal prejudice. This is a searingly passionate book. Nixey is transparent about the particularity of her motivation. The daughter of an ex-nun and an ex-monk, she spent her childhood filled with respect for the wonders of post-Pagan Christian culture. But as a student of classics she found the scales—as it were—falling from her eyes. She wears her righteous fury on her sleeve. This is scholarship as polemic.

Nixey writes up a storm. Each sentence is rich, textured, evocative, felt. Christian monks in silent orders summoned up Pagan texts from library stores with a gagging hand gesture. The destruction of the extraordinary, frankincense-heavy temple of Serapis in Alexandria is described with empathetic detail; thousands of books from its library vanished, and the temple’s gargantuan wooden statue of the god was dismembered before being burned. One Pagan eyewitness, Eunapius, remarked flintily that the only ancient treasure left unlooted from the temple was its floor.

Christians became known as those “who move that which should not be moved.” Their laudable appeal to have-nots at the bottom of the pile, both free and unfree, meant that bishops had a citizen-army of pumped-up, undereducated young men ready to rid the world of sin. Enter the parabalini, sometime stretcher-bearers, sometime assassins, who viciously flayed alive the brilliant Alexandrian mathematician and Pagan philosopher Hypatia. Or the circumcellions (feared even by other Christians), who invented a kind of chemical weapon using caustic lime soda and vinegar so they could carry out acid attacks on priests who didn’t share their beliefs.

Debate—philosophically and physiologically—makes us human, whereas dogma cauterizes our potential as a species. Through the sharing of new ideas the ancients identified the atom, measured the circumference of the earth, grasped the environmental benefits of vegetarianism.

To be sure, Christians would not have a monopoly on orthodoxy, or indeed on suppression: The history of the ancient world typically makes for stomach-churning reading. Pagan philosophers too who flew in the face of religious consensus risked persecution; Socrates, we must not forget, was condemned to death on a religious charge.

But Christians did fetishize dogma. In A.D. 386 a law was passed declaring that those “who contend about religion … shall pay with their lives and blood.” Books were systematically burned. The doctrinal opinions of one of the most celebrated early church fathers, St. John Chrysostom—he of the Golden Mouth—were enthusiastically quoted in Nazi Germany 1,500 years after his death: The synagogue “is a den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts … a dwelling of demons.”

Actions were extreme because Paganism was considered not just a psychological but a physical miasma. Christianity appeared on a planet that had been, for at least 70,000 years, animist. (Asking the women and men of antiquity whether they believed in spirits, nymphs, djinns would have been as odd as asking them whether they believed in the sea.) But for Christians, the food that Pagans produced, the bath-water they washed in, their very breaths were thought to be infected by demons. Pollution was said to make its way into the lungs of bystanders during animal sacrifice. And once Christianity became championed by Rome, one of the most militaristic civilizations the world has known, philosophical discussions on the nature of good and evil became martial instructions for purges and pugilism.

Still, contrary to Nixey, there was not utter but rather partial destruction of the classical world. The vigorous debates in Byzantine cultures about whether, for example, magical texts were demonic suggest that these works continued to have influence in Christian Europe. The material culture of the time also lends nuance to Nixey’s story: Silverware and dining services in Byzantium were proudly decorated with images of the Iliad and Odyssey. And while 90 percent of all ancient literature has been lost, Paganism still had a foothold on the streets.

In Constantinople, the spiritual headquarters of Eastern Christendom, the seventh-century church was still frantically trying to ban the Bacchanalian festivities that legitimized cross-dressing, mask-wearing and Bacchic adulation. I read this book while tracing the historical footprint of the Bacchic cult. On the tiny Greek island of Skyros, men and children, even today, dress as half human, half animal; they wear goat masks, and dance and drink on Bacchus’ festival days in honor of the spirit of the god. It seems that off the page there was a little more continuity than Christian authorities would like to admit.

