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Christianity in India the Hindutva Perspective

Christianity in India the Hindutva Perspective

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Vishwa Hindu Parishad - India
Vishwa Hindu Parishad - India

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09/13/2012

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Hansel would like us to believe that this was the work of European missionaries and
colonial agents ‘with a misguided zeal of “civilising” the colonies’. Once again, Hansel would
like us to believe that post-Vatican II the situation is vastly different, and that the Church ‘has
no choice but to accept that the calumny of the past was a grievous error on the part of over-

zealous crusaders for the Faith’. He also would like us to believe that the prime objective of
missionaries today is involvement in ‘the day to day struggle of our people for justice, dignity
and a better way of life’. He also says that ‘for a Catholic living in pluralistic society like India,
it is an entirely different experience from that of the Catholic living in almost a monotheist
western nation’. (It would be interesting to know what the difference is.) He avers, ‘Only when
we learn to live with genuine respect for each other’s faith can we grow’.

Once again we see negation of history. By labeling the missionaries as ‘European’ he
has completely absolved the Church of any blame. If true, then why should the Church accept
the blame of these ‘over-zealous crusaders of the Faith’? After all, they went against the
instructions of the Church, did they not, Hansel? Their actions were ‘anathema to the basic
teachings of Christ’, were they not, Hansel?

The truth is that the ‘European’ character of the missionaries is incidental - what is
important is their Christian character. The denigration and calumny is being continued by the
Indian missionaries. They were, and are, doing what the Bible enjoins them to do, and what the
Church tells them to do. One should read the Christian publications in India, and abroad, to
understand that the plan of calumny is not a ‘grievous error’ but a deliberate effort. The
pluralism is just not there in the Vatican II, or in the recent apostolic letter of the Pope, or in
what the Archbishop of Delhi has to say. Like the Church of England, the Roman Catholic
Church does not really believe all religions are equal.

As regards the new theory of the missionaries’ objective being social justice, the best
way to prove would be for the Church to set an example from within itself. Are the Dalit
Christians (surely, a contradiction in terms) properly treated by their own community and by
the Church? Is there social justice in countries with Christian majorities? And, if this is the
prime objective, why does the Church not stop all conversions? This is what Mahatma Gandhi
said to the missionaries when they said the same thing about social justice to him. Shri
Shourie’s book covers this extensively. An accidental redeeming value is clearly no
justification.

That this new theory is designed to fit into the propaganda of today has been confirmed
by Dr Raimundo Pannikar, Professor Emeritus of the University of California, an ordained
priest and a Christian theologian. “(W)ere it not for the fact of the political decolonisation of
the world, we would not be speaking the way we are doing today.” (Ashrams, p 180.) Bishop
Stephen Nell tells us that a “century of experience suggests that the missions were right in their
decision..... In thousands of villages where there was a Christian nucleus, the village teacher
served also as a catchiest, carrying out many of the duties which in older churches rest on
ordinary ministry. About a third of the cost of educational work was borne by the private
agencies, two thirds by the Government.” He further adds that “even in independent India ....
the old order has continued in being without radical modification.” (Ashrams, p 235.)

Ashrams (p 181) narrates an incident which conveys what the Church really thinks of
this social justice. “At a recent International Conference of Mission Work in Rome, Cardinal
Josef Tomko criticised (liberation) theologians like (Paul) Knitter (Professor of Theology at the
University of Cincinnati, USA) for being more occupied with ‘social work’ and ‘inter-religious
dialogue’ than with announcing the Gospel. The answer to this criticism by one truly pluralist
was obvious: that announcing the Gospel was redundant, that it was even arrogant, that other
people do not need a Christian Gospel and probably many of them have a Gospel of their own
as good as the Bible. But Dr Knitter’s answer was different. ‘We are not saying outreach
evangelisation should only consist of action of human welfare but we are saying that working
for human welfare, is an essential part of the work .... It is essential to the Gospel of Christ’, he

said. Missionary strategist will have no difficulty in agreeing with this view. They already
know that ‘social work’ is a great aid to proselytisation.”

The social justice alibi is also clearly exposed when one sees from history that the
missionaries first tried to convert the upper castes, which would then set examples for the
lower castes to emulate. (This has been the technique, successfully used, all over the world. In
Akbar’s court, the Church envoy made strenuous effort to convert him, and paid very little
attention to his subjects.) Having failed in the plan to convert the Brahmins, and to justify the
continuation of the missionary activity, they turned to the lower castes. This also proves the
charge of ‘rice converts’ since the upper caste alone could have converted on the basis of an
intellectual study.

I agree with Hansel that there should be ‘genuine respect for each other’s faith’ so that
the country can progress. In context of Hindu-Christian dialogue, this has to be addressed to
the Christians, since the record of Hindus for genuine respect is quite clear. When the Jews and
the Parsis came here due to religious persecution, their faith was respected by the Hindus, who
are proud that it is only in India that the Jews were not oppressed in any way, a fact that is
officially recognised in the Jewish history. Today, the holy place for Parsis is not Iran, from
where they came, but India, where they received succor like nowhere else. The same can be
said for Syrian Christians, who behaved in an exemplary manner until the arrival of the
Portuguese and their armed forces. Can Hansel show similar examples in Christian countries,
or where Christians went? Hindus do not need to be taught how to respect other religions.

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