But the spittle-flecked diatribes and enraging accounts of gruesome martyrdoms and persecution by Pagans were what the church chose to preserve and promote. Christian dominance of academic institutions and archives until the late 19th century ensured a messianic slant for Western education (despite the fact that many Pagan intellectuals were disparaging about the boorish, ungrammatical nature of early Christian works like the Gospels). As Nixey puts it, the triumph of Christianity heralded the subjugation of the other.

And so she opens her book with a potent description of black-robed zealots from 16 centuries ago taking iron bars to the beautiful statue of Athena in the sanctuary of Palmyra, located in modern-day Syria. Intellectuals in Antioch (again in Syria) were tortured and beheaded, as were the statues around them. The contemporary parallels glare. The early medieval author known as Pseudo-Jerome wrote of Christian extremists: “Because they love the name martyr and because they desire human praise more than divine charity, they kill themselves.” He would have found shocking familiarity in the news of the 21st century.

Nixey closes her book with the description of another Athena, in the city of her name, being decapitated around A.D. 529, her defiled body used as a stepping-stone into what was once a world-renowned school of philosophy. Athena was the deity of wisdom. The words “wisdom” and “historian” have a common ancestor, a proto-Indo-European word meaning to see things clearly. Nixey delivers this ballista-bolt of a book with her eyes wide open and in an attempt to bring light as well as heat to the sad story of intellectual monoculture and religious intolerance. Her sympathy, corruscatingly, compellingly, is with the Roman orator Symmachus: “We see the same stars, the sky is shared by all, the same world surrounds us. What does it matter what wisdom a person uses to seek for the truth?” – The New York Times, 8 June 2018

» Bettany Hughes is an English historian, author and broadcaster. Her speciality is classical history.

Apostle Paul burning the holy books at Ephesus (CE 52–54)


 

Indian churches conspire with Vatican to destabilise govt, says VHP – PTI

Surendra Jain

VHP LogoThe Vatican not only denigrates Hindus all over the world but also India as a nation, and Indian churches are acting as puppets in their hands. – VHP Joint General Secretary Surendra Jain

Amidst veiled criticism of the Modi government by two archbishops, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) today accused churches in India of conspiring with the Vatican as “contract killers to destabilise elected governments” and prop up the “puppet” ones.

Weeks within his Delhi counterpart stirred up a debate, the Archbishop of Goa and Daman Father Filipe Neri Ferrao on Monday wrote a letter to churches saying that the Constitution is in danger and most people are living in insecurity.

Reacting sharply to these letters, VHP Joint General Secretary Surendra Jain said it is now amply clear that the “churches in India are in collusion with the Vatican and are trying to create an atmosphere of distrust against the present government.”

“On the contrary, Constitution of India is in danger because of the attacking political stand of the church and its agenda of religious conversions,” he alleged.

“This is not the church’s view-point, but a conspiracy to install governments which can run on the directions of the Vatican. Like the award-wapsi gang, the church too is acting like a contract killer to destabilise the elected governments,” Jain claimed—referring to a group of artists and academicians returning Pope Francis the Actorgovernment awards in protest of perceived intolerance.

He further said the Vatican not only denigrates the Hindus all over the world but also India as a nation and the Indian churches are acting as puppets in their hands.

“The same Church remains a mute spectator when emergency was imposed in the country, Kashmiri Hindus were brutally killed in the valley and Sikhs were butchered in the 1984 riots. For the Church, these events do not put the Constitution in danger,” Jain argued.

“Why does the Church behave in this fashion only when BJP-led government is in office,” he asked.

“A malicious campaign about attacks on churches was started by these people when Modiji took over as Prime Minister. When their falsehood was exposed, they did not show the courtesy of apologising for the same,” Jain added.

In a controversial letter addressed to all the churches in the national capital, the Archbishop of Delhi had last month said that there was a “turbulent political atmosphere” in the country which “threatens” democracy and secularism.

Archbishop Anil Couto, in his letter dated May 8, has also urged all the priests in Delhi to “pray for the country” ahead of the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha election, in which the BJP hopes to retain power.

“We are witnessing a turbulent political atmosphere which poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in our constitution and the secular fabric of our nation,” Archbishop Couto had said in his letter.

The letter had triggered a sharp response from the ruling BJP. – The Times of India, 7 June 2018


Filipe Neri Ferrao

Read Archbishop of Goa Filipe Neri Ferrao’s ‘political’ letter to his parishioners HERE

Schwarz Church obstructs Brihadeeshwara Temple ritual – Aravindan Neelakandan

Brihadeshwara Temple Tanjavur

Aravindan NeelakandanAggression against temples is starting to become visible and violent in Tamil Nadu, and unless Hindus reinvent and reorganise themselves as a political majority, their survival decreases with every passing day. – Aravindan Neelakandan

On 29 April 2018, the ceremonial procession that takes the ruling deity of Thanjavur’s Brahadeeshwarar Temple for a ritual bath in the adjoining Sivaganga temple tank, was stopped. The procession, complete with the playing of the nadaswaram (a classical wind instrument), was stopped by the authorities of CSI Schwarz Memorial Church—an eighteenth century church built by Danish Lutheran missionary, Christian Friedrich Schwarz.

Schwarz was an interesting character, who often projected himself as gentle and suave. He was a part of the political missions of the East Indian Company, being often sent as an emissary. While most of his hagiographers praise him as a selfless missionary, it is easy to see him as a manipulator who prevailed over the “native rulers”, by influencing them positively towards the colonial forces and keeping them away from any rebel influence. In fact, the British East India Company made Schwarz a member of the council of administration for Thanjavur. He, on his part, tried his best to convert the king, who, while gently refusing his religious advances, used him more as a trustworthy intermediary in dealing with the British. (Of course, the usual Evangelist propaganda that the king was convinced of Christian superiority, but did not convert because he feared the Brahmins, has always been part of the mission hagiographies).

Thuljaji II and little Serfoji II with Lutheran missionary Schwarz

More relevant to this point is that this colonial missionary took pleasure in going to the places of “heathen feasts” where thousands of “Hindoos” would gather for worship and preach Christianity, condemning what he understood through his Christian hatred as “idolatry”. So, when Schwarz Church authorities stopped the procession of 1,000-year-old Brahadeeswarar temple, it was colonial evangelism once again.

To understand this, one should realise that evangelical Christianity is always at war with Hinduism. To them, Hinduism is a religion to be destroyed when the opportunity comes and tolerated not even respectfully. but only tactfully till then. During the period of tolerance, preparations are made for the period of war—the war that can be declared when it is advantage Evangelists.

So the war against Hinduism waged by Evangelists in India can be divided into three periods. Between the late 17th to mid 19th century, when the colonial Evangelists attacked Hinduism, while simultaneously using colonial enterprise to politically, militarily and financially support the mission.

Then came the period between 1857 and 2004 when Evangelists moved from direct war to covert war. The covert war takes the form of many mini-wars in isolated areas throughout India where Evangelists have power through demographic change and political influences. For example, in Tripura, Christianity made Jamatiyas refugees in their own land for refusing to accept the Jesus cult. In Mizoram, Hindu Reangs were driven away as refugees and made to face ethnic extinction. In Odisha, the Maoist-Evangelical axis has been established to combat Hindu tribals.

The national movement between 1857 and 1947 definitely acted as a great emotional and intellectual barrier to the evangelical war. Gandhi and Veer Savarkar, otherwise poles apart, held very similar views on conversion—as political aggression on souls. Veer Savarkar considered this loss as more dangerous than territorial loss. Dr B. R. Ambedkar, despite being a strong critic of Hinduism, did not mince words when he said that conversion to Christianity denationalised the scheduled communities and compromised national security.

Evangelists waited for a time of their choice to declare war on Hinduism, and in the meanwhile, cultivated forces that would hasten the blowing of the war trumpets. In this process, different evangelical organisations wielded a thousand cuts on the Indic body through seemingly secular anti-Hindu pro-evangelical forces. Riots happened throughout India and any counter attack by Hindus alone got sensationalised as persecution.

For example, when Christian terrorists gunned down an entire family of 16, including seven-year-old girl in a cold-blooded massacre for celebrating harvest festival, it was seldom condemned. Nor did it create an outrage. One should contrast this with the outrage generated nationally and internationally over the accidental, but definitely inhuman and unjustifiable, killing of Australian Hindu-phobic missionary Graham Staines and his son, when angry tribals, whose families were torn by conversion torched his vehicle. Some of the canards spread by Evangelists against Hindus in this conflict are time-tested hate propaganda like, for instance, the charge of poisoning a well – originally a Christian anti-semitic tactic which was effectively employed in instigating violence against the Jews in pre-holocaust Christendom.

In Tamil Nadu, Evangelists been waging the war on different fronts, and all their efforts converge at one point or the other in the physical curtailment of Hindu human rights. As early as 1980s, the converted Indian Christians of the coastal region were used by Christianity to block all the ceremonial sea rights of Hindu goddesses. In 1982, Christian fanatics planned and molested Hindu women during a Hindu festival, and the Hindu retaliation was swift and equally violent. This mellowed down the Evangelist assault on Hindus, but it never ceased.

At another level, Evangelists were waging the war by proxy through Dravidian forces. Swami Chidbhavananda, the great spirtual acharya, educationist, and social reformer pointed out how the Catholic Church openly declared the Dravidian movement as a “time bomb” set to destroy Hinduism in their book, titled Dravidian Movement and Catholic Church (Tamil). The war against Hinduism in Tamil Nadu took the form of a concerted strategy involving some well-placed academics, politicians, activists and Evangelists coming together. The aim is to reduce Hinduism to ancestral worship and project all its spiritual dimensions as Brahminical distortions to exploit people. Through this, even a fanatical Christian could claim that he or she can enter a Hindu temple as it is nothing more than a glorified mausoleum of ancestral worship.

This blatantly false theory is coupled with racist Tamil pride and peddled in a hysterical way by the political parties like Naam Tamilar. Further, hymns like Thiruvasagam are misinterpreted by the Christian clergy straitjacketing them into Christian monotheism. Hindu sacred spaces—in literature and liturgy, in ceremonial processions, and in physical area – are all encroached upon by Evangelists or proto-Christian Dravidianists. So when ultimately the physical violence descends, the local Hindus are left to defend themselves—often becoming homeless orphans in their own country.

After the Janata Party (BJP) lost power in the Centre in 2004, Kanyakumari district saw a spate of attacks on Hindu temples—mostly village temples.

Here is one such incident that took place in 2007 in Kanyakumari district and that would resonate in Thanjavur in 2018. However, unlike in Thanjavur, where the police forces were not yet inclined to stop the Hindus, in the Kanyakumari village, coincidentally or strategically placed police officials who happened to be Christians, violently stopped the Hindus. The procession of a goddess belonging to a centuries old temple was stopped by a handful of Christians claiming the road the procession was to pass through belonged to the church. Despite the village panchayat having constructed the road, despite Hindus being the majority in both the villages, especially in the area in question, and despite the panchayat well on that very road having been built by a local Hindu, the Hindus along with their deity were stopped by the police and in the ensuing violence, a woman was killed in police lathi charge.

Christian police against Hindu religious procession in Kanyakumari

All political leaders except the Hindu organisations and BJP deserted the Hindus. The tragic irony is that Hindus have been stopped from using a road which they themselves built. It could be only said that such an incident is only waiting to happen in Thanjavur.

Even in places where Hindus are a majority, Evangelist warfare strategically first weakens them—even preventing the development of a sense of national unity that may loosen the hold the church exerts on the flock. A case in point is the very recent diatribe that the church has indulged in against the patriotic salutation Jai Hind, incidentally coined by a Tamilian—Dr Chenbagaraman Pillai. While many Hindus are aware of the anti-Vande Mataram mindset of Islamists, not many are aware of the anti-Indian mindset that is deeply integral to even mainstream churches including the Catholic Church leave alone the innumerable ground-warrior Christian evangelist cults.

For example, the Catholic Bishops Council of Madhya Pradesh has come out strongly against the raising of Jai Hind slogan in the government schools. Father Babu Joseph, former spokesperson of the national bishops’ conference now based in Madhya Pradesh, criticised the government for asking government schools to raise the slogan. Mumbai based Catholic Secular Forum in its website claims the following about Jai Hind:

The commonly used slogan Jai Hind emerged during India’s independence struggle and continues to be raised at the end of national anthem. However, Hind is a shortened form of Hindustan (land of Hindus) that excludes India’s religious minorities such as Christians and Muslims.

So, while in Tamil Nadu, the deity is stopped physically, in North India, where Evangelical Christianity is yet to achieve the muscle power and political clout, it uses ideological aggression to stop nation-building through very simple methodologies.

That such aggression is starting to become visible and violent in Tamil Nadu is not coincidental. Already, various Christian denominations including the mainstream churches have started preparing for the 2019 elections. Away from the willingly closed eyes of the media, Catholic Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi sent a pastoral letter which was read out on 13 May in all the parishes of the national capital. The letter called on Catholics to start a campaign ahead of elections due in April 2019. This year-long vigil and campaign though couched in secular language is a call for an Evangelist war on Hinduism.

So, after 2019 in case of a BJP defeat, Hindus in Tamil Nadu can expect a concerted attack on all their temples—small or big, in all their sacred spaces—in villages or town, in all their ceremonies. Hence, in the context of 2019, Hindus need to realise two factors:

  1. They are still only a communal majority and not a political majority in India. Unless Hindus reinvent and reorganise themselves as political majority, the probability of Hindu survival decreases with every passing day.
  2. Whether it is aggression in Thanjavur, physical violence in Kanyakumari district or resistance to Jai Hind in Madhya Pradesh, there is a common line connecting them all across the denominational Evangelist Christian divide—the hatred towards pagan Hinduism which animates the war that Evangelists wage in India. So any attack on Hindus anywhere in India is a threat to every Hindu throughout India. – Swarajya, 21 May 2018

» Aravindan Neelakandan is an economist, psychologist, author and contributing editor at Swarajya magazine. He is best known for the book Breaking India which he co-authored with Rajiv Malhotra.

CSI Schwartz Memorial Church, Tanjore


 

The business of maligning India – Maria Wirth

Indians

Maria WirthThere was a strange question on Quora recently: Is India becoming the most hated country?

It reminded me of the years after Nirbhaya’s rape and murder, when a massive campaign was launched worldwide to portray Indian men as rapists. It was so massive that it reached not only local papers in Germany and probably everywhere else, but a local paper in Nuremberg dedicated half a page to her memory even one year after it had happened.  The impact of this campaign was extraordinarily “successful” if one could use this term:  in March 2015 a biochemistry professor at the University of Leipzig refused admission to her course to an Indian student because of India’s “rape problem”. It even turned out that this was not the only case.

Since this campaign started soon after the news about the Rotherham grooming gangs of mainly Pakistani men came out in the open, I wondered if the questioner wanted to know how well the business of maligning India had progressed and if India is on the way of becoming the most hated country.

Here is my reply:

Oh no, India can never become the most hated country—never mind how much media and missionaries and other vested interests try to portray it as such.

There are too many people in the world who know India, who know her profound philosophy, who know how much she has contributed to civilization, more than any other country in this world, who know how kind and open-minded her people are, how they live and let live and this includes millions of cows, monkeys, stray dogs, even tigers, leopards, elephants, snakes, etc., in spite of a huge population on little space.

Too many people know how colourful and joyful the atmosphere is during the many festivals, which have mostly a religious nature, they know how alive the country is and how generously India shares her knowledge like Yoga or Ayurveda, how amazing her culture is—music, dance, sculpture, architecture. And also, there are too many people who know Indians who live abroad and know that they are among the best immigrants possible.

But yes, attempts are on to portray India in very poor light, and “rapes in India” and “atrocities against minorities” are preferred news on foreign TV channels, like on German DW (Deutsche Welle) or BBC, when the same channels will not broadcast rapes that happen in Germany or Britain.

A poll in England recently showed that Indians are seen positively (+25), while Pakistanis are seen negatively (-4). The amazing thing is that Indians and Pakistanis are basically the same people. The only difference is that some Indians converted to Islam during the long Muslim rule of their country and at the time of Independence, they demanded their own country as they didn’t want to live together with Hindus. And while hardly any Hindus are left in Pakistan, India did allow Muslims, who did not want to move to Pakistan, stay and their number is even increasing significantly.

So maybe there is one condition: India can never become the most hated country as long as it remains majority Hindu!

This post got an amazing reaction—over 40.000 views within 24 hours, which was exceptionally high. Yet more or less from one moment to the other, the views suddenly dropped substantially, just at the time when I got a notification from Quora. A person with a Muslim name requested me to drop the last sentence of my post.

I didn’t do it, because what I had written is the truth. – Maria Wirth Blog, 25 May 2016

» Maria Wirth is a German psychology graduate and author who lives in Uttarakhand.

Nun Rape

 

 

Evangelising the Lingayats – Cardinal Oswald Gracias to Archbishop Bernard Moras

Oswald Gracias & Bernard Moras

The letter below is from Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, to Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore. The letter is unverified and published here in good faith. – Admin

Lingayat Evangelization

Lingayat Evangelization


 

Why Ambedkar didn’t want the ‘S’ words in the Constitution – Aravindan Neelakandan


B. R. Ambedkar

Aravindan NeelakandanIn 1976 during that darkest hour of Indian democracy—the Emergency—when India was spiralling down into an abyss of fascism under a socialist Congress’s rule, the 42nd Amendment was made, which slipped “secular” and “socialist” into the Preamble. – Aravindan Neelakandan

On 15 November 1948 at the Constituent Assembly debate in Parliament, a member, Prof K. T. Shah from Bihar moved an Amendment to the original Preamble statement. He insisted that the words, “Secular, Federal, Socialist” be inserted into the statement. In a detailed reply, B. R. Ambedkar justified why he did not include the words “secular” and “socialist” in the Preamble:

Sir, I regret that I cannot accept the amendment of Prof. K. T. Shah. My objections, stated briefly are two. In the first place the Constitution, as I stated in my opening speech in support of the motion I made before the House, is merely a mechanism for the purpose of regulating the work of the various organs of the State. It is not a mechanism where by particular members or particular parties are installed in office. What should be the policy of the State, how the Society should be organised in its social and economic side are matters which must be decided by the people themselves according to time and circumstances. It cannot be laid down in the Constitution itself, because that is destroying democracy altogether. If you state in the Constitution that the social organisation of the State shall take a particular form, you are, in my judgment, taking away the liberty of the people to decide what should be the social organisation in which they wish to live. It is perfectly possible today, for the majority people to hold that the socialist organisation of society is better than the capitalist organisation of society. But it would be perfectly possible for thinking people to devise some other form of social organisation which might be better than the socialist organisation of today or of tomorrow. I do not see therefore why the Constitution should tie down the people to live in a particular form and not leave it to the people themselves to decide it for themselves. This is one reason why the amendment should be opposed.

Then Ambedkar remarked:

The second reason is that the amendment is purely superfluous.

However, in 1976 during that darkest hour of Indian democracy—the Emergency—when India was spiralling down into an abyss of fascism under a socialist Congress’s rule, the 42nd Amendment was made, which slipped “secular” and “socialist” into the Preamble. In other words, it was the addition of the words, the very words explicitly rejected by the main architect of the Constitution, which was sacrilegious; it was certainly against the spirit and sanctity of the Constitution. If anything, we need to undo this attack on the original draft of the Constitution and restore the original draft of Ambedkar. That would take into account the freedom of generations to come as well as the future of evolution of our social institutions, not caring for the frivolous fashion statements of political rhetoric shorn of substance. – Swarajya, Jan 28, 2015

» Aravindan Neelakandan is a contributing editor at Swarajya. This article is an abridgement of the original article in Swarajya.

Indira Gandhi, whose Indian National Congress government enacted the 42nd Amendment in 1976, during the Emergency.
Warning sign in New Delhi during Indira Gandhi's dictatorship (1975 to 1977)